Stephan George Kuttner (March 24, 1907 – August 12, 1996), an expert in Canon Law, was recognized as a leader in the discovery, interpretation and analysis of important texts and manuscripts that are key to understanding the evolution of legal systems from Roman law to modern Constitutional law.


Born in Bonn, Germany, into a family of Jewish ancestry, Kuttner was raised as a Lutheran and converted to Roman Catholicism as a young man. He received his law degree from Berlin University in 1931. Two years later he fled Nazi Germany for Italy, where he worked as a research fellow at the Vatican Library and taught at the Lateran University in Rome. In 1940, he emigrated to the U.S. with his young family. He was a professor at Washington, D.C.'s Catholic University of America from 1940 to 1964, where a chair in canon law is named in his honor. At Yale University he was the first occupant of the T. Lawrason Riggs Chair of Catholic Studies, which he held for five years. Thereafter he became the first Director of the Robbins Collection in Roman and Canon Law in the Law School of the University of California at Berkeley (1970-1988), and continued as Emeritus Professor of Law until his death.

Kuttner had a large family and at the time of his death was survived by his wife, Eva (née Illch), eight of nine children, twenty grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and a sister. Eva Kuttner died on November 14, 2007.


To organize the field of textual scholarship in medieval canon law he founded the Institute of Medieval Canon Law in 1955, which he presided over for 25 years and which now is affiliated to the University of Munich and bears his name. He also launched a series of international congresses in medieval canon law, the tenth of which was in session at the time of his death. He was appointed by Pope Paul VI to serve on the initial Commission for the Reform of the Code of Canon Law. Kutter also founded the publishing series Monumenta Iuris Canonici and the journal Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law. the latter first appeared in the journal Traditio before becoming an independent journal.

The author of many scholarly works, Kuttner received numerous academic awards and honors in the U.S. and abroad. He held honorary degrees from Cambridge, Paris, Bologna and Salamanca universities and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institut de France and the American Philosophical Society. Kuttner was recognized for his life's work by his 1969 induction into the prestigious Order Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest honor to bestow on artists, scholars, and scientists.

An accomplished pianist, who in his youth studied under Paul Hindemith, he also composed music, wrote and translated poetry, and corresponded widely in several languages. In 1990, his Missa Brevis, written for 16 vocal parts, was performed by The Boston Cecilia.

The Library of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law has Kuttner's extensive Collection of scholarly off-prints as well as his scholarly correspondence. A data base of these titles is now available at the Institute. In the future the database might be accessible on the Internet.


1. Gratian and the Schools of Law by Stephan Kuttner ISBN 0860784088

2. Pope Urban II: The Collectio Britannica, and the Council of Melfi (1089) by Stephan Kuttner and Robert Somerville ISBN 0198205694

3. Studies in the History of Medieval Canon Law by Stephan Kuttner ISBN 0860782743

4. A Catalogue of Canon and Roman Law Manuscripts in the Vatican Library by Stephan Kuttner

5. Harmony from Dissonance, an Interpretation of Medieval Canon Law, Wimmer lecture 10; St. Vincent's, Latrobe, 1960.

External links

Other Bibliography

1. Earlier bibliographies
2. Books and articles
3. Reviews
4. Selected Essays
5. Reviews
6. Proceedings
7. Necrologies
8. Editing of Festschriften
9. Festschriften for Kuttner
10. Necrologies on Stephan Kuttner

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