Wednesday, August 21, 2013
We begin with readership. Although only one direct interpolated-Hispana manuscript survives today, the Middle Ages knew more copies. Altogether, we have evidence of at least seven separate medieval manuscripts, and in a recent article I argue that two rather clearly distinct interpolated-Hispana recensions have been incorporated within the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries. The point is that this was a text that saw significant circulation in its own right, uncombined with the decretal forgeries.
Pseudo-Isidorian enthusiasts will remember that the interpolated Hispana is simply a revised and lightly interpolated version of the Hispana Gallica, and that the Hispana Gallica is a rather corrupt and problematic (but fully authentic and non-Pseudo-Isidorian) Gallican version of the ordinary Collectio Hispana. Sometime after the 850s, those involved with the early circulation of our forgeries got their hands on an ordinary Hispana text and used it to correct lingering problems with the interpolated Hispana incorporated in their forgeries. (My recent article presents pretty conclusive evidence of this point.) Before the 850s, though, the men behind Pseudo-Isidore could only rely on their ingenuity to correct problems with the Hispana Gallica, because--and this is point is very basic but also very crucial--they only had access to Hispana texts through the corrupt Hispana Gallica.
It is therefore interesting to observe that, with evidence for seven medieval witnesses, the interpolated Hispana does rather better than the Hispana Gallica, which has left behind evidence of only four medieval witnesses. Granted, Pseudo-Isidore has been studied more intensively than the Gallican Hispana, so it is possible that our knowledge of interpolated-Hispana manuscripts is simply better. Nevertheless, we have every reason to suppose that the interpolated Hispana and the Hispana Gallica enjoyed roughly comparable degrees of circulation in Carolingian Gaul. The interpolated Hispana might even be called modestly successful from the standpoint of manuscript circulation, and it is not overbold to ascribe that success to its defining feature--the philological improvements that our interpolators supplied.
The interpolated Hispana has only received inauthentic adjustments in a few instances. In Part IV we outlined Maassen's fourteen especially clear cases of interpolation. There is nothing systematic or comprehensive about these interpolations. We have also seen that two of the most extensive revisions--the adjustments to the opening passages of Innocent I's letter to Victricius of Rouen, and the adjustments to c. 7 of the Second Council of Seville--are related in interesting ways to two decretal texts that we have placed in the Hispana complex (Divinis praeceptis and Cum in Dei nomine). We have even wondered whether these two Hispana interpolations do not, in some way, reflect the increased attention that c. 7 and Innocent's letter received in the process of composing Divinis praeceptis and Cum in Dei nomine.
Everything suggests, therefore, that the interpolated Hispana is nothing more than a straightforward effort to correct a problematic but important legal collection. Those involved in the correction of this legal collection were simultaneously deploying it in the service of honest (perhaps Gregory IV and Divinis praeceptis) and not-so-honest (Pseudo-Leo and Cum in Dei nomine) legal arguments. Their early appropriations left interesting traces (i.e., c. 7 of Seville II and Innocent to Victricius), but those traces were not the purpose of the revised recension. They are merely its most interesting features. The improvements were sufficient to win the interpolated Hispana some modest circulation in Frankish Gaul, where non-Gallican Hispana recensions were hard to come by.
So that's what the interpolated Hispana is. But why were these corrections undertaken? What is our text for? Those are very appropriate questions to put to a legal forgery, but maybe they're not well suited for our text. We have seen, after all, that the interpolated Hispana resembles a forgery rather less than it resembles a juristic or even a philological project--or even something approaching a work of scholarship. In that respect, it puts us in mind of another rather odd, disorganized, but occasionally scholarly element in the Pseudo-Isidorian library, namely the capitularies of Benedictus Levita. Way back in Part I, I had this to say about our good friend Benedictus, the supposed date of his collection to 847, and his relationship to the forgery project:
After long and tedious investigations, I’ve begun to think of Benedictus Levita, at base, as something like a thinly disguised florilegium of mostly-genuine legal material. It has some Pseudo-Isidorian elements, but for long stretches it’s just somebody’s enormous pile of random legal flotsam and jetsam. It certainly seems that Pseudo-Isidore availed himself of some portions of this monumental collection of favorite quotations. Genuine sources, in particular, recur in Pseudo-Isidore, complete with Benedictus Levita’s alterations and truncations. It also seems that the Pseudo-Isidorians, at some point, took this enormous legal florilegium, slapped on a preface, and did some light editing to make the whole thing look, however superficially, like a collection of capitulary legislation. So I would date the thin capitulary veneer after 847. The contents, though—who knows?I cannot yet provide a good answer to the what-is-it-for question, but I can point to parallels with Benedict's capitularies, and propose the following: By sometime in the early 830s at the latest, certain people in the Pseudo-Isidorian orbit had begun to dig very deep indeed into the legal traditions of Western Christendom. Some of these people unearthed a legal collection, known outside of Spain primarily in heavily corrupt form, and began trying to sort it out. Some of these people (the same people? different people? at the same time? later?) began compiling an enormous and broadly disorganized legal florilegium, drawing on scattered secular and ecclesiastical legal sources, as well as on the interpolated Hispana.
To be continued...
Back to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV or Part V, forward to Addendum on Hispana priority
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
More than that, we have observed the various properties that make Divinis praeceptis an intriguing decretal. Its contents align it with the interpolated Hispana rather than with the other decretal forgeries. Unlike its forged colleagues, it draws almost exclusively on Hispana texts for its legal citations, and the interest appears to be mutual: Our Hispana interpolators have devoted particular attention to a genuine decretal crucial for the argument of Divinis praeceptis (Innocent for Victricius). In both respects, Divinis praeceptis puts me in mind of nothing so much as JK †551, Cum in Dei nomine, more commonly known as the De privilegio chorepiscoporum — a short forgery to the disadvantage of chorbishops in the name of Leo the Great.
1. In the first instance that c. 7 mentions priests, the Hispana interpolator revises the phrase to "chorbishops or priests." That's it. Whoever forged Cum in Dei nomine, however, adds a whole phrase at this point, such that what was originally a simple reference to "priests" becomes a reference to "chorbishops, who according to the canons of Neocaesarea and the decrees of other fathers are the same as priests, and priests." (For the legal citation, betake yourself to c. 13 of the Council of Neocaesarea; we'll get to the "decrees of other fathers" shortly.)
2. In the second instance that c. 7 mentions a "priest" (this time in the singular), our Hispana interpolator predictably revises to "priest or chorbishop." At the same point, Cum in Dei nomine reads "chorbishop or priest." This interpolation is crucial, as the text goes on to deny "priests" (and, as interpolated, "chorbishops") a long list of sacramental faculties.
3. In the third instance that c. 7 mentions priests, our Hispana interpolator does nothing, while Cum in Dei nomine remembers to revise to "chorbishops or priests." This mention of priests is not directly tied to any legal restrictions, so our Hispana interpolator's neglect of this passage does not really undermine his anti-chorepiscopal program.
4. In the fourth instance that c. 7 mentions priests, our Hispana interpolator revises to "priests or chorbishops," while Cum in Dei nomine revises to "chorbishops, who are known to be after the example and form of the 70 disciples, or priests." (For the 70 disciples in question, betake yourself to Luke 10:1; more on this shortly.)
5. And finally, in the fifth instance that c. 7 mentions priests, our Hispana interpolator revises to "them" ("eis"); the antecedent is clearly intended to be both presbyteri and choriepiscopi, as both have just been mentioned. Interestingly, Cum in Dei nomine retains "priests" at this point, and here that retention has legal force (unlike in instance 3 above), because the presbyteri in question are denied a further list of sacramental faculties. The interpolated Hispana thus succeeds in denying exactly the same set of sacramental faculties to both priests and chorbishops, whereas Cum in Dei nomine, despite insisting that priests and chorbishops are the same, denies the initial set of faculties to both orders, but the second set of faculties only to priests.
From here on out, to save keystrokes, we will refer to these three texts (Divinis praeceptis, Cum in Dei nomine, and the interpolated Hispana) as the Hispana complex. We have good prima facie reasons to suppose that some part of this complex was in place by 833, and it contains clear ideological parallels to the reforms enacted at Paris in 829. The Hispana complex, in other words, seems very much at home in the early 830s.
But we have seen, in far more detail than is healthy, that for all the similarities between the decretal forgeries and the Hispana complex, there are differences in equal measure. Where and when do the decretal forgeries belong? Why were they developed, and what is their relationship to the complex of texts built from and upon the interpolated Hispana?
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Friday, August 9, 2013
What is the interpolated Hispana, anyway? And more broadly, what was it for? Was it developed specifically as a vessel for the decretal forgeries? Or does it represent some other project that was later appropriated by the Pseudo-Isidorians?
We begin by recalling that the interpolated Hispana is a reworking of the Hispana Gallica, a rather corrupt (but completely authentic) version of the Hispana that circulated, as its name implies, in Carolingian Gaul. Most of the reworking in question was undertaken to iron out corruptions and solve other obvious and crippling problems with the text of the Hispana Gallica. A very small subset of this reworking, however, involved the inauthentic revision of Hispana texts. These inauthentic revisions have been most thoroughly discussed by Friedrich Maassen, in his Pseudoisidor-Studien. He identifies the following fourteen especially clear instances of inauthentic interpolation:
c. 34 of Carthage III:
The sick, if they cannot respond for themselves, may still be baptized if witnesses can attest to their intention. The interpolator adds that the penitent in similar circumstances are to receive absolution.
c. 6 of Carthage V:
In cases of uncertainty, possibly baptized children are to be (re)baptized without hesitation. The interpolator adds that the same thing is to happen with respect to uncertainly consecrated churches.
c. 13 of Arles I:
Clergy guilty of traditio in the time of Diocletian are to be removed from office. Clergy are also to demonstrate their innocence by referring to the public acta taken down by the persecuting officials. This is necessary, we read, because many clergy are trying to get off by paying witnesses. Our interpolator, first, introduces a few variants from another recension of this canon that changes the force slightly; instead of trying to avoid deposition through purchased witnesses, the malefactors in question are trying to raise accusations against other clergy via said witnesses. (The Hispana Gallica carries a serious corruption at exactly this point, so it seems likely that our interpolators merely collated this canon against another recension to resolve the problem--not because they were interested in altering this aspect of the meaning.) Therefore, to be admitted to accusation, such accusers will need to refer to the acta publica (presumably to buttress their case). Our interpolator then adds a modification of his own: Nobody can accuse, unless they can show, via the public acta, that they are personally above all suspicion.
c. 26 of Agde
Anyone suppressing or otherwise denying documentation of church property, such that the church incurs loss, is to repay the loss from his own resources and is to be excommunicated Anyone who has received such ill-gotten gains is to be subject to the same sentence. Our interpolator adjusts the Latin to add clarity and emphasis to this second point.
c. 32 of the same council
Clerics are not to approach a secular judge without episcopal permission. But, if they have approached a secular judge despite this prohibition, the judge should respond. Our interpolator inserts "non": The judge should NOT respond.
c. 61 of the same council (al., c. 30 from the Council of Epaon)
Incest is forbidden, and it is offensive even to articulate all the relationships constitute incest. Nevertheless, union with the widow of one's uncle (maternal or paternal) or with one's stepdaughter are henceforth forbidden. Those currently in such marriages are to be separated, but are allowed to enter other marital unions. Our interpolator revises the entire passage to include a blanket prohibition against any consanguineous marriage at all (in addition to the specifically prohibited cases), and says anyone entering such marriages is to remain among the catechumens until they have made "legitimate satisfaction."
c. 12 of Toledo III
If a man seeks penance, the bishop/priest is first to tonsure him; then poenitentia may be granted. A woman cannot receive penance unless she has first "changed her dress" ("...mutaverit habitum..."). These measures are prescribed because many of the laity (laici) return to their lamentable crimes after they receive penance, when penance has been granted negligently. Our interpolator adds that the bishop/priest is to make the male candidate for penance EITHER receive tonsure OR change his dress to ashes and rags ("in cinere et cilicio habitum mutare faciat"); the woman, similarly, is EITHER to be veiled OR to change her dress. Finally, the interpolator laments the relapse not only of laity, but of "laity together with women."
c. 14 of the same council
The original canon states that the following provision was ordered by "gloriosissimus dominus noster" (a reference to Reccared) at the council's suggestion. The interpolator has revised the canon to read that "conventus noster" was solely responsible for what follows.
c. 19 of the same council
People are not to construct churches and then request that the bishop consecrate said churches, while trying to keep the financial endowment of the church beyond the bishop's control. This is, according to the authentic text, "against the institutions of the canons." This was problematic in the past and is forbidden in the future. According to the interpolator, it is contrary to "every authority"; those cases where it happened in the past are to be corrected; naturally it is also forbidden in future times, lest it happen again.
c. 21 of the same council
The fathers gathered at Toledo have observed that in many cities, the servants of the church and the bishops and all the clergy are harassed in their various duties by judges and public officials. The interpolator alters the construction to read that fathers at Toledo are sorrowful over the fact that this harassment is occurring.
c. 8 of Toledo VI
According to Leo the Great, the maritally incontinent, after completing penance, may return to their previous marriages, lest they lapse once again into adultery. Yet this is not a general legal precept (generaliter et legitime praeceptum), but rather an indulgence on account of human fragility (pro humana fragilitate indultum). Our forgers substitute "canonical" (canonice) for "legal" (legitime); the clarification is therefore that Leo's provision was not a "general canonical precept."
c. 11 of the same council
One who has been accused cannot be judged until the accuser has been proven to meet the necessary legal requirements; the case of treason is an exception. Our interpolator removes all reference to the exception of treason; accusers therefore have to prove that they meet the necessary legal requirements in call cases.
c. 7 of Seville II
This lengthy canon addresses the sacramental faculties of priests, who above all are not to consecrate altars. A long list of other sacramental prohibitions for priests follows. Our interpolator retouches the entire text such that the prohibitions apply to chorbishops as well as priests, and he also inserts the clarification that chorbishops and priests are identical.
Innocent I to Victricius of Rouen, Etsi tibi frater (JK 286)
The opening passage of this letter addresses cases and disputes among both the higher and the lower clergy. These cases are to be decided in the provinces where they originate, and are not to be taken elsewhere, save for perhaps to Rome, the opinion of whose bishop in all cases should be respected. So-called "majores causae," however, are to be referred to the apostolic see, in accordance with ancient custom, after episcopal judgment has been issued. Our interpolator extensively revises this passage, first by inserting a reference to the laity, such that the provincial synod (and the pope) acquire jurisdiction not only over clerical cases, but also over cases involving the laity and the clergy. The interpolator keeps the prohibition on taking cases outside the province, but adds the extra and perhaps unnecessary clarification that these cases are not to be taken elsewhere for the purposes of seeking the judgment of the bishops of other provinces. Finally, the interpolated Hispana says that the appeal of "maiores causae" to Rome is permitted not only by ancient custom, but also by synodal decree.
1) The vast, vast majority of editorial activity expended upon the interpolated Hispana is about addressing textual corruption. Only in a very few and specific instances--namely, those listed here--do our editors press a little too far and stray into the realm of inauthentic fiddling.
2) This inauthentic fiddling only occasionally surrounds passages favored by our decretal forgeries. This is particularly the case with the last item in our list, Innocent's letter to Victricius of Rouen. The opening passages of this letter have been substantially and inauthentically revised, and our decretal forgers frequently resort to the interpolated version of this helpful passage. Crucially, this is also one of the key canonical citations underlying the argumentation of Divinis praeceptis, where the telltale reference not only to ancient custom, but also to the synodal decree, recurs. It is from this specific citation--and this citation alone--that we are allowed to suspect that Divinis praeceptis is not simply using any old Hispana recension, but is dependent on our recension in particular.
3) Otherwise, diligent readers of the False Decretals will detect some thematic distance between the interpolations contributed to the Hispana and the preoccupations of the decretal forgers. In future posts, we will see in gruesome (and tedious!) detail that our decretalists are above all concerned to limit accusations, specifically by placing restrictions on who can accuse and subjecting accusers to various processes of examination. No element of Pseudo-Isidore's program gets more play than this single theme. Here he have some glimmer of that agenda, particularly with the interpolations to c. 13 of Arles I and c. 11 of Toledo VI. But these two adjustments compete with a variety of other themes. In no way do they stand out from the crowd.
4) These other themes are all over the map. Our editorial board is interested in incest (c. 61 of Agde), in penance (c. 39 of Carthage III and c. 12 of Toledo III), in chorbishops (c. 6 of Carthage V, maybe; c. 7 of Seville II certainly), in church income and property (c. 26 of Agde, c. 19 of Toledo III), in the autonomy of ecclesiastical legislative and judicial structures (c. 32 of Agde, c. 14 of Toledo III), and, as already noted, in opening the path for appeals to Rome (Innocent to Victricius). There is nothing systematic about the introduction of these themes; certain conciliar acta (Agde, Toledo III) get multiple interpolations, while most get none at all. One has the impression that our interpolators were just paging through the Hispana, doing their thing, when some random sequence of capitula caught their attention. There is absolutely no attempt to systematically revise the canonical tradition. Consider those poor guys that the Pseudo-Isidorians love to hate, the chorbishops. A variety of canons addressing chorbishops and their sacramental competence are allowed to stand wholly unmolested, and then out of the blue our editorial board alights on a canon that is concerned only with priests (c. 7 of Seville II) and twists its clauses to address the sacramental faculties of the chorepiscopate.
5) These ancillary themes are not necessarily absent from the decretal forgeries, but they're not center-stage either. A lot of ink has been spilled on Pseudo-Isidore's approach to chorbishops (to continue with this thread), but only two or three decretal forgeries (of 96!) address them in any direct manner. Penance is a passing theme in one or two fake decretals, as is incest; church property and income get a bit more play, but still take a firm backseat to the overwhelming concern of our decretal forgers with judicial process. Put another way: The decretals are 90% about judicial process and 10% about all this other stuff. The interpolations in the Hispana are equally divided among judicial process and the other stuff.
6) Some of this other stuff aligns in rather interesting ways with the decrees enacted at Paris in 829. Consider once again the Toledo III interpolations regarding chorbishops. In Charlemagne's Admonitio Generalis of 789 the chorepiscopate had been advised not to exceed the limits of their authority, but otherwise they were not a common concern of Carolingian-era conciliar legislation. Yet the bishops who met at Paris for the great 829 reform council had them on their agenda, and they promulgated a lengthy capitulum (1.27) taking aim at their sacramental faculties, and specifically their tendency to impart the Holy Spirit at confirmation, which was to be reserved for the episcopate. No previous Frankish conciliar legislation had sought to limit the sacramental competence of chorbishops, who before 829 were presumed capable of performing all episcopal functions, provided they acted with episcopal permission and as the representatives of their diocesan. The interpolations to Toledo III are right in line with the Paris agenda, only more extreme: They seek to equate the chorepiscopate with priests, and therefore to sharply limit their competence across the board.
7) We will have a lot more to say about Pseudo-Isidore on the chorepiscopate in the future, but for the moment you will have to take my word for it that the few False Decretals that address this subject are in general much more extreme than even the Toledo III interpolator. So we have a continuum of viewpoints: Paris 829, which tries to limit chorbishops in specific ways; the Toledo III interpolations, which try to limit chorbishops much more generally; and the False Decretals, which more or less aim to abolish the position entirely.
By now, you've probably realized that I'm trying to draw a line between our Hispana interpolators on the one hand, and our decretal forgers on the other. It is fairly clear to me that the men behind the False Decretals observe different procedures and articulate different views than the editorial team responsible for our interpolated Hispana. This is a divide that I would also like to deploy to explain the differences we observed earlier between the False Decretals and Divinis praeceptis. The latter shares many of our decretal forgers' concerns, and it does indeed raise arguments that strike us as powerfully Pseudo-Isidorian. Yet it argues almost exclusively on the basis of authentic texts from the Hispana, and it lacks Pseudo-Isidore's boldest inventions.
In fact, the connections between Divinis praeceptis and the interpolated Hispana are strong enough that I think we are entitled to wonder whether all of the attention that our interpolators have given to Innocent I's letter to Victricius of Rouen (the only decretal that they seriously worked over) is an artifact of this decretal's importance for the argumentation of Divinis praeceptis. The latter asserts that Aldric ought to appeal to Rome because his is a "major case," and the underlying source for this assertion is Innocent's letter to Victricius about the appeal of "maiores causae" to Rome. Perhaps it was in the course of drafting their text for Aldric that our interpolators came to study the Innocent decretal more closely and to adjust its text along more convenient lines?
Also too, we saw a while ago that this letter is especially interesting in insisting that Aldric be allowed to appeal before episcopal judgment. Our other Pseudo-Isidorian texts allow accused prelates to appeal at absolutely any point in the process, while the underlying source, Innocent I to Victricius of Rouen, is very specific that the appeal of maiores causae are to occur after episcopal judgment--post iudicium episcopale. Yet Divinis praeceptis is so insistent that Aldric be allowed to appeal before any conviction is handed down that its author actually trims the key phrase, post iudicium episcopale, out of its Innocent citation. Fascinatingly, when the False Decretals use this Innocent letter, in every case but one they also carefully trim out the post iudicium episcopale phrase--despite the fact that the False Decretals do not share the argument of Divinis praeceptis on this point. Put another way, the False Decretals use a quotation of Innocent I that has been manipulated to support an argument made only in Divinis praeceptis.
So while we may want to draw a line between the interpolated Hispana and Divinis praeceptis on the one hand, and the False Decretals on the other, we also have to accept that the False Decretals are deeply influenced by these earlier sources. The interpolated Hispana gets reworked as a vessel to house the decretal forgeries, and the canonical citations of Divinis praeceptis are repurposed for the related but rather more radical procedural prescriptions of the decretal forgers.
And one final point: To the extent that we can take Divinis praeceptis at its word, and presume that it really was produced for Aldric's protection, we have come close to pinpointing one point of precise contact between real-world events and the the procedural law concocted by our forgers. Post iudicium episcopale seems not to have worked for Aldric, and that somehow leads to its removal from Innocent citations in the decretal forgeries more broadly. We might therefore wonder what other connections exist between the decretal forgeries and the historical events of the 830s and 840s.
But before we start down that path, we need to look more closely at the chorepiscopate, and more specifically at another decretal that, like Divinis praeceptis, seems to fall on the interpolated-Hispana side of the divide we have begun to articulate. There is a little more to learn here, as we'll see in Part V.
Back to Part I, Part II, Part III, or ahead to Part V: Addendum.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Maybe there are no primates in Divinis praeceptis because our Pseudo-Isidorian friends only dreamed up the notion of primacy sometime after 8 July 833?
That's a subject for Part IV.
Back to Part I or Part II; ahead to Part V (with one Addendum on the nature of the Hispana, and another Addendum on the priority of the Hispana)
confirmed by the authority of the holy fathers and his predecessors’, which demonstrated that it was his power...and his authority to go and to send for all peoples on behalf of faith in Christ and the peace of churches and the preaching of the Gospel and the assertion of truth, [and that] there was in him all the eminent authority and the living power of the blessed Peter, by whom it was appropriate that all be judged, such that he was to be judged by nobody.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
It was in the midst of considerations and developments along these lines that Karl Ubl, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Cologne, convened a two-day conference on Pseudo-Isidore this past February, which your humble blogger attended. At Cologne, the author of these remarks was surprised to find several presenters arguing for a super-early Pseudo-Isidore--earlier even than Zechiel-Eckes had proposed, predating the coup of 833/4. Such arguments fell on favorable ears, for the writer of these few posts had himself just published an article full of similar ideas.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Three years ago, in a post on the First Words of Pseudo-Isidore, I noted that
Pseudo-Isidore starts off with an invocation: "In nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi incipit praefatio sancti Isidori libri huius" -- "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, here begins St. Isidore's preface to this book." Now that sounds ordinary enough, and in fact Hinschius found it so unremarkable that he left it out of his edition (even though it's in all the MSS). But it's not so innocent. In fact, it's clearly derived from the invocation used by Lothar's chancery -- the little intro formula that they used to start out their documents. Lothar and the unity party were allies, remember, so this is highly significant.In comments, Jarrett expresses some circumspect uncertainty. I hope he will forgive me for quoting him here up top:
Firstly, I bet you could find that phrase in at least some charters of almost any Carolingian king after Charlemagne and I'd be surprised if it weren't in Louis's or even Charles the Bald's here and there. The kings tended to vary in their subscription and intitulatio more than in the structural formulae. Secondly, even if it were specific to Lothar, the invocatio is pretty basic. If you wanted to open your text with "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," which doesn't seem like a cunning or specific thing to want, it'd be hard not to hit on something very like that phrase. I think that the person who came up with that theory had been thinking about just these texts for a bit too long, myself, though if they did do the comparative work and prove it's specific, I'll humbly back down.Some of Jarrett's concerns might have been addressed had I steered readers to Emil Seckel (as ed. Horst Fuhrmann), Die erste Zeile Pseudoisidors (Berlin, 1959), where this argument originated. As the issue is deeply important, especially given new theories (some of them of my own making!) that attach the Pseudo-Isidorians to Lothar partisans in the 830s, it's worth finally giving this particular corner of Pseudo-Isidore its due.
For various reasons that need not bother us here, Paul Hinschius printed Pseudo-Isidore's massive collection of fake laws without any invocatio. Yet his son-in-law Emil Seckel, upon reading Hinschius's extremely thorough introduction, realized that a lot of important, early manuscripts--particularly manuscripts of the A1 and A2 recensions--opened with the following words (the textual evidence here is quite strong):
In nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi. Incipit praefatio sancti Isidori libri huius.By the time he came upon this realization, Seckel had already spent gobs and gobs of time thinking about Pseudo-Isidore's (and particularly Benedictus Levita's) sources. And he remembered that the Pseudo-Isidorians had borrowed a significant portion of their introductory material from the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana. He was also reminded that the DH opens with its own invocatio, and he wondered whether there might be some relationship between the two introductory formulae. After surveying the textual evidence (we still have nothing approaching a critical edition of the DH), Seckel was able to establish the wording of the invocatio in the DH (again, with a fair degree of confidence), as follows:
In nomine domini. Incipit praefatio libri huius.Should we assume that the similarity between these invocationes is not accidental (and given the broader overlap in introductory materials between the DH and Pseudo-Isidore, that point would be hard to argue), a comparison allows us to see the first twelve words of Pseudo-Isidore through new eyes:
In nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi. Incipit praefatio Sancti Isidori libri huius.The words in bold begin to look like minor additions that Pseudo-Isidore has contributed to the invocatio he borrowed from the DH. The explanation for "Sancti Isidori," at least in Seckel's mind, was fairly clear: A) The Pseudo-Isidorian preface that follows this invocatio is, indeed, in the name of one Isidorus Mercator, and B) the underlying DH invocatio actually introduces an excerpt from Isidore's Etymologiae. Horst Fuhrmann even proposed that this latter circumstance was one of the reasons our forgers alighted on their peculiar pseudonym.
But what about "nostri Iesu Christi"? Here Seckel anticipates Jarrett's well-considered objections. "Pseudo-Isidore's inscription looks as harmless as possible, and the invocation certainly occurred hundreds of times before Pseudo-Isidore" (40). But, Seckel continues, in a catchy line that threatens to lose some its luster in translation: "...harmlos wäre, wer Pseudoisidors erste Zeile für eine Harmlosigkeit hielte." He then provides the comparative work that Jarrett asks for, from pp. 41 through 46.
Here Seckel finds strict regularity in the invocationes (if not the intitulationes and subscriptiones) as employed in documents issued by Carolingian kings and emperors from the time of Charlemagne's imperial coronation in 800 onwards. Charlemagne preferred "In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti" (apparently lifted, as Seckel notes, from the baptismal formula). Louis the Pious elected to invoke God with the words "In nomine domini dei et salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi" (in this case, apparently depending on eighth-century Roman chancery practice). Lothar I, meanwhile, chose an invocatio only slightly different from his father's: "In nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi dei aeterni," as did Louis the German between 830 and 833: "In nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi dei omnipotentis." After the Field of Lies, though, Louis the German changed his invocatio to "In nomine sanctae et individuae trinitatis," which was the same formula picked up by Charles the Bald. And Seckel follows the history still further: Two of Lothar's sons kept their father's invocatio, while Lothar II reached back to Louis the Pious with "In nomine dei et salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi."
Seckel then briefly traces the recurrence of these invocationes not through the charters, but through conciliar legsilation. Thus the acta promulgated by the council that met at Mainz in 813 invoke God with the words "In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti"--in clear dependence on Charlemagne's preferred formula. At Rome in 826, the acta employ Louis the Pious's invocatio; at Ingelheim in 840 they use Lothar I's. As Seckel notes, the invocatio of a given council could even, in the right circumstances, have partisan overtones. Thus, at Aachen in 836, the bishops slapped "In nomine sanctae Trinitatis" on the top of their acta, nodding not at Louis the Pious (against whom certain bishops presumably still harbored hard feelings), but at Louis the German. In this context, the Pseudo-Isidorian invocatio becomes a matter of interest.
In all of Francia, whose royal chancery would the words "In nomine domini nostri Iesu Christi" put you in mind of? If you were writing between 830 and 833, the answer would be either Louis the German or Lothar I. If you were writing between 834 and about 850, it could only be Lothar. (And if you're writing before 830 or after 850, you're probably not Pseudo-Isidore.)
Such, anyway, is Seckel's case. In conclusion, some observations: In the first place, Seckel's argument makes a great deal of sense in the broader context of Pseudo-Isidore's agenda, as we have encountered it, repeatedly, on this blog. In the second place, the invocatio heading Pseudo-Isidore's collection has a fairly undeniable chronological position in the history of royal Carolingian invocationes. This is a rarified genre into which Jesus Christ was himself only first admitted with the accession of Louis the Pious after 814, and from which he was excluded by all but Lothar I and his sons after 840. Third, though: Assuming we're reading Pseudo-Isidore correctly, he was playing a dangerous game. Seventh-century legal collections should not be giving shout-outs to ninth-century political favorites. Then again, it's just bland enough that it's perfectly possible nobody cared that much; indeed, nobody before Seckel gave these words a second thought. And, fourth, Seckel was one of the most brilliant Pseudo-Isidorian scholars this world has seen, and his brilliance lay partly in his appreciation for detail (and the great payoffs that kind of sensitivity can have for anyone working on the False Decretals). Yet anybody who has read his Benedictus-Levita Studien has learned to be wary of his tendency to see significance in even the slightest textual variants. Die erste Zeile Pseudoisidors advances a very Seckelian argument indeed.
Another unsolvable problem that emerges with Knibbs’ interpretative model is found in the formulation of Nicholas [I]’s privilege for Ansgar of 31 May 864. Knibbs claims that the brief response in the negotiations that Nicolaus I gave in his letter to Solomon of Constance in May 864 reflects the genuine document for Ansgar, which Nicholas promulgated later. According to [the letter to Solomon], Nicholas claims – after praising Emperor Louis the Pious’s zeal and declaring himself prepared to follow in the footprints of what his predecessor Gregory IV had done earlier – to ...allow...Bremen to be independent of the archbishop of Cologne, and to be promoted to an archiepiscopal see over Danes and “swevi” [i.e., Swedes]. It is peculiar that important parts of these rights are missing in the preserved privilege itself, which Rimbert according to Knibbs basically composed entirely himself. [In the Nicholas privilege], Hamburg and Bremen are, to be sure, joined to each other, but Ansgar, who is here called “the first archbishop of the Nordalbingians,” does not become archbishop over Danes and “swevi”, but only over the Nordalbingians, and instead, he is allowed to continue in his role as legate over Danes, “sveones,” and Slavs. The latter is a formulation that is recognized from the privilege of Gregory IV for Ansgar. If Rimbert had made these changes, they are entirely incomprehensible. He would, in other words, have had a document that made him into archbishop of great swaths of northern Europe, but instead worked out a version that made him into archbishop over the Nordalbingians, and that is content to make Ansgar a papal legate among Danes, sveones, and Slavs, and this without ascribing these rights to Ansgar’s successors, i.e. himself [Rimbert]. Exactly because this document, which, according to Knibbs’s thesis, [Rimbert] had himself written, did not contain suitable formulations, he had during his entire time in office to fight for claiming this assignment as an “inheritance” which he had from Ansgar “by right of succession.” This is unreasonable, and in its place there is an entirely reasonable explanation.
Wolfgang Seegrün has pointed out that there is a decisive difference between the preliminary message to Solomon and the fully worked-out privilege to Ansgar. The former had no legal force. Against this background, the undersigned [i.e., Janson] has always claimed that what happened between the preliminary message and the issuing of [Nicholas’s privilege for Ansgar] was that the curia carefully worked through the case. In particular, they studied Gregory IV’s earlier privilege for Ansgar, and there they found that things were considerably more complex than the German delegation had portrayed them. I will not enter into detail here, but it ought in fact to be emphasized that a clear sign that it in fact was Gregory IV’s document that had come up is that Nicholas now no longer talks about “swevi”, which more likely is usage from the northern European area, but instead, along the lines of Gregory IV and general usage, about “sveones”, and from Gregory’s letter also the Slavs [enter] the legatine area. Things are thus clear as glass. The report to Solomon was...determined by the presentation of the royal delegation, while the privilege for Ansgar [was determined] by Gregory IV’s earlier privilege.
We [that is, Nicholas I speaking in pluralis maiestatis] praise the zeal of the emperor Louis the Pious of blessed memory, and are prepared to follow in the footsteps of our predecessor Gregory of holy memory. Although license for this could not be given by Gunthar [of Cologne], and should not have been sought, nevertheless for the love of the king...[we declare] that the bishop of Bremen, with our authority, should have the power and honor of an archiepiscopate over the Danes and the Swedes, in the aforementioned place of Bremen, and that his successors in future times should also hold and possess this power forever.
A minor point: I’m not quite sure what Janson means when he complains that this document does not “ascribe these rights to Ansgar’s successors.” Isn’t that exactly the force of Nicholas’s statement that Hamburg is to henceforth (deinceps) be an archiepiscopate and that successors to Ansgar’s offices are always (semper) to be elected? Divine judgment is even called to witness the election of later officeholders. Despite these lines, there is no evidence that Rimbert or his successors received anything from the pope except the pallium. To the extent that Rimbert “had...to fight for claiming [the legateship] as an ‘inheritance’ which he had from Ansgar ‘by the right of succession’” (Janson, as above: and this statement comes from the much later Vita Rimberti, so it’s unclear whether Rimbert even cared about the legateship, much less that he fought for it), his case could only have been bolstered by this passage. Perhaps nobody took it seriously, though? We digress....
Here are some other things that could have happened!
-On their way back north after getting all the requisite privileges from Nicholas I, Solomon and the German delegation were crossing a stream when Nordfrid, Ansgar’s representative, stepped on a mossy rock and fell into the water. Sadly, he was carrying the privilege for Ansgar in his pocket, and it was destroyed (papyrus and water do not mix). He was too embarrassed to tell anyone. That night he snuck into Solomon’s tent, absconded with a quill, some ink, and one of the less important documents that Nicholas had sent north with them. He carefully erased the papyrus to make way for a hastily composed replacement privilege for Ansgar. Nordfrid was a little fuzzy on some of the finer points, but he did his best. Nobody was ever the wiser.
-Instead of succumbing to the waters of an Alpine stream, the privilege in Nordfrid’s pocket attracted the attention of Solomon’s horse, who waited until nobody was looking before deftly removing it from Nordfrid’s pocket with his horsey teeth and eating it. To spare Solomon any embarrassment, Nordfrid proceeded as above.
-After the delegation had their audience with Nicholas, the pope went to his secretaries and was like: You guys over there, draw up a reply to Louis the German. And you guys over there, draw up the privilege for Ansgar. And before clarifying the finer points, he and Solomon went out for a beer. Team 1 and team 2 came up with different stuff. Nicholas and Solomon came back from the bar a little tipsy, the documents were already sealed, and nobody was in the mood to double check anything. Everyone was careful to keep the papyrus away from Solomon’s acquisitive steed.
-Louis the German really wanted Nicholas I to make Ansgar an archbishop at Bremen. But Ansgar hated his drafty Bremen apartment (slow WIFI, and every five minutes Willehad’s bones were healing some tedious pilgrim and dragging him out of bed) and really wanted to move to Hamburg (no Willehad, great Döner kebaps). He shot the pope an email (with a CC to Solomon) just as the delegation was arriving in Rome. Nicholas was like, shit, what do we do? And Solomon was like, let’s just tell everyone what they want to hear and hit the bar. And Nicholas was like, Word. They even remembered to give Solomon’s horse some extra barley after stumbling back.
-Nicholas and Solomon spent all afternoon working on Ansgar’s privilege as carried in item 2), then hit the bar with Solomon, the librarian Anastasius, and Cletus, Anastasius’s Bichon frise. After pint number five, Nicholas was getting worked up about Gunthar’s role in the whole Lothar divorce thing. He complained about it all the way back to the Lateran. Cologne was a serious pain in the ass. He was still feeling pretty awake when he got back to his apartment and thought he might as well do a bit of work. So he went to his study, grabbed a piece of papyrus, and pounded out the report for Louis the German, all in one go, complete with the paragraph making Ansgar an archbishop at Bremen as in item 1). Nicholas as a badass Latinist so this was no sweat for him, even after all that beer. It wasn’t quite accurate, but sticking it to Cologne sure felt good. Then he took Cletus for a walk in the stables, fed Solomon’s horse an apple, and had a cigarette.
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