Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.5-6
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[1.5] An archbishop to the pope in this manner and each subject always greets the Roman pontiff with these words: To E., his most reverend lord and father, highest pontiff of the apostolic see, H.1 humble minister of the church of Sens, although unworthy, deserved reverence with subjection. Afterwards one should add praise of the pope to garner his goodwill, in this manner:2 How the dispensation of almighty God has elevated Your Sanctity to this, that it curtail wicked injustice with its inflexible sickle, plant the seeds of virtue and justly and mercifully examine the cases of all oppressed people! Therefore all those who suffer injustice flee to Your Paternity and lodge their complaints in the sight of Your Sanctity. For here is the fountain of mercy, here the uncorrupted continuance of justice. Thus sons rightfully entrust themselves to paternal mildness, rightfully do all oppressed people flee to Your Sanctity, rightfully do sheep wounded by wolves look to the shepherd. Diligently hear our case, O most holy father, carefully discuss its truth and convert our tears into joy.3

[1.6] After this one should proceed step by step to the narration, in which brevity is necessary, by which action one should at first say or introduce strong arguments, in the middle arguments of lesser validity, at the end the strongest arguments. Whatever is said in the final position is fixed more firmly to the memory.4 Then one should direct words to the cardinals and acquire by all means their good-will and deprecate as much as possible the adversary's case. At the end one summarizes the case and repeats the valid arguments and thus artfully concludes the case5 with a plea. One should observe this <form> in all letters which contain complaints.


1 Hugo de Toucy, archbishop of Sens (1142-1168).

2 The legal complaint (querimonia, conquestio) partially sketched here in Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.5-6 follows, after a normal salutation, the structure of the classical forensic speech, as detailed in Rhetorica ad Herennium 1.3.4: exordium, narratio, confirmatio (argumentatio), confutatio, conclusio; only the divisio is lacking in the model querimonia; the part of the oration most likely to be dropped, which the Rhetorica ad Herennium places before the confirmatio as an indication of its contents. See also below, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.10. -- Such consideration of forensic rhetoric is unique among the masters of the ars dictandi, at least until the publication of Boncompagno's Rhetorica novissima.

3 cf. Psalm 29.12. See also below, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 3b.84.

4 For the disposition of the argument tactically weighted according to beginning, middle, end, see Rhetorica ad Herennium 3.10.8.

5 On the description of the oration's end, cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 1.3.4: Conclusio est artificiosus orationis terminus.

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
Scrineum © Universitą di Pavia 1999