Alberici Cassinensis Corpus 2.2 
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[2.2. Papal Privileges]

[2.2.1] Privileges are grants of highest pontiffs to any church.1

[2.2.2] The matter in privileges is of this sort: the pontiff should say that at the request of some worthy person or for some other reason he grants or confirms to some church by this or that pontfical authority.

[2.2.3] There should be an anathema at the end of the letter.

[2.2.4] Privileges have prologues just as do other letters and a monogram at the end, as follows: [bene valete], which is 'bene valete'.

[2.2.5] At the beginning of a privilege there will be a sign or a Chrismon or the Lord's cross with a superscripted 'S'. The superscript 'S' will be interpreted to mean 'sign'. A Chrismon of this sort is made, so that Christ's name should appear monogrammed in it.

[2.2.6] In my opinion, the Chrismon will be fashioned in this way : [Chrismon].

[2.2.7] Thereafter they are accustomed to distinguish the privilege at its bottom margin with some little circles containing the pope's name and some divine words, in this manner [rota]: 'pope Gregory/2 'The earth is filled with the Lord's right hand.'3

[2.2.8] Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the venerable and religious abbot Desiderius4 of the monastery of Montecassino and to the whole congregation of brethren subject to him, perpetual greetings in the Lord.5

[2.2.9] It befits6 all those whom divine grace has wished to raise to the responsibility of pontifical rulership, to not avert the ear of his clemency from holy and just petitions and to willingly assent to pious vows and to desires conceived through divine inspiration.

[2.2.10] Whence, hearing your just and equitable petition, we confirm by our authority through the strengthening of this privilege whatever has been granted by our predecessors to your church of holy God.

[2.2.11] Furthermore, we grant that it shall be lawful for you to send the brothers of your congregation to whatever bishop you please for promotion to orders, either for promotion to the clergy or to the priesthood or to any other rank whatsoever.

[2.2.12] Whoever shall have attempted to infringe or to commute this decree of the holy apostolic see, unless he shall come to his senses with satisfaction of suitable penance, let him be anathematized.

[2.2.13] The matter and structure of privileges are of this sort. But anyone will be able to lengthen his words just as these shall have been present to mind and he will be able to display whichever verbal ornaments he shall have wished.


1 Alberic of Montecassino's doctrine on the composition of papal and imperial charters of privilege follows his Breviarium (ca. 1077-85) in five manuscripts.

2 Gregory VII, pope (1073-1085).

3Cf. Psal. 32.5, which was the devise of Leo IX, pope (1048-1054). The devise of pope Gregory VII was 'Miserationes tuae domine super omnia opera tua' (cf. Psal. 144.9).

4 Desiderius, abbot of Montecassino (1058-1085).

5 HARRY BRESSLAU Handbuch der Urkundenlehre für Deutschland und Italian (1932) 2.249 judged that the two model charters found here and below (2.3.12-19) have not been remade into formularies from originals of the monastery's archives, as one might think , but were completely invented by Alberic, indeed with a certain general knowledge of the forms of papal and royal privileges, but still with many violations against the special chancery norms of the rulers, to which they are ascribed." At note 1 BRESSLAU continues: "A comparison of the composition of the two charters shows that they came from one and the same author, thus not from the chanceries of Gregory VII and Henry IV. In the privilege of Gregory VII, which LöWENFELD (JL 5305) rightfully marked as not genuine, the rota violates chancery norms, with its devise 'Dextera Domini plena est terra'--a variant of the devise of pope Leo IX. The diploma of Henry IV, with whose dating STUMPF (St. 2991a) and FICKER fruitlessly occupied themselves, has a false title, a corroboration impossible for that time and a completely jumbled recognovi-line; Henry [bishop of Augsburg] is named chancellor in the preceding text, who only served under Henry III, and Gregory of Vercelli, chancellor from 1063-1077, functions as archchancellor."

6 This preamble (Decet...annuere) is repeated almost exactly in the Rationes dictandi (ROCKINGER ed.) XXX and in De doctrina privilegiorum 6.2, where it is used in an example of an archbishop's decretum.

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