Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 2.21-27
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[2.21] Now should be spoken about privileges of persons. The word 'privilege' is said as if from a private et singular law.1 Whence it is said "Privileges of a few do not make common law."2 A privilege is the particular office (dignitas) of a person, apart from all others who are of his same condition or office. There are also privileges of diverse persons and of cities and of churches. Privilege and prerogative are called the same. Prerogative is called a dignity conferred or disbursed to one person before others.

[2.22] It should be know that privileges are sometimes granted to persons personally, sometimes not personally. But the word 'person' is said in two ways: according to nature and as becomes a private citizen.

[2.23] It is defined according to nature in this way: Person is the individual substance of a rational nature.3

[2.24] It is defined in the civil law thus: Person is the excellence of an office by which someone leads in a city or in a church.4

[2.25] Thus it is, that a privilege is granted personally to such and such a person5 in a city or a church6 according to the first definition, i. e. individually, in such a way that no one of his family or rank shares <the privilege> with him.7

[2.26] According to the other definition of 'person' a privilege is sometimes granted personally to a person, sometimes not personally. For example, pope Nicholas said,8 in a decree about the election of the pope: "On account of much discord and sedition, we decree that the presence of the lord emperor is required at the election of the pope. But if the emperor himself would not be able to be present, a papal election shall not be celebrated without the presence of imperial legates. We grant this <privilege> personally to our beloved son H<enry>,9 who is presently held to be king and hopes to be the future emperor, God willing.."

[2.27] Behold, a privilege granted personally to a person. I say here 'personally', not 'singularly'; supply here: 'personally to this emperor and to his successors'.10 For this adverb 'personally' has a double meaning, for 'personally' can be understood as 'singularly' according to the first meaning and according to the other meaning 'personally', i. e. according to the dignity of a person. Sometimes a privilege is granted to a person 'personally', just as a legation was granted to the bishop of Chartres,11 not because he is a bishop, but because he is this bishop, that is, a confidant and friend of the apostolic see.


1 This etymology originally appeared in Cicero De legibus 1.3; it first takes this exact form in Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae 5.18, which received wide circulation by its inclusion in Gratian's Decretum D.3 c.3.

2 This phrase appears often as a legal maxim, such as with respect to the 1059 Papstwahldekret (see below, 2.26) in the Summa 'Elegantius in iure divino' seu Coloniensis 3.18 (edd. GERARD FRANSEN and STEPHAN KUTTNER 3.121-122); it also appears in Biblical exegesis, such as in Jerome In Jonam 1...cum privilegia singulorum non possint legem facere communem.

3 Boethius Contra Eutychen et Nestorium (ed. ELSäSSER) 74: Persona est naturae rationalibis individua substantia. This is the definition of person in logic, from the Greek hypostasis, which plays a prominant part in trinitarian theology and Christology. See M. LUTZ-BACHMANN "'Natur' und 'Persona' in den Opuscula Sacra des A.M.S. Boethius" ThPh 58 (1983) 48-70.

4 This definition came from the Greek prosopon, which originally meant mask, and by extension: role, function or rank. Both hypostasis and prosopon were translated into Latin by the term persona.

5 The demonstrative pronoun 'that' (illa) is used here and below (Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 2.41,43, 3a.4,13,20,23, 3b.60 and perhaps 3a.13) as a substitute for a proper name, with similar meaning as the degree zero abbreviation 'N.' (Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 2.14,31,36, 3a.12,43,48,53). The scribe of the Admont manuscript also geminated this pronoun (2.42, 3a.20), perhaps in order to underline the meaning 'such and such, this or that'.

6 This clause has been transmitted in the Admont manuscript as the question "And whence it may be asked: 'Is that person in a church or in a city?'"

7 That is, civic or ecclesiastic officials can also receive singular privileges.

8 Word given in large type exactly match Nicholaus II's 1059 papal election decree (Papstwahldekret = PWD), ed. DETLEV JASPER Das Papstwahldekret von 1059: überlieferung und Textgestalt (Sigmaringen 1986) and primarily from the Königsparagraph (ed. JASPER, genuine text: 104-5 lines 84-91, forged imperial version 101.45-48). This excerpt of the PWD given in the Aurea Gemma <Gallica> was unknown to JASPER or to any previous research on the PWD.  Here is also a translation of both versions of the Papal Election Decree.

9 Henry IV, king of Germany (1056-1106). He was not crowned emperor until 1084. See above Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.3.

10 The Aurea Gemma <Gallica>'s interpretation of the imperial right with respect to papal elections (see also the PWD excerpt given above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 2.26 and previous note) more nearly resembles the forged imperial version of the PWD than the genuine version.

11 Geoffrey de Leves, bishop of Chartres (1116-1149) and papal legate (1132-1143). Geoffrey was a special intimate of of bishop Stephen of Paris and Bernard of Clairvaux, who praised Geoffrey's scrupulous integrity as a legate in De consideratione 5.13 (PL 182.783). Although pope Innocent II acted in 1132 to create a standing legate in France, this act was based on his trust in Geoffrey himself, rather than for the purpose of raising the see of Chartres to the status of legatus natus. Indeed Geoffrey's elevation was meant as a counterweight to Gerald of Angouleme, who supported the antipope Anacletus II and who was the last surviving permanent legate of this type created by Gregory VII. See WILHELM JANSSEN Die päpstlichen Legaten in Frankreich, vom Schisma Anaklets II. bis zum Tode Coelestins III. (1130-1198) Kölner historische Abhandlungen, vol. 6 (Cologne 1961) 18-30 and I.S. ROBINSON The Papacy (1073-1198) (Cambridge 1990) 158 According to ACHILLE LUCHAIRE Études sur les actes de Louis VII (Paris 1885) 154, no. 171, Geoffrey also fulfilled a papal legation in 1147. This passage may furnish a terminus post quem for the composition of section II. Bishop Geoffrey is not indicated here as deceased , as would be expected in a discursive passage written after 1149, either by the use of quondam or by verb tenses (cf. the variant reading fuit of the Brugge manuscript, copied after 1198).

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