De doctrina privilegiorum 1
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[1.] HERE BEGINS A DOCTRINE OF PRIVILEGES.1

[1.1] A privilege is a papal or imperial sanction, by whose threat confirmed rights are kept inviolate. Privilege is derived from 'private law'2 that is special law; indeed anyone trusting in a privilege defends his person and possessions by a special law. Or, as pope Clement3 testified: "The word 'privilege' gets its name from 'privation of the laws,'"4 namely that neither law nor edict can overturn a rightly made privilege.

[1.2] But a privilege is more properly called that which is established by the pope or by the emperor. Those which are made by archbishops or bishops or by dukes or by margraves should indeed not deservedly be called privileges, but rather decrees or perhaps precepts.

[1.3] This is the structure of a papal privilege. To begin, this <protocol> should be contained on the first line in tall 'celestial' script: Eugene, 5 bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the venerable brother N., bishop of Paris or to the beloved son N., abbot of Cluny or to the beloved sons NN., canons or monks or to any place or any church whatsoever. <The protocol> is established to do that, namely leaving out the salutation and replacing it with 'in perpetuity' or even sometimes with a salutation appended, namely this: 'greetings and apostolic benediction.'

[1.4] Then some preamble is appropriately added from the consequence of things,6 in which it is said that <the grantor of this privilege> himself ought to hear just entreaties and kindly show favor to just petitions, in this manner: Therefore the Lord wished to put us forword on the peak of this eminence, 7 so that we would diligently take care to watch out for the needs and salvation of all. Because thus, O dear brothers in Christ... or as follows: We are required no little by the office of pastoral ministry8 to provide for the needs of all and diligently extend our mind to just entreaties, or as follows: All justice prohibits us from assenting to unjust petitions, 9 but all reason persuades us to favor just entreaties.

[1.5] After having arranged these preambles or ones similar to these, the whole speech should proceed in the lord pope's voice10 and he will describe by name all things which he has confirmed or has fortified by the protection of his privilege. Indeed, whether he might grant something which is not yet possessed or only confirm something already possessed or corroborate something possessed in some manner and afterwards legally and rightfully acquired, these should all be written down by name on the privilege's page. For no other things should be confirmed in a privilege, except those things owned or thereafter acquired rightfully and legally.

[1.6] In the third place11 he should establish a terrible anathema: Whoever, archbishop, bishop, duke, margrave, count, viscount, castellan or any person, ecclesiastic or layman, who attempts to infringe or oppose this privilege, having been warned twice or three times, unless he shall have made amends in due proportion, let him be 'anathema Marantha', 12 that is, separated from God at His second coming, so that he shall forever share the lot of Judas and Nero and he shall be made a stranger to the most holy body of our Lord Jesus Christ and he shall be subject to divine punishment on the day of the Last Judgment, or the writer may use any other terrible words which he pleases.

[1.7] The highest blessing should be placed at the end of the privilege, similarly arranged according to the writer's free choice: Let there be the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ for all those preserving the rights of this privilege, inasmuch that here they shall receive the fruit of good works and <hereafter> they shall repose with the Lord in the fellowship of the saints, or perhaps other words, as the writer pleases.

[1.8] Thereafter, on the rest of the page--namely on the left side--a certain monogram is written, which is in the following example of a privilege, in which monogram is contained the words 'Bene valete'.

[1.9] But on the right side13 let there be a certain doubled wheel (rota) and within the middle let there be a cross of Christ. Within the circuit of the double wheel should be written: The right hand of the Lord has struck with power, the right hand of the Lord has exalted me,14 or this: Of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full,15 or this: Come children, hear me,16 or something else from the Psalms, which the dictator sees would specially fit the person of the lord pope. Above the arms of the wheel's cross should be written the names of the apostles 'saint Peter, saint Paul' and under the arms of the cross should be written the lord pope's name, thus: 'pope Eugene III' or whatever the name of the pope shall have been.

[1.10] At the bottom margin of the page, next to the seal, should be written the name of the chancellor, in this manner: Dated at Paris by the hand of Guido, 17 cardinal deacon and chancellor of the holy Roman church, on the 21st of April, 18 in such and such indiction, in the year of the Lord's incarnation one thousand one hundred such and such, the such and such year of lord Eugene's pontificate.


1 Anonymous doctrine of privileges written in 1147 (i.e. during the residence of pope Eugene III and the papal curia in France), lightly reworked ca. 1155-58 (see below, 2.7-8, 4.6) and thereafter appended to the French version of master Bernardus' Summa dictaminum (recension B, completed ca. 1160).

2 Cicero's etymology (De legibus 1.3) first takes this form in Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae 5.18, which received wide circulation by its inclusion in Gratian's Decretum D.3 c.3.

3 The following does not appear in the first Epistle of S. Clement or in the pseudo-Clementine literature.

4 For the origin of this etymology in early decretist commentaries, see RICHARD SPENCE "A twelfth-century treatise on the writing of privileges" Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law 12 (1982) 51-63 at 53.

5 Eugene III, pope (1145-1153).

6 See master Bernardus' Rationes dictandi (ROCKINGER ed.) 18 for the five modi exordiendi: a persona mittentis, a persona recipientis, ab utraque simul, a rerum effectu, a negotio de quo agitur. Three modes (or topics of invention) for constructing the preambles to privileges are detailed in Boncompagno's Oliva 7.19-8a.6 (papal privileges) and 15.3 (privileges granted by archbishops and bishops); these topics of invention are repeated for the preambles to confirmations 50.4. The Aurea Gemma <Gallica>, which is the first ars dictandi to comprehensively treat the topics of invention, does not specifically deal with preambles.

7 A privilege with a similar incipit was issued by the papal chancery in 16 July 1147 (JL 9096, PL 180.1252) during ten weeks of residence at Auxerre, but shortly after departing Meaux, where pope Eugene III had stayed for nearly three weeks..

8 Cf. JL 1191 (Reg. Gregorii I. 2.37), 5377, 7116 (PL 163.1305), 7298 (PL 166.1277).

9 Cf. JL 4384, 4398, 4458 (PL 143.1352), 4992 (PL 148.729), 5395 (PL 151.299), 8685.

10 See also below, De doctrina privilegiorum 3.3.

11 Not included in this enumeration is the body of a privilege (narratio, promulgatio, dispositio--in medieval sources often merely referred to as the narratio), whose final, dispositive, part is described and discussed above, De doctrina privilegiorum 1.5, but not exemplified. Failure to count the privilege's body here is not unusual; as the most variable part of a charter, it has received short shrift from both modern diplomatic and medieval charter doctrines.

12 I Cor. 16.22

13 Although SPENCE notes in his edition: "The author made a mistake here. In his following example [ie. following De doctrina privilegiorum 2.8, below] and in actual documents, the rota is on the left and the Bene valete is on the right," the author merely described right and left proper to the object itself (ie.: the page of a papal charter), rather than from the perspective of someone viewing or reading that object. Stage directions--'proper right' and 'proper left' in the terminology used by art historians--are always correct protocol for describing pictorial sources with hierarchical intent, because right and left may have absolute valences. For example: scenes of the Last Judgment invariably place the elect to Christ's right and the damned to His left. The rota, with its pictures of SS. Peter and Paul and papal devise, properly occupies stage right--the more worthy side--whereas the less important bene valete is relegated to stage left. To name right and left according to the vantage point of a viewer, as SPENCE has done, confounds dextra with sinistra and subverts a finely wrought hierarchical structure. --- Though rota and bene valete are described in the eleventh-century Alberic of Montecassino's Corpus 2.2.4-7, they are not specifically located on the page. But De doctrina privilegiorum's use of proper right and proper left are retained in the charter doctrines based on it: Rudolf of Orleans Summa dictaminis (ROCKINGER ed. 111-114), Bernard of Meung's De privilegiis (WIGHT ed.) 1.7-8 and "De confectione privilegiorum et instrumentorum", the final section of Transmundus' Introductiones in arte dictandi (DALZELL ed.) 37.13. --- For the general problem of descriptive perspective of right and left, see KURT REINDEL Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani MGH Briefe der deutschen Kaiserzeit (Munich 1983-1993) 3.90-99 (ep. 159) at 91-2, notes 5-8 with literature cited there and Boncompagno's Oliva 9.23. The semiology of charters deserves more study, a beginning will be made by the collection of articles: PETERCK ed. Graphische Symbole in mittelalterlichen Urkunden Historische Hilftswissenschaften 3 (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, forthcoming).

14 Psal. 117.16. Cf. the devises of Alexander II, pope (1061-1073).

15 Psal. 32.5: the devise of Leo IX, pope (1048-1054), whose chancery introduced the rota.

16 Psal. 33.12.

17 Guido, cardinal deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano (1132-1149) and chancellor of the Roman church (10/17.12.1146-11.1149). For his legation to Germany in 1147 to discuss king Conrad III's plans for the second crusade, see J. BACHMANN Legaten in Deutschland und Skandinavien (1125-1159) Historische Studien 115 (Berlin 1913) 79f. This legation apparently left no documentary record: it is not discussed in STEFAN WEISS Die Urkunden der paepstlichen Legaten von Leo IX. bis Coelestin III. (1049-1198) (Cologne 1995).For Guido's friendships with Anselm of Havelberg: Codex Wibaldi nos. 121-122; with Bernard of Clairvaux: PL. 182 nos. 234, 367, 368; with Wibald of Stavelot: Codex Wibaldi nos. 47, 55, 62, 63, 67, 113, 160, 194, 195,198, 252.

18 The same calendar date appears below, De doctrina privilegiorum 2.8. SPENCE (ed. 54) mistakenly counts this date as May 20, 1150.  

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998

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