De doctrina privilegiorum 3
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[3.] DOCTRINE OF THE EMPEROR'S PRIVILEGE.

[3.1] A privilege of the lord emperor should at the beginning be in nearly the same order. For this <protocol> should be similarly contained on the first line in 'celestial' letters: Conrad, 1 by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, augustus, to Alberic son of Guido, in perpetuity.

[3.2] Then at the beginning a preamble is similarly taken from the consequence of things,2 in which principles are contained that the emperor should punish unjust acts and willingly complete just acts, in this manner: It is always suitable for imperial power3 to rebuke errors and to deservedly consent to just petitions, or as follows: The office of the Roman empire is born from the fount of piety.4 Therefore it is fitting for it, that it should clemently incline the mind of its dignity to pious and devoted entreaties, or as follows: The office of royal authority5 rightfully punishes the audacity of evildoers, yet it does not undeservedly incline the ears of its power to devoted entreaties.

[3.3] Then the whole following speech should proceed under the person of the lord emperor and, as has been said above, he should describe by name whatever he may be going to confirm in his privilege.

[3.4] But at the last a penalty will be consistently arranged--not of anathema, which is not the emperor's--but of earthly things, which penalty the emperor will wish to assess or which he sees appropriate to the faculty of public persons: half to his treasury, the rest going to the benefit of those, whose privilege was infringed.

[3.5] When the privilege's sequence of letters has been completed, let a certain figure be made in the middle of the page, a figure you will find in the following example of a privilege, which is called a 'crismon', and as some wish, it describes this name 'Christ' or this whole phrase 'peace of Christ'. A certain letter is made within the crismon's perimeter according to scribe's choice, yet it is more frequently accustomed to be made, just as is in the following example, so that it should be surrounded by serpentine squiggles and outside the crismon's perimeter should be written: Sign of Conrad, most noble emperor of the Romans, augustus.

[3.6] At the lower border is written near the seal, as follows, in the person of the chancellor: I Henry, archbishop of the holy church of Mainz, 6 in the stead of lord R.., 7 my predecessor, chancellor of the imperial curia, have recognized that this was done under such and such year of the Lord's incarnation, indiction such and such, C., most noble emperor of the Romans ruling as emperor, in the second year of his imperial reign. Good luck!


1 Conrad III, king of Germany and emperor-elect (1138-1152).

2 See above, De doctrina privilegiorum 1.4.

3 DDKo.III 106, 116, 117, 128 (composed by Wibald of Stavelot).

4 DKo.III 211 (composed by Wibald of Stavelot); cf. Vita S. Sylvesti (ed MOMBRITIUS) 2.510.53 and Missale Romanum, sabbatum sanctum, Benedictio fontis.

5 Cf. DKo.III.130 (composed by Wibald of Stavelot).

6 Henry, archbishop of Mainz and archchancellor of the kingdom of Germany (1142-1153) and of Burgundy (1153).

7 Reinald of Dassel, imperial chancellor (1154-1159) and later archbishop of Cologne and archchancellor of Italy (1159-1167). Other contemporary chancellors: Arnold von Wien (1138-1151), Arnold von Selehofen (1151-1153), Zeizolf (1154).  

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998

Scrineum © Universitą di Pavia 1999