Oliva 2-4 
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[2.1] Privilege is a special law that offers a special shelter to its recipient.32 Privilege is a private law33 by which someone may protect private and special rights. Privilege is a durable shield; its protection and patronage establish private and valuable rights. As I defined it in the Palma, 'a privilege is a voluntary and authoritative grant conferred always by a greater person to a lesser one'.34


[3.1] Because privileges are not discussed in the Palma,35 I did not sufficiently explain there the etymology of the word 'privilege'. But in this present work I will speak of it exhaustively.

[3.2] 'Privilege' comes from the verb 'I (you) privilege', and 'I am (you are) privileged'. These verbs express respectively the grantor's activity and the recipient's passivity. The verb 'I privilege' is composed of 'I deprive' and 'by law'. Therefore the meaning of 'I privilege', is 'I deprive someone of a burden by a law'.

[3.3] Similarly, the meaning of 'he is privileged' is 'he is freed of a burden' or 'he is freed of some law through a petition'. 'I privilege' can also be understood as: 'I protect'; or 'I strengthen him with a law'. Similarly, the verb 'he is privileged' means 'he is protected' or 'strengthened' by a law.

[3.4] It can be said that this word 'privilege' is composed from 'deprived' and 'by law'. Here the word 'deprived' changes its meaning, because it does not signify a tense,36 but draws another meaning from the vernacular. Thus when 'private' is spoken, 'hidden' should be understood, and so a privilege is called a 'private law', ('hidden law').

[3.5] Instead, just as I said in the Palma, privilege is called 'legally private, because many things are granted by a private, that is, by a hidden law.'37

[3.6] For a privilege 'is acquired privately, that is, secretly.'38 It is brought home covertly and kept in a hidden place, and it is granted by superiors through friendly and private persons. 'Those who want to obtain privileges, that is, private laws, approach the courts privately',39 that is, secretly.

[3.7] It could otherwise be said that this word 'deprived' should be taken as a participle, and as such, it retains its own meaning in this compound. Thus is 'privilege' to be understood: a law by which someone is released from the bond of the common laws. Without doubt those privileged by ecclesiastical and secular persons stand released in many respects from the burden of the common laws.

[3.8] Thus one could say, under some cover of authority: 'He who is especially protected shall not fear to incur the penalty of the common law,40 because a special mandate removes a general law.'41 Many things are legal for those who obtain privileges, and they receive a manifold power in spiritualities, as well as in temporalities. Thus, pope Gregory: 'Whoever abuses the power permitted to him shall deserve to lose his privilege.'42


[4.1] There are two principal types of privileges and an infinite variety of secondary privileges. The principal types are imperial and papal privileges. For the pope can make a privilege in spiritualities, just as the emperor can in temporalities.43

[4.2] Nothing should be said about secondary types of privileges, because prolixity generates tedium.

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32 See WINFRIED STELZER "Die Anfänge der Petentenvertretung an der päpstliche Kurie unter Innocenz III" in Annali della Scuola speciale per archivisti e bibliotecari dell'Universita di Roma 12 (1972) 130-91.

33 Decretum Gratiani D.3 d.p.c. 2.

34 Palma 12. Cf. below, Oliva 42.4.

35 Palma 13. Cf. Notule auree 21, Palma33.

36 Cf. Breviloquium 27 (PINI ed. 22-24); Notule auree 16.

37 Palma 13.

38 Palma 13.

39 Palma 13.

40 Boncompagnus prol. 3.14 (ROCKINGER ed. 131).

41 Decretum C.25 q.1 dictum post capitulum 16.

42 Decretum Gratiani C.11 q.3 c.63, I Comp. 5.28.7. See Appendix I. For a variation of this maxim, see Boncompagnus 5.9.2.

43 For the respective privilege-making powers of popes and emperors, cf. Oliva, above 1.8 and below 5.4, 7.7, 8.20-21, 8.25-27, 19.1, 34.14-17, 43.1-2.

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