Oliva 40-42 
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[40.] DEFINITION OF 'CONFIRMATION'

[40.1] Confirmation is an oak of justice, a shield of equity, a barrier302 to those contradicting and a stronghold of the weak.

[40.2] Or as I defined it in the Palma, a confirmation is 'a certain voluntary and authoritative grant which is always granted by a greater person to a lesser one.'303 

[40.3] Or 'a confirmation is a rational approval of a judicial sentence or of an office presented.'304 

[41.] ETYMOLOGY OF 'CONFIRMATION'

[41.1] 'Confirmation' is derived from 'I confirm' and from 'confirmer,' since a confirmation emanates from a confirmer.

[42.] HOW MANY ARE THE SPECIES OF CONFIRMATIONS

[42.1] There are three species of confirmation. One type is written, another is oral, and a third is both oral and by bestowal of a staff held in the hand and sometimes also of keys and of doors.

[42.2] In writing, as when something is confirmed to someone by a letter.305 

[42.3] Orally alone, inasmuch as quite often greater persons are accustomed to say 'We hold to be confirmed and certain'306 what was done, nor do they wish it be abated by anyone.

[42.4] Orally, and by bestowal of a staff held in the hand or by bestowal of keys and doors, just as is done in many places, that when something is granted to someone by lesser people, then afterwards greater persons place a staff in hand, saying, 'And thus we confirm you' or 'We invest you in the presence of these'.307 

[42.5] To place keys in hand is the general custom throughout Italy. For when archpriests or plebani invest priests in a chapel, they place keys308 in their hands as a sign of confirmation, and in some places both keys and the doors309 of the church.

[42.6] But others do all this and also present the bell ropes. Whence the recipients ring the churchbells a bit,310 so that their confirmation or investiture may be more strongly corroborated. Abbots, archdeacons, provosts, deacons, priors and other prelates of churches in diverse parts of the world keep this custom.

[42.7] For indeed311 when the pope gives someone an executor,312 he quite often orders this executor that he must not postpone approaching that place, and thus the pope conveys a right to the one holding in corporal possession, whence that executor then places the keys and the doors of the church in his hands.

[42.8] Sometimes, shaking the bell-ropes a bit, he presents the bells themselves for a more evident indication of the confirmation. Undoubtedly, the hearts of mortals are invigorated by the sound of bells and a certain indescribable war dance314 and trebled delight is born in the minds of the victors.313 

[42.9] Furthermore, the lord pope sometimes confirms patriarchs, sometimes archbishops, through transmission of a palium.315 The emperor confirms kings and princes by means of imperial insignia, which he transmits to them through legates.

[42.10] Whence it should be noted that one sort of confirmation is simple, the other is solemn. A simple confirmation is one made only orally, or made by bestowal of a staff held in the hand, or made by a simple writing. A solemn confirmation is one made in writing and corroborated by the fortification of a seal. A solemn confirmation can also be called that, which the pope makes through transmission of a palium or which an emperor makes by gift of imperial insignia. 


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302 For this word used in the singular, see Matthaeus Vidocinensis Ars versificatoria 2.2 (Galfredus Vinsauf Poetria nova 1077, where it is plural), and Boncompagnus 3.16.16 (hereticorum repagulum).

303 Palma 12. This is actually the Palma's definition of privilege, also quoted above, Oliva 2.1.

304 Palma 14. On confirmation as the constituitive approval (by the pope) of the election to an office, see ROBERT L. BENSON The Bishop-elect (Princeton 1968) 185ff. See Oliva c.49.

305 The simple written confirmation is the lowest, whereas the written and sealed confirmation is the highest species. See below, Oliva 42.10.

306 Cf. the charter formula: Quod ut ratum et inconvulsum...(manuscript M takes this whole sentence to be an oral formula).

307 Here Boncompagno uses confirmation as the investiture of a benefice. On the complicated connection between confirmation and investiture in the election of a bishop: ROBERT L. BENSON The Bishop-elect (Princeton 1968).

308 See art. 'Schlussel' in Handwörterbuch zur deutschen Rechtsgeschichte 1443, CONRAD BORCHLING Rechtssymbolik in rom. und germ Recht (Darmstadt 1965) and ROBERT BRENTANO Two Churches: England and Italy in the Thirteenth Century (Princeton 1968) 70.

309 For a written confirmation of P.'s investiture in the chapel of S. Maria de Oliveto, by G., archpriest of Montevecchio, Bologna, see below, Oliva 59.3, 60.1-5. On the symbolic action of investiture, see HAGEN KELLER "Die Investitur" Frühmittelalterliche Studien 27 (1993) 51-86.

310 See R. W. SOUTHERN The Making of the Middle Ages (London 1953) 98-100, 105.

311 For enimvero, see Tractatus virtutum §8.

312 See ADAM ZIRKEL Executio potestatis. Zur Lehre Gratians von der geistlichen Gewalt Münchener Theologische Studien3, Kanonistische Abteilung 33 (St. Ottilien 1975) and review by RUDOLF WEIGAND ZRG kan. Abt. 63 (1977) 318-327.

313 The celebration of victory was an important topic in Boncompagno's rhetorical repetoire, a topic which also appears above, Oliva 1.7.

314 For this victory dance, see also Liber de obsidione Ancone (ZIMOLO ed. 31.3, 42.5).

315 Formula for delivering pallia: Liber Censuum (FABRE ed.) 1.417. On the pallium, see PAUL MARIA BAUMGARTEN "Beiträge zur Geschichte des Palleum" Miscellanea Francesco Ehrle II Scritti di Storia e Paleografia (Rome, Studi e testi 38, 1924) 338-347 and above, Oliva 37.6.


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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998

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