Thomas F.X. Noble

title.none: Johrendt, Papsttum und Landeskirchen (Thomas F.X. Noble)

identifier.other: baj9928.0601.026 06.01.26

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Thomas F.X. Noble, University of Notre Dame,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2006

identifier.citation: Johrendt, Jochen. Papsttum und Landeskirchen im Spiegel der papstlichen Urkunden (896-1046). Series: MGH: Studien und Texte, vol. 33. Hanover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2004. Pp. xxii, 305. 40EUR 3-7752-5733-0. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 06.01.26

Johrendt, Jochen. Papsttum und Landeskirchen im Spiegel der papstlichen Urkunden (896-1046). Series: MGH: Studien und Texte, vol. 33. Hanover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2004. Pp. xxii, 305. 40EUR 3-7752-5733-0. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Thomas F.X. Noble
University of Notre Dame

This valuable book began life as a Munich dissertation supervised by Rudolf Schieffer. It is the second major study based on Harald Zimmermann's 1984 edition of the papal letters for the years 896 to 1046 (hence, in part, the book's title). In 1995 Hans Henning Kortum studied the language, and to some extent the diplomatic, of these letters. Johrendt has grouped the letters for Germany, France, Italy, and Catalonia ("Landeskirchen", as he calls them) so as to study what kinds of papal documents reached each realm (at least in so far as they are preserved), what these documents tell us about the individual churches, and what they tell us about the papacy. Johrendt's approach is closely based on Kortum's outstanding book; in many respects the two books need to be read together. That is, Kortum demonstrated persuasively that the surviving papal letters display linguistic and diplomatic eccentricities that can only be explained by the preparation of almost all of them outside Rome. For Kortum, this meant that there was no coherent, continuously functioning papal chancery, and that the surviving evidence reveals a passive papacy. Johrendt jumps off from that point to ask if the wishes of recipients--for this is what the letters permit us to know--tell us anything about the structure of the Landeskirchen, on the one hand, and about how people understood the papal office, on the other. In other words, can these "papal" letters tell us anything concrete about the function(s) of the papacy in the crucial century and a half before the onset of the Gregorian reforms?

Johrendt's method is effective and illuminating, albeit repetitive. Zimmermann's edition provides 630 documents in all, 477 when the later forgeries are subtracted. This means that Johrendt has 3.17 letters per year to work with. He bravely attempts to make various kinds of statistical correlations, but is sometimes defeated by the small number of documents. He proceeds systematically through each of his four Landeskirchen and studies, in turn, the surviving papal letters for each one. More specifically, he looks at the legal titles under which the letters can be grouped; the 477 letters now reduce to 459. Including contemporary forgeries, which can accurately reveal the interests of petitioners, raises the overall sample to 506. Purely for heuristic purposes he divides his 150-year period into five 30-year segments. His analysis is, therefore, geographical, chronological and institutional.

From the vast array of observations and conclusions offered by Johrendt, I will select just a few by way of indicating what is to be found in the book. In terms of numbers, Germany has 128 letters, France 107, Italy 178, and Catalonia 46. Monasteries predominate as recipients, and certain monasteries dominate within their regions: Cluny represents 21 of 82 monastic letters for France, Fulda 16 of 75 for Germany, and Monte Cassino 14 of 96 for Italy. The years from 986 to 1015 saw the most documents overall, and the years from 1016-1046 witnessed a considerable drop-off everywhere an in almost all kind of documents. 117 times documents reveal the decisive intervention of intercessors or intermediaries. Such intervention was commonest in Germany, with kings and queens being by far the most active. Abbots and lay nobles are almost invisible. Letters for German and Italian recipients are the most formulaic, and often betray at lest some influence of the Liber Diurnus>.

Under what titles or categories does Johrendt, therefore, array his material? Abbatial elections; conferrals of the pallium; confirmations of possessions; forms of protection (including exemption, immunity, protection in the strict sense); and marks of respect including such things as seating order in synods, liturgical vestments (sandals and dalmatic), processional crosses, local cardinalates, vicariates, and primacies. By looking in great detail at all the documents issued for reach region under each of these heads, Johrendt is able to offer some interesting and important perspectives on the ecclesiastical history of the tenth and early eleventh centuries, to be sure, but also on the wider scene in this long period.

Once again, I will provide just a few examples of the kinds of conclusions that the author reaches. This study makes clear-- not that we really needed it made clear--the immense power and prestige of the German monarchy. So, for example, papal guarantees of possessions or awards of protection in Germany tended to be supplementary to royal or imperial grants and always followed them. In Germany, therefore, it as the pope's position as St. Peter's vicar, the pope's spiritual authority, that really mattered. In Catalonia, on the other hand, royal influence virtually ceased after 986. When recipients in Catalonia looked for papal guarantees--which they did, percentage-wise, in larger numbers than anywhere else--it was not spiritual but authentic and enforceable legal power, in effect a substitute for royal power, which they sought. In Italy, popes sometimes acted as landed lords around Rome and in the Papal States, sometimes as arbiters, and sometimes as fellow bishops. German and Italian documents are much more formulaic than French or Catalonian ones. Why? Because in Germany, for instance, there was a royal court, continuous large-scale synodal activity, considerable transfer of ecclesiastical personnel, and other marks of a stable, functioning structure. There was nothing like this in France or Catalonia.

This is book that demands the attention of every historian of the central Middle Ages. Its chief virtues lie in its careful, empirical research. Johrendt's findings can be fitted into many other research projects with profit. He makes a weak nod at institutional sociology (pp. 10-11), probably out of a misplaced desire to appear "theoretical." What he draws from that source is as unoriginal as it is unhelpful. His use of the Landeskirchen is, as he does acknowledge, somewhat anachronistic. It is a useful organizing principle, but one may wonder if the comparative perspectives that Johrendt teases out of his evidence are not in some cases beside the point. For example, Catalonia was not a monarchy in this period and so it is difficult to compare it with Germany or northern France. Germany and France make for some illuminating comparisons, but a lot of the "French" material comes from the south where royal authority was, as Johrendt does admit, negligible. It is hard to compare Italy with anything! It is also the case that the normally careful and systematic Johrendt sometimes, in the several dozen little sections that comprise the book, forgets to provide numbers or provides numbers that do not quite add up. But these are quibbles. This is a good book, and an important one too.