Anders Winroth

title.none: Schon, Die Capitula Angilramni (Anders Winroth)

identifier.other: baj9928.0706.002 07.06.02

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Anders Winroth, Yale University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2007

identifier.citation: Schon, Karl-Georg. Die Capitula Angilramni: Eine prozessrechtliche Fälschung Pseudoisidors. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Studien und Texte, vol 39. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2006. Pp. xix, 198. $40.00 3-7752-5739-X. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.06.02

Schon, Karl-Georg. Die Capitula Angilramni: Eine prozessrechtliche Fälschung Pseudoisidors. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Studien und Texte, vol 39. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2006. Pp. xix, 198. $40.00 3-7752-5739-X. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Anders Winroth
Yale University

Among the most influential written works produced in the Early Middle Ages are the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries. Several collections of partially authentic and partially forged law were put together in the monastery of Corbie in the 830s and 840s: the Collectio Hispana Augustodunensis, the Capitula Angilramni, the Capitularies of Benedictus Levita, and the massive False Decretals. The forger aimed at making the church more independent of secular powers, by emphasizing the authority of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and by creating a system of legal procedure that made it more difficult to depose or otherwise punish clerics. In the process and unintentionally, Pseudo-Isidore enhanced the authority of the pope, something that the reformers of the High Middle Ages used to support their goals (not knowing that their sources were forged). Even more influential was the forger's creation of a procedure for ecclesiastical courts, which remains important for modern legal procedure under all kinds of law.

The several works of Pseudo-Isidore are central to our understanding of legal history as well as Carolingian ecclesiastical and political history. The hurried 1863 edition of Paul Hinschius simply does not provide a usable text of the forgeries, since he made several unwise editorial decisions. He misunderstood the relationship among the manuscripts and sometimes simply lifted his text from editions of what he thought to be Pseudo-Isidore's sources. We must therefore applaud the initiative of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) to produce new, critical editions of the forgeries. The editors, Karl-Georg Schon and Klaus Zechiel-Eckes, have already made great strides towards this goal, and they have generously made their more or less finished editions available on the internet at When completed, the editions will also all be published in traditional book form. The recently discovered Collectio Danieliana was the first installment (2006); the Capitula Angilramni are the second installment of the printed editions.

The Capitula contain 71 brief chapters that mostly concern procedural law. It is a short text that fills no more ten printed pages, but its influence is enormous. Several cornerstones of medieval and modern procedure are first formulated here, such as the exceptio spolii stating that "wrongful disturbance of possession must be righted before a claim to title would be listened to" (as defined in a 1915 United States Supreme Court opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.). In Pseudo-Isidore, the rule is applied only to bishops who have been deposed from their bishoprics: they must be restored to their offices with all incomes and rights before any legal proceeding may be brought against them. Such rules were intended to prevent bishops from being deposed in the politically troubled years of the 830s and 840s, as, e.g., Archbishop Ebo of Rheims had been in 835. Medieval legal scholars such as Gratian (lived c. 1140) took up the idea, which they applied not only to bishops but to anyone who had lost any kind of property without proper legal forms.

The present edition is made with all the care and skills that one expects from MGH editions. Notable is that the editor chooses not to reproduce the text of the earliest recoverable text of the Capitula (represented by the manuscript Bern, Burgerbibliothek 442), since this would mean that the edition would give a text of an eccentric manuscript with little or no historical influence. Instead, he lists its variants in the apparatus and prints the text of manuscript group A as the main text of the edition. This text represents the earliest recoverable text that circulated more widely, so the editor's choice is very sensible.

In addition to the text of the Capitula, the volume contains much scholarly material, including a modern German translation of the text (pp. 169-178). The Latin text extends to almost eleven times as many pages (pp. 93-166), because of the size of the scholarly apparatus. Each page contains only a few lines of Latin text; the rest is scholarly commentary divided into three sections. The first reports on the readings of a dozen manuscripts, selected among the more than sixty known to the editor (and listed on pp. 21-41). The second (very large) section identifies the sources that Pseudo-Isidore used and where parallels occur in the forgeries. This represents difficult and painstaking work of great value for scholarship. The third section identifies where each chapter was received in subsequent legal collections up through the Decretum of Gratian. The editor has researched twenty-one such collections, some of which are available only in manuscript. In the prefatory matter, the editor discusses each of these collections and gauges to what degree the Capitula influenced them.

In short, this is a very welcome publication that represents a real step forward in our knowledge of Pseudo-Isidore. This is the first truly reliable text of the Capitula Angilramni to be published. Thus, we have direct access to this important Carolingian procedural treatise.

I applaud the energy and care that Karl-Georg Schon has applied to the work, and I commend him for providing a translation of the work for use in the classroom. Will anyone take up the challenge and publish, e.g. on the internet, an English translation of this important procedural treatise?