20.01.02 Patt, Studien zu den "Formulae imperiales"

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Bernhard Zeller

The Medieval Review 20.01.02

Patt, Sarah. Studien zu den "Formulae imperiales" : Urkundenkonzeption und Formulargebrauch in der Kanzlei Kaiser Ludwigs des Frommen (814-840). Monumenta Germaniae historica. Studien und Texte . Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016. pp. xxxiv, 348. ISBN: 978-3-447-10560-6 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Bernhard Zeller
Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien

The present book is a revised version of a dissertation by Sarah Patt and accepted by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Philosophische Fakultät) of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. The dissertation was supervised by Theo Kölzer, professor emeritus at the University of Bonn and editor of the charters of Emperor Louis the Pious within the series of theMonumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH). Sarah Patt deals with the so-called Formulae Imperiales, a collection of model-texts based on actual documents of Emperor Louis the Pious and aimed at the production of royal and imperial charters. These formulae are handed down to us in the margins of several folia of codex Paris, BN Ms. Lat. 2718. This manuscript, which was composed at St Martin of Tours around 830 (pp. 131-132, 189), is the only extant manuscript containing the Formulae Imperiales. This quite peculiar codex (landscape format, irregular parchment, varying number of lines, frequent ink changes), contains primarily patristic texts as well as capitularies from the early period of Louis the Pious' reign, and is described in the extensive appendix of Patt's book (pp. 206-211). Within this manuscript the Formulae Imperiales are transmitted in several dispersed sections (72rv: nn. 1-7; 73r-76r: nn. 8-31; 80rv: nn. 34-37; 84v-85v: nn. 38-41, 111v: nn. 42-44; 125r-127r: nn. 45-53; 134v: nn. 54-55). They were mainly scribbled down in Tironian notes, though individual words were written in Carolingian minuscule.

After a brief introduction (pp. 1-9), in which the author explains the goals of her work, namely a systematic study of the Formulae Imperiales and their use, the second chapter initially deals with terminology, i.e. the use of the crucial terms Formel, Formular and Formularsammlung (pp. 10-16). It also provides a focused survey of early medieval formulae collections and their scientific exploration from Theodor Sickel up to present times, which are marked by a renewed interest in this kind of source material (pp. 21-43). Compared to most of the other early medieval formulae collections, the 55 Formulae Imperiales differ remarkably, as they provide hardly any templates for private charters (two formulae for manumission, one for concambium/exchange). In fact, they almost exclusively contain model texts for royal and imperial charters. As in the case of other formulae collections, the Formulae Imperiales are based on documents that were actually issued, namely on charters of Emperor Louis the Pious which were shortened and partially anonymized. Consequently, the third chapter of the book is dedicated to the documents of this Frankish ruler, specifically their transmission, content and formal peculiarities (pp. 47-66).

The following fourth chapter of Patt's book begins with the actual analysis of the Formulae Imperiales, namely with their editorial history, which started in 1747 with Pierre Carpentier's Alphabetum tironianum and came to an (preliminary?) end in 1886 with Zeumer's edition within the MGH Formulae (pp. 67-73). Thereafter, Patt analyzes the transmission of the Formulae Imperiales in the Paris manuscript (pp. 73-86) as well as their (scarce) reception (pp. 87-95). In fact, the Formulae Imperiales were probably not widely disseminated. Regarding the content of these model texts (which often consist of common legal acts such as the grant of immunity and imperial protection) in comparison to the extant charters of Louis the Pious, Patt points out an overrepresentation of lay recipients. In addition, a special value of the Formulae Imperiales lies in the several charter texts which are not otherwise attested in the extant charters of Louis the Pious, e.g. privileges in favour of Jews or Jewish communities or donations to mission churches in the Slavic territories east of Würzburg (pp. 95-101 and table pp. 102-109).

Building on the relevant studies since Theodor Sickel (including those more recently by Depreux, Johanek, McKitterick, Patzold, Rio and Ubl), in the next part of her book Patt comes to the following conclusions: The Formulae Imperiales were not a kind of "official" reference book of the imperial chancellery and were hardly a product of a so-called Leges Scriptorium, i.e. a courtly "workshop" that would have specialized in the production of legal texts, as postulated by Bischoff and McKitterick (pp. 123-129). Rather, theFormulae Imperiales are a compilation made by a notary of the imperial chancellery (p. 115). A connection between this collection and arch-chancellor Fridugis, the abbot of Saint Martin in Tours, or with the monk of St Martin and imperial notary Hirminmaris (attested between 816-838) is certainly possible, but cannot be proven (pp. 110-123, 132-135).

The fifth chapter deals with the relationship between the Formulae Imperiales and the documents of Louis the Pious (pp. 140-187). The study is primarily based on the "classical" methods of text comparison (the use of computer-aided procedures/programs proved to be too expensive and labour-intensive). Concerning the use of the Formulae Imperiales, Patt distinguishes between "full correspondence" (Vollentsprechung), "partial correspondence" (Teilentsprechung) and "mixed formulae" (Mischformularen) (i.e. the use of several formulae of the collection in one charter). The comprehensive Appendix B (pp. 212-329), in which formulae and charter texts are collated against each other, is revealing. The assembled examples allow an impressive insight into the different ways of using formulae in the chancellery of Louis the Pious.

Patt counts roughly 60 "full correspondences" (especially acts of exchange), 50 "partial correspondences" (which could be concentrated on a part of the document, but could also extend to the whole document) and almost 300 charters that manifest "mixed formulae" (especially privileges of immunity, imperial protection and free election of the abbot). Moreover, these numbers underline that the Formulae Imperiales were not an official, much less normative, formulae-collection. They were no reference work of the imperial chancellery, and thus cannot be regarded as an instrument of reform (pp. 183-187).

The aim of Patt's book, formulated in the introduction (p. 2), namely to analyze form and function of the Formulae Imperiales as well as the relationship between these model texts and the documents of Louis the Pious, is perfectly accomplished. Little new can be said about the possible origin of the Formulae Imperiales and the use of Paris, BN Ms. Lat. 2718. Perhaps a closer paleographic and codicological examination, evaluation and consequently a broader contextualization of the unique manuscript might be a starting point for formulating new hypotheses on this issue.

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