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21.01.05 Nowak/Strack (eds.), Stilus – Modus – Usus

The Medieval Review

21.01.05 Nowak/Strack (eds.), Stilus – Modus – Usus


The volume under review derives from meetings of a "scientific network" financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft from 2014 to 2108. Two volumes are envisaged, of which this, the first, concerns the primary sources. Despite the appearance of the word "Regeln" (or "Rules") in the subtitle, it is not concerned primarily with papal regulation, for instance, legislation enshrined in decretals and other canonistic texts, the regulae of the papal chancery, or the ordinances of the audientia litterarum contradictarum. Rather its principal focus is the more informal, largely uncodified, conventions and customs which governed the interaction of petitioners, litigants, and diplomats with the papal court and to which contemporaries might refer with the Latin words of the title. Modern historians often call such practices Spielregeln, a term now current as a result of the work of Gerd Althoff. The contributors to the present volume provide ample evidence that it was just as important for visitors to the papal curia, if they wished to achieve their aims, to observe such Spielregeln as to comply with more formal requirements laid down by the papacy.

The volume contains twelve essays in German, four in English, and one in Italian. After the editors' introduction, the first essay, by Klaus Herbers, describes conflicts in the Iberian Peninsula over the primatial, metropolitan, and exempt status of sees in the wake of the Reconquista. His contribution raises the interesting question of what references in the sources to the pope's audientia meant. Was it an institution, as Herbers seems to imply (37), or did it refer to the pope's hearing in the abstract? Daniel Berger considers the Historia Compostellana, which documents the successful efforts of Diego Gelmírez to secure metropolitan rank for Santiago de Compostella, as well as other narrative sources concerning the relations of the church of Castille and León with the papacy. Markus Krumm's paper, "Streiten vor (und mit) dem Papst: Beobachtungen zur kurialen Gerichtspraxis anhand der Klosterchronik von Montecassino und des Chronicon Falcos von Benevent," shows that the authors of these works from the first half of the twelfth century were thoroughly conversant with the judicial procedures. From the same period is the account by Hariulf, abbot of Oudenbourg, of his litigation against the abbot of Saint-Médard, Soissons, discussed by Claudia Zey. Two contributions concern the pontificate of Innocent III. Harald Müller considers Thomas of Marlborough's History of Evesham Abbey. Thomas himself represented the abbey in litigation against the bishop of Worcester, who contested the abbey's claim to exemption. Maria Pia Alberzoni's paper documents Innocent III's measures against forgers and his detection of forgeries with examples from the ecclesiastical province of Milan.

Most of the cases discussed up to this point were heard before the pope. From the thirteenth century onwards, there was more delegation of papal powers within the curia--to the vice-chancellor, the auditor litterarum contradictarum, the cardinal penitentiary, individual cardinals, and the auditores causarum sacri palatii. This represents a significant change in the functioning of the papal curia, which increasingly takes the form of a series of departments with different (but sometimes overlapping) powers. However, the remaining essays, covering the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, deal with other questions. Thomas Smith considers the contribution of English episcopal records to an understanding of the stilus curiae, drawing principally on the registers of Thomas Cantilupe, bishop of Hereford, and John Peckham and Robert Winchelsey, archbishops of Canterbury. His reference (174) to a son of Cardinal "John de Colonna" results from a misreading of one of Peckham's letters. Like Smith, Barbara Bombi, in her essay "Selom le cours de leglise de Rome: The Use of the stiluscuriae in Anglo-Papal Correspondence during the First Half of the Fourteenth Century," provides evidence of the careful attention paid to preparing petitions to the pope and correspondence with the curia, in order to ensure that they accorded with the stilus curiae. Sebastian Roebert considers the sources used by Heinrich Finke for his monumental Acta Aragonensia. Andreas Kistner's essay on the testamentary practices of fourteenth-century cardinals includes a highly informative account of papal licentiaetestandi. Kerstin Hitzbleck's "Im Sumpf der Heterotopie: Die Kurie zwischen Sein und Sollen bei Matthäus von Krakau" asks whether the curia should be regarded as a "hétérotopie", as defined by Foucault. Claudia Märtl's clear account of curial historiography of the fifteenth century shows that its value is enhanced by the fact that the authors of these works were normally men of high rank thoroughly conversant with curial practice. Isabella Lazzarini considers theLiber notarum of the papal master of ceremonies, Johannes Burckard, as a source for the conduct of diplomacy in the years 1483-1495. Gabriel Annas provides a useful survey of the reports of the general proctors of the Teutonic Order at the curia in the fourteenth and especially the fifteenth century--the manuscripts, the editions, and the relevant secondary literature. "The stilo do corte in Late Medieval Diplomatic Correspondence" by Duane Henderson is based on an outstandingly rich source, the dispatches of the Milanese ambassadors at the curia. The author states that gathering information and transmitting it to their employers was "[a]rguably the most innovative" of the duties of resident ambassadors of the Renaissance (319), but long before these proctors at the curia had been conveying nova curiae to their clients. The volume concludes with a second essay by Claudia Märtl, which concerns guides to petitioners at the curia, mostly from the late fifteenth century and existing in manuscript or early printed editions under the titles Modus expediendi litteras apostolicas, Practica cancellariae apostolicae, etc.

It will be apparent that the sources covered by this volume include some of the best-known texts reflecting the experience in the papal court of those who had business there, texts which have been scrutinised by scholars interested in curial procedure since the nineteenth or early twentieth century. Nonetheless, most authors succeed in advancing the discussion. Harald Müller, for instance, shows how Thomas of Marlborough's History illustrates the conventions of the curia, conventions that Thomas himself had to disregard, not through ignorance but through lack of money.Maria Pia Alberzoni's discussion of Innocent III and forgery describes a lengthy dispute between the clergy of the parish church of Casale Monferrato and of the chapel of S. Germano di Paciliano, correcting Paul Kehr's claim that Innocent III condemned a genuine document of Celestine III as a forgery (150, 152). The merit of Sebastian Roebert's essay is to show the defects and limitations of Heinrich Finke's Acta Aragonensia, features of which most users of that edition may be unaware. The final essay, by Claudia Märtl, unravels sources to which relatively little serious attention has been paid for almost a century.

It will be apparent that the contributors present and analyse a wide range of sources that throw light on curial practices. A comprehensive treatment of the subject would not have been possible, although it is regrettable that almost nothing is said about the audientia litterarum contradictarum, which was the place parexcellence for negotiation in routine judicial matters from the time of Innocent III onwards. The authors and editors have taken the greatest care in the preparation of the volume, which is refreshingly free from misprints and errors in the Latin texts. It cannot be said that the publishers have done the same: footnotes do not always appear on the page to which they refer, the authors' names in the table of contents are not properly aligned (vi), and there is a "hanging" sub-heading on p. 232. These are minor blemishes; more serious is the total absence of an index.