Monday, June 17, 2013

The Curious Case of Pseudo-Isidore and the Consecration of Chrism

As long as we're talking about wrinkles in Pseudo-Isidorian reception, we might as well bring up the curious case of Pseudo-Isidore and the Consecration of Chrism

Way back in 2010, we took a look at the thirty-sixth forged decretal (item 42): Pope Fabian to all Eastern bishops and faithful, and we noticed that the letter insists that bishops everywhere consecrate chrism annually--presumably because only bishops could consecrate chrism and the entire matter redounds to issues of episcopal authority. Usually Pseudo-Isidore ascribes liturgical prescriptions to his popes when he is encouraged to do so by the Liber Pontificalis. In this case, though, the LP biography for Fabian mentions chrism not at all. And the passage in Pseudo-Fabian is long and quite emphatic--a rare paragraph-length chunk of text that appears to be an entirely original composition of our forgers.

At the time, we noted that chrism isn't really a major concern for Pseudo-Isidore. As far as I know, the forgeries address chrism on only one other occasion. That is at Benedictus Levita 3.394--a forged capitulum that forbids "priests and their ministers" from seeking chrism from anyone except their own bishops, and that proceeds to forbid anyone from consecrating chrism on any other day of the year beyond Holy (or Maundy) Thursday.

As with Fabian, there are no sources in sight for this latter prohibition. In fact, as Wilfried Hartmann once noted, the Benedictus capitulum directly contradicts canons promulgated at Toledo I and Braga II, which allow bishops to consecrate chrism whenever they're in the mood. What's more, Part II of Pseudo-Isidore transmits both of these canons completely unmolested, exactly as they occur in the Hispana Gallica. Were our forgers asleep at the wheel? Or was their interest in chrism a later, post-Hispana development?

These questions are hard to answer, and there are still harder ones. In 845, bishops gathered at the Council of Meaux/Paris promulgated one canon, namely the 46th, bluntly declaring that "no one should consecrate chrism," except on Holy Thursday. The laconic canon cites no authorities or precedents, but as Emil Seckel noted, the substance, if not the words, are directly congruent with BL 3.394.

In other words, in 845, the Council of Meaux/Paris legislates a unique point of law otherwise found only in Benedictus Levita. This is the same year that Ebo of Reims forges a privilege in the name of Pope Gregory IV that similarly alludes to (what we normally think of as) Pseudo-Isidorian theories about episcopal transmigration and the exceptio spolii, and similarly cites no authorities or precedents.


Ebo of Reims and Pseudo-Isidore

In discussing Pope Damasus's reply to Stephen and his fellow bishops, I promised that there remained one interesting feature of this fake decretal to discuss. The time has come to discuss it.

As we saw earlier, Damasus raises very typical Pseudo-Isidorian concerns about the procedure for summoning accused bishops to judgment. Specifically, he declares that
The summons to a synod, according to the canonical decrees of the fathers, of one who is accused reasonably and in writing, should occur over a fitting and canonical time period, because unless one is one's good time and in accordance with the canons--and [even if] one should attend the council through any necessity beyond one's own free will--[the summoned party] will in no way respond to his enemies. Since secular laws do not permit this to happen, how much more should divine [laws forbid it]? 

Awkward translation, I know, but I wanted it to be literal. Last time, we noted that there is no clear support in pre-Pseudo-Isidorian legal texts for any of these points. It is therefore highly interesting to find the same fundamental argument recurring in a treatise by Ebo of Reims. Ebo, you will remember, was deposed at Thionville in 835 for his role in Louis the Pious's deposition two years previously. After spending a few years confined in a monastery, he was restored to archiepiscopal office at Reims in 840, and on that occasion he wrote a short, rather defensive historical-account-cum-apologia known as the Apologeticum Ebonis.

Early on in this text, he writes of having been "forced before imperial judgment, not before a synodal gathering of holy [bishops], where a bishop should not be taken by force, but [where he should] rather be rather summoned freely and canonically."

Kind of rings a bell, no? There is even limited verbal contact between these two loci. Behold, Pseudo-Damasus in Latin:
Vocatio enim ad sinodum iuxta decreta patrum canonica eius qui inpetitur rationabilibus scriptis per spatium fieri debet congruum atque canonicum, quia nisi canonica vocatus fuerit suo tempore et canonica ordinatione, licet venerit ad conventum quacumque necessitate nisi sponte voluerit, nullatenus suis respondebit insidiatoribus, quoniam nec saeculi leges hoc permittunt fieri: quanto magis divine?]  
And Ebo's Apologeticum:
...compulsus ad tribunal palatinum, non ad synodalem sanctorum conventum, quo violenter non licet trahi, sed magis liberum canonice convocari episcopum...
So yeah, not overwhelming, but significant, especially given the underlying originality of Pseudo-Damasus's argument at this point. Nor are these the only Pseudo-Isidorian echoes to be found in the Apologeticum. A little later, Ebo's treatise quotes from a document purportedly subscribed by the Reims suffragans, consenting to Ebo's reinstallation. This document mentions that Ebo was "taken from his own see" ("raptus a propria sede": MGH Conc 2, 2, 798), and of course the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals never tire of complaining about bishops who are "driven" or "ejected from their own see" ("a propria sede pulsus,"  "a sede propria eiiectus"). There's one or two other further parallels along these lines.

Now Charles the Bald forced Ebo from Reims in 841, and our unfortunate archbishop had to find another home. In 845 Louis the German put him in charge of the diocese of Hildesheim. To mitigate the legal problems with this move (bishops were traditionally forbidden to move from see to see), Ebo forged a letter in the name of Pope Gregory IV that purported to cede him the right to transmigrate. This letter is full of textual parallels with the Apologeticum Ebonis, which is how we know (via Karl Hampe) that a) the letter is a forgery, and b) it was likely forged by Ebo himself.

Interestingly, this letter shares some of the Pseudo-Isidorian vocabulary of the Apologeticum, and contributes further parallels of its own. Pseudo-Gregory complains that Ebo's confession at Thionville was not done of his own free will (" sponte confessus...); in Pseudo-Isidore, we are admonished that "Confession...should be freely willed" ("Confessio...spontanea fieri debet"). More crucially, and with an eye to Ebo's plight, Pseudo-Gregory decrees that bishops who have suffered persecution and fled their cities have the faculty of "flourishing in vacant sees" ("proficiendi in locis vacantibus"). This strongly recalls a moment in Pseudo-Isidore where Pseudo-Anterus remarks that "Peter, our holy teacher and prince of the apostles, was translated for reasons of utility from Antioch to Rome, that he might be able to better flourish there" ("Petrus, sanctus magister noster et princeps apostolorum, de Antiochia utilitatis causa translatus est Romam, ut ibidem potius proficere posset"). Establishing legal loopholes that would permit the transmigration of sees is, of course, a key point of the Pseudo-Isidorian agenda--right up there with protecting bishops from forceful synodal summons.

Scholarship has been aware of these parallels for a long time, but nobody really did anything with them because, throughout most of the 20th century, all the Pseudo-Isidore scholars (Paul Hinschius, Emil Seckel, Horst Fuhrmann) wanted Pseudo-Isidore to post-date 847. When MGH editors like Karl Hampe confronted these parallel loci they shrugged their shoulders. Nobody thought Pseudo-Isidore reception was possible much before the year 850.

Now, of course, we live in a new era, and we're free to think of Pseudo-Isidore as an earlier phenomenon. Ebo's allusions (if they are allusions) are no longer chronologically problematic, but they are rather odd. If Ebo knew the forged decretals, why not cite them explicitly? Why simply borrow ideas and vocabulary from the forgers and leave them unattributed? Or was Ebo himself simply in contact with the forgers, aware of their product, and willing to avail himself of the odd useful idea or turn of phrase? Did the forgers, alternatively, get a few ideas from Ebo himself?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ansgar and Rimbert Revisited, Part II: In Which Henrik Janson Suffers from Adjectival Confusion

Additionally, there is a sequence of empirical problems that the author has overlooked, or at least not taken sufficiently into account. The present context prevents a detailed discussion of these, but a couple of rather insurmountable problems in the material, which arise if one adopts Knibbs’s interpretative model, must be mentioned. Ansgar’s documentary dossier says that Gregory IV had extended the assignment of Ebo of Reims as papal legate in the north by honoring Gauzbert (Simon) and Ansgar with the papal pallium, and advancing [them] to the honor of the archiepiscopate. Since Knibbs maintains that Ansgar did not get any pallium until 864, he must reject this source; he therefore claims that the summary is “obviously confused.” For he finds it highly unlikely that Gauzbert ever got the pallium; according to Knibbs, he was certainly not an archbishop. [Knibbs] does not have any arguments for this cocksure claim. Other scholars, such as A. D. J Jørgensen and Lauritz Weibull, have had the opposite opinion, but Scandinavian scholarship has probably not been available to Knibbs for linguistic reasons. It has, however, here been pointed out that the claim about Gauzbert’s award of the pallium is actually confirmed by the Vita Anskarii (ch. 14), where Rimbert relates that Ebo selected his relative Gauzbert to be legate for the sueones [or Swedes] in his place, and that he sent him to these regions pontificali insignitum honore. Here Knibbs’s thesis encounters problems, since he claims that Rimbert is trying to make Gauzbert into Ansgar’s suffragan, and it is correct that, contrary to the wording of this passage, he is trying to make Ansgar’s position more prominent at the expense of Gauzbert, but had his purpose been to [revise] these circumstances he would not have made up [the story] that Gautbert was dressed in the papal honorific, viz. the pallium. This would have contradicted the strategy that according to Knibbs...[he employed], when he [revised] the history of Hamburg-Bremen. That Rimbert nevertheless writes this means, without doubt, that Gauzbert in fact had received this papal confirmation, and the second part of the passage is therefore also supported—namely that [part] which also makes Ansgar an archbishop with the pallium during Gregory IV’s time, and thus Knibbs’ entire construction falls.
The logical convolutions of this paragraph—particularly those afflicting its second half—weary the mind of your intrepid blogger. 

Behold, Janson’s argument reconceptualized as a cactus:

As two snakes:
These are not the kinds of knots we can hope to untie. Instead, we will explore the two “insurmountable problems” (for me) on which this argument runs. These are 1) that Rimbert’s Vita Anskarii attests to Gauzbert as a recipient of the pallium, and 2) that “Ansgar’s documentary dossier” shows that Ansgar and Gauzbert were both archbishops.

1. Rimbert, Gauzbert and the Pallium

When Janson says that “It has...been pointed out that the claim about Gauzbert’s award of the pallium is actually confirmed by the Vita Anskarii,” he means that he wrote an article claiming as much. That is unfortunate, because it forces us to conclude that Janson has mistaken the plain meaning of Rimbert’s words not once, but twice.

These words occur, as Janson notes, in chapter 14 of the Vita Anskarii, where Rimbert says that Gauzbert was “pontificali insignitum honore”— “inscribed with pontifical honor.”

As always when confronted with words, we must ask: What do they mean? What is pontifical honor? Is it papal honor?

However tedious it sounds, we must apply ourselves to the fundaments of Latin vocabulary. We begin by noticing that pontificalis is an adjective, and like many adjectives, it is very closely related (and even good friends with) a noun. In this case, that noun is pontifex (“pontiff”). If you are pontificalis, you smell like, look like, or otherwise enjoy the attributes of a pontifex. So what is a pontifex, you ask? In the classical period, before the whole Jesus thing took off, a pontifex was a pagan Roman high priest. After Christianity became a hit, a pontifex was a bishop. And pontifex could also be used to indicate one bishop in particular, namely the pope. Both ecclesiastical definitions remained active throughout the medieval period, and they apply to pontificalis just as much as they do to pontifex, because the noun and adjective are so very close. Like, shopping together close. So if you are pontificalis, you smell like or look like or in some way are like either a bishop or a pope, depending upon the author’s aims and the context. If you doubt this point, betake yourself to a medieval Latin dictionary, where you will find that pontificalis—again, like many adjectives—has multiple meanings. For Niermeyer (Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus), the first and most basic meaning is episcopal. The second is papal.

So we have good reason to tag Janson’s argument with yet another question mark. And we can restate our initial question with a bit more specificity: When Rimbert says that Gauzbert was “inscribed with pontifical honor,” does he mean that this honor was episcopal, or does he mean that it was papal?

Happily, this question has an answer, and it lies in Rimbert’s own words in chapter 14, which we will need to quote a little more fully than my cautious and considered critic:
Verum post ordinationem domni et patris nostri sanctissimi Anskarii superius comprehensam, visum est illis de eadem legatione inter se conferentibus necessarium esse, ut aliquis illi ordinaretur adiutor, qui in partibus Sueonum ministerii episcopalis officio fungeretur, quoniam in regione tam longe posita praesens adesse deberet pontifex, et ipse solus ad utrumque locum minus sufficeret. Cum consensu itaque et voluntate praedicti imperatoris venerabilis Ebo quendam propinquum suum Gauzbertum nomine ad hoc opus electum et pontificali insignitum honore ad partes direxit Sueonum.
Which might be translated:
But after the consecration of our most holy lord and father Ansgar, described above, it struck them, as they discussed this same legation among themselves, that it was necessary that someone should be consecrated as Ansgar’s assistant, who might exercise the office of bishop in the land of Swedes, because in a region so far away it was necessary that a pontiff [pontifex] be present, and [Ansgar] by himself hardly sufficed for both places. And so with the consent and will of the aforementioned emperor, Ebo chose a relative of his, named Gauzbert, for this task, had him inscribed with pontifical [pontificali] honor, and sent him to the land of the Swedes.
As you, dear reader, can now appreciate, Rimbert not only uses the adjective pontificalis; he also avails himself of the services of this adjective’s close relative and friend, the noun pontifex. We might even suppose that Rimbert did this on purpose. When Rimbert remarks that Ebo and Ansgar needed to have a pontifex in Sweden, he is sadly not discussing the desirability of kidnapping Pope Gregory IV and shipping him off to the pagans. He means—and says quite clearly—that the northern mission required “ exercise the office of bishop” in the land of the Swedes; Sweden was so far away that it needed its own pontiff. Ebo’s relative Gauzbert was therefore chosen and “inscribed with pontifical honor.” This means neither that Gauzbert became an antipope nor that he received the pallium. It is, rather, Rimbert’s way of saying that Gauzbert was consecrated a bishop—a point that Rimbert goes on to restate a few lines later, clarifying that Ansgar and Rimbert were themselves the consecrators.

Your blogger admits that he has not worked out the exact implications of all of this for the Gordian argument advanced in Janson’s aforequoted paragraph, but he thinks it’s fair to say that the line of attack has begun to suffer from certain...technical difficulties.

2) Ansgar’s Documentary Dossier

Rimbert does not, therefore, substantiate Janson’s suspicion that Gauzbert was an archbishop. Among all of our sources for ninth-century Europe, only one claims that Gauzbert received the pallium and enjoyed archiepiscopal rank. According to Janson, this source is “Ansgar’s documentary dossier,” and it claims that Ansgar and Gauzbert were both archbishops. In the depths of my degenerate cocksurety (WHOAH, do NOT run a Google image search on that vocabulary item unless nobody can see your screen), I dismiss this deeply valuable and unique evidence without any argument.

Once again, Janson has taken a wrong turn. To see why and where, we need to revisit the end of Ansgar’s life. As our cheerful but perhaps not entirely honest archbishop began to die, he put together a little pamphlet containing documents relating to his legation, and he circulated this pamphlet among the bishops of Louis the German’s kingdom (Vita Anskarii, c. 41). This is the documentary dossier that Janson is talking about. Unfortunately, it barely survives. The most complete manuscript copy was once available in the so-called Hamburger Codex. Though this manuscript disappeared sometime in the eighteenth century, its contents were printed by Philipp Caesar at Cologne in 1642.

From Caesar’s edition, we know that Ansgar’s dossier must have looked something like this:
1. Prefatory letter from Ansgar, in which Ansgar says he wants his fellow bishops to know all about his mission. He particularly wnats them to know about Ebo of Reims, and how he got the initial legatio privilege from Pope Paschal I in the time of Louis the Pious, but he also wants them to know how Louis the Pious furthered this missionary project, and so on.
2. Paschal I’s legatio privilege for Ebo, as promised in the prefatory letter.
3. Louis the Pious’s privilege for Ansgar, as alluded to in the prefatory letter. Today, scholars agree that this copy of the privilege contains significant falsifications.
4. Pope Gregory IV’s privilege for Ansgar, which I also argue has been heavily falsified.
5. Pope Nicholas I’s privilege for Ansgar, which I further argue suffers from serious falsifications.
6. A letter from Pope Nicholas I to Horik II of Denmark.
A second , rather more fragmentary copy of this dossier survives today in Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Codex Guelferbytanus 35 (Helmstadt. 32), a tenth-century manuscript originally copied at Hildesheim. The Hildesheim connections are important, because Ebo of Reims eventually ended up at that see after his treachery at the Field of Lies. This explains why the Hildesheim Codex contains Ebo’s Apologeticum Ebonis. It also carries a stripped-down version of the dossier above—so stripped down, in fact, that it omits everything but the Paschal privilege (item 2), presumably because this was the only bit of Ansgar’s dossier that related to Ebo, and whoever copied the Hildesheim Codex had limited and rather provincial interests.

This mysterious copyist was not, however, entirely ungenerous. Instead of committing non-Ebonian material to oblivion, he added two brief notes, in rather challenged Latin, before and after the Paschal privilege. These notes summarize the contents of two other documents available at Hildesheim—at least one of them (item 4 above, as we'll see below) known from Ansgar’s dossier.

It is in these notes—not in Ansgar’s dossier—that Janson claims to find evidence of an archiepiscopal Gauzbert. What do these notes say, you ask? The one preceding Paschal’s privilege is fairly bland, but it does mention “the authentic privileges...of three successive popes, namely Paschal I, Eugenius II and Gregory IV.” The one following Paschal’s privilege provides a little more information about the Eugenius and Gregory documents that the copyist decided to leave out. My translation is faithful to the meaning, if not quite literal (because, as I said, the Latin suffers from some confusion):
And by [a similar privilege], the bishop Ansgar, together with his companions, was added to this legation by the confirmation of the subsequent Pope Eugenius [II]. And when he succeeded [Eugenius], Pope Gregory [IV], with [a similar] confirmation [roboratio], increased their number and adorned the archbishop Simon [i.e., Gauzbert], together with Ansgar, with the pontifical pallium....  
That, dear reader, is the beginning and end of the evidence for Gauzbert as Ansgar’s fellow archbishop in the North. At least we finally get to see pontificalis referring to the pope! Be that as it may, we know from one other source that Pope Eugenius II did indeed confirm Paschal I’s legatio privilege for Ebo of Reims, probably in 826. Yet astute readers keeping score at home will have noted that, even according to Henrik Janson, Ansgar did not become a bishop until after Eugenius’s pontificate. Our annotator is therefore mistaken in claiming that Eugenius added Ansgar, as a bishop, to Ebo’s operation.

Perhaps he is confused about the Gregory privilege he describes as well? Here we come to the reason that many, many august historians, including disinterested luminaries like Bernhard Simson and Ernst Dümmler (of Pilgrim fame), but also committed adherents of the traditionalist narrative like Georg Dehio, Theodor Schieffer, and Wolfgang Seegrün, have declined to argue that Gauzbert was an archbishop on the strength of these lines. Set aside Gauzbert for a moment. The annotator had before him Ansgar's dossier (which we know most fully from Caesar's edition), and he describes a roboratio from Gregory IV that ceded Ansgar the pallium and granted him archiepiscopal status. If we accept the dictates of Occam’s Razor, we have no trouble seeing that this document is no. 4 in the list above. So the Gregory privilege in question survives (though in falsified form, according to me), and it says nothing about Simon or Gauzbert. This is why Schieffer and Seegrün go so far as to ask whether the Hildesheim copyist has somehow screwed up and mistaken Simon/Gauzbert for Ebo. Because the Gregory privilege in question does associate an archbishop with Ansgar —but that archbishop is not Gauzbert/Simon. It is Ebo of Reims, who had been in charge of the mission from the beginning.

To be continued...

Back to Part I
On to Part III
Back to Intro

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ansgar and Rimbert Revisited, Part I: In Which Henrik Janson Mistakes a King for a Bishop

Henrik Janson’s opening salvo, translated. I add versification in bold:
1) It can in general be said that the entire [argument of Ansgar, Rimbert and the Forged Foundations of Hamburg Bremen] presupposes forgeries so substantial, in what to contemporaries must have been well known circumstances, that the argument often just for that reason (but also for being farfetched—yes, he is even forced to assume that Rimbert forged against what he himself had written [p. 166]) carries the telltale sign of unlikelihood. It often creates more problems than it solves. 2) It would, for example, be extremely surprising if contemporaries, even the papal see, had accepted a new archbishopric like Hamburg and a new archiepiscopate like Nordalbingia in a disputed region between the dioceses of Bremen and Verden, only on the basis of forgeries without any concrete foundation. Nobody ever questioned Ansgar’s and Rimbert’s position as archbishops of Hamburg. Not even Cologne; rather, their objection was at every point simply that these archbishops should not be allowed to invade and take over the diocese of Bremen, a suffragan obedient to the Cologne church. 3) Moreover, Knibbs exaggerates the strength of the argument that is foundational for his entire exposition—that the apostolic see’s use of filius would exclude the possibility that the addressee was, or through the document in question would become, an (arch)bishop. He himself refers to—and is forced to attempt to explain away—two occasions (cf. also MGH Epp. 6, p. 723, n. 1) where the term in fact is used.  In both cases, archbishops north of the Alps are, tellingly, concerned, and [filius] is therefore not used, as Knibbs writes (p. 87 n. 35), to “express affection,” but to indicate supremacy and power, a claim not least against royal and imperial power. Knibbs often rejects points of view by saying that they are based on arguments from silence, but here and in other instances, he himself actually uses that kind of argument. It seems to me to be a substantially stronger argument in this context that it appears unlikely that the curia would have used a legate who did not have the rank of bishop.
We will go in order.

1): You, dear reader, can decide for yourself how likely a forger might be to a) develop a more convenient but inauthentic privilege, while b) striving to mitigate the appearance of conflict between said inauthentic privilege and independent, contemporary knowledge of recent events. Otherwise, I will say only that my book addresses three documents: One purportedly issued by Pope Gregory IV, another purportedly issued by Pope Nicholas I, and a third purportedly issued by the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious. It argues that all three have been falsified. Now most scholars had already agreed that the Louis privilege was not wholly genuine, and serious doubts have accompanied the papal privileges since the later nineteenth century. So, from the perspective of discrimen veri et falsi, you could at most say that my book aims to take two documents out of the “wholly genuine” column (where they have always resided uncomfortably) and stick them into the “partly genuine” column, where indeed rafts and rafts of early medieval privileges for monasteries and dioceses are to be found. Whether or not that amounts to forgery so substantial that it places undue burdens on our credulity, or whether it aligns with the sort of documentary tinkering scholars of medieval institutions (including Hamburg-Bremen) have long learned to live with, is yet another determination that you, dear reader, will have to make.

Janson is completely right about point 2). It would be deeply surprising if the contemporaries of Ansgar and Rimbert had accepted the existence of an archbishopric solely on the basis of forgeries that the two had drafted. Happily, my book argues no such thing. Instead, I posit that Ansgar was made a missionary archbishop in 864 for reasons that had nothing to do with his documentary tinkering. And Rimbert really did become the first archbishop of Hamburg in 865, because it was the most politically expedient place to stick him; here some of Ansgar’s earlier fictions may have given the powers-that-be a fig leaf, but there was no deception involved. Because the Archdiocese of Hamburg was a real honest-to-God institution from 865, nobody—not even the rather dour and humorless archbishops of Cologne—objected to the existence of archbishops at Hamburg. What they did get uptight about—as Janson notes!—was Bremen, which they felt had been unjustly withdrawn from the jurisdiction of Cologne. And I argue that the principal object of Rimbert’s historical manipulation withdraw Bremen from the jurisdiction of Cologne.

But the real reason I’m writing this post is point 3). Gregory IV’s privilege for Ansgar calls the latter a filius, whereas popes were accustomed to refer to fellow bishops as their brothers, or fratres. I take this as evidence that Gregory issued his original privilege before Ansgar had been made a bishop. According to me, Gregory IV only made the non-bishop Ansgar a papal legate in the North, alongside Ebo of Reims (who was really in charge of the whole operation). Later, for various reasons, Gregory’s privilege was revised to look like a foundation privilege for an (arch)diocese at Hamburg, and to make it seem that Ansgar was an (arch)bishop when it was issued. A few telltale references to Ansgar as filius, however, escaped these alterations. My argument here is not quite as simplistic as Janson suggests: I argue that if you exclude all provisions from Gregory’s privilege that require Ansgar to have been a bishop (that is, if you take the filius references as a sign of authenticity, and get rid of everything that contradicts their import), you end up with a document that aligns rather well with Rimbert’s report about Gregory’s document in chapter 13 of his Vita Anskarii (save for some provisions regarding the pallium, which I deal with separately). In other words: There’s a lot of suspicious crap in the Gregory document. Rimbert does not attest to most of this suspicious crap. The filius references suggest that this suspicious crap does not belong.

One could put this curious coincidence to work for some argument or other, but Janson would prefer not. For him, the whole filius thing is a non-problem. This is, inter alia, because two papal privileges, one issued by Pope John XV in 993 to Bishop Hartwig of Salzburg, the other issued by Pope Leo IX in 1052 to Liutpold I of Mainz, call their archiepiscopal addressees filii. This singular fact was first noted many generations ago, when gods walked among men, in Ernst Ludwig Dümmler’s classic study on  Bishop Pilgrim of Passau. The good Pilgrim is best known for forging a bunch of documents designed to turn his diocese into an archdiocese. Alas, he did not succeed. He did, however, leave behind some curious forgeries, rather more ambitious and substantial than those of Ansgar and Rimbert (but of course rather less ambitious and substantial than the august products of our good Pseudo-Isidorian friends). And one of these forgeries addresses itself to a purported archbishop and calls him a son, or filius—a strange slip-up that in Dümmler’s time had long been puzzled over. In a footnote, Dümmler further discussed the rule, observed since the papacy of Innocent I, according to which popes addressed their episcopal colleagues as brothers, and acknowledged the two exceptions in my note. Because Dümmler enjoyed deep experience with the practices of the papal chancery and was no stranger to the large number of papal documents that survive even for the early medieval period, these two exceptions did not move him: “These two privileges cannot, as the only exceptions, overturn the rule; and the reference in both of them, which moves from ‘son’ to ‘brother,’ was perhaps only meant to express particular affection” (Dümmler, Piligrim von Passau und das Erzbisthum Lorsch [Leipzig, 1854], 172-3).

Such wise and considered remarks did not, however, prevent Hermann Joachim from bringing these dubious precedents to bear on our evidence for Hamburg-Bremen, and they have been fixtures of the debate ever since. Yet the most recent diplomatic defenders of our Hamburg-Bremen forgeries seem to have understood that they are weak tea. Theodor Schieffer was more interested in blaming errant copyists for this anomaly, while Wolfgang Seegrün developed  a more complex hypothesis that I’m not going to type out. (Follow the references on p. 88 of my book, note 36 if you’re that curious.) But then again, both authors, like Dümmler, enjoyed some experience with the formal aspects of medieval documentary evidence, and knew that the filial Ansgar was a problem too large for the Pilgrim footnote alone.

Janson, in other words, is mistaken in detecting among my humble pages a need to “explain away” these precedents. Both could be perfectly solid and have very little effect on my argument. That one of them (John XV for Hartwig of Salzburg) occurs in a privilege long acknowledged to suffer from severe textual corruption, if not falsification, is nevertheless rather curious and certainly worth noting. That the other (Leo IX for Liutpold I of Mainz) addresses its recipient as “son and spiritual brother,” and then goes on to clarify that Leo loves Liutpold “in the place of a son,” should at least encourage us to spraypaint a large, orange question mark around Janson’s contention that filius, in this instance, is all about Leo’s need to advertise his “supremacy and power.” And we have still not quoted Leo IX in full. Were we to do so, it would become clear that Leo is expressing his affection for Liutpold as a son only to explain why he is granting Liutpold some additional pallium days. So, to recap: Janson believes that Leo IX is expressing his “supremacy and power... against the...imperial power” when Leo addresses Emperor Henry III’s candidate for the archdiocese of Mainz as his “son and spiritual brother,” and when he explains that, because he loves this candidate “in the place of a son,”  he is granting him two additional pallium days. Your blogger finds this very opaque and convoluted.

But we forge on.

Astute readers of my fierce critic will have noticed that he attempts to confront this blogger with yet a third exception to the filius/frater rule; we are to find this exception, he implies, at MGH Epp. 6, page 723, note 1. Readers who betake themselves to that page, whether physically or virtually, will find themselves confronted by a very long and complicated footnote. Perhaps, in the course of hacking a path through this note, the good Janson became fatigued and disoriented, because the word filius occurs only once, when our remarkably intrepid footnoter (Ernst Perels) is driven to cite a few lines from a letter that Charles the Bald sent to Pope Hadrian II. The letter in question is actually edited in full at MGH Conc. 4, p. 528; this means that you, dear reader, can climb out of that footnote and into a more civilized text should you wish. The relevant portion, at the beginning of the letter, reads as follows:
Karolus gratia dei rex. Vestra veneranda paternitas nobis epistolam pro Hincmaro Laudunensi quondam episcopo misit. Cuius primorida ita se habent: “Initium nostrae locutionis ad te, fili carissime, cum propheta est....”
Which we might translate:
Charles [that is, Charles the Bald], king by the grace of God. Your venerable paternity [that is, Pope Hadrian II] sent us a letter on behalf of the former bishop Hincmar of Lyon. It began in this way: “The beginning of our statement to you, dearest son, is with the prophet...”
In other words, Charles the Bald says that the pope sent him (Charles) a letter, in which the pope called him (Charles) “dearest son.” My uncommonly perceptive critic has indeed, then, found the pope referring to someone as his filius. For that he deserves our congratulations. Perhaps, though, the awkward fact that this someone was not a bishop reduces the significance of the find?

Only a few more sentences, and then I will have concluded my first installment. Janson tilts at the entire diplomatic windmill when he complains that the use of precedent to evaluate charter evidence amounts to an argument from silence. Presumably, he is worried that finding unprecedented features in a suspect text amounts to saying that these features do not occur in genuine documents. Hence silence. But the genuine documents adduced for diplomatic proof are emphatically not silent. They have their own features. In this case, genuine documents issued to bishops call their episcopal addressees fratres and not filii. I am sure even Janson can be brought to appreciate that the argument here, as in so many other philological and diplomatic exercises, depends not on absence, but on the presence of differences between the features of the text subjected to evaluation, and the features of genuine comparative evidence.

And in conclusion, on non-bishops as papal legates, I am honored to turn to an old friend, Paul Hinschius, who discussed exactly this matter in his august Kirchenrecht der Katholiken and Protestanten in Deutschland (Berlin, 1869), vol. 1, p. 507. After surveying a wide variety of evidence regarding papal legates in the early medieval period, he summarizes his findings:
The people entrusted with papal legateships were, in most cases and especially since the eighth century, bishops. But there were also priests, deacons, subdeacons, various court officials, librarians, scriniarii, abbots and others in the position of legate.
Ansgar, of course, was included in Ebo’s legation, but apparently not consecrated, because he did not need to be; Ebo was already a bishop, and the mission to Denmark therefore enjoyed access to episcopal faculties. As soon as Ebo was out of the picture in early 834, Ansgar received episcopal consecration.

Forward to Part II
Forward to Part III
Back to the Intro

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ansgar and Rimbert Revisited, or: This is Not about Pseudo-Isidore, Consider Yourself Forewarned

It occurs to me that my resurrected blog comes with side benefits. One is the chance to return to the book that I wrote, yea these many years ago (OK, just two years ago), on the cheerful forgers Ansgar, Rimbert, and their project of documentary falsification and hagiographical deception.

Your humble blogger is pleased and flattered to note that the initial reviews have been broadly favorable. I will not embarrass my distinguished colleagues with direct citations, but I have been happy to see many scholars whose work I respect give my crazy theories a generous reception.

One reviewer, however, has expressed sharp and abiding displeasure at the notion that Ansgar and Rimbert may have been conniving revisionists.  His name is Henrik Janson, and he is a professor of things medieval at Göteborgs Universitet in Sweden. 

Henrik Janson is displeased
with my book.  He also has groovy glasses.
His review graces the pages of the most recent volume of the Kyrkohistorisk Årsskrift (187-192), and he has helpfully scanned and uploaded a copy, so those of you with proficiency in the Scandinavian languages (or at least Swedish) can even read it online

Obviously, several things have irritated Janson. One thing is a column about my book that my former advisor, Anders Winroth, published in the Svenska Dagbladet, a major Swedish daily. For some reason Janson is not down with that column. The second thing is the complete absence of Janson citations in my book. Janson is not down with not being cited.
[Janson: If you’re reading this (or I guess, even if you're not reading this), I apologize that I overlooked your work. If I could do it all over, I’d devote several footnotes to you and you alone. I might even give you your very own entry in the Appendix on Peripheral Questions for the Early History of the Northern Mission. Have a cookie. Have this blog post. And take some comfort, however limited, in your own review, where citations to your work abound.]
Above all, though, Janson does not like my book because he adheres to the traditional narrative of Hamburg-Bremen’s origins: a narrative that I think suffers from severe problems, and that my monograph aims to dismantle. After a not wholly sympathetic summary of my book, he embarks upon an extended attempt to detect argumentative and empirical problems in my work. And it’s this portion of the review that prompts my response from the blogosphere, because I’ve been very interested in what traditionalist critiques of my book might look like.

I hope, then, you won’t mind some departure from our usual Pseudo-Isidorian fare, while I take the opportunity to revisit some of my old ideas about Ansgar and Rimbert, in light of Janson's critique. 

On to Part I
On to Part II
On to Part III

The Eightieth Letter (Item 144): Pope Damasus I to Stephen et al.

So, it's back to the Damasus dossier, a collection of three forged letters that the Pseudo-Isidorians blended with fragments of a genuine Damasus decretal. These forgeries are particularly interesting, you may remember, because they are the only fake decretals to occur in the interpolated Hispana (my new term of art for the Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis--the peculiar Collectio Hispana recension that the forgers developed as a repository for the rest of their decretal forgeries).

In other words: Everything suggests that the Damasus dossier ought to be interesting. I am happy to report that it does not disappoint. Damasus opens his letter with a lot of flowery rhetoric; basically, he's is honored to have earned the high regard of the august prelates who wrote to him with such pressing questions. He even says, with perhaps just the faintest touch of sarcasm, that he's pretty sure his correspondents know the answer to their questions already.

And then we're off into what, at first glance, looks like the typical Pseudo-Isidorian litany of procedural prescriptions: Bishops can be neither tried nor judged absent the authority of the apostolic see. Nor can any councils promulgate acta on anything if they do not enjoy the support of apostolic authority. Those bringing accusations against bishops must be of impeccable character and meet the minimum qualifications for admission to holy orders. Synodal summons of accused parties have to occur in accordance with the "canonical decrees of the fathers"; if they don't, there's no need for the accused to respond to accusations at all. Those who have been deposed and despoiled of their possessions cannot be subjected to any judicial process until they are first restored to office and to possession as before,
 For we know that unarmed men cannot fairly fight against armed opponents, and nor can those who have been deposed or deprived of their possessions fairly litigate against those who maintain their position and enjoy their friends and possessions. 
Pseudo-Damasus complains, entirely typically, that even secular laws provide as much; at the very least, clerics should enjoy the same protections. This apparently reminds him of a few other well-trodden paths that he has neglected to embark upon: Accusers and accusations that are barred by secular laws are similarly excluded from ecclesiastical courts, he says.

So, yes, pretty much the usual, but if you've read more than a few dozen false decretals, a few points stick out as unexpected. One interesting moment, nestled the tirade summarized above, addresses a particular point of procedure that Pseudo-Isidore doesn't really go into anywhere else. This concerns the bill of indictment, or inscriptio; Pseudo-Damasus wants this document to be introduced at the start of the proceeding, "so that the calumniator might receive a like sentence, because before a bill of indictment no one should be judged or condemned." The underlying source here is an interpretatio added to Alaric's Breviary (9.1.6 = Cod. Theod. 9.1.11), and--this is the really striking bit--I know of no Benedictus Levita parallel. In every other instance I've encountered, the false decretals only incorporate points of procedure from Roman law that BL has incorporated.

It's just a little after this point that Damasus suddenly remembers he's answering a specific query about specific misbehaving bishops. He tells his correspondents to admonish "your aforementioned neighbors that they should withdraw themselves from such activities, and quickly correct those things that they have wrongly done against their brothers." Of course Damasus recognizes that legitimate complaints might indeed exist against the persecuted bishops in question, but in that case of course these grievances are to be referred to Rome for papal judgment.

Then we get a second rather interesting and unique passage--another point of procedure, elaborated by Pseudo-Damasus, without any Benedictus Levita parallels:
Bishops facing criminal accusations are to be granted a six-month stay of proceedings ( mensium), or more than that should it prove necessary; since nobody who is involved in secular affairs is unaware that this is permitted to the laity, how much more [should it pertain] to the clergy, who are doubtless superior to them? 
Still more interesting, there seems to be no Roman law reinforcing this point. I know we're dealing with forgeries and such, but typically when you have Pseudo-Isidorian popes complaining that a given legal protection available in secular courts should also be available to the clergy, there's some underlying contact with Roman law. Maybe just a horribly distorted verbal reminiscence. Here, though, Pseudo-Damasus is just making up some fake Roman procedure and then insisting that it ought to apply to priests.

Those are the highlights. The letter goes on to complain about peregrina iudicia, which is forbidden unless the pope grants an exception, states for maybe the fifth time that bishops are not to be judged absent the consent of the apostolic see, and declares that those who try to subvert this process--who try to seize for themselves those things which are not theirs to take--are doers of iniquity. Those who are able to oppose malefactors and do nothing simply further their impiety. We get some concluding rhetoric lifted from Pope Martin I's decretal announcing the conclusions of the Lateran Council of 649, then some fake consuls, and that's it for this letter.

Or almost it. There's one more nugget to discuss that's interesting enough to require a post of its own. We'll get to that soon.


Recipients: Stephen and the archiepiscopal provinces (concilia) of Africa

Words: 2600

Date: 25 October, 366-84 (with fake consuls, who can say?)

Sources:  Innocent I's decretal to Victricius of Rouen, a letter of Pope Anastasius II to the emperor of the same name,. Siricius's letter to Eumerius, and a letter of Leo I (all from the Hispana), the acta of the Lateran Council of 649, either a letter from Jerome or the acta of the Aachen council of 816 that used this letter, the acta of the Roman synod of Symmachus from 501 and some decrees from the "Concilium Africanum" (both from the Dionysio-Hadriana), at least one citation of Alaric's Breviary

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Long time, no see

It's time, finally, to fire up the Pseudo-Isidore blog. It's been a while, and I've missed typing for this thing.

Like all things that rise from the ashes, Reading Pseudo-Isidore is going to be a little different from here on out. After I close out some of my open promises (I've got to add the last installment of my Fried review; and finish blogging the Damasus dossier), I'm going to steer my output away from Pseudo-Isidore in general, and  towards my own original theories about Pseudo-Isidore. The blog will be less about introducing you to the greatest forgeries ever, and more about my research on the greatest forgeries ever.

That doesn't mean I won't throw up the odd post about a random fake decretal from time to time.