Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Patzold and the Origins of the C Recension: I

Steffen Patzold, Gefälschtes Recht aus dem Frühmittelalter: Untersuchungen zur Herstellung und Überlieferung der pseudoisidorischen Dekretalen (Heidelberg, 2015)

Steffen Patzold has written a stimulating monograph on the origins of the C recension of the False Decretals. Francia Recensio asked me to review this book last fall, but the distractions of leave delayed my work. I have been a Bad Scholar. Then, when I began studying Patzold’s volume, I became so intrigued by the problems he raises that the review became still more delayed. Happily it is now on its way out, but I will spare you the suspense: I have always found Patzold to be an excellent historian and I have learned a lot from him. I really like his book, even though I find myself in fairly deep disagreement with its argument.

A primer on the manuscript tradition of the False Decretals and what is up with these recensions: Pseudo-Isidore’s decretal forgeries circulated in several different, well-defined forms, which were first subjected to systematic description and analysis by Paul Hinschius when he edited the Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae in 1863. For Hinschius only the A1 and the A2 recensions dated from the era of Pseudo-Isidore. Three further recensions, which he christened A/B, B and C, were, according to him, all high medieval developments. Hinschius defined his recensions without the benefits of mature text-critical theory and without any deeper, common-errors based analysis of the Pseudo-Isidorian tradition. This is to say that A1, A2, A/B, B and C are not archetypes in the text-critical sense of the term; instead, they denote only roughly the different forms in which the False Decretals circulated. Modern scholars discovered that Hinschius misdated the key manuscript witness of the A/B recension, which in fact comes to us from the era of the forgeries. According to me anyway, A/B is probably the oldest recension out there. And while the manuscript tradition of C does not antedate the later twelfth century, scholars here and there have suspected that it might be older than its extant codicological witnesses. After reading Patzold’s book, I am convinced that these suspicions were right. Minus a few obviously later accretions, C is an early medieval recension and can no longer be excluded from the study of Pseudo-Isidore’s early reception and circulation.

The antiquity of C is Patzold’s concern only for the first third of his study. He spends the final two-thirds of his book on arguing that the “core of the C recension” can be dated to the ninth century and ascribed to the Pseudo-Isidorian atelier at Corbie. Most of Patzold’s case depends upon many items associated with the collection of Leo’s letters in C, and that is what I want to look at here and in the next few posts. 

C presents 102 pieces of Leo’s correspondence, by far the largest and most complex Leonine dossier associated with Pseudo-Isidore. C appends still more material to the end of the Leo letters, the greater part of it relating to the Council of Chalcedon (451) and the Three Chapters controversy from the sixth century. Patzold is absolutely right to look for clues as to the origins of C in this canonical jungle. Many of the items that C associates with Leo's dossier are rare artifacts that suggest the resources of a highly distinctive and well equipped library. Patzold pushes very hard to place that library at Corbie, but it is far from clear that he is right. At points the relatively simple dimensions of his argument deny his study an appreciation of the complexity and potential meaning of the evidence before him.

So, 102 letters: By way of comparison, the A1 recension favored Hinschius has only 56 or 57 letters, and the interpolated Hispana and the A/B recensions include a mere 39. Patzold shows that nothing about the contents or configuration of the Leonine dossier in C suggests a high medieval date, despite some suggestions to the contrary. He also notes that C incorporates one decretal from the so-called Collectio Corbeiensis (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms. lat. 12097), a Corbie source also tapped by Benedictus Levita in the False Capitularies (39-40). Furthermore, the Leo letters assembled in C are derived from two early medieval compendia of Leo’s correspondence, namely the Collectio Bobbiensis (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, C.238 inf) and the Collectio Grimanica (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, Ms. 1645). According to Eduard Schwartz, the Bobbiensis is excerpted from the Grimanica. True to its name, the Milan manuscript of the Bobbiensis was moreover set down in Bobbio, which Patzold reads as evidence that the Grimanica must also have been at Bobbio. Because Abbot Wala of Corbie served as Bobbio’s abbot between 834 and 836, Patzold sees the Grimanica and the Bobbiensis as clues of Corbie provenance:  
For the production of the C-class, rare antecedents were necessary, which were partly available in Bobbio and partly at Corbie. In the 830s, we see a close personal connection between these two monasteries, which was moreover supported by common Pseudo-Isidorian interests (42).
I am not sure that this is right. 

Patzold suggests that Ambrosiana C.238 inf is not the ur-manuscript of the Bobbiensis, but rather a copy of the lost exemplar. He seems driven to this hypothesis because he is convinced that the Milan codex is very late, perhaps dating to the early tenth century. (Bischoff dates Ambrosiana C.238 inf to s. IX 3/3.) Similar considerations apply to the Grimanica: While the Bobbiensis does indeed appear to derive from something like the notional Grimanica, post-Schwartz research holds that Milan manuscript does not itself descend from the Paris codex. Both rather proceed from a common exemplar, from which the Bobbiensis is perhaps, at a minimum, twice removed.[1] The origins and provenance of this antecedent—that is to say, the origins and provenance of the Grimanica in a more fundamental sense—are unknown. 

The upshot is that neither the Milan codex of the Bobbiensis nor the Paris codex of the Grimanica need have informed C directly. Indeed, Patzold seems to suggest that neither did. I do not see how the Bobbio connection can survive this observation, to say nothing of the Corbie connection that hangs beneath it. The “rare antecedents” necessary for the Leonine dossier in C are therefore without any discernible connection to Pseudo-Isidore's monastery, save for one item borrowed from the Collectio Corbeiensis. Otherwise, the best we can say is that C draws Leo’s correspondence from two rare repositories of unknown origin that, in their extant forms, have only Italian associations. Either before or after C took shape, one of these collections, the Bobbiensis, found its way to Bobbio. Beyond the fact that the sole Paris manuscript hails from northern Italy (specifically, Frioul), we do not know anything about where the Grimanica was known in the ninth century, or where it might have given rise to the Bobbiensis.
Thus far we have only considered formal sources, but there is another way to approach the fund of Leo letters in C. We can consider this dossier as the product of a long process of expansion and redaction that admits of partial reconstruction. The standard study, by Antoine Chavasse, holds that the Leo letters in C reflect at least six distinct developmental stages.[2] While not every aspect of Chavasse’s scheme has been proven beyond all doubt, the broader picture of a dense and multi-layered Leonine compendium cannot be disputed. Here is the story of C as Chavasse tells it, from beginning to end:

1) At the core of the Leo letters in C lies the original dossier of 39 letters that the Pseudo-Isidorians redacted from their most important formal source, the Collectio Hispana Gallica. As emended by the forgers, this 39-letter collection—we will call it 39L—is transmitted by Pseudo-Isidore’s own interpolated recension of the Hispana Gallica (Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vat. lat. 1341, usually called the Hispana GallicaAugustodunensis) and by the A/B recension of the False Decretals.

2) Either the forgers or their close associates expanded 39L with eighteen additional items, all but two or three from the Collectio Quesnelliana. The fifty-seven letter dossier is an important characteristic of the A1 recension of Pseudo-Isidore printed by Paul Hinschius. The greater part of the additions occur en bloc, at the beginning of the 39L from Stage 1.

3) In an anomalous subtype of A1, these eighteen additions are interspersed among the contents of 39L, while 39L is itself subjected to further correction and rearrangement (during the course of which one of the eighteen additions was withdrawn). The original exemplar of this subtype, complete with original scribal redactions, survives in New Haven, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library,Ms. 442 (N442). According to me, N442 is an early form of A1 that was originally copied without the supplements that were added to 39L in Stage 2 above. The extensive scribal redactions reflect an effort to bring the Leonine dossier in N442 up to date. After redaction, N442 gave rise to an entire subtype of the False Decretals that is known as the “Cluny Recension.” Despite this name we do not know where N442 was copied. We know only that the highly distinctive Leonine dossier in this manuscript experienced wide dissemination. The Leonine collection in N442 consists of 56 letters, and we will call it 56L. Very probably, 56L emerged sometime during the pontificate of Nicholas I (858-867), because the redactors of N442 contribute a papal list that concludes with Nicholas.

4) 56L was then rearranged and expanded with material from the Collectio Bobbiensis and other items, growing to a full 71 letters. This collection, 71L, circulated broadly in the High Middle Ages independently of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals. Typically 71L concludes with an appendix of four additional pieces associated with a sixth-century collection of items on Chalcedon and the Three Chapters controversy that Eduard Schwartz christened the Collectio Sangermanensis. One of only two extant Sangermanensis mansucripts comes from Corbie; another comes from Reichenau and a third was known at Beauvais but has been lost. For Patzold, Sangermanensis material is the single most important indication of the Corbie origins of C. We have a lot more to say about the Sangermanensis in the next installment. For now, we need only note that this four-item appendix does not consist of Leo's letters, but rather a letter of Aurelius of Carthage and extracts from ep. 186 of Augustine. 

5) At some later stage, 71L and its Sangermanensis appendix received a further 26 additions. All but three of these additions come from the Collectio Grimanica, source of the Bobbiensis employed just above. This stage is a great mystery, as it is so far known to survive only in Merlin’s 1524 edition of the False Decretals.[3]

6) This expanded collection was then redacted a final time, yielding the Leo letters on hand in C. The architects of C, as we know it today, had before them A/B, and they had before them something like the 71L with Grimanica supplements in Stage 5. They adopted 39L from A/B outright. Afterwards they included all of the non-39L (that is to say, the non-Hispana) pieces from the 71L, altering the order in some cases. They either omitted or did not know the four-item appendix from the Sangermanensis. In its stead, they provided six additional Leo letters from the Collectio Quesnelliana and other sources. The sole decretal from the Collectio Corbeiensis, which for Patzold points to the Corbie provenance of the Leonine dossier in C, is to be found among these pieces. Finally, the architects of C added the greater part of the Grimanica material that was appended to 71L in Stage 5.

We have before us a many-layered phenomenon, and whether you buy Chavasse’s entire story or quibble with details (and I have smoothed over or omitted some important details, so please read Chavasse for yourself before you get any grand ideas), there is no disputing that the Leo letters in C reflect something more than a single campaign of expansion. 

What can it mean, from the perspective of the Leonnine dossier, to argue that "the core of the C recension" dates from the ninth century or that it was assembled by the Pseudo-Isidorians at Corbie? Must all the stages in this process be from the Pseudo-Isidorians at Corbie for the thesis to hold? Only the last? Here is the best that I can do: Stage 1 is Pseudo-Isidorian by definition, and its Corbie associations are proven by the extant manuscripts of the A/B recension. Stage 2 at least stands very near Pseudo-Isidore, and yet there are no demonstrable links between A1 and Corbie. Whether or not Stage 3 is Pseudo-Isidorian, it has nothing to do with Corbie, for neither the original copyists of N442 nor its many redactors can be associated with that abbey. In light of our earlier considerations about the extant manuscripts of the Bobbiensis and the Grimanica, the 71L of Stage 4 might seem Italian. Here the Sangermanensis appendix, with its Gallican and possibly Corbie-specific associations, is layered on top of the Italian material. These different associations persist through Stage 5 and Stage 6, where the Grimanica (source of the Bobbiensis and another collection with Italian associations) recurs alongside more items of Leo’s correspondence with Gallican associations, one of them from the Collectio Corbeiensis (Corbie again).

A related and probably more significant question would be how many different hands are stirring this soup. Stage 1 is Corbie and Stage 3 is not, so we are up to two at least. While the formal sources in play throughout these first three stages (the Hispana and the Quesnelliana) are typical of Pseudo-Isidore, from Stage 4 we are confronted with another world of sources that do not, as a rule, typify the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries beyond C. Nobody has yet demonstrated that the authors of the False Decretals knew or used the Sangermanensis, the Bobbiensis or the Grimanica. Either the passage of time or the involvement of a third redactor would seem necessary to explain this shift. Relatedly, we have the use of the Bobbiensis in Stage 4, followed by the use of the source from which the Bobbiensis was derived, namely the Grimanica, in Stage 5. Another temporal interval or still another compiler would seem necessary to explain this progression. At Stage 6, we find the exclusion of some of the material assembled in Stage 4 and 5. Notably, the Sangermanensis appendix to 71L is set aside in favor of different material, including an item from the Corbeiensis. Possible Corbie associations are also reinforced with the return of 39L from the Hispana and/or A/B. Curiously, though Patzold argues that the Sangermanensis and the Corbeiensis both point to Corbie, we find them at odds in the Leonine dossier, with the Corbeiensis and its associates edging out the Sangermanensis appendix to 71L. It would seem reasonable to posit a new compiler at the level of Stage 6 to explain all of these changes, or once again a substantial temporal interval.

The Leonine dossier in C, then, probably reflects the work of more than two compilers, and perhaps also the passage of considerable time between Stage 4 and Stage 6. Because Stage 3 must postdate 858, I think it unsafe to ascribe the 102-letter collection of Leo letter’s in C to the ninth century--let alone the era of Pseudo-Isidore's activity--with any confidence. 

[1] So Benedikt Vollmann, Studien zum Priszillianismus (St. Ottilien, 1965), 106-7, who came to this conclusion in the course of editing one of Leo's letters that is present in both the Bobbiensis and the Grimanica. 

[2] Antoine Chavasse, "Les letters du pape Léon le Grand (440-461) dans l'Hispana et la collection dite des Fausses Décrétales," Revue de droit canonique 25 (1975), 28-39.

[3] This is as good a time as any to note that Merlin's editio princeps of the False Decretals, reprinted in vol. 130 of the Patrologia Latina, is generally said to have been printed from Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée Nationale, Ms. 27. Such goes, at any rate, the oft-repeated opinion of Hinschius, Decretales Pseuod-Isidorianae, lxxii-lxxiii. Yet this would seem impossible, for the Leo dossier in Ms. 27 is the standard 102-item collection described here as Stage 6 (Ms. 27 is, as far as I can tell, an ordinary C-recension manuscript), and Merlin seems to print an antecedent of this collection. 

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