Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Patzold and the Origins of the C Recension: III

The third installment in a series of observations about Patzold's new book. The beginning is here.

A great part of Patzold’s case for the ninth-cenury date of the C recension rests upon the canonical citations of Hincmar of Reims. Among other things, he raises the possibility that Hincmar drew on some collection like C for his Opusculum LV capitulorum, or his treatise in 55 chapters (55C). In this work from 870, Hincmar refuted the legal arguments of his nephew and namesake, the bishop of Laon:
In the conflict with his nephew, Hincmar adduced in his 55-chapter treatise...a passage from a forged letter in the name of Pelagius II (JK +1051)—from a text, therefore, which is contained not in the A2-Version, but only in one of the long versions of the [False Decretals] (including the C-class). In the same work...Hincmar referred pointedly again to the Breviarium of Liberatus of Carthage.
On the same occasion, moreover, Hincmar cited four letters of Pope Leo I, which he could have taken neither from the Quesnelliana nor from the Hispana (JK 475, 482, 495 and 496). Only one of these four letters (JK 496) can be read in the Leo Dossier of the A1 recension; all four, however, occur in codices of the C class. Still more: Precisely in the argumentative context where Hincmar borrows from the Breviarium of Liberatus of Carthage, he also cites two of these exclusive Leo letters (JK 495, 482), which, in Pseudo-Isidorian context, are transmitted only in the C class. (49-50)
Put another way, Hincmar cites diverse items in 55C that the C recension alone gathers together in one single book, these texts being the Breviarium of Liberatus and a Pseudo-Pelagius forgery, or various rare Leonine decretals and the Breviarium. To weigh the strength of this argument, we must remember that the 55C is a dense legal treatise that gathers hundreds upon hundreds of canonical citations, no few of them rare or unusual in some way. It is a monument to Hincmar’s deep learning. The C recension is, likewise, an enormous compendium of canon law, surely one of the longest and most comprehensive collections of the early medieval period. Additionally, C has close ties to the Reims province, discernible in its antecedents (A/B, likely from Corbie) and in its sources (the Collectio Sangermanensis). Hincmar himself was the metropolitan of Reims province. This means we should approach any overlap in content with caution. Hincmar and C were both comprehensive and they both breathed the same air. If they have the same stuff here and there we would do well to avoid leaping, straightaway, to any theory that posits C as Hincmar’s source.

Despite these words of caution I find myself intrigued by chapter 23 of the Opusculum LV capitolorum, where indeed Hincmar cites the Breviarium and then some rarae aves from Leo’s epistolary corpus. If we want to imagine that Hincmar got these citations from one book, that book begins to look an awful lot like C. But before we get carried away, we should pause and ask why this argument is framed so narrowly.

Was it only in composing the 55C that Hincmar might have turned to C for help?

Where did Hincmar ordinarily go shopping for his Leo letters?

How well did Hincmar know Leo anyway?

On all of these matters, Jean Devisse has helpful remarks.[1] To begin with, Devisse is able to document Hincmar’s longstanding and lively interest in Leo’s correspondence. Everything suggests that Hincmar was on the lookout for Leonine extravagantes throughout his career, and that his knowledge of Leo’s epistolary leavings grew over time. Hincmar, Devisse argues, cited Leo’s letters from multiple sources, including the Dionysio-Hadriana, the Quesnelliana, and the Hispana. For the odd piece he used the Dacheriana and also rarer collections, namely the Collectio Colbertina (which perhaps survives solely in Hincmar’s personal manuscript, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Ms. lat. 1455?) and the Collectio Arletanensis (which survives only indirectly).

Hincmar cites a great number of Leo letters that end up in Pseudo-Isidore, but in most cases Hincmar seems to take his borrowings from Pseudo-Isidore’s sources, rather than Pseudo-Isidore himself. In only one case is Devisse fairly certain that Hincmar’s Leo citation comes from a False Decretals manuscript (the decretal in question is present both in A1 and in C). In later years, however, and especially from 870, Devisse sees an increasing textual influence from the False Decretals upon some of Hincmar’s Leonine borrowings.

All of that is according to Devisse, whose analysis is at times less than tight and in many cases wanting in citations. This, however, is a point of absolute certainty:

The problem of Leonine citations in Hincmar that cannot be traced to sources beyond C is larger than the four citations in the 55C, and I do not fully understand why Patzold has framed this problem in such narrow terms. Across his entire oeuvre, Hincmar cites nine Leonine decretals that are also on hand in C, but that otherwise are very rare, occurring only in unlikely places like the Collectio Grimanica. 

Where Hincmar got these nine letters is a deep problem. It is so deep that any theory of a ninth-century C recension seems inadequate to answer it. Consider this list of each decretal and the earliest attestation in Hincmar, insofar as I know it:

1. JK 431 (n. 37), cited only in Hincmar’s De fide Carolo regi servanda from 875.

2. JK 432 (n. 38), cited only in the De praedestinatione from 859/60.

3. JK 464 (n. 84), cited only in De una et non trina deitate, 856/7.

4. JK 475 (n. 95), first cited in De praedestinatione, 859/60 (and later in 55C).

5. JK 482 (n. 105), first cited in a letter of Hincmar from 863 (and later in 55C).

6. JK 487 (n. 111), cited only in De praedestinatione, 859/60.

7. JK 495 (n. 119), first cited in De una et non trina deitate, 856/7 (and later in 55C).

8. JK 496 (n. 120), cited in OpusculumLV capitulorum (the 55C) in 870.

9. JK 532 (n. 156), first cited in De una et non trina deitate, 856/7.

Res ipsa loquitur: A great many of these rare Leo letters, available in C but in no other widely circulated formal source, entered Hincmar’s world in the course of his quarrels with Gottschalk. A third had already arrived in 856 or 857, if we are to believe Devisse’s arguments on the date of De una et non trina deitate.[2] Such an early date makes it hard to see how C can have been Hincmar’s source for many of these citations. At the beginning of this essay series we discussed a distant antecedent of C, namely the collection of Leo’s correspondence in New Haven, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Ms 442. The Leo collection in this manuscript is associated with a papal list that concludes with the pontificate of Nicholas I. All of which is to say that C has a terminus post quem and, and it sits sometime after 858.

When Hincmar wrote his 55C in 870, I suppose that he could have drawn the Breviarium and some of his rare Leo citations from C. Anything is possible. But we have to admit that he did not know all of these letters only from C, for he had cited one of them (JK 495) before C ever took shape, during his attempt to do away with the trina deitas in 856 or 857. And he had demonstrated knowledge of a second (JK 475) in the course of composing an extended statement on predestination in 859/60. Though theoretically possible, this still strikes me as an uncomfortably early date for C, given that several stages of redaction and expansion had to intervene between the Leonine collection in the Beinecke manuscript and the Leonine collection in C.

As I come to the end of this post, I cannot help wondering if we have not grasped this question the wrong way around. Hincmar had a deep and unusual knowledge of Leo’s epistolary corpus, one that according to Devisse was by and large independent of the False Decretals. This knowledge extended to some of the letters that eventually, after Hincmar demonstrated knowledge of them, found their way into the C recension. Among those responsible the C recension was, likewise, somebody with a fairly deep and prevailing knowledge of Leo’s correspondence, if the 102-item Leonine dossier in C is any indication. If Hincmar's citations do not proceed from C, perhaps some of the material in C proceeds from Hincmar?

That will be a question for next time.



[1] Devisse, Hincmar: Archevêque de Reims, 845-882 (Geneva, 1975-6). At 3 vols., not for the faint of heart. 

[2] See Devisse, Hincmar, 1:163-6. His argument is widely accepted in modern scholarship as far as I know.

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