Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pseudo-Isidore is on twitter...

Make of that what you will.

Towards a Theory of Pseudo-Isidore: Part V, Addendum

Before moving on to the decretal forgeries, I realize that we have left an important question unanswered. In Part III and again in Part IV, I suggested we ask about the nature of the interpolated Hispana more fundamentally. What is this Hispana recension, and what was it created for?

We begin with readership. Although only one direct interpolated-Hispana manuscript survives today, the Middle Ages knew more copies. Altogether, we have evidence of at least seven separate medieval manuscripts, and in a recent article I argue that two rather clearly distinct interpolated-Hispana recensions have been incorporated within the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries. The point is that this was a text that saw significant circulation in its own right, uncombined with the decretal forgeries.

Pseudo-Isidorian enthusiasts will remember that the interpolated Hispana is simply a revised and lightly interpolated version of the Hispana Gallica, and that the Hispana Gallica is a rather corrupt and problematic (but fully authentic and non-Pseudo-Isidorian) Gallican version of the ordinary Collectio Hispana. Sometime after the 850s, those involved with the early circulation of our forgeries got their hands on an ordinary Hispana text and used it to correct lingering problems with the interpolated Hispana incorporated in their forgeries. (My recent article presents pretty conclusive evidence of this point.) Before the 850s, though, the men behind Pseudo-Isidore could only rely on their ingenuity to correct problems with the Hispana Gallica, because--and this is point is very basic but also very crucial--they only had access to Hispana texts through the corrupt Hispana Gallica.

It is therefore interesting to observe that, with evidence for seven medieval witnesses, the interpolated Hispana does rather better than the Hispana Gallica, which has left behind evidence of only four medieval witnesses. Granted, Pseudo-Isidore has been studied more intensively than the Gallican Hispana, so it is possible that our knowledge of interpolated-Hispana manuscripts is simply better. Nevertheless, we have every reason to suppose that the interpolated Hispana and the Hispana Gallica enjoyed roughly comparable degrees of circulation in Carolingian Gaul. The interpolated Hispana might even be called modestly successful from the standpoint of manuscript circulation, and it is not overbold to ascribe that success to its defining feature--the philological improvements that our interpolators supplied.

The interpolated Hispana has only received inauthentic adjustments in a few instances. In Part IV we outlined Maassen's fourteen especially clear cases of interpolation. There is nothing systematic or comprehensive about these interpolations. We have also seen that two of the most extensive revisions--the adjustments to the opening passages of Innocent I's letter to Victricius of Rouen, and the adjustments to c. 7 of the Second Council of Seville--are related in interesting ways to two decretal texts that we have placed in the Hispana complex (Divinis praeceptis and Cum in Dei nomine). We have even wondered whether these two Hispana interpolations do not, in some way, reflect the increased attention that c. 7 and Innocent's letter received in the process of composing Divinis praeceptis and Cum in Dei nomine.

Everything suggests, therefore, that the interpolated Hispana is nothing more than a straightforward effort to correct a problematic but important legal collection. Those involved in the correction of this legal collection were simultaneously deploying it in the service of honest (perhaps Gregory IV and Divinis praeceptis) and not-so-honest (Pseudo-Leo and Cum in Dei nomine) legal arguments. Their early appropriations left interesting traces (i.e., c. 7 of Seville II and Innocent to Victricius), but those traces were not the purpose of the revised recension. They are merely its most interesting features. The improvements were sufficient to win the interpolated Hispana some modest circulation in Frankish Gaul, where non-Gallican Hispana recensions were hard to come by.

So that's what the interpolated Hispana is. But why were these corrections undertaken? What is our text for? Those are very appropriate questions to put to a legal forgery, but maybe they're not well suited for our text. We have seen, after all, that the interpolated Hispana resembles a forgery rather less than it resembles a juristic or even a philological project--or even something approaching a work of scholarship. In that respect, it puts us in mind of another rather odd, disorganized, but occasionally scholarly element in the Pseudo-Isidorian library, namely the capitularies of Benedictus Levita. Way back in Part I, I had this to say about our good friend Benedictus, the supposed date of his collection to 847, and his relationship to the forgery project:
After long and tedious investigations, I’ve begun to think of Benedictus Levita, at base, as something like a thinly disguised florilegium of mostly-genuine legal material. It has some Pseudo-Isidorian elements, but for long stretches it’s just somebody’s enormous pile of random legal flotsam and jetsam. It certainly seems that Pseudo-Isidore availed himself of some portions of this monumental collection of favorite quotations. Genuine sources, in particular, recur in Pseudo-Isidore, complete with Benedictus Levita’s alterations and truncations. It also seems that the Pseudo-Isidorians, at some point, took this enormous legal florilegium, slapped on a preface, and did some light editing to make the whole thing look, however superficially, like a collection of capitulary legislation. So I would date the thin capitulary veneer after 847. The contents, though—who knows?
I cannot yet provide a good answer to the what-is-it-for question, but I can point to parallels with Benedict's capitularies, and propose the following: By sometime in the early 830s at the latest, certain people in the Pseudo-Isidorian orbit had begun to dig very deep indeed into the legal traditions of Western Christendom. Some of these people unearthed a legal collection, known outside of Spain primarily in heavily corrupt form, and began trying to sort it out. Some of these people (the same people? different people? at the same time? later?) began compiling an enormous and broadly disorganized legal florilegium, drawing on scattered secular and ecclesiastical legal sources, as well as on the interpolated Hispana.

To be continued...

Back to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV or Part V, forward to Addendum on Hispana priority

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Towards a Theory of Pseudo-Isidore: Part V

The Pseudo-Isidorian library, we are coming to see, is not homogeneous. In particular, there are serious differences both in methodology and in ideology between two apparently earlier installments  — the interpolated Hispana and Divinis praeceptis — and the decretal forgeries. We have found some reason to associate the interpolated Hispana and Divinis praeceptis with the year 833. As for the decretal forgeries, we have yet to establish any date at all. We have only seen that they must postdate the Hispana, and that Zechiel-Eckes's specific arguments for placing at least some central group of them between 836 and 838 have not held up well.

More than that, we have observed the various properties that make Divinis praeceptis an intriguing decretal. Its contents align it with the interpolated Hispana rather than with the other decretal forgeries. Unlike its forged colleagues, it draws almost exclusively on Hispana texts for its legal citations, and the interest appears to be mutual: Our Hispana interpolators have devoted particular attention to a genuine decretal crucial for the argument of Divinis praeceptis (Innocent for Victricius). In both respects, Divinis praeceptis puts me in mind of nothing so much as JK †551, Cum in Dei nomine, more commonly known as the De privilegio chorepiscoporum — a short forgery to the disadvantage of chorbishops in the name of Leo the Great.

Like Divinis praeceptis, Cum in Dei nomine is not without its Pseudo-Isidorian features. More specifically, it is very down on chorbishops, just like our decretal forgers are. Also like Divinis praeceptis, it draws exclusively on the (interpolated) Hispana to make its points, and still more like Divinis praeceptis, there is room to think of its relationship with the (interpolated) Hispana as a two-way street. That is, a close reading of Cum in Dei nomine alongside its Hispana source text drive us to wonder whether certain Hispana-level editorial interventions (aka interpolations) are not, in some way, a consequence of the composition of Cum in Dei nomine.

One other comparison between Divinis praeceptis and Cum in Dei nomine proves fruitful. I have so far neglected to discuss the manuscript tradition of Divinis praeceptis; it survives in the little-studied C recension of Pseudo-Isidore, and also among materials originating with the diocese of Le Mans (where Aldric was bishop, of course). It does not occur in our major, early Pseudo-Isidore recensions, A1 and A/B, and for this reason it took scholars a long time to recognize that it might be a Pseudo-Isidorian product. Cum in Dei nomine also lacks full integration with the False Decretals, though it does occur in the A1 recension. Because Paul Hinschius thought A1 was the earliest and most original version of the decretal forgeries, he edited it, and the consequence is that Pseudo-Leo's Cum in Dei nomine has, if anything, been insufficiently differentiated from the corpus of decretal forgeries. As I have argued at length in an upcoming article, however, we would probably do best to see A/B as the recension most closely reflecting the designs and aims of our decretal forgers. And Cum in Dei nomine is conspicuously absent from A/B, though it does crop up, rather surprisingly, in Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Preu├čischer Kulturbesitz Hamilton 132, or B132 — an important (though complex) ninth-century interpolated-Hispana witness from Corbie.

Unlike the highly sophisticated Divinis praeceptis, Cum in Dei nomine depends entirely upon one source: the seventh canon of the Second Council of Seville. We encountered this canon in Part IV; originally, it was written to describe and delimit the sacramental faculties of priests, as opposed to those of bishops. Our interpolators inserted references to chorbishops throughout, such that, in the interpolated Hispana, c. 7 of Seville II addresses both priests and chorbishops, and applies the same limits to the sacramental faculties of both. Cum in Dei nomine is simply this canon repackaged as a decretal of Leo the Great, issued to all the bishops in Gaul and Germany. 

So on the one hand Cum in Dei nomine is boring; it's nothing we haven't seen before. But in other ways it's highly interesting, as a closer examination of its interpolations will show. There are five points at which c. 7 of Seville II mentions priests, and thus five instances of interpolation to study. We will compare the treatment of each locus in the forged decretal and in the interpolated Hispana:
1. In the first instance that c. 7 mentions priests, the Hispana interpolator revises the phrase to "chorbishops or priests." That's it. Whoever forged Cum in Dei nomine, however, adds a whole phrase at this point, such that what was originally a simple reference to "priests" becomes a reference to "chorbishops, who according to the canons of Neocaesarea and the decrees of other fathers are the same as priests, and priests." (For the legal citation, betake yourself to c. 13 of the  Council of Neocaesarea; we'll get to the "decrees of other fathers" shortly.)
2. In the second instance that c. 7 mentions a "priest" (this time in the singular), our Hispana interpolator predictably revises to "priest or chorbishop." At the same point, Cum in Dei nomine reads "chorbishop or priest." This interpolation is crucial, as the text goes on to deny "priests" (and, as interpolated, "chorbishops") a long list of sacramental faculties.
3. In the third instance that c. 7 mentions priests, our Hispana interpolator does nothing, while Cum in Dei nomine remembers to revise to "chorbishops or priests." This mention of priests is not directly tied to any legal restrictions, so our Hispana interpolator's neglect of this passage does not really undermine his anti-chorepiscopal program. 
4. In the fourth instance that c. 7 mentions priests, our Hispana interpolator revises to "priests or chorbishops," while Cum in Dei nomine revises to "chorbishops, who are known to be after the example and form of the 70 disciples, or priests." (For the 70 disciples in question, betake yourself to Luke 10:1; more on this shortly.) 
5. And finally, in the fifth instance that c. 7 mentions priests, our Hispana interpolator revises to "them" ("eis"); the antecedent is clearly intended to be both presbyteri and choriepiscopi, as both have just been mentioned. Interestingly, Cum in Dei nomine retains "priests" at this point, and here that retention has legal force (unlike in instance 3 above), because the presbyteri in question are denied a further list of sacramental faculties. The interpolated Hispana thus succeeds in denying exactly the same set of sacramental faculties to both priests and chorbishops, whereas Cum in Dei nomine, despite insisting that priests and chorbishops are the same, denies the initial set of faculties to both orders, but the second set of faculties only to priests. 
It is strange but apparently true: Neither the interpolated Hispana recension of c. 7, nor the Cum in Dei nomine recension of c. 7, is clearly dependent upon the other. Our Hispana interpolator slips up (inconsequentially, as it turns out) in instance 3 above, while our decretal forger slips up in instance 5; neither error recurs in the other version. In instance 1 we have "chorbishops or priests" on the one hand and "chorbishops...and priests" on the other; in instance 2 it is "chorbishop or priest" and then "priest or chorbishop"; in instance 4 it is "priests or chorbishops" and "chorbishops...or priests." It looks for all the world like c. 7 of Seville II has been reworked twice, on two separate occasions, by two people with very similar agendas, neither of whom bothered to (or was able to?) consult the work of the other.

But that's only the beginning. By now, dear reader, you will have noticed that Cum in Dei nomine adds content to this text that our Hispana interpolator does not include. In instance 1, our decretal forger claims that chorbishops are the same as priests according to the canons promulgated at Neocaesarea and to the decrees of other fathers. And in instance 4 he asserts that chorbishops, like priests, are after the example of the 70 disciples mentioned in Luke 10:1. Now if you betake yourself to c. 13 of the Council of Neocaesarea (a text widely available in the Carolingian Empire through the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana), you will see that it briefly discusses priests, and then proceeds to declare that "chorbishops likewise appear to be after the example...and form of the seventy." The argument is that the twelve apostles are models or forerunners of the episcopate, while the seventy disciples from Luke 10:1 are models or forerunners of the presbyterate, and (according to the fathers gathered at Neocaesarea) the chorepiscopate as well. The visionary behind Cum in Dei nomine presses this point rather further than the Neocaesarean canon, and uses it to declare that priests and chorbishops are the same. Identical reasoning would appear to underlie the Hispana interpolations; the difference is merely that the decretal forger has shown his work.

At this point it might interest you to know that the thirteenth canon of the Council of Neocaesarea was also cited to the disadvantage of the chorepiscopate by other people in Pseudo-Isidore's world. These other people were the bishops gathered at the 829 Council of Paris, and they addressed the sacramental faculties of chorbishops in their lengthy acta at c. 27. As you will recall, the decrees of Paris 829 are among the latest (and most important) sources used by our decretal forgers. Canon 27  opens by clearly stating that "the acts of the apostles and canonical authority openly demonstrate that bishops hold the place of the apostles, while chorbishops hold the example and form of the seventy disciples." It goes on to complain that chorbishops have the reprehensible habit of (among other things) imparting the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, which is wrong since none of the seventy disciples are read to have imparted the Holy Spirit; Acts 19:1-6 proves that this faculty was reserved for the apostles and their successors. The text then cites c. 13 of Neocaesarea, and also c. 10 of the Council of Antioch, which simply cautions chorbishops to know their place. Paris 829 concludes by advising bishops to see that their chorbishops do not exceed their competence, and to avoid assigning their chorbishops any tasks that do not pertain to their (that is, the chorbishops') office and that are not prescribed in the canons.

The seventy disciples argument is therefore not exclusive to Cum in Dei nomine or the interpolated Hispana. A version of this same argument was advanced at Paris 829, which was the first church council anywhere in the history of Western Christendom to question the sacramental faculties of chorbishops. The relationship between our forged decretal and the 829 acta is therefore anything but fortuitous. In this context, the gesture of Cum in Dei nomine to the "decrees of the other fathers" would seem to have its parallels in the  gestures of Paris 829 to "canonical authority," and to the largely undefined limitations on chorepiscopal ministry that this council claims are to be found "in the holy canons," and perhaps even to c. 10 of Antioch, which this council cites to suggest the limited sacramental competence of chorbishops.

The Seventy Disciples Argument (for lack of a better term) in Paris 829 is not quite the same as the Seventy Disciples Argument in our forged and interpolated texts. Paris 829 grounds this point in Neocaesarea c. 13, but stops short of pushing on to the conclusion that this argument seems designed to yield—that chorbishops and priests are identical. It says openly that the sacramental faculties of chorbishops are limited, but beyond imparting the Holy Spirit it leaves the limitations wholly undefined. It mentions priests not at all. In the interpolated recension of c. 7 of Seville II, as well as in Cum in Dei nomine, the argument is fully realized. Priests and chorbishops are equated to one another, with the result that choreipscopal sacramental faculties can be precisely delimited. The forger behind Cum in Dei nomine retains the citation to Neocaesarea, while the interpolators of c. 7 simply equate chorbishops and priests without argument. Yet it is easy to see how a convinced student of the Seventy Disciples Argument might see the interpolations to c. 7 as clarifications or corrections of ambiguous terminology. And of course we have seen that the Hispana interpolators are interested in nothing so much as clarifying and correcting.

I have deliberately avoided characterizing Paris 829 as a source for the argument of our Hispana interpolator and the forger behind Cum in Dei nomine. Certainly that is one possible scenario, but I think we have to be open to others. The argument about the seventy disciples could just as easily have originated among some of the bishops gathered at Paris in 829, among them perhaps our Hispana interpolators; the acta as actually promulgated accepted this argument for the most part, but shrank from drawing the radical conclusion it was designed to support. Our Hispana interpolators, meanwhile, felt themselves constrained by no such caution. (To the extent that the imperfect and vaguely defined limitations on chorepiscopal competence promulgated at Paris demand an explanation, this would seem to be the most obvious one.) A third possibility, dangerously and outrageously speculative but not mutually exclusive of the second, might be that adherents of the Seventy Disciples Argument prepared certain texts, perhaps a letter in Leo's name, perhaps a slightly "clarified" or "corrected" version of c. 7 of Seville II, to press home their case. They could have done this either in advance of the Paris negotiations or afterwards, when some might have felt that the official acta failed to go far enough. 

In any case, we again have something like a spectrum before us. Paris 829 marks a new moment in the approach of the Frankish episcopate towards chorbishops. The interpolated recension of c. 7 of Seville II and Cum in Dei nomine, meanwhile, use the same basic argument to go even further. And when we turn to the decretal forgeries, we find that they adopt an even more extreme position. 

The text to compare here is JK †244, Licet fratres karissimi, Pseudo-Damasus's extended rant on chorbishops. Curiously, no part of c. 7 (and therefore no part of Cum in Dei nomine) lacks its counterpart in Pseudo-Damasus. You might even call it a rewriting of Cum in Dei nomine. The seventh canon and Cum in Dei nomine open by offering excuses for episcopal ignorance in the matter of priests and chorbishops. Pseudo-Damasus begins his screed by specifically excluding the possibility of ignorance, and declaring that the entire episcopate knows that chorbishop are illicit. Those bishops who violate the canons and employ chorbishops are not ignorant, but rather lazy and interested only in securing their own leisure. Pseudo-Damasus even compares them to prostitutes who foster their children to leave more time for their libidinous recreations. Pseudo-Damasus then introduces the example of Moses and Aaron, straight from c. 7 and Cum in Dei nomine. In the Seville text, we read that the task of erecting the altar in God’s tabernacle was allotted to Moses alone; priests (and chorbishops) act in place of the sons of Aaron, and should not exceed their competence. The problem is that this precedent only addresses the consecration of altars—the central concern of the original prohibitions aired at Seville II (and thus in Cum in Dei nomine), but a relatively peripheral matter in the sweeping condemnation of Pseudo-Damasus. Our fake pope therefore needs further biblical proof. “The shadow of the law [i.e., the Old Testament] has passed,” he writes after wrapping up his sons-of-Aaron disquisition, “and the light of the Gospel, through God’s grace, shines clearly upon us.” Pseudo-Damasus proceeds to argue that the seventy disciples from the Luke 16:1 represent the priesthood, while the apostles are the bishops. He then draws the explicit conclusion, which the 829 Paris acta dance around and Cum in Dei nomine alludes to only obliquely: Since only these two orders exist, a third is impossible; chorbishops are therefore nothing more than priests. Finally, Pseudo-Damasus combines the separate lists of sacramental prohibitions from c. 7 and Cum in Dei nomine (see instances 2 and 5 in our list above) to build one long list of faculties forbidden to the chorepiscopate. Along the way he resolves some linguistic infelicities (left standing in c. 7 and Cum in Dei nomine), and further prohibits chorbishops from consecrating subdeacons (which nobody seems to have cared about before). 

Where does all of this leave us? 

The interpolated Hispana is closely related to two decretal texts at the margins of the Pseudo-Isidorian project, namely Divinis praeceptis and Cum in Dei nomine. Divinis praeceptis is explicitly dated to 833, and assigning its text to that year makes a fair amount of historical sense. Cum in Dei nomine and the interpolated recension of c. 7 of Seville II, meanwhile, advance arguments that are in some way related to legislation promulgated at Paris in 829.

From here on out, to save keystrokes, we will refer to these three texts (Divinis praeceptis, Cum in Dei nomine, and the interpolated Hispana) as the Hispana complex. We have good prima facie reasons to suppose that some part of this complex was in place by 833, and it contains clear ideological parallels to the reforms enacted at Paris in 829. The Hispana complex, in other words, seems very much at home in the early 830s.

But we have seen, in far more detail than is healthy, that for all the similarities between the decretal forgeries and the Hispana complex, there are differences in equal measure. Where and when do the decretal forgeries belong? Why were they developed, and what is their relationship to the complex of texts built from and upon the interpolated Hispana?

These are questions that later installments can only begin to answer. In the meantime, have an Addendum on the nature of the Hispana. Have another Addendum on the priority of the Hispana.

Back to Part I, Part II, Part III, or Part IV

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friedrich Maassen... currently honored in the halls of the MGH:

h/t Gratianus
No discussion of the interpolated Hispana is appropriate or complete without his portrait.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Towards a Theory of Pseudo-Isidore: Part IV

Last time, I proposed a preliminary, tentative date for the beginning of work on the interpolated Hispana, the corrected and slightly enhanced legal collection that served as a vehicle for the False Decretals of Pseudo-Isidore. That date is 8 July 833. Now we need to ask what that means. A big part of answering that question involves asking another:

What is the interpolated Hispana, anyway? And more broadly, what was it for? Was it developed specifically as a vessel for the decretal forgeries? Or does it represent some other project that was later appropriated by the Pseudo-Isidorians?

We begin by recalling that the interpolated Hispana is a reworking of the Hispana Gallica, a rather corrupt (but completely authentic) version of the Hispana that circulated, as its name implies, in Carolingian Gaul. Most of the reworking in question was undertaken to iron out corruptions and solve other obvious and crippling problems with the text of the Hispana Gallica. A very small subset of this reworking, however, involved the inauthentic revision of Hispana texts. These inauthentic revisions have been most thoroughly discussed by Friedrich Maassen, in his Pseudoisidor-Studien. He identifies the following fourteen especially clear instances of inauthentic interpolation:
c. 34 of Carthage III:
The sick, if they cannot respond for themselves, may still be baptized if witnesses can attest to their intention. The interpolator adds that the penitent in similar circumstances are to receive absolution. 
c. 6 of Carthage V:
In cases of uncertainty, possibly baptized children are to be (re)baptized without hesitation. The interpolator adds that the same thing is to happen with respect to uncertainly consecrated churches.
c. 13 of Arles I:
Clergy guilty of traditio in the time of Diocletian are to be removed from office. Clergy are also to demonstrate their innocence by referring to the public acta taken down by the persecuting officials. This is necessary, we read, because many clergy are trying to get off by paying witnesses. Our interpolator, first, introduces a few variants from another recension of this canon that changes the force slightly; instead of trying to avoid deposition through purchased witnesses, the malefactors in question are trying to raise accusations against other clergy via said witnesses. (The Hispana Gallica carries a serious corruption at exactly this point, so it seems likely that our interpolators merely collated this canon against another recension to resolve the problem--not because they were interested in altering this aspect of the meaning.) Therefore, to be admitted to accusation, such accusers will need to refer to the acta publica (presumably to buttress their case). Our interpolator then adds a modification of his own: Nobody can accuse, unless they can show, via the public acta, that they are personally above all suspicion. 
c. 26 of Agde
Anyone suppressing or otherwise denying documentation of church property, such that the church incurs loss, is to repay the loss from his own resources and is to be excommunicated Anyone who has received such ill-gotten gains is to be subject to the same sentence. Our interpolator adjusts the Latin to add clarity and emphasis to this second point.
c. 32 of the same council
Clerics are not to approach a secular judge without episcopal permission. But, if they have approached a secular judge despite this prohibition, the judge should respond. Our interpolator inserts "non": The judge should NOT respond.
c. 61 of the same council (al., c. 30 from the Council of Epaon)
Incest is forbidden, and it is offensive even to articulate all the relationships constitute incest. Nevertheless, union with the widow of one's uncle (maternal or paternal) or with one's stepdaughter are henceforth forbidden. Those currently in such marriages are to be separated, but are allowed to enter other marital unions. Our interpolator revises the entire passage to include a blanket prohibition against any consanguineous marriage at all (in addition to the specifically prohibited cases), and says anyone entering such marriages is to remain among the catechumens until they have made "legitimate satisfaction." 
c. 12 of Toledo III
If a man seeks penance, the bishop/priest is first to tonsure him; then poenitentia may be granted. A woman cannot receive penance unless she has first "changed her dress" ("...mutaverit habitum..."). These measures are prescribed because many of the laity (laici) return to their lamentable crimes after they receive penance, when penance has been granted negligently. Our interpolator adds that the bishop/priest is to make the male candidate for penance EITHER receive tonsure OR change his dress to ashes and rags ("in cinere et cilicio habitum mutare faciat"); the woman, similarly, is EITHER to be veiled OR to change her dress. Finally, the interpolator laments the relapse not only of laity, but of "laity together with women."
c. 14 of the same council
The original canon states that the following provision was ordered by "gloriosissimus dominus noster" (a reference to Reccared) at the council's suggestion. The interpolator has revised the canon to read that "conventus noster" was solely responsible for what follows.
c. 19 of the same council
People are not to construct churches and then request that the bishop consecrate said churches, while trying to keep the financial endowment of the church beyond the bishop's control. This is, according to the authentic text, "against the institutions of the canons." This was problematic in the past and is forbidden in the future. According to the interpolator, it is contrary to "every authority"; those cases where it happened in the past are to be corrected; naturally it is also forbidden in future times, lest it happen again.
c. 21 of the same council
The fathers gathered at Toledo have observed that in many cities, the servants of the church and the bishops and all the clergy are harassed in their various duties by judges and public officials. The interpolator alters the construction to read that fathers at Toledo are sorrowful over the fact that this harassment is occurring.
c. 8 of Toledo VI
According to Leo the Great, the maritally incontinent, after completing penance, may return to their previous marriages, lest they lapse once again into adultery. Yet this is not a general legal precept (generaliter et legitime praeceptum), but rather an indulgence on account of human fragility (pro humana fragilitate indultum). Our forgers substitute "canonical" (canonice) for "legal" (legitime); the clarification is therefore that Leo's provision was not a "general canonical precept." 
c. 11 of the same council
One who has been accused cannot be judged until the accuser has been proven to meet the necessary legal requirements; the case of treason is an exception. Our interpolator removes all reference to the exception of treason; accusers therefore have to prove that they meet the necessary legal requirements in call cases.
c. 7 of Seville II
This lengthy canon addresses the sacramental faculties of priests, who above all are not to consecrate altars. A long list of other sacramental prohibitions for priests follows. Our interpolator retouches the entire text such that the prohibitions apply to chorbishops as well as priests, and he also inserts the clarification that chorbishops and priests are identical.
Innocent I to Victricius of Rouen, Etsi tibi frater (JK 286)
The opening passage of this letter addresses cases and disputes among both the higher and the lower clergy. These cases are to be decided in the provinces where they originate, and are not to be taken elsewhere, save for perhaps to Rome, the opinion of whose bishop in all cases should be respected. So-called "majores causae," however, are to be referred to the apostolic see, in accordance with ancient custom, after episcopal judgment has been issued. Our interpolator extensively revises this passage, first by inserting a reference to the laity, such that the provincial synod (and the pope) acquire jurisdiction not only over clerical cases, but also over cases involving the laity and the clergy. The interpolator keeps the prohibition on taking cases outside the province, but adds the extra and perhaps unnecessary clarification that these cases are not to be taken elsewhere for the purposes of seeking the judgment of the bishops of other provinces. Finally, the interpolated Hispana says that the appeal of "maiores causae" to Rome is permitted not only by ancient custom, but also by synodal decree. 
It is your humble blogger's intention to edit the interpolated Hispana, and when he gets around to that task we will enjoy a great deal more clarity about the extent and precise number of the interpolations. For now, I can only assure you that Maassen's list is not only highly representative, but fairly complete: This really is, as far as I can tell, the greater part of inauthentic alterations that we find in the interpolated Hispana. Studying this list brings us to some interesting and seldom-articulated conclusions:

1) The vast, vast majority of editorial activity expended upon the interpolated Hispana is about addressing textual corruption. Only in a very few and specific instances--namely, those listed here--do our editors press a little too far and stray into the realm of inauthentic fiddling.

2) This inauthentic fiddling only occasionally surrounds passages favored by our decretal forgeries. This is particularly the case with the last item in our list, Innocent's letter to Victricius of Rouen. The opening passages of this letter have been substantially and inauthentically revised, and our decretal forgers frequently resort to the interpolated version of this helpful passage. Crucially, this is also one of the key canonical citations underlying the argumentation of Divinis praeceptis, where the telltale reference not only to ancient custom, but also to the synodal decree, recurs. It is from this specific citation--and this citation alone--that we are allowed to suspect that Divinis praeceptis is not simply using any old Hispana recension, but is dependent on our recension in particular.

3) Otherwise, diligent readers of the False Decretals will detect some thematic distance between the interpolations contributed to the Hispana and the preoccupations of the decretal forgers. In future posts, we will see in gruesome (and tedious!) detail that our decretalists are above all concerned to limit accusations, specifically by placing restrictions on who can accuse and subjecting accusers to various processes of examination. No element of Pseudo-Isidore's program gets more play than this single theme. Here he have some glimmer of that agenda, particularly with the interpolations to c. 13 of Arles I and c. 11 of Toledo VI. But these two adjustments compete with a variety of other themes. In no way do they stand out from the crowd.

4) These other themes are all over the map. Our editorial board is interested in incest (c. 61 of Agde), in penance (c. 39 of Carthage III and c. 12 of Toledo III), in chorbishops (c. 6 of Carthage V, maybe; c. 7 of Seville II certainly), in church income and property (c. 26 of Agde, c. 19 of Toledo III), in the autonomy of ecclesiastical legislative and judicial structures (c. 32 of Agde, c. 14 of Toledo III), and, as already noted, in opening the path for appeals to Rome (Innocent to Victricius). There is nothing systematic about the introduction of these themes; certain conciliar acta (Agde, Toledo III) get multiple interpolations, while most get none at all. One has the impression that our interpolators were just paging through the Hispana, doing their thing, when some random sequence of capitula caught their attention. There is absolutely no attempt to systematically revise the canonical tradition. Consider those poor guys that the Pseudo-Isidorians love to hate, the chorbishops. A variety of canons addressing chorbishops and their sacramental competence are allowed to stand wholly unmolested, and then out of the blue our editorial board alights on a canon that is concerned only with priests (c. 7 of Seville II) and twists its clauses to address the sacramental faculties of the chorepiscopate.

5) These ancillary themes are not necessarily absent from the decretal forgeries, but they're not center-stage either. A lot of ink has been spilled on Pseudo-Isidore's approach to chorbishops (to continue with this thread), but only two or three decretal forgeries (of 96!) address them in any direct manner. Penance is a passing theme in one or two fake decretals, as is incest; church property and income get a bit more play, but still take a firm backseat to the overwhelming concern of our decretal forgers with judicial process. Put another way: The decretals are 90% about judicial process and 10% about all this other stuff. The interpolations in the Hispana are equally divided among judicial process and the other stuff.

6) Some of this other stuff aligns in rather interesting ways with the decrees enacted at Paris in 829. Consider once again the Toledo III interpolations regarding chorbishops. In Charlemagne's Admonitio Generalis of 789 the chorepiscopate had been advised not to exceed the limits of their authority, but otherwise they were not a common concern of Carolingian-era conciliar legislation. Yet the bishops who met at Paris for the great 829 reform council had them on their agenda, and they promulgated a lengthy capitulum (1.27) taking aim at their sacramental faculties, and specifically their tendency to impart the Holy Spirit at confirmation, which was to be reserved for the episcopate. No previous Frankish conciliar legislation had sought to limit the sacramental competence of chorbishops, who before 829 were presumed capable of performing all episcopal functions, provided they acted with episcopal permission and as the representatives of their diocesan. The interpolations to Toledo III are right in line with the Paris agenda, only more extreme: They seek to equate the chorepiscopate with priests, and therefore to sharply limit their competence across the board.

7) We will have a lot more to say about Pseudo-Isidore on the chorepiscopate in the future, but for the moment you will have to take my word for it that the few False Decretals that address this subject are in general much more extreme than even the Toledo III interpolator. So we have a continuum of viewpoints: Paris 829, which tries to limit chorbishops in specific ways; the Toledo III interpolations, which try to limit chorbishops much more generally; and the False Decretals, which more or less aim to abolish the position entirely.

By now, you've probably realized that I'm trying to draw a line between our Hispana interpolators on the one hand, and our decretal forgers on the other. It is fairly clear to me that the men behind the False Decretals observe different procedures and articulate different views than the editorial team responsible for our interpolated Hispana. This is a divide that I would also like to deploy to explain the differences we observed earlier between the False Decretals and Divinis praeceptis. The latter shares many of our decretal forgers' concerns, and it does indeed raise arguments that strike us as powerfully Pseudo-Isidorian. Yet it argues almost exclusively on the basis of authentic texts from the Hispana, and it lacks Pseudo-Isidore's boldest inventions.

In fact, the connections between Divinis praeceptis and the interpolated Hispana are strong enough that I think we are entitled to wonder whether all of the attention that our interpolators have given to Innocent I's letter to Victricius of Rouen (the only decretal that they seriously worked over) is an artifact of this decretal's importance for the argumentation of Divinis praeceptis. The latter asserts  that Aldric ought to appeal to Rome because his is a "major case," and the underlying source for this assertion is Innocent's letter to Victricius about the appeal of "maiores causae" to Rome. Perhaps it was in the course of drafting their text for Aldric that our interpolators came to study the Innocent decretal more closely and to adjust its text along more convenient lines?

Also too, we saw a while ago that this letter is especially interesting in insisting that Aldric be allowed to appeal before episcopal judgment. Our other Pseudo-Isidorian texts allow accused prelates to appeal at absolutely any point in the process, while the underlying source, Innocent I to Victricius of Rouen, is very specific that the appeal of maiores causae are to occur after episcopal judgment--post iudicium episcopale. Yet Divinis praeceptis is so insistent that Aldric be allowed to appeal before any conviction is handed down that its author actually trims the key phrase, post iudicium episcopale, out of its Innocent citation. Fascinatingly, when the False Decretals use this Innocent letter, in every case but one they also carefully trim out the post iudicium episcopale phrase--despite the fact that the False Decretals do not share the argument of Divinis praeceptis on this point. Put another way, the False Decretals use a quotation of Innocent I that has been manipulated to support an argument made only in Divinis praeceptis.

So while we may want to draw a line between the interpolated Hispana and Divinis praeceptis on the one hand, and the False Decretals on the other, we also have to accept that the False Decretals are deeply influenced by these earlier sources. The interpolated Hispana gets reworked as a vessel to house the decretal forgeries, and the canonical citations of Divinis praeceptis are repurposed for the related but rather more radical procedural prescriptions of the decretal forgers.

And one final point: To the extent that we can take Divinis praeceptis at its word, and presume that it really was produced for Aldric's protection, we have come close to pinpointing one point of precise contact between real-world events and the the procedural law concocted by our forgers. Post iudicium episcopale seems not to have worked for Aldric, and that somehow leads to its removal from Innocent citations in the decretal forgeries more broadly. We might therefore wonder what other connections exist between the decretal forgeries and the historical events of the 830s and 840s.

But before we start down that path, we need to look more closely at the chorepiscopate, and more specifically at another decretal that, like Divinis praeceptis, seems to fall on the interpolated-Hispana side of the divide we have begun to articulate. There is a little more to learn here, as we'll see in Part V.

Back to Part I, Part II, Part III, or ahead to Part V: Addendum.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Towards a Theory of Pseudo-Isidore: Part III

What elements of Pseudo-Isidore does Divinis praeceptis attest to?

As I said last time, its text is little more than a patchwork of legal citations, almost all of them apparently drawn from the Collectio Hispana. And one of these citations contains a fairly distinctive textual variant that recurs in the interpolated Hispana (a.k.a the Autun Hispana, or the Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis--the legal collection apparently prepared by our forgers and deployed as a vehicle for the decretal forgeries) and almost nowhere else. So if you buy my arguments, Divinis praeceptis gives you a terminus ante quem of 833 for the start of work on the interpolated Hispana.

Divinis praeceptis also contains two Roman law citations (one of them from an expansion to Alaric's Breviary, the other a Sirmondian constitution). Interestingly, our decretal forgers almost never cite Roman law unless that law is also excerpted somewhere in Benedictus Levita. Whenever you get Roman law in the decretals, if you look down in Hinschius’s apparatus fontium you’ll almost always find that the same text also occurs in Benedictus. It’s like our decretal forgers didn’t have any Roman law to hand, except the Roman law that had been cut and pasted into Benedictus Levita. And sure enough, the Roman law citations of the Gregory missive also have Benedictus Levita parallels. So if you buy my arguments, we also have at least the slightest hint that someone has started to amass the texts that later came to be packaged as the capitularies of Benedictus Levita. I want to emphasize that this is a slight hint. It is not a firm date. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a terminus of any kind. But it is still worth noting.

Divinis praeceptis rewards close study in other ways, too. Remember the fundamental position of the interpolated Hispana in the forgery universe: Excerpts from our forgers' unique recension of the Hispana crop up in Benedictus Levita, and this Hispana was also mined in the composition of the False Decretals, which were then packaged with the interpolated Hispana and circulated as the three-part canonical collection of Isidorus Mercator. While much about the internal chronology of the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries remains unclear, it is all but indisputable that the interpolated Hispana came first. I’ve already noted that the frenetic patchwork composition of Divinis praeceptis, with hundreds of citations lifted from all manner of legal texts, smells a lot like Pseudo-Isidore. The limited source pool, though—primarily Hispana texts and little else—is extremely atypical. In fact, though the interpolated Hispana was certainly used in the composition of other Pseudo-Isidorian decretals, it’s far from being our forgers’ favorite source.  I can’t think of a single decretal forgery that draws exclusively from the Hispana. If anything the Dionysio-Hadriana crops up more often, and even those excerpts occur alongside a wide range of other patristic and biblical snippets. It’s like our forgers-to-be drafted Divinis praeceptis before they had begun to pull together other materials for their forgery project.

So there’s some philological confirmation that the Gregory letter is indeed an early product of the forgery workshop. The arguments advanced in the epistle also look a little primitive in light of the full Pseudo-Isidorian program outlined in the decretal forgeries (and select capitula of Benedictus Levita). Among Pseudo-Isidore's most elaborate and ridiculous inventions surrounds the creation of an entirely new ecclesiastical rank, the primate-patriarch. Basically, a Late-Antique list of the provinces of the Roman empire known as the Notitia Galliarum made our forgers aware that the certain provinces in the later Empire bore numbers—for example, “Belgica prima” (The first Belgian [province]), “Belgica secunda” (the second Belgian [province]), etc. These administrative districts went on to become ecclesiastical provinces, so Belgica prima became the Trier province and Belgica secunda became the Reims province . Pseudo-Isidore wants to attach hierarchical significance to these (heretofore purely descriptive) numbers, such that Trier, as the first Belgian province, would enjoy primacy over Reims, as the second Belgian province.

In Pseudo-Isidore land, if you’re a primate you basically get to run something like an appellate court serving those other provinces over which you are a primate. If you’re unfortunate enough to wind up as a suffragan bishop accused of a crime by your metropolitan, you can therefore appeal your case either to Rome or to your primate. No word on what happens if your metropolitan is also your primate (as would be the case if you were a Trier suffragan),  or if you happen to be a bishop in an unnumbered province (Vienne, say). Details, details.

This primatial scheme is articulated in multiple false decretals, but in Divinis praeceptis it occurs not at all, despite the fact that it would have worked perfectly for Aldric. As bishop of Le Mans in the Tours province (or Lugdunensis tertia), Aldric could have taken advantage of the primatial appeals process to bring his case before Agobard of Lyon (Lugdunensis prima). 

Maybe there are no primates in Divinis praeceptis because our Pseudo-Isidorian friends only dreamed up the notion of primacy sometime after 8 July 833? 

Also rather odd, in light of Pseudo-Isidore’s other products, is Gregory’s repeated insistence that Aldric be permitted to appeal after any process against him is initiated, but before judgment has been issued. Again and again, Gregory reveals his anxiety that Aldric may be condemned before he is permitted to invite the pope to participate in his trial. In the False Decretals, Pseudo-Isidore emphasizes repeatedly that appeals are allowed at any point; even those serving sentences are allowed to appeal, and therefore only those who fear their judges are biased will need to appeal before a verdict is handed down. In my article I argued that this was another indication that the letter belonged with the date it carries. Perhaps, I suggested, in that brief moment when Lothar and his episcopal allies (including, perhaps, some of those responsible for Pseudo-Isidore) were in charge of the Frankish church, our forgers were more inclined to take a positive view of the provincial synod. I speculated that the basic reluctance to overturn its judgment, even on appeal, reflected this less radical position, as did the absence of primacy.

My views on these issues have shifted since I first made these arguments. I’m no longer so sure that the Pseudo-Isidore of our decretal forgeries is all that down on the provincial synod; indeed, as we’ll see soon, many of his forgeries seem to buttress its jurisdiction (while giving suffragan bishops all manner of escape mechanisms, of course). Gregory’s anxiety about the judgment of the provincial synod might instead reflect the pragmatics of Aldric’s situation: Whatever their broader views on the matter of appeals, Pseudo-Isidore (and maybe also Gregory) found threats to Aldric’s position ideologically repugnant. At the same time, it's easy to appreciate that forestalling Aldric’s deposition might have seemed far more feasible than trying to reinstate the poor archbishop of Le Mans, once he had been deposed. Indeed, you could even say that Divinis praeceptis represents a stalling tactic more than anything else--an attempt to increase the red tape involved in trying Aldric by first requiring his opponents to involve the pope or papal representatives. Even with this approach, though, it strikes me that the peculiarities of the appeals process laid out by Divinis praeceptis are easier to explain in the context of 833 than at later dates. I'm therefore still inclined to see Gregory's anxiety about permitting appeals before judgment as a further indicationthat the arguments of this decretal belong with the date they claim to have.

We've devoted an inordinate amount of attention to one very small, very solitary element of the Pseudo-Isidorian library. I fear that the payoff is rather meager. We can only say that there is a good prima facie case that something like the Hispana had begun to take shape, at Corbie, as early as 833—before Ebo was ever deposed at Thionville in 835. Particularly early elements of Benedictus Levita might—just might—also date from this period.

To understand the implications of these points, we must confront much more important problems. This thing called the interpolated Hispana—we have a (provisional) date for it, but what is it, actually? What was it for? We have been comparing Divinis praeceptis to the decretal forgeries. To what extent is that a worthwhile exercise? Does it assume too much? Did the personalities responsible for the decretal forgeries also implement the corrections and interpolations that we find in the interpolated Hispana (the source of Divinis praeceptis)? Or did the decretal forgers simply get the interpolated Hispana from their friends or allies, or their teachers or predecessors? Since the very first post of this blog, I‘ve been calling the interpolated Hispana an element of Pseudo-Isidore's forgery complex. But before we can say anything about what Divinis praeceptis and 8 July 833 might mean, we need to bring more precision to our understanding of the interpolated Hispana and its position in the broader library of Pseudo-Isidorian products.

That's a subject for Part IV.

Back to Part I or Part II; ahead to Part V (with one Addendum on the nature of the Hispana, and another Addendum on the priority of the Hispana)

Towards a Theory of Pseudo-Isidore: Part II

To look into ninth-century judicial processes, as conducted against episocpal defendants in ecclesiastical courts, is to recognize the serious deficiencies of our sources. In 855, for example, a letter reports, in passing, that bishops convening in Valence for a council that year had, among their agenda items, a process against the bishop of Valence for unspecified offenses. That’s all we get, just a passing notice. Nowhere does anything tell us what the accusations were, who brought them, whether the bishop was convicted or acquitted, or whether he appealed. We don’t even know the bishop‘s name.

In other cases, we might know the bishop’s name and might even encounter the suggestion in some source that he was accused of improprieties or risked facing such accusations. Nothing in the historical record, however, reports on whether he was ever actually tried or what came of it all. One such bishop would be Aldric of Le Mans. He was installed at the behest of Louis the Pious in 833, right before all hell broke loose. Some months later, at the Field of Lies, he was one of only a few bishops to remain loyal to the deposed emperor. So remarkable was his loyalty that a contemporary reader of the Annals of Saint-Bertin supplemented the annalistic account of 833 with a brief, marginal note about Aldric’s steadfastness.

We might wonder what sort of risks Aldric and his fellow hold-outs faced for their persistence. And we might be intrigued to find that there survives an extremely strange and irregular letter, known from its opening words as Divinis praeceptis, bearing the name of Pope Gregory IV, and dated 8 July 833—just days after Louis the Pious capitulated and the greater part of the Frankish episcopate (minus Aldric) deserted him. This lengthy letter is addressed to the Frankish episcopate, and it insists that Aldric (like any bishop) enjoys the right to appeal to Gregory before he can be convicted of any crime. Over and over, Divinis praeceptis insists that Aldric is not to be convicted before Gregory or his representatives have the chance to review the case, should Aldric want them to. The letter admits that Aldric might indeed be guilty of some unspecified impropriety (conversationes…non amabiles: make of that what you will), but insists that charity is a better corrective in this instance than judicial procedure.

Since the nineteenth century, almost everyone has concluded Divinis praeceptis is a forgery. It suffers from some diplomatic irregularities, but mainly it’s suspicious because it’s full of Pseudo-Isidorian textual features. It’s basically little more than a patchwork of canonical citations, almost all of them from the Collectio Hispana—a fundamental Pseudo-Isidorian source, you may remember. It uses these sources in the same ways and in the same combinations as Pseudo-Isidore, such that I see no reasonable way to doubt the Pseudo-Isidorian authorship of this text. But that makes Divinis praeceptis a very odd document, no? In all other instances, our Pseudo-Isidorian friends forge ancient documents in the names of long-dead popes. What is going on in this case? How could a forgery  that merely emphasized Aldric’s right to appeal to Gregory IV have been useful to anybody? Why would Pseudo-Isidore have forged the document for Aldric? Was Aldric supposed to head off to Rome, show up at Gregory’s court, wave around this fake letter and demand that the pope hear his case on the strength of its contents?

Considerations not dissimilar to these had already led Walter Goffart to suggest that Divinis praeceptis might be genuine after all, and in the wake of Zechiel-Eckes’s findings two further authors, Johannes Fried and Karl Ubl, expressed additional interest in revisiting the authenticity issue. I decided the whole thing was worth an article, and I punched out a few pages on “Pseudo-Isidore at the Field of Lies: Divinis praeceptis (JE †2579) as an Authentic Decretal,” coming soon to an airport newstand near you (or at least, to the latest issue of the Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law).

Basically, I took as my point of departure an ambiguous passage in the Epitaphium Arsenii, Paschasius Radbertus’s highly elliptical biography of his abbot, Wala of Corbie. In the course of the second book, Radbertus comes to describe the days leading up to Louis the Pious’s capitulation at the Field of Lies—days when Pope Gregory IV was camping with the rebels, and becoming increasingly nervous that he had taken the wrong side. Gregory, Radbertus tells us, “was terrified by the emperor and by all the people…even by the bishops,” for he had come to believe that the rebellion would fail and that the consequences for himself and his office would be dire. Radbertus therefore says that he and Wala gave the pope some sort of legal collection, 
confirmed by the authority of the holy fathers and his predecessors’, which demonstrated that it was his power...and his authority to go and to send for all peoples on behalf of faith in Christ and the peace of churches and the preaching of the Gospel and the assertion of truth, [and that] there was in him all the eminent authority and the living power of the blessed Peter, by whom it was appropriate that all be judged, such that he was to be judged by nobody.
It should not come as a surprise to hear that students of Pseudo-Isidore have been fighting over the meaning of these lines for about 150 years. And while scholars of Emil Seckel’s persuasion were disinclined to see any connection between this report and the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries, Zechiel-Eckes’s results surely require us to reconsider these words. If we are to place the forgery operation (or some portion of it) at Corbie in the 830s, we must accept that Paschasius Radbertus, a leading scholar and prominent member of the Corbie community, was at least indirectly involved. As a regular user of the Corbie library, he must have known about it. Indeed, Zechiel-Eckes wanted to see in Radbertus the main actor behind the forgery complex. And here in the Epitaphium--Radbertus’s own report!--we have people from Pseudo-Isidore’s monastery giving the pope Pseudo-Isidorian legal advice on the one hand, and on the other hand we have a letter in Gregory IV’s name for Aldric of Le Mans, claiming to have been issued not long after this advice can have been dispensed, full of closely related Pseudo-Isidorian legal arguments in Aldric’s favor. Radbertus, in other words, says that he and Wala gave the pope a book full of legal arguments demonstrating that the pope exercised jurisdiction over the Frankish episcopate; and then we have Divinis praeceptis, in which Gregory insists that he has jurisdiction over Aldric’s specific case and must be consulted before any process against Aldric can pronounce judgment.

So I put all this together and argued that the letter for Aldric was probably composed by Radbertus and company for Gregory’s authorization. Not everyone buys my argument, and as I type this two further evaluations of this letter are in the post: One is forthcoming from Clara Harder (Zechiel-Eckes’s former student), the other from Claudia Scherer (who has been working on the letters of Gregory IV). Everything may change when their insights see print. In the meantime, though, I’m going to cling fast to the date of Gregory’s decretal emphasizing Aldric’s right to appeal. And that date is 8 July 833. If you buy my arguments here, then that’s the only hard-and-fast date in the entire Pseudo-Isidorian corpus. It was this date that convinced me to argue for a super-early Pseudo-Isidore, or at least to argue that certain elements of the Pseudo-Isidorian corpus predate the coup of 833/4.

Which elements, and why? That's a matter for Part III.

Back to Part I, or ahead to Part IV or Part V (with one Addendum on the nature of the Hispana, and another Addendum on the priority of the Hispana)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Towards a Theory of Pseudo-Isidore: Part I

For a long time, this blog has been heavy on the questions and light on the answers. We've taken tour upon tour of Pseudo-Isidore's contents, I've reviewed famous problems, and I've discussed the going theories. All the while, I've been doing my own reading and developing my own theories. These efforts have been represented here more in the delays between posts than in the content I've pounded out. After the longest such delay, corresponding to my most substantial piece of work yet on Pseudo-Isidore (more on that soon), I returned to announce that this blog would be a little different from here on out. It will incorporate more of my own ideas. It will run afoul of Wikipedian prohibitions regarding Original Research. Consider yourself warned.

For a few months now, I've been pulling together materials for a substantial article on The Date of Pseudo-Isidore. For a long time, I've become aware of a small historiographical problem: Since the mid nineteenth century, people have been noticing curious parallels between Pseudo-Isidorian concepts and theories and actual ninth-century historical events. This has encouraged more than a few historians to draw conclusions about Pseudo-Isidore’s date. Despite all of these keen observations, enduring consensus on dating has been hard to establish, in part (I would argue) because nobody has attempted a systematic survey of contemporary events and Pseudo-Isidore’s contents. It seemed to me that such a survey promised not only to bring out positive parallels, but to indicate where parallels did not exist. That is, once all the necessary homework had been done, one could not only say—hey look, Pseudo-Isidore condemns coerced episcopal confessions, and that’s what some people complained happened to Ebo of Reims in 835! One could also say: Hey look, Pseudo-Isidore loves to complain about coerced episcopal confessions, and the only attested case between 800 and 870 involves Ebo of Reims. The latter sort of statement strikes me as a great deal more powerful, and more important for trying to understand what Pseudo-Isidore is all about.
The original plan was therefore to develop a systematic approach to what Pseudo-Isidore says and what was happening in Pseudo-Isidore’s world (broadly speaking), with a view towards comparing the two. I’ve been collecting all the information I can on all judicial processes initiated against bishops from the later eighth century to around 870 (when the long form of Pseudo-Isidore is cited for the first time, our first long-form manuscripts appear, and we can be absolutely certain that all work on the forgery had ceased). This has turned out to be relatively easy, because our sources don’t attest to very many processes, and for most of them our information is very thin. Also since the beginning of last month, I’ve been (re-)reading every last Pseudo-Isidorian decretal forgery and synthesizing all the material on judicial process to be found in each one: Everything on who can accuse, whether and when accusations are to be brought before judges, how appeals are to occur, every last statement on the exceptio spolii and peregrina iudicia—you get the idea. This has naturally turned out to be a great deal more work. Now, however, I’m nearing the end of the collection phase, and I have systematic notes on what is actually happening, at a judicial level, in Pseudo-Isidore’s world (as far as we can tell); and I also have rather more copious (and thus messier) but still more or less systematic notes on Pseudo-Isidore’s judicial prescriptions.

Gradually, in the midst of all this reading and note-taking, a basic theory of Pseudo-Isidore and his purpose began to take root in my mind. It is not a new theory. Others have had versions of this idea before. Nevertheless, it cuts against some of the recent post-Zechiel-Eckes consensus—a consensus that I have, myself, subscribed to and furthered. And I have uncovered additional (and I believe, fairly conclusive) points in its favor, while learning to appreciate its explanatory power. It’s now looking like my article on The Date of Pseudo-Isidore will need more attention than I can give it in the remaining month of summer. In the meantime, I thought I'd slap up an outline of my thought here on teh blog.

We might as well begin at the beginning, with Pseudo-Isidore’s date.

Until the last decade, Paul Hinschius was responsible for the reigning orthodoxy on the date of the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries. The Hinschian argument, repeated by Emil Seckel and later Horst Fuhrmann, is the sort of thing that looks airtight at first: The false capitularies of Benedictus Levita carry a preface that mentions Archbishop Otgar and calls him the former bishop of Mainz. We know that Otgar died in office in 847, so suddenly we have a terminus post quem for the false capitularies in their final form. And, according to Hinschius, the forged decretals of Isidorus Mercator use the false capitularies of Benedictus Levita as a source. So Pseudo-Isidore must postdate 847. And then when you start looking at reception, you find that the first direct Pseudo-Isidorian citations occur possibly in 852, certainly in 857. Thus the conventional date for the forged decretals is given in many an article as 847–852/7.

As I said, airtight at first, but porous upon closer inspection. First of all, the contents of Benedictus Levita need not postdate 847 just because the preface does. Second of all, it’s not at all clear that Pseudo-Isidore used Benedictus Levita as a source. At least not exactly. It’s perhaps more accurate to say that the two collections have a fair amount of material—much of it genuine, a few little bits and pieces of it forged—in common. After long and tedious investigations, I’ve begun to think of  Benedictus Levita, at base, as something like a thinly disguised florilegium of mostly-genuine legal material. It has some Pseudo-Isidorian elements, but for long stretches it’s just somebody’s enormous pile of random legal flotsam and jetsam. It certainly seems that Pseudo-Isidore availed himself of some portions of this monumental collection of favorite quotations. Genuine sources, in particular, recur in Pseudo-Isidore, complete with Benedictus Levita’s alterations and truncations. It also seems that the Pseudo-Isidorians, at some point, took this enormous legal florilegium, slapped on a preface, and did some light editing to make the whole thing look, however superficially, like a collection of capitulary legislation. So I would date the thin capitulary veneer after 847. The contents, though—who knows?

Now we saw a long time ago that much of the recent discussion of Pseudo-Isidore has been guided, in manners direct and indirect, by several articles that Klaus Zechiel-Eckes published about a decade ago. In these articles, Zechiel-Eckes proved that the Pseudo-Isidorian forgers used Corbie’s library, and he argued that work on the forgeries took place in the wake of Ebo of Reims’s deposition; an initial batch of forged decretals, he argued, was drafted between 836 and 838.

To place Pseudo-Isidore in the 830s, he first turned to Florus of Lyons, the mischievous deacon and loyal Agobard partisan on whom he’d written his learned Habilitationschrift (published in 1998, and highly recommended reading). Florus was instrumental in getting the liturgist, scholar and sometime bishop Amalarius accused of heresy at the Council of Quierzy in 838. In the months before this council convened, Florus dashed off a letter to key participants complaining that Amalarius sought to support his heretical teachings “through the forged authority of many pontiffs.” Zechiel-Eckes also noted Hincmar of Reims’s famous remark to his namesake and nephew, Hincmar of Laon, around the year 869. When the latter quoted Pseudo-Isidore to his uncle, the elder Hincmar claimed that he was already familiar with the texts, and had been since before the younger Hincmar was even conceived. Zechiel-Eckes notes that Hincmar of Laon was most likely born between 835 and 838, and certainly before 840. Some portion of the forged decretals, he argues, were thus already in circulation by 838; two independent sources attest to this fact. Since Zechiel-Eckes accepted (following Hinschius), that the latest source used in the decretal forgers were the acta of the 836 council of Aachen, the date range seemed clear: The forgery workshop produced an initial installment of decretal forgeries between 836 and 838.

Unfortunately, nobody has been willing to lean on Zechiel-Eckes’s terminus ante quem of 838. Florus’s letter is suggestive, but the forgeries he's talking about could really be anything--including objects of Florus's own imagination (or dishonesty). There is, moreover, very little in Pseudo-Isidore to support or defend Amalarius’s controversial teachings. Also notably lacking is any widespread willingness to see Hincmar’s statement to his nephew as anything but rhetorical exaggeration. Hincmar’s remarks also have to be read in the context of similar statements made by Pope Nicholas I in 864/5.  Confronted by Pseudo-Isidorian texts in the course of the controversy over Hincmar of Laon, Nicholas declared that these statutes had been conserved in the archives of the Roman church since antiquity. Such statements do indeed suggest volumes about the early reception of Pseudo-Isidore. I hope to say more about them and what they mean at some point in the not-too-distant future. But I don’t think they’re helpful for the matter of dating.

As if that weren't enough, the terminus post quem of 836 has also collapsed, since Gerhard Schmitz pointed out that there is little reason, if any, to assume that the Pseudo-Isidorians ever saw the acta of the 836 Council of Aachen. The bishops gathered at Aachen just repeated a lot of points articulated at the 829 Council of Paris, which our forgers also knew. This pushes the terminus back a full seven years, to 829—or perhaps only six years, as there is some indication that our forgers were also acquainted with a letter that Hrabanus Maurus wrote on the subject of chorbishops, in response to the 829 council, no earlier than 830.

So, some of Zechiel-Eckes’s arguments on the dating front have faced problems. Nevertheless, the general re-dating from ca. 850 to ca. 835 has been widely accepted. In part, this testifies to the weakness of the older Hinschian dating scheme, but it also indicates the strength of Zechiel-Eckes’s arguments in another arena. Certain aspects of Pseudo-Isidore’s forgery program, Zechiel-Eckes showed, appear to address the plight of Ebo of Reims after his deposition at Thionville in 835. My own reading over the past few years has turned up much more evidence in favor of this point. In subsequent posts, we will see that it is simply undeniable that the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries reference again and again, in ways sometimes strikingly explicit and sometimes studiously indirect, the deposition of Ebo from his see at Reims in 835, with a view towards rendering the conclusions of the council invalid and thus (it would seem) compelling Ebo’s reinstatement. And more recently, another scholar, Steffen Patzold, has emphasized the degree to which the Pseudo-Isidorian agenda is indebted to the reform ideology promulgated at the 829 Council of Paris. Indeed, the more reading I’ve done, the more I’ve come to appreciate that Pseudo-Isidore may not have used the 836 Council of Aachen, but that our favorite forgers and the bishops gathered at Aachen in 836 were engaged in quite similar projects: To varying degrees, both were trying to pick up the threads of church reform that had been abandoned in the political turmoil of the early 830s.

It was in the midst of considerations and developments along these lines that Karl Ubl, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Cologne, convened a two-day conference on Pseudo-Isidore this past February, which your humble blogger attended. At Cologne, the author of these remarks was surprised to find several presenters arguing for a super-early Pseudo-Isidore--earlier even than Zechiel-Eckes had proposed, predating the coup of 833/4. Such arguments fell on favorable ears, for the writer of these few posts had himself just published an article full of similar ideas.

But that's a matter for Part II.

On to Part III, Part IV, Part V (with one Addendum on the nature of the Hispana, and another Addendum on the priority of the Hispana)