Firey Review, Part I: On the St. Petersburg Historia Tripartita

Introduction here.

Firey believes that the origins of the St. Petersburg Historia Tripartita (F.v.I.11) are less than certain.

“Paleographers,” she writes, “have always…reminded us that the ‘a-b’ script seems to have been written at houses other than Corbie. Leslie Webber Jones suggested Amiens, Beauvais, St. Hubert in the Ardennes, St. Vaast at Arras, Compiègne, perhaps Fleury, St. Thierry…and other houses in the Paris region. In other words, ‘Corbie’ provenance may not be as certain as the short notations that often accompany shelfmarks would suggest” (31-2). Moreover, she observes that “…[B]ooks moved. Manuscripts written in ‘Corbie a-b’ ended up in libraries other than Corbie, and manuscripts written in other scripts ended up in the Corbie library” (32). The mere presence of Corbie scribes in a manuscript does not mean that we can draw conclusions about prevailing interests or concerns at the abbey: “There is…the possibility that law books could have Corbie provenance, but not really be rooted in particular legal needs at Corbie. That is, the manuscripts should perhaps be seen as part of a book trade, attested in records showing the production of books at Corbie for money” (33). Therefore, “The identification of Corbie as the locus of the Pseudo-Isidorian atelier (if an atelier there was) should probably not be asserted on the basis of the St. Petersburg Cassiodorus (Ms. F.v.I.11), or even on the basis that a number of ‘Corbie’ manuscripts can be associated with transcriptions of Pseudo-Isidorian materials” (54).

Nobody will doubt that early medieval monasteries copied codices for many different reasons, that codices were valuable objects subject to theft, and that they could be traded, borrowed or lent for favors falling on a spectrum from the spiritual to the temporal. Many, however, will find it hard to believe that anything that might fairly be called a book trade operated in Carolingian-era Europe, or that the monastery of Corbie produced very many books for sale. Nowhere in her essay does Firey cite evidence for either point, and indeed one of the secondary authors upon whom she relies seems to contradict her assumptions entirely.[1] And how widespread was a-b minuscule, anyway? According to Jones, it might have been all over northern France, but Jones was writing in 1947. At footnote 46 (32), Firey quietly cites the more recent work of Bernhard Bischoff, who observes that a-b was “restricted to a very few centres.”[2]

But these are quibbles, because we could grant Firey all of these points and they would be of no moment for our estimation of the St. Petersburg Historia Tripartita, which enjoys Corbie provenance beyond any cavil. The codex is in St. Petersburg because Dubrowsky took it from the library at Saint-Germain-de-Prés in 1791, and it came to Saint-Germain-de-Prés in 1638 along with 400 other manuscripts from Corbie.[3] In the eleventh century, Corbie scribes added a colophon recording a local tradition that the codex had been copied at Noirmoutiers at the behest of the exiled Abbot Adalhard. And we also know that the St. Petersburg codex was at Corbie during the era of Pseudo-Isidore, thanks to the “capital N-annotator” identified by David Ganz. This annotator’s activity can be dated to the first half of the ninth century, and it occurs across a variety of Corbie codices, including the St. Petersburg volume. In fact, Klaus Zechiel-Eckes cites this annotator’s activity precisely to forestall the argument that Firey makes here.[4]

Firey’s hand waving might matter for almost any other codex ascribed to any other monastery, but not for St. Petersburg Ms. F.v.I.11. An archetypal product of the Corbie scriptorium, this codex was used as a central data point for the study of a-b minuscule during Adalhard’s abbacy by none other than T.A.M. Bishop. It is therefore strange to find that Firey otherwise cites Bishop as an eminent authority throughout her essay, and even casts her own arguments as a confirmation and extension of his speculations about scribal activity at Corbie. Ultimately, Firey writes of “…a number of ‘Corbie’ manuscripts” that “can be associated with transcriptions of Pseudo-Isidorian materials.” For her, even this is not enough to establish Corbie origins for the forgery atelier, “if an atelier there was.” She seems to be writing of Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France Ms. lat. 11611, a copy of the Rusticus version of the acta of Chalcedon that was copied at Saint-Denis, but that has Corbie provenance from perhaps the 830s (“Corbie-owned,” according to Ganz, Corbie in the Carolingian Renaissance, 67). It has received the same series of excerpt marks as the St. Petersburg codex of the Historia Tripartita. Excerpted passages in Ms. 11611, as in F.v.I.11, recur throughout the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries.

If two excerpted Corbie codices are not enough to associate Pseudo-Isidore with Corbie, well, there is more. The only two early medieval manuscript witnesses of Pseudo-Isidore’s interpolated Hispana, Hamilton 132 and Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vat. lat. 1341, have ties to Corbie: the underlying Dionysio-Hadriana in Hamilton 132 is an a-b manuscript from the Corbie scriptorium, and Vat. lat. 1341 is a mid-century copy in Hadoard-style Carolingian minuscule. Two of three ninth-century manuscripts of the important A/B recension of the False Decretals are from Corbie. The forgers used the Liber contra Varimadum, very likely from Paris, BnF Ms. lat. 12217, an eighth-century Corbie manuscript. And as if all of that were not enough, in the few years since Firey’s essay was published, another Corbie codex (Vat. lat. 3803) has emerged with Pseudo-Isidorian annotations in its margins–the subject of a future blog post.

In fact Pseudo-Isidore’s Corbie associations emerge from so many separate strands of evidence that they tend to banish all doubts as to the origins of St. Petersburg F.v.I.11, if indeed there ever were any. A lot about our forger is uncertain, but Pseudo-Isidore and Corbie is a decided matter. The origins of the St. Petersburg Historia Tripartita rest on equally firm ground.

[1] See David Ganz, Corbie in the Carolingian Renaissance (Sigmaringen, 1990), 67: “The landscape of Carolingian learning was very different from that of Late Antiquity or of the high middle ages, when it is possible to speak of a book trade. The interests of abbots and librarians were the main factor behind the growth of the Corbie library.”

[2] Latin Palaeography (Cambridge, 1990), 106.

[3] This is a history that Firey herself relates (31).

[4] Ganz, Corbie in the Carolingian Renaissance, 73; Zechiel-Eckes, “Ein Blick in Pseudoisidors Werkstatt,” Francia 28 (2001), for example at 39-40 and 44-5.

Abigail Firey on the Corbie Origins of Pseudo-Isidore and Berlin, Hamilton 132

Abigail Firey, “Canon Law Studies at Corbie,” in Fälschung als Mittel der Politik? Pseudoisidor im Licht der neuen Forschung, ed. Karl Ubl and Daniel Ziemann, MGH Studien und Texte 57 (Wiesbaden, 2015), 19-79.

Abigail Firey, professor of medieval history at the University of Kentucky and founder of the Carolingian Canon Law Project, published in 2015 a long reconsideration of the origins of Pseudo-Isidore, the nature of an early witness to the interpolated Hispana, and ancillary matters. Across sixty pages of discussion, Firey subjects current views of Pseudo-Isidore and an important early witness to the interpolated Hispana to extended questioning and skepticism.

What exactly does Firey argue? Well, she is uncertain that Zechiel-Eckes’s discovery of excerptors in St. Petersburg, F.v.I.11 proves that the forger worked at the monastery of Corbie. She thinks that things might be more complicated. For some insight into how complicated things might be, Firey descends upon Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Preussische Kulturbesitz Hamilton 132, a ninth-century manuscript generally ascribed to Corbie. The standard view, which Paul Hinschius established in 1884, is that Hamilton 132 originally carried the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana with an appendix of conciliar supplements known as the Collectio Sancti Amandi, both of them in Corbie a-b minuscule produced sometime around 800. Hinschius argued that a team of later scribes, writing standard Carolingian minuscule nearer the middle of the ninth century, supplemented and reworked the original manuscript to reflect the contents and arrangement of Pseudo-Isidore’s interpolated Hispana. Firey attacks this view. She prefers to see the interactions of a-b and Caroline scribes as contemporary collaboration. Specifically, she draws on the arguments of T.A.M. Bishop to propose, however tentatively, that Hamilton 132 might be a joint product of nuns and monks combining Dionysio-Hadriana and Hispana texts. These conclusions encourage her, in conclusion, to explore connections between Hamilton 132 and the great Carolingian reform council held at Paris in 829.

Firey, therefore, presents three arguments. The first questions what has recently become conventional wisdom about Zechiel-Eckes’s revolution, while the second aims to overturn older arguments about an important early manuscript witness to Pseudo-Isidorian materials first aired by Hinschius. The third, finally, asks that we think more flexibly about Hamilton 132 and its relationship to Carolingian-era conciliar legislation.

We will address these over the next week in a series of three or four posts.

Part I: On the St. Petersburg Historia Tripartita

And more interpolations

In my ongoing single-manuscript edition from V630, I’ve skipped ahead to the Spanish councils. The idea is to see what things look like when there’s no parallel tradition for Pseudo-Isidore to correct against in the Dionysio-Hadriana.

Right away, the Council of Elivra (Ilíberis), an early pre-Nicene synod, yields a clutch of interpolations. We will index these as I99.16, I99.32, I99.58, and I99.68.

Pseudo-Isidore’s alterations to c. 32 (I99.32) are the most significant. In the unmolested Hispana Gallica the text looks like this:

XXXII. De excommunicatis presbyteris, ut in necessitate communionem dent.

Apud presbyterem, si quis gravi lapsu in ruinam mortis inciderit, placuit agere paenitentiam non debere, sed potius apud episcopum. Cogente tamen infirmitate si necesse est presbyterem communionem praestare debere, et diaconum si ei iusserit sacerdos.

The title is mistaken–I don’t think this capitulum is about excommunicated priests at all, but rather about faithful who are guilty of serious sins. These need to go to their bishop and not any old priest for penance. In cases where the penitent is seriously ill, though, the priest may extend communion to them, or the deacon may do so on the priest’s instruction.

Pseudo-Isidore leaves the titulus unmolested in the capitulatio, but otherwise he implements serious revisions:

Si quis gravi lapsu in ruinam mortis inciderit, placuit agere paenitentiam non debere sine episcopi consultu, sed potius apud episcopum agat. Cogente tamen infirmitate nec est presbyterorum aut diaconorum communionem talibus prestare debere, nisi eis iusserit episcopus.

The whole thing is reoriented around episcopal prerogatives, as we might expect. The penitent is directed to consult the bishop explicitly, and even in cases of deathly illness, neither priests nor deacons are to extend communion unless ordered by the bishop.

Also worth mentioning, for rather different reasons, is c. l68 (I99.68). Here’s the Gallican Hispana:

LXVIII. De catecumina adultera quae filium necat

Catecumina, si per adulterium conceperit et praevocaverit, placuit eam in finem baptizari.

For praevocaverit, which is the reading of our best Gallican Hispana witness (ÖNB 411 or W411), read praefocaverit. Female catechumens who smother their children conceived in adultery are to be granted baptism only upon death. Now Pseudo-Isidore:

Caticumina, si per adulterium conceperit et conceptum necaverit, placuit eam in fine baptizari.

Should this be indexed as an interpolation at all?

Underlying uncertainty about the exact nature of Pseudo-Isidore’s Hispana text–which was certainly better than the often gruesomely corrupt W411–yields a lot of edge cases like this. If we assume that his text, too, had praevocaverit, then it looks like he implemented a rather free correctio ex ingenio, borrowing his verb (necare) from the titulus. That selfsame titulus, though, also makes it plain that the canon deals with women who have killed their sons. Pseudo-Isidore’s version is slightly different, addressing abortion (killing the fetus) rather than infanticide. So it gets a number.

Hispana Interpolations: Once Again

This one afflicts canon 6 of the Council of Gangra, and is at the root of some textual confusion:

I76.6*

At issue is c. 6 of Gangra, “Non licere extra ecclesiam congregare.” First the authentic text, ed. Díez and Rodríguez, La Colección Canónica Hispana III (1982) p. 114 l. 108-10:

Si quis extra ecclesiam privatim (privatum W411 after correction) populos congregans contemnat ecclesiasticas (ecclesiasticis W411) sanctiones ipsamque ecclesiam, apud se autem sine consilio episcopi cum presbytero agat, anathema sit.

The interpolated Hispana in Vat. lat. 1341 has basically the same text. Yet it also has a tie sign after sanctiones that points to a note in the lower margin. The graphical form is important and happily the manuscript is available online for all and sundry to peruse:

gangra c. 6

 

gangra c. 6 addition

That addition, transcribed:

Aliter: Ea quae sunt eclesiae voluerit usurpare non conveniente presbytero iuxta decretum episcopi anathema sit.

It’s from the Dionysio-Hadriana recension of this canon. Pseudo-Isidore, perhaps again confused by the rather ambiguous translation on offer in the Hispana, has consulted an alternate translation and noted it in the lower margin.

Of all the manuscripts so far collated, only Vat. lat. 630–which is quite closely related to the interpolated Hispana of Vat. lat. 1341–has related text here:

Si quis extra ecclesiam privatam populos congregans contempnat ecclesiasticas sanctiones, aliter ea quae sunt ecclesiae voluerit usurpare, non conveniente presbitero iuxta decretum episcopi, anathema sit, ipsamque ecclesiam apud se sine consilio episcopi cum presbitero agat, anathema sit.

The Dionysian alternative has been inserted, erroneously, into the text.

New Hispana Interpolations

In 2016 I wrote that I’d continue my Pseudo-Isidore blogging here, on the new website I established for my edition-in-progress of the False Decretals.

Alas that never happened.

My position at Williams College proved too enormous for any serious research program, and so the professorship had to go. I am extremely happy to report, to my as yet nonexistent readers, that I have left Williams for a research position at the Monumenta Germaniae Historica in Munich–the institution that has supported my work from the very beginning.

So it’s back to blogging. The first order of business is a small project: For a long time now, I’ve wanted to systematically catalog Pseudo-Isidore’s interpolations to the Collectio Hispana. Six years ago, I wrote about fourteen especially clear instances of interpolation discussed by Friedrich Maassen. Because cursory work had failed to turn up other obvious instances of revision, I foolishly wrote that these fourteen cases really were, more or less, the extent of Pseudo-Isidore’s malicious alterations.

In fact there are more cases of fiddling than I imagined, and more than anyone has discussed. One of the things this blog can do is highlight each of these as I come across them. Pseudo-Isidore’s interventions are fairly discrete, and so I’m going to give each of them a number for ease of reference–beginning with I (for “interpolation,” naturally), and followed by Schon’s item number, and then the specific paragraph or canon that has been interpolated.

Only those alterations that change the force of a canon in some programmatic way will be cataloged here–minor corrections, clarifications or other apparently meaningless variants will be left out, unless they provide clues to Pseudo-Isidore’s agenda or his sources. Also, you can assume that all the Hispana interpolations noted are present across Pseudo-Isidore’s products (i.e, in the interpolated Hispana on V1341, as well as in codices of the False Decretals), unless the interpolation number has an asterisk–in which case its distribution is somehow unusual.

Our first interpolation is therefore I4.6, from which you can see that it is to be found in c. 6 of Pseudo-Isidore’s recension of the Ordo de celebrando concilio (Schon n. 004) from the interpolated Hispana. 

I4.6

At issue is a brief speech that the presiding metropolitan is advised to deliver to the attending bishops. Herbert Schneider edits the authentic text in MGH Ordines de caelebrando concilio (1996) p. 180 l. 56-59:

Deinde simili vos obtestatione coniuro, ut nullus vestrum in iudicando aut personam accipiat aut quolibet favore vel munere pulsatus a veritate discedat, sed cum tanta pietate, quidquid coetui nostro se iudicantum intulerit, retractate…

And Pseudo-Isidore as edited from Vat. lat. 630:

Deinde simili vos obtestatione obsecro, ut nullus vestrum in iudicando aut personam accipiat aut quolibet favore vel munere pulsatus a iusto iudicio scienter avertatur aut discedat, sed cum tanta pietate…retractate…

It is not so much truth that worries our forger, as the idea of his bishops knowingly turning away from just judgment.

I4.11

The authentic text from c. 11, after litanies over three days have been prescribed (ed. Schneider):

In reliquis tamen diebus cunctis adstantibus oratio colligenda est et sic consedentes causarum negotia colligant.

Pseudo-Isidore retouches only slightly:

In reliquis autem diebus cunctis adstantibus oratio colligenda est et sic consedentes causarum negotia iuste et religiose colligant.

Again the suggestion of trials or judgment (causarum negotia) prompts this intervention

I74.13

The thirteenth canon of the Council of Neocaesarea from 314/5 prohibits priests from outside the city from offering Mass, unless they are invited.

Gonzalo Martinez Diez and Felix Rodriguez, ed. La Coleccion canonica Hispana 3 (1982) p. 108 l. 87-94, provide the authentic text from the Hispana:

Presbyteri, qui conregionales non sunt, in ecclesia praesentibus episcopis vel presbyteris civitatis offere non poterunt, nec panem dare; in oratione autem calicem dabunt. Quod si absentes sint civitatis sacerdotes et fuerit invitatus, in oratione solus poterit dare. Vicarii autem episcoporum, quos  Graeci chorpiscopos vocant, constituti sunt quidem ad exemplum LXX seniorum, sed tamquam consacerdotes propter sollicitudinem et studium in pauperes offerant et honorabiles habeantur.

The priests who are not conregionales cannot make the offering or give the bread; during Mass, however, they will give the cup. And if the city clergy are absent and the non-coregional priests have been invited, they can distribute communion at Mass only. Latin translation has done considerable violence to this canon. The original Greek makes clear that the “presbyteri, qui conregionales non sunt” are in fact priests from the countryside. When the responsible bishops or priests of that city are on hand, the Greek forbids these country priests from making the oblation, and from distributing the bread and the cup, while the Latin seems to demand that they distribute the cup only and abstain from the rest.

Pseudo-Isidore, who must have been confused by this canon, makes a variety of changes  has corrected it against the alternative translation available to him in the Collectio Dionyisio-Hadriana:

Dionysio-Hadriana (ed. Turner, EOMIA II.1137-9):

Praesbyteri ruris in ecclesia civitatis episcopo praesente vel praesbyteris urbis ipsius, offere non possunt nec panem sanctificatum dare calicemque porrigere. Si vero absentes hi fuerint et ad dandam orationem vocentur, soli dare debebunt. Corepiscopi quoque ad exemplum quidem et formam septuaginta videntur esse; ut comministri autem, propter studium quod erga pauperes exhibent, honorantur.

Pseudo-Isidore (with D-H variants in bold):

Presbiteri, qui conregionales non sunt, in aeclesia presentibus episcopis vel presbiteris civitatis offerre non possunt, nec panem dare sanctificatum, nec calicem porrigere. Quod si absentes sunt civitatis sacerdotes et fuerint invitati, ad dandam orationem soli debebunt dare. Vicarii autem episcoporum, quas Greci chorepiscopos vocant, constituti sunt quidem ad exemplum septuaginta seniorum, sed tamquam consacerdotes propter sollicitudinem et studium, quod in pauperes agunt, offerant et honorabiles habeantur.

He has clarified that it is the sanctified bread that that the priests are not to give; also these priests are not to offer the chalice–here Pseudo-Isidore has intuited the original force of the canon. The next interpolation change is somewhat garbled, but it seems that Pseudo-Isidore wants us to think that, upon invitation and in the absence of the clergy of the city, non-coregional priests can only say Mass and perhaps are not to distribute communion. Finally, the concluding remarks about chorbishops have provoked some minor fiddling from Pseudo-Isidore without changing the meaning in any clear way.

(This post revised after I remembered to collate Pseudo-Isidore’s changes against the Dionysio-Hadriana–always a helpful exercise. I am also grateful to Sergey Turkin for discussing this text with me.)