Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vat. lat. 630 (V630) provides the False Decretals of Pseudo-Isidore in two volumes, both them fully digitized. Volume 1 is online here; Volume 2 is online here. In all likelihood, the codex was produced during the pontificate of Benedict III (d. 858) for the benefit of Wulfad or those close to him. Wulfad, who had been ordained to holy orders by Ebo of Reims in 840/1, enjoyed the favor of Charles the Bald, and from 866 served as Archbishop of Bourges. His career is closely entangled with the earliest stages of Pseudo-Isidore’s reception. All the evidence furthermore suggests that V630 served as the ultimate source for the later so-called B and C recensions of the False Decretals.
Both volumes of V630 represent the work of Corbie scribes, and constitute our best copy of the A/B recension of the False Decretals. The text of the interpolated Hispana embedded in V630 (and thus, more broadly, the A/B text of the Hispana) has an especially close relationship to our only complete copy of Pseudo-Isidore’s msot important formal source, the interpolated Hispana on hand in Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vat. lat. 1341 (V1341). Other recensions of the False Decretals offer a slightly different Hispana text that suggests some distance from V1341. Like V630, V1341 was also copied at Corbie. As Klaus Zechiel-Eckes has shown, Pseudo-Isidore found some of his most important sources in the library at Corbie. The A/B recension in V630, which appears to represent the Corbie text of the forgeries, therefore brings us very close to Pseudo-Isidore’s operation.
The manuscript opens with two fly-leaves—numbered I and II—that, as Friedrich Maassen and Joachim Richter have recognized, once formed the first two folios of an otherwise lost manuscript of the interpolated Hispana. The contents of these folios include a list and brief description of the first four ecumenical councils; a second list of the first six ecumenical councils; and finally a third list of further councils from the Dionysio-Hadriana that has been clumsily merged with a separate conciliar list from the Hispana Gallica. See the edition here, pages 2 through 8. A consequence of Pseudo-Isidore’s attempt to merge two different capitulationes, is that the list characteristically ceases to name councils and provides only bare numbers between the Council of Mâcon (XXI) and the Council of Elvira (XXX).
After the conciliar list, the fly leaves of Vat. lat. 630 provide an overview of the twelve provinces of the Roman Empire. This item breaks off at the bottom of fol. IIv, with a list of the twelve provinces of Asia. See page 9.
All of these items, including the empty numbers intervening between the councils of Mâcon and Elvira, occur in the same sequence at the beginning of V1341. Compare Annette Grabowsky’s transcription of V1341 here and here and here. While V630 is rather larger than V1341, the fly leaves in V630 are roughly 2cm shorter in width and 1 cm shorter in length than the rest of the manuscript, approximating the size of V1341.
In V630, the False Decretals follow these items from the interpolated Hispana, on fol. 1v. As medieval manuscripts were ordinarily copied from the first verso folio, Vat. lat. 630 originally had two blank rectos—fol. Ir (from the folios carrying the items from the dismembered interpolated Hispana codex) and fol. 1r (from the folio carrying the start of the False Decretals). These once-empty rectos have received important additions. A ninth-century hand has added a papal list to fol. Ir. Originally this list concluded with Benedict III (d. 858). A slightly different hand has supplied the name of his successor, Pope Nicholas I:
Fol. 1r, for its part, has received two items. The first is a list of the civitates of Reims, contributed by an eleventh-century scribe.
This list is an excerpt from a longer list of Gallican provinces that follows the list of imperial provinces in the interpolated Hispana. V630 must have once included further folios from this lost Hispana manuscript. These additional folios, it seems, were discarded only in the high medieval period, at which point the cities of Reims were retained in this later copy. The clear suggestion is that V630 was still to be found in the archiepiscopal province of Reims when these additional folios were removed and this list was copied.
The second item to accumulate on fol. 1r is an epistola formata purporting to have been issued by Bishop Liutad of Vence, who to my knowledge is attested nowhere else. This letter is known only from V630 and a later codex descriptus derived from this manuscript (Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque municipale, Ms. 189: see below). The letter is addressed to Archbishop Wenilo of Rouen, on behalf of Wulfad, in some year falling in the first indiction—most likely 853 (but possibly 868). As it seems unlikely that Wenilo took office earlier than 854, Rouen is perhaps an error for (Wenilo of) Sens. The letter commends Wulfad to Wenilo and requests that Wenilo advance him to higher orders. It must surely have been drafted in the aftermath of the Synod of Soissons in 853, the venue at which Wulfad and the other clerics ordained by Ebo during his restoration to Reims in 840/1 were deposed.
Two items copied at the very end of the second volume of Vat. lat. 630 confirm the general impression that this early recension of the False Decretals was produced for clerics in Ebonian circles. Fols. 321 and 322 contain an excerpt from the twelfth book of the Historia Tripartita dealing with the translation of bishops, as well as an excerpt from Pseudo-Isidore’s own forgery in the name of Pope Pelagius II (JK †1049) on the same theme.
These items are present in other A/B codices and are among the distinct characteristics of the recension. Pseudo-Isidore’s interest in episcopal translation, and specifically his effort to relax restriction on movement from one see to another in specific circumstances, reflects his associations with Ebo of Reims. Following his ultimate expulsion from Reims in 841, Ebo eventually translated to the see of Hildesheim. I have argued that Pseud-Isidore’s entire approach to episcopal translation is an attempt to relax ancient restrictions with details calculated precisely for Ebo’s case. These items provide a good prima facie case that the A/B recenson of the False Decretals is especially early: After Ebo’s death at Hildesheim on 20 March 851 this aspect of Pseudo-Isidore’s agenda lost all relevance. The evidence of the epistola formata for Wulfad and the papal list therefore gather V630 specifically into the 850s, while other features suggest that the A/B recension itself is only a few years older.
Quaternions are the rule in V630. Exceptions are fols. 33-36 (a binion), 69 (a singleton), 70-73 (a binion corresponding to the end of Part I of the False Decretals.), and 122-6 (originally a ternion, but the leaf before fol. 126 has been excised). The first volume of V630 closes with a complete quaternion at fols. 175-182. Irregularities in the second volume of V630 occur at fols. 200-205 (a ternion), 222-3 (singletons, originally the first two folios of a binion), 224-7 (a binion), 260-4 (a ternion with last leaf excised), 305-9 (a ternion with last leaf excised), 318 (a singleton), 319-20 (a union), and 321-2 (the final two leaves of the manuscript, with are either a union, or two singletons joined in the course of modern restoration).
The codicological disturbances from fols. 206 to 227 coincide with the Innocent dossier in V630 and reward closer analysis. From the interpolated Hispana, Pseudo-Isidore draws 23 items of Innocent’s correspondence, which he supplements with a seven-piece anti-Pelagian dossier from the Collectio Quesnelliana. In other representatives of the A/B recension, the Quesnelliana supplements follow the Hispana correspondence. In V630, however, there are curious complications. The Hispana Innocent dossier begins at the start of the fourth gathering, at fol. 206r, and runs until the first folio of the fifth gathering, concluding at 214v. There follows the first item of the Quesnelliana suppelement–a letter from the Council of Carthage to Innocent (inc. “Cum ex more”), from fols. 214v to 215v. Innocent’s reply to the Council of Carthage (JK 321), the second Quesnelliana supplement, begins immediately thereafter, but breaks off mid-word at fol. 215v, with “…quibus praesidetis ecclesiis sollicitu-“:
After this decretal fragment, as you can see from the photo above, the copyists continue the sequence of authentic Hispana decretals, including pieces from popes Zosimus through Celestine. Beyond this bloc of authentic content comes Pseudo-Isidore’s lone forgery in the name of Pope Sixtus III (JK +397), which runs to the end of the fifth gathering (at fol. 221v) and onto the next folio, 222r. Only after Pseudo-Sixtus do we find the rest of the Innocent correspondence from the Quesnelliana, beginning with a complete copy of JK 321 (whose opening lines had already appeared at 215v). These out-of-order Quesnelliana additions correspond to the codicological irregularities described above: Fols. 222 and 223, which carry the concluding lines of the Sixtus forgery and the beginning of the Quesnelliana pieces, are two singletons, while the rest of the Quesnelliana material falls on fols. 224-227, a binion.
In summary: Through some error, the copyists of V630 failed to include the full Quesnelliana complement to Innocent’s correspondence at the end of the Hispana Innocent dossier, where it belonged. When this error was realized, additional folios were added haphazardly after Pseudo-Sixtus to make room for the neglected pieces. This left several obvious defects, including the dismembered opening lines of JK 321 preceding the decretals of Zosimus, and a series of Innocent’s letters displaced between Pseudo-Sixtus III and the decretals of Leo the Great. The architects of V630 would seem to have been working from an exemplar that incorporated the Quesnelliana Innocent items unclearly or incompletely.
V630 therefore presents us with two instances wherein codicological anomalies and textual anomalies intersect: There are the initial two folios that have been added to the beginning of V630 from a lost copy of the interpolated Hispana; and there is the scrambled sequence of Innocent letters. The later B and C recensions of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals also open with lists of the popes and the early ecumenical councils that are clearly derived from the interpolated Hispana folios tacked onto the beginning of V630. This is clear proof that the B and C recensions do not merely derive from the A/B recension, as has long been supposed, but that they descend from V630 itself.
At the same time, the extent of the influence of V630 within the A/B recension is far less clear. The only certain derivative is Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque municipale, Ms. 189 (s. XI), which is such an exacting copy of V630 there can be no doubt that it is a codex descriptus. Beyond this manuscript, I know of six further codices that have received A/B classifications:
- Bernkastel-Cues, St. Nikolaus Hospital (Cusanus Stiftung), Ms. 52 (s. XII)
- Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. II.7 (s. IX: fragmentary)
- Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. II.8 (s. XI: fragmentary)
- Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms. lat. 9629 (s. IX: only Part I is A/B)
- Prague, Národní Museum, Ms. XII.D.2 (s. XIV)
- Vienna, Österreichishce Nationalbibliothek, Ms. 2133 (s. XII: abbreviated)
Vienna Ms. 2133, Paris Ms. lat. 9629 and Leipzig Ms. II.8 do not present enough textual evidence to make an immediate determination and will have to be more carefully collated. Leipzig Ms. II. 7 and Bernkastel-Cues Ms. 52 present no trace of the Innocent dossier confusion on hand in V630, and other textual evidence suggests that they are independent copies of the recension. I have yet to study Prague Ms. XII.D.2 closely.