Die Register Innocenz' III. Pontifikatsjahr, 1207/1208: Texte und Indices
After a slow start in 1964, the edition of the registers of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) has hit its stride with the appearance of the present volume for the tenth year of the pontiff's reign. The Austrian Historical Institute at Rome has projected a critical edition of these registers to replace the seventeenth-century edition of Etienne Baluze, which has long been widely available in the reprint by the Abbé Migne in the Patrologia Latina. Innocent's were the first of the papal registers to survive in their near entirety. The papal chancery made transcripts of a small selection (10–20 percent) of letters that were dispatched in the pope's name, including an occasional letter received. The original manuscripts are preserved in the Vatican Archives and consist of beautifully calligraphic volumes, virtual deluxe copies produced by one scribe for the text and others for the rubrics. By the tenth year the scribes no longer embellished the volumes with illuminations as they had in the opening volumes.
Innocent's tenth regnal year extended from February 1207 to February 1208. The scope of his correspondents ranged from Scotland in the west to Jerusalem in the east with major concentrations in the heartland of Latin [End Page 110] Christendom—principally Italy, the Empire, France, England, and Iberia—but he also wrote to the distant kings of Denmark, Hungary, and Bulgaria. A sizable proportion of the correspondence referred to routine matters such as protecting and confirming the possessions of individual churches, resolving disputed elections, and performing other ecclesiastical formalities. Major issues involved defending Stephen Langton's election to the see of Canterbury against King John's opposition, urging Philip Augustus to receive Queen Ingeborg back as his legitimate spouse, and enacting measures against the spread of the Albigensian heresy in Languedoc. The pope also treated social concerns such as the definition of marriage and legitimacy of birth, the repression of tournaments and usury, and the regulation of the Jews and the nascent university at Paris, but he could also attend to small details such as protecting a poor widow's dowry against the maneuvers of a powerful abbess or reinstating a priest to his sacerdotal functions after he had lost a finger on his left hand.
Rainer Murauer and Andrea Sommerlechner have sought to reproduce as accurate a transcription as possible of the registers' text. In rare cases when a recipient's copy has been located they have collated the two versions. Their introduction does not leave unexplored any analytical tools such as paleography and codicology. The contextual apparatus is truly monumental: all proper names of persons and places have been identified; cross references to other papal letters and to the collections of canon law abound; allusions to theological treatises composed at Paris have been uncovered. The footnotes read like bibliographic and historical monographs on the disparate subjects of each letter. In confirming the properties of individual churches each obscure hamlet or villa is identified in areas as distant from each other as St. Andrews, Scotland; Reading, England; Sens, France; and Geronrod, East Saxony. The modern editors are certainly better informed about the possessions of these churches than the clerics of Innocent's chancery who merely copied documents that were presented to them. Five indices provide comprehensive access to the materials of the volume. Thanks to the meticulous industry of the Austrian Historical Academy in Rome, we shall soon have a complete edition of Innocent's registers that will rival those that have been produced by the Ecole Française de Rome for the popes of the thirteenth century. The chief remaining lacuna in this period is Innocent's successor Honorius III (1216–27).