The council of Perpignan is one of the numerous medieval church assemblies that, although intended to be general councils by the popes who convoked them and presided over them, were not recognized as such when, at the end of the sixteenth century, Cesare Baronio established their official list for Catholic historiography. He did not explain those eliminations, but the council of Perpignan—if known to him at all—had no chance to be included, for the inviting pope, Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), was considered illegitimate after political powers joined in ending the Great Western Schism and he lost every support, and the participants represented only a small section of the Roman Church. Nevertheless, the council of Perpignan deserves close attention as an outstanding event in the tormented existence of the papacy in that period.
The proceedings of a conference held to remember its celebration after six centuries cover most of the relevant aspects of the council’s history. Hélène Millet begins with an overview of its background and activities; the last contribution, by Flocel Sabaté, reflects its historical position. The council never came to an end; it was interrupted with the fourteenth session; then several adjournments followed until 1416. Nine sessions were necessary to read the official report of the pope’s activities since his election in 1394; Barbara von Langen-Monheim illustrates this. Perpignan was chosen, as Gilbert Larguier observes, because it was situated within the lands of the Crown of Aragon, but near to France, formerly the most important country of Benedict’s obedience. Carole Puig describes the town at that time; Marie-Claude Marandet states that the local archives do not contain information useful for study of the council. Jean-Baptiste Lebigue and Philippe Perrier illustrate details of its proceedings. Stéphane Péquignot and Claire Ponsich treat aspects of the relations to the strongest remaining supporter, Aragon. In reference to his family name, this pope’s fortune was compared to the waning moon, as Jean-Patrice Boudet points out. Émilie Rosenblieh discusses the contemptuous designation of the assembly as conciliabulum. Three versions of the official list of participants are published at the end of the volume: the original one, grouped according to ecclesiastical hierarchy, and two in alphabetical order of proper names and ecclesiastical titles respectively. Roughly 250 individuals had the right to sit in the council’s hall: cardinals, patriarchs, papal protonotaries, archbishops, bishops, ambassadors of princes, abbots, superiors of the military and the mendicant orders, procurators of other prelates, chapters, convents, and universities, and even twelve high officials of the Curia. This field needs further investigation, in addition to the five papers that comment on those coming from Gascony (Hugues Labarthe), Savoy (Bruno Galland), Scotland (David Ditchburn), Castile (Óscar Villarroel González), and [End Page 580] Catalonia (Prim Bertrán Roigé). María Narbona Carceles notes the absence of representatives from the Kingdom of Navarre. However, important regions such as the lands of the Crown of Aragon are not covered.
The volume offers a solid contribution to a particularly agitated and highly significant period in the history of the Church. Abstracts in five languages facilitate the approach to its contents, but those interested in the council of Perpignan will regret the absence of registers.