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  • Repertorium poenitentiariae Germanicum: Verzeichnis der in den Supplikenregistern der Pönitentiarie Kirchen, und Orte des Deutschen Reiches ed. by Ludwig Schmugge
  • Thomas M. Izbicki
Repertorium poenitentiariae Germanicum: Verzeichnis der in den Supplikenregistern der Pönitentiarie Kirchen, und Orte des Deutschen Reiches. Edited by Ludwig Schmugge. Vol. 9 in 2 parts. (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. 2014. Pp. XXXII, 453, VII, 252. €129,95. ISBN 978-3-11-037584-8.)

With this volume the Repertorium poenitentiariae Germanicum fully enters the sixteenth century. Following the death of Alexander VI (Borgia) on August 18, 1503, the College of Cardinals elected Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, a nephew of Pope Pius II. He reigned for mere days, from election on September 22 to his death on October 18, 1503. The cardinals next elected Giuliano della Rovere, a nephew of Sixtus IV and an old foe of Alexander, who took the name Julius II. His tumultuous pontificate of nearly a decade saw wars, art patronage on a grand scale, and an effort to depose him made by a council at Pisa convoked by his enemies in 1511. Alongside these great events, the Apostolic Penitentiary continued granting graces, dispensations, and absolutions to the faithful, serving as the papacy’s “well of grace.” Entries pertaining to Germany from the registers for these pontificates are calendared here by Ludwig Schmugge.

The petitions to the Penitentiary are grouped here in certain categories. One category, De matrimonialibus (Concerning Marriages), involved marital impediments under canon law, frequently absolutions for violating the rules of consanguinity. These were so common as to be registered in a telegraphic style. De diversis formis (Concerning Different Forms), a catchall category for special favors, and De declaratoriis (absolution of offenses reserved to the Holy See), are grouped together, [End Page 640] each entry fairly detailed because of their diverse contexts. Petitions for dispensations De defectu natalium (Concerning Defect of Birth) and De uberiori (permitting promotion of the illegitimate to higher clerical ranks) also were received frequently and rarely registered in detail. Petitions De promotis et promovendis (Concerning Those Promoted or to Be Promoted), aimed at removing impediments to priestly ordination, reflect a variety of issues. Among them were lack of sufficient age for ordination, physical defects of the candidates—such as injury to the fingers and fraudulent claims made in order to be ordained. Petitions De confessionalibus (Concerning Confessions) asked that individuals be allowed to choose confessors other than their own parish priests; but they are fairly rare for the pontificates of Pius and Julius. Researchers new to this project will need to consult the lists of dioceses and table of abbreviations to interpret the entries in the registers of the Penitentiary.

The introductory material includes listings of the volumes of registers employed, explanations of the categories of petitions, and the names of officials of the Penitentiary from cardinals to scriptors, as well as those of the procurators whose names were listed. The separate index volume provides detailed access to the entries from the registers. Almost anything a researcher seeks can be located by consulting these indexes to persons, places—including diocese, patron saints, religious orders mentioned, and dates in the registers, especially the detailed listing of words and phrases in the registers. Fees paid, certain papal decrees, degrees of consanguinity, and a few words in German all have entries. Few resources offer such insights into the lives of Christians from the highest levels downward in the fifteenth and now the sixteenth centuries.

Thomas M. Izbicki
Rutgers University


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pp. 640-641
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