- Repertorium Poenitentiariae Germanicum, X: Verzeichnis der in den Supplikenregistern der Pönitentiarie Leos X. vorkommenden Personen, Kirchen und Orte des Deutschen Reiches (1513–1521) ed. by Ludwig Schmugge
Pope Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici) reigned for more than eight years in a time of turmoil. He inherited the Fifth Lateran Council from his predecessor, Julius II, and brought it to a conclusion. Leo condemned Martin Luther but was unable to end his challenge to the ecclesiastical status quo. Part of the revenue from the indulgences which so offended Luther went into extensive art patronage. His political endeavors included sustaining the Medici regime in Florence once it had been re-established. None of these things appears in this latest volume of Repertorium Poenitentiariae Germanicum. Here, instead, we see the Roman Curia transacting routine business. The Apostolic Penitentiary dealt with spiritual matters; and it was more accessible to Christians, both clerical and lay, than were many other curial offices. German petitioners appear in these extracts from the registers of the Penitentiary requesting favors the pope could grant through his curia.
The first volume of the book provides these extracts, which often are telegraphic in their brevity. The second volume provides multiple points of access through detailed indexing even to the level of Latin terms. Aside from the foreword (Vorwort), the first volume begins with a brief introduction (Einleitung). Ludwig Schmugge, the editor, has provided more detailed discussions of the Penitentiary in previous volumes and other publications. Ten volumes of registers are described, followed by a precis of the layout of a register. The remainder of the introduction lists the persons involved, from the cardinal Major Penitentiary to the procurators listed in the records. Two sets of abbreviations, both necessary for understanding these extracts, follow. One indicates the diocese involved, from Utrecht to Prague, while the other expands the abbreviations commonly used in the Penitentiary's registers. We know that some grants were not registered, but we have no idea whether requests were declined.
The extracts from the registers fall into five categories. De matrimonialibus is most pertinent to the laity, since the making and unmaking of marriages usually applied to them. Many were requests for dispensations to marry or remain married within the restrictive bounds of consanguinity (blood kinship) or affinity (sexual contact, marital or extramarital). De diversis formis and De declaratoriis pertain to either special favors granted to individuals or confraternities or to cases involving crimes falling under canon law. These are so various in nature that the extracts are the most detailed in the registers. Concessions De defectu natalium and De uberiori removed obstacles to illegitimate children, especially those of clergy, pursuing ecclesiastical careers. These tend to be so common as to be recorded very briefly. Dispensations De promotis et promovendis removed other obstacles to ecclesiastical [End Page 804] careers, especially to those not of the appropriate age for ordination. Also covered were injuries or scars marring the physical perfection of an ordinand. A few dispensations fall under the heading De confessionalibus. These allowed recipients to choose a priest other than the one in their parishes to minister to their spiritual needs. The duty of receiving communion from the "proper priest" in Eastertide usually was omitted from this concession.
The index volume provides name of petitioners and curial functionaries tied to the sequential numbers assigned to each extract. Places are indexed by name and diocese. Patron saints and other dedications, including such Marian references as the Seven Sorrows, are listed. So are religious orders, hospitals, and confraternities. Dates of registration appear, as do the taxes or fees exacted for the registration of concessions. The index by words provides access not just by Latin vocabulary but, through specialized terms, a form of subject indexing. One caution: indulgence may mean remission of punishment and not a grant of spiritual pardon.
This series remains a very useful tool, covering pontificates...