Pope Urban II, the Collectio Britannica, and the Council of Melfi (1089)

Pope Urban II, the Collectio Britannica, and the Council of Melfi (1089)

Pope Urban II, the Collectio Britannica, and the Council of Melfi (1089)

Pope Urban II, the Collectio Britannica, and the Council of Melfi (1089)

Synopsis

The reign of Pope Urban II (1088-1099) is often seen as a turning point in the period of medieval history known as the Gregorian Reform. This volume presents for the first time modern editions of, and commentary on, the decrees of Urban's first papal council (at Melfi in 1089), and the excerpts of his acts found in the enigmatic canon-law book labelled the Collectio Britannica. Both editions are accompanied by English translations of the Latin texts.

Excerpt

The original conception of this book was a study of Urban II's influence on the development of medieval canon law and ecclesiastical institutions, but the volume evolved into a different work. Editing the texts ascribed to Urban in the Collectio Britannica was not initially envisaged, and the Council of Melfi was to be treated in a section along with other synods. Yet a close examination of the Britannica revealed how little is known about this compilation, despite its importance for the early phase of Urban's reign, and a decision thus was made to prepare an edition with commentary of the excerpts therein concerning Urban. The discovery, furthermore, of a relatively wide diffusion of the legislation from Melfi, plus an inadequate presentation in the conciliar editions, argued for coverage of this synod in its own right.

The result is a work in two parts, dealing with Urban II's place in the Collectio Britannica, and with the Council of Melfi. Either could stand alone as a smaller monograph, but they fit together thematically and chronologically, and form a volume which presents a majority of the known texts from a period of great turmoil in the late eleventh-century church, i.e. the first year and a half of Urban's reign. If, following the original scheme, chapters were included on other synods, on the important texts registered as JL 5743 and JL 5760, and on Urban II and Gratian (see Traditio 24 [1968], 504-5), the book could have grown to twice its present size.

A word should be said about the collaboration. Assembling research materials underlying this project has been a joint process. Over a number of years both collaborators gathered information from printed sources and manuscripts, which at all points was shared freely. The chapters were formulated and written by RS, at times after consultation on individual points, and SK read a number of the editions from the Britannica. The presentation of the decrees of the Council of Benevento in Appendix II also resulted from the work of both contributors.

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