Medieval Handbooks of Penance: A Translation of the Principal Libri Poenitentiales and Selections from Related Documents

By John T. McNeill; Helena M. Gamer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Selections from Later Penitential Documents

I. FROM THE PENITENTIAL OF BARTHOLOMEW ISCANUS, BISHOP OF EXETER, 1161-84

[ BARTHOLOMEW ISCANUS, a native of Brittany, was a zealous and distinguished prelate of the Anglo-Norman Church. During his tenure of the see of Exeter he became celebrated through his connection with the controversy between Becket and Henry II. His writings include an extensive penitential, portions of which are here given from the twelfth century British Museum Codex Cotton Faust. A VIII. A short extract with the penalties omitted, published from this manuscript in Thomas Wright's Reliquiae antiquae, I, 285 f., has been translated from this source under the heading "A Batch of Superstitions" by G. G. Coulton in Life in the Middle Ages, I, 33 ff. Cf. pp. 60 f. and 349 f. Other manuscripts containing this penitential include the following: British Museum, Royal Collection 5 E VII, art. 3; 7 E I; 8 C XIV, art. 1; 8 D III, art. 2; Cotton Vitell. A XII; Paris, Bibl. Nat. Lat. 2600; Oxford, St. John's College, manuscripts 163 and 165. The work is largely a compilation of patristic opinions, conciliar decisions, and materials from the older penitentials, all set down with free variation from the sources, much in the manner, and probably somewhat under the influence, of Burchard. In Cotton Faust. A VIII the document contains 134 capitula with many subheads which indicate the alleged sources by title. A scholarly edition of this pentitential would probably shed considerable light on the use of various canonical collections in England. A few selections only are here presented.

Added in proof: Adrian Morey in Bartholomew of Exeter, Bishop and Canonist ( Cambridge, 1937) lists (pp. 164 ff.) eighteen manuscripts of the penitential, including all those mentioned above, and publishes the text of the document (pp. 175-300) from the Cotton Vitell. A XII. He denies, without explanation, Bartholomew's authorship of the section (folios 8-39) of Cotton Faust. A VIII, from which the following selections are made. Nevertheless, with the exception of the passage on magic these selections are all contained in Morey's text (pp. 177 f., 208 f., 210, 241 f.) His footnotes cite numerous parallels in the collections of Burchard, Ivo of Chartres, Gratian, and Peter Lombard.]

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