False Decretals (dĬkrē´təlz), collection of documents, partly spurious, treating of canon law. It was composed between 847 and 852 probably in France, either at Reims or in the province of Tours (specifically at Le Mans), and composed by a man who called himself Isidore Mercator (hence the term Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals); the date of composition is based on external evidence and localized chiefly on internal evidence. The collection was made to reform canon law and to support bishops in their perennial struggle against secular interference and interference from powerful metropolitans in diocesan operations. The collection established ancient legal sanction on episcopal demands for freedom from secular courts and from usurpation of diocesan properties on bare accusation. It gave sanction instead to the direct dependence of bishops on the Holy See without mediation of metropolitans and archbishops. The effect of the False Decretals was great in the Middle Ages. They were accepted to some extent by the papacy in support of its age-old claims. By incorporation and quotation in the Decretum of Gratian, the False Decretals received a definite authority in textbooks of canon law in the Middle Ages. The False Decretals have gained their chief fame because they were one of the great forgeries of history. Included in the collection are 60 letters or decrees of popes from Clement I to Melchiades (d. 314), of which 58 are forged; an original essay on the early church and the Council of Nicaea, with canons of 54 councils, of which all canons but one are authentic or were accepted as authentic long before the author's time; and a collection of papal letters from the 4th to 8th cent., of which the majority are authentic. Even in these sections, however, there has been tampering with the text. The forgeries are supported by liberal interlarding with quotations from authentic letters and by attribution to popes whose letters were known to be lost. Even many of the genuine letters in the collection show evidence of tampering. The False Decretals were completely exposed in the 16th cent.; among the many critics were Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa and Juan de Torquemada. The interpretation of the collection according to proper historical methods was not really begun until the 19th cent.
"False Decretals." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/false-decretals
"False Decretals." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/false-decretals
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.