Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum

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A book of formulas of the Roman Curia, among the most controversial of medieval sources. The time and place of origin of its three authentic manuscript copies, as well as their subsequent whereabouts throughout the centuries, are as uncertain as are the order and development of its texts. Both the name of the book and its official status have been disputed. However, the latter is now clear. Exact dates and statements concerning places and persons establish beyond doubt the fact that the manuscripts could never have gone back to a private collector remote from Rome. Those objections to the official character of the book that arise from the inclusion of apparently spurious sections "pertaining to bishops or cloisters" are not strong in their proof. For with regard to the difficult misinterpreted formulas, the point in question is always what place to assign them with assurance in a papal chancery. That Rome has no further trace of the original official book is understandable, because of the use of papyrus which is subject to deterioration; and considering other losses from archives, it is not surprising.

Manuscripts. The only three copies of this unique source under consideration today are the Roman Vatican Codex V, the Ambrosius A of Milan, and the Cleromontanus C. The last mentioned, formerly preserved at the Jesuit Collège de Clermont in Paris, is now in the care of the Benedictine Abbey Egmond-Binnen in Holland. V and C belong to the 9th century, whereas A probably first appeared at the beginning of the 10th century. All three copies provide series of different discontinuous sections independent of one another. The numerous former links with an original in the papal chancery office are no longer established.

The writers of these three manuscripts could not possibly have been officials in the papal chancery office. Numerous primitive misspellings, some of them awkward corrections of misinterpreted letter formations or anxious copyings of them, prove that the script of the three manuscripts was not wholly familiar to the copyists. Besides, there is uncertain handling of the word "ill," which is usually employed in a language in many different ways. In addition, there is a lack of familiarity with the commonly occurring abbreviations used in chanceries, and some of the misinterpretations of these are even grotesque. Misunderstood elements of dates, inaccurate forms of Greek tags, mistaken titles of spiritual and worldly hierarchies, and various things prove emphatically that the scribes of the three manuscripts were not officials in the papal chancery. None of the three manuscripts is an example of usage customary in the papal chancery, whereas all three go back to such a manuscript.

In addition to the three fragmentary codices there, are 11 fragments in the canonical Collection of deus-dedit: 2:109112; 3:145150; 4:427. Their originals are close to the handwritings of C and A, the stronger similarity being with that of C. The residence of the exarch at Ravenna, the archbishop of that city, papal officials and apocrisiary no longer play a role in these fragments. The German emperor is the addressee; the dilectissimi fratres domini episcopi could only have been German bishops. Further changes in materials and in form likewise show that it could have been only the papal chancery that had so lively an interest in the reorganization of the formulas in contrast to the versions of V, A, and C. This new version goes back to the new ordering of political circumstances through the renovatio imperii of Otto I.

The real Liber diurnus was considered a flexible, changeable work capable of being amended and expanded, a document which, through continual adaptation, would apply to changing conditions and thus remain practicable.

Editions. The widely traveled Lucas Holstenius (15961661), a convert from Hamburg, gave to Rome a first edition of the Liber diurnus in handwriting V. As a result of the work of opposing forces, it did not have any significant effect. A second one, brought to Paris in 1680 by John Garnier, SJ, based on Codex C, was consigned to a hardly better fate. Even the edition of Rozière (Paris 1869), also based on V, was affected by the delayed aftermath of the great ecclesiastical political disputes that had been so disadvantageous to the earlier ones. Sickel's edition likewise depends on Codex V, which he thought was the only one available; but in addition it depends on the earlier editions of Codex C, which had been lost in the meantime. The existence of A was completely unknown to Sickel at the time of the appearance of his edition.

The many differences of opinion that sentiment and emotion have stirred up in regard to the Liber diurnus are not yet entirely settled, not even by the combined edition of H. Foerster containing all three handwritings and the fragments of Deusdedit's collection. This edition has separate printings of the four components of textual transmission and deliberately abandons the constructing of a text that would be valid once and for all, because there has never been only one of the Liber diurnus.

Bibliography: Liber Diurnus, ed. h. foerster (Bern 1958). a. m. stickler, Historia iuris canonici latini (Turin 1950) 1:66. a. van hove, Commentarium Lovaniense in Codicem iuris canonici I (2d ed. Mechlin 1945) 1:190192.

[h. foerster]