The present volume of the Calendar comprises the usual two series, namely, the so-called ‘Vatican’ Registers, No. CCCLXXX to No. CCCCXXXV and the ‘Lateran' or ‘Dataria’ Registers, No. CCCCXXXII to CCCCXCVII, belonging to the pontificate of Nicholas V, in all a hundred and twenty Registers.
The development of the use of Letters Close or ‘Brevia' under Martin V and his successors has led to the formation, side by side with the traditional ‘Vatican’ and ‘Lateran' series, of a new series of Registers, the ‘Registra Brevium,' with the few surviving volumes of which it is hoped to deal in a future volume of the Calendar. The ‘Litteræ Secretæ’ and ‘Litteræ de Curia’ etc. which constitute the ‘Vatican’ Registers have in consequence been steadily losing the political and administrative character which formerly distinguished them from the ‘Lateran’ Registers of the Chancery. During the pontificate of Nicholas V, indeed, it becomes a problem why a letter of a given type, e.g. a provision of a see or a dispensation to hold incompatible benefices, is registered in the ‘Vatican’ Registers, whilst another letter of a quite similar type is registered in the ‘Lateran’ Registers. On account of this gradual narrowing of the character of the ‘Vatican’ Registers, it has been no longer thought necessary to add, in the case of Nicholas V, a chronological arrangement of their contents, as was still worth while doing for the pontificates of Martin V and Eugenius IV. So much alike, in fact, in their non-political and non-administrative nature have the contents of the two series now become, that if a chronological arrangement were given of the contents of the one series, it would not be easy to justify the omission of a like arrangement of the contents of the other. Both series now consist, in fact, of almost purely personal and therefore disconnected matters, so that it is comparatively seldom that a subject is dealt with more than once. In
such cases cross references have as far as possible been given in the text, and this process is completed by the Index. There are a few letters, however, in the ‘Vatican' Registers which still preserve something of the old political or quasi-political and administrative character of that series, such as grants of special privileges to royal personages, appointments of papal collectors and other officers, safe-conducts and the like, and of these a chronological arrangement has been given below. Not the least important feature of the chronological arrangements which were given of the ‘Vatican’ Registers of Martin V and Eugenius IV was the fairly detailed itineraries which they furnished of those popes. The abandonment of a like arrangement in the case of the ‘Vatican’ Registers of Nicholas V involves therefore the loss of a similar itinerary for that pope. This loss has, however, been more than compensated for by the Itinerary which will be found below. Being based, not only on the ‘Vatican’ but also on the ‘Lateran’ Registers which constitute the greater part of the contents of the present volume, it is much more complete than if it were the outcome of a chronological arrangement of the former series alone. Detailed as it is, however, it does not profess, as is pointed out below, to be exhaustive, only a comparatively small selection from the contents of the Registers being, of course, included in the Calendar.
From ρ. 177 to the end of the text, the Index of Persons and Places has been compiled, and the whole of the Index seen through the press, by Mr. S. C. Ratcliff, M.A., of the Public Record Office. He has also made the Index of Subjects.
The Editor desires to acknowledge the continued assistance of Dr. W. H. Grattan Flood, M.R.I.A., who has looked through the proofs and made many suggestions upon points of Irish topography and history.
J. A. TWEMLOW.