Pages v-xiii

Calendar of Papal Registers Relating To Great Britain and Ireland: Volume 3, 1342-1362. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1897.

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The present volume of the ‘Calendar of Papal Regesta’ includes the Papal letters of the pontificates of Clement VI. and Innocent VI. (a.d. 1342–1362), a period of only twenty years. The first volume covered one hundred and six years, and the second thirty-seven. This increase in the number of entries relating to England is due to several causes.

In the first place, the registers of these two popes, in the Vatican series of registers, are almost complete, as will be seen on examining the text of this volume. Secondly, the system of registration, at first, it is supposed, (fn. 1) depending on the option of the persons to whom the grants were made, had been perfected by the care of John XXII. and Benedict XII. and it now applied, if not to all letters issuing from the Chancery, at any rate to all dealing with benefices above a certain value, and to most kinds of indults.

But besides this alteration in the ways of the Papal Chancery, the full effect of which was now felt, there was clearly a great increase in the business transacted at the Papal Court.

Not only had the gradual recognition of resident proctors made it easier to approach the Apostolic See, in cases where an appeal from local jurisdiction was necessary, but the conduct of the popes themselves was calculated to give more and more employment to the officials of their Court.

The system of general reservations invented by John XXII. to avoid simony, and the opportunities for litigation afforded by the bull Execrabilis’ which he directed against pluralities, not only brought fees into the Papal Camera, but vastly increased the work of the Chancery. Clement VI. exceeded even the efforts of his predecessors. He began his pontificate by a generous promise to grant benefices to all poor clerks who should come to Avignon and claim them within two months of his coronation. As many as one hundred thousand are said to have come, (fn. 2) and the register for the first year of his pontificate consists of no fewer than twelve volumes. Many of these grants no doubt remained inoperative, but he proceeded to make a number of reservations said to be quite unprecedented. They are duly recorded in the Rules of the Chancery, and allusions to them will be found throughout the volume. Their most important result in England was the making of the Statutes of Provisors and Prœmunire in 1351 and 1353. The present volume contains part of the pope's correspondence on this subject with Edward III.

Another large class of business was undoubtedly due to the plague of 1345–1362, which led to a very large demand for plenary remissions at the hour of death. The pope, with his usual generosity, granted such remissions to whole dioceses at once as the plague spread, but the private demand was none the less stimulated, as the more comprehensive indults were usually limited to short periods.

Again, the increase of English prosperity led to an increased demand for portable altars and to the foundation of chantries for which special licences were required; and another large class of business was involved in the restoration to their houses of regular clergy who went without leave to Rome to obtain the jubilee indulgences of 1350.

The letters are, as usual, divided into Secreta, or private and diplomatic correspondence, and Communia, or ordinary business of the Chancery. The Secreta appear only to have been engrossed in the Chancery, and are always, during these pontificates, registered in separate volumes, forming a regular series distinct from the register of Communia. The volumes are of a smaller size, and usually include one year apiece.

The register of Communia in both these pontificates is in large quarto volumes written in single column. There are generally about four volumes to a year, the register for the year being divided into two parts, and each part into two volumes. Each part begins with a table of contents extending over both volumes, and known as Rubricelle, in which the various classes of letters are set down, and under each class a numbered list of the letters it contains, giving brief indications of their principal contents. Frequently the name of the person on whose behalf the letter is issued is alone given; sometimes, however, when the letter is of a nature not sufficiently defined by the class to which it belongs, a short abstract of its contents is added.

There is no distinction in point of matter between the two parts of the register; each is subdivided into precisely the same classes, and it appears to be determined by accident in which part a particular letter is registered.

The part usually begins with ‘Curial letters,’ being those relating to matters determined in Consistory, and proceeds to provisions of bishoprics and abbacies, which also took place there, vacant dignities, vacant canonries, expectative canonries, vacant benefices, and expectative benefices. After this come appointments of notaries, grants of conservators, of portable altars, and of plenary remissions at the hour of death, and finally miscellaneous indults and orders in pursuance of judicial proceedings. This order, though not always strictly observed, may be taken as typical.

This classification is, of course, too elaborate to have been adopted in the first registration of the letters. They were, as a matter of fact, first registered on separate quires of paper, or in separate note-books, and numbered or classified subsequently. As the process of classification proceeded, separate quires of paper were devoted to the separate classes, and contents tables prepared for each class. The contents tables and letters were then properly engrossed in the parchment register. The original paper registers remained for a long time at Avignon, where they were arranged and bound under Clement XI., and were brought to Rome about a.d. 1783. (fn. 3)

They are often fragmentary, and have been injured while at Avignon by damp and rats, but they afford assistance in verifying the readings of the parchment copy when they can be consulted. Each quire and each contents table has, as a rule, been marked ‘in pergameno’ by the copyist. This paper series of registers forms what is known as the ‘Registrum Avinionense,’ and it is proposed to print in a forthcoming volume such particulars as have been collected from them, and appear to supplement or correct the abstracts already printed from the parchment copy. A further account of them may consequently be left for the preface to that volume.

As a supplement to the foregoing remarks, and by way of further elucidating the proceedings of the Papal Chancery, we subjoin a copy of the regulations of the Chancery made by Clement VI. and Innocent VI.

The former is extracted from an article by Josef Teige in vol. xvii. part 3 of ‘Mittheilungen des Instituts für Oesterreichische Geschichtsforschung,’ Innsbruck, 1896, collated with M.S. Vat. Ottob. 778; the latter from Ottenthal's ‘Regulœ Cancellariæ Apostolicæ,’ Innsbruck, 1888, collated with MS. Vat. Lat. 4988.

Clemens VI. (fn. 4)

(1.) Pater sanctissime: Dudum S.V. exposito pro parte T. de Bunicuria canonici Tullensis, quod parrochialis ecclesia de …, quam de facto detinebat et detinuit occupatam quidam H. olim ipsius ecclesie rector, ex eo vacaverat et vacabat, quia dictus H. omni legitimo impedimento cessante non fecerat se infra tempus statutum a iure in presbyterum ordinari, eadem S. mandavit [quatenus] vocato H. et aliis evocandis si predicta invenirentur veritate fulcita et tempore date ipsius gratie in eadem ecclesia non esset ius alicui specialiter acquisitum, etiam si esset sedi apostolice reservata, eidem T. dictam ecclesiam auctoritate apostolica conferrent. Verum, pater sanctissime, cum supradictum cum predictum (sic) H. occupatore et detentore oporteat litigare et idem T. contemplatione ipsius ecclesie iam ad duos sacros ordines sit promotus timeatque propter circumventiones et subreptiones que fiunt eidem T. ne S.V. alicui alteri faciat gratiam de eadem ecclesia cum illa clausula: “si non sit in re ius alicui specialiter acquisitum” et ante provisionem fiendam dicto T. ordine superius memorato supplicat S.V. quod cum gratiam principis deceat esse mensuram eidem T. pio compaciente affectu dignetur E.S. super hoc de oportuno remedio providere et si videtur E.S. decernere prefatam gratiam perinde sortiri effectum ex nunc in eventum predictarum condicionum, ac si in predicta ecclesia eidem T. in re ius esset tempore date gratie supradicte specialiter acquisitum et cum super prefata controversia supradictus T. propter potenciam adversarii non speret in partibus obtinere iustitie complementum, quod dignetur E.S. dictam causam committere alicui de auditoribus vestri sacri palatii cum potestate audiendi et exequendi gratiam supradictam, prout est in talibus fieri consuetum cum emergentibus dependentibus et connexis et cum potestate citandi extra curiam et ad partes, quotiens opus erit. Non obstante, quod prefate cause non sint ad Romanam curiam legitime devolute et in eadem curia pertractande.

[No. cxvii] Declaravit dominus noster et in isto casu et aliis similibus vel cum reservat beneficium conferendum certe persone, cum vacabit per consecracionem vel assecutionem alterius beneficii vel alias, quod secunda gratia non valeat, nisi fieret mentio in eadem de prima, xiiii. Kal. Julii anno nono (19 June 1350).

(2.) XIIII. Kal. Apr. pontificatus sui anno viii. (19 March 1350) mandavit dominus noster papa, quod non ponatur in litteris cuiuscunque de beneficio vacaturo: “non obstantibus reservationibus factis,” quamvis in petitionibus hoc esset et manu sua contineatur et hoc ad futura non ad preterita extendatur.

Facta fuit reservatio in terris ecclesie per dominum Benedictum sub data Avinione ii. Non. Maii anno ii. (6 May 1336).

(3.) Idus Julii anno primo (15 July 1342) reservavit dominus noster omnia beneficia ecclesiastica cuiuscunque condicionis existant omnium et singularium familiarium et servitorum suorum presentium.

G[uillelmus] Electus Cesaraugustensis.

(4.) III. Non. Octobr. pontificatus domini nostri pape Clementis VI. anno vi. (5 Oct. 1347) idem Clemens relaxavit reservationes speciales factas et faciendas per ipsum usque ad annum in forma, qua alias relaxavit exceptis canonicatibus et prebendis ecclesiarum cathedralium et intelligit, quod ista relaxatio non extendat se ad beneficia, que ante presentem relaxationem vacaverunt, prout etiam de alia intellexit.

(5.) Item declaravit, quod si ipse beneficium alicuius viventis, quem credit esse defunctum, alicui conferat, beneficium ipsum intendit a die collationis huiusmodi reservare, licet ipsa collatio iuribus non subsistat.

(6.) Die vii. Maii reservavit dominus Clemens VI. pontificatus sui anno primo (7 May 1343) omnes et singulas ecclesiasticas tam cathedrales quam alias et cetera beneficia ecclesiastica vacantia tunc et in antea vacatura, que generaliter vel specialiter fuerant per dominum Benedictum predecessorem suum reservata pontificatus sui anno primo.

(7.) XII. Kal. Januarii anno primo (21 Dec. 1342) dominus noster reservavit sue dispositioni omnes et singulas ecclesias archiepiscopales et episcopales, seculares et regulares insule Sardinie.

G[uillelmus] Foroiuliensis. (fn. 5)

(8.) Dominus Clemens papa VI. anno sexto pontificatus sui (1347) mandavit, quod in litteris gratiosis in gratia speciali, in quibus mandatur alicui de beneficio ecclesiastico cum cura vel sine cura provideri in provinciis, in quibus datur marcharum taxatio, detur summa xxv. marcharum a beneficio curato et xviii. marcharum in beneficio sine cura.

(9.) Item vii. Kal. Aprilis mandavit dari religiosis in expectationibus eorum octuaginta librarum, tam de curato quam de non curato beneficio.

(10.) Dominus Johannes papa XXII. anno vii. pontificatus sui xvii Kal. Maii (16 April 1323) reservavit omnes canonicatus et prebendas, dignitates, personatus et officia ecclesie Caturcensis quotiens vacaverint; hanc reservationem in ecclesia Caturcensi dominus B[enedictus] papa XII. successor suus relaxavit die xiii. Februarii pontificatus sui anno iii. (13 Feb. 1337) et voluit, quod relaxatio ipsa intelligeretur esse facta a die promotionis sue citra in omnibus, in quibus non esset usus et sic est scriptum in registro.

R. de Valle.

(11.) Die xii. mensis Martii anno pontificatus domini Clementis papa VI. tertio (12 March 1345) fuerunt reservata per eundem dominum nostrum omnia et singula beneficia quorumcunque clericorum beneficiatorum sive beneficiandorum cuiuscunque provincie et diocesis existant cum uxoribus contrahentium. Ponatur in litteris in casu huiusmodi faciendis, ubi dicitur “et cum uxoribus matrimonia contrahentium.”

Vr. G. electus Cesaraugustensis.

(12.) XXIII. die Augusti anno vi. (1347) dominus noster reservavit omnes dignitates personatus ecclesiasticas et quecumque alia beneficia ecclesiastica cum cura vel sine cura quocunque nomine censeantur et ubicunque consistant, que tunc obtinebant vel imposterum obtinerent clerici recipientes cingulum militare.


(13.) Dominus noster precepit domino J. abbati Cluniacensi xiiii. die Junii anno primo (1342) quod scriberet, quod quando ipse dat licentiam permutandi beneficia reservata in curia vel extra, quod nichilominus vul[t] et volebat, quod illa eadem beneficia sic permutata remaneant reservata sicut prius et ea reservabat.


(14.) Reservata fuerunt omnia beneficia ecclesiastica etiam si monasteria aut abbatie fuerint omnium peregrinorum, qui in itinere Romanum curiam eundo, redeundo vel illuc stando pro lucranda sancta indulgentia obierint viii. Kal. Sept. anno viii. (25 Aug. 1349).

Vr. G. episcopus Lexoviensis. (fn. 6)

(15.) (fn. 7) Reservavit dominus noster xiii. Kal. Aprilis pontificatus sui anno vi. (20 March 1348) beneficia ecclesiastica capellanorum commensalium fratrum suorum sancte Romane ecclesie cardinalium, qui ingruente in Romana curia mortalitatum et infirmitatum peste de dicta curia discesserunt et quos inde discedere contingeret in futurum huiusmodi peste durante, cum ipsa beneficia per obitum capellanorum ipsorum sicut prefertur discedentium ubicunque vacare contingeret.

(16.) (fn. 7) Mandavit dominus noster dominus Clemens papa VI. videlicet vto. Idus Septembris pontificatus sui anno octavo (8 Sept. 1349), ne transiret de cetero aliqua gratia in cancellaria cum clausula “etiamsi in ecclesia cathedrali” nisi ipse poneret expresse. Et hoc scripsit in quadam supplicatione, in qua conquerebantur decanus et capitulum ecclesie Parisiensis de impetrationibus in eorum ecclesia cathedrali.

(17.) Dominus abbas sancti Benedicti mandavit, quod doctores et officiales ac etiam capellani domini pape non examinentur.

(18.) Et quod postmodum declaravimus nostre intentionis fuisse et etiam existere beneficia ecclesiastica huiusmodi et alia quecunque quocunque modo collationi nostre specialiter vel generaliter reservata, que per nos quibuscunque personis conferri contingeret, si personas easdem, quibus eadem beneficia conferrentur priusquam collationes nostre huiusmodi sibi facte per adeptionem possessionis pacifice beneficiorum huiusmodi suum essent sortite effectum, rebus eximi conting[er]et ab humanis, donec per nos de illis provisum existeret nostreque provisiones huiusmodi per adeptionem predictam huiusmodi possessionis pacifice plenum effectum sortite existerent, sub nostra reservatione huiusmodi remanere libere sicut prius.

(19.) Ordinavit dominus noster vi. Kal. Aug. pontif. sui a. xo (27 July 1351), quod si contingat, quod aliquis impetret aliquod beneficium tanquam specialiter per eum reservatum et sit aliquis detentor illius beneficii, qui illud detinuerit plusquam per annum, quod nisi impetrans fecerit mentionem de dicta detentione, quod sua impetratio iuribus non subsistat.

[cxviij] (20.) Clemens, etc. Ad futurum rei memoriam. Apostolice sedis providentia circumspecta nonnunquam ordinata per eam revocat et commutat, prout varietatibus temporum et commoditatibus subditorum diligenter attentis id conspicit salubriter et utiliter expedire. Sane cum multas reservationes de canonicatibus et prebendis tam cathedralium quam collegiatarum ecclesiarum et aliis beneficiis ecclesiasticis cum cura vel sine cura in diversis mundi partibus consistentibus intendentes de illis cum vacarent per dicte sedis providentiam ordinari cum interpositione decreti duxerimus diversis successive vicibus faciendas. Nos ex certis causis que ad id nostrum animum induxerunt omnes reservationes huiusmodi factas de canonicatibus et prebendis ac beneficiis supradictis de quibus nondum providimus seu mandavimus provideri auctoritate apostolica tenore presentium revocamus, illaque deinceps nullius esse decernimus firmitatis. Volumus tamen revocationem nostram huiusmodi ad dignitates personatus et curata officia quomodolibet non extendi. Nulli ergo etc. Datum Avinione viii. Id. Dec. anno xo (6 Dec. 1351).

(21.) Item xvi. Kal. Dec. anno undecimo (16 Nov. 1352) declaravit, quod quando fit mentio in supplicationibus de detentore et dicitur, quod per annum et ultra beneficium, de quo fit gratia, detinuit, quod gratia huiusmodi non valeat nisi illud “ultra” videlicet quantum temporis fuerit, declaretur.

Regule Date Per Dominum Innocentium VI. (fn. 8)

1. Ordinavit idem dominus Innocentius quod quando mandabit recipi aliquem in ecclesia vel monasterio, ubi non erat certus monachorum vel canonicorum numerus, poneretur clausula “dummodo ecclesia vel monasterium hujusmodi ex receptione ipsa nimium non gravetur.”

2. Item, quod in ecclesiis ubi sunt majores et minores prebende, quantumcunque petatur major, non detur per simplex “Fiat” nisi de manu pape concedatur expresse.

Sed de stilo cancellarie datur minor prebenda, quamvis petita non fuerit per eundem.

3. Item precepit quod si ipse faceret gratiam de beneficio ecclesiastico sine cura vel de canonicatur sub expectatione prebende alicui constituto in nono vel decimo etatis sui anno tacito de hujusmodi etate, quod littere super hoc per cancellariam minime expedirentur, et idem voluit, si faceret gratiam de vacantibus, et idem servatur in certo modo vacaturis.

4. Item mandavit quod religiosis confirmationem privilegiorum petentibus non dentur littere, quod nequeant ab eorum beneficiis amoveri, quamvis supplicationes eorum hujusmodi per “Fiat B” signantur datur tamen eis “perinde valere.”

The last volume calendared (vol. ccxliv. k.) consists of a collection of loose drafts of “Secreta,’ from which the bulls appear to have been engrossed. They are all dated ‘Anno Sexto,’ but belong partly to the pontificate of Clement VI. partly to that of Innocent VI. As the former appear in their proper place in the parchment register, the latter only have been calendared. The Pope's name is in no case given; it may be, therefore, that one or two of the letters of Clement VI. appear as of Innocent VI., although the Editors have done their best to avoid it. These drafts have sometimes interesting endorsements, specifying the time by which the engrossed copy was required for expedition by the Papal couriers.

The entries relating to Ireland have been submitted to the Very Revd. M. Costello, O.P. of the Dominican priory of S. Clemente in Rome, and the Editors wish to express their thanks to M. Georges Daumet of the ‘École française de Rome’ for assistance in the identification of some of the places in France mentioned in this volume.


  • 1. Berger. Registres d'Innocent IV., vol. i. p. xvij.
  • 2. Baluze. ‘Vitac Paparum Avenionensium,’ Paris, 1693, vol. i. pp. 284, 311.
  • 3. ‘Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft,’ xi. Bd. 4 Hft. pp. 727–9.
  • 4. Mitth, &c. vol. xvii. p. 436.
  • 5. Probably elected in a.d. 1343.
  • 6. William Guitard, bishop of Lisieux, 1349–1358.
  • 7. Teige transposes these sections.
  • 8. Ottenthal, p. 13. Cod. Vat. Lat. 4988, f. 5d.