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Norms of Office: deceat

The Gregorian reforms were, in large part, about competing ideas of what Christendom’s shepherds needed to look like. One crude way of characterizing the 15—26; and generally in Wickham’s ‘Gossip and Resistance among the Medieval Peasantry’, P&P 160 (1998), 3-24.

  • 97 Cf. Bisson, Crisis of the Twelfth Century, arguing that real politics is made possible from the late twelfth century only because of secular officials’ growing institutionalized accounting to lord-kings, but arguably conceding too little to the idea that once they have established forms of accountability they may be just as coercive as their less subtle predecessors (perhaps more so). There are relevant comments and discussion of this important interpretation at 5, 19, 91, 452, 488, 490, 491-4, 497, 524, 529, 536-9.
  • 98 Magnae devotionis inditium, 15 March 1198 (Reg. Inn. III, i. #100 at 101; X. 3.34.7; 3 Comp. 3.26.3; Potthast #48). The context was the dispensing of a crusading vow. The trio is taken from Bernard, De Consideratione, §III.iv.15 with 1 Cor. 6: 12, 10: 22-3. For other uses by Innocent see on the imperial election in 1200/1 in Regestum Innocentii IIIpapae super negotio Romani imperii, ed. Friedrich Kempf, Miscellanea Historiae Pontificiae 12 (Rome, 1947), #29 at 77 and regarding Ingeborg of Denmark and Philip Augustus, Reg. Inn. III, xi. #178 (183) at 292. Comment in Cheney, ‘Letters of Pope Innocent III’ in his Medieval Texts and Studies, 16-38 at 35, and on Hostiensis’s gloss Kenneth Pennington, Prince and the Law: Sovereignty and Rights in the Western Legal Tradition (Berkeley, Calif., 1993), 61-4.

later eleventh and earlier twelfth century ecclesiastically was that during this period the papacy was principally preoccupied with establishing some specific norms for the episcopacy (celibate, non-simoniacal, and a clerically distinct ordo).[1] Commentators stressed bishops’ liturgical and moral qualities, ‘rather than their duty of supervising their inferiors in the hierarchy and managing the affairs of their dioceses’.[2] A distinct approach is apparent from the later twelfth and early thirteenth century which can be exemplified by a 1205 letter of Innocent III to Peter des Roches. Addressing the new Bishop of Winchester as a rector, Innocent stressed that ‘it is incumbent on a ruler to ensure that he should skilfully guard against being negligent—God forbid— in those matters which relate to his administration, since cursed is the man who does the work of God negligently’.[3]

The later period was more preoccupied with working out the implications of that ordo and institutionalizing it. Part one of ‘Gratian’s’ Decretum, at D. 21—101, has been called a ‘mirror for bishops’, but it is not structurally concerned with the organizational relations of bishops and others.[4] By contrast Huguccio of Pisa (d. 1210) was concerned with this when he clarified that only by papal delegation could a bishop be judged.[5] The wider question of how to ground norms of episcopal conduct is well illustrated by the contemporary comment of those who felt distinctly ambivalent about the relationship between the spirit and the letter that institutionalized it.[6] That medieval ambivalence now has its place in the modern historiography with the thesis arguing for a transition from a twelfth-century episcopacy concerned with spiritual and moral integrity to a thirteenth-century one more preoccupied by merely ‘administrative’ capabilities.105 The thesis has its roots in twelfth-century sources, with Bernard of Clairvaux’s De consideratione the classic expression of considered regret for the propensity of ecclesiastical administration to reproduce itself gratuitously.106 But Bernard’s view can be readily contrasted with other prelates’ documented pride in their administrative capabilities.107 Certainly the definitions of good bishops varied, both within and across communities. Philip II and Peter the Chanter disputed about whether the quality of French prelates had declined since the early Middle Ages.108 The Paris schools were bothered more generally about the right contours of episcopal character—notably the question of how to distinguish between ideal prelates and princes.109 For themselves, the English could not decide about Hubert Walter. Was he a good archbishop, or illegally transgressing cap. 12 of the Third Lateran Council by holding secular office?110 This chapter opened with Gerald of Wales finding fault that Hubert Walter’s profile did not conform to Gerald’s idealized outline. The point of Gerald’s outline was that a correlation with it should produce good prelates. Gerald’s test was fallible though. Stephen Langton fitted the profile—but Langton was sufficiently inattentive to pastoral care to be reproached for

  • 105 Marion Gibbs and Jane Lang, Bishops and Reform 1215—1272: With Special Reference to the Lateran Council of 1215 (Oxford, 1934), may represent analysts who find the thirteenth-century episcopate too bureaucratic (see 174—9). A far subtler version is Brentano’s Two Churches. Cheney, by contrast, argued for substantive improvements from c.1150, and held the ‘bureaucratic’ Hubert Walter in high regard (From Becket to Langton, 32—41, 154, and Hubert Walter, 181—6). See also Pantin, English Church in the Fourteenth Century, 9—26. For negative judgements conscious of their own preferences, see Brentano’s reflections in Two Churches, 353—80, esp at 362, 371, 377 on Gregory IX, Celestine V, and the conventual Franciscans. Aaron Hope, ‘Hireling Shepherds: English Bishops and their Deputies c. 1186 to c.1323’ (Ph.D. thesis, UCL, 2013) is a major re-evaluation of diocesan administration.
  • 106 A recent analysis following this theme is Elaine Graham-Leigh, ‘Hirelings and Shepherds: Archbishop Berenguer of Narbonne (1191—1211) and the Ideal Bishop’, EHR 116 (2001), 1083—1102, counterpointing a twelfth-century diocesan, administrative ideal against a later twelfth/thirteenth-century papal, spiritual ideal. Cf. Constance Brittain Bouchard, Spirituality and Administration: The Role of the Bishop in Twelfth-Century Auxerre (Cambridge, Mass., 1979), 139—44.
  • 107 Suger, &uvres, i. 54—154; Chronicle of Jocelin, passim. For other examples see Francois Louis Ganshof and Adriaan Verhulst, ‘France, the Low Countries and Western Germany’, in M. M. Postan (ed.), The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, i. The Agrarian Life of the Middle Ages, 2nd edn. (Cambridge, 1966), 291—339 at 320—1, 323 (Meinhard of Marmoutier, 1132—46; Henry and Baudouin of Sint-Bavo, Ghent in the early thirteenth century; Hugues-Varin at Liessies (Hainault); Willem van Rijckel at Sint-Truiden 1249—72 (Liege)).
  • 108 Delisle, ‘Etienne de Gallardon’, 23M. Comment in John W. Baldwin, Masters, Princes and Merchants: The Social Views of Peter the Chanter and His Circle, 2 vols. (Princeton, NJ, 1970), i. 170—1. Compare the, possibly confected, 1194 view of Jean Bellesmains, Archbishop of Lyons, who retorted to English episcopal complaints about Richard I’s exactions that, compared to Philip Augustus, Richard was a ‘hermit’: William of Newburgh, Historia rerum Anglicarum in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I, ed. Richard Howlett, RS, 4 vols. (London 1884—9), ii. 421—2 (§5.3). Comment in Jorg Peltzer, ‘Les Eveques de l’empire Plantagenet et les rois angevine: un tour d’horizon’, in Martin Aurell and Noel-Yves Tonnerre (eds.), Plantagenets et Capetiens: confrontations et heritages, Histoire de Famille. La parente au Moyen Age 4 (Turnhout, 2006), 461—84 at 461M2.
  • 109 See e.g. Nigellus de Longchamp, Tractatus contra curiales et officiales clericos, i. 176, 199 (c.1193 to William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely and chief justiciar, who had served Geoffrey of York). Comment and further references: Baldwin, Masters, Princes, i. 161—6, 170—2, 186—97.
  • 110 See William of Newburgh’s positive and Roger of Howdens negative judgement, analysed in Gillingham, ‘Historian as Judge’, esp. 1277—81.

it by Honorius III.111 Any absolute prescription of sanctity and learning as the necessary and sufficient predicates of episcopal excellence is demonstrably false. Likewise the presumption that administrative ability connotes pastoral death: it would be a mistake to see any absolute transition from unregulated charisma to bureaucratized pastoral oversight. The acta and biography of St Hugh of Avalon, Bishop of Lincoln, demonstrate that there was no necessary contradiction between a more spiritual charisma and administrative, even fiscal ability—it is Hugh who leaves the earliest extant set of synodal statutes.112 Robert Grosseteste or Eudes Rigaud would likewise disprove any presumption that charismatic pastoral care fitted a single holy shape, in which ‘mere’ administration was a source of indifference. Louis IX may make the point for charisma and institutionalized secular accountability.113

De bonis uel malis episcopis multum disputandum est.114 Manifestations and perversions of good episcopal conduct varied with the beholder. Timothy Reuter’s maxim on kings is also applicable to bishops: so to be a bishop was ‘not simply a matter of status or of action, but also of style’, and consequently a ‘social construct’.115 Robert Brentano’s incisively analysed the ‘total styles’ of the English and Italian churches in this periods, arguing that ‘thirteenth century English saints

111 Reg. vat., xi. fo. 222, ‘Miramur plurimum’, 26 March 1222 (Reg. Hon. III, ii. #3891). David Carpenter has argued that Langtons own conduct reflected no high ideals, at least in relation to the ‘Mandeville debt’: ‘Archbishop Langton and Magna Carta: His Contribution, His Doubts and His

Hypocrisy’, EHR 126 (2011), 1041—65.

  • 112 ‘Decreta domini Hugonis Lincoliniensis pontificis’, in Howden, Gesta regis Henrici secundi, i. 357. See also Mayr-Harting (ed.), St Hugh of Lincoln, v—vi, and in the same volume, David M. Smith, ‘Hugh’s Administration of the Diocese of Lincoln’, 19—47, esp. 40—5. For Brentano, Hugh exemplified ‘with misleading precision the change from one sort of prevailing religious sentiment to another, from the hair shirt to the shepherd’s crook, from the twelfth to the thirteenth century’ (Two Churches, 176).
  • 113 See Grosseteste’s mandates, visitations, and statutes in C^S, ii.1. 201—5, 261—78, and his conception of such activity in letter #127, in Roberti Grosseteste, episcopi quondam Lincolniensis, episto- lae, ed. H. R. Luard, RS (London, 1861), and a further defence of his position (‘propositum’) at Lyons (1250) in Servus Gieben (ed.), ‘Robert Grosseteste at the Papal Curia, Lyons 1250. Edition of the documents’, Collectanea Franciscana 41 (1971), 375—7; James Herbert Strawley, ‘Grossteste’s Administration of the Diocese of Lincoln’, in D. A. Callus (ed.), Robert Grosseteste, Scholar and Bishop: Essays in Commemoration of the Seventh Centenary of his Death (Oxford, 1955), 146—77 and Adam J. Davis, The Holy Bureaucrat: Eudes Rigaud and Religious Reform in Thirteenth-Century Normandy (Ithaca, NY, 2006), esp. 176—9. Administration as a means of pastoral care, then, did not necessitate spiritual emasculation, but note Brentano’s comment that ‘Grosseteste’s sanctity could be built into institutions, made to do an orderly job’ (Two Churches, 222, my stress, and in contrast to St Francis). What is interesting about all these individuals is the way they used institutional means as vehicles for pastoral care, and the way in which their charisma was understood through such activity. For Louis IX, see Joinville, Histoire de Saint Louis, ed. M. Natalis de Wailly, 9th edn. (Paris, 1921), chs. 140—1 and here pp. 126—7, 256—7.
  • 114 For the diversity of various groups of bishops see e.g. Morris, Papal Monarchy, 219—26, 527—35; Gibbs and Lang, Bishops and Reform, part 1 and App. C. A more recent tour d’horizon of the Angevin episcopate 1150—1204/6 is Peltzer, ‘Eveques de l’empire Plantagenet’; also Paul B. Pixton, The German Episcopacy and the Implementation of the Decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1216—1245: Watchmen on the Tower, Studies in the History of Christian Thought 64 (Leiden, 1995), table C, 195—202.
  • 115 ‘Regemque, quem in Francia pene perdidit, in patria magnifice recepit Ottonian Ruler Representation in Synchronic and Diachronic Comparison’, in Timothy Reuter, Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities, ed. Janet L. Nelson (Cambridge, 2006), 127M6 at 128—9, with comments on bishops at 129 n. 6, 138.

wer e in fact bishops. In Italy [. . .] the bishop and the saint were different things. The [Italian] saint was a saint [. . .] because he was not what a bishop seemed to be in Italy. England was Martha and Italy was Mary.’[7] Episcopal preaching was a central definition of a good bishop in Italy, pastoral care was in England; registering documents was an English practice, but not generally an Italian one; the English had ‘manor bishops’, the Italians ‘local’ city-bishops; the English scholar-bishops, the Italians largely not; the English, episcopal registers, the Italians, largely not.[8]

Any idea of a bishop was the result of hammering a relatively malleable set of moulded parts into a character of one’s preference. The idea of pastoral responsibility was a longstanding focus however. Isidore of Seville’s definition expressed a well-established ideal:

The term episcopacy [episcopatus] is so called because he who is placed over it has oversight [superintendent, exercising pastoral care, that is, over his subjects, for the term ffKonav in Latin means ‘watch over’ [intendere]. Bishop then, in Greek, means ‘overseer’ [speculator] in Latin, for he is set over the Church as an overseer. He is so called because he keeps watch [speculari], and oversees [praespicere] the behaviour and lives of the people placed under him.[9]

Norms would be an important way of internalizing the conscience of such responsibility—as Hugh of Avalon said on his deathbed to Hubert Walter. But such internalized self-coercion would be erratic. Hugh also granted as much about his own conduct. How much more erratic then across all Christendom’s prelates? In this context it is an interesting feature of Bernard of Clairvaux’s De consideratione that his exhortation to the Bishop of Rome to right conduct avoids the presumption that the content of episcopal/papal duties (officia) is a sufficient guide to such right conduct.[10] Bernard wished to see worldly, administrative activities—including all tallying and totting—distanced from episcopal duties.[11] ‘How’, not just ‘what’, mattered.[12] If one was concerned with some sort of consistency, this created a regulatory problem, at least practically. Conscience alone was inadequate; yet bare functional description was insufficient. Could a single procedure help to regulate the same officers through their accountability when those offices might exist quite distinctively in different parts of Christendom?

Canonical inquisitions were a clever, sophisticated, and seemingly simple solution. (Though Bernard can scarcely be expected to have approved of the consequences, given his criticism of ecclesiastical litigiousness.[13]) But if norms and functions of episcopal office provided for what bishops should do (deceat), there was no necessary reason why episcopal accountability to the papacy should be taken as a given. Establishing the norm that bishops were thus accountable (liceat) was an act of political coercion itself, by the papacy, on bishops.

  • [1] e.g. Gregory VII (Register, 2.64, 25 March 1075) calling the Abbot of St Denis to account for hisalleged simony; generally see I. S. Robinson, ‘The Institutions of the Church, 1073—1216’, in DavidLuscombe and Jonathan Riley-Smith (eds.), The New Cambridge Medieval History, iv. c.1024—c. H98Part 1 (Cambridge, 2004), 368—460 at 432—45.
  • [2] Robinson, ‘Institutions of the Church’, 442—3.
  • [3] Reg Inn. III, viii. #145 (144); Innocent III English Letters, #23 at 79; Potthast #2594, alludingto Jer. 48: 10.
  • [4] Jean Gaudemet, ‘Patristique et pastorale: La Contribution de Gregoire le Grand au « Miroir del’Eveque » dans le Decret de Gratien’, in Etudes d’histoire du droit canonique dediees a Gabriel Le Bras,2 vols. (Paris, 1965), i. 129-39.
  • [5] юз Pennington, Pope and Bishops, 75-6, 79-80, on Huguccio, 81-5.
  • [6] e.g. The Arundel Lyrics and The Poems of Hugh Primas, ed. and trans. Christopher J. McDonough,Dunbarton Oaks Medieval Library 2 (Cambridge, Mass., 2010), Arundel lyrics ##24 (against episcopal degeneration), 25 (against Bishop Manasses of Orleans, 1146-85), 26 (against the corruptionof the Curia, esp. Franco, camerarius of Alexander III, 1174-9), 27 (in praise of an unknown Englishbishop); Peter of Blois, Tractatus de institutione episcopi in PL, 207, cols. 1097-12 and Ep. 14, 150(PL 207, cols. 42-51, 439^2), for discussion Lachaud, Ethique du pouvoir, 158-9, 260-2; Bernardof Clairvaux, De moribus et officio episcoporum (letter 42) in S. Bernardi opera, vii.100—31, and on thisDamien Boquet, ‘Le Gouvernement de soi et des autres et selon Bernard de Clairvaux. Lecture de lalettre 42, De moribus et officio episcoporum , in Claude Carozzi and Huguette Taviani-Carozzi (eds.),Le Pouvoir au Moyen Age (Aix-en-Provence, 2005), 279-96. See also Petri Cantoris Parisiensis Verbumadbreviatum, ed. Monique Boutry, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis 196 (Turnhout,2004), 361-81, ‘De officio praelatorum et quid eis ex officio incumbat’, and ‘Contra negligenciamprelatorum’ (§1.54-5). Cf. the 1283—4 Liber deprelato of Salimbene de Adam (on Elia da Cortona)in his Cronica, ed. Giuseppe Scalia, 2 vols. Scrittori d Italia 232-3 (Bari, 1966), i. 136-239. A short,fourteenth-century approach is Bishop Simon Ghent of Salisbury, Meditatio de statu prelatu, in BLRoyal MS 5 C III, fo. 301 (Solus aliquociens sedens). See Kathleen Edwards, ‘Bishops and Learning inthe Reign of Edward II’, Church Quarterly Review 138 (1944), 57-86; William A. Pantin, The EnglishChurch in the Fourteenth Century (Cambridge, 1955), 111-12.
  • [7] Brentano, Two Churches, 222, using Grosseteste and St Francis as exemplars of the ideal types.On criteria for choosing prelates and their qualities, see Salimbene de Adam, Cronica, i. 173—90,200-4, 207-11.
  • [8] Brentano, Two Churches, ch. 3, esp. 183—4, 206-7, 211-13, 217, 221; on records, ch. 5, e.g.291-4.
  • [9] Etymologies of Isidore, 171 (§Vn.xii.9-12). This idea is picked up by Bernard in De consideratione, § where he discusses episcopal eminence as a function of the need to oversee.
  • [10] 119 This is partly because Bernard wishes to criticize many of those damaging activities that havebecome associated with ecclesiastical/papal office. This is reflected in his use of terms such as occupatio,negotio, opus (De consideratione, §§II.xiv.23; IV.iv.9; IV.iv.12). Officium is used (e.g. De consideratione,§§; III.v.19) but it does not seem a favoured term.
  • [11] 120 Bernard, De consideratione, §
  • [12] Cf. Bernard Williams, ‘Professional Morality and its Dispositions’, in his Making Sense ofHumanity and Other Philosophical Papers 1982—1993 (Cambridge, 1995) at 200.
  • [13] Bernard, De consideratione, §III.ii.
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