Rare Examples of Chaplaincy Inductions from across Europe


(France [Avignon?]: 1370-85 [but see below]). 200 x 144 mm. (7 7/8 x 5 5/8"). Single column, most leaves with 26-30 lines, in an attractive Secretary hand.

See: Briquet, "Les Filigranes: Dictionnaire Historique des Marques du Papier dés Leur Apparition vers 1282 jusqu’en 1600," I (1966). Edges slightly worn and nicked, paper lightly toned and with occasional faint foxing, one leaf with two small marginal ink stains and another with a little soiling and fading down the center of one side, but very well-preserved specimens, all clean and entirely legible.

These leaves contain a register of clerics who were inducted as chaplains around the time of the Western Schism, a period of considerable turmoil for church operations and hierarchy, in which Avignon and Rome both lay claim to the Holy See. Several dates spanning the years 1370-85 are mentioned in the text, including references to bulls "dated at Avignon," which further indicate that the original register was begun prior to the end of the Avignon Papacy in 1377 and continued after the removal of the papacy back to Rome. The inductees themselves hail from numerous regions across Western Europe (Lincolnshire and Lichfield in England; Glasgow in Scotland; Lisieux, Chartres, Limoges, Avignon, and Narbonne in France; Worms and Bremen in Germany; Florence and Benevento in Italy, etc.) and come from several types of ecclesiastical professions. Some are abbots, priors, or monks (Benedictine, Cistercian, Carmelite, and Premonstratensian orders are all represented); others are friars of the Order of St. Francis, Augustinian hermits, or priests of parish churches. Several are listed as professors or doctors of canon law, and a few of these are inducted not only as chaplains but also as auditors of the Holy Palace--a special judiciary role on the Pope's Rota (often these auditors are underlined in the document). Whether these leaves come from the original register or a copy of that original is not clear, though the consistency of the script certainly suggests that it was written in one sitting by a single hand. We can say with more confidence that the manuscript was written on roughly contemporary paper, with two leaves containing part of a watermark--clearly that of a full-length stag--that closely resembles watermarks found in Northern Italian paper specimens of the late 14th century (see especially Briquet, no. 3289 for a similar example). Beyond its obvious value as an unusual and infrequently encountered type of document recorded during a particularly fraught period in the history of the Church, these leaves are also of interest as a record of the movements of clerics and scholars of different backgrounds, occupations, and nationalities across Europe, offering a broader look into a world often thought of as homogenous and insular. Each leaf will be accompanied by a basic translation of the contents in English. We are grateful to Ashley Newby for her work on the translation and interpretation of these documents.