Thursday, October 8, 2015

Examples of counterfeit documents formerly used in the Roman Empire

The Isidore Decretals:
* "Forged Documents and Papal Power" []
* "The False Decretals of Isidore, Cornerstone of the Papacy" []
* "The False decretals" (1916, by Ernest Harold Davenport) []

The Hapsburg Letters of Privileges from Julius Caesar and Nero
* "The Making of Medieval Forgeries: False Documents in Fifteenth-century England" book
(by Alfred Hiatt) [] [pages 155 to 158] [begin excerpt]:
In 1360 the Emperor Charles IV was confronted with an alleged letter of Emperor Henry IV (1056—1106), which asserted the independence of Austria from the Holy Roman Empire on the basis of two privileges, apparently issued by Julius Caesar and Nero. The letter of Henry IV was one of a series of five documents advanced by the Duke of Austria, Rudolf IV, in order to claim rights and titles, and to express the antiquity and prestige of the Habsburg family. Charles, seeking an assessment of their authenticity, sent the texts of the privileges of Caesar and Nero to a critic with whom he had enjoyed an intermittent correspondence, Francis Petrarch. Petrarch vigorously denounced the privileges, pouring scorn on the notion that they could be considered the products of Roman emperors. This judgment was grounded not only in his general knowledge of imperial history and diction, but also in a comparison with Julius Caesar's personal letters, a number of which, Petrarch says, were in his own personal possession. Points of criticism include (pseudo-) Caesar's use of the first-person plural in his letter, as well as the term 'Augustus'; reference in the privilege to a hitherto unknown 'uncle' of Caesar; the absence of an addressee; the description of Austria as 'in the east, when it is north of Rome; and incorrect dating clauses, in one of which the word 'regnum' is anachronistically used. Finally, Nero's styling as 'amicus deorum' contradicted Suetonius' account of Nero as a despiser of the gods.
It is important to note that Petrarch's comprehensive rejection of the privileges of Julius Caesar and Nero did not disable their utility for future generations of Austrian rulers. On the contrary, they, along with other documents in the series compiled under Rudolf IV, continued to be used in the fifteenth century, and, once in 1442 and again in 1453, were magisterially confirmed by the Habsburg emperor, Frederick III (in the presence of, among others, Nicholas of Cuss and Eneas Piccolomini). This survival, indeed enhancement, of forgery indicates once again the ease with which texts of ideological significance yet doubtful authenticity could, given a favourable climate, retain their validity. What is significant, then, is not the fact that these texts were criticised. but the way in which they were criticised.
Petrarch's report begins with an explicit comparison between the fabricator of the spurious privileges—'non magistrum literatumue hominem. sod scolasticum ruelcmque literatorem fingendi mendacii aritificium non habentem' (no scholar or man of letters. but a tyro, a clumsy school-teacher . . . lacking the skill to make up a lie)—and the empire in whose name he forges—'ius Romanum et Imperil maiestatem armis et legibus ct uirtute fundatam, atquc ual-latam' (Roman authority and the majesty of empire. founded and guarded by arms, laws, and virtue)?
The skillless fabricator is also contrasted with the critic, who is, on the contrary. a scholar and man of letters. Petrarch's opening metaphor is of the hunt: 'Claudum usquequaque mcndacium est, facile deprehenditur. acris ac uclocis ingcnii iudicium egre fugit' (A lie is lame anywhere; it is easily caught. it can hardly escape the judgement of a sharp, quick mind); later he will describe Charles IV's Chancellor as 'oculco prorsus ac lynceo' (all eyes. like a lynx)?
So the detection and entrapment of falsehood is the prerogative of the wise and learned, as is the disentangling of falsehood from 'the majesty of empire'. Petrarch's characterisation of falsehood in this context is particularly striking. Not only are the deeds of Caesar and Nero the inventions or 'figmentuni (fiction) of a Irifurcifur' (threefold villain) and 'nebulo' (rascal). they are described specifically in terms of mental deficiency. escalating to madness.
The document is 'ucri vacuum' (devoid of truth); the presumed belief of the 'mufti that he could subvert the Roman empire, 'guarded by arms, laws, and virtue' with 'nugis suis' (nonsense), was one 'extreme ... insanie' pa utter madness)." The fabricated text is the negation of sense, of meaning; but it also represents the corruption of health, wholeness, and soundness (sanitas). The clumsily forged document locates itself at the extremity of stupidity and beyond to the point of complete loss of faculty. 
The role of the exposer of fraud is to perceive and proclaim its ignorance, a task made easier by the fact that the artless lie gives itself away 'oculis etiam lippientibus' (even to bleary eyes). In criticising the alleged document of Julius Caesar for its incorrect use of the plural ('We, Julius Caesar. Emperor, we, Caesar ... '), Petrarch contrasts the bestial ignorance of the fabricator—'Hoc lilt bos ignorabat. Quod si scisset, cautius mugissee ([t]hat ox did not know this; for if he had he would have bellowed more cautiously)—with his own (quite literal) possession of knowledge: '([s]unt penes me ipsius, de quo agitur. Julii Cesaris aliquot familiares epistole (I own several friendly letters of Julius Caesar himself, the man in question). Forgery is travesty, an offensively bad impersonation. The document's dating clause, for example, lacks a particular day, and the name of a consul. Caesar, 'ille qui ... anni totius exactissi-mam rationem noscitur inuenisse' (the great man who ... is known to have discovered the most exact calculation of a full year) (i.e. the Julian calendar), would surely have indicated the day and the month his document was written: 'Quin enim nisi amou cheat datum Rome die Vencris regni nostri anno primo, et non adiciat tuna mensis quota sit dies' (who, except a madman, would say 'Given in Rome on Friday, in the first year of our reign' and not add which day of which month)?" The amens and the great man stand, then, at opposite ends of the intellectual, educational spectrum: the one a discoverer, a calculator, a devisor and segmentor of time. the other hopelessly vague, an inept approximator, whose lack of precision when writ-ing ar the great man inevitably betrays a mind deranged. a mind out of time, a mind 'ab eo quod uidcri uult, ab antiquitate scilicet ac Cesareo remotus est stilo' (so far from what it wishes to appear—namely from antiquity and the style of Caesar).'
The false letters are patently not of the fourth century: their style is 'rudis ac nouns (rough and recent), and 'si affectata pueriliter antiquitatis opinio in singulis uerbis emineat, sit in eius locum quaesita notitia falsitatis que liture deformis in morem pent oculis cerni queat' (even if a notion of antiquity, striven for childishly, stands out in individual words, there is instead a far-fetched air of falseness, which like an unsightly erasure can almost be made out by the blind)." The association of forgery with erasure here figures both textual acts as intrusions into the temporal integrity of the page, as visible evidence of the intervention and invention of later hands, of the process of textual production. The forgery erases the past but does so in a way that is patently, and uncomfortably, visible, because while it stands in place of, scrapes away at, the past, it does not fully complete its job. The act of ensure stands out, proclaims its recent origins and its clumsy violence. The time of the text is ruptured, attention is drawn to the absent, erased text, the trace of which continues to inform and deform the words imposed over it. [ ... ] [end excerpt]

Constitutum Constantini:
* "The Making of Medieval Forgeries: False Documents in Fifteenth-century England" book
(by Alfred Hiatt) [] [page 168, 169] [begin excerpt]: The Constitutum Constantini was printed for the first time in Leipzig in 1494, and the text continued to be printed, and its veracity defended, even after the orthodox historian Cesare Baronius accepted, in his Annales Ecclesiastici (1588-1607), that the Constitutum was not a genuine diploma of the Emperor Constantine. In Russia, indeed, all critiques of the Donation were ignored, and the text was repeatedly used to assert the inviolability of Church property from the early sixteenth century until as late as 1701.
As Wolfram Setz has noted, in the last decades of the fifteenth century the Constitutum Constantini and the narrative of Constantine's conversion and donation actually enjoyed something of a revival of interest, corresponding to a growing interest in Valla's critique of the text. This revival was intimately linked to the renovations of Rome: an excerpt from the Donation was used to commence many of the pilgrim guides to Rome that were printed from the 1470s, and Constantinian imagery became particularly popular in papal circles. A 'historia Constantine' was performed before Pope Sixtus IV in 1484, and the next century saw the creation of the Sala di Costantino in the Vatican [], conceived of by Leo X, but completed (and significantly modified) under the pontificate of Clement VII (1523-34). The Sala was endowed with a florid fresco cycle depicting the major events in the Emperor's life, including his baptism by Sylvester and the Donation, here shown not as the hand-over of any kind of legal document, but by the delivery of an antique statuette representing Roma.
Valla's 'De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione' first appeared in print in 1506, but it was Ulrich von Hutten's 1518 edition that ensured its wide dissemination and impact throughout Europe. This volume contains not merely Valla's oration, but also Bartholomew Picernus' translation of a Greek version of the Constitutum Constantini into Latin, part of Nicholas of Cusa's chapter on the Constitutum in De Concordantia Catholica, and extracts from the works of Antony of Florence, Raphael Volterranus, and Hieronymus Paul Cathalanus, the canon of Barcelona and secretary of Alexander VI. In his foreword to the volume, addressed to Pope Leo X, Hutten argues that so long as popes support their power with the Donation of Constantine they will neglect their office, and continue to behave in a war-like manner. The importance of Hutten's compilation of works critical or doubtful of the Donation was considerable. For the first time in print or manuscript the opinions of several different authors had been combined to constitute a concerted attack on the text's authenticity. Hutten gave prominence to Valla's work, placing it at the head of what was to become effectively a weapon of Protestant propaganda. When Martin Luther read Hutten's edition in 1520 he reacted with surprise and outrage. In a letter to Frederick the Wise's chaplain, Georg Spalatin, Luther mentions Valla's confutation of the Constantinian donation and expostulates: "Deus bone, quante scu tenebre seu nequitic Romanensium et quod in Dei iuditio mireris per tot secula non modo durasse, Seel ctiam preualuisse ac inter decretales rclata esse. tam Impura tam crassa tam impudentia mendacia inque lidei aniculorum (nequid monstrosissimi monstri desit) vicem successisse." (Good God, such ignorance or villainy of the Romans! And you may marvel at the judgment of God that for so many centuries such a thing has not only endured, but even had great influence and been recited among decretals Lies so impure, so crude, so shameless, and (lest the most horrible horror be wanting) they have even taken the place of articles of faith!) [ ... ] [end excerpt]

* "Glastonbury Abbey" (retrieved 2016-07-02, from [] [begin excerpt]:
Suggestions that Glastonbury may have been a site of religious importance in Celtic or pre-Celtic times are considered dubious by the historian Ronald Hutton,[1] but archaeological investigations by the University of Reading have demonstrated Roman and Saxon occupation of the site.[2] In 1955 Ralegh Radford's excavations uncovered Romano-British pottery at the west end of the cloister.[3] The abbey was founded by Britons and dates at least to the early-7th century. Dark Age occupation of the site is evidenced by pieces of ceramic wine jars that were imported from the Mediterranean.[4] A medieval Christian legend claimed the abbey was founded by Joseph of Arimathea in the 1st century. This fanciful legend is intimately tied to Robert de Boron's version of the Holy Grail story and Glastonbury's connection with King Arthur from the early-12th century.[5]
Glastonbury fell into Saxon hands after the Battle of Peonnum in 658. Saxons under Cenwalh of Wessex conquered Somerset as far west as the River Parrett, perhaps with the intention of gaining control of the abbey. Cenwalh allowed the British abbot, Bregored, to remain in power, a move perhaps intended as a show of good faith to the defeated Britons.[6] After Bregored's death in 669, he was replaced by an Anglo-Saxon, Berhtwald, but British monks remained for many years.[6]
King Ine of Wessex enriched the endowment of the community of monks established at Glastonbury[7] and reputed to have directed that a stone church be built in 712,[8] the foundations of which form the west end of the nave. A glassworks was established at the site during the 7th century.[9] Glastonbury was ravaged by the Danes in the 9th century.[10] The contemporary reformed soldier Saint Neot was sacristan at Glastonbury before he founded his own establishment in Somerset.[11] The abbey church was enlarged in the 10th century by the abbot of Glastonbury, Dunstan, the central figure in the 10th-century revival of English monastic life, who instituted the Benedictine Rule at Glastonbury.[8] He also built the cloisters. Dunstan became Archbishop of Canterbury in 960. In 967, King Edmund was interred at Glastonbury.[10] In 1016 Edmund Ironside, who had lost England to Canute but held onto the title of King of Wessex, was also buried there. Cnut's charter of 1032 was "written and promulgated in the wooden church at Glastonbury, in the kings presence".[12]
The medieval Glastonbury Canal was built about the middle of the 10th century to link the abbey with the River Brue, a distance of about 1.75 kilometres (1,900 yd). Its purpose is believed to be to transport stone to build the abbey, but later was used to transport produce, including grain, wine and fish, from the abbey's outlying properties.[13][14] Much of the building stone came from the abbey's quarries at Doulting,[15] accessed by way of the River Sheppey at Pilton.[16] From the 11th century the abbey was the centre of a large water-borne transport network as further canalisations and new channels were made, including the diversion of the Brue to access to the estate at Meare and an easier route to the Bristol Channel. In the 13th century the abbey's head boatman transported the abbot in an eight-oared boat on visits to the abbey's nearby manors.[14]
At the Norman Conquest in 1066, the wealth of Glastonbury made it a prime prize. The new Norman abbot, Turstin, added to the church, unusually building to the east of the older Saxon church and away from the ancient cemetery, thus shifting the sanctified site. This was later changed by Herlewin the next abbot, who built a larger church.[17] Not all the new Normans were suitable heads of religious communities. In 1077, Thurstin was dismissed after his armed retainers killed monks by the High Altar. In 1086, when Domesday Book was commissioned, Glastonbury Abbey was the richest monastery in the country.[18] About 1125, the abbot Henry of Blois commissioned a history of Glastonbury from the esteemed historian William of Malmesbury, who was a guest of the monks. His work "On the Antiquity of the Glastonese Church"[19] was compiled sometime between 1129 and 1139 as part of a campaign to establish the abbey's primacy against Westminster.[20] It is the source for much of our knowledge of the abbey's early history[21] but is far below William's generally excellent standards: his acceptance of the monks' forged charters and unsubstantiated early legends is apparent and even his list of the community's abbots cannot be reconciled with 10th-century originals subsequently discovered.[20] These problems and the discrepancies between "On the Antiquity" and his own later histories has led many scholars to assume William's original text was more careful and its accounts of "Phagan" and "Deruvian", along with various passages about Arthur, were later additions meant to bolster the monks' case.[20][22][23]
 [end excerpt]

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