Registra supplicationum, 1342-1899

Catholic Church Dataria Apostolica


512 linear m. (7363 v. no.)..
This is one of the largest, best known, and most consulted series in the ASV. Boyle notes that a "supplication, as a diplomatic term, is a petition addressed to a sovereign to obtain a grace." These supplications primarily concern benefices, requests for graces, and matrimonial business. Evidence suggests that registration of supplications began in the pontificate of Benedict XII. Initially, the official registering of supplications did not belong to any particular curial organ but was an official responsibility of the Apostolic Palace serving under the oversight of the camerarius. Under Sixtus V, the registrar of supplications, for a brief time, functioned as part of the Chancery. But under Innocent VIII, he served under the Datary. The vice-chancellor signed the supplication (per consensum), from the pontificate of Innocent VII (though not in the year 1484). After this time, the supplications were signed by the pope, or by a referendarius ("per fiat"--By order of the pope). Grants in answer to supplications were registered in the Brev. Lat. series if they were briefs, or in the Reg. Lat. series if they were bulls. The supplication registers are very important and concern all aspects of ecclesiastical life and religious practice in various countries.
Next to every supplication in the register, there is an initial of the diocese to which the supplicant belonged or where the object of the request was located, and this can help research in this very poorly indexed series. The office of registrar of supplications was suppressed by Leo XIII in 1900.
From the twelfth century, formal petitions were the normal way of seeking concessions from popes for a broad range of graces, favors, and interventions. Acquisition of benefices, dispensations from canon law, indults for special privileges and exemptions, confirmations of rights, and indulgences for the enhancement of cult or the promotion of building projects outline the broad categories into which most petitions fall. Long before the series of Registra supplicationum began, petitions to the pope had to be presented in legally proper language and had assumed an official character. Marked with the approval of the pope, the vice-chancellor, or an authorized referendary, the supplication document itself bore legal value. From 1342 there are registers that reproduce the text of successful petitions.
Many successful supplicants were willing to pay additional fees to have papal letters drafted that embodied the text of their petition. Even though the supplication itself had already been registered, these letters communicating the grant of favor were also registered (in the Registra Avenionensia for the Avignon period; then in the Registra Lateranensia, and from the end of the fifteenth century also in the Brevia Lateranensia series). As a historical source, the Registra supplicationum are the series of choice for a number of reasons. The registered supplications often contain contextual information that would not have been reproduced in the written replies registered in the Registra Avenionensia, Registra Lateranensia, or the Brevia Lateranensia. Moreover, as W.H. Bliss explains, the rules of the Chancery excluded from bulls "mention of any person not the object of the grace at whose instance the petition was granted, except in the case of kings, queens, cardinals, and, under certain circumstances, bishops and abbots" (Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, vol. 1, 1342-1419, London, 1896, p. v.)..
Finally, as noted above, letters communicating the grant were not always requested by supplicants. However, the Registra supplicationum have suffered great losses, so the Registra Avenionensia, Registra Lateranensia, and the Brevia Lateranensia can supply information about supplications no longer extant. Moreover, these registers of letters have been better indexed and are served by better finding aids than the Registra supplicationum. Unfortunately, Garampi did not use the Registra supplicationum in his great indexes. Finally, it should be noted that the RV series contains replies to supplications for which some technical defect or irregularity excluded processing through normal channels. A cooperative project involving several French institutes and the Archives departmentales du Vaucluse in Avignon is presently producing a comprehensive index (in electronic and printed form) of supplications for the pontificate of Urban V (see B. Guillemain, "Une operation en cours: Le traitement informatique des suppliques d'Urbain V," in P. Vian, L'Archivio Segreto Vaticano e le ricerche storiche: Citta del Vaticano, 4-5 giugno 1981 [Rome, 1983], pp. 193-203).
The vast majority of supplications are connected in some way with acquiring, receiving promise of, holding or exchanging ecclesiastical office or benefice, but many aspects of lay and religious life are reflected in this collection. The records here of beneficial activity have yielded information about the careers not only of high ecclesiastical figures but also of musicians, literary figures, professors of theology and law, scholars, and members of the households of cardinals and popes. After beneficial business, dispensation for illegitimacy is the major theme of clerical supplications (with abbots and abbesses frequently requesting the same.) As with the Registra Lateranensia the judical business reflected in this series includes: requests to obtain referral of cases to judges delegate in matters pertaining to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, grants or confirmations of legal privileges, confirmations of the terms of wills or foundation documents (altars, chapels, monasteries), the extension of papal protection, licenses, requests for papal intervention, and pardons and exemptions. Indults, indulgences, and marital dispensations are the object of most lay requests.
The principal part of the series, the registers from Martin V to Pius VII, became part of the ASV in 1892. These were not used by Garampi in his index.
This record was created by the University of Michigan Vatican Archives Project which ended in 1992. The collection described in this record may have been further processed by Vatican Archives staff so that the information may no longer be current. Consult the Vatican Archives staff for current access information. The final report of the University of Michigan Vatican Archives Project is found in: Vatican archives : an inventory guide to historical documents of the Holy See / Francis X. Blouin, Jr., general editor. New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Fink p. 42-45.
Boyle p. 51.
Pasztor (1970) p. 52-53.
Dataria Apostolica. RS.
Are available on microfilm.
Katterbach, Bruno. Inventari dell'Archivio segreto vaticano : inventario dei Registri delle suppliche (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1932). Katterbach provides an introduction and volume by volume listing of the entire series with old and new numbers, pagination, inclusive dates, and a brief note on the volume, i.e. title variations or additions such as de fiat, de vac, manca gia sotto ..., pagination changes, conservation notes, etc.
ASV Indice 195 "Inventarium Supplicationum Datariae Apostolicae a Clemente PP. VI ad Pium Papum VII". This 1900 index, conforms initially to old diplomatic principles, identifying RS vol. 1-407 by the mode in which the supplications contained therein were approved (eg. fiat, concessum, etc.), date, and place. Beginning with Nicholas V (vol. 408) this indice gives only the former and current segnature. This has been superseded by Katterbach, noted above.
The Dataria Apostolica, Registrorum supplicationum rubricelle (ID VATV10075-A) was assembled by Bruno Katterbach in the early nineteenth century to serve as indexes, of a sort, to the Registrorum Supplicationum (RS). Vol. 3-35 of that series contain rubricelle extracted from the actual RS of popes Pius VII to Leo XIII and thus, the series proceeds with consistency only for the period 1800-1899. These later rubricelle (v. 3-35) are primarily concerned with matrimonial supplications.
The earlier volumes do not function easily as indices to the supplications. Vol. 1, a late 14th century rubric, notes the contents of the Registra Supplicationum of the Antipope Clement VII (1378-1390) proceeding year by year, volume by volume. Vol. 1A (not listed in Katterbach), like vol. 1, is also a contemporary rubric for the antipope Clement VII. Vol. 1A bears the title "Rotulus Beneficiatorum sub Clem. VII 1378" and was formerly included in Camera Apostolica, Collectoriae series, vol. 293. The volume contains lists of benefice holders. How this functions as an index is not clear. Vol. 2 is a 1633 inventory by Felice Contelori. It presents the number of then existing RS volumes within each pontifical year from Martin V to Urban VIII and provides no descriptions or segnatura which will aid researchers in using the collection today. For a clear overview of this series, cf. Katterbach (p. 335-339) above.
ASV Indice 431 "Rubricelle del libro primo del pontificato di Nostro Signore PP. Pio Settimo dell'anno VIII" is an alphabetical index to the RS vol. 6968. Entries are organized by diocese and list the first name(s) of the supplicant(s) and folio number.
ASV Indice 432 "Rubricelle [beneficiorum] annorum 1806, 1807, 1808 scilicet annorum septimi et octavi Pii Pape Septimi" is an index to the benefices in RS vol. 6965-6969. Entries are organized by diocese, list the name of the supplicant for the benefice and the type of benefice (e.g. obit., prov., resig., etc.), and folio number.
ASV Indice 433 "Rubricelle secretorum ... Pii PP. VII lib. sexto" indexes RS vol. 7010. Entries are organized by diocese and list the first name(s) of the supplicant(s) and folio number.
ASV Indice 434 "Rubricelle [beneficiorum] anni 1803 anni quarti Pii PP. VII" indexes benefices in RS vol. 6956-6958. Entries are organized by diocese, list the name of the supplicant for the benefice and the type of benefice (e.g. obit., resig., etc.), and folio number.
ASV Indice 435 "Liber secundus anni XV Ssmi. Dni. Nri. Pii PP. VII" and [Liber terzo] index RS vol. 6945-6948. Entries are organized by diocese and list the first name(s) of the supplicant(s) and folio number.
ASV Indice 436 "Rubricelle [beneficiorum] 1806 anni primi Dni. Nri. Pii PP. VII" indexes benefices in RS vol. 6945-6948. Entries are organized by diocese, list the name of the supplicant for the benefice and the type of benefice (e.g. obit., resig., etc.), and folio number.
Also useful is Relv̈e alphabetique des noms de personnes et de lieux: Contenus dans les registres de suppliques d'Urbain V (Rome, 1991- ) [this title was noted but not verified by project staff]. There are eight volumes covering RS 36-46 (1362-1366) as of June 1994. This book is part of an ongoing project to provide better access to the supplications. This series begins with RS 36 (November/December 1362). Each Relv̈e tends to treat one or two RS volumes. The personal and place names appear in one alphabetical list. A typical entry reads, "Nic Jacobide canonic. et preb. eccl. Roskilden. (assecut.) 1362/12/19 SO36O1729 fol. 172v." (e.g., name or place, type of supplication or a note on the status of the person, date (year/month/day), a control number that includes the RS volume number, and folio number. The "Regles d'Utilisation" are sporadic, first appearing in volume 3.
Forms part of Catholic Church. Dataria Apostolica.

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