Skip to main content

NYU Libraries logo

Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Finding Papal Documents

A Guide to Research in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Introduction

This bibliography is designed to help researchers find both medieval and modern papal documents. Curiously the latter can often be more difficult to find than the former, as the Vatican largely closed access to its own archive - the so-called Secret Archives - in the 17th century and didn't begin to make its contents available to researchers until the late-19th century. For the middle ages, registers of papal documents - i.e. compilations of copies retained by the papacy and subsequently published - are extant from the pontificates of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) and for two earlier pontiffs, Gregory I (590-604) and Gregory VII (1173-1085), with fragmentary registers available for a few others. The central effort of 20th-century scholars to provide critical texts of pre-1198 papal documents has taken its impetus from a project proposed by Paul Fridolin Kehr in 1896 - to comb the libraries and archives of Europe (and eventually the world) - for manuscripts of papal documents. Since 1931 much of this effort has been underwritten by a trust, the Pius-Stiftung für Papsturkunden, and the consequent work is often simply termed "the Papsturkunden Project," the publications of which are listed below. But a broad array of documentary resources is available, and some effort has been made to give it coherence for NYU researchers below.

Note: For papal letters of the 13th and 14th centuries, the first resource is the Brepols full-text database, Ut per litteras apostolicas, which provides access to the papal documents of the Secret Archives of that period.

Basic References & Indices

Baumgarten, Paul Maria. Schedario Baumgarten: descrizione diplomatica di bolle e brevi originali da Innocenzo III a Pio IX. Ed. Giulio Battelli. 4 vols. Citta del Vaticano, 1965-86.  
This is a reproduction of Paul Baumgarten's manuscript notes describing c. 10,000 papal documents. It is an essential resource for tracking modern papal documents.
Available at Columbia University Libraries.
Boyle, Leonard E. A Survey of the Vatican Archives and of its Medieval Holdings. Toronto : Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2001.  
A useful overview of the Vatican's holdings and their relation to various publishing projects.
Available in the Bobst collection at: CD1586 2001.
Frenz, Thomas.Papsturkunden des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit. Stuttgart : F. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 1986.  
An extremely useful overview of the status of papal document publishing up to 1986.
Available from Bobst Offsite at: BX957 .F74 1986.
Initienverzeichnis zu August Potthast, Regesta pontificum Romanorum (1198-1304). München : Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1978.  
A supplement to Potthast, providing access to documents via their incipits.
Available in the Bobst collection at: BX850 .C32 1874 Suppl.
Jaffé, Philipp. Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz: Akademische Druck, 1956.  
The essential guide to papal activities and documents for the period ending in 1198.
Available in the IFA collection at: BX955.R4 J13.
Potthast, Augustus. Regesta pontificum romanorum inde ab a. post Christum natum MCXCVIII ad a. MCCCIV. Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1957.  
An index of papal documents for the period 1198-1304.
Available in the IFA collection at: BX850.A62 P6.

Miscellaneous Collections of Papal Documents - Both Medieval & Modern

Note: A number of bullaria assembled during the early-modern period can still be of use, though some are now quite rare. An excellent review of this literature is to be found in the article, "Bullaire", in the Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, vol. 2, which presents a particularly useful list of specialized bullaria relating to individual ecclesiastical orders, etc.
 
Among the general bullaria, the following are perhaps the most important:
 
Carafa, Antonio. Epistolae decretales summorum pontificum. 3 vols. Rome, 1591. - this first of the great bullaria was to have contained not only papal documents but all associated materials: imperial letters, conciliar documents et al. Carara's death left a collection containing only papal documents from Clement I (90-99) to Gregory VII (1073-1085). It is extremely rare.
 
Cherubini, Laerzia et al. Magnum bullarium Romanum, a Beato Leone Magno usque ad S. D. N. Benedictum XIII. 10 vols. Luxembourg, 1727-30. - This great collection, undertaken initially by Cherubini in 1586 and continued in expanded editions by his son, Angelo Maria Cherubini and other, contains bulls from the pontificate of Leo the Great (440) through Benedict XIII (1724-30). A 19-volume edition in 1741-43 took the collection up to the pontificate of Benedict XIV. All editions are quite rare.
 
Coustant, Pierre. Epistolae romanorum pontificum, et quae ad eos scriptae sunt, a sancto Clemente I usque ad Innocentium III... Paris, 1721. - only the first volume of this great set appeared, treating documents from the period 67-440. It contains extensive notes assessing the authenticity of the documents presented and evidence for those that were lost.
 
Gaude, Francisco & Luigi Tomaassetti. Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum sanctorum romanorum pontificum taurinensis. 25 vols. Augustae Taurinorum, 1857-1872. - This "new" edition of Girolamo Mainard's and Charles Cocquelines' Magnum bullarium romanum (Rome, 1739-62) is by no means comprehensive, containing only a miscellany of papal documents. But it is the largest of the early modern collections and was grounded in the originals located in the Vatican's Secret Archives. Volumes 1-24 present documents from the pontificates of Leo I (440-461) through Clement XII (1730-40), and the 25th volume is an appendix containing additional documents from Leo I-Pelagius II (579-590).The preponderance of documents, contained in vols. 6-24, are from the 16th-18th centuries. - There is a copy at Columbia University in the Ancient & Medieval Studies Reading Room.
 
Petra, Vincenzo. Commentaria ad constitutiones apostolicas, sue, Bullas singulas summorum pontificum in bullario romano contentas secundum collectionem Cherubini, incipientes a divo Leone Magno. 2 vols. Venice, 1741. - Not a bullarium proper but a very learned commentary on documents in Cherubini's collection by Benedict XIII's prefect of the Sacred College of Propaganda.

Documents of the Modern Papacy

Note: See also above, Miscellaneous Collections of Papal Documents Medieval and Modern.
 
Acta ex iis decerpta quae apud Sanctam Sedem geruntur. 5 vols. Rome, 1865-69. 
Available at the Burke Library of Union Theological Seminary.
 
Continued by:
Acta sanctae sedis. Vols. 6-41. Rome, 1870-1908. - According to the rescript of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, 23 May 1904, the ASS became the authentic and official publication of the acts of the Holy See 
Avalable at the St. Mark's Library of General Theological Seminary. 
 
Continued by:
Acta Apostolicae Sedis: commentarium officiale. Citta del Vaticano, 1909- . Available at the St. Mark's Library of General Theological Seminary.
 
Carlen, Claudia. The Papal encyclicals. 5 vols. Ann Arbor, 1981. - The volumes publish papal encyclicals of the period 1740-1981.
Available in the 1st-floor Reference Center of Bobst Library at: BX860 .A33 1981.

Papal Documents of Antiquity & the Middle Ages

Before 1198

 
Note: The popes do not appear to have routinely maintained registers of their documents before Innocent III (1198-1216).
 
Registers or fragments thereof exist only for:
 
Gregory I: Ewald, Paul & Ludwig Hartmann, edd. Registrum epistularum. 2 vols. (= Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Epistolae 1-2). Berlin, 1887-1899; rp. Munich, 1978. - covers the years 590-604. - available in the Bobst collection at: DD3 .M8 E8 t. 1-2.
 
John VIII: Caspar, Erich, ed. Registrum Johannis VIII papae (= MGH Epistolae 7, pp. 1-272). Berlin, 1928; rp. Munich, 1978. - covers the years 872-882.
- Available in the Bobst collection at: DD3 .M8 E8 t. 7.
 
Stephen V: Caspar, Erich, ed. Fragmenta registri Stephani V papae (= MGH Epistolae 7, pp. 334-353). Berlin, 1928; rp. Munich, 1978. - fragments from the years 885-888. - Available in the Bobst collection at: DD3 .M8 E8 t 7.
 
Gregory VII: Caspar, Erich, ed. Das Register Gregors VII. (= MGH Epistolae 2). 2 vols. Berlin, 1920-1923. - Available in the Bobst collection at: DD3 .M8 E8 t. 2.
 
Antipope Anacletus II: Ewald, Paul, ed. Registrum Anacleti II antipapae (= Neues Archiv 3). Hanover, 1878; rp. 1981. - This title is not available in the Bobst collections. It is available at Columbia University in the Ancient & Medieval Studies Reading Room.
 
Alexander III: see S. Loewenfeld, Epistolae pontificum Romanorum ineditae below. - fragments from the years 1159-1181.
 
For this period before 1198, various editors have gathered collections of papal documents that exist as copies outside the papal registers:
 
The largest collection of pre-1198 is still to be found in J.P. Migne's Patrologia Latina. Paris, 1857-1866. - the edition, however, is inferior, its sources ambiguous and treated without critical care.
 
Pflugk-Harttung, Julius von. Acta pontificum Romanorum inedita. 3 vols. Tuebingen & Stuttgart, 1880-1886; rp. Graz, 1958. - Available in the Bobst collection at: BX850 .A35 1958.
 
Loewenfeld, Samuel. Epistolae pontificum Romanorum ineditae. Leipzig, 1854; rp. Graz, 1959. - Available in the Bobst collection at: BX863 .A4 1959.
 
Pontificum romanorum diplomata papyracea quae supersunt in tabulariis Hispaniae Italiae Germaniae phototypice expressa, iussu Pii P. P. XI, consilio et opera procuratorum Bybliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae. Rome, 1929. - The documents were transcribed and critically integrated by Carlo Silva-Tarouca and Carl Erdmann. - This title is not available in the Bobst collection. It is available at the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.
 
Zimmermann, Harald. Papsturkunden, 896-1046 (= Denkschriften der Oesterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Kl. 174, 177, 198). Vienna, 1984- . - This title is available at the Institute of Fine Arts at: AS142 .V32.
 
The Papsturkunden Projects. (See note at the top of this page.) The projects to gather papal documents have been organized country-by-country. The resulting registers, many of which have appeared in the Abhandlungen and Nachrichten of the Göttingen Akademie der Wissenschaften, are too numerous to list. [For a complete list of project texts, see the website of the Pius-Stiftung.] The most essential products of the projects are:
 
For England & Scotland:
 
Anglia Pontificia - No volumes have yet appeared, but one is in preparation, edited by J. Barrow.
 
Holtzmann, Walther. Papsturkunden in England = Abhandlungen der Gescellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Phil.-hist. Kl., NF 25 (1930-31), 3.F. 14-15 (1935-36), 3.F. 33 (1952).- Vol. 1. Libraries & archives in London; Vol. 2. Church archives and libraries; Vol. 3. Oxford, Cambridge, smaller libraries and archives, supplement for London. - This title is not available in the Bobst collection. It is available at Columbia University.
 
Somerville, Robert. Scotia Pontificia: Papal Letters to Scotland before the Pontificate of Innocent III. Oxford, 1982. - Available in the Bobst collection at: BR784 .S65 1982.
 
For France:
 
Gallia pontificia : répertoire des documents concernant les relations entre la papauté et les églises et monastères en France avant 1198. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1998- . - Only two volumes have appeared thus far. - This work is not yet available in the Bobst collection. It is available at Columbia University in the Ancient & Medieval Studies Reading Room.
 
Wiederhold, Wilhelm, ed. Papsturkunden in Frankreich : Reiseberichte zur Gallia pontificia (Acta Romanorum Pontificum 7-8). 2 vols. Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1985. - This is a reprint of the work published in the Nachrichten of the Göttingen Akademie over the period 1906-1913 - Available in the Bobst collection at: BX1529 .C32 1985.
 
For Germany:
 
Brackmann, Albert et. al., edd. Germania pontificia: sive, Repertorium privilegiorum et litterarum a romanis pontificibus ante annum MCLXXXXVIII Germaniae ecclesiis monasteriis civitatibus singulisque personis concessorum. 7 vols. Berlin: Weidmann, 1911- . - The volumes are appearing for each of the church provinces in Germany. Four additional volumes are in preparation. - Available in the Bobst collection at: BX1535 .C38 1911.
 
Studien und Vorarbeiten zur Germania Pontificia. Berlin, Vienna, Cologne, 1912- . - This  series, initiated by Albert Brackmann, continues to publish the fruits of the German Papsturkunden project. Eight volumes have appeared (no vol. 2 was ever done). - This series is available at Columbia University in the Ancient & Medieval Studies Reading Room.
 
For Italy:
 
Kehr, Paul Fridolin, ed. Italia pontificia: sive repertorium privilegiorum et litterarum a Romanis pontificibus ante annum MCLXXXXVIII Italiae : ecclesiis, monasteriis, civitatibus singulisque personis concessorum. 10 vols. Berlin: Weidmann, 1961-86. - Two additional volumes are projected. - Available in the Bobst collection at: BX850 .A64 Ser.1 1961.
 
For Spain & Portugal:
 
Iberia Pontificia - No volumes have yet appeared. Seven are in preparation or projected.
 

Subject Librarian

Michael Agnew's picture
Michael Agnew
Contact:
Bobst Library
Mezzanine East, 1M-06A
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2516