The Content and the Ideological Construction of the Early Pontifical Manuscripts

Arthur Westwell

Arthur Westwell, « The content and the ideological construction of the early pontifical manuscripts », Mélanges de l’École française de Rome – Moyen Âge [En ligne], 132-1 | 2020, mis en ligne le 03 avril 2020, consulté le 09 avril 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mefrm/7681 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/mefrm.7681

This article addresses the earliest manuscripts of the ‘pontifical’ genre which are to be found in the Latin West from the ninth century. Pontificals contain the liturgical ceremonies peculiar to a bishop. Here are examined two distinct and particularly expressive manuscripts from France: eleventh-century London British Library Add. MS 15222 and ninth-century Paris Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal MS 227. Traditionally, liturgical studies has focused on the practical utility of these kinds of books, but the two examples here expand our understanding of what they might be designed to do. Each explains and explores its ritual texts, contextualises and justifies them and offers alternatives. Most dramatically, they link their rituals to the practices of the wider Church, particularly to Rome. Papal practice is transmitted and imitated in actively creative, not passively obedient, ways. This methodology is suggested as an essential element of the earlier pontifical manuscripts, that they allow readers to perceive liturgical usages in the broadest possible context. This is wholly in keeping with the priorities of liturgical scholarship from the Carolingian era, when these books first appear. 

Keywords: Bishops; Liturgy; Manuscripts; Pontificals; Rituals.


Camille Rouxpetel

Camille Rouxpetel Projet ERC EuQu-CRHIA-université de Nantes, ancien Florence Gould Fellow à la Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies et ancien membre scientifique de l'École française de Rome, section Moyen Âge Docteur en histoire de l'Université Paris-Sorbonne https://efrome.academia.edu/CamilleRouxpetel

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