Emperor Charlemagne subordinates six episcopal sees to the Church of Aquileia, badly damaged by the incursions of the pagans; late-10th-century forgery.
(SC) Carolus gratia Dei rex Francorum et Langobardorum ac imperator Romanorum.
Si petitionibus sacerdotum vel servorum Dei in qua nostris auribus fuerint prolatae libenter temperamus et eas in Dei nomine ad effectum perducimus, regiam constuetudinem exercemus et hoc nobis ad mercedis augmentum seu stabilitatem nostri Regni pertinere confidimus.
Pateat igitur * omnibus sanctae Dei Aecclesiae presentibus * ac futuris * fidelibus domnum Paulinum sanctae Aquileiensis aecclesiae patriarcham Romae erga nostri pietatem et papae misericordiam in quodam synodali concilio lamentationem fecisse, suam videlicet aeccelsiam ingenti paganorum populatione poene totam existere desolatam.
Nos autem ipsius tales audientes querelas apud omnium largitorem bonorum magni incidere veriti sumus facinoris culpam, si eius lamentatio nil consolationis apud nostri misericordiam Imperii obstante tenacitatis obice impetrare potuisse videretur.
Quocirca iustis claudere aurem petitionibus metuentes tacita nobiscum inquirere coepimus mente, qualiter secundum praedicti Paulini patriarchae lamentationem nostra Aquileiensi aecclesiae succurrerea pietas deberet.
Tandem papae ceterorumque astantium episcoporum accepto consilio dignum iustumque fore duximus quosdam ad ipsius Aquileiensis aecclesiae consecrationem pertinentes aepyscopatus domno Paulino tribuendos patriarchae suisque successoribus ad suprascriptae Aquileiensis aecclesiae exaltationem, ut, quae nunc sevissima paganorum rabie deiecta et conculcata cernitur, nostro imperiali erigi cons[pici]aturb munere.
Quapropter per has precept[al]esc litteras omnino a nostro nunc iu[re]d transfundimus in ius [et pot]estateme domni supradicti [Pa]ulinif patriarchae omniu[mque]g illius successorum sex episcopatus: unum videlic[et]h Concordiensem, alt[erum Ut]inensemi, tercium illum qui apud Civitatem Novam Histriae constitutus esse noscitur, quartum vero Ruginnensemj, quintum Penetensem, sextum Tarsaticensem.
Volumus denique ac per has nostrae magnificentiae litteras sentientes iubemus ut in his prenominatis locis epyscopos ordinandi ac regendi sive dandi nullus ius vel potestatem habere seu exercere aliquando presumat preter eum qui sanctae Aquileiensis aecclesiae gubernacula videbitur regere.
Et ut haec auctoritas firmior habeatur ac omni tempore melius conservetur, manu propria subter firmavimus et de anulo nostro sigillari iussimus.
Signum (SM) Caroli gloriosissimi imperatoris.
(SC) Iacob advicem Radoni scripsit et sub (SN) (SI D)
Data pridie nonas augustas anno III imperii nostri, indictione vero I.
In Dei nomine feliciter, amen.
a) sic A; sucerrere ed. Mühlbacher. b) lac. A; sic em. Mühlbacher. c) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. d) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. e) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. f) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. g) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. h) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. i) lac. A; sic. em. Mühlbacher. j) sic A; Ruginensem ed. Mühlbacher.
Otto III’s privilege to the Church of Aquileia from 26th of June, 996 – edited here.
The charter is a forgery, produced particularly skillfully by the chancellery of Aquileian patriarchs in the late 10th century (terminus ante quem June of 996).
The elements that betray it as a forgery are the following:
- Patriarch Paulinus II died on the 2nd of January, 802, thus he could not have petitioned Charlemagne in the summer of 803;
- the line on the devastation by the pagans (sevissima paganorum rabie deiecta et conculcata) can only refer to Hungarian raids, but these happened much later, in the 10th century, not prior to 803;
- the recognitio “Iacob advicem Radoni” is found only in documents issued by Charlemagne’s chancellery between 787-792 for Italian recipients;
- finally, even though the scribe tried hard to copy the shape of the letters from the 8th-century original, the shaping of letters conforms to late 10th-century diplomatic minuscule.
The original purpose for the drawing up of this forgery is still debated.
Namely, only three of the six mentioned bishoprics have been found as existing in the beginning of the 9th century: Concordia, Novigrad (illum qui apud Civitatem Novam Histriae constitutus esse noscitur), and Pićan (Episcopatus Penetensem), although this last one was disputed by Margetić (cited above), but Rajko Bratož showed that the phrase “episcopus Petenatis” refers precisely to Pićan, not to Ptuj as Margetić argued (Rajko Bratož, Med Italijo in Ilirikom: Slovenski prostor in njegovo sosedstvo v pozni antiki (Ljubljana 2014), pp. 556–58). The bishopric of Udine is mentioned only in this document and its subsequent confirmation by Otto III (see it here). The two final bishoprics are the most problematic: Rovinj in Istria and Trsat by present-day Rijeka.
Rovinj, it was traditionally argued, was the spiritual successor of the old Bishopric of Cissa, the mysterious “Istrian Atlantis”. While the newest research (Gaetano Benčić, cited above) corroborates that Rovinj indeed appropriated the tradition of the Bishopric of Cissa (originally located on Brijuni to the west of Pula where a toponym “Punta Cissana” survived well into the 14th century), it is questionable whether the town was ever constituted as a bishopric proper: the question hinges almost entirely on how one chooses to interpret the words in Pope Sergius IV’s confirmation charter issued to the Bishopric of Poreč (Ruvinii parochia, ubi quondam episcopatus dicitur fuisse, see it edited here).
Trsat is regularly mentioned as civitas by Charlemagne’s biographer Einhard (Turković-Basić, cited above, p. 62), but that alone does not decisively point towards the conclusion that the place was indeed a proper bishopric. According to Turković and Basić “[d]espite the fact that the imperial charter from 803 never existed in the form in which it was presented to Otto III, it is improbable that all the data featured in it [the charter hereby edited] were entirely inauthentic” (cited above, pp. 63–64, originally in Croatian, translated into English by the editor). According to these two authors, this charter, interpreted only as a “diplomatic forgery”, corroborates two theses: that there was “an awareness of a very old, pre-Ottonian tradition of the episcopal status of the mentioned cities”; and that these territories were indeed under Charlemagne’s jurisdiction. Finally, conclude Turković and Basić, the hypothesis that Charlemagne endeavored to extend his dominion over Liburnia by way of founding a new bishopric in Trsat, just as he did in Istria by founding the Bishopric of Novigrad, “should not be a limine abandoned.”
The problem with this interpretation is that the document in question is not a diplomatic forgery, but a historical one, an actum spurium. It was composed on the basis of an authentic Charlemagne’s charter issued to the Church of Aquileia on the 4th of August (hence the date of this charter as well), 792 (see it edited here). The charter should therefore be analyzed as a primary source for the second half of the 10th century, not the beginning of the 9th.
In the 10th century, the Patriarchate of Aquileia was embroiled in two diplomatic battles: first with the Patriarchate of Grado over the metropolitan jurisdictions over Istrian bishoprics; second with the Bishopric of Poreč over the ecclesiastical jurisdictions over Rovinj, Dvigrad, and Bale. The forgery would fit this context where Patriarch John IV of Aquileia procures the official “proof” that his Church owns, by way of imperial donation of Charlemagne himself, the disputed territories.
Finally, Paolo Cammarosano argued that the forgery and Otto III’s confirmation were in essence just a part of the plan to reorganize the episcopal network of the ecclesiastical province of Aquileia (cited above).
Thus, the plan to organize the bishoprics in Rovinj, Trsat, and even Udine, would originally be concocted by Patriarch John IV, not Charlemagne. Moreover, the three new bishoprics would be mixed with the three existing ones (Concordia, Novigrad, and Pićan) in order to lend more credibility to the forgery.
Be that as it may, the three bishoprics – Rovinj, Trsat, and Udine – were not subsequently founded. Whether this forgery is interpretated as Charlemagne’s or Patriarch John IV’s attempt at reorganizing the ecclesiastical province of Aquileia, it is a plan that ultimately failed.
The facsimile of A is to be published here pending the official approval of Archivio del Capitolo di Udine.