A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Holkham misc. 20

Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession)

Formularies and texts relating to the papal penitentiary; Italy, 15th century


Language(s): Latin

Items (a)-(i), (j), (k) are in Vienna, Nationalbibl. MS. 415 in the same order.

(fols. 1–25)
Manual of the papal penitentiary

See C. H. Haskins, 'The sources for the history of the papal penitentiary', The American Journal of Theology Vol. 9, No. 3 (1905), 421–450, at 426–7

a. (fol. 1)
Benedict XII, Constitution In agro Domini,

pr. H. Denifle, 'Die Aelteste Taxrolle der apost. Pönitentiarie, Archiv für Litt. und Kirchengeschichte, 4, 1888, pp. 209–220

b. (fol. 5)
Tax list of Benedict XII
Rubric: Taxationes litterarum penitenciarie

pr. Denifle, loc. cit., pp. 221–36. The items from 'Pro littera quod absolutus per penitenciarios' to 'pro littera absolucionis et dispensaciones capellanorum' in this MS. come after the date, at the end, as in MS. Tours 594, cf. Denifle p. 233 n. 7

c. (fol. 11v)
Nicholas IV, Summa

As revised under John XXII ; pref. pr. from Vienna Nationalbibl. MS. 415 by E. Göller, Die Päpstliche Pönitentiarie, Rome, 1907, I. 27

Incipit: (preface) Anno domini MoCCCoXXoVo indiccione VIIIa secundum stilum Romane curie
Incipit: (text) In symonia in simplici beneficio ignorante beneficiato
Explicit: qui torneamentis interfuerint
d. (fol. 13v)
Letter of the three cardinals,

pr. Göller, op. cit., I.2 p. 98

e. (fol. 14)

Days on which the penitentiaries are not to hear confession

Incipit: Licet omni tempore audiendi sint confiteri volentes
f. (fol. 14v)
Rubric: Nota quod sit levis vel atrox iniuria
Incipit: Perlectis vestris litteris circa absolucionem excommunicatorum

Attr. to Innocent IV in MS. Vat. Ottobon. 333 (Göller p. 66) and below, item m

g. (fol. 14v)
Form for receiving back into the church an apostate to the Muslims or Jews

At the foot of fol. 15 the scribe wrote the rubric and first two lines to text of item l

h. (fol. 15v)
Forms of oaths upon taking office of:

an archbishop, pr. M. Tangl, Die päpstlichen Kanzlei-Ordungen, Innsbruck, 1894, p. 50, no. XVIII

an episcopus cam⟨erarius⟩

an abbess

a scriptor litt. apostolicarum (Tangl no. V)

a tabellio (no. XVII)

the vice-chancellor (no. I)

a rescribendarius (no. VI versions a and b)

a lector litterarum (no. VIII)

an auscultator (no. VII, version a)

an abbreviator (no. IX)

Concluding (fol. 17) with a list of the rates to be charged by papal scriptores for writing letters, pr. Tangl, op. cit., p. 60:

Incipit: Circa salarium scriptorum duximus providendum
i. (fol. 17)
List of penitential cases reserved for a bishop
Incipit: Sequentes casus pertinent ad episcopum proprie
j. (fol. 17v)
Note on sacrilege
Incipit: Sacrilegium est sacre violacio
Explicit: XXII.q.VIII
k. (fol 17v)
John XXII, Letter to the archbishop of Toulouse

Concerning an Augustinian hermit pretending to be a bishop

Incipit: Ad audienciam nostram
l. (fol. 17v)
Nicholas IV, Summa
Rubric: Incipit summa de absolucionibus et dispensacionibus primariis a summo pontifice concessis

The same text as item (c), but with a different preface, and (fol. 20v) additions of Benedict XI, John XXII, and Benedict XII.

Incipit: (preface) Anno domini MoCCCo nonagesimo [sic for 1290] pontificatus domini Nicholay pape III anno tercio penitentiarii domini pape tam absolucionibus quam dispensacionibus
l. (fol. 20v)
Rubric: Casus qui inducunt irregularitatem et impediunt promocionem
Incipit: Qui adultus baptizatur non debet promoveri
Explicit: prohibendus a celebracione extra e. ex tue
(Decretals V. tit. 3 ch. 20)
m. (fol. 22v)
Brief note defining 'Levis iniuria',

followed by a second text of (f) headed 'Explanatio domini Innocentii pape IIII de levi iniuria'

n. (fol. 23)
Bonaguida, De dispensacionibus et privilegiis

Five extracts, as in Vienna Nationalbibl. MS. 415. For other MSS., see J. F. von Schulte, Gesch. der Quellen ... des Canon. Rechts II. 112

(fol. 26)
Formulary of the papal penitentiary

Rubrics pr. Göller I.I.32–3. There are 569 forms.

Rubric: Incipiunt rubrice novi formularii officii penitenciarie domini pape correcti et reformati de spirituali mandato domini Benedicti pape XII
Incipit: Dum monasterii vestri veneranda religio virtutum debeat candore nitere
Explicit: animarum ipsorum saluti viderit expedire. Datum.
Final rubric: Explicit penitentiarius

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: etiam caritative
Form: codex
Support: parchment, mediocre quality, uneven edges
Extent: ii (paper) + 114 + ii (paper)
Dimensions (leaf): 270–5 × 195 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 190–210 × 130–45 mm.
Foliation: modern pencil: i-ii, 1–116


1(10), 2(10), 3(14) (1, 2, 4, 5, can. and leaf added after 4), 4(12)-9(12), 10(12)(12 canc.) catchwords


32–42 written lines per page, below top line; in 1 column; fols. 26r-31r in two columns. Frame ruling.


cursive, by at least two scribes


Two first initials containing two human heads. Plain red initials fol. 1–31, blue initials with red, and red with violet penwork fol. 32 - end.


Typical Holkham binding of polished brown leather; the spine lettered in gilt 'CONSTITUTION | S. BENEDICTI || MS. | SÆC. XIII' and the number '223' at the bottom; the gutter margin of fol. 2r inscribed in pencil with instructuons to the binder: 'Dark Calf Uncut'.


Origin: Italian ; 15th century

Provenance and Acquisition

Given in 1455 by Baptista de Lignamine to the Canons of S. Giovanni in Verdara, Padua : inscribed 'Constitutiones domini Benedicti pape. Hunc librum donavit b. reverendus Baptiste de Legnamine de Paua episcopus Corcordiensis congregationi canonicorum regularum Lateranensium ita ut sit ad usum dictorum canonicorum Christo in monasterio sancti Johannis de Verdaria Padue famulantium. Quare omnes pro eius anima devote deum precari meminerint mºCCCCºLVº' (fol. 114v) (cf. Hassall, 1970), 23, 23 n. 6).

Thomas Coke, probably bought by him in 1717 (ibid.); bookplate of ' THOMAS WILLIAM COKE ' (1754–1842), formerly Norfolk, Holkham Hall, MS. 223.

Record Sources

Typescript description by Bodleian Library staff; revised by Peter Kidd, late 1990s

Last Substantive Revision

2020-06-18: Indexing of items a-n revised during research on MS. Hamilton 23.