"Benedikt XIII. and his library of heresies. Religious polemics as basis of legitimacy of an Avignonese (anti)pope."


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Rainer Berndt SJ und PD Dr. Matthias M. Tischler
Arranger: Dr. Britta Müller-Schauenburg

Benedikt XIII. (1394-1423), born as Pedro de Luna from a noble family, was not only an excellent canonist and all his life committed to find a solution for the great Western Schism. As a native of the Iberian Peninsula he was also particularly interested in the religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims on the one hand, and Jews and Christians on the other. This interest becomes evident not only from the Jewish-Christian disputation of Tortosa in 1313 and 1314, which was an extraordinary religious disputation, initiated und decisively directed by his Jewish personal physician Joshua ha-Lorki (who was called Gerónimo de Santa Fé after his conversion to Christianity) and decisively supported by him. His interest in these religious conflicts becomes also manifest from his book collection. He owned a copy of the Koran in the Latin translation of Marc of Toledo, which was presumably the template of the copy drawn by the Saint-Malo priest Jean Doguet at about 1400. This copy was tied in with a systematic review of Muslim essays and is to be located now in the Bibliothèque Mazarine. Other examples of his extensive activities within the field of bibliophilic religious concerns are the first catalane translation of the Dialogus contra Judeos of Petrus Alphonsi and a transcript of Raymond Marti's Pugio fidei.

Our research project is primarily concerned with these books, classified as 'heresies', and the (anti-)heretical writings at the same place, which are part of his huge collection of books. With regard to their place in the library we will discuss the question of the material and hermeneutical 'place' of the controversy between religions within the papal library. Hence the project will question this (anti-)heretical literature as a particular segment, it will rather consider this literature as a starting point, c consistent with the assumption of the SPP, that the intellectual profile of a person may be described and understood particularly starting from the place of the boundary line to the 'other' within his or her intellectual universe. Eventually the project is focused on the whole person of the marginalised church leader: The intellectual profile of this pope will be determined and evidenced within the mirror his library. The collection of books as a whole has been dispersed and lost. But, for example, particular handwritings are now in the collection of Paris, Madrid, and Rome, and have also emerged in smaller Spanish and French cities. And the order of the library at the time of Benedict XIII is, however, available via a series of preserved medieval catalogues and inventories.

The most important sources of the project are: the catalogue of the library of cardinal Pedro de Lunas from before 1994 (ed. Ehrle 1890), the catalogue of the papal library of 1407 (ed. by Romeo in 1929), two inventories of a mobile library of the time when Benedict was on the run from Avignon from 1403 up to his first extended residence in Peniscola 1403-1411. More precisely this includes a shorter inventory of 1403 to 1405, a more comprehensive inventory of 1403-1409, and directories listing how these books were assorted in boxes (ed. by Anneliese Maier in 1965), a list of book lendings from 409/10, the catalogue of the Libraria mojor of the library of Peniscola of 1412-1415 (ed. by Faucon in 1887), an inventory from after 1415, which makes evident that the books of the mobile library and the Libraria major have been rearranged, and an inventory from after the death of Benedict in 1423. A significant part of this directories hast recently (in 1991) been published and critically edited for the first time in a two volume edition by Marie-Henriette Jullien de Pommerol and Jacques Monfrin. The inquiry will focus on the relation between Benedict's general interest in ensuring the legitimacy of his office and his concept of the ministry on the one hand, and his specific anti-heretical interests and activities on the other. What can be said about the specific use, contextualisation and classification of this book collection? What is the relation between shifts of hermeneutical significance within the library, ecclesiopolitical shifts, and evolutions in terms of the personal, canonistic, and theological position of the pope?

In order to answer these questions, it will be necessary to reformulate key concepts of library history in so far as their characteristic features have changed due to the modern History of Science such that they are not yet suitable to do justice to the 'personal' dimension of their papal characteristics. Furthermore it will be necessary to outline carefully the theoretical assumptions concerning the 'readability' of the structure of a library. Thirdly much attention needs to be paid to the sociological, philosophical and theological foundations of the conceptualisation of 'intellectual profiles' in so far as the individual to be profiled is at the same time at the top and in the centre of an administrative hierarchy which is in turn part of a complex power structure. Above all the concept of a 'religious individual' needs to be opened up with regard to the religious and cultural concept of ministry. This task is part of the project.

In order to test this methodological approach to the history of theology in terms of this geographically, institutionally, and intellectual historically rather peripheral 'example' of the late medieval European history of education, it will be possible and necessary to elaborate a new access to putative familiar concepts and theological topographies. Hence the project promises to provide knowledge of general significance in the area of the material and institutionalized positioning and sedimentation of religious issues in premodern Catholicism.



Last update: 07-December-2010