Gregory the Great (590-604) Ewald has been at least partially successful in reconstructing the books which contained the copies of the pope's epistles.There can be little doubt that the Pontifical chancery of which we thus infer the existence was modeled upon that of the imperial court.There can be no doubt that the formation of a chancery or bureau for drafting and expediting of official papers was a work of time.Unfortunately, the earliest papal documents known to us are only preserved in copies or abstracts from which it is difficult to draw any safe conclusions as to the forms observed in issuing the originals.The Benedictine authors of "Nouveau traité de diplomatique" in ascribing a much earlier date to this formula were misled by a forged bull purporting to be addressed to the monastery at St. Again, in these early letters the pope often addressed his correspondent, more especially when he was a king or a person of high dignity, by the plural As ages went on, this became rarer, and by the second half of the twelfth century, it had completely disappeared.On the other hand, it may be noticed incidentally that persons of all ranks, in writing to the pope, invariably addressed him as Vos.Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download.
This did not happen before the thirteenth century and the name was only a popular term used almost promiscuously for all kinds of instruments which issued from the papal chancery.
But all these, down to the fifteenth century, seem to have been expedited by the papal chancery in the shape of bulls authenticated with leaden seals, and it is common enough to apply the term even to those very early papal letters of which we know little more than the substance, independently of the forms under which they were issued.
It will probably be most convenient to divide the subject into periods, noting the more characteristic features of papal documents in each age.
The , the arrangement of the Regesta by indictions, etc., are all probably imitations of the practice of the later empire.
Hence we may infer that the code of recognized forms soon established itself, analogous to that observed by the imperial notaries.