The compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)
The compilation of lists and 89 pictures which begins with the item
notitia dignitatum omnium tam civilium quam militarium in partibus orientis
and ends with the item
ceteri praesides ad similitudinem praesidis dalmatiae officium habent

Speyer, its cathedral, the library of its chapter, and the Codex Spirensis (Σ)
Speyer cathedral

Speyer (Noviomagus then civitas Nemetum and Spira) probably had a bishopric around the middle of the 4thC, but the town was sacked by invaders in the 5thC and the bishopric was not restored until the early 7thC. By the middle of that century, an episcopal church was constructed, with St. Mary and pope St. Stephanus I named as patrons.

This Merovingian and Carolingian episcopal church was completely replaced, on the same site, when construction of the current cathedral began in c.1030 under Konrad II, first king of the Salian dynasty. This cathedral, also with St. Mary and pope St. Stephanus I as patrons, is the largest Romanesque building in the world and was built by the Salians as their primary church and mausoleum. The cathedral crypt was consecrated in 1041, its main altar in 1046 and the entire cathedral in 1061. The building was subsequently extensively expanded between c.1080 and 1106.

The crypt of the cathedral contains the graves of several rulers and members of the Salian and later dynasties, including the emperors Konrad II (1024-1039, emperor from 1027) and his wife Gisela (d.1043), Heinrich III (1039-1056, emperor from 1046), Heinrich IV (1056-1106, emperor from 1084 to 1105) and his wife Berta (d.1087), Heinrich V (1106-1125, emperor from 1111) and the kings Philipp von Schwaben (1198-1208), Rudolf I von Habsburg (1273-1291), Adolf von Nassau (1292-1298), Albrecht I von Habsburg (1298-1308) and the second wife (Beatrix d.1184) and daughter (Agnes d.1184) of the emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa (1152-1190, emperor from 1155). Following the death of the emperor Heinrich III on 5 Oct 1056, the burial service at Speyer was personally conducted with great ceremony by pope Victor II (1018-1057, pope from 1055).

As the primary church and mausoleum of the Salian dynasty, the cathedral received valuable gifts from these and other rulers. For example, Henry IV referred to the construction, embellishment and enrichment of the cathedral in the following terms: [...] ecclesiam Spirensem a nostris parentibus Cunrado imperatore augusto, avo videlicet nostro, et Heinrico imperatore augusto, patre videlicet nostro, et a nobis gloriose constructam veneramur et quam pluribus prediis et mancipiis diversisque ornamentis ad honorem dei sancteque dei genitricis Marie celebramus. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Diplomata regum et imperatorum Germaniae - Die Urkunden der deutschen Könige und Kaiser, vol.6: Gladiss, D.v. & Gawlik, A. (eds.), Die Urkunden Heinrichs IV. (1941-1978) Diploma 489, p.666). At the consecration of the main altar in 1046, Henry III donated the evangelistary known as the codex aureus (Escorial, cod. Vitr. 17) and, on his return from Roma in 1047, he presented the cathedral with the skull of pope Stephanus, one of the two patrons of the cathedral. The empress Beatrix (d. 1184) donated a gold, silver and ivory reliquary cupboard and the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118) gave the cathedral a valuable antependium (appendage which covers the entire front of the altar) in 1083. But the cathedral was damaged by fires occurring in 1137, 1159, 1450, 1552 and 1689 and many of its possessions were looted or destroyed during invasions, notably in 1552 and 1689.

Royal and imperial centre

The imperial cathedral (Kaiserdom) made Speyer an important town, both during the period of the Salian dynasty and later. But there were additional reasons why the town became a popular destination for large groups of people over a long period of time, especially rulers, courtiers, aristocrats and administrators.

First, Speyer was an important royal and imperial centre over several centuries. For example, in the period 950-1125, rulers from the Saxon and Salian dynasties definitely visited Speyer on 34 occasions, for a total of 114 days, and probably on 58 other occasions, each for one day. (Friedmann, A.U., Die Beziehungen der Bistümer Worms und Speyer zu den ottonischen and salischen Königen. (= Quellen und Abhandlungen zur mittelrheinischen Kirchengeschichte, Band 72). (Mainz, 1994), pp.234-244). It was at Speyer in 1146 that St Bernard (1090-1153) persuaded Konrad III (1138-1152) to join the Second Crusade.

Second, Speyer was the site of approximately fifty meetings of the imperial assembly (Reichstag), including those held in 1126, 1146, 1178, 1273-74, 1384 (Jul), 1414 (Jul), 1487 (26 Jan - 7 Feb), 1526 (25 Jun - 28 Aug), 1529 (15 Mar - 22 Apr), 1542 (09 Feb - 11 Apr), 1544 (20 Feb - 10 Jun) and 1570 (13 Jul - 13 Dec). and meetings of deputies or dignitaries as, for example, in 1557 (30 May - 16 Aug), 1560 (30 Mar - 26 Apr, 11 Oct - 24/6 Dec), 1583 (15May - 11 Jun), 1588 (29 Jan - Feb), 1595 (26 Jun - 7 Jul, 26 Jul - 10 Oct).

Third, the imperial cameral court (Reichskammergericht), which was created in 1495, was permanently located at Speyer from 1527 until 1689. This court was one of the two supreme courts of the empire - the other being the palace court (Reichshofrat), generally located in Wien - and its task was to develop a regulated procedure for the settlement of disputes by judicial means rather than by feud, force or ransom and it dealt, therefore, primarily with breaches of the peace and with territorial disputes. In addition, it also acted as the court of appeal against the judgements of territorial courts.

Fourth, the imperial council (Reichsregiment), which was created in 1500 and was intended to be the executive branch of the imperial government, comprising the emperor or his deputy and twenty other members representing ecclesiastical and secular princes, the various estates and the free cities, was also transferred to Speyer in 1527 and remained there until it was formally dissolved in 1530/1.

In 1294 Speyer became an free imperial city (Reichsstadt - a municipality ruled directly by the emperor rather than indirectly through an intermediary feudal secular or religious lord) when its bishop had to renounce most of his earlier rights over the city in favour of an elected town council and, from that time, the bishop could not enter the city without council permission. Accordingly, the bishop resided less frequently in Speyer and, from c.1380, the bishop resided outside the city of Speyer - principally at Udenheim in a residence which, from 1625 onwards, was developed into the castle Philippsburg. Although the bishop no longer governed the city of Speyer, he continued to rule a substantial territory on both sides of the Rhine. This territory, by 1541, comprised 24 castles, 6 towns, 104 villages and 3 tolls (Duggan, L.G., Bishop and chapter: the governance of the bishopric of Speyer to 1552. (New Brunswick, Rutgers U. P., 1978), p.7). The bishop did not govern the diocese of Speyer alone, but did so jointly with the cathedral chapter.

Speyer cathedral chapter

The cathedral chapter (Domkapitel, capitulum) at Speyer was an ecclesiastical corporate body of approximately 30 canons, or clergy ordained for religious duties in the church, whose primary purpose was to assist the bishop and to govern the diocese jointly with him. It formed a body distinct from the bishop, with the authority to make its own statutes and regulations, provided that these were not contrary to canon law and were approved by the bishop. The chapter elected the bishop and ruled the diocese during episcopal vacancies. The chapter was a permanent body, largely autonomous and, eventually, wholly aristocratic in composition. A papal decree of 1484 stated that henceforth only members of the nobility or aristocracy could be members of the cathedral chapter at Speyer.

As an ecclesiastical corporation, the cathedral chapter had the right to possess property and to appoint officials to administer its possessions. The property of the chapter was not under the control of the bishop. Indeed, Henry III, who made several donations of property to the cathedral chapter in 1041 and 1046, specified with the first of these that the bishop was to be excluded from its administration. (Friedmann, 1994, pp.116-117).

Each capitular canon (Domkapitular or Domherr, canonicus capitularis) had the right to a prebend (Pfründe) or income and was required to reside near the cathedral church, unless granted leave. Each canon had to perform his duties personally, including choir service.

The chapter was originally led by the cathedral provost (Dompropst, praepositus), who was the highest dignitary after the bishop. But, from the end of the 12thC, the leadership of the chapter passed to the cathedral dean (Domdekan, decanus) and, thereafter, the provost was excluded from the chapter and its meetings, unless invited. The dean held one of the forty canonical prebends and was the third highest prelate, after the bishop and provost. As leader of the cathedral chapter, the dean represented the cathedral chapter in external matters and was its chief administrative officer whose duties included responsibility for the supervision of chapter property. He both summoned, and presided over, the meetings of the cathedral chapter. There were four annual meetings (instituted in 1408), two formal weekly meetings (on Wednesday and Friday) and such other informal meetings as were required, often with a small number of canons in attendance.

The cathedral chapter operated various administrative departments (cellar, barn, granary, portal, factory, ornaments, bakery) which were staffed by cathedral vicars (Domvikare, vicarii) who carried out their duties under the supervision of a capitular canon. There were approximately seventy vicars associated with the Speyer cathedral.

After the prelates - the bishop, provost and dean - the next highest position was held by the cathedral scholar (Domscholaster) who was simultaneously the registrar, librarian and archivist of the cathedral chapter, as well as being responsible for the implementation of its decisions. He was also principal of the cathedral school which had been established in 983.

Library of the cathedral chapter

Three libraries were associated with the cathedral. First, the library of the cathedral itself, comprising liturgial books and books forming part of its treasure chamber, such as the codex aureus. Second, the library of the bishop, which was in the castle (later the Philippsburg) near Udenheim since c.1381. Third, the library of the cathedral chapter, which was the largest of the three.

The history of the library of the cathedral chapter, including references to some of its books, is recounted in the studies by L. Grünenwald, Die Peutingersche Tafel, eine römische Weltkarte des 4. Jahrhunderts. Stammt sie wirklich aus Speyer ?: Palatina: Heimblatt der "Pfälzer Zeitung" und des "Rheinischen Volksblattes" 1906 pp. 146-148, 150-152, 155-156; Geschichte der K. Gymnasialbibliothek zu Speyer und ihrer Vorläufer. (Programm zum Jahresberichte des K. human. Gymnasiums Speyer, 1914-1915). (Speyer, 1915); Die berühmtesten Bücher der alten Bibliotheken zu Speyer: Pfälzisches Museum 4 1923 pp. 22-24;Die Bücher und Handschriften des alten Speierer Domstiftes von 650-1803: Mitteilungen des historischen Vereins der Pfalz 50 1930-1932 pp. 3-64; P.Lehmann, Die mittelalterliche Dombibliothek zu Speyer: Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Philosophisch-historische Abteilung) (München) 1934 Heft 4 pp. 3-64. (Revised edition in Lehmann, P., Erforschuungen des Mittelalters: Ausgewählte Abhandlungen und Aufsätze.(Stuttgart, 1959) bd.2 pp. 186-228) and J. Vorderstemann, Die Büchersammlungen des Speyerer Domes in tausend Jahren. Ein Überblick aus Anlaß der 950-Jahr-Feier im Jahre 1980. Dem Anreger dieses Aufsatzes Domdekan Prälat Bruno Thiebes zum 75. Geburtstag gewidmet: Archiv für mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte (Speyer) 33 1981 pp. 45-61. The following notes present additional information about this library and its books.

Theodor Reysmann, in his poem in praise of Speyer (Pulcherrimae Spirae summique in ea templi enchromata) printed in 1531, indicated that the library of the cathedral chapter existed in a room whose main entrance was secured by an iron door and which was located adjoining the meeting room of the chapter in the upper storey of the eastern wing of the cloister (the covered walk or arcade enclosing an open quadrangle), which was attached to the southern wall of the cathedral (Enchromata, lines 785-810). Another entrance to the library was through a cloister door through which there was access to a spiral staircase that led directly into the library (BGLA 61/10947, f.140v: Hern d(octor) Balthasar Feldman Vic(arius) ist bewilligt, d(a)s er mög ein schlüssel zu dem schneckhen, so unden Im Creutzgang hienuff in die Liberej | gehet).

The minutes of the meeting of the cathedral chapter held on 11 February 1503 recorded that books had been removed from the library without the knowledge of the cathedral chapter and that several requests for their return had been unsuccessful. It was decided, therefore, that the books were to be reorganised and, from this time, no book was to be removed from the library without the knowledge and permission of the cathedral chapter. (BGLA 61/10929 f.173r: Item soll man auch die ordenung der buch(e)r halben, wider ernewern, Vnd das furter kein buch vss der libery genomen werden soll, Es geschehe dan mit willen vnnd wissen meyner herrn vom Capitel)

In July 1527, after noting that keys to the library had been misused, the chapter ordered that the lock on the library door be changed and that the names of those who subsequently received keys were to be recorded (BGLA 61/10932 f.186v-187r). Keys to the library door were issued only after a decision by a meeting of the cathedral chapter (BGLA 61/10929 f.185r) and on condition that the recipient (BGLA 61/10929 f.185r, 61/10932 f.200r, f.204v, f.226v, f.266v, 61/10933 p.511, p.540, p.806, 61/10935 p.151, p.580, 61/10936 p.139, 61/10945, p.340; 61/10947 f.9v, 140v, 242v, 273r, 61/10949 p.431, p.806, p.885, 61/10952 f.14r) swore an oath which included the promise that, if the keyholder allowed any unauthorised stranger to enter the library, he would remain in the library to supervise that person during his entire time there (BGLA 61/10932 f.204v). Some requests for keys were denied, but the applicant was permitted to enter the library in the presence of an authorised keyholder (BGLA 61/10932 f.264r).

Within the library an unspecified number of books was attached to their shelves by chains which needed to be removed on the rare occasions when books were allowed to be borrowed from the library (BGLA 61/10935, p.682: (2 Sep 1545) Doctor Niclas praedicator hat meine hern gepetten sye wollen Ime eyn buch oder zwey auss der Lieberey leyhen vnd heym zu tragen vergunden; dyeweyl aber nun etwas beschwerlich vnd onbreuchlich, auch beym stiefft nit herkommen, das man die bucher hinweg leyhe; so habens meyne her d(em) Niclasen zugefallen doch eyn acht tage ongeuerlich leyhen wollen, wan mans anders onschaden von Ketten bringen mage, doch das er dem ornat meynster eyn gepurlich handtschriefft gebe). But requests to borrow books from the library were almost always denied, especially on the grounds that if it were granted to one person, others would claim the same right (BGLA 61/10933 p.24 = Krebs, M., Die Protokolle des Speyerer Domkapitels, 1500-1531. (2 vols) (Stuttgart, 1968-1969), II p.270).

The copying of books often involved removing the gatherings of the exemplar and then rebinding them when they had been copied. In 1502, when the Speyer printer Peter Drach (c.1440-1504) requested to borrow the Metaphysicorum by Albertus Magnus (1205/6-1280), to have this copied in either Frankfurt or Köln, concern was expressed that the intended process of copying the book, involving removing and then rebinding its gatherings, would damage it (BGLA 61/10929 f.149r-149v). Copies could be produced in a very short period of time by this process. Jacob Wimpfeling (1449-1528) noted in 1497 that cardinal Marco Barbo (1420-1491), having found a composition by Lupold von Bebenburg (c.1297-1363) in the library, had this book copied in one night by distributing parts of this book among several scribes (ut libellum ipsum conscis[s]um et in plures librarios distributum una nocte exscribi sibi curaret - Herding, O. & Mertens, D. (eds.), Jakob Wimpfeling. Briefwechsel. (2 vols) (München, Fink, 1990) No. 69 p.264).

The minutes of the meeting of the cathedral chapter held on 23 July 1516 noted that the library possessed multiple copies of some books, including triplicates (BGLA 61/10931 f269v = Krebs, I. p.444) and that the chapter was interested in ordering books which it did not yet possess, including printed books recently available in Frankfurt as, for example, in 1516 (BGLA 61/10931 f.269v) and 1527 (BGLA 61/10932 f.203v). On another occasion, in 1529, a request to borrow a book was refused because the chapter was unable to determine which of its two copies of the composition was the more correct one (BGLA 61/10932 f.304v = Krebs 1969, II p.255).

At the beginning of August 1552, the troops of Albrecht Alcibiades (1522-1557: markgraf von Brandenburg-Kulmbach), invaded and occupied the town of Speyer and, during 19-21 August, they plundered the cathedral and its associated buildings. Archival material was removed or destroyed and the books of the cathedral chapter library were carried to the house of the Deutsche Orden (German order of crusader knights and hospitalers) in Speyer and there they were packed into containers. Albrecht intended to give these library books to his step-father, Ottheinrich (1502-1559: pfalzgraf von Neuburg 1505, kurfürst von der Pfalz 1556), who was known to have wanted to acquire them and who was, at that time, with Albrecht. This intention was not fulfilled owing to the hurried departure of the troops from Speyer on 24 August, but it is not recorded whether all the books which had been removed from the library were recovered and returned there. Philipp Simonis, in his Historische Beschreibung aller Bischoffen zu Speyr (Freiburg, 1608), on p.241, printed the following transcript from the anonymous manuscript chronicle BGLA 65/625): 21. Augusti, plündert er [Albrecht] eins theils die Stift, [...] etliche Brieff, Bücher und anders, so man nicht verführen könnten, auss den behaltern in den garten der jetzigen Thumbkirchen, so am dorment ligt, geworffen und verbrennt. Die Liberey (deren Hertzog Ott Heinrich Pfaltzgrave begert) in das Teutschhaus getragen, alda eingepackt. Aber weil die Röm[ische] Keis[erliche] Majest[ät] mit einem grossen Kriegsvolck vorhanden, und kürze halb der zeit, stehen blieben und nicht verfuhrt worden. In September 1552, the cathedral chapter ordered that all damaged and destroyed locks be repaired so that its possessions could again be secured (BGLA 61/10937 p.359: Dem Fabrickmeist(er) ist beuolch gebenn alle schlosser Im stifft so durch das Kriegsvolcks zerschlag(en) wiederumb zumach(en) damit all ding wieder beschlossen möge werden).

The Codex Spirensis (Σ) in the library of the cathedral chapter

The archetype of the Compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd) was contained in a codex in the library of the cathedral chapter at Speyer. This codex is identified as the Codex Spirensis (Σ).

(to be continued)

(Model by O. Martin 1928-1930)
Historisches Museum der Pfalz HM 1930/21

THIS PAGE WAS COMPILED BY - Dr. Ingo Maier - AND WAS LAST REVISED ON - 10 September 2008 - - - - -

Comments welcome