Sede Vacante 1378

Procuratorial Document
allegedly written and signed by the Six Cardinals
in the Castel S. Angelo

(April 9, 1378)


Caesaris S. R. E. Cardinalis Baronii, Od. Raynaldi et Jac. Laderchii Annales Ecclesiastici   Tomus septimus (Lucca: Typis Leonardi Venturini 1752) [Baronius-Raynaldi] xc, p. 355:

This document is known only from a copy (one copy in the Vatican Archives, another in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris) of the Factum of Urban VI, sent to the King of Castile, and fortified by a Bull.


Tandem vero, qui tunc erant in dicto castro S. Angeli, audita requisitione facta eis, in continenti scribi fecerunt unam cedulam, quam propriis manibus subscripserunt, quam praesentari et assignari dictis quinque Cardinalibus in dicto palatio cum dicto electo existentibus fecerunt, cujus quidem cedulae forma noscitur talis:

In Christo nomine, Amen. Anno 1388 [sic!] indictione prima, die vero nona mensis aprilis, Romae in castro S. Angeli, praesente reverendo patre Joanne [Jean de Revaillon] Dei gratia episcopo Sarlatensi (1370-1396), venerabili viro Fratre Praefecto abbate monasterii Siciensis Nucerinae dioecesis {Perfecto Malatesta], et nobili viro Rostango de Sancto Crispino testibus, ad infrascripta specialiter vocatis, reverendissimi in Christo patres et domini domini Joannes episcopus Penestrinensis, Guillelmus tit. S. Stephani in Coelio monte, Hugo tit. S. Laurentii in Lucina, et Petrus tit. S. Mariae in via lata, diaconi sanctae Romanae ecclesiae Cardinales omni modo, via, forma, quibus melius propria et libera voluntate tradiderunt omnes et quilibet ipsorum insolidum potestatem in inthronizatione et quolibet alio actu faciendo in persona et de persona reverendi in Christo patris domini Bartholomaei archiepiscopi Barensis sanctae Romanae ac universalis Ecclesiae summi Pontificis, reverendissimis in Christo patribus et dominis dominis Petro Portuensi et S. Ruffinae episcopo, Francisco tit. S. Sabinae, Simonis tit SS. Joannis et Pauli, Geraldo tit. S. Clementis, et Petro S. Maria in Cosmedin S. R. E. Cardinalibus et cuilibet ipsorum in solidum promittentes dicti Domini committentes ratum et gratum habere omne et totum quidquid per praefatos dominos Cardinales fiet circa inthronizationem praedicti domini summi Pontificis electi. Ad quorum omnium majus robur praefati domini Cardinales committentes et quilibet ipsorum huic cedulae eorum propriis manibus subscripserunt in praesentia mei notarii infrascripti et testium praedictorum.

Ego Joannes episcopus Praenestinensis S.R.E. Cardinalis dictis omnibus consentio et manu propria me subscribo.
Ego Guillelmus tit. S. Stephani in Coelio monte presbyter Cardinalis praedictus, dictis omnibus consentio, et manu propria me subscribo.
Ego Guido tit. S. Crucis in Jerusalem presbyter Cardinalis praemissis omnibus consentio.
Ego Petrus S. Laurentii in Lucina presbyter Cardinalis omnibus praemissis consentio.
Ego Hugo tit SS. Quatuor Coronatorum presbyter Cardinalis supradictis consentio.
Ego Petrus S. Mariae in via lata diaconus Cardinalis omnibus praecendentibus me subscribo.


The drawing up and signing of this document is not mentioned by any of the six cardinals who allegedly executed the instrument. The drawing up of this document is not mentioned in the Deposition of Pierre Gaudelin, Castellan of the Castel S. Angelo, whose uncle, Pierre Rostagni de Sancto Crispino, allegedly witnessed the document. Gaudelin would have been present at any such event. There is no evidence beyond this alleged document that Perfetto Malatesta was at the Castel S. Angelo on April 9; he was a supporter of Bartolomeo Prignano, and in a related matter is the only source for the alleged re-election of Bartholomeo on April 9.

Neither is the document mentioned anywhere by the Ambassadors of the King of Aragon as they were conducting their investigations and taking depositions in 1380 both in Avignon and in Rome.

The document is apparently intended to demonstrate that the cardinals in the Castro S. Angelo were prepared to see Bartholomeo Prignano enthroned, and that they granted their proxy or procuratorship to the four cardinals named (Corsini, Agrifolio, Hughes de Montelais, and Pierre de Vergne) to conduct the business. The introduction to the document, by the way, states that power was to be given to five cardinals, but the document only names four. But was this a legal proceeding? Could a Cardinal, in fact and in canon law, transfer his right and power to enthrone Bartholomeo? Why did the Cardinals not also authorize Cardinal Tebaldeschi or Cardinal de Luna? It is interesting to note that de Luna is not mentioned: he did not arrive at the Apostolic Palace until midday, after two attempts to claim indisposition that kept him in bed. It was only threats from the Bandarenses and pleas from his retinue that got him to attend. This episode is related by the Dean of Tarazona, Fernandus Petri.

In fact, it seems as though the document testifies to the fear on the part of the six cardinals as to what would happen to them if they were to leave the Castel S. Angelo.   If anything, the sending of this document would have been an effort on the part of the Cardinals NOT to have to participate. The Senator (Guy de Pruinis) and Officiales, when they heard that the Cardinals were unwilling to come to the Papal Palace but had sent a document instead, went to the Castel and finally persuaded the Cardinals to leave, but it was late afternoon, around Vespers, when they finally succeeded.

Bartholomeo Prignano is elswhere accused of forging documents and seals (including the Protestatio of Cardinal Tebaldeschi). In a letter written by Frater Angelo de Spoleto, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, to the King of Castile, on May 29, 1380, he passed on a report he had received from another witness that Urban VI had forged the Will of Cardinal Tebaldeschi:

Item, audivi a Domino Stephano Doctore quondam secretario dicti Bartholomaei quondam Barensis, qui nunc est Neapoli, et ex conscientia ab eo recessit, quod dictus Bartholomaeus habebat sigilla materialia Regum Boemiae, Ungariae et aliorum Principum multorum et Dominorum et Domini Cardinalis Cusentini, cum quibus dicto Domino Stephano praesente falsas litteras componebat, et ostendebat recipere novos cursores, et sic Romanum populum festivabat. Et addit quod per manus ejus fuit falsificatum testamentum Cardinalis de sancto Petro

and, since this document from the hands of the Cardinals in the Castel S. Angelo is found only in the Factum prepared under Bartholomeo's guidance and fortified with his own Bull, it must be treated with extreme reserve.



November 12, 2013 6:29 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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