As with any liturgical question the answer is likely
to be less than satisfying...
Liturgical practice at any point in the middle ages
varied from place to place, sometimes hugely.
Consequently it is extremely unlikely that any
observance in one place could be regarded as common
anywhere else. Even the fabled Cistercian uniformity
of liturgy was less than it advertised....
Anyway. The answer is that the Kalendars examined by
Wormald are the earliest references to this form of
grading we have. So yes, late 12th/early 13th century.
However, this form of ranking would only have been
used in monastic uses, probably only that of the
Benedictines; it was certainly not followed by trhe
Cistercians and thus unlikely to be used by the
Carthusians. Other orders of non-Benedictine
derivation would use their own series of festal
rankings. Similarly the secular uses would not have
adopted such a system.
With the influx of Norman nobles in the 11th century,
continental feasts began to proliferate in sometimes
already crowded Kalendars; the simplest solution
adopted was to subdivide the existing festal rankings
to admit of greater distinction between feasts. Thus,
Duplex became divided into Duplex Principale, Duplex
'in capis' and Duplex 'in albis'.
Or, at Hereford, Duplex Principale, Duplex and
Semi-duplex; at Exeter Duplex Maius, Duplex Medium,
Duplex Minus, Semi-duplex, and so on.
It seems that prior to being subdivided thus all
solemn feasts were 'Duplex'. Hallet's Catholic
Dictionary (1953) suggests that the wearing of choir
copes originated with the orders of Canons; since the
'Rule' of St. Augustine was approved in 1188 that may
be a handy date to pin things to.
For evidence of earlier practice it would be better to
investigate the ordinal or customary of the house you
are interested in.
Hope this answers more questions than it raises!
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