Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 20:35:37 -0500
From: Patrick Nugent <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Reply-to: [log in to unmask]
I am working on the Miracles of St. Donatian (AASS 24 Oct), from the
mid-eleventh century, and have a question about vocabulary.
The miracles happen (mostly) in the cathedral of St. Donatian in Bruges,
which had at the time a chapter of canons ("famed," says Weake in Cath.
Encyc.), recently endowed (before 989) by Count Arnulph the Great
(918-989). The miracle in question, says the author, happened in 1011.
Given this, the Latin phrase in question reads:
"accurrens cum fratribus sacrae aedis praepositus"
The question is, what's the best rendering of praepositus here? Is the
sacrae aedis praepositus best called prior, provost, or by some other
name? Or is the terminology too inexact in this period to say? Is the
sacrae aedis praepositus: (a) a chapter officer in charge of maintenance
of the church or its pastoral activities (Niemeyer's def. 7, roughly,
though this is an episcopal church), (b) the head of the chapter (N. def.
2), or (c) the second-in-command of the chapter (N. def. 3, roughly)? If
(b), what's more appropriate - prior or provost, or even dean (though
decanus is not used)? Or even abbot, though in 1011 we're probably dealing
with secular canons?
I'm presuming the sacra aedes refers to the cathedral church rather than
the chapter (as a religious "house"), but maybe I'm wrong here.
Patrick J. Nugent
Department of Religion
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA
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Praepositus does mean provost. The provost in a chapter of secular
canons was in overall charge of the lands of the chapter. Not all
secular chapters had provosts but they were normal in the
Empire throughout the middle ages, and quite common in NE France and
Flanders (at least up to the 12 th c). Cf. J. Pycke on Tournai.
St Donatian's was not a cathedral but a collegiate church. Collegiate
churches had the same sort of institutional set-up as cathedrals -
essentially the one laid down in Louis the Pious' 816 reforms (Rule
of Aachen a.k.a. Institutio Canonicorum).
The dean in a secular chapter had the particular duty of being in
charge of worship. He was always a priest whereas a provost was very
commonly no more than a deacon. Chapters without provosts (e.g. in
Normandy, following which also post-Conquest England) were headed by
deans, a system which suited chapters better because the dean was
merely primus inter pares, not a really powerful figure like a
provost (provosts could cut off canons' prebendal distributions in
the earlier middle ages, which meant that they had quite a lot of
authority over the rest of the chapter).
Hope this is a help