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[POPE CLEMENT V] Papal Bull and Briefs confirming Pacts between Venice and Ferrara

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
Italy, Venice (?), slightly after 1313

TM 178

18 ff., two quires, with one folio loose, complete although unbound (collation: i10, ii8 [10-2, with the 8th and 10th leaves cancelled because likely blank; ii9 present but blank]), written in a very regular Italian gothic chancery script (gotica cancelleresca), in brown ink (with ink on first folio faded to green, likely due to exposure to light), on up to 40 long lines (justification 235 x 165 mm.), ruled in light plummet, contemporary quire signatures in lower righthand corner, paragraph marks in red, some capitals stroked in red, numerous contemporary, some later, marginal annotations and corrections in brown ink and in bright red, diacritical signs in the margins referring to corrections and addenda, former shelfmark or archival reference on 18v: “Lib[er] 8. 112. 371”. Unbound (some minor staining to parchment, but in clear legible condition). Dimensions 330 x 240 mm.

With early marginal annotations, this manuscript joins together the papal bulls and briefs issued by Pope Clement V in 1313, reinstating those economic rights and privileges withdrawn during the papal crusade against Venice from 1308 to 1310. The early provenance explains its unusual makeup--an inscription indicates that it survived the fire in Venice in 1385 of the archives of a member of the “Magistrato del Cattaver,” the office that advised the Doge on financial matters and for which the text would therefore have had special import.


1. Copied in Italy, likely Venice, in the first quarter of the fourteenth century, perhaps in the year that followed the promulgation of the bull and briefs, dated January 1313 to March 1313.

2. There is an inscription in the upper lefthand corner of f. 18v, which reads as follows: “Processus salvatus ab incendio quando combustere fuit […] scripturis legalis (?) secretarie cadaver [Magistrato del Cattaver] Thomaeri (?) de Serdona […] de anno 1385” [Document saved from the fire that burned the legal records of the secretariat of the Cattaver belonging to Thomas de Serdona […] the year 1385]. The present document is likely a survival of the personal (?) registers of a Cattaver magistrate named Thomas de Serdona. The majority of the archives related to the Magistrato del Cattaver are preserved in the Archivio di Stato de Venezia, in particular a collection of documents entitled Provvedimenti presi da Venezia per l’osservanza dei nuovi patti conchiusi con Ferrara (8 ottobre 1313), Ufficiali al Cattaver, busta I, vol. IV, anni 1260-1374 (See Soranzo, 1905, p. 277, document no. 21). Instituted in 1280-1281 in Venice, the Magistrato del Cattaver advised in economic and financial matters. It should be noted that the war between Ferrara and Venice concerned economic and commercial matters, since amongst other restrictions the Venetians were not allowed to engage in commerce with any of the Papal States, causing a severe loss of riches to the Venice (see Bosmin, 1933, vol. 1, pp. 231-235).

3. Italy, Private Collection (accompanied by an export licence).


ff. 1-15v, Papal Bull (Bulla de reconciliatione), Avignon, 17 February 1313, Decet sedis, heading, In Christi nomine Amen. MCCCXIII indicione undecima die ut infra. Incipit confirmacio pactorum ferrarum facta per dominum papam venetis; incipit, “[C]lemens episcopus servus servorum dei. Dillectis filiis duci. consilio et comuni venecciarum castellane diocesis salutem et apostolicam benedictionem. Decet sedis apostolice pietatem illis qui post lapsum penitudine…”; explicit, “[…] Datum a Avinione .xiii. kalendas martii pontificatus nostri anno .viii.”

Discussed by G. Soranzo (1905), pp. 228-229; published in Regestum PP. Clementis V (1888), anno VIII, no. 9007, p. 46: “Litterae super confirmatione pactorum inter Venetos et Ferrarienses”; original copy at ASV [Archivio Segreto Vatocano], Registra Vaticana (RV) no. LX, cap. 118, f. 32a.

ff. 15v-16v, Papal Brief addressed to the Doge Giovanni Soranzo, Avignon, 26 January 1313, Dedit nobis, incipit, “Clemens episcopus servus servorum dei dillectis filiis Johanni duci et consilio ac comuni venecciarum castellane diocesis salutem et appostolicam benedictionem. Dedit nobis dominus linguam eruditam ut eum substentare sciamus qui lapsus est verbo etc.…”; explicit, “[…] Datum Avinione .vii. kalendas februarii pontificatus nostri anno octavo”

Partial copy in Regestum PP. Clementis V, anno VIII, no. 9009, p. 79 and pp. 85-87; full brief published in Regestum PP. Clementis V (1888), anno VIII, no. 9009, p. 79: “Absolvit infrascriptos ab excommunicationum sententiis, et clericos, si eam incurrerint, ab irregularitate atque elargitur licentiam ad civitatem redeundi ibique commorandi”; original copy at ASV [Archivio Segreto Vatocano], Registra Vaticana (RV) no. LX, cap. 120, f. 42b.

f. 16v, Papal Brief, Avignon, 26 January 1313, Suscipiens misericordias, incipit, “Clemens episcopus servus servorum dei venerabilibus fratribus patriarchis archiepiscopis et episcopis ac carissimus in christo regibus universes ac dilectis filiis nobilibus viris…Suscipiens misericordias domini mater ecclesia…”; explicit, “[…] Datum a Avinione .vii. kalendas februarii pontificatus nostri anno octavo”;

Published in Regestum PP. Clementis V (1888), anno VIII, no. 9011: “Admittant libere Venetos ad omnes mercationes et quaecunque alia negotia”; original copy at ASV [Archivio Segreto Vatocano], Registra Vaticana (RV) no. LX, cap. 122, f. 45b.

f. 17, Papal Brief, Avignon, 29 March 1313, Nuper ut inter, incipit, “Clemens episcopus servus servorum dei dilectis filiis universes officialibus civitatis nostre ferariensis presentibus et futuris quocumque nominee censeantur. Nuper ut inter…”; explicit, “[…] Datum Avinione .iiii. kalendas aprilis pontificatus nostri anno octavo”;

Published in Regestum PP. Clementis V (1888), anno VIII, no. 9284: “Mandat, faciant pacta inter venetos et Ferrarienses observari”; original copy at ASV [Archivio Segreto Vatocano], Registra Vaticana (RV) no. LX, cap. 321, f. 111b.

ff. 17v-18v, blank.

These are Venetian copies of a Papal bull and Papal briefs (a formal document emanating from the Papal See in a simpler form than a Papal Bull, expressing the political or administrative wish of the Pope without necessarily answering a demand) promulgated by Pope Clement V (1264-1314), copied on parchment, and saved from the fire that burned the archives of a member of the Magistrato de Cattaver in 1385, as indicated in a note copied on f. 18v. The bulls and briefs all relate to the pacts established between the city-states of Venice and Ferrara in 1313, following the papal crusade waged against Venice who occupied Ferrara, a city under papal rule.

There were three crusading expeditions in 1309-1310: against the Muslims in the Eastern Mediterranean, against the Moors in Grenada, and against the Venetian soldiers occupying the papal city of Ferrara. It was the Crusade against Venice that proved the most successful. At the beginning of 1308, Azzo III of Este, lord of Ferrara, died, resulting in a war of succession. One camp sought the support of Venice--who was in an expansionist mood--and by the end of the year, there was an open war between the papacy and Venice. It seems that Clement V felt quite strongly about the conflict, describing “Venice’s intervention at Ferrara as the greatest blow to the Roman Church in twenty years…” (Housley, 1982, p. 37). There was an important apparatus organizing preaching for the Ferrara crusade in northern Italy. By 1310, the Venetians were heavily defeated, and the crusade was a success. This success was important, for it not only restored papal rule in Ferrara, it also showed that the Curia’s Italian policy was not doomed to failure (Housley, 1986, p. 75). The conflict was studied by Soranza (1905).

The present manuscript was copied after the truce and concerns the pacts that were concluded between the city-states over two centuries. The chronology and content of these pacts concluded between 1191 and 1313 were studied in detail by Ghetti (1906). There are quite a few copies made of these bulls and briefs, all mostly in archival deposits in Italy (see Rome, Vatican, ASV, RV 60 (references in Text above); Rome, Vatican, Codex Barberiniano XXXIV, 67; Venice, Archivio di Venezia, Bolle ed atti della Curia Romana dal 1304 al 1326, Pergamena n. 548; Venice, Archivio di Venezia, Pacta Ferrariae 1059-1407). The most important bull, here copied in its entirety, is the bull promulgated on 17 February 1313, known as “Bulla de reconciliatione,” sanctioning all previous pacts (those agreed to in 1191, 1240, 1250, 1258 and 1273), presented again by Francesco Dandolo ambassador of Venice to the Papal See (see f. 5v) and setting the terms for a new “entente cordiale” which began by lifting the severe punishment of excommunication and interdict pronounced against all Venetian nobleman but also tradesmen, seriously freezing and ultimately jeopardizing Venice’s commercial interests. Ghetti explains the importance of these bulls and briefs as reinstating and confirming Venice’s commercial supremacy over all of northern Italy: “Cosi era faillito il tentativo da parte del Governo veneziano di unire alla supremazia commerciale la conquista territoriale, ma per la rinnovazione e conferma dei patti contenuti nella Bulla de reconciliatione, specialment di quello di 1240, essa conservava tutta la sua importanza commerciale e restava l’arbitra dell’esportazione ed importazione di tutta l’Italia settentrionale verso l’Adriatico. Il qual fatto divento un principio di diritto internazionale, perchè non fu solo praticato dai Veneziani, ma venne riconosciuto dalle alter potenze” (Ghetti, 1906, p. 157)

Born French as Bertrand de Goth, Clement V is remembered as the Pope who suppressed the Order of the Templars and as the Pope who moved the Roman Curia to Avignon in 1309. His successor, Pope John XXII pursued the trend of crusades waged against disobedient or rebellious Christian rulers in Italy and turned the crusade into a method of implementing papal temporal policy in Italy.


Bosmin, P. “Le origine del Magistrato del Cattaver,” in Ad Alessandro Luzio. Gli Archivi di Stato italiani. Miscellanea di studi storici, Florence, 1933.

Ghetti, B. I patti fra Venezia con Ferrara dal 1191 al 1313 nella loro forma e nel loro contenuto storico, Rome, 1904.

Da Mosto, A. L’Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Rome, 1937-1940.

Housley, Norman. “Pope Clement V and the Crusades of 1309-1310,” in Journal of Medieval History 8 (1982), pp. 29-43.

Housley, Norman. The Avignon Papacy and the Crusades, 1305-1378, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1986.

Lanhers, Y. and C. Vogel. Tables des registres de Clément V, publiées par les Bénédictins, Paris. E. de Boccard, 1957 (Bibliothèque des écoles francaises d’Athènes et de Rome, 3e série)

Levillain, P. (ed.). Dictionnaire historique de la papauté, Paris, Fayard, 1994, “Clément V,” pp. 367-369.

Regestrum PP. Clementis Papae V […] Sanctissimi Domini Nostri Leonis XIII […] jussu et mugnificentia nunc primum editum cura et studio monachorum Ordinis S. Benedicti, Rome, Tip. Vaticana, 1885-1892.

Soranzo, G. La guerra fra Venezia e la santa sede per il dominio di Ferrara (1308-1313), Città di Castello, S. Lapi, 1905.

Online resources

On Pope Clement V

Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Ufficiali di Cattaver