Formularium Ecclesiae Strigoniensis (Collectanea Studiorum et Textuum, vol. I/4), edendo operi praefuerunt PETRUS card. ERDŐ–CORNELIUS SZOVÁK–PETRUS TUSOR, Budapest 2018. (lxxxiv + 880 p. + 8 facsim.)
The Cathedral Library of Esztergom keeps the formulary (“Nyási-codex”) from the late Middle Ages, of whose sample codex (“Beneéthy-codex”) reached its present place of occurrence – in the collection of the Bibliotheca Batthyanyana of Gyulafehérvár founded by Bishop Ignác Batthyány – after having taken an adventurous journey through Pozsony (Pressburg) in the 18th century. The two manuscripts are closely connected with each other as well as mainly with the function of the archiepiscopal tribunal of Esztergom.
When the texts of the two codices were edited and copied at the beginning of the 16th century, the compilation of the collections of sample letters having numerous sub-types and functions had already had a history in the medieval Hungary. Undoubtedly, though, that such activity was influenced by Italy: from the studies of the Hungarian students at the Northern Italian universities in the 13th century, through the official samples given by the papal legates of the early 14th century to the activities of the Italian vicars at the turn of the 15–16th century. Thus, samples were attached to the theoretical knowledge, which was finally completed by the personal practice. The most important characteristic of the secular and church formularies was that the legal order and the principles of the local judicial practice were put down in writing. Yet, this was always influenced by the theoretical law material acquired in the higher education, effectively, the customary law was the basis of the tribunals’ function, in this respect all the countries had their sovereign legal practice. The early formularies resulted in particular collections in both – secular and ecclesiastical – fields; the appearance of the syntheses was the outcome of the end of the 15th century.
The two codices – the Nyási collection of Esztergom and the Beneéthy manuscript of Gyulafehérvár – are the representatives of the synthesis of the late Middle Ages in the ecclesiastical law, just as the Magyi-codex of Pécs in the practice of the notary public. Before 1512, the sample manuscript was compiled by Máté Beneéthy, the notary of the primatial court of Esztergom, through the collection and sensible selection (= making it like a form) of the forwarded documents. This material was copied by an unknown notary of the office of Vicar General Demeter Nyási in around 1521, who slightly rearranged it and after having omitting certain items, he completed it with numerous new items. Although, the original editing is of the former (sample) manuscript, the complemented version consists of the most complete documentation of the medieval church administration of Esztergom.
Our text edition is the first one to publish a complete manuscript of church administration in a critical edition. The Nyási-codex forms the basis of the editio; however, its apparatus and appendix make the acquaintance of the sample codex’s text possible. As neither the Beneéthy-codex, nor the Nyási version is perfect in itself, by the continuous checking of the two versions the publishers attempted the late medieval reconstruction of the Stylus Strigoniensis; they made their decision by the thorough examination of the problematic places concerning the occurring opportunities. The publication hereby follows the text constructional practice elaborated in classical philology; yet, the complete texts of the two manuscripts can be acquainted without any difficulties by the help of the complex apparatus. These are introduced to the readers along with minimal historical commentaries by indicating the parallel places and the extracts that had earlier been published.
The thorough study of the text enables the reader to get acquainted with the everyday life of the late medieval church administration, the practice of the church jurisdiction, the order of holding a synod, methods and circumstances of the supervising function of the canonical visits, the occurring questions relating to the clergymen, the complex connections of the monastic reform, the daily businesses of the ecclesiastical court (last will, loan, charitable gift, indulgence, beggar’s licence, excommunication, absolution, etc.) and finally, the main questions of the liturgical practice. The colourful picture also meets the claim of completeness, since there are few topics of the church life that were not covered by the compilation of the editors. The authors are planning to write a detailed commentary to the text-volume later; furthermore, a collection of the extant authentic documents on the activities of the vicar general and its comparison to the sample-collection.