The Dispute between the Hospitallers and the Bishop of Worcester about the Church of Down Ampney An Unpublished Letter of Justice of Pope John XXI (1276)
The Archive of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in the National Library of Malta at Valletta preserves an original letter of justice (littera de iustitia)1 of Pope John XXI dated Viterbo, 30 September 1276, instructing the bishop of Exeter, the abbot of St Albans and the archdeacon of Wells to provide for the strict observance of the sentences of suspension, interdict and excommunication issued by the prior of Royston against the bishop of Worcester in a dispute with the prior of Provence (Saint-Gilles) and the brethren of the Order of St John of Jerusalem about the church of Down Ampney, south-east of Cirencester in the county of Gloucester. The original is considerably damaged by water, and the right margin has been partially torn off, so that part of the text has to be reconstructed. It was probably this bad state of preservation that prevented Joseph Delaville le Roulx from publishing the letter in his Cartulaire. The question how this papal letter came into the central archives of the Order of St John of Jerusalem cannot be answered with certainty; we would expect to ﬁ nd it in the archives of the recipients, that is, the bishop of Exeter, the abbot of St Albans and the archdeacon of Wells, where apparently no traces of it have been discovered.2 A possible explanation could be that, according to a chancery mark,3 two originals of the letter were to be made. Thus one original letter may have
1 On papal littere de iustitia and littere de gratia see Harry Bresslau, Handbuch der Urkundenlehre für Deutschland und Italien, vol. 1, 2nd edn (Leipzig, 1912; repr. Berlin, 1958), pp. 80ff.; Italian edition: Manuale di diplomatica per la Germania e l’Italia, traduzione di Anna Maria Voci-Roth (Rome, 1998), pp. 78ff.; Peter Herde, Beiträge zum päpstlichen Kanzlei-und Urkundenwesen im 13. Jahrhundert, 2nd edn (Kallmünz, 1967), pp. 59ff. and passim; Thomas Frenz, Papsturkunden des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, 2nd edn (Stuttgart, 2000), p. 13 and passim; Italian edition: I documenti pontiﬁ ci nel Medioevo e nell’Età Moderna, (Città del Vaticano, 1989), p. 14 and passim.