AN EXTRAORDINARY DOCUMENT SIGNED BY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POPES OF MEDIEVAL TIMES [1159-1181].
Pope Alexander III. Document Signed, as Pope, one page, folio [28 by 24 inches], on vellum, Rome, May 25, 1163. The Pope’s signature appears beneath the text between the sign of the Rota and the Benevalete sign; countersigned and dated at the foot by the writer of the document, the sub-deacon and notary Cardinal Hermannus, and by twelve other cardinals including the future popes Lucius III (Hubaldus, Bishop of Ostia) and Gregory VIII (Albertus, Cardinal of San Lorenzo in Lucina). Normal aging; fine condition.
The document is a Greater Bull of Godescalc, Abbot of St. Bertin, near St. Omer, confirming the independence of the Abbey from the Abbey of Cluny and all its other privileges. The first line is in capitals – “Iustitie et rationis ordo suadet….”
Pope Alexander III, Orlando Bandinelli, was an eminent lawyer who made a great reputation at the University of Bologna. Created Cardinal by Eugenius III, he subsequently became Chancellor of the Apostolic See. During his reign the Emperor Barbarossa swept into Italy, sacked Rome and supported the Antipope Victor IV. In 1162 Alexander was compelled to take refuge in France, where he lived at Sens from 1163 to 1165. It was at this time that Henry II of England quarreled with Thomas a Becket and threatened to support the Antipope. The Archbishop fled the country and joined Alexander at Sens. Later, in 1174, after the murder of Becket, Henry journeyed to Rome (to which city the Pope has succeeded in returning) and performed public penance.