Conflicts, Control, and Concessions – The Central European Records of the Holy Apostolic Penitentiary

In various social settings, powerful groups have always sought to handle conflicts and crimes through the force of legislation, but they have also been ready to grant exceptions and treat special cases in a more permissive way within the same administrative framework. Such an institution par excellence in medieval Latin Christianity was the Office of the Holy Apostolic Penitentiary (Sacra Poenitentiaria Apostolica), which resulted directly from the papacy reserving the right to exercise supremacy over all disciplinary matters from the second half of the twelfth century on. The task of the SPA was to adjudicate petitions of those who in any way transgressed religious canonic norms and eventually to pardon them. This project of the Department has documented, catalogued, and analyzed some of the Central European source material in the Penitential Registers of the Vatican Archives. It concentrates on the years between 1431 and 1455, i.e., the papacies of Eugene IV and Nicholas V.