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The suppression of witchcraft, 1484 style….


On 5th December 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull known as Summis desiderantes affectibus (“desiring with supreme ardour”). Its purpose was to suppress the practice of witchcraft by any necessary means.

The following paragraph is taken from the 1928 English translation of it:-

“….Many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation and straying from the Catholic Faith, have abandoned themselves to devils, incubi and succubi, and by their incantations, spells, conjurations, and other accursed charms and crafts, enormities and horrid offences, have slain infants yet in the mother’s womb, as also the offspring of cattle, have blasted the produce of the earth, the grapes of the vine, the fruits of the trees, nay, men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, vineyards, orchards, meadows, pasture-land, corn, wheat, and all other cereals; these wretches furthermore afflict and torment men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, with terrible and piteous pains and sore diseases, both internal and external; they hinder men from performing the sexual act and women from conceiving, …they blasphemously renounce that Faith which is theirs by the Sacrament of Baptism, and at the instigation of the Enemy of Mankind they do not shrink from committing and perpetrating the foulest abominations and filthiest excesses to the deadly peril of their own souls, …the abominations and enormities in question remain unpunished not without open danger to the souls of many and peril of eternal damnation.…”

Pretty strong stuff. The bull was prompted originally by a request from the Dominican Inquisitor in Germany concerning witchcraft in the Rhine Valley. The number of people thought to be practicing witchcraft was increasing throughout western Europe, but especially in Germany. Innocent issued the bull and despatched inquisitors there to deal with the matter, but the ultimate intention was the destruction of witchcraft in whatever country it appeared.

To read more, go to this article.

Innocent VIII, commemorative medallion by Niccolò Fiorentino.Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Samuel H. Kress Collection

Where did the Tudors come from….?


For those of us who may wish to know where the name Tudor comes from, here’s a thorough explanation.



UPDATED POST AT A Medieval Potpourri


Some time during the month of May 1408 , were married Richard III’s paternal grandparents, Anne Mortimer and Richard of Conisburgh. She was just 16 and he was in his 20s, it being thought that he could have been born circa 1375 but there is some uncertainty about this and it could have been later.  It must have been a love match for it was without parental consent but validated by papal dispensation two years later on the 23 May.   There was certainly no material gains from the marriage for either of them as Anne and her sister, Eleanor, were both living in straitened circumstances and being described as ‘destitute’ on the death of their mother..  Conisburgh was destined to suffer on going cash flow problems being described at the time as ‘the poorest of all the earls’ and struggling to maintain the lifestyle appropriate for his rank (1) when he was promoted to Earl of Cambridge in 1414.

Sadly the marriage was short-lived, Anne dying shortly after giving birth to Richard III’s father, Richard of York on the 22 September 1411 at Conisburgh Castle.  The future was to bring about the execution of Conisburgh as a result of the Southampton plot in 1415 leaving their small son an orphan.



But I digress , and returning to Anne, it is believed that she was finally reburied once again with her paternal inlaws, Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile in All Saints Church, Kings Langley after their original burial place, Convent Chapel, Kings Langley fell into disrepair after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.    In 1877, this tomb and its contents were examined by  Dr George Rolleston.     In a third lead coffin was found the remains of a woman of ‘about’ 30 years old with some of her auburn hair still remaining.  These are believed to have been the remains of Anne Mortimer.


Some of the remains of Kings Langley Palace, home to Edmund Langley, are thought to have been incorporated in this old farm building.

Here is a link to an interesting article on  “Anne Mortimer, the forgotten Plantagenet”

1) Richard Duke of York, King by Right p35 Matthew Lewis.

Little bit of history in this beautiful artefact from our King John era . . . .

I am posting this courtesy of Leigh Griffiths of the Mortimer History Society.

A papal bull is an official paper document issued by the pope or his office. The term derived from this fascinating device which was used to seal the formal bull.. The Bulla. (Latin, Bullire, to boil. A reference to the bubble like shape of the bulla.)
Such items were attached to official documents of the Catholic Church to show their legitimacy and religious loyalties.
Lead was used to solve the problem of ineffective wax seals, warping in many hot countries, where the communications were sent.

The bulla was connected to the papal bull with either a Silk or Hemp cord. Silk was traditionally used for bulls issued on happy occasions, like sanctification. Hemp cords were used on an order of excommunication. So I am guessing this one once had hemp running through the center of it considering the era in which this was made.

This Bulla is from Pope Innocent 3rd. One of the most influential popes of all times.. His power claimed supremacy over all the kings of Europe. He ordered a Christian Crusade against Muslims in Spain and the Holy Land. He became pope in 1198 until his death in 1216.

The Reverse features the legend SPASPE… ( SPA = St. Paul and SPE = St Peter) over the characteristic heads of Paul and Peter.

Although this bulla has been torn into two halves, both sections were found some distance apart.. The 1st section to be found is the half showing St. Paul. This section was under the earth about half a foot into the ground… I carefully searched the surrounding area for a good hour or so, hoping to locate the 2nd half. The 2nd section of the bulla lay on the surface of the ground; with a big recent scuff mark across St Peters face…St Peter had recently been brought to the surface by the plough….

This bulla was the 7th example to be found and recorded from the Diocese of Norwich.


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