This is the decision of the General Chapter of the Dominicans regarding some trouble in the Paris convent in 1561.

Fratres vero Antonium Abeli magistrum et Dominicum Sergent ut indignos denegamus, quorum priorem scilicet Abeli assignamus conventui Trecensi, et privamus cubiculo, quod tenet extra dormitorium propter causas dignas. Alterum vero declaramus non pertinere ad conventum Parisiensem, sed eum remittimus assignatum ad conventum suae professionis sine gradu.

Here is my attempted translation, with some queries. I am too uncertain about the Latin to understand the decision. Can anyone clarify the confusion? And where is Trecensi?

Indeed, the brothers Antoine Abeli and Dominic Sergent, that they are unworthy we deny (or we reject as unworthy?), of whom the first, namely Abeli, we assign to the convent of Trecensi (where?), and we deprive him of his room (or confine to his room?), because he kept outside the sleeping-area for reasons of dignity. The other indeed we declare not to belong to the Parisian convent, but we remit his appointment to the convent of his profession without position (or without delay?).


As always, more context would help, but I understand that may simply not be available.

My understanding is that the two dudes in question had been naughty in some way or another (...); an attempt at translation follows (with my reservations in square brackets):

However, the brothers A. Abeli, a teacher, and D. Sergent, we denounce [I think] as unworthy, the former of whom, i.e. Abeli, we assign to the monastery of Troyes et strip him of the bedroom which he holds outside the dormitory for valid reasons [whatever that means – maybe kinda like “obvious reasons”?]; the other however we declare does not belong to the Parisian monastery, but we send him back, with his crime pointed out [I think that's what “assignatum” means here], to the monastery of his profession [i.e., where he was first ordained], without rank.

  • Many thanks. So Abeli was losing his privilege of a separate room "for valid reasons" (which I think was a standard way of saying that we have reasons but we are not going to state them here) while Sergent was effectively suspended. Great! – user558840 Feb 16 at 11:29
  • @user558840 No, he held a room outside the dormitory for "worthy reasons," the reasons are not the reasons they are taking the room away. That is clear from the punctuation in the Latin. – Sebastian Koppehel Feb 17 at 8:16
  • How do you interpret the use of negare here? I cannot make heads and tails of it. It does not mean "denounce" -- certainly not classically, at least -- and its direct object should be an entreaty or an assertion. Otherwise it can also take an AcI. Maybe there is some ecclesiastical usage I am unaware of. – Sebastian Koppehel Feb 17 at 8:29
  • Lewis and Short give “reject” for “denegare” (II.); the question to me, as always, is how to understand the word in this context. It seems to me that the “ut indignos” has to mean “as unworthy,” referring, of course, to the two gentlemen in question. To me, the phrase “ut indignos denegamus” cannot possibly mean “we deny them to be unworthy,” because it leaves one with a redundant “ut.” Alternatively, how do you understand the text? – Batavulus Feb 17 at 12:33
  • Here is why Abeli was in trouble, but I don't really understand this either: "at cum magistro ordinis F. Vincentio Justiniani displicuisset, cujus causam non invenio, nisi fortè quod huic conventum Parisiensem a congregatione Gallicana segregare tentanti suoque immediato regimini subjicere volenti acrius restitisset, ut ut sit tum in comitiis ordinis Avenione xxv maii MDLXI celebratis rejectus fuit, & in conventum Trecensem relegatus." – user558840 Feb 17 at 17:16

Here is a translation of the add-on (which is rather interesting IMHO): “[B]ut since he had upset the Master of the Order Brother Vincentius Justiniani, the reason for which I do not find, unless perhaps that he strongly resisted to the attempt of the latter to separate the Parisian monastery from the French province and to place it under his own immediate rule [it does make you wonder who had actually been naughty here!]; however this may be, he was consequently thrown out during the conference [whatever the technical term is for such a meeting] of the order held at Avignon on 25 May 1561 and sent to the monastery at Troyes.” Interesting stuff! (BTW, questions like this one confirm the massive importance of Latin at a serious level for study of European history at large, and definitely for the sixteenth century.)

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    Yes, I entirely agree about the importance of Latin for sixteenth-century European history, and it is my lack of full comprehension that brings me here. Sometimes 90% comprehension suffices, but sometimes one has missed the crucial point. – user558840 Feb 18 at 23:36
  • With regard to what was going on, the General Chapter at Avignon also ruled: "Restituimus et relinquimus eandem conventum in directione et auctoritate congregationis, ut prius erat." One has to distinguish the French province (provincia Franciae) from "congregationis Gallicanae" (I am not sure what this was). The provinces (Scottish, English, French, etc.) were the basic units. – user558840 Feb 18 at 23:55
  • Restituimus...: “We restore and leave said monastery under the direction and authority of the congregation [I guess meaning the monks living there], as it had previously been.” I have had to do with churches, incl. the Roman Catholic, professionally for many years, but such aspects of church viz. monastic law remain a mystery to me... I guess this goes beyond standard knowledge of Latin... :-) – Batavulus Feb 20 at 10:02
  • My guess would be that Master of the Order tried to separate the Paris convent, for whatever reason, but was overruled by the General Chapter. As a sop to him, however, they pseudo-disciplined Abeli, sending him to Troyes. I still don't understand the thing about the bedrooms. – user558840 Feb 22 at 9:23
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    The bedroom part: “privamus cubiculo,” we take away (deprive him of) the bedroom “quod [cubiculum] tenet extra dormitorium propter causas dignas” which he holds outside the dormitory (i.e. a private bedroom) for worthy reasons (what ever those are. In other words, as part of his “punishment” he was stripped of the privilege of a private room. (How this relates to him being sent back to Troyes is not clear to me.) – Batavulus Feb 22 at 19:03

Acceptamus ("We accept") conventum nostrum Parisien et auctoritate ("with the authority of") sanctissimi domini nostri Pauli papae IIII subiicimus ("we bring it under the command of") illum (i.e. the monastery) immediate curae ... magistri ordinis ... et per omnia committimusque illi, ut ... restituat illum ad optimam formam tam in studiis quam regulari disciplina, in quibus defecisse videtur ("in which it appears to have failed"), ac proinde ex toto subtrahimus ("we take away") illum (i.e. the monastery) a cura et regimine reverendi vicarii congregationis Gallicanae, cui ex parte et nomine eiusdem sanctissimi domini nostri (i.e. Paul IV) in virtute sanctae obedientiae et sub poena absolutionis ab officio et excommunicationis latae sententiae (I suppose the worst punishment conceivable) praecipimus ("we order him"), ne de caetero se intromittat de illo conventu quantum ad dispositionem eius in temporalibus aut spiritualibus (i.e. he should stay out of it in regard), neve super et in eo ullam exerceat iurisdictionem (nor shall he have any jurisdiction over it)."

  • Thanks. What is odd is that the Gallican congregation was originally the stricter (Observant) wing of the Dominicans in France, which "captured" Saint-Jacques earlier in the 16th century from the more liberal Province of France. Now it seems that the Gallican congregation had become liberal. I wonder if this 1558 dispute had more to do with politics than religion? – user558840 Feb 27 at 23:20
  • That strikes me incredibly possible, as often (if not always)......... – Batavulus Mar 1 at 12:06

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