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For the background he made use of certain data such as the "Liber Pontificalis", a chronicle of the popes from St.
The last of the false decretals that had escaped the keen criticism of Blondel were pointed out by two Catholic priests, the brothers Ballerini, in the eighteenth century.(3) The letters mainly of thirty-three popes, from Silvester (314-335) to Gregory II (715-731).Of these about thirty letters are forgeries, while all the others are authentic.Thus it happens that popes of the first three centuries are made to quote documents that did not appear until the fourth or fifth century; and later popes up to Gregory I (590-604) are found employing documents dating from the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries, and the early part of the ninth. The Middle Ages were deceived by this huge forgery, but during the Renaissance men of learning and the canonists generally began to recognize the fraud.Two cardinals, John of Torquemada (1468) and Nicholas of Cusa (1464), declared the earlier documents to be forgeries, especially those purporting to be by Clement and Anacletus. Erasmus (died 1536) and canonists who had joined the Reformation, such as Charles du Moulin (died 1568), or Catholic canonists like Antoine* le Conte (died 1586), and after them the Centuriators of Magdeburg, in 1559, put the question squarely before the learned world.The Collection of Isidore falls under three headings: (1) A list of sixty apocryphal letters or decrees attributed to the popes from St. Of these sixty letters fifty-eight are forgeries; they begin with a letter from Aurelius of Carthage requesting Pope Damasus (366-384) to send him the letters of his predecessors in the chair of the Apostles; and this is followed by a reply in which Damasus assures Aurelius that the desired letters were being sent.
This correspondence was meant to give an air of truth to the false decretals, and was the work of Isidore.
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The figures in parenthesis occurring during the course of this article refer the reader to the edition of Hinschius.
The name "False Decretals" is sometimes extended to cover not only the papal letters forged by Isidore, and contained in his collection, but the whole collection, although it contains other documents, authentic or apocryphal, written before Isidore's time.
And it is also to be remembered that, owing to the irritating controversies of the time, anything like an impartial and methodical discussion of such a subject was an utter impossibility.