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Papal bulla of Pope Alexander VI

Middle Ages, 1492-1503.

Found at the site of Hyde Abbey, Winchester, Hampshire.

A bulla or lead seal was attached to a certain type of letter of patent or charter issued by the pope, known as a papal bull, to authenticate the document. Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) was one of the most memorable corrupt and secular popes of the Borgia family, known for his nepotism, granting titles and favors to his illegitimate children. Among the bulls issued by Alexander VI, a native of Spain, was one granting the Spaniards exclusive rights of territory and commerce in lands discovered by Columbus in the New World.

The bull was to be attached to the papal dispensation of 1288 issued by Pope Nicholas IV. This permission allowed the monks to wear hats of sheep or lamb skins in services and processions because "the cold in these parts caused paralysis and sickness in some." No doubt the monks of Hyde Abbey would have been pleased with this special bull.