Papal bulla of Pope Alexander VI
Medieval, 1492 to 1503
Found on the site of Hyde Abbey, Winchester, Hampshire
A bulla or lead seal was attached to a particular type of letter patent or charter issued by a pope, known as a papal bull, in order to authenticate the document. Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) was one of the most memorable of the corrupt and secular popes of the Borgia family, known for his nepotism, bestowing titles and favours on his illegitimate children. Amongst the bulls issued by Alexander VI, a native of Spain, was one granting the Spanish exclusive rights to territory and trade in the lands newly discovered by Columbus in the New World.
A bulla would have been attached to the papal dispensation of 1288, issued by Pope Nicholas IV. This dispensation allowed monks to wear sheepskin or lambskin caps at divine offices and processions, owing to ‘the cold in these parts having caused paralysis and disease to some’. No doubt the monks of Hyde Abbey would have welcomed this particular bull.