This is probably even more ignorant than most of what I write, because I have no competence in Canon Law ...
It is sparked off by the Quo primum tempore of S Pius V. Readers will recall what the Holy Pontiff lays down. Where a local rite is at least a couple of centuries old, nobody is allowed to intoduce the new, S Pius V, editions of liturgical books, unless there is agreement to this by the Bishop and the entire body of Canons.
Contemporary legislation reflects these modalities.
"When the Chapter of the Cathedral of Paris, in 1583. refused to its Bishop Peter de Gondy, the reception of the Breviary of Pius V--'Maxime quod recepta dudum tam illustris Ecclesiae consuetudo non facile suum immutari officium pateretur'--it was in accordance with the the conservative views expressed by the Holy See." [Batiffol]. The 1584 Paris Breviary was 'restitutum ac emendatum' by the 'authoritate' of the Bishop "ac eiusdem Ecclesiae Capituli consensu editum".
I want to float a suggestion that what we have here is the very ancient idea that the Chapter represents, and safeguards, the continuities and traditions of the Church. And that, in the small Mediterranean dioceses which preceded the gigantic 'tribal' dioceses of the North [in England, the Diocese of Lincoln stretched from the North Sea down to the Thames], the cathedral church was the church ... in which, for example, all babies born in the city would receive Baptism. And, probably, Confirmation/Chrismation at the same time.
The current Code of Canon Law strips all this back to a few ritual relics ... and even these, I am told, may not survive in the Americas. In their place, there are structures such as Colleges of Consultors. It is not my purpose to denigrate these rearrangements, which very probably suit modern conditions. I simply find myself wondering if we have lost something.
The older ways had financial implications. Canonries (and Prebends) had sources of income attached to them, which sustained the work and ministry of the holders of such 'beneficia'. Temptation might strike a canonicus to pay a vicarius to discharge his liturgical obligations in the Cathedral, and reforming bishops, such a Grandisson of Exeter, might respond to this problem by requiring canons to spend specified periods of time 'in Residence'.
Such 'unreformed medievalisms' (Dix) survived in the Church of England until the Victorian period. Anglican readers, especially in Barsetshire, will recall the ministry ... mainly to Italian butterflies ... of the Reverend Canon Dr Vesey Stanhope. Anglicanism has probably lost even more of the realities of 'canonries' than has the English Catholic Church. But I want to try to identify the theological points of the old system, however imperfectly these were expressed.
The Medieval set-up preserved a sense of corporate ministry. It sustained the continuities of structures. It prevented the structures of Church Life from being merely managerial, because, counterbalancing the bishop, there were bodies of men who had a canonical status setting them above the whimsies of the Bishop.
Just as the Pope would find it difficult to conduct himself tyrannically towards his Venerabilies Fratres, so a Bishop would himself be denied an entirely free hand within his jurisdiction by the concurrent authority of his Chapter.
This, in my view, is healthy.
I wonder if any light could be shed from Byzantine quarters.