02.09.21, Hartmann, Die Konzilien der Karolingischen Teilreiche

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David Ganz

The Medieval Review baj9928.0209.021


Hartmann, Wilfried ed.. Die Konzilien der Karolingischen, 860 - 874.. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Concilia, Vol. 4: Concilia Aeui Karolini, DCCCLX - DCCCLXXIV.. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1998. Pp. xxvi, 746. ISBN: 3-7752-5354-8.

Reviewed by:
David Ganz
King's College

This edition, the second volume of Carolingian councils to be edited by Hartmann, contains 41 synods which were held between 860 and 874, excluding diocesan synods. Most of these synods had last been edited by Mansi in 1769-73. Their documentation ranges from mentions in Carolingian annals, letters, or the Liber Pontificalis, confirmations of charters to religious houses issued at the synods, to the letters and capitula which they promulgated. (Documentation of synods in the letters of Popes Nicholas I, and Hadrian II and in the letters of Hincmar is not given in full, since these texts exist in MGH editions.) Each synod comes with a brief German introduction, a bibliography, a list of manuscript witnesses and earlier editions and a text in which the names of clerics and their sources have been identified. There is an index of scriptural quotations, passages from church councils and papal letters, patristic quotations (chiefly from Augustine and Gregory the Great, but including Amalarius's Liber Officialis, letters of Cyprian and a passage from Ambrosiaster), passages from canon and civil law (including extensive use of the Sentences of Paulus and the Breviary of Alaric), an index of passages from these synods quoted in later canon law collections, an index of people and places, and an 83-page two column word index.

Seven of the synods printed here relate to the marriage difficulties of the Emperor Lothar II, which Louis Halphen called a 'joli tour de passé-passe', two synods relate to the dispute between Nicholas I and Archbishop John of Ravenna, two to the Photian schism and most of the remainder to disputes between Hincmar of Reims and his fellow bishops: Rothad of Soissons, Hincmar of Laon and Wulfad of Bourges. (The text of Hincmar of Reims' long treatise against Hincmar of Laon, presented to the synod of Attigny in 870, is edited by Rudolf Schieffer as a separate supplement to this volume, Die Streitschriften Hinkmars von Reims und Hinkmars von Laon 869-871.) The 860 synod of Tusey treats predestination. Further synods relate to the attempt by Gunthar of Cologne and Theutgaud of Trier to resolve the divorce of Lothar II and their subsequent deposition by Nicholas I and attempt at rehabilitation. Longer texts associated with the councils included in this volume are Bishop Rothad of Soissons's Libellus Proclamationis (pp 182-7) Archbishop Gunthar's 'Propagandaschrift' in support of his restitution (pp 192-7), the Responsio contra Grecorum haeresim prepared for the 868 Council of Worms (pp 291-307) and the Libellus expostulationis of Hincmar of Reims against his nephew presented to the synod of Douzy in 871 (pp 420-487). Of the synods edited here the 868 synod of Worms, the subject of a 1977 monograph by Hartmann, had the greatest impact on subsequent canon law. The 869 synod held either at Rome or Monte Cassino includes a statement on papal power which draws heavily on Pseudo-Isidore, as does the synodal letter of Douzy. In addition to episcopal letters there are letters of Charles the Bald to Pope Nicholas about the 867 synod of Troyes (pp 239-243) and to Pope Hadrian II about the 871 synod of Douzy (pp 528-547). The dossier of the 866 synod of Soissons includes the blessing at the coronation of queen Irmintrude (p 223-5).

For several synods letters of invitation survive; in some cases they are our sole evidence that a synod was held. An elaborate invitation to archbishops and bishops of the Eastern kingdom to attend the synod of Troyes in 860 or 861 dealing with the state of the church, and an invitation to Louis the German's bishops to attend the Lotharingian synod of 862-3 dealing with Rothad of Soissons show how clerics were summoned. The archbishops of Trier, Cologne and Besancon invited Hincmar to a synod in Metz in 863 to deal with the new bishop of Cambrai, but there is no evidence that this synod met. We learn something of the preparations for synods from the dossier of the 862 synod of Aachen, dealing with Lothar II's request for a divorce. It includes two treatises on divorce, drawing on patristic and canon law sources, one of which seems to be the work of a monk addressed to bishop Adventius of Metz. Both are important for any discussion of marriage. The two synods of Pîtres were also assemblies which issued capitula, and it is the capitula which are printed here.

The documentation includes synodal charters for St. Denis, St Martin of Tours after its devastation by the Vikings, St. Calais, St Germain d'Auxerre, Solignac, where charters had been burned by the Vikings, Nevers, the foundation charter for the nunnery of Neuenheerse, Charroux with elaborate biblical quotations, St. Vaast detailing the abbey's property, St. Pierre le Vif, St Médard Soissons and St Marcel Chalons. The privilege for St. Denis, issued at Pîtres in 862, gives a remarkably detailed account of the abbey's rents and how they were allocated to support the abbot and the 150 monks, confirming an episcopal synod of January 832 and a charter of Louis the Pious which had been upset by the division of the kingdom. Dues of grain, soap, salt, malt to make cider, iron for farm implements, carpenters to make wine barrels, dues from the fair, fish, pigs, eggs and fowls are all listed. Anyone who hinders this will have to answer before the tribunal of Christ, the Virgin, St. Denis and St. Benedict. The privilege lists those feasts which were commemorated at the abbey with a caritas, including feasts of the Virgin, the birthdays of Charles the Bald and his queen and the death days of Charlemagne, his queen Hildegard and Louis the Pious (pp 106-115).

The most remarkable document printed here is the attack on Nicholas I by Gunthar of Cologne and Theutgaud of Trier accusing him of fraud and cunning tuo solius arbitrio ex tyrannico furore (p 157) and including the charge that he wished to make himself emperor of the whole world, Nicolaus qui dicitur papam, totius mundi imperatorem se facit. It is only transmitted in the Annals of St. Bertin for 863. The eloquent defence of Lothar II against the alliance of his uncles Charles the Bald and Louis the German in 865 (pp 198-200) accuses them of wishing to expel him. The bishops of Lotharingia affirm their loyalty, remind the West Frankish bishops of the alliances between the rulers and of the strength of episcopal power. To break them would overturn the oaths pacts and statutes and would bring joy to Satan's angels.

The synodal decrees treat the problems of church property, tithes, delinquent laymen and clerics, how bishops are to be judged, marriage, baptism fornicating priests, runaway monks, attacks on nuns, parricides and fratricides. Bishops and priests were to abstain from hunting and from ludicris spectaculis and not to keep scurra vel mimmos (Milan 863 c. VI p 161). Incidental details include the account of how Hincmar of Laon stripped the gold and gems from the altar of St. Mary at Laon and made ringas et spatas et balteos et calcaria atque ligatures hosarum quas hosobindas dicunt and gave them to his brother and others. At the 868 synod of Quierzy the priest Willbert was examined before he was appointed bishop of Chalons and he had to explain how though he had been a recorder of royal stipends, an office thought unfitting for a future bishop, and his activity as steward for the monastery of St. Vaast, where the monks attested to his good life, as did Charles the Bald. He was given a copy of the Regula Pastoralis, from which he had to read about the qualities of a bishop, and a passage from the council of Carthage. He was examined and found to be catholicum litteratum and signed his profession and was then consecrated bishop at a special service.

In Hincmar's account of the synod of Attigny, included in his attack on Hincmar of Laon, he describes how he was standing by a window talking to bishop Odo of Beauvais when they were approached by bishops Frotarius of Bordeaux and Aeneas of Paris who told him that Hincmar of Laon was ready to sign a profession of obedience. The two hincmars drew up a document on Odo's writing tablets and then Odo was sent to the royal chancellor to quickly draw up the document. The following day it was signed by Hincmar of Laon and given to Charles, but a further little booklet was secretly given to Hincmar of Reims which he was to sign affirming his support for the privileges of the church of Laon. He only read it on the way to his house. These intimate details have been treated by Hartmann in an article "Gespräche in der 'Kaffeepause' am Rande des Konzils von Attigny, 870," Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum 27/28 (1995/96): 137-145, and serve to remind us of the discussions which must have been involved in the preparation of many of the documents printed here.

This outstanding edition makes accessible essential texts for any account of Hincmar of Reims or Nicholas I and for discussions of the nature of papal and episcopal power in the ninth century. My only correction is to note that the Berlin manuscript of the acts of the synod of Tusey (Phillipps 1769), dated by Hartmann to the tenth century, was identified as a Reims manuscript of the third quarter of the ninth century by Bischoff in his Katalog (p. 90 no 426).

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David Ganz

King's College