Reading the West Frankish Coronation Liturgy, no. 3: The Erdmann Ordo (c. 900)

1.  Here begins the ordo to ordain a king.

2.  The bishops’ petition to the king.

“We ask you to grant to us, that you will to each of us and the churches committed to us conserve canonical privilege and due law and justice, and provide defence, as a king ought rightly to provide to each bishop in his realm along with the church committed to them.”

3.  The king’s response.

“I promise and grant to you that I will for each of you and the churches committed to you conserve canonical privilege and due law and justice, and provide defence as well I can, with the Lord’s aid, as a king ought rightly to provide to each bishop in his realm along with the church committed to them.”

4.  Then two bishops should call on the people in the church, seeking their will. And if they are in agreement, let them give thanks to God and sing a Te Deum.

5.  Benedictions and prayers over the king.

6.  “O God, Who takes care of the people by thy virtue and rules them with love, give to this man, thy servant N., the spirit of wisdom, with the guidance of instruction, so that he, wholeheartedly devoted to thee, might always remain worthy in guiding the realm; and so that during his reign the security of the church might be steered with thy defence, and Christian devotion might endure in tranquillity, so that, enduring in good works, he might by thy lead come to the eternal Kingdom. Per.”

7.  Alternatively.“O eternal God Almighty, creator and governor of Heaven and Earth, maker and manager of angels and men, king of kings and lord of lords, thou Who caused thy servant Abraham to triumph over his foes, gave many-fold victories unto Moses and Joshua, who were set above thy people; and elevated thy humble child David to the peak of the realm, and freed him from the mouth of the lion and the claw of the beast and Goliath, and from the wicked sword of Saul, and all his enemies, and enriched Solomon with the ineffable gift of wisdom and peace, hear our humble prayers we beseech thee, and adorn this man, your servant N., with the virtues with which thou adornest thine aforesaid faithful and the blessing of many-fold honour, and place him sublimely in control of the realm, and anointed him with the oil of thy Holy Spirit’s grace, with which thou hast anointed priests, kings, prophets and martyrs, who conquered kingdoms through faith and did works of justice and received promises. Let its most holy unction flow upon his head, and descend within him, and enter into his innermost heart; let him be by thy grace made worthy by the promises which the victorious kings received, so that he might happily reign in the present age and reach their company in the Kingdom of Heaven. Through our lord Jesus Christ, thy son, who was anointed with the oil of joy before his fellows and vanquished the powers of the air with the virtue of the Cross, who destroyed Hell and overcame the Devil’s kingdom, and rose victorious to Heaven, in whose hand all victory, glory, and power consist, and who lives and reigns with thee, God in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.”

8.  Afterwards, the ring should be placed on his finger, and then this should be said.

“Take this ring, a sign of holy faith, through which thou might know to fend off all heresies, and be joined to the ongoing catholic faith”.

9.  This prayer follows.

“God, Whose is all power and dignity, give to thy servant N. a fortunate outcome for his rank, in which, by thy gift, may he remain, and always fear thee and struggle constantly to please thee. Per.”

10.   At the giving of the sword.

“Take this sword, given to thee with the blessing of God to wreak vengeance on malefactors and praise the good, with which, through the virtue of the Holy Spirit, thou might resist and drive out all thine enemies and every adversary of the holy Church of God, and defend the realm committed to thee, and protect the camps of God, through the aid of the invincible victor our lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, amen.”

11.   The coronation.

“May the Lord crown thee with a crown of glory and justice, with honour and works of fortitude, that through the office of our blessing, with correct faith and the many-fold fruit of good works, you might reach a crown of the realm everlasting, by the largess of Him Whose realm and empire endures forever and ever, amen.”

12.   This prayer follows.

“O Lord, fount of all goods, O God, founder of all success, we beseech thee, give it to thy servant N. to bear well the dignity he has taken up, and deign to corroborate him in the honour so furnished; honour him before the other kings of the Earth, enrich him with fruitful blessings, and confirm him in the throne of the realm with firm stability; visit him with offspring, grant him long life. May justice always arise in his days, that he might be glorified with favour and eternal joy in the Kingdom. Per.”

13.   Here the sceptre is given.

“Take this sceptre, sign of royal power, to wit, the rightful rod of the realm, the rod of the virtue with which thou mayest rule thee thyself and the holy Church; that is, defend with royal virtue the Christian people committed to thee by God from the unrighteous, correct the corrupt, direct the righteous that they might hold to the right path by thy aid, so that you might go from a worldly kingdom to the Kingdom Eternal, by aid of Him Whose realm and empire endures without end, forever and ever. Amen.”

14.   At the giving of the staff.

“Take the staff, a sign of sacred government, that thou might strengthen the weak, strengthen the faltering, correct the corrupt, direct the righteous on the path to eternal salvation, with the common labour of our lord Jesus Christ, whose, with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, is virtue and empire for ever and ever. Amen.”

15.   At the mass.

“We beseech thee, Almighty God, that thy servant, who by thy mercy has taken up the government of the realm, might gain from thee the increase of all virtues, and, decently ornamented thereby, be able to avoid the monstrosities of sin and, as one enjoying favour, reach thee who art the Way, the Truth, and the Life, who livest [and reignest].”

16.   Secret.

“We beseech thee, O Lord, sanctify this offered gift, that the body and blood of thy only-begotten might be produced for us, and in every way help our king to obtain salvation of body and soul, and to, by thy largess, carry out the office enjoined upon him. Through the same.”

17.   Blessing.

“May God Almighty make thee victorious and triumphant over enemies visible and invisible, and fill up thy heart with fear and love of His holy name, and make thee to persevere in right faith and good works, and, having granted peace in thy days, lead thee to a kingdom everlasting with the palm of victory. Amen.”

18. “And may He who has wished to establish thee as king over the people bestow happiness in the present age and a consortship in eternal happiness. Amen.”

19. “May He cause thee to happily govern the clergy and people, whom He has wished by His generosity to place under thy rule, by His dispensation and thy administration through long-lasting time; for which reason, obeying divine commands, being free from all adversity, abounding in good works, serving thy ministry with faithful love, may they be fruitful in the tranquillity of peace in the present age, and merit to become with thee consorts of the heavenly citizens. Amen.”

20. After communion.

“May this salvatory communion, O Lord, protect thy servant from all adversity, so that he might obtain both the tranquillity of the Church’s peace and after the end of his time here reach an eternal inheritance. Per.”

21. Another blessing over the king.

“May God Almighty bless thee, set over the height of the realm, and dispose of the realm committed to thee with the peace that is desired. Amen. May He defend it from all hostile incursion, and scatter the pride of the foe beneath thy conquest. Amen. That the oppressed Church might be relieved from so many calamities, and labour of this sort might be enriched with heavenly gifts. Amen.”

22. A prayer over the king.

“May God Almighty, through Whom kings reign and in Whose hand all the rights of kings dwell, strengthen thy realm more and more in the liberty of the Christian people, and bend the necks of the faithless nations under the heel of thy power. Through the Lord.”

OK, so this is probably King Saul and thus not someone to be emulated; but hey, it’s a king with a sword. Source: the really excellent digital edition of the Utrecht Psalter, listed as canticum 16.

(Before I get on to today’s topic, can I just say thank you to everyone who commented on the last post? I greatly appreciate your thoughts.)

[We’ve passed over some Tours texts to do with Odo’s coronation and some undated and possibly very early texts preserved in a manuscript from Rheims.]

If I said that Louis the Stammerer’s ordo was influential, that’s largely because of the influence it had on the so-called Erdmann Ordo, which is influential. (Erdmann himself apparently disapproved of the name.) This is the first of the texts I’ve chosen which can’t be directly linked to a specific coronation, and it’s been placed at anywhere between the 870s and the 930s. The editor, Jackson, places it at a judicious ‘c. 900’, which is probably the correct decision; but I would argue that we can speculatively put it in a closer context than that.

These king’s ordines come in the surviving manuscripts with queen’s ordines, a juxtaposition which is probably meaningful, and suggest an occasion where a king and queen were crowned, if not together, at least proximately to one another. My suggestion here is Ralph of Burgundy. Ralph was crowned in 923 at Soissons; a few months later, his wife Emma was crowned queen at Rheims. But, at the same time she was crowned queen, Ralph was made (temporarily) king of Lotharingia. This is at least a possibility for context; but the reason I think it may well be this time has to do with the nature of some of the new formulae.

In particular, several of them could be read as relating both to Ralph’s particular situation and to his initial royal diplomas. The reference in formula 22 to the faithless nations (infideles nationes) fits in with the early years of Ralph’s reign, which were taken up with battles against the (infidel) Vikings and (disloyal) Lotharingians. Equally, the reference to the king saving the oppressed Church ties in with his first surviving royal diploma, which pushes unusually hard the notion that Ralph’s duty is to protect the Church from its enemies. Possibly significant, both documents use the verb protegere, which is not necessarily super-rare, but is nonetheless very, very uncommon both in coronation liturgy and in royal diplomatic.

Leaving aside this Mickey Mousing of the text, which is fun but hardly definitive, the overall message I take from the Erdmann Ordo is that of intensification. There’s an increased emphasis on the royal role of correcting wrongdoers, the new blessing for handing-over the sword gives the ordo a more aggressive aspect than its predecessors. The whole is still couched in the language of ministerium, but the king’s function as an active governor is more strongly emphasised. This fits nicely in with the general intensification of claims for royal authority around 900.

Next Friday: The Ordo of Seven/Eleven Forms, AKA the Stavelot Ordo.

One thought on “Reading the West Frankish Coronation Liturgy, no. 3: The Erdmann Ordo (c. 900)

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