Professions of Episcopal Loyalty in the Pontifical of Sens

We’re back on manuscripts! No pictures, unfortunately, because this one’s currently in Russia; but at least I can feel more legit as a medieval scholar…

Recently – as part of the enormous deck-clearing exercise which is part of the reason that the blog ran low on content in the buffer at the end of last year – I revisited Shane Bobrycki’s article on the royal consecration ordines in the so-called Pontifical of Sens, which nowadays is St Petersburg Nat. Libr. Lat. Q.v.I no. 35, and noticed something interesting. Shane mentions in this article that the archbishops of Sens had their suffragan bishops place their loyalty oaths in and around these ordines. Now, the manuscript isn’t digitised, and as you can imagine I’m unlikely to be going to St Petersburg to see it anytime soon; but it so happens that the earlier medieval Latin manuscripts in St Petersburg have one of the most usefully detailed catalogues I’ve ever seen, from back in Tsarist times, and so I was able to go through and get a sense of the phenomenon Shane is talking about. The easiest way to present the results is in a table, as follows:

59v, at the footEaster blessings+ Ego Erbertus Antissioderensis episcopus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri aecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. Signum Erberti episcopiHeribert II of Auxerre (r. 1040-1052)  
88v, at the footOrdo for consecrating a kingEgo Fulco promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae Senonum matri ecclesiae suisque presulibus ore promitto et manu confirmo.Fulk I of Orléans (r. 1004-1012)
89v, at the footIdem.Ego Teodericus promitto debita subgestionem sanctae Senonum matri ecclesiae suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo +.Thierry II of Orléans (r. 1013-1021)
93v, in the marginOrdo for consecrating a queenEgo Hugo episcopus subiectionem et reuerentiam a sanctis patribus constitutam et oboedientiam sanctae sedi Sennonensis aecclesiae et domno Mainardo archiepiscopo perpetuo me exhibiturum ore promitto et manu propria confirmo. +Hugh III of Nevers (r. 1074-1090)
93v, at the footIdem.Ego Gerardus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirm.Ego Hugo promitto debitam subiectionem sancte matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo +. 
93v, immediately after the final prayerIdem.Ego Iohannes episcopus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque presulibus ore promitto et manu confirmo. 
94v, at the footNote on the archiepiscopal palliumEgo Ragenaldus episcopus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. 
95v, at the footMass for fighting against pagansEgo Frontmundus episcopus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus. Ore promitto et manu confirmo +.Frotmund I of Troyes (r. 998-1034).
95r, in the marginIdem.+ Ego Frontmundus episcopus subiectionem et reuerentiam a sanctis patribus constitutam et oboedientiam sanctae sedi Senonensis ecclesiae et donno Mainardo archiepiscopo et sequentibus eius ecclesiae praesulibus perpetuo me exhibiturum ore promitto et manu propria confirmo.Frotmund II of Troyes (r. 1049-1058).
95r, at the footBenedicto ubi voluerisEgo Odolricus episcopus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo +.Odalric of Orléans (r. 1021-1033).
96r[?], at the foot [the catalogue doesn’t include notes of fol. 96 so I’m guessing here based on where the footnotes are…]Blessing for tribulationEgo Aieuertus episcopus subiectionem et reuerentiam a sanctis patribus constitutam et obedientiam sanctae sedi Sennensis ecclesiae et domno Mainardo archiepiscopo perpetuo me exhibiturum promitto et propria manu firmo. [A subsequent profession of obedience has been erased.]Agobert of Chartres (r. 1048-1060)
96v[?], in the marginMass on the nativity of St Mary+ Ego Gozfridus episcopus subectione et reuerentiam a sanctis patribus constitutam et obedientiam sanctae sedi Senonensis ecclesiae et donno Mainardo archiepiscopo et sequentibus eius de ecclesiae praesulibus perpetuo me exhibiturum ore promitto et manu propria confirmo. 
97r, at the footBlessing for ordaining a king+ Ego Hadericus episcopus subiectionem et oboedienciam a sanctis patribus constitutam sanctae sedi Senonensis ecclesiae et donno Richerio archiepiscopo et sequentibus eiusdem ecclesiae praesulibus perpetuo me exhibiturum ore promitto et manu confirmo.Haderic of Orléans (r. 1063-1066).
97v, in the marginIdem.+ Ego Berrierius sanctae Meldensis ecclesiae episcopus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo +.Berner of Meaux (r. 1028-1040).
97v, at the footIdem.Ego Gislebertus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri Senonum ecclesiae suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo.Ego Macharius promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri Senonum ecclesiae suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo +.Gilbert of Meaux (r. 990-1009)Macharius of Meaux (r. 1015-1026)
98r, in the marginBlessing on the birth of St DionysiusEgo, Adalbertus, promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri Senonum ecclesiae suisque praesulibus; ore promitto, manu confirmo.[anti-bishop of Chartres, c. 1028?]
98r, at the footIdem.Ego Rodulfus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri Senonum ecclesiae suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo.Ralph I of Chartres (r. 1004-1006)
98v, in the marginIdem.Ego Arnulfus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonensi et Richerio archiepiscopo suisque successoribus, et manu confirmo.Arnulf III of Orléans (r. 1083-1087)
98v, at the footReconciliation of penitentsEgo Fulbertus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matris ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. S. Fulberti episcopi.Ego Teodericus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matris aecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. S. Teoderici episcopi.Fulbert of Chartres (r. 1006-1028)Thierry of Chartres (r. 1028-1048)
99r, at the footIdem.Ego Franco promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque presulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. S. Franconis episcopi.Franco of Paris (r. 1020-1030)
99v, at the footBenedictio palmarum siue florarum.Ego Hinbertus promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. Signum Ymberti episcopi +.Imbert of Paris (r. 1030-1060)
100r, in the marginIdem.Ego Walteri debitam subiectionem sanctae matri ecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo.The following two bishops are Walter I (r. 1045-1082) and Walter II of Meaux (r. 1085-1102), but which is which is unknown.
100r, at the footPrayer for the birth of SS Cornelian and CyprianEgo Valterius promitto debitam subiectionem sactae matri aecclesiae Senonum suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. Signum Valterii episcopi. PAX. 
107r, at the footExcommunicatory formulaEgo Nilo promitto debitam subiectionem sanctae matri Senonum aecclesiae suisque praesulibus; ore promitto et manu confirmo. Milo subscripsit.Philip de Pons (AKA Milo) of Troyes (r. 1088-1121)
(We might note also St Petersburg Nat. Lib. Lat. Q.v.I. no. 43, fol. 5v, in the margin of a sermon of St Ambrose: Ego Rotbertus Carnotensium episopus sanctae Senonensis ecclesiae tibi Richeri et successoribus tuis promitto debitam subiectionem et stabilitatem mei ordinis ore profiteor et promitto atque manu confirmo).
In the absence of any images of the manuscript, here’s Sens Cathedral as it is today. (source)

To start with, let’s talk a bit about the identifications. The earliest secure identification here is Bishop Gilbert of Meaux, from the 990s. There are a few others who could be earlier (Heribert of Auxerre, for example, could be Heribert I, whose reign started in 971), but I’ve worked on the assumption that there would have to be a very good reason to place any identification much earlier than 990. The only real exception here is Bishop Gerard – oddly enough, the only even vaguely plausible candidate I know of for this figure is a bishop of Nevers from the 950s, half a century earlier than any other entry. I suspect that (like Adalbert?) this is actually an eleventh-century ‘anti-bishop’ who fell out of our other sources, but obviously I can’t prove that and as it stands this is an anomaly. On the other end, the latest securely datable figure is Bishop Walter II of Meaux, whose tenure began in 1085. The presence of a Bishop John in the pontifical will certainly push these dates either earlier (if it’s John of Auxerre, r. 996-998) or later (if it’s John I or John II of Orléans, whose reigns began in 1088 and 1096 respectively). Nonetheless, this is a firmly (long-)eleventh-century phenomenon – all the possibilities for the three other unknown bishops (Hugh, Rainald and Geoffrey) fit neatly between 992 and 1072.

For the century or so the archbishops of Sens were collecting professions of obedience here, they managed a reasonably good go of being thorough. In particular, Meaux is more-or-less completely covered from start to finish, and the bishops of Chartres too are well-represented up to at least the 1070s. Orléans too is relatively well represented but has clear gaps, notably the thirty-year pontificate of Bishop Isembard. Paris certainly played ball for the mid-century, and if the uncertain bishops Ragenald and Geoffrey are Parisian (making them Rainald (r. 992-1017) and Geoffrey (r, 1061-1095)) the see is completely covered – I’m not sure that’s the most likely possibility, though. The see of Troyes, oddly enough given it’s so close to Sens, has notable gaps even if the solitary bishop Hugh is one of the two relevant bishops of that see. By the time we get to Auxerre and Nevers, we’re dealing with cases where we only have one certain profession from any of their bishops. In this case, the unknown Bishop Hugh is most likely to be either Bishop Hugh I of Auxerre (r. 999-1039) or Bishop Hugh II of Nevers (r. 1013-1065). If it’s Hugh of Nevers, then Nevers would be basically covered – his predecessor Bishop Roclend took up his see in 980, before professions began to be collected, Hugh himself ruled for over fifty years, and we definitely have his successor Hugh III. On the other hand, that would mean that Auxerre really is underrepresented. In either case, we can certainly say that the coverage of the professions is patchier in some cases than in others, and it’s not clear to me why. An obvious answer would be the loyalties of the bishops, but we happen to know that Bishop Odalric of Orléans (represented here) was opposed by his metropolitan Leotheric of Sens, so whatever’s going on it’s not necessarily working in any kind of direct way.

In terms of the manuscript context of these professions, Shane argues that the section of the pontifical containing the royal consecration ordines became a place where Sénonais claims about archiepiscopal authority were made, including professions of episcopal submission. I don’t want to say this is wrong, but I do think it should be qualified. The very earliest professions (those of Gilbert of Meaux and perhaps John of Auxerre, if him it be) went straight for the royal ordines, certainly; but Frotmund I of Troyes apparently chose a mass against the pagans. Shane does argue this mass is intimately related to royal authority which, OK; but Ralph I of Chartres, shortly afterwards, went for a blessing on the birth of St Dionysius. Then Fulk I of Orléans went back to a different royal ordo – but after that Franco of Paris went for a mass on the reconciliation of penitents. So, yes, there must be an element of significance that it’s close to the royal ordines, but it may well simply be that the presence of other episcopal professions was the main factor. Certainly, at least two bishops (Heribert II of Auxerre and Philip de Pons of Troyes) went for completely different places in the manuscript and Robert of Chartres (either Robert I (r. 1065-1069) or Robert II (r. 1075-1076) went for a different manuscript entirely. That is, Gilbert’s choice may say something about his opinions on the relationship between episcopal and royal authority; but subsequent decisions may be more closely related to ideas of episcopal collegiality.

This brings us to an interesting phenomenon, which is the location of episcopal professions relative to others of the same see. For example, about half a century of bishops of Meaux were on the same folio, presumably as an expression of institutional continuity; and three subsequent bishops of Chartres put their professions next to one another, as did Franco and Imbert of Paris. In the case of the bishops of Meaux, Walter I and Walter II moved to a different folio – but in this case (and this is where it would be nice to actually have seen the manuscript) I wonder if it might simply be the case that they ran out of space. The bishops of Orléans are a different question: Thierry and Fulk are close, although you wouldn’t be able to see them together; but Odalric then moved several folios up. His episcopate was disputed with Thierry, so he might have tried to create distance, but his successors Haderic and Arnulf III also made their professions quite distant from one another. Even more was Philip de Pons of Troyes, who put his profession right at the end of the manuscript, quite apart from Frotmund I and Frotmund II. I don’t know why that would have been, but it’s quite distinctive.

Finally, we can talk about the overall chronology of the professions. There are a few parallels to this document – Georg Waitz published some of them in the nineteenth century – but the nearest case, that of Besançon, includes abbatial professions and goes for a much longer period of time. In this case, we have a defined focus (bishops) and a defined century (eleventh). It is therefore noteworthy that this crosses over with a period in Sénonais history where the archbishops’ claims to ecclesiastical primacy were both made and accepted. It’s one of the shibboleths of the history of tenth-century Sens that the church was constantly quarrelling with Rheims over – well, over a number of issues including the coronation of kings; but most relevantly in this case the question of who got to be primate of Gaul. This was never an issue for Sens for most of the tenth century, but by the 990s and the end of Archbishop Seguin’s reign, not only had Sens reclaimed the primacy but it had more-or-less been accepted. I think it’s in this context that Seguin began to collect new professions in this manuscript. (But not to gather them from bishops who had already come before, which is interesting, and suggests a kind of ‘born in the purple’ thing, where the interest was in securing recognition from bishops consecrated after the primacy was relatively secure.) We have various kinds of evidence – notably some writings of the monk Odorannus – suggesting that the primacy continued to be actively at play during the mid-eleventh century, and we know that Archbishop Richer, at the end of the eleventh century, was concerned about it too. However, Richer was concerned about it largely because he lost it to the archbishops of Lyon, and for this reason it is very striking that we don’t have any subscriptions postdating Richer’s death in 1096 and not that many postdating the pope’s initial backing of Lyon for the primacy in 1078. It suggests that whatever is going on with this manuscript was intimately tied up with the question of Sénonais primacy. Once Richer started to lose, his suffragans began to stop subscribing. Once he died and his successor Dagobert accepted the loss, they ceased entirely.


Source Translation: Charles the Bald’s Proclamation against a Traitor Archbishop

Today finds me en route to charming Aberdeen, where I’ll be taking part in the Bishops’ Identities, Careers and Networks conference (and as I write this I realise I’ve forgotten my little cartoon Lambert of Liège badge, which makes me very sad). However, lest you should fear that I would abandon you, dear readers, I have (for once) prepared something special for today: a translation of the Libellus contra Wenilonem. This text, usually thought to have been written for King Charles the Bald perhaps by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims (whom this blog has encountered before, it being hard to avoid him when dealing with the Frankish episcopate) in 859. In 858, Charles’ persistent difficulties with the Neustrian part of his realm had come to a head, and a group of major nobles had invited Charles’ elder brother King Louis the German to become ruler in the West Frankish kingdom. Thanks in large part to his support from the West Frankish episcopate, Charles was able to beat off Louis and re-establish his rule.

There was one major exception to the general support Charles received from his bishops, and that was Archbishop Wanilo of Sens. Wanilo had crowned Charles, but switched sides to Louis and; well, let’s hear Charles’ side of the story:

[EDIT: Latin text here.]

The outline of lord king Charles’ case against Wanilo, archbishop of Sens, promulgated by his own hand before archbishops Remigius of Lyons, Herard of Tours, Wanilo of Rouen, and Ralph of Bourges, chosen as judges from amongst a holy synod of twelve provinces, held in the diocese of Toul, in the suburb of the same city which is called Savonnières, in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 859, in the 7th indiction, on the 18th kalends of July [i.e. 14th June].

Chapter 1: Because, as Saint Gregory said and you know to be true from time immemorial, kings in the kingdom of the Franks come from one dynasty, by divine provision, my lord and father Emperor Louis of pious memory gave me, like my royal brothers, a part of the realm. In this part of the realm, the metropolitan archbishopric of Sens happened to be lacking a pastor; so, in accordance with the custom of my predecessors as king and with the consent of the holy bishops of that archbishopric, I gave it to Wanilo to govern – at that time, he was serving me as a cleric in my chapel. He commended himself to me after the fashion of free clerics, and swore an oath of fidelity, and I got all the bishops of my entourage to ordain him as archbishop in Sens.

Chapter 2: After that, there came to pass between my brothers and I the well-known settlement concerning the division of the realm, as a result of which I received a portion of the division to hold and govern, with mutual oaths on the parts of us and our followers, in the manner whereof the leading men of the whole realm had devised. Like the other bishops present, Wanilo swore to me and my brothers, with his own hand, to uphold in future this division between me and my brothers in future as, in essence, my supporter. Wanilo also confirmed the peace and agreement of mutual aid between me and my aforesaid brother Louis with an oath.

Chapter 3: After his election, by the will, consent and acclamation of the rest of the bishops and the other faithful of Our realm, in his diocese, at the city of Orléans, in the church of Sainte-Croix, Wanilo and other archbishops and bishops consecrated me as king in accordance with Church tradition, and anointed me to rule the kingdom with sacred chrism, and elevated me to the throne with a diadem and royal sceptre. As a result of this consecration, I ought not to have been overthrown or supplanted by anyone, at least not without a tribunal of and judgement by bishops, by whose ministry I was consecrated as king, who are called the ‘Thrones of God’, in whom God sits and through whom He declares His judgements; and to whose paternal reproofs and castigatory judgements I was prepared to submit myself and now submit myself to.

Chapter 4: Then, when sedition had begun to grow within Our realm thanks to impudent men, by the consent of Our bishops and other followers, we wrote a mutual agreement concerning how I, with the Lord’s help, intended to act towards them, and how Our same followers ought thereafter to bring me solace through help and counsel. At the estate of Bayel, Wanilo subscribed this document with his own hand, as you can now see.

Chapter 5: After that, when Our followers and I had, as you know, gone to fight the pagans [the Vikings] at the island of Oissel on land and sea, some defected from Us and fled. Wanilo, however, returned to his own see, saying he was too infirm to go to Oissel. But while We remained there, girded for battle although under strength, Our brother Louis, as you know, invaded Our realm from his own with hostile intent, accompanied by seditious men. Wanilo went to his assembly without my agreement and permission. He knew that he wanted to supplant me. No other bishop from Our realm did this.

Chapter 6: Moreover, when I, in the company of those faithful to God and me, marched against my aforesaid brother and my enemies and those with him, who plundered the Church and pillaged the realm, he sent no help, either in person or through the due assistance which my royal ancestors and I had been accustomed to have from the church committed to him, even though I sincerely asked this of him.

Chapter 7: I then had reason and need to retreat from my aforesaid brother at Brienne. My brother Louis returned to my kingdom for this reason: that he might steal my nephew [King Lothar II] from me and take my men from me and violently oppress my followers. Wanilo went to my aforesaid brother Louis with all the help he could muster, acting against me. With him were excommunicate and seditious men of this realm, concerning whose excommunication he had received letters from his fellow bishops. And Wanilo celebrated public masses for my brother and the seditious men who accompanied him, in my palace of Attigny, in the diocese and province of another archbishop who was loyal to Us, without the permission and consent of his fellow bishops, and for excommunicates and the accomplices of excommunicates. And it was in that council and by his counsel (as much as Lothar’s counsellors’) that my nephew Lothar was stolen from me through lies, and the consolation and help due from him and promised by an oath was taken from me.

Chapter 8: Wanilo was no less present amongst the counsellors of my aforesaid brother in dealings both public and private, with his special favourites and amongst the foremost of his entourage, along with, as We said, those excommunicated by episcopal judgement and condemned by the judgement of the realm. This was so that my oft-mentioned brother might gain and I might lose that part of the realm concerning which my same brother and Wanilo swore an oath to me, and in which Wanilo had consecrated me as king.

Chapter 9: Wanilo advised and discussed how the bishops who owed me sworn fidelity and ought to give me the counsel and help they had confirmed with their own hands might desert me and give their service and obedience to my brother Louis.

Chapter 10: He obtained from my brother Louis a precept concerning the abbey of Sainte-Colombe and goods and honours in my kingdom, and asked for letters to send to agents who could retake the same abbey, Heccard and Theodoric.

Chapter 11: In the same letters to the aforesaid agents, Wanilo procured my brother Louis’ order that they should have permission to take stones from the wall of the castle of Melun, which rightly belongs to royal power. This shows how he endeavoured to cherish and tried to support him amongst all the people of the realm bestowed on me by God.

Chapter 12: Wanilo was present in council and dealings with the aforesaid excommunicates, where it was considered how those men who were loyal to me and had promised me loyalty with an oath might willingly or unwillingly swear loyalty to my brother Louis and give him help, and how he could obtain my kingdom from me. And Wanilo was not only present in council, but he himself gave the same counsel to my brother Louis, against the loyalty which he had promised me by an oath.

Chapter 13: Wanilo, both in person and through his companions, to wit, the abovesaid excommunicates, got my brother Louis to give a vacant bishopric, to wit, that of the city of Bayeux, to his kinsman, my cleric Tortald, who had commended himself to me and sworn an oath of loyalty. He, acting unfaithfully towards me and against the loyalty he had promised me, accepted the same bishopric with the consent of my brother Louis.

Chapter 14: Finally, after God, through the assistance of my followers against my brother, had given me the strength to recover, I came to Wanilo’s city. He knew to come to me against my brother to recover my realm; and offered no help, either in person with the counsel he had promised and signed off on, or through the soldiers who are usually provided by the church committed to him.

Wanilo reconciled with Charles later in 859, although his name became a by-word for treachery in later generations. There are a few things that could be said about this, but in the name of space I’ll limit myself to just one, relating to Chapter 3. It’s been said that there was no theory of deposition in Carolingian times, but Charles’ statement that he could, in theory, have been removed as king by a council of bishops looks very much like one. It does look as though Charles is accepting the legitimacy of the very procedure whereby his father Louis the Pious was deposed in the 830s (although in that case the deposition didn’t stick). It’s also remarkably favourably to the Church – admittedly correcting the ruler and giving him admonition and guidance is very much a bishop’s role at this point; but I have trouble imagining this idea coming from the court of Charles the Simple whilst it was justifying itself in handing out bishoprics like Halloween candy. So I have a question for the audience, if anyone’s working on a later period: does this ever get cited?  I can imagine Gregory VII (as a bishop who claimed the right to depose rulers) enjoying this one, but does it ever actually come up?

When Arguments Go Wrong: Part 1 of the Tübingen not-conference-report

Having finally had some time in the British Library to brush up on some required reading, here is the first of a couple of posts about the oft-mentioned workshop at Tübingen on The Transformation of The Carolingian World. I’m not going to do a full conference report for a couple of reasons; partly because the papers were explicitly works-in-progress and partly because several of them were in German, which I don’t speak well enough to have followed (relatedly, I would rather shame-facedly like to thank the participants for doing the question-and-answers sessions in English for my sake…). So instead, the plan is to do a few posts on some things which the workshop left me thinking about, some about individual papers and others about wider themes.

The first thing relates to the very interesting paper given by Warren Pezé, whom I was very pleased to see because he’s always been very friendly but by unfortunate coincidence we have only previously met when I had been in a rather grim mood (the last time, for instance, we were both in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, but I was caught up in staring with mounting frustration at the world’s tiniest and least-legible sixteenth-century copies of medieval charters). The paper was about manuscript evidence of engagement with heresy in the ninth century and its potential application to the eleventh. The reason it’s been on my mind is, well, the method is certainly good as showing what it shows, and the results are definitely interesting; but I thought there’d been a category error somewhere and I’m not sure the problem isn’t on my end.

The question Warren was addressing was this: what can manuscript evidence show us about the heresy of double-predestination, promulgated in the mid-ninth century by Gottschalk of Orbais and viciously attacked by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims. Hincmar was one of nature’s middle-managers, and Gottschalk appears to have been a person precisely geared to get stuck in his craw: fiercely intelligent, just as stubborn, and prone to attracting trouble. When Gottschalk advanced was – very­ loosely speaking – a doctrine about salvation which stated that God predestined the elect to be saved and the damned to be, well, damned. This was a function of God’s grace, and there wasn’t really a place for good works in it. Personally, I find the actual content of the controversy a bit esoteric, although it’s been keenly scrutinised by people wanting to see Gottschalk as proto-Protestant; for the purposes of this blog post, it’s perhaps best to see it as another iteration of the eternal Christian debate about faith vs works, with Gottschalk in the ‘faith’ corner and Hincmar over by ‘works’.

For the point which is interesting here isn’t so much the content of what Gottschalk was arguing as the response to it. Gottschalk was condemned as a heretic twice, once at Mainz in 848 by Hrabanus Maurus, archbishop of Mainz (who was still holding a grudge against Gottschalk for the lengthy legal case which Gottschalk had inflicted on Hrabanus when he was abbot of Fulda and Gottschalk was trying to get out of being a monk there…) and once again at Quierzy in 849 by Hincmar. However, Gottschalk refused to accept either council’s authority and, despite being canonically condemned, and thus a heretic, continued to argue his point.

As it turns out, the manuscript evidence can show us quite a lot about this – Warren had several examples of patristic texts which had annotations in the margin along the lines of ‘aha, Gottschalk is right!’, or which had been miscopied to sound less friendly to his point, some of which appear to have been produced at a relatively low social level. So, engagement with heresy, right?

This is where I start to raise questions. Despite Gottschalk’s condemnation as a heretic, the reality of his heresy wasn’t completely clear at the time – significant church figures and intellectuals thought he was right. The prominent theologians Ratramnus of Corbie (of dog-headed men fame) and John Scotus Eriugena (‘Irish-Born’) both came down much more on Gottschalk’s side than Hincmar’s, as did Bishop Prudentius of Troyes and (to a significantly lesser extent) Abbot Lupus of Ferrières (who temporised more than coming down on one side or the other).

So for me the question is, how far were the people in Warren’s manuscripts dealing with heresy, and how far was this instead Carolingian debate culture? The debate surrounding double predestination seems to have been very nasty – but this is largely from Hincmar, Hrabanus, and Gottschalk’s perspectives. Lots of things were bound up here, but at least two of them were strong, conflicting personalities, all of which had their personal authority on the line. Outside that particular hothouse, could it be that both sides looked like points which could have been proven right, and debating which was right was not to engage with heresy, but to try and work out a yet-undefined truth?

On the other hand, I worry that later ideas about heresy are swooping in to affect this picture. Gottschalk was condemned, after all. If I’m unwilling to accept double-predestination as a ‘heresy’, have I drunk the twelfth-century Church’s Kool-Aid and so see heresy as a matter of authority and condemnation rather than a rhetorical stance? If I am arguing that Gottschalk wasn’t really a heretic because there were authoritative people who didn’t condemn him, am I drawing too clear cut a line between heresy and not-heresy? I don’t know, but as my research draws dangerously close to 1022 trial of heretics at Orléans (the first executions for heresy in the West for centuries), these questions will only become more acute…