Family order and kingship according to Hincmar
in Hincmar of Rheims
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Hincmar’s treatise De raptu, written in the 850s, is the only early medieval moral text which tackles raptus, the abduction of women, but it also forms part of a new and wider discourse on marriage. Hincmar depicts raptus as the negation of the social peace that a king must create, and demands that he plays a key role in its suppression. The king ought to obey divine law: Hincmar presents a serious of positive and negative images of the king and his counsellor working together or in opposition. He is keen, however, to ensure that the interpretation of Old Testament images of raptus remained the prerogative of bishops rather than laymen. A model is produced in which the authority of fathers and kings mirrors each other: obedience to these ensures the creation of unity both within marriage, where there is an increased emphasis on consent, and in wider society. Respect and fidelity are the key values in this imagined ideal society; Hincmar justifies stern punishment by Charles the Bald against those who fail to show due respect to him as a king and father.

Hincmar of Rheims

Life and work

Editors: Rachel Stone and Charles West

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