This book presents a new and accessible translation of a well-known yet enigmatic text: the ‘Epitaph for Arsenius’ by the monk and scholar Paschasius Radbertus (Radbert) of Corbie. This monastic dialogue, with the author in the role of narrator, plunges the reader directly into the turmoil of ninth-century religion and politics. ‘Arsenius’ was the nickname of Wala, a member of the Carolingian family who in the 830s became involved in the rebellions against Louis the Pious. Exiled from the court, Wala/Arsenius died Italy in 836. Casting both Wala and himself in the role of the prophet Jeremiah, Radbert chose the medium of the epitaph (funeral oration) to deliver a polemical attack, not just on Wala’s enemies, but also on his own.
This book presents a rough translation of the Annals of Fulda (AF). By the ninth century annals were one of the major vehicles for historical writing within the Frankish empire. The AF are the principal narrative source written from a perspective east of the Rhine for the period in which the Carolingian Empire gave way to a number of successor kingdoms, including the one which was to become Germany. AF offer the major narrative account of the east Frankish kingdom from the death of Louis the Pious down to the end of the ninth century. The surviving manuscripts are only an echo of what must once have been a much more extensive transmission, to judge by the use made of AF by a number of later annalists and compilers. The brief description of the manuscript tradition must be amplified by looking at the content of the annals. For the years 714 to 830 the work is undoubtedly a compilation which draws on earlier annals, in particular on the Royal Frankish Annals and the Lorsch Frankish Chronicle, with occasional use of other smaller sets of annals and saints' lives. The account of the origins of AF was heavily criticised by Siegmund Hellmann in a number of articles written some fifteen years after the appearance of Friedrich Kurze's edition in 1891.
This book presents a rough translation of the Annals of St-Bertin (AB). The AB give a detailed record of events in the Carolingian world, covering the years 830-882. They constitute the most substantial piece of contemporary historical writing of their time, a time that was a critical one in western European history. The AB contain uniquely extensive information about Viking activities, constructive as well as destructive, and also about the variety of responses to those activities. Produced in the 830s in the imperial palace of Louis the Pious, the AB were continued away from the Court, first by Bishop Prudentius of Troyes, then by the great scholar-politician Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims. The AB have little information for the year 840 after the death of Louis the Pious, and something like the earlier density of reporting is resumed only with the battle of Fontenoy. From 841 on, the AB were based in the western part of the old empire, in what became, with the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the kingdom of Charles the Bald. Thus the division of Verdun is, again, faithfully reflected in the AB's record. From time to time, information was received from Lothar's Middle Kingdom, and from Louis the German's East Frankish kingdom; but the AB's main focus after 843 was on events in the West and on the doings of Charles the Bald.
The Epitaph of Arsenius
The ‘epitaph’ or funeral oration for Abbot Wala of Corbie (d. 836), a cousin of Charlemagne who was also known as Arsenius, is a confrontation with political crisis at various levels, and at different moments in time. Its focus is on Wala’s different roles during the reigns of Charlemagne (768–814) and his successor, LouisthePious (814–40). As the only remaining son when his father died, Louis, who had hitherto been king of Aquitaine, had already been made co-emperor by Charlemagne in 813. At this time Wala was
In the reign of LouisthePious, the
RFA continued to be produced down to 829, with successive
archchaplains, it seems, taking responsibility for their
contents. 16 Louis himself is nowhere credited with any
involvement with what his chaplains were recording. There is little
sign of any
central interest in disseminating an ‘official’ view of the
, MGH Concilia 2.2, pp. 724–67.
39 Cf. Matthew 16:19, where it is only Peter who is given the power of binding and loosing. The idea of the bishops collectively sharing Peter’s prerogatives, as successors to the apostles, is clearly expressed in the Relatio episcoporum of 833, which contains the bishops’ accusations against LouisthePious that led to his public penance. Relatio episcoporum (833), p. 51; De Jong, Penitential State , p. 271; for a new edition of this text, see Booker, ‘Public penance’.
40 This best fits Charles the Bald, who at the beginning
AF – so called since
Marquard Freher’s edition at the beginning of the seventeenth century
because a section of them has been ascribed to the monk and hagiographer
Rudolf of Fulda and because they were thought to have made use of Fulda
materials – offer the major narrative account of the east Frankish
kingdom from the death of LouisthePious down to the end of the ninth
century, one which has crucially shaped our view of
Egyptian desert. The name could be fittingly applied to Wala, who served as tutor and adviser to LouisthePious’s son Lothar from 822 to 825. Radbert and contemporaries knew about Arsenius from the sixth-century Latin translations of the Greek writings about the desert fathers (the Apophthegmata patrum ); De Jong, Epitaph , pp. 31–2.
8 Zeuxis of Heraclea (c. 435/425–390 BC) was a famous painter of Classical Antiquity. Cicero ( De inventione 2.1.1) recounts a story in which the citizens of Croton in southern Italy hired him to decorate the temple of Juno. Having
MGH Poetae 1, pp. 558–9. Theodulf, bishop of Orléans, was
imprisoned in 818 on suspicion of conspiracy against LouisthePious:
although he probably wrote this hymn during that time, he died in prison in
821 without being restored to his see. Cf. GL , p. 764.
Franks. 7 This son, LouisthePious,
eliminated a potential rival, his nephew Bernard, with a
ruthlessness belying his epithet. 8 But LouisthePious was more,
or perhaps less, fortunate than Charlemagne in the survival of his
own children: from his first marriage, three sons (Lothar I, Pippin
I and Louis the German) survived into adulthood. Louis conferred the