The many works written by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims are inextricably
intertwined with his own life history. Hincmar did not write in a vacuum but
in response to events, attempting through these to re-order the world to
suit his vision of a Christian society. This introductory chapter therefore
focuses on his biography, from his days as a promising student at St-Denis
through to his death while escaping from Viking raiders. It outlines the
different networks within which Hincmar worked, discussing his interactions
with the clerics of his own diocese, with kings and other laymen, and with
popes, especially Nicholas I. It also demonstrates how long-standing and
intractable many of his disputes were. The chapter also highlights recurring
themes in the book, such as Hincmar’s working practices and the intensely
personal nature of political culture. Hincmar appears within a wider context
of scholarly men in the ninth century “fighting with words” and trying to
establish social norms by appeals to varied authorities. Finally, Hincmar’s
legacy is briefly considered, especially how he has shaped historians’ view
of the early Middle Ages.
The close parallels between Janet Nelson's biography of Charles the Bald and Richard Abels' biography of Alfred the Great are clear. Both books raise issues as to the extent to which early medieval biography is possible. Yet one noteworthy distinction between the books centres on their treatment of lordship. This chapter makes some comparisons between lordship in Francia and England, focusing less on the institution itself than on contemporary depictions of the relationship, in particular in literary sources, and the moral norms associated with it. Although there have been many discussions of the practice of 'Herrschaft' in the Carolingian world, especially in regional studies, analysis of the ethos of the lord-man relationship has largely relied on 'Germanic' texts. Lordship in Anglo-Saxon England has attracted far more scholarly attention, with the 'dear lord' widely seen as a key theme in Old English literature.
Between 858 and 869, an unprecedented scandal played out in Frankish Europe, becoming the subject of gossip not only in palaces and cathedrals. It was in these years that a Frankish king, Lothar II, made increasingly desperate efforts to divorce his wife, Queen Theutberga, and to marry instead a woman named Waldrada, the mother of his children. Lothar, however, faced opposition to his actions. Kings and bishops from neighbouring kingdoms, and several popes, were gradually drawn into a crisis affecting the fate of an entire kingdom. This book offers eye-opening insight not only on the political wrangling of the time, but also on early medieval attitudes towards issues, including magic, penance, gender, the ordeal, marriage, sodomy, the role of bishops, and kingship.
Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims (d. 882) is a crucial figure for all those
interested in early medieval European history in general, and Carolingian
history in particular. As the powerful Archbishop of Rheims, Hincmar shaped the
times in which he lived, advising and admonishing kings, playing a leading role
in the Frankish church, and intervening in a range of political and doctrinal
disputes. But Hincmar also shaped how those times would later be seen by
historians up to the present day, by writing historical accounts such as the
Annals of St-Bertin, and by carefully preserving dossiers of material for
posterity. This book puts the archbishop himself centre-stage, bringing
together the latest international research across the spectrum of his varied
activities, as history-writer, estate administrator, hagiographer,
pastorally-engaged bishop, and politically-minded royal advisor. For the first
time since Jean Devisse’s magisterial studies in the 1970s, it offers a
three-dimensional examination of a controversial figure whose actions and
writings in different fields are often studied in isolation, at the cost of a
more integrated appreciation. Combining research from recognised experts as well
as early-career historians, it will be an essential companion for all those
interested in the early medieval Frankish world, and in the history of early
medieval Europe more broadly.
This introduction puts the text into its early medieval context and explaining Hincmar's sometimes-dubious methods of argument. The book is a translation of the most significant source for the attempted divorce, a treatise known as De divortio Lotharii regis et Theutbergae reginae, written in 860 by Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims. It sheds much light on the Frankish world of its protagonists and on early medieval Europe in general. In 860 those supporting Lothar II's divorce were still able to discomfort Hincmar by drawing parallels between the trials of Ebbo and Theutberga; the matter was only finally settled in 868. The book offers eye-opening insight not only on the political wrangling of the time, but also on early medieval attitudes towards a host of issues including magic, penance, gender, the ordeal, marriage, sodomy, the role of bishops, and kingship.
This chapter contains the translated text ofDe divortio. It has several underlying sections, responding to the questions that Hincmar initially received. These sections were, however, further divided to make the twenty-three responses which appear in the manuscript. The original sections are as follows: the procedure at the councils of Aachen, rules on marriage, divorce and remarriage, the validity of ordeals, the next steps in Theutberga's case, the sodomy charge, Lothar's relationship with Waldrada and sorcery, Lothar's possibilities of remarriage, and the response of bishops towards appeals to them and the case of Engeltrude. De divortio also deals with seven further questions which Hincmar received six months after the first: who is able to judge the king, can the king avoid further judgement in the case, the case of Engeltrude, and the effects of communion with the king.