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.
. Consequently, he ordered shoes to be made for himself after the fashion of his fatherland, which they call ‘ruhilingos’, 285 and he would have worn them, had this not been forbidden by the abbot for the sake of discretion. 286 But I wonder why he [Adalhard] wanted to be so punctilious in this particular matter, when in his own behaviour he could be deemed excessively scrupulous 287 (if it is permissible to say so). For at that time when he was travelling he refused to allow any contraption to be made for himself at night, such as travellers are accustomed to make, so
the most important layman at Charlemagne’s court, while his older half-brother Adalhard was abbot of Corbie. Louis’ take-over of the palace in Aachen meant the introduction of a new group of trusted counsellors and the removal of the old guard. Powerful kinsmen such as Wala and Adalhard were sent off to monasteries, along with their sister Gundrada and other women of the family who had become influential during the last decade of Charlemagne’s reign. In due course, however, Louis, who had been crowned emperor in October 816 in Reims by Pope Stephen IV, felt secure
Attigny meeting, see B. Kasten,
Adalhard von Corbie. Die Biographie eines karolingischen Politikers und
Klostervorstehers (Düsseldorf, 1986), pp. 142–4; E. Boshof, Ludwig der Fromme
(Darmstadt, 1996), pp. 148–50. The most circumstantial comments on the political
context of that penance of 822 are given by O. Guillot, ‘Autour de la pénitence publique de Louis le Pieux (822)’, in J. Hoareau-Dodinau, X. Rousseaux and P. Texier
(eds), Le pardon (Limoges, 1999), 281–313 (rev. edn in Guillot, Arcana imperii,
341–70); and by De Jong, Penitential State, pp. 122–31.
, Paschasius Radbertus was the
beneficiary of the extensive collection of Ciceronian texts which
had been assembled by Hadoard, himself a pupil of Alcuin.282
Paschasius had first written a life of Wala’s brother, Adalhard
(Hadoard’s successor as abbot). In this, he goes out of his way to
indicate his familiarity with the author he calls ‘the king of Latin
eloquence’ (rex eloquentiae latinae).283 Paschasius takes the opportunity presented by praise of Adalhard’s appearance, for example,
to observe that ‘according to rhetoricians, a perfect individual’s
279 Odo of Cluny
Bernhard Zeller, Charles West, Francesca Tinti, Marco Stoffella, Nicolas Schroeder, Carine van Rhijn, Steffen Patzold, Thomas Kohl, Wendy Davies, and Miriam Czock
to carry it out. 25 A comparable text is provided by Adalhard’s directions about the management of the abbey of Corbie and its lands at the beginning of the ninth century, in which the abbot associated whole estates in arrangements through which the one nearer the monastery had to pay a double tithe in order not to burden one farther away with the task. 26 Monasteries such as Prüm might even demand that people travel to other estates to assist at harvest time. 27
Female labour, such as weaving and spinning, was for the most part carried out within the household
Alison I. Beach, Shannon M.T. Li, and Samuel S. Sutherland
Adalhard, a pious, devout, and God-fearing man, and a relative of the blessed man Gebhard according to consanguinity of the flesh; he was not, however, from Swabia, but lived in a distant land. Many great estates in the pagus of Illergau – that is, near Aichstetten and Breitenbach, Rieden, Hausen, and Steinbach – fell into his rule through inheritance. Whenever this man came from his land and visited these estates (which he did very rarely), all of the inhabitants hastened to greet him with their little gifts, just as all serfs do for their lord. But because he was
promote his cause in the Middle Kingdom. His correspondents included Eberhard of Friuli, but not apparently other key ministeriales such as Matfrid, Liutfrid or Adalhard. 60 I have suggested elsewhere that 852–53 saw a shift in the balance of power in the south of Lothar’s kingdom; Hincmar’s choice of correspondents might provide some further tantalising hints about internal groupings within Lothar’s kingdom. 61
If Hincmar had suffered from Lothar’s hostility to Charles the Bald in 846–47, both he and Charles reaped rewards from the good
once the external threats to it had been suppressed.
In July, after the armies had been
gathered together and formed up and were about to set out, 9 suddenly 10 the king was burdened with
a great weight of troubles. For messengers came from the west, Abbot Adalhard and Count
Odo, 11 asking him to
comfort with his presence a people sore pressed and in peril. If he did not
do this swiftly
Judith left her monastic confinement at Poitiers after the assembly at Nijmegen in October 830 and had returned by February 831 to Aachen, where she purified herself at the placitum held by Louis. See AB s.a. 831, p. 14 (Nelson, Annals , p. 23); De Jong, ‘Bride Shows’.
97 Wala was exiled to the monastery of St Philibert on the island of Noirmoutier, near the mouth of the Loire, like his brother Adalhard in 814.
98 Early Christian tradition held that John, the author of Revelation, was exiled to the island of Patmos by the Roman emperor Domitian.