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.
The case of Hincmar of Laon in the Annals of St-Bertin
At least six formal episcopal depositions were discussed in councils in Western Francia and Lotharingia after 835. Archbishop HincmarofRheims was involved in every one. 2 However, the deposition of one of them, Bishop Hincmar of Laon, proved one of the most awkward episodes in his career. As a young man, Hincmar of Laon seemed very promising; his uncle HincmarofRheims must have been proud of him. 3 The future bishop of Laon was educated by HincmarofRheims, who played the role of a mentor. In his twenties in 858, the younger
Archbishop HincmarofRheims wrote voluminously about the parish and its priest during his long episcopacy (845–82). Author of a treatise dedicated to the status of rural churches, the Collectio de ecclesiis et capellis , Hincmar also issued several sets of instructions traditionally labelled ‘episcopal capitularies’ or ‘statutes’ to rural priests in his diocese, became involved in fierce controversies over particular churches and touched on related issues in many other texts. His interest in the topic represents an important part of
ceremonial vestment, to be sent to Wulfad, who had already been ordained as archbishop at Charles’s command. 121 Control of bishoprics, and their large resources of land and men, was too important to rulers to be left as a purely internal Church matter.
Towards empire, 868–877
In the late 860s, Hincmar again asserted his rights as archbishop over his suffragans, eventually falling into bitter conflict with his own nephew, Bishop Hincmar of Laon. 122 HincmarofRheims initially supported his nephew when, in June 868, Charles the Bald summoned the bishop of Laon to
Gottschalk of Orbais and the predestination controversy in the archdiocese
Matthew Bryan Gillis
remained an inveterate opponent to those bishops who condemned his teachings, foremost among them Archbishop HincmarofRheims.
Hincmar first sought to contain the danger of Gottschalk’s heresy and restore order to the Church, threatened by Gottschalk’s resistance to episcopal correction. Yet the archbishop soon found himself in the position of trying to resolve the doctrinal conundrum of predestination as kings, bishops and intellectuals from other kingdoms became involved in the controversy. The two-fold problem of Gottschalk the unrepentant
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.
The Treaty of Verdun (843) left the archdiocese of Rheims divided between the
West Frankish kingdom of Charles the Bald (843-77) and the Middle Kingdom of
Emperor Lothar I (843-55). After 845, Hincmar of Rheims faced the
unfortunate necessity of establishing a relationship with Lothar, while
giving his primary loyalty to Charles the Bald. Hincmar’s vision of dual
loyalty to his two Carolingian masters was not initially acceptable to
Lothar. Scholars have long recognised 847 as the particular turning point
when Hincmar’s relations with Lothar warmed. The role of personality has
previously been emphasised in this change; religious factors, however, were
significant in the process, especially the sack of Rome in 846, which
encouraged Lothar’s rapprochement with Charles and Hincmar. On Hincmar’s
side, Lothar’s control of Rome and ability to support or block his
applications to the pope, were amongst the many practical factors making a
better relationship with the emperor valuable to the archbishop. The largely
retrospective (and sometimes falsified) evidence for Hincmar’s contacts with
Lothar complicates the evaluation of their developing relations, and the
problematic papal letters of Leo IV in the Collectio Britannica are
discussed in an appendix.
Trising returns from Rome
In the autumn of 871, Archbishop HincmarofRheims sent a long and indignant letter to Pope Hadrian II, defending himself against the accusations of his nephew, Bishop Hincmar of Laon. Almost as an afterthought, he added a report on a delinquent and violent priest named Trising. 1 Well over two years previously, Trising had failed to appear in front of a synod to account for himself; instead, without Hincmar being aware of it, he had gone off to Rome to take his case to the pope. Now
here, instead underlining the bestiality of those who practised abduction.
The production of the De raptu raises more questions than it answers, but it is highly symptomatic of a state of mind of the Carolingian episcopate, probably grouped around the pre-eminent figure of HincmarofRheims. A product of conciliar activity, and setting out to be a real ‘instrument of government’, this treatise bore the marks of episcopal concern to advise the king, to shape his actions, and to consolidate the unity of the earthly kingdom through the unity
caused a major upheaval in West Francia and is the logical starting point for a closer examination of the relationship between Louis the Stammerer and HincmarofRheims. With a new ruler taking over the government of West Francia, Hincmar had the opportunity to resume a primary role in West Frankish affairs, and he took it.
Hincmar’s role in Louis’s accession
The first major extant source that gives any insight into their relationship is a letter sent by the archbishop to the heir apparent, Novi regis instructio ad