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One Hincmar of Reims on King-making: The Evidence of the Annals of St. Bertin, 861–882

1. See H. H. Anton, Fürstenspiegel und Herrscherethos in der Karolingerzeit (Bonn, 1968), 281-356; U. Penndorf, Das Problem des "Reichseinheitsidee" nach der Teilung von Verdun (843) (Munich, 1974), 77-88; J. Devisse, Hincmar archevêque de Reims , 845-882, 3 vols. (Geneva, 1975-1976) 2: 671-723; J. L. Nelson, "Kingship, Law and Liturgy in the Political Thought of Hincmar of Rheims," English Historical Review 92 (1977): 241-279 (reprinted in Nelson, Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe (London, 1986), chap. 7); J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, "History in the Mind of Archbishop Hincmar," in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages. Essays Presented to R. W. Southern , ed. R. H. C. Davis and J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford, 1981), 43-70. [BACK]

2. Cf. Anton, Fürstenspiegel , 295-296, with references at n. 756 to earlier literature; Wallace-Hadrill, "History in the Mind of Hincmar," 57. [BACK]

3. De Divortio Lotharii regis et Tetbergae reginae , quaestio vi, PL 125, col. 756. [BACK]

4. The reference here is clearly to the imposition of penance on the king as an individual, rather than to deposition from office: see Nelson, "Kingship, Law and Liturgy," 243-245. [BACK]

5. PL 125, col. 758 ". . . sicut de his omnibus in historiis et chronicis et etiam in libro qui inscribitur Vita Caesarum invenitur." Tyrannical usurpers constituted a third subgroup. [BACK]

6. Ibid.: "Non sufficit ad suffragium liberis paterna nobilitas. Vitia siquidem vicerunt naturae privilegia." To the Biblical exempla mentioned by Hincmar here may be added the influence of Pseudo-Cyprian, De XII abusivis saeculi , chap. 9, ed. S. Hellmann, Texte und Untersuchungen 34 (Leipzig, 1910), 52: ". . . regis iniustitia non solum praesentis imperii faciem fuscat, sed etiam filios suos et nepotes ne post se regni hereditatem teneant obscurat." (The text goes on to cite the case of Solomon.) Lothar II's inauguration occurred, curiously, under his uncle's auspices, outside his own kingdom, but with the support of its principes and optimates; see Annales Fuldenses , ed. F. Kurze, MGH Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum 7 (Hanover, 1891), s.a. 855, 46. [BACK]

7. Cf. above, n. 2 (followed by Wallace-Hadrill) claims that Hincmar distinguished "six types of ruler," when in fact the distinction is between three types of ruler-making. [BACK]

8. Anton and Devisse say very little about these. But see. C. A. Bouman, Sacring and Crowning (Groningen, 1957), 103, 112-114; see also Nelson, "Kingship, Law and Liturgy," 246 and nn. 1 and 4. [BACK]

9. Ep. 187, MGH Epp. KA VI, i, p. 196. The Annals of St. Bertin are referred to below as the AB and cited in the edition of F. Grat, J. Vielliard and S. Clemencet (Paris, 1964). The comment quoted is that of Devisse, vol. 2: 1054. [BACK]

10. See Appendix. Cf. the list of "coronations" in C. R. Bruhl, "Fränkischer Krönungsbrauch," Historische Zeitschrift 194 (1962): 265-326, at 321-326. [BACK]

11. Filial succession: see Appendix, items 1, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21; succession to brother, uncle, nephew, or cousin: see items 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17, 22, 25, 26. [BACK]

12. See Appendix, items 1, 10. Cf. the case of Louis the Stammerer in 862, AB , s.a., p. 88, where Hincmar Hints at, but does not specify, the aim of usurping royal power; and the sons of Louis the German, Annales Fuldenses , s.a. 861, 863, 866, 871, 873, pp. 55, 56, 64, 72-73, 77-78. See K. Bund, Thronsturz und Herrscherabsetzung im Frühmittelalter (Bonn, 1979), 469-470, 528-529. [BACK]

13. See Appendix, item 8. On family inheritance, see J. L. Nelson, "Public Histories and Private History in the Work of Nithard," Speculum 60 (1985): 251-293, at 264, 272-273 (reprinted in Politics and Ritual , chap. 9). [BACK]

14. Among the few not mentioned by Hincmar are some of the East Frankish cases listed above, n. 11. Hincmar may not have taken the unrest of Louis the German's sons as seriously as the authors of the East Frankish Annals of Fulda . It is of course not always easy to distinguish usurpation from a ritual of rebellion, in the case of kings' sons, nor from a probing-exercise, such as Louis the German's attack on West Francia in 875; see Bund, Thronsturz , 467-468. My list in the Appendix follow Hincmar's interpretation, with all the possibilities of arbitrariness that implies. [BACK]

15. See Appendix, items 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 16. [BACK]

16. See Appendix, items 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 23, 25, 26. Excluding the three papally performed coronations (two of them involving emperors), the figures are thus 14/23. Note that Hincmar does not mention aristocratic support for filial usurpations: See Appendix items 1, 10, 18, 21, though he does talk of "accomplices" (item 10) and "brigands" (item 21). [BACK]

17. A helpful survey of such situations in the ninth century can be found in W. Schlesinger, "Karlingische Königswahlen," in his Beiträge zur deutschen Verfassungsgeschichte des Mittelalters , 2 vols. (Göttingen, 1963), 1: 88-138. But whereas Schlesinger, pp. 97, 132, sees a "winning-back" of aristocratic influence after 814, I would see expectations as constant throughout the period. Cf. K. Brunner, Oppositionelle Gruppen im Karolingerreich (Vienna-Cologne-Graz, 1979). G. Tellenbach, "Die geistigen und politischen Grundlagen der karolingischen Thronfolge,'' Frühmittelalterliche Studien 13 (1979): 184-302, offers penetrating observations on the creation of consensus between king and aristocracy, esp. at pp. 253-257, despite the unpleasant ring of some of his terminology. (The first part of this study was written in 1944/1945.) [BACK]

18. For the view that Hincmar expounded hierocracy or episcopalism, see W. Ullmann, The Carolingian Renaissance and the Idea of Kingship (London, 1979), 82-124. [BACK]

19. AB , s.a. 865, p. 118-119, 121; 866, pp. 128-129; 876, pp. 201-202. Cf. J. L. Nelson, "The Annals of St. Bertin," in M. Gibson and J. L. Nelson, Charles the Bald: Court and Kingdom (B.A.R., International Series 101, Oxford, 1981), 15-36 (reprinted in Politics and Ritual , chap. 8, pp. 24-29). [BACK]

20. Cf. Wallace-Hadrill, "History in the Mind of Hincmar," [54: ". . . the entire account of public life as he sees it over more than twenty years betrays the historian's instinctive control of material"]. For some reservations about Hincmar the historian, see below. [BACK]

21. AB , s.a. 870, p. 171: ". . . reputatus quoniam insidias erga patrem suum infideliter moliebatur . . ." On the revolt of Carloman, E. Dümmler, Geschichte des ostfränkischen Reiches , 2d ed., 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1888) 2: 320-323, 337-338, 356-359 remains fundamental. See also P. McKeon, Hincmar of Laon and Carolingian Politics (Urbana, 1978), chap. 7, and J. L. Nelson, "A Tale of Two Princes: Politics, Text and Ideology in a Carolingian Annal," Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 10 (1988): 105-141. Hincmar left three different types of information on Carloman's revolt: the AB ; references in letters, excerpted by Flodoard; and the Capitulary of Quierzy (January, 873). A hint in a letter, Flodoard, Historia Ecclesiae Remensis iii, chap. 18, MGH Scriptores XIII, p. 508, indicates that Hincmar attempted to negotiate with Carloman on Charles's behalf in 871. [BACK]

22. AB , s.a. 868, p. 151: "Karlomannum filium suum, diaconum et abbatem, cum scara e vestigio . . . [Karolus] misit . . ." Carloman's abbacies included St. Médard, Soissons, St. Germain, Auxerre, and St. Amand: lucrative honores . [BACK]

23. AB , s.a. 873, pp. 189-190: ". . . antiquus et callidus Adversarius [Karlomannum] et suos complices ad argumentum aliud excitavit, videlicet quia liberius ad nomen et potentiam regiam conscendere posset quia ordinem ecclesiasticam non haberet. . . . Unde post depositionem eius complices illius ardentius coeperunt se ei iterum reconiugere et alios quos valebant in societatem suam abducere, quatenus, mox ut locum invenire possent, illum a custodia in qua servabatur educerent et sibi regem constituerent . . ." [BACK]

24. AB , s.a. 873, p. 180: "quatenus pernitiosa spes pacem odientium de illo frustraretur." [BACK]

25. The location of Carloman's supporters is indicated by his itinerary: AB , s.a. 870, p. 178; 871, pp. 179, 182-183; and by several of Hincmar's letters: Flodoard, iii, chap. 21, p. 515; chap. 26, p. 543. On the difficulty of identifying these supporters, see Nelson, "Tale of Two Princes," p. 112 Pope Hadrian II's interventions (probably at the instance of the Emperor Louis) are in MGH Epp. VI, nos. 32, 33, pp. 736, 737. [BACK]

26. For earlier use of similar strategies in 849 and 852 for Charles's nephews, see AB , s.a., pp. 58, 65. See. T. Schieffer, "Karl von Aquitanien. Der Weg eines karolingischen Prinzen auf den Stuhl des heiligen Bonifatius," in Universitas. Festschrift für A. Stohr , ed. L. Lenhart, 2 vols. (Mainz, 1960) 2: 42-54, at 47-48. Before the ninth century, of course, as during it, kings' illegitimate sons were often put into the Church. [BACK]

27. As Hincmar recognized in Flodoard, iii, chap. 26, MGH SS XIII, p. 543: ecclesiastical sanctions would need backing by alia (i.e., royal) potestas . [BACK]

28. Letter to King Carloman (881), PL 125, col. 1045: "particula regni." Cf. below, n. 58. On earlier attempts to limit partibility, see J. L. Nelson, "Queens as Jezebels" in Medieval Women , ed. D. Baker (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977), 45, 48 (reprinted in Nelson, Politics and Ritual , chap. 1). Cf. Schlesinger, "Karlingische Königswahlen," 95, 101. [BACK]

29. Blinding, widely used as a punishment for political crimes in the early Middle Ages, had special consequences in the case of royals: generally it removed them definitively from the circle of eligibles. (The dissertation of M. Schaab has unfortunately been inaccessible.) [BACK]

30. For the structure of the rest of the 873 annal, and the story of Charles the Fat, see Nelson, "Tale of Two Princes." [BACK]

31. AB , s.a. 879, pp. 234-235: ". . . coronam et spatam ac reliquum regium apparatum filio suo Hludouuico misit, mandans illis qui cum eo erant ut eum in regem sacrari ac coronari facerent." The political conflicts following Louis the Stammerer's death are lucidly examined by K. F. Werner, "Gauzlin von Saint-Denis und die westfränkische Reichsteilung von Amiens (880)," Deutsches Archiv 35 (1979): 395-462. Hincmar's stance is discussed by Penndorf, Das Problem des "Reichseinheitsidee," pp. 77-88. [BACK]

32. AB , s.a. 879, pp. 236, 239. See J. Fried, "König Ludwig der Jüngere in seiner Zeit," Geschichtsblätter für den Kreis Bergstrasse 16 (1983): 5-32, at 15-17. [BACK]

33. AB , s.a. 879, pp. 238-239: ". . . Hugo abbas et ceteri primores, qui cum filiis quondam senioris sui Hludouuici . . . agebant, . . . quosdam episcopos, Ansegisum et alios, miserunt ad Ferrarias monasterium, et ibi eos consecrari ac coronari in reges fecerunt." [BACK]

34. AB , s.a. 880, pp. 241-242. Hincmar had also recorded the agreement made with Louis the Younger at Fouron in November 878, when Louis the Stammerer had apparently envisaged a divided succession between his sons: AB , s.a. 878, pp. 230-234, esp. chap. 3, p. 232. But it is not clear that Hincmar himself approved this plan. [BACK]

35. See Werner, "Gauzlin," pp. 426, 449-450; also G. Schmitz, "Hinkmar von Reims, die Synode von Fismes (881) und der Streit um das Bistum Beauvais," Deutsches Archiv 35 (1979): 463-486, at 471, n. 31, 478, n. 51. It may have been Hincmar's resentment of Abbots Hugh and (especially) Gauzlin which occasioned his new emphasis on episcopal authority in writings of these last years, e.g., the decrees of the Synod of Fismes, PL 125, cols. 1071, 1087-1088; and letter to Louis III, PL 126, col. 119. Bishops (and not abbots) could consecrate kings. [BACK]

36. Hincmar's ordo for Louis the Stammerer: MGH Capitularia II, no. 304, pp. 461-462. [BACK]

37. Flodoard, iii, chap. 23. MGH SS XIII, p. 532: Hincmar to the bishop of Soissons. Evidently the initiative had come from the magnates with the young kings, however. Hincmar later had to protest his support for the "election" of Louis III and Carloman: ibid., chap. 19, p. 510. The differing accounts of the AB and the Annals of St. Vaast are discussed by Werner, "Gauzlin," pp. 428-431. The problem of dating and placing the "electoral assembly" implied by Hincmar disappears if his reference is seen as ideological rather than literal. [BACK]

38. AB , s.a. 879, p. 239: "Interea Boso, persuadente uxore sua, quae nolle vivere se dicebat, si filia imperatoris Italiae et desponsata imperatori Greciae, maritum suum regem non faceret . . ." This is often taken as a statement of fact: cf. W. Mohr, "Boso von Vienne und die Nachfolgerfrage," Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi 26 (1956): 141-165, at 158-160; but for an alternative view, see P. Stafford, Queens, Concubines and Dowagers (Athens, 1983), p. 24. [BACK]

39. AB , s.a. 879, p. 239: ". . . partim comminatione constrictis, partim cupiditate illectis pro abbatiis et villis eis promissis et postea datis, episcopis illarum partium persuasit ut eum in regem ungerent et coronarent." On Boso's installation, see R. H. Bautier, "Aux origines du royaume de Provence. De la sédition avortée de Boso à la royauté légitime de Louis," Provence Historique 23 (1973): 41-68; See also Bund, Thronsturz , 499-503. [BACK]

40. AB , s.a. 879, p. 239: "Hugo etiam, filius iunioris Hlotharii ex Vualdrada, collecta praedonum multitudine, regnum patris sui est molitus invadere." For other sources, see Bund, Thronsturz , 447-478. Hincmar's attitude is further revealed in Flodoard, iii chap. 26, pp. 545-546, where he warns Hugh against "any flatterer who urges him to attempt the usurpation of a realm" ( pervasio regni ), but also recalls his friendship with Hugh's father and grandfather, and urges Hugh to accept the honores promised him by Charles the Fat. [BACK]

41. AB , s.a. 879, p. 240. The structure of this annal shows some parallels to that of 873; see n. 23 above. [BACK]

42. AB , s.a. 869, pp. 157-164. See W. Schlesinger, "Zur Erhebung Karls des Kahlen zum König von Lothringen," in Festschrift für F. Petri (Bonn, 1970), 454-475; and N. Staubach, "Das Herrscherbild Karls des Kahlen. Formen und Funktionen monarchischer Repräsentation im früheren Mittelalter" (diss. Münster, 1982), 239-271. Staubach, p. 555, n. 672, stresses that the rituals of 869 should also be looked at from Charles's standpoint as having "die Funktion herrscherlicher Selbstdarstellung." Thus the AB account can be seen as the representation of a representation, in another medium. (L. Riefenstahl's film of the 1936 Olympics comes to mind as a modern parallel.) [BACK]

43. AB , s.a. 869, p. 157: ". . . plures autem saniore consilio illi mandaverunt ut quantotius commode posset usque Mettis properare stageret. . . . Quorum consilium Karolus acceptabilius et sibi salubrius esse intellegens . . . festinavit." Cf. the prologue to the Ordinatio imperii of 817, MGH Capitularia I, no. 136, p. 270: "hi qui sanum sapiunt." [BACK]

44. J. Hannig, Consensus Fidelium (Stuttgart, 1982). [BACK]

45. AB , s.a. 869, pp. 158-159, quoting Eph. 2: 14. [BACK]

46. Ibid., p. 160: ". . . sciatis me . . . unicuique in suo ordine secundum sibi competentem leges . . . legem et iustitiam conservare." This echoes the promise of Coulaine (843): see Nelson, "Kingship, Law and Liturgy," 255-256. [BACK]

47. AB , s.a. 869, pp. 162-164: ". . . quo etiam vos eius inspiratione confluxistis et ipsi vos sponte commendastis, cuius instinctu animata omnia in arcam Noe . . . nullo cogente convenerunt." (The allusion is to Gen. 7: 8-9, but the idea of the animals moving without human compulsion is Hincmar's own.) ". . . non incongruum videtur . . . ut in obtentu regni, unde vos ad illum sponte convenistis. . . coronetur." [BACK]

48. AB , s.a. 869, pp. 162-163. The two precedents are described in a single lengthy clause, beginning with "because" (quia) and covering nineteen lines of the printed text! The second "cause" adduced is the Biblical precedent of I Macc. 2: 13, for a repeated coronation when a king acquires a second kingdom. P. E. Schramm, "Die Krönung bei den Westfranken und den Franzosen," Archiv für Urkundenforschung 15 (1938): 3-55, at 13, n. 6, noted that seven bishops officiated both in 835 and in 869. On the myth of Carolingian descent from Clovis, see O. G. Oexle, ''Die Karolinger und die Stadt des heiligen Arnulf,'' Frühmittlelalterliche Studien 1 (1967): 250-364; on the holy oil, see Ullmann, Carolingian Renaissance , p. 92; and on the meaning of all this for Hincmar, see Wallace-Hadrill, "History in the Mind of Hincmar," 54-55. [BACK]

49. The prayers for the anointing and the crowning both begin with same phrase, "Coronet te dominus corona gloriae": MGH Capitularia II, no. 302, p. 457. Hincmar's personal involvement in the two rituals, of 835 and 869, partly explains this association. For some further considerations, see J. L. Nelson, "The Lord's Anointed and the People's Choice: Carolingian Royal Ritual," in Rituals of Royalty , ed. D. Cannadine and S. Price (Cambridge, 1987), 137-180. [BACK]

50. AB , s.a. 869, p. 164. [BACK]

51. I have attempted this for the 873 annals in "Tale of Two Princes." For some suggestions about the original audience of Hincmar's AB , see Nelson, "Annals of St. Bertin," pp. 24, 28. [BACK]

52. The evidence is sensitively discussed by Schlesinger, "Zur Erhebung," 460-464, and Staubach, Herrscherbild , 252-253. In this case, other contemporary annals have little to say. For 873, the Annuals of Fulda and other evidence can be set against the AB : see Nelson, "Tale of Two Princes." For 879, the Annals of St. Vaast give a very different picture from the AB 's, while papal letters offer a corrective to the AB on both Carloman and Boso: see references above, notes 24, 36, 37. [BACK]

53. Hincmar, Third Treatise on Predestination , PL 125, col. 191, quoting the Hypomnesticon which he believed to be by Augustine (iii, chap. 10, PL 45, col. 1631): ". . . quomodo autem unicuique secundum opera sua redderetur in die iudicii nisi liberum esset arbitrium?" For Hincmar's use of this probably fifth-century work, see Devisse, Hincmar 1: 234-236. [BACK]

54. Devisse, Hincmar 1: 256; and see also the thought-provoking comparison between the psychologies of Gottschalk and Hincmar, pp. 265-268. [BACK]

55. De Ordine Palatii , ed. T. Gross and R. Schieffer, MGH Fontes Iuris Germanici Antiqui (Hanover, 1980), chap. 29, pp. 84-85. See J. L. Nelson, "Legislation and Consensus in the Reign of Charles the Bald," in Ideals and Reality. Studies in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society presented to J. M. Wallace-Hadrill , ed. P. Wormald (Oxford, 1983), 202-227 (reprinted in Politics and Ritual , chap. 5). [BACK]

56. See P. Brown, "St. Augustine," in Trends in Medieval Political Thought , ed. B. Smalley (Oxford, 1965), 1-21, at 12-16; R. Markus, Saeculum (Cambridge, 1970), 59-71. [BACK]

57. Flodoard, iii, chap. 26, MGH SS XIII, p. 545 (to Count Theuderic): ". . . ne moleste acciperet si eum commoneret . . . quia non solum grandis presumptio, sed etiam magnum periculum est, uni soli generalem regni dispositionem tractare sine consultu et consensu plurimorum . . ." Cf. De Ordine Palatii , chaps. 29-34, pp. 82-93; Instruction to Louis the Stammerer , chap. 8, PL 125, col. 987-988; Acta of Syond of Fismes, PL 125, cols. 1085-1086. Note that the letter of warning to Theuderic ends by harking back to the three-fold division of 843. On Theuderic's role in the late 870s, see Werner, "Gauzlin," 416, n. 74. The primores ' "utilitarian" values are given particularly clear expression in Hincmar's very first annal: AB 861, p. 87. [BACK]

58. Wallace-Hadrill, "History in the Mind of Hincmar," 58-59, also noting the appeal to dynastic history, and to Verdun as a model settlement, in the Instruction to Louis the Stammerer , PL 125, chap. 4, col. 986. [BACK]

59. MGH Epp. KA VI, no. 126, p. 65. [BACK]

60. Cf. Hincmar's letters cited above, notes 56, 57; and note the regretful tone of AB , s.a. 880, p. 241: in the division of Amiens, Louis III received "quod de Francia residuum erat ex paterno regno . . ." [BACK]

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