Sources and translations

This blog provides our draft translation of Carolingian texts, mostly linked to Hincmar of Rheims or the divorce of Lothar II and Theutberga.


The texts translated are as follows:

Page references are given in square brackets in the translation. All these translations are works in progress and have not been checked for errors or readability. Readers are strongly advised to check the Latin text themselves.


Saturday, 29 December 2007

Interrogatio 11/Responsio 11: on public confession and penance

[174] We tried to show above by ecclesiastical authority that a husband cannot separate himself from his wife, or wife from her husband, by means of a written secret confession: just as a bishop cannot remove himself from the church entrusted to him or from his rank, nor can anyone in church orders remove himself from his rank. And nor should anyone have to undergo public penance on account of a booklet of secret confession passed around, and nor can someone be condemned on account of a guided text, or one submitted by somebody else. Rather, what should be judged publicly should be confessed or proven publicly, and in their presence. The great pope Leo wrote to Nicetas Bishop of Aquileia, saying “A sentence can justly be imposed on someone who, present and standing there, has been proven guilty or has confessed fully”, because it is against reason for them to discern the punishments of those whose motives they are not able to know.

Divine scripture also demonstrates the procedure for judging, accusers saying about an accused woman in a prepared judgment ‘“Send for Susanna the daughter of Elchias and wife of Joachim”. And they sent for her and she came with her kin and her children.’ And after testimony was given, the judges condemned her to death. But she was freed, freed by truth, and the false witnesses were punished since they had done harm to their neighbour.

But the woman caught in the act of adultery, and physically present, was not accused through someone else’s testimony or written deposition, which church and Roman laws forbid. Her confession is implied, when it was said to her by the Lord “‘Has no one condemned you?’ and she said ‘No one, Lord’. And Pilate too said about the Lord – though he was seized like a thief and tied up by a band of men, the legitimate procedure of power was maintained, as Augustine said – who was handed over to his prefectural responsibility by the ministers of the Jews, by Anna Caiphas and by Caiphas, “You have handed this man over to me”. Hearing that he was in the power of Herod, he sent him back to Herod. This teaches us to expect Christian and fair judgments from secular men of the world [?], and then to have to apply ecclesiastical healing ointment, ie judges’ medicine, to the infirm. The Apostle demonstrated the same thing, when the faithful were still mixing with the unfaithful, “Already indeed there is plainly a fault among you, that you are judged by outsiders, and not by the brethren. If therefore you have judgments of things pertaining to this world” amongst you, “set them to judge who are the most contemptible in the church.” And Gregory says in the Pastoral Rule “those unadorned with spiritual gifts should at least serve for earthly matters.” And Augustine in his Enchiridon shows that [?] such necessary judgments should not be prohibited, but should be judged amongst the faithful. And St Ambrose: “Since there are wise brothers, let some of these whose judgment the world will respect be chosen to judge. It is very shameful if amongst those who are said to know God none can be found who is able to conduct a judgment.”

[175] For how can a repentant murderer receive the peace of the church before he is pacified with the litigants? How is discord able to win forgiveness before it is united by the glue of charity? How can the rapacious man, who has exhausted himself in rapine, perform acts worthy of penance, before he has made a peace offering by making amends or satisfaction, according to the judgment of David and the example of Zacherias? Or how can a marriage be dissolved unless according to the Christian laws, by which it had been joined under the Lord? And if it was not initiated but rather usurped, how else should this be proven? So St Gelasius wrote to the Emperor Anastasius, “If bishops of religion obey your law in as much as it pertains to the order of public discipline [?], recognising your imperial power bestowed upon you by supernal disposition; so it is fitting and appropriate for you to obey them, who are endowed with elevating and venerable mysteries. As is written elsewhere, read it again “Return to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” To Caesar then pennies, tribute and livestock, the honour owed so long he faithfully honours the Lord [!], the taxes; to God tithes, first-fruits, oblations and offerings, and continual service. Just as He returned tribute for himself and for Peter, and returned to God what was God’s, doing his Father’s will. And St Augustine says in his sixth sermon on the Gospel of John, “Don’t say ‘What’s the king to me?’ What are your possessions to you? For possessions are possessed by kings’ law.” So questions of secular business are to be sorted out through legal trials – just and Christian ones.

[176] And about the booklet or secret confession, Leo observed “to all the bishops in Campania, Samnium and Picenum. I am moved by great indignation and grieved by much pain, when I learn that any of you have been forgetful of apostolic tradition, and ruined in the zeal of your error.” And a bit later, “About penance indeed, which is demanded by the faithful: rather than making public a profession of every particular sin in a written booklet [?], let it suffice for the conscience to indicate [them] to the priests alone, in secret confession. Although the plenitude of faith which on account of the fear of God has no qualms about blushing before men is praiseworthy; yet not all sins are of the sort that those requesting penance would not fear to make them known. So let this uncommendable customs be removed, lest many should be kept away from the remedies of penance, because they are embarrassed or because they fear to reveal their deeds to their enemies, by whom they could be struck with legal action. Let that confession suffice which is offered first to God, then to the priest, who goes as an intermediary for the sins of the penitents. For they will then be able to push many to penance, if the conscience of the confessing person is not made public to the ears of the people.” Let them also consider (since the sacred canons order the excommunication of a bishop [?] for as long as he does not communicate with someone who he says confessed secretly to him) whether anyone ought or would dare to submit someone to the laws of public penance, on the grounds of a secret confession, whether a booklet or hearsay. And how much less should a legally initiated marriage be dissolved without certain and obvious reason, which Leo intoned terribly to all the bishops appointed throughout all the provinces, saying “Our warning denounces this too: that if any of the brethren tries to act against the constitutions and dares to ascribe to prohibited things [?], he should know that he will be removed from his office, and he who does not wish to be a companion in discipline will no longer be a participant in communion.”
[end of responsio 11]

Monday, 24 December 2007

Interrogatio 10

In the fourth chapter we ask you to inform us as follows. If this issue, for which we heard (and some of us witnessed) the ordeal was performed, is called back to judgement, how should the judgment be canonically arranged? And should the woman be judged by the secret confession which, it is said, she committed to the bishops, or by the booklet proffered forth in the judgment? And, if it happened that she proffered the booklet under coercion or signed it unwillingly, can she legally be removed from the marital bed in this fashion?

Interrogatio 8: was Teutberga cheating?

[163] This also is said, that some people say that the woman was concentrating not on her brother but on someone with the same name, when she sent her champion to the ordeal on her behalf. And that this was why her champion was not burned in that ordeal.