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.


Sunday, 6 January 2008

Interrogatio 5

[135]. [And tell us] how or for what causes marriages can be separated once they have been entered into, and without which causes they must not be separated. And after a separation, whether the man or woman, whichever one is still alive, can hope for another union; and whether, sinning within marriage, they should each be judged by the same judgement.

Interrogatio 7

[161] And they say that it was on account of a secret confession made by this woman that her champion escaped unburned from the ordeal .

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Appendix. Interrogatio 7

[250] And since some wise men say these things, as we said, do bishops and other Christians have any danger who take communion with this adulterer, and if there is a danger, how will they be freed before the Lord from the danger of communion?

Appendix: interrogatio 6. On the supremacy of Lothar in his kingdom.

[246] Some wise men say that this prince is the king, and is subjected to the laws and judgements of none except God alone, who constituted him as king in the kingdom which his father left to him. And that if he should wish, he will go to a placitum or a synod for this or that matter, and that if he should not wish, he will freely and legitimately leave off doing so. And just as he must not be excommunicated by his own bishops, so he is not able to be judged by other bishops, since he is subjected to the supremacy of God alone, from whom alone he was able to be constituted in supremacy. And what he does and how he is in governance is at the command of God, as it is written, “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will, he shall turn it”.

Appendix: Interrogatio 5. Concerning the wife of Boso.

[244] And concerning the wife of Boso, about whom Boso himself complained at Koblenz, and who afterwards came to this king and stayed under his power. Some people say that he did wrong since he did not return her to her husband when he could have done. And others say that it was not appropriate that he should hand over to death his relative who came to his faith, nor was it fitting that he should oppress a Frankish woman and compel her like a slave girl, and return her to someone if she did not want it. And others say that if he would wish to return her, she will go to the Vikings, and it is better that he allows her to live among Christians, and amongst them to free her life which the other man wants to take from her.

Appendix: interrogatio 4. Some sinister insinuations.

[242] They say moreover that if it were not permitted to this king to take another wife, or the concubine he now has, and that his wife were to be judged to return to him whether he will it or no, then he would come up with such a plan so that he would be freed of her and would not have to come back to judgement about it again.

Appendix: Interrogatio 3.

[239] And some say that there are no archbishops, except the pope, of greater authority than those who settled this matter, and if it were brought back to judgment, and it were found that the matter should not stand as it is, then the bishops who judged it would not be able to remain in the episcopacy any longer.

Appendix: Interrogatio 2.

[237] Some also say that there is neither authority nor reason why this matter which was settled by the judgement of bishops should be called back to judgement, because if this happened, the bishops who decided it will be as of no authority for other matters, and whatever they decide in the future will not be able to be so firm so that it cannot be retracted.

Appendix: interrogatio 1. Is this just Lotharingia's business?

Some say that since King Lothar has bishops and noble and faithful laymen in his kingdom, by whose advice and counsel he settled the matter between himself and his wife, that to retract anything from this does not pertain to the bishops of another kingdom, or to anyone else.

Appendix: introduction

[235] Finally, what follows are seven questions which we were given to resolve around six months after the ones discussed above, sent from the same people. Just as in the preceding ones, we insert the questions before the answers one at a time, responding as briefly as we can; and explaining as if compressed into a box, so that the careful man can understand so that he can embellish on them more fully; and so that we might not shut out the innards of charity from the petitions of the brethren, and offer to the wise man according the scripture the chance to be made wiser, when investigating more fully these things he seeks to understand them. And in the few little hours which we have extorted more than loaned from our multiple and very various occupations, for we do not have thoughts of leisure [?], we have done what might suffice and will not enrage the reader, since the size of the responses to these questions would wholly exceed the width of a volume. The beginning of thse questions is as follows:
“We beg of your Goodwill, that you will not find it tedious if we importunately persist in asking about things necessary for us to know. For after we recently sent questions to you for resolution, we found out about many things, concerning which we earnest ask for your responses, one at a time and individually, from the authority of scripture and canon law, and from the doctrine of the doctors of the church.

Interrogatio 23

Concerning that written to be said by some people, that if a man and woman wish to separate from each other not from consent regarding continence, but because of discord, or their fragility, that if separated they are not able to contain themselves or are unwilling to be reconciled, that bishops are able to advise from their own authority.

Interrogatio 22: questions about episcopal authority

In the eighth chapter, write back to us, whether it should be followed as some say that some bishops teach, that they [bishops] should offer the protection of defence to men or women who have confessed to them, lest anyone dare to bring these person to the judgment of the state for the crimes about which they had confessed to them, even if they are well known crimes. And if these wish to separate not from consent over continence, but because of discord, or because of their fragility, and if separated they are unable to contain themselves or are unwilling to be reconciled, these bishops say that by their authority they can give advice. And since they fled through a secret confession to ecclesiastical piety, like Boso’s wife, about whom we were informed with some interruption in the synod held at Toul, they should not therefore be judged except by the bishops to whom these people confessed.

Interrogatio 21: a killer question

[220] Concerning that which was added at the end of these questions: And tell us whether, if this woman has been legally rejected, the king is able, after penance and if he so wishes, to take the concubine, whom he kept and with whom he is said to have committed adultery after the marriage was initiated, in marriage.

Interrogatio 20

[219] Concerning that which is asked, And if such matters are considered whence the king must do public penance, after she has been found to be criminous, tell us also whether that king is able to take a legitimate wife after public penance.

Interrogatio 19

[218] Concerning that which was asked ‘And if she is found guilty of those crimes of which she is accused, tell us whether the king is able to marry another woman’: we have already responded to this in part above, but it is worth repeating now.

Interrogatio 18: Lothar's options

[217] In the seventh chapter, we ask to be informed as follows. If this woman again comes to the ordeal, and is found innocent, does her husband have to return to her, or can he unite with someone else? And if she is found guilty of those crimes of which she is accused, tell us whether the king is able to marry another woman. And if such matters are considered whence the king must do public penance, after she has been found to be criminous, tell us also whether that king is able to take a legitimate wife after public penance. And tell us whether, if she has been legally rejected, the king is able, after penance and if he so wishes, to take the concubine, whom he kept and with whom he is said to have committed adultery after the marriage was initiated, in marriage.

Interrogatio 17

[214] About that question which was posed: if by chance these male sorcerers or female enchanters should be found, what should be done about it?

Interrogatio 16: why do such things happen?

[213] About that question which was posed: what might be the reason that God, as is said, often allows these things to happen in legitimate marriage?

Interrogatio 15: questions of magical practice

[205] About that which was asked, whether it is able to be true as many men say, that there are women who by their evil-doing are able to place an irreconcilable hatred between husband and wife, and are able to sow a love beyond words between a man and a woman, and all the rest which the questioners wanted to bring to this question.

Interrogatio 14/Responsio 14: about the oath

[203] Let the words of St Gregory in his book on the morals, c.33, be read for the question raised about the oath. For he says: “Imagine someone who seeks friendships of this world, and who binds himself by an oath to someone leading a life similar to his, that he will cover over his secrets in total silence; and that he to whom this was sworn is known to be committing adultery, and even tries to kill the husband of the adulteress. The man who swore the oath comes back to his senses and is buffeted about by various thoughts: he fears to keep silence about it, lest by keeping silent about the adultery he becomes a participant in the murder; but he fears also to betray, lest he render himself guilty of perjury. He is tied by the entwined nerves of his testicles. Fearing to come down on either side, lest he not be free of the sickness of transgression.” And a little later, “There is however a principle which is useful for eliminating these trickeries, which is that when the mind is compelled between lesser and greater sins, then if there is really no path of escape open without sin, the lesser sins should always be chosen. For he who is enclosed by a circuit of walls so that he might not escape jumps off in flight there where the walls are lowest.”

And the venerable priest Bede says in his homily on the Gospel according to Matthew, in which Herod’s foolish oath is described, “How greatly we should avoid the rashness of taking an oath, the Lord in the Gospel and James in his letter teach, saying “Before all things, my brothers, do not swear by the heavens nor by the earth, nor by any other oath.” Let your speech be ‘yes’ and ‘no’, so that you will not fall at the judgment. That judgement at which Herod falls, so that fearing perjuring or perjury, it was necessary for him to commit a sin. But if it happens perhaps that we should swear unwisely, which oath if kept would lead to worse consequences, then by wise counsel we know that the oath can be changed, and by force of necessity, we will have to perjure, rather than avoiding perjury only to fall into a more serious crime. For David swore by the Lord to kill Nabal, a foolish and impious man, and to destroy all that belonged to him. But at the intercession of his prudent wife Abigail, he revoked his threats, he sheathed his sword, and grieved that he had committed a sin with such perjury. And Herod swore to give to the dancer whatever she demanded of him, and, lest he be called a perjurer by the revellers, he polluted the revels with blood, making the death of the prophet into a dancer’s reward. A careful moderation is to be observed not just in swearing, but in all things. so if by the traps of the wily enemy we make such a slip from which we cannot escape without some stain of sin, let us escape it by seeking the outcome in which we foresee that we will commit the lesser sin. And so, for those shut in by enemy walls on all sides, and who trying to escape see all exits blocked off, it is necessary that they chose some place from which to jump, where from the lowest wall they run the least danger of falling.” And the Council of Lerida, “whoever obliges himself by an oath that he will in no way make peace with someone who he is suing, he will be separated from the communion of the body and blood of the Lord for one year for his perjury, and he will absolve his guilty with alms, tears and as far as he can, fasting, and hurry to return quickly to charity, which deals with a multitude of sins.”

[204] And since the questioners wished to ask about an oath of this sort, we thought it not irrelevant to write about such things which are accustomed to happen to human fragility. We will not attack anyone in particular with what we write, but rather in case there is such a person, whom this advice would be able to help, mindful of the scripture saying “whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee”. And so although we were not asked about it, we thought we should include [advice] for someone who must chose between two things and hesitates. For no one will easily find, indeed no one is able to find someone who is holier than David, wiser than Solomon, and stronger than Samson. And these, captured by love of a woman which tames iron wills by lust, and neither shrinks back from the rags of the poor nor fears the royal purple, did things which were not befitting. And women often come to us complaining that young men made them a pledge and then scorned them and left. And it has meanwhile been found by us that men leave their legitimate wives and adhere to adulteresses that they should keep the pledge they promised, and they struggle with great effort to be separated from these wives. About this business, St Augustine says in his book On the good of marriage “There is this further, that in that very debt which married persons pay one to another, even if they demand it with somewhat too great intemperance and incontinence, yet they owe faith alike one to another. Unto which faith the Apostle allows so great right, as to call it "power," saying, "The woman has not power of her own body, but the man; again in like manner also the man has not power of his own body, but the woman." But the violation of this faith is called adultery, when either by instigation of one's own lust, or by consent of lust of another, there is sexual intercourse on either side with another against the marriage compact: and thus faith is broken, which, even in things that are of the body, and mean, is a great good of the soul: and therefore it is certain that it ought to be preferred even to the health of the body, wherein even this life of ours is contained. For, although a little chaff in comparison of much gold is almost nothing; yet faith, when it is kept pure in a matter of chaff, as in gold, is not therefore less because it is kept in a lesser matter. But when faith is employed to commit sin, it were strange that we should have to call it faith; however of what kind soever it be, if also the deed be done against it, it is the worse done; save when it is on this account abandoned, that there may be a return unto true and lawful faith, that is, that sin may be amended, by correction of perverseness of the will. As if any, being unable alone to rob a man, should find a partner in his iniquity, and make an agreement with him to do it together, and to divide the spoil; and, after the crime has been committed, should take off the whole to himself alone. That other grieves and complains that faith has not been kept with him, but in his very complaint he ought to consider, that he himself rather ought to have kept faith with human society in a good life, and not to make unjust spoil of a man, if he feels with how great injustice it has failed to be kept with himself in a fellowship of sin. Forsooth the former, being faithless in both instances, must assuredly be judged the more wicked. But, if he had been displeased at what they had done ill, and had been on this account unwilling to divide the spoil with his partner in crime, in order that it might be restored to the man, from whom it had been taken, not even a faithless man would call him faithless. Thus a woman, if, having broken her marriage faith, she keep faith with her adulterer, is certainly evil: but, if not even with her adulterer, worse. Further, if she repent her of her sin, and returning to marriage chastity, renounce all adulterous compacts and resolutions, I count it strange if even the adulterer himself will think her one who breaks faith.” And this is equally to be understood about adultery, that someone breaches an agreement made with an adulteress, that adulteress cannot rightly say that he is a violator of a pledge.