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.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Letter on Stephen 2: next procedural steps

[p 90] But with him heard, the synod ordered him to withdraw. And once individuals had spoken according to how it seemed to them, it was decreed that you co-provincial archbishops with your fellow bishops in that kingdom should undertake a synod at a convenient time and place, and let there be a placitum where the prince with the primores of the land may be present, lest - may it not happen - those illustrious men from either side may come together with the help of relatives and friends, and by the devil's working, a seditious tumult may be able to arise. And let the King attend to pacifying this case between noble men with noble men, but you, by episcopal authority and canonical definition, take it apart and take care to lead it to the due and healthy finish. Stephen having been called, this proposition was put to him and very gratefully received by him. But since the very littleness of my little intelligence, by the order of the synod, took care to suggest what it thought accordingly about the method of this case and the order of definition (?), it pleased the common consent of holy unanimity, that I transmitted and commended these things in letters also to your wisdom, just as they were then accepted in council. And therefore, not as if to those not knowing these things which follow, which are necessary to you, nor as claiming special authority of knowledge for myself, or boasting audacity of definition, but as a servant of the Church and your servant, namely of all the servants of God and servant to the Lord's people, I have taken care to collect anything, not as I ought, but as I could, from obedience of devotion and collected to transmit to you. In which things I have taken care to place nothing from civil law, which bishops ought not to recognise, but to note down briefly, as much as occurred to the memory, those things which are known to agree with ecclesiastical definition.

[p 90] St Gregory demonstrates in a letter of instructions to John the defensor, the order of judgement about things not yet spontaneously confessed or convicted openly, since otherwise no one, as Pope Leo discerned, can be judged regularly. St Gregory says: First so that judgement may be made in an orderly way, to what extent some are accusers and others witnesses. Then so that the quality of the cases, if it should be worthy of exile or condemnation, may be explored, with that one being present, who is accused, let testimony be offered against him under oath, and implanted with writing of the acts and let the accused be allowed to reply and defend himself. But it is to be enquired subtly about the persons of the accusers and witnesses, of what condition or what repute they are, lest they are needy, or lest perhaps they may have some enmities against the accused, and whether they have said testimony from hearing or really testify they specially know themselves, and so that the sentence judged from the writings may be recited with the parties present (?), and thus all things may solemnly be confirmed.

[p 91] But about a clear case and one known to very many, or which he thus confesses, just like that one (if yet also the girl [Raymond's daughter] should say, just what Stephen says, since often we hear among the masculine and women, that what one says the other one very often denies) witnesses are not to be sought, as St Ambrose says in a letter to the Corinthians, explaining the statements of the Apostle about the fornicator: Judges should not condemn without an accuser since also the Lord, although Judas was a thief, since he was not accused by no means cast him off, although with that work known, he should have been banished from the meeting of the brotherhood. For all used to know his crime and did not accuse. For publicly he had his stepmother in the place of a wife. In which matter there is neither work for witnesses nor could the crime be covered by any subterfuge. And a little later: With the face being absent but the spirit being present by authority, who is absent nowhere, I have now judged him as present who admitted this.

[p 91] Therefore it is necessary that Stephen brings the girl to the synod and the father of the girl herself should come, and the girl should be questioned if it is true what Stephen says, that he has preserved her intact until now. And since we have heard about another woman, since she wanted to be freed from a husband, she was prevailed upon and then said other things about herself which were not true, as is reported, let due liberty be given to her and the peril indicated, lest, prevailed upon, she might confess a lie for the truth. And if she should say thus just as Stephen and then, if it should be necessary, belief befitting reason and authority should be received thence by oath, or satisfaction through suitable person, if necessity demands, should be demanded by judgement. Since not for the sake of fraud or any other cause whatever should Stephen remove himself from carnal bond of this girl, except for this reason, which he himself indicated to the synod, namely that he had had lain carnally with a blood-relative of the girl betrothed to him, a relative by connection of the flesh.

[p 91] For this Pope St Leo and blessed Gregory judge to happen in a doubtful matter, openly through an oath from a priest or from whatever man or woman, noble or ignoble, just as he who should want to read will be able to find. Among other things that blessed junior Gregory says in a letter to Boniface Bishop of Mainz directed via the priest Denwald: In the case in which they should not be sure witnesses, who may confirm the truth of the crime produced, it should be sworn on oath in the midst and let the accused offer back testimony about the purity of his innocence, to whom all things are naked and open, and let him have as a witness of his conscience, he whom he will also have as his judge. Which purging of the sacrament is very usual both in churches and in external laws and is also established to have arisen from the truth of faith from the earliest times. But judgement is not accustomed to happen except for the sake of concord, peace and charity among equals; but it is done by subjects for the satisfaction of greater. Which in this case, cannot be required by authority unless it should happen from the placitum.

[p 92] Since it has been said to us to be required from Stephen that he designate by name the woman he has slept with, and demonstrates the certain affinity of relationship, for the sake of which he is not able to unite himself in carnal bond with this girl, we have reckoned to place this worthy thing here which the Apostolic authority discerns from this and the Catholic Church holds, with the truth on this account being known, that it is against reason and ecclesiastical authority and habit of Christian devotion to seek that from him, if perhaps it is sought from another. Leo, greetings to the universal Church in Campania, Samnium and Picenium and all provinces. I am moved with great indignation and saddened with much sadness that certain of you are learned to be forgetful of Apostolic tradition and entangled in zeal of their errors. And after a while: Namely about penance which is offered by the faithful: lest a written declaration should be publicised in the form of a booklet about individual sins, it suffices individual priests to have secret confessions of consciences indicated. For although a plenitude of faith should seem laudable, which because of fear of God does not fear to blush before men, yet since not all sins are of this kind, that those who desire penitence do not fear to publicise them, let the objectionable custom be removed, lest many are bent from the remedies of penitence, since either they blush or fear their deeds to be revealed to their enemies, by which they could be struck down by the law constitutionally. For that confession suffices which is offered first to God, then also to the priest, who he may approach as an intercessor for the sins of the penitent. For there are many who will be able to be provoked to penance, if their conscience is not publicised to the revealing ears of the people.

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