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.


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Letter on Stephen 5: dowries and hypothetical objections

[p 98] And since Church rules offer also a statement of definition about these who infringe the faith of betrothal, it seems to us, not expressing according to authority but giving council, if perhaps thus it should seem to you, that since Stephen, if he had broken faith of the betrothal, according to civil law would be judged to pay much of the same betrothal gift, and the girl herself, after the betrothal gift, if they should have been joined carnally, would have to buy (?) the accepted dowry, which was from herself, so that not she, but Stephen, who committed the crime. ought not to have the same dowry, as it seems. So let her have in the place of much of the betrothal gift, the dowry given by Stephen to herself, and let her be restored to her father with the same dowry, and let her marry with counsel of parents who she wants, only in the Lord, and may there be peace between her relatives and Stephen.

[p 98] And lest someone craftily wanting to resist these things which we have proposed should say: If the dowry will remain and the betrothal gift and the celebrated marriage are not denied, in what way will it be able to happen that both Stephen does not remain husband and she wife? Or in what way would he be able to join with another woman and she with another man without adultery? Particularly since the same St Augustine in the aforesaid book about the good of marriage says: If there should take place an ordination of clergy in order to form a congregation of people, even if the congregation of people should not follow, yet there remains in those ordained the sacrament of ordination. And if for any fault anyone should be removed from his office, he will not be without the sacrament of the Lord once imposed, although remaining until judgement. Thus also in those remaining with betrothal, dowry and marriage the marital tie will remain and no one of them will be able to join themselves to another without adultery unless with the death of whichever one intervening. Let him hear, if anyone should dare to oppose this, that we have said about the girl having the dowry only for the sake of the pacification of her relatives and in the place of most of the broken betrothal gift of Stephen. If with the dowry paid, the relatives of the girl should prefer to demand most of the betrothal gift, they themselves should see to either grant or demand back, and by the civil laws thence it may suit their pacification. But we answer the one perhaps astutely questioning what pertains to us, that St Augustine posed this comparison about ordaining not about the imaginary union of a man and wife, but about incorporated union through sexual intercourse, just as he begins near to these preceding things: Therefore let these follow the Lamb, boys singing the new song, as it is written in the Apocalypse, "who have not defiled themselves with women" [Revelations 14: 4], for no other reason than that they have continued virgins. Nor let them on this account think themselves better than the first holy fathers, who used marriage, so to speak, after the fashion of marriage. Of course, the use of it is such that, if in it there has taken place through carnal intercourse that which exceeds necessity of begetting, although done venially, there is pollution. And after a little: Therefore the good of marriage throughout all peoples and all humans is for the sake of begetting, and in the faith of chastity. But it also pertains to the people of God, also in the sanctity of the sacrament, by reason of which it is sinful for one to marry another, so long as her husband lives, even if leaving by divorce, at any event, not for the sake of bearing children, although it may be the sole cause for which marriage happens, nor is the marriage bond loosed by any subsequent thing, except by the death of the spouse. And immediately he adds to the people about the ordination of the cleric, under which sense he says in the book about marriage and desires: Thus a certain marital matter also remains among those living, which neither separation or coupling with another could take away. But it remains for the harm of crime, not for the chain of bond; just like the soul of the apostate, which receding from the marriage of Christ with faith lost has also not lost a sacrament of faith, which it received from the bath of regeneration. For without doubt it would be returned to the returning, if leaving they had lost it. And in the preceding things of the same book he says about the sacrament of marriage: Therefore, a sacrament of marriage in our times is thus reduced to one man and one wife, so that the steward of the Church is not allowed to be ordained, unless he is the husband of one wife. Which they have understood more sharply, who reckoned neither he who as a catechumen or pagan should have another wife should be ordained. For it is a matter about sacrament, not about sin. For in baptism all sins are removed. But he who said: "If you take a wife you have not sinned", and "If a virgin should marry, she does not sin", and "Let her do what she wants, she does not sin if she should marry" [1 Corinthians 7: 28, 36], declared sufficiently that marriage is no sin. But because of the sanctity of the sacrament, just as a woman, even if she should have been violated as a catechumen, cannot be consecrated as a virgin in God after baptism, thus it did not seem absurd that he who had exceeded one wife, had not committed any sin, but had lost a certain sacred norm, not for the merit of good life but for the necessary seal of clerical ordination.

[p 99] And hence if anyone should be tempted to oppose what we said against what we said before, let him say, if Stephen should now be prevented by death, with her continuing as intact, just as she remains up to now, and she should not wish to marry, whether, since a violated catechumen could not be consecrated after baptism into a virgin of God, she will be able to be consecrated in holy virginity by the bishop, who ought not to consecrate someone, unless a virgin, into the profession of virginity or into the legitimate bond of marriage, just as neither should he become a bishop who has taken beyond one virgin wife. Also let him say, if after the death of Stephen, she, remaining virgin, should both not be able to be continent, and should choose to marry rather than be continent, whether she will be able to be joined to the brother of the same Stephen. When he is unable to contradict these things, let him either cease in his question or let our solution satisfy him. And let him recognise and know that consecration, if the girl should choose it, or marrying, if the girl should prefer, can happen within Stephen's lifetime, as reason and authority show. And let him know, just as we have taught by the tradition of the ancestors, that because of such betrothal, endowing and for the sake of such a marriage as that one was, is not a marriage, since in it sexual intercourse is missing and this sacrament of faith with the hope of offspring. Which sacrament just as it works very much in every saving action, then also in this matter, in which through the nuptial mystery man and wife are made one flesh, but also more actively in baptism, in which through the sacrament of faith, not only is the whole Church made the body of Christ, just as the Apostle says and his plenitude happens but individually, every individual fidelis of Christ is made an incorporated member of him. Whence the Holy Bede says in the homily on the gospel: For he who is baptised is seen to descend into the font, seen to be dipped in the water, seen to rise from the water; but only the piety of the faithful knows that a sinner descends into the font, but rises purified. It seems to the eye of the other foolish ones, that such came from the font as entered, and the whole thing that is done is a game. And in this betrothal, dowering, and in this marriage the whole thing was simulation, not truth. Therefore just as St Leo decides about those who have only received the form of baptism without the virtue of sanctification, that they may be confirmed by episcopal confirmation, thus this, which is the not the faith of marriage, but not the image of coupling, is dissolved by ecclesiastical sanction, and it may be healed in that one who needs clerical medicine.

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