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, 8 January 2022

On punishing and rooting out the abduction (raptus) of widows, girls and nuns (Part 2: appendix of excerpts)

 

Excerpts from sacred canons and the deeds of the holy fathers about the religious life of nuns (cultus sanctimoniae) and about the constancy of declaring the truth

From the decrees of Pope Siricius, chapter 4: That it is not allowed to obtain the betrothed of another man according to the laws of marriage

But about marital violation you asked, if one could take the betrothed girl of another in marriage. We prohibit by all means that this should happen: since the blessing which the priest places on the girl to be married is like a certain sacrilege for the faithful, if it is violated by any transgression.[1]

In the council of Ancyra, chapter 10, about betrothed girls corrupted by others.

It pleases that girls who have been betrothed, and afterwards taken by others, should be plucked up and restored to those to whom they had been betrothed first, even if force should have been inflicted on them by the abductors.[2]

From the decrees of Pope Innocent, chapter 20. About non-veiled virgins, if they should deviate.

Those who are not yet covered by the sacred veil, yet who have simulated that they will always remain in the virginal intent although they are not veiled: if perhaps they should marry, penance is to be done by these for some time, since their solemn promise (sponsio) was held by the Lord. For if a contract of good faith between men is not accustomed to be dissolved without reason, how much more ought that promise which they agreed with God not to be dissolved without punishment? For if the apostle Paul said that those who had departed from the intent of widowhood had condemnation, since they had made original faith invalid, how much more do virgins who have tried to break their original promise of faith?[3]

From the decrees of Pope Leo, chapter 27. That those who, not forced but by their own will, have received the way of life of virginity, offend if they marry, even if they have not yet been consecrated.

Girls who have received the way of life and habit of virginity, not forced by the command of parents, but by their free will decision: if afterwards they should choose marriage, they are prevaricating, even if the grace of consecration should not yet reached them: whose gift they would not be cheated of if they were to remain in their way of life.[4]

Again of the same Pope Leo to Rusticius. About girls who are now consecrated; if afterwards they should marry, they admit a double crime of both way of life and consecration.

About these who are now consecrated, if they should marry afterwards, it cannot be doubted that a great crime is admitted, where both the way of life is forsaken and the consecration is violated. For if human pacts cannot be violated with impunity, what will happen to those who break the faith of divine sacrament?[5]

From the decrees of Pope Gelasius, chapter 20. That these who associate themselves with holy virgins, and unite in incestuous pacts, cannot communicate, unless they do public penance.

But we have learned that certain men dare to associate themselves with holy virgins and after a way of life dedicated to God, they mix incestuous crime with sacrilege. It is just that these forthwith should be expelled from Holy Communion and not received in any way unless through public and proved penance: but if they are passing away from the world, certainly the viaticum, if yet they should be penitent, is not denied to them.[6]

From the decrees of Pope Siricius, chapter 6: about monks and virgins not preserving the way of life.

 Moreover, you attest that certain monks and nuns, having cast away the way of life of sanctity, are sunk in such great wantonness that first secretly, as if under the pretext of monasteries, they mix themselves with illicit and sacrilegious contagion, and afterwards, led into a steep descent by desperation of conscience, they willingly procreate sons from illicit embraces. This both public laws (leges) and ecclesiastical laws (iura) condemn. We order these shameless and detestable persons to be eliminated from the company of monasteries and the meetings of churches: so that thrust back in their workhouses, weeping for such a crime with continuous lamentation, they may be able to boil away with the purifying fire of penance, so that by consideration of mercy, pardon may be able to relieve them through the grace of communion only at their death.[7]

 Again from the Council of Blessed Pope Gregory

 Gregory the apostolic Pope spoke before the body of the venerable prince of the apostles of Christ to declare this judgement. If someone should take in marriage a nun, whom they call a handmaid of God, may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. If someone should take in marriage his spiritual co-mother, may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. If someone should take in marriage the wife of his brother , may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. If someone should take in marriage a cousin (consobrina), may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. If someone should take in marriage a wife from his own cognatio, or whom a cognatus has married, may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. If someone should steal a widow as wife, even with her consenting to it, may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. If someone should steal a virgin as wife whom he should not have betrothed to himself, even if she consented to it, may he be anathema. And they all replied thrice, may he be anathema. I, Gregory the Bishop of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome signed these things constituted and promulgated by us. And twenty-two other bishops, fourteen priests and fifty deacons signed.[8]

 From the Council of Orléans I, chapter 2

 But about abductors we reckon this to be constituted, that if an abductor should flee to a church with an abducted woman, and it should be known that the same woman has suffered violence, at once she is to be liberated from the power of the abductor, and let the abductor, after immunity from death or punishments has been conferred upon him, be subject to the condition of serving or let him have free ability of redeeming himself. If indeed she who is abducted is known to have a father and the girl consented to the abductor, let her be excused and returned to the power of the father, and let the abductor be held liable to be punished by the father in satisfaction of the above condition.[9]

 From the Council of Valence, chapter 2. About girls devoted to God, if they should pass over into earthly marriage, that they handed over to penitence

 Indeed about girls who should vow themselves to God, if they should voluntarily pass over into earthly marriage, we have decreed it is to be maintained that penance is not immediately given to these, and when it has been given, unless they have fully satisfied God in as much as reason should demand, their communion should be delayed.[10]

 From the Council of Elvira, chapter 13. About virgins consecrated to God, if they commit adultery

 If virgins who have devoted themselves to God lose their pact of virginity and preserve the same desire, not understanding what they should have lost, it pleases that communion not be given to them in the end. If women of this kind, once persuaded or marred by the lapse of an infirm body, do penance for their whole lives, so that they abstain from the intercourse by which they seemed rather to have lapsed, it pleases that they ought to receive communion in the end.[11]

 From the Council of Toledo I, chapter 16. If a devoted woman should commit adultery, let her do penance for ten years. If she should take a husband, she is not to be permitted to penance, unless her husband dies.

 The sinning devoted woman is not to be received in church, unless she should cease to sin, and if ceasing she should do suitable penance for ten years, thus she may receive communion. And first admitted into the church for prayer, let her not approach the company (convivium) of any Christian woman, and if she is admitted, let her who received her be held at a distance. Also let an equal punishment constrain the corrupter. But she who receives a husband is not to be admitted to penance unless she begins to live chastely, while her husband is still living or after he has died.[12]

 From the Council of Toledo IV, Chapter 56. About the distinction between secular and holy widows.

 There are two kinds of widows: seculars and nuns. Secular widows are those who are still arranging to marry and have not put down the lay habit. Nuns are those, who have now changed the secular habit and have appeared with religious practice (cultus) in the sight of a priest or church. If these go over to marriage, according to the Apostle they will not be without condemnation: since vowing themselves first to God, afterwards they have thrown away the intent of chastity.[13]

 From the Council of Toledo X, chapter 5.

 For all women who are now shown to have dressed in religious clothing in the past, let no objection of opponents be able to be an excuse, although they may want to represent themselves with diverse or cunning arguments of fallacy, but let a holier discipline hold them and subjugate them, bound to very sacred sanctions. Let them be clearly warned by the authority of the priest, so that they willingly return. If they do not wish to return, let them be led back to the habit of religion by the insistence of the priest, and after they are returned to the monasteries, let them be held with the sentence of worthy excommunication.[14]

 In the edicts of the very pious emperors[15]

 If anyone enters in a holy church to celebrate the divine mysteries or other holy mysteries and injures a bishop or clerics or other ministers of the church, we order that, subjected to torture, he should die in exile. But also if someone should disturb the holy prayers or divine mysteries in any way, let him be punished with capital punishment. This also is to be observed in the litanies [processions], in which bishops or clerics are found. So that if someone should make a disturbance, let him be dealt with through torture and exile: but if he should disturb the litany, let him submit to capital punishment. For we want not only all places dedicated to God to be free from all incursion, but much more all their bishops and clerics to be very safe from all danger: so that whoever, governor (praeses) or judge or military man (militaris), if he should dare to raise his hand or insult them, he should be able to expiate that by no manner other than either permanent exile or blood.



[1] Klaus Zechiel-Eckes and Jasper Detlev, Die erste Dekretale: der Brief Papst Siricius' an Bischof Himerius von Tarragona vom Jahr 385 (JK 255) (Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2013), c. 4, pp. 90-92.

 [2] Canons of the Council of Ancyra 314, edited by Cuthbert Hamilton Turner, Ecclesiae Occidentalis monumenta iuris antiquissima: Canorum et conciliorum graecorum interpretationes latinae, 2 vols (Clarendon Press, 1899-1939), vol 2, pp. 82-83.

 [3] Letter of Innocent I to Bishop Victricius of Rouen (Patologia Latina 20, col. 480).

 [4] Letter of Leo I to Rusticus of Narbonne (Patrologia Latina 54, col. 1208).

 [5] This canon is in some manuscripts transmitting Leo's letter: see Patrologia Latina 54, col. 1208 notes.

 [6] Letter of Gelasius to the bishops of Lucania, Bruttium and Sicily, edited by Andreas Thiel, Epistolae Romanorum Pontificum genuinae et quae ad eos scriptae sunt a S. Hilario usque ad Pelagium II. Tomus 1: A S. Hilario usque ad S. Hormisdam: Ann. 461-523 (Edward Peter, 1868), pp. 373-374.

 [7] Zechiel-Eckes and Detlev, Die erste Dekretale, c. 6, p. 94.

 [8] Council of Rome 721, ed. G. D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collection, volume 12 (Florence, 1746), cols 263-264.

 [9] Council of Orléans 511, c. 2, ed. Carlo de Clercq, Concilia Galliae a. 511–695, CCSL 148A (Brepols, 1963). p. 5.

 [10] Council of Valence 374, c. 2, ed. Charles Munier, Concilia Galliae a. 314–a. 506, CCSL 148 (Brepols, 1963), p. 39.

 [11] Council of Elvira, c. 13, ed. José Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Enrique Flórez, 1963), p. 4.

 [12] First Council of Toledo, 400, c. 16, ed. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos, pp. 23-24.

 [13] Fourth Council of Toledo, 633, c. 56, ed. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos, p. 210.

 [14] Tenth Council of Toledo 656, c. 5, ed. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos, p. 212.

 [15] A quotation from the Epitome Iuliani, no. 115, c. 52, ed. Gustav Haenel, Iuliani epitome latina Novellarum Iustinian (Leipzig, 1873), p. 159.

On punishing and rooting out the abduction (raptus) of widows, girls and nuns (Part 1: main text)


A draft translation of De coercendo et exstirpando raptu viduarum, puellarum ac sanctimonialium, Patrologia Latina 125, col. 1017-1036 by Rachel Stone, with the assistance of Charles West 

This text is about the practice of marriage by abduction: that is, when a man carries off a woman without her relatives’ consent (and sometimes, though not necessarily, without hers). It was written by a group of Carolingian bishops, and addressed to a Frankish king, probably Charles the Bald. The authors of the text are not named, but it is clear from the style and texts cited that Hincmar of Reims was heavily involved. The text is not dated, but it was probably written before 860 CE, since Hincmar’s treatise, On the Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga, written in that year, draws on it as a source. The text survives only in the early modern edition by Jean Busée in 1605; its modern title was invented by Jacques Sirmond in his re-edition of 1645. 

For detailed commentary on the text, see Rachel Stone, ‘The invention of a theology of abduction: Hincmar of Rheims on Raptus’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 60 (2009), 443-448 (DOI: 10.1017/S002204690900894X) and Sylvie Joye, ‘Family order and kingship according to Hincmar’, in Rachel Stone and Charles West (eds.), Hincmar of Rheims: life and work (Manchester University Press, 2015) pp. 190-210 (DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719091407.003.0010). 

To the most Christian, glorious and most pious lord ruler [King Charles], we the humble servants of Christ, the bishops of the Gauls and the Germanies, for the sake of the worship (cultus) and the sanctity of the house of the Lord, which is the Church of the true God, the column and firmament of truth [, send greetings][1]

 1). We who have been chosen in these very final and very perilous times for the ministry and governance of the churches of God, although unworthy and least, are all compelled by very great and grave necessity, so that with common intention and zeal, as much as God gives the ability, we may vigilantly and strenuously take care of the endangered flock of the Lord, which slips more wretchedly from day to day with both new plots and attacks of the ancient enemy [the Devil]. 

For although the temporal power of the kingdom seems to be divided by divine judgement in this kingdom of Christians to the present, yet there is one Church in all and from all with the Lord Christ’s protection, one Lord, one faith, one chosen people (genus electum), one royal priesthood, one holy people (gens sancta), one people (populus) of acquisition, which the Lord and Saviour Himself called from the shadows into His wonderful light [2]. For their acquisition and perpetual unity He deigned even to taste death, as the evangelist says: Since Jesus was going to die for the people, and not only for the people, but so that he might gather together in one the sons of God who had been dispersed (John 11: 51, 52). Hence also He himself spoke from wonderful merit: Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for my sheep. And I have those who are not from this sheepfold, and I must bring them too, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one sheepfold and one pastor (John 10: 15, 16). 

Since therefore the whole people of God, redeemed and united at such a price, is one flock under one shepherd, and all the shepherds of this flock ought through unity of faith and unanimity of solicitude to be as one shepherd, under one and in one Prince of shepherds, it is very necessary that they are united in such love, and joined with such association of spirit, that they may very willingly share and carry each other's burdens, and that there may be present daily care of all churches by them, so that if one limb suffer something, all the limbs may suffer together, or if one limb rejoices, all the limbs may rejoice a [3] . For this solicitude, always present in the blessed Apostles and in the successors of the blessed Apostles, that is in the rectors of the churches of God, made one flock of the Lord love with one mind and serve with unanimous devotion one defence of religion, one mother Church. 

2) Therefore, we beg your most Christian piety and glorious sublimity, that you [respect] the religiously constituted ministers of God's Kingdom, the rectors of the Christian people, and the preservers and defenders of divine religion and ecclesiastical sanctity, and that you listen in honour of divine fear and dread of future judgement to those things suggested for emendation, for the salvation of the souls of the faithful and the preservation and tranquillity of the Christian kingdom. And that you may examine these things that you have heard with just judgement, and that you may restrain what you have examined with suitable severity. 

For nothing more exasperates the wrath of omnipotent God and perturbs the peace of the kingdom than contempt of divine laws, abuse of paternal authority and profanation of ecclesiastical cleanliness and sanctity. Whence God himself speaks against the impious despisers of his laws, saying: And you have forgotten the laws of your God, I also will forget your sons (Hosea 4: 6). About these things it is also written elsewhere: But they mocked the messengers of God and they took their words for little, until the fury of the Lord ascended against His people and there was no remedy (2 Chronicles 36: 16). Therefore, let the law of God always return to memory, and do not let the messengers of God be spurned or mocked, namely the ancient holy fathers, about whom the Lord himself in the gospel says: He who hears you hears me and he who spurns you spurns me (Luke 10: 16). 

Let Holy Mother Church have you as a pious guard and defender of modesty and chastity. The omnipotent God demands these from her [the Church] so much that the apostle bears terrifying witness, saying: Follow peace with all and sanctity, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12: 14). And again: Do you not know that you are a temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in you? But if anyone should violate the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God, which you are, is holy (1 Corinthians 3: 16). And again: Do you not know that your bodies are limbs of Christ? Shall I therefore take the limbs of Christ, and make them the limbs of a prostitute? May that not happen (1 Corinthians 6: 15). And again: And you are not your own: for you were ransomed by a great price. Glorify and bear Christ in your body (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). That [body] is the temple of God and the home of the living God, about which it is written: O Lord, holiness adorns your house in the length of days (Psalm 93: 5). About this the blessed patriarch Jacob, who is given the surname Israel, also says in mystical praise: This is nothing other than the house of the Lord and the door of heaven (Genesis 28: 17). That is to say, now it [the body] has the Lord as an inhabitant, and after the present life it passes from the world to heaven. 

3) For the sake of this sanctity and cleanliness from diabolical contagion, the Church is loved by Christ, provided for by His passion, and purged and expiated by the font of baptism, as the Apostle testifies, saying: Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her, cleansing her by the font of water in the word of life so that he might present to himself a glorious Church, not having stain or wrinkle or anything of that kind: but so that it should be holy and immaculate (Ephesians 5: 25-27). Whoever therefore truly desires to be a son of this mother, a limb of this body, a part of this temple, let him hear and faithfully obey the same Apostle, admonishing and saying: For you are a temple of the living God, just as the Lord says: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them and I will be their God and they will be my people’ (2 Corinthians 6: 16). And a little after: Therefore, having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all iniquity of flesh and spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7: 1). It is from such limbs and living stones that the city of the great King is constituted, the newly-married bride of the Lamb, about which it is read in the Apocalypse: Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have a right to the tree of life and they may enter into the city by the gates; outside are dogs and the unchaste and sorcerers, and everyone who loves and makes lies (Revelation 22: 14-15). 

Not only should bishops and priests in their seats very faithfully love and be zealous about the grace of this glorious house of God and the place of the habitation of His glory, but so should kings in their kingdoms and palaces, and the kings’ counts in their cities, and the counts’ deputies (vicarii) in their areas (plebes), and all the married men (patres familias) in their households (domus), united, rich and poor, in their minds and deeds [4]. The Apostle especially exercised this zeal and commended it to be exercised by us by his example, saying: For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, for I have betrothed you to one man that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11: 2). About this the Lord himself also says in the Psalm: The zeal of your house has eaten me up (Psalm 69: 9). This zeal He exercised so terribly that He expelled the profaners of the house of the Lord not by words, by which He used to put even demons to flight, but by hand and whip, along with their offerings and sacrifices which they were seen to be preparing (John 2: 14-17). 

4) We beg therefore that your piety, born from this holy mother and made an imitator of the Saviour himself, by whose mercy it is both secured and exalted, may also take hold of zeal of the house of the Lord. And may it be jealous with the jealousy of God, coercing, rooting out, and exterminating with the whip of just severity the very impudent audacity of certain people who, deriding the laws of God and despising the authority of the most holy fathers, without any reverence for divine or human modesty, do not fear, as if brutish and irrational beasts of burden, to violate the temple of God, which is the sanctity of the faithful, and to attempt as much as they are able to destroy under their heels and to overthrow the altar of God itself, which is the priestly ministry appointed to Him and dedicated to His worship. 

For in several parts of this realm, because of their public attacks, neither is the pitiable desolation of widows allowed legitimate freedom, nor are daughters of girlish age who are living in their parents’ homes allowed in any way to be honoured with matronly marriage (nuptiae matronales), according to divine and human laws and with the authority and wishes of the same parents [5]. And even the appointed devotion to God of nuns too is dissolved and profaned, contrary to the profession of sanctity and reverence of divine consecration. Thus formerly that old enemy of humankind polluted the gold and silver vessels of the house of God through Belshazzar the impious and sacrilegious king (Daniel 5): now through the profane insolence and impiety of these people, he does not cease to stain things much more precious and dear to God, and to subject them to the mockery and insults of demons. These public abductors (raptores) and plunderers, with companions (satellites) and fellows (socii) of their impiety, are not devastating someone's external possessions or fortune (substantia), but are pillaging the family (familia) of omnipotent God Himself. 

With these people it certainly does not befit to eat together, just as apostolic authority prescribes about all the rapacious (1 Corinthians 5). Amongst those, these people obtain the first place, that is these abductors of widows and girls and nuns, despisers of priests, violators of the temple of God, who do not fear that apostolic statement: But if anyone should violate the temple of God, God will destroy him (1 Corinthians 3: 17). And rightly, if they were to burn or to destroy some temple of God made by hand from wood and stone, they would be judged by all as sacrilegious and needing to be punished; how much more should they be judged who do not fear to subvert and destroy the temple of the living God, when they believe a marriage (conjugium) can be made out of abduction (raptus), and legitimate marriage (matrimonium) from iniquitous contubernium, which no law, no custom of humanity, has ever permitted? For in the beginning of the world God made male and female for the propagation of humankind and joined them with his blessing, saying: Increase and multiply (Genesis 1:28). 

5) In imitation of this, Holy Church also kept [this custom] solemnly and venerably in former times, joining with divine benediction and celebration of masses these who were to be joined in marriage (coniugium), just as in God’s paradise. This honest and religious joining, begun by God as Author and confirmed by His blessing, is preserved by legitimate order and natural law even among peoples (gentes) who have received no [divine] law and have had no knowledge of God. Nor has a matter of peace, charity and concord ever been made licit through discord and violence and impiety. The public laws of the Romans, through which they constituted the whole earth to live under their domination, testify to this. In these laws it is clearly ordered that both male abductors and female abductees (if they gave consent to them, whether before or after the abduction) should be punished with the ultimate penalties. The assistants and ministers of the abductors would be burnt up entirely with fire, and the mouths of procurers and mediators of such a great crime were condemned to [drink] liquid and boiling lead. Nor in any way was a woman who complained she had been abducted able to be excused, if she neither took care to guard herself when she went to sleep, nor demanded the help and aid of neighbours by shouting [6]. This miraculously agrees with divine law, in which a betrothed girl, if she should be seized by someone in a city, is ordered to be stoned, since she did not call out, although she was in the city, where she would have been able to be freed either by the crowd of citizens or by the support of servants (Deuteronomy 22: 24). Hence also that blessed Susanna is praised, whom her parents had taught according to the law of Moses, since they were just: because when she was washing alone in the orchard of her husband, not only did she not offer the evil elders assent to adultery, but she also cried out with a loud voice, so that the slaves of the house heard and helped, and thus she could be protected from the impiety of the impious, just as happened (Daniel 13: 24). 

6) But the law of God wanted the covenant and tie of marriage, instituted by parental authority and legitimate request, to be so holy and inviolable that He confirmed a betrothed girl to be the wife of him to whom she is betrothed, even before the joining of marriage (nuptiae), saying: If a man should betroth a virgin girl and someone should find her in the city and should sleep with her, you will lead both to the gate of that city and they will be stoned, the girl since she did not call out although she was in the city, the man since he humiliated the wife of his neighbour (Deuteronomy 22: 23-24). Whence it is that in the gospel too, it was said through the angel to Joseph about the blessed and glorious mother of God Mary, when she was betrothed to him: Joseph, son of David, do not fear to receive Mary as your wife (Matthew 1: 20). And in the prophet Hosea, if betrothed girls are violated by others, they are proclaimed to be adulteresses, with the Lord saying: I will not punish your daughters, although they have fornicated, nor your betrothed although they committed adultery (Hosea 4: 14). But the law of God compares these abductors and oppressors and violators to bandits and homicides and orders them to be killed, where it is said about the girl who should be seized violently in a field, saying: But if in a field a man should meet with a girl who is betrothed and taking her should sleep with her, he himself alone will die, and the girl will suffer nothing, nor is she guilty of death. Since just as a thief rises up against his brother, so that he may slay his soul, thus also the girl endured: she was alone in the field and cried, and there was no one present who might have freed her (Deuteronomy 22: 25-27). 

7) Let those who are of this kind therefore recognise that they are bandits, homicides, killers of souls and worthy of death. Nor is there any difference between those who perpetrate such great violence in the fields, and those who commit similar things with a crowd and weapons, whether in cities or in roads or homes: except that the former are like bandits who secretly lie in ambush in woods and deserted places, the latter like the very atrocious and open plunderers, who are troublesome and dangerous to cities in either nightly silence or clear daylight. When they obtain marital joining neither by order of divine law, nor by the authority of parental will nor by piety of clerical holiness, and moreover by the authority of the canons they have deserved public excommunication instead of priestly blessing, by what impudence do they want this sacrilege to be seen as marriage (coniugium), and brigandry as marriage (matrimonium), and violence as piety? For no one can build a building without a foundation, and with the root removed from the tree, in no way will green branches sprout. And let it by no means be said about this kind of, not legitimate marriage (connubium) but adulterous cohabitation (contubernium), what the Lord and the Gospel said: What therefore God has joined let man not separate (Matthew 19: 6), but rather: What man has impiously and improperly joined, God will disunite by his just ruling. 

These are the people who through their violence and power, after contempt of omnipotent God, also despise the Church of God, despise the priests of God, having no reverence for the excommunication of Christ, who conferred this power on the ministers and rectors of his Church, saying: Which if he should not hear the church, that is whoever is presumptuous and contumacious, let him be to you like a heathen and a publican. And He immediately added under: Amen, I say to you, since whatever you should bind on earth, it will be bound also in the heavens (Matthew 18: 17--18). On the contrary, these people, disobedient to the Church, and for this to be considered heathens and publicans, and excommunicated by temporal judgement, violently enter churches and do not fear to injure divine mysteries, and they try to adhere to the religion of Christianity, not by humility and piety and obedience, but by contumacy and wickedness. They do not recognize that it is written, as the Lord Christ himself says, He who is proud will not dwell in the midst of my house, and I hate those prevaricating (Psalm 101: 7, 3). And again: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4: 6). And: Though the Lord be high, he respects the humble and knows the proud from afar (Psalm 138: 6). For if they were to deign to consider this, they would lay down their pride and would take care to merit by pious humility that which Scripture promises elsewhere, saying: The Lord is nigh to those who are of troubled heart, and He will save the humble in spirit (Psalm 34: 18). And the apostle James thus admonishes how each individual may be able both to be separated from the devil and to approach God: Therefore be subjected to God, but resist the devil and he will flee from you. Approach the Lord and he will approach you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded people. Be wretched and mourn and weep. May your laughter be converted into mourning and your joy into mourning. Be humble in the sight of the Lord and he will exalt you (James 4: 7-10). 

8) But now when they violently rush into churches, when they improperly and with indiscipline mix themselves with the crowd of the faithful, when they threaten the priests themselves with death unless they celebrate the divine mysteries in their presence – what else do they do except stab themselves with their own sword twice over, by despising ecclesiastical justice and by profaning the mysteries of the holy altar? Just as these mysteries advance the faithful and humble and pious towards a remedy, so they advance the despisers and the impudent towards judgement and torment. 

With these are also to be associated those stupid and improper people, who, although excommunicated by some churches and priests, believe they can fraudulently take communion in other churches and before other priests. It ought to be very certainly clear to all the faithful, that in the whole world, in cities and peoples (populi), there is only one Church of Christ, and one altar of Christ, and one sacrifice, which everywhere is constituted and offered to one God and one religion. Therefore no one in any way can be excommunicated in one part, and take communion in another part; rather, when he has merited to be separated in one church, in absolutely none will he be able to be associated, except through legitimate satisfaction: just as a limb, severed from its place, is able to be fitted in no part of another body, unless perhaps by the miracle of divine virtue, when what had been divided is be able to be reformed. 

Amongst these people, some are found to be so cruel, and of not human affection but bestial brutality, that having killed their previous wives on suspicion of adultery, by no law, no reason, no judgement, but only by their wrath and cruelty, they without delay approach the altar of the Lord and indiscriminately presume to touch the sacred mysteries, while still dripping with blood and gore, not only not pricked by any penitence or humility to satisfy God and the Church, but exulting in their pride. Even if those very wretched little women (mulierculae) truly had perpetrated adultery and because of this would seem to have been punished justly, yet the law of God, by which every Christian on the day of judgement will be judged so that he may receive according to what he has done, permits no criminal, nor even those male or female adulterers (whom it also orders to be stoned by public judgement by the people), to be punished except through legitimate judges and witnesses. Hence that admirable Susanna, when accused with the false crime of adultery, is read both to have been condemned by public judgement and to have been absolved by public judgement (Daniel 13). And that woman in the gospel, who truly had been taken in adultery, was according to the law first taken to the Pharisees, who used to exercise the power of judgement in the people, and then was taken to the judgment of the Lord to tempt him. There, through his admirable piety, she deserved to be freed both from the punishment of stoning and from the guilt of the crime (John 8: 3-11). And in the book of Numbers it is ordered that if a woman is either guilty of adultery or is accused by false suspicion, and her husband is roused with zeal against her, he should lead her to the priest and by divine judgement let him offer her for either condemning or for freeing (Numbers 5: 11-29). 

9) The ancient Romans decreed in their laws in former times what ought to happen in legitimate marriage, and they maintained this not only when they were made Christian, but also when they were still pagans. This the law of the pagan Emperor Antoninus [138-161 CE] shows very clearly, which blessed Augustine in a certain place remembers and commends in this way, saying:
‘There are some whom it displeases that an equal form of modesty is preserved between men and women, and rather choose particularly in this matter to be subject to the laws of the world than of Christ, since the public laws (iura forensia) do not seem to restrict men with the same bonds of modesty as they do for women. Let them read what the Emperor Antoninus, who was certainly not a Christian, constituted about these things. In this decree, a husband who has not shown an example of chastity in his morals is not permitted to accuse a wife about the crime of adultery. As a result, both were condemned if the conflict proved both to be equally shameless. For these are the words of this Emperor, which are read in the Gregorian Code [7]: “Clearly”, he says, “my words will in no way prejudice the case. For if the blame was yours that the marriage was dissolved, and that your wife Ephrasia were to marry according to the Lex Julia, she will not be condemned for adultery because of this my rescript, unless it should be established to have been already committed. However, [the judges] will have to bear in mind in their enquiry whether you lived chastely and inspired her to cultivate good morals. For it seems to me very iniquitous that a man should demand a modesty from his wife, which he himself does not show. This matter can condemn the husband, but it cannot serve as compensation xto settle the matter of the mutual crime between both parties, or to remove the cause of the deed”. If these things are to be observed for the decorum of the earthly city, how much more chaste are the people sought by the celestial homeland and the society of angels?’[8]
These things blessed Augustine writes about the laws of the pagan Emperor Antoninus. In the book of Esther, it is clearly read that Vashti, the wife of the very powerful and ferocious king of the Assyrians, since she had offended his spirits by contempt and contumacy, was deposed from the imperial honour by no means only by his indignation and fury, but by the public judgement and sentence of the principes and the judgement of the Medes and Persians (Esther 1). Thus although they were pagans and worshippers of idols, they did naturally the things that are of law, and taught that in cases of spouses too one ought to discern and determine not cruelty and savagery, but justice and equity. 

10) Certainly, divine law also orders justice and judgement to be preserved between master and male or female slave. And although it orders by public judgement of its talio an eye to be returned for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, yet if some master were either to pluck out an eye from his male or female slave or strike out a tooth from private indignation or fury, immediately he was condemned to the loss of the same male or female slave. For thus it is written: If anyone should strike the eye of his male or female slave and should make them blind in one eye: let him send them away free for the eye which he tore out: also, if he should strike out a tooth from his male or female slave, similarly let him send them away free (Exodus 21: 26-27). Thus the very equitable and merciful law of God did not want any injuries and deformities inflicted on these male or female slaves by their own masters without judgement. So it was that if anyone would presume thus, he should be punished with the just loss of the very slave who had been abused unjustly in his subjection. Still less did it permit the master to kill him from his private indignation and fury: if he did this, he would be condemned with the guilt of homicide, with the same law saying: He who should strike his male or female slave with a rod and they should die at his hands, he will be answerable of a crime (Exodus 21: 20). 

11) Blessed Job used to preserve this equity of judgement and justice towards his familia by divine inspiration and natural consideration, even before that law was given by Moses, just as he himself attested, saying: If I scorned to come under judgement with my male or female slave when they should dispute against me: what shall I do, when God will rise to judgement, and when he will examine, what will I respond to him? Did he not make me in the womb, who also worked him and formed me in one womb? (Job 31: 13-15). Hence also our holy fathers stated in holy canons for the guilt of that kind: If anyone should kill his own slave without the knowledge of a judge, he will expiate the effusion of blood by two years of excommunication [9]. And the book of Ecclesiasticus speaking about the discipline of master and slave also presents this to him, saying: Nevertheless, do nothing grievous without judgement (Ecclesiasticus 33: 30). And the Apostle admonishes especially: Lords, surpass your slaves in what is just and equal, and stop threatening, knowing that also you have a Lord in heaven (Colossians 4: 1; Ephesians 6: 9). 

If therefore this much equity and goodness is to be preserved between master and slave in the house of each individual Christian in respect to the servile condition, how much greater and more plentifully and fully is it to be kept between husband and wife, between man and spouse, between the head and the body? Since just as the Apostle teaches: The man is the head of the woman, just as Christ is the head of the church, and He Himself is the Saviour of its body. Thus also men ought to love their wives just as their bodies (Ephesians 5: 23, 28). He who loves his wife, loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but he nurtures and cherishes it just like Christ does the Church. Once again the same Apostle says: Men, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, so that He might sanctify it, cleaning it with the font of water in the word (Ephesians 5: 25). In these apostolic words such an excellent and special love between man and wife is certainly commended, preserving in the marriage itself the pre-eminence of the husband and the subjection of the woman, so that nothing ought nor could be greater than that joining, once instituted by God and legitimately brought about. For what could be more venerable than that marriage is the mystery of Christ and the Church? What is more holy, than that men thus love their wives just as Christ loved the Church, giving Himself over for it, so that He might sanctify and cleanse it? What is dearer and more closely connected, than that the man is the head of the woman, just as Christ is the head of the Church, the Saviour Himself of the body? In the gospel He also testifies about this union of marriage, saying: And thus now there are not two but one flesh (Matthew 19: 6). For they will be, He says, two in one flesh. To this Apostle adds, saying: Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh to them (Colossians 3: 19). 

If therefore husbands ought not to be harsh to their wives, how much less should they be savage, cruel and bloodthirsty, preserving for them no law, no reason and no judgement, which should even be preserved towards slaves by the Christian religion? But as soon as they like, roused by indignation and impious fury, they have them taken to be cut to pieces as if in the meat market, and they order them to be butchered by the swords of their cooks in the manner of wethers or pigs, or they themselves even slaughter them with their own hand and sword. In no way do they in imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ give themselves for their wives, so that they may sanctify and clean them, but rather they destroy them for eternity in the zeal of their lust, impiously polluting themselves with their blood. For in a case of this kind, the more justly legitimate judgement should be awaited, the more easily homicide is perpetrated by marital zeal. 

12) Let them defend themselves as much as they want who are of this kind, whether through worldly laws, if there are any, or by human customs. But if they are Christians, let them know that in the day of judgement they will be judged neither by the Roman, Salic, or Gundobardic laws, but by the divine and apostolic laws [10]. Yet in a Christian realm it behoves even those public laws to be Christian, that is conforming and consonant with Christianity. For the law of omnipotent God divides into three types all the things which men seem to have subjected or possess in worldly matters, when it defines and says in the precepts of the Decalogue: You shall not desire the wife of your neighbour, nor male or female slave, nor ox, not sheep, nor ass, not all the things that are his (Exodus 20: 17). In these words, without doubt the dignity of a wife is to be considered one thing, the condition of male and female slaves another, and another the baseness of brute animals, or insensible things, and therefore all those things are to be treated in their limits, discerned in their grades, and divided. We say this so that those of this sort may consider that amongst them, the condition of wives is viler than that of young slaves (servuli). And a master is guilty of homicide for a slave killed without the knowledge of a judge, nor can he expiate the effusion of blood except through penance – what should be stated about wives? 

Such men also break out into such stupidity and blindness, that after they have initially joined themselves to these women through violence and abduction (raptus), against all laws (leges) both human and divine and against the law (ius) of humanity itself, or even not fearing to defile with sacrilegious impiety women in the profession and habit of a nun; and afterwards, having besmeared the women with blandishments and placated their parents with ingenious, nay rather shameful flattery, they reckon they have evaded both divine and human justice, and they want this illicit and iniquitous cohabiting (contubernium) to be seen as legitimate and honest marriage (coniugium). Yet just as was shown above, the ancient laws of the Romans judged to be punished with equal severity both the women who offer consent to their abductors and their parents, unless they should cry out. And through ecclesiastical judgement, it is ordered that whoever may be of this kind is be excommunicated or anathematised till separation, and even after separation should kept away from all public view and be delivered wholly to workhouses (ergastula) under strictest penance until the day of death [11] the extent that even if the abductor should flee to a church with the abducted woman (rapta) for fear of the respublica, the woman who has suffered violence is ordered to be returned to her parents, excused by the intercession of the Church; but the abductor, since he clearly inflicted force, with a similar impunity conceded by the laws in reverence of the sanctuary, is to be handed over into the servitude of the parents of the woman he abducted, unless perhaps it is conceded to him that he may redeem himself [12]

13) But now the Church suffers public attacks, public injury and stubbornness from these despisers and spurners of both divine and human laws: so much so that they even do not fear to plot treachery and to rouse seditions against their priests who prohibit such iniquitous and baneful acts. 

If someone is so insane that he thinks this profane and violent cohabitation (contubernium) can be made a legitimate marriage, because Scripture says that King David, just and holy but in certain things a delinquent man, committed adultery with the wife of Uriah the Hittite and after the same Uriah was cruelly killed, also took her in marriage (2 Samuel 11) [13] let him pay attention to how gravely and terribly omnipotent God rebuked, disapproved and condemned all this through his prophet, saying: You have killed Uriah the Hittite and have taken his wife as your wife and you have killed him with the sword of the sons of Amman. For this reason, the sword will not depart from your house in eternity, because you despised Me and you took the wife of Uriah the Hittite that she might be your wife (2 Samuel 12: 9,-10). Instantly indeed, pricked by deep sorrow and penitent and humbly confessing, the guilt of such a great iniquity was removed from David. For he said in brief words, with a great and profound sigh of the heart: I have sinned against the Lord, and he immediately merited to hear through the prophet: The Lord has taken away your sin, you will not die (2 Samuel 12: 13). Nevertheless, the sin was thus removed from him, but not so that he might evade the temporal punishment that had been announced to him. For the son who had been born thence was suddenly struck by divine judgement and died. And David himself afterwards was afflicted and vexed with very grave tribulations and by the loss of his kingdom through his son Absalom, as if tempered and purged in a furnace of fire, so that he might truly seem to have escaped by divine clemency alone [14]. That this marriage, so gravely disapproved and condemned and punished, was thus allowed to remain, is clearly not proposed to anyone for imitation, so that whoever in an unjust ordo might believe he has a just marriage. But rather, it was a divine miracle and sacrament that this man David had been purged by true and admirable penitence, and was healed from all adulterous theft (subreptio), so that a chaste and legitimate marriage could arise out of such a joining, just as also in the end of his life, by wonderful and special virtue, he had Abishag the Shunammite, a very beautiful virgin chosen out of all the kingdom of Israel, assiduously ministering to him and assiduously lying and sleeping with him, yet whom he never carnally knew (1 Kings 1: 1-4). 

14) Therefore these things should either be admired, but by no means can be imitated, or they were thus conceded to that time of the Mosaic law, so that with the arrival of the gospel grace of our Lord and Saviour they were entirely removed, or since, as the Apostle says, all these things happened as an example to them (1 Corinthians 10:6), they should be ascribed to divine mysteries. However, if there had not been prior adultery in the case of that woman [Bathsheba], and the killing of her husband had not been added too, who does not see that once her own husband was dead and after she had mourned with due care, she could have been joined to whoever she might want in honest and legitimate marriage? And that the king, who in the condition of that time was not prohibited from having many wives, could have legitimately taken the wife of whichever dead man? Certainly, it is clearly magnificent and greatly to be imitated in his deeds, that David in no way further acknowledged those wives whom he had left behind to guard the house, when he fled, and who were defiled and polluted by his impious son. Instead, he only mercifully nourished them as having suffered violence, and made them live enclosed, living in widowhood until the day of their death (2 Samuel 16: 21-22; 2 Samuel 20: 3). 

But it is in also no way inconsistent with the order and observance of religion that, when he [David] still reigned in Hebron over the tribe of Judah only, and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul obtained the kingdom of Israel, he sent to Abner princeps of the soldiers and governor of the house of the queen, to demand that he restore to him Michal the daughter of Saul, who had been his wife and whom he betrothed to himself with the foreskins of one hundred Philistines, even though Saul, her father, after he had put David to flight beyond the borders of the kingdom, had given her to another man as wife (2 Samuel 3: 12-15). For after that persecution and fleeing was finished and David had returned to the homeland, it was just that he should receive also whatever belonged to him by law (ius) in whatever earthly possession – and how much more so in the association of marriage, just as the holy canons decreed to be observed in a similar deliberation of equity [15]

15) Wicked and distorted men of this kind, or their flatterers and deceivers, can take as an example, as if justly and rightly, what is referred to in the book of Judges (Judges 20-21) about the men of the tribe of Benjamin [16]. When for the fault of their pride and wickedness, by which they had improperly and impiously dared to defend a very monstrous and detestable crime of their citizens against God and the judgement of the whole people, and fought against the whole kingdom with rebellious obstinacy, by divine judgement they fell in war and were destroyed almost to extermination, and with all their wives and sons there remained only six hundred men from the whole of that tribe. Hence the whole people of Israel, who had proceeded against them in that battle and had destroyed them with the sword according to divine order in revenge of the impious crime, was moved by a vehement and religious sorrow, that of the twelve tribes of that people, as had been instituted from the beginning, who had been freed from Egypt, led into the promised land, and obtained inheritance through the distribution of lots, one tribe, so noble and famous, seemed to have been removed. Therefore they greatly lamented and wept and wailed, that namely this sacrosanct mystery of the twelve tribes, which was borne upon the chest of the highest priest entering into the holy of holies in the twelve precious stones on the breast and also in the twelve other precious stones, and also in the meal of twelve loaves that used to be incessantly offered, and all these things that were prepared for the very glorious future chorus of the apostles, should seem to be mutilated and truncated by such a sudden destruction and mournful event. So they raised up an altar and by victims and offerings placated God to themselves and to those, and with the mercy and aid of divine grace, with all care and huge zeal, they ensured that the plenitude of the people of God and the mark of such a great mystery might in no way perish amongst them. It was arranged just so marvellously afterwards, also in the New Testament, by the Holy Spirit working through the blessed Apostles, that the sacrament of the same number twelve, which after Judas perished seemed to have been mutilated, should remain renewed and perfect through the election and choosing in his place of Matthias (Acts 1: 15-20). 

And since as was just said, only six hundred men from the whole of that tribe survived, they provided four hundred virgins for four hundred of them and handed them over in marriage. For the two hundred who remained, they were not able to hand over their daughters, constrained by the oath and curse which they had sworn that they were never going to give them their daughters as wives, and nor were they able to find others whom they would hand over freely to them, as they had done from the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, who had neither been present in that oath and afterwards had neglected to be present in so public and religious a war, and through this were legitimately ordered to be killed and from them only four hundred virgins transferred, who were led to the restoration of the Benjaminite tribe. There remained the inhabitants in Shiloh, where the tabernacle of the Lord was constituted, who were believed to have been neither in that oath nor in that fight, perhaps from immunity of the sanctuary which because of its nearness they served more familiarly and assiduously. They were therefore able to give their daughters freely in marriage, but they had not wanted to, because of the certain hardness and execration of the crime that had been perpetrated by the tribe of Benjamin. 

16) It was therefore the case that since neither could the parents be legitimately compelled unwillingly to give their daughters and to agree from necessity, nor could the daughters themselves be snatched with hostility, when the virgins themselves were processing on a very solemn day with choirs, those two hundred men without wives, by the consultation and council and authority of the people and elders, for the restoration of the same people and the preservation of the divine mystery, suddenly rushed upon them, and each took a wife from them. In this matter no divine indignation was to be feared, since it was all done for divine love and honour and for the sake of God. God had now restored to that tribe, destroyed almost to extinction in the past war, what was merited and in the present plan was merciful to them through a hidden inspiration and providence. 

Therefore justice was preserved everywhere, since those girls were abducted from the rule of their parents not from any lust or contumacy, but from necessity alone, nor did those who had captured them do anything by their own will or temerity, but by the order and authority of the people and the elders. There remained only the parents’ complaint to be assuaged with a reasonable compensation, about which the greater born thus said to them: And when their parents come and begin to complain and reproach against you, we shall reply to them: Be merciful to them. For they did not capture them by law of belligerence and victory but asking that you might give, and you did not give, and it is a sin on your part (Judges 21: 22). All this therefore, rationally arranged, rationally carried out, rationally finished, for the sake of public utility, by public authority and prayer, is thus unique and not to be imitated at all. It is to be read as a mystery, done once and never again repeated. 

17) Therefore may it not happen that the stupid and impudent, dissolute in their petulance are permitted to usurp as an example or defence of their shamelessness what the Scripture of God narrates for the memory of piety or for the praise of spiritual mystery, so that they may think themselves allowed by that example to abduct for themselves whomever they should want, because they cannot obtain it easily from the parents, and afterward having reconciled the parents, to hold these women as if in legitimate marriage. For just as was now said, this was not written as an example, from which it can ever be usurped, but it should be a reminder of admirable devotion in these things, and a commendation of deep mystery. 

And in this case indeed, after omnipotent God had been propitiated and pleased, for whose worship and honour it was all carried out, the mercy of the parents was implored only that they should spare those two hundred, lest on this side [the two hundred] the equity of divine law might find in them something it would condemn. Although also on the part of the parents truly there seemed to be sin, since they were so reluctant to agree to such a great and public necessity, that they did not want to give to those who asked first. 

But now, after God has been exasperated and provoked to wrath, whose law is despised, whose Church and priests are trampled upon, whose holy temple is violated by sacrilege and impious presumption, by what stupidity and madness do they think that after they have pleased and pacified the parents they can pacify the Church of God, and believe that what is destroyed by the authority of divine law and the holy fathers can stand by their authority? For an evil of such great transgression and impiety committed against God and his Church can be amended by no reason and no arguments, except by the judgement and satisfaction of omnipotent God and the Church. There correction is to be shown for such a crime, there pardon is to be asked for humbly, there satisfaction is be shown diligently - that is, in the Church of God, before the priests of God, there only where the remission of sins, and the propitiation of He who has been offended, omnipotent God, can be truly obtained. 

18) Men of this kind also add to their evil this excessively bold assumption, which should be punished, that by asking and praying they can gain the authority or mediation of religious principes for their adulterous and execrable - not marriages but filths. Far be it from the faithful principes and ministers of the kingdom of God that the impropriety of anyone may be aided by their prohibitions or intercessions. For the Roman laws and the very Christian emperors of those times very clearly and justly censured those who disturbed princely ears with unjust and fraudulent petitions, especially in such a case, and they were to lack the granted benefit and moreover to be deported into exile, and the sons born from ignominious and adulterous unions of this kind in no way were to be considered legitimate nor honoured with succession of inheritance. 

Therefore we beg your most mild Tranquillity, most Christian and glorious prince, that you may mercifully hear our prayers and supplications which we present for the sake of the Church of God and the sanctification and honour of the body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and that you may receive them with prompt devotion, and with the passion and zeal of inborn religion may strenuously and carefully put them into effect. Nor should you judge the care and skill of our littleness to be blameworthy because these deadly contagions through God’s protection ravage, not everywhere, but very many parts of the kingdom. For although we are unworthy and wretched, both the care of all churches should rest with us by apostolic example, and also we should vigilantly warn and preach these things in general, even where they do not happen. An antidote should be applied before the poison, and the wound, whilst still it advances evilly by growing, should either be cut off or healed. 

And thus we pray and implore help from you, which without doubt you owe to Him by whose favour you flourish and are powerful, so that the three orders of the Church, nay rather the threefold fruits of the divine field, that is thirty, sixty and one hundred fold, may be kept whole and sound by your fear and protection, as if by a certain hedge and fortification, and may grow and advance: thirty fold in the uniting of marriage, sixty fold in widowly continence, one hundred fold in the modesty and integrity of the nun: so that whoever should lie in ambush for these fruits like brutal and pernicious beasts may be repelled by your guard, and also corrected by your severity [17]

19) Let what the holy fathers define about the good of marriage be heard and kept, saying thus [18]:
The good which marriage has, can never be a sin. And it is three-part: faith, offspring, sacrament. It is applied in faith, lest another man or woman may be slept with beyond the marital tie. In offspring, so that they may be lovingly received, benignly nourished and religiously educated. In sacrament, so that the marriage may not be separated, and the one (male or female) sent away may not be joined to another for the sake of offspring. This is so to speak the rule of marriage, since either fecundity is adorned with nature or depravity is ruled by innocence.
Also let that be heard which is said about the two remaining orders, in how much sanctity and reverence they ought to be held: they say again in these words, that David to his great shame is said to have entered to the wife of his soldier secretly, yet was not able to avoid vengeance. You who have entered impudently the bed chamber of the Lord of Lords to violate the bride of Christ the King, in what way will you be able to be unpunished? And if perhaps that woman was a widow or had not yet professed continence of chastity, whoever she may be, prostituted she cannot be said to be a wife. And both of you will always be branded with the mark of infamy, nor will the stain of such a crime be able to be destroyed, unless it is either expiated by the raging public censure of the secular laws with the deaths of the adulterers, or is surely washed away by fountains of tears, with deep sighs of the afflicted heart, and with the yokes of true penance while alive. Therefore let him perish who should say this crime is to be emended by marriage, and who considers that from the label of crime it should immediately be named a marriage. Let him hear unwillingly the truth from me, that in no way is adultery to be called marriage, for marriage is the designation of a religious category. 

20) To these words and statements of the holy fathers, we add a few more statements from the holy canons [19]. We beseech that you hear them with religious devotion and with very instructed care and industry, in the contemplation of our Lord Jesus Christ and the honour and piety of Holy Mother Church, from whose innards you were born to God, by whose honours you have been made illustrious and trust to be eternally made illustrious. And we beseech that you ensure they are recognised, revered and observed in the Christian people committed to you, with the Lord’s protection and co-operation in all things. For what we are actively asking for, that is the protection of chastity and sanctity, is so important that for entrusting and protecting it we ought willingly to offer even ourselves, following the example of the blessed and glorious John the Baptist. Among other proclamations of his preaching, John rebuked and corrected even Herod the king himself because of an adulterous marriage of this kind, vehemently announcing and saying to him about the wife of his brother Herodias (whom, beyond being an abductor, Herod had moreover obtained and was detaining by the strength and might of royal power): It is not allowed for you to have her (Matthew 14: 4). This he did with such constancy that for the sake of a case of this kind, he patiently sustained chains and prison, and preferred finally to be cut down by the sword rather than to cease from preaching truth and justice. And therefore he was truly a martyr of Christ, since he was a martyr of truth and justice itself. 

NOTES 

[1] The text is written in the form of a letter addressed by the bishops to the king. The terms ‘Gauls’ and ‘Germanies’ refer to ecclesiastical provinces, modelled on ancient Roman imperial organisation. Note that the bishops do not use the Frankish kingdoms as a frame of reference.

[2] The bishops are arguing that even though the Franks are now divided into different kingdoms, their unity is maintained in a spiritual sense, which justifies the bishops’ intervention across political boundaries. Hincmar used a similar argument in On the Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga. 


[3] This metaphor of the church as the one body of Christ with different limbs (i.e. parts) is taken from 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. 


[4] The bishops here emphasise that the duty to preserve the church’s honour is widely shared, not just by kings and office-holders but by the male heads of households. 

[5] Throughout the text, Hincmar refers to the parentes of the abducted woman, whose content should have been sought for her marriage. I have translated the word as 'parents', but it can also be used as a more general term for relatives in Carolingian Latin. Not all marriageable women would have had living parents and legal formulae from the period suggest that a wider range of relatives formally consented to some marriages. 

[6] Hincmar refers to the Theodosian Code's provisions on abduction. On the details of this law, see Judith Evans-Grubbs, 'Abduction marriage in late antiquity: a law of Constantine (CTh IX. 24. 1) and its social context,' Journal of Roman Studies 79 (1989), 59-83. 

[7] This Roman law code, produced in the third century, no longer survives: this quotation from Augustine is the only evidence for this edict. See. Simon Corcoran, 'The Gregorianus and Hermogenianus assembled and shattered', Mélanges de l'École française de Rome - Antiquité [Online], 125-2 (2013) consulted on 22 October 2021, http://journals.openedition.org/mefra/1772. 

[8] Augustine, De adulterinis coniugiis, Book II, chapter. 9. This text is translated by Charles T. Huegelmeyer, ‘Adulterous Marriages’, in Charles Wilcox (et al.), Saint Augustine, Treatises on Marriage and other subjects, Fathers of the Church 27, (Catholic University of America Press, 1955), pp. 53-132, here at pp. 109-110. 

[9] Council of Agde 506, chapter 62, ed. Charles Munier, Concilia Galliae a. 314–a. 506, CCSL 148 (Brepols, 1963), p. 227. 

[10] The early sixth century Burgundian law code now commonly called the Lex Burgundionum was known in the ninth century as the Lex Gundobada after its presumed author, King Gundobad. 

[11] Cf the extract from the decree of Pope Siricus included in the appendix of authorities. 


[13] The letter here considers an objection – had not the Old Testament legitimated marriage after adultery in the case of King David’s marriage to Bathsheba? In this section, Hincmar also briefly discusses some other marital issues raised by King David, including his polygamy. 

[14] Absalom's rebellion and death are recounted in 2 Samuel 15-18. 

[15] Hincmar is probably referring to papal rulings allowing people captured and enslaved to have their marriages reinstated on their return home, even if their spouse had remarried subsequently: see Kristina Sessa, 'Ursa’s return: captivity, remarriage, and the domestic authority of Roman bishops in fifth-century Italy', Journal of Early Christian Studies 19 (2011), 401-432. 

[16] The bishops now consider a second objection – had not the Old Testament legitimised marriage by abduction in an episode in the Book of Judges? 

[17] Patristic authors allegorised Matthew 13:8 (the Parable of the Sower) as referring to the relative rewards merited by women, based on their marital status (married, widow, virgin). 

[18] Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram, Book 9, chapter 7. This text is translated by John Hammond Taylor, Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis, 2 vols (Newman Press, 1982), here at vol. 2, pp. 77-78.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

The ‘Capitulary of Savonnières’, November 862


Draft translation by Charles West (comments and suggestions welcome)

Following the Treaty of Verdun in 843 which divided the Carolingian empire into separate kingdoms, from time to time the Carolingian kings met together to discuss matters of mutual importance. At a meeting in Koblenz in 860, Lothar II had acted as a mediator between his uncles Louis and Charles, to draw a line under Louis’s invasion of Charles’s kingdom in 858. Now, at a meeting arranged at the palace of Savonnières near Toul in Lotharingia (now eastern France), the issue had become Lothar II’s marriage. He had recently secured Waldrada as his queen, but Charles the Bald remained hostile. This time it was Louis’s turn to try to engineer a reconciliation.

A key issue was Charles’s refusal to ‘communicate’ with Lothar – that is, his refusal to talk or interact with Lothar, treating him as if he had been excommunicated. Charles explained why he was acting this way, and laid down the conditions of meeting Lothar in person, to which Lothar’s envoys agreed, though not without heated discussion as reported in the Annals of St-Bertin.

It seems likely that Hincmar of Reims was involved in compiling the document translated below which was presented to this meeting. It is preserved in full only in early modern transcriptions and editions, notably in Vatican Vat lat. 4982. Though it was included as a capitulary by its editors, it is not really a piece of legislation, since its main aim was to summarise Charles’s complaints against Lothar II. Charles also attempted to choreograph the meeting by bringing with him pre-written speeches for his uncle and nephew, but these were rejected by the assembled counsellors.

Edition: Capitularia regum francorum, vol. II, ed. Boretius and Krause (1897) https://www.dmgh.de/mgh_capit_2/index.htm#page/159/mode/1up

TRANSLATION

In the year of the Lord 862, when Louis advised Charles that with him he should accept Lothar [II] for a kiss and for discussion,[1] Charles sent back to him through the bishops Altfrid[2] and Salomon,[3] and Adventius[4] and Hatto,[5] the capitulary that follows, saying that for these reasons he did not dare to communicate with him [Lothar],[6] unless what was written there was carried out. On Lothar’s behalf, Louis and the already mentioned bishops reported to Charles and to the bishops Hincmar,[7] Hincmar,[8] Odo[9] and Christian,[10] that Lothar had declared that he wished to do so and would do so. With these conditions Charles and the bishops who were with him received him [Lothar] for a kiss.

1. After we were recently reconciled to each other with mutual forgiveness at Koblenz,[11] with God’s approval and on the advice of our faithful followers, and we confirmed it with an oath about maintaining the peace between us, and about offering help to each other, and we promised to observe the capitularies written by our shared faithful followers, and read out by us, and we publicly announced it to our shared faithful followers – after all this, I do not wish, my only and dearest brother, to accuse you of not having observed towards me those things which we promised one another. Nor do I hope that you or anyone else is able or wishes to accuse me of not having similarly observed these things towards you. And if anyone has done so, I am ready to give certain account to you about it and to make a worthy satisfaction. And if someone wishes to accuse me of not having observed as far as I can those things which I owe to our nephew Lothar, I am similarly ready to give certain account and to carry out an appropriate satisfaction. How far, however, he [Lothar] has observed towards me those things which he promised to me, not only I but many others know.

2. And as it then suited us, that we should meet again at a fixed time at the same place with the magnates of our kingdoms, so that we might discuss there whatever was worthy and necessary to be emended, both in the holy church of God and in the salvation of ourselves and the people, and that we should emend ourselves towards our faithful followers, and they should emend themselves towards us, and should decree what else should be observed – this I have been ready to follow time and time again, and even now I have come again, as you often relayed to me through our shared faithful followers.

3. But there are various reasons why I did not want to talk with our already mentioned nephew before I took counsel with you. Some of these reasons I wish to note here, some I will let you know later at a suitable place and in a suitable fashion.

4. When I came on a previous occasion to Tusey to discuss these things,[12] Boso brought to me and to my bishops letters from the lord Pope, some to be sent to our nephew and the bishops of his kingdom, which we sent to them according to the lord Pope’s request, and some letters to be read and observed by us, and we have the text of them here. In these letters, we found that we were criticised for allowing fornicators to stay in our kingdom, and that not just this woman [Engeltrude] but all those who consenting to her crime have been excommunicated from the body and blood of the Lord, until this woman should return to her husband.[13] And we know, as Saint Gregory said, that if someone does not correct what should be cut down when he can, he himself commits those actions.[14] But we have heard that this woman is staying in the kingdom of our nephew, and we have not heard that this [papal] decision has been changed. And we who are weighed down by our own sins are afraid to communicate with someone else’s sins by communicating with the excommunicated.[15]

5. Baldwin stole for himself our daughter Judith, a widow, placed under the protection of the church and royal authority according to secular and divine laws. The bishops of our kingdom excommunicated him following a legal judgment, according to the sacred canons and the decision of St Gregory the Pope, who said ‘If anyone steals a widow for his wife, let him and those who consented be anathema’.[16] We ourselves and the bishops of our kingdom informed our nephew Lothar verbally and in writing. And, as you know, we confirmed jointly with the counsel and advice of our faithful followers that none of us [i.e., the kings] should receive this kind of man in our kingdoms or permit him to stay, but should rather force him to return, to account for himself and to do penance, as is decreed.[17]

But what our nephew Lothar did towards us and our relative, and in truth against God and holy authority and the Christian communion: I hope this is not hidden to you, since it is known to very many. And St Paul, through whom Christ speaks, said ‘Not only those who do it, but those who consent to those doing, are worthy of death’ [Romans 1:32].

6. The case of the wife of our nephew Lothar is known to you, about which he asked for and heard advice from us and the bishops of our kingdom, and from the other bishops present – but he did not afterwards follow that advice. And we know too that he wrote to the lord pope about this, and afterwards received letters from him. We do not wish to deny that we know what the lord pope instructed him and some bishops to do about it. And we know, since we cannot and do not wish to deny it, and nor should we, that the command of the lord pope diverged in no way from evangelical truth and from apostolic and canonical authority – and we have not heard or seen that the instruction about this matter has been carried out.

For that holy see, first in the whole globe of the world, proclaims to us and to all Christians in all the world through the holy Paul, the celestial trumpet, who learned it from the Lord Himself when he was taken up to the third heaven and to paradise, ‘Do not break bread with people of this kind’ [1 Corinthians 5:11]. And through the holy apostle John, who drew from the eternal and living fountain of Christ’s breast, resting on it during in the supper when the sacraments of our redemption were celebrated and handed down, and which he pledged for all the redeemed, the apostolic see very clearly forbids anyone to shelter a man of this kind in his home or even to greet him, ‘since who greets him communicates with his wicked works’ [2 John 10]. And through the blessed pope Gregory, who says in his homily on Ezekiel that ‘Just as he who recedes from faith in God is an apostate, so without doubt he who recedes from God in his works is an apostate’, for, as the Apostle says, ‘faith without works is dead’. And the Lord himself says about the person who is legally warned once, twice and thrice and is not corrected, that he should be to us as a gentile and someone involved in public crimes, with whom apostolic and canonical authority instructs us not to break bread [Matthew 18:17], as already mentioned.

7. Therefore, my only and dearest brother, take counsel from you yourself, and give counsel to me, and give counsel to our nephew for his salvation and honour, and offer help, as I am also ready to do with you, as much as God will grant me to know and to act, if he [Lothar] wishes to accept it.

8. The counsel I recently received with my bishops and my other faithful followers, concerned both for our shared salvation and honour – that is, yours and mine, and for our nephew – and for the shared protection and salvation of all our faithful followers, both in a synod and in a council, I will tell you, if you wish, you to whom I am prepared to deny no good thing and with whom I prepared to share all my good things. And if it seems good to you, let us take it together. And if you can show better advice to us through reason and through divine and human authority, fitting to our salvation and to Christianity, I am ready to take it with all devotion, and very willingly to follow you, with God’s help and with the assistance of the counsel and aid of our shared faithful followers.

9. Since it is written that the good king, who sinned as a man but acknowledged himself happily, said ‘I shall confess to Him from my own will’ [Psalm 27:7], let our nephew declare before you and the bishops who are with you, and let him inform us through you and through those bishops, that he wishes to come before a general council, according to the apostolic lord’s and episcopal, or rather divine counsel, with his and our bishops and faithful followers and friends of God, since this is a general matter for all Christians.[18] And let him there show that he carried out this act about his wife either according to a divine and human law suited to Christians, or according to the counsel of God and a law appropriate to a Christian king, and that he wishes and is obliged to emend those two things we mentioned above. And I am prepared to receive him with charity and honour, just as a Christian king should receive a Christian king, and as a loving uncle should receive a beloved nephew, and to remain in his friendship for his salvation and honour, if he acts like this. And let a suitable time and opportune place be decided upon, when we can peacefully come together and settle this matter for our joint salvation and honour, and that of our faithful followers, since it concerns ourselves, for as Scripture says it is our flesh and blood. For we who ought to set a good example to our faithful followers and all Christians in goodness should not give an example for perdition, and we who ought to correct the wicked should not be the head of evil.

And we will discuss and decide upon those matters which as we mentioned we promised at Koblenz we would discuss and maintain, so that we who are attacked on all sides on account of our sins and the evil of discord which remains in our kingdoms, may deserve to receive the solace of God’s mercy, once we have placated Him. And let it not be hard to do this for our nephew’s mind, for it is written ‘Who is hard in mind, falls into wickedness’. But let him fear God, and restrain this scandal, which without any need has grown and spread so greatly in this Christianity.[19] For to many people it seems to have been carried out without full reason or required authority, when it could have been led to completion through reason and authority. And since it is written, ‘Blessed is the man who is always fearful’ [Proverbs 28:14], and the Lord says ‘I love those that love Me’ [Proverbs 8:15], let him honour himself, his Christianity and his royal name for the love and fear of God. And let him divest himself and all of us from that calamity which pursues him, and that through him and on his account pursues us his relatives. And let him honour God, knowing that God says ‘I will honour those that honour Me; and those who despise me will be ignored’ [1 Kings 2:30].

10. And if he prefers not to do this, let him do what he thinks should be done. I wish to remain in your friendship and due fraternity, and to promote it with all due service, and I seek not what is his, but he himself. But if I am not able to have him safely, I am not willing to remove myself from God for his friendship, nor do I wish to offer help to anyone for ill. For we read in Scripture that God said to a king ‘You offered help to an impious man, and joined in friendship to those who hate Me: therefore you have deserved the wrath of the Lord’ [2 Chronicles 19:2], and the rest that is written there. And again we read that an impious man who turns from some impiety, and says from his heart that he wishes to be converted is no longer counted amongst the impious, but should and safely can be piously welcomed by the pious. As the Scripture says, ‘Turn around the impious, and they will cease to be’ [Proverbs 12:7], not that they will no longer exist in essence, but that they will not exist in the blame of impiety. We say all this not because we wish our nephew to be counted amongst the number of the impious, hoping rather that numbered with the pious he may be associated with God.

Declaration of the lord Louis [the German][20]

1. As those of you who were there know, when we recently met together with God’s help at Koblenz, and decreed capitularies to be observed by ourselves and our faithful followers, we agreed that at a suitable time and opportune place we would meet again, and with the help of God and the counsel of our faithful followers, we would emend what needed to be emended in ourselves and our kingdoms and our faithful followers, and that we would decree what other emendations would be followed. We fixed a time and place on three occasions, but events occurred to myself, my brother and our nephew, on account of which we were not able to carry out what we had arranged.

2. In the meantime I heard that my brother and our nephew were not getting on as they had been when we met together. So I came to the decision that I should be a private mediator between them, so that they would get on as they should by right. Hence my brother informed my nephew, through me and our bishops, and through the bishops of our nephew, both in writing and orally, of the matters because of which he was no longer intimate with him as he had been before. And that if he wished to emend them as he had been advised, he [Charles] would be well disposed towards him, as a loving uncle ought to be to his beloved nephew, and as a Christian king ought to be to a Christian king. About these matters, we and the bishops who were with us from our nephew gave this response: that concerning those matters of which he was accused, he was ready either to emend or to give certain account of them and to carry out a worthy satisfaction. Our brother and the bishops gratefully received this response, and thanks be to God, our brother and our nephew are now as they rightfully ought to be.

3. And we wish that, as we agreed before, faithful envoys should run between us, and that what should be emended in each of our kingdoms and what one of us indicates to another, should be emended, and the houses of God and the priests and servants of God will have the law and honour that is due. And that every faithful follower of ours will have law and justice in our kingdoms, no matter whose man he is, as was the case in the time of our predecessors, and as we now agree and as was decreed in those capitularies which our predecessor kings decreed, and which we confirmed at Meerssen,[21] and now recently decreed at Koblenz. This should happen until with God’s help we shall meet again at a suitable time and opportune place, and with the counsel of our faithful followers discuss peacefully what has not been carried out, and then carry it out. And thus we may help each other so that with God’s help we can save ourselves and our faithful followers and resist the oppressors of the holy church. And with shared consent we had this reasoning written down, so that each of us may have it, and may know what and how he must henceforth maintain. For it is not fitting that a king deviates from his reasoning, just as it is not fitting that a bishop should deviate from his rightful preaching.

Declaration of Charles

1. Those things which my beloved brother said that we decreed recently at Koblenz, I have up till now observed as far as I can, and I wish to continue observing, if they are also observed towards me. And I do not wish to accuse him of not having similarly observed them towards me. I believe too that he does not wish, and that no one is able, to accuse me of not having observed them towards him. And if someone does, I am prepared either to emend those things that need to be emended, or to give certain account for those things of which I have been accused.

2. And if our nephew does what our brother, and the bishops who with him were mediators between us, announced on his behalf to us and the bishops who were with us, and as our brother now says, then he [Lothar II] will be a close friend and aid according to reasonable possibility, as a nephew ought to be to an uncle, and as a Christian king ought to be to a Christian king. And I wish to be an intimate friend and aid to him, according to reasonable possibility, as a loving uncle should be to a beloved nephew, and as a Christian king ought rightfully to be to a Christian king.

3. What our brother has just said about envoys running between us, and about emending what needs to be emended in our kingdoms, and about the status and honour of the churches and priests and servants of God, and about keeping law and justice to each of our followers in our kingdoms, whosever men he may be, both regarding he himself and his property, and about observing the capitularies – so I too wish to observe these things in all ways.

Declaration of Lothar II

1. Since my uncle Louis accepted me in his bounty as if a son, he has always acted towards me in his mercy as was fitting for him and as was needed for me. So I am ready to show him the service that is owed, as I should rightfully do.

2. And about those matters which my uncle Charles recently sent me when we met together: I wish to observe them, as my uncle Louis and the bishops who along with him were mediators between me and my uncle Charles announced on my behalf to him and the bishops who were with him. And if he will be a private friend and aid to me, according to reasonable possibility, as an uncle should be to a nephew, and as a Christian king ought rightfully to be to a Christian king, so I wish to be a close friend and aid to him, according to reasonable possibility, as a loving nephew should be to a beloved uncle, and as a Christian king ought rightfully to be to a Christian king.

3. What our uncles have just said about envoys running between us, and about emending what needs to be emended in our kingdoms, and about the status and honour of the churches and priests and servants of God, and about keeping law and justice to each of our followers in our kingdoms, whosever men he may be, both regarding he himself and his property, and about observing the capitularies – so I too wish to observe these things in all ways.

***
After these preceding declarations had been read out in front of all the almost 200 counsellors of the three kings who were present, including bishops and abbots and laymen, Louis and Lothar and their followers entirely rejected them, that they should not be read to the people [populus], so that the case of Lothar should be entirely unmentioned.[22] So the lord Charles read our this declaration which follows in these very words in the evening at Savonnières, in the year 862, on the 11th indiction, on the 3 nones of November [3rd November], in the same house where the previous declarations had been read out, in which a few others came in who had not been there before, since it had been almost full with them.

Declaration of Charles[23]

As I have advised to my nephew in writing and orally, through my brother and through the bishops of my nephew, and as they reported back to me on his behalf, so I wish to be a friend to him and to save him, as an uncle should rightly save his nephew, if he will save me and my followers, as a nephew should rightly save his uncle.



[1] Exchanging a kiss was a common way of demonstrating trust and friendship; to refuse to do so was a public display of hostility. The report is here referring to the embassy sent by Louis the German to Charles (see http://turbulentpriests.group.shef.ac.uk/bishop-altfrids-report-summer-862/).
[2] Bishop of Hildesheim in East Francia.
[3] Bishop of Konstanz in East Francia.
[4] Bishop of Metz in Lotharingia.
[5] Bishop of Verdun in Lotharingia.
[6] I.e., interact with (the opposite of excommunication).
[7] Archbishop of Reims in West Francia.
[8] Bishop of Laon in West Francia.
[9] Bishop of Beauvais in West Francia.
[10] Bishop of Auxerre in West Francia.
[11] This meeting took place in June 860, drawing a line under Louis the German’s failed invasion of West Francia in 858.
[12] This refers to a council that Charles held at Tusey in October 860.
[13] Engeltrude had fled her husband Boso, and sought refuge north of the Alps; Matfrid appealed to the pope to make Lothar return her. The incident was probably connected to Lothar’s divorce (Boso was closely related to Theutberga).
[14] The same Roman syod of 721 is also used in the Annals of St-Bertin.
[15] In other words, Charles is refusing to talk with Lothar until he expels ENgeltrude, in line with the pope’s instructions.
[16] Not Pope Gregory I, but Pope Gregory II, in 721.
[17] A reference to the Council of Koblenz in 860, where the three kings had agreed not to shelter trouble-makers. It seems that Lothar had offered Baldwin assistance.
[18] Hincmar also demanded this path of action in his De Divortio treatise.
[19] I.e., Lothar’s attempt to divorce Theutberga.
[20] Note that these declarations were rejected at the meeting, so were not formally read out to the people.
[21] A reference to a meeting at Meerssen in 851.
[22] In the Annals of St-Bertin, Hincmar blames this decision on a prominent advisor Conrad. This is a well-known passage for the size of royal assemblies. Note that this number of 200 only includes the advisors (consiliarii); McCormick estimates the total number present at Savonnieres might have been around 5,000.
[23] Cf. the Annals of St Bertin: ‘But Charles, against their wishes, made it fully known to everyone that he had refused to communicate with Lothar before he gave the undertaking mentioned above, for two reasons: first, because Lothar had abandoned his wife and taken another woman, contrary to the authority of the Gospel and of the apostles, and second, because Lothar and his mistress had had communication with excommunicated persons, namely the wife of Boso, and Baldwin…’.