THE CAROLINGIANS IN CENTRAL EUROPE

,
THEIR HISTORY, ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE
CBTR-18-schutz.qxd 10/2/2003 11:26 AM Page i
CULTURES, BELIEFS
AND TRADITIONS
medieval and early modern peoples
Editorial Board:
william brinner, University of California at Berkeley
florike egmond, Leiden University
gustav henningsen, Danish Folklore Archives
mayke de jong, University of Utrecht
miri rubin, Pembroke College, Oxford University
eli yassif, Tel Aviv University
VOLUME 18
CBTR-18-schutz.qxd 10/2/2003 11:26 AM Page ii
THE CAROLINGIANS
IN CENTRAL EUROPE,
THEIR HISTORY, ARTS
AND ARCHITECTURE
A Cultural History of Central Europe, 750-900
BY
HERBERT SCHUTZ
BRILL
LEIDEN

BOSTON
2004
CBTR-18-schutz.qxd 10/2/2003 11:26 AM Page iii
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Schutz, Herbert, 1937-
The Carolingians in Central Europe, their history, arts, and architecture : cultural history
of Central Europe, 750-900 / by Herbert Schutz.
p. cm. — (Cultures, beliefs, and traditions ; v. 18)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 90-04-13149-3
1. Carolingians. 2. Europe, Central—History. 3. Civilization, Medieval. 4. Culture
diffusion—Europe, Central. 5. Art, Carolingian. 6. Architecture, Carolingian. 7. Learning
and scholarship—History—Medieval, 500-1500. I. Title. II. Series.
DJK4.S38 2003
943'.0009'02—dc21
2003052330
ISSN 1382–5364
ISBN 90 04 13149 3
© Copyright 2004 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written
permission from the publisher.
Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal
use is granted by Brill provided that
the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright
Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910
Danvers MA 01923, USA.
Fees are subject to change.
printed in the netherlands
CBTR-18-schutz.qxd 10/2/2003 11:26 AM Page iv
v
To my brother Hart
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page v
vi
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page vi
This page intentionally left blank
vii
CONTENTS
List of Illustrations ...................................................................... ix
List of Maps ................................................................................ xxi
Foreword .................................................................................... xxiii
Acknowledgements ...................................................................... xxix
Introduction ................................................................................ 1
Part A The Carolingian Realms
I. Reaching for the crown—Continuity and change
in the realms of the Franks ...................................... 17
II. Towards Empire ........................................................ 49
III. Charlemagne’s successors .......................................... 82
IV. Towards the partition of the Empire ...................... 113
V. The emerging profile of Central Europe ................ 118
VI. The last unification of the Empire .......................... 125
Part B Books, Gems and Ivories
VII. The recapitulation of origins .................................... 135
VIII. Carolingian scribal culture ........................................ 147
IX. Religious literature .................................................... 171
X. Secular literature ...................................................... 203
XI. The cloister arts ........................................................ 216
XII. Illuminated manuscripts—Evangelists ...................... 221
XIII. Illuminated manuscripts—Ruler Portraits ................ 248
XIV. Illuminated manuscripts—Christ in Majesty .......... 261
XV. Illuminated manuscripts—Narrative style ................ 264
XVI. Engraved crystals ...................................................... 277
XVII. Ivories ........................................................................ 281
XVIII. Gems, precious metals and bronzes—
Liturgical art .............................................................. 299
Part C Palaces and Basilicas
XIX. Architecture—Palaces ................................................ 323
XX. Architecture—Wall painting .................................... 333
XXI. Architecture—Basilicas .............................................. 340
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page vii
viii cox+rx+s
Conclusion .................................................................................. 369
Selected Bibliography ................................................................ 391
Index ............................................................................................ 397
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page viii
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Color Plates
(Pls. 1a–33c can be found in Part B, between the pages 224 and 225)
Plate 1a. Picto-poem of Christ the Savior from Hrabanus Maurus’
De laudibus sancti crucis, Fulda. Inv. Codex 652, fol. 6v. (Vienna, Öster-
reichische Nationalibliothek).
Plate 1b. Dedicatory page from Hrabanus Maurus’ De laudibus sancti
crucis, showing Hrabanus and Alcuin presenting the book to Otgar
of Mainz, Fulda. Inv. Cod. 652, fol. 2v. (Vienna, Österreichische
Nationalbibliothek).
Plate 1c. Dedicatory page from Hrabanus Maurus’ De laudibus sancti
crucis showing the emperor Louis the Pious as Soldier in Christ. Fulda.
Inv. Cod. 652, fol. 3v. (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek).
Plate 2a. Display initial of the 51. Psalm, Folchart Psalter, c. 864/872.
Inv. Cod. 23, fol. 135. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
Plate 2b. Irish Gospel, c. 750, confronting pages showing a cross
page and an initial page. Inv. Cod. 51, fols. 6, 7. (St. Gallen, Stifts-
bibliothek).
Plates 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d. Irish Gospel, c. 750, the Evangelists John and
Marc, Matthew and Christ. Inv. Cod. 51. fols. 2, 78, 208, 266. (St.
Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
Plates 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Codex millenarius, the Evangelists Matthew, Inv.
Cim. 1, fol. 17v, 18r. and Marc, Inv. Cim. 1, fol. 109v, 110r) with
their emblems. (Stiftsbibliothek, Kremsmünster) (Millenarius: Photo
P. Amand Kraml, copyright Stift Kremsmünster).
Plates 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. Codex millenarius, the Evangelists Luke, Inv.
Cim. 1, fol. 174v, 175r. and John, Inv. Cim. 1, fol. 276v, 277r. with
their emblems. (Stiftsbibliothek, Kremsmünster).
Plates 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d. Enthroned Evangelists with tetramorphs from
the Godescalc Gospels, c. 781–783, Palace School of Charlemagne,
ix
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 10/24/03 6:30 PM Page ix
x ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs
Aachen—Matthew, Inv. lat. 1203, fol. 1r, Marc, Inv. lat. 1203, fol.
1v, Luke, Inv. lat. 1203, fol. 2r, John, Inv. lat 1203, fol. 2v. (Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 7a. Enthroned Christ, from the Godescalc Gospels, c. 781–783,
Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv. lat. 1203, fol. 3r. (Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 7b. Fountain of Life, from the Godescalc Gospels, c. 781–783,
Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv. lat. 1203, fol. 3v. (Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 8a. Fountain of Life, from the Gospel from Saint-Médard,
Soissons, Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv. Lat. 8850,
fol. 6v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 8b. Veneration of the Lamb, from the Gospel from Saint-
Médard, Soissons, Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv. lat.
8850, fol. 1v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 8c. Canon Table, from the Gospel from Saint-Médard, Soissons,
Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv. lat. 8850, fol. 7v. (Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 9a. Evangelist Marc with lion emblem, from the Gospel from
Saint-Médard, Soissons, palace School of Charlemagne. Inv. lat. 8850,
fol. 81v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 9b. Initial page to the Gospel of St. Mark, from the Gospel
from Saint-Médard, Soissons, Palace School of Charlemagne. Inv.
lat. 8850, fol. 82r. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 10a. Writing figure, 6th century (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale).
Plate 10b. The Four Evangelists with tetramorphs, from the Aachen
Gospels, Palace School of Charlemagne. fol. 14v. (Domkapitel Aachen.
Photo: Ann Münchow).
Plates 11a, 11b, 11c, 11d. The Four Evangelists from the ‘Ada’
Gospels—Matthew, Marc, Luke and John, Palace School of Charle-
magne. Hs. 22 Ada, fol. 15v, fol. 59v. fol. 85v, fol. 127v. (Trier,
Stadtbibliothek).
Plates 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d. The Evangelists Matthew, Marc, Luke
and John, from the Coronation Gospels, Palace School of Charlemagne,
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page x
ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs xi
Aachen. Inv. SKXIII/18, fol. 15, fol. 76v, fol. 117, fol. 178v. (Vienna,
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Treasury).
Plate 13. Charles the Bald as King David, miniature preceding the
Book of Psalms, Vivian Bible, c. 845/46. Inv. lat. 1, fol. 215v. (Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 14a. The enthroned emperor Lothair I, from the Gospels of
Lothair, c. 850, Tours. Inv. lat. 266, fol. 1r. (Paris, Bibliothèque
Nationale de France).
Plate 14b. The enthroned emperor Lothair I, from the Psalter of
Lothair, Palace School of Lothair, c. 850. Inv. Add. 37768, fol. 4.
(London, British Library).
Plate 15a. Dedication page showing the enthroned Charles the Bald
receiving the Vivian Bible, c. 845/46. Inv. lat. 1, fol. 423r. (Paris,
Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 15b. St. Gregory from the Metz Coronation Sacramentary, c. 870,
Palace School of Charles the Bald, St. Denis (?). Inv. lat. 1141, fol.
3r. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 15c. Ruler flanked by bishops, probably Charles the Bald, Metz
Coronation Sacramentary, c. 870, Palace School of Charles the Bald, St.
Denis (?). Inv. lat. 1141, fol. 2v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de
France).
Plate 16a. Dedication page showing the enthroned Charles the Bald,
Codex Aureus from St. Emmeram, Palace School of Charles the Bald.
Inv. Clm. 14000, fol. 5v. (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek).
Plate 16b. Veneration of the Lamb, Codex Aureus from St. Emmeram,
Palace School of Charles the Bald. Inv. Clm. 14000, fol. 6r. (Munich,
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek).
Pate 17a. Crucifixion, showing Ludwig, the German, embracing the
Cross. Psalter of Louis the German. Inv. Ms. Theol. lat. fol. 58,
120r. (Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Staatsbibliothek).
Plate 17b. Initial page of Psalm 1 of the Psalter of Ludwig the
German, before c. 850, Saint-Omer. Inv. Ms. Theol. lat. fol. 58, 3r.
(Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Staatsbibliothek).
Plate 17c. Christ in Majesty, Vivian Bible, c. 845/46. Inv. lat. 1, fol.
329v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xi
xii ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs
Plate 18a. Christ in Majesty with pagan references, Metz Coronation
Sacramentary, c. 870, Palace School of Charles the Bald, St. Denis (?).
Inv. lat. 1141, fol. 6r. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 18b. Ornamented capital initial T with crucified Christ, Metz
Coronation Sacramentary, c. 870, Palace School of Charles the Bald, St.
Denis (?). Inv. lat. 1141, fol. 6v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de
France).
Plate 18c. Crucifixion from the Gospels of Otfrid von Weissenburg,
c. 868. Cod. 2687, fol. 153v. (Vienna, Österreichische National-
bibliothek).
Plate 18d. Christ in Majesty with seraphim, Metz Coronation Sacramentary,
c. 870, Palace School of Charles the Bald, St. Denis (?). Inv. lat.
1141, fol. 5r. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plates 19a, 19b, 19c, 19d. Ornamented capital Initials C, D, C and
T, Drogo Sacramentary, c. 850–855. Inv. lat. 9428, fols. 24v, 58r, 71v,
15v. (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France).
Plate 20a. Story of Adam and Eve. Garden of Eden scenes from
the Grandval Bible, Tours, c. 840. Inv. 10546, fol. 5v. (London, British
Library).
Plate 20b. Stag allegory, with Psalm 41, 2, Stuttgart Psalter, c. 820–830,
Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Inv. Cod. bibl. fol. 23, 53v. (Stuttgart,
Württembergische Landesbibliothek).
Plate 20c. Annunciation, with Psalm 71:6, Stuttgart Psalter, c. 820–830,
Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Inv. Cod. bibl. fol. 23, 83v. (Stuttgart,
Württembergische Landesbibliothek).
Plate 20d. The Three Kings, with Psalm 71:10–11, Stuttgart Psalter,
c. 820–830, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Inv. Cod. bibl. fol. 23, 84v.
(Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek).
Plate 21a. Crucifixion, with Psalm 68:22, Stuttgart Psalter, c. 820–830,
Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Inv. Cod. bibl. fol. 23, 80v. (Stuttgart,
Württembergische Landesbibliothek).
Plate 21b. Weighing the souls, with Psalm 9:5, Stuttgart Psalter, c. 820–
830, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Inv. Cod. bibl. fol. 23, 9v. (Stuttgart,
Württembergische Landesbibliothek).
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xii
ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs xiii
Plate 21c. Christ triumphant, with Psalm 90:13, Stuttgart Psalter, c. 820–
830, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Inv. Cod. bibl. fol. 23, 107r. (Stuttgart,
Württembergische Landesbibliothek).
Plate 22a. The prophet Samuel anoints David, Golden Psalter, c. 890.
Inv. Cod. 22, fol. 59. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
Plate 22b. Joab’s campaign, Golden Psalter, c. 890. Inv. Cod. 22, fol.
140. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
Plate 22c. Siege and surrender of a city, Golden Psalter, c. 890. Inv.
Cod. 22, fol. 141. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
Plates 23a, 23b. Obverse and reverse, Enger reliquary, before c. 785.
Inv.-Nr.: 88, 632. (Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kunstgewerbe-
museum).
Plate 24. Reliquary associated with St. Stephen, c. 830, Aachen. Inv.
SCHK XIII/26. (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Schatzkammer).
Plate 25a. Tassilo Chalice, c. 768/69, perhaps later (Kremsmünster,
Stiftsbibliothek). (Photo Elfriede Mejchar, copyright Stift Kremsmünster).
Plate 25b, 25c, 25d. Ornamental detail of the Tassilo Chalice (Krems-
münster, Stiftsbibliothek).
Plate 26a. First (back) Cover of the Lindau Gospel, c. 770–830. Inv. MS1
(New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, Photography: David Loggie).
Plate 26b. Second (front) Cover of the Lindau Gospel, c. 870. Inv. MS1
(New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, Photography: David Loggie).
Plate 27a. Direct view of the golden, gem encrusted gospel cover of
the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, c. 879, featuring the ‘architecture’
of the gospel cover of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, c. 870. Inv.
Clm. 14000, VD. (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek).
Plate 27b. Oblique view of the golden gem encrusted gospel cover
of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, c. 879, featuring the ‘architecture’
of the gospel cover of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, c. 870. Inv.
Clm. 14000, VD. (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek).
Plate 28. Portable altar, the Arnulf Ciborium, c. 870 ( Munich,
Schatzkammer der Residenz, Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen
Schlösser, Gärten und Seen).
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xiii
xiv ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs
Plate 29. St. Johann, exterior, Müstair, Graubünden, Switzerland.
Plate 29a. Mural, Ascension, St. Johann, Müstair. Inv. LM-11990.
(Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Zürich).
Plates 29b, 29c, 29d. Murals of figures from the north wall. Mural
in the Apse with majestas. Mural of Peter and Paul before Nero; St.
Johann, Müstair. (Stiftung Pro Kloster St. Johann in Müstair, Foto
S. Fibbi-Aeppli).
Plates 30a, 30b, 30c, 30d. Murals of St. Gregory (top right), flogging
of the Philistines (bottom left), founder portraits (bottom right). St.
Benedict, Mals, valley of the Adige, Italy.
Plates 31a, 31b, 31c, 31d. St. Gregory, Christ flanked by cherubim,
St. Stephen in niches. Religious and secular patrons between the
niches. St. Benedict, Mals.
Plate 32a. Mural of cattle. St. Prokulus, Naturns.
Plate 32b. St. Paul being aided in his escape from Damascus. St.
Prokulus, Naturns.
Plate 32c. Gated hall at the abbey at Lorsch.
Plate 32d. Rotunda, St. Michael’s, Fulda.
Plate 33a. Palace Chapel, interior, Aachen. (Domkapitel Aachen.
Photo: Ann Münchow).
Plate 33b. Legendary pelican feedings its young with its own heart.
19th century mosaic. Interior, Palace Chapel, Aachen. (Domkapitel
Aachen, Photo: Andreas Herrmann).
Plate 33c. Octagon interior, upper level, marble throne, marble
sheeted pillars, porphyry columns. Palace Chapel, Aachen. (Domkapitel
Aachen. Photo: Ann Münchow).
Figures
(Figs. 1–39b can be found in Part A, between the pages 64 and 65)
1. Hollow altar with Carolingian candle sticks in the crypt of
Regensburg Cathedral. Formerly the high altar of the Carolingian
cathedral.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 10/28/03 6:22 PM Page xiv
ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs xv
2. The emperor shown leading the horse of the pope to support the
papal claim of the Constantinian donation. Fresco in the oratorium
of St. Sylvester in Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome. (Bildarchiv Foto
Marburg).
3. Inscribed lead plate found in a sarcophagus, 8th/9th century,
pointing to the missionary activity of Fulda. The inscription reads
OTTO XPIAN DE PAGANO ONO OCT, meaning Otto become Christian
died on the nones (7th) of October. (Fulda, Dommuseum).
4a. Christ with the emperor Constantine and pope Sylvester I. Re-
stored mosaic originally installed by pope Leo III. Lateran Palace, Rome
(Photo P. Wilson).
4b. St. Peter with Charlemagne and pope Leo III. Restored mosaic
originally installed by pope Leo III. Lateran Palace, Rome (Photo
P. Wilson).
5. Roman marble sarcophagus showing the mythical abduction of
Proserpina, c. A.D. 200, taken to have been Charlemagne’s coffin
for 400 years. It was probably among the columns and other classical
objects transported north following his campaigns in Italy. (Aachen,
Treasury of the Cathedral).
6. Idealized royal figures of the Hungarians. Budapest (Photo H.
Hermann).
7. Porphyry column and Corinthian capital. Aachen, cloisters of the
Cathedral.
8. The Lord’s Prayer from the Abrogans, an Old High German dic-
tionary. Codex Sangallensis 911. fol. 320. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
9. Genesis scenes from the Bamberg Bible, c. 850. Inv. A.I.5, fol. 7v.
(Bamberg, Staatliche Bibliothek).
10. Illustration to Psalm 38, showing a crowned personage, Utrecht
Psalter, c. 820, Hautvillers. (Utrecht, University Library).
11. Illustration to Psalm 77, showing a crowned personage, Utrecht
Psalter, c. 820, Hautvillers. (Utrecht, University Library).
12. Illustration to Psalm 1, a man in meditation day and night sit-
ting under a fastigium, Utrecht Psalter, c. 820, Hautvillers. (Utrecht,
University Library).
13. Illustration to Psalm 23, itemizing all details of the text, Utrecht
Psalter, c. 820, Hautvillers. (Utrecht, University Library).
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xv
xvi ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs
14. Illustration to Psalm 43, analogy of a besieged city, Utrecht Psalter,
c. 820, Hautvillers. (Utrecht, University Library).
15. Illustrations to Psalm 12, pictorial interpretation of text, Utrecht
Psalter, c. 820, Hautvillers. (Utrecht, University Library).
16. The Lothair crystal, carved with the story of Susanna, c. 865,
Vausort. Inv. 1855, 1201.5. (London, British Museum).
17. Crucifixion crystal, c. 867, St. Denis. Inv. 1855, 0303.1. (London,
British Museum).
18. Crucifixion crystal, c. 850/870. On loan Erzbischöfliches Diozösan-
museum. Inv. DM-K013/D (Freiburg, Augustiner Museum).
19. Ivory throne of St. Maximian, early 6th century. (Ravenna,
Archiepiscopal Palace).
20. Angel, ivory panel, 11th century copy, style of Palace School of
Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv. Kg: 102. (Darmstadt, Hessisches Landes-
museum).
21. Ivory front cover, Lorsch Gospels, Three Kings before Herod and
with the Virgin and Child, c. 810, Aachen (Rome, Museo Sacro
Vaticano, Bildarchiv Fotomarburg).
22. Ivory back cover, Lorsch Gospels, Nativity, c. 810, Aachen. Inv.
JX 856 (London, Victoria and Albert Museum).
23. Scenes following the Resurrection of Christ, ivory diptych, c. 810,
Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. (Domkapitel Aachen. Photo:
Ann Münchow).
24. Ascension, c. 810, Palace School of Charlemagne, Aachen. Inv.
Kg. 54:217. (Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum).
25. Christ in majesty, ivory panel, c. 900, Maastricht/Liège. Inv.
Kg. 54:208. (Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum).
26. Crucifixion Ivory, covering panel of the Book of Pericopes of Henry
II, c. 820/30. Inv. Clm. 4452, fol. VD ( Munich, Bayerische
Staatsbibliothek).
27. The Temptation of Christ, ivory book cover of the Drogo
Sacramentary, c. 850, Metz (Frankfurt a. M., Liebighaus).
28. Liturgical ivory comb, c. 850, Metz, from St. Heribert in Cologne
(Cologne, Schnütgenmuseum, Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln).
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xvi
ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs xvii
29. Christ in Majesty, front ivory book cover from the Tuotilo Gospels,
c. 900, St. Gallen. Cod. 53. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
30. Ascension of Mary, back ivory book cover from the Tuotilo Gospels,
c. 900, St. Gallen. Cod. 53. (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek).
31. Ivory panel book covers from Würzburg, after c. 850. Inv. M. p.
th. f. 67 (Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek).
32. Ivory pyx with nativity. Inv. ANSA X42 (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches
Museum).
33. Reliquary casket of walrus ivory, 8th century, from Gandersheim.
Inv. MA58 (Braunschweig, Anton-Ulrich-Museum).
34. Scenes from the life of Christ, ivory casket, c. 880. Inv. MA59
(Braunschweig, Anton-Ulrich-Museum).
35. Scenes from the life of Christ, ivory casket, c. 880. Inv. MA59
(Braunschweig, Anton-Ulrich-Museum).
36. Silver beaker from Pettstadt, late 8th, early 9th century (Nürnberg,
Germanisches Nationalmuseum).
37. Detail from the roof of the Arnulf Ciborium, c. 870 (Munich,
Schatzkammer der Residenz, Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen
Schlösser, Gärten und Seen).
38. Portable red porphyry altar from Adelhausen. Earliest of its
kind, c. 800, made of oak, silver, cloisonné and niello on gold
foil. Inv. 12133. On loan Adelhauserstiftung. (Freiburg, Augustiner-
museum).
39a. Equestrian statue of a Carolingian emperor, 9th century, one
of the Palace Schools, Metz. Inv. OA8260. (Paris, Musée du Louvre).
39b. Equestrian statue of a Carolingian emperor, 9th century, one
of the Palace Schools, Metz. Inv. OA8260. (Paris, Musée du Louvre).
(Figs. 40a–83 can be found in Part C, between the pages 352 and 353)
40a, 40b, 40c. Main portal door panels and details of the coffered
sections. Aachen, Palace Chapel.
41. Roman bronze casting of a ‘wolf ’ in the entrance to the Palace
Chapel, Aachen.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 10/28/03 6:22 PM Page xvii
xviii ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs
42. Bronze pinecone in the entrance to the Palace Chapel, Aachen.
43a, b, c, d. Sections of railing from the upper level of the interior
octagon of the Palace Chapel in Aachen. (Domkapitel Aachen. Photo:
Ann Münchow).
44a, b, c. Sections of railing from the upper level of the interior
octagon of the Palace Chapel in Aachen. (Domkapitel Aachen. Photo:
Ann Münchow).
45. Foundations of the Carolingian (bottom) and later palaces at
Paderborn. (Paderborn, Kaiserpfalzmuseum).
46. Fragments of a Carolingian sandstone capital from the church
nave (Paderborn, Kaiserpfalzmuseum).
47. Decorated plaster, palace walls, c. 799 (Paderborn, Kaiser-
pfalzmuseum).
48. Suggested reconstruction of the Pfalz at Ingelheim. according to
A. Corboz, Frühes Mittelalter, p. 5.
49. Damaged Corinthian capital from the palace at Ingelheim. Inv.
S469 (Mainz, Landesmuseum).
50. Decorative stone panel showing a winged horse from the
Carolingian palace church, St. Wigbert, at Ingelheim. Inv. S3023.
(Mainz, Landesmuseum).
51. Remains of a window architecture, limestone and sandstone
7th–8th centuries. Inv. S3027a–d. (Mainz, Landesmuseum).
52. Plan of the Pfalz at Aachen according to Corboz, Mittelalter,
p. 183.
53a. Restored Carolingian colonnade, Aachen.
53b. Original masonry of the palace complex at Aachen.
54. Suggested reconstruction of the westwork of the Palace Chapel
at Aachen according to Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 53.
55. Flanking angels. St. Prokulus, Naturns, valley of the Adige, Italy.
56. Einhard Basilica, Steinbach. Model.
57. Einhard Basilica, Steinbach. Plan with indication of crypt and
altar screen, according to Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 112.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xviii
ris+ or irrts+n\+ioxs xix
58. Einhard Basilica, Steinbach, present interior view of the nave.
Note the walled-in arcades.
59. Einhard Basilica, Steinbach, present exterior view. Note the
walled-in arcades near the entrance.
60a. Einhard Basilica, Seligenstadt. Exterior view of the nave.
60b. Einhard Basilica, Seligenstadt. Interior view of the nave,
Carolingian brickwork laid bare.
61. St. Justinus, Höchst. Carolingian colonnades and capitals.
62. St. Justinus, Höchst. Detail of a Carolingian capital.
63. Carolingian composite capital, Aachen, cloisters of the Cathedral.
64. Fragment of ornamental altar stone, c. 800–840, Lorsch. Inv.
Pl. 33:4. (Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum).
65. Original plan of the Benedictine abbey at Lorsch, according to
Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 34.
66. Gated hall at the abbey at Lorsch. Note the gentler slope of the
original roof and the ornamental details.
67a, 67b. Gated hall at the abbey at Lorsch. Detail of the arches,
capitals and pilasters.
68a. Altar screens from St. John, Müstair, Graubünden, Switzerland.
68b. Altar fragment from Lauerach. (Bregenz, Vorarlberger Landes-
museum).
68c. Carolingian altar screen from the convent at Frauenchiemsee
(Munich, Archäologische Staatssamlung, Museum für Vor- und
Frühgeschichte).
68d. Carolingian altar screen from St. Johannis, Mainz. Recovered
from the church floor. Inv. S3090 (Mainz, Landesmuseum).
69. Corvey. Proposed appearance of the original westwork accord-
ing to Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 50.
70a. Corvey. Present appearance of the westwork.
70b. Close-up and consecrating inscription on the westwork.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xix
xx ris+ or irrts+n\+iioxs
71. Corvey. Crosscuts of the westwork—lower level (rt.), upper level
(lt.) according to Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 76.
72a. Corvey. Columns and pillars of the ‘crypt’ at the lower level.
72b. Corvey. Spacial arrangement of the chapel of St. John at the
upper level.
72c. Corvey. Traces of wall painting—the chapel of St. John.
73a, 73b. Corvey. Composite foliage capital and cornice.
74a. Carolingian capitals, after 744, comparable to the column cap-
ital in the crypt at St. Michael’s in Fulda. From the monastery church
founded by Sturmius at Fulda. (Fulda, Dom Museum).
74b, c. Carolingian capitals from the nave of the Ratgar Basilica,
c. 800 (Fulda, Dom Museum).
75a. St. Michael’s chapel, Fulda. Exterior view.
75b. St. Michael’s, external view of the rotunda section.
76. Supporting column in the crypt of St. Michael’s, Fulda.
77. St. Michael’s, Fulda. Reconstructed crosscut, according to Corboz,
Mittelalter, p. 174.
78a, 78b, 78c, 78d. Capitals from the rotunda, St. Michael’s, Fulda.
79a. Westwork of the Palace Chapel at Aachen.
79b. Octagon of the Palace Chapel at Aachen.
80a. San Vitale, Ravenna. Exterior view of the octagon.
80b. San Vitale, Ravenna. Interior view of choir.
80c. San Vitale, Ravenna. Interior view of niches.
81. Lower (l.) and upper (r.) levels of the Palace Chapel at Aachen,
according to Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 52.
82. Cross-section of the Palace Chapel at Aachen, according to
Corboz, Mittelalter, p. 53.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xx
xxi
LIST OF MAPS
Map 1. The Carolingian Empire ............................................ 31
Map 2. Secular Locations in the Carolingian Empire .......... 58
Map 3. The Partition of the Carolingian Empire
following the Treaty of Verdun 843 .......................... 115
Map 4. The Partition of the Carolingian Empire
following the Treaty of Meersen 870 ........................ 117
Map 5. The Partition of the Carolingian Empire
following the Treaty of Ribémont 880 ...................... 128
Map 6. Religious Establishments under the Carolingians ...... 167
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxi
xxii
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxii
This page intentionally left blank
xxiii
FOREWORD
The literature concerning the Carolingians has reached nearly unassess-
able proportions. An attempt to offer a comprehensive treatment will
be frustrated. Even though the sources concerning this period are
much less archeological and more decidedly literary, new directions
and approaches, new specializations, new emphases, even new find-
ings have lent to the body of traditional knowledge a kaleidoscopic
quality. Since this book is a continuation of much previously pub-
lished work, especially The Germanic Realms in Pre-Carolingian Central
Europe, 400–750 and Tools, Weapons and Ornaments, Germanic Material
Culture in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, the conditions preparing the
advent of the Carolingians have already been outlined. The book
continues to be an investigation into the material culture against an
introductory background to historical developments tracing the for-
mation of the Carolingian realm, at the end of which the beginnings
of a coherent cultural history of Central Europe will begin to crys-
tallize. The attempt will be made to trace the consolidation of their
holdings, observe their establishment of the realm, their very com-
plex attempts to expand, unify and maintain it as a Christian domin-
ion, only to accommodate the internal and external crises by resorting
to an administrative partition of their empire in order to maximize
the available regional resources. Only as a result of the partition will
the eastern kingdom evolve towards an identifiable Central European
entity. As was pointed out earlier, the advent of the Carolingians
also entails a horizon in the funerary inventories: with the completed
Christianization the funerary inventories have been discontinued. As
a result the material evidence has changed. In contrast with the pre-
vious volumes, which dealt primarily with artifacts and generally
unwritten evidence, this book will examine pictorial aspects of the
illuminated literature. Instead of the earlier portable art, which was
part of grave inventories, the emphasis now rests on the products of
the more private cloister arts deposited in the libraries and treasuries
of Central Europe. These represent primarily the portable arts of
the monastic, scribal culture—largely religious, illuminated manu-
scripts, surviving examples of secular literature, and such examples
of Carolingian liturgical art as is represented by ivories, engraved
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxiii
xxiv ronrvonr
crystals, gems and work with precious metals in the service of a
grandiose idea. A reform of the church, the priesthood and of the
liturgy was to help realize the Imperium Christianum on earth. However,
the church hierarchy was a branch of the aristocracy and hence
restrictions were imposed as barriers to the laity, limiting the access
and participation to those in the service of the church. The wider
public had to be content with architecture, such public edifices as
the interiors of churches, basilicas and any wall paintings to help
them bring key images of their faith to life while at the same time
altar screens and ring crypts denied the common folk close involve-
ment with the mass and with the saints and their relics other than
as distanced spectators. The splendor of the palace interiors would
again have been reserved for the select few.
The attempt is made here to focus as much as is possible on the
contributions of the eastern parts to the whole of the Carolingian
empire, on those parts, which will come to constitute the East Frankish
Kingdom. This attempt will not be totally successful owing to the
much greater availability of West Frankish resources. Because of its
past, the west was the much richer part. In some sectors the east
was to come to play important roles. In such areas as the supply of
human and material resources and the provision of staging areas of
operation, in the thrust of eastward expansion, missionary work and
the consolidation of the economic utilization of and the urbaniza-
tion in the new eastern territories, the east rendered its share. In
the establishment of new missionary and civilizational centers there,
and the interrelationship among these eastern centers, their contri-
bution to the advancement of Christianity, literacy, scholarship, schol-
arly and diplomatic leadership for the entire realm was mani-fold.
The eastern monastic establishments shared in the preservation, mul-
tiplication and distribution of the Classical literary heritage and made
noteworthy original contributions to the secular and vernacular lit-
erature of the East Frankish Kingdom.
Contained within the historical mantle this book offers an illus-
trated investigation of the artistic, literary and architectural activities
in Carolingian Central Europe. The choice of illustrations was made
in accordance with certain themes and materials, without any claim
to completeness. Nor can the claim be made that all of the objects
discussed originated in Central Europe. Some of the portable objects
are clearly West Frankish and have merely ended up in the East
Frankish realm owing to their own particular circumstances. Archi-
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxiv
ronrvonr xxv
tectural examples were of course limited in this regard to Central
Europe, though links and influences to other locations can be demon-
strated. In some instances the evidence itself provided the lead. At
all times it was considered that the individual surviving object bore
a tremendous responsibility, that as individual examples they could
not convincingly be regarded as typical, yet had to serve that pur-
pose. In view of problematic communications it remains an open
question what influence the various objects could have had on one
another over time and distance, what effect the words and thoughts
of theologians and politicians could have had on the artists and their
works, and to what extent they responded to current events.
This book is arranged in three parts. Part A deals with a histor-
ical overview concerning the Carolingian rise to power, their aim to
establish the Imperium Christianum by means of a reconfiguration of
the imperial idea as a realization of the Heavenly Kingdom on earth,
culminating in the coronation with a Christian imperial dignity rather
than that of the Rome of the Caesars. This reconfiguration included
the elevation of the ruler to the majestic representation of the sac-
erdotal personage. A blending of the Christian and secular elements
encouraged a recapitulating continuity of many cultural facets from
the Germanic and Classical past, in part a restoration, renovation
and confirmation of these traditions resulting in the generation of a
modified, even original Carolingian identity, the so-called Carolingian
Renaissance, an often questioned term. The continuing existence in
the population of the earlier Roman and Germanic cultural elites
favored this process of transmission and transformation, which included
liturgical, cultural and secular reforms. These included the empha-
sis on the heritage of a legitimate continuity of the dynasty, want-
ing to see in it the intervention of the divine will. The effort ended
with crises and the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to establish the
succession of a single heir to the throne. For administrative reasons
Charlemagne’s grandsons divided the unwieldy empire between them.
There were occasional reunifications, but the idea of the united
Christian realm weakened as it lost its practicality and ability to
respond to internal and external threats. Nevertheless it was too early
to see in the eastern part of the realm the beginnings of Germany,
even when one of its rulers was called ‘the German’.
Part B deals with the confirmation of a cultural identity by engag-
ing in a search for an established heritage. It was appreciated that
developing a basis in education was the priority. Beginning with the
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxv
xxvi ronrvonr
acquisition of such book making skills as the preparation of parch-
ment as a writing surface, of inks and pigments, and finally its bind-
ing as a book. Since all this could not be done by any one enthusiastic
individual, a cost efficient context had to come into being with time.
Only some monasteries evolved to provide the hierarchical infra-
structure, which could secure the materials with which to make a
book, the human resources to inscribe it and the technical skills to
bind it. In general there were no resources outside the monastic
environment to accomplish this task. In time the monasteries devoted
their available skills to the illumination of gospel pages, including
whole picture pages of evangelists and rulers, and the making of pre-
cious book covers, mainly of such liturgical art as gospels, sacra-
mentaries, lectionaries and psalters—ivories reflected antique models,
space filling engravings and gem encrusted metal surfaces. Astonishing
is the available supporting wealth and its opportune confluence with
much extraordinary talent to carry out such work. In the west the
court and the specific interest of members of the imperial family
promoted the work in the arts. The need for self-justification along
with the desire to claim continuity with previous traditions may have
contributed to this sponsorship. While this need was less urgently
expressed in the East Frankish realm, within a relatively short time
the interrelation between the monasteries there were capable of mak-
ing major contributions in all these fields.
Part C concentrates on the architectural achievements that can
still be identified. Palatial architecture can only be reconstructed by
means of the identification of foundation outlines and the occasional
architectural fragments. Owing to the continuing exercise of the faith,
church architecture demonstrated greater endurance and thus pro-
vides a better residual picture as religious structures have survived
entirely or at least in significant identifiable parts. In some instances
parts or even all of the decorations of the interiors were preserved.
Architecture was well suited to illustrate the intellectual and liturgi-
cal concerns about the continuity of style from late Classical to
Carolingian times, as the Classical orders of columns and capitals
were either imported from the south or replicated. As stone struc-
tures in a world of wooden construction, their interiors projected
well the idea of a celestial dimension on earth.
It is not the intention to examine the theoretical texts of the day
for their statements concerning the cultural objectives. Rather it is
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxvi
ronrvonr xxvii
the purpose of this project to examine the cloister arts and crafts
for their visual statements and themes and to see if these ‘wordless
texts’ supported the educational expectations of an intellectually and
spiritually projected Imperium Christianum.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxvii
xxviii
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxviii
This page intentionally left blank
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my thanks to Brock University for giving me
office space and secretarial help to prepare my manuscript. I owe
special thanks to Dean Rosemary Hale and to Prof. J.M. Miller, our
Associate Vice-President, Research, for making available to me such
financial support as was possible.
Once again I would like to recognize my colleague, Professor Barry
Joe, for courageously facing each electronic challenge with which I
presented him and also for preparing the finishing details of this
book. I am greatly indebted to my cousin A.G. Kahlert, Korneuburg,
Austria, who many years ago coordinated my thousands of pho-
tographs by means of an effective, cross-referenced, computerized
index, facilitating greatly the verification and classification of objects,
their provenance and present location. My thanks also go to Ms.
Julia Babos for much computer imaging during the preparation of
the manuscript.
I am also grateful to the staff of the Interlibrary Loan Department
of our Library for its efficient assistance in obtaining essential sources.
I would like to thank Dr. Bruno Reudenbach, Professor of Art History
at the University of Hamburg, for his quick clarification concerning
the Godescalc Gospel. I would like to regognize the hospitality I
received in the Manuscript Collection of the Österreichische National-
bibliothek, when examining the work of Hrabanus Maurus. I am
indebted to the two anonymous readers for Brill Academic Publishers
whose suggestions greatly helped to improve this volume.
I am grateful to Mr. Julian Deahl, Editor, for his interest in this
project and for accepting this book for publication, and to his edi-
torial staff at Koninklijke Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, for guid-
ing the manuscript through the production process. Once again I
am especially grateful to Ms. Marcella Mulder, Assistant Editor, for
all of her help and encouragement. I would also like to thank Ms.
Ingrid Heijckers for meticulous attention to detail.
My wife Alice, an active scholar in her own right, has accompa-
nied me on the necessary journeys. In the many months which it
took to complete this book I could at all times count on her for-
bearance. Without her patient and constant support, her financial
xxix
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxix
xxx \ckxovrrrorvrx+s
compromises, this work would have been much more difficult to
complete.
I dedicate this book to my brother Hart, whose surgical expertise
and that of his associates has made me physically capable to devote
the hours required to this book.
The completion of an illustrated book depends extensively on the
generosity and active support of museums and libraries. Without
their cooperation, deadlines could not be met. I am grateful to those
directors who generously offered corrections and permitted me to
use my own photographs. I appreciate the efficiency of the many
archives which made their materials available for this book. I thank
Dr. Georg Minkenberg, Domkapitel Aachen. (Plates 10b, 33a, 33c;
Figs. 23, 43a, b, c, d, 44a, b, c); the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Fig. 9);
the Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels (Plate 10a); N. Ludwig,
Bildarchiv, Preußischer Kulturbesitz. (Plates 23a, 23b); D. Lange,
Handschriftenabteilung, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. (Plates 17a, 17b).
Dr. R. Marth, Herzog Anton-Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig. (Figs.
33, 34, 35); Dr. H. Swozilek, Vorarlberger Landesmuseum, Bregenz;
Dr. Th. Jülich, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt; Städtische
Gallerie, Liebighaus, Frankfurt. (Fig. 27); Dr. D. Zinke, Augustiner
Museum, Freiburg (Figs. 18, 38); S.E. Weihbischof J. Kapp, Bistum
Fulda (Plate 32d); Manuela Beer, Curator, Schnütgen Museum, Köln;
Dr. Hauke Fill, P. Petrus Schuster Benediktinerstift, Kremsmünster.
(Plates 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, 25a); The British Library,
London. (Plates 14b, 20a, Fig. 8); The British Museum, London.
(Figs. 16, 17); the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (Fig. 22);
Dr. Heide, Landesmuseum Mainz; Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, (Figs.
2, 21); Dr. van Endert, Archaeologische Staatssammlung, München;
Dr. M. Teichmann, Bayerische Verwaltung der staalichen Schlösser,
Gärten und Seen, München. (Plate 28, Fig. 37); Dr. Montag, Bayerische
Staatsbibliothek, München. (Plates 16a, 16b, 27a, 27b, Fig. 26);
R. Sennhauser, Stiftung Pro Kloster St. Johann, Müstair, (Plates 29a,
29b, 29c); the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. (Plates 26a,
26b); Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, (Fig. 36); Prof. Dr.
M. Wemhoff, Museum in der Kaiserpfalz, Paderborn; Bibliothèque
Nationale de France, Paris. (Plates 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b,
8c, 9a, 9b, 13, 14a, 15a, 15b, 15c, 17c, 18a, 18b, 18c, 19a, 19b,
19c, 19d); Musée du Louvre, Paris, (Figs. 39a, 39b); Stiftsbibliothek
St. Gallen, (Plates 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 22a, 22b, 22c. Fig. 8, 29,
30); Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart. (Plates 20b, 20c,
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxx
\ckxovrrrorvrx+s xxxi
20d, 21a, 21b, 21c); Dr. R. Nolden, Stadtbibliothek Trier, (Plates
11a, 11b, 11c, 11d); Dr. K. Van der Horst, University Library, Uni-
versiteit Utrecht (Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15); Kunsthistorisches
Museum, Wien. (Plates 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d, 24, Fig. 32); Öster-
reichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien (Plates 1a, 1b, 1c, 21d); Dr.
H.-G. Schmidt, Universitätsbibliothek Würzburg. (Fig. 31); A. Condrau,
Schweizerisches Landesmuseum Zürich (Plate 29d).
Author’s plates and figures: (Plates 25b, 25c, 25d, 29, 30a, 30b,
30c, 30d, 31a, 31b, 31c, 31d, 32a, 32b, 32c. Figures 1, 3, 6, 7, 19,
20, 24, 25, 28, 40a, 40b, 40c, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 51, 53a,
53b, 55, 56, 58, 59, 60a, 60b, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67a, 67b, 68a,
68b, 68c, 68d, 70a, 70b, 70c, 72a, 72b, 72c, 73, 74a, 74b, 74c, 75a,
75b, 76, 77b, 78a, 78b, 78c, 78d, 79a, 79b, 80a, 80b, 80c).
I am indebted to Patricia Wilson for obtaining Figs. 4a and 4b,
while in Rome, and to Helmut Herrmann for photographing Fig. 7,
while in Budapest.
SCHUTZ_f1_v-xxxi 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page xxxi
INTRODUCTION
This representation of the cultural history of Carolingian Central
Europe from 750–900, is part of an extensive investigation and the
continuation of four earlier books published as The Prehistory of Germanic
Europe, The Romans in Central Europe, The Germanic Realms in Pre-Carolingian
Central Europe, 400–750 and Tools, Weapons and Ornaments, Germanic
Material Culture in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, 400–750. The term
‘Central Europe’ has been used deliberately in all of my work because
it does not correspond with any traditional political or national bound-
aries or histories. Modern ‘Frontier Studies’, but also works of Central
European synthesis, including catalogues of international exhibitions,
endorsed and sponsored by Central European governments, indicate
clearly that boundaries, commonly understood to be national limits,
have not been and are once again no longer clear lines of demar-
cation between peoples and certainly not between cultures.
The material investigation of the earlier periods is to be contin-
ued in other areas as the study of Germanic artifacts has been pre-
sented previously and does not warrant a new effort. The lives of
the ‘people’ providing the background to the earlier investigations
and the lives and the artifacts themselves, such as Frankish pottery,
did not undergo so significant a physical change in style during the
Carolingian period that the differentiations with earlier periods could
be made visible. It has been demonstrated elsewhere that the con-
tinuity of lifestyles with their accomplished cultural and socio-political
achievements of earlier times did not actually merit the designation
‘barbarian’. The isolation of a historical era runs the risk of pro-
moting the view of an increasingly artificial encapsulation. In this
case all sorts of diverse substantial and ornamental elements lived
on from early Celto-Germanic times, while the so-called migration
period generated a Romano-Germanic inventory of authentic objects
of striking beauty, which in their Merovingian guise passed into the
Carolingian period, just as Carolingian aspects did not suddenly end
with the rise to power of the Ottonians. In Central Europe the
Carolingian centuries fit not only into a continuous dynastic sequence,
but also into a cohesive, but changing stylistic continuum—the sequen-
tial phases of Roman inspired Romanesque: experimental Carolingian,
1
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 1
2 
maturing Ottonian, assured Salian and Hohenstaufen Romanesque
as reflected in the stylistic progressions of architecture, wall painting
murals, illuminations, ivories, bronzes, bejeweled gold and the portable
arts with their various manifestations in the cloister and secular forms,
making it quite clear that something different, new and multicultural
was crystallizing. Without aiming to present the activities of the sur-
viving Gallo-Roman, Merovingian, related Carolingian culture car-
rying elites exclusively, there is no deliberate attempt here to deal
equally with a cross-section of Carolingian society.
The existence of a synthesis of the ‘language’ of important objects
and the language of significant primary and secondary texts has
already been demonstrated in earlier work. In the Carolingian con-
text, this language will find expression in various ‘dialects’ and become
articulated in various stages of development when considering the
illuminated manuscripts, ivories and gem encrusted book covers. A
dialogue is required in which the viewer is invited to participate opti-
cally, mentally and emotionally, and to respond to the extent that
the objects speak to his condition. Symbolic representations of the
heavenly Jerusalem, whether in art or architecture, will fall short of
their ideal and will require a grasp of their pictorial vocabulary and
syntax, before they can become the intellectual projection of the
material image into the abstract, dematerialized visionary idea. As a
symbol it can never be in reality what it is as a symbol, an idea
beyond itself.
Furthermore, it is the aim here to continue, to the extent possi-
ble, the emphasis on Central as opposed to Western Europe and to
approach the diversity of the cultural contributions of the region
from an interdisciplinary perspective and to attempt to show the
confluence of some areas of specialization usually considered in near
isolation. This is most evident in the extant architecture, which is
in the public domain. However, owing to architecture’s incomplete
and unrelated record, the simplistic language is that of an early ini-
tiative and not entirely articulate. Too many buildings have been
lost, remodeled, razed and rebuilt, to provide us with a coherent
stylistic statement. Though much has also been lost in the cloister
arts as well, this is less the case in the portable arts, preserved in
museums and in church and state treasuries, such as the rare man-
uscripts and illuminations, which are secured in state and university
libraries. Europe is the beneficiary of its regionalism in the sense
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 2
 3
1
N. Staubach, REX CHRISTIANUS, Hofkultur und Herrschaftspropaganda im Reich
Karls des Kahlen. Teil II: Die Grundlegung der ‘religion royale’ (Cologne, Weimar, Vienna
1993), pp. 2ff. for a comprehensive review of the pertinent discussion in the literature.
that many of its regional centers house collections of great impor-
tance by artists working with such luxuries as parchment, precious
stones and metals, with portable and monumental art, with colors
and forms, and in wood, stone or bronze which indicate a conti-
nuity of their own within a widely ranging diversity of the cultural
inventory, but a discontinuity with the Roman past.
The Carolingian period reflects a complex, fertile and often para-
doxical process, full of creative tensions, because of its continuing
proximity to antique Classical models, its sensitivity to its Germanic
heritage and the requirements of Christianity. Great political vio-
lence and individual cruelty coexisted with cultural and spiritual
intentions of the highest order. The investigation of the latter tends
to eclipse the former until a civilizational mosaic is achieved in which
Celto-Germanic attitudes and approaches were reconciled with the
Christian classical heritage. A search of the literature reveals that
older discussions of the period were satisfied to have found a reduc-
tionist common denominator in the Caroliongian link with the Classical
past. While one had once sought historical change as the effectiveness
of the ‘great man’, one had similarly attributed the astonishing phe-
nomenon of the Carolingian Renaissance, to the presence of one ‘great
man’ and his ‘great family’, with the individual and collective insight
to value the link with the Christian Classical past. That literature
was judgmental and burdened with the ‘barbarian’ concept which
denied the ‘Germanic’ contribution to the early Middle Ages any
merit. In the search for continuity they saw new artistic work as
derivative and unoriginal and sought the validation of the Carolingian
period in its rediscovery of late Roman dynamics, classical values,
rather than as an attempt at social reform by means of educational
reform, hence the emphasis on the component ingredients of the so-
called Carolingian Renaissance.
1
The very varied regional evidence does
not allow a simplifying label, but despite the nature of the hetero-
geneous evidence a confluence can not be observed. Instead the
dependence on an obvious classical heritage was overly emphasized,
occasional similarities were termed indebtedness to the past, and the
evidence was over-interpreted to support the single-minded histori-
cal purpose that, intent on the creation of a worldly empire, the
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 3
4 
Carolingian courts sponsored only a derivative, self-serving pro-Roman
agenda, which justified the means and intentionally channeled all
military, political and cultural activity toward an end which aimed
to establish a unified, homogeneous, Carolingian, sacerdotal, mono-
lithic state in this world, by means of a ‘Roman Revival’, of a reno-
vatio imperii within a ‘unifying renaissance’ as an end in itself within
a given time. One may well ask, how extensive and penetrating this
radiant brilliance of the courtly environment actually shone on the
populace, or whether the patronage was the reserve of a relatively
small circle of initiates. It did not endure for long. The affinity with
the Christian Roman Empire was not entirely appreciated in the lit-
erature, while the inspirational contribution toward an independent,
innovative theological Carolingian inventiveness was largely over-
looked. Admittedly the rupture with late antiquity was not that com-
plete, and a residual admiration of things Roman remained among
the descendant Roman populations, such as that of the surviving
Christian basilicas. But for it to be ‘reborn’, an unlikely and intense
attachment to the past would have had to exist which demanded
such a renaissance to happen. The indications are that the medieval
inhabitants of the old Roman sites were not so awed by the Roman
edifices around them that they did not use them as quarries, in order
to obtain building materials for the chapel in Aachen, for instance,
and dismantle even the fortifications of cities for their content of
iron cleats, which instead of mortar, were holding the building stones
together, as they did with the Roman gates in Trier. Had St. Simeon
not walled himself into the ‘Porta Nigra’, later to be transformed
into a church, it would not still be standing.
Since the late 1980s new studies have been prepared, which show
that the available material, especially essential documentary evidence
has been subjected to a kaleidoscopic twist and that makes appar-
ent that the Carolingian objective, including the conquests and the
educational reforms, aimed for the establishment of a reformed uni-
versal Christian society on this earth based on spiritually ecclesiasti-
cal Christian values, the Imperium Christianum, toward which the cultural
components constituting the so-called Renaissance were only a facili-
tating means. Following St. Boniface’s subordination of the East
Frankish church to papal Rome, it follows that the Roman heritage
in its Christian guise would be a strong influence on East Frankish
cultural developments. It appears that the intention to channel all
creative efforts into the realization of a Christian realm became a
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 4
 5
realizable pursuit in Charlemagne’s mind following his assumption
of sole power in the realm, toward the middle of the 770s, well
before the start of his political and military actions. To achieve this
end a determined Charlemagne assembled about his own person all
of the activating spiritual, material and energized human resources
available to him—the saints as ‘Soldiers of Christ’, religious leaders,
theologians, scholars, especially teachers and designers of curricula,
artists and architects, builders, craftsmen, and all those inspiring orga-
nizers, implementers and facilitators who could give impetus and
coherence to the ideas and ideals and perform the required peda-
gogical task and who would contribute their motivating energies to
the realization of his grandiose design. Charles himself acted as intel-
lectual catalyst to promote its success. The inherent weakness and
practical vulnerability lay in its dependence on the initiator. The
strengths rested on the effective organizational support given to the
educational reforms by the church. The brilliance of the cultural
results was so great that it allowed the objectives and achievements
to be considered a self-sufficient phenomenon to such an extent that
subsequently Charlemagne’s actual purpose, the ideal Imperium Christia-
num, was eclipsed by the reality of these achievements. In that view
the Biblical associations of Carolingian names, the association of the
Franks with the new people of Christ, the Populus Christianus, of Aachen
with a new Athens, a new Rome, a New Jerusalem even, the ele-
vation of an adapted San Vitale in Ravenna to represent the Heavenly
Jerusalem in the palace Chapel of Aachen, were held to be a curi-
ous vanity. Once the idea of an Imperium Christianum on earth is
accepted as a coherent intention, the vanities are no longer curious,
but integral components of the grand cathartic design to reform and
edify society. That it was deemed a success is verified by the cul-
mination of Charlemagne’s coronation as emperor within the Christian
realm. Unfortunately Louis the Pious was not able to cope with the
challenge to the long term detriment of the united realm.
It is the intention here to continue the exploration of the com-
plex blending of the religious and secular relationships in their diver-
sity set against an historical background. These diverse and apparently
diverging intercultural relationships are reflected in some of the extant
architecture, the arts and crafts commissioned primarily within the
context of the culture conscious court and by the culture-carrying
institutions and the various levels of society as the cultural heritage
of the Christian Roman Empire and of the Celto-Germanic north
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 5
6 
were each reconfigured by the other. That is not to say that a uni-
form set of directives for focused artistic production issued from the
courts, however Charlemagne’s will was to constitute the catalyst for
the creative crystallizations. Except for the underlying will of the
king, it was rather a pluralistic, loosely coordinated recapitulating
expression of the diverse social interests, which made up the culture-
carrying elites. Its apparent coherence is a product of history. During
the Carolingian Period the centuries-old, non-verbal Celto-Germanic
decorative styles, which already had adapted Roman, chip carved,
ornamental patterns, are replaced only gradually. Instead of contin-
uing the largely incomprehensible, ornamental northern intertwine
of abstract, curvilinear, vegetative and animal complexes of surface
covering and space-filling ornamentation, already found on some
Roman military metal work, Germanic personal ornaments and
portable art, the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and other Germanic Styles
found use on the largely ‘private art’ of Christian religious vessels
and in the exquisitely illuminated gospels containing the continuous
texts of the evangelists, and sacramentaries containing the texts of
prayers and ritual directives of the mass. The so-called Carolingian
recapitulation blurred the contours of the component northern,
Christian and Classical elements till there developed comprehensi-
ble, often original, creative summarizing emphases on the imaging
principles of representational art for educational purposes. These,
however, were not on behalf of learning for learning’s sake, but on
behalf of learning for the sake of the Christian People, for Christianity’s
sake. The cultural inventory could be recycled if its utility within the
grandiose design was no longer evident. Heavily influenced by the
admiration of the art forms of the Romano-Mediterranean cultures,
this discovery and recovery served a wide range of cultural activi-
ties, or better Renovatio. It favors the didactic, pedagogical use of an
innovative, anthropomorphic, homocentric, representational narrative.
It is engagé, message-oriented religious, Christian, and political art,
best illustrated on coins after 804 and cut seals, as part of a Mediter-
raneanization during the Christianizing revolution of the Carolingian
and later Ottonian ‘renaissances’. The Christian message, of course,
was primarily based on the spoken and written word, hence the
emphasis on the sumptuous page covered with the precious and
sacred Word, thereby presenting the reader with a reciprocity of over-
whelming visual and edifying intellectual effects. As part of the litur-
gical reform, Christian religious art, the images of Christ and the
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 6
 7
Evangelists, was intended to help focus the attention of the Christian
People on the audible message of Christ’s death for the sake of their
salvation, a dogma proclaimed through the Word in the Scriptures.
A central factor was the reform of the worldly and hence faltering
Merovingian Frankish church toward that end and the replacement
through the Romanization, or what was perceived to be the Roman
rite, of the Merovingian liturgical practice as part of the Carolingian
liturgical reforms and their effect on all aspects of an individual’s
cultural, physical and spiritual life, on ideas concerning death and
on all society. The Carolingian church, especially in the Eastern
realm, even in Bavaria, was to be the chief support of the state in
a symbiotic relationship. Hence the key factor for the Renovatio is to
be found within this reform. It was to provide the recapitulating
framework within which the diverse cultural pluralism could evolve
its particular divergent ways. A total rupture with the past had not
occurred. A directed program, promoted by a few individuals at
court, conceiving an undivided political and cultural entity is not
necessary, to praise the cultural accomplishments during the Carolingian
period. That is not to say, that a universalist vision, derived from
the admiration of Romano-Christian examples, played a motivating
role, for not all held that vision. Such political unity as came into
being within the complex framework of the Carolingian realm allowed
for considerable originality, as well as the recapitulatory continuity
and relative freedom to modify the cultural diversity within it. In
the eastern parts of the Frankish realm there can be no question of
a rebirth, as one can observe adoption, adaptation and innovation
because there was little commensurate indigenous substantive her-
itage on which to draw, other than a probable Germanic worldview.
Yet the region to the east of Austrasia and the Rhine was not a
cultural void. It had encountered Christianity on various occasions.
Those regions, which had once been part of the Roman Empire,
retained pockets of Christianized Latini. Tribal areas within the
Ostrogothic sphere of influence will have introduced the various tribal
groups to Arianism. Subsequently integrated into the Merovingian
kingdom Christianity was reintroduced by the individual efforts of
such peregrinating Hiberno-Scots as Columban, Kilian and Gallus,
until displaced by successfully coordinated Anglo-Saxon missionaries
and the comprehensive missionary church organization of St. Boni-
face, sanctioned by the papacy. Open to a variety of influences, the
region’s link with Christian Rome was consolidated. Interspersed by
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 7
8 
Carolingian holdings the region was quickly ready with the supply
of human and material resources and offered staging areas of oper-
ation in the conversions of pockets of paganism, and the expansive
thrusts against Saxons and Avars. Bavaria especially had begun to
play a leading role in its relations with the Lombards and the south-
ern Slavs and papal Rome. The East Frankish lands rendered their
own, indigenous share during the pursuit of missionary work and
the consolidation of the military and economic utilization of and the
urbanization in the new eastern territories. In the foundation of new
Frankish missionary, civilizational centers and schools there, and the
interrelationship among these eastern Frankish centers, their contri-
bution to the advancement of Christianity, literacy, learning, scholarly
and diplomatic leadership for the entire realm was extensive and
very soon shared in the preservation, multiplication and distribution
of the Classical literary heritage. Simultaneously the great names
made noteworthy contributions to theology and the interpretation of
the religious texts and the secular and even vernacular literatures
of the East Frankish kingdom. Shortly following the establishments
of such monastic sites as Fulda, Lorsch, Würzburg, Reichenau, St.
Gallen, Salzburg and Kremsmünster, prayer communities linked the
foundations, while their schools and scriptoriae made scholars and
teachers available even to the court, brought masters and students
together, while a communications network facilitated the circulation
of the few manuscripts in a loan system to other scriptoriae and
libraries. In less than a century these efforts were to provide to this
region the socio-cultural and political basis on which to assume its
own administrative responsibilities over the region. Within two gen-
erations scholarship no longer needed to rely on scholars from abroad,
but on scholars trained within the Frankish realm.
In the pursuit of ideality, the Carolingians did not overlook real-
ity. To demonstrate imperial continuity and hence the legitimacy
and divine authority of the Carolingian dynasty, this transformation
saw the Carolingians leaning on a Rome- and Ravenna/Byzantine-
related symbolism representing the power of the state. This was most
overtly demonstrated ideologically in some architecture, inspired by
Christian Rome, supported by less obvious literature, secular and
such religious art as manuscripts and newly carved ivories, and a
general body of ideas related to Classical, Christian models. However,
the illumination of books in codex-form was not entirely based on
late Roman examples, but was very much an innovation, just as
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 8
 9
ivories were the Carolingian rediscovery of an abandoned Roman
art form. Already queen Theodelinda’s gospel cover had provided
evidence of the conversion to a classical sense of rational and con-
trolled surface ornamentation. The Vitae of saints, missionaries and
king/emperors followed earlier classical examples; the symbolism of
catacomb and basilica art as well as the pagan (Roman) personifications
were adopted, actually reinvented by the Carolingians in such Christian
art as the ivory carvings. The style of representing majesty or ele-
vated status was borrowed from the mosaics of Roman prototypes;
the transfer of the idea of the Cosmocrator from Roman imperial rep-
resentations to the Majestas effigies of Christ, as illustrated on the
Lombardic helmet band of king Agilulf, and the return of this Roman
representation of the imperial pictorial image under the heirs of
Charlemagne and to a Byzantine version under the descendants of
Otto I. The introduction of the abstract sacerdotal concepts in the
new and universal Imperium Christianum displaced the concrete Mero-
vingian notion of the kingdom as personal property. The strategy of
applying such symbolic practices as the anointing of the Carolingian
imperial head, of Charles the Bald, for instance, who was never actu-
ally shown to be ‘Bald’, was a deliberate attempt to develop at a
higher level the continuity associations with the Old Testament kings,
first appreciated by those around his grandfather Charlemagne. The
liturgical imperial acclamation formulas echoed Germanic/Roman
tribal/military practices, while the ever-increasing emphasis on a bril-
liant, official, iconographic depiction of imperial ‘ruler portraits’ on
propagandistic display pages in manuscripts and on coins. These
served to elevate the image, the ideal of the medieval imperial ruler
in the tradition of the Roman emperors and reestablish earlier ideas
of the sacerdotal essence of the ruler, in the Imitatio sacerdotii. In the
Frankish realms the Gallo-Roman cultural elites had survived in the
church and come to dominate its institutions where they succeeded
in the transmission of at least some of the Classical ideals of culture
and civilization in their Christian end phase, resulting in that syn-
ergetic collaboration between church and state, so that already in
Merovingian times the scriptoria of the great monasteries could sup-
ply the rulers with resplendent, dedicated manuscripts.
Charlemagne appears to have attempted to emphasize the legiti-
macy of his rule and its continuity from earlier imperial times by
drawing links with Theoderic the Great, Roman Patricius and Viceroy
of the emperor in Constantinople, and transporting his equestrian
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 9
10 
statue along with the Classical porphyry columns and the general
symbolic plan of the Byzantine church of San Vitale in Ravenna,
named after the bishop Vitalius, the last capital of the West Roman
Empire, to Aachen, Charlemagne’s own capital. All were erected in
the new palace complex, the church to become his palace church.
These concerns found expression in other architectural examples as
well. Later emperors deliberately emulated Charlemagne and fos-
tered this show of continuity with him, with the late Roman emper-
ors Constantine, Theodosius and Justinian and especially with favorable
rulers of the Old and New Testaments. Nor is there evidence that
Charlemagne intended to renew the Rome of the early Caesars, and
he had no consistent policy in place to promote the cohesive pro-
gram of a Roman restoration. These are just some of the themes,
which were seen to have contributed to the intellectual concerns of
the Carolingian Renewal. Were the concerns for continuity and legit-
imacy the motivating factors for the generous patronage, which sup-
ported the Renovatio? While other intangible considerations were most
probably involved, the concerns over legitimacy offer an acceptable
rationale, especially if clothed in the motivation aiming to establish
the Imperium Christianum. To bolster the concerns over the justification
of the usurpation of the Frankish throne, the possibilities provided
by tradition and the glory of association with such an admirable goal
as a projected glorious society on earth, which included the inspi-
ration offered by Classical Christian examples was seen to have led
the dynasty to use and emulate past achievements. It is significant
that hitherto the support of the arts had been attributed to the imme-
diate members of the dynasty, of the Carolingian courts and their
respective creative centers, the so-called Palace Schools, of the Caro-
lingian church and its foundations. The ‘court’ may not deserve to
be singled out as the sole driving force of the renewal. This is par-
ticularly the case when considering the prolific court school of Charles
the Bald and its catering to his representationally flamboyant tastes,
when compared to the modest taste of his brother Ludwig, the
German, a designation given him by the much later Humanists. The
flattering image of the enthroned Charles created by the artists who
supposedly surrounded him is in marked contrast to his vengeful,
cruel and barely mediocre deserts as a monarch. Ludwig will appear
to be the much better ruler, despite a lack of image making. In the
service of the dynasty is it therefore just to speak of ‘Carolingian
Art’? A need for image, to express continuity with past greatness
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 10
 11
and to use it as a means to claim and promote new greatness may
have spurred a nostalgic sense of heritage in the search for equal-
ity with Classical Rome. Role models were readily available, as was
the talent to be assembled with which to implement the transfer
from Roman times. Classical texts and their copies preserved in the
monasteries provided the necessary directives for use in an inventive
rediscovery of early Christian antiquity. As the copies were passed
from site to site, they became models and stimulated imitation and
emulation. For some early works the models appear to have been
lost, though stylistic comparisons point to their former existence. One
frequently, perhaps needlessly, looks for them in Byzantium or north-
ern Italy. The same question is often raised concerning the origin
of the artists.
In at least one sense the idea of a classical renewal was a (mod-
ern?) intellectual trap. On the one hand the nostalgic wish to redis-
cover the splendid past and mold it to establish continuity with it,
became a dominant cultural preoccupation of modern historians. On
the other hand, latent contrary, discontinuous and divergent ten-
dencies remained to surface at unexpected moments, to be registered
with surprise. With these one tried to make the case for disconti-
nuity brought on by the Germanic reconfiguration of the successor
kingdoms, recurrences of style, the recall of heroic generation myths,
made to equal those of the Romans, a dissociation from the distant
pagan Roman Empire, the former Imperium Romanum, and for a new
Germanic Imperium Christianum, in which the Franks had displaced
the Romans and now played the select role of ‘the chosen people’,
the people of the ‘New Covenant’, of the ‘New Israel’. In more or
less subtle ways these tenacious, seemingly contrary tendencies did
not let themselves be extinguished but remained as the combined
forces, which provided the justifications for the Carolingian empire.
Erroneously it is frequently seen as an attempted end phase of the
Roman Empire and confused with the later Holy Roman Empire,
as if the three were a continuum. The Carolingian empire is quite
distinct from either. Each of them placed its own particular accents.
The idea of a centralized Carolingian empire, equally unified
throughout is something of a fiction, which was only the intention
of some and did not survive its own inner tensions. It should not
be overlooked that since Merovingian times, tribal law codes, such
as those of the Bavarians, Alemans and Lombards provided the legal
basis for regional identities, so that the divisions did not resemble
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 11
12 
chaotic disintegrations. The circumstances of an early withdrawal
from the active world and a series of premature deaths made Charle-
magne and Louis the Pious sole successors, not a deliberate design.
Subsequent regional problems in an overextended realm required
regional responses, for instance, to deal with the very many coinci-
dent attacks by Scandinavians, Slavs, Hungarians and the forces of
Islam. As a result of the inner weaknesses, which in part invited the
external attacks from the north, east and south, the center of Europe
was reconstituted by division into sub-kingdoms in order to deal with
the needs of each region more effectively within the construct of the
united empire. The persuasion that even kingdoms were again per-
sonal property to be treated accordingly when needs of inheritance
were to be met, as well as the need for regional administrative
efficiency played a significant role in the various partitions. The
objective was the welfare of the whole and its community of inter-
ests through the effective rule over its parts. Similar to its Roman
predecessor, the Carolingian empire benefited as long as its econ-
omy received such infusions as spoils of conquest could provide.
While looting the Saxons will have contributed relatively little, with
the transfer of the entire and immense treasure of the Avars into
Frankish hands, the benefits will have been extensive, especially con-
tributing to the upward mobility within the ranks of the aristocracy.
Expansion by conquest, too much, too quickly, destabilized the socio-
economic and social structures. When the conquests were halted,
these structures revealed their weaknesses as the inadequate and
overextended system of communications failed, and as the central
authority lost its power of territorial apportionment to its great lords,
who now in nearly hereditary positions turned on one another, as
particular interests gained priority over those of the realm and as
the uncoordinated regions became vulnerable. Strong enough to
harass one another, left to their own resources, they lacked adequate
human, material and communicative means to respond effectively to
attacks from outside. The idea of the universal empire survived as
Imperium Christianum, in which the pope came to play the role of
Pontifex maximus, the supreme ruler.
Against a generally familiar historical background, but with a view
to presenting an interdisciplinary study of the social and cultural
development of Central Europe up to the beginning of the 10th cen-
tury, it is the purpose of this study to discuss the material with the
scribal cultural evidence from Carolingian times, 750–900, as pre-
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 12
 13
served in that area of Central Europe which had once constituted
the Carolingian empire and its spheres of influence and to suggest
that at its end, a coherent cultural entity began to come into being.
It is this material evidence, which is fundamental to my methodol-
ogy of reading and interpreting the “language” of significant objects
as a complementary commentary on the language of significant texts.
While objects are characterized by certain disinterestedness, texts are
prone to be tendentious. The inventories are rich with the archeo-
logical evidence of rural and urban settlements deposited in muse-
ums, the churches and museums contain extensive and masterful
collections of decorative friezes, portals, figures, animals and column
capitals in the round and as reliefs, on altar screens, for instance, of
such religious portable art as altars, gem-encrusted crosses and book
covers, reliquaries, monstrances, enamels, utensils, ivories and wall
paintings. In the libraries sufficient rare illuminated manuscripts have
been preserved to allow extensive insights into the work of the great
scriptoria of the area and of the individual masters working east of
the river Maas and north of the Alps to proclaim the early gloria et
victoria of their imperial, royal or religious patrons. Even fragments
of secular texts have survived to indicate a direction taken by that
literature. Owing to the circumstance that the portable arts using
ivory, parchment, pigments, gems and precious metals are most
closely linked with the very complex and expensive production of
religious books, such could not be produced as a whim, but required
a supportive network of patrons and sponsors. As will become appar-
ent below, some exemplary books were prepared as royal and epis-
copal commissions, others as gifts for the princes of the state and
church by wealthy individuals, many others were prepared by the
network of monastic scriptoria from available manuscripts as copies
requested by other religious institutions, coupled with an advanced
supply of raw materials. This was a very elaborate process indeed.
The artistry of the scribes, illuminators, the gold- and bronze smiths
and the ivory- and glass carvers, as well as the architects, have left
spectacular examples of their skills in the service of the church, the
state and their representatives. A review, analysis and discussion of
these works attempts to provide a basis for stylistic comparisons in
order to suggest an image of the period. Because the scribes were
often identical with the illuminators, the terms will be used inter-
changeably, though the work of the scribes, some of them are even
known by name, the script, in the production of a manuscript is not
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 13
14 
our concern, while the work of the illuminator/miniaturist invari-
ably is. It is on the pages of text, however, that the coexistence of
Celto-Germanic ornamentation of the capital display initials of the
incipit pages of the Coronation Gospels, for instance, appears in the
context of classical lettering of the text.
Secular architecture in stone is extant in only a few meager exam-
ples from the period under investigation. Wood was the usual build-
ing material of choice. By tracing the excavation of stone foundations
archeology has been able to rediscover the outlines, but can only
conjecture about the superstructures, mainly of the royal residences.
However, even these were subject to neglect and decay, or chang-
ing tastes. The earlier fortifications, called mottes, consisting of raised
mounds surrounded by wooden palisades and moats have generally
not survived as such, having been abandoned and hence eroded or
been integrated into later fortifications. By necessity then, stone archi-
tecture in the service of the church and its institutions will bear the
emphasis of the discussion allowing for the fact that the surviving
examples seem to be examples of immature abilities which have
come to bear perhaps an undue burden of responsibility. Stone archi-
tecture is, of course, an evident link with Rome.
This representation of cultural history tries to discuss the coexis-
tent arrangement of this vast, complex array of material. The mod-
ern tendency has been the presentation of specialized studies of
illustrations, art or architecture, or political history and so forth,
allowing stand-alone investigations to exist in isolation. This inter-
cultural/interdisciplinary study, dealing with the socio-cultural his-
tory of this central region, especially in the context of the reconfigured
United Europe—mainly eastern France, Germany, Italy, and Switzer-
land—aims to examine many aspects pertaining to this period of
about one hundred and fifty years. The teaching and writing of
History is drifting away from the preoccupation with chronology and
national histories.
The book is organized in several parts dealing with a selection of
the available evidence associated with the Carolingians. As a depar-
ture from the method of the previous volumes, this book will not
return to such aspects of the everyday culture as revealed by any
archeological evidence. The book begins with an historical overview
of the period, raising such issues as pertain to the historical significance
of the emerging collaborative relationship between church and state
and the manner in which the various agencies contributed to the
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 14
 15
development. Once the Carolingian empire is shown to have been
stabilized within its dimensions, once the problems of existence and
rudimentary organization are shown to have been overcome and
time, energy and the necessary resources had become available, the
discussion will turn to an analysis of the contributions made by the
Carolingians to the cultural consolidation of the political imperial
ideal through their generous patronage applied to the general cul-
tural themes and particular contexts. Alcuin had recommended the
image of the Temple of Christian Wisdom for which the Christianized
liberal arts provided the essential seven pillars.
2
The arts, as exam-
ples of confluent pre-existent realities, were a suitable means to tes-
tify to a higher end, a divine purpose. Generous patronage encouraged
the recapitulation and application of the northern and Mediterranean
heritage and the rediscovery and emulation of Biblical and Classical
examples and the search for a degree of glory by association with
the Classical Christian past. With the support of the growing scribal
culture, religious and secular literature, the cloister arts, wall paint-
ings, book illuminations of a religious and secular nature, the devel-
opment of narrative techniques in literature and the arts, the religious
portable arts such as the precise glass engraving and the nearly per-
fect ivory carvings, spectacular gem encrustations, outstanding metal
work and remarkable architecture were able to flourish. Thus this
book will outline the Carolingians’ creation of their political and cul-
tural power base and their claim and ascent to the royal throne of
the Frankish realms outlining the transition from Merovingian to
Carolingian times and illustrating the elements of cultural continu-
ity within the context of the Imperium Christianum. As prime exam-
ples of the nobility’s upward mobility, the deliberate, propagandistic
attempts by the Carolingians to distinguish their superiority from the
‘inferiority’ of their Merovingian predecessors by depicting them
unjustly as underdeveloped, illiterate ‘pagans’ and through their own
sponsorship of the Christian dominion strengthen their own claim
to legitimacy in order to use and further the promotion of visible
connections with the late, Christianized Gallo-Roman parts of the
empire and the Old Testament. The interests of the ecclesiastical
and secular orders in the renewals, continuities and innovations in
the style and subject matter of religious literature and art, and the
2
J.J. Contreni, Carolingian Learning, Masters and Manuscripts (Gower House, Brookfield
1992), pp. I, 11; III, 71; IV, 85; VI, 4.
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 15
16 
liturgical and architectural links with Roman imperial traditions will
ultimately characterize the enduring effects of the Carolingian ‘Renais-
sance’ and the relative appropriateness of this term. While they over-
looked the wide range of deep roots in fertile Merovingian traditions
and practices, they did know how to attract a significant number of
idealists and pragmatists, of men of vision and insight, of intellect
and refined tastes, of talent and skill, to help bring about the Renovatio.
SCHUTZ_f2_1-16 9/19/03 5:03 PM Page 16
17
PART A
THE CAROLINGIAN REALMS
I. Reaching for the crown—Continuity and change
in the realms of the Franks
In 1996 France celebrated the anniversary of Chlodovech’s/Clovis’
baptism, some 1500 years earlier. It was a media event with tele-
vised academic panel discussions and the like. Beginning in 1996 a
number of books appeared concerned with legends and myths about
the man, but also with an emphasis on his baptism as the baptism
of France, even of Europe. Some praised him as first of the line of
Merovingian kings and a source of glory, but at least one title still
echoed, ironically, the prejudicial notion of the Merovingians as the
‘do-nothing kings’, les rois fainéants. Its author goes to some length to
reverse this opinion. The celebration of the anniversary went some
way to attempt correcting these perceptions. Though it is true that
during its last 112 years the dynasty’s kingship was nominal, remote
and almost symbolic, with some of the kings being more interested
in religious questions than with pragmatic concerns of the realm, it
was the Carolingians and their propagandists whose unreliable, ten-
dentious accounts were to manufacture a past for the Merovingians
and for themselves in the face of available evidence and thus shape
the enduring opinion concerning the legacy of both houses. Like the
Merovingians, the Carolingians favored the writing of their history
as a means of rationalizing all of their activities and of placing their
achievements in the best possible light. Increasingly they saw their
past as an expression of a divine plan and themselves as God’s chosen
agents to transform their realm into the Imperium Christianum on earth.
The bloodline of this royal family, their Byzantine Imperial con-
firmation and their spiritual consecration by the church, assured them
and their entirely Christianized people the exclusive right to eternal
victory. It had come to be held that the Frankish realm in conjunc-
tion with the Latin church was the true heir of the Imperium Romanum
and that a spiritual and cultural community would come into being
in which a transformed Christian Eternal Empire would be realized.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 17
18 r\n+ \
From that perspective the overthrow of the Merovingians would not
be usurpation, but a justification. What sustained the belief in the
Merovingian ‘sacred kingship’? Its basis rested on the mythical ori-
gin of the dynasty from a territorial pagan maritime divinity in the
shape of a bull, the Quinotaur and the magical power hidden in
the long hair as well as the ‘Trojan’ origin of the Franks.
1
Part of
the Roman heritage was the belief in the separation of person and
function, which implied the acceptance of the office holder without
regard to that person’s effectiveness. Personal qualities did not mat-
ter. Like Constantine, the Merovingian king was considered the
reflection of God on Earth. The succession to the kingship could
never be anything but the expression of a higher will, of the cog-
nition of a revealed, divine truth, since there were no other proce-
dures in place to identify the heirs. In a divinely ordained world,
kingdoms and empires were pre-existent truths, which did not need
to be ruled by monarchs who personally wielded political power.
Their function was considered to be symbolic. What was necessary
was that they existed. However, in the real world the divinely ordained,
symbolic power was seen to diminish until it was lost, as the youth
and inherent vulnerability of too many of the later Merovingian kings
strained the acceptance of this symbolic function and power, and
promoted the gradual marginalization of the royal personages. Cer-
tainly the pagan basis had waned as well as the pagan symbolism
was replaced by a Christian symbolism. The fact that Charles Martel
could leave the royal throne unoccupied by a Merovingian would
demonstrate this transition. The process was facilitated by the Mero-
vingian understanding that the realm was a personal possession, which
could be dealt with subjectively and divided more or less arbitrarily
without regard to any natural processes of cohesion of any of the
parts. On the other hand royal influence and power were depen-
dent on the kings’ favors and his distribution of gifts in the form of
temporary rewards quite subject to recall. In other words, the king
was the realm. Royal impotence and impoverishment called the king-
dom into question. The idea of the realm as a political entity, which
existed apart from the person of the king, was not considered by
1
J.L. Nelson, The Frankish World, 750–900 (London, Rio Grande 1996) provides a
compact overview of the period in the Introduction to the book of her essays. See
especially the Ch. 10, ‘Rewriting the History of the Franks’, pp. 169ff. H. Schutz,
Germanic Realms in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, 400–750 (New York, Berne, Frankfurt
a. M. 2000), pp. 152f., 218ff. See also H. Schutz, Tools, Weapons and Ornaments
(Leiden 2001).
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 18
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 19
these kings. Real political and administrative power, which responded
to political and administrative needs, was promoted through the
advancement of an alternate infrastructure of political power in the
figures of the mayor palatii, or mayor domus, the ‘Mayor of the Palace’,
2
the steward of the respective palaces. This was not a position of uni-
lateral power, but one, which was mitigated by a ‘council’ of the
powerful on whose support the steward depended.
3
More or less
together, they ruled over the realm. Royal competence must have
seemed disinterested and hence inadequate and finally so irrelevant
that the ‘sacred kingship’ must have appeared to be quite transfer-
able to those with a more pragmatic and effective approach to the
kingship and the state.
The inadequacy found expression in the Carolingian assessments
of the Merovingians. The Carolingians and their supporters distorted
the problems by exaggeration, lessened the achievements of the recent
Frankish past and denied the Merovingians most credit to have dealt
with problems as competently as conditions permitted. If the Caro-
lingians wanted to be seen to represent the only true Christian val-
ues, then the Merovingians could not be allowed to seem to be much
better than heathens. Yet already Dagobert (623–638) in his Ostpolitik
insisted on the coordination of missionary activity with the military
and political eastward expansion of Frankish power and influence.
Aside from any idealistic pursuit of the Christianization, there was
a Realpolitik on the part of the crown and the Austrasian magnates,
as during the expansion monastic as well as military outposts were
set up to secure the new territories. Dagobert appears to have been
the first to appreciate the need for this policy of collaboration if the
new faith propagated by the state church was to triumph over pagan-
ism. In fact, the Carolingians built on earlier Merovingian successes
as they consolidated their own newly conquered territories with those
acquired from their predecessors. It is generally accepted that the
anti-Merovingian campaign was designed to raise Carolingian pres-
tige and thereby justify the usurpation of the Frankish throne by
Pepin III. The Carolingians’ exercise of real power in the realm had
given them a certain pre-legitimacy to reach for the crown.
4
2
R. Collins, Charlemagne (Toronto, Buffalo 1998), p. 16f. for an account of the
functions of the office.
3
R.E. Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle in the Age of Charlemagne (Norman 1963), pp. 102ff.
4
R. McKitterick, ‘Political ideology in Carolingian historiography’, in Y. Hen,
M. Innes (eds.) The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge 2000), pp.
162–174.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 19
20 r\n+ \
It would appear that from early on the Austrasian Carolingians
pursued an enduring and skillful Familienpolitik, which included the
writing of a justifying family history, designed to secure the image
and hegemony of the family in the Frankish realms.
5
It was to incor-
porate the establishment of a policy geared toward the power of the
dynasty, Hausmachtspolitik, of which the power politics advancing the
foundation of monasteries, Klosterpolitik, was only a part. Thereby an
overly simplified, sentimental, hence erroneous, record was created
which suggested that their rise to power was genteel, smooth, focused,
benevolent, because divinely ordained and hence inevitable, rather
than the murderous, cruel, oppressive sequence of bloody annihila-
tions of rival families it occasionally was. Supporters, dependent on
the Carolingians, appeared everywhere as a new aristocracy possi-
bly eliminated that of the Merovingians. Already the early Carolingians
invested extensively in the acquisition of estates for many of which
they then provided financial support for monastic establishments.
The various Annales were intensely interested in praising the Caro-
lingians, from Pepin II to Charlemagne, and justifying their reign,
loyally tending the image of their ascending patrons.
6
Simultaneously
the image of the descending Merovingians was actively diminished.
In part, the scribal activities of copying, transcribing, editing, revis-
ing and compacting of textual records would contribute quite inno-
cently to the creation of a modified past and the shaping of an
exemplary present. Throughout their reign the Carolingians were
self-conscious about their usurpation, going to great lengths in their
cultural programs, their Kulturpolitik, to demonstrate their legitimacy.
The Annales were written in 806 as if in response to a series of nat-
ural disasters interpreted as God’s wrath over the transgressions of
rulers.
7
The documents are a justification absolving the rulers, stress-
5
Colins, p. 23.
6
McKitterick, ‘Political ideology’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 171f.
She reiterates that an extensive number of Annales and related texts were preserved
in the Eastern Kingdom. But see also Y. Hen, ‘The Annals of Metz and the
Merovingian past’ in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, pp. 175–190. See Collins,
Charlemagne, pp. 4ff., concerning the omission of unfavorable events from the Annales
and for a review of the Carolingian historical and hagiographical sources such as
chronicles, capitularies, vitae, letters, edicts and law codes. See K.F. Werner,
‘Important noble families in the kingdom of Charlemagne’, in T. Reuter, The Medieval
Nobility (Amsterdam, New York Oxford 1978), pp. 146ff.
7
Hen, ‘Annals’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 182. See Collins, Charlemagne,
p. 4f. for a discussion of the Annales and their possible authorship.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 20
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 21
ing their select, preordained status by expressing clearly the Carolingian
political ideology, founded on a perceived glorious heritage
8
and
justified by the grandiose intentions behind the Imperium Christianum.
In fulfilling the divine plan every Carolingian ruler determined the
manner in which his sons were to follow him into positions of author-
ity by issuing ordinations. 806 was to be the year of the proclama-
tion of the Divisio regnorum, the administrative apportionment of the
realm among his tree sons. During the later 9th century the con-
cern increased as the principle of succession based on primogeniture
was not an established principle but more often the result of pre-
mature deaths, or rather of ‘God’s Will’, as was the case in 814 with
Louis the Pious, having survived his older brothers. During the last
twenty years the Carolingian dynastic situation became ‘Merovingian’
as the thrones came to be occupied by sons of illegitimate sons or
maternal lines of descent.
As early as the reign of Brunehildis in the decades around 600,
she had to counter the opposition of her Austrasian nobles, chief
among whom were the Arnulfingians/Carolingians, Arnulf, bishop
of Metz and Pepin the Elder. Her failure and final destruction was
largely due to the family politics and desertion of those seeking to
establish their own hegemony in the shadow of the Neustrian king
Chlothachar II. The Austrasians Pepin the Elder became the new
major domus and Arnulf the kings’ spiritual guide. The Austrasian
magnates also prevailed on the king to entrust his son Dagobert to
Arnulf and Pepin the Elder until he became the Austrasians’ king
in 623. Their appointments reflect the growing economic and polit-
ical importance of eastern Austrasia. It was to become the region in
which the conflicts helped new forces and new conceptions of rule
to crystallize. The military setback suffered by Dagobert against the
Slavs in 631/32 reduced the royal Merovingian interest along that
frontier. The Austrasian magnates were not inclined to favor a strong
royal military presence in their midst, especially since Neustrian advi-
sors had risen to prominence around the king. Despite Austrasian
protests the eastern Austrasian provinces were joined administratively
to Neustria. When the opportunity arose, the campaign against the
Slavs, the Austrasian aristocracy did not support the Slavic cam-
paign. In historical retrospect the struggle between the crown and
8
Schutz, Germanic Realms, pp. 218ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 21
22 r\n+ \
the nobility was an attempt on the part of the latter to gain con-
trol over the monarchy and to introduce ‘constitutional’ principles
with which to limit the kings in the exercise of their personal rule.
At the same time each new ruler gathered his own entourage, which
offered the nobles a degree of ascendancy to prominence. However,
throughout the Carolingian period the respective ‘kingdoms’ did not
yet constitute self-contained entities with an aristocracy bound to a
particular crown. Its allegiances could transcend the boundaries of
any one realm, though maneuvering for more favorable conditions
and higher positions was always a risky possibility. Changing oppor-
tunities could raise or end the fortunes of a noble family. On the
other hand membership and ascendancy in the hierarchy of the
church proved advantageous, though a celibate career here would
also lead to the extinction of a family. At the time the local aris-
tocracy was too vulnerable to be truly adventuresome, as its eco-
nomic and political power rested with the close allegiance to the
king. Proximity to the person of the king, Königsnähe, was sought if
the benefits of royal patronage were to be realized. This can be well
illustrated with the ascendancy of the family of Charlemagne’s wife,
Hildegard, or with the Welfs, the family of Louis’ the Pious wife
Judith and Ludwig’s wife Hemma, Judith’s sister. The favor, secu-
rity and fortune of entire kin-groups depended on the skill with which
one could judge the outcome of dynastic developments, not confronta-
tion about ‘constitutional’ points. Removal from office and position
was only too likely.
9
The Carolingians had no scruples to annihilate
the hereditary Alemanic nobility, among whom there had been crit-
icism earlier of the Carolingians, or find grounds to remove even their
relative, duke Tassilo of Bavaria, and to replace them with Franks of
lesser origin who, as an emerging service nobility, aware of its vul-
nerability but anticipating rewards and a rise in status, could be of
greater service to their families as well as to the crown. Changes in
the leading names of the kin-groups reflected the changing fortunes.
10
Marriage could offer a quicker social improvement than service.
Following the death of Dagobert I, the increasing marginalization
of the kings was accompanied by the attempt on the part of the
9
M. Innes, State and Society in the early Middle Ages (Cambridge 2000), p. 212, pro-
vides examples.
10
See Werner, in Reuter, Medieval Nobility, p. 151, for an extensive discussion of
leading names.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 22
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 23
magnates to regulate the single rather than the traditional Merovingian
multiple succession to the thrones of the divided realm. It was in
Pepinid interest to have only a sole major domo, controlling only one
king and only one court and thereby the only center of power.
However, the Neustrian leadership did not want the Austrasian major
domus to determine again a united royal policy and to use the king
as an instrument through whom to rule a united Frankish kingdom.
The tension between these two parts of the realm escalated into a
war which was won by the Carolingian Austrasian major domo, Pepin
II, grandson of Pepin the Elder, but only dux Austrasiorum, at the bat-
tle of Tertry, 687. The decisive victory determined and consolidated
the supremacy of Austrasia and assured the ascendancy of the Caro-
lingians. Following this victory the designation major domus receded
in favor of princeps. Following the murder of the Neustrian stewart,
Pepin II was now de facto, yet still only nominal ruler over a united
Merovingian realm and he maintained the illusion of Merovingian
kingship by taking king Theuderic III under his protection.
11
Quite clearly the supremacy of the Carolingians was the result of
a carefully prepared, progressive rearrangement of the power struc-
ture. Following the acquisition of wealth, including the confiscation
of church holdings, and vast property and through a widely extended
network of family relations, the empowerment of a supportive
autonomous nobility, the Carolingians also established good relations
with the papacy. While the Merovingians’ military and monastic
interests in the eastern area receded, this was not the case with the
Carolingians who enlisted the Benedictines, and now established a
second phase of missionary colonization.
12
As part of this policy the
Carolingians were not loath to discredit and remove legitimate tribal
leaders in Thuringia/Bavaria and to replace them with one of their
own and then to falsify the accounts of the events to justify their
deeds and to portray themselves as having introduced an improved
rule in the form of a Carolingian-Thuringian duchy. A similar duchy
was created in Carolingian dominated Austrasian Alsace. Simultaneously
Carolingian Frankish monasteries in Austrasia were granted posses-
sions in the eastern parts of the realm, staffed by loyal missionaries.
The Carolingians were the most distinguished builders from among
11
Schutz, Germanic Realms, p. 216.
12
R.E. Sullivan, Christian Missionary activity in the Early Middle Ages (Aldershot,
Brookfield 1994), pp. 705–740.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 23
24 r\n+ \
the lay aristocrat families, who themselves may have had their own
modest, proprietary foundations as part of their estates.
13
In this they
were eventually to be ably assisted by such Anglo-Saxon missionaries
as St. Boniface and his groups of proselytizing monks and nuns, such
as his Bavarian follower Sturmius and his Anglo-Saxon relative, the
nun Leoba,
14
intimate of the empress Hildegard, who supported a
Carolingian political and religious expansionism. The building pro-
gram of the Carolingians was an integral part of that policy. Where
the Carolingians held sway, saints, as residents of the heavenly king-
dom, were named as rolemodels for the faithful in Christ and as
fighters to support the realm, monasteries and convents were founded
as locations where a pious purified Christian life could be led. Of
course they were also deliberate expressions of their Klosterpolitik in
the expansion and consolidation of their Hausmacht, the demonstra-
ble power base of the family reflected in terms of aristocratic depen-
dencies, property and economic strength. Something of a sequence
emerged, when monks first erected small churches, perhaps on for-
mer pagan sacred sites, to be followed by more ambitious edifices,
such as Fulda, housing schools for the education and training of new
converts and missionaries. These foundations were not a continuation
from the earlier Roman agricultural estates. In return for rents and
labor on the proprietor’s estates, tenant farmers cultivated a small
portion of the estate for themselves. These estates could be very large
in terms of area, workers or distances covered. The monasteries of
Lorsch or Prüm probably had 2000 dependent households each on
their holdings. Fulda has been calculated to have owned 12 000
households. Geographic dispersion was intended to anticipate failures
and shortfalls of yield and these distances had organizational impli-
cations for storage of goods, their distribution and transportation by
land and water, for markets and commerce and especially for the
supply of the central estate with agricultural produce and manufac-
tured objects.
15
This networked supply system was one of several
such connecting systems. It was complemented by interlocking mil-
13
Innes, State and Society, p. 25.
14
T.F.X. Noble and T. Head, Soldiers of Christ. Saints and Saints’ Lives from Late
Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park PA 1995), pp. 165–187, 255–277,
for their respective Vitae. See also R. McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning in the
Frankish Kingdoms, 6th–9th Centuries (Gower House, Brookfield 1994), p. IV, 301.
15
M. McCormick, Origins of the European Economy, Communications and Commerce, A.D.
300–900 (Cambridge 2001), p. 7f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 24
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 25
itary, religious and social networks. Army units assumed duties in
various parts of the realm; a fledgling ‘inter-library loan system’ and
prayer communities connected the monasteries and convents and the
movement of pilgrims and such religious objects as saintly relics
linked far-flung sites. Baggage trains of merchandise crossed the land
and entourages of noble travelers relocated to their various distant
estates. A communications infrastructure had to be in place to facili-
tate such movements. A money economy developed as a consequence.
Through inheritance and marriage Pepin II came into possession
of extensive Austrasian territories. Through the acquisition of many
established and new Benedictine monastic foundations and his con-
trol over bishoprics, he extended his control of Austrasia. He appre-
ciated the need for yet more control as the eastern duchies had
begun to assume considerable freedom of action and to evolve inde-
pendent, even international, interests, expansionist and defensive poli-
cies. While his influence and personal associations helped push the
Merovingians out of Paris and Neustria and Burgundy, Pepin held
only titular sway over the eastern duchies of the Bavarians and the
Alemans. The Bavarians had enjoyed a special position with con-
siderable independence already in Merovingian times. Within that
special position even a degree of foreign policy had been possible,
hence the relations with the Lombards. An ambivalent political sit-
uation had emerged in the eastern regnum Austrasiorum. Thus despite
Pepin’s consolidation of power, upon his death (714) his succession
was problematic.
16
His sons by his first wife Plectrudis had died or
been assassinated, 708 and 714 respectively. Disintegrating forces
affected his political legacy and his accomplishments were about to
be undone when Plectrudis tried to rule as regent for her nephew.
Conflicts between Neustria and Austrasia threatened to embroil the
realm in civil wars and eventual partition. Internal—Neustrian—and
external—Saxon and Frisian—aggression followed Pepin’s death and
Neustria was gaining the upper hand. But then it was possible for
Pepin’s son by his second wife, Alpaida,
17
Charles, as of the 9th
16
For a compact summary of events, see P. Fouracre, ‘Frankish Gaul to 814’,
in R. McKitterick (ed.), The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. II (Cambridge, New
York 1995), pp. 85ff.
17
Collins, Charlemagne, p. 28, suggests that Charles Martel may have been Pepin’s
illegitimate son, but since the Carolingians began their line with him, the records
may have been suitably altered. See R.A. Gerberding, The Rise of the Carolingians and
the Liber Historiae Francorum (Oxford 1987), p. 117.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 25
26 r\n+ \
century known as martellus, the Hammer—Charles Martel—to win
a series of battles against the Neustrians at Amblève (716) and Vincy
(717), against the Saxons (718) and in the final battle against the
Neustrians at Soissons (719). He forced Plectrudis to yield the regency
and from the family’s power base in Austrasia secure his father’s
dominions. Despite his power he did not yet consider ruling in his
own name and recognized the Neustrian Chilperich II as king and
secured his succession as mayor domus. He was to be the last life-long
ruler on behalf of the Merovingians, but abrogated to himself the
authority to dispose freely of the royal treasure, estates and power,
as well as to issue royal decrees in his own name. In effect, long
before being crowned kings, the Carolingians had established a non-
royal lordship over the Franks.
18
With him also began the use of the
name ‘Charles’ as the dynastic name for the kings of the Franks,
hence Carolingians.
Beginning in 720 Charles’ rule was again threatened on two
fronts—the Saxons in the north and the Saracens in the south.
Following two successful campaigns against the Saxons (720/724) his
rule over the northern and eastern realms of the Franks was largely
assured. Since 720 the Arabs, exploiting dissension among the Franks,
had attacked Aquitaine across the Pyrenees and by 732 had reached
central Gaul. Near Poitiers Charles Martel defeated them in 732
and thereby gained control over Aquitaine.
19
During the next few
years he broke their alliance with the Burgundians and with the help
of the Lombards, drove them out of most of southern Gaul. During
733–36 he confirmed his rule over Burgundy, Frankish sovereignty
over Aquitaine and the Provence, 737/38. Carolingian counts assumed
the administration of these regions.
In Austrasia and Neustria Charles Martel had to reverse a hos-
tile process of increasing self-determination by some of the dominant
kin-groups. Hostile accounts accuse Charles of having taken advan-
tage of his power. During some twenty years their holdings had come
to be considered hereditary and included bishoprics and royal monas-
teries and these he was seen to have bestowed on his own support-
ers without regard of their worthiness for the office. Since the
installation of bishops was by royal appointment, some disloyal bish-
18
Werner, in Reuter, Medieval Nobility, p. 174.
19
Collins, p. 30.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 26
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 27
ops were demoted. Some bishoprics remained vacant or were amal-
gamated. In some instances Charles resorted to earlier Merovingian
practices and distributed their wealth and property among his own
supporters in the form of benefices.
20
This practice proved an effective
means to replenish the material power, the Hausmacht, of the family
in the face of declining resources owing to the granting of proper-
ties to supporters. Laying claim to church holdings counteracted this
diminution of resources available for distribution. Each king could
create his own nobility. This point illustrates a ‘spoils system’ and
shows how serviceability provided new groups of aristocrats with the
opportunities for enrichment and the rise to status in the entourage
of a new ruler, of a new dynasty. Royal favoritism could easily reverse
all social and political gains. Similarly the withdrawal of aristocratic
support could quickly expose the vulnerability of the royal position.
The collaboration between the nobility of state and its branch in the
church was nearly able to dismember the precarious imperial position
of Louis the Pious. The Reichsadel, the high imperial nobility, was to
be less vulnerable. Death in battle and diseases contracted on cam-
paigns or during sieges jeopardized the continuity of families.
21
Contrary to appearances for Charles Frankish and Christian expan-
sion were two sides of the same coin. Utilizing the church for polit-
ical purposes becomes an administrative practice. Extending the
influence of the church effected the improved control of the newly
conquered regions of the realm. In two campaigns (733/734) he sub-
dued the still pagan duchy of the Frisians,
22
while in 738, with the
help of the pagan Slavic Wilzi to the east, he campaigned once more
against the heathen Saxons in order to free northern Hesse and
Thuringia from their continuing threats. It was part of Charles’ defen-
sive policy to enlist the cooperation of such Anglo-Saxon missionar-
ies as Willibrord,
23
but especially of Wynfrid, better known as St.
Boniface, for whom, however, Charles was rather a hindrance.
24
In
20
See Fouracre, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 91f.
21
K. Schmid, ‘The structure of the nobility in the earlier middle ages’, in Reuter,
Medieval Nobility, pp. 37–59.
22
Schutz, Germanic Realms, pp. 393–400, for a brief summary of the pre-Carolingian
Frisians.
23
H.-J. Reischmann, Willibrord, Apostel der Friesen—Vita Willibrordi Archepiscopi Traiec-
tensis Auctore Alcuino (Darmstadt 1989). See also Noble and Head, Soldiers of Christ,
pp. 189–211, for a translation of his Vita.
24
Noble and Head, Soldiers, pp. 107–164, for a translation of his Vita. P.J. Geary,
Before France and Germany. The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 27
28 r\n+ \
contrast to the largely ineffective conservative representatives of the
Frankish church, these representatives of Anglo-Saxon monasticism
were the sober and disciplined carriers of a spiritual church reform,
originally inspired by pope Gregory the Great. The Anglo-Saxon
church had been systematically organized by Rome and consequently
it operated with papal endorsement and with a hierarchical organi-
zation, though the conversion of England to Christianity was not yet
completed.
25
While the Irish missions proceeded along individual lines
from the bottom up, in keeping with the idea of ascetic perigrinatio,
the Anglo-Saxons, while accentuating the positive, worked from the
top down, by establishing and then implementing organizational struc-
tures. The missionary zeal, which took them to the continent, how-
ever, was not a coordinated effort, nor did they enter a pagan
wilderness. Few of these nuns and monks converted even a single
heathen. Their contribution supported and augmented the existing
religious infrastructure, prepared earlier by the Hiberno-Frankish mis-
sions. Both Willibrord and Wynfrid, whose background includes a
strong Irish influence, described as peregrini pro Christo, first obtained
ecclesiastical rank and papal legitimization (719) by going to Rome
and thereby introduced a departure from the Irish model, before
they began their work. Boniface
26
was named thus by pope Gregory
II and became the protégé of Charles Martel and with the knowl-
edge of that support Boniface, sometimes called Apostle of Germany,
utilized his organizational talents to lay the foundation of the German
church, consolidate its position through extensive missionary activi-
ties in Thuringia, Hesse, Bavaria and lastly in Frisia, founded monas-
teries, convents and bishoprics, and most important for the future,
bound the church of the Germanic eastern part of the realm to
Rome. When pope Gregory II made him bishop, Boniface drew sup-
port from the knowledge that he had the support of Rome in all
conflicts encountered with the recalcitrant Frankish bishops, such as
(Oxford, New York 1988), pp. 214ff. Gerberding, p. 135, indicates that relations
between Charles Martel and St. Boniface were not unproblematic.
25
R. McKitterick, ‘Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany: Personal Connections
and Local Influences’, in The Frankish Kings and Culture in the Early Middle Ages, pp.
4, 27.
26
See McKitterick, ‘Anglo-Saxon Missionaries’ in Frankish Kings and Culture, pp.
8ff. for a summary of his career. See also J.M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Frankish Church
(Oxford 1983), pp. 143ff. concerning the creation of the church in the East Frankish
lands.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 28
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 29
the bishop of Mainz, who resented an Anglo-Saxon mission as redun-
dant interference.
27
The foundations for later church reform were
laid at this time by missionaries like St. Boniface, as the Merovingian
Frankish church was transformed into the Carolingian church
28
dur-
ing the reign of the early Carolingians. They submitted it to a reform
by means of the introduction of organized, fixed and stable Roman-
style structures, bishops and monastic establishments, restricted the
barely semi-literate monks to their monasteries and replaced them
in the communities with monk-priests, with a better educated clergy,
better qualified to preach and to instruct its flocks. They bolstered
the church with the physical importation of Roman saints and their
relics and the displacement of the venerated Gallic martyrs and Mero-
vingian saints and their individualistic, itinerant, peregrine Hiberno-
Scottish predecessors. The saints, as residents of the divine kingdom,
fitted with the enormous power delegated to them by God and per-
formed by them
29
provided the spiritual foundations of this new
Christian realm on earth. The symbolic presentation of the key to
the tomb of St. Peter and sections of his chains was intended to rep-
resent the change of focus and the new bond with Rome. New
Frankish religious centers linked to the original site of their relic
could be created at will.
30
This was to contribute significantly to the
fortunes of the Carolingians and their power base, though not to St.
Boniface’s own popularity among the Frankish bishops. The link with
papal Rome was to open the Eastern Carolingian regions to a clear
orientation toward Christian Roman orientation. Other capable mis-
sionaries complemented the work of Boniface in other parts of the
eastern realms, all at least initially or in principle in the service of
Charles Martel and his family. The Carolingian Hausmacht estab-
lished itself firmly also in those parts of the realm consolidated by
27
R. McKitterick, The Frankish Church and the Carolingian Reforms 789–895 (London
1977), p. xix.
28
Innes, State and Society, p. 43f., for an explanation of the concept of ‘reform’
in response to changing realities affecting the church. See T.L. Amos, ‘Monks and
Pastoral Care in the Early Middle Ages, in T.F.X. Noble and J.J. Contreni, (eds.)
Religion, Culture and Society in the Early Middle Ages. Studies in Honor of R.E. Sullivan
(Kalamazoo 1987), p. 171f.
29
Noble and Head, Soldiers, p. xv.
30
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 1–93, for a review of the Merovingian Frankish church,
its foundations and saints. See P.J. Geary, Furta Sacra. Theft of Relics in the Central
Middle Ages (Princeton 1978), and P.J. Geary, Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages
(Ithaca, London 1994), pp. 171ff. Also Geary, Before France and Germany, p. 217f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 29
30 r\n+ \
proprietary monastic foundations, Eigenklöster,
31
royal monasteries
founded and virtually owned by them. Some of them, such as Lorsch
and Fulda became pillars of economic and socio-political power with
extensive networks, through prayer-associations, for instance, Gebets-
gemeinschaften. It should not be overlooked, that Charles and his fam-
ily tired quickly of conversion to Christianity by sermon and persuasion.
They readily resorted to the use of force. Those found still engag-
ing in pagan practices were dealt with severely. By means of the
sword the hesitant were assured that the Christian paradise was the
more desirable choice. Pockets of paganism, where often a veneer
of Christian sainthood had been placed over the persistent belief in
the old, pagan divinities, among the Alemans for instance, were now
made more fully familiar with Christianity. Still, compromise was
not unusual and accommodation of some pagan practices was tol-
erated. In general, Frankish society may not have been that thor-
oughly Christian.
32
The missionary activities of the Anglo-Saxons will
be discussed more fully below.
When Theuderic IV died (737) Charles Martel no longer troubled
to appoint another Merovingian king. He had his own son, Pepin
III, adopted by king Liutprand of the Lombards, thereby cleverly
raising him to royal rank. Charles died in 741. Willibrord’s successor,
the abbot of Echternach noted ‘October 741, Death of king Charles’.
33
Charles Martel bequeathed his realm to his three sons. To Carloman
he left Austrasia, Thuringia and Alemania. To Pepin III, later known
as The Short, he left Neustria, Burgundy and Provence. Aquitaine
and Bavaria were assigned loosely to their joint administration. Their
half-brother Grifo was to inherit less clearly defined domains within
the realm, but Carloman and Pepin challenged the legitimacy of his
inheritance, crowded him out of his holdings in Thuringia and impris-
oned him.
34
The ascent of the Carolingians was not inevitable as
31
Eigenklöster —eigen = to be the property of, Kloster, pl. Klöster = cloister, monastery,
convent.
32
McKitterick, Frankish Church, p. 80f. See also R.E. Sullivan, ‘The Context of
Cultural Activity’, in “The Gentle Voices of Teachers”, Aspects of Learning in the Carolingian
Age (Columbus 1995), p. 75. See J.C. Russell, The Germanization of Early medieval
Christianity (Oxford 1994), pp. 192ff. for a summary of Boniface’s correspondence
concerning accommodation.
33
J. Verseuil, Les Rois fainéants, de Dagobert à Pépin le Bref (Paris 1996), p. 215.
34
B.W. Scholz, B. Rogers, Carolingian Chronicles—Royal Frankish Annals, Nithard’s
Histories (Ann Arbor 1972). Quotations from the Royal Frankish Annals are taken from
this edition and indicated as Annals with the year thus Annals 741. Quotations and
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 30
+
n
r

c
\
n
o
r
i
x
o
i
\
x

n
r
\
r
v
s
3
1
Map 1. The Carolingian Empire.
S
C
H
U
T
Z
_
f
3
_
1
7
-
1
3
4


9
/
2
3
/
0
3


7
:
4
5

P
M


P
a
g
e

3
1
32 r\n+ \
uprisings followed the death of Charles Martel in Aquitaine, Saxony,
Alemania and Bavaria whose dukes were loyal to the Merovingians
and although the revolts were put down by armed intervention, they
accomplished that on Odilo of Bavaria’s insistence the Merovingian
throne had to be reoccupied by one of the ‘long-haired kings’, the
obscure Childeric III (743–751). Odilo retained his duchy. A last
attempt to rise in Alemania ended in a bloodbath at Cannstadt (746)
where the remnants of the Alemanic nobility were annihilated and
replaced by Frankish counts. Since the Alemanic population was still
partly pagan, these measures could be put in a justifiable light. Ale-
mania ceased to be an independent duchy. Subjection and conversion
were the objectives of the campaigns in Saxony. Though the con-
versions were not of duration, archeologists are still finding cast off
simple metal crosses in the river fords, even in Saxony the uprisings
ended with the consolidation of Carolingian control.
From the beginning of their rule Carloman and Pepin solicited
the assistance of Boniface and his followers in integrating politically
and assimilating culturally the eastern reaches into the Frankish realm.
Boniface, as legate of pope Zacharias in Germany, even missus of
St. Peter, could also provide the needed assistance to the reform
project. The first Austrasian reform Synod (21–04–742), convened
by Carloman, circumvented the Frankish bishops and placed Boniface
at the head of the Austrasian church and its new missionary bish-
oprics.
35
The church lands, which Charles Martel had confiscated
and distributed disrespectfully, however, were not returned, because
Carloman needed them to maintain the military structures and the
loyalty of his magnates, in view of the unrest in the realm. This
approach was to create a lasting bond between the Carolingians and
the Frankish aristocracy. While the Synod of the following year rec-
ognized the principle of church ownership, it also established that
the lands were held on loan against the payment of rents and that
with the death of the ‘owner’ the land would revert but also leave
open the option that it could be reclaimed by the ruler, for in its
references taken from Nithard’s Histories are also taken from this edition and cited
as Nithard with chapter number. The Annals are interspersed with revisions of dis-
puted authorship. The unsympathetic Annals specify that Grifo’s mother, Swanahilde,
a niece of duke Odilo, incited Grifo to seek control of the whole realm. See Collins,
p. 31, for contrary argument.
35
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 157ff. Also Collins, pp. 104ff. concerning the doctrinal
and disciplinary interests of the church.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 32
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 33
redistribution lay the ruler’s wealth, military power and authority.
In the implementation of the reform Boniface often encountered the
resistance of the uncooperative, worldly, largely senatorial Gallo-
Roman and aristocratic Frankish bishops who saw in him and the
other Anglo-Saxons a threat to their secular life-style and an infringe-
ment on their rights. However, he encountered no insurmountable
opposition when it came to the merger of the Frankish with the
Roman church. When a Frankish willingness to entertain reforms
became apparent, and when Pepin began to deal directly with the
papacy concerning aspects of canon law, Boniface receded into the
background. The support of the nobility, when combined with its
link with the church in Rome, proved to be most opportune polit-
ical factors when Pepin III reached for the Frankish crown. This
was facilitated when in 747 Carloman withdrew to a monastery, per-
haps guilt ridden over the massacre he ordered following the battle
of Cannstadt. (Annals 746 ) According to Einhard, Carloman desired
a retreat from the world and became a monk.
36
Einhard claims not
to know why, but may have hidden a power struggle between the
brothers, which Carloman lost. When a continuing stream of Frankish
visitors, probably his former nobles, ‘spoiled’, perhaps compromised
his retreat on Monte Soracte, near Rome, he ultimately sought seclu-
sion on Monte Cassino. Once more he was to become politically
active when he tried to intervene on behalf of Aistulf, king of the
Lombards, only to be sent off to a monastery (754). Once again
Grifo had created turmoil elsewhere while Pepin was occupied in
the northeast. During the next six years Pepin attempted reconcili-
ations with him. While crossing the Southern Alps into Italy, Grifo
was killed in 753 by Frankish border guards.
37
Already by 749 a
degree of order had been returned to the realm. However, the sit-
uation had become such that already in 751, before its final reso-
lution, Pepin could contemplate assuming the kingship for himself.
Deposing the last Merovingian king, Childeric III, and assuming the
36
L. Thorpe, Einhard and Notger the Stammerer, Two Lives of Charlemagne, translated
with an Introduction by Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth, New York 1981), p. 56.
Also P.E. Dutton (ed. and transl.) Charlemagne’s Courtier. The Complete Einhard (Peter-
borough 1998). See Fouracre, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 96.
See Collins, p. 32f. for considerations pertinent to Carloman’s withdrawal and the
short-lived negotiated succession of his son Drogo.
37
Collins, p. 32, refers to a battle at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in which two of
Grifo’s counts were also killed.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 33
34 r\n+ \
crown himself may have eliminated the last bases from which he
could be challenged in his primary position. Evidently Pepin’s rise
to single rule was not uncontested and not the inevitable result in
the ‘unanimous’ political processes represented in the partisan, pro-
Carolingian literature. The stability of the realm was not so threat-
ened that a dynastic change was necessary.
The legitimate Merovingian king, Childeric III, was not likely to
contest the claim. He was deposed, his long hair shorn and he was
sent to a monastery. Einhard, in his Vita Karoli Magni, left a scur-
rilous caricature of the last of these ‘do-nothing long-haired kings’.
Since history is recorded by the victors and since Eginhard/Einhard
was a high official at the Carolingian court,
38
it is easy to under-
stand the pathetic image of Childeric created by him. He justifies
the action by pointing erroneously to the order of pope Stephen II,
rather than Zacharias, and the family’s earlier loss of power and
possessions, retaining only the empty title of king.
39
Content to be
an enthroned figurehead with flowing hair and beard, his royal func-
tions had been reduced to receiving ambassadors and parroting
coached answers. Completely dependent on the discretion of his
Mayor of the palace he had nothing of his own but a poor estate
with just a few servants about him. Einhard mocks his manner of
travel in an ox-drawn cart with a cowherd to goad them, as he
attended the palace and the annual business meetings of the popu-
lar assembly.
40
Einhard may have cast aspersions on the Merovingians
by denigrating a ritual mode of travel quite unjustly, since it is known
that already Tacitus described this ritualistic mode of travel for the
fertility goddess within the northern Nerthus cult. Cow-drawn bigas
were also the means of transport for the moon goddess Selena of
Greek mythology. The deplorable image of a miserable, unkempt,
longhaired individual with a tangled beard is only too clearly a biased
means of ridicule, designed to justify retroactively the coup d’état, the
usurpation of the Frankish throne.
41
Having organized the Hausmacht
38
Dutton, Courtier, p. xiif.
39
See Collins, p. 33f., 35, who points out that the biographies of both popes
make no mention of the resolution.
40
Thorpe, p. 55. D.A. Bullough, Carolingian Renewal: sources and heritage (Manchester,
New York 1991), p. 123f.
41
Collins, p. 34f. argues that the whole event may be most questionable and
more literary than actual.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 34
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 35
of the family and its vast range of dependents, and with the full sup-
port of the court poets and the reformed Frankish church, the
Carolingians orchestrated a propagandistic body of opinion. It created
an effective, both mystical and heroic scenario around the Carolingian
king and also laid not only the religious groundwork of the over-
throw, but also the basis for the grandiose design of the Imperium
Christianum, later to be supported by the cultural invigoration by cel-
ebrating the family’s deeds, qualifications and suitability to lead the
Christian peoples. Even the liturgy was modified to accommodate
the king’s glorification.
42
A reference in Book V of St. Augustine’s
City of God, and a sentence found in Isidore’s of Seville Etymology, rex
a regenda, made it clear that the word ‘royal’ is related to the word
‘reign’. It is an active concept and there were Germanic precedents,
which allowed for the removal of the inept.
Why was this justification in Christian terms necessary? Traditional
notions of royal descent and consecration stood in the way of a sim-
ple assumption of regal power. With the Christianization of the
Franks, pagan perceptions of the king’s charisma, of his felicitas of
his Heil, had already once before been sanctified through the inter-
vention of the church. Chlodovech’s conversion, the change to a
new god had been most hazardous, because it jettisoned the mytho-
logical divinity of origin of the royal family and jeopardized the
Germanic perception of its Heil, the king’s select qualifications, his
quasi-supernatural status, his legitimacy. To the Gallo-Romans he
had had to demonstrate his felicitas. Both groups had to be shown
the prerequisites of rulership. Chlodovech’s conversion to Christianity
made these requisites for legitimacy problematic because conversion
and baptism meant the surrender of pagan rituals and beliefs, of any
mystical sacerdotal functions, and especially the pledge of obedience
and submission to the church, unless substitute guarantees could be
provided. The assured presence of the Trinity at the baptism guar-
anteed the support of the Christian God through the agency of the
church and thereby assured the continuing effectiveness of the king’s
Heil, to be understood as the intransmutability of the semi-sacred
bloodline through the generations of the Merovingians.
43
Whether
the sanctification was transferable to a new family, in the form of a
42
Sullivan, ‘The Context of Cultural Activity’, in Gentle Voices, p. 65f.
43
Schutz, Germanic Realms, p. 152f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 35
36 r\n+ \
new union of religion and politics, must have been a troubling ques-
tion. The learned courtiers did not fail to win the king’s favor by
making this point in their songs of praise, till the sharing of the
benefit of the Heil was possible, even if only through the willing par-
ticipation of an authority higher than all earthly authority, the coop-
erative church with its presumed right to guide society and all cultural
activity through monasticism, the episcopacy and the papacy.
44
Owing
to the ‘Roman’ reform of the Frankish church and the closer ties
established by Boniface between the Franks and the papacy, Pepin
could now also seek advice from pope Zacharias concerning the
‘reform’ of the monarchy. The church was to find itself in a bar-
gaining position. In time it would collect from the Carolingians.
If the papal consultation took place, it was a coincidence that a
new king of the Lombards, Aistulf, renewed Lombard claims to ter-
ritories, which the papacy also claimed.
45
This Lombardic intention
was a distinct threat to Rome when Pepin’s emissaries, Fulrad, the
abbot of St. Denis and Burchard, bishop of Würzburg, supposedly
arrived in Rome in 750. They posed the question whether it was
good or not that in the realm of the Franks kings ruled who did
not wield the regal power.
46
Pope Zacharias must have realized an
opportunity to strengthen his position toward the Lombards by gain-
ing an ally. The Lombard threat to the papacy definitely motivated
the pope to charge the envoys to inform Pepin that it was better to
call him king who had the royal power than the one who did not.
(Annals, erroneously 749 rather than 750) In order that the natural
order, identified by St. Augustine in the 19. Book of the City of God,
not be disturbed, he based his response on St. Augustin, and by
virtue of his apostolic authority ordered that Pepin should be king.
47
Quite evidently question and answer addressed the principle of suit-
ability for the office as the preferred determining criterion over the
principle of dynastic legitimacy. This suitability was expressed by the
novel act of the consecration of Pepin. Divine authority was invoked
44
Sullivan, ‘The Context of Cultural Activity’, in Gentle Voices, pp. 66ff.
45
See Collins, pp. 59f.
46
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 165ff. But see Collins, p. 35, who suggests that the event
may be fictitious.
47
P. Riché, The Carolingians. A family who forged Europe (Philadelphia 1993), p. 68.
See J.L. Nelson, ‘kingship and empire’, in R. McKitterick, Carolingian Culture: emu-
lation and innovation (Cambridge 1994), pp. 54ff., concerning the possible motivation
behind the pope’s reply.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 36
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 37
to sanction through the pope the rupture with a pagan, superficially
Christian legitimacy by means of a clear act of usurpation. The for-
mal election by the Frankish nobility of Pepin as king of the Franks
and of his wife Bertrada as their queen, followed in Soissons, 751.
How could the nobility have done otherwise! Selection, anointing,
elevation and homage were the decisive official acts, repeated in 754.
This Biblical ritual accented the discontinuity and pointed to the
growing, new perception at the Frankish court that the Franks had
relieved the Israelites as the select ‘People of the Book’ and the com-
munity of interests of Frankish clergy and aristocracy disguised the
usurpation resting in Pepin’s ascent of the throne.
48
Despite the fact
that Pepin and Bertrada had both been anointed, as a consecration
of the new dynasty, for many years to come their heirs felt very vul-
nerable, hence the repeated justifications and coronations of the same
king. The references, in the psalters, for instance, to the Biblical past
as a foretelling of the Carolingian present, the consecration and the
reanimation of things ‘Classical’ during the reign of the Carolingians
and their willingness to protect the popes against the Lombards, had
much to do with bolstering the Carolingians’ debatable claims to
continuity and legitimacy. The emphasis on Israel
49
and the Old
Testament contributes a distinguishing accent to the Carolingian
reconfiguration as being something other than just an attempted
Renaissance
50
of a pagan Classical antiquity.
In the understanding of the church, it was Christ himself, through
his Vicar, who had raised Pepin to the throne. Thus the Franks
were initially the ‘special people of the pope’.
51
To compensate the
new king for his lack of royal blood, a bishop, perhaps even the
papal vicar and legatus Germanicus Boniface (Annals 750), but, in view
of the differences between Boniface and Pepin, more likely Chrodegang
of Metz, anointed him in order to furnish him with the appropriate
sacred dignity and the dynasty with a new consecration.
52
Henceforth
48
Collins, p. 36, questions the historicity of the circumstances surrounding the
claimed event of 751.
49
M. Garrison, ‘The Franks as the New Israel? Education for an identity from
Pippin to Charlemagne.’ in Hen and Innes, The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle
Ages (Cambridge 2000), pp. 114–161.
50
Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 3ff., concerning a review of the ‘Renaissance’ in the
Carolingian context.
51
Garrison, ‘The Franks as the New Israel?’ in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past,
p. 124.
52
K.-U. Jäschke, Bonifatius und die Königssalbung Pippins des Jüngeren, in Archiv für
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 37
38 r\n+ \
he was gratia Dei rex, king by Divine Grace. The Biblical precedent
must have been appreciated in which the prophet Samuel displaced
king Saul by the anointed David.
53
The legitimization of Pepin was
accomplished. It raised him into the line of Old Testament kings, a
first step along the grandiose design, which was to characterize the
Carolingians. Already Pepin’s ancestors had been compared to heroes
of the Old Testament. Pepin, selected as the anointed of the Lord
was raised into the vicinity of God. This selection was an innova-
tion, which reinforced the act of election immensely. However, it
introduced and confirmed a vital dimension. Men could place the
crown, but by Old Testament analogy, only the church could anoint.
In what amounted to a mutual bond, three years later, 754, pope
Steven II re-anointed Pepin and his two sons and forbade the Franks,
under pain of excommunication, to elect a king from outside the
line of Pepin’s descendants. The reanointment may have been intended
as an act of cleansing himself of his several broken promises and
perjuries.
54
It may well have been the only coronation of Pepin.
Childeric III was shorn and sent to a monastery to conclude there
his shadowy existence. The pope made it clear that this was not just
the replacement of one king by another but that through God’s
choice a new dynasty had been called and that the sanctity of a
bloodline would continue in its legitimate Christian guise.
55
By chance
and by intent the Carolingians initially established a single line of
legitimate succession in which a personal kingship had been replaced
by a family institution. In addition the monarchy gained legitimacy
and focus through its Rome oriented Christianization. In the west
St. Peter and many other Roman martyred saints and their relics,
bones and objects, were assembled in the Carolingian churches as
a fundamental necessity and as part of a deliberate policy. Relics
were the link between heaven, the residence of the saints, and the
Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte, Siegel- und Wappenkunde, vol. 23 (Cologne, Vienna 1977),
pp. 25ff. for a discussion concernig this dispute. He finds that no other Annals men-
tion the involvement and Jäschke concludes, p. 52f. that not Boniface but Chrodegang
of Metz was involved.
53
A. Angenendt, Das Frühmittelalter. Die abendländische Christenheit von 400–900
(Stuttgart, Berlin, Cologne 1990), p. 283f.
54
B. Kasten, Königssöhne und Königsherrschaft (Hannover 1997), p. 127, n. 270. But
see Collins, p. 36.
55
See D.H. Miller, ‘Sacral Kingship, Biblical Kingship, and the Elevation of
Pepin the Short’, in Noble and Contreni, Religion, Culture and Society, pp. 131ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 38
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 39
material world.
56
They were given the deepest cultic reverence by
the court as well as by the high nobility of the realm. The popu-
lace would have only remote access to them. It became the aim that
all churches should shelter relics, despite the problems associated
with their availability. Concerned about possible forgeries, in 794
Charles demanded a strict examination of the relics.
57
Being physi-
cally visible, in altars for instance, (Fig. 1) the relics became the cen-
tral focus of religious devotion, even jeopardizing the cult of an
abstract Christ. This policy helped control the creation of new sacred
sites.
58
This process established a religious network of ties and depen-
dencies between the realm of the Franks and Rome. With the des-
ignation of the Carolingians the papacy signaled its recognition of a
new focus on western, Frankish authority and signaled its turning
away from the authority of the Eastern empire. Already pope Gregory
III had sent Charles Martel the keys to the grave of St. Peter and
had indicated his willingness to renounce the emperor and transfer
dominion to the Carolingians. With the support of the papacy the
Frankish Christian realm of the Carolingians could begin turning
away from the Greek Christianity of Byzantium, toward its own
Imperium Christianum.
It will be shown that in their architectural and artistic intentions
the Carolingians were never free of their need to demonstrate their
legitimate continuity with Christian Rome and continuing legitimacy
through the church. Charlemagne had his long-term reasons for be-
ing strongly motivated to include the formula Dei gratia in his title.
Papal political thinking proved correct when the expansionist king
Aistulf and the Lombards threatened Rome itself, 753. Not restrained
by religious scruples he attempted to unify all Italy. The Byzantines
were preoccupied with the forces of Islam so that Rome could turn
to no other source of support than Pepin and the Franks. It was in
this context that the curious but only preliminary bond between the
universalist papacy and the particularistic Franks was to find its begin-
nings. Pope Steven II first visited Aistulf in Pavia, to negotiate the
restitution of the disputed territories, but unsuccessful with Aistulf, he
crossed the Alps in winter to visit Pepin’s court at Ponthion in order
56
Noble and Head, Soldiers, p. xvii.
57
Noble and Head, Soldiers, p. xxxvii.
58
See McCormick, pp. 283ff. concerning collections of relics at Sens and Chelles.
See Geary, Living with the Dead, pp. 166f., 185f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 39
40 r\n+ \
to gain assurances of support for the papacy. The royal anointment,
which was to take place during this visit, indebted Pepin to the pope,
and the latter would be able to rely on Pepin’s support. While Pepin
initially disappointed the pope by not coming to meet him himself,
sending his six year old son Charles instead, and making the pope
come to him all the way, Pepin received the pope on bended knee
and taking the pope’s horse by its reins, led the pope some cere-
monial distance to the palace (6.1.754) and in the name of his sons,
Pepin swore to St. Peter, represented by the pope and his succes-
sors an oath promising defense and assistance. It was probably a
reciprocal oath. Pepin ignored the opposition within the realm, includ-
ing his brother’s, and in 755/56 launched a campaign into Italy and
guaranteed, quite unjustly, the transfer of the Exarchate of Ravenna
and the Roman duchy, legally still Byzantine enclaves, to a third
party, the Roman papacy. Again the pope anointed Pepin’s family
as assurance against Byzantium and any possible challenges by
claimants to the throne, including Carloman or his sons. All were
consigned to monasteries. Perhaps with the emperor’s approval the
pope bestowed on Pepin the title patricius Romanorum, previously borne
by the representatives of the emperor, including the exarch of Ravenna
for all of Italy. If he proclaimed Pepin on his own authority, then
the pope had assumed the emperor’s authority. By combining the
role of king of the Franks with the role of patricius Romanorum he
made him protector of Rome, merging in his person the secular and
religious elements. When Pepin now moved against Aistulf, he appeared
in that role and the latter quickly submitted to Frankish overlord-
ship and promised the restitution of all his conquests. However, since
he did not accept the ‘Romans’ as legitimate negotiators, he reneged
on his promises. The pope’s appeal brought Pepin into the field
again and this time Aistulf was forced to surrender his acquisitions.
Pepin documented the transfer to the church, thereby creating the
Papal States. The opposition to Pepin’s designs
59
may have antici-
pated the consequences of an Italian policy. The Pepinid Donation,
59
K. Brunner, Oppositionelle Gruppen im Karolingerreich (Wien, Köln, Graz 1979),
deals mainly with references to variant instances of opposition during the 9th cen-
tury but the discussion has bearing on all such examples. Since the dissensions and
conspiracies usually involved members of the imperial family, the annals were loath
to mention them. Changing fortunes and grievances among the high nobility pro-
vided many such occasions.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 40
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 41
perhaps in exchange for Pepin’s coronation and the various titles,
was supported by one of the most significant and successful forgeries
ever,
60
the Constitutum Constantini, the ‘Donation of Constantine’ accord-
ing to which in Constantine’s Edict of Milan, 313, the emperor Con-
stantine was claimed to have received a divine hint when he had
entered a dream as a pagan and emerged as a convert to Christianity,
then retired to Byzantium out of respect for the religious supremacy
of the Bishop of Rome, after having given to pope Sylvester impe-
rial rank, the right to ride a white horse like the emperor, (Fig. 2)
and the power to bestow the crown on his choice of emperor, to
have dominion over Rome and all the provinces of Italy and the
west, all as a reward for having been cured of leprosy by Sylvester.
Already Constantine was claimed to have held Sylvester’s stirrups
and led his horse by the reins.
61
The pope had become more than
the emperor’s representative. The Franks may have had foreknowl-
edge of this claim precisely because it was in their interest. Pepin
needed imperial confirmation to ascend the Frankish throne. Centuries
earlier Chlodovech had been crowned with imperial authorization.
Into the 7th century Byzantium had represented the empire as such
in Frankish eyes. With the 8th century a new perspective was estab-
lishing itself. The pope now also had such imperial authority to
crown Pepin. By the end of the century the Franks will have gained
the insight that the papacy was perhaps just a transition and that
they had the merit to claim the reign over a western empire in the
guise of an Imperium Christianum. The territorial transfer of Byzantine
territory into the hands of St. Peter thus became legal. Out of grat-
itude Pepin was included in the liturgy of St. Peter’s, as it had only
been done for the emperor. Furnished with imperial authorities, the
pope as head of the Christian church was raised high above the
head of any emperor and deference to the Byzantine emperors faded
a bit more. This policy was to burden Central European history
with a huge mortgage. In the six centuries to come the papal claim
60
P.E. Dutton, The Politics of Dreaming in the Carolingian Empire (Lincoln Neb. and
London 1994), p. 37, supposes that it was composed c. 760 by a Roman cleric
motivated by rather elusive intentions. Dutton elaborates on Constantine’s supposed
dream, which provided the foundation.
61
J.J. Norwich, A Short History of Byzantium (Harmondsworth, London 1997), p. 119.
See also Angenendt, Frühmittelalter, p. 286. Ohnsorge, Ost-Rom und der Westen (Darmstadt
1983), pp. 60ff., argues that pope Leo III was the author of this document. See
Nelson, ‘kingship and empire’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 70.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 41
42 r\n+ \
to primacy was to evolve into a continuing cause for much grief and
political turmoil. The defensio ecclesia Romanae became the responsi-
bility and primary function of what came to be known as the Holy
Roman Empire. At the time Pepin had not much of a choice, for as
the anointed of God and with his royal powers deriving directly from
God and king of a chosen people, the Franks, his position in Chris-
tendom was made evident by his service to the throne of St. Peter,
demonstrated in his oath to St. Peter, not the pope.
62
It was not
anticipated that the new temporal power of the pope would make
that position a desirable possession for all manner of ambitious indi-
viduals. The popes became the instruments of interest groups, espe-
cially of the aristocracy of Rome, requiring the frequent intervention
of the pertinent rulers to come to the pope’s assistance. The papacy
came in need of protection.
Pepin had been able to concentrate on Lombardic and papal con-
cerns because east-rhenish affairs were relatively settled. However,
while Pepin was able to consolidate Frankish control over all of Gaul,
the attempts to gain control over the northeast proved premature.
The political and religious control over Frisia and Saxony was not
progressing well. Willibrord’s missionary accomplishments had been
rolled back by a resurgence of Frisian paganism under their king
Radbod who died in 719. Attempts to Christianize the Frisians there-
after proved unsuccessful and when in the autumn of 753 Boniface
returned to Frisia, he and fifty-two of his missionizing companions
were struck down at Dokkum (754) by Frisian pagans. Any further
progress would have to await the complete conquest of the North
Sea coast.
Following the ‘battle’ of Cannstadt (746) and the elimination of
the duchy by Carloman, the Alemanic aristocracy had been liqui-
dated in a bloodbath and with the installation of Frankish counts all
ducal and aristocratic property had either passed into Frankish hands
or been redistributed to those friendly with the Franks. Again Frankish
monastic foundations consolidated the gained lands as the realm
expanded further eastward. There the Bavarian duchy had rehearsed
an armed uprising as it tried to implement independent administra-
tive policies and assume a special position within the Frankish realm.
62
W. Mohr, Die Karolingische Reichsidee (Münster 1962), p. 21. See J. Nelson, ‘king-
ship and empire’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, pp. 53ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 42
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 43
It was their fortune that the duchy remained in Agilolfingian hands,
but then they were linked with the Carolingians. Pepin’s sister Chil-
trudis was married to the Bavarian duke, Odilo. Upon his death in
748, his seven-year-old son Tassilo III was declared of age under
the guardianship of the Carolingians and succeeded to the duchy.
Beginning in 743 a category of royal vassals had been created in
Bavaria and in 757, at age sixteen, Tassilo paid homage to his uncle
king Pepin and swore his vassal’s oath into his hands and those of
his sons. (RAF 757) According to the Annals he also swore on the
bodies of several saints that he would remain faithful all his life.
63
His magnates also swore this with him. If these oaths were not an
invention, just a later, anachronistic insertion by the chronicler jus-
tifying a later course of action, then this evidently was not just a
symbolic personal act, but must have expressed a very particular
Carolingian concern about the loyalty of the Agilolfingian Tassilo
III, a Carolingian on his mother’s side, for it was at the same time
the first constitutional dependency agreement between ‘states’. Bavaria
was on its way to lose its independence. This royal vassalage was to
prove to be the great hurdle when Tassilo tried to cast off his own
vassalage from the Carolingians. The original noble families regarded
the growing strength of these Frankish dukes with reservations in
any event. Tassilo reputedly behaved questionably when in 763 he
“brushed aside his oaths and all his promises and sneaked away on
a wicket pretext, disregarding all the good things which king Pepin,
his uncle, had done for him”. (Annals 763). The violation of his duties
as vassal would have been a serious felony. Again, the later chron-
icler’s tone suggests at least a tendentious interpretation for Tassilo’s
return home.
64
To Tassilo the situation favoring independence must
have seemed opportune. Without repercussion for his supposedly bro-
ken oath, he ruled quite independently till 781. Owing to the long-
standing family relationship with the Lombards,
65
enhanced perhaps
by the proximity of the Lombard and Bavarian dialects,
66
Tassilo
received support from the Lombard king Desiderius (756–774) who
returned Alpine regions to him, lost earlier to Liutprand. On the
63
See Collins, p. 81f.
64
Collins, p. 82.
65
Schutz, Germanic Realms, pp. 281–316.
66
W. Jungandreas, Die Einwirkung der Karolingischen Renaissance und das mittlere Rheinland
(Stuttgart 1986), pp. 105, 126ff. where he asserts the linguistic similarity of the
Germanic dialects and their mutual comprehensibility.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 43
44 r\n+ \
urging of his mother Bertrada Charles had married a daughter of
king Desiderius. Tassilo also married a daughter of Desiderius, Liutpirc,
VIRGA REGALIS, the royal offspring. This marriage, perhaps also
recommended by queen Bertrada, was documented by means of a
most unusual ‘document’, the Tassilo Chalice from Kremsmünster, a
most significant artistic monument representing the art of the period
(c. 769). Suffice it to say here that the chalice mobilizes an impres-
sive range of supportive semiotic, religious and political argument to
establish the dignity of the marriage between these two families as
a political claim of the highest status. Coincident with the death of
Pepin III in 768, the Chalice appears to have been intended to
embody a challenge to the presumed, perhaps even usurped rank of
the Carolingians. After all, the Carolingians had risen out of the ser-
vice nobility. It may even have suggested Tassilo’s claim to his own
kingship, he had a scepter, over an unspecified realm including Lom-
bard and (eastern?) Bavarian holdings.
67
The coronation of the Carolin-
gians had relegated the loftier Agilolfingians to a subordinate position.
The Tassilo Chalice stands out because of the Insular Style in which
it has been worked. This style may have reached central Bavaria
with the appointment in 745 and on Pepin’s orders, of Virgil, an
Irish monk, perhaps from Iona, to the bishopric of Salzburg.
68
Virgil
had good relations with Odilo and became Tassilo’s tutor. Towards
Boniface Virgil kept a cool distance. He probably brought illustrated
books from Ireland and probably influenced the artistic execution of
the cup. Other, architectural and literary, considerations may sup-
port the speculations concerning Tassilo’s ambitions to raise the cen-
ters of his duchy to royal preeminence. In 767 Virgil and Tassilo
began the construction of a cathedral. Between 767 and 774 a sur-
prising church was built, 33m wide and 91m long. Between c. 754
and 775 Fulrad, abbot of St. Denis, built a new church for the
Carolingians. The larger dimensions of Salzburg cathedral could not
be understood to be but a challenge to the primacy of the Carolin-
gians.
69
Already earlier, duke Odilo had sought to establish an inde-
pendent Bavarian church anchored by the bishoprics of Regensburg,
67
P.J. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance. Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First
Millennium (Princeton 1994), p. 42, suggests strongly that Tassilo conducted himself
as a king rather than as a duke.
68
B. Bischoff, Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne (Cambridge 1994),
pp. 13, 18.
69
P. Stollenmeyer, Der Kelch des Herzogs Tassilo, (Rosenheim 1976), pp. 9f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 44
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 45
Passau, Salzburg and Freising. These, however, remained under the
jurisdiction of Boniface, most loyal to the Carolingian cause, although
he was not named archbishop for Bavaria. Odilo had succeeded to
have pope Zacharias withdraw the jurisdiction over the Bavarian
church from Boniface and to transfer it to a special papal legate, as
if it could be presumed that the Franks would surrender their suzerainty
over Bavaria. Upon Carolingian insistence this legate had to with-
draw. The Frankish presence in the Bavarian church was gaining in
importance. As was indicated above, Odilo’s attempt at indepen-
dence was put down in 743 and Virgil was appointed bishop of
Salzburg in 745. Sensitive to the elevated cultural standards of his
duchy, Tassilo seems to have returned to the idea of an independent
Bavarian church. The number of Bavarian monasteries rose to fifty.
Just as the Carolingians used monasteries as bases for their missions,
so the Agilolfingians founded monasteries as bases for their projected
operations. Owing to the patronage, which they enjoyed from the
mighty in the land, reflected in their growing wealth from their hold-
ings in land, scattered over large areas, and their memberships in
extensive networks of other monastic foundations, the local dynas-
ties created a system of support that could not diminish. And just
as the Carolingians had sought to gain, sustain and elevate their
kingship by means of the backing of the pope, so now Tassilo sought
to obtain papal support for himself and his family. In 772 Tassilo
had his eldest son Theodo baptized in Rome by pope Hadrian I.
Nine years later, in 781, Charles was to have the same pope bap-
tize his son Pepin in Rome. Quite evidently Tassilo tried to estab-
lish a spiritual base with the pope to support his eventual reach for
a crown.
70
It was not to come to that.
When in September of 769 Pepin died his male heirs and undis-
puted successors were identical. There were no other contending
claimants of the throne. His sons Charles (747–814) and Carloman
assumed the crowns over a divided Frankish realm.
71
According to
the Annals (768) Charles on October 9 at Noyon, and Carloman at
Soissons. Considering that the Carolingians were Austrasians, both
locations are in Neustria. Tassilo may have supposed an opportunity
for his ambitions in the tensions, which accompanied the division.
70
Angenendt, Frühmittelalter, p. 302.
71
See Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 181–204, for a detailed biographical discussion of
Charlemagne.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 45
46 r\n+ \
As an ingredient in an alliance against Carloman, Charles was induced
to marry another, unnamed daughter of Desiderius, so that Tassilo
was now not only Charles’ vassal but already his cousin and now
also his brother-in-law. With the death of Carloman in December
771, the alliance fell apart as the succession became very clear when
Charles assumed the throne for the whole kingdom and unilaterally
rejected his Lombardic wife.
72
Since Desiderius had once again
reverted to an expansionist policy, which threatened the papacy,
Charles waged war on him, forced him to capitulate and himself
assumed the Lombard crown. Henceforth (774) he was rex Francorum
et Langobardorum atque patricius Romanorum with all the responsibilities
toward the papacy already described.
73
Already in 772, following a victory over the Carantanians, Tassilo
had been celebrated as a new Constantine, a title first bestowed on
Chlodovech, as he put down uprisings in the eastern expanded ter-
ritories among the Carantanians and Slovenes. At the peak of his
power Tassilo was supported even by the Bavarian bishops who were
usually more inclined toward the Frankish Carolingians. Perhaps
envious, Charles distrusted Tassilo’s Italian connections as a possi-
ble source of turmoil although Tassilo did honor his military oblig-
ations as vassal when in 778 Bavarian troops followed Charles into
Spain. Nevertheless, in 781 the Annales return to the question of
Tassilo’s supposed violation of his vassalage and report that Tassilo
was summoned to the diet of the realm meeting at Worms.
74
Tassilo
agreed to appear on condition that 12 hostages per side were pro-
vided to assure his safe conduct, not a good sign for the outcome.
The distinct status of Bavaria may have been heading for a review.
Tassilo was forced to renew his vassal’s oath once again and to
receive Bavaria as a Frankish fief.
75
Tassilo in turn was suspicious
of Frankish intentions toward him. Charles’ conquests of northern
Italy had placed Bavaria into a dangerous situation and Tassilo
turned to pope Hadrian I, who had been his supporter in the past.
72
Collins, p. 40.
73
H. Löwe, Deutschland im fränkischen Reich (Munich 1970), pp. 128ff. See Collins,
p. 41f. for events after 771.
74
Collins, p. 83f. Argues that advancing hostages was not the manner of lords
and vassals, but rather that of equals. Owing to his status Tassilo may have been
exempt from annual meetings, but that the new political circumstances concerning
northern Italy made Tassilo’s presence necessary.
75
Angenendt, Frühmittelalter, p. 302.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 46
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 47
But not this time. According to the Annales (787) the extensive treat-
ment of some insignificant issue between the duke and his king raises
suspicions. In what appears to have been recorded as an orches-
trated occasion, Hadrian took Charles’ side and scathingly chided
Tassilo for his obstinacy and that if he were not to submit, then
Charles and the Frankish armies would be free of all sins when they
fell with fire and sword upon the Bavarians.
76
Charles was now free
to summon Tassilo to Worms and when he refused to attend, three
armies marched against him in 787—one from the north, Charles
with the main army from the west and the vice-roy of Lombardy
assumed a hostile position toward the Tirol in the south.
77
Partly
deserted by his supporters, Charles had been able to draw many of
the Bavarian magnates to his side, Tassilo had no choice but to sur-
render without a fight. Outside of Augsburg Tassilo once again
renewed his vassalage and was pardoned. Once returned to his res-
idence in Regensburg and supposedly goaded by his ‘rancorous’
Lombardic wife Liutpirc, ‘a woman hateful to God’ according to the
chronicler (Annals 788), he resumed his rebellious ways and suppos-
edly even negotiated with the eastern Avars. Informed, perhaps
betrayed, by Bavarian nobles loyal to the Carolingians, Charles sum-
moned Tassilo to the diet at Ingelheim. According to the records,
with his family rounded up, not surprisingly, Tassilo confessed his
treasonable activities, surrendered his treasure, was deposed and was
condemned to death. But since the Carolingians could not execute
one of their own, he was pardoned in 788 and sentenced to end his
life as a monk in the monastery of Jumièges, near Rouen in Normandy.
His two sons were sent somewhere else
78
He died there between 794
and 800. He and his sons were probably blinded first. Liutpirc was
exiled and the whole family disappeared behind monastery walls—
his daughter was cloistered at Chelles—and from the accounts. This
was very much of a trumped up charge and it has also been sug-
gested that his original oath of loyalty was reinterpreted as his oath
of vassalage, even though he had not become Charles’ vassal till 787
and that it was now that the court remembered his desertion of the
campaign in 763 and that it was this act of broken fealty that now
76
See Collins, p. 85, for a version of the pope’s outburst.
77
Stollenmeyer, Der Kelch des Herzogs Tassilo, p. 11.
78
Riché, Carolingians, pp. 101f. See Nelson, ‘kingship and empire’, in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, p. 63. See Collins, p. 87.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 47
48 r\n+ \
brought the death sentence upon him.
79
His wife and children were
also confined in convents and monasteries. As was mentioned, it is
possible that Tassilo was blinded, as was customary. Henceforth his
memory was condemned as he and his family disappeared from the
records. The damnatio memoriae was suspended over them. Other hos-
tile magnates were banished and the duchy was abolished and sub-
divided into jurisdictions administered by Frankish counts.
80
It was
ultimately joined to Italy and placed under the rule of Charles’ son
Pepin. Tassilo had been hauled once more before the great Synod
in Frankfurt (794), where he again had to renounce all claims to
power. It must have mattered to Charles to have the duchy handed
over to him by its last duke. Henceforth counts replaced the dukes
and Bavaria and Carinthia were incorporated into the Carolingian
kingdom.
81
His territorial possessions were distributed, to monastic
establishments, for instance,
82
Tassilo’s monasteries were entrusted to
Frankish bishops. Salzburg was now elevated to an archbishopric.
Bavaria had lost its distinct status. In telling this tragic story a num-
ber of historical facts have not been mentioned while others have
been anticipated. The establishment of Carolingian power, reorga-
nization and ensuing Frankification of the realm involved the sup-
pression of particular interests, including conspiracies to assassinate
Charles.
83
Covered up in the pro-Carolingian records, these events
appear to have been an early expression among others of the Carolin-
gians’ ambitions, their intentions and methods. The grandiose design
of an Imperium Christianum allowed the succession through only one
dynastic line. Because of his descent Tassilo’s children might have
risen to be serious rivals. Having been blinded, he and his were
disqualified, as was customary among the Byzantines.
79
Angenendt, Frühmittelalter, p. 302.
80
B. Arnold, Medieval Germany, 500–1300. A Political Interpretation (Toronto, Buffalo
1997), p. 2, suggests that the motive was the confiscation of Bavaria in order to
secure the eastern frontiers in preparation for a campaign against the Avars.
81
B. Arnold, Princes and Territories in medieval Germany (Cambridge 1991), p. 93,
joins other voices when he attributes the failure of the Carolingian empire to its
rejection of an open aristocratic formation with the dukes at its head, in which mil-
itary, economic and political services to the crown would be forthcoming on the
basis of autonomous commands and jurisdictions in the regions.
82
Geary, Remembrance, p. 117, who notes the land transfer to Benediktbeuren.
83
Brunner, Oppositionelle Gruppen, pp. 40ff. Collins, p. 88, emphasizes the tradi-
tional ruthlessness with which the Carolingians pursued the elimination of the ducal
families with any residual Merovingian ties.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 48
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 49
II. Towards Empire
Following the death of Pepin III in 769, Charles (21) and Carloman
(17) shared the kingdom. Pepin retained the traditional division of
his realm but instituted a significant departure from usual practice
by dividing the realm into a northern and a southern part rather
than into the traditional western and eastern sections. This partition
ignored any regional cohesions that may have come into being. The
northern sections of Neustria and Austrasia along with western Aqui-
taine were awarded to Charles. Carloman received Alemania, the
Alsace, southern Neustria with Soissons and Paris, Burgundy, eastern
Aquitaine and the south. Italy was detached. The effect of this par-
tition was the paralysis of the realm and dissension among the broth-
ers. When Aquitaine revolted, Carloman did not come to Charles’
assistance. To strengthen Charles’ position his mother, Bertrada, was
instrumental in arranging the marriage, perhaps in 770, between
Charles and the daughter of the Lombard king Desiderius mentioned
above. The kingdom of the Lombards was not a cultural backwa-
ter, but engaged and well evolved in a cultural renewal of its own.
Bertrada may have been keenly aware of possible advantages in such
a union of the Franks with the Lombards.
84
He repudiated her after
only one year, according to Einhard, for no known reason.
85
Perhaps
the cause can be found in the strained relations between Charles
and Desiderius. Neither event was recorded in the Royal Frankish
Annals. The brief marriage was childless. Perhaps this was the rea-
son or because he wanted to disentangle himself politically from his
father-in-law. Pope Stephen III opposed this marriage and his letter
to the Frankish kings bristles with condemnation of the Lombards
and the base considerations, which facilitated the marriage.
86
The
tension between the brothers brought them to the brink of fratrici-
dal war. Carloman’s death, 4.12.771, averted the outbreak of hos-
tilities. Charles became king of the reunited realm. In retrospect it
appears that Charles wanted to establish a subordinate Carolingian
line in Italy. Ten years later he initiated the first step.
84
W. Braunfels, Die Welt der Karolinger und ihre Kunst, (Munich 1968), pp. 35, 91.
85
Thorpe, Einhard, p. 73.
86
Mohr, p. 33. B. Pollmann (ed.) Lesebuch zur deutschen Geschichte, vol. I (Dortmund
1984), pp. 112ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 49
50 r\n+ \
Brief reference has been made to Lombard ambitions to unify
Italy under their rule, to annex the Byzantine enclaves and Rome
(772). Evidently the pope recognized the possibility of becoming sub-
ject to the interests of the Lombards close by and preferred the lord-
ship of the distant Franks. Pope Hadrian appealed to Charles to
honor the promised responsibilities, which the royal house of the
Franks had accepted toward the papacy, and to carry out the role
of defender of the Roman church. Following a long siege the starved
out the Lombard capital, Pavia,
87
surrendered in June 774, Desiderius
was deposed, not usual practice, and Charles himself immediately
assumed the unconstitutional succession to the Lombard throne. Any
opposition by the heir presumptive, Adalgis, and by the duke of
Friuli in 776 was quickly struck down. This move by the Carolingians
had a dual effect: Charles undermined the basis of the relationship,
which existed between the Bavarians and the Lombards. By attract-
ing Bavarian nobles to his cause, Charles weakened Tassilo’s posi-
tion. As king of the Lombards, Charles’ role as patricius Romanorum
assumed a different guise and as rex Francorum et Langobardorum atque
patricius Romanorum did not hesitate to take seriously his role as pro-
tector of the Papal states, though it was not till 781 that Charles
recognized some of pope Hadrian’s territorial claims. Relations with
the imperial court in Constantinople drew closer. At Easter 781 the
pope anointed Charles’ sons Carloman, henceforth called Pepin, and
Louis, aged 3, kings and though they were still not of age, Charles
entrusted Pepin with the provincial kingship in Italy, including Bavaria,
and Louis with Aquitaine.
88
The intention evidently was the consol-
idation of the realm through the reintegration of Bavaria and the
integration of the newly conquered regions into a unified realm. With
his son Charles, heir to the Frankish core lands, Charles may have
planned to put the tri-partite administration of the realm into place
early. A generation later these plans were to cause serious problems
in the succession. Gradually the Frankish nobility—Franks, Burgun-
dians and Alemans—assumed powers in Italy. The Frankish court
retained administrative control over the young kings and their gov-
ernment. They remained delegates of the central authority. That
87
Collins, p. 61f. stresses the presumptions reflected in the unusual sequence of
events following the victory over the Lombards.
88
Nelson, ‘Carolingian Royal Ritual’, in Frankish World, pp. 102ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 50
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 51
same year he expanded his relations with the eastern empire through
the engagement of his daughter Rotrud with the future emperor,
perhaps as a means of defining the contours of the ideal Frankish
realm. Beginning in 774 Charles became the most powerful ruler in
the west and an effective partner of the papacy in the formulation
of imperial policy.
89
The justification for calling him ‘Great’ was
becoming evident. Already in about 777 a poem attributed to Paulinus
of Aquileia anticipates the much later final conquest of the Saxons,
while it glorifies the political use of terror in their conquest and
enforced conversion. The poem bestows on Charles a Messianic aura
for having overcome the evil, barbaric and unteachable demon wor-
shippers.
90
As most Christian protector of the church, as king of the
Franks and Lombards, the enthusiasts could propagate the notion
that Charles was God’s chosen to rule an empire and as God’s rep-
resentative protect and guide all Christendom, and beside whom as
Christ’s first servant, the bishops could occupy only secondary rank.
Surprising in this context is the level of sophistication of Roman
legal reasoning, which Charles had in his service.
This august position in Christendom attracted Charles to inter-
vene in problems arising on the periphery of his kingdom. His cam-
paign into Moslem Spain (778), actually against Christian Basques,
hoped to incorporate some Christian enclaves into his realm but
proved unsuccessful. (Annals 778) The loss of his rearguard during
the retreat from Spain in an attack by Basques in the Pyrenees, in
the valley of Roncesvalles, did lead to one of the great tales of
medieval heroism, the Chanson de Roland. To anticipate possible unrest
in Aquitaine and to secure this region for the kingdom by recog-
nizing its distinct status, Charles appointed his son Louis, to be known
as ‘the Pious’, to the provincial kingship there in 781, at the same
time as his son Pepin was crowned ‘king’ of Italy. Charles’ major
efforts, however, were to be directed once again against the Saxons
in the north. The Avars in the east were to be the last to attract
the attention of the Franks.
91
Both were considered to constitute a
serious threat to the eastern regions of the Frankish kingdom.
89
Mohr, p. 40.
90
Garrison, ‘The Franks as New Israel?’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past,
p. 149.
91
W. Pohl, Die Awaren, Ein Steppenvolk in Mitteleuropa, 567–822 n.Chr. (Munich 1988).
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 51
52 r\n+ \
With the emergence of the Rhineland into economic prominence,
the Frankish center of political and administrative gravity was shift-
ing into Austrasia, as the palaces at Worms and Ingelheim and ulti-
mately Aachen/Aix la Chapelle became the preferred residences for
the court. This entailed greater preoccupation with the non-too dis-
tant pagan and aggressive Saxons. Despite the concerted efforts by
Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Christianize their ‘relatives’ they were
unsuccessful to change their ways, as the Saxons, in their solidarity,
clung to the cults dedicated to their Germanic gods. It also seems
the Saxons understood the Christianization as pacification and the
preparation for the establishment of Frankish dominance over them
92
and did their best to hinder the foundation of Frankish monasteries
within reach of their domains. Repeatedly fledgling monasteries were
destroyed—in 752 some thirty churches.
93
In their own worldview
the political, cultural and religious elements were so closely inter-
linked that the removal of one component jeopardized the entire
structure. Having helped the early Merovingians destroy the king-
dom of the Thuringians (534) they felt slighted during the years fol-
lowing for having to pay tribute and having lost territories to the
Franks on their southern flank. This forced their expansion into a
westerly direction threatening Hesse and the Austrasian Rhineland.
They were not prepared to be reasonable and do things the Frankish
way. Nor were they prepared to envisage the fact that opposition to
the Franks was going to bring almost thirty years of nearly genoci-
dal war upon them. The Christian Frankish point of view, that any
total war for ‘the greater glory of God’ against pagans was indeed
a just war, was to have a long future. Already the Merovingians,
Charles Martel, and according to the Annals, his sons Carloman and
Pepin III had directed punitive reprisals against them almost annu-
ally and scored only temporary successes, but gradually the realiza-
tion took hold that fighting them was akin to sweeping water and
that Saxon assurances that the missionaries could work unhindered
were most unreliable and the attempts at conversion were fruitless.
The Anglo-Saxon missionaries seem to have concluded that only
after permanent military victory and conquest would their efforts on
behalf of the Christian faith endure. Charles first campaign against
92
Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 191. Also Collins, p. 47.
93
Noble and Head, Soldiers, p. xxxv.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 52
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 53
them in 772, according to the Annals 772 launched from Worms,
had more the character of a punitive expedition to secure adjoining
Frankish lands against Saxon raids. This campaign has assumed a
legendary character and stands out because of the capture of the
large fortified Eresburg and the destruction of an idol, a column,
the Irminsul, sacred to Wodan/Odin, the most venerated pagan cul-
tic ‘tree’ which supported the world and the symbol of Saxon tribal
cohesion, erected on an elevation visible from afar. It was a sanc-
tuary at which great treasure had been deposited and blood sacrifices
were claimed to have been performed. The justification of the act
was given by a water miracle, which provided the thirsting army on
drought-stricken terrain with an amply flowing stream. Charles dis-
tributed the treasure among his followers, so that the sacred hoard
was lost.
94
It is not surprising that this violation of tribal identity for
the sake of Christianity should have caused embitterment, demands
for revenge and have roused the Saxons to utmost retaliatory resis-
tance.
95
According to the records, only in response to that treach-
erous resistance did Charles mobilize his extensive and persistent
efforts to finalize the conquest and the Christianization of the Saxons
by means of his ‘sermons with an iron tongue’ and their total inte-
gration into the realm of the Franks.
96
New rules and procedures
had to be implemented for the task. It is fair to wonder whether
Saxon resistance to Christianity was really the only cause, which
solicited the Frankish military effect. About sixty years after the
conflict began, Einhard presents the rationale in the 7th chapter of
his Vita Karoli Magni.
97
No war undertaken by the Franks was more
prolonged, more full of atrocities or more demanding of effort. It is
worth noting what a severe dividing line Christianity was. Though
from Thuringia himself, a Christian Einhard shows no affinity with
his pagan Saxon neighbors when he writes that they, like almost all
the peoples living in Germany, are ferocious by nature, much given
to devil worship and hostile to ‘our’ religion, thinking it no dishonor
to violate and transgress the laws of God and man. Along the Franco-
94
K. Hauk, Überregionale Sakralorte und die vorchristliche Ikonographie der Seegermanen,
(Göttingen 1981), p. 211. See Collins, p. 47f. who suggests that the location of this
idol may have had to do with erecting a challenge to the Christian God.
95
Collins, p. 45f., indicates that Frankish sources consistently interpret Saxon
resistance as rebellion and a breaking of the faith.
96
Collins, p. 48f. for some strategic details.
97
Thorpe, Einhard, p. 61f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 53
54 r\n+ \
Saxon border, which Einhard represents as a clear line of demar-
cation, murder, robbery and arson were constant occurrences and
that finally the time had come to stop retaliatory strikes and set out
on full-scale war against the Saxons. In this war of thirty years
Einhard regrets the great loss of life, especially among the Saxons,
but blames them for their faithless violations of promises, submis-
sion, rejection and return to ‘devil worship’, his designation for the
Germanic cults, followed by their acceptance and rejection of Chris-
tianity, and vacillation between surrender and defiance. With some
pride he points out that Charles was relentless in the pursuit of his
vengeance on them for their perfidy, resorting in the end to the
deportation of many thousands of Saxons to Gaul and other parts
of Germany. Place names are vestiges of such relocations, the most
obvious being Sachsenhausen on the southern edge of Frankfurt.
Finally conditions imposed by Charles were accepted by the Saxons
who agreed to give up their ‘devil worship’, their old beliefs, and
other inherited malpractices. Once they had adopted the Christian
sacraments, they were to become one people with the Franks.
Einhard mentions no names other than that of Charles, nor does
he specify the atrocities committed by either side. He does not men-
tion specifically that throughout the military actions the founding of
churches, monasteries and administrative counties, sometimes even
entrusted to Saxons, kept pace and that Saxon hostilities were directed
repeatedly against these colonizing establishments. Wehrkirchen, fortified
churches, probably also located in larger fortifications, will have been
characteristic features of this conquest and conversion. It was appre-
ciated that these foundations were latent centers of political power
and control. Evidently the Saxons, led by one of their chiefs, Widukind,
were fighting a guerilla war conducted by some resistance groups,
‘freedom fighters’, among the Saxons. The Saxon guerilla tactics
were interpreted as sneak attacks by the chroniclers of the Franks.
Einhard does not mention that the Saxons under Widukind
98
took
advantage of Charles’ campaign in Spain to revolt. (Annals 778) These
annals report victories, which, however, require frequent repetitions.
Submissions have to be renewed. On at least one occasion, in 782,
a Frankish force was annihilated along with some thirty courtiers
98
Collins, p. 50f., speculates that as in other duchies, Widukind may indeed rep-
resent a ducal family installed earlier among the Saxons by the Merovingians, but
who had come to share the community of interests with their people.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 54
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 55
and nobles. This catastrophe caused much shock in the kingdom.
The Annals for the year 782 speak of a large assembly along the
river Lippe, attended by Norse representatives, envoys of the Avars,
and of all the Saxon chiefs except for Widukind. Son-in-law of
Siegfried, the Danish king, Widukind was able to rely on the sup-
port of the Danes and saw no need to be one of the friends of the
Franks. Not yet. At that assembly a law had been passed which pre-
sumed the land of the Saxons to be integrated into the Frankish
realm, divided into Frankish counties administered by Saxon nobles
and subject to severe Frankish laws.
99
The imposition of death sen-
tences was a frequent punishment. Widukind easily found a willing
following within the tribe to rise with him against the Franks.
The Annals indicate that the Saxons defeated a Frankish force that
was actually intended to be a thrust (unmotivated?) against a few
defiant Slavic Sorbs on the upper Elbe River. Upon hearing of the
Saxon revolt they changed the assignment to attack the Saxons. The
records don’t seem to deal with the defeat and rather than report-
ing the truth, claim a victory with the death of only two magnates.
The Revised Annals for that year tell of an incompetent campaign,
hampered by jealousies among the Frankish leaders, which led to
the disaster and the losses indicated. Part of the Frankish force was
surrounded by the Saxon battle line and cut down almost to a man.
100
The accounts may be a cover-up. Charles’ response has left a blem-
ish on his reputation. In the autumn of 782 he entered Saxony and
at Verden, where the rivers Aller and Weser join, the loyal Saxons
came to submit to the authority of the king and handed over 4500
malefactores, ‘evildoers’, to be punished. The number seems high and
is probably typically inflated.
101
There is, however, no mention of
hostages or of binding agreements. Charles seems to have reached
the end of his patience. In a single day he had all of them beheaded.
Widukind had escaped to the Danes. A year later, the Saxons resumed
their rebellion. Einhard did not mention the event.
99
See Collins, p. 52f., for details of the severe pronouncements contained in the
clauses proclaimed against pagan practices among the Saxons. The document also
offers insights into the (economic) terms under which churches were established.
100
Collins, p. 54.
101
Fouracre, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 103, speaks of
4000 decapitations, which may well have prolonged Saxon resistance. See Collins,
pp. 54f., 57, who draws a parallel with the destruction of the Alemans as an effective
power at the battle of Cannstatt forty years earlier, in 745/46.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 55
56 r\n+ \
Who were these Saxons on whom Widukind, his name meaning
‘Wodan’s child’, could rely for support? The simple answer would
suggest the simple folk, the conservative elements of the population
which rejected what was foreign and new, because it was not easily
understood positively, who were more closely concerned about the
possible loss of familiar traditions and values, of their religious iden-
tity and their traditional divinities, all those levels of society which
are most vulnerable to socio-political changes, whose imagination can
much more easily envisage losses but not readily perceive the poten-
tial gains. Not so the Saxon nobility who had seen the opportunity
to realize a community of interests with the Franks a long time ear-
lier and had begun to establish marriage ties to the highest Frankish
nobility, economic links with Frankish towns and cities even beyond
the Rhine, to the Christian church. This group did not provide the
core for the Saxon resistance. As was mentioned above Saxon no-
bles were sharing in the distribution of the power structure in those
areas over which the Franks were gaining control. Charles knew how
to attract the Saxon nobility to his cause by means of assurances
concerning property and the promise of royal protection. Already
earlier, Anglo-Saxon missionaries had been rescued by Christian sym-
pathizers among the Saxons, and evidently Charles could count on
Saxon support when he asked that the responsible ‘evildoers’, ‘free-
dom fighters’, ‘terrorists’ be surrendered. The request doesn’t seem
to have led to turmoil among the Saxons as it is likely that the vic-
tims were selected from among the unfree and lesser free who only
had material value and were handed over as a form of payment,
the Wergeld. There will not have been any nobles among the exe-
cuted malefactores. The gentle king serving his gentle God had lost
his credibility. Was it a divine judgment that first his beloved wife
and then his mother died within a few months after the executions?
Hereafter the Saxon wars entered a new dimension as resentments
and resistance really flared up. Even the eastern Frisians joined in.
Once again Widukind assumed the leadership. ‘Terrorism’ prevailed
on both sides. Three campaigns of destruction in as many years,
including a devastating winter campaign in 784/85, were necessary
to bring about the surrender, baptism and reconciliation of Widukind
in 785 at Attigny. He chose Charles to be his godfather.
102
Contrary
102
See J.H. Lynch, ‘Spirituale Vinculum: the Vocabulary of Spiritual Kinship in
Early medieval Europe’, in Noble and Contreni, Religion, Culture and Society, pp. 181ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 56
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 57
to more customary practices Widukind was not ‘deprived of his eyes’
but was rewarded with vast estates near Enger. The Enger Reliquary,
reputedly Charles’ gift to Widukind, is interpreted to be a symbol
of his Christianization. According to the chronicler, writing a few
years later, the whole of Saxony was then subjugated. (Annals 785)
Contrary to this assertion the popular uprisings continued for nearly
another twenty years, even without the active participation of Widu-
kind.
103
It is conceivable that his baptism was a ploy to ease the lot
of his Saxons. Later, having become an integral part of the power
structure in church and state, the Ottonian line of Saxon kings was
proud of the dynastic link with Widukind.
The Saxons were ultimately to be integrated into the Frankish
realm. To bring this about ‘martial law’ was introduced in 785,
which made it clear that conversion by force was the best method
to achieve Saxon submission to Frankish rule. Under these laws, the
Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae, perhaps already issued in 782, ruthless
conversion on pain of death was mandatory. Any violation of churches,
church property, of the clergy and obedience to the church, was
met with the death penalty. Resisting baptism, eating meat during
lent, were punishable by death. Cremating the dead drew the death
penalty. A breach of loyalty to the king entailed the death penalty.
104
A Frankish administration, as well as a church structure were imposed
on the Saxons. The payment of tithes was introduced as a priority
and rigorously enforced, while the religious work among them was
neglected. Mass baptisms were no substitute for personal spiritual
conversions, (Fig. 3) but there was no substitute for the shortage of
missionaries. With Charles away fighting the Avars, the Saxons
responded with another popular uprising in 792/93, which involved
the whole region. In 794 Charles was able to restore order, only the
lands between the Weser and Elbe Rivers, as well as northern Trans-
Elbia toward Holstein remained in revolt. During the next five years,
and then again in 802 and finally in 804 Charles took the field
against the opposition to his rule. By means of devastation, depop-
ulation, resettlement and the replacement through Slavic popula-
tions he did gain control over the Saxons.
105
In 804 a depopulated
103
Collins, p. 55f.
104
Riché, p. 104. See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 413f. for excerpts from the first Saxon
capitulary.
105
See Collins, p. 163, n. 20.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 57
5
8
r
\
n
+

\
Map 2. Secular Locations in the Carolingan Empire.
S
C
H
U
T
Z
_
f
3
_
1
7
-
1
3
4


9
/
2
3
/
0
3


7
:
4
5

P
M


P
a
g
e

5
8
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 59
North-Elbia was ceded to the Slavic Abodrites who advanced as far
as Hamburg.
Thanks to the mitigating influence of Anglo-Saxon legal advice,
the revised Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae had been issued in 797 as
the Capitulare Saxonicum. Then in 802 the Lex Saxonum was issued,
which created a synthesis of traditional popular law and Carolingian
law.
106
Within a framework of Frankish aspects, Saxon practices and
structures remained essentially in place. It contributed directly to the
merging of Franks and Saxons, which by the 10th century was to
lead to the formation of medieval Germany. Most significant was to
be the work of the established monasteries of the realm, which placed
new foundations into Saxon lands, thereby integrating the new ter-
ritories into the Frankish kingdom. Bishoprics were created in Münster,
Osnabrück and Bremen and in 795 were placed under the new arch-
bishopric of Cologne. Others had already been integrated into a net-
work under the archbishopric of Mainz in 782/83. Many of the
locations, like Paderborn, had begun as fortified Frankish sites during
the wars with the Saxons. The Christianization of the Saxons was
neither individual nor voluntary. Rudimentary Christian instruction
followed by mass baptisms was imposed by force of Frankish arms.
The Elbian north was not to come to rest just yet, as in 808
Danish land and naval forces began to lay claim to the northern
coastlines and lands. A trading center, later known as Haithabu, was
to anchor west-east trade across Jutland. The Franks responded with
the erection of a fortress at Itzehoe, as well as the renewed exten-
sion into northern Elbia and perhaps even the construction of the
Limes Saxoniae. A war with the Danes was averted when their king
was murdered (810) and the possible reversion of the Saxons to
paganism was avoided. Hamburg became Saxon again in 811. Danish
southward expansion remained a factor for several centuries to come.
It marked the up beat for what was to become the turmoil brought
by the Scandinavian Vikings, an uncertain designation, which the
9th century English used for the pirates, perhaps intended to iden-
tify the ‘men from Viken’, the region of the Oslo Fjord. Most sources
speak of Nortmanni.
107
106
Riché, p. 106f.
107
See Collins, pp. 167ff. Also B. Sawyer, P. Sawyer, Medieval Scandinavia from
Conversion to Reformation circa 800–1500 (Minneapolis, London 1993), p. 52f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 59
60 r\n+ \
Towards eastern Elbia the Carolingians established several strongly
fortified control points, such as Bardowick, and Magdeburg, where
the W-E trade routes crossed the River Elbe. They also appeared
to have tried to transform the Elbe-Saale river system into some-
thing of an eastern frontier in the form of the former Roman Rhine-
Danube limes, extending via Bamberg and Regensburg to the Danube.
The experiment, however, failed, owing to the lack of sustainable
long-term Frankish power along the Elbe. There seems to be no
mention of an attempt to link the river frontier between Elbe and
Danube.
108
Having incorporated Lombardy, Bavaria, and with the conquest
of Saxony well under way by 790, Charles could turn to the last
threat to his frontiers from the east, the Avars.
109
These Avars no
longer represented the power, which they once were in earlier cen-
turies. They had compacted their domains territorially and were no
longer expansionist. When in 788, the Annals speak of a last aggres-
sive and expansionist phase in which they reputedly threatened Bavaria
and northern Italy and were repulsed, the sources may very well
have disguised the Franko-Bavarian eastward expansionist aggression,
a compensation for Bavaria’s loss of its duke, Tassilo III, and of its
relative independence in 788. In 788 two Avar armies moved west-
ward, but were both repulsed. In 790 Avars tried to negotiate their
western border and it appears that the Franks made territorial claims
to which the Avars would not agree. Charles’ moves in 791 may
also have been intended to secure the territorial claims, though sup-
posedly they were a response to the supposed threats of the Avars,
or also possibly represented as a punishment for their willingness to
assist Tassilo, when in 781 an Avar army had appeared on Bavaria’s
eastern border as though to support Tassilo. Once again expanding
Christianity may have contributed to the cause.
110
The campaign
proved ineffective at first. The Annals 791 describe the campaign in
some detail and the elaborately spectacular religious preparations for
108
M. Hardt, ‘Hesse, Elbe, Saale and the Frontier of the Carolingian empire’ in
Pohl, et al. The Transformation of Frontiers From Late Antiquity to the Carolingians (Leiden,
Boston, Cologne 2001), p. 231.
109
Pohl, Awaren, p. 310f. for a discussion of Bavarian and Avar relations during
the 8th century based on archeology. See Collins, pp. 89ff.
110
Collins, p. 93, considers Bavarian missionary activity a possible factor for the
frictions along the border.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 60
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 61
the encounter. From Regensburg the army marched along both banks
of the Danube while the supplies were transported on the river.
111
Before this army the Avars withdrew, leaving abandoned regions to
the Franks. A disease killed off most of their horses. The Frankish
accounts appear to have exaggerated the ‘triumph’, because the Avars
avoided a pitched battle and all that could be reported was wide
scale devastation and pillage. The vast treasures of silver and gold
were elsewhere. The weaknesses of the Avars had been made evi-
dent. For a war of conquest, however, greater preparations were
necessary. Charles stayed in Regensburg where he became receptive
to the idea that a canal could utilize the existing navigable river sys-
tem to link the Rhine River with the Danube and such a canal was
started. It was not to be completed because the marshy terrain undid
over night what had been achieved during the day. The idea was
to be revitalized periodically and in the 1980s became a reality, but
is only moderately successful. Perhaps relying on the Avars, revolts
erupted between 792 and 795 among Saxons, Frisians and Slavs and
the emir of Cordoba saw opportunities and with family strife to boot,
Charles was forced to transfer his attention away from the Avars.
112
In 795 and 796 more extensive preparation and sporadic campaigns
brought success to the Italian preemptive strikes, under the leader-
ship of Eric of Friuli and Pepin, Charles’ son, sub-king in Italy,
respectively. (Annals 788) Slavs had assisted Eric and together they
captured the treasure of the Avars and sent large amounts of it to
Aachen, with some going to St. Peter’s in Rome. (Annals 796 ). The
long-term effects of the campaign of 791 revealed the inherent weak-
ness of the Avars, as tribal tensions pulled their realm apart. By 796
the rulers of the Avars had submitted to the Franks and accepted
Christianity and Frankish overlordship.
113
In the end eight years of
campaigns were so successful that the Avars ceased to exist as a peo-
ple, their lands left nearly vacant. Einhard tells us this and also that
their nobility was completely eliminated and that all of their wealth
now passed into Frankish hands. Never before had a war so enriched
111
Pohl, p. 316, mentions that the records name the presence of a Nibulunc.
Vestiges of this campaign may have provided basic elements for the later Nibelungenlied,
the great German medieval epic. See Collins, p. 93f. for details concerning the
preparation for the campaign.
112
Pohl, p. 318.
113
Pohl, p. 319.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 61
62 r\n+ \
the Franks and increased their material possessions.
114
The formerly
Roman Pannonian provinces south and west of the Danube had
been incorporated into the Frankish kingdom as the East March,
the Ostmark, eventually to be known as Österreich, Austria. Missions
from Salzburg and Passau in the north and Aquileia in the south
were given the task of completing the integration of the gens bruta et
irrationabilis. The Avars were only gradually converted, for the process
of subjugation and Christianization was a more protracted one than
the easy victory would have suggested.
115
Other than dealing with
an uprising of the Avars in 799, the Franks showed no future inter-
ests in the regions beyond the frontiers of their eastern conquests.
116
Subsequently the Avars felt the pressure of the Slavs to the point
that they sought modest settlement and support from the Franks, as
the Slavs established the realms of the Moravians and Bohemians
on the territories once dominated by the Avars.
In just over twenty years Charles had reclaimed much of the
Roman Empire in the west. All of the former western imperial cap-
itals, it was argued,—Rome, Trier, Ravenna and Milan God had
placed under his rule. He had extended the kingdom to include
lands in Central Europe, over which Rome had not been able to
gain control—Lombardy in 774, Aquitaine and most of Italy includ-
ing the Papal states in 781, Bavaria in 788, Saxony in 799, and
Pannonia of the Avars in 796. Saxony was the territorial addition,
which was to remain problematic along its northern edges, because
of Danish expansions into the region. The Annals for the next few
years indicate that the Avars were not beyond staging revolts either.
However, for the Franks military expansion was no longer an option
as, owing to military misadventures, they had exhausted their qualified
human resources through battle losses to staff the administrative infra-
structure. Their peasantry was no longer available for recruitment
and frontline service, other than as occasional selected groups for
defense.
117
Not till the later reign of Ludwig, erroneously to be called
114
Thorpe, p. 67. See also Pohl, p. 312 who sees in this victory over the Avars
a significant step toward the establishment of empire.
115
Pohl, p. 319f.
116
H. Reimitz, ‘Conversion and Control: The establishment of Liturgical Frontiers
in Carolingian Pannonia’, in Pohl, et al. Frontiers, pp. 189ff. Reimitz, p. 197, sug-
gests that the disappearance of the Avars was a heavy blow to Carolingian policy
and its orientation.
117
T. Reuter, ‘The End of Carolingian Military expansion’, in P. Godman,
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 62
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 63
‘the German’, was the East Frankish kingdom again able somehow
to put several armies into the field simultaneously.
118
Already some fifteen years before his imperial coronation in 800
Charles came to be seen in terms of his greatness and assumed some-
thing of the triumphant role of the Roman emperors.
119
Alcuin had
argued that Christ had reserved the sovereign status for Charles
which outstripped the powers of the papacy and of the Byzantine
court. He wielded not only the temporal power, but the religious
power as well and it is fair to argue that despite the military pre-
occupation, he intended to create the Imperium Christianum, of which
Alcuin had spoken earlier, a theocracy of the realm, which he had
inherited from his father. By means of a reform of the Frankish
church, Pepin and Boniface had laid the groundwork for such an
edifice. Charles, however, had departed from the norm and risen to
a higher plane of support by placing the resources of the realm
behind the reform effort, equating church and state,
120
intent on cre-
ating the Imperium Christianum. It was a strategy of grandiose intent,
which culminated in his imperial coronation. The great events, cul-
tural initiatives and accomplishments of his reign fall into these two
decades and point clearly to the realization of his grand objective.
Literacy and learning from authentic, correct and unambiguous texts,
true faith and devotion, victory and conquest, loyalty, art, architec-
ture and the participation of all in the one great vision were the
means by which a free people tended to its spiritual well-being and
united in its Christian faith, supported by an army of saints, inhab-
iting a united, sanctified Christian realm, could be consolidated and
prepared to assume its great, singular, Christian role. The Admonitio
generalis was to bring this about. His coronation in 800 was a logi-
cal conclusion, though not, apparently, his overriding objective. He
was to derive the idea that he was a new Moses, a new David now
leading his chosen people to salvation. In 789 the Admonitio generalis
recalled the Old Testament king Josiah and although Charles modestly
R. Collins (eds.), Charlemagne’s Heir, New Perspectives on the Reign of Louis the Pious
(814–849) (Oxford 1990), pp. 391–405.
118
T. Reuter, Early Medieval Germany (London, New York 1991), p. 90.
119
Fouracre, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 104. See also
Arnold, pp. 78ff.
120
T.F.X. Noble, ‘From Brigandage to Justice. Charlemagne, 785–794’, in C.M.
Chazelle (ed.), Literacy, Politics, and Artistic Innovation in the Early Medieval West (Lanham,
New York, London 1992), pp. 51ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 63
64 r\n+ \
rejected the association, he did emulate that king by personally tend-
ing to the needs of the realm through his tours of inspection. Probably
not generally perceived, this association was yet another indication
how much the Carolingian court sought not only the image of the
royal role-models of the Old Testament,
121
but the extent to which
Biblical history was taken to be an allegory, replicable as contem-
porary history, as if it was God’s divine plan to transform the ‘New
Chosen People of the Franks’ into the ‘Chosen People of Israel’.
122
The Moses association recommended itself for Charlemagne who is
seen to be leading the Christian people into the realm of universal
Christendom, the new ‘promised land’. The pedagogy of school and
pulpit bore this responsibility. It will be demonstrated below how
much Carolingian art reflected and supported this association. Art
of the illuminations was to make visible the renewal, the Revelatio
within the Restauratio, Renovatio, and Reformatio.
123
One sought the mir-
ror image, the emphasis on deeds in addition to the signs of spiri-
tual dedication. Later when pope Hadrian I wanted him to cede the
promised lands in Italy, he appealed to Charles to act as a new
Constantine. Following his father’s lead, Charles took special inter-
ests and acted decisively in the reforms of the church, its texts, its
organization, its foundations, the standardization throughout the realm
of the liturgy concerning the Sacraments in Roman terms, such ques-
tions of Theology as dogma concerning the identity of Christ as
God, and the cult of images. All point to the traditional identification
with Christian Rome as the pure source.
124
121
Garrison, ‘The Franks as the new Israel?’ in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past,
p. 120, indicates that it was Charlemagne’s non-Frankish entourage who was respon-
sible for the promotion of the idea. However, see Noble, ‘Brigandage’, in Chazelle,
Literacy, Politics, pp. 55ff. See also Contreni, Carolingian Learning, p. III, 64, for the
modest, practical, educational demands. Also pp. V, 75f.
122
Mohr, p. 41f. See Nelson, ‘Carolingian Royal Ritual’ in Frankish Worlds,
p. 108f. D. Janes, ‘The world and its past as Christian allegory in the early Middle
Ages’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 103. argues that the Bible was used
“as a succession of allegories”. See also M. de Jong, ‘Religion’, in R. McKitterick,
The Early Middle Ages, Europe 400–1000 (Oxford 2001), p. 138f. suggests that this
equation was only an early analogy drawn by the Franks and that by 820 this
equation had been replaced by the idea of a ‘church of the Peoples’. See also
Collins, pp. 109ff. for a discussion of the ecclesiastical character of the prescrip-
tions, many reissued.
123
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 196.
124
Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, pp. 175–186, discusses the royal legislation pertinent
to facilitating the episcopal administration. See H. Schneider, ‘Roman Liturgy and
Frankish Allegory’, in J.M.H. Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West
(Leiden, Boston, Köln 2000), p. 344.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 64
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 65
From that dispute on the distinction between the eastern and west-
ern church appears to have become a consideration reflected in the
Libri Carolini, 790–93, formerly attributed to Alcuin, but actually,
owing to the many Hispanicisms, edited and commented by the
Visigoth Theodulph of Orléans.
125
This was a collection of papal let-
ters collected by Charles in which his distinct religious and optical
role was emphasized as an indication of the congruence of religious
and political considerations, which motivated him. Generally speak-
ing, Charles returned to the theme of the Admonitio generalis and his
concern with his program of educational reform to promote the
qualified membership in the Christian realm, the ‘new Israel’, ruled
by the ‘new David’. Specifically the collection is to be considered as
a royal response to the Second Council of Nicea of 787, concern-
ing the Byzantine veneration of icons and the charge of idolatry,
which in the 720s had caused the Byzantine Iconoclasm, the destruc-
tion of icons. Eventually the dissension extended to a concern for
the return of some Byzantine possessions in Italy and consequently
strained relations with the papacy and the Carolingians owing to
their respective territorial ambitions. In 787 the empress Irene con-
vened the Council at Nicea, which was intended to restore the con-
ditions preceding the Iconoclasm.
126
Since pope Hadrian I was
represented, his representatives returned with a Greek account of the
proceedings, which were subsequently not only poorly translated into
Latin, but ‘improved’ by the translator.
127
A faulty translation caused
misunderstandings of the Council’s decision and great upset when
the rendition seemed to order all Christians to venerate images and
threaten all those who did not comply with excommunication. Such
125
See A. Freeman, Opus Caroli Regis contra Synodum (Libri Carolini) Monumenta
Germaniae Historica (Hanover 1998), pp. 12ff., 17ff. According to Collins, p. 135.
Alcuin was away in Northumbria during most of the period. See L. Nees, ‘Carolingian
Art and Politics’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 194. Also T.F.X. Noble, ‘Tradition
and Learning in Search of Ideology’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 227ff., for a
review of the considerations concerning this source. Also Noble, ‘Brigandage’, in
Chazelle, Literacy, Politics, pp. 61ff. for a summary of the text.
126
Freeman, pp. 1ff. See Noble, ‘Tradition and Learning’, in Sullivan, Gentle
Voices, pp. 229ff. Also Nees, Early Christian Art, p. 146f. for a background to the
Iconoclasm. See W.J. Diebold, Word and Image. An Introduction to Early Medieval Art
(Boulder 2000), pp. 99ff. Also C.M. Chazelle, The Crucified God in the Carolingian Era
(Cambridge 2001), pp. 39ff.
127
D.S. Sefton, ‘The Popes and the Holy Images in the Eighth Century’, in
Noble and Contreni (eds.), Religion, Culture and Society, p. 120f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 65
66 r\n+ \
a copy somehow reached Charlemagne. Using the works of the early
Christian authorities,
128
Theodulph had begun a well-intentioned,
occasionally sarcastic response to the Second Council of Nicea in
790/91 and parts of this response had been forwarded to the pope,
entitled Capitulare adversus synodum, who in 792 rejected it angrily point
by point. The unexpected response ended the discussion and a rift
was avoided. Hadrian had sponsored the Council himself in the hope
of bridging the gap between eastern and western Christians con-
cerning the veneration of images and thereby contributing to the
reconciliation of the two churches. Hadrian appeared to accept the
decision at Nicea as orthodox. In Rome it was misunderstood that
the Franks were not opposed to images, only to their veneration.
Veneration was reserved for God. The educational value residing in
the admiration of saints and in edifying pictures, as means of the
beautification of interiors, was entirely acceptable. To the Franks the
pope’s dictum to comply with the Byzantine decision did not reflect
their faith. Accommodation to it was necessary.
129
Deuteronomy 6:13
and Matthew 4:10 provided the basis in Scriptures. Repeatedly the
Libri challenged the Greek attempt to equate their images with truly
holy objects. Almost finished, the Libri were abandoned on the eve
of the scheduled Synod of Frankfurt in 794 and the agenda was
modified. Charles could not publish his manifesto. The Carolingians
may have pursued a different agenda in their objections, to estab-
lish their claim to be the true successors of the Biblical kings and
not the Byzantine emperors.
130
Only four copies of the Libri Carolini
are extant.
131
It would appear that Charles accepted the principles outlined in
chapter 24 of St. Augustine’s De civitate dei, on the felicity of Chris-
tian emperors. According to Einhard, Charles preferred to be read to
at mealtime from ‘The City of God’.
132
Augustine had stressed that
the earthly kingdom was merely a reflection of the eternal kingdom
of God.
133
While God’s kingdom was eternal, the earthly kingdom
128
See Freeman, pp. 51ff. for a review of the authors Theodulph used.
129
Freeman, pp. 8f., 25.
130
Noble, ‘Brigandage’, in Chazelle, Literacy, Politics, pp. 62–65.
131
Freeman, pp. 67ff. also Noble, ‘Tradition and Learning’, p. 332. See Chazelle,
Crucified God, pp. 69ff., for a discussion of the influence of Theodulfs work.
132
Thorpe, p. 78.
133
Riché, p. 130. G. Brown, ‘The Carolingian Renaissance’, in R. McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture: emulation and innovation (Cambridge 1994), p. 25.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 66
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 67
changed its rulers in accordance with God’s purpose. Thus God’s
favor for Saul was withdrawn and transferred to David. Thus the
Byzantine emperors had forfeited their select status, which was now
to be transferred to Charles as God’s chosen. Hence the equation
between king David and king Charles. Since Christ was of the house
of David, the realization of the kingdom of Christ became the pur-
pose of the idea of the Frankish kingdom. It accounts for the rejec-
tion of the Roman, formerly pagan, tradition. For Augustine, Rome
was to be equated with the Whore of Babylon, now linked with
Byzantium. In Augustine, the kingdom of David is represented as a
reform, which redirects it toward the new and eternal kingdom of
Christ.
134
Rather than referring to the Imperium Romanum of the east-
ern emperors, one contrasted it with the Imperium Christianum. The
papal letters of the Libri Carolini were the voice of the church, and
reflected the voice of St. Peter himself concerning these questions.
The letters indicate that the popes elevated Charles to the position,
which he now claimed for himself.
The Synod of Frankfurt (794), the most significant synod in Charles’
reign and the counterpart to Nicea II, supports this claim. It had a
deliberately ecumenical appearance, which the Frankish sources
stressed as a synodus universalis. The Annals 794 speak of the great
council of Gallic, German and Italian bishops. The first three items
on its agenda were the theological dispute about Adoptionism, the
Second Council of Nicea
135
and the Tassilo affair. The Synod rejected
the ‘spurious’ council of the Greeks at Nicea as ‘not universal’ and
‘entirely invalid’, but the matter of images was dropped. Among
other things, the king as rex et sacerdos emerges as the supreme lord
of the church.
136
As such it became his function to combat the visible
134
Mohr, p. 44.
135
Freeman, p. 9. Also Noble, ‘Tradition and Learning’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices,
p. 235. See also T.F.X. Noble, ‘John Damascene and the History of the Iconoclastic
Controversy’, in Noble and Contreni, Religion, Culture and Society, pp. 95ff. Also D.S.
Sefton, ‘The Popes and the Holy Images in the Eighth Century’, in Noble and
Contreni, pp. 117ff. Concerning other heresies, see Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 187f.
136
Angenendt, p. 351f. See J. Nelson, ‘kingship and empire’ in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, p. 61, who cites Alcuin’s quotation to pope Leo III: “Our job is
the defense of the church and the fortification of the Faith; yours to aid our war-
fare by prayer.” Braunfels, p. 125, suggests that in 794 Charles stopped being the
itinerant ruler on horseback and became the residential ruler seated on a throne.
Collins, p. 128, suggests that this synod may have been the most important eccle-
siastical council of Charles’ reign. Collins lists some of the attendees and items on
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 67
68 r\n+ \
enemies of the Christ, while the bishops employed the spiritual
weapons of prayer on his behalf against the invisible enemies.
137
The
exercise of his function makes the task of the church possible. This
division of powers becomes the basis of the idea of empire. The king
rules the visible kingdom of which Christ is the invisible Lord. The
power for both church and state derives from God. As the visible
realm was a reflection of the invisible realm of God, and as God
stands above Christ, so the king stands above the representative of
the spiritual authority, for the bishop as representative of Christ is
in second place.
138
Einhard tells us that Charles was personally
qualified to assume the leadership in such a creation as an Imperium
Christianum, in Alcuin’s words.
139
Einhard speaks of Charles’ great
personal devotion and piety, his concerns for religious proprieties,
the generosity of his gifts in gold and silver to his cathedral at Aachen,
his attention to reforms in the liturgy, his disinterested charity within
his kingdom and all Christians beyond papal Rome, the church of
St. Peter in Rome as well as the pope himself were not only to
enjoy his protection but benefited particularly from his treasury, espe-
cially from the treasure of the Avars. According to Einhard, the city
of Rome was intended to regain its previous position of splendor.
140
In view of his accomplishments he came to be credited with hold-
ing a position bestowed on him by God, to rule the Christian world.
According to Alcuin, who was most probably the author of Charles’
letter to the new pope Leo III, (795–816) welcoming him to his posi-
tion, Charles claimed for himself both the outer and inner guidance
of the church, while the pope was to restrict his activities to sup-
portive prayer. As king, God had armed him with the Two Swords
of the Two Authorities of royal power and priestly authority with
which he was to protect the church from false doctrine and the
attacks of all heathen and unbelieving enemies and to confirm the
Christian faith through knowledge of the doctrine. The pope was
the agenda. Concerning Adoptionism, see Collins, pp. 129ff. and other sources. See
Noble, ‘Tradition and Learning’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 237ff., for a sum-
mary of the content and organizational logic of the Libri Carolini. Also Sefton, in
Noble and Contreni, p. 124f.
137
See Arnold, p. 81.
138
Mohr, p. 50.
139
Löwe, p. 155. See also Riché, p. 119.
140
Thorpe, pp. 79ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 68
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 69
restricted to support any struggle through his power of prayer.
141
With these ideological considerations in mind Charles had convo-
qued synods to combat the spread of heresies and had taken a very
strong stand in the disputes concerning the worship of images, insist-
ing that the pope Hadrian excommunicate the emperor. In 796
Alcuin termed him ‘Lord and Father, King and Priest, the Leader
and Guide of all Christians’. Already pope Gelasius I (492–496) had
proposed a division but also a coexistence of competencies to rule
the world—the higher power of the hallowed sanctity of the bish-
ops, auctoritas, and the imperial power, potestas. Church and state were
to share authority on earth without strife.
142
Pope Hadrian had
attempted to abrogate some of the king’s powers to himself. Though
a source of conflict during the later periods, at this time the Two
Authorities were seen to be of relatively equal value.
143
Owing to
the strength of his own personality Charles personified both Author-
ities. He never deferred to the pope or approached him as the higher
authority. Charles was able to play the role of the king-priest, rex-
sacerdos, more effectively than the Byzantine emperor, than his
Carolingian successors. To Alcuin Charles was the appointed of
Christ to lead the Christian people. Earlier notions of Eternal
Victory/Eternal Empire had been adopted and adapted by the Imperium
Romanum in its Christian guise.
144
The unification, order and peace,
which Charles had brought to his Christian realm, were taken to be
a most significant portent and proof that the new Aachen had replaced
old Constantinople. In 795 Leo III had succeeded to the papacy.
He presented the situation, which invited the implementation of the
new order. The Libri Carolini prepared the way to empire.
145
With
the support of his scholarly entourage, by the middle of the decade
Charles had implemented the components of an ideology which con-
solidated the realm internally and externally, which created the pri-
macy of the Carolingian realm and established the primacy of the
western church and which gave Charles a pastoral role at the head
141
Angenendt, p. 352. Also Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 140.
142
S.C. Easton, H. Wieruszowski, The Era of Charlemagne, Frankish State and Society
(Princeton, Toronto, London, New York 1961), p. 166f. From a letter of pope Gela-
sius to emperor Anastasius, 491.
143
Angenendt, p. 69.
144
Schutz, Germanic Realms, p. 188.
145
Noble, ‘Tradition and Learning’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 249.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 69
70 r\n+ \
of state and church. Through his sponsorship of learning, of the arts
and architecture he provided the emphasis on the holistic idea of
the Imperium Christianum in which all the peoples of the regnum Francorum
had become the congregation of ‘Franks’ upon whom had been
bestowed the role of the ‘chosen people of God’. Its salvation was
the primary, even the sole purpose of the realm.
146
We shall see
below how the artists who prepared the illuminated manuscripts
interpreted this political theory into artistic representations.
A confluence of events and circumstances prepared the way for
the creation of an empire with Charles as emperor. In 797 the
Byzantine palace revolution had created a vacuum in the eastern
empire. Einhard used the opportunity to tell Charles that the wel-
fare of the Christian churches rested upon him. But Charles appears
to have proceeded only with deliberate haste. Two years later, accord-
ing to Einhard
147
the inhabitants of Rome had seized the new pope,
Leo III, and had blinded him by putting out his eyes and cutting
out his tongue, forcing him to flee to the king, his ‘protector’. The
attempted mutilation was not entirely successful. The cause for the
Romans’ anger lay in that Leo had unilaterally accepted the new
idea of the Christian realm and had sent Charles the banner of
Rome with the promise of loyalty and the request for Frankish emis-
saries to come and receive the Romans’ oath of allegiance. He quite
clearly placed his papal rule under that of Charles and dated his
proclamations by the years of Charles’ reign. For good measure he
was also charged with sins of the flesh and perjury. According to
the Annals 799, he had been ambushed, mutilated and left lying in
the street, naked and half-dead. The duke of Spoleto provided him
with shelter and when Charles heard of this indignity he asked that
Leo be brought to him at Paderborn with full honors. This was a
rather great distance, which Charles did not see fit to shorten, by
meeting him half way. The Annals do not reveal the conversations
and report only the pope’s return to Rome in full honors while
Charles returned to Aachen. The terms of a future relationship may
have been detailed at this time. Leo may have urged Charles to
accept the imperial role.
148
The Annals for that year also report the
146
Noble, ‘Brigandage’, in Chazelle, Literacy, Politics, p. 67.
147
Thorpe, p. 81. See also Collins, pp. 141ff.
148
Riché, p. 151.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 70
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 71
coincident arrival of a monk from Jerusalem who brought blessings
and relics of the Lord’s Sepulcher to Charles from the patriarch of
Jerusalem. The next year Charles dismissed the monk and sent him
and Zacharias, a priest of the palace, back with rich gifts for the
Holy Places.
Einhard does not mention this monk, nor an Italian campaign
against the Beneventans. Einhard quickly and soberly comes to the
heart of the matter and reveals that Charles really came to Rome
to restore the ill state of affairs of the church, spending the whole
winter there. By way of preparation pope Leo had a mosaic pre-
pared which made visible his idea of the order of the Christian
realm. In an apse of the Lateran palace, in a recessed arch, he had
a representation of the enthroned Christ giving the keys and ban-
ner to St. Peter; to the left he gives the imperial standard to the
emperor Constantine in the presence of pope Sylvester I (Fig. 4a),
both of them kneeling at the feet of Christ; to the right St. Peter
hands the pallium to pope Leo and the banner of the city of Rome
to Charles, both of them kneeling at the feet of St. Peter.
149
Herewith
pope Leo gave expression to a religious and political context, as if
determined by the highest authority. (Fig. 4b) A convergence of impe-
rial and papal ideas was projected, showing the partnership of pope
and emperor jointly doing the work of Christ, a symbolic distanc-
ing from the Byzantine Empire.
The Annals 800 indicate that Charles was greeted with an impe-
rial reception and elaborate how pope Leo sent the banners of Rome
and large crowds of townspeople and pilgrims to meet Charles some
distance outside of Rome, to line the streets and acclaim the king
on his arrival. Pope Leo, surrounded by clergy and bishops, awaited
the king on the steps of St. Peter’s and welcomed him when he dis-
mounted and ascended the stairs of the church and accompanied
by the chanting of the multitude the pope led Charles into the
church. This was an imperial reception with which Leo recognized
the position of the king before he crowned him emperor. On December
1, 800 Charles convened an assembly in order to deal with the affairs
of the church and set himself to examine the charges against the
humiliated pope Leo. Charles was expected to function in his Davidic
149
Angenendt, p. 353f. Mohr, p. 55. See Braunfels, p. 102. Also Nees, Early
Medieval Art, p. 190, who points to the clear political message.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 71
72 r\n+ \
capacity. By virtue of his vocation by God, the king and no longer
the emperor in Constantinople has the Christian empowerment to
set the affairs of the church in order. Pope Leo purged himself of
the charges by oath in the name of the Trinity on December 23.
Perjury had been one of the charges levied against him. No one had
come forward to reiterate the pope’s crimes. In any case the Symma-
chean forgeries (501) prevented that a pope could be put on trial,
unless 72 witnesses could support the accusation. The Annals report
that that same day the priest Zacharias returned from Jerusalem with
two monks sent by the patriarch who brought for Charles the keys
of the Lord’s Sepulcher and of Calvary, also the keys of the city
and of Mount Zion along with a flag. The keys of the city may
have been a token sent by the Caliph of Baghdad, Harun-al-Rashid,
the other objects were likely ecclesiastical tokens of recognition of
his elevated status over the Christian church. An evident honor and
an inescapable link with king David and his city and an allusion to
the kingdom of God. Einhard mentions none of this. The arrival of
the gifts from Jerusalem could not have been more opportune. They
marked the ‘Fullness of Time’. Charles had probably orchestrated
the events.
The Annals 801 record what happened next very succinctly. On
Christmas Day (800), when the king rose from prayer in front of
the shrine of St. Peter, pope Leo, in a Byzantine inspired gesture,
placed a crown on his head, and he was hailed by the whole Roman
people: ‘To the august Charles, crowned by God, the great and
peaceful emperor of the Romans, life and victory!’ After the triple
acclamations of the Romans and the laudes of the clergy, the pope
dropped to his knees and addressed him in the manner of the old
emperors. Instead of patricius, he was called imperator et augustus. It is
likely that Charles did not appreciate the practical significance of
this event. A new empire had been created, but one with a skewed
purpose. Once again Einhard has no comments to make concerning
the sequence of events, other than to express Charles’ reservations
and that he would not have entered the cathedral at all, had he
known the pope’s intentions.
150
Einhard is more intent on commenting
150
Thorpe, p. 81. W. Ohnsorge, “Neue Beobachtungen zum Kaisertitel Karls
des Großen”, in W. Heinemeyer, K. Jordan (eds.) Archiv für Diplomatik, Schriftgeschichte,
Siegel- und Wappenkunde (Köln, Wien 1975), p. 2f. argues that Charles felt himself to
be king and that the imperial title was only an additional dignity for him, and that
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 72
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 73
on the hostility and jealousy of the other ‘so-called Roman Emperors’.
Einhard may not be the definitive source concerning this event. No
Christian ruler could have missed mass on Christmas Day. There
can be little doubt that Charles had the event arranged. That he
could not admit to such a plan may have lain with his attempt to
avoid any accusation of having manipulated yet another usurpation.
Why was Charles so reticent and displeased? Probably not because
of the title and the coronation itself, but because of the implications
with which it was performed. Charles had probably not been sur-
prised and deprived of the initiative. Had his father Pepin III not
already been anointed like a new David, had he not had a new pro-
logue written for the law code in which the Franks were identified
as God’s chosen people, and had the Carolingian kingdom not been
based on papal Davidic ideas?
151
He clearly did not want his coro-
nation to be seen as a mere translation of the old Roman imperial
tradition.
152
The Roman imperial proclamation clearly contravened
his ideas of the new Imperium Christianum. He wanted to rule over
the Christian people, the populus Christianus, and wanted to have his
imperial dignity to derive from the Biblical David and hence from
God. Not from the Caesars and not as the choice of the populus
Romanus. As his chosen he felt answerable to God for the welfare of
his people. In this he saw the saints to be his spiritual and the bish-
ops to be the worldly supports of his reign. According to the delib-
erations above, Charles saw a different basis for his proclamation
than the words with which he had been proclaimed. However, Alcuin
had begun to use the term Imperium Christianum some time earlier,
153
but had also honored him with the name David. It is accepted that
he did not feel himself to be any more than Theoderic the Great, viceroy of the
Byzantine emperors, had been. Fouracre, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval
History, p. 105, suggests that Einhard resorted to the device of showing the humil-
ity natural to great and good personages. See also Collins, pp. 144ff. concerning
the claimed reluctance about the imperial coronation. It had been previously approval
by a council on November 30, 800. Also L. Nees, A Tainted Mantle (Philadelphia
1991), pp. 112ff.
151
Mohr, pp. 21ff. Enters into this question at great length, beginning with the
argument put forward by pope Stephen II that the Carolingians were predestined
by God and that Pepin was a new Moses and a brightly shining king David. See
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 189.
152
See the arguments advanced by Collins, pp. 147ff., that the inclusion of Saxony
in the realm required a new constitutional basis.
153
Nees, Mantle, p. 114f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 73
74 r\n+ \
the Franks as ‘chosen’ people did not want to become Romans and
that Charles had not wanted the Romans to act as primary people
of the realm since it was the Franks who had secured the rule and
the realm. Although Charles had visited Rome, as a pilgrim would,
repeatedly before his coronation, he was never to return to Rome.
What had mattered was the memoria there of his own person and
that of his dynasty.
154
Hence Charles refused pointedly the title impera-
tor Romanorum for he evidently was not willing to suggest any rivalry
with the disqualified emperor in Constantinople, nor see himself as
successor to the pagan Romans. Nor was he content for the pope
to have performed the act of coronation since it suggested that the
pope thereby assumed and gained primacy over the emperor. After
all, until the break with Byzantium in 803, Rome was still under
the titular jurisdiction of the Byzantine Empire. Perhaps the pope
merely wanted to compensate for his humiliation two days earlier.
On the other hand, the myth of the Constitutum Constantini, gave him
the imperial authority to perform the act. Charles was equally unhappy
that the city of Rome assumed the primacy over Aachen. It would
appear that Charles was sensitive to the significance of precedents.
The coronation resembled an investiture. In view of the Synod of
794, the coronation reversed the authorities, at least by implication.
Charles’ imperial title was to be serenissimus augustus a Deo coronatus
magnus pacificus imperator, Romanum gubernans imperium, qui et per miseri-
cordiam Dei rex Francorum et Langobardorum.
155
Calling him magnus pacificus
imperator may be the basis for the name by which posterity was to
call him Carolus magnus, corrupted in time to Charlemagne.
156
The
title makes it clear that referring to the Carolingian empire as ‘Holy
Roman Empire’ is quite premature. Furthermore, the Romans are
only to be governed, steered by him, who by the grace of God sees
himself primarily as king of Franks and Lombards. Aachen was the
‘New Rome’ to him. Repeatedly the idea surfaces, that Charles
looked upon his coronation and title as a personal honor paid to
154
F. Andrews, ‘Introduction: Rome and Romanitas: Aspects of Transition’, in
Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome, p. 14.
155
Löwe, p. 158. Ohnsorge, ‘Kaisertitel’, p. 8f. argues that Charles had already
been Romanum gubernans imperium on behalf of Byzantium since 781, a formula used
occasionally in 6th century Ravenna. See also Collins, p. 150, on this point.
156
By c. 875 his other ‘biographer’, Notger Balbulus, the Stammerer, entitled his
work De Carolo Magno. Nithard, in his Histories, (before 845), spoke of his grand-
father Charles as rightfully called ‘the Great’.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 74
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 75
his person, rather than as a dynastic aspiration.
157
But what impor-
tance did he see in the equestrian statue of the Ostrogothic king,
Theoderic the Great, to go to the great exertion to have it brought
north? What fascinating association did he see with Theoderic? Both
bore the title patricius. The statue may actually have been of the
Byzantine emperor Zeno. At least as enhancing an association. After
803 Charlemagne abandoned the designation Romanum imperium and
replaced it with Renovatio Romani imperii as he slipped into the impe-
rial role. In 812 the Byzantine emperor recognized Charlemagne as
emperor in the west. Byzantium also finally renounced all claims to
the territories surrounding Rome.
Charlemagne insisted that his empire was a new Christian Empire
not related to the old pagan empire and stressed the use of the term
Renovatio Romani imperii. It was renewed in a distinctive Latin speak-
ing Christian faith and neither an expansion nor an extension of the
Greek speaking Byzantine Empire.
With the 25th of December 800 Europe entered a new historical
phase. The contemporaries will not have noticed the watershed event.
For Charlemagne the date marked the pinnacle of his life. He had
coordinated a cohesive Christian realm in which questions of terri-
torial expansion were displaced by attempts to implement concerns
about the administrative and legal systems, fealty to God and him-
self, the cultural heritage, a more intensive reform of the church,
social measures to protect the powerless and to prevent their decline
into economic dependency, legislation to protect slaves and serfs, the
control of feuds and the maintenance of the peace of the realm.
Oddly enough, the realm began to show centrifugal tendencies and
early signs of weariness. In his last years he had reasons to believe
that the execution of the body of his reforms had not been entirely
successful. Of course he could not know what his contribution to
the advent of the new age was. Originally he had followed the
Frankish tradition of treating the realm as his personal property and
divided it among his sons. Especially the implementation of the illu-
sory realm along Davidic and Augustinian lines did not advance
well. A number of practical problems deprived him of his free-
dom of action and a lack of resolve began to appear. In 806, moti-
vated by administrative concerns, the Divisio regnorum reverted to the
157
Dutton, Politics of Dreaming, p. 115.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 75
76 r\n+ \
traditional partition of the realm between his three sons, perhaps
also motivated by the fear that upon his death, discord might arise
in the realm.
158
His oldest son Charles was assigned all of the Frankish
core area, Louis to rule Aquitaine-Burgundy and Pepin to rule Italy-
Bavaria. A supportive interest group drawn mainly from church cir-
cles attempted to give the illusory idea of a constitutional unity a
legal basis. When his older sons died, a practical realization pre-
sented itself in that Louis would become his only successor of a
unified empire, as if God had willed it thus. Latent discord was pro-
vided by the dissenting inclinations toward either the Roman or
Davidic ideas of empire. Charlemagne convened an imperial diet at
Aachen in 813 to deal with increasing criticism and the issues con-
cerning the illusory constitutional unity, nature and order of the
realm. With the choice of Aachen as his permanent residence and
seat of government, the aging Charlemagne and his court no longer
played the supervisory role of an earlier time when an active itin-
erant king could personally review the state of affairs in the realm,
but rely on others to tend to matters of concern. The missi dominici
could often no longer be entrusted with the reliable flow of infor-
mation and a competent approach to the emperor’s administrative
objectives.
159
The increasing power of the magnates and their oppres-
sion of the economically weaker levels of society became a chief but
vain concern for him. It would be unfair to expect him to have been
able to appreciate the vulnerability of his overextended realm of the
day and to project a teleological view for his empire. His visionary
idealism, age and inertia probably distanced him from the govern-
mental needs of the realm on earth. He probably relied more on
the church as the executor of his ideals than on the competence of
his son to guide the empire into the future. To improve conditions
in the church, Charlemagne instituted five Synods in 813, to be con-
vened at Mainz, Reims, Tours, Châlons and at Arles. Intended as
‘Reform Councils’, their resolutions were to serve as foundations for
reforms.
160
He, who had once been proclaimed defender of the church,
sole custodian of its salvation, guide of the Christian people and
blessed with God’s wisdom, now turned the guidance of the church
158
See Collins, p. 157f.
159
Nees, Mantle, p. 125f.
160
Mohr, p. 71. Also McKitterick, Frankish Church, p. 12. See Reuter, Germany,
p. 38, itemizes the key intentions of the reform.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 76
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 77
over to meetings of aristocratic bishops, who now regained signifi-
cant preeminence, and who did not hesitate to express themselves
critically about the emperor’s government. Perhaps in anticipation
of difficulties over the succession, the resolutions contained more than
a hint of the increasing expectations of the church in the realm.
With the conclusion of the expansive conquests, it seems that the
overriding concerns for the unity of the vast and overly extended
realm were no longer to be expressed in terms of military force and
administrative terms. Instead of a well-organized bureaucracy, a pas-
toral consolidation of the realm was to be entertained, by means of
the recruitment of priests, their heightened doctrinal education and
the pastoral training of the clergy.
161
However, this was soon to be
understood as the implementation of a religious realm on earth. For
the better part of the century the bishoprics were to represent the
royal intentions as they issued and collected legal and disciplinary
directives, theological and liturgical texts and by means of simple
sermons assisted the individual parishioner within his community to
contribute under pastoral guidance to the realization of the Christian
kingdom
162
locally, while thinking in the larger designs and inten-
tions of the realm. Such Christian rituals as baptism, marriage, the
mass, its liturgy, sermons, communion, penance, prayer and com-
munal chanting were intended to bring this about simultaneously
with the displacement of pagan cultic practices. In the recently con-
quered tribal areas abjuration of heathenism and a mere and more
or less communal acceptance of the new faith will have preceded
the actual personal conversion to it. A participatory ritual commonly
practiced throughout the realm would have contributed to the develop-
ment of a commonly felt membership in the mysteries of the Christian
cult. It follows that purified, standardized texts would be a co-require-
ment in the consolidating process. Nevertheless, despite contempt for
them, some pagan practices were assimilated or even absorbed by
Christianity. The Diet of 813 expressed an apolitical and illusory,
theoretical, religious idealism, which was intended to maintain the
realm by means of the unanimity of spiritual and worldly positions
161
Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 150. See Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 195ff. concerning the
court’s understanding of study and education. Collins, p. 120, comments that this
had already been a serious concern to Charlemagne.
162
See McKitterick, Frankish Church, pp. 80–114. Also Collins, p. 114f. concern-
ing Charles’ attention to the standardization of the liturgy.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 77
78 r\n+ \
among Christians. The imperial ‘state’, never completely unified, cen-
tralized or even provided with a well functioning bureaucracy, was
to become Ecclesia, universal Christian humanity embraced within
the universality of the faith, founded on the belief in one father,
God in heaven, one mother, the church, one faith and one bap-
tism,
163
proclaimed by means of one language, spoken and written
Latin, in which the emperor occupied the primary place. The church
was to be the conscience of the realm, the emperor’s support but
not his master. An indecisive Louis, sincere in his faith and his piety,
could not help but feel subordinate to the church. In general the
interest groups were expecting more pro-active policies if the ideal
was to be implemented and looked to Louis for leadership.
In September of 813, at the Diet in Aachen cathedral, without
any papal presence, Charlemagne himself crowned his only surviv-
ing son Louis co-emperor, till then no more than the designated
sub-king of Aquitaine. The Annals 813 state simply that the emperor
invited his son Louis to a general assembly at Aachen, placed the
crown on his head and shared the co-regency of the empire with
him, at the same time passing on to him the nomen imperatoris.
164
He
quickly sent him back to Aquitaine. Einhard does not reveal that he
himself openly acclaimed Louis as co-emperor, thereby representing
certain interests of the nobility. Louis’ acclamation as imperator and
augustus by the Frankish magnates followed. Clearly the Franks were
the new people of the realm. This coronation was distinct from the
one on Christmas Day 800 in Rome, just as clearly an anti-Roman
gesture. However, in 816 the Annals inform us that Louis still agreed
to have the pope, Stephen IV, crown and anoint him emperor dur-
ing his hastily arranged visit to Louis in Reims in 817. Einhard
165
informs us that the coronation of 813 was performed with the agree-
ment of all who attended and was accepted with great enthusiasm,
‘for it seemed to have come to him as a divine inspiration for the
welfare of the state’. Louis may not have been convinced of the
validity of his coronation by his father and submitted to the pressures
163
E. Boshof, ‘Einheitsidee und Teilungsprinzip unter Ludwig’, in Godman and
Collins, p. 175.
164
Riché, p. 139. Löwe, p. 160, indicates that Louis took the crown off the altar
and placed it on his own head. Mohr, p. 74, wonders whether this act should be
considered to have more a symbolic rather than any real significance. It may not
even have been a coronation in any real sense. See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 189.
165
Thorpe, p. 83.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 78
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 79
exerted on him by representatives of the church. While Charlemagne
had ordered the succession of his sons in 780, with their papal coro-
nation taking place in 781, he confirmed it in 806 as a result of
which his three sons were to succeed him in a tripartite succession—
Charles, actually his second son, set up in the core lands, Pepin in
Italy and Louis in Aquitaine—, the premature death of two of his
sons and the accidental survival of only one son was interpreted as
a divine judgment. It made of Louis the ‘Chosen of the Lord’ and
a realization of the Davidic kingdom as a universal principle.
166
Einhard adds that this ‘increased Charlemagne’s authority at home
and at the same time it struck no small terror into the minds of for-
eign peoples’. If we could take Einhard at his word, then the par-
ticularism of the regions of the realm was reconciled. It was also to
be the exceptional instance in Carolingian history that the monarch
designate was to inherit an unpartitioned realm in what was seen to
be God’s own intervention. Yet the process of division of the polit-
ical realm was to return during his reign, even though its parts, such
as the east-rhenish lands, were to experience significant consolida-
tion.
167
The Imperium Christianum was not affected.
In January 814, Charlemagne came down with a fever, accom-
panied by a pain in his side, which Einhard identified as pleurisy
and on January 28, 814, Charlemagne died.
168
According to Einhard
many portents had preceded his death. Charles had ignored or denied
them all. Actually Einhard had condensed events from over a six-
year period. Charles was buried the same day in a Roman sar-
cophagus of the 2nd century, ornamented with the story of the rape
of Proserpina in his palace church at Aachen.
169
(Fig. 5) Three years
before his death Charles had distributed all of his possessions.
Charlemagne’s Last Will and Testament is extant. Einhard recorded
it in all details, deploring that Charles had started it too late and
had not been able to finish it. Einhard informs us that Louis, ‘who
166
See Nelson, ‘Carolingian Royal Ritual’, in Frankish World, pp. 103ff. for a
detailed analysis of the concepts involved.
167
See Innes, State and Society, p. 195, who sees in the arrangement of establish-
ing sub-kingships a means of retaining dynastic control over the various integral
parts of the vast realm. The permanent partition appears when hindsight is applied
from a future perspective.
168
The English translation speaks only of ‘a week-long illness’, Riché, p. 139.
The German translation mentions pleurisy as the cause of death.
169
J.L. Nelson, The Frankish World, 750–900 (London and Rio Grande 1996), pp.
223–242. Braunfels, p. 379.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 79
80 r\n+ \
succeeded him by divine will,’
170
was its scrupulous executor. In
Chapter 22 of his Vita Hludowici, Astronomus
171
informs us that ‘as
Lord Louis read what was written, he fulfilled all those things, duti-
fully performing the task’.
172
Despite Charlemagne’s initiative, the succession had not been reg-
ulated permanently. Louis’ accession of the throne was not unprob-
lematic despite the perceived choice of God. Already during his
lifetime his sons, supported by magnates of the church, contested his
authoritative position. Louis’ coronation of 813 was not accepted as
absolute despite the anointment, the substantiation of the legitimacy
of his rule through pope Stephen IV and the proclamation that he
was a ‘new Clovis’ at Reims and not in Charlemagne’s Aachen.
Clovis had been baptized at Reims yet Louis’ visit to Reims in 816
and his renewed coronation there had not removed all challenges
to that legitimacy. His nephew Bernard, Pepin’s illegitimate son, yet
sub-king/subregulus of Italy, at first loyal follower of the king, was
maneuvered into contesting the succession and he revolted in 818.
173
Quickly overcome, the increasingly customary dynastic punishment
by blinding, through the loss of eyes by gouging, of all his accom-
plices as well, killed him within three days.
174
At the same time Louis
had his illegitimate stepbrothers and presumptive rivals tonsured and
placed in monasteries. In 822 his remorse led him to recall them to
court from where his illegitimate stepbrother Drogo was to begin a
brilliant career in the church as bishop of Metz, as early as 823,
marked in art by his Psalter.
At the Diet of Aachen, 817, the Ordinatio imperii introduced future
problems while it tried to adhere to the illusory principles of con-
stitutional unity. Louis tried to argue that being the only one chosen
170
Thorpe, p. 90. Also Nithard, Histories, ch. 2. See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 235f. for
a biographical note. However, Collins, p. 158, quarrels with Einhard’s claim.
171
A. Cabaniss, Son of Charlemagne, A contemporary life of Louis the Pious, translation
of Anomimus’ Vita Hludowici imperatoris, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Syracuse
1965). Ch. 22.
172
See R. McKitterick, The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987 (London,
New York 1983), p. 160 refers to sources, which question this assertion. See also
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 204.
173
Werner, in Godman and Collins, pp. 42ff. argues extensively that it was the
empress Irmengard herself who intrigued against her illegitimate nephew.
174
Astronomus, ch. 30:1, indicates that Louis could have imposed a much harsher
sentence, death, rather than just blinding. Nithard, ch. 2. See also Brunner, Oppositionelle
Gruppen, pp. 96ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 80
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 81
by God also signaled God’s approval of the inviolate unity of the
realm.
175
Louis saw no inconsistency in the unity principle and the
skewed tripartite division of his realm among his three sons. This
was to prove to be the failure of the principles of unity and ush-
ered in the eventual natural disintegration of the realm. Louis reg-
ulated the succession among his three sons along the approximate
lines of the Divisio regnorum of 806 in which the oldest son was to
receive the larger Frankish core area with the imperial title as well
as the dominance over his younger brothers. Lothair (I.), the oldest
son, was crowned co-emperor and raised over Ludwig,
176
later called
‘the German’, rex Germaniae, in Bavaria and over Pepin of Aquitaine.
It was in this context that no mention was made of Bernard, king
of the Lombards. His kingdom was incorporated in that of Lothair.
It was to transpire that the Carolingians were to emulate the Mero-
vingians in fratricidal animosity. For years to come, oppositional and
hereditary interest groups, removed from offices, wronged by injus-
tices, expropriations and confiscations fanned discontent and focused
on the old Frankish and tribal nobilities. These readily formed around
the middle-aged sons and presumptive heirs, who resented perceived
preferences on the part of the father and were eager to assume the
authority in their own right. The oath of allegiance introduced by
Charlemagne
177
and demanded repeatedly of all by Louis the Pious
was intended to counteract any such inclinations.
Beginning in 817, Louis’ generosity toward the church in the con-
text of the Renovatio of church and state caused the empire to lose
ground vis-à-vis the papacy.
175
J. Semmler, ‘Renovatio’, in Godman and Collins, p. 132. See J. Fried, ‘The
Frankish kingdoms, 817–911: The East and Middle kingdoms’, in McKitterick, New
Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 142ff.
176
J.L. Nelson, Charles the Bald (London, New York 1992), p. 2, points out that
only the West-Frankish writers called him thus. To avoid confusion the form ‘Ludwig’
will be used for the German kings with the name Louis. W. Hartmann, Ludwig der
Deutsche (Darmstadt 2002), pp. 1–6, for a discussion of the justification of the name.
177
See Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 116. Also Innes, State and Society, p. 187, sees
this oath to be a consequence of the intrigue of 785. See also Collins, p. 126f.,
who suggests that the oath of loyalty first surfaced in 789 and may be a conse-
quence of the difficulties with Tassilo.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 81
82 r\n+ \
III. Charlemagne’s successors
Already Walahfrid Strabo, Abbot of Reichenau (died 849), refers to
Louis as ‘the Pious’ and deems it a miracle, ‘when the Frankish state
was shaken by innumerable troubles of all sorts and was falling to
pieces in many areas, with God to watch over him and with a cer-
tain sense of direction in his personal conduct which can only have
been divinely inspired, he preserved this reputation for brilliance
which laid him open to the malice and ill-will of other men.’
178
This
testimony to the contrary, posterity was to judge Louis unfairly with
critical blame for providing the conditions, which brought about the
disintegration of the Carolingian empire. While his contemporaries
praised his religiosity, his piety, his monastic inclinations, peace-
ableness and kindness, expected royal virtues, and his biographer
‘Astronomus’ in the Vita Hludowici,
179
held him up as the ideal rep-
resentative of the Christian ruler, later times interpreted these virtues
negatively and saw in them bigotry, indecision, hesitation and the
weakness of a pliable character. One failed to judge him in terms
of his own premises and historical conditions. At the beginning of
his reign one called him a new Solomon, a new Clovis, but then
the contrast with his father was simply too great, although the realm
was already showing administrative flaws and centrifugal problems
of cohesion during the last years of Charlemagne’s reign. Einhard
was too much the courtier and Louis’ immediate beneficiary to crit-
icize the king. When in 830 he asked to be relieved of his duties at
court for reasons of health, it was also because of his critical obser-
vation of the decline of morals at court and his resignation over the
deterioration of the realm and Louis’ unwillingness to heed his warn-
ings.
180
The idealized ship of state built of conceptions of a Christian
universalism combined with spiritual and secular power was seen to
be drifting into reef-strewn waters. Though the process of particu-
laristic regionalization may have been a natural development it did
not reflect well on the one in whose reign it happened. More recent
analyses have tried to amend Louis’ reputation.
181
178
Thorpe, p. 50. Walahfrid wrote the introduction to Einhard’s biography of
Charlemagne sometime between 840 and the year of his own death in 849 (Thorpe,
p. 173, Note 9).
179
Astronomus, Prologue, 2.
180
E. Boshof, Ludwig der Fromme (Darmstadt 1996), pp. 3ff.
181
Godman, Collins, Charlemagne’s Heir.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 82
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 83
In 778 Hildegard, she was only 13 when he fell madly in love
with her, Charlemagne’s third wife, gave birth to twins who were
named Louis and Lothair. She had already borne two sons, Charles
and Carloman (Pepin) and two daughters Adelheid and Rotrud, of
whom Adelheid died soon after birth in 774. Questions have been
raised, why Charles would give his sons such unambiguously Mero-
vingian names.
182
One consideration proposed is that their two older
brothers had already been named with the two Carolingian royal
names. The link with the great names of the Merovingians may have
reflected a deliberate dynastic association with the ‘long-haired kings’.
The Carolingian concerns for maintaining the perceptions of legiti-
mate continuity with the previous dynasty of the Merovingians may
have weighed heavily on Carolingian minds following their usurpa-
tion of the throne. Lothair may have died in 779. She was to give
birth to three more daughters, Bertha, Gisela and Hildegard.
183
Their
older sister Rotrud was to be affianced to the Byzantine imperial
heir Constantine VI. The marriage did not come about.
Charlemagne had four or five wives, Germanic women all, and
at least four concubines. In order to exclude his firstborn son, Pepin,
the Hunchback, a condition that evolved during his youth perhaps
the result of a vitamin B deficiency or of sclerosis,
184
from the suc-
cession, his mother, Himiltrud, may subsequently have been degraded
to the level of concubine. Only those physically sound could be heirs.
Only a legitimate wife could be the mother of heirs. The process of
exclusion took eleven years at the end of which Pepin rebelled, was
condemned to death but then sent to the monastery at Prüm. His
supporters were publicly beheaded, or crucified, or scourged and
deported.
185
The annals come to negate Pepin’s existence. His name
182
See K.F. Werner ‘Hludovicus Augustus, Gouverner l’empire chrétien—Idées et
réalités’, in Godman and Collins (eds.), pp. 21ff. who argues extensively that while
the royal Carolingian names were ‘Pepin’ and ‘Charles’, the names Hludovicus and
that of his twin brother Hlotarius were chosen deliberately as a link with the
Merovingian names Clovis and Chlotachar. Louis was to be a ‘new Clovis’ who
was born in Aquitaine and hence justly and intentionally named sub-king there as
champion of Catholicism. Louis’ son was hence named Lothair. Carloman had been
renamed Pepin for that same reasons. Other names, such as Drogo, Hugo and
Bernard were reserved for the natural offspring.
183
Boshof, pp. 23ff.
184
Kasten, pp. 139ff.
185
Braunfels, p. 61. See Collins, p. 126, concerning a conspiracy to put him on
the throne.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 83
84 r\n+ \
was given to Carloman, the third son. His Lombard wife bore no
children before her repudiation. Hildegard, an Aleman, gave birth
to the heirs. Fastrada, a Saxon, had two daughters. His marriage to
Liutgard, another Aleman, remained childless. After she died in 800,
he did not remarry. From his concubines—Madelgarda, Gersuinda,
Regina and Adallindis—Charles also had a number of illegitimate
sons and daughters. Charlemagne was particularly attached to his
daughters and did not let them leave the court.
186
It is an ironic twist that in the end the successor was to be Louis,
with the Merovingian name. At the age of 3, surrounded by men-
tors and advisors, Charlemagne yielded to aristocratic pressure and
sent Louis to Aquitaine as its sub-king. His mother died in 783.
With his energetic stepmother Fastrada he appears to have had good
relations. She was present when he was invested with his sword as
a sign of having come of age at the Diet of Regensburg in 791, pre-
ceding the advance against the Avars. He was entrusted with her
care when her health was failing. She died in 794. Most probably
it was she who instigated the removal of Pepin the Hunchback from
the succession, in favor of the sons of Hildegard, though her motives
are obscure.
187
In Aquitaine Louis appears to have enjoyed most ‘le
plaisir de gouverner’, concentrating on hunting, and naively com-
mitted some administrative blunders, perhaps as an expression of his
generosity or more likely, owing to a lack of experience, such as the
diminution of the royal possessions as gifts to the magnates of the
kingdom, or the remission of all fiscal demands, the requirements of
fodder, wine and grain in all the northern districts of Aquitaine.
Charlemagne rectified such mistakes, taking care not to cause the
impoverished Louis to lose prestige and authority among his nobles.
188
Being sub-king in Aquitaine may have been the height to which
Charlemagne had intended Louis to ascend.
It would appear that the loss of his stepmother was made good
by his marriage that same year, 794, to Irmingard, from the house
of the Arnulfingians. Liaisons with one or two concubines gave him
a daughter whom he named Alpais, the name of the mother of
Charles Martel, and a son, whom he named after the founder of
the dynasty, Arnulf. Perhaps he, with the Merovingian name, wanted
186
Braunfels, p. 998.
187
Kasten, p. 150.
188
Boshof, pp. 56ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 84
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 85
to assert the Arnulfingian origins of his family. Already a year later,
795, Irmingard gave birth to Lothair, named after Louis’ own deceased
twin brother, to Pepin, 797 and to Louis/Ludwig, 806, later to be
known as Ludwig the German.
189
Two daughters, Rotrud and
Hildegard were born in 800 and 802/4. The marriage provided sta-
bility to the court in that Irmingard tended to all domestic affairs,
allowing the king to deal with the affairs of state.
In 806 Charlemagne had ordered the succession and the inheri-
tance among his three sons, Charles the Younger,
190
Carloman-Pepin
and Louis. The succession of the three kings secured the dynasty.
Charles was the designated and recognized successor, as if ‘firstborn’.
According to the Annals 806 the tripartite jurisdiction of the realm
assigned to each son the government and protection of his part,
while the fraternal links ensured reciprocal benevolence and affection.
Pope Leo III gave his consent and affixed his signature. The Annals,
with their propagandistic argumentation, aimed at their nobles, and
in support of the select and preordained Carolingians, may have
been composed to persuade the Carolingian nobility that their alle-
giance and benefits lay with the ruling dynasty, even if it meant
manipulating the sources.
191
What was not resolved was the question concerning the legitimacy
of the imperial title in the west. The identity of the future emperor
was secondary. Death solved the problem when Pepin died in 810
and Charles the Younger in 811. The underlying question concerned
the co-emperorship, which had no fundamental basis in the west
and where Charlemagne’s emperorship was still only a first and
perhaps unique case. Whether Louis would succeed to the imperial
title was not established. Only in Byzantium was this an established
practice. Help came when the Byzantine imperial envoys acclaimed
Charlemagne as basileus, as emperor. In 813 Charlemagne was free
to recognize Louis. That he was the sole survivor was interpreted
as God’s choice and hence he was the uncontestable heir to the
189
Riché, p. 145. Hartmann, p. 1f. indicates that the name was not completed
with ‘der Deutsche’ until the 19th century, although already in the 9th century he
was referred to as rex Germanicus along with other derivatives.
190
Kasten, p. 151, argues that the court records completely ignore the fact that
on December 25, 800 a double coronation took place, the imperial coronation of
Charlemagne as well as the royal coronation of Charles the Younger. Only Alcuin
mentioned it.
191
Hen, ‘Annals of Metz’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 187f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 85
86 r\n+ \
entire realm. Evidently the idea that the succession was determined
by chance, the death of his brothers, could not be entertained, except
that in a universe in which God is all-knowing, the very concept of
chance is blasphemous. Certain court circles, probably even the
emperor and perhaps even Louis himself had reservations about his
suitability.
192
Nevertheless Charles obtained the momentous agree-
ment of the highest and lowest of his lords to bestow upon Louis
the imperial title, the nomen imperatoris.
193
On September 11, 813, in
full imperial regalia, and according to Einhard, Charlemagne crowned
Louis co-emperor and ordered that he should be called emperor and
Augustus.
194
This itself was Byzantine ritual. The Annals 813 spend
one sentence on the event. Einhard informs us that the emperor
then sent Louis back to Aquitaine, while he went hunting
195
despite
his enfeebled condition. In view of circumstances one could have
expected him to keep Louis in his presence to prepare him for the
imminent tasks and for the eventual succession to the office. Louis
must have seemed less than the ideal heir and was given little oppor-
tunity to make influential contacts and gain some administrative expe-
rience at Aachen. Actually the ceremony was two years later than
might have been expected after the death of Charles the Younger.
Louis must have felt the affront. Anxieties and suspicions may have
prompted his father’s decision to keep his son at a great distance.
When Charlemagne died in January 814, Louis cautiously made
his way back to Aachen, hesitating and stopping on his way as if to
assure himself of support and as if he did not have absolute confidence
in his coronation.
196
Emissaries were sent ahead to prepare the recep-
tion of the new emperor. Astronomus (21.1) suggests that their real
assignment was to make certain that all evidence of the political
power struggles and intrigues active behind the scenes be eliminated
before his arrival. Bloody fighting may have taken place. Subsequently
Astronomus writes (23.1) that ‘the entire female company’—which
was very large—be excluded from the palace, meaning that the for-
mer disreputable worldliness, all wantonness and moral decay, includ-
ing possible incest, demonstrated by Charlemagne and his daughters,
192
Boshof, p. 87f.
193
Boshof, pp. 86ff.
194
Thorpe, p. 83.
195
Nelson, pp. 45, 122 sees hunting as an exercise to promote and demonstrate
cooperation, collaboration and interaction in group activities.
196
Boshof, p. 91f. See Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 226ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 86
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 87
concubines and courtiers, be cleared away.
197
Charlemagne may have
anticipated this situation. His disposition of 806 had given them the
choice between a monastic life or appropriate marriages and in his
Last Will and Testament, Einhard informs his readers of the emperor’s
wish to provide some economic security for the sons and daughters,
which his concubines had borne him.
198
He had left it too late and
hence unfinished. Among Louis’ first acts was the confinement of
his life asserting, unmarried sisters in convents, to restrain their phys-
ical exuberance. Not unlike his father, he may not have wanted to
entertain the possibility that their marriages to Frankish magnates
might introduce legitimate princes and princesses who might grow
up to be dynastic contestants. When unrest arose in the realm, he
eventually also forced his half-brothers to enter monastic orders and
end their days in monasteries, in case they chose to side against him
and ask for their share of the realm. It did not take long for him
to put the affairs of the realm in order.
However, in retrospect, it was to become apparent that Louis was
the wrong son to inherit the empire. Sincerely pious, kind and vir-
tuous, his talents did not lie in the area of any Realpolitik. There
were no external enemies to threaten seriously the security of the
realm and after many years of exhausting wars his reign was marked
by external peace.
199
During his reign relations with the court in
Constantinople remained generally unproblematic. In the north the
Slavic Abodrites were the cause of concern owing to disputes in
the tribal succession, especially when they allied themselves with the
Danes. These too were involved in inner conflicts until Abodrites,
reinforced by Danes, invaded northern Elbia, only to be repelled by
the Franks. Inherited problem zones were located in Brittany in the
west and in Gascony and the Spanish March in the south. These
conditions should have favored internal social and administrative
197
Dutton, Politics of Dreaming, p. 58f., suggests that Louis instituted a very wide-
ranging investigation in the capital to identify any moral turpitude at all, even in
the imperial family. One of his sisters’ lovers was executed, another was blinded,
while other sentences were commuted, see Werner, in Godman and Collins, p. 30,
n. 100.
198
Thorpe, p. 87. Riché, p. 134. See Nelson, pp. 236ff. for a discussion of the
women at the court of Charlemagne and their unofficial role, influence and authority.
199
Fouracre, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 105, suggests that
living in peace was not a Frankish inclination and that it was the energy of
Charlemagne’s will and the exercise of military force, which had created the empire.
Such was now needed to maintain it.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 87
88 r\n+ \
reform, political consolidation and general stabilization. Supported
by his advisers Louis saw this consolidation in the only manner avail-
able to him, in the attempt to reconcile the Christian kingdom on
Earth with the kingdom of Heaven, to create the Imperium Christianum.
Of such a symmetrical realm Louis wanted to be emperor, a clearly
different empire than that of ancient pagan Rome. It was to be one
in which Rome, as represented even by the papacy, was to be rel-
egated to a subordinate position. In due course, the realistic con-
tours of the political empire receded behind the spiritual projection
of a Christian community. The synthesis of political realities with
spiritual idealities was not to be possible and instead, insensitive to
the gradual alienation of his support, internal enemies arose during
his reign, who contributed to the internal dysfunctional situation,
which led to the gradual regional crystallizations within the empire.
The actual realm, which Louis inherited from his father, was very
vast—over a million square kilometers—regionally and ethnically
diverse, unfinished, decentralized, unevenly settled, developed, con-
trolled and at peace. According to the preamble to the reforms of
819, the emperor looked upon these years of peace as a gift from
God, an opportunity to complete, improve, to undertake what was
necessary to assure the well being of the church and the common
weal at the moment and in future. The God of victories could be
best served by giving the first place in the Imperium Christianum to the
church, which, however, excluded the preeminence of the papacy in
Rome. Louis was concerned about the assessments of his contem-
poraries and of the future. He wanted to contrast life at his court
from that of his father and introduced greater morality, discipline,
effectiveness and efficiency to counteract disorder, carelessness, crim-
inality and corruption. It has become a modern commonplace that
new administrations blame existing conditions on the malpractices
of the previous administration. Louis and his administrators behaved
similarly. One should not imagine that the administration was an
extensive apparatus, which ruled the realm effectively from Aachen,
the ‘capital’.
200
Certainly toward the eastern parts of the realm com-
munications were very tenuous and any sense of belonging to the
empire must have been rather limited, if not for the high nobility,
200
Reuter, Germany, pp. 24ff., discusses at length the administrative responsibili-
ties of the palace, the chancellor and the chapel, the rule by means of capitular-
ies, counts and their counties, and the missi dominici.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 88
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 89
then certainly for the common farmer, craftsman and other labor-
ers. At first he energetically pursued the administrative supervision
through the missi dominici, the royal emissaries,
201
which Charlemagne
had instituted to tour the lands, inspect counts and judges for any
practice of oppression, address abuses and remedy unjust conditions
and especially to pass judgment according to the written law and
not personal inclinations. It was understood that the implementation
of measures required the consent and co-operation of the nobility.
These royal emissaries were gradually to lapse in effectiveness, if
indeed they had ever been really effective. Although the subdivision
of the kingdom into counties continued to maintain the administra-
tive link with the central authority, vast tracts lost this connection
in the long term, even where vice-regal authorities were placed in
charge. Viceroys, counts, administrators and royal emissaries could
not be relied upon to forego their own interests.
New ideas appeared at court with the new corps of Aquitainian
advisors who now generally replaced Charlemagne’s counselors.
Among these some had previously surrounded Louis in formerly Visi-
gothic Aquitaine. As was mentioned above, they appear to have
sponsored an estranging attitude toward Rome. These formative expe-
riences may account for his lifelong dependence on his entourage of
advisors and exposed him to the charge of weakness and paralysis.
As of 819 the court chapel was under the direction of Hilduin (died
840/44) who stressed the office as that of the arch-chaplain who
conducted the religious services at court as an Old Testament High
priest. A counselor of superior skill, who represented the idea of
imperial unity, he turned away from Louis in 830 and lost his office.
An actively functioning chancellery came into being as that of Charle-
magne was expanded under the capable archival talents of the
Aquitainian Helisachar (died before 840) and the unified imperial
system was maintained. As an administratively effective instrument
it was to consolidate the diversity of the realm. For Louis this was
a sincere concern. Eventually an administrative hierarchy dealt with
the affairs of state, allowing those at the top of the hierarchy to rise
to higher positions at court with greater political power over gov-
ernmental decisions. In the process they became abbots and acquired
201
Innes, State and Society, p. 162f. Innes points out that a complex system used
relay stations.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 89
90 r\n+ \
abbeys and other church properties. Helisachar was followed in 819
by Fridugis, an Anglo-Saxon pupil of Alcuin’s, who displayed excep-
tional administrative skills and survived the upheaval of 830.
202
Einhard
appears to have maintained his position at court, but it was pri-
marily Benedict of Aniane, actually Witiza, a Spanish Visigothic
noble, who rose to prominence.
203
He assumed the name Benedict
in emulation of St. Benedict and renewed the strict observances and
ascetic Benedictine Rule in his new foundation at Inden/Korneli-
münster, near Aachen. Raised at the court of Pepin III and Charle-
magne, Louis entrusted to him the monastic reform in the realm.
Kornelimünster was to serve as rolemodel. Already in 816 Benedict
was charged to introduce the Benedictine Rule in all monasteries
and convents as the only valid rule. The regula mixta established in
Merovingian times was henceforth superseded. Benedict died in 821.
Three other Aquitainians officiated at Louis’ side. Ebo, his for-
mer librarian, was raised to the highest bishopric, the archbishopric
of Reims in 816. In that capacity he cared not only for the spiri-
tual well being of his congregations, but also retained an active role
in imperial politics, and took charge of the northern missions. In the
struggles about the constitutional unity or traditional administrative
partition of the realm he at first sided with Louis, but in 833 it was
he who in the name of his fellow bishops forced Louis to do pub-
lic penance. When he lost his archbishopric he finally sought refuge
with Ludwig, the German, who made him bishop of Hildesheim,
from 845/47 till his death in 851. Jonas of Orléans remained loyal
to Louis to the end. He represented the fundamental thoughts con-
cerning the reform of church and realm: the idea of the dualism of
powers within the unified Corpus Christianum and the freedom of the
church in spiritual matters. The welfare of the realm depended on
the total acceptance of the Christian way of life and on the free-
dom of the church from secular domination to fulfill its task of bring-
ing salvation. Smaragdus, abbot of St. Mihiel, on the river Maas,
NE of Verdun, formulated the idea early that the office of the ruler
was a ministry bestowed by God, for the execution of which an
account must be rendered to God. Evidently, Louis took this teaching
202
Angenendt, pp. 363ff.
203
Boshof, pp. 102–107. See also Noble and Head, Soldiers, pp. xxxviii, 213–254,
for a translation of his Vita.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 90
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 91
very much to heart.
204
It formed the preamble to the reforms of 819.
Louis’ ‘constitutional’ concerns therefore were concentrated on the
ideas borne by the Imperium Christianum, which depended on the lived
and practiced Christian faith as expressed by Jonas and Smaragdus.
Because of the uncertainty of life, the king above all and his sub-
jects below him, had to live a daily life pleasing to God. The king’s
reign represented the responsible leadership toward spiritual fulfillment
for which he was responsible to God, though not to the pope. In
this new context the king/emperor bore the responsibility toward
the people in his care. The king pleased God when he cared for his
people. This care was demonstrated as justice, piety and humility
before all his people. Not by right of inheritance from his father,
but by God’s grace did he act as protector and guide of the church
and reign over his people. For Louis the reign was a task set him
by God and for which he was responsible to God. It was also a
challenge for it depended on the correct fulfillment of the service to
God. This concept readily led to a close association between the
crown and the princes of the church, for it was they who knew what
was Christian and most pleasing to God. Already under Charlemagne
the church had come to be ever more intricated in the affairs of
state and secular society as well as in the affairs concerning the reli-
gious and moral life. During Louis’ reign the church came to assume
increasingly the right to reserve the ‘correct view’ and to play a rival,
though still codetermining role in these affairs.
205
In any case the
church was an arm of the aristocracy, which helps account for the
segregation of the common people from some of the religious prac-
tices. However, the relationship with the papacy lost its preeminence
and the church reforms were advanced without special reference to
Rome.
206
Influenced by Benedict of Aniane, Louis’ pious disposition saw in
the monastic and canonical reform of the church the greatest pri-
ority for the organization, stabilization and maintenance of the empire.
Continuing the reforms begun under Charlemagne in 813, he intro-
duced, as of 816, embracing religious and secular reforming rules
204
Angenendt, p. 364f.
205
Angenendt, p. 363.
206
J. Fried, ‘Ludwig der Fromme, das Papsttum und die fränkische Kirche’, in
Godman and Collins, pp. 231ff. for details of the distanced imperial contacts with
Rome.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 91
92 r\n+ \
and regulations. The energetic reforms addressed the clear definitions
and aristocratic distinctions between laymen and priests, monks and
cannons and their submission, despite their reluctance, to the specific
rules concerning daily practices.
207
He demanded the strict adher-
ence to the Benedictine Rule. The reforms were to be implemented
within one year. From 814 onward he bestowed immunity on churches
while granting royal protection at the same time. The latter was an
aspect of vassalage and the ensuing obligations of service, including
military service by designated lay retainers. In exacting its position
the nobility was not loath to abuse its priests and appropriate church
property.
208
The reforms applied in a very complex manner not only
to the foundations created by the Carolingians. This as well as the
adherence to the one valid rule could only tighten the bond between
church and realm. Since it was the objective for all secular life to
be permeated by the principles of Christianity, to realize the con-
stitutional unity of Christendom, even of the common people within
the Frankish empire, in order to establish God’s kingdom on earth,
all aspects of the church hierarchy from highest bishop to lowest
parish priest had to be mobilized.
209
To realize the Imperium Christianum
all aspects of the faith, knowledge of the scriptures, the minute details
of the cult and its duties—baptism, penance, marriage—were to be
carried to the common people in every parish. This was the imple-
mentation of Charlemagne’s ideas about the theocratic state, the Old
Testament, Davidic notions discussed above, which saw the illusory
basis for the unified state in the reality of one father, God in heaven,
one mother, the church, one faith and one baptism. The idea of the
unified realm was to make of the ethnic diversity one Christian peo-
ple, the populus Christianus, subject to one Christian law based on the
Old Testament, a clear departure from the traditions of the pagan
Roman Empire. The Benedictine Rule was one of the unifying monas-
tic components. These considerations did not include surrendering
207
Nelson, ‘Wealth and Property in the Carolingian church’, in Frankish World,
pp. 146ff., for a list of domestic duties expected of priests dependent on a lord if
removed from a bishop’s canonical jurisdiction. Also on the economic conditions
of monks and priests.
208
Angenendt, p. 369, points out that at the abbey of Prüm a substantial com-
ponent of the domain and the farms was not subject to the control of the abbot,
but under the control of the military vassals. See Boshof, pp. 120–126.
209
Reuter, Germany, pp. 37ff. discusses church functionaries, dioces, Eigenkirchen,
Eigenklöster, monasteries, councils at greater length.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 92
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 93
the social hierarchy, nor the emperor’s authority over the papacy,
though gradually the popes’ claim to crown the emperor was real-
ized. Many other principles became established for which the Curia
in Rome had an excellent long-term memory.
In the political dimension Louis introduced a disruptive element.
Following a small accident in 817 documented as if a triviality in
the Annals 817, more fully reported by Astronomus, ch. 28: 1, a
shoddy, worn out and rotted wooden arcade connecting the palace
with the church had collapsed on top of him, injuring him slightly,
he acted perhaps too quickly and issued the Ordinatio imperii, by means
of which his succession was to be regulated, with Lothair as the
intended consort and imperial successor. Something very new was
emerging. Benedict of Aniane may well have stood in the back-
ground. Louis tried to synthesize two mutually incompatible princi-
ples—the indivisible empire and the divisible inheritance of the Franks.
Initially Louis showed no concerns for the establishment of the suc-
cession. But then following the practice established by Charlemagne
the indivisible empire was to be entrusted to his three sons, the old-
est son Lothair, to rule the newly created kingdom of Bavaria, while
the younger sons were to rule nominally their parts of the empire
in a vice-regal fashion, subject to the rule of the older brother, Pepin
(19) in Aquitaine and subsequently Ludwig (10) in Bavaria. Lothair
was to succeed upon his father’s death. Not until about 825 were
they allowed to share in the father’s tasks. A rank ordering was being
established among the sons of Irmingard. Future divisions were to
be forbidden for all time, for just as the church was indivisible, so
the empire was to be indivisible. The ‘unity party’ had apparently
triumphed over the partitionists.
210
In accordance with Charlemagne’s
Divisio regnorum of 806 he still divided the realm according to the
number of his sons, contrary to seeming administrative logistics, but
probably in accordance with the realization that to maintain the
whole, the effective administration of the parts was essential. The
decision concerning Bernard’s rule in Italy was left for another occa-
sion. In Louis’ Ordinatio imperii illusory concerns for the unity of the
Christian Empire were pre-eminent, based on the logic that the con-
stitutional unity of the empire was divinely ordained through God’s
choice of Louis and a reflection of the encompassing body of Christ
210
Boshof, p. 131. Also Kasten, p. 168f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 93
94 r\n+ \
represented by the holy church. Only Christianity could maintain
the spiritual unity of the realm. To that end the purpose was the
realization of an eternal peace for the Christian people and at the same
time the precondition for the living faith.
211
Peace among the broth-
ers and the protection of the church were the objectives of the
Ordinatio imperii, which thus became not his personal testament, but
the realization of the new order of the realm. In 817 Louis renewed
the agreements, which Pepin and Charlemagne (756, 781, 787) had
made with the papacy concerning the so-called ‘Constantinian dona-
tion’. The later Humanists were to prove it a forgery.
212
With the
death of pope Leo III in 816, the question arose anew, whether the
newly elected pope needed the emperor’s confirmation. Previously
this had been the jurisdiction of the emperor in Constantinople.
Now, with the existence of an emperor in the west, what was the
nature of the protocol going to be? As long as the Franks had kings,
these were merely informed. An approval of the elected pope was
not usual. A change in the person of the pope happened for the
first time during the reign of Louis. It will be recalled that pope
Stephen IV visited Louis in Reims in 816 and crowned him and his
wife emperor and empress. The real reason given for the visit in the
Liber pontificalis was the confirmation of peace and the unity of God’s
holy church.
213
Pope and emperor appear to have agreed on mutu-
ally satisfactory points, burdening the relationship between future
emperors and the papacy. Louis’ coronation may well have sealed
the negotiations. The pact is no longer extant. It was renewed in
817, when a new pope, Paschalis I, succeeded to the papal throne.
This order was to be challenged by Bernard, Pepin’s son and sub-
king of Italy, who was manipulated into playing the rival and refus-
ing to subject himself to his cousin Lothair following his exclusion
from the Ordinatio imperii of 817.
214
We saw above, that in 818 his
uprising was struck down surprisingly quickly and Bernard was blinded.
The resentment and narrow dynastic thinking of his Arnulfingian
wife, Irmingard, may have been influential in the machinations and
211
Boshof, p. 132. See also Riché, p. 147f. and Kasten, p. 174.
212
See Arnold, Medieval Germany, p. 77.
213
A. Hahn, Das Hlodiwicianum, Die Urkunde Ludwigs d.Fr. für die römische Kirche von
817, in Archiv für Diplomatik, vol. 21 (Cologne, Vienna 1975), p. 23.
214
Boshof, pp. 142ff. See also Werner, in Godman and Collins, p. 41. See also
J. Nelson, ‘The Frankish kingdoms, 814–898: the West’, in McKitterick, New Cambridge
Medieval History, pp. 212ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 94
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 95
in the severity of the punishment. He died from the ordeal. In accor-
dance with Charlemagne’s plans for a Carolingian Italy, at the Council
of Aachen of 813, Louis had been sworn to respect and protect this
nephew. Perhaps quite innocent, he was now overwhelmed with
remorse and when his wife, Irmingard, died that same year, October
3, 818, his sense of guilt and grief was such that he considered abdi-
cation. How could he not think that her death was divine punish-
ment? His advisors dissuaded him and tried to distract him by
introducing him to a series of potential brides. He was to be spell-
bound by Judith, the daughter of the Alemanic count Welf—a
Frankish family which originated around Metz—,
215
a name to gain
in importance over the centuries. He married her in February 819.
Louis became very vulnerable to her influence. She was a beauty in
whom intelligence and activity were joined.
216
Ermoldus Nigellus
devotes extensive space to her in his verse biography of Louis the
Pious of 828. Just a few months later Walahfrid Strabo pays homage
to her in his poem De imagine Tetrici, in which he draws an analogy
first between Judith and her affection for her son Charles and the
Biblical Rachel, Jacob’s second wife and her affection for her son
Benjamin. He then links her with the Biblical Judith. To praise Judith
as an extraordinary person of learning and wisdom he also makes
extensive comparative references to the Greek poetess Sappho and
the Biblical prophetess Holda. Other tributes to her continue in this
vein.
217
Hostile voices implicated her in intrigues, including adultery,
and arranged for her imprisonment in 830. It should be apparent
that in her wisdom the fortunes of her son would be paramount, so
that she would act in a manner, which would not jeopardize his
part in the succession.
From 820 onward Louis’ eagerness for reform diminished and
came to a halt in 829. Following the death of Benedict of Aniane
in 821, he recalled his banished relatives to court and was recon-
ciled with them. The Annals 822 and Astronomus (35:1) record briefly
his voluntary repentance for his past misdemeanors, such as the death
of Bernard. Louis used the Diet of Attigny of 822 to render a pub-
lic confession of his sins ‘in the presence of the whole people’ in
215
Werner, in Reuter, Medieval Nobility, p. 148.
216
See E. Ward, ‘Caesar’s Wife, The Career of the Empress Judith, 819–829’,
in Godman and Collins, pp. 205–227.
217
Ward, in Godman and Collins, p. 223f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 95
96 r\n+ \
order to demonstrate the new ethical expectations by his own exam-
ple that a ruler was also subject to expiation if his actions were detri-
mental to the welfare of the realm. His deferent confession and
penitence were consistent with his view of his own shortcomings
toward his understanding of the failed definition of his Christian
Empire. Was this no more than a grandiose posturing gesture by
which means he could demonstrate his responsibility for all to the
Almighty and consciously place himself in the tradition of the repen-
tant Theodosius?
218
He took the ethical postulates of Christian rule
too literally and exposed himself in helpless vulnerability to the arbi-
trary judgments of his opposition. It is very probable that his spiri-
tual ideals were not universally understood, except as a weakness to
be exploited. Whatever his intention, Louis showed himself to be
vulnerable and subjected himself to priestly criticism, condemnation,
removal and domination in future.
219
It was too easy to subjugate
him, to bring him to account, to induce him to want to play the
sinner seeking forgiveness. However, again and again we read how
following such events Louis would go hunting for edible game, pre-
sumably, in the Ardennes or the Vosges Mountains.
Judith bore him first a daughter, Gisela, then a son, Charles, in
823, and the order of the succession was seriously disturbed as she
eventually prevailed on Louis to have Charles, later known as ‘the
Bald’, share in the inheritance. Lothair was committed by being
asked to act as godfather to his half-brother.
220
Aspersions were soon
to be cast on her fidelity and virtue. She was linked with the cham-
berlain, one Bernard of Toulouse, who began to play the role of a
mayor of the palace, recklessly abused the imperial power and under-
mined it entirely. Eventually the intrigues around the two were to
have the aim, once again, to send Louis off to a monastery. It was
to be a palace revolt by the ‘loyal opposition’ in the name of Lothair
and the order ordained by God in 817, which in 830 primarily
aimed at the disempowerment of Bernard and Judith.
221
Ultimately,
844, Charles had him beheaded. Judith had died in 843.
218
Semmler, ‘Renovatio’, in Godman and Collins, p. 136. See Staubach, p. 15.
219
Riché, p. 149.
220
According to Nithard, ch. 3, Lothair regretted his willingness and from then
on tried to undo what his father had arranged. See Nelson, Charles the Bald, for a
detailed biography.
221
Astronomus, ch. 44.1 intimates that Louis was ‘baffled by certain delusions’.
See also Astronomus, ch. 44:2 for the pressures brought to bear upon Judith to get
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 96
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 97
Reverses along the borders pointed to disruptive conditions in the
interior. The Annals 818 and following, tell of Pannonians repeatedly
invading from the southeast, while Northmen were beginning to rav-
age the coast south to Aquitaine (820), following the rivers into the
interior. Diplomatic relations were maintained between the court and
the sporadically feuding Slavic tribes and with the Danes in the
northeast. Armed disputes, corruption and the decline of morals
among the priesthood, their failing spiritual care owing to poor edu-
cation and the deplorable qualifications of the ignorant country clergy
and their exploitation for menial work and faltering discipline were
the fault of the local gentry, of court officials and the lax attention
paid by the crown. The Imperium Christianum was in jeopardy. The
Annals list natural catastrophes and devastations, eclipses, famines,
storms, miracles, strange visions and bad omens. It was argued that
God had been insulted.
222
The emperor, responsible for the realm,
was not sufficiently pro-active to care for justice and the faith, and
the selection of his officials. Resistance began to surface about the
primary role of the emperor over the religious and secular jurisdic-
tions. The writing of corrective dreams and reprimanding visions
became a literary activity. The blend of the Two Authorities is seen
as undesirable. The freedom of the church had to remain inviolate.
The emperor could protect the church, but not dispose over it. Again
one pointed to the relationship between misdemeanors of men and
the retribution of heaven. Louis convened four synods to address the
faults listed. Of these the writings of Jonas of Orléans at the Synod
of Paris, 829, played pointedly into the context of the power dual-
ism in that the Synod attempted to delimit the competence of each
power within the Corpus christianum. Within this construct both kings
and bishops were vicars of the rex et sacerdos Jesus Christus. Jonas revis-
ited the teaching of Gelasius who had envisaged the Two Authorities
represented more in a worldly state and a spiritual church.
223
The
unity party was driven onto the defensive. Now the dignitaries of
the church resisted any tendency toward the development of a state
church and demanded instead the superior and autonomous role in
determining church affairs.
224
her to have Louis abdicate and enter a monastery. Boshof, p. 182f. Also Brunner,
pp. 109ff.
222
Nithard, ch. 3, recounts the deterioration of the empire. Boshof, p. 174.
223
Angenendt, p. 381.
224
Boshof, p. 176.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 97
98 r\n+ \
This jurisdictional conflict became acute in 829 when Louis clearly
abandoned the principles of the Ordinatio imperii and proceeded uni-
laterally with the implementation of the partition of the inheritance,
giving Charles the Bald large parts of the realm—Alemania, Alsace,
Chur and a part of Burgundy—rather than dealing with the prob-
lems, which in the eyes of the church dignitaries needed attention.
Though a new kingdom was not created, the act did resemble a tra-
ditional reallotment, which was taken from Lothair’s share.
225
The
results were to affect the next 13 years, the remainder of his reign,
as his other sons, realizing that they were being played off against
one another by their father, concentrated on the acquisition of ter-
ritories and power in their own right.
226
His advisors, among them
the former chancellor Helisachar and the arch-chancellor Hilduin,
mentioned above, staged the coup in 830 in which the empress was
involved. Part of the resolution consisted of Judith being sent to a
convent, but Louis having to do penance and accept the Ordinatio
imperii as final. For a short while Lothair assumed the reign, but then
the positions were realigned and a power struggle ensued, as his
younger brothers preferred their father to their brother who proved
not to be equal to the task. Louis revoqued his designation as co-
ruler, though he could not change the fact that Lothair had been
anointed, and sent him to Italy. Louis had saved his throne, though
at a considerable loss of prestige. Judith could purge herself by an
oath of the charges against her and regained her influence. He bought
the support of his younger sons with the promise of the enlargement
of their domains. A lack of determination among the supporters of
the unity idea had cost them their power.
227
Soon Ludwig rose in
force, but when his support dwindled before the approaching emperor,
he realized that his support among the high nobility west of the
Rhine was limited and he submitted. Pepin of Aquitaine began to
show open resistance against his father, who retaliated with force of
arms, pillage and desolation and in the end, 833, Pepin was dethroned
and expelled. In 830 he had been a conspirator of the first hour
225
Boshof, ‘Einheitsidee’ in Godman and Collins, p. 183.
226
See J. Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 143f. See
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 241–257 for a characterization of Charles the Bald.
227
Nithard, ch. 3. Boshof, p. 188. See Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 88f. See Nelson
also in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 116ff. Also McKitterick,
‘Charles the Bald and the Defense of Carolingian kingship’, in Frankish Kingdoms,
p. 170f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 98
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 99
and in 832 his kingdom was awarded to Charles, the Bald. When
Pepin died in 838 his son was pushed aside and Charles, the Bald,
succeeded him in the west. In 831 Louis issued a new document,
the Regnio divisio, in which Pepin, Ludwig and Charles, the Bald,
were to share the realm in the event of Louis’ death. Till then he
retained full authority over all of the empire and the succession.
228
Astronomus (48.2) describes how at Colmar, in Alsace, in 833, in
the presence of pope Gregory IV (827–844), Louis’ sons faced their
father on the ‘Field of Lies’. He had to feel the threatening anger
of the crowd and watch the desertion of his own followers and troops.
Nithard claims that the sons enticed Louis’ supporters away from
him by promising various favors.
229
This loss of support was inter-
preted as divine intervention on behalf of imperial constitutional
unity and the rejection of Louis and his inclination toward partition.
The pope realized an opportunity to assert the superiority of the
spiritual authority as a guarantee of peace and unity.
230
This was to
be the first papal intervention in the politics of the empire. Prominent,
but fanatical churchmen again placed all blame on Judith, the new
Jezebel, pursuing the advantages of her son Charles. On July 30,
the emperor became the prisoner of his sons. Judith was banished
once again. To northern Italy this time.
231
Self interests, power and
territories were the main motivating factors not the unity of the
realm. Once again the sons tried to induce him to enter monastic
orders. On behalf of the papacy, Gregory proclaimed the pope’s
authority over that of the empire. Louis conceded to the point that
he did penance once again. At Soissons, Ebo, arch-bishop of Reims,
his friend since youth, accused him of breaking the Ordinatio imperii,
of sacrilege, murder, misgovernment, negligentia, pravitas and perjury
and recalled those cases for which the emperor had already done
penance in 822. His biographer Astronomus did note the peculiar-
ity of that. Not to have been able to resist the seductions of his sin-
ful wife, the violations of his divinely bestowed office sufficed to
remove him from office. Instead of listening to false advisers, he
should have listened to priests. He had become a tyrant. In the opin-
ion of Lothair’s supporters Louis could only submit to the Hand of
228
Kasten, p. 191.
229
Nithard, ch. 4.
230
Riché, p. 155f.
231
Nithard, ch. 4.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 99
100 r\n+ \
God and do penance.
232
Only complete penance could preserve his
salvation. In the monastery of St. Médard, worn out by the confine-
ment, he threw himself three times or more at the feet of the bish-
ops, confessed his guilt, begged for forgiveness and the assistance of
prayer, and promised to fulfill all tasks. Prostrated in front of the
altar he confessed his sins publicly by means of the spoken and writ-
ten word. He declared himself unworthy of the office, laid down his
arms and donned the penitent’s garb handed him by the bishops.
He was to accept lifelong penance and be unfit to rule.
The unexpected effect of the abuse of majesty was the crisis of
the monarchy through the loss of its authority. During these proce-
dures an embassy from Constantinople was visiting the Frankish
court. Their gifts were not presented to Lothair. The unkind treat-
ment of his father, whom he dragged from place to place under
strictest guard, the abuses of power by Lothair and by his favorites
and the rivalry among his closest supporters transformed the mood
of the people in favor of the old deposed emperor. The support for
Lothair and his party had not been unanimous in any instance. His
younger brothers had obtained the additional territories, which they
wanted and Ludwig proceeded to claim greater independence. Till
now he had been designated ‘king of Bavaria’ and dated his docu-
ments according to the reign of his father, as of 833 he assumed
the absolute royal title rex and dates his documents without refer-
ence to the empire rex in orientali Francia. Even though the Diet of
Nymwegen refuses to grant him this title, hereafter this itinerant king
claims and defends all the east Rhenish lands as his domain and
forms stronger links with the east Frankish nobility.
233
Pepin did not
imitate his brother.
Two points of contradictory procedure were to reverse Louis’ sit-
uation—having been condemned a second time for transgressions
already confessed earlier and being deposed for transgressions for
which penance was supposed to be the actual deliverance.
234
Lothair
had behaved in a most undignified manner and his younger broth-
ers, seeking independent kingdoms, revolted and the situation came
to be reversed. Louis was completely rehabilitated owing to the efforts
232
Astronomus, chs. 48:3, 49:1. Astronomus gives a detailed description of the
events. Boshof, pp. 196ff.
233
Boshof, p. 198. Brunner, p. 118. See also Innes, State and Society, p. 199.
234
Angenendt, p. 382.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 100
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 101
of the abbot of Fulda, Hrabanus Maurus, who, by becoming politically
involved, became the mouthpiece for an opposition, which formed
around Ludwig, the German.
235
In response to a request from Louis
the Pious Hrabanus Maurus compiled Biblical texts supporting his
demands that sons show respect for their father, the people’s loyalty
for their ruler and expressed the wish that the profoundly injured
emperor could forgive all those who had wished him ill, especially
Lothair. Just at this time he had prepared commentaries for the
Biblical figures Judith and Esther and these he dedicated to the sorely
tested empress Judith, praised her virtues and placed her at the side
of the Biblical heroines. In a medallion-shaped likeness of the empress
he shows her in a carmen figuratum, a picto-poem of a text of assem-
bled letters, under the blessing Hand of God. That text asks for
Judith’s protection from Christ, the right hand of God. She is encir-
cled by the words ‘Give to her, God, blessed gifts, the crown on
high’.
236
He is confident of her triumph over all of her enemies. Also
Walahfrid Strabo, the abbot of Reichenau, since 829, captivated by
her, in her service and tutor of young Charles,
237
placed his skills
into the service of the emperor and dedicated a poem to her in
which he criticized sharply the double treachery against Louis. By
the end of the year 833 Ludwig negotiated successfully with Lothair
on behalf of his father.
238
By 831 the younger brothers were devel-
oping a different structure for the realm and refused to submit their
real interests to the ideals of imperial unity. At the end of February
834 military forces caused Lothair to flee. Nithard recounts how
Lothair’s supporters were either condemned to death or forced into
exile.
239
Already on March 1, bishops freed Louis from his penance
and his regal garments and his weapons were restored to him. Shortly
later he renewed his coronation and Judith Augusta, as Astronomus
called her, was freed and returned to the court at Aachen.
240
235
Dutton, Politics of Dreaming, p. 103. See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 333f. for Ludwig’s
contacts with scholarly men.
236
E. Sears, in Godman and Collins, p. 620. Also M. de Jong, ‘The empire as
ecclesia: Hrabanus Maurus and Biblical historia for rulers’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of
the Past, p. 206f.
237
Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 82ff. for details of the interaction.
238
Boshof, pp. 204ff.
239
Nithard, ch. 3. Also Innes, State and Society, p. 201.
240
Nithard, ch. 4, indicates that Judith was not readmitted to the royal bed until
she had reestablished her innocence of the accusations with which she had been
charged, infidelity and adultery, by means of an oath. See also Nelson, p. 45f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 101
102 r\n+ \
The life of Frankish royal women could be trying. Although this
is best demonstrated among the Merovingian queens it also appears
to have applied to someone like Judith. A queen’s status hinged on
her ability to give birth to an heir and on her skills to keep him
and a mother’s aspirations for her son alive, despite the rivalries and
court intrigues. In turn her security and influence depended on the
survival of her son(s). To protect the heir’s future was worth any
struggle. Being mother of the heir, made her a favorite in the king’s
eyes and in that role she could act as a buffer working against the
interests of others and as a serious influence on the king in her own
right. It follows that a strong queen, especially if she was well edu-
cated and ambitious and also had three grown step-sons, would polar-
ize positions of envy, personal interest and opportunity around her
and while she found devoted followers in some, she would be a hate-
ful Jezebel to others. The latter group would certainly be interested
to bring about her downfall and removal. She would require con-
siderable skill to be perhaps irritatingly insistent on the pursuit of
her own aims, without endangering her own position and personal
safety through the loss of favor. Wrongfully or not, Judith was accused
of an adulterous relationship with Bernard, the chamberlain. In 830,
she had to purge herself by means of an oath.
241
There was no
accuser.
Louis’ spiritual opponents were banished. Ebo, archbishop of Reims,
had fled to Fulda. Brought back, he had to answer to a synod, con-
fessed his transgressions, declared himself unworthy of his office,
renounced it voluntarily and was removed from it in March 834.
He was returned to Fulda and placed under the supervision of Hraba-
nus Maurus.
242
Lothair and his supporters fled south, to Vienne. Subsequently
Louis’ imperial forces were badly defeated by Lothair’s supporters
along the border of Brittany. Lothair himself took the offensive in
Burgundy, and, as Astronomus (52.3) described, sacked the city of
Châlons sur Saône, lost control over his fanatical troops, letting them
plunder the churches and commit atrocities. He had several nobles,
at least one of them vassals of the emperor, beheaded.
243
Louis finally
called up his forces, including Ludwig’s troops from east of the Rhine.
241
Riché, p. 154.
242
Astronomus, ch. 54:1, for Ebo’s situation. Boshof, p. 211f.
243
Nithard, ch. 5.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 102
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 103
Lothair avoided a pitched battle, but when Pepin of Aquitaine
advanced against him as well, he capitulated to the emperor. He
and his followers prostrated themselves and confessed their guilt.
Louis exiled him to Italy with the order not to leave it without his
permission, and not to get involved in affairs of the realm.
244
His
supporters were granted amnesty without loss of most of their pos-
sessions and the freedom to follow Lothair to Italy. Louis was gra-
cious and merciful, partly in keeping with the ethics expected of a
Christian monarch, partly in keeping with political expediency, for
the inheritance of Charles, the actual cause of all the turmoil, was
still not settled. Owing to the terms of reconciliation Lothair and his
magnates retained power and influence and Louis needed their sup-
port if he wanted to settle this question to his satisfaction.
245
Since most of the reformers and the advocates of the union of
the realm had sided with Lothair, Louis sought his supporters from
among his family, even those whom he had sent away from court
in his early years and raised them to positions of dignity in state
and church, once again concentrating the high offices around his
own person. He reclaimed a degree of royal effectiveness, reconsol-
idated his position and in assemblies of magnates and bishops had
the humiliations of his dethronement reversed. To mark the restitu-
tion his coronation was renewed once again in Metz in 835. Even
though Louis had regained his authority, the approach to dealing
with the political situation concerning the partition question as well
as the external threat from the north, was no more than a stalemate
with a resentful Lothair confined to Italy, a resigned Pepin in Aquitaine
and a restive Ludwig east of the Rhine. Charles remained hopeful
in his possessions straddling the upper Rhine. During the twenty-six
years of his reign Louis the Pious reorganized the succession ten
times.
246
Louis’ attention should have been directed elsewhere.
The annals of these years engage in annual reports of raids and
invasions, devastations, destruction, pillage and killings.
247
Throughout
the 9th century the Northmen were mainly Danes and according to
244
Astronomus, ch. 55:2, indicates that Lothair and his following in Italy vio-
lated the conditions of their oaths and that they were harassing with special bru-
tality the church of Saint Peter, promised safeguard by his father and grandfather.
245
Boshof, pp. 206–210.
246
Kasten, p. 198.
247
R. Collins, Early Medieval Europe, 300–1000 (New York 1991), pp. 313ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 103
104 r\n+ \
the records, most of their leaders were related to the royal house of
Denmark. In 817 Louis the Pious had invited a Danish fleet to attack
the Abodrites. A few years later the Danes came on their own, per-
haps taking advantage of the hostilities between Louis the Pious and
his son Lothair. In 834 Danes raided Frisia, freely plundering such
trading centers as Dorestad—four times between 834 and 837—in
the Rhine estuary and thereby inaugurated the recurring raids of
the Northmen, later to gain notoriety as Vikings. In 838 already the
king of the Danes, Horic I, demanded that Frisia and the land of
the Abodrites be ceded to him. Rouen was destroyed in 841, Quentovic
in 842, Nantes in 843, Toulouse in 844, Hamburg and Paris in 845,
Bordeaux in 848, Orleans in 853, Poitiers in 865 on the request of
Pepin and Soissons in 886. Repeatedly Carolingian dissension proved
a boon to the Vikings.
248
Much effort brought little success against
them. Although Louis ordered better organization and improved
coastal defenses, the measures could not prevent the incursions and
the increasing damage. The troops moved in to remedy the situa-
tion will have contributed to the problem as they tried to compen-
sate in marauding ways for a missing supply system. Isolated outposts
had to be abandoned. The inhabitants fled, the site was set aflame
and 36 hours later the raiders had disappeared. The defensive measures
of the realm could not match mobility, flexibility, speed and surprise,
the aggressive methods of the seafaring raiders in their superior ships,
though their vast number of ships (700?) and men (40 000?) are
highly exaggerated.
249
They were not pirates intent on systematic
destruction. Diplomacy could not prevent the return visits to obtain
more material goods, which brought greater yield. The Northmen
could go ashore at will, the Frankish troops, including the cavalry,
250
248
H. Harthausen, Die Normanneneinfälle im Elb- und Wesermündungsgebiet mit beson-
derer Berücksichtigung der Schlacht von 880 (Hildesheim 1966). Harthausen argues that
the Viking raids were a response to dynastic turmoil in their homelands, when some
leaders were driven away and had to find means of survival elsewhere. See also
Angenendt, p. 385, for raided sites. See Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 37ff., 151ff.
Also S. Coupland, ‘The Vikings in Francia and Anglo-Saxon England to 911.’ in
McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 190–201.
249
Harthausen, Normanneneinfälle, pp. 5ff., discusses the size of ships and crews of
the Viking dragon ships and calculates crews of 50, 30 to man the oars and 20
other specialists. The size of the ships was limited by the length of the keel, a sin-
gle oak beam. The small populations of the homelands will not have provided such
large surpluses of men as the monastic records suggest.
250
See Nelson, ‘Ninth-Century Knighthood: The Evidence of Nithard’, in Nelson,
Frankish World, pp. 75–87.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 104
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 105
could not intercept them. At first their intent was to find booty and
it was the speed of their ships, which made the attack of several
sites in a short time possible. They were led by endangered mem-
bers of the royal Danish house who had been excluded from shar-
ing dynastic power and been driven into exile, who could gather
adventuresome warriors with whom to raid western Europe to gather
great fame, wealth and power.
251
Voices in the church proclaimed
the raids to be punishments sent by God to scourge Christian wicked-
ness and sins. Slow communications in the reporting of raids may
have made their numbers appear much larger. Only later did the
raids become conquests. During the 840s the Northmen established
settlements in the estuaries of the Rhine, the Schelde, the Seine and
Loire and penetrate unhindered up the Rhine into the interior to
Cologne, Koblenz and Trier and up the Seine into Burgundy. Liège
and Aachen were equally accessible. Reevaluations indicate that such
settlements tended to foster markets, attracted merchants and pro-
moted the exchange of goods with the neighboring populations, which
may have outweighed the initial damage.
252
Churches and monastic
establishments were favored sites of attack because of the availabil-
ity there of such concentrations of precious metals as silver and gold
and ornate fabrics. It is conceivable that the local populations par-
ticipated in these raids in order to improve their own fortunes. The
records of such events were largely kept by the clergy and among
them the cry was raised that these raiders were instruments of God,
inflicting due punishment. Without a fleet the Frankish forces could
never react in time. The parts of the empire needed to respond, as
individual situations required it. The central authority, but also the
local nobility, failed to respond adequately to the needs. Neither saw
the common short-term threat to the realm, perhaps because the
Vikings were actually contributing to the long-term economic growth
of Western Europe. Thus most towns survived the Viking invasions
without significant disruptions, to prosper from the tenth century
onward as centers engaging in long-distance trade.
253
The nobility
saw to its own advantages and interests. Mutual support was becom-
ing a set of contractual agreements.
254
The thinking behind centuries
251
Sawyer and Sawyer, Medieval Scandinavia, p. 52f.
252
Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 38ff.
253
A. Verhulst, The Carolingian Economy (Cambridge 2002), p. 8.
254
Riché, p. 189f. Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 21, indicates that Charles the Bald
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 105
106 r\n+ \
of waging offensive war could not easily be converted to the men-
tality required for defensive strategies. In 834 the Frisians were not
particularly helpful to the Franks in mounting a defense. Their com-
munity of seafaring interests may have been much closer to that of
the seafaring Danes. Once again defeatism spread as the aggressive
Northmen were deemed to be a scourge sent by God. Louis tried
to negotiate with the king of the Danes, who now made demands
and set conditions and asked for the cession of Frisia and the land
of the Abodrites in return for any agreements. While Carolingian
military competence was declining, the Northmen were becoming
conscious of their power and advantages contributing to a worsen-
ing situation in the northeast.
255
During the 9th century the payment
of tributes and ransoms depleted the available reserves in bullion
almost completely. Thus in 845 a Viking fleet had sailed to the gates
of Paris and had exacted about 7000 pounds of silver from Charles
the Bald. In 858 he paid a ransom of 688 pounds of gold and 3250
pounds of silver, 4000 in 866 and 5000 pounds of silver in 877.
256
The repeated payments of tribute caused the reduction of the silver
content in the coinage,
257
considerable impoverishment and great
unrest among his nobles, as Charles exacted the amounts from them.
By 859 Viking war bands had become a destabilizing factor in
Frankish finances, economics and politics, sometimes as raiders, more
often as mercenaries, even fighting one another, in Frankish disputes
and open rebellions. Noteworthy is the attack of the nobility on an
association of peasants, which had wanted to put up active resist-
ance against the Vikings. The nobles saw in this an intolerable poten-
tial threat of their own authority.
258
In 838 the Slavs had been disturbed by the negotiations between
the Franks and the Vikings and rose in arms. In the southeast Mora-
vians
259
and Bulgars
260
were forging centers of power. The Mediter-
ranean was coming under the control of the Saracens.
had to give away royal land to gain the support of his nobles, no longer being able
to distribute the spoils of war and expansion.
255
See Astronomus, ch. 55:2. Also Boshof, p. 224f. See Nelson, Charles the Bald,
p. 20.
256
Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 186, 250.
257
Verhulst, Carolingian Economy, p. 134.
258
Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 193f., 204ff. See especially C.R. Bowlus, Franks,
Moravians, and Magyars. The Struggle for the Middle Danube, 788–907 (Philadelphia 1995).
259
Riché, p. 230. See Hartmann, pp. 113–119.
260
Hartmann, p. 119.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 106
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 107
Louis’ foreign policy was not a total failure. The expansionist era
had already come to a close in Charlemagne’s time. At this moment
the threats to the periphery of the realm were only just beginning.
Such as they were, they did not merit the preoccupation that was
needed to solve the inheritance question. Constant distractions were
his passion for the hunt and a very severe and persistent case of
gout, occasionally so severe that he could not move. Not eating game
would have helped tremendously. Judith had every reason to want
to see Charles’ inheritance settled, especially in view of the improv-
ing relations between Louis and Lothair, starting in 836. The party
promoting imperial unity was once again gaining ground. However,
disputes over the restitution of church properties delayed the process,
especially when Lothair claimed illness and did not attend a court
gathering. In 836 the Synod of Aachen faulted Pepin of Aquitaine
for this very reason. He yielded. This will not have endeared his
father to him. However, the main purpose of the Synod was the
elimination of confusion and the restoration of order in the realm.
The text of the Synod of Paris of 829 was reactivated. Again the
dualism of powers first raised by Gelasius was revisited. A renewed
restorative synergy of church and state was reformulated. Lothair
was also affected by the demand for the restitution of church prop-
erty. He had used it to compensate his followers and could not eas-
ily redistribute it. Louis had invited Pepin and Ludwig to join him
on his voyage to Rome, which did not enthuse Lothair at all for he
could see through the device to impose a control on him. He closed
the Alpine passes, but Louis had to tend to an invasion of Frisia by
Northmen and cancelled his trip to Rome. Lothair resisted all attempts
of a rapprochement when, according to Astronomus (56.2), an out-
break of disease in Italy in 837 killed off a large number of his expa-
triate Frankish supporters. Henceforth he could no longer object
from a position of strength. Ludwig drew nearer to his brother
Lothair. In 838 Louis reacted immediately by transferring a long
strip of territory between the North Sea and Burgundy to Charles,
without making him king, so that the typical partition had not yet
taken place, but magnates ‘gave their hands to Charles and swore
oaths of fealty’.
261
This brought about a serious clash between Louis
261
Astronomus, ch. 59:1. See Nithard, ch. 5, for a list of the ceded territories.
Innes, State and Society, p. 205, argues that the conflict was really about the Imperial
control of the region of the middle Rhine.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 107
108 r\n+ \
and his son Ludwig. Ludwig was deprived of all lands but Bavaria,
a serious reverse to his plans to consolidate his share. Judith and
some influential churchmen probably promoted this design, for it
met with Judith’s intentions. At the diet of Quierzy that September
Louis went a step further. According to Astronomus (59.1) Charles
was ‘girded with manly weapons’. i.e. invested with his sword, as a
sign of having come of age and crowned king of parts of Neustria
between Seine and Loire. The magnates of Neustria present ‘gave
their hands to Charles and swore oaths of fealty’. Pepin was restored
in Aquitaine
262
and Lothair was reminded of his duties as Charles’
godfather. With the creation of this kingdom, the Ordinatio imperii was
finally overcome. With this outcome, the partinionists had won.
In 838 Ludwig made a last attempt to secure the Rhine as bound-
ary for his East Frankish lands and occupied Frankfurt just when
Louis wanted to use the site for an assembly. As Louis assembled
his forces, including members from the east-rhenish tribes, Ludwig’s
Thuringians, Alemans and Eastern Franks fell away. The required
cohesion had not yet come about. Ludwig withdrew to Bavaria.
263
His magnates were either rewarded or punished, but all were recom-
mitted to Louis by the oath of fealty. In December of 838 Pepin of
Aquitaine died and in view of Louis faltering state, Judith once again
turned to Lothair as primary candidate in the partition to take the
part of Charles, his godson. A reconciliation of Lothair with his
father took on the story of the parable of the Prodigal Son and
Lothair accepted the terms of partition, that Charles should inherit
half of the realm, west of the line Maas—Saône—Rhône. According
to Nithard Louis left the partition to Lothair, provided he would let
Charles have first choice. Unable to divide the kingdom, he yielded
to his father’s wisdom. Lothair was to take the east and Italy, with
the exception of Bavaria, this partition to come into effect upon
Louis’ death.
264
Evidently Louis tried to maintain the spirit of the
partition of 817, leaving Lothair as representative of the idea of con-
stitutional unity. Ludwig the German was also committed to the
maintenance of this new agreement and was threatened with mili-
262
Nithard, ch. 5.
263
Astronomus, ch. 61:1. See also Nithard, ch. 6.
264
Nithard, ch. 6. writes that Lothair would enforce his father’s will regarding
Charles from now on. See also ch. 7 for details of the reconciliation between Louis
and Lothair.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 108
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 109
tary force, should he leave Bavaria. Ludwig found it advisable to
come to terms, except that he too asked for guarantees. A council
at Châlons was to resolve the Aquitainian situation. In the mean-
time the magnates of Aquitaine had passed over Charles and ele-
vated Pepin’s son to the throne, insisting on the Ordinatio imperii and
its provision that sons should succeed their fathers. Louis had vio-
lated that provision repeatedly, solving the problems by means of
force majeure, power politics. This time military intervention proved
a failure. During Lent of 839 the news reached him that Ludwig
had once again risen against his father and with some Saxons, Thurin-
gians and East Frankish troops had once again reached Frankfurt
and repeated his claim to the east-rhenish lands. Once again his
uprising was a failure as Louis pursued him into Thuringia, making
him recognize the father’s superiority.
Louis had been suffering from bronchitis and now an additional
ailment laid him low. Astronomus (62.4) describes the symptoms,
which a modern diagnosis interprets as cancer of the esophagus or
stomach. An eclipse of the sun was taken to be an omen indicating
his end. Astronomus elaborates Louis death in considerable detail,
how on his deathbed he distributed his possessions, worried about
the church and his sense of failure and answered those who tried
to persuade him to reconcile himself with Ludwig. Astronomus (63.3),
recounts how Louis recited a list of Ludwig’s ingratitudes, forgave
him, but reminded him how much he had contributed to the death
of his father and had discarded God’s commandment.
265
Of his fam-
ily only his half-brother Drogo was present. He died on June 20,
840. According to Astronomus (64.2) Louis’ last words belonged to
the exorcism vocabulary as if to drive off a malign spirit, which he
had seen. He was buried in an antique sarcophagus in Metz, along-
side his mother, his sisters and other Carolingians.
Louis the Pious, a Carolingian though he was, saw his legitimacy
in his conviction that he was king/emperor solely because of God’s
grace and did his understandable best to live up the challenge, which
that divine vocation entailed. In serving the realm in his ministry,
he served God. Falling short in the perception of others he made
himself vulnerable to criticism, opposition, rebellion and his own
265
Nelson, ‘The last Years of Louis the Pious’, in Frankish World, pp. 40ff. Also
Dutton, Politics of Dreaming, p. 110.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 109
110 r\n+ \
enforced humiliation. By accepting the bishops as his judges he did
not appreciate that it was in the interest of their power politics to
have him assume willingly the role of repentant sinner.
Before his death Louis had sent a crown and a richly ornamented
sword to Lothair, according to Astronomus (63.2), and charged him
to tend to Judith and his brother Charles and to leave him the share,
which had been apportioned, to him. Thereby Lothair was desig-
nated imperial heir in accordance with the Ordinatio imperii of 817
adjusted to reflect the new circumstance. Lothair adhered to the
unity idea and attracted recognition and many supporters among
the highest nobility to his cause when he crossed the Alps to ascend
the throne.
266
However, once again, owing to his scheming ways, he
alienated his supporters when in his dealings with his brothers he
once again reverted to insincerity and deception. He roused his broth-
ers Charles and Ludwig to take joint military action against him and
at the unjustifiable Battle of Fontenoy near Auxerre, June 25, 841,
Lothair’s forces were decisively defeated, despite the assistance of
Pepin II of Aquitaine.
267
It was one of the bloodiest battles of the
Middle Ages, with some 40 000 casualties on Lothair’s side. While
Lothair’s opponents preferred to consider the defeat a divine judg-
ment, which granted the brothers their fair share of the realm, he
did not, claimed victory and remained belligerent. Since he persisted
with his cause, the fratricidal war dragged on till 843, costing him
ever more support and influence.
On February 14, 842, the armies of Ludwig and Charles had met
at Strasbourg where the kings swore a set of oaths, actually a non-
aggression pact, Charles in German, Ludwig in French in front of
each other’s army. Both oaths were originally recorded in Nithard’s
Histories, preserved only in copies, but as examples of early German
and early French. Just before each oath Nithard introduces the terms
romana and teudisca lingua, as follows, Lodhuwicus romana, Karolus vero
teudisca lingua iuraverunt. Exactly what these terms were intended to
266
Nithard, Bk. II, ch. 1, presents a rather disenchanted impression of Lothair’s
assumption of power. But then Nithard leaves little doubt that he is writing on
behalf of Charles the Bald. Nithard devotes the chapters of Bk. II and III to sum-
marize events during the next three years.
267
Nithard, Bk. II, ch. 10, Bk. III, ch. 1, renders a shocked summary of the bat-
tle and its aftermath. See Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 114ff., 118ff. Also Angenendt,
p. 382. Also Brunner, p. 123.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 110
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 111
mean is not clear.
268
What is clear, is that Nithard wanted to empha-
size the significance of these oaths by setting them off in an unprece-
dented, seemingly spontaneous, verbatim ‘vernacular’ of sorts, for the
text into which they are placed is in Latin. ‘Vernacular’, because
neither language existed at that time in this common form, and cer-
tainly not as official languages. Both parts of the realm used a mul-
titude of regional dialects reflecting the large tribal groups in which
Latin served as the general language of communications, although
it was no one’s first language. A Latin original will necessarily have
underlain the ‘vernacular’ versions. That the teudisca lingua should be
quite different is perhaps not surprising. What is more surprising is
how different the romana lingua is from Latin by mid-ninth century.
Being the older, Ludwig swore first, in the following words: Pro deo
amur et pro christian poblo et nostro commun salvament, d’ist di un avant in
quant Deus savir et podir me dunat, si saluarai eo cist meon fradre Karlo et in
aiudha et in cadhuna cosa, si cum om per dreit son fradra saluar dist, in o quid
il mi altresi fazet, et ab Ludher nul plaid numquam prindrai, qui meon vol cist
meon fradre Karlo in damno sit.
Charles swore as follows: In godes minna ind in these christianes folches
ind unser bedhero gehaltnissi, fon thesemo dage frammordes, so fram mir so mir
got gewizci indi maht furgibit, so hald ih tesan minan bruoder soso man mit rehtu
sinan bruodher scal, inthin daz er mig so sama duo, indi mit Ludheren in nohheiniu
thing ne gegango the minan willon imo ce scadhen werben.
269
The oaths followed established rhetorical formats in their address of
God—People—Ruler as each brother indicates his intention to unite
with the other brother against the third brother out of love of God,
for the sake of their Christian people and their own salvation. Each
oath implies a condition based on the mutual exchange of Christian
brotherly love, provided that God give to each wisdom and power.
The early German text is not totally identical to the text in early
French. Ludwig mentions Charles by name. The French text does
not mention Ludwig. Both mention Lothair in a negative exclusion
clause with the implication that the agreement is void if one of the
brothers enters an agreement with Lothair damaging to the other
brother, his equal partner.
268
See Arnold, pp. 4ff. concerning the use of derivatives of the word ‘Teuton’.
The original Teutons were a Celtic people, annihilated by Marius in 103 B.C.E.
Cf. Schutz, Prehistory, pp. 339ff.
269
S. Becker, Untersuchungen zur Redaktion der Straßburger Eide (Bern, Frankfurt/M.
1972), p. 26f. Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 122ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 111
112 r\n+ \
In modern English the text reads as follows: For the love of God and the
common salvation of the Christian people and ourselves, from this day forth, as
far as God give me wisdom and power, I will treat this my brother as one should
rightfully treat a brother on condition that he does the same by me. And with
Lothair I will not willingly enter into any agreement, which might injure this, my
brother.
270
Their followers swore oaths with identical texts, each in the others’
language: If Louis/Charles keeps the oath which he swore to his brother
Charles/Louis and my Lord Charles/(my Lord Louis breaks the oath he swore to
him) does not keep it on his part, and if I am unable to restrain him, I shall
not give him any aid against Louis/Charles nor will anyone whom I can keep
from doing so.
271
This oath raises a number of interesting legal aspects about the evolv-
ing understanding of vassalage. Primarily the oath sworn between
the brothers was witnessed by the armies, who in turn state their
understanding and commitment to the terms. The collective oath is
the sacramentum fidei, the oath of loyalty to himself and his sons exacted
after his coronation in 800, which every Frank at the age of 12 had
to swear to his ruler, an oath reintroduced by Charlemagne.
272
These
vassal armies refuse their duties as vassals, should their liege lord act
unjustly against his partner. This is of legal interest, for the vassal
voices his right to reserve judgment about the cause to which the
oath of allegiance is to commit him. The collective oath points in
the direction of the autonomy of the individual to reach his own
decision rather than following his liege lord in unconditioned obe-
dience. The oath has something of a ‘social contract’ about it. It
may imply that the followers could change sides.
What was the significance that contemporaries attached to these
oaths? It is of interest that only West Frankish records either existed
or have survived. In the East Frankish kingdom the oaths appear
not to have been documented. For the moment the ideal of the con-
stitutional unity of the empire had been preserved. It is noteworthy
that following the partition Ludwig was able to attract to his cause
some of his most important opponents.
273
270
Nithard, Bk. III, ch. 5.
271
Ibid.
272
Becker, p. 33. See Riché, p. 128. Nelson, ‘kingship and empire’, in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, p. 67, concerning the oaths.
273
Brunner, p. 128.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 112
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 113
IV. Towards the partition of the Empire
Following the Battle of Fontenoy Lothair had retired toward Aachen
and in the months following had carried the treasure away from
there. A gathering of bishops and priests at Aachen of March 842
used the divine judgment of the battle to review Lothair’s career
and to disqualify him from rule and twelve commissioners to a side,
selected by the brothers, charged them to share the empire.
274
His defeat, the oaths against him and the loss of the imperial seat
at Aachen persuaded Lothair to yield and gradually and reluctantly
come to terms with his brothers in a treaty. No wording of the treaty
actually exists. Nithard ended his Histories in December 842, with
the marriage of his Lord Charles to Ermentrude, the daughter of
count Odo of Paris. The last lines deal with an eclipse the follow-
ing March. He is dejected that ‘rapine and wrongs of every sort
were rampant on all sides, and now the unseasonable weather killed
the last hope of any good to come.
275
The empress Judith died that
April and Northmen invaded the coastal regions. For Charles a deci-
sion had to be reached. It was the eve of a new chapter in the his-
tory of Western Europe.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 was a fraternal partition, intended
to guarantee the realm, lasting for most of the next 30 years. The
new Treaty of Meersen in 870 eliminated Lothair’s unviable strip
between the West and East Frankish kingdoms, with Lombardy a
separate entity. In 843 Charles was the west Frankish king, Lothair
was emperor and received a strip from the North Sea, parts of
Austrasia, Burgundy and Carolingian Italy to south of Rome. Ludwig
was East Frankish king in Saxony, Swabia and Bavaria, including
the vast territories of the bishoprics of Mainz, Worms and Speyer.
276
The objective rested in the equal division of territories and royal
resources, without any consideration given to notions of ‘nationality’.
For a while this fraternal tripartite arrangement worked well enough
since a unified Christian church preserved the overall unity of the
realm. The divisions followed only approximate linguistic lines, because
dynastic concerns were the primary issue, so that no ‘homogeneous’
or ‘ethnic’ kingdoms came into being. Divergent processes came into
274
Nithard, Bk. IV, ch. 1. See also Riché, p. 163.
275
Nithard, Bk. IV, ch. 7. See also Wallace-Hadrill, p. 238f.
276
Löwe, p. 178. Riché, p. 165f. Innes, State and Society, p. 210.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 113
114 r\n+ \
play as the ‘community of interests’ showed rifts. The linguistic
differences only symbolize the gradual deterioration in communica-
tions between the parts of the vast realm. Basic to the territorial
arrangements may have been a condition expressed first by Charle-
magne in his Divisio regnorum of 806 and then by Louis the Pious in
Ordinatio imperii of 817 in which it was required that a vassal receive
lands only within the jurisdiction of his lord, as no vassal could swear
homage to several lords. The logic behind the partition then was a
question of compacting the parts of the realm, in order to keep pow-
erful vassals within a king’s realm.
277
Unfortunately the compacting
administrative exercise meant the surrender of enclaves and hence
a further loss of overall cohesion as offshoot establishments lost the
link with their motherhouses. Consistent with a Carolingian practice
introduced by Charlemagne each sub-king, or even co-emperor, ful-
filled a dual (apprenticeship) role as king in the Frankish realm and
as king of a particular kingdom. Thus Ludwig the German was un-
disputed king of Bavaria. His support lay not among the high nobil-
ity, but among the lesser Frankish aristocracy perhaps from the
former entourage of Tassilo III. The formation of an independent
eastern kingdom was not in the interests of the older nobility
278
and
the creation of a separate France and Germany was not the initial
objective at this time, but an inevitable development as the consti-
tutional unity of the empire, the church, the peoples and of a cohesive
historical culture became ever more subject to divergent forces.
Linguistic differences had little to do with the emergence of regional
interests. It will become apparent that the external pressures on the
parts of the realm required particularistic responses. Defense and
economics played major roles in forcing the abandonment of the
idealistic notions of rule over a united empire in favor of pragmatic,
territorial, administrative needs. Despite years of sincere effort to
maintain a defensive unity, circumstances imposed a concentration
of common interests in terms of a particularistic Realpolitik. Charle-
magne’s empire had been a unique configuration, which overextended
the available, realistic, administrative, communicational, economic
and spiritual possibilities.
277
Riché, p. 167. See especially Innes, State and Society, p. 196, who claims that
it was only a small group of observers, with inordinate long term influence, who
lamented the division. Division was a means of retaining dynastic control over so
vast a territory.
278
Brunner, p. 120.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 114
+
n
r

c
\
n
o
r
i
x
o
i
\
x

n
r
\
r
v
s
1
1
5
Map 3. The Partition of the Carolingian Empire following the Treaty of Verdun 843.
S
C
H
U
T
Z
_
f
3
_
1
7
-
1
3
4


9
/
2
3
/
0
3


7
:
4
5

P
M


P
a
g
e

1
1
5
116 r\n+ \
Following the death of Lothair in 855, the realm was further
divided into five parts when he divided his part among his three
sons. Rivalries, expansionism, aggression, opportunism, self interest
prevented the realm from coming to rest. Ludwig the German was
part of the problem and a synod of bishops tried to subject him to
an equally humiliating submission and repentance to which they had
subjected his father. However, in the face of virtually unanimous
opposition, Ludwig yielded to the pressures and at Koblenz, on June
7, 860, Charles and Ludwig swore once again, though this time each
in his own language. The bishops had provided the text. In their
eyes they had restored the unity of the realm. At the same time a
most important feature was introduced into all future negotiations
between the empire and the church. Based on the forged documents
of a certain Pseudo-Isidore, new grounds for the inviolability of
church property and the omnipotence of the episcopal office were
formulated. Most decisive was the attribution of new juridical pow-
ers to the pope. These forgeries favored the definition of bishops
and especially the empowerment of the papacy, which now ener-
getically assumed the responsibility for the illusory unity of the Imperium
Christianum, including the right to dominate the bishops and to crown
the emperor.
279
In retrospect the papacy was only too ready to grow
into the paternal role of guardian of the unity of all Christendom
gradually being vacated by the divided temporal powers. Lothair’s
heirs came under the pressure of the Saracens in Italy and of the
West Frankish kingdom when Charles the Bald increased his aggres-
sion against Provence and Lotharingia/Lorraine in the north. Ludwig
the German tried to keep these two states as buffers between him-
self and Charles, unsuccessfully, for this ended when Charles seized
Lorraine.
280
In August of 870, at Meersen,
281
just north of Aachen,
a Treaty redrew the partition of the empire along different lines:
Lombardy became an independent kingdom with its own sovereign
king, Louis II, who also had the imperial crown, while most of
Lotharingia and Burgundy became parts of the East Frankish king-
dom. Ludwig was able to make his case forcefully, because he had
279
Angenendt, p. 394f. for details of the forged documentation. Also Riché, pp.
170ff.
280
Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 217ff.
281
Ibid. pp. 224ff. for details of the Treaty of Meersen.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 116
+
n
r

c
\
n
o
r
i
x
o
i
\
x

n
r
\
r
v
s
1
1
7
Map 4. The Partition of the Carolingian Empire following the Treaty of Meersen 870.
S
C
H
U
T
Z
_
f
3
_
1
7
-
1
3
4


9
/
2
3
/
0
3


7
:
4
5

P
M


P
a
g
e

1
1
7
118 r\n+ \
just scored some successes along his southeastern boundaries against
the Moravian Slavs.
282
In the end the more pragmatic traditional
political practice of partitioning the realm was established. The com-
munity of interests could no longer be communicated. The abstract
idea of the universal empire proposed by some, could not be main-
tained except as the Imperium Christianum.
V. The emerging profile of Central Europe
Among the Frankish kingdoms, the East Frankish lands compared
unfavorably with the others. The East Frankish kingdom was smaller,
with a smaller population, least developed economically, politically
and culturally. Compared to the others, it could not draw on a Roman
heritage with respect to administration, organization, cultural cohe-
sion, yet it proved the more stable. Most of its territories had never
been under Roman jurisdiction. Except along its western fringes its
ruling elites had not risen through the kaleidoscopic changes of the
Gallo-Roman and then Frankish civilizational experience. In many
ways the old elites, located especially in the church, continued to
share the power in the realm with the king as the kingdom contin-
ued to consist largely of loosely linked cultural, religious and politi-
cal oligarchies and enclaves in largely unconnected, tribal regions,
over which a Frankish unifying rule had been in place for only rel-
atively short periods of varying duration. When the Carolingians
faded, it was these elites, old and new, which for many centuries to
come determined the history of France.
It has been shown incidentally that Ludwig’s position as rex orien-
talium Francorum was only relatively secure. His realm could expand
or shrink on very short notice. Notker Balbulus, the Stammerer,
devotes several pages to him, in the second part of his Gesta Caroli.
283
Written for Ludwig’s son, Charles, later unjustly called ‘the Fat’,
Notker highlights Ludwig’s praiseworthiness, his wisdom, recognized
by Charlemagne when Ludwig was only six years old, the grandfa-
ther’s kiss before the court which proclaimed his rank, his claim to
equal status with his father Louis the Pious, and the emperor’s pre-
282
Löwe, pp. 186ff.
283
In Thorpe, pp. 149ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 118
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 119
diction that the boy would become someone great. Devout in his
faith, he was to be the protector of those who served God, a cham-
pion of the weak. Notker mistakenly calls him king and emperor of
all Germany and of other lands, and thinks of him as a man of
greatness and magnanimity, as well as a man of large stature and
noble presence, with bright eyes and of clear and manly voice. Wise
and of acute intelligence, a tireless student of the Scriptures, Ludwig
was quick to foil conspiracies, halt disputes among his subjects and
favor those loyal to him. A terror to the heathen, he never broke
his word in judgment and following a massacre never again shed
Christian blood, not even in a condemnation to death. Instead he
banished them from his presence and deprived them of their offices
and property. Repeatedly Notker associates Ludwig with such figures
as St. Ambrose or St. Martin and applies a quotation from Isaiah
to him. He was devout in his religiosity, which gained him the title
pius from some contemporaries, walked barefoot to church, tore down
walls in Regensburg to build a church, used the gold found in rich
graves to decorate the church and to make sumptuous book covers.
He rejected illiterate churchmen and favored those monks who kept
their vows. He scorned finery in battle, the Viking’s tribute in gold
while he tested the quality of their swords with his own hands, being
strong enough to bend tip to hilt and snapping some of them. Notker
records him to have been a man of good humor who could make
others happy and set affairs aright with a glance, just like the eter-
nal judge. For Notker, Ludwig was singled out by the grace of God.
This description has something of the panegyric about it, includ-
ing the grandfather’s prophecy of Ludwig’s future greatness. Even if
the list of qualities and virtues was intended to serve as a guiding
mirror for Ludwig’s son, Charles III, the Fat, the list reflects a tan-
gible quality.
284
Born perhaps in 806, according to Notker, little Ludwig had won
the favor of his grandfather. He was designated ruler of Bavaria at
age 10, came of age at 15, but was kept at court in Aachen, till in
825 the 19-year-old prince was sent to Bavaria as its king. By the
end of the decade he had to campaign defensively against the Bulgars
on his eastern frontiers. At age 21 Ludwig was married to Hemma,
284
Hartmann, pp. 18–24, in addition to Notker also refers to Regino of Prüm
for other testimonials concerning Ludwig the German.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 119
120 r\n+ \
his stepmother Judith’s sister.
285
She may have been only 15 years
old. A 13th century stone relief of Hemma is still respected in the
church of St. Emmeram in Regensburg where she was buried in
January 876. A stroke in 874 had taken her power of speech. What
was the nature of the realm over which Ludwig the Bavarian, a
more accurate term than Ludwig the German, came to rule? It is
not really possible to project an impression of a cohesively struc-
tured, uniformly motivated realm in which a community of interests
provided any sense of direction. That was yet to come. Later, because
the partition of Verdun placed the river Rhine in the kingdom of
Lothair, Ludwig’s kingdom did not have a N-S line of communica-
tion and was hampered in the development of its trade and econ-
omy.
286
What did he mean when after 833 he laid claim to all the
east-rhenish lands and their defense, and called himself rex in orien-
tali Francia? Soon afterwards he was called rex in Alemannia. Later he
assumed a leading role in the attempted rehabilitation of his father
and stepmother/sister-in-law with the intellectual leaders of his domain
circled around him and in early 834 contributed militarily to his
father’s freedom. In 838, when Charles the Bald came of age and
was awarded a share of the realm, Ludwig’s holdings were reduced.
Revolt was in vain and until his father’s death in 840 Ludwig repeat-
edly had to recognize his father’s superior might. Whenever he wanted
to rise against him in the pursuit of his own interests during the
political maneuvering in Louis’ last years, Ludwig incurred the dis-
pleasure of his father, who promptly reduced his holdings to Bavaria
and cut him off from the Carolingian core lands. Ludwig did mount
some ineffective resistance and when he showed reluctance to accept
the renewed partition of the realm, Louis threatened him with mil-
itary action. Ludwig was prepared to entertain all manner of con-
cession as long as he could avoid outright submission. Ludwig rose
again when he saw an opportunity to reclaim his lands during his
father’s absence in Aquitaine. We saw above that a true reconciliation
between father and son was not to come about, as on his deathbed
Louis reviewed a list of wrongs done to him by his son. Yet Ludwig
was his father’s most loyal son, who repeatedly came to his aid, as
during the troubles in 833/834 when Ludwig arrived with a large
285
Hartmann, p. 64f.
286
Löwe, p. 185f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 120
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 121
army raised in his lands. Later Ludwig was to suffer feelings of guilt.
Following the emperor’s death in 840, Ludwig was quick to regain
his lost lands even though his two brothers stood against him. Owing
to Lothair’s imperious ways, a realignment came into being, which
pitted him against his brothers. The Battle of Fontenoy, 841, was the
outcome. The victory of Charles and Ludwig was deemed a divine
judgment. The Oaths of Strasbourg of 842 confirmed yet another
partition of the realm. Linguistic boundaries were not observed.
287
There was no evident constitutional framework, no crystallizing
state institutions, nor a power-conscious nobility to demand partici-
pation in the structured rule of the kingdom, i.e. no system of vas-
salage. With the partition of 843 most of the old imperial nobility
had not followed Ludwig the German and so he had to attract mem-
bers of the tribal and territorial nobility to his banners, once again
demonstrating the willingness of the magnates to hitch themselves to
the Carolingian star. In his kingdom they were ready to grasp new
opportunities and advantages for themselves and their relations. They
easily became the interpreters of the Franks and implementers of
Frankish policies. There was little need to heed representatives of
the church to criticize and check his dealings with the church and
its rights, prerogatives and independent voice. In the eastern realm
vassalage was less well established and there is no record there of
an anointing of the king with its concomitant commitments. Evidently
the ceremony was not needed. As a result, and contrary to the west-
ern realm, the power of the king was not reduced by the church
and it is a significant point of difference that the royal right to deter-
mine and to intervene in the appointment of bishops remained secure
in the eastern kingdom into the 11th century. Among the diets and
councils only four, between 847 and 895, deserve any attention.
Though ruler of this realm, he really only controlled Bavaria from
his power center in Regensburg and the Frankish region of the mid-
dle Rhine from its centers of power at Mainz and Frankfurt. There
he refurbished the palace and emulated the royal/imperial seat at
Aachen. With most of the diets assembling at Frankfurt, that region
became the center of gravity. Saxony, Frisia, the Elbian lands,
Thuringia and the eastern marches were peripheral and observed
287
Hartmann, p. 42.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 121
122 r\n+ \
only a most tenuous connection with his rule, as was illustrated re-
peatedly when he rose against his father and their support faded
away. However, in the end, the East Frankish kingdom, far from
any sense of statehood and anything but a prosperous and homo-
geneous region, crystallized around Bavaria.
288
The north was allowed
to evolve as in a vacuum, with the consequent result of the rise of
Saxony under the leadership of the family of the Luidolfingians, bet-
ter known as the Ottonians. These descendants of Widukind did not
leave the service of Lothair till 855 and managed to retain their sec-
ular and religious positions. By means of the marriages of his daugh-
ter and sons with members of the regional nobility, he tried to tie
them to the local dynasties and to establish them in the respective
regions as heirs. With Lothair’s death in 855 Alemania could be
integrated into his kingdom. Ludwig’s eyes were directed mainly
toward the west, where Lothair’s middle and Charles’ western king-
doms were the more promising regions deserving his attention.
289
Any signs of weakness there, such as Viking raids, could present
opportunities to gain territory. Such opportunism was to compro-
mise his image. However, the historical processes had been set in
motion as the Franks and Saxons realized, though only unclearly,
their community building roles, as the bishoprics along the Rhine
and the great eastern monasteries provided economic, political, reli-
gious and cultural focal points,
290
and as Ludwig the German and
later especially Ludwig the Younger began to draw the great and
influential families of his kingdom closer to him and to provide the
setting in which to identify with the separate sovereignty of an East
Frankish realm by the beginning of the tenth century.
Expansionist efforts toward the middle Danube and the Balkans
stand out, but there too the successes were limited. Following the
demise of the Avars, the Moravians filled the vacated spaces.
291
Mis-
sions were conducted from Salzburg, but the Slavic princes pursued
a policy of distancing themselves from the Carolingian church toward
the eastern, Byzantine church, as represented by the missionary activ-
288
Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 144ff.
289
Hartmann, pp. 48ff.
290
Innes, State and Society, p. 104.
291
See Angenendt, p. 391f. Also Riché, p. 187f. provides greater detail on the
internal struggles in Moravia. Also Hartmann, pp. 113ff. and especially Bowlus,
passim.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 122
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 123
ities of Methodius and Kyrillos. Ludwig’s family became embroiled
in the political developments in the eastern marshes as disputes arose
between Ludwig and his sons. For about twenty years, the Moravians
were a problem for the East Frankish kingdom until they finally sub-
mitted. The attempt to gain a degree of independence ultimately
failed in the Magyar/Hungarian assaults on them during the last
decades of the 9th century.
292
During Ludwig’s reign, the less prosperous East Frankish kingdom
was less affected by Viking raids. Their raids aimed at the estuar-
ies of Lorraine and of the Atlantic coast. In any case, the eastern
kingdom had emerged the stronger when compared with the western
kingdom. Though the Danes destroyed some of the western centers,
the west-east trade between Frisia and the Baltic Sea was not seri-
ously affected. Not until Ludwig overthrew the Abodrites did the
Danes attack and destroy Hamburg in 845.
293
Nevertheless, under
Ludwig’s protection, Ansgar, since 831/34 archbishop of Hamburg,
was able to associate his mission with the commercial ventures and
continue his missions from Bremen to the Danes and into Sweden,
though with only moderate success. The archbishopric of Hamburg
was dissolved and distributed to Bremen and Verden. Hamburg
entered a phase of recovery evident in the archeological evidence.
A 40cm thick layer of burnt material is immediately superseded by
expanded, intensive, even ‘rich’ settlement debris. With the destruc-
tion and the relocation of the religious center the religious life was
much reduced, but mercantile activity flourished. The trade in
Christian slaves is mentioned in the records.
294
Ansgar tried to inter-
fere with that trade. During the following decades there is no evi-
dence that Ludwig the German offered any assistance in the north.
His attention was focused elsewhere.
Ludwig’s last years were marked by the imperial succession and
the partition of the lands of the emperor Lothair I. In 869, upon
the death of Lothair II, Charles the Bald occupied Lotharingia, while
Ludwig lay deathly ill in Regensburg. In the Treaty of Meersen of
870, Lotharingia was divided, with Ludwig acquiring the larger part.
292
Angenendt, p. 391f. See also Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval
History, pp. 151ff. Hartmann, pp. 208ff. See Bowlus, pp. 235ff.
293
See Harthausen, pp. 16ff. Also Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval
History, p. 151.
294
Harthausen, p. 19f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 123
124 r\n+ \
Disputes concerning the inheritance of the realm were alive among
his younger sons. Louis II, emperor in Italy, had assured Carloman,
the eldest son of Ludwig, the imperial crown. Though Ludwig himself
had ventured into Italy on several occasions, these trips did not have
Rome as an objective. Louis II died in 875 and thanks to Charles’
imperial image making, pope John VIII favored Charles the Bald
and invited him to Rome and, in clear imitation of the coronation
of his grandfather, crowned him emperor at Christmas 875.
295
The
pope expected less interference in Italy and a greater degree of pro-
tection from Charles against Byzantines and Saracens. In February
876 the Italian magnates elected Charles king in Pavia.
296
Ludwig
the German threatened his security and invaded Lorraine causing
Charles to retire from Italy. Ludwig withdrew in view of unpromis-
ing prospects and died at the end of August 876. He was buried in
the abbey at Lorsch. Charles was to die a year later, so that within
just two years this group of royal adversaries passed from the scene.
In view of his focus on the west and only passing interest for
Alemania, Thuringia and Saxony, it would not do to see in him the
founder of ‘Germany’. The acquisition of Lotharingia with its ances-
tral lands was his intensive interest. In this he had been partly sup-
ported by the territorial interests of the Imperial aristocracy who
held properties in more than one realm
297
and who in this case pre-
ferred to side with Ludwig rather than with Charles, a circumstance
confirmed in the Treaty of Meersen in 870.
298
Intertribal communal
interests were yet to emerge.
Ludwig had dealt with his sons’ ambitions during the years 859–865,
and averted the typical threats, which a royal father had to fear
from his maturing sons when supported by injured and discontented
men of ambition, when he assigned powers and jurisdictions in the
border regions to them, less than his own, also in former tribal areas,
which needed cohesive development. Bavaria, including Carinthia,
and then Italy were assigned to Carloman, Franconia and Saxony,
and eventually Lotharingia to Ludwig the Younger, and Alemania
295
Riché, pp. 197ff. See Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 242, for some details of the
coronation.
296
Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 242f. concerning Charles’ imperial notions. See
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 254f. for a brief discussion of the papal support for Charles.
297
See Geary, Remembrance, pp. 48ff.
298
Innes, State and Society, pp. 2213ff.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 124
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 125
to Charles III. Already at an early age the older sons had been
entrusted with important military commands.
299
The division of the
rule allowed for the simultaneous royal presence in various parts of
the kingdom, although queen Hemma’s perceived preference for
Carloman, drove her other sons to revolt, however, without serious
harm to the realm. In 873 an open rebellion was narrowly averted.
It was not to come to open hostilities between the brothers as long
a their father lived. Ludwig settled the disputes by repeatedly giv-
ing them more power.
300
VI. The last unification of the Empire
Following the death of his brother Ludwig in 876, Charles the Bald
attempted to gain all of Lorraine and perhaps even all of the East
Frankish kingdom, in order to substantiate his imperial title. In any
case, he tried to shift the center of gravity of the realm away from
Aachen, exemplified by the relocation of much treasure and art.
Already in 869, exploiting his brother Ludwig’s illness, he had him-
self proclaimed Emperor and Augustus of the western and middle
kingdoms complete with some of the original ‘heavenly oil’.
301
The
religious manuscripts which were prepared for him projected his
imperial claims by means of resplendent display pages. In 872, to
commemorate the third anniversary of his imperial proclamation, he
exacted from his assembled bishops and magnates an oath of loy-
alty to ensure his holdings and to assist him with the acquisition of
his new realm.
302
Of his nephews he demanded submission, arguing
that the Treaty of Verdun only applied to their father and not to
them, under pain of blinding. From their followers he demanded
surrender of their possessions or exile.
303
However, Charles lost the
Battle of Andernach in October 876
304
against his nephew Ludwig
299
Hartmann, pp. 67ff.
300
Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 154f. as well as Innes,
State and Society, p. 220f. for assessments of Ludwig as a ruler. Innes also attributes
a lower volume of administrative documentation to the closer personal contact
between the king and his subjects.
301
Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 119f.
302
Staubach, p. 336.
303
Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 155.
304
Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 244f. for some details of the prelude to the battle.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 125
126 r\n+ \
the Younger, who thereby maintained the partition of Meersen of
870 and the consolidation of his kingdom. In Frankish fashion Ludwig’s
sons had divided the eastern kingdom among them in accordance
with their father’s will: Carloman ruled in Bavaria with claims on
Italy, Charles, undeservedly called ‘the Fat’ in Swabia and Raetia,
and Ludwig the Younger in Saxony, Thuringia in Franconia.
305
With
each of the Carolingian lines retaining the names Charles and Louis,
it is a challenge to keep all of these often-warring second and third
cousins in order. However, events showed that an inner stabilization
of the realms was proceeding, as the respective nobilities adopted a
sense of regional adherence. Charles the Bald, hard pressed by the
incursions of the Northmen and without the support of his magnates
overextended himself in the pursuit of his imperial ambitions. Carloman
drove him out of Italy. Charles died during his withdrawal in October
877. Malicious joy accompanied the decaying corpse, forcing a hur-
ried burial on the way. The kingdom passed to his son Louis the
Stammerer.
306
Carloman received the homage of the Italian mag-
nates. However, illness forced his departure, so that he could not
also acquire the imperial crown. The principle had become estab-
lished that only the papal coronation in Rome had validity follow-
ing a formal papal examination of the candidate’s worthiness. The
pope had acquired the role of codeterminant in the election of the
emperor. With his ailing brother’s consent Charles III, the Fat,
entered Italy and in 880, the pope consecrated him king. On this
occasion the pope obtained from Charles III the assurance to ‘respect
the constitution and privileges of the Roman church’, which meant
the coronation became a condition of the assurance, for centuries to
come.
307
Charles showed reluctance at the implication of becoming
the pope’s servant and delayed going to Rome for one year, even
though the pope was beset on all sides by the Saracens, the duke
of Spoleto and the citizens of Rome. The papacy was becoming a
plaything of the Roman factions and deteriorated almost to insig-
nificance. Carloman died in 880 and Ludwig the Younger incorpo-
rated his share in his own realm, even venturing to claim the West
Frankish kingdom when following the death of Louis the Stammerer
305
Riché, p. 188f. See Kasten, pp. 498ff. for the succession in the Eastern kingdom.
306
Brunner, p. 136. See Riché, p. 191, for a brief summary of Charles the Bald’s
offspring.
307
Riché, p. 216.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 126
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 127
in 879, some Frankish magnates invited him to assume the western
crown as well. As his father in 876, Ludwig the Younger was astute
enough to appreciate the foolhardiness of the undertaking and rec-
ognized the western heirs.
308
Charles the Bald had decreed in 877
that the customary legitimate succession of heirs among the nobility
be established, in effect advancing the institution of feudalism in the
west.
309
The effect saw the strengthening magnates gaining against
the weakening monarchy. By recognizing the heirs, Ludwig the
Younger implemented that decree. When the ailing Charles III re-
ceived the imperial crown from the pope in 881, Ludwig the Younger
was not pleased and his annals kept at Fulda did not record the
event.
During these years Slavic incursions put an end to the northern
mission. In 880 Danish Vikings returned in force to the northern
estuaries of the Elbe and Weser rivers and decisively defeated the
Saxons. The battle indicates that attacks by small raiding parties,
customary in the west, had also been transformed into open field
battles by larger armies in the north.
310
In the Treaty of Ribémont
(880) Ludwig the Younger had acquired Lorraine and now the Vikings
were also his problem. From their base on the river Maas they raided
throughout Lorraine and destroyed many of the centers, including
Aachen and many of the surrounding monasteries. Such a force may
have come even further east, into the Saxon lands. The sources
exclude a Danish attack and suggest that an independent Viking
army of late arrivals, disappointed in its hope to gain land or at
least booty in the west, returned to correct their fortunes by raid-
ing in Saxony.
311
As was so often recorded from Roman times onward,
rival claimants to power, such as Hugo the illegitimate son of Lothair
II, hired outsiders to influence outcomes, who then defended their
own territorial claims. Large forces of Vikings raided Lorraine and
Aachen, Cologne, Bonn, Trier and the Rhineland were pillaged and
put to the torch.
312
Seriously ill, Ludwig the Younger could not per-
sonally oppose them. He died on January 20, 882.
308
Riché, pp. 211ff., Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 241.
309
Riché, p. 203f., concerning the Capitulary of Quierzy. Also Nelson, Charles
the Bald, p. 248f.
310
Harthausen, pp. 34ff. Also Riché, p. 215f.
311
See Harthausen, pp. 54–61.
312
Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 156f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 127
1
2
8
r
\
n
+

\
Map 5. The Partition of the Carolingian Empire following the Treaty of Ribémont 880.
S
C
H
U
T
Z
_
f
3
_
1
7
-
1
3
4


9
/
2
3
/
0
3


7
:
4
5

P
M


P
a
g
e

1
2
8
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 129
Charles, the Fat, once again ruler, nominally, of the whole East
Frankish kingdom, was able to surround these Vikings in 882, at a
place called Ascloha on the river Maas, but bought them off by a
payment of tribute, the baptism of their leader Godofrid and by
granting them the Frisian fiefs granted to the Danes at an earlier
time. In 885 Godofrid was murdered and that put an end to Viking
rule in Frisia.
313
Charles suffered seriously from epilepsy, had not performed cred-
itably, though perhaps diplomatically, against the Vikings, nor sup-
ported the pope against the Saracens in Italy, nevertheless, with the
death of the West Frankish kings in 882 and 884, hope became
focused on this inept man to reunite the whole empire once again.
314
The western magnates were giving up their loyalty to their own
Carolingians and in 885, by circumventing the questionable legiti-
macy of Charles, the ‘straightforward’, erroneously called ‘the Simple’,
the five-year-old son of Louis the Stammerer, they offered the crown
to Charles the Fat. One thought him to be best suited to defend
the realm.
315
However, it was too late and the irony lay in the fact
that he was the very one to demonstrate that the community of
interests with its illusory unity principle could no longer be com-
municated, let alone enacted. The kingdoms had reached such a
state of independence, that his documents were dated differently in
each of his lands. Regional assemblies replaced the imperial diet. He
was not up to the task of dealing with the external threats. The
Moravians acted at will. The Viking siege of Paris was ably fought
by Odo, the Capetian count of Paris, when on the verge of their
defeat Charles needlessly bought them off once again with huge sums
and by granting them winter quarters in Burgundy. Inner turmoil
was disrupting the East Frankish kingdom. He gave repeated evi-
dence of his weakness, poor judgment and general incompetence,
causing dissension and open hostility, allowing the only active Caro-
lingian, Arnulf of Carinthia, to claim his due. Arnulf was the ille-
gitimate son of Carloman, and grandson of Ludwig the German,
313
Riché, p. 217.
314
Löwe, pp. 197ff. Riché, p. 216. See especially Fried, in McKitterick, New
Cambridge Medieval History, p. 158. Reuter, Germany, p. 115, indicates that de facto
he was king in three kingdoms.
315
Riché, p. 216. There is some divergence in the translations of Riché’s work.
See Nelson, Charles the Bald, p. 257, concerning the name. See also Nelson, in
McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 130–141.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 129
130 r\n+ \
whom Ludwig the Younger had had recognized among his leading
lords, but whose claims had been pushed aside by Charles the Fat.
The East Frankish nobility had begun to be dissuaded by Charles’
absenteeism and incompetence and when Arnulf gathered forces from
the German duchies, they began to side with the usurper. All the
tribes elected him king and eventually he was crowned at Regensburg.
Charles’ attempt to convoque a diet at Frankfurt failed when Arnulf
appeared before Frankfurt. Deserted by all, Charles died soon after,
on January 13, 888.
316
The universal empire collapsed only partly
because of the incompetence of its last ruler. Without division and
independent focus on regional problems, it seems to have been impos-
sible to maintain the myth of a cohesive realm.
In view of the absence of royal heirs, members of the high nobil-
ity succeeded to contested thrones and to the insoluble problems of
administrative coherence and outside attacks. They could not pro-
ject the image of representatives of Christ. These circumstances con-
tributed to the centrifugal forces affecting the realm. Towards the
end of 887 the East Frankish magnates had elected the illegitimate
Arnulf king (887–899). In the other Frankish kingdoms claimants
reached for the crown who could point to Carolingian descent only
through the female line.
317
Because Arnulf was the most vigorous
Carolingian with an established and secure power base, these claimants
sought their confirmation from him, their liege-lord, even though he
considered himself only heir to his grandfather’s realm. None was a
rival. During the late 880s Arnulf recognized princes in Italy, Burgundy
and the West Frankish kingdom, thereby accepting the partition of
the realm.
318
When the pope invited him to come to Rome, Arnulf
declined for reasons of greater necessity, like a battle with the Vikings,
who, having left their winter quarters in Burgundy, staged a last raid
in a northerly direction. Soundly defeated by Arnulf in 891, they
left the continent and settled in the Danish lands in England. After
316
Riché, p. 219. The English translation identifies the place as ‘Neidingen’ rather
than ‘Neudingen’. It also mentions that Charles III, the Fat was buried on the
island of Reichenau. The German translation does not mention this. See Innes,
State and Society, p. 223f., who proposes that the failure of Charles III was based on
the absence of the king from places in crisis, on the distance between the king and
his regional magnates, increasingly estranged by the lack of Königsnähe, proximity to
the king.
317
Löwe, pp. 200ff.
318
Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 161.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 130
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 131
894 the Moravians paid homage to him and in 895 the Bohemians
joined the Sorbs in the north and resubmitted to Arnulf. Arnulf had
made one very serious mistake when in 892 he solicited the support
of the Magyars, erroneously associated with the Huns, hence ‘Hun-
garians’, against the Moravians and to advance his interests in Italy.
319
Subsequently they were to return with great regularity.
Italian politics threatened pope Formosus and his cry for help
brought Arnulf to Italy in 894, where his recognition as king in Italy
was very problematic. Two years later Formosus crowned him emperor.
But there already was another problem. During a campaign in Italy
Arnulf suffered a stroke and had to return across the Alps. He had
secured his succession by having his magnates pay homage in 897
to his four-year-old son Ludwig, to be known as ‘the Child’, even
though he had raised one of his illegitimate sons, Zwentibold, and
anointed him king of Lorraine.
320
The eastern realm had survived
the turmoil of the reign of Charles the Fat as an autonomous realm
and presented sufficient stability to accept a four-year-old king and
a rule by regency. Compared to the older West Frankish kingdom,
the eastern kingdom was less affected by privileges, immunities and
particularistic interests.
321
Despite Arnulf ’s good relations with the
church, he resorted to obtaining the support of his high nobility in
all of the tribal areas. In Saxony especially he drew on the support
of the Liudolfingians who, though doubly linked by marriage to the
Carolingians, used the distance from the Carolingian courts to develop
an independent power base in the east. Other magnates attempted
to rescue such fragments as they could. As stable domains came into
being in Saxony, Lorraine, Bavaria, Swabia and Franconia, their
growing cohesion and strength furthered the gradual regression of
Frankish-Carolingian elements. Nevertheless, the eastern magnates
had not gained so firm a hereditary grip on their particular territo-
ries as was the case in the west. These magnates were mainly
Austrasian appointees, sometimes related to the royal family, placed
over the tribes by the Carolingians. They had not yet bonded that
firmly with their ‘people’.
322
Even half a century later Otto I was
319
See Bowlus, p. 235f. See also Geary, Remembrance, p. 43.
320
See Innes, State and Society, p. 227f.
321
See Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 163ff., for a
compact account of East Frankish conditions.
322
See Riché, p. 228f. for a more detailed discussion of the eastern dukes and
their duchies.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 131
132 r\n+ \
still able to remove these ‘tribal’ dukes at will. Arnulf had been able
to maintain the balancing act between royal and aristocratic power,
but during the years of Arnulf ’s illness, and after the removal of
Ludwig from the care of his mother, and then during the regency
in the early years of Ludwig the Child, the key magnates of church
and state gained somewhat over the monarchy.
323
When Arnulf died in 899, his religious and secular magnates
remained loyal to his son, now six years old and proclaimed him in
February 900. Owing to his minority, the council of regents could
have offered the crown to the West Frankish Charles the Simple.
Deserted by his Lotharingians, the eastern Carolingian Zwentibold
died in battle in August 900. The East Frankish aristocratic leader-
ship realized the possibilities of developing a still greater sense of
autonomy as the magnates accepted the legitimate Carolingian,
Ludwig the Child (900–911). His weak rule was to foster the polit-
ical ambitions of non-Carolingian dukes. A new, though scaled-back,
order was emerging in the East Frankish realm.
The most serious challenge to the eastern kingdom was to origi-
nate to the east, where the nomadic Magyars/Hungarians had seized
Pannonia in 895, (Fig. 6) raided in northern Italy 899 and while in
900 and 901 the Bavarians were able to defeat them, the collapse
of the Moravians in 906 opened the way to Saxony that year and
to Bavaria in the next year when the Bavarian forces were destroyed
at Bratislava. Northern and southern Germany now lay open to the
Hungarians. Three years later Ludwig the Child was defeated by
them on the Lechfeld, the alluvial plain of the river Lech, south of
Augsburg. Many leading personalities fell during these conflicts. For
the next fifty years the raiding Hungarians destabilized Central
Europe. Between 899 and 955 northern Italy suffered 35 Hungarian
incursions, Cologne was partly destroyed on three occasions during
these years. They reached Provence and Spain, the tip of Italy, Aqui-
taine and the Atlantic coast, criss-crossed the West Frankish king-
dom more than once, roamed freely throughout Central Europe for
years, in the Balkans and reached Constantinople in 931. The East
Frankish regency was not equal to the defensive strategies required
and in its place the regional duchies had come into being, less reliant
on the monarchy and claiming royal prerogatives. Under the external
323
Löwe, p. 204.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 132
+nr c\norixoi\x nr\rvs 133
threats they began to assume the coordinated defensive and organi-
zational tasks required against the invaders—Saxony, Bavaria and
Alemania. The immense destruction caused by the raiders in 908
constituted a major rupture in the development of Central Europe.
Saxony, Bavaria and then Thuringia came to have the responsibil-
ity of providing the first line of an eastern defense against Slavs and
Hungarians. The survivors in the great families of these regions, for-
mer Carolingian, mainly Austrasian appointees, showed successful
initiatives, fearlessly assumed the titles of ‘dukes’ and emerged as the
future focal points of new tribal dukedoms in pursuit of their par-
ticularistic interests. To survive they seized regional power, resisted
the invaders, broke the continuity of association with the crown
before subscribing to the new order.
324
The king did not interfere.
They were members of his council of regents. It is interesting to
note that the external threats from the north and east contributed
directly to the crystallization of a new political reality in Central
Europe. The dangers demanded strong leadership. The exception
was Franconia, along the river Main, the Merovingian/Carolingian
holdings first colonized during the early 6th century. Here, less threat-
ened by external enemies, the leading families struggled for supremacy
amongst themselves. When Ludwig the Child died in 911 at the age
of 17, unlike the other eastern duchies, Lorraine turned west, where
Charles the Simple was gaining successes against the Vikings, indi-
cating actually that circumstances determined that the partition of
the realm was not to be reversed. The East Rhenish duchies looked
for leadership against the Hungarians in their own ranks and, adopt-
ing a practice already established in the west, exercised a notewor-
thy constitutional choice—Franconia and Saxony elected their own
king on November 10, 911. For two months Swabia and Bavaria
withheld their vote, signalling a potential problem. However, all of
the eastern duchies no longer felt bound to the Carolingian line,
even though Charles the Simple still ruled in the west, and, as had
happened earlier, in the case of Charles III, and according to the
laws of inheritance, Charles the Simple should have become ruler
over both realms. However, the centrifugal forces were displacing
the centripetal interests. Following Lothair’s partition of his realm in
855 among his three sons, the imperial crown had become a plaything
324
Arnold, Princes, p. 113.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 133
134 r\n+ \
of their and ultimately Italian politics. The eastern council of regents
confirmed the electoral principle of an elected kingship and com-
promised by electing and anointing one of their own king, the effective
Frankish Frankonian duke Konrad, as Konrad I. Though not of the
royal line, he had Carolingian relations. Even the Ottonian dynasty,
which followed, did not deny its Carolingian family ties. By anoint-
ing him immediately, they raised him above the other nobles. It is
significant that this act signalled the departure from the Carolingian
principle of treating the united realm as the monarch’s personal
property to be divided among his heirs. This new monarchy no
longer implied this claim. Thus they did maintain a continuity and
hence the appearance of a legitimate Frankish character of the king-
dom. Though Frankish administrative traditions survived, since Konrad
wanted to rule anachronistically like a Carolingian, the election ush-
ered in the notion of a self-sufficient political entity, with the single
succession, determined and confirmed by an election. The principle
of an eastern, independent, indivisible kingdom was being estab-
lished.
325
Nevertheless, the birth pains of this emerging, ‘federated’
kingdom were very difficult, because the dukes tried to pursue their
own autonomous interests.
325
Löwe, p. 206f.
SCHUTZ_f3_17-134 9/23/03 7:45 PM Page 134
135
1
J.M.H. Smith, ‘Old Saints, New Cults: Roman Relics in Carolingian Francia’,
in Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome, p. 317.
2
Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 161. Also McKitterick, Frankish Kingdoms, pp. 154ff.,
for examples of the evolution of script systems, including uncials and minuscule.
See also McKitterick, pp. XII, 1–33.
PART B
BOOKS, GEMS AND IVORIES
VII. The recapitulation of origins
In the early middle ages Rome
was both a place and an idea.
1
The underlying premise for the revival must be sought in the patron-
age available at the court of Charlemagne, who, following occasional
Merovingian examples, was able to create an esthetic climate around
him which attracted great scholars, poets, artists and craftsmen to
his court. Considering the regional disparity within his empire, the
poor level of communications, the pursuit of a common basis of
understanding, of approaches, toward a commonly accepted frame-
work of public opinion and even a unifying cultural ideal, such as
the Imperium Christianum, appears to be an admirable purpose. One
vehicle bridging the disparity was the implementation of a uniform
script, first perfected at Corbie—Carolingian Minuscule,
2
a stan-
dardization which initiated the spacing of words with blanks and
provided splendid exemplars, which also served the establishment of
the religious doctrine and the consolidation of the Carolingian author-
ity. Rather than searching for a common, cohesive denominator, it
seems Charles wanted to establish an innovative context of cultural
and intellectual pursuits carried by a wide range of creative practi-
tioners within an extensive, synthesizing program of assumptions,
reforms, incentives, sponsorships and innovative initiatives which
would ignite the imagination of enthusiastic contributors. He hoped
to generate a momentum, which would affect all of society. Much
remained fragmentary. Some things flourished in highly productive
enterprises. Walahfrid Strabo’s Prologue to Einhard’s Vita Karoli attests
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 135
136 r\n+ n
to this purpose when he wrote that ‘Of all kings Charlemagne was
the most eager in his search for wise men and in his determination
to provide them with living conditions in which they could pursue
knowledge in all reasonable comfort.’
3
The comfort will have been
debatable. The context of this statement is his lament, that only a
few decades later, in their ‘own time the thirst for knowledge is dis-
appearing again: the light of wisdom is less and less sought after and
is now becoming rare again in most men’s minds.’ Motivated by
this pursuit of a superior knowledge Charlemagne and Louis the
Pious used the terms Renovatio romani imperii and Renovatio regni fran-
corum
4
in their imperial seals respectively. Evidently, with the inten-
tion to proceed programmatically, renovation, restoration, renewal,
rebirth were operative Carolingian concepts which under Charles
and Louis the Pious, and in their religious guise were to find appli-
cation in a wide range of non-military, administrative, political, reli-
gious and cultural activities of the Imperium Christianum, summarized
in the modern conventional, though flawed, term Carolingian Renaissance.
5
What actually happened as a result was a transformation, or rather,
a recapitulation of many diverse elements, sponsored by the crown
and promoted among the talented of all classes through the educa-
tional policies and royal directives issued to and the financial assis-
tance of the monasteries, which went far beyond a ‘rebirth’ of what
had existed before. St. Boniface could be placed at the beginning of
the latter, Pepin III and his wife Bertrada with the former.
6
Charles’
background provided much of the direction, he being primarily inter-
ested in the period of Constantine I, Justinian and the early Christian
Empire, not the empire of the pagan Caesars, though they called
themselves Caesar. Louis the Pious saw his rolemodels in the Biblical
kings David and Solomon, as well as the Roman emperors Constantine
I and Theodosius I. Hence mainly the late Classical, already Christian
models ignited the imagination. Carried mainly in Latin, some of it
is innovative in that it finds expression in the regional Germanic
vernaculars. Under Louis the Pious it included a relationship between
3
Thorpe, Two Lives of Charlemagne, p. 49f.
4
J. Semmler, ‘Renovatio Regni Francorum’, in Godman and Collins, pp. 125ff.
5
I. Wood, ‘Culture’, in McKitterick, Early Middle Ages, pp. 186ff. See also Sullivan,
Gentle Voices, pp. 31ff., 37f. concerning a revised list of contributors to this renewal.
6
J.J. Contreni, ‘The Carolingian Renaissance: Education and Literary Culture’
in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 709.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 136
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 137
the Carolingian crown and the papacy. As long as the religious
Christian life, the idea of the Imperium Christianum, motivated the cul-
tural range of secular activities, the reanimation flourished in a vari-
ety of forms. With the increasing secularization of the religious life,
the ‘renaissance’ declined. With the decline came a centrifugal frag-
mentation of the secular and religious institutions, as well as a con-
traction of the economy and a general impoverishment of the realm.
It has become conventional to interpret the Carolingian ‘Renaissance’
mainly as a rescue of Classical civilization, a rediscovery of the writ-
ten word, of the Latin and Christian Classics and of Classical edu-
cation, which brought the light which finally overcame the cultural
pessimism and illuminated western consciousness in its supposedly
sinister and ignorant ‘Dark Ages’ during which all cultural knowl-
edge was thought to have been lost, overlooking the fact that the
period was mainly characterized by an oral culture.
7
Commonly the
cause for this loss of culture and learning was taken to lie in the ‘bar-
barian invasions’, their lack of interest in Roman culture, their over-
laying of Classical cultural expression by their pagan or worse, Arian,
inadequacies, and their lack of competence in Latin and the ensu-
ing inadequate ‘bilingualism’ and the consequent loss of a language
of learned thought and expression, in a disastrous clash of Germanic
and Mediterranean cultures. It has been demonstrated elsewhere that
this was not entirely the case. It was much more the case of a fus-
ing recapitulation, since the northerners had been affected significantly
by the early contact with Rome, by the Roman craftsmen among
them, which had put their adaptability to the test even well before
they crossed the frontiers.
8
The Saracen invasions of southern Gaul
in the early 8th century with their significant destructions, coupled
with a decline in interest on the part of the court, also contributed
to any decline. On the other hand, the dispersal of immigrants from
Visigothic Spain and the preservation of Classical literature in the
monasteries of the Benedictines contributed to the retention of lit-
erary traditions and scribal skills to parts of the west.
9
However,
echoing the life-negating tone of earlier historians, Gregory of Tours,
7
Sullivan, ‘The Context of Cultural Activity’, in Gentle Voices, pp. 55ff. See
Chazelle, “End of the ‘Dark Ages’”, in Chazelle, Literacy, Politics, p. 3.
8
Schutz, Tools, Weapons and Ornaments.
9
Bischoff, Manuscripts and Libraries, pp. 5, 134ff. for a list of Classical works pre-
served in the various monastic libraries in the north.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 137
138 r\n+ n
in his Preface to Book I of The History of the Franks, laments the wan-
ing and perishing of liberal culture, of the pursuit of letters and the
loss of understanding of the learned words of the rhetoricians dur-
ing the Merovingian period.
10
No doubt, this view among the Classically
educated was too gloomy, ironic and deliberately misleading. It is
steadily being revised as it certainly appears that the Merovingian
Franks left an extensive and literate Gallo-Roman intelligentsia in
possession of its love of books,—between the 2nd and 4th centuries
books, codices,
11
had replaced scrolls—, its schools of rhetoric and
law, administrative, economic and ecclesiastical positions and that
there was a usable continuity of Roman institutions after the fifth
century in which the heritage of the written word continued in use
as a valued medium and that there was a strong link between Mero-
vingian and Carolingian literacy. The competence in administrative
and religious literacy remained quite widespread. There can be no
question that well into the middle of the 7th century the leading
figures among the ‘Merovingians’ were literate and that their con-
tribution to the continuity of cultural features into the Carolingian
period was considerable.
12
Only then did something of a discontinuity,
a cultural decline, appear to have set in, lasting almost a half-century
during which even writing skills seem to have become very inade-
quate, as the skill became the virtual reserve of the clergy, owing to
the circumstance that any formal education had become religious
and was imparted in the clerical schools, while literate laymen were
eclipsed even in the royal and mayoral chancelleries.
13
The power
struggle leading to the change in dynasty will have played a significant
role in diverting cultural energies and adversely affecting the inter-
est in cultural matters. Physical prowess gained the ascendancy over
the need for literacy. The fact cannot be denied, that between 450
10
P. Heather, ‘Late Antiquity and the Early medieval West’, in. Bentley (ed.),
Companion to Historiography (London, New York 1997), p. 80.
11
J.J.G. Alexander, Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work (New Haven,
London 1992), p. 35.
12
I. Wood, ‘Administration, Law and Culture in Merovingian Gaul’, in McKitterick,
Uses of Literacy, pp. 63ff. Also p. 71f., concerning Gregory’s lament, pp. 78ff. See
further G. Brown, ‘The Carolingian Renaissance’, also V. Law, ‘The Study of
Grammar’ in R. McKitterick, Carolingian Culture: emulation and innovation (Cambridge
1994), p. 3, and pp. 88 respectively. See Sullivan, ‘The Context of Cultural Activity’
in Gentle Voices, p. 59f.
13
Geary, Before France and Germany, p. 213. See also Contreni, Carolingian Learning,
pp. II, 13; IV, 81ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 138
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 139
and 850 Latin ceased to be a spoken language. Especially after 650,
first the common active and then also the passive command of Latin
disappear in a practical sense.
14
However, tendencies remained alive
which Charlemagne could use to remedy this ‘darkness’ by stressing
the revival of Christian learning in general and the educational
emphasis on Christian literacy in particular. The available models
were to be found mainly in the Classical Christian traditions.
15
Despite efforts to preserve any pagan Classical consciousness, this
was a Christian society in which the fervor of the new faith, with
its conviction of the Latin Bible being the only necessary source of
knowledge, the enthusiasm which motivated the establishment of
Christianity affected literature adversely as it did much to eclipse the
‘misleading’ and pagan literary inventory. By sheer weight of num-
bers, the religious Christian literature overwhelmed the secular inven-
tory of books. Pope Gregory I and other church leaders held the
extreme view that the pre-Christian works of antiquity might inter-
fere with the Christian faith. Gregory of Tours retells the story of
St. Jerome’s vision of being led into the presence of God, of being
bound and lashed severely, for having read too often the ‘clever
arguments of Cicero and the false tales of Virgil; . . . and that he
would never henceforth read or discuss anything except that which
was judged worthy of God. . . . Having glanced at all these events
built on sand and soon to perish, we return rather to divine and
evangelical miracles.
16
In rejecting the questionable lives and deeds
of the ancient gods and the mythological characters, he also rejects
the fabulous stories, which Virgil mendaciously invented or depicted
in heroic verse. Yet Virgil was saved by focusing on the exegesis of
his theme of a man’s whole life journey and by fitting his lines on
a Christian foundation and into the essential medieval curriculum.
17
14
M. Banniard, ‘Language and Communication in Carolingian Europe’, in
McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 698f.
15
Sullivan, ‘The Context of Cultural Activity’, in Gentle Voices, p. 56. Also Chazelle,
‘Dark Ages’, in Chazelle, Literacy, Politics, p. 5.
16
Easton, Wieruszowski, p. 106f. “Therefore we ought to pursue, to write, to
speak, that which builds the church of God and by sacred teaching enriches needy
minds by the knowledge of perfect faith. For we ought not to recall the lying sto-
ries, or to follow the wisdom of the philosophers which is hostile to God, lest we
fall under the judgment of eternal death by the decision of the Lord”.
17
M. Carruthers, The Craft of Thought. Meditation, rhetoric, and the making of images,
400–1200 (Cambridge 2000), p. 59.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 139
140 r\n+ n
Edifying and practical components in the old literature that could
prove useful, such as Vitruvius on architecture, Galen in medicine,
Pliny on natural history did find a restrained interest and were copied
occasionally and thus rescued into the Christian curriculum, espe-
cially if the works had entered the writings of any of the Church
Fathers.
18
During the 9th century Hrabanus Maurus, still concerned
about the dangerous influence of the classical authors, recommended
the study of such authors as Virgil, Ovid and Horace for their style,
their ornamental eloquence and not for their ideas.
19
He invested
this ornamentation with great moral and inventive power in aid of
Christian meditation, thus rescuing the pagan authors because of the
ethical and cognitive stimulation, which they offered.
20
The educa-
tional promotion of Biblical knowledge and scholarship is then meant
to offer an alternate vehicle to advance literacy and Latinity, deemed
essential for reforming God’s people and for laying the foundations
of the universal Imperium Christianum of the Carolingians.
21
Charlemagne
himself gave direction to this effort and encouraged its coordination.
In his Epistola de litteris colendis, soon after 774, he requested that the
study of book-knowledge be pursued in a humble manner, and for
it to be learned in a manner pleasing to God so that the secrets of
divine scriptures might be penetrated more easily and correctly.
22
The aim was not the Classical, worldly model, but the religious com-
ponent of the Carolingian Renovatio, which was to represent the tan-
gible form and direction of this effort. In this regard sermons continued
the intellectual content of earlier times and contributed directly to
the Imperium Christianum.
The question concerning literacy then splits in two. On the one
hand, there is the eclipse to near oblivion of Classical, pagan, Latin
18
G. Brown, ‘Renaissance’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 38f. Also Sullivan,
‘The Context of Cultural Activity’ in Gentle Voices, p. 60.
19
See Diebold, p. 107, who quotes Hrabanus Maurus as follows: ‘For script is
the perfect and blessed norm of salvation and it is more important in all things
and is more use to everyone. . . .’
20
Carruthers, p. 128f.
21
According to Contreni, Carolingian Learning, p. III, 59. The Carolingian renais-
sance formed part of a program of religious renewal that Carolingian political and
clerical leaders sponsored and encouraged in the hope that it would lead to the
moral betterment of the Christian people.
22
See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 329. V.H. Elbern, Goldschmiedekunst im frühen Mittelalter
(Darmstadt 1988), p. 31f. See J.J. Contreni, ‘The Pursuit of Knowledge in Carolingian
Europe’, in Sullivan Gentle Voices, pp. 107ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 140
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 141
literature, or any literary activity for that matter. On the other, there
is the continuing and necessary promotion of the teaching and learn-
ing of a functional Latin literacy preserved with the emphatic depen-
dence on and the retention of the written Latin word for all forms
of communication during the post-Roman, Frankish, Merovingian
period. It might have been reasonable to expect a rebirth of the
Druidic oral tradition based on memorization. The need for schools,
basic Latin teaching texts and books in general will have to be sought
in the surviving efficiency of the administrative structure of post-
Roman Gaul and the immense amount of governmental communi-
cation and documentation and the ensuing need for organization.
Thus the rediscovery of any ancient writers, such as the Church
Fathers, or historians such as Jordanes and the Venerable Bede, or
Gregory of Tours and Fredegar, had more to do with the retention
of the scribal tradition of a functional Latin literacy, style, correct
Latin composition, the correct use of Latin grammar and even punc-
tuation, than with the subject matter of the literary works. Literature
should be studied as the handmaiden to grammar and provide a
stylistic context. Some authors used the ancient, pagan sources eclec-
tically. It posed no conflict for Carolingian scholars to copy and
study pagan and Christian texts simultaneously. The pagan authors
were understood to represent literary excellence.
23
The educational
value lay in the mechanics and skills represented and not the con-
tent, not literacy and not chronological history. Yet the educated
and well-read Septimanian lady Dhuoda, probably of Austrasian
parentage, advised her son, as he left for the court of Charles the
Bald, that ‘God is learned about through books’. She meant Christian
books and in the manual, which she sent him, her religious sources
have been identified. She may have reflected a more general empha-
sis on the writings of Christian authors. The quality of her com-
mand of written Latin is commendable.
24
The political value of the
use of written Latin lay in its universal application in overcoming
the vernacular regional differences. However, owing to the attempts
to restore written Classical Latin, it may have differed very significantly
23
Bullough, Renewal, p. 19. Also Bischoff, p. 103.
24
R. McKitterick, The Carolingians and the written Word (Cambridge 1989), p. 123f.
wrote a book for her 16 year old son, full of heartfelt advice. See Geary, Remembrance,
p. 49, for her advice to remember his genealogia, his wide flung family relations. Also
Geary, Living with the Dead, pp. 79ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 141
142 r\n+ n
from spoken Latin, Romance,
25
as illustrated in the Oaths of Strasbourg.
With time the regional multilingualism of the Frankish realm will
have affected the pronunciation of Latin, to the point that the inher-
ited orthography no longer reflected the phonemes of the spoken
language and a new orthography had to evolve, probably even to
record the spoken Frankish dialects. There will have been interfer-
ences with the use of spoken ‘Classical’ Latin as a ready lingua franca
throughout the different regions of the empire. However, though
affected regionally, the use of Latin will have been nearly universal,
certainly in western Frankish Europe, or the Romance languages
would not have come into being.
Fortunately the love and need of books expressed the desire to
retain as much extant knowledge as possible which led to the copy-
ing of books, a boon to posterity, as almost all known antique sources
were preserved as Carolingian copies. Charlemagne himself may have
provided the stimulus for the creation of writing centers when c. 780
he asked to receive copies of any rare and unusual books that might
be stored in any centers of learning.
26
No doubt a relationship existed
between the need and use of books and their production. What,
however, motivated the production of books beyond actual local
needs, considering the material costs? In fact much of the ‘Reawaken-
ing’ during the Carolingian period was inspired by the Imperium
Christianum, and based on the production of copies, not only of Latin
works, but also of Roman painting, glass making, crystal and ivory
carving, the portable arts in short, and even architecture. Astonishing
is the support of the written word by generous Frankish patrons with
the means of a wealth of precious materials made available to a
range of specialists by those who valued the recapitulation, partici-
pated in the grandiose design and who treasured these objects and
the intellectual wealth which they represented.
The participation could not be uniform across the Frankish sub-
kingdoms. Even a simple survey of maps dealing with the distribu-
tion of such Carolingian features as cities, monasteries, cathedrals,
churches, diocese and the like, shows many more significant con-
25
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 10f.
26
Bischoff, pp. 20–55. R. McKitterick, ‘Eighth Century Foundations’. in McKitterick,
New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 681. Contreni, Carolingian Learning, p. I, 20, sug-
gests that during the 7th and 8th centuries there were only 77 centers of learning
in Western Europe.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 142
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 143
centrations of these in the West-Frankish kingdom than in most parts
of the East-Frankish kingdom. This information allows the conclu-
sions that while the Franks had assumed mainly military power, con-
tinuity from Gallo-Roman to Frankish cultural foundations is very
pronounced where Roman administration continued to function.
Hence a many-faceted life under the Frankish rulers was possible
until the growth of genuine Germanic political and legal institutions
evolved. Thus the bishoprics had initially continued to be the domain
of the Gallo-Roman senatorial class, until in the end they also became
the termination of a career of the educated Germanic high nobility
in royal service. Owing to personal name changes the two groups
lost their distinction in the records and appear as a single social
group. The use of Latin, Christianity, Roman Law, Church Law
and the education of the Gallo-Roman population survived, even
though Charlemagne’s key officials no longer represented the old
imperial Gallo-Roman senatorial nobility, but primarily men of
Germanic origin. Education and communicative competence in Latin
was the skill, which identified the members of the Carolingian elite.
A functional bilingualism or even multilingualism can be assumed.
27
In the eastern regions where Old High German was spoken, even
the regional dialects have been identified. The written documenta-
tion was very extensive and much has been preserved. It is discussed
below. In that sense, by the middle of the 9th century, writing affected
more people than just the learned groups. In the east-rhenish lands,
by contrast, there were only a few such concentrations and then
mainly in the former Roman provinces, such as Raetia and Noricum,
pointing to any continuities with any highly developed past. Such a
comparison also makes clear why a Carolingian ‘Rebirth’ would have
to be rather ambivalent, the term resting on a rather different frame
of reference, a ready tradition and familiar and extensive infra-
structure in the west, and only little of that in the east. In the west
the revival already begins in Merovingian times as much more of a
continuation from earlier times. In the east the remains of Roman
Provincial Culture and the few monastic establishments did not leave
as significant an identifiable basis on which a ‘rebirth’ could take
place. Such foundations as there were had been established during
27
Jungandreas, p. 135f. lists names of bi- or multilingual individuals at court,
including the emperors.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 143
144 r\n+ n
Frankish times. To apply the term ‘Carolingian Renaissance’ or even
Renovatio, to the East Frankish realm is hence rather inappropriate.
Except for the radiating effect from the several east-rhenish religious
centers, new foundations and production centers such as an impres-
sive St. Gallen, or Reichenau, Echternach, Regensburg, Freising,
Salzburg, Würzburg, Hersfeld, Fulda, to identify just a few, there
was not that much of an eclipsed, formerly established, continuing,
latent, cultural tradition there, that could be ‘reborn’. The forma-
tive initiatives, often originally Anglo-Saxon, were to be mainly new,
soon to be staffed by indigenous monks,
28
using regional forms of
German vernaculars, and quite remarkable among all levels of soci-
ety. Germanic scribes adopted the insular style of writing, for instance
at Fulda, where neither its first abbot nor most of its earliest monks
were English, and book production so that it survived till after 800.
By c. 850 the insular style was no longer being written.
29
The
Carolingian Gallo-Roman west and south was not to play a role in
this directly. Rather Frankish bilingual German- and Latin-speakers,
who could transmit the Classical heritage as well as the Christian
faith into the vernacular, participated in original ways, in much larger
numbers and in many more intellectual areas to bring the undere-
ducated eastern regions to a par with the western and southern lev-
els.
30
The enclaves of Latini, Roman remnant populations in Raetia
and Noricum were never represented by large numbers, so that a
comparison with their role in Gaul would not be very productive.
31
What the cultural awakening did provide through the standardiza-
tion of the minuscule script, the Latin literary link between Christ
and the Cross, was a heightening of the educational qualification of
an extensive audience, represented through the reform work of the
many new monasteries, convents and schools and the forms and
motifs of the Classical Christian past, inspired by the thrust toward
the newly conceived Imperium Christianum. Very soon afterwards the
reforms affected a brief, episodic, intellectual ‘flourish’ in German
literature with its own audience. A very convincing contribution is
28
McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th–9th Centuries
(Gower House, Brookfield 1993), pp. IV, 315ff.
29
McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning, pp. IV, 297f., 301, 304, 305.
30
Jungandreas, pp. 117ff. McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning, p. IV, 318.
31
Schutz, Germanic Realms, p. 289. See McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 81–126,
concerning the survival of written culture in these regions. McKitterick’s discussion
creates the impression that the population of Latini is much larger.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 144
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 145
a flowering of such portable arts as manuscript/book illumination,
ivory carving and the work in metals, which gave the East Frankish
kingdom a position of leadership in Central Europe. Examples of
Carolingian architecture and of some wall painting are still in evi-
dence today.
As was shown above, beginning in the 740s a central factor was
the reform of the ever less effective Merovingian Frankish church
and the invigoration through the Romanization, or what was per-
ceived to be the Roman rite, of the Merovingian liturgical practice
as part of the ensuing Carolingian liturgical reforms. Through his
links with apostolic Rome St. Boniface may well have contributed
to this Romanization. This reform was to affect all aspects of an
individual’s physical and spiritual life within the earthly kingdom and
his ideas concerning death. Perhaps the coincidence of religious and
secular education affected the understanding of the purpose of life
and of all meaning. It was to have a renewing effect on all society
as the early Carolingians tried to idealize their Christian realm into
a replica of the heavenly kingdom on earth, the Imperium Christianum.
Education had to assume the primary role to help fulfill this inten-
tion and hence religious education had to outweigh any secular needs.
The benefits of a secular sort were incidental. This renewal was to
find expression in art as well.
In addition to the implementation of the Christian imperium based
on divine authority, the interest of demonstrating a Christian impe-
rial continuity and legitimacy of the Carolingians had to be main-
tained by means of recapitulating methods. This transformation into
a Christian realm did utilize the development of a Rome- and
Ravenna-inspired state symbolism most overtly demonstrated in archi-
tecture, but also supported by traditional Roman, Germanic and
Church Laws, Classical literature, secular and religious art, as well
as manuscripts and carved ivories, and a general body of ideas
inspired by and developed from Germanic portable art and Christian
Roman models. Tangible aspects of Roman Law continued deliber-
ately in all of the tribal law codes, which were widely distributed.
The Vitae of saints, missionaries and king/emperors followed Roman
examples; the symbolism of catacomb art as well as the pagan
(Roman) personifications were adopted, adapted and actually rein-
vented by the Carolingians in such Christian art as the ivory carv-
ings. It has already been noted how the language of majesty was
Romanized. The style of representing majesty or elevated status was
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 145
146 r\n+ n
also borrowed from Roman prototypes, as the transfer of the idea
of the Cosmocrator from Roman imperial representations to the apoc-
alyptic Majestas effigies of Christ and the return of this Roman rep-
resentation of the imperial pictorial image under the heirs of
Charlemagne. The introduction of sacerdotal concepts and of such
symbolic Biblical practices as the anointing of the Carolingian impe-
rial head in the manner of king David, for instance, was a deliber-
ate attempt to develop the ‘hereditary’ association with the Old
Testament kings, first appreciated by those surrounding Charlemagne.
The liturgical imperial acclamation formulas echoed Germanic/Roman
tribal/military practices, while the ever-increasing emphasis on official
imperial ‘portraits’, as on coins, served to elevate the image, the ideal
of the medieval imperial ruler in the revived tradition of the Roman
emperors and reestablish earlier ideas of the sacerdotal essence of
the ruler, in the Imitatio sacerdotii. Such coins, stamped with Charle-
magne’s portrait and the classicizing capitals ‘KAROLUS IMP(era-
tor) AUG(ustus)’ represent a singular tangible and appropriate
illustration of the so-called Carolingian Renaissance.
32
Charlemagne attempted to emphasize the legitimacy of his rule
and its continuity from earlier Merovingian times by naming two of
his sons with Merovingian dynastic names. He stressed his link with
imperial times by identifying with Theoderic the Great, Roman
Patricius and Viceroy of the emperor in Constantinople, and trans-
porting his equestrian statue, or was it that of the emperor Zeno,
along with the Classical porphyry columns, (Fig. 7) books and the
general symbolic plan of the Byzantine church of San Vitale in Ravenna,
the last capital of the West Roman Empire, to Aachen, Charlemagne’s
own capital. All were erected in the new palace complex, the church
to become his palace church. These concerns found expression under
his descendants in other architectural examples as well, as for the
sake of the Imperium Christianum, their universal Christian Empire the
Carolingians made every attempt to emphasize the dominating inter-
relation with Christian Rome. Pepin and Charlemagne were associ-
ated with glorious Christian Roman emperors, while later Holy
Roman Emperors deliberately emulated Charlemagne and fostered
this show of continuity with him, with the Christian Roman emperors,
with the Testaments, and especially with the Old Testament kings.
32
Nees, ‘Art and Politics’ in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 186.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 146
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 147
VIII. Carolingian scribal culture
Contrary to the East-Frankish kingdom, in the western Frankish
realms the Gallo-Roman cultural elites had survived in the church
and its institutions where they succeeded in the transmission of at
least some of the Classical ideals of culture and civilization in their
Christian end phase, resulting in that synergetic collaboration between
church and state. Clearly the religious aspects indicate that the con-
cerns, which made up the intellectual recapitulation during the Caro-
lingian Renaissance, went far beyond the revival of the interest in the
Latin Classics and skill of writing Latin. The Latin Classics could
never be more than the handmaiden to Christianity. In the eastern
kingdom this was at best a transfer, but certainly a show of firsts.
Throughout the Carolingian empire religio-political interests made
the distribution of all literature an essential concern, where it con-
solidated Carolingian rule.
Literacy in Carolingian times, a fundamental historical concern,
is a topic treated very extensively in the pertinent literature dealing
with the Carolingian recovery. Originally the idea was linked to
Latinity and narrowly defined to refer to someone learned in Latin.
While this underlying meaning is present in this discussion, it quickly
also becomes applicable to our modern, more generally understood
frame of reference. A functional command of the written language
in private and in public is evident as many middle and upper levels
of society needed it for the interpretation of the law and the admin-
istration of church and state.
33
The social elite had readers and scribes
available to overcome its handicaps. As demonstrated above, read-
ing and writing skills did not commit an individual to an inclination
toward or an appreciation of letters, a situation encountered fre-
quently again today.
Also not unlike today, more people will have been able to read
than to write well. The tensions between oral and scribal traditions
are upon us again. We know from Einhard, that Charlemagne liked
to be read to aloud from St. Augustine’s City of God, but he reput-
edly especially liked to listen to the old Germanic heroic poems,
33
Nelson, ‘Literacy in Carolingian Government’, Frankish World, pp. 1–36. Also
Nelson, in Charles the Bald, pp. 7ff. Also McKitterick, The Carolingians, and
R. McKitterick (ed.) The Uses of Literacy in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge 1990).
R. McKitterick (ed.), Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation (Cambridge 1994).
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 147
148 r\n+ n
which he wanted to have recorded.
34
Evidently texts were accessible
in this fashion as well, just as today the text of a computerized book
can be accessed through a digital reader and read out loud by means
of a choice of male or female electronically synthesized voices, read-
ing at a chosen speed, in an accent of choice. Clearly, the modifiable
spoken language will have dominated its fixed written use by sheer
weight of numbers, for otherwise Latin would not have undergone
the etymological changes toward the development of French. Modern
analogies are easy to find.
Literacy, beyond the merely functional, may not be assumed for
the lesser clergy, whether monk, nun or priest.
35
Clearly the Christian
hierarchy had inherited the traditional use of Latin from Roman
times and the determination to make the empire a unified Imperium
Christianum would have recommended the use of Latin as the given
unifying agent of thought and ritual. Primarily education was intended
to consolidate a person’s religious appreciation. While many more
people had a more easily acquired reading comprehension and an
oral command of it, depending on memorization for extended recall
in the place of available texts, only a smaller scribal elite will have
had a command of the difficult written Latin, let alone used Latin
for the expression of one’s literary abilities. Nonetheless networks of
correspondents appear from the letters, as for instance the letters
written by Lupus de Ferrières to Einhard asking for books.
36
Queens
and princesses, abbesses and other aristocratic women will have
figured prominently among those competent in Latin and at least
among the functional literates, in some cases as writers, but certainly
as listeners and readers of history and also as writers of correspondence
and of poetry in their households and in the great convents.
37
They
will have been multilingual and at least bilingual with Latin being
one of the languages. The cathedral and monastic schools were gen-
erally located in regions of economic prosperity and political stability.
The monastery and convent schools taught both history and poetry
34
Geary, Living with the Dead, p. 53, points to the improbability of this assertion.
35
J.L. Nelson, ‘Literacy in Carolingian government’, in McKitterick, Uses of
Literacy, p. 264f. See especially McKitterick, Frankish Church, pp. 45–79.
36
Bischoff, p. 124.
37
Nelson, ‘Gender and Genre in Women Historians’, in Frankish World, pp. 184ff.
Also McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 226, pp. 227ff. See also McKitterick, Books,
Scribes and Learning, pp. XIII, 1–43.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 148
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 149
in its Christian guise perhaps equally to boys and girls.
38
However,
the attitudes advanced by the Church Fathers restricted the role of
women severely to areas not associated with men. While initially
copyists worked independently, since the time of St. Martin of Tours,
c. 360, monks and nuns were engaged in the copying of manu-
scripts.
39
Women must be largely assumed to have been active in
convents in the schooling of girls, as scribes and as copyists of mate-
rials not linked with the church services. One must conclude that
literate women were also active outside the convent walls.
40
Initially
parental, i.e. maternal and/or private tutoring, some secular schools
and admission to the monastic schools prepared people for entry
into convents and monasteries. In 789, responding to the poor com-
mand of language in the correspondence reaching the court, Charle-
magne issued the Admonitio generalis for the administration of the
Frankish church and the clergy and decreed that schools were to be
established for boys of all classes
41
and expected every diocese and
monastery to supervise the restoration of education, nearly defunct,
and to have its schools and establish a curriculum in the Liberal
Arts for the children of freemen and nobility alike, subordinate only
to the study of Scriptures, evidently in the service of the grand idea.
Teaching children of the lower classes was particularly successful.
This path was available to those wishing to enter the ranks of the
lower clergy, and in some instances realize the possibilities of a degree
of upward mobility. The Merovingian courts had schools attached
38
McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 211ff. Also Brown, ‘Renaissance’, in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, p. 36. Also van der Horst, The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art,
p. 12f. See Contreni, ‘Pursuit of Knowledge’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 111ff.,
for a discussion of schools and the education of women. See McKitterick, Books,
Scribes and Learning, p. XIII, 38, points out that the decrees of 816 did not specify
whether the girls had to pursue a religious life.
39
Bischoff, p. 6.
40
Contreni, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 716ff. See Innes,
State and Society, pp. 111ff., who makes the clear case that scribes were very much
involved in the drafting of contracts, charters and other transactions. See McKitterick,
Books, Scribes and Learning, p. VII, 1ff. for ‘Nun’s scriptoria in England and Francia
during the 8th century’. Also pp. XIII, 2ff.
41
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 220. Also Brown, ‘Carolingian Renaissance’
in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 20f., pp. 28ff. Also McKitterick, Frankish Church,
pp. 1–44, who provides the details concerning regulations, obligations, priestly ped-
agogic and pastoral functions with the intent of stabilizing personal and social con-
cerns in the kingdom. See also Braunfels, p. 98f. See Contreni, ‘Pursuit of Knowledge’,
in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 107ff., p. 115.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 149
150 r\n+ n
to provide such basic aspects of education to the court. A Carolingian
council in 813 recommended school attendance, if for no other rea-
son than to learn the basic tenets of the faith, but especially to train
people to function in central and local jurisdictions. A closer read-
ing of the Benedictine Rule may have segregated the religious from
the secular domains which may have led to the segregation of the
schools into external schools with a functional, more pragmatic cur-
riculum for laymen and internal schools with more sophisticated
courses of study for those heading into the clergy and the monas-
teries in the service of the grandiose design. Some Latin will have
figured in both, but especially in the latter.
42
For the lower clergy
there existed a rather modest, rudimentary learning program—to be
able to teach the Symbol, say Mass, give pre-baptismal instruction,
know and teach the Lord’s Prayer.
43
Clerics, notaries, heralds, read-
ers, singers, writers and the clergy had to be able to read and write
a vast amount of material and to convert written text into public
announcements. Certainly the missi dominici, the ministerial envoys of
the king, who in pairs toured the districts of the realm tending to
administrative domestic affairs and tendering reports of their tours
of inspection,
44
had to have more than a merely pragmatic oral and
written functional competence in the correct interpretation, elabora-
tion and implementation of oral and written royal and governmen-
tal directives, verdicts, decrees, royal letters, capitularies and charters.
45
Just as today, an order in writing will have carried more convinc-
ing emphasis than one delivered by word of mouth. Their imple-
mentation will have had to be verified. In the pragmatic dimensions
the preparation of itemized tabulations of property, personal recol-
lection, for record-keeping in matters of military obligations, levies
of all sorts, the payment of the tithes, fees and fines, for the mak-
ing of administrative lists, tallies and ratifications, some functional
42
See McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 221, who cites the example at St. Gallen.
43
Contreni, Carolingian Learning, pp. II, 14; IV, 84.
44
Nelson, Charles the Bald, pp. 41ff., details the whole political context in the
realm of Charles the Bald. See also Nelson, ‘Literacy’, in McKitterick, Uses of Literacy,
pp. 258ff., p. 269f. who suggests that even those who were not literate had some
formulistic comprehension of the written directives.
45
See Nelson, ‘Literacy’ in McKitterick, Uses of Literacy, pp. 286ff., concerning
capitularies. See especially McKitterick, The Carolingians, chapters 2 and 3, ‘Law and
the written word” and ‘A literate community: the evidence of the charters’ respec-
tively. See also Geary, Remembrance, p. 86, who uses evidence that charters also had
a commemorative function in addition to a legal one.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 150
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 151
numeracy and limited writing and reading skills would be essential.
Competent, though not necessarily literate, bilingual copyists, men
and women, had to provide the countless numbers of accurate copies
of any texts and documents in written and memorized versions needed
for circulation in written and oral form throughout all the regions
of the empire.
46
Whether pertaining to pagan or Christian texts, the
Carolingians placed great emphasis on correct copies and authentic
texts, which resulted in the preservation of much Classical literature
for posterity. The enacting infrastructure was pyramidal in that the
written directive was addressed to the count, who would read it, or
have it read to his lords, or transcribed and distributed to them,
who then passed the information on orally. For future records, the
directive was to be kept on file. The material, documentary, gov-
ernmental evidence indicates that there were regional differences and
that the former Merovingian west could rely on a higher degree of
practical linguistic continuity at many social levels. The eastern, less
Romanized Frankish kingdom could not. For scribal and interpre-
tational services people had to turn to clerics. The German speak-
ers would find governmental communications somewhat less accessible,
making the services of translators necessary. Nevertheless, it must
have been accepted that Latin was the universal administrative lan-
guage of the New Israel, common not only to all parts of the uni-
versal Imperium Christianum, the universal faith and as the language
of the Bible, that it was probably also the language of God.
That Charlemagne was very interested in learning is well known
and he gathered to his court the scholars of the day. It was prob-
ably Alcuin, who recommended to him the idea of the Christian
Empire. Others could present a competent curriculum, such as the
one in the Christianized Seven Liberal Arts. Originally these had
been nine, including Philosophy. It was established by Alcuin in
accordance with Neoplatonic authors of Classical antiquity and as
confirmed by Martianus Capella of the 5th century.
47
These were
46
Nelson, ‘Literacy’ in McKitterick, Uses of Literacy, pp. 262ff., p. 270, suggests
that even in the eastern Germanic areas most of the free populations, and even
some of the unfree, were passively, pragmatically literate. Also McKitterick, The
Carolingians, p. 28. See Contreni, ‘Pursuit of Knowledge’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices,
p. 116f.
47
See Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, pp. 82f., 151ff. Also Bischoff, pp. 105ff. pp. 99–109,
for a summary of the curriculum. Also Contreni, in McKitterick, New Cambridge
Medieval History, pp. 725–747.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 151
152 r\n+ n
organized as the trivium—Grammar, Dialectic (Logic) and Rhetoric;
and the less important quadrivium—Mathematics, Geometry, Music
and Astronomy. The trivium was considered most applicable when
trying to unlock the mysteries of the Scriptures and when trying to
ascertain the Will of God. Especially the study of Grammar enjoyed
intellectual primacy, because it was held that the examination of
grammatical structures was the first step toward appreciating the
structure of truth and hence of divine knowledge. It was the fun-
damental and leading qualification for membership in the sublime
empire. At more elevated levels Theology was conceived to be the
crowning course of study.
48
In each subject one read prescribed texts
complemented by universally known authors. The works of a great
many grammarians were available creating the effect that the study
and transmission of Classical grammar was of primary importance.
49
In view of the many Celtic and Germanic languages and dialects,
the cultivation of Latin as the universal language of communication
was essential. Such students of Latin were not well served by the
available grammars, for they were more like review grammars rather
than introductory basic texts. For students of the trivium familiar with
Latin in a Latin-speaking environment, elementary grammar was the
Ars minor by Aelius Donatus, the teacher of St. Jerome, c. 350, and
for advanced grammar it was his Ars maior,
50
and also Priscianus,
Institutiones grammaticae in 18 books, early 6th century. As was men-
tioned, these were not basic teaching texts from which grammar
could be learned, but sources with which grammar could be dis-
cussed, sometimes at a highly specialized level. Most important, gram-
mar was actually the study of literature, ‘the science of the things
said by poets, historians and orators; its principal functions are to
read, to write, to understand and to prove’.
51
For both grammars
one Asporius had prepared a rather Christian version, the Ars Asporii.
48
See D. Ganz, ‘Theology and the Organization of Thought’, in McKitterick,
New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 758–785. See also Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 304–
389. Also Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, pp. 157ff. See also Contreni, Carolingian Learning,
p. II, 20.
49
Bischoff, pp. 98ff.
50
Law, ‘Grammar’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 89f., for a summary of
the books’ contents; p. 95f. concerning Priscianus.
51
Brown, ‘Renaissance’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 37. The author is
reminded of his own introduction to the study of Gothic, beginning with the first
words of the Gospel of Matthew, imperatives and present subjunctives though they
were.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 152
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 153
Alcuin relied on these authors when he contributed his own Ars
grammatica.
52
Evidently Alcuin, Charlemagne’s teacher of grammar,
responded to a real need for a teaching text and it appears plausi-
ble that Alcuin was not the only one to do that. Already Boniface
had made an attempt in this direction and Paulus Diaconus and
Peter of Pisa did the same. Before Smaragdus became abbot, he was
active as a grammarian and it was he who in a very popular book
particularly amplified Latin grammar with Biblical quotations.
53
The
objective for such a text can easily be linked with the preparation
for inclusion in the universal Christian empire. It figures as a ped-
agogical preparation and application of pertinent teaching materials,
to suit a situation and to maximize on resources, energies and results.
Production will have reflected perceived need. The teaching objec-
tives will have played a determining methodological role, then just
as now. Teaching tended to take the form of dialogue
54
between
teacher and pupil in which both master and pupil will have relied
on the ability to quote verbatim from memory. Memorization was
taught as a conscious discipline with degrees of accomplishment.
55
The worldly pedagogical objective was the mastery of the known
body of knowledge, of truths, and not innovation.
56
For Rhetoric
Cicero was the target ability, but two more elementary works authored
by Alcuin were more suitable. Where appropriate, both subjects were
illustrated with references to the poetic works of such Classical authors
as Virgil and Ovid. One turned to Boethius for theoretical Music
and the singing of hymns and the liturgy were stressed. Some Mathe-
matics and Geometry was derived from Boethius and one also read
the Aristotle fragments translated by Boethius. The Bible, with the
commentaries of the Church Fathers, especially those of St. Gregory
the Great figured prominently in the course of study. The Venerable
Bede and Isidore of Seville were two other authors to be read. This
rather demanding curriculum came into use following the attempt
to convert the non-monastic court schools into academies for the
52
McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 13ff., 18ff. for an extensive discussion of the
teaching of grammar in Carolingian regions. See Law, ‘Grammar’ in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, pp. 90ff.
53
Law, ‘Grammar’ in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, pp. 99ff.
54
See Bischoff, p. 106f. on Alcuin’s dialogues. Also Law, ‘Grammar’, in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, pp. 92ff., especially the discussion on dialectics, pp. 95ff.
55
Carruthers, The Craft of Thought, p. 66.
56
Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 153, quotes Alcuin on this point.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 153
154 r\n+ n
more advanced students. The elementary schools will have offered
an introductory program of study to respond to the needs indicated
earlier. The trivium satisfied most of those needs. The quadrivium rep-
resented the more advanced program.
57
Not unlike today, more peo-
ple will have been satisfied with the acquisition of skills than the
pursuit of an abstract ideal.
That spoken Latin was undergoing significant changes is best illus-
trated in the Old French version of the Oaths of Strasbourg. The
Old German version of it shows just how much the development of
the German vernacular began to distinguish the German speakers
within the Frankish empire. It was mentioned above, that neither
language existed at that time in this ‘common’ form, and certainly
not as official languages, and that both parts of the realm used a
multitude of regional, though at the time comprehensible dialects,
reflecting the large tribal groups. An understandable form of Latin
had to serve as a common means of communication, both oral and
written. The chosen populus Christianus of the Franks had to be able
to share the teleological message and use the language of the Christian
church, the ‘Word of God’, if it wanted to be the Chosen of God
in the Imperium Christianum. For the educated orders of society liter-
acy provided access to the elites and to this realm. Aiming to pre-
sent a figure worthy of being a rolemodel, Einhard had written his
Vita Karoli Magni, in itself an innovative work of historiography, despite
its indebtedness to Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars.
Classical Philosophy as such was virtually lost. What philosophy
was preserved, entered the theology of the Christian church in its
philosophical end phase: true philosophy is true religion. It was pre-
served in the writings of the Church Fathers, in this case in St.
Augustine, and their indebted commentators, as was demonstrated
above. The authority of the source mattered. The thought mattered
only to the extent that through the use of Logic it could be adjusted
to fit the doctrine of the faith. While in antiquity the pursuit of
knowledge and reality was a function of an esthetic joy of cognition,
now the intellectual pursuits had become rather functional and with
only one focus: the interpretation of the scriptures, the faith and its
grandiose purposes. Philosophy’s share in the Carolingian recapitu-
lation of learning was the incidental custodial preservation of Classical
57
Easton, pp. 90ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 154
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 155
thinking as it underwent its Christian transformation. It will be much
later before philosophy will be freed of this indebtedness to engage
in the self-satisfied joy of speculation. For nearly a millennium, philo-
sophical problems are mainly antique problems in Christian guise.
The process involved resembled the modifying efforts spent by those
grammarians who replaced pagan textual examples with Christian
ones. The novelty lies in the transformed application. As was indi-
cated above, the basis for the Christian ‘philosophical’ pursuits of
the true knowledge of Revelation, to be found in the studies of the
trivium and of the quadrivium, the study of the Seven Liberal Arts.
58
This preoccupation accounts for the emphasis on the study of Gram-
mar and its objectives.
Such as they were, according to incomplete and eclectic lists, most
libraries were incidental collections, bereft of books, which led to a
considerable and widespread ‘interlibrary loan’ system, active bor-
rowing, lending, mass-copying and binding of books.
59
Most books
appear to have been basic teaching texts, Bibles, not always com-
plete, almost encyclopedic commentaries and books of a religious
nature, written mainly by the Church Fathers. Some were better
stocked with pagan Classical authors than others. No library appears
to have accumulated more than a thousand volumes. Considering
the costs, how could they? Books were tremendously expensive to
produce and hence relatively rare. Nevertheless, the total estimate
of some 50 000 volumes speaks to the need for books among the
Carolingians. An unknown number of books was produced during
the last decades of the 8th century, but well over 7000 Carolingian
manuscripts, including copies of most of the Classical authors, are
known from manuscripts produced during the 9th century.
60
Their
58
J. Marenbon, ‘Carolingian Thought’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, pp.
171ff.
59
Bischoff, pp. 93–114, esp. pp. 95ff. for respective lists. See van der Horst,
et al. The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art. Picturing the Psalms of David (Utrecht 1996),
p. 10f. McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 166ff., 169ff. for some holdings. Also
McKitterick, ‘Scholarship, Book Production and Libraries: The Flowering of the
Carolingian Renaissance’, in Frankish Kingdoms, pp. 200–225. Also Hartmann, pp.
235ff. for numbers of volumes in the respective libraries of the East Frankish king-
dom. See Contreni, Carolingian Learning, pp. V, 83ff.
60
R. McKitterick, ‘Script and book production’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture,
pp. 221, 226. Also McKitterick, ‘Eighth-century Foundations’, in McKitterick, New
Cambridge Medieval History, p. 684, for other estimates of manuscript production. See
also D. Ganz, ‘Book Production in the Carolingian empire and the Spread of
Caroline Miniscule’, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 786.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 155
156 r\n+ n
material value made them attractive objects of theft and resale on
the open and ‘black’ markets. That there was a market for books is
indicated in Einhard’s account of Charlemagne’s Last Will and
Testament, in which he ‘decreed that the large collection of books
which he has made in his library shall be bought at a reasonable
price by anyone who wants to have them’.
61
How many volumes
were in that library? Who were the authors? Some of them were
rare works by early Christian authors as well as the pagan authors
of antiquity. These included Lucan, Terence, Claudian, Juvenal,
Horace, Cicero and Sallust dealing with such areas as histories of
the Roman Republic and the Empire and Latin epic and lyric poetry.
Charlemagne’s court library had the most complete collection in this
regard. This unusual, by needs rather random collection does seem
to have served as an influential model for building other collections,
including that of Louis the Pious, for copies along with illuminated
gospels produced at the Court School were registered at other monas-
tic libraries and major churches.
62
Charlemagne had issued a decree
that books from many lands be accumulated in the court library.
What happened to all of these books? It is a characteristic of the
Carolingian libraries to list Biblical texts and the writings of the
Church Fathers to serve as the sparks with which the lamp of
Christian learning was to be ignited.
63
An extensive number of Carolingian books were not derivative
from classical models, but continued the Germanic traditions of lav-
ish surface ornamentation. Innovations constituted a significant pro-
portion among the works created. Already in Merovingian times the
scriptoria of the great monasteries could supply the rulers with the
occasional resplendent, bejeweled, dedicated manuscripts.
64
In this
respect the ‘renovatio’ predated the appearance of the Carolingians,
who then knew how to recognize the Merovingian appreciation of
old books and how to build on them by preserving them as copies.
Most of the newer material consisted of Christian sourcebooks so
that little effort was spared to make them precious—embossed and
61
Thorpe, p. 89.
62
Bischoff, pp. 63, 95, suggests that Charlemagne’s court library was emulated
and that copies of the holdings and the holdings themselves experienced a wide
distribution.
63
Brown, ‘Renaissance’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 33.
64
McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning, pp. I, 173–207. Also XII, p. 2, for a
definition of such writing centers and the question of styles and scripts.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 156
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 157
engraved sheets of gold, all manner of gem encrustations, filigree,
settings of pearls, cloisonné enamels, powdered glass melted in cells
on the covers, dyed parchment pages with gold and silver and poly-
chrome lettering, not to mention artistic skills applied and the esthetic
effects achieved on the illuminated pages within the interiors—and
unique treasures. In that respect they were the preserve of the few,
clerics and aristocrats, who upon admission contributed some of their
personal wealth to the monastery and any books to the libraries.
Regrettably during the Carolingian Period the earlier Celto-Germanic
and polychrome decorative styles were replaced. The northern inter-
twine of the Germanic Anglo-Saxon-Northumbrian abstract, curvi-
linear, intertwining vegetative and animal complexes of surface
covering, as evident on the first Lindau Gospel cover and on parts of
the Tassilo Chalice, were rather quickly replaced by anthropomorphic
representations, as on the Tassilo Chalice and on the second Lindau
Gospel cover, and indeed also on the effigy pages of the nearly con-
temporary Book of Kells. The polychrome space-filling, abstract orna-
mentation found on Germanic personal ornaments and portable art
could not be developed and was given up. By the 8th century the
originally purely ornamental interlaces of the largely abstract Celtic
Insular Style found on religious vessels and on the carpet pages in the
exquisitely illuminated gospels and sacramentaries was gradually sur-
rendering its indecipherable, non-communicative designs and was
abandoned, as the rediscovery of narrative Classical forms imposed
an emphasis on representational, message carrying art. The Insular
Script had come to eastern Austrasia/Thuringia during the middle
of the 8th century, when the Anglo-Saxon monks founded Fulda
and Würzburg. The textual evidence indicates, however, that only
a few books were imported from England.
65
Owing to characteris-
tics of script and decorative conventions, insular books can be dis-
tinguished from books written on the continent.
66
From c. 750 onward
they were of local manufacture, their handwriting betraying the
English, Irish or German origins of the scribes.
67
The synthesis of
65
McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning, p. III, 402, argues that many books
were brought from England.
66
McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning, p. III, 399.
67
P. Riché, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West, From the Sixth to the Eighth
Century, transl. by J.J. Contreni (Columbia N.C. 1978), pp. 433ff., for an inventory
of manuscripts and their sources. McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 172. Also Wallace-
Hadrill, p. 337f., for details concerning Fulda and Würzburg and the effectiveness
of Hrabanus Maurus.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 157
158 r\n+ n
Insular and continental scholarship taking place so far to the east
and away from the western centers produced some of the best, orig-
inal work during Carolingian times. Within a relatively short time,
heavily influenced by the art forms of the Mediterranean cultures,
this Renovatio favored a shift to Classical styles, and applied more of
an anthropomorphic, homocentric, representational, narrative and
engagé, message-oriented religious and political art as part of the
Christianization, centered on the representations of the human effigy,
especially that of Christ. In this regard the resurgence demonstrates
its most evident concluding effect. Though some of the Carolingian
gospels retain display initials decorated in the nervously dashing cal-
ligraphic intertwines for a while, gradually the creative imagination
is pushed aside by the imitative eye in the service of key principles
of the sacred dogma and the great expense of the golden, gem
encrusted, carved ivory covers and the colored portrait pages of the
illuminated Carolingian gospels, sacramentaries and other manu-
scripts. Over 7000 Carolingian books survive. About 50 000 may
once have existed. The disposable material wealth and the inferred
status of the Carolingians must have been astounding.
68
There is most extensive information available about the libraries
within the Alemanic region of the eastern kingdom of the Franks at
Reichenau and St. Gallen, as well as at Fulda and Würzburg.
69
The
island monastery Reichenau, in Lake Constance, possibly erected on
or near the remaining foundations of a Roman villa, was founded
in the spirit of Hiberno-Frankish monasticism by St. Pirmin in 724
under orders from Charles Martel, to consolidate the Christianization
and pacification of the still pagan Alemans. Strictly speaking, based
on the archeological evidence presented elsewhere, these were no
longer pagans, though not because of any Irish missionary work
among them. The bishopric of Constance had been founded at the
end of the 6th century. Irish monks from the Alsace had been active
along the fringes of the Alemanic lands, though there are no records
that any missionary activities were actually pursued beyond the Rhine.
Even Gallus, the associate of St. Columban, was reluctant to leave
his cell. The island was owned by one Sintlas and hence known as
68
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 163. Also Brown, ‘Renaissance’ in McKitterick,
Carolingian Culture, p. 34.
69
See Ganz, ‘Book Production’, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History,
p. 787f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 158
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 159
Sintleozes Auua, the Meadow of Sintlas. Only later was it named the
‘rich meadow’, Reichenau. Owing to its very favorable climate, today
the island produces five harvests of vegetables annually. The abbot
Ermenrich of Ellwangen praised its abundance of fruit and wine.
Legend represents the familiar topic that the island was crawling
with repulsive snakes, toads and gruesome worms, which all left when
St. Pirmin arrived.
70
For three days and nights they swam away from
the island, never to be seen again. In the author’s imagination the
heathen figured as vermin. The monastery established on the island
had one of the greatest scriptoria. Of the over 40 churches and chapels
once on the island, only three religious establishments have survived
the secularization at the end of the 18th Century. Today a causeway
connects the island of Reichenau to the mainland peninsula. During
preceding centuries islands along Europe’s coastlines were preferred
sites chosen by the peregrine Irish monks in their search for deserted
solitudes. This was also true for islands located in the River Rhine.
Subjected to many transformations, one of the remaining churches
(Niederzell) contains stonework dating to 799. St. George’s church
(Oberzell), on the former site of the abbot Hatto’s cell, is a late
Carolingian flat roof basilica dating to c. 900, now famed for its
Ottonian frescoes. Already in 827 Walahfrid, the Cross-eyed (c. 809–
849), had praised its favored location in a poem. A former student
of Hrabanus Maurus, tutor of prince Charles (the Bald), Louis the
Pious named him its abbot in 839. During a mission of reconcilia-
tion between the brothers Ludwig and Charles into the western
Frankish kingdom, he drowned in the Loire.
Reichenau was to enjoy particularly good relations with several of
the medieval imperial German dynasties. The many monks on the
island carried their teaching in a wide radius into the lands around
Lake Constance. The foundation differed from others in that it did
not first require to be cleared, and swamps did not first have to be
drained. With Carolingian support the monastery could dedicate itself
to its work almost from the start. Charlemagne’s wife Hildegard may
have favored the monastery with royal privileges. Its abbot Waldo,
who simultaneously administered the bishopric of Pavia, was the
trusted emissary of the king on many missions. His successor Hatto,
also bishop of Basel, led the mission to Constantinople in 811, there
70
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 176f. concerning Pirmin.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 159
160 r\n+ n
to obtain the Byzantine recognition for the Carolingian empire. On
the Reichenau he introduced the Benedictine Reform. Walahfrid
Strabo was full of his praises for him for being as full of wisdom as
a box full of books. These Carolingian abbots expanded the politi-
cal and cultural relations far beyond the immediate region into north-
ern Italy, the western Frankish realm and north to Lorsch and Fulda.
Waldo and Hatto are credited with assembling one of the largest
libraries of the time. St. Pirmin is said to have laid its foundation
by arriving with 50 volumes.
71
415 volumes are listed in a catalogue
of 821, the 8th year of Louis’ the Pious reign.
72
Beside several lux-
urious examples of Mediterranean origin, many of the volumes were
produced by the monks of the Reichenau scriptorium. Forty-two vol-
umes were copied or donated alone by the learned bookworm
Reginbert, who was set on enlarging the library collection.
73
Excellent
monastic contacts brought other volumes to the library. Essentially
a subject catalogue was arranged in 821/22 by functional impor-
tance, it listed first Bibles and Testaments and related texts (35), then
the Church Fathers, Augustine (28), Jerome (28), Gregory (19), vitas
(18), liturgical texts (137), assorted authors including Vitruvius and
Josephus, Roman, tribal and Carolingian laws, Gregory’s of Tours
History of the Franks, Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, manuscripts
of common law, monastic rules, such educational books as gram-
mars (10), and so forth. The educational thrust aimed to promote
Christian learning. Approximate chronological order dominates within
the categories. Irish original manuscripts are also represented, but
they form a special collection, while the manuscripts revealing Insular
influences are an exception within the library’s inventory, and within
the work of the scriptoria show no influence, probably because of the
fruitful relations with Italian, West- and East Frankish scriptoria.
74
The Reichenau scriptorium was to prosper under Hatto’s successor,
the abbot Erlebald (823–838), who punished errors in Latin gram-
mar severely, so that the incorrect use of the subjunctive could bring
harsh beatings upon the ignoramus until he appreciated the sinful-
71
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 341f. concerning the library.
72
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 179, for a discussion of the content and organ-
ization of the catalogue. She wonders if the catalogue is an example that was fol-
lowed elsewhere, or a preserved example of a generally applied system.
73
Ibid. p. 181, for the scope of his work.
74
J. Authenrieth, ‘Irische Handschriftenüberlieferung auf der Reichenau’, in
H. Löwe (ed.), Die Iren und Europa im frühen Mittelalter (Stuttgart 1982), p. 915.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 160
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 161
ness of his failings. In principle the scribes did not have to follow a
‘house style’.
75
Future acquisitions were not integrated, but merely
added at the end, as when the histories of Paulus Diaconus and the
Venerable Bede were added. The monastery illustrates well the work-
ings of such an establishment in terms of its educational interests in
a wider sense, teaching and the emphasis on the production of books
by means of which the lofty educational mandate could be realized.
The collections also allow conclusions about the uniform cultural
context of the monastic traditions and rules of conduct in which the
establishment of the monastic Benedictine Rule took place. The cat-
alogues of the 9th century, in Reichenau, for instance, list the rules
of the Irish, of Augustine, the Regula Pauli et Stephani, of Macarius,
Pachomius, Caesarius and Columban. At St. Gallen are listed the
rules of Basilius, Columban, Augustine and Macarius as well as the
Regula Pauli et Stephani. Benedict of Aniane was able to summa-
rize the monastic tradition in his Codex of rules and to establish the
Benedictine conformity of the Frankish monastic establishments.
76
St. Gallen was not an Irish foundation; Gallus may actually have
been a Frank, but rather the result of an Anglo-Saxon impetus.
77
It
began in 612 as a cell, which during the 8th century became a
monastery of prominence because of Gallus’ reputation. Like the
Reichenau it was to serve as source in the Christianization and edu-
cation of the Alemans. One Otmar was the actual founder of the
monastery during the first half of the 8th century, placing it under
the Benedictine Rule. The monastery had a school, a famous scrip-
torium and a library, which is still renowned today. The first cata-
logue was prepared c. 850–60 and completed by 880. About three
hundred entries list an inventory of 426 volumes for the library.
Among these only four pagan Classical authors are represented:
Virgil, Servius, Justinus and Josephus. A supplementary inventory list
of another 158 entries from that century indicates nine additional
authors, including Aristotle, Claudian, Seneca, Sallust and Ovid.
78
Marginal notes inform about the book traffic. Similar to the Reichenau
75
Ganz, ‘Book Production’, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, pp. 790ff.
76
F. Prinz, ‘Die Rolle der Iren beim Aufbau der merowingischen Klosterkultur’,
in Löwe, Die Iren, p. 217.
77
J. Duft, P. Meyer, Die irischen Miniaturen der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen (Olten, Bern,
Lausanne 1953), p. 13. Duft reviews the early history of the monastery. Riché,
Education and Culture, p. 437. See Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 342ff.
78
Brown, ‘Renaissance’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 35.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 161
162 r\n+ n
catalogue Bibles and Biblical materials come first. Then come Gregory
the Great, surprisingly first, then Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, Prosper,
Isidore, Origen, Pelagius, Cassiodorus, Eusebius and Gregory of
Tours. Among others works there are works by Alcuin, assorted rules,
vitae, decrees and laws, as well as liturgical materials. As at Reichenau,
schoolbooks related to literacy are last.
79
Donations by abbots of their
private libraries and the production of the scriptorium increased the
essentially conservative library collection. One of the best-known vol-
umes produced at St. Gall is the illustrated Golden Psalter. What spec-
ulations about their organizational logic could the catalogues bear?
As was mentioned earlier, function provided a rationale. To place
the Bible first in the collection probably reflects the deference toward
this book, and a completed, entire manuscript of the Bible, a pan-
dect, was rare and therefore deserving of the highest respect. The
Davidic message, which the Testaments proclaimed, coincided with
the primary Carolingian concerns and aspirations to realize the illu-
sory Davidic fulfillment on earth. Individual gospels could be more
easily produced. Other texts may not have met with the same respect
and were frequently assembled without immediate reason and bound
out of convenience. School texts, which emphasized skills, were usu-
ally last. This ranking probably did not reflect the esteem in which
they, as vehicles of Christian learning, were held and in view of the
universalist intentions of the Carolingians, compared in importance
with the edifying religious texts. Why were subsequent acquisitions
not integrated, but merely added at the end? Why was an alpha-
betical order not implemented when a sense of chronology did pre-
vail? The speculative but simple answer may have to do with a lack
of storage space. German university libraries still work that way.
When books are shelved by date of acquisition, this system elimi-
nates the need for reserved empty spaces on the shelves, only per-
haps to be filled in subsequently. Hence the need for catalogues,
lists, cards or today electronic retrieval systems, by means of which
the collection must be accessed.
While the library in St. Gallen did not accumulate many con-
temporary authors, the collection held many Classical authors. The
total number of books at the monastery was probably larger than
indicated so far, as essential books were also housed elsewhere about
79
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 183.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 162
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 163
the compound. Probably best known are the reproductions of the
layout of the large, uniquely logical monastic plan, originally drawn
by abbot Heito on the Reichenau, c. 820, made of five large sheets
of parchment. Its original intention appears to have been a means
to promote the ideal organization of a monastic society centered on
the cloister and the life of meditation, which that suggests. It was
never built.
80
The plan shows a two-storied addition to the choir of
the church indicating that the scriptorium was on the lower floor, while
the library was on the upper floor from where a passage led to the
choir, to make the needed liturgical texts more easily accessible. In
895 the monastery housed 101 monks.
Pilgrims on the way to or from Rome would stop and stay at the
monastery and on several occasions leave books as tokens of appre-
ciation. In this fashion books with Insular script came to be added
to the library’s collection. In the catalogue they were entered with
the indicative notation. The occasional author and title can also be
found in Reichenau. This catalogue is preceded by a rare, special
list entitled Libri scottice scriptii. While the main catalogue orders the
holdings by subject areas—Bibles, Church Fathers and religious
authors, followed by worldly subjects and authors, the 30 books writ-
ten in Irish are listed without system, thus: Epistolae Pauli, Actus apos-
tolorum, Epistolae canonicae VII, Tractatus Bedae in proverbia Salomonis,
Ezechiel propheta, Evangelium secundum Johannem, and so forth.
81
The
inventory lists two books from the Old, seven books of the New
Testament (Gospel of St. John, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles of St.
Paul, seven canonical letters, twice the Apocalypse, all bound in one
volume), three commentaries to books from the Old Testament, such
as Bede’s Commentaries to Solomon’s Proverbs and his Song of
Songs and to the Books of Kings, some works of Christian poetry,
but only one example of Classical poetry, Virgil, and that with a
Christian interpretation. It would have been used in the school as
an educational text along with Bede’s Metrics and Boethius’ Arithmetic.
This collection need not be seen to be unusual, for the titles are
80
Carruthers, pp. 228ff. acknowledges Braunfels as the source of the statement.
See Nees, Early Medieval Art, p. 133. See R.A. Stalley, Early Medieval Architecture
(Oxford 1999), p. 184. who stresses the Utopian nature of the plan.
81
J. Duft, Miniaturen, pp. 40ff., 52ff. for commentaries and descriptions of the
manuscripts. See also Luft, ‘Irische Handschriftenüberlieferung in St. Gallen’, in
Löwe, Die Iren, p. 923.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 163
164 r\n+ n
quite representative of the library inventories. That the books were
not integrated in the collection but remained an unsystematic assem-
blage would suggest that in their Insular script they were perhaps
an awkward curiosity, because of the script, eventually illegible, unfa-
miliar to those accustomed to Carolingian script. Disgruntled read-
ers felt free to record their displeasures.
82
Or perhaps they were a
respectful link with Gallus and a consideration for Irish monks on
their pilgrimage to and from Rome, the way one flies American flags
to make American tourists feel welcome. As was the case elsewhere,
in Würzburg for instance, a direct Insular influence on the scripto-
rium at St. Gallen cannot be determined. It was too sporadic. Even
the Insular motifs on the illuminated pages, such as the ornamented
display initials, cannot be attributed to the Irish, but are already of
continental origin developed during pre-Carolingian times.
83
A later
catalogue no longer lists these books and they were forgotten and
worse, cut up to become part of the binding of other books, not the
only victims of the self-assured Carolingian period. Of the collection
next to nothing is left. Though the collection escaped the Hungarian
raid of 926, the holdings were affected by a great fire in 937 and
again in 972 when the future Otto II had some of the most pre-
cious volumes removed.
84
What survived the Reformation was scat-
tered after a local war in 1712 when the soldiery of Bern and Zürich
treated the books as booty. Much ended in central libraries.
85
In the decades around 800 there is evidence in the form of books
of Irish peregrini in central Germany. Finding them in Fulda and
Würzburg is not entirely surprising. Here too the volumes do not
have a context and none of them was written on the continent.
Provenance, itinerary, models and effect cannot be determined. No
volume can be linked with such Irish missionaries as St. Kilian, active
in Merovingian times. They can be linked with sites clearly associated
with the missionary activities of Boniface and of his successors, such
as Fulda, Mainz and Würzburg but not with individual Irish monks.
No Irish visitors are indicated at Fulda, yet several manuscripts and
82
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 182f. She raises the question whether the book
lists are actual catalogues, or mere checklists, p. 199.
83
Duft, Miniaturen, p. 45f.
84
J. Duft, Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen (St. Gallen 1987), p. 8.
85
Duft, Stiftsbibliothek, p. 10. Also Duft in Löwe, Die Iren, pp. 924ff. for an item-
ization and discussion of the extant Irish manuscripts in St. Gallen.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 164
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 165
fragments appear to have had Irish models. Though one knows of
Irish churches, there are no vestiges of any Irish colonies. The frag-
mented index of the Fulda library collection indicates no school texts.
Fulda and Würzburg entertained an active exchange of books, but
while in Würzburg the collection of manuscripts has remained in
place, at the other centers the volumes have wandered off. The man-
uscripts left no influence upon the scriptoria of the region either.
86
The foundation of the monastery of Lorsch in 764 differed from
the ones mentioned above by having been founded by a count, very
much in the service of the Carolingians. Soon afterwards it passed
under the jurisdiction of the bishop Chrodegang of Metz and thus
came into the immediate sphere of interest of the Carolingians.
87
The monastery shared their ascent and in 772, early in Charlemagne’s
reign, it became one of the many royal monasteries, which Charle-
magne used as bases for the conquest, and conversion of the Saxons.
Lorsch was the recipient of extensive gifts and acquired great wealth.
88
Church establishments especially shared significantly in the material
wealth and the lands acquired by the Franks during the campaigns
of expansion and passed on to them under their patronage. A favorite
East-Carolingian site, many diets and councils and trials took place
at Lorsch, which prospered as it accumulated donations in land and
gifts and became one of the leading components of an extensive net-
work of monastic foundations. Ludwig the German and other mem-
bers of the Carolingian house were to be buried here.
Lorsch figured prominently as a wealthy monastery, as a scripto-
rium and library, intellectual and cultural center. Its catalogues are
but a pale indication of its wealth in books. One of them lists 600
volumes arranged in 63 sections, 18 alone for St. Augustine and 6
for St. Jerome.
89
During the Thirty Years War, 1622, Tilly, the gen-
eral of the Catholic League had the collection as well as the Bibliotheca
86
H. Spilling, ‘Irische Handschriftenüberlieferung in Fulda, Mainz und Würzburg’,
in Löwe, Die Iren, p. 876f.
87
M. Innes, State and Society, pp. 14ff., 18ff. Innes details the early history of the
monastery, the donations of land—over 100 annually during the first 5 years, and
gifts received and the current intermonastic relations.
88
See Geary, Living with the Dead, pp. 77–92, concerning gift-giving as the fun-
damental relationship between the living and the dead, as the dead were seen to
continue to be involved in the affairs of the living.
89
Brown, ‘Renaissance’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 36. Wallace-Hadrill,
pp. 238ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 165
166 r\n+ n
Palatina, 3500 manuscript volumes and over 5000 prints, the collec-
tion of the Elector of Heidelberg, transported to Rome in partial
repayment of funds advanced by the pope to help finance the war.
A large number of these books is still housed in the Palatine col-
lection of the Apostolic Library of the Vatican. Others are in Oxford.
Four 9th century catalogues exist, of which one is at Fulda and the
others are in the Vatican.
90
These were compiled by different scribes
between c. 830 and 860 and intended to provide for the library an
inventory of the production and acquisition of books during the ear-
lier part that century. Thereafter the library entered a less produc-
tive period, probably because of the political turmoil. The catalogues
may have been prepared for circulation, thereby suggesting a canon
of standard works, to make bibliographical information available to
other monastic libraries. Leadership and initiative became the tasks
of the abbots in stimulating the scriptorium and the curriculum of the
school. As was demonstrated elsewhere the Christian agenda was the
main component of Carolingian education. Of interest is a catalogue
of 833, belonging to the cathedral library in Cologne, which lists
laymen and laywomen as borrowers. That library renders a good
image of its role in support of the school and the cathedral, of edu-
cation and of the ministry.
91
From the monastery of Murbach comes
clear evidence that the monk who administered the library was very
familiar with the books authored by a particular individual, for repeat-
edly a number of known and desired works is given. How did he
arrive at such a wish list? Bibliographies must have been in circu-
lation. Occasionally the author would list his other publications, or
those known of others. Citations in a rudimentary scholarly appa-
ratus could help complete the picture, as could a more extensive
unsuspected exchange of catalogues. The standardized configurations
of the catalogues will have reflected the main theological and edu-
cational concerns and objectives in the attempt to renew the con-
sciousness of the Christian people: Biblical studies, guidance of the
Church Fathers, literacy and Latinity of the clergy, of some laymen
and laywomen through grammatical and literary texts.
With the emergence of the East Frankish kingdom as a largely
self-sufficient political and cultural realm, the great monasteries within
90
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 188f., lists the inventoried holdings.
91
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 192, summarizes the holdings and their organ-
izations. See also McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 241.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 166
n
o
o
k
s
.
o
r
v
s

\
x
r

i
y
o
n
i
r
s
1
6
7
Map 6. Religious Establishments under the Carolingians.
S
C
H
U
T
Z
_
f
4
_
1
3
5
-
3
2
2


9
/
2
3
/
0
3


7
:
4
6

P
M


P
a
g
e

1
6
7
168 r\n+ n
it came to play an increasingly influential role in a growing sys-
tematized network of the court, the monasteries and their schools,
their libraries and their student exchanges. Beyond the monastic
foundations already mentioned, this network included more or less
loosely such establishments as Solnhofen (founded 750), Heidenheim
(752) and Eichstätt (c. 745) in the southern part of the kingdom,
Hersfeld (769), Fritzlar (723/24), Büraburg (741/42), Erfurt (742),
Halberstadt (827) in the center and east, Paderborn (777), Münster
(804), Osnabrück (785) and Bremen (782?) in the west and north
and Corvey (817/22), Gandersheim (859), Hildesheim (815), Verden
(786/808) and Hamburg (831) toward the north, to mention just a
few. The network was even more extensive when we consider that
these foundations were extensions of yet other monasteries, for exam-
ple Corbie in France and Corvey in Saxon lands, or that these foun-
dations were placed under the jurisdiction of such bishoprics and
archbishoprics as Mainz, Fulda, Würzburg and Cologne. Thus Münster,
Osnabrück and Bremen were elevated to bishoprics in 795 and placed
under the archbishopric of Cologne. Würzburg was linked with
Paderborn and Fulda laid the groundwork for the bishopric of Minden.
West Frankish missionaries from Reims and Châlons-sur-Marne
worked in Hildesheim and Halberstadt. These bishoprics were placed
under the suzerainty of the archbishopric Mainz. Similar activities
prevailed in the Bavarian southeast. That a high degree of all man-
ner of communication took place between them can be expected.
Many of these foundations became royal/imperial monasteries, in
which case they were also charged with the furtherance of the inter-
ests of the realm. This had already been an element in the policies
of the Merovingian Dagobert I (623–638), who insisted that mis-
sionary work should be coordinated with the eastward expansion of
Merovingian power and influence as part of an active Austrasian
Ostpolitik.
92
Thus the distribution of the missionary directions coin-
cided with the original thrust of the campaigns of conquest.
93
It has
been suggested
94
that thanks to monasticism Germany assumed the
vanguard of the intellectual renewal during the first half of the 8th
century as a compensation for the ruined culture of Gaul.
92
Schutz, Germanic Realms, p. 199.
93
Löwe, Deutschland im Fränkischen Reich, p. 143.
94
Riché, Education and Culture, p. 439.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 168
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 169
Books could also be found in private hands. There is some evi-
dence that laymen, such as Einhard, had private libraries, which
figured as divisible property. The intention behind some histories
and vitae was that, written in the tradition of aristocratic family his-
tories, they were to extol the glorious past and the manifest destiny
of the family, as Gregory of Tours, Fredegar, Einhard and Nithard
had done and Cassiodorus and others before him.
95
In most instances
prior private ownership and subsequent donations to libraries can-
not be identified in the collections. The life story of a family saint
offered an additional significant dimension of glory by association,
as foundations, cults, patronage and family histories were itemized,
cultivated and celebrated. Practical manuals and borrowed books
figured among the holdings. There are indications that the libraries
kept lists of borrowers from among lay and religious individuals. No
doubt these individuals enjoyed particular rights and privileges ap-
pertaining to their social position and their relationship with the
foundation.
What of the price of books? The information is scant, but c. 840
a book containing the Lombard Law Code and an account of the
passion of one Servulus sold for 8 denarii which when converted into
terms of the standard of living was the equivalent cost of 96 two-
pound loaves of wheat bread.
96
What of the cost of a gem encrusted,
illuminated volume? Of such necessary materials as pens, ink, dyes,
parchment, ivory for the covers, binding and the like? Of the costs
of production? Where did the value lie? In their irreplaceable unique-
ness? In the text or in the cost of the materials? For Alcuin it was
clear that the content of a book and its spiritual value far exceeded
its material value and that the labor dedicated to its production had
a higher value than its material value, for it ‘serves the soul’.
97
Libraries did not necessarily have adjoining production centers. While
some of the scriptoria had their own parchment makers, other pro-
duction centers relied on suppliers. There were instances when requests
for copies of a book were accompanied by a supply of parchment.
Evidently a coordinated infrastructure was required. Parchment was
95
McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 238ff.
96
McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 136ff. for an exemplary and extensive dis-
cussion of this topic.
97
McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 150f. See Ganz, ‘Book Production’, in McKitterick,
New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 792f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 169
170 r\n+ n
obtained from the skin of young sheep and goats, and calves. The
skins would be soaked in lime to remove hair and fat, then wrung
and stretched on a frame to dry. After a final scraping the skin
would be cut to size. Depending on the size of the skins and the
number of pages of a book as many as over 500 skins might be
needed. A large Bible would require many more. Thus one of the
largest, the Codex Amiatinus weighs 34 kg., its 2060 pages were 20
cm thick, written on the skins of 515 calves.
98
One can only imag-
ine the requirements of a well functioning scriptorium. Clearly such a
center had to have the wealth to support such an industry. An enter-
prising scribe, whether monk, nun or professional layman, could not
just give in to a whim to make a book, let alone a splendid book.
99
As many as twenty scribes, some of them monks, some laymen,
100
some doubling as illuminators, might be involved in the completion
of one book. There is a record of a monk copying the commen-
taries of St. Jerome in thirty-four days, producing an average of
eleven pages per day.
101
The largest expenses were related to the pigments, gold and sil-
ver, needed for the ornamentation of the books. The illuminations
were the result of a synthesis of Roman, Insular and Merovingian
styles and techniques evolving during several centuries of book pro-
duction. The most familiar Carolingian production centers were the
Palace Schools of Charlemagne and of Charles the Bald
102
and such
centers as Soissons, Rheims, Metz, Lorsch and St. Gallen. Mining,
gathering and extensive trading networks to distant and exotic parts
were integral to the infrastructure which prepared the ingredients of
such colors and pigments: purples, reds, lapis-lazuli and aquamarine
blues, but preferably the more easily available azurite, required a
supply of the needed raw materials and trained craftsmen with an
extensive knowledge of ‘Chemistry’ and of the risks involved in work-
ing with materials, producing fumes for example, as when mixing
98
Nees, Early Medieval Art, p. 165. See Diebold, p. 33. See McKitterick, Books,
Scribes and Learning, pp. III, 397ff. on the preparation of writing surfaces.
99
McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 138ff. Also McKitterick, Carolingian Culture,
pp. 237ff.
100
Alexander, pp. 12ff.
101
See Ganz, ‘Book Production’, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History,
p. 793, for examples of the speed of the copyists. See also Bischoff, p. 87
102
See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 247f., concerning the palace school of Charles the
Bald.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 170
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 171
and heating mercury with sulfur, mining and using ochres and
hematites, copper and tin, salts and other oxides, obtaining saps and
vegetable dyes.
103
Some of this knowledge was already available to
the makers of fibulas and the other earlier body ornaments. The
purple dye was obtained from mollusks and beetle eggs, which were
also used for the production of carmine ranging from reddish vio-
let to purple, orange and brown when mixed with alum or acetic
acids; pigments from flowers and fruit juices modified through addi-
tional acidity or alkalinity contributed through the addition of wood
ash, stale urine or quick lime. The addition of white lead, itself the
product of a hazardous process, to these juices would produce pinks.
No doubt, something of the black arts will have attached to those
versed in the crafts. And the book was not yet begun. Purple dyes
were prohibitively expensive and projected great wealth and elevated
position of the donors of books ornamented with such pages with
lettering in silver or gold. The gems, with their own symbolic mean-
ings, mounted on the covers, would add yet another spiritual and
fitting dimension to the envelope of a sacred text, perhaps the Word
of God. Such a volume, if a commissioned votive gift to a church
or a saint, was indeed regal. The gift probably implied a contrac-
tual commitment.
It is evident that the Carolingian court supported the writing of
uncritical, positivistic, contemporary general and dynastic histories
and annals, family histories and genealogies, which in the Merovin-
gian tradition tried to enhance a glory of association with coveted
traces of splendid origins sought among the Trojans and the Romans.
IX. Religious literature
It has been demonstrated
104
that the Carolingian rise to power was
accompanied by a sort of politically strategic fiction. Against a nos-
talgic background of Charlemagne’s reign having been a ‘golden age’
these writings were intended for a specific audience. Deliberate mes-
sages were cast in the form of a tangential literature of dreams and
visions. Composed at Reichenau, St. Gall, Mainz and Reims the
103
McKitterick, The Carolingians, pp. 142ff. for details of the manufacturing process
of dies and pigments. See also Alexander, pp. 35ff.
104
Dutton, Politics of Dreaming, p. 38.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 171
172 r\n+ n
scriptoria produced prescient texts which projected a heavenly vision
on earth or supported pragmatic intentions, endorsed plans and
justified correct actions, or made predictions, censured faults, judged
royal wrong-headedness and projected punishments for their kings
and predicted a dire end for the disintegrating realm as a reliable
indication of God’s Will, since evidently dreams and visions were
accepted not to be the work of man, but the mysterious interces-
sional workings of the divine. Visions became the monastic vehicle
for expressing critical thought in images.
105
Intent on reform, their
centrist tendencies run counter to the illusory imperial universalist
policies of the Davidic conception. Already Gregory of Tours had
retold the story of St. Jerome’s vision of being led into the presence
of God for having read unworthy books. A select few believed sin-
cerely that God had enabled them to stand apart and to have oth-
erworldly and critical insights, which with the power of revelation
could affect the course of events by attracting the monarchs’ atten-
tion to perceived problems. The illuminated manuscripts were to
show this sanction through the divine in the representations of the
dextra dei, the Right Hand of God, reaching into the world of man
and of his activities. The Carolingians could refer to an extensive
catalogue of Classical authors, Biblical sources, historical examples
of dreams, such as the Dream of Scipio, sightings and visions: pharaoh’s
dream of the seven years of plenty and of dearth, the visions of
Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue with the feet of clay,
the dream of the wife of Pontius Pilate before he pronounced sen-
tence, Constantine’s vision of the Cross before the victorious battle
at the Milvian Bridge, Chlodovech’s vision before the battle with the
Alemans, as well as the many such incidents in the Classical writ-
ers describing events in the lives of the emperors. The Carolingians
had many august rolemodels to emulate, such as the Vision of St.
Paul, and the Vision of St. Jerome, mentioned above, so that their lit-
erary dreams and visions too came to focus on regal personalities,
beginning with Charlemagne after his death, in the form of behav-
ioral criticism, admonishments, disappointments, commentary on the
use and abuse of power, attempts at persuasion, but also praise.
From the 820s onward Carolingian writers added contemporary royal
concerns to the dreams of ancient potentates,
106
such as Audratus
105
Carruthers, p. 184.
106
Dutton, pp. 60ff., pp. 93ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 172
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 173
Modicus’ collection of his prophetic visions, the story of the blind
dreamer Aubrey of Aquitaine who claimed that the archangel Gabriel
had dictated about a dozen chapters which Einhard was to show
immediately to Louis the Pious for implementation, the Vision of
Rotcharius and other moralizing visions and dreams associated with
the monasteries in general. At Reichenau two names are pertinent,
abbot Heito and Walahfrid Strabo, of whom the former prepared a
prose version of the Visions of Wetti, the dream discourse between
Wetti, a sick monk on Reichenau, with an angel, in which Charle-
magne had to pay for his sins and began to serve as the prototyp-
ical negative example of the debauched king. The young Walahfrid
Strabo recast it in verse.
107
This Visio Wettini is something of a pre-
cursor of Dante’s Inferno. The Vision of the Poor Woman of Laon, which
reflects the Vision of Wetti, focuses on Louis the Pious. The Vision of
Bernold is a dream text written by Hincmar of Reims during the
reign of Charles the Bald. For Charles’ son, Louis the Stammerer,
Hincmar selected the lessons from the Vision of Bernold. Hincmar’s
work was to serve as model for the later Vision of Charles the Fat, also
written at Reims. The Vision of Raduin intended to establish the pri-
macy of Reims and the prerogative of its archbishop to crown the
king.
108
The literary examples were to present object lessons to the
rulers. In that sense they served the role of Fürstenspiegel, didactic
mirrors for princes. In about 865 a monk, perhaps from Augsburg,
composed a Visio Karoli Magni, a Vision of Charlemagne in which Charle-
magne had a vision of a specter, probably an angel, holding a sword,
which according to the specter was sent by God, for Charles to pro-
tect himself and to heed its four Germanic inscriptions.
109
According
to the Annals of Fulda, during Lent of 874, Ludwig the German dreamt
of his father Louis the Pious in dire straits, asking him to be res-
cued from his torments caused by his many sins of omission as a
weak king,
110
such as his failure to establish constitutional unity, peace
and order, rather allowing the realm to slide into disorder, violence,
war and destruction; such as his failure to provide a centralizing and
107
See M. Brooke, ‘The Prose and Verse Hagiography of Walahfrid Strabo’, in
Godman and Collins, pp. 551–564, esp. p. 556. Also Carruthers, pp. 180ff. for an
analysis of the vision.
108
Dutton, pp. 230ff.
109
Geary, Living with the Dead, pp. 50ff., 59. On the Medieval symbolism of swords,
see pp. 61ff.
110
Geary, Living with the Dead, p. 60.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 173
174 r\n+ n
unifying leadership in the face of fragmenting dynastic traditions;
such as ignoring the instructions of the angel in Wetti’s vision and
those which the angel Gabriel had dictated to Aubrey. Ludwig took
the dream very seriously.
111
In the Visio Karoli Magni and especially
in Ludwig’s dream the image of the father suffering for his sins began
to be a recognizable motif. The later examples of dreams and visions
are to be associated with the bishopric of Mainz.
112
There was little to recommend the Frankish kingdom, let alone
Aachen, to act as the source of this great design. Thanks to the
royal will the court at Aachen came to serve a dual function: it was
centripetal in that it attracted great men and their ideas to its cen-
ter; it was centrifugal in that from this center much cultural stimu-
lation was disseminated. Among many personalities who attended
the Carolingian court at various times there were Paulus Diaconus,
Peter of Pisa, Paulinus, Bornrad, Cathwulf, Theodulf and others
whose names are known but not their works.
113
It is interesting to
note that none of these was a Gallo-Roman. Several great person-
alities can be associated with the cultural initiatives: Alcuin, Einhard
for the earlier period, Hrabanus Maurus and his student Walahfrid
Strabo for the middle period, to name just four. The Anglo-Saxon
Northumbrian Alcuin, Albinus in Latin, coordinated the Palace School
at Aachen from 782–796.
114
This was not a ‘school’ in our modern
sense, but rather a working association representing a variety of skills.
Of him Einhard wrote in the Vita Karoli (25) that he was ‘the most
learned man anywhere to be found’. He had been sent from York
to Rome to receive the pallium and on his return journey had met
Charlemagne at Parma. Charles invited him to Aachen, in part to
be his personal teacher, but officially to assume the responsibility for
111
Dutton, pp. 219, 223.
112
Geary, Living with the Dead, p. 55f. suggests that the visions belonged to the
propaganda literature of Ludwig the German, intended to glorify him as defender
of the Church in a realm identifying with its Germanic traditions.
113
Garrison, ‘Latin literature’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 119f. sketches
the interaction of these individuals at court and gives brief illustrations of their
work. See also Jungandreas, pp. 104–116. Also Wallace-Hadrill, p. 191f., and Collins,
p. 113f.
114
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 205–216. Also Collins, pp. 112f., 123f. However, see
Nees, Mantle, pp. 4ff., who argues that Alcuin may be given too much credit for
maintaining the interest in antiquity. McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning, p. IV,
293, refers to him as ‘both the peak and the climax of the English contribution to
intellectual culture’.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 174
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 175
the Palace School. Previously the non-monastic court schools had
been as itinerant as the courts. With Aachen becoming the official
royal residence, the secular Palace School had also found a perma-
nent location and Alcuin came to assume a leading role at court.
According to Einhard, Alcuin was Charlemagne’s teacher in rhetoric,
dialectics and astronomy. However, he was not only Charlemagne’s
teacher, for many of the great minds of the following decades had
been his students. He devoted his energies to scholarship, religion,
the Davidic idea, law, statesmanship on behalf of the kingdom and
the reform of Christian learning and of the liturgy. An adept poet,
he found poetic expression for many occasions. He wrote books on
grammar, on rhetoric, dialectics and orthography. As a practicing
teacher, his effectiveness extended beyond his own time. In many
pieces of correspondence he spoke for or with the approval of
Charles.
115
Though he was not a philosopher he adopted the views
held by Isidore of Seville concerning the definition of a king, as well
as a modification of the Gelasian theory of royal power and reli-
gious authority, the ‘Two Authorities’, already referred to above.
In Charles he saw the divinely appointed defender and protector
of the church and helped even the relationship with the papacy, a
perception already discussed earlier. To Charles he stressed his pri-
mary function as protector of the Christian church and of the Christian
faith.
116
He certainly represented to Charles the Augustinian theory
of the Christian emperor. The hand of Alcuin appears in much
attributed to the reign of Charlemagne. Unfairly, modern misun-
derstood assessment of his intentions, his work is faulted for not being
that of an original thinker and he for being only a middling poet.
He had vitality and a great capacity as administrator and teacher
who reorganized education to facilitate the acquisition of literacy and
literary confidence. Through his high level of organizational skill he
was able to give form to Charles’ unrestrained enthusiasm for inno-
vation and reform, which achieved the strong impetus and most
115
See L. Wallach, Alcuin and Charlemagne, Studies in Carolingian History and Literature
(Ithaca, NY. 1965), for a detailed discussion of Alcuin’s work as a political theo-
rist. Concerning the documents composed for Charlemagne see pp. 140ff. Also
Brown, ‘Renaissance’, and Garrison, ‘Latin literature’, in McKitterick, Carolingian
Culture, pp. 30ff., and p. 118, respectively.
116
See Wallach, pp. 15ff. for examples of Alcuin’s letters to Charlemagne and
of the ideas which he presents to his king, including the link with his Biblical pro-
totype David.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 175
176 r\n+ n
enduring results.
117
He created the political and religious framework
in which the cultural growth could take place. When he left Aachen
for Tours his creative influence brought forth significant accom-
plishments there as well. It was he, the implementer of Charles’
ideas, who gave Biblical and historical names to the members of the
court, of which twenty-three are known.
118
Thus Charlemagne came
to be named ‘David’. He named himself ‘Flaccus’ and Einhard was
named after Bezeleel, the maker of the Ark of the Covenant. With
that name Alcuin circumscribed Einhard’s range of activities very
well.
119
More than any of his contemporaries he represented the spirit
of the Carolingian Renovatio in his own person.
120
Einhard, c. 770–840, was of the Thuringian nobility. Educated at
the monastery at Fulda, Einhard mastered Latin, the Bible and the
Classics. In his early 20s he was recommended to Charlemagne as
a fitting addition to the court. The expanding kingdom required
competent and literate administrators to staff the court offices. Einhard
arrived at court just to see some of the great men of the day leav-
ing the court—Paulus Diaconus, Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia.
The learned circle around Charlemagne was thinning out and even
Alcuin was to leave for Tours only a few years later. Owing to his
energy and agility Einhard easily assumed several roles in which he
could demonstrate his skills and remarkable range of talents. Beginning
as Alcuin’s pupil at the Palace School, he advanced to the highest
political and intellectual positions at court during the reigns of Charle-
magne and of Louis the Pious. Something of a ‘Lord-High-Everything-
Else’, Einhard became commissioner of works and director of the
imperial workshops where, according to his own writings, he was
minister of fine arts and as a practicing artist himself, played an
important role in creating the Carolingian Style. And yet he appears
to have suffered from a high degree of self-denigration. Initially his
nickname was ‘Nard’, perhaps a play on the ending of his name or
because of his small stature, but it almost seems that his busy ways,
his desire to be useful and accommodating, were a device with which
he compensated for feelings of inadequacy. While a degree of self-
abasement was part of the deliberate humility a Christian was expected
117
R. Hinks, Carolingian Art—A Study of Early medieval Painting and Sculpture in Western
Europe (Ann Arbor 1966), p. 106f. Also Dutton, Courtier, p. xiif.
118
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 197f.
119
McKitterick, in Frankish Kings, p. 162, lists others.
120
Jungandreas, p. 103. Also Wallace-Hadrill, p. 202f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 176
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 177
to display, the negative terms, which he heaped upon himself, were
many. Most often he portrayed himself as peccator, the sinner in a
sinful courtly world.
121
Needlessly it would seem, for his later nick-
name ‘Bezeleel’ originated in Exodus (31:2–5) in the Old Testament,
where Bezeleel is described as being filled with the spirit of God,
wisdom, understanding, knowledge and all manner of workmanship,
to work with skill and artistry in gold, silver and copper, to cut and
set stones, to cut wood artistically in order to complete the work
and make the Ark of the Covenant. Except for one design of a tri-
umphal gate vaguely associated with him, no specific work can be
attributed to him, but his reputation was such that the Aachen of
Einhard became a center in which the many Carolingian portable
objects had their beginnings. Einhard moved among painters, mak-
ers of reliquaries and tiles, organ builders, all manner of palace work-
men, as well as royal scribes, and he was able to employ them to
fashion a coherent, representative program of work. Einhard is cred-
ited with introducing method, order and a deliberate aim into the
imitative reliance on Classical models as he worked toward prepar-
ing artists to aim for the use and development of narrative skills by
means of which a pedagogical purpose could be pursued.
122
The les-
son to be taught was the message of Christian salvation. Einhard’s
intention, implemented by other means, coincided with that of Alcuin,
to be engaged in the teaching and learning of the same lesson that
was on the political and theological curriculum, the universal king-
dom of heaven and earth, the Imperium Christianum. At first the artist,
illuminators and carvers could do no more that to establish an inven-
tory and to imitate and adapt what was available from the Classical
heritage. Owing to the general orientation toward the Classical world
of Christian Imperial Rome, not least in which was the Carolingian
concern for dynastic continuity and its legitimacy, it was natural that
the dept to Christian Classical examples actually in their hands would
help create a need for such Classical forms and shape a Classical
framework of Christian expression. That Einhard’s Vita Karoli Magni,
composed before 821,
123
was fashioned in the manner of Suetonius’
‘Lives of the twelve Caesars’, especially that of Augustus, thereby
121
Dutton, Courtier, p. xxxvii.
122
Hinks, p. 110f.
123
M. Innes, R. McKitterick, ‘The writing of history’, in McKitterick, Carolingian
Culture, p. 204. See also Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 180, 203 who dates the work c. 830.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 177
178 r\n+ n
placing him among them, can almost be expected. It would have
suited the tastes of the court of Louis the Pious. It is noteworthy
that as a vehicle of the Renovatio, the unique Vita Karoli found few
imitators.
It was mentioned above that what philosophy was preserved,
entered the theology of the Christian church in its philosophical end
phase: true philosophy is true religion. It was preserved in the writ-
ings of the Church Fathers and their indebted commentators.
Scholarship consisted of compiling compendiums of subject related
commentaries for the convenience of users. The works of older
authors were republished in abbreviated form with new titles. St.
Augustine was a particularly favored source. Original thought was
not the objective, the command of available knowledge was, such as
that contained in the writings of the Church Fathers. Early Carolingian
thinking then reveals next to no original thought as it submits to
the primacy of scriptures.
124
The reputation of Hrabanus Maurus
was based on the use of this technique with which he prepared his
famous Bible commentaries. His extensive scholarly activity earned
him the title praeceptor Germaniae. Compared to Alcuin, Maurus’ gifts
are more reproductive but the breadth of his effectiveness was most
extensive. The life and work of his pupil Walahfrid Strabo will show
the emergence of a more original approach.
Magnentius Hrabanus Maurus, since 801 consecrated deacon and
then abbot of Fulda from 822 to 842 and Archbishop of Mainz from
847 to 856, has appeared in these pages on several occasions.
125
As
part of his patronage, his father had donated him to the monastery
as a child-oblate.
126
He created the best-known monastic school in
the East Frankish kingdom. Born c. 780/83, he was raised, like
Einhard, in the monastery at Fulda, only just over 30 years old,
from where they were both sent to Alcuin’s school. As was indicated
Einhard went to Aachen and stayed there. Hrabanus may have first
gone to Aachen and then to Tours, to which Alcuin had had him-
self transferred. It was Alcuin who gave him the name Maurus, in
analogy with St. Benedict’s favorite student. He returned to Fulda
124
J. Marenbon, “Carolingian Thought’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 179f.,
elaborates and argues against this misleading judgment.
125
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 314–322, summarizes his scholarly production.
126
See Innes, State and Society, pp. 65ff. concerning the family of Hrabanus Maurus
and their property dealings.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 178
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 179
and its 700 monks, to become abbot in 822 and to serve in this
capacity till 842. At the time of the dynastic struggles and Oaths of
Strasbourg, Hrabanus Maurus, owing to the intervention of Ludwig
the German, renounced his office, only to become Archbishop of
Mainz, the most important prelate of the eastern kingdom and of
its most important archbishopric five years later, by virtue of the
intervention of the same king.
127
The encounters with Alcuin appear to have been most decisive.
His influence on him as a rolemodel and teacher contributed to the
monastery school at Fulda becoming the leading school in the east.
Before the time of Hrabanus Maurus, Fulda, understandably, could
not stand out for any noteworthy achievements. In Hrabanus’ time
it became one of the empire’s finest schools and, as was demon-
strated above, soon one of the finest libraries of the ninth century
in the eastern kingdom. Among its students were to be Walahfrid
Strabo,
128
Lupus de Ferrières
129
and Otfrid von Weissenburg.
130
In
his own work Hrabanus Maurus was chiefly a skilful and celebrated
compiler of extracts. His best-known early work, however, is his
figure poem In honorem sanctae crucis also identified as Liber de laudibus
sanctae crucis, c. 810, c. 831, probably the 3rd generation of the book,
the version now kept in the Austrian National Library (Cod. 652).
131
This unique work of singular educational excellence concerning the
triumphant cross brought him fame in his own lifetime. Twenty
copies of the work are known.
132
He had begun it at Tours with
Alcuin’s support, who had worked in the same direction. The genre
of the carmen figuratum, the Bildgedicht, the ‘Poem in Pictures’ had its
beginnings with Optantius Porphyrius, 325 at Constantinople in
Christian late antiquity at the court of Constantine. Several later
representatives included Scottus, Alcuin and Theodulf.
133
The dedi-
catory pictures and their iconographic derivation indicate their courtly
origin. Maurus’ encyclopedic De laudibus sanctae crucis represents the
127
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 333.
128
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 322–326.
129
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 305–314.
130
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 385ff.
131
Unterkircher, Abendländische Buchmalerei, (Graz, Wien, Köln 1967) p. 38f.
See Chazelle, Crucified God, pp. 6, 99ff. for a theological discussion of Carolingian
considerations.
132
Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 128f.
133
Chazelle, Crucified God, pp. 14ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 179
180 r\n+ n
Carolingian peak of this literary genre in which letters are empha-
sized to form figures.
134
Hrabanus Maurus gives Hatto credit for his
collaboration in the work, by providing the drawings and colorations.
A brief descriptive account may be in order here.
Dedicational miniatures are associated with the various versions
of the work, one introductory page and twenty-eight picto-poems,
each augmenting the laudation of the cross, the other a picto-poem
as dedication to the emperor Louis the Pious as Miles Christianus,
Warrior in Christ. The introductory poem shows Christ wearing a
cruciform halo, assuming the representation of the cross, suggesting
that the cross is Christ the Savior, the way to the Father. (Plate 1a)
The background consists of 47 lines of unspaced Latin poetry in red
lettering, difficult to decipher. The outline of his body is emphasized
with black lettering, spelling out edifying statements, such as ‘The
Eternal Lord leads the blessed to the stars,’ around the feet and the
inside leg. The halo spells REX REGUM ET DOMINUS DOMINO-
RUM (King of kings and Lord of lords).
135
The letters in his hair
spell ISTE EST REX IUSTITIAE (This is the King of justice). On
the cross beside his head appear the letters A and V.
One of the other miniatures clearly indicates the technique used
to make the pictures: the whole page is divided into little squares
by means of a sharp stylus. On the page in question, a tonsured
Hrabanus Maurus presents a book supported by Alcuin, identified
as Albinus abbas. (Plate 1b) They approach the enthroned arch-
bishop of Mainz, Otgarius episcopus Moguntinus, from the right,
who has turned slightly toward the donor. Otgarius faces us frontally,
seated on the regal cushion roll. Owing to a mistake made by the
copyist Otgarius was supposed to be identified as St. Martin of Tours.
The view is rather two-dimensional. The three figures are of equal
size. The colors of the miniature are light brown, beige, light and
dark blue. The figures are drawn as short, stocky and compact bod-
ies with elongated fingers. Alcuin was long dead (804) by the time
this work was begun, so that the depiction of his support is then
more of an expression of appreciation to his teacher and master,
and perhaps a reference to the originator of the idea and a reference
134
Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 101.
135
Nees, Early Medieval Art, p. 196f. See also Diebold, p. 109f. who claims that if
the letters are removed, the images disappear, which does not seem a logical propo-
sition. See Chazelle, Crucified God, pp. 115ff. for a detailed theological commentary.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 180
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 181
to the early years, which Hrabanus spent with Alcuin at Tours. The
second dedication is a four-line dedication to pope Gregory IV
(827–844), which dates the work to after 827. A dedication picture
shows Hrabanus handing the book to pope Gregory IV. A reference
to Louis receiving gifts from the Persians relates to a Persian dele-
gation visiting in 831, indicating the work can be dated between 831
and 840, Louis’ death.
136
Louis himself is not associated with spon-
soring a palace school producing illuminated manuscripts.
The page with the picto-poem of the emperor Louis the Pious
137
is a page of continuous text filling every little predrawn square
138
and beginning with the words REGUM DOMINUS MUNDUM
DICIONE GUBERNANS (King of kings ruling with Might as Lord of
the World). (Plate 1c) This page was added for the 831 version of
the work and then included in all other copies.
139
The figure of the
emperor in this copy is accented through the use of color, holding
in his right the all-powerful long cross, a round shield in his left.
The pose relates very closely to that shown on Roman ivories of
Roman generals, such as of Stilicho, for instance.
140
Originality, as
we understand it, was not a Carolingian objective. That he is hold-
ing a cross rather than a lance makes him a fighter for Christ, a
MILES CRISTIANUS, the carrier of the spiritual Christian reform
movement, so that this type of picture functions as an historical doc-
ument. Louis is singled out as the sacerdotal representative of the
idea of the universal Imperium Christianum. This image most clearly
represents Hrabanus Maurus’ idea that the temporal and religious
realms were one, that the empire was ecclesia.
141
At the time Louis
was embattled with his son Lothair and soon after he was to be his
prisoner. In a synesthetic process, Hrabanus’ picture restored to him
the singular regal dignity of the reform, of which he was being
deprived in life. His head is surrounded by a halo. The colors also
accent the letters contained within these objects. Thus the nimbus
136
Unterkircher, p. 40.
137
E. Sears, ‘Louis the Pious as Miles Christi. The Dedicatory Image in Hrabanus
Maurus’ De laudibus sanctae crucis’ in Godman and Collins, pp. 605–628.
138
Sears, in Godman and Collins, p. 606.
139
Braunfels, p. 368. See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 129.
140
See Sears, in Godson and Collins, p. 611f. for a discussion of the type. See
Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 20f.
141
M. de Jong, ‘The empire as ecclesia: Hrabanus Maurus and Biblical historia for
rulers’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 225. See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 130.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 181
182 r\n+ n
around the head spells TU HLUDOUUICUM CRISTE CORONA (You,
Christ crown Louis). The cross and vertical staff spell IN CRUCE
CRISTE TUA VICTORIA VERA SALUSQUE OMNIA RITE REGIS
(On your cross, Christ, is victory and salvation, all things you rule
justly.) The purple shield bears the words—For the shield of faith
repels the evil arrows, protects the emperor, prepares glorious tro-
phies of victory, confirms the pious heart, drives the enemy host to
flight. The ‘helmet’ contains the words IESU CRISTE. Hrabanus
Maurus provided an interpretation to the code—it is the helmet of
salvation, the shield of faith and the breastplate of justice. The abstract
words are focused on the tectonic image of the symbol. The ideal-
ized portrait gives to the triumphant emperor an exclusive identity
in the universal Christian realm. How could it be otherwise, since
he was divinely chosen?
All of these letters are part of words—versus intexti—which cover
the page running horizontally through the figure, nimbus, ‘helmet’,
cross and shield. Since no square may remain empty the texts are
rather forced and by themselves not of great value, but since the
texts are made up of single letters, groups of letters and also whole
words, the result is a complex but highly artificial composition of
interspersed lettering, carried on throughout the book, for instance
the lettering on the cross, where the words on the crossbar are com-
pleted at the top of the cross, while the initial letter of Christ is bold
as it overlaps the initial ‘C’ in ‘cruce’, a rather clever, simple, yet
theologically complex design.
C
E
INCRU
R
I
S
emperor’s hand
T
E
The diagram enhances the text with meaning as the cross and Christ
are brought into a fundamental interpretative relationship, fostering
a visual understanding of the key idea of the faith. The contoured
image intimated an approximate form for the abstract idea. The
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 182
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 183
exacting technique saw the design start with the ‘image’ and the
intended number of letters. Only then did one laboriously fill in the
remaining area of squares. Though the product looks rather work-
manlike, the creative challenge must have been very demanding.
142
On an incipit right page, Hrabanus Maurus places his name and
authorship in 6x6 equidistant squares, each containing a letter of his
name—MAGNENTIUS HRABANUS MAURUS HOC OPUS FACIT.
Every 7th letter is on a yellow background framed in red. He pre-
pared a similar dedication page for the empress Judith, when he
presented her with a book of commentaries to some books of the
Old Testament. The ruler ‘portrait’ appears on fol. 3 verso. On folio
3 recto Hrabanus Maurus highlights a large cross using the same
technique, but beneath it kneels the author himself in a supplicatory
pose.
143
Each arm of the cross, horizontally or vertically, repeats the
sequence of the letters in reverse order—OROTERAMUSARA*ARA-
SUMARETORO. The kneeling figure spells out a prayer, RABANUM
MEMET CLEMENS ROGO CRISTE TUERE O PIE IUDICIO.
144
The twenty-eight poems in Praise of the Cross-which follow demand
nearly encyclopedic knowledge and are too complex to summarize
fully.
145
Combined with aspects of numerology, twenty-eight inge-
nious variations on the cross are used in reference with the 4 regions,
4 categories of substances, 4 realms of nature, 4 humors; 9 choirs
of angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim; patriarchs, prophets,
apostles, martyrs; 4 squares symbolizing the construction of the house
of God; 4 cardinal virtues; 4 elements, directions, times of day; 4
elongated hexagons filled with text of 91 letters in each, all centered
on C, for a total of 365 days of the year; 5 clusters of 14 squares
to total the mystical number 70 referring to the 70 years of the
Babylonian captivity, 70 years of life, 70 elders of Moses, 70 weeks
of Daniel, and all of that in reference of the first ten crosses. There
follow the 5 Books of Moses, 4 continents known to the Greeks, 46
142
J. Backhouse, The Illuminated Page, Ten centuries of Manuscript Painting in the British
Museum (Toronto, Buffalo 1997), p. 58. A 12th century copy of the book and part
of a Harley manuscript has replaced the purple halo, cross and shield with gold.
See Sears, in Godson and Collins, p. 607, Figs. 35, 39–46, for other copies.
143
Braunfels, pp. 337, 389, ill. 281. See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 109, for the
euphoria represented in the adoration.
144
L. Nees, ‘The Originality of Early Medieval Artists’, in Chazelle, Literacy,
Politics, p. 87f. Also Nees, Early Medieval Art, pp. 195ff.
145
Sears, in Godson and Collins, pp. 607ff. See Chazelle, Crucified God, this ado-
ration may also be the 28. poem.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 183
184 r\n+ n
years for the building of the temple in Jerusalem, 276 days to Christ’s
birth, 5231 years from the Creation to the death of Christ, the
tetramorphs and the apocalyptic lamb, 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, 8
Beatitudes; the numbers 40 and its secrets, such as Christ’s fast of
40 days in the desert, etc.; 50 and its references to the flight of 50
days to Egypt, Pentecost, etc.; 120 and its mystical meaning com-
posed of the number 30 multiplied by the 4 Gospels, the Christogram,
the stylized letter Chi Rho providing Greek numerical values of 1260
days of Christ’s teaching and 1335 days between the downfall of the
Antichrist and the return of Jesus; the number 24 and its mean-
ings—24 spheres of heaven, 24 hours, 24 books of the Old Testament,
the 24 sons of Aaron, etc., the meaning of Alleluia and Amen arranged
in the form of a cross. The last line reads EXPLICIT DE INVANTE
OPUS MAGNENTI RABANI MAURI IN HONORE SANCTAE CRU-
CIS CONDITUM. As was mentioned above, the last page shows an
idealized type image of Hrabanus Maurus as a tonsured youthful
monk in prayer at the foot of the cross.
Evidently Hrabanus Maurus was pleased to associate himself with
the great Alcuin, to pay tribute to him and to be his continuator of
the intellectual tradition begun in the Carolingian palace schools. It
is also evident that he was most open about being a supporter of
Louis the Pious and the ideas, which he represented. This work ‘In
Praise of the Holy Cross’ reveals Hrabanus Maurus to have been
an exemplary scholar, who had a masterful textual and interpreta-
tive command of Biblical as well as of secular knowledge. A prior-
ity of the age was to assemble, thereby safeguard and to transmit
an inventory of available knowledge. To counteract any withdrawal
into increasing particularization, regression of studies and deprecia-
tion of learning in the monasteries he played a major role in resist-
ing this endangerment. He was an eager participant in this reversal
and with keen ability compiled widely scattered knowledge. He also
had the bent to establish a blending of the two areas of knowledge
in the context of this act of his faith. Quite clearly his educational
work exemplifies his close ties to his master Alcuin, to his methods
and his orientation on Alcuin to preserve and teach what was known.
In that he did not meet modern expectations of scholarship and of
intellectual property, but then in that era originality lay in being
able to tailor knowledge to contemporary needs. The book made
him a most respected scholar of his day. His pupils were to continue,
augment, elaborate and even improve his work. The imaginative
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 184
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 185
variations of visual representations cannot detract from the emphasis
on text and its demonstration of the skillful manipulation of language.
His next major work, which also found extensive acclaim, was his
De institutione clericorum, which attempted to regulate clerical life, respon-
sibilities and tasks concerning sacraments, festivities, liturgy, the faith
and the importance of a fitting life style and the education of cler-
ics. Based on an older work, it compiled and restated these principles
for his generation. In his De rerum naturis he produced an encyclo-
pedia of 22 volumes. In it he returns to an encompassing represen-
tation of extant knowledge to be accommodated in the interpretation
of scriptures, ranging from the realm of heaven to earth. Its sub-
jects include God and the angels, figures from both Testaments, the
faith, the Bible, the church and its institutions, religion and phi-
losophy, man and finally animals, medicine, the crafts, metals and
minerals and foodstuffs. The novelty in the arrangement of this ency-
clopedia lies in its religious foundations and its theological range
extending from God to the World. Isidore of Seville was one of his
sources. These volumes did not meet with a similarly wide acclaim.
Most effective were his Bible commentaries.
146
Both Alcuin and
Hrabanus Maurus were talented and inclined to collect, organize
and transmit what constituted the core of the scholarly tradition.
Hraban helped rekindle the love of learning and his growing repu-
tation made Fulda one of the most famous schools of the Frankish
realm. After Einhard and Hrabanus Maurus the poet Walahfrid
Strabo, the philologist Lupus de Ferrières, the historian Rudolf von
Fulda and the theologian Otfrid von Weissenburg were to be among
the third generation of its graduates.
It was mentioned above that, barely 20 years of age, Walahfrid
Strabo had been selected chaplain of the empress Judith and tutor
for Louis’ the Pious youngest son Charles, to be called the Bald,
and that Walahfrid had made his skills available to the emperor dur-
ing his troubles with his sons and had dedicated a poem to the
empress Judith in which he criticized sharply the double treachery
against Louis. Of Alemanic origin, he entered the monastery school
on the Reichenau probably at the age of 9 and in 825 was admit-
ted to the monastery at age 15. Shortly after he joined Hrabanus
Maurus in Fulda. In 829 he became tutor to the prince Charles. In
146
Angenendt, p. 434.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 185
186 r\n+ n
838 he was back on the Reichenau, but following the death of the
emperor Louis the Pious and as antipartitionist and as adherent of
the imperial idea and supporter of Lothair, he spent the years 840–842
in voluntary exile in Speyer, Murbach and Fulda. From 842–849 he
was abbot of Reichenau.
While abbot of the monastery on Reichenau Walahfrid Strabo
wrote his Liber de cultura moratorium.
147
It is an example of natural his-
tory in poetic form. Classical themes and forms provide something
of a skeleton for the poetic work. In this and his other poetic works
he shows himself to have a masterful command of poetic Latin and
can be placed quite happily in the company of Virgil, Ovid and
Horace. Following three poems in the style of Virgil in which he
deals with horticulture and its difficulties and the eagerness and pro-
ductivity of the gardener he describes 23 flowers and herbs and their
ornamental, practical and medicinal properties in 23 Latin poems of
unequal lengths. The twenty-seventh poem is the dedication of the
work to the abbot Grimaldus of St. Gallen. Grimaldus had been
Walahfrid’s teacher on the Reichenau and as chancellor of Ludwig
the German he reconciled Walahfrid with the king. Grimaldus became
abbot of St. Gallen from 842–872.
In the context of the Benedictine admonition hora et labora, prayer
and work, garden activity as an aspect of asceticism within the clois-
ter makes perfect sense. Thus a Benedictine attitude to life, the res-
olution of (garden) work and meditative (garden) contemplation in
the cloistered hortus conclusus, finds expression in this work. Contem-
plation should not deteriorate into idleness. Walahfrid itemizes the
necessary work—soil preparation, fertilization, seeding and planting,
watering, weeding. The area under cultivation was too small to sup-
ply a community of a hundred monks with an almost exclusive diet
of fresh vegetables—fresh greens with an oil and vinegar dressing—
meaning that the produce was perhaps sufficient for the abbot’s table
as tasty complements and deserts, while the curative herbs served
the community. The poems allow conclusions about the systematic
arrangement of the garden into hortulus and herbularius, the divided
inventory of plants into flowers, vegetables and herbs and their
characteristics, quite similar to the garden at St. Gallen. What is
147
H.-D. Stoffler, Der Hortulus des Walahfrid Strabo, Aus dem Kräutergarten des Klosters
Reichenau, mit einem Beitrag von T. Fehrenbach (Darmstadt 1985).
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 186
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 187
immediately noteworthy is that Walahfrid profits from learning and
experience and that he proceeds as a botanist, quite ‘scientifically’
by accurately observing and describing each plant botanically and by
complementing these observations pharmacologically, rather than by
excerpting an ancient source. His interest in these plants and herbs
is primarily medicinal, for, in accordance with the Rule of St. Benedict,
he sees his responsibilities at the head of a monastery to lie emphat-
ically with the care and recovery of the weak and ill, having prece-
dence over all other duties.
148
In itemizing the specifics of each plant
Walahfrid Strabo employs as many of his senses as is possible. Thus
he does not only describe color and form, but also fragrance and
taste. Only occasionally does he mention feel and touch.
Frequent are the references to pagan illustrations. Thus the first
poem begins with a reference to the obscene pagan god of gardens
and fertility, Priapus, and then continues in a very secular manner
about garden work and its merits. The second poem describes nature
realistically and deals with the difficulties of this work during the
seasons and the challenges and tasks, which they present. The third
poem itemizes the gardening tasks mentioned above if the gardener
wants to enjoy the fruits of his labors. Bacchus, Apollo and Vulcan,
by implication, the muse Thalia find mention. To express this joy
he appeals to his skills as a poet, his understanding and beauty of
expression to proclaim the names and powers contained in such a
rich harvest in which even insignificance may be resplendent. In
each of the following poems he deals specifically with the plants of
his garden and praises their ornamental, alimentary, aromatic, savory,
functional and pharmaceutical characteristics: sage, pumpkins, mel-
ons, absinthium/wormwood, fennel, gladiolas, chervil, lilies, poppies,
mint, celery, ambrosia, radishes and the rose, to name the most obvi-
ous. Some of their curative properties are still known in the realm
of homeopathy: breath-freshening tea from sage; antidotes for hid-
den poisons from rue and others; headache and pain remedies from
wormwood; digestive and pulmonary remedies from herbs; fennel for
ailments of the eyes, when mixed with goat milk against constipa-
tion and when taken in wine against coughs; powdered gladiolus rhi-
zome dissolved in wine as well as pulverized celery against bladder
148
Stoffler, p. 12.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 187
188 r\n+ n
ailments; levisticum as a diuretic; chervil, mint or poppy compresses
for abdominal pains; crushed lily juice mixed in Falerno wine against
snakebite, or applied to contusions and sprains; the opiate derived
from the poppy; and of course the many types of mint steeped as
tea for all manner of rough and sore throat; celery root as a means
against stomach upset and when mixed with vinegar and water,
ingested as a tea, a means against the urge to vomit; ground up vet-
tonica, fresh or dried, to accelerate the closing of open wounds or
generally drunk as a daily tea. The last poem is devoted to the rose,
its fragrance and the oil, which can be pressed from its petals. The
rose is associated with the lily and praised as the centuries old symbols
as the blood of martyrdom and the splendor of the radiating faith.
Only occasionally does he draw inferences from the Christian lit-
erature. Thus the lily is placed centrally among the plants, the lily
as splendor, fulfillment and beauty of Christ. Twice the lily is the
subject of the twelfth poem. Though number symbolism is present,
it is not very obvious. The number 4 and its multiples is central,
though treated in a very subtle manner. Logically drawn from nature
are the four seasons and the four elements. More abstract are the
four cardinal virtues, the four Gospels and dimensions of the cross.
The work itself consists of 444 hexameters. In association with the
curative characteristics of the many plants the garden may well be
an allegory for salvation. The ending of the dedicational poem could
suggest this, when Walahfrid expresses the wish to Grimaldus that
reading this modest gift, God may sustain him in eternal virtue and
thus blessed, win the palm of eternal life, which Father, Son and
Holy Spirit may graciously grant him.
This poetic work is interesting in that it does not have the vali-
dation of the Christian faith as its intention. Though Walahfrid admits
his background readings and his reliance on a certain tradition, the
knowledge he presents is very much that of personal experience,
observation and interpretation. Rather than being theoretical, the
poems are entirely empirical and practical, yet literary treatment of
the evidence. It also demonstrates a personal, subjective almost lyri-
cal oneness between a God-given nature and mankind. In troubled
times nature, as represented by the garden, perhaps an allegory,
offers him and all those like him a place of contemplation and idyl-
lic refuge.
Walahfrid’s poetic debut was the poetic version of the Visions of
Wetti, referred to above, in which Wetti anticipated something of
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 188
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 189
Dante’s Divine Comedy. The visions depict the journey through Hell,
Heaven and Purgatory. The angelic guide, the descriptions of the
punishments, the notion of purgatory as a mountain, the insertion
of personal and contemporary moments and the ordering of Paradise
point to similarities with the later work. These Visions of Wetti are
also a theological and mystical conception in which the path of pur-
gation, the belief in judgment and eternal life are treated with the
imagery associated with the Middle Ages. Vainly does Wetti appeal
to the intercession of blessed priests and martyrs. By appealing to
the blessed Virgins, Christ grants complete forgiveness.
149
The state
of mind, which generated these visions, is not some divine inspira-
tion, but the result of reading the Psalms, and the writings of Gregory
and quite within the context of monastic meditation.
150
While in Aachen as tutor to the prince Charles (829) Walahfrid
Strabo writes his Versus in Aquisgrani palatio editi anno Hludovici impera-
toris XVI. de imagine Tetrici. ‘Verses composed in the palace of Aachen
in the sixteenth year of the emperor Louis concerning the statue of
Theoderic’.
151
Charlemagne had had the equestrian statue of Theoderic,
perhaps actually the Byzantine emperor Zeno, brought from Ravenna
to Aachen as part of his attempt to indicate continuity with the late
Roman Empire and Theodoric’s autonomy within it. In the form of
a dialogue between himself, Strabus and Scintilla, perhaps his idea
of his muse, Walahfrid contrasts the dark Arian Theoderic with the
brilliance of the Carolingian house. He disapproves and opposes a
foolish Theoderic with the portrait of Charlemagne as the great
Moses. By this time the image of Theoderic had changed from that
of the hero to that of the servant of Satan. The poem hints at the
foolishness to come, when Louis’ sons fail to imitate the wisdom of
the great rolemodel, Charlemagne/Moses and resort to paternal-fra-
ternal dissension. The poem also develops a laudatory analogy between
the empress Judith and the Biblical Rachel. Strabo based his posi-
tion on true loyalty to the unpartitioned realm. He was to seek vol-
untary exile during the civil wars, which followed.
149
Stoffler, p. 66f.
150
Carruthers, p. 182f.
151
Innes, ‘Teutons or Trojans?’ in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, pp. 242ff.
supports the suggestion that the two positions reflect a conflict between interrelating
‘Christian-intellectual’ and ‘popular-oral’ traditions and that Walahfrid was partici-
pating in a debate concerning a historical figure.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 189
190 r\n+ n
Walahfrid was actively involved in the movement to reform the
Gallo-Frankish liturgy in accordance with an enriched Roman liturgy.
Confession and Penance, quiet prayer and an active participation of
the congregation during mass by singing the Gloria, Sanctus and Gloria
patri. Walahfrid contributed his Liber de exodiis et incrementis quarundam
in observationibus ecclesiasticis rerum, ‘On the origin and development of
individual parts of the liturgy’. In 32 chapters he treats the origin
of churches and altars, the origin of diverse religions, the origin of
the Christian religion. In the seventh chapter he deals with the
appearance of Latin and Greek loanwords in the German vernacular.
In this he rendered a tremendous service to the German language
even though he conceded it to be a barbaric tongue when compared
to Latin. Between the lines of Latin texts he wrote German glosses
and translations in Old High German. Some of the works of Isidore
of Seville and of Hrabanus Maurus were treated in this manner.
152
As envoy of Ludwig the German to Charles the Bald, Walahfrid
Strabo, bishop of Mainz, drowned on August 18, 849 while cross-
ing the River Loire. He was on a mission of reconciliation. A text
in Reichenau claims him to be buried there and to have died when
only 40 years of age.
153
It would appear that in a time of considerable confusion Walahfrid
Strabo was not only a man of the church, motivated by concerns
for the Christian faith, but one who very firmly also occupied his
space in this world aided by empirical observation, responsible prac-
ticality, political engagement and realistic impulses. In dealing with
it he revealed himself to be a master of language.
Einhard informs us in the Vita Karoli
154
that Charlemagne had
‘directed that the age-old narrative poems, barbarous enough, it is
true, in which were celebrated the warlike deeds of the kings of
ancient times, should be written out and so preserved.’ However, no
evidence of any such collection of Germanic texts exists. Einhard
may have followed Tacitus’ Germania and adapted a feature from
Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum, which had no actual basis in fact, when
he itemized ‘good king’ Charlemagne’s virtues and initiatives. On
the other hand, Hrabanus Maurus encouraged the king to seek role-
models in Biblical history while the religious fervor of Louis the
152
Stoffler, p. 63f. See also Jungandreas, pp. 130ff.
153
Stoffler, p. 57.
154
Thorpe, p. 82.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 190
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 191
Pious, is sometimes blamed for the disappearance of this collection
of pagan materials, even though Charlemagne’s court library was
not completely dispersed, a librarian is documented, and books were
expressly copied for him and dedicated to him.
155
The reference is
valuable in that it indicates a former oral repertoire of heroic, prob-
ably pre-Christian, narrative poetry among the Germanic peoples.
It points to the probable existence of a two-tiered literacy in Latin
as well as in Germanic dialects.
156
Though many Latin works have
vanished, the evidence for a Latin literature is established. What is
extant of other Latin literature shows origins in Franconian, Bavarian,
Visi- and Ostrogothic, Lombardic and Saxon and even a mixture
thereof. Charlemagne’s collection might well have reflected this mosaic.
While very little secular poetry is known to have originated in
Romance or Old French in the western kingdom, there are indica-
tions of such increasing activity in Latin and of its improved preser-
vation.
157
This poetry is now at best historically interesting though
not historically lasting. As court poetry, intended for immediate pre-
sentation and consumption, form and content are little more than
trivial exercises, sometimes antagonistically personal, sometimes lauda-
tory of events and excessively flattering of persons, in traditional
Classical declamatory styles, reflecting greater interest in the enter-
taining display of an effective rhetorical and recitational use of lan-
guage, application of self-satisfied, propagandistic, ethnic clichés and
a disappointing reflection of historical fact. With the exception of
the poems of the later Walahfrid Strabo, it does not address the
human condition in any lyrical way and appears not to have been
taken seriously in its own time. As may have become apparent, the
court of Charlemagne was characterized by having attracted to
Aachen an entourage of poetic and scholarly talent from many parts
of Europe.
158
It is a curious circumstance that the remaining frag-
ments in Old High German (OHG) indicate much more extensive
155
Bischoff, p. 77. See de Jong, ‘The empire as ecclesia’, in Hen and Innes, Uses
of the Past, p. 196, n. 13, who cites Thegan’s Vita Hludowici, in which Louis the
Pious rejected the poetica carmina gentilia, which he had learned in his youth, and
refused to hear, read or teach them. Also p. 205.
156
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 198. See also Innes, ‘Teutons or Trojans?’, in Hen and
Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 240.
157
M. Garrison, ‘The emergence of Carolingian Latin literature and the court
of Charlemagne’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, pp. 111ff.
158
Garrison, ‘Latin literature’, in McKitterick, Carolingian Culture, p. 117f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 191
192 r\n+ n
activity in the German vernacular. It would appear that the eastern
Carolingians created a climate in which questions of language and
literature were topics of consideration. The quotation from Einhard
suggests that the heroic poetry was part of an oral tradition yet to
be committed to writing. This may never have happened.
Germanic had come under Roman Latin influence during the time
of the Roman Empire. This was the case especially for loanwords
from agricultural, administrative, economic, some military activities,
the building trades and the days of the week. The Christianization
introduced some Greek vocabulary but much more Latin into German,
especially in the external and administrative areas of the religious
life. Based on Greek and Latin models, some abstract concepts came
into being as well. German, however, developed its own vocabulary
when it came to concepts of salvation and of the faith.
159
An open
question is the level of sophistication when the vernacular was used
to express abstractions. One has estimated that Old High German
had adopted 3% loanwords, 10% loan formations and 20% of bor-
rowed meanings. Each was the result of a complex process. Not all
of this vocabulary survived into Middle High German. It should be
kept in mind that ‘German’ as used here does not represent a sin-
gle language but an assemblage of tribal dialects, as spoken German
does to this day. Only over many centuries did a more or less stan-
dardized form of German evolve. During the Merovingian period
early regional forms of German entered the various law codes. In
Carolingian times, directives to bishops, abbots and priests stressed
the use of the vernacular as a means of bringing ecclesiastical and
secular elements of the population closer together.
160
Hrabanus Maurus
and, as we saw, Walahfrid Strabo contributed to the development
of German as a written language. The first appearance of the word
for German, theodiscus, appears in 786. Charlemagne himself speaks
of teudisca lingua in 801. It appears again in 825 as nationes Theotiscae.
Walahfrid refers to Theotiscum sermonem and Nithard told us that the
Oaths of Strasbourg were sworn in Teudisca and Romana lingua. Otfrid
von Weissenburg uses theodisce in the Latin introduction to this
Evangelienbuch (Book of Gospels). It would appear that variations of
this term were used for the language in a preliterary form, well
before it was applied to the speakers of this language, and even in
159
McKitterick, Frankish Church, pp. 85ff.
160
McKitterick, Frankish Church, p. 84f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 192
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 193
Carolingian times it was primarily the language of monks and cler-
ics. In the correspondence between the scriptoria of Reichenau and
Fulda common linguistic forms emerge as a means of facilitating the
exchange. Latin did not have enough letters for German sounds and
that circumstance alone contributed to a degree of uniformity. Such
written examples as have survived are primarily of a religious nature
originating in the Christian, missionary context. There are no indi-
cations of the actual speech of the people.
161
As was mentioned above,
Otfrid von Weissenburg was another of the graduates of Hrabanus
Maurus at Fulda. In the Evangelienbuch of 863/71, he belatedly raises
the justifiable question why the Franks should be the only ones not
to sing the praises of the Lord in Frankish.
Nu es filu manno inthihit, in sina zungun scribit,
. . . (Now that many undertake to write in their own tongue)
sie in frenkisgon biginnen/sie gotes lob singen?
. . . (Why should they not begin in Frankish, to sing the praise of God?)
Nu frewen sih es alle, . . .
. . . (Now everyone rejoices, . . .)
Thaz wir kriste sungun, in unsara zungun.
. . . (That we sing to Christ, in our tongue.)
162
Otfrid’s rejoicing was to be premature, for the use of German, coin-
cident with the reign of Ludwig the German, was to be short-lived,
as Latin was to remain the literary language.
We have no real idea what poetry Einhard attributed to Charle-
magne to have had in mind when he supposedly asked that it be
written down, because with the exception of a very few fragments,
none of the earliest pre-Christian material has been preserved. By
etymologically retracing words we know that words for ‘song’ such
as liod, leich, ‘song’ and ‘lay’ are very old words and most probably
echo old practices without any relation to the church and its mis-
sionary activities. Because of their formulaic character, proverbs, rid-
dles and incantations are very resistant to change. Their earliest
appearance was in runic form, where the word ‘rune’ is quite fittingly
related to the word ‘raunen—to whisper’ in modern German. The
161
H. Moser, Deutsche Sprachgeschichte (Tübingen 1965), pp. 98f., 106ff. R. Priebsch,
W.E. Collinson, The German Language, 5th edition (London 1962), pp. 264ff., H. Sperber,
P.V. Polenz, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, 6th edition (Berlin 1968), pp. 35ff. See
also M. Innes, ‘Teutons or Trojans?’, in Hen and Innes, Uses of the Past, p. 232.
162
Moser, p. 107f. See McKitterick, Frankish Church, pp. 198ff. for an extensive
discussion of this work.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 193
194 r\n+ n
word ‘incantation’ itself reminds us that magic formulas were once
chanted, suggesting that the earliest ‘poetic’ materials such as prayers,
supplications, sacrificial formulas, charms and invocations had func-
tional intentions and were connected with native magic and cultic
practices. Two such pagan examples have been preserved in OHG,
in a Christian context, perhaps representative of many lost others,
the Merseburger Zaubersprüche. These unique texts are the only ones
preserving references to the cults of pagan divinities. Obscure in
meaning, these magical pagan verses were written into a 9th cen-
tury missal, sometime during the 10th century, probably at Fulda,
from where they were later transferred to Merseburg. The first of
these charms is unusual in that it is to free someone from captivity.
The mythic battle maidens, Valkyries, once sat about mending fet-
ters, harassing foes, loosening bonds. They are conjured to intervene
and help the captive escape his bonds and flee from his enemies.
The charm was to be repeated three times. The second charm was
medical and to be spoken over the sprained leg of a horse. Several
gods, including Frija and Wodan, are named first. The very com-
pact verse ends in a repetitive formula, asking that if it be bone, or
blood or limb, bone be joined to bone, blood to blood and limb to
limb, as if they were glued together. Reflecting a popular, oral char-
acter, the words alone have the power, while the magical spoken
repetition tends to be the pagan activating feature of magic charms.
Having worked once before, the incantations are to work once again,
hence the imperative form. The verses may be allegories: the first
one against cramps and paralysis, the second against all manner of
sprain, not just for animals. Usually oral in nature, why were the
verses written and into a religious manuscript at that? Perhaps as
portable protective magic? Perhaps to cancel their power? The two
incantations are followed by a prayer in Latin, which asks for God’s
help for anyone whose name is to be added.
163
It is an example of
163
W. Hauk, B.K. Vollmann (eds.), Frühe deutsche Literatur und lateinische Literatur,
800–1150 (Frankfurt a.M. 1991), p. 152f., for the bilingual text in OHG and NHG.
B.F. Murdoch, ‘The Carolingian period and the early Middle Ages’, in H. Watanabe-
O’Kelly, (ed.), The Cambridge History of German Literature (Cambridge 1997), p. 12f.
Also J.K. Bostock, A Handbook of Old High German Literature (Oxford 1955), pp. 16ff.
See also B.O. Murdoch, Old High German Literature (Boston 1983), p. 50f. H. de
Boor, Die deutsche Literatur, Von Karl dem Großen bis zum Beginn der höfischen Dichtung,
770–1170 (Munich 1964), pp. 94ff. Also G. Ehrismann, Geschichte der deutschen Lite-
ratur, bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, Part I, (Munich 1959), pp. 100ff. See also
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 194
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 195
later, Christian verses of this type, which place their trust in the
power of Christ or God.
One other linguistic fragment derives from the Lex Salica, the Law
code of the Salian Franks from Merovingian times. Known as the
Malbergische Glossen, these glosses are vernacular legal terms inserted
into the code. The ‘malb’ refers to the ‘Maloberg’, the Hill of Judg-
ment or of Execution.
An early Carolingian work is the Abrogans of 764/72, motivated
by bishop Arbeo of Freising in Bavaria.
164
Influenced by Lombardic
scholarship, the work is a glossary, a collection of Latin synonyms
interspersed with OHG words, named after the first Latin keyword.
While the original Bavarian edition has been lost, it is extant in
three Alemanic versions from Reichenau-Murbach. About 775 a sim-
ilar work was prepared in Fulda in the form of a Latin/German
version of an antique Greek/Latin Dictionary. Known as the
Vocabularius Sti. Galli, it originated as a Latin/Anglo-Saxon work. The
Abrogans contained an OHG version of the Lord’s Prayer:
Fater unseer thu pist in himile
uuihi namun dinan
qhueme rihhi din
uuerde uuiloo diin so in himmile
sosa in erdu
prooth unseer emezzihic kip uns hiutu
oblaz uns sculdi unseero so uuir
oblazem uns sculdikem
enti ni unsih firleiti in khorunka
uzzer losi unsin fona ubile. (Codex Sangallensis 911). (Fig. 8)
At the end of the century, c. 790–800, there appeared a prose trans-
lation of Isidore of Seville’s De fide catholica contra Judaeos. Written in
an undetermined dialect, the work may have originated in the circle
around Alcuin, in Lorraine. Two manuscripts have been preserved,
one in Paris, the other in Vienna among the Mondsee—Wiener Fragmente.
Here Isidore defended the Christian Faith and the Trinity against
the objections of the Jews.
During the last third of the 8th century an early Christian ‘prayer’
came into being, possibly derived from an Anglo-Saxon source and
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 379. See also S. Lerer, ‘Literate Authority in Bede’s Story of
Imma’, in Chazelle, Literacy, Politics, p. 23f.
164
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 380, concerning glosses.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 195
196 r\n+ n
composed in Fulda, founded during the conversion, only just a few
years earlier. The dialect is Bavarian with Old Saxon and Anglo-
Saxon traces. It is an assemblage of two parts and may reflect two
authors. The first part is a short, creatively imaginative poetic nar-
rative of nine alliterative lines of verse.
Alliterative verse consists of a long line of eight strongly accented
syllables along with an indeterminate number of unaccented sylla-
bles. The alliteration is a substitute for the end rhyme. The accented
words or syllables had to have the same initial consonant, such as
welaga, waltant got, wewurt skihit, line 49 of the Hildebrandslied. A long
line could have as many as 4, but a necessary minimum of 2 allit-
erations. As a rule two words of the first half-line must begin with
the same consonant as one word in the second half-line.
This particular prayer retells the most marvelous and miraculous
wisdom, the creation of the world by God out of the void. The neg-
ative frame of reference is the earth indicated by the absence of
trees, mountains, stars, sun or moon and sea. The second part is
theological, a prayer in less imaginative prose which asks of almighty
God, who is before creation, for his gracious gift of the right faith,
good will, wisdom, good sense and the strength to resist devils, avoid
evil and to fulfill God’s will. Having good will appears to be a pre-
condition for doing God’s will. The prayer has been preserved in a
manuscript of loosely related fragments in the Benedictine abbey at
Wessobrunn in Bavaria and is known as the Wessobrunner Gebet.
165
More a poem than a prayer, it is of some literary importance. The
poem has an ambiguous title, De poeta, which may mean ‘Something
Poetic’, or by inference from the Greek, ‘On the Creator’, a trans-
lation consistent with the thrust of the poem.
The counter piece to the story of the Creation is the vivid early
9th century (c. 830) apocalyptic vision of the world, warning of the
ending in the all-consuming conflagration. The vision is entirely
Christian eschatology. The meaning of Muspilli may be a related
opposite of ‘God-spell’ or ‘Gospel’ and mean ‘verdict’, ‘pronouce-
ment of judgment’, hence ‘judgment day’, the judgment and verdict
which everyone in the anxiety of his solitude has to face in the
165
Hauk, Vollmann, p. 48f., for the text. Ehrismann, pp. 138ff. Also Watanabe-
O’Kelly, p. 11f. See de Boor, p. 52f. Also Murdoch, pp. 65ff. for an English trans-
lation. Bostock, pp. 114ff. refers to the poem as ‘The Wessobrunn Creation and
Prayer’. See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 382.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 196
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 197
end.
166
Originally untitled, this title was added subsequently, c. 1830,
to focus on this didactic knowledge of final things. Composed in
Bavarian dialect, it is proof that complex concepts could be expressed
in the spoken language. It was found at St. Emmeram in Regensburg
and may well have been copied there at a later time, or again at
Fulda. As with other examples an Anglo-Saxon source may be sup-
posed. It was clumsily written into the margins and three pages of
a beautiful 9th century manuscript, which had been sent as a gift,
dedicated by Adalram, the bishop of Salzburg from 821–836, to king
Ludwig the German. The beginning and end of the poem are miss-
ing. They may well have been written on the lost inside covers of
the codex. The extant text of 103 alliterative
167
lines may have been
an assembly of fragments, introduced by a memento mori, reminding
the reader of his mortality. The terrorizing sermon establishes the
popular theme of later medieval art and architecture—the dispute
between the forces of heaven and hell over the souls on judgment
day. Already the Wessobrunner Gebet introduced the conflict between
good and evil, the Muspilli states the conflict even more clearly. The
first extant lines could be entitled ‘On things after death’, for they
tell that when the soul rises from the body and follows its way, then
two hosts, one from heaven and the other from hell, will contest its
possession. The soul may anxiously await the host to which it will
fall. Five hundred and then eight hundred years later, the High
Middle Ages and again the Baroque period, will preach terrorizing
sermons to Christians in artistic and literary forms respectively, that
the sinner take heed lest he hear the call and not be able to ren-
der a satisfactory account for the actions of his life. No one is exempt
from this call. As in a struggle by combat between the Antichrist
and Elijah, the opinions concerning the outcome are divided. If Elijah
falls and his blood drips on the ground, then the world will be set
aflame and in projected catastrophic visions reminiscent of Revelation,
no one shall be safe from the fire (muspilli ). In an accumulation of
terrifying visions mountains, trees shall burn, the waters and moors
shall dry out, sky and earth shall be consumed by flames, the moon
shall fall and Midgard, the (middle-) earth burns ( prinnit mittelagard ),
166
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 383, calls it ‘another original vernacular composition that
deals with great issues’. He summarizes the content.
167
See Bostock, pp. 156ff. for a detailed discussion with examples of this and
other literary devices.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 197
198 r\n+ n
no stone will be left unturned. When the rain of flames falls, the
soul will be in mourning, not knowing how to repent. The poetic
sermon anticipates many a later Romanesque and Gothic westwork
where the heavenly horn summons the sinners before the judge and
his host and the angels open the graves and bring the dead to judg-
ment. Salvation will be for the righteous. The crucified Christ dis-
playing his wounds will appear on the cross as the judge.
168
From the 2nd century was transmitted a comprehensive account
of the life of Christ. It was a synthesis of the four Gospels, the Diates-
saron, attributed to the Syrian Christian Tatian. During the early 9th
century, c. 830, a Latin translation was used as the source for a
translation in OHG prepared by several monks at Fulda, probably
on the urging of Hrabanus Maurus. This Evangelienharmonie, a Harmony
of the Gospels, was an inferior, unskilled, word for word rendition
into German, which maintained even Latin syntax.
169
Its value lay
in that it stimulated two other works, the Heliand and the Evangelienbuch
of Otfrid von Weissenburg. Thus the New Testament narrative is
recast and dramatized and the ‘rebel’ Jesus is identified as ‘the sav-
ior’. Taken together, two such major works in very quick succession
represent a remarkable literary output for their time.
At about the same time an outstanding epic synopsis in OHG of
the life of Christ came into being consisting of nearly 6000 lines of
alliterative verse, imitative of the AS epic Biblical poetry. It is a work
of exemplary caliber, all the more noteworthy as it has no Saxon
predecessor. In about 1830 it was named Heliand, Modern German
Heiland, meaning ‘Savior’.
170
It is preceded by a Latin preface which
names Louis the Pious, or perhaps Ludwig the German, as its com-
missioner, but its origin may be an unrelated insertion. It is not very
likely that the author of the Heliand may have been Hrabanus Maurus
himself. The pedagogic intention of this work was the modification
of a Germanic worldview into the new edifying Christian Weltanschauung
of the Imperium Christianum. This Heliand was an instrument in the
conversion of the recently conquered Saxons and in accordance with
its missionary task is characterized by an accessible folkish approach
168
Hauk, Vollmann, pp. 50–57, for the text. Bostock, pp. 120–134. Murdoch,
pp. 68–72. Also de Boor, pp. 53–57. Ehrismann, pp. 147–156. See also A. Masser,
Bibel- und Legendenepik des deutschen Mittelalters (Berlin 1976), pp. 131–136.
169
Bostock, p. 136f.
170
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 384f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 198
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 199
and lack of learnedness and dogmatic theology. To enhance the
appeal to an audience of fighters, perhaps, Christ is a leader in war
and his disciples are his warriors.
171
The author of this folk-epic was
an educator, perhaps a popularizing missionary who tried to divert
his Germanic listeners from superstition and bring the message in
Christ’s life closer to these recently converted Saxons by retelling the
events in his own words, in familiar regional settings and those of
his Saxon audience. Nevertheless, he was a sophisticated cleric who
knew the works of Augustine, Gregory the Great, Tatian, Alcuin,
Bede and Hrabanus Maurus. Two complete manuscripts and some
fragments are extant written in a dialect that cannot be identified
precisely. In a copy kept at the Vatican, fragments of about 600
lines of an Old Saxon Genesis
172
and Patriarchal History were entered.
At the center of the Heliand is the Sermon on the Mount, the mes-
sage of peace, love and humility, pronounced by a majestic Son of
God, the hebancuning, the ‘heavenking’ who commands respect. This
Christ is the proclaimer and creator of a new world.
173
Similarly the
language of the poem surprises because of its epic and heroic char-
acter. The work is on the verge of becoming ‘literature’, in that the
author applies stylistic liberties and dramatizes the didactic narrative
of the Gospels and turns the language of the Gospels into dramatic,
tragic text with popular appeal. Even nature descriptions, appropri-
ate in the epic, are used to underscore events and play a larger
accompanying role than they do in the Gospels. In the scene in
which Peter denies Jesus three times, Jesus is cast in the role of
Peter’s liege lord, Peter is his vassal and their relationship is based
on the oath of fealty, which Peter has broken. Jesus is of the best
birth and termed the son of the greatest lord. His disciples are thanes
and when Peter breaks into tears over his betrayal, his tears assume
the color of blood out of heroic anger. Repeatedly the vocabulary
is that of the later medieval epics. By redefining words the author
171
See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 134.
172
Hauk, Vollmann, pp. 60–63, for the text.
173
Hauk, Vollmann, pp. 64–71, for the text. K. Langosch, Die deutsche Literatur
des lateinischen Mittelalters in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung (Berlin 1964), p. 45f. See K.
Bertau, Deutsche Literatur im europäischen Mittelalter, vol. I, 800–1197 (Munich 1972),
pp. 51ff. For a very extensive analysis see especially Bostock, pp. 141ff., esp. pp.
148ff. See also Murdoch, pp. 73ff. and de Boor, pp. 58–64. See B. Boesch, German
Literature, A Critical Survey (London 1971), pp. 12ff. Ehrismann, pp. 157–178, pro-
vides a most extensive analysis of the poem. See Masser, pp. 19–28.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 199
200 r\n+ n
also carries out an educational task as he replaces concepts more
typical of a warrior society with the new meanings of the Christian
worldview. Since he knew his public, he omitted Christ’s instructions
to turn the other cheek when struck on one. Humility was not yet
seen to be a virtue as long as its Germanic translation was deomuot,
NHG Demut, the courage of a slave, clearly a virtue not readily
understood. Thus manly pride becomes superbia, a cardinal sin, des-
tiny is no longer blind fate but providentia Dei, God’s providence. The
humility exemplified in this work is characterized by noble dignity
and reserve, borne by the great lord without rancor, but with for-
giveness and love for his enemies. Quite clearly the conversion to
Christianity was dependent on vocabulary acquisition. Repeated usage
transformed meaning. The narrative language makes the Heliand a
complex and nearly original work. At the same time, despite the
Germanic coloring, this is not an illustration of Germanized Christianity.
With 5983 lines, this outstanding poetic work is the longest OHG
work in alliterative verse. It was also to be the last major work of
this type, without significant lasting effect.
The longest, 7104 long lines, and last work in this religious genre
is the Evangelienbuch of Otfrid von Weissenburg mentioned repeat-
edly, in passing. Sometimes entitled a ‘Harmony’ it actually isn’t,
but rather a narration and commentary of 7000 rhyming lines. Otfrid
was a Frank whose optics were determined by the Frankish church
and its long Latinized Christian tradition. He was another of the
well-educated and trained pupils of Hrabanus Maurus from Fulda.
He had become the head of the monastery school and very active
scriptorium at Weissenburg, in the northern Alsace. Between 863
and 871 he completed this work and along with three other dedi-
cations, writes an adulating dedication to Ludwig the German in
which he also relates him to David. This dedication suggests an
increasingly regional cultural particularism. In his dedication to
Liutbert, the archbishop of Mainz, he is the complete Latinist and
theologian. The work exists in several manuscripts, including one
final copy possibly bearing his own corrections written in his own
hand. Organized in five books, to conform symbolically with the five
senses, the work is a deliberate poetic representation of the Life and
Suffering of Christ derived by means of his own excerpts from the
Gospels, the commentaries and writings of the Church Fathers, as
well as from sermons. His poetic rolemodels are the Latin-Christian
poets of late antiquity, such as Juvencus and Prudentius, but also
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 200
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 201
some of the pagans, Virgil, Ovid, whose appeal survived into the
Middle Ages. The Heliand is not a chronological account and reflects
older treatments interspersed among later ones. Unlike the poet of
the Heliand, the outside world of the people is not a frame of ref-
erence for Otfrid. In fact Otfrid turns away from the people and
any vestiges of an Anglo-Saxon poetic heritage, representing a rather
more axiomatic Frankish understanding of the faith. In the service
of the lofty Christian Empire he seeks instead the attention of the
literate, initiated, cloistered elites educated in the Latin tradition, but
especially the magnates of the empire. In his dedication to Liutbert
he indicates his intention to produce a work, which would counter
the cantus obscenus laicorum, common poetry, which insults the pious
ears of the learned and which he intended to displace. His work,
Gospel derived literature in the vernacular, was intended to be didac-
tic. In that sense he is an instrument of Carolingian expression. But
while the original idea of empire had been to create a universal
Christian people to inhabit the Christian Empire, by the time of
Otfrid this idea had been subverted by elitist thinking and Carolingian
culture has become that of the select few. Being a master and the-
ologian, scholar rather than talented poet by inclination, Otfrid’s
Evangelienbuch is an innovative academic work, intended to edify, com-
plete with references to sourcebooks, with which Otfrid von Weissen-
burg addressed a select clerical public and the educated nobility.
The royal dedication might even suggest that he expected his audi-
ence to include the court. While the former catered to the interests
of his audience, engaged in occasional lengthy narrative and descrip-
tive detail expressed in alliterative verse, Otfrid addresses the mem-
bers of his audience personally, but remains factually, even dogmatically
objective as he includes discursive commentary in his verses. Frequently
he interrupts the digressive narrative to explain. Thus the six wine
jugs at the Wedding of Cana are interpreted to be the pure hearts
of the disciples of Jesus. His audience knows the subject. He offers
no new thoughts on the content of his subject, but in a workman-
like manner does try to affect greater esthetic innovation for what
he perceives to be divine truth. To remain close to the understanding
of his audience, Otfrid stayed within Germanic schemes—personal
loyalty to the leader as an example of man’s relationship with God.
He derives a life-negating view from Biblical circumstances and man’s
sinful ways, and therefore accents the positive, redemptive, life-assert-
ing aspects of Christ’s intervention in the world. In accordance with
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 201
202 r\n+ n
the projected and preferable Imperium Christianum, all life on earth is
a mere preparation for the life beyond and all striving should be
directed toward the heavenly bliss, which is certain. Flee the moment
and win salvation. It is not surprising that his contempt for the world
is balanced by his pride in the accomplishments of the Christian
Franks and their grandiose Christian mission. However, his work
does betray an unexpected lyrical tenderness, not previously encoun-
tered, for John the Disciple and for Mary Magdalene, for example.
Of interest is the preface to which reference has already been made
in which he justifies his use of Frankish for this work in which to
sing the praises of God. Commensurate with the role of the Franks
in the world as heirs of Christian Rome he argues ambivalently that
beside Latin, Germanic is equally suited for the rendition of poetic
text and proposes to wedge what he deems to be inferior German
into correct Christian-Latin forms without regard to substantive lin-
guistic differences, as his literate audience would indeed expect. In
doing so he takes two other major steps: he introduces the paired
end-rhyme to replace the Germanic alliterative verse, perhaps lean-
ing on the metered verse of Ambrosian hymns, the alternation of
four rising and falling syllables. Less accomplished a work than the
Heliand, Otfrid’s work is in the forefront as the first extant innova-
tive example of rhyme and a success of his intention of writing poetic
text in Frankish, while upgrading it by means of poetic forms con-
forming to Christian-Latin standards. In retrospect it was to prove
a significant and successful literary achievement though of indeter-
minate effectiveness. It is a major work, which continues to attract
considerable attention in the pertinent literature.
174
It supported the
evolving self-portraits of special literate interest groups. Quite clearly
this poetry is poésie engagée, in the service of visionary as well as applied
religion, reform, modernization and the Latinizing Christian Caro-
174
Hauk, Vollmann, pp. 72–127, for extensive excerpts of the text. Langosch,
p. 46. According to Bertau, pp. 57ff. Otfrid’s Lord’s Prayer is representative of a
select view of Christian society. See Murdoch, pp. 75–86. for a description of the
manuscript and its arrangements and especially for a discussion of Otfrid’s poetic
language. See Bostock, pp. 169–193, for extensive commentary and elaboration of
the work and of Otfrid’s method. See also Boesch, pp. 15ff. Also de Boor, pp. 79ff.
and Watanabe-O’Kelly, pp. 16ff. for a list of earlier Christian sources. for a sequen-
tial discussion of the content and for an assessment of the work. For a most com-
plete analysis of the work and its several manuscripts, see Ehrismann, pp. 178–203.
Also Masser, pp. 29–37.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 202
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 203
lingians. The clergy and the laity were to be raised to a higher level
of spiritual understanding. The Frankish church sought to replace
any pagan vestiges, and that included Germanic alliterative verse,
with Christian-Latin forms. Otfrid von Weissenburg served that pur-
pose by providing a synthesis of Germanic language and Latin form.
In view of the emphasis on the splendors of the heavenly kingdom
and on salvation as the greatest blessing in Christian thinking it is
not surprising that anything transitory and worldly should be sup-
pressed and the spiritual and eternally radiant glory of the Word of
God, as formulated in Latin, should stand in the foreground of all
of these poetic works. The result is a Germanic identity in Latin
guise. In the following transition vernacular German was not to
maintain its position over universal Christian-Latin. Otfrid’s exam-
ple was too vast an undertaking. He found only modest imitators.
X. Secular literature
The fragmentary remains of a secular literature do not project the
Carolingian zeal of a Christian realm on earth. Hence the reference
in Einhard (29) that Charlemagne directed that the Germanic nar-
rative poems be written out and preserved refers to a curiosity. Louis
the Pious is said to have had them destroyed. These poems were
reputedly of an heroic sort, celebrating the warlike deeds of the
ancient kings, Valhalla rather than Heaven, so that their destruction
may have been part of a policy. Already Tacitus mentions carmina
antiqua in his Germania. They were Germanic battle chants, mytho-
logical and historical poetry and prose in which history was retained.
Byzantine sources refer to the performances of Germanic minstrels
singing at the court of Attila. Among the Goths Jordanes mentions
the vocal and instrumental celebration of the heroic deeds of their
fathers, and especially their primary virtue, loyalty. Cassiodorus reports
that Theoderic had a minstrel and harpist celebrate his victory over
the Visigoths in 507. Theoderic even sent a harpist to Chlodovech.
Gelimer, the last king of the Vandals asked for a harp with which
to accompany his song lamenting his fortunes. Franks, Burgundians
and Alemans enjoyed this form of entertainment and historical edifi-
cation. To heap praises on the king was the function of the bards
and the great literary figures—Venantius Fortunatus, Sidonius Apolli-
naris, Fredegar, of the Pre-Carolingian period made their contributions.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 203
204 r\n+ n
Thanks to Paulus Diaconus the store of tales and legends is most
complete among the Lombards.
175
Unfortunately other than in such
references there is no direct evidence as to their existence. Otfrid
von Weissenburg may have included such poetry in his condemna-
tion of the cantus obscenus laicorum, worldly poetry, epic and heroic,
as well as love poetry, the winileod, in the form of folksongs, unfor-
tunately only indicated in a few references, as prohibited preoccu-
pations for nuns.
176
There is, however, indirect evidence of heroic
narratives in the Norse Eddas, preserved in modified 13th century
Christianized texts. They tell of the Creation and the final Conflag-
ration. The lays and sagas betray South-German origins during the
pre-settlement period. Thus the lays of Wieland, Sigurd, elements of
the Thidrekssaga, and the older Lay of Atli, known in Norse as the
Atlakvida, the Lay of Atli, or the Atlamal, the Tale of Atli, are of
Burgundian provenance, the song of Ermanarich is Gothic. The Lay
of Hildebrand, originally Lombardic and the Beowulf reflect similar
South-German origins. In all there are five regional divisions into
which the body of legends and sagas is traditionally arranged: Ostro-
gothic with Ermanarich and the Hildebrandslied; Nibelungenlied with the
old Atlilied; Visigothic with the Waltharilied; Lombardic and Merovingian.
Arguably this poetic material in the oral tradition was as good or
even superior to the religious poetry, which has been preserved.
177
The encounter with the Huns left a deep scar on the Germanic
consciousness, which led to the mytho-poetic, narrative transforma-
tion of historical events and personages into epic tales and heroic
characters. These passed into lore, were invented, told and forgot-
ten by some, picked up and transformed in retelling by others, retold
and finally written down by yet others, until the monastic scribal
culture finally documented the various versions many centuries later.
In the process locations were shifted, stories were altered and names
were changed. Attila himself became an ambivalent figure. If we
consider that the name ‘Attila’ in Gothic is the diminutive of ‘Atta’,
meaning ‘father’, then the western Christian view of him as ‘the
Scourge of God’ needs examination. Understandably, his tribute peo-
175
W. Pohl, ‘Memory, identity and power’, in Y. Hen, M. Innes, The Uses of the
Past in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge 2000), pp. 9–28.
176
Ehrismann, pp. 15ff.
177
Watanabe-O’Kelly, p. 25. Also Innes, ‘Teutons and Trojans?’ in Hen and
Innes, Uses of the Past, pp. 240ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 204
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 205
ples saw him with different eyes than did his enemies. Sometimes
the narratives served merely as frames for ‘historical fiction’. They
were intended as entertainment and were very much a part of the
oral culture of the age. This process is a familiar one, well known
from the retelling of jokes, spreading rumors or just recounting half-
remembered facts. In this fashion events in Burgundian history ended
up recorded and transformed in the Scandinavian Old Norse Eddas,
while at the same time providing the core of the Nibelungenlied. The
Roman magister miletus, master of the armies, Aetius, who in 436 had
loosed the Huns in Roman service on the Burgundians and cut down
their royal family and their retinues of reportedly twenty thousand
men, before resettling them to guard the north-eastern Alpine region,
blends with Attila and ends up as Atli in the hypothetical Atlilied,
and as Etzel, first leader, and then king of the Huns in the Nibelungenlied
of the later Middle Ages. The Ostrogoth Theoderic the Great passes
into the Scandinavian Thidrekssaga, where he is the main character
and enters the German heroic tales as an unhistorical ‘Dietrich von
Bern’. Sigurd will reappear as Siegfried. The material which Charle-
magne supposedly wanted to have preserved must have been of this
sort. Only a few written fragments have survived in German. More
of them have entered and been preserved in the medieval literature
of Scandinavia and Iceland.
The old Atlilied was most probably of South-German origin and
was one of the earliest Germanic poems composed in the oral tra-
dition before written down during the 8th century. The work is no
longer extant and cannot be recast in its original form, except from
two later Old Norse Scandinavian versions: the Atlakvida, probably
a late 9th century Norwegian work, and the Atlamal, a reworked
11th or 12th century version prepared on Greenland and part of
the 13th century Poetic Edda.
178
The lay provides some of the char-
acters, though with different names, of the later Nibelungenlied and
the basic plot of its second part, known as the Nibelungenklage or Der
Nibelungen Not, the lament over the dire end of the Burgundians. The
assumed Atlilied is the oldest prototypical source of the medieval
Nibelungenlied, the Middle High German Epic. The two Norse accounts
are later elaborations of a lost, fundamental narrative poem. Despite
178
U. Dronke, (ed.), The poetic Edda, Heroic Poems, vol. I. (Oxford 1969).
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 205
206 r\n+ n
its title, the Atlakvida is actually a glorification of the Burgundians
and more of a vilification of Attila. The poem is a fairly detailed,
blood-drenched story with cruel details reminiscent of stories in Greco-
Roman mythology. In this poem Gudrun’s brothers Gunnarr, based
on the historical Gundahar, and Högni are invited to Atli’s court,
urged to reveal the location of their treasure, but killed for refusing
to divulge the site. Gudrun avenges the death of her brothers, mur-
ders Atli’s two sons, then passes a chalice with their hearts and blood
to the unsuspecting father, gets him drunk, stabs him to death, burns
down the great hall and then kills herself.
179
In the much longer,
more original, much more literary and dramatic Atlamal
180
both
Högni’s and Gunnar’s wife have dream-visions which foreshadow
their great misfortune, blood and violent death. However, the envi-
sioned fate must not be an impediment. In a few words, the plot
follows a different line. No mention is made of Huns and Burgundians,
of hidden treasures or of the open sea. Rather it is a dramatization
of self-evident dysfunctional family situations. Gudrun’s relatives arrive
at Atli’s court. Gudrun had wanted to warn them of the impend-
ing treachery. Her family had been something of an idyll. Her new
situation was more traumatic. A terrible battle ensued in which the
field was swimming in blood. Atli and Gudrun exchange unpleas-
antnesses about reciprocal murders of kinsmen, mother, sister and
cousin, motivated by greed. Large numbers have been killed on both
sides. Atli asked that Högni be put to the knife, his flesh sliced off
and his heart cut out; Gunnar was to be tied to the gallows and
snakes set on him. Gunnar plays a last song on his harp with his
toes, softening the hearts of women, and in the end both men die.
Atli taunts Gudrun with the murders. For that Gudrun killed their
children by cutting their throats, ‘to cure them of old age’, using
their skulls as cups, serving him drink mixed with their blood, roast-
ing their hearts on a spit and serving them to him pretending they
were of a calf. There follows an exchange of recriminations as
‘they . . . sent each other murderous thoughts, hurled words of hatred—
neither was contented’. Gudrun had her husband Atli stabbed by
Högni’s son. On his deathbed Atli laments that he had showered
her with wealth, but that she had not overcome her widow’s grief.
179
Dronke, pp. 3–12. This is a bilingual version, Norse and English.
180
Dronke, pp. 77–98. This is also a bilingual version, Norse and English.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 206
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 207
She promised to purchase a funeral ship, evidently a vestige of
another tradition, and a painted coffin and wrap his corpse in a well
waxed shroud and tend to any other needs, almost as if there were
no ill feelings, merely the working out of a relentless fate. Upon his
death she killed herself, dying a slow death.
The original Atlilied must have anticipated the narrative elements
echoed in the Atlakvida. Gudrun has married Atli (Attila) following
the murder of her husband Siegfried. Atli entices her brothers Gunnar
and Högni to come to his court by promising property and wealth,
splendid ornaments and exotic gifts. Upon entering the great hall of
Atli’s palace Gudrun warns them that they have been betrayed and
that they should flee immediately. Gunnar tells her that it is too late
to summon his heroic reinforcements, whereupon he is seized and
tied up. Meanwhile Högni kills seven Huns and drives off an eighth,
but their superior numbers overpower him and he is tied up as well.
Then Gunnar is asked to buy his life by handing over the treasure.
Gunnar dares the Huns to cut out Högni’s heart and place it in his
hand. They bring it to him quivering in a bowl. Since Gunnar is
now the only one who knows the distant location of the treasure he
too refuses to tell and is killed. Gudrun now informs Atli that his
young and innocent sons will never again stand at his knees, dis-
tributes her treasures lavishly among her retinue, kills her husband,
drenches their bed with blood, and sets fire to the great hall. The
historical Attila was murdered during his wedding night by his bride
Ildiko. She was to become the Kriemhild of the later epic. The lan-
guage of the verse saga is characterized by heroic rhetoric, the vocab-
ulary of weapons and battle, boldness and courage and many high
flung words to reflect the high feelings of the speakers.
Interlinked with the tales around Attila are the 7th century mytho-
poetic tales around the historical Theoderic the Great, the legendary
Dietrich von Bern of the Thidrekssaga.
181
Within the approximate his-
torical context fits the fragment of the older Lay of Hildebrand,
182
a near
181
F. Erichson, Die Geschichte Thidreks von Bern, Sammlung Thule, Altnordische Dichtung
und Prosa, 2nd ed., vol. 22 (Düsseldorf, Cologne 1962). See Schutz, Germanic Realms,
pp. 75ff.
182
Hauk, Vollmann, pp. 10–15, for the text. F.C. Gentry, J.K. Walter, German
Epic Poetry (New York 1995), pp. 1–8. See also Ehrismann, pp. 121–137, for an
analysis of the languages used. See Watanabe-O’Kelly, p. 25f., Boesch, p. 19f.,
Murdoch, pp. 55–64. Also Bostock, pp. 33–72, who places the lay into the whole
context of the Nibelungenlied and of the Thidrekssaga. De Boor, pp. 65–71.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 207
208 r\n+ n
contemporary of the Atlilied. The lay is not a reliable historical source.
In the Nibelungenlied, the old master-at-arms Hildebrand will assume
the role of Dietrich’s loyal paladin, his devoted companion-in-arms.
The character is an epic fiction. The tradition works with the partly
unhistorical premise that Odoakar had forced Theoderic out of Italy
and that then Theoderic had sought refuge among the Huns, from
where he returned with an army to regain what was his. In all prob-
ability the arrival of the Visigoths under Alaric and their departure
from Italy at the beginning of the 5th century and the arrival of the
Ostrogoths under Theoderic, who had spent years with and under
the Huns, at the end of the 5th century flowed together in this
mytho-poetic account of events. A fictitious Hildebrand was in
Theoderic’s retinue. Probably of 7th century Lombardic origin, the
name ending—brand identifies the names as Lombardic, the story
quite naturally kindled interest in Bavaria, owing to the historic rela-
tionship, where it was rewritten c. 770/790. During the early 9th
century (c. 810?) monks at Fulda reworked it as part of their mis-
sionary activity in the Low German speaking regions.
183
Around 850
two monks at Fulda copied it alternatively on the inside covers of
a prayer book. It ends short because the copyist ran out of space.
As it is the only example of early Germanic heroic poetry the frag-
ment bears considerable responsibility representing others of the same
kind. Beginning and end are framed in objective, descriptive narra-
tive prose. By contrast the core of the poem concentrates the tragic
inner action economically through dialogue.
Why was just this work preserved in this fashion? What sense of
importance did the scribes attach to the poem? Of that version only
68 lines of alliterative verse have survived by the skin of their teeth.
They have literary merit in their own right.
The opening line of the Hildebrandslied, Ik gihorta dat seggen, ‘I heard
it said’, introduces a story of tragic irony, the deadly confrontation
of father and son. Champions in front of their respective battle lines
Hildebrand, returning after thirty (sixty summers and winters) years
from exile and distant wars, and his son Hadubrand, protecting his
land will fight to the death, because the son refuses to believe that
his father is still alive. In all fairness, Hildebrand never really identified
183
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 379, suggests the recipient to have been a Saxon noble
visiting Fulda.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 208
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 209
himself clearly. Following the challenge to the customary preceding
single combat the poet describes how each armed himself and mounted
his horse and rode out to fight. Hildebrand, being older and more
experienced, asks who in the army was Hadubrand’s father, so he
might know to which family he belonged, as he knew all men of
nobility. He names Hildebrand as his father, who once fled before
the anger of Odoakar with Dietrich/Theoderic, leaving behind a
young wife and orphaned and dispossessed infant. In Dietrich’s ser-
vice he proved himself to be his favorite blade, always first in the
attack and pleased to fight, known to all brave men. Hadubrand
doubted whether his father was still alive. Thereupon Hildebrand
removed from his arms bracelets made from imperial gold coins,
which the king of the Huns, Attila, had personally given him and
offered them to his son as a token of good will and perhaps pater-
nal affection. On the other hand, filled with distrust Hadubrand
rejected the possible family tie and replied that one should only
receive such gifts on the tip of one’s lance. He continues to suspect
treachery and that the other was as cunning as he was old, calls
him alter Hun—old Hun, and that his enticing words were a mere
ruse so he could hurl his spear at an unsuspecting opponent. Travelers
from beyond the sea had told him of the death of his father Hilde-
brand, son of Herebrand. It is doubly ironic that while Hadubrand
is so blinded by the reputation of his presumed dead father, that he
cannot accept the encounter with that father, the love for his son
does not wipe away the years of absence. Clearly Hadubrand’s mock-
ing tone in the exchange is irritating, especially in front of the drawn
up battle lines. One is reminded of the provocative, tragic dialogue
of antagonists advancing toward the dramatic crisis in the presence
of a chorus. Hildebrand recognized by the other’s arms that he
served a generous king, had never suffered exile and that now as
God’s judgment, welaga, waltant got, wewurt skihit, (ln. 49, note the
alliteration on w) a woeful fate would take its course. He had lived
through the battles of sixty summers and winters, thirty years, and
now his son’s sword was to end his life, or he would end that of
his son. The text allows us to conclude that Hildebrand felt the irre-
versible designation ‘cunning old Hun’ so keenly insulting to him-
self and his honor, that reconciliation was no longer possible and
the duel inevitable. Only the most cowardly of eastern fighters would
now still refuse combat. Proud defiance in view of the two battle
lines gives neither of them a choice, but to fight to the death. The
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 209
210 r\n+ n
combat cannot be avoided. If Hadubrand had the inner need and
the strength he should try to strip him of his arms. A duel would
decide who would have possession of two sets of weapons and armor.
They rode against one another with their ashen spears in the Gothic
manner of fighting, so that the points stuck in the shields, contin-
ued (on foot?) till their shields were broken by their weapons. . . . At
this point the manuscript breaks off, short only a few concluding
lines. Regardless of the outcome, the price of victory will be high.
184
From other, Scandinavian, sources one can conclude that the father
slays the son. Complicated circumstances bring on the tragedy. The
lay belongs into the context, which reflects the personal ethics of the
fighting entourages for which the virtues of reputation, bravery, loy-
alty and honor are the supreme principles. These the son praises in
his father, presumed dead, but now force the father to demonstrate
them to his son and end by killing him in combat. The Germanic
fatalism, the awareness of human limitations, the belief in a woeful
destiny, wewurt, is the operative principle. Fate would have it that
among all the possible opposing frontline fighters, the choice would
fall on father and son. The fear of death is not an issue. Although
an appeal is made to a waltant got, this appeal to the judgment of
the Christian God is only a superficial reference. Inner Germanic
principles of loyalty and heroism are very much still in place. Merit
is shown externally in the possession of rich ornaments, fine weapons
and armor. The father’s inner tragic anguish is left to the sensitiv-
ity of the audience. The individual is the executor of his own fate.
At the mercy of wewurt, his own relentless, disastrous misfortune, he
brings it down upon himself through his own actions. He knows full
well that resistance to the causal enchainment of the will of fate is
beyond human intervention and would not avert what was destined.
Without Christian recourse the Germanic hero faces his tragic fate,
his wewurt, as God’s law without compromising his loyalty. That gifts
should be exchanged cautiously on the tips of lances reflects some-
thing of the hostile mercenary spirit of the tribal units, when tribal
and family members sought and accepted service with sometimes
opposing forces, but where honor, reputation and the oath of loyalty
ranked above family ties and would compel family members to fight
184
Innes, State and Society, p. 130f. places the conflict into the context of honor
and ritual violence.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 210
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 211
one another to the death. Was there a balance between personal
emotions and the adherence to the code of conduct? Facing one’s
fate outweighed all other considerations. No doubt such attitudes
were at odds with Christian teaching and not welcome. Such was
the situation here and in case such conflict was not thought to be
possible, in the opening line the poet, not to be accused of hubris—
inordinate pride, makes use of a typical introductory epic formula
and assumes the role of the objective reporting medium and not of
the inventor of the story of the poem. He assures his audience that
the story is not a fiction, which he has made up. That this hap-
pened is documented for 451 in the battle against Attila, when the
tribes, fathers and sons, were probably aligned on opposing sides.
In 880 the East Frankish king Ludwig the Younger, son of Ludwig
the German, had defeated a force of Vikings at the Battle of Thiméon
on the River Sambre, with a death toll of 5000 Vikings. In 881 the
West Frankish king, Louis III, son of Louis the Stammerer and
grandson of Charles the Bald, defeated a raiding Viking force at the
battle of Saucourt, in Picardy. It was a rare victory against Danish
Vikings. This event was recorded in the Ludwigslied,
185
at a time when
Louis III was still alive. Ludwig the Younger died after a long ill-
ness in 882. Louis III died in 882 after crashing his horse into a
doorframe in pursuit of a young lady. The poem of fifty-nine lines
of rhyming verse, is a baladesque song of praise to a young king
named Ludwig, both warrior king and servant of God, written in a
Rhinefrankish dialect as spoken in the western kingdom. Why it
should have been written in German is a puzzle, all the more curious
as it is contained in an Old French context, unless it was indeed
written for the Rhinefrankish court at Frankfurt, the residence of Lud-
wig the Younger. This original poem in OHG differs from the other
lays in that it focuses on a single, current event, without historical
context and not yet veiled in myth. The setting and thought pattern
of the narrative, though military, is entirely didactically Christian.
185
Hauk, Vollenbach, pp. 146–149, for the full bilingual text. See Watanabe-
O’Kelly, p. 22f. Also Boesch, p. 19. See Murdoch, pp. 93–100, for a brief histor-
ical discussion. See also Bostok, pp. 201–207. Wallace-Hadrill, p. 387f. Ehrismann,
pp. 228–236. de Boor, p. 90f. Also Nelson, ‘The Literacy of the laity’, in McKitterick,
The Carolingians, pp. 232ff. who discusses the possible Latin model for this poem
and the possibility that the king in question was actually Ludwig the Younger, who
in 880 had defeated a force of Vikings at the battle of Thiméon, inflicting 5000
dead on the invaders.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 211
212 r\n+ n
In keeping with Carolingian ideology, the divine plan is implemented
upon the death of the young king’s father and God’s choice to take
the king under his tutelage in the role of magaczogo, (ln. 4), his tutor
and educator, when he succeeded to the throne at about 16 years
of age. The king is away fighting in distant regions. The realm is
in confusion. God causes the Vikings to invade. The Viking incur-
sion is a foil to test the virtues of the king and a punishing admo-
nition of the Frankish people for their life of theft and lies and other
sins. As God’s instrument, the Vikings are a function. We learn noth-
ing about them. Now Louis is charged by God to act as savior-hero
of the Chosen People of God, the Franks. Louis proclaims himself
to be God’s messenger so that it can be anticipated that the victory
will be his. Following his submission to the will of Christ he invites
all who are true to the faith to follow, as he also promises benefices,
earthly, feudal, rewards to those who will join his banners. Armed
with shield and spear, he rides out and soon finds the intruders and
the battle line of the Franks intones a ‘Kyrie eleison. Sang was gisungan,
wig was bigunnan; bluot skein in wangon, spilodun ther Vrankon’. ‘After the
song was sung, the battle was begun, blood shone on the meadows
during the feats of arms of the Franks.’ No other fights as bravely
as Ludwig, splitting one and piercing another, serving his foes a bit-
ter wine. We are not told whether the Franks fight on horseback,
though we can conclude that Louis will not have dismounted with-
out cause. They praise the power of the Lord and thank all the
saints, because Ludwig and the Franks, God’s Chosen Christian
People, have remained victorious over the Vikings and paganism.
And they extol his prowess and hail the king for the felicity bestowed
on him by God. Because he was where and when he was supposed
to be there, God should keep him in his grace. Evidently the poem
was intended to have propaganda value and was itself proof of the
importance of letters in politics.
186
A work written in Latin that is both conclusion and new begin-
ning is the Waltharius.
187
The arguments concerning its date of creation,
186
Nelson, ‘Literacy’ in McKitterick, The Carolingians, p. 232.
187
Hauk, Vollenbach, pp. 163–259, for the bilingual text, Latin and NHG. See
Bostock, pp. 224–234, for a discussion of the plot. Also Watanabe-O’Kelly, p. 27f.
See Wallace-Hadrill, p. 388f. See Innes, ‘Teutons or Trojans?’ in Hen and Innes,
Uses of the Past, p. 246, who proposes that the Latin version is the one to survive
from among Germanic, Old English and Romance versions from southern France,
Italy and Spain.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 212
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 213
authorship and place of origin are extensive and unresolved. One
theory sees it to be a West-Frankish work written during the first
half of the 9th century, another places it into the end of the 9th
century and a third attributes it to St. Gallen during the early 10th
century. The court library at Aachen, the Reichenau and St. Gallen
are all mentioned in this context. St. Gallen before 926 appears to
be the most probable place of origin.
188
The discussion is equally
meandering when it comes to the question of the epic’s origins.
Because the material is known in an Anglo-Saxon and Old English
fragmentary source, the Waldere, some claim for it a lost Germanic
oral tradition of heroic lays, a Waltharilied, of interlinked Germanic
tribal accounts stressing the familiar themes discussed earlier, about
bravery, honor, loyalty, heroic combat, reputation, treasures of gold
and so forth. In the accomplished Latinization form and themes
appear to have been strongly influenced by Latin Classical authors.
Visigothic/Aquitainian, Alemanic and Bavarian sources have also
been suggested. The exiled Aquitainian Ermoldus Nigellus has been
put forward as the actual author.
189
Walthari fragments appear to
have found their way into such Norse literature as the Thidrekssaga
and the Nibelungenlied.
Briefly summarized the plot follows a vague historical framework.
Following his conquests of the west, hostages are taken to the court
of the Huns: the young Frank Hagano, the Burgundian princess Hilt-
gund and her fiancé, the Aquitainian Waltharius. At Attila’s court
Hagano and Waltharius become blood brothers and rise to military
leadership. Upon hearing of the death of the old king of the Franks
and the accession to the throne of Guntharius, Hagano flees and
soon after Waltharius and Hiltgund follow. Guntharius hears that
these two carry a large treasure, which he wants to seize. Hagano
advises against the deed but Guntharius can’t be dissuaded and with
twelve warriors takes up the pursuit. In a narrow pass in the Vosges
Mountains, Guntharius demands the treasure and the bride and when
Waltharius refuses to hand them over a fight ensues. The narrow pass
allows only single combat and Waltharius kills the Franks, including
188
Hauk, Vollenbach, pp. 1169ff. for a lengthy review of possible origins. Bertau,
p. 67f. and Ehrismann, p. 395, support this position. Ehrismann suggests it to be
an assignment to demonstrate Latin writing skills. For de Boor it is a 9th century
work. See Bostock, pp. 234ff. See also Werner, in Godman and Collins, pp. 102ff.
189
Werner, in Godman and Collins, p. 109f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 213
214 r\n+ n
Hagano’s nephew. Hagano has stayed out of the fight despite chal-
lenges to his courage. Out of loyalty and the honor of his king
Hagano declares his readiness to fight his blood brother Waltharius
on the next morning. When Waltharius confronts Hagano with their
relationship and their mutual loyalty as friends, Hagano raises the
issue of the slain nephew. Hagano’s inner tragic turmoil bears little
emphasis and the question about the loyalties and revenge is not
clearly developed. The ending turns into a farce: Guntharius loses
a leg, Waltharius his right hand, but knocks out Hagano’s eye with
his left and injures the latter’s jaw. All three survive and Hiltgund
bandages them all up. Over their wine they mock their mutilations.
The epic ends with a vos salvat Jesu, ‘May Jesus bless you’.
The figures are fictitious. Hagano and Guntharius will reappear
in the Nibelungenlied. Since it is not yet the time of the medieval
romances, love is not the mainspring of the relationship, but mas-
culine bravery, fighting prowess, true friendship and loyalty in the
face of treachery and greed. The inner conflict rests within Hagano,
though this too is not fully worked out. The ending of the poem is
something of a parody of heroic motifs. Perhaps it intimates a gen-
tle criticism of the misdirected secular interests on the part of the
spiritually oriented cloistered groups.
Many copies of the Waltharius manuscript exist, suggesting its
monastic popularity, far into the Middle Ages. It is a long epic work
written in 1456 Latin hexameters by a German speaker and in that
sense it interrupts the Carolingian efforts to write in German and
reintroduces the use of Latin within the succeeding Ottonian scribal
culture.
In summation it is possible to say that trace elements of earlier
Germanic oral traditions were incorporated into the written versions
of the heroic epics, which were not compatible with the ideals of a
Heavenly Kingdom on earth. Ostrogothic vestiges dealing with
Theoderic the Great are remembered in the Hildebrandslied and the
Thidrekssaga. Frankish, Burgundian, Alemanic and Hunnish elements
were subsumed in the Nibelungenlied. Frisian materials provided the
lost lines of the Gudrun stories. Regrettably nothing of this oral tra-
dition was to exist in its own right.
On the periphery of the selection of works described, there is an
extensive number of small practical works in the vernacular consist-
ing of such functional texts as baptismal vows, Lord’s Prayers and
commentaries, Alemanic translations of Psalms, the narrated dialogue
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 214
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 215
of Christ and the Woman of Samaria, lays of St. Peter, St. George,
fables and animal epics, and an assortment of blessings, incantations
and spells. In the context of the universal Latin scribal culture, works
written in German are a significant and noteworthy curiosity. The
creation of a written German language was itself a significant feat
since it required the adjustment of Germanic orthography and sound
system to the system of Latin letters, the invention of words, con-
cepts and a flexible syntax to express the abstract ideas contained
in a Greco-Latin Christianity. Special care had to be taken to avoid
heretical mistranslations. The idea of writing in German therefore
had to be approached with caution and courage, while the linguis-
tic potential of German as a sufficiently applicable tool had to be
dared to be discovered. That this was accomplished quite early in
the circle around Alcuin is demonstrated by the translation into real
rather than Latinized German of Isidore of Seville’s De fide catholica
contra Judaeos, translated c. 790/800, deemed to have been the most
accomplished of translated prose so early in the period. In his work
Isidore (c. 560–636) defends the Christian faith and the Trinity
against the objections of the Jews. Nothing tangible appears to have
come of Charlemagne’s supposed instructions to formulate a German
grammar and to prepare the written collection of Germanic lays and
poems. If this truly had been his intention then it may have played
a role in contributing to an intellectual climate in which the devel-
opment not only of a written German language, but perhaps also
something of a German ethnic sense could have been advanced.
This did, of course, not come into being till the late Ottonian period.
During Charlemagne’s reign this supposed promotion of a unify-
ing German vernacular in the realm would have been incompatible
with his persuasion to establish the universal Imperium Christianum
based on Latin. In retrospect the use of OHG was no more than
an experimental excursion of a peripheral nature, a chance survival,
too often mere fragments recorded in the margins of other texts.
Most of them are no more than markers in the gradual emergence
of a literature in German. With Latin as the language of all learn-
ing and as the literary language par excellence, the return to Latin
was a rejoining of the mainstream of intellectual pursuits consistent
with the renovatio romanorum imperii and with the principles of the
Carolingian recapitulation, even though, from the viewpoint of an
evolving vernacular literature in German, it may appear to have
been a regressive step as an entertaining secular alternative to the
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 215
216 r\n+ n
edifying religious literature in the context of the convents and monas-
teries. It leads into the Latin Middle Ages and away from the use
of the vernacular. Within the transition the Waltharius poem is not
a stopgap. It is at best a tangent in the continuity of early German
literature. A literature in the German vernacular, at this time, could
not compete but only begin to develop at best on a short-lived, com-
plementary, parallel course to Latin. We know next to nothing about
the OHG literary output following the Carolingian turn to a German
vernacular literature. The Ottonian period lacks any significant OHG
literary contributions. Nearly two centuries will have to pass, before
written German begins to reestablish itself in the secular literature.
It will take much longer before it will claim a space in religion.
XI. The cloister arts
Very impressive is a flowering of such portable arts as manuscript/book
illuminations, ivory carving and the work in metals which established
the East Frankish kingdom in a position of leadership in Europe.
Examples of Carolingian architecture and of some wall painting are
still in evidence today. In our discussion of these art forms this
sequence shall be observed.
In a general overview the Carolingian intercultural relationships
are reflected in common continuing elements in architecture, the arts
and crafts, commissioned by the culture-carrying institutions and the
various continuing levels of society as the late Roman world and the
Celto-Germanic north were each reconfigured by the other. As was
demonstrated elsewhere,
190
in the east only small, isolated enclaves
of Latini, of ‘Roman Christians’ survived in southern Germany, con-
tributing much vocabulary for fruit and vegetables, but next to no
Classical influences. Though there were cultural beginnings of an
indigenous sort, in the end the Romano-Frankish influences had not
penetrated very deeply, the stylistic influence was imported when the
Franks gained the hegemony over accessible parts of Central Europe
and West-Frankish, Irish and Anglo-Saxon monasteries set up affiliate
foundations there under the auspices of the Franks. With the Irish
came the Celtic Insular Style, best reflected in the somewhat later Book
190
Schutz, Germanic Realms, p. 289, also Tools, Weapons and Ornaments, p. 74.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 216
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 217
of Kells, an artistic amalgamation of the earlier Celtic and polychrome
decorative styles of northern intertwines of abstract, curvilinear, veg-
etative and animal complexes of surface ornamentation, as applied
to the first Lindau Gospel cover and on parts of the Tassilo Chalice and
on other religious vessels and in the exquisitely illuminated gospels
and sacramentaries. The so-called Carolingian Renaissance was to select
an emphasis on representational, message carrying art as part of a
Mediterraneanization during the Christianization. The gains of the ‘re-
birth’ came at an artistic price, the gradual loss of the northern
abstract, non-representative, dismembered, organic, vegetative, orna-
mental, calligraphic and purely decorative, erratically dynamic designs
evident in Northern Bronze Age and Celtic ornamental styles,
191
finally best illustrated by the Insular Style, best displayed by the open
form intertwines of The Book of Kells, which itself represents the crown-
ing end-phase of the style. In return northern Europe gained func-
tional, representative, static, tectonic, closed forms, of an iconographic
and narrative nature.
192
Although these objective, positive and opaque
stylistic elements had been introduced to the Roman provinces north
of the Alps by the Romans, they were not so firmly established when
the Romans departed during the 5th century. The few Latini that
stayed behind could not exert enough influence to retain these styl-
istic elements. Instead the Irish and Anglo-Saxon missions introduced
for a time the preoccupation with the subjective, negative trans-
parency of things. Rather than reflect the monumental world of
solids, the northern artists and craftsmen engaged in the non-mon-
umental, in the perforation of the surface, as though more interested
in the suggestive potential of an implied presence of matter than in
its stated, visible external forms. The preoccupation with the organic,
both vegetative and animal, with transition and movement, domi-
nated some artistic expression, providing one of the two poles, though
a weakening one, between which the development of a Carolingian
style was to emerge. The other pole was provided by the dominant
form of Mediterranean artistic expression, solid, static optical effects
of compact form. The two will be fused in the particular innovation
191
H. Schutz, The Prehistory of Germanic Europe (New Haven, London 1983), pp.
125–190, 243–307. See also C. Farr, The Book of Kells, Its Function and Audience
(London, Toronto 1997).
192
H. Schutz, The Romans in Central Europe (New Haven, London 1985), pp.
85–137.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 217
218 r\n+ n
of Carolingian art, the narrative style. Its first manifestations will
become evident in the co-existential representation of sequential
events.
A review of the discussion of continental pre-Christian Celto-
Germanic artistic traditions shows a lack of concern for the realis-
tic representation of human beings. It admitted dismembered human
body parts, animal forms and occasional masks, but the activities of
man were excluded. This avoidance of the human figure had an
abstract and transcendental effect on the treatment of animal and
ornamental forms, interpreted mainly in curvilinear designs and vege-
tative traceries. It made no direct use of perceptual information in
that it did not consider nature with analytical eyes in order to imi-
tate nature line by line. Observable nature was not its point of depar-
ture and realistic representations were not its objective. It was most
comfortable by expressing itself in the minor arts adorning portable
objects. Classical styles reflect the disciplined study and reproduction
of the symmetrical structure of the defined form of harmonious pro-
portions, where the relation of the whole to its parts and of the
frame to its contents is carefully contrived and efficiently presented.
This art belongs entirely to the human world, appeals to the senses,
is rationalistic and intellectual rather than emotional. Its contempla-
tion is guided by the deliberate focus on a specific message. The
viewer’s autonomy is placed under restraints to see what he has been
equipped to know. By contrast the northern expressions of style, as
illustrated in manuscripts and metal engravings, set out from the
observation of movement and the intricacies of vegetative forms,
become involved, intricate, restless and dynamic, asymmetrical and
obscure and full of discord, in a fusion of fantastic hybrid creatures
coiled in serpentine intertwines, tangled tendrils, interlaced open-
work, skeleton-tracery silhouetted against open space, as though invit-
ing the viewer to focus not on the physical surface of the object,
but on some abstract, undefined space seen through a lattice, encour-
aging a disbelief in the material solidity of objects. The contempla-
tion of these forms is not impeded or channeled by message oriented
prescriptions, thereby allowing the viewer unrestrained meditative
autonomy, restricted only by the limits of the imagination. However,
despite the extraordinary and exulting artistry of combined exquis-
ite sensibility of color, extravagant intricacy of patterning and the
exuberant indulgent use of ornament for its own sake, familiar from
the Germanic fibulas and buckles, they were too purely esthetic and
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 218
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 219
symbolic in their intention and hence deemed too non-communica-
tive for their intended purposes. All things representative were con-
verted into purely linear calligrams of an indefinable, at best symbolic
type. Even though the change of taste reflected in the artistic confluence
had taken place since the beginning of the 8th century, composed
of the humanistic Christianity and the northern abstract styles, the
resultant ornamental abstractions were deemed too limited as forms
of Christian expression.
193
The progressing modifications shown on
the illuminated pages of the Book of Kells, in the engraver’s artistry
on the Tassilo Chalice and the candle sticks at Kremsmünster, and
on the first cover of the Lindau Gospel, to name four, are a testimony
to the transition and synthesis. The figural representations of the two
dedications contained in Hrabanus Maurus’ Liber de laudibus sanctae
crucis, the three figures including Hrabanus and the figure of king
Louis the Pious, discussed above, illustrate well the ultimate point of
arrival.
It has been demonstrated above, and especially in the ‘portrait’
of Louis the Pious as the emperor in Christ, that the historical
processes of the late Merovingian and Carolingian periods were intent
on establishing an imperial consciousness supported by ideas of a
universal Christianity. Enthusiastic abstract meditative autonomy,
exploiting the possible levels of meaning and understanding, was not
to be entertained and if it was not rationally based and focused on
the message of salvation through the Christian dogma, if it could
not tell this story clearly, it could have no future in the educational
role of Christian art. It proved a distraction from the faith rather
than contributing to its appeal and spread.
Considering the suspicion with which the consideration of images
was treated, it is not surprising that non-representative abstractions
would be highly suspect. In the Iconoclasm dispute between East
and West,
194
Charlemagne condemned the worship of images as hea-
then but favored the use of paintings in churches as a means of
informing the illiterate of the Biblical stories by seeing on walls what
they cannot read in books. To him pictures were inferior to books.
Others, like Hrabanus Maurus, were convinced of the superiority of
193
Hinks, pp. 72–93.
194
L. Nees, ‘Art and Architecture’, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History,
pp. 817–822.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 219
220 r\n+ n
books and that pictures seduced the innocent and were snares for
the unwary, while Theodulf of Orleans was persuaded that pictures
inclined the mind to falseness rather than the truth.
195
The discus-
sion was clearly one between one position, which saw in colorful
pictorial representation an appeal to the senses and the emotions by
means of visual affects, and another, which wanted to direct the
individual toward the intellect and the spirit. The narrow view is
understandable if one considers that Christianity saw itself as a lit-
erate faith in which God’s Word had been revealed in books, the
Old Testament and the Gospels. In the end and in keeping with
the pronouncement of pope Gregory I wall painting became a pub-
lic means of bringing the faith to life for the unlettered. The illu-
mination of pages of manuscript became a private means. Each of
the two distinct genres, of course, was subject to its own rules and
sensibilities.
However, what could Hrabanus Maurus have had in mind with
his warning? His own Liber de laudibus sanctae crucis, with its dedica-
tional pictures and the many illustrations of the cross, would con-
tradict him, were it not for his synthesis of texts in pictures and the
decoration of letters. Any number of examples such as the Drogo
Sacramentary, or the Folchard Psalter (Plate 2a) can be arrayed to demon-
strate that for the Carolingians the calligraphic display letters in the
texts were charged with symbolic energy and meaningful imagery.
In view of the existence and use of Irish enhanced illuminated man-
uscripts in St. Gallen, Fulda and other monasteries, it is unlikely that
the opponents of ornamental and pictorial illustrations seriously wanted
to promote the unillustrated book.
196
Charlemagne’s conquests in Italy had reinforced the direct link
with late Classical forms and had motivated a rather sudden impe-
tus in that direction. As has been demonstrated, the Classical her-
itage in its many Christian Roman and Byzantine representations
was given a rolemodel function, though it was not always under-
stood. The Mediterranean outlook and its effect on all the arts, not
just the cloister arts, were to be particularly profound and virtually
permanent. It must be kept in mind, however, that the dependence
195
McKitterick, ‘Text and Image’ in McKitterick, Uses of Literacy, p. 297f. See
Wallace-Hadrill, pp. 217–225. Especially Nees, Mantle, pp. 21ff. for a discussion of
Theodulf ’s poetry.
196
McKitterick, ‘Scholarship’, in Frankish Kingdoms, pp. 215ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 220
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 221
of the Carolingian artists on Classical models did not take into con-
sideration a chronological sequence of the models. The Classical
work to be copied was usually in the hands of the copyist. In the
case of the book illustrations an attempt to classify Carolingian works
in a sequential stylistic chronology will be frustrated. Though appar-
ently imitative, the works in ivory were entirely innovative. In view
of the lack of new ivory, old Roman ivories were split or shaved
and reused as raw material for new artistic expression.
XII. Illuminated manuscripts—Evangelists
It will be demonstrated that while the available wall paintings pro-
vided an insight into the artistic expression available to a wider pub-
lic, the prestigious illuminated manuscripts were the reserve of a
select few. The manuscripts were hidden from light and undue use
in monastic libraries or in churches, prepared as liturgical gifts and
votive offerings for religious foundations of choice. With the Irish
monks and their manuscripts came their highly accomplished man-
ner of illustrating/illuminating books in what is known as the Insular
Style. During the early Carolingian period it spread throughout the
northern Frankish realm and was of considerable influence in char-
acterizing early manuscripts of the period. It affected lettering in
general, but the capital display initials particularly. These were to
retain Insular elements even as these became blended with Anglo-
Saxon and Frankish elements. The typical asymmetrical, organic
details of this style have been dealt with above, enough to help form
working impressions: large, highly calligraphically ornamented initial
capital letters, interlaced with nervous zoomorphic and anthropo-
morphic suggestions, vegetative tendrils, animated intertwines and
overlays, dismembered, alien and distorted animal shapes for orna-
mental purposes, as surprisingly intricate enhancements of words, as
decorations in interlaced lines of text or as unexpected, imaginative
designs placed in the margins. An unfamiliar, startlingly beautiful
ornamentational mentality revealed itself. The influences of this dec-
orative style on early Carolingian works, whether on parchment or
on metallic surfaces, were eclectic. Owing to the difficulty in ascer-
taining the date of a manuscript’s arrival in a library it is appro-
priate to underemphasize the influential role, which an illuminated
manuscript may have played in relation to other manuscripts. Suffice
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 221
222 r\n+ n
it to assign to individual manuscripts a generic rather than a specific
function. It shall not be the intention here to present a compre-
hensive survey of manuscripts, but to provide an overview of some
typical examples. As was mentioned above, it will not be realistic to
try to present a reliable developmental chronology of the Carolingian
Style of manuscript ornamentation, since such a coherent style did
not come into being. Too many concurrent factors contributed their
formative roles toward that reconfiguration during this Carolingian
recapitulation.
197
During the last decades of the 8th century this reca-
pitulation was to come into being.
At St. Gallen, Codex 51 would fall into this category.
198
Dated to
c. 750, it is an elaborately ornamented manuscript, which may have
been brought there at a later date, for it is not listed among the
Libri scottice scripti. Not as lavish in the use of gold, silver and pur-
ple, it and others like it are richer than the small books, which
reached St. Gallen in the pack of an Irish monk on his peregrina-
tion. A description of several pages of this illuminated manuscript
will have to represent the whole book. (Plate 2b) Its Irish origin is
readily recognizable from its ornamentation. It probably precedes
the Book of Kells by a few decades, and its ornamental pages differ
from that work, in that the purely ornamental pages of this Codex
suggest greater rational organization of the page. For a start the
designs placed on the page are contained in a restricted rectangu-
lar frame, in as many as five frames separated by dividing lines,
rather than occupying an unbounded area on a page. They may
resemble the disposition of a carpet. Frames in yellow, brown and
light blue advance into the center of page six. In fact the color
‘brown’, actually purple, dominates the designs. Except for the light
blue accents, reddish brown and beige are the overall impressions
of color throughout the manuscript. The carpet page is then arranged
in symmetrical patterns with identical blocked brown and yellow
‘meander’ designs in the four corners, six swastika designs in varia-
tion are placed in systematic arrangement across the page, followed
by symmetrically placed T designs in the frame, ornamented with
197
R. McKitterick, ‘Royal Patronage of Culture in the Frankish kingdoms under
the Carolingians: Motives and Consequences’, in Frankish Kings and Culture, pp. 103ff.
for manuscripts and their possible patrons.
198
See Duft and Meyer, Die Irischen Miniaturen der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen for a
detailed analysis of this Codex with related manuscripts.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 222
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 223
an intricate single strand intertwined braid, the stem reaching into
the center, meeting a cross in the center of the page. The surface
of the cross is covered with elongated sling band spirals. The four
rectangular spaces around the cross are once again framed in light
blue against a black background, just as the whole page, but are
filled with the kind of zoomorphic interlace familiar from the animal
style. Bird like heads with eyes and beaks, snapping jaws, craning
necks and elongated reptilian bodies writhe in the available space,
only now arranged with space filling logic within each rectangle.
What once were unrestrained animal designs of intertwining linear-
ity have been systematized and placed under control in defined areas.
The cross dominates the center.
Analogous to the famous, large initial page of the Book of Kells, in
Codex 51 the initial page of the Gospel of St. Matthew faces the car-
pet page just described with a page of display lettering. Once again
the overall color impression is reddish brown/purple and beige with
light blue accents. The large display initials XPI, the Christogram,
a short hand for the name of Christ, using the X-shaped Greek let-
ter Chi, P-shaped Rho and I of the Christ-monogram, occupy about
two-thirds of the available space. Larger than any design on the fac-
ing page these letters are placed along the left and top of the page.
While the right frame is composed of the design seen in the cor-
ners of the previous frame, the bottom and a small piece of the top
bears the same design of intricate single strand intertwined braid
mentioned above. The left frame is split diagonally by the descend-
ing left leg of the large capital X, forming wedge shaped spandrels
of the left frame. This leg extends so far down that it breaks through
the frame of the page completing its terminal of spiral designs and
beaked heads well outside the frame, a vestige of the earlier Celtic
style. The spandrels are ornamented with the familiar elongated
whirling sling band spirals and cresting wave patterns. Indeed all of
the previous designs reappear in the ornamental spaces on this ini-
tial page. New are the interlocking multicolored, cresting wave or
paisley designs, which fill the space between the right arms of the
letter Chi. Uncolored strips separate the letters from the other orna-
mentation. Very reminiscent of the designs of the Book of Kells is the
feline head, gaping mouth, flicking tongue and clawed paw of the
frame fragment at the top of the page. The letter Rho is the elon-
gated neck, canine head and ravenous jaws, overlapping the letter
I. Intertwining S-shapes fill the spaces within the curvatures, while
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 223
224 r\n+ n
the letters Rho and I are made up of dot-designs. This design of
dots fills the outlines of the Christ-monogram. A wedge-shaped design
in reddish brown/purple, beige, blue and black intrudes into the
space left between the stems of the letters P and I. The remaining
space bears the words autemgeneratio (sic), the beginning of Christ’s
genealogy. At the bottom, written in black pen, the beautiful cur-
sive calligraphy of the Book of Kells, sic erat.
The next page to be considered is the author-page of the Evan-
gelist St. John. Here the effigy of St. John serves to identify the
Gospel. The Evangelists of this codex are not shown against a back-
ground and are not actually shown writing. (Plates 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d)
In pre-Carolingian context, the Gospel of St. John tended to be seen
as the primary Gospel and it will be found that this persisted into
the Carolingian period when the St. John representations were placed
in the top left hand corner. The reason for this may lie with the
opening sentence of his Gospel: In the beginning was the Word and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God. ( John 1:1). This page echoes
the process also in evidence in the Book of Kells, the human effigy
being placed into a sacred space at the center of the page with the
concomitant marginalization of the calligraphic ornamentation. Using
the same colors, the page is divided into three vertical areas. The
central space is occupied by the standing Evangelist with his emblem,
the eagle, above him. Two strips of single strand intertwining braid
provide the frame above and below the effigy. The two flanking
areas are subdivided into frames of two sectioned strips of varied
ornamentation each, interrupted halfway by two ornamented discs.
The sections of the frames generally depict designs in diagonal sym-
metry. The designs, which fill the sections, are familiar from the pre-
viously discussed carpet page. New are two fields of braided steps
and two others filled with upright and inverted mushroom cap designs.
The discs are also ornamented with the same space filling wave and
paisley patterns noticed previously. The Evangelist faces the viewer
frontally, a pose still reserved for those of the highest esteem. Except
for his skin tones the colors are the familiar purple for his halo and
garment and light blue for his symmetrically styled hair and his
undershirt. In his hands he holds a book like shape, probably his
gospel. The garment is a folded mantle with the front panels thrown
over his arms.
The author-page representing the Evangelist St. Mark advances
the process further. Without emblem, his identity is indicated through
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 224
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 225
placement of the illuminated page in the text. The same intertwin-
ing single strand braid frames the figure above and below the stand-
ing figure. The four corners are anchored by rectangular fields
containing the tetramorphs; the eagle of St. John top left, the angel
of Matthew top right, the lion of St. Mark bottom left and a vague
representation that by virtue of the crossed hoofed legs can only be
the calf of St. Luke bottom right. The crossed paws of the lion dis-
tinguish that emblem clearly. Only the angel is shown frontally, the
others are in profile facing right. Colorations and details of design
are selected at random. Two identical angular composites of the
familiar decorative motifs complete the frames on both sides. Gar-
ments and hairstyle are variations of the dispositions seen on the
Evangelist St. John. The non-figurative ornamentation on the ear-
lier pages has been reduced to a minimum.
There is something hurried about the completion of the page fea-
turing the crucified Christ. The colors are the same as before. The
horizontal frames are a highly simplified meander design, while the
vertical sides of the frame are no more that a very unimaginative
single band of sliding knots. The corner squares are the same stepped
crosses from before. The page is dominated by five anthropomorphic
figures, two watching angels flanking the head of Christ, Longinus
with the spear to the right and Stephaton with the sponge soaked
in vinegar to the left. Except for his arms and legs, Christ is com-
pletely wrapped up in a carefully wound purple cloth. Although all
faces are basically frontal, each face has features drawn in profile
and one ear, depending on whether the face is turned left or right
facing Christ. On the same basis Christ faces to his right, but he
also has two left feet. The hurried carelessness is particularly notice-
able in the incomplete blue coloration of the background. With the
exception of two overlooked corners of the areas above the cross,
the two large fields below the cross are quite unfinished. The space
behind Longinus and below one of his feet has been colored blue,
the other areas surrounding him have been left uncolored. The same
holds true for most of the spaces around Stephaton. The whole com-
position was found to be off-center and so an additional strip of blue
frame was drawn in on the right to correct the mistake. While the
arms of the cross are blue and therefore the arms red, the foot of the
cross is red and Christ’s legs are blue. There are a few other incon-
sistencies. The colorist must have been thinking of something else.
No doubt Codex 51 at St. Gallen is a splendid Irish manuscript
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 225
226 r\n+ n
with some spectacular incipit pages. However, it lacks the brilliant
virtuosity of the later Book of Kells, when it comes to coloration, inge-
nuity of design and inventive creativity. This Codex shows less inno-
vation and rather more repetitiveness of design and color. One set
of original ideas is reused almost without authenticity, even without
variation in the context of the representational pages of the book.
This manuscript too, shows the slowing down of the imaginative
processes, which animated the carpet pages of the Insular Style with-
out projecting an ideological intention, in favor of a transition to the
new focus on the concentration of the central narrative salvational
tenets of the Christian faith. This transition is well illustrated on the
pages described. The primacy of the ornamental delights of the purely
decorative intention of the carpet pages is relegated to the secondary
importance of the frame, becomes ever more expendable, until it
falls off the page. It is a significant part of the transformational
process, which serves the vehicles of the Christian faith and is a
clear expression of the progressing Carolingian stylistic development.
At the abbey of Kremsmünster in Lower Austria is preserved a
manuscript dated to shortly before 800 known as the Codex Millenarius.
It was made in the Archdiocese of Salzburg and is associated with
monasteries of the region, Mondsee or perhaps even Kremsmünster
itself. The manuscript relates to the Cutbercht Codex.
199
It reflects scant
Irish or rather Anglo-Saxon influences. (Plates 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d) The
Bavarian relationship with northern Italy from Ostrogothic times
onward and then especially that between the dukes of Bavaria and
the kings of the Lombards is more likely to account for southern
influences on the manuscript. Late Classical prototypes exist. However,
the discussion, to be found below, of the Tassilo Chalice will bring an
additional play of influences into sharper focus.
In the Codex Millenarius, we shall find that the restrained, centered
placement in arcades of the Evangelist on the one hand and of the
tetramorphs on the other, both without scenic background, recom-
mends the continuance of a Greco-Roman tradition. This tradition
initially placed philosophers and then saints, then emperors, empresses
and vice-roys into such arcade settings. These represent the idea of
the fastigium, an important symbol of dignity and authority. The arch
may also intend to evoque the gateway to the heavenly Jerusalem,
199
Bischoff, p. 41. F. Unterkircher, Buchmalerei, p. 22f. See also Braunfels, p. 89.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 226
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 227
perhaps an abbreviation of the vision of the Temple in Jerusalem,
even of the heavenly Jerusalem itself, and as such represents a sacred,
ritual space of passage. Among late Roman examples referred to
elsewhere are Stilicho and his wife, each in an arcaded setting, the
curtained arcade on the ivory of a Byzantine empress or possibly of
Theoderic’s daughter Amalasuintha, the placement of curtained
arcades with saints in Theoderic’s church San Appollinare Nuovo in
Ravenna or San Appollinare in Clase, or of the ivory throne of Maximian
in Ravenna.
200
The Carolingian ivory carvings will rely on this Roman
continuity as will the book illuminations of the Carolingian Gospels
of the Ada School. It will also be demonstrated below, how wall
paintings of Christ, angels and saints had been placed into arcaded
niches and apses at Mals in northern Italy. The connection between
Bavaria and Italy was across the Brenner Pass. Arbeo of Freising,
in Bavaria, came from Merano. In that sense the Codex Millenarius
deserves our attention because with these arcade settings it provides
examples of yet another step toward the focus on the isolated,
unadorned human effigy, the classicizing seated Evangelist in front
of his gospel compacted into an arcade setting, without benefit of
elaborate ornamentation. Even their tetramorphic symbols are placed
in their own page-sized arcades. These severe arcades bear only a
minimum of intertwined single band braid. Like a temple, these
arches also function as portals into a ritualistic sphere of knowledge
of sublime things, the knowledge of the one God manifest in the
eight, which are actually four, which are the One Word, the divine
logos. The old Babylonian multiples of four recur in the wind direc-
tions, the seasons, the elements, the zodiac, the four corners of
heaven, of earth, the four streams of Paradise and the four pillars
of the church.
The Codex contains only eight full-page miniatures, the four-seated
Evangelists and their emblems. Throughout the Middle Ages these
will become pictorial axioms. That the Evangelists and the tetramorphs
are not actually paired in the same miniature suggests, aside from
overcrowding the available space and thereby compromising the sin-
gular focus, that the artistic expression of an inherent, logical, the-
ological link had not yet been finalized. There are also four large
capital initials, each at the beginning of one of the Gospels. These
200
W.F. Volbach, Elfenbeinarbeiten der Spätantike und des Frühen Mittelalters, dritte völ-
lig neu bearbeitete Auflage (Mainz 1976), p. 93, plates 72–74.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 227
228 r\n+ n
initials, especially the Q at the beginning of the Gospel according
to Luke, betray an approximate link with the Insular Style. What merit
this manuscript has, its artistic merits are less significant. That the
coloration has been compromised is understandable. Gold and sil-
ver edgings on garments and arcades gave the illuminated pages con-
siderable splendor. While the Irish manuscripts tried no more than
to represented the human form in a stylized manner, the figures and
animals presented in the Codex Millenarius attempt a lifelike repre-
sentation. The Evangelists of this Codex are cast as author-portraits,
though they are not actually writing. To do this successfully, this
illuminator was not very accomplished in his craft, not to say awk-
ward. (Plates 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d) Thus St. Matthew’s right arm appears
to have two elbows. However, positioning the arm to reach to the
chin is unusual for these works. Each Evangelist setting is two-dimen-
sional, without any attempt to indicate depth. Each of the Evangelists
is shown holding essentially the same seated pose, the left shoulder
turned slightly forward, the face frontal, sitting on a stool, each cov-
ered with a variety of fabrics. The garments vary in color and
arrangement about the body. The feet are placed on a dais; those
of Matthew and John are placed side by side. Mark and Luke have
their right feet slightly pulled back. Two pairs of arms and hands
are holding additional books, Matthew and Luke are not. The heads
and faces are treated individually. Matthew and Mark each have a
full head of gray hair flowing about the shoulders and gray beards.
Matthew’s beard is full, Luke’s is pointed. Mark and John are ton-
sured with short brown and blond hair respectively. For some rea-
son the illustrator arranged the four Evangelists in varying associations
of two. All four have halos. Above each Evangelist there is a hang-
ing lamp, or perhaps a crown, suggesting that the Evangelists are
placed in niches. It is not surprising that the various parts of the
bodies are not proportional. A lectern is placed in front of each
figure, bearing an opened gospel. While each dais attempts to be in
perspective, the other surfaces are flat up and down. The edges of
each lectern are flanked with fish—dolphin—representations, as are
the stands of the lecterns in front of Matthew and Mark. The stands
of both of these are shaped as large contoured fish, their gaping
mouths facing downward. The other lectern stands are squared posts.
Each arcade has an individual treatment of the single band inter-
twined figure-eight knots, symmetrically arranged. All of the framing
arcades are composed of decorated columns, plinths and decorated
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 228
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 229
arches. The artist made no other attempts to create a sense of temple
architecture. Each of these figural representations rests on a solid base.
By contrast the tetramorphs are hovering without any base as a
frame of reference. As emissaries of another dimension, they trans-
mit the Gospels. Most impressive is the compact and forceful depic-
tion of the winged lion emblem of St. Mark. With powerful mane,
fixed stare, bared fangs and extended claws, it pounces into the
arcade. With the strong tones in gold and brown of its torso and
with a bright red tongue, it dominates its space. Like the other sym-
bols it holds in its paws a book with a cover decorated in red and
yellow. The other symbols are disappointing. The eagle effects the
same colors of its plumage as the lion, but were it not for the almost
fierce beak, one could be forgiven for confusing it with some barn-
yard fowl. The miniaturist must have had a goose for his model.
The book in its claws is red and green. The other symbols are quite
uninteresting.
The origins for this work can be found in the ideas of the Eastern
church and their transmission to Italy, from where over Ravenna
and sites in Lombardy, their influences spread north. They found a
precipitate in the scriptoria of the monastic foundations around
Salzburg. Most of the stylistic motifs are of this heritage. A long lost
common source may even have existed. The Codex Millenarius appears
to be largely Central European with only weak influences of the
Insular Style in evidence.
The Palace School of Charlemagne at Aachen distinguished itself
during his reign with the specialized production of magnificently illu-
minated manuscripts. In time some of these were presented as gifts
to other establishments.
201
Between 781 and 783, at Charlemagne’s
request, the scribe Godescalc produced a gospel lectionary of excep-
tional beauty and distinct appearance, which introduces the original
work of the scriptorium of the Palace School in Aachen.
202
It was to
be a forerunner there of other such manuscripts, such as the Dagulf
Psalter, in which the entire book becomes an optical experience.
Events mentioned in the Godescalc manuscript allow the dating. In
781 Charles had returned from Italy with Alcuin in his train with
201
Braunfels, p. 138.
202
See Sullivan, Aix-la-Chapelle, p. 53. Also Braunfels, p. 367. Wallace-Hadrill,
p. 192, suggests it to have been a copy of an original among others brought from
Rome in 781. Also Nees, Early Medieval Art, p. 182f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 229
230 r\n+ n
the assignment to found the Palace School. He may well have returned
with books from Ravenna and Lombardy and hence contributed
influences upon the literary work of the palace workshops. The
Godescalc book of pericopes, the selections read during the service
in the order of the liturgical feasts, documents its earliest activity as
Godescalc also pays tribute to Charlemagne’s interest in books. Such
an evangelistary is used in the liturgy throughout the year. Though
without any real perspective, the optical effect is stunning. The text
is written in well-attuned and expensive colors of golden and silver
(blackened by oxidation) letters on purple parchment. Our interest
in this manuscript focuses on the miniatures placed at the beginning
of the lectionary: four actual author-portraits of the Evangelists, one
of Christ and a representation of the Fountain of Life. What is very
noticeable is that the minimalist concentration on the Evangelists
and the tetramorphs of the Codex Millenarius contrasts clearly with
the elaborate compilation of planes of shapes and colors and deco-
rative details, as if the past horor vacui still dominated current tastes.
From this point of view the Godescalc Evangelistary is still quite north-
ern, though virtually without clear reference to any aspects of the
Insular Style. (Plates 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d) Carpet pages by other means,
they represent a synthesis of styles. The miniatures of Christ, St.
Matthew and St. John in this lectionary introduce modest architec-
tural settings behind the seated Evangelists, a feature which will
become typical for the Carolingian Gospels. In the Fountain of Life
illumination architecture itself provides the focal interest while simul-
taneously bearing a message.
203
Each of the colored pages is larger than the framed miniature
itself. The frames of the Evangelist author-portraits have some geo-
metric but mainly vegetative ornaments, resembling palm leaf whisks
arranged in a curvilinear manner. Stylized vegetation also appears
within the miniatures. The platforms for Mark, Luke and John are
faced with spiral tendrils. Each picture is subdivided into four hor-
izontal background zones of differing coloration. Against these fields
the tetramorphs, the Evangelists’ names, the Evangelists on their
cushions seats and platforms are set in relief. Reminiscent of seated
consuls on Roman ivory consular diptyches, the Evangelists maintain
the seated pose, as their upright bodies cut across the horizontal
203
Stalley, p. 61.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 230
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 231
strips. Despite the wealth of structural surface detail, the figures dom-
inate the space and attract our attention. Very personable in appear-
ance they invite our participatory relationship. They are well positioned,
and convincingly lifelike. All of their faces are very pensive, expres-
sive, with clearly arched brows and large, penetrating eyes. Almost
all other things are ancillary. This has the effect that the available
space allows the names to appear only as abbreviations. John’s name
has leached through from the other side. The shoulders are again
more or less turned forward, so that Luke faces us frontally, his head
turned slightly to the left, while Mark looks over his right shoulder.
Matthew has his legs crossed at the knees, Mark has them placed
side by side, Luke set apart, John’s feet are crossed at the ankles.
Not all things are in the same plane, so that the toes of Mark’s left
foot overlap the lectern stand, even though the stand is much closer
to the viewer. The stands supporting tables and every lectern have
been lathe-turned. All the faces have a look of meditative anticipa-
tion, as each one has a stylus in his right hand, ready to react and
put pen to paper. Eye contact is established. Books and inkwells are
within easy reach and lecterns stand ready. The Evangelists and their
emblems move in axiomatic relation to one another as the Evangelists
have their heads cocked in the direction of their respective symbols,
which in turn have their heads lowered toward their respective
Evangelists. Very natural in their depiction, lion and calf do not
have wings. The heads of the symbols as well as of the Evangelists
are surrounded by halos and these halos touch, suggesting that the
Evangelists are actually listening to hear the words, which they are
prepared to write down in metaphysical dictation. Their raised hands
and pens suggest that they want to listen and ward off any other
distractions. In a sense the tetramorphs are the Evangelists’ symbolic
alter egos, so that the ‘prompting’ is more of a listening to an inner
voice. The Gospels, which they hold, are the books kept in heaven,
God’s Word, of which the one written by the Evangelist is a sacred
replica. Hence each Evangelist is presented as a ‘prince’ among
scribes. At this point the cushion rolls are something of a short hand
for a throne-like chair. Matthew is seated on three such rolls. His
miniature is different in still other ways. The halos of Matthew and
of his symbol are quite far apart, but what links them are identical
gestures with their right hands, held out to the other as if in a greet-
ing or in blessing, very well executed. The angel holds a cross over
his left shoulder. A large part of the background is that of a simple
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 231
232 r\n+ n
wall with arches in it, suggesting a metaphysical architecture. Matthew
holds his gospel in his well-shaped left hand. Another book with the
inkwell on it rests at his right elbow.
Most astonishing is the lavishly illustrated miniature of St. John.
Of all of the figures, represented in this manuscript, St. John is given
a primary role, as the only one seated on a cushion role on a fully
backed throne covered with an ornamented fabric. He faces the
viewer frontally, a position traditionally reserved for imperial poses.
Surrounded by a nimbus, his eyes do not make contact with his
symbol, his cropped hair does not hide his left ear, a pointed beard
frames the lower half of his face. Dark purple garments drape his
body. His left hand rests on a page of an open book lying on a
lectern. His bare right arm dips his pen into an inkwell standing on
a table at the right of his seat. His heels are placed together. His
knees are apart. The riser of the seat has visible outlines and the
front of the platform displays the same spiraled tendril ornamenta-
tion as the platforms of Mark and Luke. Some space filling vegeta-
tion is represented below the table. Unarticulated stonewalls with
some architectural detail and battlements across the top provide two
distinct lines of background. More than the backdrops of the others,
this symbolic architecture suggests an appropriate spiritual cityscape,
an idealized composite of familiar images of cities, the heavenly
Jerusalem. The Book of Revelation is a fitting reference to the hope
for the eternal life projected in the visions of St. John. Uppermost
is a plain golden strip showing a starburst below the letters naming
St. John. His ‘eagle’ symbol, however, is the least successful of any
of the tetramorphs. It resembles at best a strutting, angry chicken
hawk rather than an eagle. The frame of this miniature differs from
the other three in that it is not only decorated with vegetative scrolls,
but mainly with intertwining braided knots, spaced in diagonal sym-
metry. Two opposite corners have circle motifs, the other two have
a ‘floral’ pattern.
The best-known miniature from the Godescalc lectionary is the
Majestas Domini of the Christ miniature. (Plate 7a) Its frame is
virtually identical with the St. John miniature. The uppermost panel
surrounds Christ’s halo with a sort of shrubbery blooming with white
fleur de lys blossoms. In the panel below the Christ monograms
appear in large letters IHS XPs. Christ’s shoulders, beardless head
and cruciform halo occupy the center of these two panels. An archi-
tecture with battlements, perhaps intended to suggest the heavenly
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 232
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 233
Jerusalem, provides the third background panel. Space filling vege-
tation takes up the remaining spaces around the seat and its plat-
form. By means of subtle contrasts the figure of Christ is separated
from a rather busy backdrop. Surprisingly, Christ is not enthroned.
Like Matthew, Mark and Luke, he sits on one of the familiar cush-
ion rolls placed on an ornamented seat. A purple toga-like orna-
mented fabric is wrapped around him over a full-length auburn tunic.
His hands and feet are elegantly elongated. The tip of his right foot
extends just over the platform, while his left foot is slightly drawn
back. Fine lines indicate the sandals on his feet. In his left hand he
holds a book. Two fingers of his semi-clenched hand point to his
own breast. The hand is not turned outward as in a blessing.
This lectionary being a royal commission, it is perhaps plausible
why this pose was chosen. The manuscript does not yet contain any
depictions of royalty and the St. John miniature may well be intended
to suggest such a primary association. In Roman imperial iconog-
raphy, the halo and the gesture with pointing index and middle
fingers were reserved for the divine emperor. Both were adopted by
Christians to portray in mosaics the majesty of Christ. Pose and ges-
ture represent the imperial dignity. With imperial significance they
saw their first use, c. 600, in a Germanic context on the helmet
brow plate glorifying the Lombard king Agilulf. As Pancreator the
enthroned Christ is Lord of the Cosmos. Its introduction here may
reflect something of Charlemagne’s majestic intentions, discussed ear-
lier. The representation supposes late Classical Christian influences.
It is interesting that the St. John miniature upstages the Christ minia-
ture in some ways, thereby pointing to the esteem in which this
Evangelist and his Gospel were held.
The last page to be discussed here is the one bearing the title
INVIGILIA NATALIS, the Fountain of Life.
204
Its motivation has
been associated with the baptismal font of the Lateran baptistery in
Rome used in 781 for the baptism of Charlemagne’s son Pepin by
pope Hadrian.
Essentially a nature scene without any people, the significance of
this representation must go beyond the historical event, because the
Fountain is also associated with the Gospels as springs of life and
204
See Braunfels, p. 145. Also Bullough, Renewal, p. 11f. See D. Ganz, ‘“Roman
Books” Reconsidered: The Theology of Carolingian Display Script’, in Smith (ed.),
Early Medieval Rome, p. 300, points to this image being a particular Roman reference.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 233
234 r\n+ n
205
L. Nees, Early Medieval Art (Oxford 2002), p. 104.
faith. (Plate 7b) In this instance especially, the Fountain page is com-
plemented by the lavishly ornamented facing incipit page of the
gospel of St. Matthew which deals with Christ’s birth and its mean-
ing for Christians as the spring of all life in this and the other world.
Clearly the two pages are placed in relation to one another. A clue
to this effect is hidden in the architecture of the Fountain. Its eight
classicizing marble columns are in the same plane and all visible at
the same time, which in a symmetrically arranged structure should
not be visible, as their placement should be congruent. Such an
arrangement is clearly deliberate. This illustrated page goes to some
lengths to contrast the four larger columns further forward with those
smaller columns further back, thus making an attempt to show spa-
tial perspective and depth. Otherwise the surface of the illumination
is flat, without any other attempt to indicate a third dimension. The
viewer’s point of view is at right angles to the fountain. The pool
of water is thus not visible. The painter is also careful to show each
column with its own capital. A pointed roof bearing a cross on top
completes this architecture. The animals do not actually have ground
under their feet and hence appear to be hovering in some abstract
space. In a unique idyllic setting nature and animals interact sym-
bolically as the thirst of all is quenched at the Fountain. According
to Psalm 42 the psalmist’s soul, just like the stag, thirsts for God,
yet there are no human beings shown at all. The psalm begins with
the analogy of a stag thirsting for water and it is shown near the
fountain. Identifiable birds and fowl have come in pairs to the foun-
tain and most are seen picking at blossoms. The animals belong to
those traditionally seen on late Roman and early Christian orna-
mentation placed among the vines and acanthus leaves sprouting
from one vessel as shown on the ivory throne of Maximian in
Ravenna.
205
The work of several carvers, the setting is paradisic with
Old and New Testament scenes or legendary associations: cranes,
herons, storks, pairs of ducks, guinea fowl, pheasants, roosters and
most prominently two peacocks. The significance of the latter rests
in the legendary belief that the flesh of the peacock was incorrupt-
ible, would never decay and by transference became a reference to
eternal life and to Paradise. The mosaics in the church of San Vitale
in Ravenna depict peacocks as dominant motifs. Whoever drinks
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 234
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 235
from the waters of this Fountain of Life will enjoy everlasting life.
The Fountain itself symbolizes the springs, which represent the
Gospels, while these in turn indicated the faith in Christ and the
cancellation of death. The eight columns are an allegory of the Eight
Benedictions,—the number 8 being a symbol of regeneration—
206
of
which the fourth promises satiation to those who hunger and thirst
for justice. The rewards will be theirs in heaven. In this context the
architecture of the Fountain yields another stylistic consideration,
that of the anastasis/resurrection, represented by the rotundas mark-
ing the Holy Grave in the Church of the Sepulcher in Jerusalem,
and then Old St. Peter’s in Rome, as well as many others, and later
also in the church dedicated to St. Michael in Fulda. Early Christians
saw the immersion in the baptismal font and the ascent from it as
a death and rebirth into the sojourn among the blessed in another
life. There is some evidence that the anastasis was celebrated as a
cult in some of the early baptisteries. Its echoes are reflected in the
names of churches—church of the Resurrection. By Carolingian times
the ideas of a Heavenly Jerusalem, Paradise and the Heavenly king-
dom had become equated. Paradise, with the meaning ‘garden’, was
a term frequently applied to the portico or atrium of churches and
hence associated with a columned structure. Church architecture
itself was deemed to suggest a glimpse of the heavenly Jerusalem.
A generation after the production of the Godescalc Lectionary, the
gospel preserved at the monastery of St. Médard at Soissons indi-
cated some stylistic developments. Perhaps both versions were based
on a common original.
207
Also a product of the renovatio at the scrip-
torium at Aachen, Louis the Pious gave it to Soissons in 827, this
manuscript contains two representations of the Fountain of Life, rep-
resenting the tomb of Christ and rebirth through Baptism and
Paradise, the one contained in an ellipse over a set of Canon Tables
indexing the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the other as a full page
representation related to the Fountain page of the Godescalc Evange-
listary. (Plate 8a) Both of these versions have been enriched by ele-
ments missing in the Godescalc version, such as a much greater use
of vibrant and deep colors and the presentation of human contours.
206
Stalley, p. 61, indicates that the world was created on the eighth day, Christ’s
resurrection took place on the eighth day of the Passion, and that according to
patristic thinking, the number 8 represented baptism as a spiritual regeneration.
207
Braunfels, p. 145.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 235
236 r\n+ n
The Fountain representation, which is part of the canon table, twice
shows the human form of Matthew as well as of Mark’s lion. The
columns of the fountain show more perspective and a tilted water
surface within the basin. The scene is set in a garden against a back-
ground of trees. By contrast the full-page representation of the
Fountain is dominated by an architectural background. Most note-
worthy is the massive Romanizing architecture dominated by a deep
niche, which provides the largest part of the background, quite unre-
lated to the familiar arches, portals and arcades. Most of the birds
are symmetrically placed on the building and the remaining space
has contoured surfaces so that all the animals actually stand on solid
ground. Their placement is generally confrontational. This time four
deer rather than just one, are placed into the lower section of the
picture. The Fountain, with its eight columns as anastasis rotunda,
aims for a three-dimensional representation but other than that, its
construction generally resembles the Godescalc version, except that
with the show of depth and perspective the tilted water surface is
visible.
The illuminated pages are all whole page illustrations. In addition
to twelve Canon Tables and the now familiar inventory of illumi-
nated miniatures of the Evangelists and the Fountain of Life, the
gospel from St. Médard features an astonishing and innovative, sixth
illuminated page, usually referred to as the ‘Veneration of the Lamb’.
208
This illumination precedes St. Jerome’s preamble to the argumen-
tation concerning the authenticity of the Gospels and of the tetra-
morphs. This page is divided into approximate thirds of which the
lower two-thirds are theatrical architecture, while the upper third is
divided into two almost equal horizontal strips. (Plate 8b) The archi-
tectural background of the lower section represents an articulated
wall with protruding and recessed parts of the wall perforated by a
symmetrical arrangement of windows. This wall is reminiscent of
Hellenistic façades, such as those cut into the rock at Petra, or the
Roman theaters at Lepcis and Sabratha in North Africa and in the
Roman theater below the Acropolis of Athens and is probably in-
tended to infer the link with Rome, to suggest the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’.
In front of this wall stand four marble columns, red and grayish
208
J. Hubert, J. Porcher, W.F. Volbach, Carolingian Art, translated from the French
(London 1970), pp. 84ff. See also Diebold, p. 89.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 236
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 237
green, with elaborate classicizing capitals simulating a Corinthian
style. This arrangement is particularly reminiscent of the theater at
Sabratha, where just such a screen of columns precedes the back-
ground walls. Once again there is only one ambiguous plane and
perspective appears to be problematic. Below the center of the archi-
trave a lion’s head holds a red curtain draped to the outside columns
and tied in the familiar Classical manner. Above the architrave new
architectural detail consisting of bastions and recesses backs four
lunettes, each with one of the tetramorphs represented on it—from
left to right, the angel of Matthew, the lion of Mark, the bull of
Luke and the eagle of John. The two sets of recesses have been
inscribed with abbreviated golden lettering representing the accla-
mation of the symbols: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was,
and is, and is to come. Above these medallions a narrow strip of numer-
ous fish and other marine creatures, the ‘sea of glass like unto crys-
tal’ closes off the architectural elements. It has four ‘fisher’ men
placed in the terminal and central positions. It separates the tetra-
morphs from the scene showing the vision of the apocalyptic lamb.
The lamb occupies a medallion hovering above an apsidal recess,
on either side of which are assembled twelve male figures, the ‘four
and twenty elders sitting clothed in white raiment; and they had on
their heads crowns of gold.’
209
The artist has taken great liberties
with the text, for they are not assembled about a throne, nor are
they sitting or in white raiments. The golden halos may be consid-
ered equivalent to the crowns of gold. Radiating lines extend between
the lunette containing the lamb and the congregated men, and each
of the symbols.
With its images and symbols the illumination represents a holis-
tic, allegorical and hierarchical summation of the principles of the
faith, of the edifice of the church and of the theological world beyond.
This summation is presented in five ascending levels: At the base is
placed the architecture and especially the four rising columns linked
by means of the cloth representing the religious construct. This level
is surmounted by the medallions of the tetramorphs representing the
Gospels. The higher zone of the ‘crystal sea of glass’ separates the
tetramorphs from the groups actually in adoration of the lamb. That
apocalyptic scene represents in two strips a higher eschatological
209
Revelation, 4.4, 4.6.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 237
238 r\n+ n
knowledge of final things and times as envisioned in the Book of
Revelation. Rising above a final blue border and contained in a medal-
lion in the realm, which passes all understanding, is the lamb.
The manuscript is also decorated with twelve embellished Canon
Tables, concordances of passages in the Gospels arranged vertically
to facilitate the search for like and unlike treatments of the same
themes and topics in the Gospels. (Plate 8c) It was Eusebius who
first thought of this devise during the early 4th century. Initially the
vertical gospel entries were separated by simple lines, but the nature
of the material soon cried out for more elaborate treatments, espe-
cially when a number of gospels came to be itemized within the set-
ting. In the Book of Kells decorated bars with round terminals at the
bottom and square terminals at the top acted as dividers between
the Gospels. In view of the popular use of columns for the decora-
tion of pages, it is not surprising that the layout of these pages also
invited an architectural portal treatment with columns and arches.
The effect is that of temple architecture. It has been suggested, that
these columns actually represented a screen of columns which, till
the 16th century, had stood in front of the confessio of St. Peter’s in
Rome, though the artist probably relied on an earlier Roman gospel.
210
Depending on the number of Gospels intended to be indexed, the
columns within the arch could be incorporated into another arcade
of three, four or five columns. The columns can be straight, as well
as spiral in shape. The spiraling, helical columns tend to alternate
with static straight columns. Either type is resplendent in strong var-
iegated and flowing stone colors such as blue, green, orange or purple
painted to resemble the veins of marble or the coloration of por-
phyry. The multicolored capitals are roughly Corinthian in design,
though much more fanciful in execution. The names of the Evangelists
appear one to each arcaded arch, with the lists of concordances
grouped in fives, separated by a horizontal line. The space between
the arcades and the enfolding arch contains the groups of tetramorphs,
which represent the Gospels listed. Singly or in groups, an open
book is placed among them. The arch itself may be decorated as if
studded with gems and with symmetrically placed cameos. Tendrils
may crawl up on the outside of the arch. The space left between
the arch and the corners of the page could be filled with vegetation
210
Bullough, Renewal, p. 11f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 238
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 239
or other living things, especially symbolic birds, such as roosters or
peacocks. These Carolingian gospels are particularly luxuriant in their
use of such luminous colors on fields of actual gold and silver, orange,
ochre, bright yellow and burnt amber, interacting with varieties of
lavish red, or brilliant blues and azures, complemented by emerald
greens, subtle mauves and plum purples, attuned to achieve a most
sumptuous, original effect. It was mentioned above just how expensive
these colors were. The result is spectacular in its novel splendor.
The illuminated facing pages of the gospels are a case in point,
where a richly colored full-page representation of an Evangelist on
the left is complemented by an equally gloriously designed page of
large initial letter and text on the right.
211
The lettering in gold is
of the ‘trumpet’ type in that the large initial is succeeded by letters
of decreasing size The dominant colors are resplendent golds and
purples, accented by contrasting greens, turquoise, blues and reds.
That the two pages are conceived as an entity is indicated by the
congruently identical design of the respective frames, which are each,
ornamented with chains of beads and pearls, ovals and astragals. In
this instance the Evangelist Mark faces the incipit page of his Gospel,
the Second. Together the two pages effect an arcade in which the
left arch contains a somewhat stylized representation of the Evangelist
in the act of writing, while in the right arch there appears what he
writes. (Plates 9a, 9b) Evangelist and text are as a sacred equation
made visible. It will be recalled that the placement in arcades was
a traditional means to accent the importance of the subject placed
into that arcade. The lion holding the open book in its claws in the
arch above the Evangelist ‘mirrors’ the textual title of the Gospel:
INCIPIT EVANGELIUM SECUNDUM MARCUM, with the opening
words, The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. The lan-
guage of significant shapes equates with the language of significant
texts. The two illuminations contain too many details to enumerate
them all. Of interest are the upper spandrels on both pages, for
different reasons. The spandrels of the left page may reflect some
obscure meeting in a natural landscape with brown earth, horizon,
blue sky and with impressionistic representations of vegetation in
which an angelic figure points at a haloed figure on the other side
211
See Ganz, in Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome, pp. 297ff. for an extensive dis-
cussion of the classical, but Christian derivation of Carolingian lettering.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 239
240 r\n+ n
of the arch, who in the context of the verses of the Gospel is John
the Baptist. The scene illustrates Verse 2 of the Gospel: . . . Behold I
send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee, the
very text which St. Mark has opened in the book before him. The
green spandrels on the right page refer specifically to Verses 9–13
of the first chapter: in white garments, Christ’s baptism in the River
Jordan by John the Baptist and the descent of the Holy Spirit in
the shape of the dove, in the left spandrel and the brief textual ref-
erence to Christ’s being ministered to by two angels while he was
tempted in the desert. The significance of these scenes of figural rela-
tionships shown in the spandrels lies in that for the first time in our
discussion they illustrate the gradual introduction of narrative tech-
niques in Carolingian art, referred to above. Separated from the
arched field containing the lion emblem by a travis rod, a youthful
St. Mark is placed against a deep blue background, framed by pulled
back, knotted curtains, which, however, by mistake, are not held in
position by the columns to which they should be attached. The orna-
mentation of the two arches differs as the apex of the arch over the
Lion emblem is marked by a carved cameo showing several human
figures. The other arch displays a red disc. The pairs of columns
are not identical. Those flanking the Evangelist have golden capi-
tals, dominated by a flower motif. The dark columns themselves
betray an intricate grain in the marble shafts. The columns flanking
the text have foliated capitals of (tarnished) silver. The column shafts
are of a marvered gold. The pairs of column bases are distinct. His
sitting pose is the familiar one, his body slightly angled to the right,
head turned back over his right shoulder, leaning forward to hold
the book on the lectern with his left hand, his right hand poised
elegantly ready to write. However, the link between transmission and
reception is no longer explicit as the eye contact between St. Mark
and his emblem is no longer made as the earlier association between
a writing Evangelist and an inspiring and prompting symbol is no
longer obvious. The two have become too independent of one another.
The garments, a tunic of gold trimmed pastel green and a toga of
deep purple, are draped around his well-contoured body in the famil-
iar fashion. He sits on the customary cushion roll. The fall of the
folds indicates a very prominent, disproportionate upper thigh. The
feet, especially the right foot, are well drawn, wearing the merest
suggestion of sandals. The right foot extends over the edge of the
platform. Edges tend to be in different planes. The background below
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 240
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 241
the curtain knots is turquoise. The arch containing the text of the
Scripture is of a golden background with purple lettering identify-
ing the Gospel. The rectangle below is purple with golden lettering
for the first lines of the Gospel. Particularly impressive is the large
capital initial letter I, decorated with unidentified human torsos. The
top of the letter is diamond-shaped with a haloed, mature, long-
haired and bearded torso in the diamond. The bottom is also pointed,
but essentially heart-shaped, with another longhaired but youthful
and clean-shaven face in it. In the middle of the shaft is a circle
with yet another haloed and longhaired young face in it. The shaft
of the letter bears an ornamental braid along its entire length. Scroll
designs provide finishing details. This initial reflects vestiges of the
Insular and Anglo-Saxon styles.
A prototypical presentation of a writing figure is kept at the
Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels. (Plate 10a) It is variously described,
by the library as the portrait of a scribe at work of Roman or
Byzantine Provenance of the 6th century, or as the supposedly
unfinished portrait of an Evangelist, St. Matthew from the Xanten
Gospels, belonging to the Carolingian Ada Group of imperial Coronation
Gospels dated to the early 9th century.
212
While its unadorned, clas-
sical, clean simplicity would place it ideally at the prototypical begin-
ning of the tradition of Evangelists bent over their lecterns writing
their Gospels, why would a mere scribe have been so honored, con-
sidering the cost of a page of purple parchment. On this page a
youthful figure, clad completely in white, is seated on a flat cushion
placed on a simple stool. The left hand seems to be holding the
opened book on the lectern, while the right hand is extended, writing.
The smock-like garment is open at the front falling in easy folds
about the knees. Most unconventionally, the man has not even the
suggestion of feet. The portrait has modern appeal perhaps because
of its unfinished state, but certainly because of its Hellenistic-Roman
style, its Classical composure and quiet grandeur (Winckelmann’s
stille Größe). The figure is located in an open setting, without indication
212
Bischoff, pp. 65, n. 45; 80f. groups the works. C.R. Dodwell, The Pictorial Arts
of the West, 800–1200 (New Haven, London 1993), p. 56 refers to H. Swarzenski,
who held that the unfinished page was a Roman work of the 4th century, which
served as a model for the Carolingian artists, 60, Fig. 45. See F. Mütherich, ‘Book
Illumination at the Court of Louis the Pious’, in Godman and Collins, p. 594f.
suggests that it is a single leaf of an older and unfinished Evangelist portrait, sub-
sequently inserted into the Brussels gospel. See also Hubert et al., p. 92.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 241
242 r\n+ n
of an architectural setting. For its own time it would have been a
curiosity. As it is, it provides some insight into the work as process.
That this page need not strike one as that alien is demonstrated
in the Aachen Gospels by an exceptional illustration which groups
miniatures of the four Evangelists united on one single page.
213
It
suggests either the rediscovery of an antique style or the emergence
of a new style. (Plate 10b) Their finished poses and the simplicity
of their settings in individual, ideal spaces suggests an affinity with
the page from Brussels, especially St. Mark could be a relative of
the figure in white. The saints are placed antithetically: Matthew
and Mark face left, Luke and John face right. They take no notice
of one another. By contrast their tetramorphic symbols emerge from
the billowing colors, each placed in a manner contrary to the
Evangelists. The axiomatic associations prevail. Originally intended
to show an architectural backdrop, each white robed figure is now
in its own ‘landscape setting’, contrasted in a painterly manner against
the world, a blended, nuanced, deep turquoise—azure, illusionistic
cloud-like rockscape. Fissures approximating a cross divide the four
regions. Tree-like vegetation along the horizon is silhouetted impres-
sionistically in black against a narrow strip of reddish morning or
evening sky. The appearance and the pose of each of the Evangelists
show temperamental distinctiveness as they receive their individual
inspirations. An elderly hunched Matthew, with gray hair and cropped
beard, resembling an ancient philosopher, his head surrounded by
a bluish nimbus, is resting his feet on the base of the lectern from
which he has lifted his book. He seems to be reading. A youthful
Mark holds the open book in his left while he is dipping his pen
into an inkwell standing on the flat surface of a stand. His head too
is surrounded by a bluish nimbus. Clean-shaven, Luke is the only
one to hold the familiar writing pose, leaning over the manuscript
lying on the lectern. St. John strikes the most noticeable and indi-
vidualistic pose. He is presented full upright and frontally, his writ-
ing hand held shoulder high, the open book in his left. His chin
seems to be touching his chest as his head is tilted downward to read.
Like the others, his head too is surrounded by a light blue nimbus.
He is flanked by a lectern on his right and an open table on his
left. By surrounding the Evangelists with pieces of furniture fit for
213
Hubert, p. 97f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 242
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 243
an interior, an otherworldly dimension is introduced into the open-
air composition. Each Evangelist sits on a red cushion roll, his feet
placed individually on surfaces such as stools. The tetramorphs have
the same light blue halos as the Evangelists. None of the beings has
retained the familiar stylized awkwardness and even the eagle is a
convincing bird of prey ready to take flight. A simple golden frame
with elongated foliage patterns and with simulated gem settings
encloses the composition. The credit may have to go to itinerant
artists working at the court in a Hellenistic tradition, perhaps from
Italy. A different sense of original presentation addresses the viewer.
An illuminated set of Gospels, an expression of the standardiza-
tion of the Bible,
214
which was produced at the Palace School of
Charlemagne, is known as the Ada Gospels. (Plates 11a, 11b, 11c,
11d) Owing to an attribution on the last page ‘Mater Ada, ancilla dei ’,
it was Ada, who was erroneously taken to be a sister of Charlemagne,
who commissioned the work. It had originally been housed at St.
Maximin, then outside the walls of Trier. The Codex is written com-
pletely in gold and consists of the four Gospels and their preambles.
Our interest throughout concerns the axiomatic portraits of the
Evangelists and their winged symbols, which represent a peak in the
artistic activity of the Palace School. The pages represent one merg-
ing of the traditions followed at the end of the 8th and beginning
of the 9th centuries. A late Gothic front cover has a Roman sardo-
nyx cameo at the center appropriately showing the emperor Constan-
tine and the imperial family. The Evangelists of the Ada Gospels are
placed in architectural settings related in motif to the Godescalc and
Saint Médard Gospels and hence markedly different from the manu-
scripts in Brussels, Aachen and Vienna. In each instance the archi-
tectural settings provide a sacerdotal background of palatial proportions.
The fundamental idea for such a setting probably came from Rome,
but could easily have been inspired by the interior of the so called
Aula Palatina, the imperial audience hall and throne room of Constan-
tine’s palace complex at Trier, the Roman Augusta Treverorum/Treveris.
Originally basilicas were multi-purpose buildings, large public assem-
bly and market halls,
215
which derived their name from the seat
assumed by the basileus, the king, ruler or magistrate. In this basilica,
214
Collins, p. 117f.
215
Stalley, Early Medieval Architecture, p. 21f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 243
244 r\n+ n
as in others, the elevated imperial throne and the tribunal stood
under the monumental arch. Complete with optical tricks, an immense
apse, decorated with resplendent marble and mosaics, helped to con-
vey a sense of remote grandeur behind the throne, required by the
elaborate court ceremonial to enhance the majesty of the emperor’s
divine dignity.
216
This positioning was intended to represent the
supreme magnificence of the abstract notion of the dominus, the Divine
emperor and to emphasize the transcendental radiance of sublime
majesty in an ideal space. Recessed niches and windows articulate
the awe-inspiring massiveness of the background. The portrait pages
borrowed this setting for the positioning of the Evangelists. The
columns supporting the arches are set slightly ahead of the platforms
supporting the thrones. Enthroned slightly back of such an arch and
against the perforated apse, the Evangelists hold court. Three of the
saints face the viewer frontally in the pose reserved for the exclu-
sive imperial personage. The decorated space under the arch is occu-
pied by the tetramorphs, each holding the unrolled scroll representing
the Gospels. Other than their coexistence on the same page, there
is no link between the Evangelists and their allegorical emblems. The
earlier eye contact between the two has been abandoned and the
emblems are no longer prompting the writers. The emphasis is on
the human effigy, for which the emblem is no more than an iden-
tifying badge. Nothing else in the composition does that. As can be
observed with others, the identity of the Evangelist would have to
be determined by its relative position in the text.
An initial impression of general repetition has to yield to the appre-
ciation of differences in these portraits. While the spandrels above
the arches are ornamented with imaginary vegetation and various
birds, those above St. John display mountain goats. While the arches
show basically similar ornamentation, Mark and Luke have medal-
lions and cameos placed on theirs. Matthew and John have perfo-
rated apsidal curvatures behind them. Mark is backed against a
straight wall, while Luke sits in front of an angular, recessed build-
ing. The portal-like arches rest on very similar ornate capitals, but
the columns flanking John are distinct from the others. Three throne
chairs have very similar draped backs; Mark’s is more of a throne
in that his chair has lion head terminals protruding on the sides.
216
Schutz, Romans, pp. 155ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 244
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 245
While Luke and John hold their pens at shoulder height, Mark is
dipping his in an inkwell, while Matthew is actually poised in a writ-
ing position. They all sit on cushion rolls. Mark, Luke and John sit
on benches in a squared off plain. That of Matthew is angled into
the picture and slightly ascending in the perspective because Matthew
is the one saint who is not facing the viewer frontally, but seated
obliquely turned toward his lectern, the only one in the set. Each
head has a slightly different tilt and all the Evangelists have youth-
ful, beardless faces. They all wear the familiar garb of a tunic beneath
an amply fitting toga. Below the draped garments, legs and arms,
hands and feet are realistically convincing, despite the frontal poses
of the bodies. Though pale and dark pinks are the color for most
things, grays, greens and golds provide appropriate accents, how-
ever, the dominant color on all four miniatures is a dark blue. None
of this is to be mistaken as taking place in this world. Despite the
slight impression of perspective, the flat surfaces are a stylistic device
to suspend any impression of reality. The arched portals offer entrance
into a metaphysical realm.
Another tradition follows from the illustrated pages of the gospels
from Brussels, Aachen and Vienna. These had portrayed the Evangelists
without benefit of architectural setting and without identifying tetramor-
phic emblems. A work dated to c. 800, made at Aachen, perhaps
in the scriptorium headed by Einhard,
217
has come to be known as
the Imperial Coronation Gospels. (Plates 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d) It is worked
in this other, Classical style and may perhaps be the work of a Greek
painter.
218
Painted on purple parchment, a smaller frame containing
the Evangelists, is compacted quite unnecessarily and off-center into
much less than the available space. Stylistically there is a relation-
ship between the gospel illustrations from Aachen and the portrait
of St. Matthew from these Imperial Coronation Gospels at Vienna.
Written in gold and silver on purple parchment the Codex is illus-
trated with sixteen canon tables and monumental portraits of
Evangelists. The Codex was used during the imperial coronations
for the oaths of installation. Reputedly found on Charlemagne’s knees,
217
C.R. Dodwell, The Pictorial Arts of the West, 800–1200 (New Haven and London
1993), p. 56.
218
Hubert, p. 92. See Bischoff, p. 62, who speculates that Charlemagne may
have returned with books written in this style from his campaign into Lombardy
in 781.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 245
246 r\n+ n
when Otto III opened his tomb in A.D. 1000, the saint is once again
placed in an open-air setting without architectural context. The fact
that the customary emblems are not also present in the composi-
tions, suggests that these representations of the saints follow an east-
ern tradition. The itinerant artists were foreign to the ornamental,
northern designs, but familiar with Roman motifs of background
illustration.
219
On purple parchment a smaller frame of gold and
ornamented silver contains the portrait. Enveloped in a white toga,
St. Matthew is placed in an open-air setting, captured in the formal
pose writing his Gospel. His head is surrounded by a golden halo
outlined in black. His left hand rests on the edge of the lectern hold-
ing an inkhorn. His right, holding a pen, is poised over the open
book. He is seated on a large cushion roll placed on a chair, pos-
sible a folding chair. His left foot rests on a stack of books at the
base of the lectern, his right foot is on the ground with the heel
resting on the lowest level of the lectern stand. The clinging folds
of the fabric suggest the outline of his legs. A reddish black back-
ground rises to shoulder height, contrasting the white garment, the
darker head and halo are set off from the light background of the
gray tinted sky. That this is a very sober and functional portrait is
apparent. There is no world, no nature here, were it not for the
acanthus leaves in the frame. The objective of this artist was to con-
centrate on the human representation and its activity. There is some-
thing minimalist about this portrait. No extraneous ornamentation,
which might detract from the focus on the role of this saint in the
context and message of the scriptures. Only the idea of the inspired
Word of God. One of the other frames, that of St. John, is identi-
cal with this page of St. Matthew, except that in that instance the
stool on which John rests his feet actually breaks out of the frame
by having three of its feet placed outside of the frame, a distin-
guishing and relative rarity.
St. Mark is placed in a frame with ‘baroque’ sling band curvilin-
ear designs. Young and clean shaven, he faces us frontally, seated
in the open against a gray, rocky landscape with ‘impressionistic’
trees on the horizon. He holds a book scroll up in his left and rolled
out over his lap. His right hand is dipping a pen into an inkwell
219
Braunfels, pp. 149, 369, suggests that the artist(s) represented the techniques
practiced in Greek Italy.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 246
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 247
standing on the visible remains of a stand. The coloration of the
lower half of the picture is quite eroded. Used for the imperial coro-
nation, the emperors elect would place a hand onto the pages and
gradually wear off the painted surface. The remains of the seat, cush-
ion roll and platform are more suggested than visible. The toes of
his left foot are curved over the edge of the platform. The folds of
the toga allow one to conclude where the right foot might have
been. Mark creates a somewhat retiring impression. A different artist
appears to have painted the portraits of St. Mark.
The portrait of St. Luke is not often represented. His pose differs
from the others, in that his profile is partly turned to the right. He
is enthroned on an orange cushion roll in a niche of very plain
masonry. There is no landscape suggested behind him. Very notice-
able are his muscular right shoulder and upper arm. He is seated
at a lectern, holding a book in his lap. It is a most modest portrait.
As the protruding stool suggests, a towering St. John is placed
more aggressively forward in a well detailed apsidal setting which
could be an integral component of an elaborate throne. In its care-
ful articulation this architecture is not just an abstract approximation,
but actually has something convincing about its appearance. Again
‘impressionistic’ trees are silhouetted against the sky. John is also fac-
ing the viewer frontally. He is a mature individual with a full head
of hair, long mustache and full pointed beard. His physical contours
are fully noticeable under the long dark tunic and his white toga,
accented by fine black lines. With his left he supports a book on his
thigh. His right hand is raised to his shoulder, a pen between his
fingers. He is seated on a bright red cushion roll, the left foot some-
what drawn back, the right set at the edge of the stool. As was the
case with the portrait of Mark, this one also shows some moderate
wear of its surface, though not enough to obscure the details.
Unmistakable in these portraits is the centrality of the human
effigy and its domination of the space. John especially stands out as
a towering personality. The predilection of the other decorated works
of the period to present space filling and surface covering pages in
which the figure is an integrated element in the designs, is not fol-
lowed in these Gospels. The large amount of unused purple pages
suggests something incomplete about the composition of the framed
figures. Figures and background are not in the same plane. The
architecture of the St. John portrait even recedes somewhat to the
left and right behind the seated saint. The portraits are a clear
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 247
248 r\n+ n
departure from the familiar arcaded settings. The homocentric idea
is fundamental to the role assigned to the Evangelists. Were it not
for their very large golden, heavily outlined halos, they could be mis-
taken for some other majestic personage. In contrast to the grandiose
princely images of the other gospels, the large dark eyes contribute
to the serenity on the faces of these Evangelists. They exude that
composed compassion which invites the confidence of the viewer.
The traditional explanation for this change in style is sought in the
supposition that perhaps more than one artist was working in the
Byzantine tradition, perhaps actually Greeks, and that the absence
of the tetramorphs in addition to the homocentricity is a clear indi-
cation of an antique Classical view of man being introduced which
was quite distinct from the style of the Court School. As was suggested
earlier, a common Carolingian Style did not emerge during the early
Carolingian Period. The rather rapid development and transforma-
tion in the manner of human representation is very apparent.
XIII. Illuminated manuscripts—Ruler Portraits
It is only a small step from the Evangelists’ portraits of the imper-
ial Coronation Gospels to the portraits of the ruler as rex christianus, espe-
cially in the case of Charles the Bald even as rex christianissimus, which
appear as dedications in such votive manuscripts as gospels, lec-
tionaries and so forth produced especially at Tours and at St. Denis
during the later Carolingian period. As the term suggests, these ide-
alized portraits intended to show the majesty of the monarch in his
capacity as the head of the Imperium Christianum and not from his
personal side. The glorious image of his function and cosmic rela-
tionships rather than his likeness were the artist’s objective point of
arrival. Since he was either the work’s patron or its recipient, his
‘portrait’ is appropriate. In reaching for the imperial crown majes-
tic self-representation and idealization were to prove means of supe-
rior effectiveness. In the end this was to contribute significantly to
the evolution of medieval kingship.
220
Once the religious connotation
had been weakened in the association between Evangelists and inspir-
ing tetramorphs and the imperial role been rediscovered for the
220
Staubach, p. 344.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 248
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 249
enthroned figure, it was not too long before a sacerdotal figure,
responsible for the preservation, consolidation and propagation of
the universal Christian domain, could appear in its own right, in
theocratic guise, placed into a ritual context, as a fit subject in reli-
gious art. The first such depiction, though primitivist and unrelated
in appearance, was the frontal ‘portrait’ of Louis the Pious discussed
earlier in connection with the work of Hrabanus Maurus, De laudi-
bus sanctae crucis, c. 840. Closely related to such ivories as that of
Stilicho and other Roman generals, it showed the emperor as Miles
Christianus, Soldier in Christ. Dressed like a Roman general, remi-
niscent of the Stilicho diptyche, and armed with helmet, shield and
cross, the emperor is part of a pictorial pun without any real inten-
tion to portray majesty. The purpose was to call Christ’s blessing
down upon the ruler. As if two persuasions coexisted without any
relationship, the differences in artistic style and ability are astonish-
ing, considering that nearly a half century has gone by between the
artistic sophistication of the Coronation Gospels and the poor artistry
in this work of Hrabanus Maurus, but then what appears to have
mattered here were the words and not the images.
Images mattered in the virtually contemporary ruler portraits of
the emperor Lothair and especially in such splendid works of Charles
the Bald as the one produced at St. Martin at Tours c. 845 and
850. The abbey was destroyed in a Viking attack in 853. A transi-
tion can be observed in the Vivian Bible, produced in the scriptorium
at Tours, c. 845/46 and as is shown on a presentation miniature,
is dedicated to Chares the Bald on the occasion of the granting of
the abbey’s immunity.
221
The gospel is associated with the former
court official and lay abbot Vivian, a Frankish count with connec-
tions to the courts of Lothair and Charles the Bald.
222
Owing to its
political intention, the work is in accordance with the Davidic notion
behind the Imperium Christianum as the illuminated page bearing the
opening poem has two medallions between the panels of text, show-
ing portraits of David Rex Imperator above one of Karolus Rex Franco<rum>,
221
See H.L. Kessler, The Illustrated Bibles from Tours (Princeton 1977), p. 126, for
the text of the dedication. Also P.E. Dutton, H.L. Kessler, The Poetry and Paintings
of the First Bible of Charles the Bald (Ann Arbor 1997), pp. 1, 89. The poetry accompany-
ing the miniatures makes the case that the Bible become the king’s spiritual food.
222
See Kessler, pp. 96ff. for sources and influences.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 249
250 r\n+ n
providing a clear political link between the two.
223
In the dedicatory
inscription of this Bible Charles the Bald is addressed as splendide
David
224
and preceding the Book of Psalms, this Vivian Bible contains
a dedication miniature showing David surrounded by ten figures of
soldiers, musicians and cardinal virtues. (Plate 13) Two lines of text,
a couplet, are meant to link the political implication of text and
illustration:
The psalm maker David shines brilliantly, and the company is
Well trained in the art of music to sing his words.
225
Consistently poets and artists dwell on the David—Charles equa-
tion,
226
even extending it to a Christ association with David, pro-
vided by the context of the enormous mandorla. Facially David,
Charles and Christ resemble one another. Is this an expression of
Charles’ hubris? In this frontispiece David stands at the center of a
dark blue, mystical vertical oval, the mandorla usually reserved for
Christ as Pancreator or the apocalyptic Majestas Domini representa-
tions. Nuances of color suggest ‘terraces’ within this otherworldly
space and provide the surfaces on which the figures are placed.
Identified as king and prophet, a humble David is draped only in
a robe, holding and strumming his harp, as if composing his psalms,
his head turned over his right shoulder. His pose and the flow of
his purple robe suggest movement, a reference to David’s ritualistic
leaping and dancing before the Arc of the Covenant on the occa-
sion of its arrival in Jerusalem—And David danced before the Lord with
all his might: and David was girded with a linen ephod (a priestly gar-
ment).
227
On his feet he wears military boots. A fantasy crowns his
head. On his terrace stand two soldiers representing his body guard
of foreigners, Cerethi on his right, probably Cretans, looking just
like the Louis ‘portrait’ with shield and lance, and Phelethi on his
223
Dutton, Kessler, Frontispiece. Also p. 42f. See also H. Maguire, ‘Magic and
Money in the Early Middle Ages’, in Nees, Approaches, p. 93.
224
Kessler, p. 129.
225
Dutton, Kessler, p. 115.
226
Dutton, Kessler, p. 8 provide further examples. Also p. 59f., 81. A precise
political connotation was working in the equation between Biblical ruler and tem-
poral king.
227
Chronicles I, 15. 16, 19–21. Also Samuel II, 6. 14, 15. Dutton, Kessler argue
that David’s selection from among his brothers signals a contemporary message
about Charles’ entitlement to rule in the place of his brothers, Lothair especially.
See also Diebold, p. 82f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 250
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 251
left, probably Philistines, similar in appearance without his shield,
his lance leaning against his left shoulder, but holding a sword which
he is drawing with his right. These three probably represent a hyposta-
sis of the king, David the psalmist, the protector and fighter, as shield
and sword represent the royal defensive and aggressive functions. It
will be found that this motif will appear in variations for many years
to come. The text also mentions shouting and the sound of trum-
pets. The texts identify all of the musicians of whom some semi-
nude, named seated musicians, analogously placed to the Evangelists,
play trumpets and other musical instruments. The corners of the
framed page are claimed by four half-length female figures holding
palm branches in one hand—fully dressed Prudentia, Justitia, partly
clad Temperimentia, Fortitudo—, the other hand extended in a gesture
of acclamation. Clearly the page departs from the traditional sub-
ject matter and opens references to other narrative detail, which
need clarification and identification through the use of language.
Evidently the familiar Frankish political theory, which first equated
the Israelites with the Merovingian Franks as the new Chosen People,
and then the House of David with the Carolingians and in which
Charlemagne was called David, plays a role here. In the Vivian Bible,
Charles the Bald is compared to David three times.
228
Located at
the center of this page is the symbolic representation of the Biblical
ruler over the various dimensions of an abstract realm of art and
virtue, as surrogate of the Carolingian king, the protector and defender.
The splendor of the dedicated manuscript provides a visual parallel,
which would imply an edifying ritualistic transformation of Charles,
the Bald into an idealized David.
The Gospels of Lothair, prepared at Tours, c. 850, contains a dedica-
tion page, which represents the emperor Lothair I enthroned in an
arcaded setting. (Plate 14a) It is the imperial formula of the enthroned
ruler flanked by arms bearers, which was first adopted for the early
Christian representation of Biblical kings and then by the Carolingians.
His crown is identical to the crown which David wears in the pre-
vious manuscript. Behind the throne stand two warriors, equipped
quite like the warriors flanking David in the Vivian Bible. It is a very
compact composition, a bit off-center to the right. The helmeted
figure behind his left shoulder is armed with the lance and the shield.
228
Kessler, p. 109. Also Dutton, Kessler, Passim.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 251
252 r\n+ n
The figure behind his right is crowded, as it has to reach over the
back of the throne into the imperial space, holding a sheathed sword
in his right hand. Their eyes are turned toward the emperor. These
warriors may very well represent the functions of the prince. The
scene is a variation on the motifs mentioned above, which them-
selves find antecedents in Roman examples and also on the helmet
plaque associated with king Agilulf of the Lombards, c. 600.
229
The
emperor is seated in the manner of an Evangelist, his dark eyes
directed to something beyond the frame, his right arm holding a
scepter staff, his anatomically impossible left arm pointing in the
direction followed by his eyes. There, on the next page, is written
a poem of dedication. In golden letters on purple parchment the
poem praises his rule, indicates that Lothair ordered the gospel at
St. Martin’s, (between 849 and 851) and requests the prayers of those
who may contemplate the book.
230
Since Tours was in the domain
of Charles the Bald, for Lothair to place a commission there was
perhaps a gesture of reconciliation with his brother Charles, after
the wars leading to the Battle of Fontenoy and the Oaths of Strasbourg.
Lothair had his own Palace School, located somewhere in the Aachen
and Liège region. A psalter produced there contained illustrated
pages with portrait miniatures of an enthroned Lothair
231
and of a
seated king David. (Plate 14b) An inscription supporting his own
position in the fraternal conflict links Lothair with David to the effect
that Lothair was chosen by God to be ruler over his brothers.
232
The Davidic element in Carolingian political theory is well estab-
lished. He is clothed in a dark blue tunic and wrapped in the nat-
ural folds of a toga-like garment of purple and gold, held in place
by a large disc fibula at the right shoulder. Black and gold are the
dominant accents, which contrast with the prevailing tones of pur-
ple and mauve. The light mauve color of the backdrop drapery is
continued in three levels of ‘clouds’ behind the lower portion of the
throne. It forms the platform on which the shield bearer stands. The
significance of this unique dedicationary portrait rests in the cir-
cumstance that this figure is shown totally without any obvious Biblical
229
Schutz, Tools, Weapons and Ornaments, pp. 168ff., Fig. 99.
230
F. Mütherich, J.E. Gaede, Karolingische Buchmalerei (Munich 1976), p. 85. Also
Bullough, Renewal, pp. 39, 68. See Diebold, p. 134f. for the text of the poem and
for a rationale for placing the commission at Tours.
231
Backhouse, p. 20.
232
Dodwell, p. 60.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 252
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 253
associations. Though as emperor Lothair is rex et sacerdos, this frontal
depiction is entirely that of a man without any other associations.
It suggests very strongly a self-reliant statement of independent human
integrity, dignity and autonomy. It strongly suggests his princely claim
to the imperial crown, entirely in his own right. Unfortunately the
artist’s intention is not that clear. He is known to be one of the
artists who also worked on the Vivian Bible.
The dedication page and poem placed toward the end of the
Vivian Bible points in a very different direction. (Plate 15a) Despite
the existence of a link between these two manuscripts, the scene
showing the presentation of the Vivian Bible to Charles the Bald is
a very different composition, placed in a context with definite indi-
cations of a political agenda. The presentation page documents an
actual occasion, the Bible being offered to Charles on the occasion
of his visit to St. Martin’s in 851. The last line actually ends
Peace and praise for you without end, good king David. Be well!
233
Charles’ exceedingly lavish ruler portraits are typical only for him-
self and not for his contemporary brothers and kings. Charles seems
to have wanted to demonstrate his claim to supremacy and the impe-
rial crown over his brothers,
234
for he distinguishes himself from his
brothers in that he liked majestic, highly idealized, symbolic repre-
sentations of his august, royal person. Eight in all have survived.
235
In a celestial, architectural setting of arch and supporting columns,
the enthroned king is placed at the more remote center of an oval
ritual space formed by the curvature of the arch above him and the
semi-circular congregation of churchmen facing the king below, the
composition suggesting an idealized setting in a mandorla.
236
As homo
caelestis, he is projected as the perfected ruler to be, the mediator
through whom God’s word will be made known to man,
237
once the
illuminated Bible has fulfilled its textual and pictorial, educational
function. That lesson was probably lost on him. To indicate his illus-
trious role, his figure is somewhat larger than that of all of the sub-
ordinate others. On the square corners of the arch two barking dogs
233
Dutton, Kessler, p. 119f. text, Fig. 17. See pp. 23ff. for the context.
234
Staubach, p. 14.
235
Kessler, p. 125.
236
Dutton, Kessler, pp. 71ff., propose classical models for the scene. Also p. 91.
237
Staubach, p. 18.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 253
254 r\n+ n
are placed in confrontational positions. In each of the spandrels
below, a female figure emerges out of a cloud extending a crown to
the king. By association with other such representations, the figures
are virtues. Lamps are suspended from the arch. White drapery is
suspended within the arch creating three elliptical sectors. The lamps
hang into the two flanking sectors. The central sector introduces a
motif, which will be a feature of Christian art far into the Baroque
Period; it is the dextra dei, the Right Hand of God, extending from
Heaven. Radiating lines extend from its fingers toward the king’s
head. Two chalices are placed off to the side of this sector. With
an elaborated version of the crowns mentioned above on his head,
the king sits on a cushion roll with a purple fabric draped from the
back of the throne. Two civilians in noble court dress hold the throne
from each side. Perhaps these were royal cousins, or the lay abbots
at Tours. These in turn are flanked by the now familiar helmeted
military figures, one with lance and shield, the other with sheathed
sword. The king at the center wears a purple tunic under a gold
trimmed yellow robe, which enfolds him. In the crook of his left
arm he holds the scepter staff. His right hand is extended to receive
the manuscript. The background to this colorful arrangement of men
is a contrasting blue tinged white. Below the warrior with lance and
shield, three tonsured figures with covered hands, perhaps the artists
themselves, are raising the book toward the king’s outstretched hand.
The one in salmon pink has been identified as the poet Audradus.
238
Beneath them another three richly clad ecclesiastical figures in con-
temporary liturgical vestments are advancing downward toward an
unidentifiable central figure, with his back to the viewer looking up
to face the king. Below the warrior with the sword is placed another
noble in court costume, a high ranking court official and perhaps
the untonsured lay abbot Vivian himself, and beneath him four elab-
orately robed men of the church, members of the palace clergy, also
turned toward the unknown central figure, at the bottom of the oval.
There are no bishops among them.
239
All salute the king in a skilful
interplay of lively complementary gestures within a court-sponsored
238
Dutton, Kessler, p. 76.
239
J. Beckwith, Early Medieval Art, (London 1985), p. 65, reviews the speculation
concerning the identities of the figures. See also Dodwell, p. 74, concerning the
identities. Also Kessler, p. 127. Also Wallace-Hadrill, p. 245. Dutton, Kessler
p. 77f., make the case that the personages on the two sides are actually a double
depiction of the same people, enacting different moments during the event.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 254
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 255
splendor. A dark blue background highlights their extravagant gar-
ments of mauve, light blue, purple and gold. Multicolored chasub-
les cover off-white dalmatics, which are worn over pale blue albs.
240
Varieties of metallic blue add a sparkling vibrancy to the page.
What is the political agenda intimated in this work? It is the Right
Hand of God opened over the king’s head. This feature extends to
king Charles the select status of being the chosen and protected of
God. The accompanying poem spells out the royal virtues to be
associated with the king. Charles was born in 823, the belated son
of Louis the Pious by queen Judith, and when contrary to the terms
of the succession established in Louis’ Ordinatio imperii his share to
the realm was deducted from that of his older brothers, his succes-
sion was hotly disputed by them in a series of wars concerning the
partition of the realm. Considering the questionable nature of his
position only recently confirmed, this pictorial representation of his
projected status in the eyes of God by the loyal monks of one of
his royal abbeys is most timely. Combined with the Davidic associ-
ations mentioned above, the Hand of God confirms the idea of a
justified claim to divine providence and the divine authorization of
his rule and of the Imperium Christianum. It will indeed be recalled
that in 871 he was yet to be crowned emperor. While his brother’s
image suggests a self-reliant authority, the image of Charles is bol-
stered by the claim to divine support. The glorious ritualistic setting
suggests an early claim to the Divine Right of kings. His challenge
was to live up to the projected image.
The Palace School of Charles the Bald functioned between 855
and 877
241
and was possibly located at St. Denis, although that had
no bearing on the work. In about 870 it began a Coronation Sacramentary,
which was to remain a fragment.
242
It was supposedly intended for
the coronation of Charles the Bald as king of Lotharingia in 869.
It became associated with Metz. The fragment contained several
original celebrated pages, including an unnamed standing Frankish
ruler, St. Gregory inspired by the Holy Spirit, Christ in Majesty and
several other scenes of heaven. The St. Gregory scene introduces a
touch of humor. (Plate 15b) Based on the Vitas of Gregory, this is
240
Kessler, p. 133.
241
Staubach, p. 222.
242
See Dodwell, p. 64, concerning the supposed historical reasons for the uncom-
pleted state of the work.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 255
256 r\n+ n
the first manuscript in which a legendary episode is represented of
Gregory shown dictating to two scribes, with extended pauses in the
dictation.
243
This genre has the scribes separated from the legendary
figure by a curtain. This legendary narrative has it that one of the
scribes used his stylus to make a peephole in the curtain, to see.
Here one of the scribes outside of the sacred realm of the saint lifts
the curtain to see what is happening on the other side and to his
surprise sees the Holy Spirit, in the shape of a white dove, touch-
ing the lips of Gregory with its beak. The saint figures as the trans-
mitter of the divine word. This first illustration of the legendary
anecdote will become a popular narrative during later periods. Facing
that page is our primary interest here, the illustration of a group of
three standing figures. (Plate 15c) All three have halos. The back of
each of them has an irregular patch of a darker color which on the
bishop to the left is rather squared, which just may be a fragmented
indication of a square halo, suggesting that the figures represented
were still alive. The garments of the two flanking figures identify
them to be bishops, who may have been Hincmar of Reims and
Adventius of Metz.
244
They are turned slightly inward, toward the
central figure. Each bishop carries a book. This central figure is
dressed in noble court costume and most probably represents the
young king, Charles the Bald. Curly clouds, flowing ribbons, folds
and hems, as well as multicolored and elaborately scalloped designs
in wave patterns of the splendid frame, animate the composition and
lend it a high degree of movement. The Hand of God reaching out
of Heaven and placing a bejeweled golden crown on his head is the
important, ideological detail of this illustration. It is a claim to select
status among his brothers. Supported by high clergy Charles is rex
et sacerdos, a pictorial reiteration of his legitimacy. In 876 Charles
became lay abbot at St. Denis.
Two artists, Liuthard and Berengar, working in the scriptorium at
St. Denis produced yet another gospel dedicated to Charles the Bald.
It is now identified as the superlatively worked Codex Aureus from St.
Emmeram in Regensburg. (Plate 16a) The emperor Arnulf presented
it to the monastery. It may originally have been intended for Charles’
foundation dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Compiègne, in reference
243
Staubach, p. 226.
244
Staubach, p. 225, for a brief speculation and refutation of other interpretations.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 256
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 257
to the Palace Chapel at Aachen.
245
The manuscript is perhaps the
most grandiose and most lavishly ornamented gospel dedicated and
pertinent to Charles the Bald. Purple, gold and blue, with some red
accents, are the dominant colors throughout and suggest a Byzan-
tine affect. The Codex contains the traditional Gospels, prefaces and
introductions, dedicatory poems of which the last contains the date and
the names of the scribes. Of the many decorated pages with canon
tables, Evangelists, an apocalyptic Majestas Domini and many initials,
the Coronation and the Veneration of the Lamb are placed on
adjoining pages. Their purple and golden splendor is extraordinary.
246
Within an elaborate frame the picture of the enthroned king has
an upper purple strip with golden letters complemented by a lower
purple strip with golden letters twice as wide. This poetic inscrip-
tion identifies the ruler as Charles the Bald and places him in rela-
tion with his biological and Biblical predecessors Charlemagne/David
and Louis the Pious/Solomon. It also states that it was Charles who
had commissioned the work and had provided the funds. The text
also refers to his father Louis the Pious and to his mother Judith.
The inscription implies that Charles deserved special status and sin-
gular rank. While his other half-brothers were born prior to their
father’s coronation, Charles was actually born ‘to the purple’, por-
phyrogenetos, when his father was already crowned emperor.
247
The
picture portion is about twice the size of the upper and lower por-
tions combined. Deliberate devises to deny reality cancel out any
attempts to create a perspective and consequently the picture is rather
two-dimensional. The ritual space in which this coronation is placed
is not of this world, but symbolic of an ideal world, something of
an intellectually and spiritually projected architecture. The throne
architecture, a colonnade of five arches and crossbeams dominates
the scene. The golden columns are in the same plane although a
correctly drawn red and gold canopy, the fastigium, a symbol of impe-
rial majesty and judicial authority, vaults over the four columns indi-
cating volume and depth. The right terminals of the baldachin appear
to reach further into the picture than the left, so that the balloon-
ing canopy stands curiously into the picture, in which the columns,
245
Staubach, pp. 264–278. He lists the poetic references basic to the Codex Aureus,
the works of Sedulius, Hucbald and Scotus.
246
Mütherich, Gaede, Figs. 37, 38. See Staubach, p. 261f. for references to con-
temporary literary sources.
247
Staubach, p. 263.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 257
258 r\n+ n
however, deny that third dimension. Like a new Solomon the king
is seated on a resplendent throne in the central arch, a golden crown
with fleurs de lys on his head and drapery behind and above his
head. In an ellipse above the king’s head God’s Right Hand reaches
down into the vaulted space as if he had only just performed the
ritualistic coronation of the king. Angels hover toward the canopy
and touch it. Against a mainly blue background the king, larger than
all other figures in the picture, wears a dark blue tunic, ornamented
elaborately with golden designs, perhaps fleurs de lys, or golden bees,
hemmed with an apparently gem encrusted band. A purple toga is
draped around him, also with a gem encrusted hem and a large
jeweled conched fibula at his shoulder. Red leggings with golden
bindings and golden shoes complete his appearance. His mustachioed
face, stern, with very dark eyes, is turned to his left. His left hand
does not hold a scepter and is hidden in the folds of his lap, his
right hand gestures in the same direction as his gaze—at the pic-
ture on the facing page of the Veneration of the Lamb. In the two
flanking arches, two votive lamps, familiar from Visigothic Spain and
the province of Gothia, hang over the familiar, smaller two warriors,
the left with shield and spear, the right one holding his sword and
coiled belt assembly. Again they represent the royal function to defend
the Christian faith. In the flanking space to the left and right, stand
two female figures wearing battlement crowns and holding cornu-
copias with sprouting flowers. Inscriptions in the frame identify them
as his provinces Francia on the left and Gothia on the right, the core
areas of Charles’ kingdom and subject to his justice. These smaller
figures, just as the angels above, stand out against light mauve-beige
backdrops. Several of these motifs will see continuity in Ottonian
Art: the Hand of God, the angels, the baldachin, the two warriors,
the female figures with battlement crowns carrying cornucopias rep-
resenting provinces. This page is the most sumptuous propagandis-
tic claim and portrayal of the legitimacy of Carolingian royalty within
the context of the Christian Empire. In its ritual splendor it asserts
the claim to divine installation on earth by virtue of God’s choice
and grace as rex terrae. The identification of provinces, however, is
an innovation, since during the Early Middle Ages, kings were rulers
of peoples and not of territories.
248
That Charles is a most Christian
248
P.E. Schramm, Die deutschen Kaiser und Könige in Bildern ihrer Zeit (Munich 1983),
p. 54. See also Porcher, in Hubert, et al., pp. 147ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 258
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 259
king, a rex christianissimus, is made apparent in his orientation toward
the apocalyptic scene of the facing page showing the Veneration of
the Lamb by the twenty-four elders. (Plate 16b) In the upper span-
drels sun and moon are suggested, while in the lower ones a seated
Oceanos leans on his jug, while a seated Terra holds a horn of plenty.
The Lamb is Christ, the rex caeli, the King of Heaven. On an equally
sumptuous page the golden inscription on purple background indi-
cates that Charles sees the revelation of the Lamb and prays to be
united with it in eternity.
249
There is an intimation here of an equa-
tion of identity. Enthroned under the canopy, instated by God, the
picture suggests strongly that the king is indeed God’s dear repre-
sentative, ‘in whom he is well pleased’. It is fair to assume, that
when he commissioned this work Charles expressed a wish as to the
depiction of its key ideas. Clearly, the king’s perception of his own
entitlement as rex et sacerdos to rule is expressed here with spectacu-
lar brilliance. The artistry of the gospel is a lustrous display of the
king’s Heil, felicitas, fortuna, the prerequisite distinctions for rulership
through the assurance of divine benevolence. It mattered to engage
in this glory by association with the Biblical David and Solomon,
his select status, his qualifications, his legitimacy and entitled majesty.
250
The introduction of sacerdotal concepts and of such symbolic ritual
practices as the anointing of the Carolingian imperial head of Charles
the Bald was a deliberate attempt to underscore the claimed asso-
ciation with the Old Testament kings, first appreciated by Alcuin
and those others around his grandfather Charlemagne, who proposed
the Imperium Christianum; the liturgical imperial acclamation formulas
echoed Germanic tribal and Roman military practices, while the
ever-increasing emphasis on official imperial ‘portraits’, as well as
Charles’ the Bald inclination to wear a diadem and veil in the Greek
imperial fashion, served to elevate the image, the ideal of the impe-
rial ruler in the tradition of the Roman emperors and reestablish
earlier ideas of the sacerdotal essence of the ruler, in the Imitatio
sacerdotii. The luxurious settings of the effigy, with their display of
monarchical splendor and implied power are the equivalent of accla-
mations of a king of Biblical stature.
There are several other dedicatory representations of Charles the
Bald. Considering that in 838 Charles’ ascent to the western throne
249
Mütherich, Gaede, p. 108.
250
Schutz, Germanic Realms, passim.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 259
260 r\n+ n
had been at the expense of Pepin’s son’s right to the succession and
that his reign was not actually exceptionally brilliant, we can see
that these ‘portraits’ are the work of image makers projecting the
artistic aura of the ideal ruler, the idea of the great augustus, an
image somewhat at odds with reality. The image may well have
been thought of as an instrument with which to advance the not so
veiled ambitions of Charles’ imperial future. As a result the repre-
sentations of Charles succeeded in creating the enduring image of
the illustrious Carolingian ruler. In addition there are the ruler por-
traits imprinted on coins.
A very richly ornamented Psalter dedicated to Charles’s brother,
Ludwig the German, during the second quarter of the 9th century,
does not contain an idealized ruler portrait of that king. The Psalter
shows one unidealized representation of a crucifixion group with a
prostrate figure, identified as Ludwig, embracing the base of the
Cross. (Plate 17a) This pose would be in keeping with Ludwig’s reli-
giosity. Theological questions were a constant preoccupation of this
rather learned king.
251
Educated in the seven liberal arts, on occa-
sion he seemed more interested in the interpretation of certain Biblical
passages by Hincmar of Rheims and complex questions in theology
than in political discussions with his brother Charles. Hrabanus
Maurus was close to him, so it is not surprising that Ludwig the
German elevated him to the archbishopric of Mainz. Though the
scriptoria of his realm, Fulda, Reichenau, St. Gallen, Lorsch, Corvey,
produced a considerable number of hagiographical and historio-
graphical works, it is unlikely that his court had its own scriptorium.
The literary activity during his reign is noteworthy, including numer-
ous splendid manuscripts commissioned by him, presented and ded-
icated to him by Hrabanus Maurus and Walahfrid Strabo, for
instance.
252
These attest to the king’s active interest in the intellec-
tual issues of his day. The beautifully illuminated Psalter belongs to
a continuing tradition of exquisitely colored, intertwining Insular and
Franko-Saxon imaginative ornamentation of golden initials and let-
ters which does not favor the use of miniatures. (Plate 17b) In the
German realm the elaborate and luxurious ruler representations will
have to await the Ottonian Period.
251
Wallace-Hadrill, p. 333. See also Hartmann, pp. 212–222.
252
Hartmann, pp. 218ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 260
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 261
XIV. Illuminated manuscripts—Christ in Majesty
The enthroned Christ of the Godescalc Gospel has been discussed at
length. In principle such a depiction of Christ in Majesty, a Majestas
Domini, was a common apocalyptic feature, painted or as a mosaic,
in the main apse of churches and a frequent ornamental page in
the gospels. Characteristic motifs show Christ contained in an oval
precinct, the mandorla—aureole—almond, seated on a globe, sur-
rounded by symmetrically placed tetramorphs. This glorious precinct
may also be a lozenge. Among the miniatures of the Vivian Bible
such a majestic representation of Christ, placed in a diamond shaped
tetragon, combines the major prophets of the Old with the Evangelists
of the New Testament. (Plate 17c) A text identifies the illumination:
The heavenly king gleams worthily, and the prophets [also shine]
Here, and the four evangelical heralds.
253
It is a composition, which represents the four corners of heaven and
earth in which the prophecies of the Old are realized in the New
Testament and fulfilled in Christ. That is the ultimate truth of the
Christian message. A simple linear frame of purple, gray and golden
lines contains the whole composition. While the Evangelists in their
formal writing poses are usually arranged in a clockwise manner, in
this Bible the haloed figures are diagonal opposites: top left John,
bottom right Luke, top right Matthew, bottom left Mark. Against a
deep purple background all but Luke are seated on a wing-backed
‘throne’, two are writing, Mark is thinking while he cranes his head
unnaturally to face upward, Luke is dipping his pen into his inkwell.
Each one has an opened box of books at his feet. Medallions at the
corners of the tetragon contain the busts of the four major prophets:
vertically Isaiah and Jeremiah, horizontally Ezekiel and Daniel. Isaiah
and Daniel hold opened Old Testament scrolls. Ezekiel and Jeremiah
hold closed Old Testament books. Just inside the corners of the
lozenge are the tetramorphs holding the pertinent Gospels. The sym-
bols are arranged clockwise from the top: the Eagle of John, the
Angel of Matthew, the Ox of Luke and the Lion of Mark. The
wings of each are spread to help fill the triangle. The Eagle and
the Lion hold books. All enclosures are composed of the same three
253
See Dutton, Kessler, p. 117, Fig. 10.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 261
262 r\n+ n
colors: purple, gray and gold. The intended meaning is the close
cohesion and interrelationship of all figures, united in Christ. Christ
is seated on a globe at the very center of the page, within the man-
dorla of two intersecting purple circles in the shape of the figure
eight. Under the cyclonic folds of an enveloping golden toga he
wears a light blue tunic. On his raised left thigh he rests his hand
on an upright book, his open right hand holds up the oblate, as
symbol of his Body, between raised right index finger and thumb to
face the viewer. His youthful face with large sympathetic eyes is
framed by a forked beard and long brown hair, which falls onto his
shoulders. The head is encircled by a crossed halo. All figures are
somewhat elongated. Two golden stars flank the medallion of Isaiah,
while windblown golden vegetation fills the animated blue spaces
above the medallions. Purple and light blue are the background col-
ors for the miniatures. The colors, lozenge and the medallions sug-
gest the shape of the cross.
In addition to the ruler portrait and four miniatures of the Evan-
gelists, the Gospel of Lothair also contains a picture of a Christ in Majesty.
Much simplified in intention, it features the tetramorphs in the four
corners, beginning with the Eagle of John at the top left, the Angel
top right and Lion and Ox from right to left. The latter are quite
contorted as their heads are turned upward to the enthroned Christ.
Within a large mandorla, Christ sits on a globe in virtually the iden-
tical pose as is given to him in the Vivian Bible.
Charles’ Coronation Sacramentary from Metz contains a Christ in Majesty
composition, which introduces several new elements. (Plate 18a) A
very similarly positioned Christ holding book and host as the oth-
ers, is seated in the large aureole. Seraphim, angels with six purple
folded wings flank the mandorla. Beneath them are placed personifi-
cations of the Roman pagan figures Oceanos on the left, and Terra/Gaia
on the right. Oceanos is a semi-nude reclining water and river god,
resting his right arm on a jug from which water flows. His legs are
robed in a swath of purple material. A large fish head protrudes
from the other side of his legs. Terra is a reclining semi-nude earth
and fertility goddess, clad in white, with two children at her breasts.
Two frames enclose this composition: an outside frame with simu-
lated gem settings, an inner one decorated in sections, mainly with
green leaf motifs, but also purple marble imitations. The motifs of
Oceanos and Terra/Gaia will undergo some modifications till Oceanos
is identified with Jordanes Fluvius and Terra/Gaia holds a snake to her
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 262
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 263
breast and a cornucopia in the crook of her arm. The Sacramentary
also contains a highly decorated initial page of the letter T on which
Christ is crucified. Above the arms of the cross appear gold and sil-
ver discs, with Sol, the sun god on the golden disc and a weeping
Luna, the moon goddess on the other. (Plate 18b) It is interesting to
note how these pagan, Classical motifs were revived, to be integrated
into Christian art, thereby demonstrating their continuity.
The Gospels of Otfrid von Weissenburg, c. 868, contain another
such crucifixion scene with Mary and John, and a sun and moon
representation above the cross.
254
(Plate 18c) The pagan sun and
moon motifs will find representation in art and architecture well into
the 16th century. The Sacramentary contains yet another Majestas Domini
page. (Plate 18d) Using the familiar colors for the background, the
figures in the foreground and the designs of the frame, this is a
densely populated and turbulent scene. The disciplined arrangement
of the frame contains and restrains the enthusiasm. Christ in his
mandorla is surrounded by choirs of angels, all animated and agi-
tated, in euphoric transport over the vision of the Lord. Christ is
seated on a globe against a blue background outlined in green, con-
tained in the golden enclosure of the almond. The pose and the col-
ors are virtually identical with the previous poses and colors. Over
a blue tunic Christ is enveloped in a golden toga. Only the outer
garment is less cyclonic in the way it falls about the body. The left
hand holds the book supported on the left thigh, the foot slightly
propped up. Christ holds the host in his right hand. A beardless,
invitingly friendly face with penetrating eyes is surrounded by a halo.
Once again the apocalyptic tetramorphs support the mandorla from
outside, beginning with the Eagle of John top left, Matthew’s Angel
top right, and contorted Ox and Lion of Luke and Mark twisting
their heads upwards to look at the enthroned Christ. Beneath the
mandorla, four very similar subdued looking male torsos direct their
furtive eyes upward. Without wings, they probably represent the
overawed Evangelists. They are divided into two groups by two of
the purple wings of the six-winged seraphim standing on the lowest
level. Instead of perspective and depth the surface is arranged two-
dimensionally into superimposed layers of ascending plateaus. These
254
A. Goldschmidt, German Illumination. Vol. I. The Carolingian Period (Florence 1928,
New York 1970), Fig. 62.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 263
264 r\n+ n
serve as the surfaces on which eight angels stand to fill efficiently
any remaining spaces. All figures have halos. All figures are robed
in the identical garments and colors as Christ. All eyes are turned
in veneration to face Christ. The figures display a range of emo-
tions from ecstatic adoration to cowed timidity. This revelation of
heaven projects the participation in the celestial divine service of the
heavenly host, intimating the worship and glorification of the divine
majesty in heaven as on earth.
255
The scene invites the enthused par-
ticipant to share this elated vision of this euphoric knowledge of final
things, as suggested in the Scriptures. These motifs also appear carved
on the ivory gospel covers and other ivories, as well as embossed
on the covers of sheet gold.
XV. Illuminated manuscripts—Narrative style
Among the illuminated gospel manuscripts several models of narra-
tion stand out. Derived from late Roman and early Christian reliefs,
many miniatures assemble figures related to specific events. Reference
to the anecdote telling the story of St. Gregory and one of his scribes
depicted in the Coronation Sacramentary of Charles the Bald has already
been made. The Drogo Sacramentary (c. 844–855), written in gold on
the finest parchment, colored in pale pastels, elaborates forty-one
capital initials with Biblical scenes depicting specific events relating
to the Life of Christ.
256
(Plates 19a, 19b, 19c, 19d) This in itself is
new and not without problems. While textual narrative makes itself
clear to the listener, pictorial narrative depends on a degree of ini-
tiation into the story to be told. Otherwise the depiction of an event
misses its narrative intention. Without this initiation a monumental
letter C, ornamented with golden acanthus vines with red edging
would be quite obscure, were it not placed into the text of the
Christmas story, despite its domination of the page, and despite the
fact that within the letter, a historiated initial, individual scenes of
the nativity are placed into the intertwine—the Virgin Mary’s bed,
Joseph as an uninvolved observer, ox and ass at the crèche, the bath
of the infant Jesus. To accommodate the shepherds, an elaborate
255
Staubach, p. 227.
256
See Braunfels, pp. 208ff. See Porcher, in Hubert, et al., pp. 158ff. Also Diebold,
pp. 45ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 264
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 265
ornamentation extends into the inner space of the capital letter. Only
the prior initiation into the story can make the language of pictures
clearly meaningful. Similarly there is the highly ornamented initial
D eus which shows the reeling guards, and the dramatic meeting
of the Three Maries with the angel at the empty tomb and being
told, He is not here: for he is risen. This scene was soon to give rise to
the Easter Plays. In all instances the tectonic forms of the capital
letters are subverted into writhing and enclosing organic, perforated
intertwines, a fine, original recapitulation of Mediterranean and north-
ern traditional stylistic characteristics. Within the letter D itself small
scenes depicting events in Christ’s interactions with the Maries are
intertwined within the ornamental acanthus vines. The vines enfold
the letters like living ivy. One of the Maries is at his feet, probably
the scene when Christ identified himself to her as the Messiah. The
main scene, however, shows the Three Maries before an elaborate
tomb structure, being greeted by the angel, with the guards reeling,
off to the side. Like this capital letter, the inventive initials are
extremely carefully thought out. Thus for the Ascension of Christ,
the whole inner space of a foliated capital C is filled with Christ
taking the Hand of God, reaching out of Heaven, as he ascends a
rock formation, flanked by two angels and with Mary and the apos-
tles witnessing from below. Here the human figures are reminiscent
of those appearing in the Utrecht Psalter.
257
Many initials are provided
with special compartments in which figures can be accommodated
among the tendrils and foliage to offer support by means of picto-
rial commentary for the textual message. Eventually these organic
intertwines with humans, animals and vines will characterize the
ornamental friezes of the Romanesque style. Old Testament scenes
are selected for their prophetic character, New Testament scenes for
the extent to which they show the prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s
passion.
The Vivian Bible contains scenes from the life of St. Jerome,
258
while the Grandval Bible from Tours, contains two pages of co-existent
narrative registers intended to be read sequentially, one page telling
257
See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 254.
258
B.M. Kaczynski, ‘Edition, Translation and Exegesis. The Carolingians and the
Bible.’ in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 176, for a discussion of the page. See as well
Diebold, pp. 71ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 265
266 r\n+ n
the story of Genesis from the creation of Adam, by a youthful look-
ing God,
259
to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and Eve giv-
ing birth in sorrow and Adam working the soil with bitter effort,
(Plate 20a) the other showing Moses on Mt. Sinai receiving the Code
and preaching to the people of Israel. These are condensed extracts
from richer pictorial cycles. The mid-ninth century Bamberg Bible
retells the same Genesis sequence, by arranging on four tiers sil-
houetted figures separated by vegetation.
260
(Fig. 9) Despite the sim-
ilarities of these representations, there exist sufficient variations to
indicate the possibility of a lost common source.
The miniaturists of the Carolingian Period, some known by name,
261
also found a focus for their narrative skills and creative phantasy in
the illumination of psalters, traditional collections of the psalms,
hymns and prayers, originally intended for liturgical use and com-
munal prayer, singing and recitation. The psalters served educational
purposes for the young as well, in that they were also used as basic
texts for reading and memorization. The clergy had to know the
psalters by heart, a task of several years.
262
By means of an inex-
haustible use of parables, metaphors and similes they succeed at mak-
ing textual abstractions of the Christian message pictorially visible,
perhaps as aids to memory. Three illustrated manuscripts are espe-
cially worthy of note: the Psalters from Stuttgart, Utrecht and St.
Gallen. Each reflects a somewhat different intention pertaining to
pictorial narrative, in that illustrated scenes are inserted directly
between the lines into the appropriate places in the commentaries
of the psalms. This represents a Carolingian innovation. The minia-
tures are not given an independent illustrative page. The Psalterium
Aureum, from St. Gallen, is a variant.
The Stuttgart Psalter is a vibrantly illustrated manuscript with some
259
Braunfels, p. 390. See Dutton, Kessler, p. 112 for the poetic texts and Figs.
5, 6 for the illustrations.
260
Kessler, pp. 13ff., and Figs. 1–4, for a detailed analysis. See O. Pächt, Buchmalerei
des Mittelalters (Munich 1985), p. 29. See Maguire, ‘Magic and Money’, in Nees,
Approaches, p. 94, who indicates that once fourteen circular ornaments showing heads
had surrounded the page, but that at a later point nine had been cut out, perhaps
to be used as amulets.
261
Alexander, p. 6f.
262
Van der Horst, The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art, p. 36f., 81. Also Contreni,
in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 729. See also Contreni, ‘Pursuit
of Knowledge’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 116.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 266
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 267
colored and capital initials and three hundred and sixteen vividly
colored narrative scenes. In this Psalter vivid colors are set off against
one another: reds, gold, purples, skin tones and greens provide enliven-
ing accents and contrast. (Plate 20b) The Psalter was produced at
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, c. 820–30. Three groups of pictorial com-
mentaries illustrate the psalms: illustrations of psalms making refer-
ence to the Old Testament, scenes with textual relevance to specific
psalms such as the elaborated reference to Psalm 42:2 (Vulgate 41:2),
showing the familiar stag allegory of the soul seeking water, and
events from the New Testament anticipated in the psalms. King
David, the psalmist, anticipates Christ. The pictorials then are an
attempt to cross-reference Old and New Testaments, to interlink tex-
tual and visual references into a coherent context. Old and New
Testaments function as type and anti-type, as prediction and real-
ization, as promise and fulfillment. The texts of the psalmists rep-
resent the Old Testament. The pictorial projection represents the
New Testament. The two together point to the knowledge of the
final things, which matter. Among these, five can serve as sample
pictorial illustrations for selected texts from the Psalms: 72:6, 10–11,
69:21, 9:4–6, 91:13, of the King James Version.
Psalm 72:6 (Vulgate 71:6) states He shall come down like rain upon
mown grass; as showers that water the earth. This text is illustrated with
the angelic Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. (Plate 20c) Against a
purple background the angel approaches an enthroned Mary from
the right. A dove descends toward her. Verses 10–11, tell of kings
bearing gifts, Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve
him. (Plate 20d) The vignette used to illuminate this passage sets the
Three Kings following the star, bringing gifts to an enthroned Virgin
Mary and Jesus, seated in an arch. The composition mirrors the
mosaics in San Appollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. The background to
this composition is green. Psalm 69:21 (Vulgate 68:22) reads They
also gave me gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
These lines recommend the circumstances of the Crucifixion when
Christ remarked that he was thirsty and a sponge soaked in water
and vinegar was passed up to him. (Plate 21a) In this scene a sol-
dier carrying a large pail extends the sponge to a very stylized and
unproportional crucified Christ. John and Mary approach from the
left. Again the background is green. Psalm 9:4–6 deals with the
rejection of the unworthy: For thou hast maintained my right and my cause;
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 267
268 r\n+ n
thou satest in the throne judging right. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast
destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever . . . their
memorial is perished with them. The illustrator chose to show Christ in
Judgment. (Plate 21b) Against a green background Christ sits on a
globe holding a scale, with the angel Michael holding a list. Doleful
looking individuals approach the judge. A purple configuration rep-
resents the ground. Psalm 91:13 (Vulgate 90:13) introduces a motif
which was to prove popular. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. The Latin text
speaks of asps and basiliscs and it is a combination of these, which
we will see again in the ivory carvings. In the Stuttgart Psalter a
rather martial Christ is shown with his red cape flying behind him,
armed with helmet, chain mail shirt, military boots and thrusting
lance in his right. (Plate 21c) This Christ is the effigy of the victo-
rious Roman general. He represents the Church Triumphant. In his
extended left hand he holds an open book. Against a green back-
ground Christ stands with his left leg on the head of a lion, with
his right on a coiled and rearing snake, thrusting the spear point
into the forked tongues. An angel approaches from his right. The
approving Right Hand of God reaches out of Heaven into this realm.
Despite the exclusionary directives of the Libri Carolini, primary texts
with significant relevance for the Christian faith are complemented
with significant narrative illustrations to bring the texts alive, includ-
ing the literal understanding of figures of speech. The numerous inte-
grated pictorial representations use the human effigy in contexts,
which are quotations by other means. The pictures are textual para-
phrases. In that sense they are not just mere ornamentation, though
they do have ornamental value. A ‘bilingualism’ of texts and images
speaks to us from these pages. As was mentioned above the quota-
tions from the Psalms are given prophetic power, that things were
indeed foretold so that they could happen. The complete original,
of course, had no such intention. The artist selected specific excerpts,
which would exemplify the foreshadowing and serve as allegorical
references to make the link between the psalms and the New
Testament. Clearly a deliberate link is created here between king
David, the psalmist, and Christ, to demonstrate the oneness of Old
and New Testaments.
The Utrecht Psalter, is an innovative and exemplary key work made
between 816 and 823, or c. 835 at the monastery of St. Peters at
Hautvillers under the auspices of Reims, perhaps even for the empress
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 268
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 269
Judith.
263
Godescalc may have been involved in its creation.
264
Aug-
mented by the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostolic Creed, it is kept at
the University Library at Utrecht. Hence the name. Indications are
that this psalter did not have a liturgical function, but was used as
a prayer book, a reading text, one to be studied.
265
An ornamental
affinity links the vignettes of this psalter with those of the Ebo Gospel
made at the same scriptorium at the same time. A textual affinity con-
nects this psalter with the one kept at Stuttgart and it is held, though
without demonstrable proof, that older, even Byzantine sources were
held in common by the artists as they prepared their commenting
visualizations. It differs significantly from the rather static Stuttgart
Psalter in that it is quite original and consists entirely of dynamic,
sketchy line drawings in a sepia colored ink on parchment. With
one hundred and sixty-six monochrome pictures, composed of sev-
eral scenes, it is the most extensively decorated psalter manuscript.
All but forty have subsequently been retraced,
266
sometimes a detract-
ing emphasis. As if intended to feign antiquity these illuminated texts
are arranged in three columns per page. Often the vignettes are
understandable, pictorial commentaries and literal illustrations of
specific words and phrases and events mentioned in the verses of
the psalms. In some of the animated vignettes poetic license makes
the translated pictorial syntax quite obscure and seemingly unmoti-
vated, without identifiable connection to the text of the psalm, let
alone the New Testament. The style is characterized by frenzied
hastiness, dynamic movement, nervous excitement, agitated gesticu-
lation, frenetic volatility and sketchy shorthand and caricature, as if
a turbulent wind were blowing through the landscapes. Closer exam-
ination betrays a superficial homogeneity of style. The illustrations
may be the work of three artists. Such indications as the different
size of heads, the slenderness of bodies, poor compositions, vacant
spaces, point to distinct artists.
267
Most unclassical is the lack of any
263
Van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, p. 82. See also Braunfels, pp. 158–179, 376f.
See also C.M. Chazelle, ‘Archbishops Ebo and Hincmar of Reims and the Utrecht
Psalter’, in Nees, Approaches, pp. 97–119. Chazelle, p. 99, proposes a date as late
as the 840s/50s for the Psalter. Also Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 241. See also Nees,
Early Medieval Art, p. 200f.
264
J.H.A. Engelbregt, Het Utrecht Psalterium (Utrecht 1963), p. 139f. Summarizes
the history of the manuscript. See also van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, pp. 12, 23ff.
265
Van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, p. 37.
266
Van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, p. 45f.
267
Van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, pp. 47–54.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 269
270 r\n+ n
rational arrangement of the available space. Instead, a surprisingly
new and enthusiastic vitality explodes on these pages. As if the result
of stream of consciousness realizations, quite unrelated, but perhaps
sequential scenes may appear in a coexistent manner and give a
sense of perspective to the seemingly freely roaming thoughts, placed
at random into planes of independent and unrelated narrative and
non-narrative episodes, definitely an artistic challenge. Sometimes the
illustrations appear to be aligned with the columns of text as if they
were to be considered a specific part of the column only to become
incorporated into a wider panel, such as a landscape, populated with
a crowd of civilians, or a military force. To us the representations
of humans, with their flowing garments and expressive eyes, have
something of the caricature about them. It has been suggested that
upon closer examination these figures represent only a few types
capable only of a limited number of gestures.
268
However, they are
supple, agile, contorted, capable of assuming any pose or position,
seated, prone, standing, bending or leaning, any gesture, tilt of the
head, as individuals or as groups of three or four, or as a large,
crescent shaped crowd. However, without benefit of the textual ref-
erences, the sketches are quite meaningless.
269
Occasionally the illus-
trations indicate that the artists knew the commentaries pertaining
to the psalms and sketched allusions contained there among those
dealing specifically with the psalms.
270
The figural inventory is repetitive and may function like a Leitmotif
in several instances. The formulaic illustrations include an enthroned
Christ in the mandorla, evangelists, hosts of angels, such pagan per-
sonifications as Oceanos, Terra, Sol, Luna/Selena and stars, walled cities,
gates and towers, temples and canopies, priests making sacrifice, bat-
tle scenes and sieges perhaps reflecting Carolingian realities, such as
the illustration to Psalm 44, barbarians attacking the City of God,
268
J. Porcher in Hubert et al., p. 103.
269
However, see Chazelle, ‘The Utrecht Psalter’, in Nees, Approaches, pp. 100ff.,
interprets fol. 90v. showing the circular group of seated figures around three cen-
tral figures to be the selection and elevation of an archbishop and the fastening of
the pallium about his shoulders and that it records an actual event, either Athanasius
or someone like him appearing before a council, or establishing the links of the
Carolingian church with an ancient tradition, such as the central role of councils
in church government. The scene may concern the profession of his orthodox faith
by Ebo, thereby dating the Psalter to 816–35, or by his successor Hincmar of Reims
in 845.
270
Van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, p. 71f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 270
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 271
sailing ships and boats, groups of soldiers frequently representing the
ungodly, mounted troops, infantry, standing, advancing, in combat
and falling, attacking and defending, field workers plowing with oxen
or cows, viticulture, also lions ravaging cattle and humans, snakes,
browsing deer and stags, goats, birds, varieties of vegetation, people
at table, eating and drinking, servants, masters and representations
of kings, Saul and David in palace settings. At least twice, Psalms
38 and 77, Frankish monarchs assume Davidic identity. (Figs. 10,
11) Several crucifixions of Christ and one of St. Peter anticipate a
New Testament event and one pertaining to the lives of the apos-
tles. Artistic ingenuity is evident everywhere even if frequently the
illustrations are quite obscure, as even a close reading of the psalms
does not help with the identification of the scenes. Such abstract
concepts as justice, truth and mercy are represented metaphorically
as female figures. In a psalm of seventy-two verses the imaginative
pictorial representation of the text can be a challenge. The scenes
or part of scenes may be represented as if following a general matrix
and not necessarily following a close reading of the text. At most
times the illustrations require the textual basis to be comprehensi-
ble. A stretch of the imagination is always required.
271
Thus the text
of the First Psalm speaks of the godly man who delights in the law
and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Fig. 12) Under a canopy
with six columns, a fastigium, sits a man in the meditative writing
pose of an Evangelist with an angel behind him. Sun, moon and
stars shine above to illustrate his activity ‘day and night’. Enthroned
on the seat of the scornful across from him sits the ungodly man. Backed
by soldiers, these ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, hence they are
shown cast into the pit of hell, . . . but the way of the ungodly shall per-
ish. The godly man shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. . . .
The Utrecht version is somewhat smudged, though the copy in the
British Museum shows clearly a reclining man, poised like a river
god, resting his arm on a tilted jug from which pours a river and
a tree grows beside it. Evidently not all the illustrations follow the
texts, nor do the texts lend themselves to easy pictorial demonstra-
tion.
272
The sequence of narrative details of the 23. Psalm can eas-
ily be identified among the pictorial detail. (Fig. 13) Its six verses
271
Beckwith, p. 45.
272
See Nees, Early Christian Art, p. 201.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 271
272 r\n+ n
can all be ‘read’. Identified with the Vulgate
273
number XXII, the
identified David, the psalmist, rests by flowing waters, holding a staff,
which an angel also supports from behind with his right, and pour-
ing oil from a horn with his left hand. The valley of death resem-
bles a cave from which ‘enemies’ are shooting arrows. A set table
is prepared before him and a cup like vessel in his left is tipped and
overflows. A temple with altar represents the ‘House of the Lord’.
Flocks of sheep, cattle and rock climbing goats complete the scene
around the bottom left. Here, as well as in the other illustrations,
the artists have elected to simplify their images. In the 43. Psalm
the text dealing with the misfortunes of Israel is not treated in as
literal a manner, but in a figurative analogy of a besieged city. (Fig.
14) To us the cartoonist seems even capable of humor, as when he
shows Christ stepping off his globe and out of the mandorla, hand-
ing his lance to an angel, to echo the Lord’s saying, now will I arise
(Psalm 12:5). For the Carolingian miniaturist this was not funny, for
his literal understanding demanded this scene to be taken as a seri-
ously sincere literal meaning of the word. (Fig. 15) Frequently the
New Testament figure of the enthroned Christ is used to represent
the presence of the Old Testament God. Both God and Christ are
equated with the divine logos. The illustrations assume a prepared-
ness to see promise and fulfillment in the allegorical links between
Old and New Testament references in order to facilitate a Christian
reading of the Old Testament.
A comparison of the illustrations of the two Psalters reveals sim-
ilarities and obvious differences. In both Psalters the subject is man
and his activities. Both aim to illustrate passages of text by means
of ‘visual quotations and commentaries’, and both try to draw connec-
tions between the psalms and any references, which might prefigure
events of the New Testament. In that respect the Stuttgart Psalter is
more obvious in that it is more contained, episodic and focused on
a specific event. It appears to be more stylized, less accomplished in
its artistry and it is ‘expressionistic’ in the explicit use of its vivid poly-
chrome. The Utrecht Psalter is monochrome, more implicitly ‘impres-
sionistic’, much less circumscribed, expansively panoramic and most
often a pot-pourri of a multitude of narrative elements on one page,
273
Kaczynski, ‘Edition’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 177ff. concerning St. Jerome’s
preoccupation with the Psalter. See Diebold, pp. 107ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 272
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 273
though not necessarily with any immediately apparent relationship.
Nor is there any relationship between the relative importance of the
reference in the psalm and the relative space given to the illustra-
tion. Even duplications are possible. It is the proximity into which
the artist placed them, that associations between unrelated illustra-
tions come into being. A good comparison is offered by the analo-
gous interpretation of Psalm 72 (71, King James version) in which
the psalmist speaks about having been saved and the Hand of God
having taken him out of his mother’s womb. In the Stuttgart Psalter
the analogy shows the enthroned psalmist with God’s Hand clasp-
ing his wrist, while he gestures to a mare and her foal. It is a styl-
ized and minimalist scene. The miniatures of the Utrecht Psalter are
clearly more richly imagined and more artistic in appearance. Here
the mare and foal seem purely incidental and almost disappear in
the panoramic context of the illustrated page which includes a walled
city, groups seated around a table, victorious warriors standing over
fallen dead, a fiery pit filled with people below two deceased in
coffins, a group standing on a promontory overhead and sun and
moon and angels in the heavens. Below the walled city are placed
the mare and suckling foal and above that scene the Hand of God
clasps the hand of the psalmist as if the raise him. On the same
level a small group is clustered while a standing figure with a ban-
ner in his left and is hurling a trident in the direction of the coffins
and the fiery pit. Another example would be the pictorial com-
mentary to Psalm 140:5, they have spread a net by the way side. The
Stuttgart Psalter shows two men hauling in a net of ropes. The Utrecht
Psalter shows the hauling in of the net in conjunction with several
other scenes. These scenes are bleached and some lettering has
leached through from the other side. Sheep and bovines are grouped
on the right and a farm hand is guiding cattle with a prod. On the
left, above the Vulgate number CXL identifying the psalm, is a
human head with gaping mouth, falling figures tumble toward the
mouth, a small crowd is assembled in front of a temple or palace
with a lance bearing crowned figure pointing toward the building.
A triumphant Christ is pictured above the structure. Except for the
large net, the groupings of figures are only barely visible. The text
of the psalm, let them (the wicked) be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that
they rise not up again, appears to refer to the scene of the bodies falling
head first toward the head. Other scenes are paraphrases and puz-
zles and not directly relatable to the psalm which they are expected
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 273
274 r\n+ n
to illustrate. This may be owing to the circumstance that the artist
had additional commentaries available as sources and that the illus-
trations are derived from these commentaries, rather than from the
text of a specific psalm. Once one scene fuses with the next into a
whirling narrative congregation of figural detail, its textual location
can be most difficult to establish, especially if in response to his own
stream of consciousness he gives expression to the association of ideas
developed from an idea in a text. It then happens that sophisticated
ideas coexist on the page with naively interpreted references and
passages from the text. The artistic work points to a synthesis in
which artistic freedom combines with the freedom of textual inter-
pretation and application to establish a creative realm of theologi-
cal learnedness. The softly contoured, curvilinear, cloudlike geographical
features are contrasted with the angular, linear demarcation lines of
temples, walls and cities. The result is an exceptional work in which
the miniaturist knew very well how to make maximum use of the
available space, of pliability and movement. Resolving the ensuing
puzzles in terms of the specific text is a trying activity. However,
even for the less engaged visitor of the psalter, the illustrations have
an enticing attraction. The horror vacui, however, does not seem to
have been overcome and may indeed play a significant role in the
fascination with it. Though copied several times, regrettably, the
Utrecht Psalter did not establish a traditional style from which a live-
lier form of animated illustration would develop. A stiff formalism
will prevail for a long time.
St. Gallen, one of the chief monasteries of the eastern realm, has
been discussed at length for its scriptorium, which, owing to its Insular
heritage, turned out some very fine manuscripts and psalters, such
as the Folchard Psalter, with innumerable spectacular ornamented ini-
tial capitals that clearly reveal the link with the Irish tradition. That
the royal monastery of St. Gallen had a very firm allegiance to the
Carolingians and their Davidic principles of a Christian Empire is
extensively demonstrated by the Golden Psalter of St. Gallen, the
Psalterium Aureum. Composed during the peak period of the last half
of the 9th century, this very fine psalter is written completely in
gold, as its name indicates. In addition to elaborate initials, the psalter
contains among others, thirteen illustrations focused on the life and
reign of king David.
274
One shows David being anointed by Samuel.
274
Braunfels, p. 390.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 274
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 275
(Plate 22a) The setting is an arch lavishly embellished with floral
vines sprouting from it and enveloping it. The columns are covered
with green leaves against a red background. Blooming vegetation
covers the ground. A large ornamental plant fills the space between
the two figures. A larger prophet Samuel pours oil from a horn upon
the head of David. Inscriptions identify the two figures. A whole
page illustration shows an enthroned David under an archway, seated
frontally, pointing his right hand to his chest in the manner of Christ.
It is an awkward representation in the style of the official gospels.
He is holding his instrument while he is composing the psalms,
flanked by two musicians and two dancers below him. In the span-
drels above the arch the Hand of God reaches in, top right, while
an angel gesturing his blessing, floats in at top left. None of these
figures is particularly graceful as it moves across the page. Against
a purple background the figures are pink or green, outlined in gold.
The columns and arch are green or purple, ornamented with gold.
This color scheme is maintained throughout. Best known are real-
istic military scenes identified with Joab, David’s general. On facing
pages the innovative artist shows light and heavy cavalry on the
march, on the other the siege of a city and the surrender of such
a city. (Plates 22b, 22c) Different from the Utrecht Psalter, here the
illustrations refer to the title heading of the psalms, that when Joab
returned, and smote of Edom in the valley of salt twelve thousand. The scene
consists of three elements—a mounted standard bearer out front, fol-
lowed by three staggered, helmeted, chain mail wearing hastati, dra-
goons, carrying lances. One carries a round shield. Over their heads,
the artist placed a group of five cavalrymen without armor, mounted
on three pacing horses. One of their horses is galloping. It is the
most skillfully represented horse. There is something unfinished about
this page, as there is a shortage of horses and horses’ legs as they
overlap one another. The running horse and its rider have not been
colored. Similarly the tail of the standard bearer’s horse has not been
colored either. Beneath the horses the billowing purple ground sup-
ports sparse green vegetation. Of interest is the standard carried by
a bearer. It is a long, tapering, pennant-like dragon banner, scaly
and serpent-like, spewing fire. Late Roman and Byzantine vacillas
had assumed that motif. It may surprise to see green horses. The
others are pale, or a reddish brown. Some latter-day wag felt the
pictures needed an extra touch and in strong black added a mus-
tache to one of the light cavalrymen and made the front horse into
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 275
276 r\n+ n
a virile stallion. The forces are advancing from left to right. The
ponies themselves appear to be of a small breed, judging by the
length of the riders’ legs but while the horsemen’s right legs are vis-
ible beneath the belly of the horse, their left legs are not. On the
facing page heavy cavalry and heavy infantry are shown attacking
a fortified town. Just as the hastati on the preceding page, all sol-
diers are wearing hauberks of chain mail to protect the body to the
elbows and to the knees. All are helmeted, fighting with spears and
bows and arrows. The fallen lie outside the walls. The figural pro-
portions vary. This time the banner is more of a flag, with three
pointed flys with tassels attached. Ground and groundcover resem-
ble that of the previous page. Four infantrymen have only four legs.
The horsemen again sit on too few, legless horses. Two are green.
Here too the color scheme is the same. The lower part of the page
shows the towers and the gate in flames and the civilians on the
point of surrender. The defenders appear to be the fallen dead out-
side of the walls.
It is worth noting that the compositions indicate a relatively high
degree of observed animation. Only at first glance do the horses
appear to be posed in a repetitive manner. They do suggest move-
ment. The horsemen sit their horses well. Hands, arms and legs,
bodies and heads are convincingly poised. Even the fallen rest in
acceptable positions. The artist appears to have chosen the moment
before the impending event, such as the surrender of the city, when
the degree of anticipation is highest, thereby introducing a moment
of tension into the action on the page.
It would seem that these unique pictures reflect some aspects of
reality. While the walled towns resemble those drawn in the Utrecht
Psalter, the walls are painted in alternating color patterns in red, gold
and green. This coloring is reminiscent of the color designs on the
outside of the Lorsch arches, to be dealt with below. The artist
makes no attempt here to show the Biblical figures in authentic dress.
The horse trappings, complete with stirrups, the armaments of the
soldiers are reliably consistent with other contemporary depictions of
the Frankish inventories of arms. Only one sword is visible, raised.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 276
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 277
XVI. Engraved crystals
Vaguely related stylistically to the drawings of the Utrecht Psalter
(c. 830) are several rock crystals incised with intricate, miniature
scenes. Twenty are extant, six others are attested. Generally shaped
like magnifying glasses, relics may once have been enclosed behind
the stones.
275
The best known is the superb, large circular Lothair
Crystal (c. 860) named after king Lothair II, king of Lotharingia
(855–869) who according to an inscription around the center of the
crystal had commissioned it. Perhaps made at Aachen, documented
in 944 at the abbey of Vausort on the River Meuse, it is now in
the British Museum.
276
In eight episodes, isolated, but only seem-
ingly randomly arranged miniature groups are gathered around the
center.
277
The narrative depicted on the disc deals with the Biblical
story of virtuous Susannah from the Book of Daniel. (Fig. 16) She
is shown located within a hortus conclusus, resisting the seduction by
the two false Elders while in her bath, then being charged with adul-
tery. Susannah’s persecution, the prophet Daniel’s intervention and
her final triumph have been seen as an allegory of the early church.
278
The story is too close an analogy with Lothair’s II own attempts to
obtain a divorce from his barren wife Theutberga in his own enforced
marriage, in order to marry his concubine Waldrada, thereby legit-
imizing their son and ensuring the succession and the continuity of
his realm, and proceeding against her with the false testimony of
two bishops, until the pope himself intervened to prevent the divorce
(865).
279
275
G. Kornbluth, Engraved Gems of the Carolingian Empire (University Park, Pennsylvania
1995), pp. 1, 19 and pp. 25ff. for a grouping of these gems. See also Nees, Early
Medieval Art, p. 202f.
276
P. Lasko, The Pelican History of Art: Ars Sacra, 800–1200 (Harmondsworth 1972),
p. 48f. Also van der Horst, Utrecht Psalter, p. 212f.
277
Kornbluth, pp. 31–48, analyses the scenes specifically and the details per-
taining to this gem. See Nees, ‘Art and Politics’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 212f.
278
Beckwith, p. 68. See Brunner, p. 138, for historical details. See. Braunfels,
p. 388, for details of the inscriptions. See especially Kornbluth, pp. 38ff., for a dis-
cussion of the Susanna/Ecclesia associations.
279
Fried, in McKitterick, New Cambridge Medieval History, p. 150, indicates that
pope Hadrian II removed the bishops of Cologne and of Trier from their sees for
supporting the king’s divorce. See also Hartmann, pp. 56ff. See Kornbluth, p. 37f.
Also Nees, Early Medieval Art, pp. 239ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 277
278 r\n+ n
The crystal was clearly a token of reconciliation, suggesting that
proper social and religious form triumphs over personal inclination
and perceived political necessity. However, Lothair II did not renounce,
nor resign himself to the pope’s intervention. The stylistic similarity
with the Psalter rests with the many animated miniature scenes,
which populate the narrative. The seemingly hovering, vibrant figures
have that same dynamic, nervous gesticulation about them that has
been noticed in the decorations of the Utrecht Psalter. The isolated
groupings vary from the Psalter in that brief inscriptions identify the
represented scenes, i.e. a Latin reading knowledge is clearly an asset
to the beholder when deciphering the scenes. Ground out from
behind in reverse, the stark white of the engravings contrast bril-
liantly when placed against a dark background. The sophisticated
precision of the gem cutter’s skills in executing the great detail on
such small surfaces is astonishing considering the limited space avail-
able and technology involved.
280
Although the 4th century Roman diatretari had carved the cage
cups around Cologne and passed their glass making skills using water
driven drills and grinding wheels on to their Frankish successors,
these crystals are worked with new techniques. The techniques involved
in the incising of the rock crystals, quartz, were newly invented in
the west. Their scenic subject matter is entirely and independently
Christian, without even oblique allusions to the Carolingian Impe-
rium Christianum.
281
Considering the brittle and fragile nature of quartz,
which permitted no mistakes, the polished clarity of the work is spec-
tacular. Using a diamond- or flint-tipped scriber, the artist would
first sketch the scene before setting to grinding it into the stone. The
sketch and the engraving were usually not totally congruent. It has
been shown elsewhere that in Germanic personal ornamentation rare
semi-precious, opaque stones were used in the protective magic of
amulets because they were thought to be imbued with particular
allegorical powers. A splendid large crystal as this one would have
been of truly elitist value. The crystals are intaglios, i.e. the scenes
are carved below the surface into the reverse, to be viewed through
the stone.
282
Though it has not been determined where the actual
production centers of this genre were located, probably in Lotharingia,
280
Kornbluth, pp. 5–16, for a discussion of materials and methods.
281
Kornbluth, pp. 4, 13f.
282
Kornbluth, p. 5f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 278
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 279
the style used suggests great familiarity with the work of the studios
and scriptoria of Lotharingia, especially around Aachen, Metz and
Reims. We see that same approach to the sporadic organization of
the pictorial surface. The primary interest in the narrative content
and its ethical importance had precedence over any calculated sense
of presentational form. Of interest is the use of Biblical narrative for
personal reasons in an entirely secular context. Does this piece already
signal a non-religious intrusion into the otherwise religion dominated
artistic art forms? Unfortunately this large crystal, 10.5 cm in diam-
eter, broke across the middle. Because of their smaller format and
their protective settings, the others have generally survived intact.
The later, Ottonian, so-called Cross of Lothair in the Cathedral
Treasury at Aachen, has inserted in its lower portion a rock-crystal
incised with a portrait and identifying inscription of the same Lothair
II, (855–869) who also gave his name, Lotharingia, to the region.
This crystal was originally cut as a seal, probably at Aachen. A
Roman gem or coin may have served as a model. It is one of sev-
eral still extant. It is stylistically related to the Susanna group.
283
Another rock crystal, now in the British Museum, is a large, flawed
oval Crucifixion from St. Denis.
284
It may have originated in the
Palace School of Charles the Bald (846–869). (Fig. 17) This theme,
carved on crystal, presents a convincing symbiosis as the disinte-
grating and corruptible flesh is depicted in the icy durability of the
rock crystal.
285
Indicating the same technique, it shows a carved
Crucifixion, with medallions of pagan Apollo and Selena represent-
ing a personified Sun and Moon above the Cross, justified by the
eclipse at Christ’s death, symmetrically balancing Mary and St. John
turned toward the Cross on either side. Both raise a piece of cloth
to their faces. None of the bodies is anatomically correct. While the
Cross, Sun and Moon received only superficial treatment, the work-
manship of the other figures is that of the Lothair Crystal. Dispositions
of the bodies, details of heads, arms and legs and especially of the
many folds of the garments, move this work into the very vicinity
of the Lothair Crystal. The female figures especially show consider-
able affinity. A dead snake is coiled around the base of the cross,
283
Kornbluth, pp. 58–63, for a detailed discussion of the gem.
284
Kornbluth, pp. 100–106, details the characteristics of this gem.
285
Kornbluth, p. 17f., refers to the tradition of this idea extending from the Old
Testament, to St. Paul, Gregory the great, and Hrabanus Maurus.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 279
280 r\n+ n
which conquers and overcomes death. These figures are part of a
conventional Carolingian iconography.
A superior work, also Lotharingian, from Trier (883–915), are the
miniatures carved on the Crucifixion Crystal now in the Augustiner
Museum in Freiburg.
286
This gem has been damaged on both sides.
(Fig. 18) Again the figures, movements, gestures, garment folds are
related to those of the other crystal engravings, but show a higher
degree of articulation than the Crucifixion Crystal from St. Denis.
Sun and Moon, each holding a triple flamed torch, as if to light the
darkness of the eclipse, accompanied by starbursts, are treated more
elaborately. The superscription above Christ’s head is legible. Three
rivulets of blood stream from the wounds in Christ’s hands. This
time four figures flank the cross with upturned faces. Each has a
base on which to stand. On the left Mary stands higher than the
soldier Longinus with the lance poised to pierce Christ’s side. On
the right John, holding a book, stands on higher ground than the
soldier Stephaton offering Christ the sponge soaked in vinegar. Again
a serpent is coiled at the base of the cross.
287
Heavenly bodies and
those on earth bear witness to the events. The iconographic com-
position will reappear on ivory carvings.
What impresses immediately about these Crucifixion Crystals is
the cold clarity and confident homocentricity of the art. There is no
distracting ornamentation. The concentration rests entirely on the
narrative presented by the stark expressiveness of the clearly cut
figures and their activities involved in the representation of the
episodes. No extraneous decorative detail to soften the scene. No
vegetation and no residual stylistic elements of the centrifugal organic
ornamental forms of the Insular Style. Only human figures, cut as if
in ice. The Crucifixion Crystals in particular focus exclusively on the
Christian message of the Crucifixion as distinct illustrative image.
The restless decorative imagination of pre-Christian art has disap-
peared from this genre. These northern artists have restricted their
technical skills to imparting a sense of symmetry and composure
through the extreme precision and sharp definition to the incised
figures important for the clear statements of the sequence of the nar-
rative. In this sense the scenes do not resemble the rather rambling,
asymmetrical, conversational forms of the Utrecht Psalter. Here the
286
Kornbluth, pp. 63–67. for details concerning the Freiburg Crucifixion.
287
Kornbluth, p. 67, for an interpretation of the serpent.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 280
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 281
homocentric principles of Mediterranean art have triumphed. The
Lothair Crystal illustrates an even more tectonic principle of com-
position in that its episodic scenes are arranged centripetally around
the scene in the center in which the innocence of Susanna is estab-
lished. More than the illuminations and the ivories, the carvings sil-
houetted on crystal impart a heightened abstract transparency to the
scenes, as the incised skeletal tracery is contrasted against a seem-
ing void, within which one could find an access to the infinity beyond
the Christian image. Stylistic elements suggest that the three crystals
discussed here originated in the same artistic province. Their style
will reappear in the iconography of some ivories.
XVII. Ivories
The ancient Greeks had discovered that if ivory was soaked in vine-
gar it could be peeled in layers and cut into panels. Already they
had produced polychrome panels and there are still pieces on which
the coloration is evident. That today the panels tend to be white
creates a misleading impression of clarity and purity.
Bone and ivory carvings and engravings are well represented in
the Germanic inventories of Pre-Carolingian times. However, the
Carolingian ivory carvings find their inspiration in the late Classical
heritage of the Roman Empire and Early Christianity. The ivory
diptychs, of the consuls, for instance, already served as models for
the formal poses of the Evangelists, discussed above. Similarly the
arcade settings of the generally Classical tradition, exemplified in the
6th century Throne of St. Maximian, in Ravenna, (Fig. 19) already
referred to when dealing with the Evangelist illustrations of the gospel
manuscripts, find an apparent continuity with the Carolingian carvers.
But, already the arcaded figures of the Evangelists and of John the
Baptist on the ivory throne show, upon closer observation, that the
architectural elements are very shallow and that the figures are not
in the same plane, probably an indication of its eastern origin.
Sometimes this is very obvious, as when the feet seem to step out
of the arcade and even break out of the frame. Owing to the lack
of depth, they are both in and out of their niches as when shoul-
ders and arms overlap the columns, while their feet are set between
the column bases, or placed over several steps at once without being
placed on one of them. By studying the ivory and the carvings of
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 281
282 r\n+ n
the past, the Carolingian carvers rediscovered the art form. The
active trade in ivory had come to a halt during the sixth century
whereupon the artists no longer had the materials on which to per-
form. By shaving the secular Roman panels, the Carolingians obtained
new surfaces on which to display their artistry. Their Roman asso-
ciation with imperial representatives was hereby transferred to the
aims of the new Imperium Christianum.
The Landesmuseum in Darmstadt displays an ivory panel, an 11th
century copy,
288
distantly associated with the Group of Ada Gospels
made at the Palace School of Charlemagne. It may have been an
independent panel or part of a book cover. It has a whole drilled
through the middle, suggesting that at some time it had been fas-
tened to another surface. The panel has a clear similarity with one
of the panels of the back cover of the Lorsch Gospels. It shows an
angel placed in front of an arcade. (Fig. 20) Its two wings and body
fill the available space completely, leaving visible only the elaborate
capitals and the arch, decorated entirely with acanthus leaves. Two
rosettes are placed into the spandrels left in the upper corners. The
angel, one of the cherubim, holds up a scroll in his right hand and
a ceremonial staff in his left. It seems to be walking barefoot over
a pebble-strewn ground. Its curly head but expressionless face is
framed in a scalloped halo. The garments are draped over the body
indicating clearly its contours. The facial features differ from the face
of the angel of the Lorsch Gospels, suggesting strongly that more than
one ivory carver was at work. The carvings must, however, have
stood in some relation to one another or been based on a common
model, for the individual details are too similar to be coincidental.
The physiological details are equally well articulated. The relief is
less deep. Ornamental detail preoccupied the artists more than per-
spective. Clearly the architecture is designed to represent an ideal
and abstract background against which the figures are hovering above
the ground. When compared with the fragments of arms and hands
still visible in the arcade of the palatium setting in the church of San
Appollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, and the 6th century ivory of the en-
throned empress Ariadne or Gothic queen Amalasuintha, realistically
only the hands and arms reach out of the architectural frame. This
288
Th. Jülich, in correspondence indicates that C14 analysis dates the ivory to
the 11th century.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 282
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 283
other, two-dimensional tradition suggests something otherworldly
about these ivories.
These carved ivories are primarily book covers of religious texts,
many of them made at the same sites as the manuscripts with which
they were bound. It is therefore not surprising that pages and cov-
ers would share stylistic denominators.
289
Two types of carved cov-
ers exist—surfaces carved in deep or shallow relief and perforated
surfaces. The available raw material would naturally restrict the ulti-
mate size and shape of these carvings. Rectangular panels about 20
centimeters long are most common. Larger surfaces are assemblies
of several pieces.
Among the earlier covers carved in the manner of the ivory throne
of Maximian are the two covers of the Lorsch Gospels, made in Aachen
c. 810.
290
Though the covers are now separated—the back cover is
at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the front cover, in
1555 documented in Heidelberg, was shipped from there to Rome
during the Thirty Years War as part of the Palatine Library at
Heidelberg, now at the Museo Sacro Vaticano—the two have to be
discussed together. (Figs. 21, 22) Each diptych is assembled of five
separate panels, two placed horizontally at the top and bottom and
three panels placed vertically. On the back cover a rope-like mold-
ing covers the cracks between the panels and around the frame, giv-
ing the diptych a finished look. The front cover may have the molding
missing so that the assemblage with all its marks of prior use is read-
ily apparent. The ten pieces were probably used and damaged in a
previous Late Roman context and repaired by Carolingians and fitted
for this purpose.
291
The front cover of the book shows a youthful
triumphant Christ treading on the Beasts, flanked by two angels; the
back cover shows the Virgin and Child, flanked by Zacharias and
John the Baptist. The front bottom panel shows on the left the Three
Kings in Phrygian dress before Herod and on the right the Three
Kings before an enthroned Virgin and Child, with the Star of
Bethlehem above them. Architectural detail frames and divides the
scenes on the panel. The bottom panel on the back shows, from the
289
Braunfels, p. 152.
290
Volbach, p. 132f., plates 223, 224, suggests Byzantine originals, c. 500, pos-
sibly made at Lorsch. See also Braunfels, p. 384. Also L. Nees, ‘Art and Politics’,
in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, pp. 195ff.
291
Lasko, p. 19f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 283
284 r\n+ n
left, Joseph and Mary, the infant in a manger in a stable with ox
and ass, and the angel announcing the news to the shepherds tend-
ing their flocks. Similar architectural detail provides some background
to the scene. These panels have the clear didactic narrative function
of announcing the good fortune of Christ’s birth for all mankind.
292
The top panels are a variation on the same Roman theme—two
flying victories holding a medallion between them. Here, of course,
the victories have been metamorphosed into angels. On the front
cover a radiant cross, crux gemmata, fills the medallion, while on the
back the medallion is occupied by a bust of Christ with his hand
raised in a Greek blessing. Two artists seem to have worked on these
panels indicated by the nuanced differences in the articulation and
modulation of the contours of the angels, variations in the physiologi-
cal details, such as their arms and hands, the flowing robes and tas-
sels and the depth of the relief. On the vertical panels the youthful
Christ and the left angel, as well as the angels holding the crux gem-
mata are less contoured and not as deeply carved. The right angel
on the front cover, the Virgin Mary and Christ Child, the two
flanking prophets and the angels holding the medallion with the bust
of Christ are carved more deeply, more expressively with a greater
emphasis on the linear fall of the robes. The scenes showing the
Nativity and the Three Kings are comparable in technique, equally
undercut.
The triple arcades of the vertical panels forming the diptych of
the front cover are very similar to one another. Roof-like wedges
are fitted over the outside panels. The arches themselves are fully
decorated with acanthus leaf designs and rest on classicizing ‘Corinthian’
capitals. In the outside arches are placed two flanking angels turned
inward toward Christ, very similar in conception and execution to
one another and to the Darmstadt panel. Again the angels have
stepped in front of the arches as their wings cover almost all of the
columns. The moving body contours are carefully modeled and vis-
ible beneath the rich and finely articulated folds of the garments.
The head of each angel is framed by a scalloped halo. Each angel
holds a ceremonial staff in the left hand and a scroll in the right.
292
Nees, ‘Art and Politics’, in Sullivan, Gentle Voices, p. 198f., argues that the
figures in these scenes are copies from other, 5th century Christian panels.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 284
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 285
Barefooted, the angels stand on a brick-like foundation or a marble
floor. The central niche is broader and varies from the others. While
the others have rosettes in the spandrel between the frame and the
arch, on this panel brush like foliage fills the space. Here the fluted
columns are visible almost in their entirety. The surmounting capi-
tals are most ornate, but individualistic in execution. The young and
smiling, triumphant Christ has curly hair which falls about his shoul-
ders, with a cruciform halo behind his head. His garment is draped
in pleats and folds over his body allowing the contours of his erect
body to be visible. His right hand, with pointing index and middle
fingers, is folded across his chest. In his left hand he holds a book
and in accordance with Psalm 91:14 of the King James version, ani-
mals are at his feet—a snake along his right side, a miniature feline
by his left shin, and a lion and a basilisk under his feet. Thou shalt
tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt though tram-
ple under feet. As mentioned previously, the scene of the triumphant
Christ trampling the lion and the basilisk was to become an often-
repeated motif.
The triple arches of the vertical panels of the back cover are basic-
ally similar to those of the front, with some deviations. The reliefs
are shallower. Here too wedge-shaped roofs over the arcades of the
outside panels. While the acanthus leaf design figures on the side
arches, the broader central arch is carved like a tympanum, with
recessed curves retreating into the interior. The spandrels of the out-
side panels are ornamented with modest vegetative intertwine. Those
of the center show space filling floral chalices with sprouting blos-
soms. The fluted columns of the niches on the front cover are mainly
visible, the hands and arms of the figures overlapping only occa-
sionally. John the Baptist, left, and Zacharias, right, are shown as
mature men with beards and flowing hair, with John holding an
open scroll in his left and pointing to the Virgin and Child with his
right hand, while Zacharias, dressed as a priest, holds up a domed
incense container in his left and a censer on chains in his right hand.
Wearing sandals both men stand stiffly on a brick or marble floor.
The fall of the folds on John’s right thigh is identical with the folds
on the thigh of Christ of the other diptych. Set between clearly vis-
ible fluted columns, sectioned into both straight verticals and diag-
onals, the capitals repeating the floral chalice motif, the central panel
shows an enthroned Virgin and Child. The scene is familiar from
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 285
286 r\n+ n
the illuminated Evangelist miniatures. The curtain backdrop over a
travis rod, the cushion roll, the platform, the full, obscuring fall of
the robes, the body contours and the frontal pose give this scene
something monumental. Characteristic for all of the figures is the
unemotional appearance of the faces. Mary’s mask-like face with star-
ing eyes is surrounded by a scalloped halo and a headdress bearing
a cross above the forehead. The Christ child seated on her hip wears
that cruciform halo and a rather mature expression on his face.
Enveloped by the same obscuring drapery, he holds a book in his
left hand to which he points with his right. Virgin and Child are
actually inside the niche. Owing to the wedge-shaped ‘roofs’ the out-
side panels are trapezoid with the shorter sides placed against the
inner panel, creating a sense of depth, an impression reinforced by
the sloping molding covering the seams between the ivory panels.
On the front cover this deepening effect is less pronounced as the
bases of the panels are rectangular.
The rather severe structure of the arcade settings gives the composi-
tions a tectonic appearance. The overall effect is static as architec-
ture and figures complement one another. Were it not for the flying
victories there would be no suggestion of any movement at all. Even
among the figures of the narrative bottom panels, there is at best a
minimum dynamics, as the Three Kings all hold the same pose.
The array of Old and New Testament topics, secular themes and
decorative designs intended for book covers is exhausting. Personal
ornamental objects such as magnificent carved, perforated and inlaid
ceremonial and liturgical combs as well as pierced panels of inter-
twining designs and animals, plaques, caskets and game pieces extend
the imaginative range of the carvers even more. These are amply
represented in Europe’s museums. In our discussion only a few of
these motifs can be considered, such as a triple tiered diptych still
presented in the Treasury of the Cathedral at Aachen, an Ascension,
c. 810, both from the Palace School of Charlemagne at Aachen,
now at Darmstadt, as well as a ‘Christ in Majesty’ from the Ada
group now also in Darmstadt; the Crucifixion Ivory, c. 820/30, if
to be associated with Louis the Pious, or 840–870, if to be associ-
ated with Charles the Bald, and now in Munich; a Temptation of
Christ surrounded by scenes of a Nativity cycle, c. 840/50 from
Metz now in Frankfurt; the liturgical comb from St. Heribert, after
850, also from Metz, now in Cologne, and the Tuotilo ivory book
covers from St. Gallen, c. 900.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 286
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 287
The worn Aachen diptych
293
displays scenes from the life of Christ
following his Resurrection, according to John 20:24–26 and Luke,
24: 13–43, arranged on three tiers to a panel, each surrounded by
acanthus leaves. (Fig. 23) The scenes show Thomas placing his finger
into the wound in Christ’s side, the disciples meeting him and embrac-
ing his feet, the meal of meat with the disciples, though the ivory
shows fishes and bread, his appearance to the two disciples on the
way to Emmaus, his interpretation of the prophets, his blessing and
charge to the disciples to preach in all the world. There is one scene
in which the central figure does not have the cruciform halo, con-
trary to the other five scenes. Five of the scenes are backed by archi-
tectural miniatures.
When looking at the very dramatic Ascension from Darmstadt,
294
one is struck by the euphoric mass of restless bodies, compacted
effectively into an ecstatic crowd scene depicted on that reused panel,
now cropped at the top and broken off at the sides. (Fig. 24) Flat
and in very low relief, eleven Apostles and the Virgin Mary are
fitted into the confined space in such a fashion that only Mary, St.
Peter and one other disciple are fully shown on the panel. The pres-
ence of all of the others is indicated through the depiction of body
fragments and gestures. The overall effect is upwardly linear, one of
dismembered body parts—arms, hands and fingers, many feet and
toes, faces, eyes, contorted heads, hair, beards, fragments of scal-
loped halos, body contours disguised by pleats, folds and garment
drapery, all striving upward. St. Peter can be recognized by the
sword he wields over his head. In this suffocating, panic-stricken
crush of frenzied bodies, there is no room for any other details. The
scene captures the moment after the Ascension has taken place, so
that the emotions suggested on the faces and in the body language
are surprise, consternation, alarm, helpless anxiety and the confused
fear of being left behind. Some eyes are turned upward, some for-
ward. The Virgin has her eyes and hands lifted upward as if want-
ing to follow Christ’s ascent. The scene strikes one as an excerpt
from a much larger multitude attending the event. This group seems
fused by the common wish to follow their master, buoyed upward
by the spiritual force of his miraculous experience. Christ is no longer
293
Volbach, p. 134, pl. 226. Also Braunfels, p. 384.
294
Volbach, p. 134, pl. 227.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 287
288 r\n+ n
in this scene. His former presence, now missing from this cut and
broken panel, is sought by the throng.
The Majestas panel from the end of ninth century Lorraine is
contained in a rectangular frame of acanthus leaves. (Fig. 25) The
spandrels are occupied by the tetramorphs beginning once again top
left with the Eagle of St. John, the Angel of St. Matthew, the Ox
of St. Luke and the Lion of St. Mark. The Angel holds an unfurled
scroll in his hands representing his gospel, the others hold books in
their claws or hooves. The wings are shaped to fill the available
spaces. Christ as Pancreator is contained in a figure-eight wreath
and pointed mandorla combination. This is a very static composi-
tion. The pose is familiar from the illuminated pages. A cruciform
halo surrounds Christ’s head, his right hand is raised in blessing, his
left hand rests on a book supported on his thigh. The body is exten-
sively enfolded in fully draped garments, showing the body contours
only very generally. Two seraphim, wrapped in six wings each, flank
his shoulders. Representations of sun and moon are placed waist
high in the mandorla. Two rosettes are added to the space near his
feet, within the wreath.
Very well known is the splendid Crucifixion Ivory, now on the
cover of the Book of Pericopes of the emperor Henry II, early 11th
century, now in Munich. (Fig. 26) Without the ivory, the cover may
originally have been the detached back cover of the Codex Aureus of
St. Emmeram. Placed into a precious gem encrusted frame decorated
with Byzantine enamels and the tetramorphs in the corners, the
Crucifixion Ivory is the central panel, about 28 cm × 12.5 cm in
size. A panel framed in acanthus leaves was widened with two addi-
tional flanges also ornamented with acanthus leaves. The panel, like
several others, is deeply cut high relief, even undercut and pierced,
with figures related to those of the Utrecht Psalter. Stylistically it may
point to Rheims or Metz.
295
The narrative is an assemblage of stock
pagan and recent Christian motifs and represents an original com-
position. In the upper corners of the inner panel two medallions
show Apollo, the sun and his horse-drawn chariot, a quadriga, on
the left, and Selena, the moon, in a chariot drawn by cows, a biga,
on the right. Between these the Hand of God reaches into the realm
295
See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 239f. for the theological complexity of this com-
position. pp. 246ff. for the pictorial association with Psalm 115 of the Utrecht Psalter.
Especially pp. 266ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 288
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 289
of angels, again Classical victories in conception, hovering above the
Crucifixion. To the left, stand a group of figures witnessing the
Crucifixion, a soldier, Longinus, pierces Christ’s side with a lance,
while Ecclesia, carrying the victory pennant of the triumphant church
catches in a chalice the blood which flows from Christ’s side. This
was to prove a productive Carolingian motif. To the right, stand
the soldier, Stephaton, holding up the sponge soaked in vinegar, a
large jug for the sour wine, another bystander and a triumphant
Ecclesia. She is again holding up the victory pennant as she lays
claim to the succession to the world-disc held in the hands of
Synagoga, sitting in front of the stylized Temple of Jerusalem. Sequen-
tial narrative is presented here in a coexistent manner. It may be a
suggestion of the Carolingian claim to the Davidic Jerusalem and
hence legitimize the Imperium Christianum. The scene may also reflect
contemporary hostile views
296
and anticipate even more sinister con-
sequences. At the foot of the cross the vanquished serpent is coiled
about the base. It is doubtful if the Carolingian viewer had any rem-
iniscences associated with the world serpent of Germanic mythology.
In the next lower panel the Resurrection is suggested by the angel
receiving the Three Maries in front of the empty, but multi-storied
Sepulcher, while the guards cower in the acanthus bushes behind
the building. Beneath this strip is shown the opening of the graves
and the raising of the dead, with the lids flying off the coffins and
the awakened literally jumping from their graves on Judgment Day.
On the bottom level we are again dealing with familiar pagan
personifications: on the left, the divine Oceanos, a cornucopia in his
left arm and reclining on an urn from which water flows, in the
middle, striking an imperial pose, an enthroned divine Roma,
297
on
the right a crouching Gaia, the Earth Goddess, with a snake at her
breast and like Oceanos with a cornucopia in her left arm.
Clearly, this ivory panel tells the fundamental didactic narrative
of the Christian message: the causality of Christ’s Crucifixion and
296
Lasko, p. 30.
297
See Chazelle, Crucified God, p. 269, for a different interpretation of this figure—
the Temple, and thus the transition from the old law to the new. This is a mis-
taken interpretation, for the Temple and Synagoga seated in front of it, are challenged
by Ecclesia for the disc of the world. But see pp. 281f., 285f., concerning this
significant group. Chazelle, pp. 286f., 292, considers a moralizing warning to be
implied in this transition of power, directed as an admonition at Charles the Bald
and his imprudent display of ostentation, earthly glorification, hubris, belligerence,
ambition and sin, rather than such virtues as piety, humility, justice and peace.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 289
290 r\n+ n
Resurrection and the resultant rising from the dead of all who believe.
The acquisition of divine authority by Ecclesia, the church Triumphant,
through Christ’s legitimizing blood justifies the displacement of
Synagoga from the Temple and from its primary position. It bol-
sters the claim through the use of Classical allegories of the Catholic
power of Rome, of water and earth, of fertility, of sky, sun and
moon and cyclical nature derived from a mythological mindset. In
conjunction with the promising spirituality of a belief in a sacrificial
death and rebirth, all under the approving Hand of God and the
Heavenly Host, the panel presents the legitimization of the Imperium
Christianum as a metaphysical amalgam of a new Pagano-Christian
cosmos for the new Chosen People of God, the Franks. The blend
of such animals as horses, cows and snakes, plants, humans, mytho-
logical, ideological and religious elements results in a new narrative
full of dynamic detail, movement, action and interaction and the
need for much inference, reference and consideration on several intel-
lectual levels. The panel records an awareness of social and cultural
currents. The carver presents himself to have been a calm observer
and narrator, certain of his faith.
At mid-century the carving studios at Metz were a decided cen-
ter of the art. Triple tiered pierced narrative panels, familiar from
the illustrated manuscripts pages, surrounded by modest carved organic
frames are frequent. These in turn are aggrandized by splendid per-
forated frames of astonishing space filling openwork design and are
works of art in their own right. A different approach was offered by
the ivory cover of the Drogo Sacramentary, on which the cover is
arranged in a set of nine panels. Another book cover reveals strik-
ing similarities with the cover of the Drogo Sacramentary. This cover
is entitled after its central, dramatic scene, Satan’s challenge to Christ
to tempt him to transform rocks into loaves of bread. (Fig. 27)
Contained in a frame of acanthus leaves, this is an accomplished
independent composition of two very well proportioned and realis-
tically executed men, carved in high relief, separated from one another
by a very convincing tree with large acanthus leaves. Men and tree
rise away from a plain black background into an independent plane.
Thereby the artist eliminated from this minimalist scene all extra-
neous distractions. The two confrontational figures are carved as
independent individuals, Satan standing on a stone, his bare toes
curled around the edge of the rock, Christ standing on the acan-
thus frame, his sandaled feet actually breaking out of the frame.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 290
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 291
298
Schutz, Prehistory, pp. 280ff.
Though separated, they are clearly linked in the dialogue of their
respective body languages. They are two well-shaped figures, their
contours visibly molded under the pleats and folds of their garments.
While Christ stands firmly on his left standing leg, his right placed
slightly forward, Satan’s position is less comfortable, since both his
legs are clearly bent at the knees. In his left arm he holds a staff.
With his right he points down to the rocks. Partly turned away,
Christ, the protagonist, holds a small scroll in his left while with his
right he wards off the challenge. For the two actors in this charac-
ter drama the body language is a substitute for the missing verbal
exchange. Satan’s pointing gesture ‘pronounces’ the dare, Christ’s
right hand formulates the rejection. In this little dramatization Satan
is the antagonist. This highly skilled artist had a sense of the the-
atrical as he drew the optical focus entirely onto the conflict in which
the question has been raised and the answer given. This artistic
intention is new.
The assembled frieze-like strips, which surround this central scene,
are not its artistic equals. Clearly a different artist was responsible
for these carvings. More like episodic scenes in comic strips in appear-
ance, the squat, solid and compacted figures tell the story of the
nativity. Architectural elements are present in almost all of the seg-
ments. These stylistic elements imply a link of this cover to that of
the Drogo Sacramentary. Awkwardly shaped, thick-set, compacted and
facially quite unattractive, with soup-bowl type hairstyles on top of
mask-like faces, they do not stand comparison with the accomplished
figures of the central panel. The Three Kings are shown riding
horses. These are the most convincing, as is the head of the ass. A
midwife appears to be assisting with the birth. The narrative scenes
are not entirely self-evident, nor is the sequence of the events rep-
resented. In the end the cover was not the most fortunate assem-
bly. The cover points to distinct styles and skills coexisting in
contemporary workshops.
The liturgical comb from Metz, formerly in the monastery of St.
Heribert in Cologne, belongs into the middle of the 9th century.
(Fig. 28) The pierced comb belongs to a northern tradition of per-
forating surfaces first seen in early Celtic art when perforated designs
in gold bands created the optical ambivalence which encourages that
elusive play between design and background.
298
The dark background
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 291
292 r\n+ n
as negative space may itself be quite meaningless except that it serves
as a means to silhouette the lighter positive design of the foreground.
The perforated intervals emphasize the detail to be highlighted.
Clearly, the taste for perforation had survived the centuries. The
pierced book covers mentioned above, illustrate this profiling of the
narrative friezes most adeptly. This comb is a synthesis of the older
perforating technique with the Carolingian representative techniques.
Both sides of the comb are framed by an acanthus leaf design, which
runs up the outside to culminate in splendid organic openwork acan-
thus ‘trees’. On the reverse of the comb a ‘Tree of Jesse’ is repre-
sented symbolically with a spread of foliage. Unfortunately the one
on the right has broken off. Two angels are fitted into the leaf
designs, their wings pointing up, while they are bent over, reaching
down into two perforated rose windows. The teeth are cut to form
a hemicircular frame on which the Crucifixion group stands between
the two rose windows. While the perforated friezes are nearly minia-
ture sculptures in the round, the figures on the comb are carved in
relief of moderate depth. Flanking the plaque at the top of the cross
are represented medallions with the heads of Apollo with a radiant
crown and Selena with the moon sickle, an allusion to the eclipse
at the time of Christ’s death, very reminiscent of the images carved
into the crystal Crucifixion at Freiburg, discussed above. Christ is
bearded, with a moustache and long flowing hair. His head is turned
toward his mother. The draped cloth around his waist is pulled up
to the thigh on his left and knotted at the waist, hence triangular
in appearance. His feet are placed side-by-side, meaning that four
nails were needed for the Crucifixion. Owing to the restricted space
at the foot of the cross, according to the tradition, a kneeling Longinus
with the spear and the standing Virgin Mary are placed at the left
of the cross, while a kneeling Stephaton and St. John are crowded
into the space at the left. All of the figures are of the compacted,
thickset type, found on the other Metz carvings. We find here then
the combination of the Classical tradition of carved relief with the
non-Classical technique of perforation. In northern art abstracted
ornamentation for its own sake had once been a primary artistic
function. It had survived in the calligraphic ornamentation of the
capital initials. On this ivory the essential representative portion show-
ing the contained and closed narrative human figures in static relief,
placed on a firm and plain background, has become an equal part-
ner with the dynamic ornamental portion consisting of forceful and
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 292
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 293
convincing openwork design. The angels provide the fusing transi-
tion. Two equally distinguishing decorative techniques are joined in
the use of surface ornamentation and perforated silhouettes, as older
northern ornamental techniques reasserted themselves. Essentially
frameless, the composition is very reminiscent of the unframed dec-
orative pages of the illuminated manuscripts. On this comb the dis-
tinct alternatives between Mediterranean homocentricity and northern
ornamentation have reached an accord. Embellishment and narra-
tion have become equal and integral parts of this ornate object.
The last ivories to be considered are referred to as the Tuotilo
Ivories, from St. Gallen, dated to the end of the 9th century, named
after the monk who carved them. Front and back covers of a gospel,
the ivories were perhaps a diptych before they were set into a sil-
ver embossed and gem encrusted frame.
299
The gems are in cabo-
chon settings, in which metal flanges are raised to clasp the stones.
The embossing shows distinct foliage on the two covers. The back
cover seems to date to the 9th century, the front to the 12th. The
ivory on the front is particularly overwhelmed with detail, both figural
and ornamental, to the degree that the many figures in turn create
an almost decorative impression. The didactic narrative is nearly lost
in the overcrowding. Tuotilo sacrificed the rational and pedagogical
clarity of thematic composition for an exaggerated accumulation of
the related detail. The central panel deals with a Majestas represen-
tation at the center, surrounded by all the motifs associated with the
apocalyptic Christ in Majesty motif. (Fig. 29) The central portion of
this ivory is completed above and below by elaborate sections of
pierced and undercut, tightly controlled curvilinear acanthus designs.
The two sections combined cover only a little less surface than does
the central panel. The back cover is more equally divided into three
tiers. At the top is a larger, similarly perforated and undercut acan-
thus design containing a hunting scene in which a dog is shown
flying at the neck of a stag. The central section shows the Virgin
Mary flanked by two pairs of angels identified as an Ascension, an
early treatment of the topic. (Fig. 30) The bottom section is almost
secular in that it retells one of the stories associated with St. Gallus,
in which the Saint bids a bear to gather wood for a fire and rewards
him with a loaf of bread.
299
Lasko, pp. 63ff. Also Braunfels, p. 391. Also Nees, Early Medieval Art, p. 222f.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 293
294 r\n+ n
The Majestas panel on the front cover has some details, which
depart from the usual representations. Here Christ is shown enthroned
in the mandorla, seated on a cushion roll, his feet placed on a plat-
form actually located outside of the oval. His hands are help up,
with a book in his right, rather than his left hand resting on the
book supported on his left thigh. Flanking his head are the Greek
letters A and V, signifying the apocalyptic Beginning and End. The
tetramorphs, holding their gospels, surround the mandorla immedi-
ately, beginning with the Eagle top left, the Angel top right, the Ox
bottom right, and the Lion bottom left. Immediately above the Eagle
and the Angel are placed Apollo with the radiant crown and Selena
with the moon sickle, both holding cornucopias. Filling the top cor-
ners of the panel are the enthroned Evangelists in human form, sit-
ting in front of a building, writing on their unfurled book rolls. Below
them, and flanking the mandorla are two seraphim with the six
enfolding wings, with the last two Evangelists crowded into the cor-
ners. Between them and right across the bottom we find a reclin-
ing Oceanos resting his right elbow on the jug from which water
flows. His legs extend into the center. From behind his feet, and
quite unexpectedly, the gaping jaws of a wolf ’s head rise upward.
On the right, Gaia leans against Luke, holding a cornucopia in her
left arm and an infant at her breast. A mushroom-capped tree grows
from behind her feet. A blend of amassed traditional and novel mes-
sage bearing detail characterizes this panel.
As mentioned, above and below this panel of figures, the deco-
rative spaces are perforated and undercut, symmetrically configured
acanthus ‘figure-eight’ designs. The spaces are rationally arranged
and very clearly articulated. Not of the erratically linear type of
northern intertwine, these mirror images are clearly ‘Classical’ in
appearance. The appeal is to an antique esthetic sense of propor-
tion, balance and harmony. The nearly equal equilibrium between
figure-space and ornamental space restores to the ornamentation its
earlier importance, while the optical effect of the overcrowding reduces
the figures to having a rather ornamental quality. Figures and orna-
ment are spatially equated.
The back cover is arranged in three equal tiers, but has only one
such ornamental area. Perforated and undercut, it is larger than the
others and arranged in only six dynamic circular space filling acan-
thus slings. The top strip shows a lioness tear at the throat of a cow
in the middle circle. The vegetation and the hunt combine to give
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 294
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 295
the panel a dynamic quality. The middle tier, the Virgin Mary
flanked by two pairs of angels, is rather static in the simplicity of
its composition, focusing entirely on the central figure. However,
were it not for the inscription above the tier—ASCENSIO SCE
MARIE—, neither the group nor the action could be identified more
clearly. A minimum of vegetation is barely scratched along the ground,
implying that the Ascension is about to take place. When compared
with the Ascension scene from the Darmstadt panel, this scene does
not have a similar dynamic crush of people. The bottom tier is more
clearly inventive in its narrative intention. A cross on a staff divides
the panel in two: on the left Gallus deals with the upright bear car-
rying a log, on the right he shares a loaf of bread with it, while
another companion sleeps. According to the legend, Gallus and two
companions were camping in the woods for the night. While the
companions slept, Gallus prayed. A bear came from the mountains
and licked up the morsels of food that had fallen on the ground. In
return Gallus asked the bear to gather wood for the fire, which the
bear did, whereupon Gallus shared a loaf of bread from his pouch
commanding the bear to hurt neither man nor beast. The bear
heeded the request. The didactic intention is clear in this narrative
strip of figures.
300
The viewer, however, must first know of the ‘mir-
acle’ for the frieze to have meaning. The story, of course, belongs
to a wide range of medieval, folkloristic stories in which animals
understand and obey the words of saints. On the left side of the
carving stylized trees and bushes, related to the vegetation on the
front cover, represent the forest. The saint, a crook in his left hand,
raises his hand in blessing toward the bear, rearing on its hind legs,
which is carrying a large log. On the other side of the cross, a monk
is asleep on the ground, while Gallus is shown placing the bread
into the paws of the bear. Here too the visible body language lets
the viewer deduce the dramatic dialogue. Inscriptions over the two
lower panels direct the viewer to their correct understanding.
There are of course purely ornamental ivory panels of great beauty,
such as the book cover from Würzburg Cathedral, (Fig. 31) with
splendid vegetative designs very reminiscent in appearance of those
on the liturgical comb from St. Heribert or on the ornamental por-
tions on the panels carved in the Alemanic area of central Europe
300
Nees, Early Medieval Art, p. 224.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 295
296 r\n+ n
such as those carved by Tuotilo at St. Gallen. The Würzburg pan-
els have in common that animals are placed prominently into the
space filling vegetation, most clearly a medallion with the Apocalyptic
Lamb, but also a bear, a boar, a pair of lions and birds picking at
foliage or grapes, or actually at the floral ornamentation of the pan-
els. They are distinct from one another in that on the left panel
eight of the animals are centered in eight of the lunettes created by
the foliage, while on the right panel only three such lunettes are
occupied with one large bird in each. The ivory panels are under-
cut and cover a gold base.
Ivory panels and personal ornamental objects were not the only
examples to which the carvers paid attention. Containers, both cylin-
ders and reliquary caskets were also made of ivory. Cylindrical pyxes,
to keep the consecrated wafer of the Eucharist, cross sections of
tusks, were carved with religious scenes in fairly shallow relief, quite
worn in appearance. Only very few have survived, such as the pyx
in Vienna, (Fig. 32) carved with the nativity scene, including such
curious figures as a Salome.
301
The reliquary caskets, which, as their
name indicates, contained saintly relics, are more common.
Two caskets now in the museum at Braunschweig can serve as
typical illustrations. The first, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, probably
made at Ely, and identified with the convent at Gandersheim, dated
to the late 8th century, is perfectly carved from walrus ivory and is
trimmed with brass fittings.
302
(Fig. 33) Its lid is roof-shaped. The
surfaces are sectioned into animated squares, whirligigs, filled with
variations of northern open intertwine and overlay with each strand
terminating in an animal, such as a salamander, bird-like creatures
and winged beasts of fantasy. The metal trim is partly engraved and
partly cellular with cloisonné inlay—powdered glass melted in cells
made of golden ridges soldered onto a surface, harking back to the
older Celto-Germanic styles of surface ornamentation.
The other casket, also possibly to be associated with Gandersheim,
was made over one hundred years later. Like other pieces it was
made in Lorraine, perhaps at Metz, and consists of wood, covered
with panels of carved ivory. (Figs. 34, 35) It has been repaired with
pieces of ivory and more recent decorative formerly gilt bronze
301
Volbach, p. 120, pl. 97.
302
Braunfels, p. 373.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 296
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 297
fittings. These also serve a functional purpose. It reflects very well
the thematic transition, which has taken place in the intervening
years. The abstract curvilinear intertwines have been replaced by
Christian narrative. The casket is again house-shaped in design. The
sides tell episodes from the life of Christ. The end panels show the
Annunciation and the Nativity respectively. The front and rear pan-
els represent his Baptism and the Crucifixion, styled in a manner
resembling the engraved gems. Clearly the Crucifixion figures cen-
trally in Carolingian art. Close inspection shows that some of the
panels depict novel details not found in the traditional narrative for-
mulas. The left end panel depicts the Annunciation, showing an
angel approaching a seated Virgin Mary, placed in an arcade. The
right end panel shows the Nativity in an arcaded setting framed in
acanthus leaves. A handmaiden is included in the composition, stand-
ing behind Mary. Joseph is seated on a stool, his face resting in his
right hand. In the gabled lid an angel is descending onto the scene
below. Perhaps an indication of the casket’s primary function as a
container for baptismal vials of ointments, the front panel empha-
sizes a prominently placed Baptism showing Christ standing in the
River Jordan, a clumsy attempt to show flowing water, pouring out
of a large jug held upside down by a large river god, the former
Oceanos. An undressed Christ, surrounded by the mandorla, is vis-
ible in the water. A clothed John the Baptist is in the water with
him and places his right hand on Christ’s head. Two angels are
approaching from opposite sides, their hand veiled as if carrying
clothing. On the lid panel above, a large dove, carrying vials, comes
down over the head of Christ, while several descending angels bear-
ing baptismal objects, fill the remaining space. Two angels occupy
the corners. A frame of acanthus leaves surrounds the composition.
The back of the casket shows a Crucifixion across the whole sur-
face. Over the acanthus design on the bottom a modulated ground-
cover provides an uneven base on which all figures stand. To allow
Christ’s feet to stand on the snake, the upright of the cross is shorter.
The crucified Christ is somewhat larger than all of the other figures.
The assembly of figures differs from the norm. A group of women
approaches from the left, actually intruding on the acanthus frame.
Longinus, resting on his spear, faces them and points his index finger
at them as if engaged in conversation with them. It is a moment
after he has pierced Christ’s side. Ecclesia with the victory pennant
in her left holds up a chalice in which she catches the blood spurting
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 297
298 r\n+ n
from Christ’s side. Christ’s arms are unproportionally long. His halo
is of the familiar cruciform type. Under his left arm stands Stephaton
supporting his right arm on the staff to which the sponge is attached.
The jug of sour wine is at his feet. He extends his left arm toward
a male figure on his left, the converted centurion, who points his
right index finger in the direction of Christ. His left holds a large
staff. Their body language suggests a discussion. To his left another
tall robed figure, perhaps St. John, stands against the acanthus frame.
The changes in the formulaic composition leave it unclear whom
these figures are supposed to represent. The Virgin Mary is not oth-
erwise identifiable on this panel. Mary and John have been removed
from their immediate association with the Crucifixion. Sun and moon
are not shown on this panel either, but rather on the lid. There on
the left a medallion shows Apollo/Sol in an ascending chariot drawn
by two horses, balanced by a medallion showing the moon goddess
Selena/Luna in a descending wagon drawn by two cows. A hand
holding a wreath reaches into this space, while two flanking angels
descend as if in a dive. The unidentifiable figures and missing
personifications, the curious positions assumed by Longinus and
Stephaton, the gestures of the bystanders, all indicate a departure
from the familiar representations. In order to accommodate Christ’s
head and the cross bar of the cross, the acanthus frame had to be
mutilated. Stylistically these figures differ from those on the other
sides of the casket but resemble those engraved on the rock crystals.
They are more delicate and seem to be the work of a different artist.
Ecclesia and her pennant of victory, as well as the representations
of Sun and Moon, closely resemble the figures on the Crucifixion Ivory.
As is the case with the other panels, an outside frame of simple
punched and geometric design frames everything.
What stylistic developments might be reflected in these ivories? In
view of the brief and limited selection of examples it may not be
proper to suggest a generalization. A different selection might allow
different conclusions. However, a transition seems to be clearly indi-
cated in the preparation of ivory panels during the 9th century.
Some were first carved as diptyches before finding use as book cov-
ers, so that cover and text are not necessarily contemporary and
stylistically at variance. Some may indeed be re-used antique pan-
els, or Carolingian panels closely based on lost antique models.
Though earlier Christian ivory panels carved in the Carolingian man-
ner are generally not known, they strongly suggest imitative begin-
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 298
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 299
nings derived from the Classical heritage. This tradition is reflected
in the choice of acanthus leaves for the vegetative designs and the
placement of compact figures in static, arcaded settings. The empha-
sis on tectonic, architectural detail then yielded to the gradual intro-
duction of movement, dynamics in crowd scenes, the arrangement
of drapery and its pleats and folds, and with it an emotionalism in
the groupings of figures. These are less overtly dependent on Classical
models and begin to make visible didactic narrative programs, as
the attempt is made to bring the events of the faith alive in pic-
tures, to make the abstract scriptural texts more tangible through
the involvement of the emotions and the perception of the senses.
In the East Frankish kingdom perhaps more than elsewhere, grad-
ually the earlier ornamental abstractions of curvilinear intertwines
reassert themselves with rather Classical interpretations to claim nearly
equal space with the narrative scenes on the decorated surfaces.
Though ivory panels were to be carved in future, the work in pre-
cious metals combined with gem and pearl encrustations was to gain
increasing popularity.
XVIII. Gems, precious metals and bronzes—Liturgical Art
One can almost envisage the competitive spirit making itself felt as
the goldsmiths working in their studios of the monastic establish-
ments or of the respective Palace Schools tried to have more of their
work accepted for the preparation of the precious manuscripts. It is
evident that manuscript production was the primary activity during
the Carolingian period. However, it has also been amply demon-
strated elsewhere
303
that the Germanic goldsmiths had all the nec-
essary sophistication of skills in their synthesis of ornamental techniques
of chip carving, engraving, embossing, and working with sheets of
gold foil, gold wire, granules, filigree, cloisonné, enamel and cabo-
chon techniques, associated with the traditional portable objects and
regal and ceremonial garb of the Germanic arts and crafts. Very
many of these skills continued to be practiced as the cloister arts
and it is not surprising that northern traditions of abstract ornamen-
tation should parallel Classical traditions of representative narrative
303
Schutz, Tools, Weapons and Ornaments.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 299
300 r\n+ n
and of surface ornamentation. The extant evidence strongly suggests
that profane works were either not commissioned very often or have
not survived. It is known that precious metals were not abundantly
available and since much gold was taken out of circulation, the gild-
ing of baser metals was a common practice. In view of the nearly
infinite demand for cultic vessels and objects, liturgical art had a pri-
ority to which other wishes were subordinated. No doubt much was
refashioned to conform to the taste of later periods, such as the cover
of the Book of Pericopes of Henry II. New now is that most of the
metal work of the goldsmiths will deal with flat surfaces to be embossed
in conjunction with accomplished, raised gem encrustations. The
results are the spectacular examples of liturgical art. The most impor-
tant embossed object is the golden altar of St. Ambrogio in Milan.
One in St. Peter’s in Rome had a surface plate weighing more than
200 pounds.
304
The products of these skilled artisans will represent
such a high degree of artistry, great material as well as high esthetic
value, that the work will be esteemed as spiritual work rather than
as craftsmanship, the artist being willing to see in his work some-
thing miraculous, achieved with divine help and defer the accom-
plishment to the Virgin Mary instead of seeking credit for himself.
305
Rather than being relegated to the ‘crafts’, this work should be
identified as ‘decorative arts’. The lustrous beauty and gleaming splen-
dor of precious metals, ivories, pearls and colorful gems, of orna-
mental contours, textures and sparkling material opulence will have
achieved a dazzling effect. Their considerable material weight and
great value was certainly recorded. Yet their real estimation lay in
the grandeur of their uplifting spirituality, amplified by the mysteri-
ous, magical properties attributed to gold and to gems. Their assem-
bly on a silver altar, or in association with silver or even golden
antependia, hung with precious fabrics, will have contributed to the
edifying ritualistic illusions of the liturgical and sacramental proce-
dures of the office.
The southern bronze smiths and casters brought north also make
their contributions to the specialized crafts in the manufacture of
large door panels, grillwork and large castings in the round.
306
The
embossing of contours and of sculptures in the round is then an
expression of the introduction by foreign craftsmen, of humanistic,
304
V.H. Elbern, Goldschmiedekunst im frühen Mittelalter (Darmstadt 1988), p. 77.
305
Elbern, p. 10.
306
See Braunfels, pp. 135ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 300
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 301
307
Smith, ‘Roman Relics’ in Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome, pp. 317ff. See Geary,
Living with the Dead, pp. 78, 179f., who argues that the policies of these kings were
a consistent attempt to exploit popular devotion as a means of control.
Mediterranean concepts and part of the Carolingian rediscovery.
This goes so far as the renaming of the imported bronze casting of
a bear sow (c. 200) into the Roman she-wolf, just to emphasize the
continuity with Rome.
During the Bronze Age it was possible to determine the prove-
nance of decorated bronze objects by the characteristics of the orna-
mentation. Engraved designs on metals were of northern and embossed
of southern origin. Today spectroscopy allows a more accurate geo-
graphic location of the origins of the component metals. The best
bronzes would consist of 9 parts copper combined with 1 part tin.
When highly polished, the effect would be golden. The tendency to
gild the bronze objects indicates how one wanted to appreciate these
bronzes. During the many intervening centuries this simplification
was affected by stylistic changes, though fundamentally this distinc-
tion still seems to apply during the transitions of the Carolingian
period. The northern pagan approach is represented by the metal
work of the Insular Style, as for instance in the intertwining orna-
mentation on the silver beaker from Pettstadt, now in Nürnberg.
(Fig. 36) Once gilt, interlaced animal and vegetative motifs around
the rim and down the sides created large empty surfaces, perhaps
meant to be filled with other plaques. The intertwines seem to have
been the exclusive ornamental purpose. However, the southern
Christian and humanistic approach triumphs by the middle of the
9th century.
The Irish monks who were active in the Germanic realms during
the Merovingian Period brought with them the cult of relics. These
were kept in miniature ‘graves’, reliquary caskets and burse-reliquaries
made of a covered wooden core, in the shape of a pilgrim’s pouch,
provided with arrangements to facilitate hanging, on walls for instance.
The fact that such relics were portable, meant that their metaphy-
sical properties were transferable from location to location, thereby
either adding to the sanctity of an established site or bestowing a
new sanctity where there previously had not been any. From the reign
of Pepin III to that of Louis the Pious this practice had the effect
of creating extensive networks between places of origin and the final
resting places and serving as a continuing, cohesive social bond
extending over centuries.
307
The northern styles of surface decoration
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 301
302 r\n+ n
were still being practiced and it is quite evident that the Irish reli-
quaries and the styles of ornamentation for portable objects came to
be complementary. The number of examples is extensive and they
are well represented in the museums of Europe. The techniques
mentioned above can all be found on these reliquaries. One fine
example is the Enger Reliquary.
308
It will have to serve as a represen-
tative sample for the many others. (Plate 23a) Dated to c. 700,
according to legend Charlemagne gave it to his Saxon adversary
Widukind on the occasion of his baptism, when Charlemagne him-
self raised him out of the waters, and his acceptance of Frankish
suzerainty and of Christianity in 785. If this was so, then Widukind
bequeathed it to his Saxon monastery at Enger, where it may actu-
ally have been made, perhaps on the occasion of this death in 807.
The ridge across the top of this burse-reliquary consists of five golden
lions sculpted in the round. A message pertinent to the baptism can
be read into these lions. According to Christian legend, frequently
represented in stained glass windows, lion cubs are stillborn and stay
so until the father lion breathes on them and then on the third day
they come to life. The pagan Widukind was dead until he was bap-
tized and then he gained life as a Christian. This allusion is most
probably coincidental, since it is unlikely that the reliquary was made
for just this occasion. The lions may also be a motif inherited from
the Romans who had set up lions as guardians against evil spirits
over graves and sacred monuments.
309
In this case they guard the
saint’s reliquary. Here the reliquary can function as the miniature
grave of the saint. It is of Merovingian stylistic provenance, precious
enough to be a reconciling gift following the many years of conflict
between the Frankish king and the Saxon duke. The obverse of this
reliquary betrays the increasing rationalization of surface ornamen-
tation through the symmetrical placement of thirteen cabochon gems
and cameos, which anchor connecting lines of spatial demarcation.
The symbolism of the number four, here expanded to twelve, lends
a multi-leveled cosmic significance to the surface. Three horizontal
rows of three gems each mark the top, middle and bottom of the
burse. In the top row, two are carved cameos. The five gems placed
vertically and horizontally form a cross, terminating in deep red
308
Braunfels, p. 370.
309
Schutz, Romans, p. 93.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 302
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 303
stones, garnets. The central stone, a dull dark blue, forms the cen-
ter of another group of five light, somewhat translucent stones. That
stone at the center of the cross is circled with white pearls, most
probably symbolic of Christ. Radiating lines of red cloisonné link all
of these stones aligned either at right angles or diagonally. They
form a square, a rhombus and a cross. The zones thus created by
the outlines of red cloisonné are then filled with constrained cloi-
sonné animals, such as snakes, fish and birds. Some of the latter
clearly are birds of prey. Others are doves. These beings represent
a new animated creation under the sign of the cross.
310
The ratio-
nalization of anchor points and spatial organization not withstand-
ing, at first and second glance the overall surface is a confusing
assembly of forms and colors, arranged in seemingly random and
indistinguishable array, quite in keeping with the Germanic tech-
niques. In many instances the flux or inlay has fallen out of the cells,
revealing clearly the manufacturing technique which sees the cells
created by soldering vertical ridges of gold onto a golden surface
and then filling the cells created with contrasting matter. In many
locations on the surface the cells have also fallen off, making this
surface well suited for the study of this decorating technique. The
animals of the upper part of the surface are two birds and two fish;
of the lower half four snakes in figure-eight design and two birds.
The overall impression is kaleidoscopic. A border of mainly red cloi-
sonné surrounds the entire surface. While the ends are also in cloi-
sonné, the reverse of the reliquary belongs to the newer humanistic
tradition of representing figures in arcade settings on embossed sheet
gold. (Fig.) Rather rudimentary in execution, six half figures are
arranged in two tiers of three figures each. The central bottom arcade
shelters the Virgin Mary and the Child. The niche above shows
Christ with the cruciform halo, flanked by two angels. The other
two figures flanking the Virgin and Child represent Peter with the
keys, on their right, and Paul. Whatever the actual date of its man-
ufacture, this burse-reliquary is characterized by the transition of
decorative styles. Perhaps the poor state of preservation allows the
conclusion that the colorful, ‘pagan’ side was relegated to the wall
and that the golden side was actually preferred and that the change
in taste had already taken place.
310
Elbern, p. 27.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 303
304 r\n+ n
Another spectacular reliquary (33×21×7.5 cm) is the one associ-
ated with St. Stephen, originally kept in Aachen, now in Vienna.
(Plate 23b) Though extremely valuable for its total surface covering,
cabochon settings of row upon row of closely spaced multicolored
gems, set in indentations, its artistic value is much compromised. A
cross of larger gems is barely discernible. The face of the burse is
the work of a craftsman without artistic aspirations. Its sides are dec-
orated with hunting and fishing scenes, reminiscent of the nervous
style of the Ebo Gospel.
311
The burse is supposed to have contained
the blood-soaked earth of the executed St. Stephen, the first mar-
tyr. Was the material value of the reliquary meant to reflect the spir-
itual value of its content?
312
The reverse is of much later manufacture.
The ridge is Gothic.
Two brilliant examples represent the Insular Style during the
Carolingian period: the Tassilo Chalice, still in the monastery at
Kremsmünster in Upper Austria and the First Cover of the Lindau
Gospel, now in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
313
The
objects tell of a confluence of insular and continental techniques,
perhaps in the area surrounding Salzburg. While the ornamentation
on the ‘slender’ chalice is rather ‘Celtic’ in appearance, stylistically
it is not related to the Irish chalices, which are broader than they
are tall,
314
that of the book cover has greater resemblance with the
Anglo-Saxon buckle from Sutton Hoo. Lombardic elements con-
tribute a third element. The chalice is a historical document, which
survived into our time by virtue of it being of copper. (Plate 25a)
Had it been of gold, as its inside cup actually was, it would have
been melted down during the Austrian Secularization at the end of
the 18th century. Being a unique survivor the chalice bears a tremen-
dous burden of responsibility. It is singled out and treated with a
respect that may actually be misplaced, if it were known what other
examples have been lost over time. Providentially the Chalice is a
marvelous work of art. The chalice is an historical monument in
that it records the marriage of Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria with
311
Braunfels, p. 387.
312
See Geary, Living with the Dead, pp. 200ff. for a discussion of the evaluation
of relics and their worth.
313
Braunfels, p. 89, suggests that when particularly valuable pieces of liturgical
art were needed one turned to Anglo-Saxons or those trained by them.
314
M. Ryan, ‘The Derrynaflan Hoard and Early Irish Art’, in L. Nees, (ed.),
Approaches to Early Medieval Art (Cambridge, Mass. 1998), p. 55.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 304
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 305
Liutpirc, the daughter of Desiderius, king of the Lombards, c. 768/69.
It may have been donated to the monastery of Kremsmünster on
the occasion of its foundation, c. 770.
315
The cultural details of this
event are recorded on the vessel itself. The history of this situation
has already been discussed above. The chalice is also something of
a challenge directed against the Carolingians. With similar intent,
the foundations of the cathedral built by bishop Virgil in Salzburg
were deliberately much larger than those of the Carolingian church
of St. Denis. Tassilo’s mother was the sister of Pepin, so that Charles
and Carloman were Tassilo’s cousins. Tassilo’s link with the estab-
lished older kingdom of the Lombards, made him at least of equal
status with the usurping Carolingians, if not their better. The text
and the abbreviations on the hollow conical base of the chalice for-
mulate the position and infer the claim. A circular text reads +TAS-
SILO DUX FORTIS + LIUTPIRC VIRGA REGALIS+, meaning ‘Tassilo
the brave Duke and Liutpirc the royal Sprout’. The dignified tone
of this inscription indicates the formality of this commission. In the
terminology he associates himself with military strength, she with a
budding twig. The crosses separate the text into male and female
sections. Above the Tassilo section two male figures in silver medal-
lions contain a torso with youthful and beardless face pressing the
fingers of his right hand to his chest. His head is flanked by the let-
ters T, M, interpreted to refer to the soldier Martyr Theodor, a first
name much favored for the sons of the Agilolfingian dukes of Bavaria.
To his left, an older bearded face but with the same gesture is
flanked by the letter I, B, Johannes Baptista, the patron saint of the
Agilolfingian dukes, as well as of the Lombardic royal line. Above
the Liutpirc section a female portrait, with her right hand holding
a scepter pressed to her breast, has the letters P and T placed beside
her head. These initials have been identified to mean Panhagia
Theodelinda, Highly respected Theodelinda. Theodelinda was the
Bavarian princess who in 589 had become the great queen of the
Lombards. Beside her a charming female torso with the flanking let-
ters M, T, interpreted to mean Maria Theotokos, Mary, Mother (bearer)
of God.
316
Quite clearly the august assembly of secular and religious
315
Volbach in Hubert, et al., p. 210.
316
P. Stollenmayer, E. Widder, Der Kelch des Herzogs Tassilo (Rosenheim 1976),
pp. 13ff.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 305
306 r\n+ n
personages infers a glory by association for this royal couple estab-
lishing a princely claim of the highest order. What did the Carolingians
have to match this? The political implication was to have serious
consequences. The unhappy outcome of this rivalry for Tassilo has
already been discussed.
The conical base is linked to the cup by means of an ornamented
nodule, above which is placed a rotating ring of gilt beads. When
held in the priest’s left hand during the Eucharist, while his right is
fitted into the hollow base, the ring acted as a ‘ball bearing’, allowing
the priest to rotate the cup without changing the position of his left
hand on the chalice. The large cup, able to hold 1.75 liters of wine,
depicts in five silver medallions portraits of Christ and of the four
Evangelists and their emblems. The Christ effigy is aligned vertically
with the name Tassilo and the medallions of the two male saints on
the base. Here again a message waits to be deduced. The Tassilo
Chalice is more than an historical document. It is an icon, which
incorporates the essential sacramental mystical elements of the faith.
The chalice, 25.5 cm tall, is also a work of art, of exceptional
beauty in itself. It is the only one of its kind. The fact that the his-
torical themes represented on the chalice reflect the Bavarian and
Lombard situation so closely makes it unlikely that the chalice was
imported from far away. The craftsmen must have been at home in
the Bavarian duchy. They themselves, however, may have been of
or very closely associated with the Hiberno-Celtic traditions of orna-
mentation, for the dominant ornamentation effects the carpet pages
of the Insular Style, though a close inspection of the chip carving
reveals itself to be of the Animal Style found on Germanic fibulas.
(Plates 25b, 25c, 25d) Into these fields of writhing intertwines, medal-
lions bearing effigies have been inserted. Clearly the decorative ele-
ments have captured a moment of tension in the transition from
northern pagan ornamentation to didactic Christian representation.
The confounding ornamental interlace, formerly the primary self-
satisfied ornamental intention, has been relegated to the secondary
role as frame of the message carrying effigies representing the Christian
faith. The techniques of ornamentation include chip carving, engrav-
ing, niello—a mixture of silver, copper, lead and sulfur—, and ample
use of silver and gold. The ornamentation leaves no empty spaces
anywhere on the chalice. The medallions are silvery in appearance
with golden accents. Most of the carpet ornamentation is gilt. Each
of the medallions is encircled with a golden linear Germanic braid
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 306
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 307
design of figure-eight overlays and intertwines, the sort, which would
unravel if pulled at one end. The ovals are linked as if with golden
= signs. All the spaces between the ovals are decorated with chip
carved designs of the pagan northern Animal Style, characterized by
disjointed linear assemblies, reminiscent of the reconfigured bracteats
found in Saxony. The lip of the cup is encircled by a frieze of inter-
twines separated by semicircles of silver, linked with roofs. All of
these configurations are filled with the chip carved serpentine inter-
twines and dismembered body parts characteristic for the style. The
same holds true for the triangular spandrels, which fill all spaces
around the medallions.
As was mentioned, the silver medallions on the cup contain the
effigies of Christ and of the Evangelists with their tetramorphic
emblems. The details of the figures are outlined sharply in con-
trasting black niello. Owing to an impact, probably a fall, the Christ
medallion had separated from its copper base. During the repairs,
the silver plate was riveted to the cup, leaving six rivet marks on
the surface without relevance to the composition. The Christ effigy
is a half-figured Majestas Domini representation. His youthful bearded
and mustachioed face is framed by a full head of flowing hair. It is
surrounded by a doubly grooved golden halo. Horizontal golden
grooves above shoulder height represent a band on which appear in
dark niello the Greek letters A and V, Beginning and End, signify-
ing the Apocalypse from Revelation. Vertical and forked golden grooves
intimate the back of the throne. His garments are edged in gold.
The right hand is raised in an elegant gesture of the Greek bless-
ing. His left is rather unproportional and understated. The medal-
lion now also bears the additional letters I and S, meaning Jesus
Salvator, Jesus the Savior, on both sides of the head. Being Latin
words rather than Greek, it is held that these were added during
the repairs. Their intention is clear: to stress the quiet solace and
sublime composure represented by the majesty of the Savior. The
four medallions showing the Evangelists are less clearly defined because
of the more turbulent ensemble created by crowding each Evangelist
and emblematic being into the limited space of the medallion. Outlines
in niello and lines of emphasis in gold create a chaotic effect for
each medallion. These figures are not so well drawn as the Christ
effigy, and are more erratic in execution and actually rather expres-
sionistic in effect.
Of interest is the nodule, more than just a physical link between
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 307
308 r\n+ n
cup and base. In among the intertwine are fastened nine diamond
shaped designs, composed of some 200 independent petals, forming
rosettes. These are attached separately, riveted to the base and delin-
eated in niello. Only one of these petals has been damaged and lost.
The number nine totals the number of medallions: four on the base
and five on the cup, figuratively transforming the chalice into a cos-
mological entity.
Despite the space filling decorative technique, which covers all
possible surfaces, these surfaces are arranged into well-organized
zones, each delineated by thin silver strips reinforced by niello lines.
With the component parts linked, the cup displays a hieratic con-
tinuum of a lower order of individuals related or associated with the
given historical and political situation on the base and the higher
spiritual and theological order of the faith. Christ and the Evangelists
are the Gospels and in the Transubstantiation of the Eucharist, the
wine is Christ’s blood. By means of the chalice and the wine, the
select celebrant in the Eucharist participates in the mystical union
with the divinity. The chalice suggests, that Tassilo saw himself to
have been so chosen.
Originating during the very early Carolingian period the Tassilo
Chalice projects a stimulating work, which demonstrates very well the
melding of two stylistic and cultural realities represented by the pagan
northern Insular and Animal Styles with the Christian humanism and
the homocentric intentions of the Mediterranean cultures.
It is noteworthy that the combination of pagan and Christian ele-
ments has been noted before, as on the Crucifixion Ivory, where the
pagan elements were of a humanistic, Classical origin. Here the pagan
elements are vestiges of the northern tradition of organic surface
ornamentation. Though the non-iconographic designs of braid and
complicated interlace will continue in the elaborate decoration of
incipit capitals in illuminated manuscripts, as ‘carpet pages’ this is
something of their last Hurrah. Once relegated to their secondary,
non-narrative role as ornamental frames, they will soon be pushed
off the surfaces altogether, to clear the space for geometric borders
and message oriented, homocentric narrative, dependent on anthro-
pomorphic representations.
Known as the First Cover of the Lindau Gospel, it is actually its
back cover, probably added at a later time.
317
(Plate 26a) It is held
317
Volbach, in Hubert et al., p. 213.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 308
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 309
to be a nearly contemporary work of the chalice, though dated as
early as c. 770 or as late as c. 830. This cover is also a melding of
pagan and Christian elements, with the aspects of the pagan northern
Animal Style retaining the dominant role on the cover. The Christian
element is represented in small, arcaded Christ effigies on the arms
of the cross, stylistically related to Lombardic work,
318
and in very
advanced and sophisticatedly articulated miniatures, embossed scenes
of the Evangelists assuming their formal writing poses, accompanied
by their emblems. The original Christian elements have been
modified.
319
On this cover the cross, in definite ‘Maltese’ outline, has
been given the focal position with the later addition of the letters
symbolizing Christ, such a XPS DMS, Christus Dominus, at the very
center, and although the stylized busts of Christ with cruciform halos
are very apparent, the arms of the cross are ornamented with fan-
tastic animals and interlaced salamander-like creatures extending out
into the blue frieze of the frame, while other ‘baroque’ motifs from
the arms of the cross are continued into the golden frieze on the
right and on the bottom. The space between the arms of the cross
is filled entirely with creatures representing the animated universe
under the cross in the form of a maze of pincer jawed, tail biting,
intertwining snakes, salamanders, birdlike and serpentine canine crea-
tures. It cannot be missed that here too the filling patterns are end-
lessly repeated motifs, as if excerpted from some infinite scheme.
Accurate symmetry does not appear to have been the objective in
the space filling designs of these sections. Each of these fields is
finished with chasing along the edges. Beaded gold wire surrounds
many of the surface areas. At the center of each of these spaces a
precious gem—amethysts, emeralds—occupies a cabochon setting.
The cross received particular attention. Pearls and gems accent the
cross symmetrically, with pearls being placed at all the tips of the
cross and around the juncture of the arms and on the vertical arms
of the cross, 16 pearls in all. The Christ effigies and the other con-
torted fantasy birds are covered with champ-levé enamel, while other
delineations are done in red cloisonné. Above the Christ effigies on
the vertical arms of the cross and contained in a red cloisonné lunette,
are two anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures of dismembered,
318
Elbern, p. 24.
319
Braunfels, p. 366.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 309
310 r\n+ n
randomly reassembled bodies with too many hands clasping dislo-
cated parts. While on three of the effigies the lapels of the mantle
are arranged in two arches down the front of the body, on one of
them the lapels form a definite X, perhaps intended to suggest the
Greek letter Chi, one of the symbolic Greek letters abbreviating the
Christogram. Abstract designs or mask-like faces fill the spandrels
left between the diverging tips of the terminals of the cross. On one
long and one short side the frame is composed of very decorative
fish and bird motifs done in multicolored cloisonné, interspersed by
subdivided circular and square red cloisonné patterns. One short side
is decorated with LaTène looking Celtic appliqués, also to be found
filling spaces on the cross. Gems in cabochon settings are regularly
spaced around three sides of the frame. The cover is completed on
the long sides by strips of geometrics, except for a short section of
interlacing pattern. To ‘modernize’ the cover, sectors were later pro-
vided (c. 870) in the four corners to accommodate the Evangelists.
In view of the established Germanic expertise, the sophistication of
these embossed settings, and perhaps also the champ levé enamels
on the effigies, do not necessarily suggest a later rather than an ear-
lier date of completion of this cover.
Despite the perhaps chaotic impression left by the description of
this cover, the optical effect of this surface is entirely satisfying and
amazing. The arrangement of the surface decorations is sufficiently
rational and symmetrical in organization, with just enough human-
istic detail, to indicate that both the northern pagan and southern
humanistic traditions are in contention of the surface, but that the
latter is gaining on the former. The Tassilo Chalice made that even
more evident. The Front or Second Cover of the Lindau Gospel, c. 870,
produced at the Palace School of Charles the Bald, clearly indicates
that the transition from the dynamic northern designs to static has
been accomplished. (Plate 26b) It is a totally rationally designed,
symmetrically planned, equally proportioned spatial arrangement of
the surface. Though the display of precious gems, pearls and gold
is priceless, the border is almost uninteresting with its considered lay-
out of cabochon setting of gems and pearls encrusted in acanthus
leaves. An animated creativity has been fettered by the orderly intel-
lect, to produce a rather unimaginative surface. The frame consists
of an outside setting of pearls alternating with small multicolored
precious stones, containing an inner setting of large precious stones,
green, blue, red, containing another inside row of alternating pearls
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 310
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 311
and precious stones. The arrangement may be seen as a sequence
of crosses. The space within that frame is divided into four equal
rectangles of gold onto which are set clusters of nine gems and pearls
arranged in the shape of crosses centering on a light blue stone,
such as an aquamarine. In the two upper fields, above and below
the clusters, embossed and contorted angels are fitted into each to
fill as much of the space as is possible. The two lower fields have
embossed and contorted humans fitted to fill as much of the space
as possible. Nothing about them suggests that they figured among
the traditional personages shown attending the Crucifixion. All figures,
whether angelic or human, float in an ideal golden, otherworldly
space. The cross too is that space, itself outlined by gem and pearl
encrustations. On the upper part of the cross, embossed medallion
shaped Moon and Sun are placed above the plaque with the embossed
inscription HIC EST REX JUDEORM (sic). The longhaired head of
Christ is surrounded with a filigreed and cruciform emerald halo.
Blood is shown flowing from Christ’s hands and from his right side,
pointing to the mystical understanding of the scene. A skirt-like loin-
cloth is knotted below his waist and his feet are placed side by side,
in the Romanesque fashion. The cross has lost its pre-eminence and
a very prominently contoured figure of Christ now dominates the
cover. The human effigy as proclaimer of the Christian message
remains triumphant. A self-satisfied approach to artistic representa-
tion for art’s own sake, ‘l’art pour l’art’, has become ‘art engagé’,
art in the sanctified service of the faith and the church.
The Carolingian climax of gem encrusted, embossed, golden gospel
covers is the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram. (Plates 27a, 27b) Made for
Charles the Bald, c. 870, and stylistically related to the Second Cover
of the Lindau Gospel, the emperor Arnulf bestowed it to the monastery
of St. Emmeram in Regensburg. The art of its manuscript has been
discussed above. In brief an imposing frame of gems, pearls and
filigree borders on four L-shaped areas of embossed human situa-
tions, which in turn are the frame for another frame of encrusted
gems.
320
These form a cross, dividing the embossed surfaces, with an
encrusted ridge creating a rectangle where the arms of the cross
would join, in which a Majestas Domini is enthroned. A mass of alter-
nating sapphires and emeralds, interspersed with pearls, all set in
320
Diebold, p. 56, suggests that the elevated gem encrustations protected the
embossing of the thin sheet gold cover when the codex was opened.
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 311
312 r\n+ n
sophisticated gold cabochon acanthus claws, provide the color con-
text of this magnificent border. Only a few pearls are missing. Because
the gems are raised on miniature platforms, the gems suggest a three-
dimensional contextual ‘architecture’, perhaps an early idea of a
Christian universe, of the heavenly Jerusalem. Intricate filigree pro-
vides complementary ornamental artistry, which fills any spaces left
between the gems. The highly accomplished, embossed figures of the
surrounding inner fields consist of two narrative groups, the very
familiar Evangelists with their inspiring emblems, and those which
figure in scenes from the life of Christ. The gold foil will have been
molded over a softer, carved or impressed model, such as leather.
The Evangelists, seated on elaborate thrones, face inward from rec-
tangles on the outside corners of the central rectangle. Counterclockwise
from the top left they are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with books
or unrolled scrolls, an irregular sequence. The emblems have become
minor details and are awkwardly forced into the corners. The scenes
from Christ’s life complete the L-shaped space: clockwise from top
left the scenes show Christ and the adulteress, Christ driving the
money changers from the temple in Jerusalem, Christ healing the
blind, and the leper. One may wonder why just these four scenes
were selected. With the exception of the last embossed scene, all
show some stylized architecture in the background. The scene with
the leper shows an abundance of vegetation. All details, especially
the figures, are finely embossed, speaking an elegant body language.
They are contoured in a somewhat static, elongated manner, remi-
niscent of the figures of the Utrecht Psalter. The central rectangle
shows the majestic Christ in the mandorla, enthroned on the world
disc, his feet resting on a smaller embossed disc. His head is sur-
rounded by the cruciform halo, his hair flows over his shoulders, on
his left thigh stands a book supporting his left hand. His right hand
is held at the height of his chest, in the Greek gesture of blessing.
His robes are folded about the body to accent the contours of his
body. Four sunbursts are placed in the corners. As a synthesis of
Carolingian stylistic and thematic models and intentions this cover
represents an extraordinary phase of surface treatment. The usual
representation of this cover obscures a feature, which makes this
cover an astonishing, symbolic work. An oblique view shows that
the gems are elevated on arcaded structures of varying height and
design, creating a veritable cityscape of classical temples and other
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 312
nooks. orvs \xr iyonirs 313
such structures. The colonnades which surround the central gold
plaque, with Christ in the mandorla, resemble a sacred precinct
around which the other structures are assembled. The idea of a spec-
tacular Imperium Christianum made visible, of a Heavenly Jerusalem
as described in Revelation (21:16–18) recommends itself. The ensem-
ble creates the impression of a sacred shrine. The ornamentation
has become a static, tectonic arrangement of encrusted material dis-
play, entirely subordinated to the humanistic narrative message of
the Christian faith. The two dimensional representations of the spir-
itual components and the three dimensional elements of the mater-
ial composition form a persuasive holistic ensemble. As such it is an
original work at the pinnacle of the goldsmith’s art. Clearly books
in general and such manuscripts and their covers especially are the
outstanding examples of the representative elements of the liturgical
arts. No doubt there existed a latent conflict between this sumptu-
ous ostentation and the idea of Christian humility and poverty. No
doubt, however, that the use of jewels and gold in the liturgical con-
text was also the only conceivable, tangible manner in which man
could express his awe and respect for the ‘golden’ Word of God, as
illustrated in the manuscripts by the use of golden lettering on pur-
ple parchment. The optical pagan fascination with the radiance of
gems and gold is a meditational transposition performed by the
Christians into the abstract manifestation of the invisible God.
During the next century the Ottonian tradition, already referred
to when dealing with the setting of the Crucifixion Ivory on the Book
of Pericopes of Henry II, will continue with this manner of surface
treatment. Only the Codex Aureus of Echternach will feature engraved
figures on panels of gold.
A last example of the use of gem encrusted gold foil is the Arnulf
Ciborium, c. 870, the only original Carolingian portable altar. (Plate
28) It was donated to St. Emmeram by king Arnulf of Carinthia
(887–899), and emperor after 896. Some of the ideas applied to the
ciborium may have originated in the same workshop of the Palace
School of Charles the Bald, as did the cover of the Codex Aureus of
Emmeram. Arnulf may have commissioned the ciborium after his
ascent to the throne. About one hundred years later both pieces
were restored, at which time the inscription naming Arnulf as God
loving donor may possibly have been inscribed. It is now in the
Treasury of the Residence in Munich. The ciborium, 59×31×24 cm,
SCHUTZ_f4_135-322 9/23/03 7:46 PM Page 313
314 r\n+ n
is a portable architectural superstructure, to be placed on the altar,
with a wooden core of oak, covered in embossed gold foil. A slab
of green porphyry, which forms the altar stone, is set into the raised
base of this portable altar structure. A canopy, raised on four columns
and arches, supports a second level, which contains a deep rectan-
gular recess, to accommodate the host during mass. Short columns
carry a four-gabled roof. Except for the altar stone, all surfaces are
covered with embossed, decorative scrolls or narrative figures related
to the New Testament. These figures move in a more animated
manner, just as their garments appear to be more windblown. The
rooflines are set with precious and semi-precious stones in rich filigree,
the gables are outlined with gems, as are all edges. The triangular
spaces formed by the gables show the Trinity by such figures as the
Hand of God, the Lamb and the Dove. An archangel with a globe
is represented on the reverse. The surfaces on the roof show such
New Testament scenes as the Raising of the youth of Nain and of
Lazarus, Call of St. Peter—PETRE AMAS ME, the Allegory of the
Birds in the Sky, or the Lilies in the Field. (Fig. 37) The spandrels
display seraphim. The altar stone is faced with cloisonné enamel
designs in the petal shape of a St. Andrew’s Cross. Significant sec-
tions of these ornamental details are now missing. The earliest such
portable altar, c. 800, was preserved at Adelhausen/Freiburg. Red
porphyry was used in this instance. (Fig. 38)
For centuries to come the esthetic values determining the style of
decorative surfa