History of the christian church



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On his return he met Charlemagne at Parma (Easter, 781), and was invited by him to become master of the School of the Palace. This school was designed for noble youth, was attached to the court, and held whenever the court was. Charlemagne and his family and courtiers frequently attended its sessions, although they could not be said to be regular scholars. The invitation to teach this school was a striking recognition of the learning and ability of Alcuin, and as he perceived the possibilities of the future thus unexpectedly opened to him he accepted it, although the step involved a virtual abnegation of his just claim upon the archiepiscopate of York. In the next year (782), having received the necessary permission to go from his king and archbishop, he began his work. The providential design in this event is unmistakable. Just at the time when the dissensions of the English kings practically put a stop to educational advance in England, Alcuin, the greatest teacher of the day, was transferred to the continent in order that under the fostering and stimulating care of Charlemagne he might rescue it from the bondage of ignorance. But the effort taxed his strength. Charlemagne, although he attended his instruction and styles him "his dear teacher," at the same time abused his industry and patience, and laid many very heavy burdens upon him. 1117 Alcuin had not only to teach the Palatine school, which necessitated his moving about with the migratory court to the serious interruption of his studies, but to prepare and revise books for educational and ecclesiastical uses, and in general to superintend the grand reformatory schemes of Charlemagne. How admirably he fulfilled his multifarious duties, history attests. The famous capitulary of 787 1118which Charlemagne issued and which did so much to advance learning, was of his composition. The Caroline books, 1119which were quite as remarkable in the sphere of church life, were his work, at least in large measure. For his pecuniary support and as a mark of esteem Charlemagne gave him the monasteries of St. Lupus at Troyes and Bethlehem at Ferrières, and the cell of St. Judecus on the coast of Picardy (St. Josse sur mer). But the care of these only added to his burdens. In 789 he went to England on commission from Charlemagne to King Offa of Mercia, and apparently desired to remain there. Thence in 792 he sent in the name of the English bishops a refutation of image-worship. But in 793 Charlemagne summoned him to his side to defend the church against the heresy of Adoptionism and image-worship, and he came. In 794 he took a prominent part, although simply a deacon, in the council of Frankfort, which spoke out so strongly against both, and in 799, at the council of Aachen, he had a six days’ debate with Felix, the leader of the Adoptionists, which resulted in the latter’s recantation. In his negotiations with the Adoptionists he had the invaluable aid of the indefatigable monk, Benedict, of Nursia. In 796, Charlemagne gave him in addition to the monasteries already mentioned that of St. Martin at Tours and in 800 those of Cormery and Flavigny. The monastery of Tours 1120owned twenty thousand serfs and its revenue was regal. To it Alcuin retired, although he would have preferred to go to Fulda. 1121 There he did good work in reforming the monks, regulating the school and enlarging the library. His most famous pupil during this period of his life was Rabanus Maurus. In the year of his death he established a hospice at Duodecim Pontes near Troyes; and just prior to this event he gave over the monastery of Tours to his pupil Fredegis, and that of Ferrières to another pupil, Sigulf It is remarkable that he died upon the anniversary on which he had desired to die, the Festival of Pentecost, May 19, 804. He was buried in the church of St. Martin, although in his humility he had requested to be buried outside of it.

One of his important services to religion was his revision of the Vulgate (about 802) by order of Charlemagne, on the basis of old and correct MSS., for he probably knew little Greek and no Hebrew. This preserved a good Vulgate text for some time.

Alcuin was of a gentle disposition, willing, patient and humble, and an unwearied student. He had amassed all the treasures of learning then accessible. He led his age, yet did not transcend it, as Scotus Erigena did his. He was not a deep thinker, rather he brought out from his memory the thoughts of others. He was also mechanical in his methods. Yet he was more than a great scholar and teacher, he was a leader in church affairs, not only on the continent, but, as his letters show, also in England. Charlemagne consulted him continually, and would have done better had he more frequently followed his advice. Particularly is this true respecting missions. Alcuin saw with regret that force had been applied to induce the Saxons to submit to baptism. He warned Charlemagne that the result would be disastrous. True Christians can not be made by violence, but by plain preaching of the gospel in the spirit of love. He would have the gospel precepts gradually unfolded to the pagan Saxons, and then as they grew in knowledge would require from them stricter compliance. Alcuin gave similar council in regard to the Huns. 1122 His opinions upon other practical points 1123are worthy of mention. Thus, he objected to the employment of bishops in military affairs, to capital punishment, to the giving up of persons who had taken refuge in a church, and to priests following a secular calling. He was zealous for the revival of preaching and for the study of the Bible. On the other hand he placed a low estimate upon pilgrimages, and preferred that the money so spent should be given to the poor. 1124

Writings.—The works of Alcuin are divided into nine classes.

I. Letters.5 A striking peculiarity of these letters is their address. Alcuin and his familiar correspondents, following an affectation of scholars in the middle age, write under assumed names. 1126 Among his correspondents are kings, patriarchs, bishops and abbots. The value of these letters is very great. They throw light upon contemporary history, and such as are private, and these are numerous, allow us to look into Alcuin’s heart. Many of them, unfortunately, are lost, and some are known to exist unprinted, as in the Cotton collection. Those now printed mostly date from Tours, and so belong to his closing years. They may be roughly divided into three groups: 1127(1) those to English correspondents. These show how dear his native land was to Alcuin, and how deeply interested he was in her affairs. (2) Those to Charlemagne, a large and the most important group. 1128 Alcuin speaks with freedom, yet always with profound respect. (3) Those to his bosom friend, Arno of Salzburg.

II. Exegetical Miscellany. 1129 (a) Questions and answers respecting the interpretation of Genesis. (b) Edifying and brief exposition of the Penitential Psalms, Psalm CXVIII and the Psalm of Degrees. (c) Short commentary on Canticles. (d) Commentary on Ecclesiastes. (e) A literal, allegorical and moral Interpretation of the Hebrew names of our Lord’s ancestors (in which he makes much out of the symbolism of the numbers). (f) Commentary on portions of John’s Gospel. (g) On Titus, Philemon, Hebrews. 1130 These comments, are chiefly derived from the Fathers, and develop the allegorical and moral sense of Scripture. That on John’s Gospel is the most important. The plan of making a commentary out of extracts was quickly followed and was indeed the only plan in general use in the Middle Age.

III. Dogmatic Miscellany. 1131 (a) The Trinity, written in 802, dedicated to Charlemagne, a condensed statement of Augustin’s teaching on the subject. It was the model for the "Sentences" of the twelfth century. It is followed by twenty-eight questions and answers on the Trinity. (b) The Procession of the Holy Spirit, similarly dedicated and made up of patristic quotations. (c) Brief treatise against the heresy of Felix (Adoptionism). (d) Another against it in seven books. (e) A treatise against Elipandus in four books. (f) Letter against Adoptionism, addressed to some woman. These writings on Adoptionism are very able and reveal learning and some independence.

IV. Liturgical and Ethical Works. 1132 (a) The Sacraments, a collection of mass-formulae, from the use of Tours. (b) The use of the Psalms, a distribution of the Psalms under appropriate headings so that they can be used as prayers, together with explanations and original prayers: a useful piece of work. (c) Offices for festivals, the Psalms sang upon the feast days, with prayers, hymns, confessions and litanies: a sort of lay-breviary, made for Charlemagne. (d) A letter to Oduin, a presbyter, upon the ceremony of baptism. (e) Virtues and vices, dedicated to Count Wido, compiled from Augustin. (f) The human soul, addressed in epistolary form to Eulalia (Gundrada), the sister of Adalhard, abbot of Corbie, in France. (g) Confession of sins, addressed to his pupils at St. Martin’s of Tours.

V. Hagiographical Works. 1133 (a) Life of St. Martin of Tours, rewritten from Sulpicius Severus. (b) Life of St. Vedast, bishop of Atrebates (Arras), and (c) Life of the most blessed presbyter Requier, both rewritten from old accounts. (d) Life of St. Willibrord, bishop of Utrecht, his own ancestor, in two books, one prose, the other verse. This is an original work, and valuable as history.

VI. Poems. 1134 The poetical works of Alcuin are very numerous, and of very varied character, including prayers, inscriptions for books, churches, altars, monasteries, etc., epigrams, moral exhortations, epistles, epitaphs, enigmas, a fable, 1135and a long historical poem in sixteen hundred and fifty-seven lines upon the bishops and saints of the church of York from its foundation to the accession of Eanbald. 1136 It is very valuable. In its earlier part it rests upon Bede, but from the ten hundred and seventh line to the close upon original information. It seems to have been written by Alcuin in his youth at York. Its style is evidently influenced by Virgil and Prudentius.

VII. Pedagogical Works. 1137 (a) Grammar. (b) Orthography. (c) Rhetoric. (d) Dialectics. (e) Dialogue between Pippin and Alcuin 1138 (f) On the courses and changes of the moon and the intercalary day (Feb. 24th). These works admit us into Alcuin’s school-room, and are therefore of great importance for the study of the learning of his day.

VIII. Dubious Works. 1139(a) A confession of faith, in four parts, probably his. (b) Dialogue between teacher and pupils upon religion. (c) Propositions. (d) Poems.

IX. Pretended Works 1140(a) The holy days. (b) Four homilies. (c) Poems.


§ 160. St. Liudger.
I. S. Liudgerus, Minigardefordensis Episcopus: Opera, in Migne, Tom. XCIX. col. 745–820.

II. The old Lives of S. Liudger are four in number. They are found in Migne, but best in Die Vitae Sancti Liudgeri ed. Dr. Wilhelm Diekamp. Münster, 1881 (Bd. IV. of the series: Die Geschichtsquellen des Bisthums Münster). Dr. Diekamp presents revised texts and ample prolegomena and notes. (1) The oldest Vita (pp. 3–53) is by Altfrid, a near relative of Liudger and his second successor in the see of Münster. It was written by request of the monks of Werden about thirty years after Liudger’s death, rests directly upon family and other contemporary testimony, and is the source of all later Lives. He probably divided his work into two books, but as the first book is in two parts, Leibnitz, Pertz and Migne divide the work into three books, of which the first contains the life proper, the second the miracles wrought by the saint himself, and the third those wrought by his relics. (2) Vita Secunda (pp. 54–83) was written by a monk of Werden about 850. The so-called second book of this Life really belongs to (3) Vita tertia (pp. 85–134.) (2) Follows Altfrid, but adds legendary and erroneous matter. (3) Written also by a Werden monk about 890, builds upon (1) and (2) and adds new matter of a legendary kind. (4) Vita rythmica (pp. 135–220), written by a Werden monk about 1140. Biographies of Liudger have been recently written in German by Luise von Bornstedt (Münster, 1842); P. W. Behrends (Neuhaldensleben u. Gardelegen, 1843); A. Istvann (Coesfeld, 1860); A. Hüsing (Münster, 1878); L. Th. W. Pingsmann (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1879). Cf. Diekamp’s full bibliography, pp. CXVIII.-CXMI. For literary criticism see Ceillier, XII. 218. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 57–59. Ebert, II. 107, 338, 339.


Liudger, or Ludger, first bishop of Münster, was born about 744 at Suecsnon (now Zuilen) on the Vecht, in Frisia. His parents, Thiadgrim and Liafburg, were earnest Christians. His paternal grandfather, Wursing, had been one of Willibrord’s most zealous supporters (c. 5). 1141 He early showed a pious and studious disposition (c. 7). He entered the cloister school of Utrecht, taught by the abbot Gregory, whose biographer he became, laid aside his secular habit and devoted himself to the cause of religion. His proficiency in study was such that Gregory made him a teacher (c. 8). During the year 767 he received further instruction from Alcuin at York, and was ordained a deacon (c. 9). In 768 he was in Utrecht; but for the next three years and a half with Alcuin, although Gregory had been very loath to allow him to go the second time. He would have staid longer if a Frisian trader had not murdered in a quarrel a son of a count of York. The ill feeling which this event caused, made it unsafe for any Frisian to remain in York, and so taking with him "many books" (copiam librorum), he returned to Utrecht (c. 10). Gregory had died during his absence (probably in 771), and his successor was his nephew, Albric, a man of zeal and piety. Liudger was immediately on his return to York pressed into active service. He was sent to Deventer on the Yssel in Holland, where the, saintly English missionary Liafwin had just died. A horde of pagan Saxons had devastated the place, burnt the church and apparently undone Liafwin’s work (c. 13). Liudger was commissioned to rebuild the church and to bury the body of Liafwin, which was lost. Arrived at the spot he was at first unsuccessful in finding the body, and was about to rebuild the church without further search when Liafwin appeared to him in a vision and told him that his body was in the south wall of the church, and there it was found (c. 14). Albric next sent him to Frisia to destroy the idols and temples there. Of the enormous treasure taken from the temples Charlemagne gave one-third to Albric. In 777 Albric was consecrated bishop at Cologne, and Liudger at the same time ordained a presbyter.

For the next seven years Liudger was priest at Doccum in the Ostergau, where Boniface had died, but during the three autumn months of each year he taught in the cloister school at Utrecht (c. 15). At the end of this period Liudger was fleeing for his life, for the pagan Wutukint, duke of the Saxons, invaded Frisia, drove out the clergy, and set up the pagan altars. Albric died of a broken heart, unable to stand the cruel blow. Liudger with two companions, Hildigrim and Gerbert, retired to Rome, where for two and a half years he lived in the great Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino (c. 18). There he not only had a pleasant retreat but also opportunity to study the working of the Benedictine rule. He did not, however, take monastic vows.

His fame for piety and learning had meanwhile reached the ears of Charlemagne,—probably through Alcuin,—and so on his return the emperor assigned to his care five Frisian districts (Hugmerchi, Hunusga, Fuulga, Emisga, Fedirga) upon the eastern side of the river Labekus (Lauwers), and also the island of Bant. His success as missionary induced him to undertake an enterprise in which even Willibrord had failed. He sailed over the German Ocean to Heligoland, then called Fosetelant (the land of the god Fosete). His confidence was justified by events. He made many converts, among them the son of the chief of the island who became a priest and a missionary. Shortly after on the mainland there was another irruption of pagans from East Frisia, and the usual disheartening scenes of burnt churches, scattered congregations, and martyred brethren were enacted. But once more the Christian faith conquered (c. 19). Charlemagne’s continued regard for Liudger was proved by his gift to him of the abbey Lothusa (probably Zele, near Ghent in Belgium), in order that its revenues might contribute to his support, or that being far from Frisia he might retreat thither in times of danger; and further by his appointment of him to the bishopric of Mimigernaford (later form Mimigardevord, now Münster, so called from the monasterium which he built there), in Westphalia, which was now sufficiently christianized to be ruled ecclesiastically. He still had under his care the five districts already named, although so far off. At first these charges were held by him as a simple presbyter, and in that capacity he carried out one of his darling purposes and built the famous monastery of Werden 1142on the Ruhr, formerly called Diapanbeci. But persuaded by Hildebald he became the first bishop of Münster (c. 20). The year of this event is unknown, but it was between 802 and 805. 1143 Tireless in his activity he died in the harness. On Sunday, March 26, 809, he preached and performed mass at Coesfeld and at Billerbeck. In the evening he died (Acta II. c. 7). He was buried at Werden, which thus became a shrine of pilgrims.

The only extant writing of Liudger is his Life of St. Gregory, 1144which gives a pleasing picture of the saint, in whose school at Utrecht many famous men, including bishops, were trained. Twelve of its twenty-two chapters are taken up with Boniface. Much of the matter is legendary. He also wrote a life of Albric, 1145which is lost. His connection with Helmstedt is purely imaginary. The Liudger Monastery there was not founded by him, for it dates from the tenth century. The colony of monks may, however, have well come from Werden, and have therefore given the name Liudger to the monastery.


§ 161. Theodulph of Orleans.
I. Theodulph, Aurelianensis episcopus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CV. col. 187–380. His Carmina are in Dümmler’s Poëtae Lat. aev. Car. I. 2. pp. 437–58l, 629, 630.

II. L. Baunard: Théodulfe, Orleans, 1860. Rzehulka: Theodulf, Breslau, 1875 (Dissertation). Cf. the general works, Mabillon: Analecta, Paris, 1675. Tom. I. pp. 386 sqq.; Tiraboschi: Historia della letteratura italiana new ed. Florence. 1805–18, 20 parts, III. l. pp. 196–205 (particularly valuable for its investigation of the obscure points of Theodulph’s life). Du Pin, VI. 124; Hist. Lit. de la France, IV. 459–474; Ceillier, XII. 262–271, Bähr, 91–95, 359, 860; Ebert, II. 70–84.


Theodulph, bishop of Orleans, one of the most useful churchmen of the Carolingian period, was probably born in Spain, 1146past the middle of the eighth century. In 788 he attracted the notice of Charlemagne, who called him into France and made him abbot of Fleury and of Aignan, both Benedictine monasteries in the diocese of Orleans, and later bishop of Orleans. He stood in high favor with his king and was entrusted with important commissions. He participated in the council of Frankfort (794); was made missus dominicus 1147in 798; accompanied Charlemagne to Rome, sat as one of the judges in the investigation of the charges against Leo III. (800) and received from the supreme pontiff the pallium (801). 1148 He succeeded Alcuin (804) as first theological imperial counsellor. In 809 he sat in the council of Aix la Chapelle and by request of the emperor collected the patristic quotations in defence of the Filioque clause. In 811 he was witness to the emperor’s will. Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son and successor, for a time showed him equal honor and confidence, for instance in appointing him to meet Pope Stephen V. when he came to the coronation at Rheims (816). But two years afterwards he was suspected, it would seem without good reason, of complicity in king Bernard’s rebellion, and on Easter 818 was deposed and imprisoned at Angers, in the convent either of St. Aubin or of St. Serge. He stoutly persisted in his declaration of innocence, and in 821 he was released and reinstated, but died 1149on his way back or shortly after his arrival in Orleans, and was buried in Orleans Sept. 19, 821.

Theodulph was an excellent prelate; faithful, discreet and wise. He greatly deplored the ignorance of his clergy and earnestly labored to elevate them. To this end he established many schools, and also wrote the Capitula ad presbyteros parochicae suae mentioned below. In this work he was particularly successful. The episcopal school of Orleans was famous for the number, beauty and accuracy of the MSS. it produced. In his educational work he enjoyed the assistance of the accomplished poet Wulfin. Theodulph was himself a scholar, well read both in secular and religious literature. 1150 He had also a taste for architecture, and restored many convents and churches and built the splendid basilica at Germigny, which was modelled after that at Aix la Chapelle. His love for the Bible comes out not only in the revision of the Vulgate he had made, and practically in his exhortation to his clergy to expound it, but also in those costly copies of the Bible which are such masterpieces of calligraphy. 1151 He was moreover the first poet of his day, which however is not equivalent to saying that he had much genius. His productions, especially his didactic poems, are highly praised and prized for their pictures of the times, rather than for their poetical power. From one of his minor poems the interesting fact comes out that he had been married and had a daughter called Gisla, who was the wife of a certain Suavaric. 1152

The extant prose works of Theodulph are: 1. Directions to the priests of his diocese,3written in 797. They are forty-six in number and relate to the general and special duties of priests. The following are some of the more instructive directions: Women must not approach the altar during the celebration of mass (c. 6). Nothing may be kept in the churches except holy things (c. 8). No one save priests and unusually holy laity may be buried in churches (c. 9). No woman is allowed to live in the house with a priest (c. 12). Priests must not get drunk or frequent taverns (c. 13). Priests may send their relatives to monastic schools (c. 19). They may keep schools themselves in which free instruction is given (c. 20). They must teach everybody the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed (c. 22). No work must be done on the Lord’s Day (c. 24). Priests are exhorted to prepare themselves to preach (c. 28). Daily, honest confession of sins to God ensures pardon; but confession to a priest is also enjoined in order that through his counsels and prayers the stain of sin may be removed (c. 30). True charity consists in the union of good deeds and a virtuous life (c. 34). Merchants should not sell their souls for filthy lucre (c. 35). Regulations respecting fasting (c. 36–43). All should come to church to celebrate mass and hear the preaching, and no one should eat before communicating (c. 46). 2. To the same, a treatise upon sins and their ecclesiastical punishment; and upon the administration of extreme unction. 1154 3. The Holy Spirit. 1155 The collection of patristic passages in defense of the Filioque, made by order of Charlemagne (809), as mentioned above. It has a metrical dedication to the emperor. 4. The ceremony of baptism, 1156written in 812 in response to Charlemagne’s circular letter on baptism which Magnus, archbishop of Sens (801–818), had forwarded to him. It consists of eighteen chapters, which minutely describe all the steps in the ceremony of baptism. 5. Fragments of two sermons. 1157

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