History of the christian church



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1. The layman’s rule of life, 1213in three books, composed in 828 for Mathfred, count of Orleans, who had requested instruction how to lead a godly life while in the bonds of matrimony. The first and last books are general in their contents, but the second is for the most part specially addressed to married people. As might be expected Jonas takes strong ground against vice in all its forms and so his work has great value in the history of ethics. It is very likely that the second book was composed first. 1214

2. The Kings rule of life,5written about 829 and dedicated to Pepin. Both the above-mentioned works are little more than compilations from the Bible and the fathers, especially from Augustin, but the author’s own remarks throw a flood of light upon the sins and follies of his time. 1216

3. The Worship of Images.7 This is his chief work, and a very important one. It is in three books, and was written against Claudius of Turin. It was nearly finished at the time of the latter’s death (839), and then laid aside since Jonas fancied that the bold position of Claudius would scarcely be assumed by any one else. But when he found that the pupils and followers of Claudius were propagating the same opinions he took up his book again and finished it about 842. It had been begun at the request of Louis the Pious; but he having died in 840, Jonas dedicated the work to his son, Charles the Bald, in a letter in which the above-mentioned facts about its origin are stated. Jonas opposes Claudius with his own weapons of irony and satire, gives his portrait in no flattering colors and even ridicules his latinity. The first book defends the use of images (pictures), the invocation and worship of the saints, the doctrine of their intercession, and the veneration due to their relics, but asserts that the French do not worship images. The second book defends the veneration of the cross, and the third pilgrimages to Rome.

4. History of the translation of the relics of Saint Hubert. 1218 Hubert, patron saint of hunters, died in 727 as first bishop of Liége, and was buried there in St. Peter’s church. In 744 he was moved to another portion of the church, but in 825 bishop Walcand of Liége removed his relics to the monastery of Andvin which he had reestablished, and it is this second translation which Jonas describes.


§ 167. Rabanus Maurus.
I. Rabanus Maurus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CVII.-CXII. His Carmina are in Dümmler’s Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, II. 159–258. Migne’s edition is a reprint, with additions, of that of Colvenerius, Cologne, 1617, but is not quite complete, for Dümmler gives new pieces, and others are known to exist in MS.

II. The Prolegomena in Migne, CVII. col. 9–106, which contains the Vitae by Mabillon, Rudolf, Raban’s pupil, and by Trithemius. Johann Franz Buddeus: Dissertatio de vita ac doctrina Rabani Mauri Magnentii, Jena, 1724. Friedrich Heinrich Christian Schwarz: Commentatio de Rabano Mauro, primo Germaniae praeceptore (Program). Heidelberg, 1811. Johann Konrad Dahl: Leben und Schriften des Erzbischofs Rabanus Maurus. Fulda, 1828. Nicolas Bach: Hrabanus Maurus; der Schöpfer des deutschen Schulwesens (Program). Fulda, 1835. Friedrich Kunstmann: Hrabanus Magnentius Maurus. Mainz, 1841. Theodor Spengler: Leben des heiligen Rhabanus Maurus. Regensburg, 1856. Köhler: Hrabanus Maurus und die Schule zu Fulda (Dissertation). Leipzig, 1870. Richter: Babanus Maurus. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Paedagogik im Mittelalter (Program). Malchin, 1883. Cf. E. F. J. Dronke: Codex dip Fuld. Cassel, 1850. J. Bass Mullinger: The Schools of Charles the Great. London, 1877, pp. 188–157. J. F. Böhmer: Regesten zur Gesch. d. Mainzer Erzbischöfe, ed. C. Will. 1. Bd. a.d. 742–1160. Innsbruck, 1877.

III. Du Pin, VII. 160–166. Ceillier, XII. 446–476. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 151–203. Bähr, 415–447. Ebert, II. 120–145.
His Life.
Magnentius Hrabanus Maurus is the full name, as written by himself, 1219of one of the greatest scholars and teachers of the Carolingian age. He was born in Mainz 1220about 776. At the age of nine he was placed by his parents in the famous Benedictine monastery of Fulda, in the Grand-duchy of Hesse, which was then in a very flourishing condition under Baugolf (780–802). There he received a careful education both in sacred and secular learning, for Baugolf was himself a classical scholar. Raban took the monastic vows, and in 801 was ordained deacon. In 802 Baugolf died and was succeeded by Ratgar. The new abbot at first followed the example of his predecessor, and in order to keep up the reputation of the monastery for learning he sent the brightest of the inmates to Tours to receive the instruction of Alcuin, not only in theology but particularly in the liberal arts. Among them was Raban, who indeed had a great desire to go. The meeting of the able and experienced, though old, wearied and somewhat mechanical teacher, and the fresh, vigorous, insatiable student, was fraught with momentous consequences for Europe. Alcuin taught Raban far more than book knowledge; he fitted him to teach others, and so put him in the line of the great teachers—Isidore, Bede, Alcuin. Between Alcuin and Raban there sprang up a very warm friendship, but death removed the former in the same year in which Raban returned to Fulda (804), and so what would doubtless have been a most interesting correspondence was limited to a single interchange of letters. 1221

Raban was appointed principal of the monastery’s school. In his work he was at first assisted by Samuel, his fellow-pupil at Tours, but when the latter was elected bishop of Worms Raban carried on the school alone. The new abbot, Ratgar, quickly degenerated into a tyrant with an architectural mania. He begrudged the time spent in study and instruction. Accordingly he chose very effective measures to break up the school. He took the books away from the scholars and even from their principal, Raban Maur.2 In 807 the monastery was visited with a malignant fever, and a large proportion of the monks, especially of the younger ones, died, and many left. Thus by death and defection the number was reduced from 400 to 150, but those who remained had to work all the harder. It was probably during this period of misrule and misery that Raban made his journey to Palestine, to which, however, he only once alludes. 1223 On December 23, 814, he was ordained priest. 1224

In 817 Ratgar was deposed and Raban’s friend Eigil elected in his place.5 With Eigil a better day dawned for the monastery. Raban was now unhampered in teaching and able once more to write. The school grew so large that it had to be divided. Those scholars who were designed for the secular life were taught in a separate place outside the monastery. The library was also much increased.

In 822 Eigil died and Raban was elected his successor. He proved a good leader in spiritual affairs. He took personal interest in the monks, and frequently preached to them. He paid particular attention to the education of the priests. He compiled books for their especial benefit, and as far as possible taught in the school, particularly on Biblical topics. The principal of the school under him was Canadidus, already mentioned as the biographer of Eigil. 1226 His most famous pupils belong to this period: Servatus Lupus, Walahfrid Strabo (826–829) and Otfrid. He showed his passion for collecting relics, which he enshrined in a very costly way. He also built churches and extended the influence of Fulda by colonizing his monks in different places, adding six affiliated monasteries to the sixteen already existing.

In the spring of 842 Raban laid down his office and retired to the "cell" on the Petersberg, in the neighborhood of Fulda. There he thought he should be able to end his days in literary activity undisturbed by the cares of office. To this end he called in the aid of several assistants and so worked rapidly. But he was too valuable a man to be allowed to retire from active life. Accordingly on the death of Otgar, archbishop of Mainz (April 21, 847), he was unanimously elected by the chapter, the nobility and the people of Mainz his successor. He reluctantly consented, and was consecrated June 26, 847. In October of that year he held his first synod in the monastery of St. Alban’s, Mainz. It was a provincial council by command of Louis the German. Among the notables present were his suffragans, Samuel of Worms, his former fellow-teacher, Ebo of Hildesheim, Haymo of Halberstadt, his fellow-student under Alcuin, and also Ansgar of Hamburg, who had come to plead for the Northern mission. This synod renewed the command to the priests to preach. In this act Raban is recognized. On October 1, 848, a second synod was held at Mainz, which is memorable as the first in which the Gottschalk matter was discussed. Gottschalk had been a pupil at Fulda and his course had incurred the anger of Raban, who accordingly opposed him in the council. The result was that the synod decided adversely to Gottschalk and sent him for judgment to Hincmar. In the Annals of Fulda begun by Enhard (not to be confounded with Einhard), and continued by Rudolf, it is gratefully recorded that during the great famine in Germany in 850 Raban fed more than 300 persons daily in the village of Winzel. 1227 In October, 851 or 852, Raban presided over a third synod at Mainz, which passed a number of reform canons; such as one forbidding the clergy to hunt, and another anathematizing a layman who withdrew from a priest who had been married, thinking it wrong to receive the eucharist from such a one. 1228

Raban died at Mainz Feb. 4, 456, and was buried in the monastery of St. Alban’s. He wrote his own epitaph which is modest yet just. In 1515 Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg removed his bones to Halle.


His Position And Influence.
Raban was one of the most eminent men in the ninth century for virtue, piety and scholarship. As pupil he was unremitting in his pursuit of learning; as teacher he was painstaking, inspiring and instructive; as abbot he strove to do his whole duty; as archbishop he zealously contended for the faith regardless of adversaries; according to his own motto, "When the cause is Christ’s, the opposition of the bad counts for naught." He bore his honors modestly, and was free from pride or envy. While willing to yield to proper demands and patient of criticism, he was inflexible and rigorous in maintaining a principle. He had the courage to oppose alone the decision of the council of 829 that a monk might leave his order. He denied the virtues of astrology and opposed trial by ordeal. He early declared himself a friend of Louis the Pious and plainly and earnestly rebuked the unfilial conduct of his sons. After the death of Louis he threw in his fortune with Lothair and the defeat of the latter at Fontenai, June 25, 841, was a personal affliction and may have hastened his resignation of the abbotship, which took place in the spring of the following year. The relations, however, between him and his new king, Louis the German, were friendly. Louis called him to his court and appointed him archbishop of Mainz.

Raban’s permanent fame rests upon his labors as teacher and educational writer. From these he has won the proud epithet, Primus Germaniae Praeceptor. The school at Fulda became famous for piety and erudition throughout the length and breadth of the Frankish kingdom. Many noble youth, as well as those of the lower classes, were educated there and afterwards became the bishops and pastors of the Church of Germany. No one was refused on the score of poverty. Fulda started the example, quickly followed in other monasteries, of diligent Bible study. And what is much more remarkable, Raban was the first one in Germany to conduct a monastic school in which many boys were trained for the secular life.9 It is this latter action which entitles him to be called the founder of the German school system. The pupils of Raban were in demand elsewhere as teachers; and princes could not find a better school than his for their sons. One of the strongest proofs of its excellence is the fact that Einhard, himself a former pupil at Fulda, and now a great scholar and teacher, sent his son Wussin there, and in a letter still extant exhorts his son to make diligent use of his rare advantages, and above all to attend to what is said by that "great orator," Raban Maur. 1230 Raban’s encyclopaedia, The Universe, attests his possession of universal learning and of the power to impart it to others. So, while Alcuin was his model, he enlarged upon his master’s conception of education, and in himself and his works set an example whose influence has never been lost.


His Writings.
Raban was a voluminous author. But like the other writers of his time, he made mostly compilations from the Fathers and the later ecclesiastics. He was quick to respond to the needs of his day, and to answer questions of enquiring students. He betrays a profound acquaintance with the Holy Scripture. His works may be divided into seven classes.

I. Biblical. (1) Commentaries upon the whole Bible, except Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, the Minor Prophets, Catholic Epistles and Revelation. He commented also on the Apocryphal books, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Maccabees. 1231 These commentaries were probably in part compiled by his pupils, under his direction. They preserved a knowledge both of the Bible and of the Fathers in an age when books were very scarce and libraries still rarer. A single fact very strikingly brings out this state of things. Frechulf, bishop of Lisieux, in urging Raban to comment on the Pentateuch, states that in his diocese there were very few books of any kind, not even a whole Bible, much less any complete exposition of it. 1232 Raban thus gives his views of biblical interpretation: 1233"If any one would master the Scriptures he must first of all diligently find out the amount of history, allegory, anagoge and trope there may be in the part under consideration. For there are four senses to the Scriptures, the historical, the allegorical, the tropological and the anagogical, which we call the daughters of wisdom. Through these Wisdom feeds her children. To those who are young and beginning to learn she gives the milk of history; to those advancing in the faith the bread of allegory; those who are truly and constantly doing good so that they abound therein she satisfies with the savory repast of tropology; while, finally, those who despise earthly things and ardently desire the heavenly she fills to the full with the wine of anagoge."

In accordance with these principles his commentaries’ except that of Matthew, the earliest issued (819), contain very little proper exegesis, but a great deal of mystical and spiritual interpretation. The labor in their composition must have been considerable, but he carried it on for twenty years. He did not always copy the exact language of his sources, but reproduced it in his own words. He was particular to state the place of his excerpts. Each successive commentary had a separate dedication. Thus, those on Judith and Esther were dedicated to the empress Judith, because, he says, she resembled the Hebrew heroines; that on Chronicles to Louis the Pious, her husband, as a guide in government; that on Maccabees to Louis the German; that on Jeremiah to Lothair.

(2) He also prepared a commentary in the same style upon the Biblical hymns sung in morning worship. 1234

(3) Scripture Allegories5a conveniently arranged dictionary, in alphabetical order of terms which were defined allegorically. Thus, "Annus is the time of grace, as in Isaiah [lxi. 2], ’the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Also, the multitude of the redeemed, as in Job iii. 6, ’let it not be joined unto the days of the year’ among the elect who are saved. Also the eternity of Christ, as in Psalm cii. 24, ’thy years are throughout all generations,’ because the eternity of God lasts forever. It also signifies our life, as in Psalm xc. 9, ’our years are thought upon as if a cobweb’ (Vulg.) i.e., our life rushes along in emptiness and corruption." 1236

(4) The life of Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha.7 It includes the related sections of our Lord’s life and the legendary history of the sisters, and is in its way an interesting work. But he confounds Mary the sister of Lazarus with Mary of Magdala, and the latter again with the woman that was a sinner. Hence after declaring that Mary was a miracle of beauty he is obliged to touch upon her unchastity prior to her meeting with Christ.

II. Educational. (1) The Institutes of the clergy. 1238 This important work was written in 819 in answer to numerous requests. It is in three books, prefaced by a poetical epigram. The prose preface gives an outline of the work, and states its sources. The work is very largely directly compiled from Augustin’s De doctrina Christiana, Cassiodorus’ Institutiones, and Gregory’s Cura pastoralis. The first book of Raban’s Institutes relates to ecclesiastical orders, clerical vestments, the sacraments, 1239and the office of the mass. The second book relates to the canonical hours, the litany, fasting, alms, penance, the feasts, prayers for the dead, singing of psalms and hymns, reading of the Scriptures, the creed and gives a list of the heresies. The third book treats of the education requisite to make an efficient servant of the church. It is noteworthy that he lays primary stress upon a knowledge of the Scriptures, 1240and gives directions for their study and explanation. He then passes on to discuss the components of education as then conducted, i.e. the seven liberal arts, and closes with directions how to speak and teach with the best results. He properly remarks that the preacher should have regard to the age, sex, and failings of his audience. He is to come forth as God’s spokesman, and if he is truly a man of God he will be upheld by divine power. This is the proper spirit. Man is nothing. God is everything. "Let him who glorieth glory in Him in whose hand both we and our sermons are." 1241

(2) On Computation.2 It was written in 820, and is in the form of a dialogue between a master and his disciple. Much of it was copied verbatim from Bede’s De temporum ratione, Isidore’s Etymologies, and Boëthius’ Arithmetic. But the resulting work marked an advance in instruction in the important matter of computing numbers, times and seasons.

(3) The Universe. 1243 Isidore of Seville had already set the example of preparing an encyclopedia of universal knowledge, and Raban in his Universe merely reproduces Isidore’s Etymologies, with some difference in the arrangement of the material, and with the addition of allegorical and spiritual matter, interpretations of the names and words, together with many quotations of Scripture. The work was one of the early fruits of his learned leisure, being written about 844. It is in twenty-two books, the number in the Hieronymian canon of the Old Testament, and is dedicated to Haymo of Halberstadt, and to King Louis. It begins with the doctrine of God, and the first five books relate to religion and worship. The remaining books relate to secular things, ranging from man himself, considered as an animal, through the beasts to the starry heavens, time and the divisions of time, the waters on and under the earth, the clouds above it, and the earth itself. He then speaks of mountains and valleys and divers places; of public buildings and their parts; of philosophy and linguistics, stones and metals, weights and measures, diseases and remedies, trees and plants, wars and triumphs, shows and games, pictures and colors, dress and ornaments, food and drink, vehicles and harness.

(4) Excerpt from Priscian’s Grammar, 1244an abridged edition of a standard grammar. It is almost entirely confined to prosody, but it served to introduce Priscian into schools. 1245

(5) The holy orders, divine sacraments and priestly garments.6

(6) Ecclesiastical discipline.7 The last two treatises, made during the author’s archiepiscopate, are merely extracts from the Institutes, with slight alterations.

(7) The parts of the human body, in Latin and German. 1248 This glossary, was drawn up by Walahfrid Strabo from Raban’s lectures. At the end are the months and the winds in Latin and German. 1249

(8) The invention of languages0[letters], a curious collection of alphabets—Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Scythian and Runic, with the names of the supposed inventors. The little tract also includes the commonest abbreviations and monograms.

III. Occasional writings, i.e., upon current questions and in answer to questions. (1) The oblation of boys, 1251the famous treatise in which Raban argued against the position the Mainz Council of 829 had taken in allowing Gottschalk to leave his order. Gottschalk produced two arguments, the first that it was not right to compel a person to remain a monk just because his parents had in his infancy, or immature youth put him in a monastery. The second was that the oblation of a minor must be established by a properly qualified witness, and that in his case only Saxons could give such testimony, since, according to Saxon law, it was illegal to deprive a Saxon of his liberty on the testimony of a non-Saxon. Raban tries to refute him upon both points. He shows that both the Scriptures and the Fathers by precept and example allow of the consecration of children, and in relation to the second point he rejoins: As if the service of Christ deprived a man of his liberty and nobility!" 1252 But the real objection to Gottschalk’s second argument was the latter’s assertion that Frankish testimony could not be received. This roused Raban’s patriotism and incited his eloquence. "Who does not know," he says, "that the Franks were Christians long before the Saxons? Yet the latter, contrary to all human and divine law, arrogate to themselves the right to reject Frankish testimony." 1253 Having thus answered Gottschalk, he proves by the Bible his third argument, that a vow to God must not be broken. His final point is that monasticism is a divine institution. In this treatise he does not name Gottschalk, but the reference is unmistakeable. His whole conduct towards the unfortunate Gottschalk was intolerant.

(2) The reverence of children to their parents, and of subjects to their king. 1254 This was addressed to Louis the Pious after his deposition and imprisonment in the year 833. By Biblical quotations he shows that God has commanded children to honor their parents and subjects their kings, and has put his curse upon those who do not. Then coming directly to the point he makes the application to the existing circumstances, and calls the sons of Louis to obedience. He defends Louis against the charge of homicide in executing Bernard; and finally addressing the emperor he comforts him in his sorrow and counsels him to exercise clemency when he is restored to power. The whole treatise does great credit to Raban’s head and heart.

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