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Staying the royal sword: Alcuin and the conversion dilemma in early medieval Europe.

A GRISLY SCENE unfolded after the battle. The treacherous pagans had been defeated and would now be obliged to convert to the new faith. But all that had happened before, and each time the dogs had found a way to return to their vomit. Years of frustration welled up inside the king as he looked upon the vanquished. His advisors had asked how they should proceed, but were shocked at the reply: "Let none survive this day." By sunset the stench of nearly five thousand corpses had already begun to rise, and even those hardened by this battle-weary age could find little to celebrate in such victory. Mired in reflection, the king began to wonder, and to regret. He would not be the only one.

No historical source tells the story quite this way, but with some poetic license one might envision the aftermath of Charlemagne's victory over the Saxons in 782 in this manner. (1) As the Christian leader of the most powerful barbarian kingdom to have succeeded the Romans in western Europe, the Frankish king Charles ("Charlemagne," r. 768-814 CE) felt a particular duty to ensure the correct practice of the "one true faith," not just among his fellow countrymen, but among pagan cousins as well. The resulting connection between conquest and conversion made a lasting impression on the religious culture of the time, but modern popular perceptions of medieval Christianity's "convert-or-die" ethos have largely ignored the far more nuanced story of conversion that played out in the early Middle Ages. While much of that story remains unwritten, it is useful to flesh out at least one of its most important chapters, for it is in the pages of early medieval history that one can most readily tap into the founding discourses of the culture that eventually emerged as distinctly "European." (2) The intense debate that gripped Charlemagne's court in the wake of his bloody Saxon campaigns not only demonstrates the Carolingian penchant for innovation, but also highlights a vibrant phase in the evolution of Western religious culture, wherein early monastic ideals helped to resolve perplexing tensions regarding the proper means of Christian conversion.

Scholars have long recognized the dilemma faced by early medieval missionaries. While early missions to northern Europe, notably those sponsored by pope Gregory the Great (590-604 CE), advocated a pragmatic approach bordering on religious syncretism, the situation had dramatically changed when in the eighth and ninth centuries such efforts came under the aegis of the ascendant Carolingian dynasty. The martyrdom of Boniface (d. 754), whose missionary efforts among the Frisians had garnered the support of early Carolingian leaders, seems to have effected a sea change in prevailing attitudes toward spreading the faith. The accommodations of yesteryear ceased to hold sway the next time evangelizing opportunities presented themselves. Just such occasions arose in the wake of a remarkable series of Frankish conquests during Charlemagne's long reign, most famously of the Saxons, a pagan people dwelling to the northeast of the Frankish realm. In his well-known Vita Karoli magni, the royal biographer Einhard chose these words to describe the long Saxon campaign that consumed the king's attention from 772 to 804:
   No war taken up by the Frankish people was ever longer, harder, or
   more dreadful [than this one], because the Saxons, like virtually
   all the peoples inhabiting Germany, were naturally fierce,
   worshiped demons, and were opposed to our religion. Indeed, they
   did not deem it shameful to violate and contravene either human or
   divine laws.... Thus, a war was taken up against them, which was
   waged with great vehemence by both sides for thirty-three straight
   years. But the damage done to the Saxons was greater than that
   suffered by the Franks. In fact, the war could have been brought to
   a close sooner, if the faithlessness of the Saxons had [but]
   allowed it. It is almost impossible to say how many times they were
   beaten and pledged their obedience to the king. They promised [on
   those occasions] to follow his orders, to hand over the hostages
   demanded without delay, and to welcome the representatives sent to
   them by the king. At different times, they were so broken and
   subdued that they even promised to give up their worship of demons
   and freely submit themselves to Christianity. But though they were
   on occasion inclined to do this, they were always so quick to break
   their promises, that it is not possible to judge which of the two
   ways [of acting] can be said to have come more naturally to them.
   In fact, since the start of the war with the Saxons there was
   hardly a single year in which they did not reverse themselves in
   this way. But the king's greatness [of spirit] and steadfast
   determination, both in bad times and good, could not be conquered
   by their fickleness or worn down by the task he had set himself....
   Thus, that war which had lasted for so many years ended on the
   terms laid down by the king and accepted by the Saxons, namely that
   they would reject the worship of demons, abandon their ancestral
   [pagan] rites, take up the Christian faith and sacraments of
   religion, and unite with the Franks in order to form a single
   people. (3)


Despite the author's triumphalism, even this account reveals that Charlemagne's hope for the conquered people's natural incorporation into Frankish Christendom was to prove illusory. Heavy-handed attempts to encourage the adoption of Christianity often backfired, resulting in increasingly harsh measures. The aforementioned slaughter of 4500 unarmed Saxon "traitors" at Verden in the spring of 782 only prefigured the draconian Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae three years later, a set of statutes notably prescribing the death penalty for a host of offenses, especially those involving pagan recalcitrance. (4) As the end of the eighth century approached, it became increasingly apparent that such evangelizing might well have to rely on military threats to encourage would-be converts to take up the new faith. The bloody, drawn-out struggle with the Saxons therefore resulted in what Richard Sullivan and Reinhard Schneider have aptly characterized as the politicization of Carolingian missionary work, relying as it did on the questionable practices of forced mass baptism and the imposition of the tithe to support the priesthood. (5) These last steps would prove particularly disastrous since, as Roger Collins has likewise noted, the Saxons clearly came to see Christianity itself as "a symbol of the Frankish yoke." (6)

This problem was ruefully recognized by several prominent intellectuals of the day. No one, however, was more sensitive to the potential pitfalls in handling newly conquered pagans than Charlemagne's most renowned advisor, Alcuin, who oversaw and administered the king's cultural renovatio from 786 to 796. (7) From his position in the court and palace school at Aachen, Alcuin (c. 735-804) had a prime vantage point whence to witness the sordid results of such coercive missionary practices. Indeed, one of his surviving letters attests to the great pains he took to urge the royal treasurer, Meginfrid, to beseech the king to abolish the imposition of the tithe in Saxony, adding that the teachers of the faith should be "preachers, not predators." (8) Were it not for the tithe, he believed there would be far less trouble in Saxony, and certainly a better chance for the Saxons to pursue the faith in a clear, unadulterated manner. What truly rankled Alcuin, though, was not simply the improper exaction of support for the Church, but the implications that politicizing the faith might have for Christendom as a whole. This belied a pervasive unease with regard to the momentous question as to what role, if any, compulsion should play in fostering the faith, particularly if that compulsion came at the point of the royal sword.

Yet, did not the state have a legitimate role to play in fostering the faith? After all, such a belief lay at the heart of Augustine's City of God, which carried great weight in the early medieval world. Reinhard Schneider has acknowledged that at least on some level, Charlemagne associated a kind of missionary consciousness with his role as political leader, although he hastened to add that this theme has often been overstated in Carolingian historiography. (9) The king's motives were complex and differentiated, but even if they did not revolve around a crusading mentality, an informal association between political and religious responsibilities was clearly at play. (10) The experience of the king's actions in Saxony worried Alcuin. In a letter written in 796, he deplored the fact that the Saxons had "destroyed" the rite of baptism, because there had been no faith in their hearts when receiving this vital sacrament. (11) Tellingly, Alcuin supported this assertion with references to Augustine's De catechizandis rudibus, a tract originally written in response to a catechumen's queries on the proper means by which the faith ought to be imparted to potential believers. (12) Alcuin's exposition on this text is significant in many respects, but of particular relevance to the dilemma of forced conversion, since it illustrates his keen awareness of the tension inherent in the way that Augustine's theories had been applied to missionary work, as it was caught between the idea of free-will conversion and the need to compel pagans to change their ways. (13) It was therefore the missionary's duty to tread this fine line and, with the backing of the state's coercive power, to prepare the candidate for his or her conversion. Augustine had hoped that the pagan's inner transformation would coincide with outer conformity to Church practices, but conceded that this coercive model really only afforded the candidate one choice. Nonetheless, the Church Father went on to insist that this was also the best choice, because it was, after all, for the new convert's own good.

This line of thought proved enormously influential in the early medieval world. Richard Sullivan has effectively demonstrated how Augustinian theory fit into Carolingian practice, particularly when it came to conquest. Most Frankish missionaries did not really expect to start from scratch in an area all by themselves, certainly not after the initial Saxon debacle. On the contrary, they came to assume that they would be working in a region newly pacified by the army. Alcuin, too, seems to have accepted many of the core tenets of Augustine's thought on the matter. His letters, for example, lack any earnest protest against the use of violence in forcing an enemy's initial submission. He did, however, harbor serious reservations about the use of compulsion after that, particularly during the catechumenate. (14) In that fragile stage, Alcuin maintained that only true conversions must be the goal, as forced baptisms could only prove harmful. It was thus hoped that "if these ideas were properly presented to a pagan they might bring about a fundamental change of heart, and no pagan could be baptized until he knew and accepted these ideas." (15) Yet despite this apparent reconciliation, Alcuin still seems to have been torn by the nagging tension implicit in Augustine's conversion model and its lingering coercive connotations, if for no other reason than the likelihood that it might easily be misinterpreted to justify a repeat of the dreadful steps taken against the Saxons. Alcuin was searching for a better way to explain that conversion was not simply to be equated with the compulsive administration of a sacrament. Sullivan explained how Alcuin believed it ludicrous to think that a forced baptism could somehow "produce" a believer:
   Missionary work was not, at least in theory, merely a matter of
   brutally compelling pagans to accept the new religion. Many figures
   were deeply aware of the significant transformation that needed to
   be worked out to bring about a true conversion from paganism to
   Christianity and were intent on discovering the means necessary to
   bring about that transformation. (16)


It seems the search for such means preoccupied Alcuin for a good many years. It must have come as a relief of sorts, then, when he received the joyous news of the defeat of yet another pagan people, this time to the kingdom's southeast. He seized this moment to articulate and, he hoped, institute a new remedy to the conversion dilemma.

Echoing his account of the earlier struggle with the Saxons, the royal biographer Einhard made sure to crown his king's Vita with the following report of the Franks' decisive victory over the Avars in the 790s:
   Aside from the war against the Saxons, the greatest of all the wars
   waged by Charlemagne was the one against the Avars, which came next
   [in 791]. He managed that war with greater attention and
   preparation than his other wars .... All the nobility of the Avars
   died out in this war and all their glory vanished. All the wealth
   and treasure they had collected over many years was seized. No one
   can recall any war against the Franks that left them richer or
   better stocked with resources. Until then they had seemed almost
   impoverished. So much gold and silver was found in the khan's
   palace and so many precious objects were taken in this war that it
   might be fairly said that the Franks had justly seized from the
   Avars what the Avars had unjustly seized from other peoples. (17)


Drawing his reader's attention again and again to the conquest and obliteration of this pestiferous people and the material wealth the victors had gained in the process, the author nevertheless said conspicuously little about the encounter's ancillary consequences. Of special note is the absence of any consideration of the war's religious or spiritual results. At least in his account of the Saxon conflict, Einhard had made a point of recording how that people had at last given up their devil worship and had then been united with the Franks themselves as "one people." Why, then, in the midst of this triumphalism, was there no accompanying account of the subsequent Christianization of the Avars?

Aside from the unlikely possibility that Einhard believed his own claim that the Avars had all been killed in this war, it is difficult to explain such a lacuna with any assurance. The fate of this defeated group of pagans may be traced in other contemporary documents, particularly those written by the men closest to the controversial issue of what exactly a Christian conqueror like Charlemagne ought to do with a vanquished enemy. To the secular lords, the defeat (not extermination) of this people spelled rich rewards, as they divided the Avar treasures among themselves. When news came that prince Pepin had soundly defeated the Avars, however, Alcuin encountered a golden opportunity, too, to reorient an inherently counterproductive missionary policy. In the eyes of this Carolingian intellectual, the victory had afforded the Franks a second chance of sorts. The challenge now lay in effecting a religious transformation without repeating the disastrous Saxon experience. To that end, Alcuin wrote a series of letters to various secular and ecclesiastical figures outlining his ideas on the very pertinent issue of conversion, and how these bore on the Franks' coming duties. These letters, set in the context of contemporary events, provide a valuable window into evolving Carolingian religious and missionary principles, and further illustrate how monastic ideals came to shape royal policy.

The Avars themselves dwell largely in the shadows of the early medieval narrative, whether seen from a western European or Byzantine perspective. Piecing together the history of a preliterate, nomadic society is always a challenge, but Frankish and Byzantine sources do allow for the reconstruction of at least a slim outline. As one of a succession of peoples that migrated into the plains north of the Danube, the Avars settled in Pannonia in the late sixth century and soon began to amass great wealth by raiding their neighbors. The power of the Avars probably reached its apex in the early 600s, when their sphere of influence extended from Dalmatia northward to the Great Moravian region and west to the Enns River, and therefore constituted one of the most important political entities on the Hungarian plain and its surrounding mountain ranges. By the eighth century, however, their fortunes had already begun to wane, caught between encroaching Bavarians and Bulgars. (18) Although the Avars appear to have interacted on various levels with the Franks throughout the 700s (their first diplomatic delegation visited the Carolingian mayor of the palace in 693), this relationship was likewise bound to disintegrate because of competing territorial interests following the Frankish incorporation of Bavaria in 787 and as a result of preliminary Frankish missionary efforts among the Slavs, whom the Avars had once considered their subjects. (19)

It is in the context of this crisis that the Avars appeared in Bavaria and Italy in 788, raiding for a time before being repulsed by Frankish forces in both areas. (20) Border skirmishes continued until Charlemagne led a massive punitive invasion into Avar territory in 791. This resulted in relative tranquility that held until his son, Pepin, and Duke Eric of Friuli organized a follow-up attack in 795, which advanced as far as "the Ring," the Avars' administrative center and treasury. At this juncture, an Avar chieftain sent a representative to Aachen, apparently to sue for peace. The visit must have been less than successful, as it did not prevent another incursion in 796, this time yielding absolute Frankish victory, complete with the final plundering of the Avar treasure hoard, duly transported back to Aachen in fifteen oxcarts. (21) In the wake of such a devastating defeat, the Annales regni Francorum reports that the Avar leaders came to Aachen to submit in person to Charlemagne, who promptly had them baptized, richly endowed with gifts, and sent home in honor. (22) The region populated by the Avars was thus pacified until serious revolts broke out in 799, quashed at last in 803. Two years later, in 805, it appears that the Slavs were putting renewed pressure on the Avars, since a new Avar chieftain received from Charlemagne the right to resettle his people in another area, along with confirmation of his authority in exchange for his agreement to be baptized that September. (23) The Franks intervened against the Slavs a few more times in the following years, in the process establishing the borders of the Avar march (limes avaricus) that would eventually form the nucleus of the Ostmark, or Austria. (24) Little more is heard thereafter from the Avars, and an entry in the Annales regni Francorum, noting the appearance of their delegation at a Frankish assembly in Frankfurt in 822, amounts to the last record of their existence as a distinct people in central Europe. (25)

With this background in tow, one should pause to consider Frankish motives for the conquest of the Avars. As noted earlier, the war most likely grew out of inevitable border tensions. Josef Deer has likewise added that the Franks must have seen the incorporation of the Avar region into their own as a rich opportunity to gain and distribute material wealth. (26) Walter Pohl's detailed studies have confirmed this conclusion, noting that the redistribution of land was especially important at this particular stage of the Carolingians' Ostkolonisation, particularly as a strategy to ensure the loyalty of the ever-restless Bavarians. (27) Yet both authors have also acknowledged the accompanying religious aspect of the conquest, even if only as a secondary consideration. Key bishops, for instance, accompanied the Franks on campaign in 796, and convened a synod along the way on the banks of the Danube. (28) Also notable is the obvious link between politics and religion embodied in the Carolingian requirement of baptism before the conferring of political positions. Pohl has taken this association further, arguing that the Frankish mind envisioned the Avars first and foremost as the direct successors of all the wild, pagan, plundering peoples that had sprung forth out of the east in previous centuries, and that victory over them symbolized a victory over the Franks' own un-Christian background. (29) It was thus with a fervent desire to lift up such lost souls out of the depths of perdition that Carolingian missionaries would pursue their work among the Avars. Their efforts, however, were complicated by the intricate complexities surrounding early medieval missionary theories and the stark realities of dealing with a defeated but hostile population.

In conceiving and implementing a new approach to missionary work among the Avars, Alcuin would draw upon his past experiences as well as the support of old friends. One of the advantages of not leading a strictly cloistered life must have been the freedom to cultivate ties with the leading political and intellectual figures of his day; he certainly had the king's ear for many years. Although it is conventionally assumed that he lost stature at court after leaving Aachen in 796 to assume the abbacy of St. Martin at Tours, Alcuin nevertheless seems to have retained considerable influence in state affairs, not least through the substantial network of connections he had cultivated throughout his career. (30) One readily grasps such influence in his more than 300 surviving letters, many addressed to the realm's elite. As noted earlier, Alcuin wrote directly to the royal treasurer, Meginfrid, for help in 796. Alcuin used this same connection to remind Charlemagne of his all-important duty of bringing more people to the care and praise of Christ. Obviously referring to the newly conquered Avars, he insisted that in order for that to happen, many more "reapers" would be needed to bring in this potentially rich "harvest" of souls. (31) The underlying idea was that in the face of the many mistakes made in Saxony (most of them involving forced tithing or baptism), the king should devote even more energy to getting it right this time. In another letter written about the same time, Alcuin addressed Charlemagne directly, praising his accomplishment in subduing such a barbaric people. Cleverly fusing the ethical languages of warrior and priest, this missive boldly went on to insist that in facilitating the salvation of so many souls, the king's wise actions surely had the potential of enhancing his standing before God on Judgment Day, if the situation were handled correctly. (32) Additional clues as to Alcuin's continued influence may be seen in a pair of letters from that same year. The first, again addressed to Charlemagne, advocated mercy for Avar prisoners of war, reminding him that his own kingdom had been bestowed by an all-merciful God. A note to Pepin followed, thanking him and his father for consenting to the request for clemency. (33) The substantially milder tone of the second capitulary on Saxony issued by the king soon thereafter in 797 may therefore reflect Alcuin's moderating influence. (34) Finally, the Synod of the Danube in 796, presided over by Arno of Salzburg and Paulinus of Aquileia, was probably convened at Alcuin's behest. In calling this meeting of bishops, Charlemagne was likely responding to his advisor's concerns about the impending missionary work to be done among the Avars. This influence is reflected in many of the council's conclusions, particularly in its prohibition of mass baptisms. (35)

With such connections, Alcuin was in a position to bring royal affairs in line with his own world view. In limning his proposed change in missionary policy, which would have major ramifications for similar efforts later on, it is vital to establish just how deeply he drew his inspiration from monasticism. If not a monk per se, Alcuin was intimately familiar with the life of one. Given as an oblate to the monastery of York at a very young age, his own patterns of thinking must have been informed by the only way of life he had known. (36) It is necessary, however, to identify some of the primary monastic elements of Alcuin's own mindset if one is to find their potential expression in Carolingian policy. Perhaps most prominent was a dictum lying at the very heart of Benedictine monachism: Namely, that true conversion was an inner process requiring lifelong devotion and obligation to the faith. Benedict of Nursia himself had imbued his foundational sixth-century Rule with just such an admonition:
   But as we progress in this life of monastic conversion and in
   faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts
   overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. Never swerving
   from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching
   in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in
   the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his
   kingdom. (37)


Appropriately, the Rule's final chapter featured a similar sentiment, informing the monk that now that he had been introduced to the rudiments of right monastic observance, further progress on the road to perfection lay in the earnest study of the teachings of the Church Fathers. (38) Such an emphasis on conversion as an internal process illustrates two key related aspects of Alcuin's interpretation of the purest spiritual life: its inner and voluntary nature. Alcuin had held and expressed these beliefs long before the Avars entered his purview. Already in 793 he had written a letter to the monks of Wearmouth and Jarrow, consoling them for their losses to the encroaching Northmen. After advising them to read the Rule frequently in assembly and to explain it in the vernacular so that they might all fully understand its precepts, he turned to the matter at hand. What should they do in response to the Viking attacks? He counseled that "the outward enemy has power because of the enemy within. If therefore God dwells in our hearts because of our good and chaste life, he never allows his enemies to ravage what is his." (39) That is, if God lived in their hearts because (and on behalf) of their exemplary lives and earnest strivings toward an inner conversion, nothing could truly harm them. Similarly, he had also authored at about the same time a long poem, "The Bishops, Kings and Saints of York," which, in addition to celebrating his alma mater, also praised the Anglo-Saxon king Edwin's peaceful means of converting his people to Christianity. Richard Fletcher has noted the same underlying theme in Alcuin's Vita Willibrordi, effectively highlighting the reformer's growing unease with heavy-handed Frankish evangelizing practices. (40)

While it is clear, then, that Alcuin continued to exercise influence at court even after his retirement in 796 and that he viewed the world primarily through the eyes of a monk, the question remains as to the effect his advice had on royal policy with regard to conversion. (41) In pondering this particular question, one encounters something of a historiographical impasse. In a recent article, Mary Alberi has insightfully highlighted Alcuin's monastic mindset by showing how his Disputatio de vera philosophia offered contemporaries a coherent exposition of the monastic ideal, rather than (as most scholars previously assumed) simply exemplifying the Christianization of the liberal arts. (42) Nevertheless, Alberi's study still stops short of positing any significant impact of this worldview on court policy. Indeed, such an impact has usually been relegated to the reign of Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious (r. 814-840). Thomas E X. Noble, for instance, observed that Louis' approach to statecraft was heavily influenced by monastic values, most likely imparted to the emperor by Benedict of Aniane, a Visigothic reformer active at the Frankish court in the early ninth century. (43) Benedict is best known for his consistent efforts under Louis to standardize monastic practice throughout the Carolingian empire. The emperor's drive to exercise absolute temporal authority while also carrying out his perceived spiritual responsibilities, setting a good example, and showing mercy when warranted, all demonstrated, according to Noble, the preponderant place of the ideals of the Rule of Saint Benedict within the emperor's leadership style. He tried to differentiate Louis even further by contending that one cannot find comparable regnal identification with the spiritual duties of an abbot in the legislation of Louis' forebears. (44) However, this argument may now require some qualification. Whereas Louis' years in power were visibly marked by monastic influences, Charlemagne's reign had likewise been shaped by these values. This influence was primarily exerted by the king's most trusted advisor. In this respect, it is useful to highlight Alcuin's close but often underrated connection to the young Benedict of Aniane himself. Two letters expressing friendship, another four detailing collaborative plans for the fight against the Adoptionist heresy, and one more commending Benedict to a distant friend all bear witness to the strong tie between these two seminal figures. (45) This particular relationship also provides a broader clue to understanding the gradual construction of an alternative to Augustine's "one-choice-only" model of conversion, and may in fact point to Alcuin as the actual fomenter of the monastic approach to rulership for which Louis the Pious would become so well known.

One thus needs to look intently through the available evidence for the origins of this new approach to rulership, particularly as it took root in considerations of how best to deal with newly conquered pagans. Alcuin's ideas came to the fore in his letters of 796 and after, precisely when the defeated Avars were seen as most in need of spiritual guidance. The letter to Meginfrid pushes the crucial point that faith was, for St. Augustine, an issue of inner will rather than predisposition. (46) Pursuing this philosophy even further, another of his letters to Charlemagne in 796 contains specific advice as to the proper handling of these potential "novices": The Avars must first be given a rigorous, thorough, and non-coercive spiritual education, and then (and only then) be baptized. This process would result, he hoped, in a truly changed heart. One can see the author's ultimate goal in the letter's persistent emphasis on Christian perfection:
   After this preparation and strengthening in the faith he should be
   baptized. The teaching of the gospel must be given in preaching
   frequently at suitable times, until he grows into the perfect man
   and is made a worthy dwelling for the Holy Spirit and a perfect son
   of God in works of mercy, as our heavenly Father is perfect, who
   lives and reigns in the perfect trinity and blessed unity, God and
   Lord, world without end. (47)


In another letter addressed to bishop Arno of Salzburg that same year, Alcuin warned his old friend of the dangers of imposing the tithe among the Avars prematurely:
   Be a preacher of piety, not an exactor of tithes, for the convert's
   soul must be fed on the good apostle's milk, until it grows strong
   enough to take solid food. They say that tithes upset the faith of
   the Saxons. Why should we place on the necks of the simple a yoke
   which neither we nor our brothers have been able to bear? For we
   are confident that those who believe in Christ are saved. (48)


More telling still is the language and structure of a follow-up missive sent in 799 to Arno, who had in the meantime risen to the office of archbishop. The Avars had just revolted against Carolingian rule, and Alcuin felt obliged to give his friend advice on how to cope with the disaster. This letter serves as perhaps the most striking witness of all to Alcuin's monastic mindset and how it shaped the way he imparted his valued advice. The letter consists of ten distinct items: a salutation; appreciation for Arno's news of Rome; despair over the recent Avar revolt; an invitation to Tours; news of Saracen and Viking raids; an exhortation for Arno's own monks to rededicate themselves to their vows; news of Alcuin's new monastery modeled on Benedict of Aniane's reforms; an enumeration of the benefits of monastic life; a discourse on the potential applicability of monastic values to the laity; and a fond farewell. (49) Of special interest here is a consideration of the purposeful order of the letter's items. Starting with the third section, Alcuin laments the Avar rebellion, seeing in it his dreams for a fresh start to missionary work crushed and his worst fears realized, at least for the time being. One is struck by his particularly harsh words for the Saxons, on whose futile, "God-damned" account so much attention had been lavished while a new people's needs were neglected: "The loss of the Avars is, as you said, due to our carelessness in toiling over the accursed tribe of Saxons, so far despised by God, and neglecting those whom we could, it seemed, have had more success with in God's eyes and more glory in men's." (50) Then, after an invitation to St. Martin's, he notes the dangerous times in which they were living, particularly with regard to Saracen and Viking raids. These were disasters attributable, in his view, to the vows Christians had made but not fulfilled. Further emphasis is given to vows in the next passage, this time aimed more explicitly at monks. Arno's brotherly charges were to rededicate themselves to their vows, especially in view of their perilous position on the pagan frontier. Alcuin seems to imply that the pious embrace of the regular life would ensure their security and even positively enhance cross-border affairs. This admonition is followed by a call to place one's hopes for salvation in God's mercy, but also by a familiar lament over the harm inflicted on everyone by those dreaded vow-breaking monks:
   So, dear son and rightly revered brother, encourage your brothers
   to live by the rule and to honor their first dedication, as the
   scripture says, "Pay to the Lord your vows," [Ps. 76:11] and, "It
   is better not to vow than not to pay your vows" [Eccles. 5:5]. You
   are near the pagan frontiers--let your protection be the shielding
   love of God, who said, "Without me you can do nothing" [John 15:5].
   The world is very disturbed; many have heretical thoughts and many
   so-called monks are careless. They want to have the title without
   the reality, as the scripture says, "The lazy want, but have no
   will" [Prov. 13:4], that is, they want to be blessed but not make
   the effort to earn blessing. (51)


Alcuin was thereby driving home his fervent argument that, as the dangers plaguing everyone stemmed from the general neglect of Christian vows, the remedy ultimately resided with the reinvigoration of the regular monastic life and the widespread embrace of its values. The letter then turns to Alcuin's joyous news that he has established a new monastery in the vicinity of Tours, with the added distinction that it had been populated with Visigothic monks connected to Benedict of Aniane:
   I have recently formed a community of the monastic life and regular
   religion about eight miles from the monastery of St. Martin, first
   of brothers from Gothia where Abbot Benedict [of Aniane]
   established the regular life, but now by God's will others are
   coming to give themselves in holy dedication. One must not limp in
   the service of God, but rather walk along the royal road. (52)


Not only does this latter reference testify to Alcuin's respect for the future reformer, but also to his own concerns for monastic purity and its significance to all Christendom. The benefits of such reform were to be seen, Alcuin reiterated, in the genuine adoption of the "blessed regular life" in Arno's own prosperous community:
   Indeed, I affirm that whatever I hear about your canonical practice
   is certainly enough to please me. But the reward of your diligence
   would be all the greater if the brothers under your care were to
   live according to the purity of the rule. Now, I have not heard
   otherwise, but nor should I say, out of fraternal love, any less
   than what I know would be of help to you. (53)


He then even went so far as to say that these same ideals ought to be preached to the "people" themselves:

Earnestly preach the word of God to the people, as I have so often implored, so that no soul might be doubtful of your judgment or be overlooked by you. Show them the path of salvation, emboldening some through private gatherings, others through public preaching. Offer encouragement to every single one according to his condition or to the kind of person he is: to the powerful and the judges, justice and mercy; to the young, obedience, humility and trust in their elders; and to everyone, fairness, love of God and neighbor, purity of body, and kindness and piety in almsgiving, so that through the fruit of your many labors you might be worthy to attain the seat of eternal blessedness, with the compassionate one, who said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" [Matt. 5:16]. (54)

Who were these "people" to whom Arno should recommend such practices and values? Could they have included the Avars themselves? If so, this advice, in its emphasis on the benefits of adopting the virtues of justice, mercy, humility, and obedience, surely illustrates a monastic influence on new developments in Carolingian missionary theory under Alcuin's guidance. One is struck by the attention paid to almsgiving, in direct and targeted contrast to the detestable imposition of the tithe. With his hope of rectifying the depredations of the day (especially his crumbling dreams for the Avars) through the revitalization of pure monastic ideals and institutions, Alcuin was thereby articulating a key aspect of the Carolingian renovatio whose explication is all too often attributed to later generations of reformers.

While the foregoing pages investigate the immediate challenges faced by Carolingian missionaries in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, one may also gain a broader purview in noting the more wide-ranging changes those trials wrought on conversion theory in the European Middle Ages as a whole. As the most articulate expositor in this early period of reevaluation and reformulation, Alcuin ingeniously drew upon his own monastic background and experiences to forge a new ideology based on mercy, humility, obedience, and an inner change of heart. All these ideals were central to monasticism and enshrined in the Rule of Saint Benedict. In achieving this creative synthesis, Alcuin did not merely graft an important new influence onto the cultural renewal of the Carolingian era, but effectively reinvigorated and relegitimized missionary efforts for a long time to come as well. Thus, in what is usually treated as a simple military conflict between unequal powers, one actually discovers a rather momentous development. Certainly the Carolingians emerged politically victorious over their pagan foes, but the ordeals encountered with the Saxons and Avars fostered both a reorientation of missionary policy in a newly conquered province and a substantive transformation of how conversion was conceived of by Charlemagne and those many successors who would seek to emulate his achievements.

(1.) Rosamond McKitterick, Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 103-6 and 251-6, presents a useful account of Saxony's integration into the early medieval Frankish empire, along with particular references to the battle of Stintel and its repercussions on the field of Verden. The standard contemporary source for the events of Charles' reign is the Annales regni Francorum, ed. Friedrich Kurze, Monumenta Germaniae Historica [MGH]: Scriptores rerum germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi [SRG] 6 (Hanover: Hahn, 18954 58-9, with particular reference here to the entry for 782.

(2.) Alessandro Barbero, Charlemagne: Father of a Continent (Berkeley, CA: U. of California P., 2004), 114, features a compelling characterization of the Carolingian creation of "Europe" as a coherent cultural entity.

(3.) Einhard, Vita Karoli magni, ed. O. Holder-Egger, MGH: SRG 25 (Hanover: Hahn, 1911), 9-10: "Quo nullum neque prolixius neque atrocius Francorumque populo laboriosius susceptum est; quia Saxones, sicut omnes fete Germaniam incolentes nationes, et natura feroces et cultui daemonum dediti nostraeque religioni contrarii neque divina neque humana iura vel polluere vel transgredi inhonestum arbitrabantur.... Susceptum est igitur adversus eos bellum, quod magna utrimque animositate, tamen maiore Saxonum quam Francorum damno, per continuos triginta tres annos gerebatur. Poterat siquidem citius finiri, si Saxonum hoc perfidia pateretur. Difficile dictu est, quoties superati ac supplices regi se dediderunt, imperata facturos polliciti sunt, obsides qui imperabantur absque dilatione dederunt, legatos qui mittebantur susceperunt, aliquoties ita domiti et emolliti, ut etiam culture daemonum dimittere et Christianae religioni se subdere velle promitterent. Sed sicut ad haec facienda aliquoties proni, sic ad eadem pervertenda semper fuere praecipites, non sit ut satis aestimare, ad utrum horum faciliores verius diei possint; quippe cure post inchoatum cure eis bellum vix ullus annus exactus sit, quo non ab eis huiuscemodi facta sit permutatio. Sed magnanimitas regis ac perpetua tam in adversis quam in prosperis mentis constantia nulla eorum mutabilitate vel vinci poterat vel ab his quae agere coeperat defatigari.... Eaque conditione a rege proposita et ab illis suscepta tractum per tot annos bellum constat esse finitum, ut, abiecto daemonum cultu et relictis patriis caerimoniis, Christianae fidei atque religionis sacramenta susciperent et Francis adunati unus cure eis populus efficerentur" (see for an English translation that I have largely followed here: Dutton, Charlemagne's Courtier: The Complete Einhard, tr. Paul E. Dutton [Peterborough: Broadview, 1998], 20-1).

(4.) "Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae," in MGH: Capitularia regum Francorum 1, ed. Alfred Boretius (Hanover: Hahn, 1883), 68-70, features dozens of chapters ominously ending with "capitae punietur" or "morte moriatur."

(5.) Richard E. Sullivan, "Early Medieval Missionary Activity: A Comparative Study of Eastern and Western Methods," Church History 23, 1954, 17-35: 22-3; Reinhard Schneider, "Karl der Grosse: politisches Sendungsbewusstsein und Mission," in Kirchengeschichte als Missionsgeschichte, ed. Knut Schaferdiek (Munich: Kaiser, 1978), 227-248: 241-2. Sullivan added that only from Charlemagne's reign onward did the West begin to emulate the Byzantine tradition of using direct political power to foster missionary efforts, the first incarnations of which were found in Saxony. See Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae, 69: "Similiter secundum Dei mandatum praecipius, ut omnes decimam pattern substantiae et laboris suis ecclesiis et sacerdotibus donent, tam nobiles quam ingenui, similiter et liti iuxta quod Deus unicuique dederit christiano, partem Deo reddant."

(6.) Roger Collins, Charlemagne (Toronto: U. of Toronto P., 1998), 162.

(7.) McKitterick, Charlemagne, 348, offers a different opinion as to the length of Alcuin's residence in Aachen.

(8.) Alcuin, "Epistolae," in MGH: Epistolae karolini aevi 4, ed. Ernst Dummler (Hanover: Hahn, 1895), 161.

(9.) Schneider, "Karl der Grosse," 227. In particular, he refutes the idea of a "missionarische Aussenpolitik" under Charles. For a contrasting view, see Helmut Kampf, "Reich und Mission zur Zeit Karls des Grossen," Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 1, 1950, 409-17: 417.

(10.) Schneider, "Karl der Grosse," 247-8.

(11.) Alcuin, Epistolae, 164: "Idcirco misera Saxonum gens toties baptismi perdidit sacramentum, quia numquam habuit in corde fidei fundamentum. Sed et hoc sciendum est, quod fides--secundum quod sanctus Augustinus ait--ex voluntate fit, non ex necessitate. Quomodo potest homo cogi, ut credat quod non credit?" See also Richard Sullivan, "The Carolingian Missionary and the Pagan," Speculum 28 (1953), 705-740: 718.

(12.) For its full text, see Aurelius Augustinus, "De catechizandis rudibus," in Patrologiae Latina, ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris: Gamier, 1844), vol. 40: 309-48.

(13.) Gonsalvus Walter, Die Heidenmission nach der Lehre des heiligen Augustinus (Munster: Aschendorff, 1921), 115.

(14.) Richard Sullivan, "Carolingian Missionary Theories," Catholic Historical Review 42, 1956, 273-95: 277: "To these authors and many others of the age missionary work in the proper sense began after the pagans had been made to see the necessity of changing their old religion by someone other than the missionary." See also the several important studies addressing ninth-century approaches to catechism and baptism, including Jean-Paul Bouhot, "Alcuin et le De catechizandis rudibus de saint Augustin," Recherches augustiniennes 15, 1980, 176-240; Joseph M. Heer, Ein karolingischer Missions-Katechismus (Freiburg-im-Breisgau: n.p., 1911); and Susan Ann Keefe, Water and the Word: Baptism and the Education of the Clergy in the Carolingian Empire, 2 vols. (South Bend, IN: U. of Notre Dame P., 2002).

(15.) Sullivan, "Carolingian Missionary Theories," 284.

(16.) Ibid., 295.

(17.) Einhard, Vita Karoli magni, 15-16: "Maximum omnium, quae ab illo gesta sunt, bellorum praeter Saxonicum huic bello successit, illud videlicet, quod contra Avares sive Hunos susceptum est. Quod ille et animosius quam cetera et longe maiori apparatu administravit. ... Tota in hoc bello Hunorum nobilitas periit, tota gloria decidit. Omnis pecunia et congesti ex longo tempore thesauri direpti sunt. Neque ullum helium contra Francos exorturn humana potest memoria recordari, quo illi rnagis ditati et opibus aucti sint. Quippe cum usque in id temporis poene pauperes videreutur, tantum auri et argenti in regia repertum, tot spolia pretiosa in proeliis sublata, ut merito credi posit hoc Francos Hunis iuste eripuisse, quod Huni prius aliis gentibus iniuste eripuerunt"; see for the translation that I have used here (with minor modifications) Dutton, Charlemagne's Courtier, 234.

(18.) Florin Curta, Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006), 81; Arnold Angenendt, Kaiserherrschaft und Konigstaufe: Kaiser, Konige und Papste als geistliche Patrone in der abendlandischen Missionsgeschichte (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984), 232; and Gyula Laszlo, "Die Awaren und das Christentum im Donauraum und im ostlichen Mitteleuropa," in Das heidnische und christliche Slaventum: Acta II congressus internationalis historiae Slavicae Salisburgo-Ratisbonensis anno 1967 celebrati (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1969), 141-52: 141.

(19.) Collins, Charlemagne, 92; Walter Pohl, Die Awaren" Ein Steppenvolk in Mitteleuropa, 567-822 (Munich: Beck, 1988), 500-01. See also Josef Deer, "Karl der Grosse und der Untergang des Awarenreiches," in Karl der Grosse: Lebenswerk und Nachleben, ed. Helmut Beumann (Dusseldorf: Schwann, 1965), vol. 1, 719-91: 724-6, for a helpful summary of Frankish-Avar relations.

(20.) Collins, Charlemagne, 93. Collins discounts the accusation, recorded in the Annales regni Francorum, that these raids were somehow the result of an alliance concluded between Duke Tassilo of Bavaria and the Avar leaders.

(21.) Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen (Philadelphia, PA: U. of Pennsylvania P., 1993), 108-09.

(22.) Annales regni Francorum, 99.

(23.) Ibid., 119-20.

(24.) Riche, Carolingians, 109.

(25.) Deer, "Karl der Grosse," 726. The Avars themselves seem to have either been subsumed into the new Bavarian and Slavic settlements established in their area, or accepted into Bulgar populations further east.

(26.) Ibid., 787.

(27.) Pohl, Awaren, 313-14: "Die 'Avaria' ostlich der Enns wurde unter frankischer Herrschaft zum bayerisch-slawischen Pionierland, zum 'Wilden Osten' des ostfrankischen Reichsteiles."

(28.) Deer, "Karl der Grosse," 787.

(29.) Pohl, Awaren, 313: "Fur die Karolingerzeit reprasentierten sie [die Awaren] die Heiden par excellence.... Karl trat im Namen des vielgepruften christlichen Okzidents auf: dass die Franken selbst einst zu den 'gentes' gehort hatten, konnte durch diese neue Frontstellung endgtiltig vergessen werden. Der Sieg uber die Awaren symbolisierte den Schluassstrich unter die dunklen Jahrhunderte, in denen das Abendland unter der Heimsuchung durch die Heiden gelitten hatte. Die Beutestucke, die der Kaiser uberall zwischen England und Rom verteilen liess, sollten das unterstreichen, die mit solchen Hoffnungen begonnene Awarenmission die neuen Verhaltnisse besiegeln."

(30.) Alcuin's loss of stature is usually extrapolated from his bitter and unsuccessful struggle with Theodulf of Orleans over the fate of a runaway cleric who had claimed refuge in Tours (see Rob Meens, "Sanctuary, Penance, and Dispute Settlement under Charlemagne: The Conflict between Alcuin and Theodulf of Orleans over a Sinful Cleric," Speculum 82, 2007, 277-300).

(31.) Alcuin, Epistolae, 161: "Scit enim haec omnia optime dilectus meus David, cui Deus et sapientiam dedit et bonam voluntatem; ut plurimos convertit populos ad caritatem Christi et laudem.... Et ego dico tibi, carissime amice: messis quidem multa est in populo christiano, sed non sunt in quibusdam locis messores. Tu vero roga dominum messis, id est David meum dilectum, ut mittat operarios in messem suam; quatenus illis dicat rogatus, sicut suus proprius protector et unicus amator Christus deus dixit discipulis suis: 'Ite, ecce ego mitto vos'."

(32.) Ibid., 157: "Qualis erit tibi gloria, o beatissime rex, in die aeternae retributionis, quando hi omnes, qui per tuam bonam sollicitudinem ab idolatriae cultura ad cognoscendum verum Deum conversi sunt, te ante tribunal domini nostri Iesu Christi in beata sorte stantem sequentur et ex his omnibus perpetuae beatitudinis merces augetur."

(33.) Ibid., 173-4.

(34.) Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (New York: Holt, 1997), 222.

(35.) Wilfried Hartmann, Die Synoden der Karolingerzeit im Frankenreich und in Italien (Paderborn: Schoningh, 1989), 116-17. The synod also agreed on a seven- to forty-day period of Christian education in preparation for baptism, and divided the responsibility for such evangelical work among the dioceses of Salzburg, Passau, and Aquileia. Note, too, that it was on account of its expanded responsibilities that Salzburg was promoted to archiepiscopal status by pope Leo III at Charlemagne's request in 797. For more details on this synod and its particular effects on the Avars, see Pohl, Awaren, 319-20, and Barbero, Charlemagne, 243-4.

(36.) Mayke de Jong, In Samuel's Image: Child Oblation in the Early Medieval West (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 50. For a contrasting view of Alcuin's background, see Collins, Charlemagne, 113.

(37.) Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of St. Benedict, ed. and trans. Justin McCann (London: Burns Oates, 1952), 12: "Processu veto conversationis et fidei, dilatato corde, inenarrabile dilectionis dulcedine curritur via mandatorum Dei; ut ab ipsius numquam magisterio discedentes, in eius doctrina usque ad mortem in monasterio perseverantes, passionibus Christi per patientiam participemur, ut et regni eius mereamur esse consortes" (I have made a minor modification of McCann's translation). McCann noted that the pivotal word "conversatio" appears ten times throughout Benedict's little book.

(38.) Ibid., 160-3: "Chapter 73: That the full observance of justice is not established in this Rule."

(39.) Alcuin, Epistolae, 54-5: "Propter interiores hostes exteriores potestatem habent. Si igitur Deus pro bona conversatione et castitate vitae habitator est cordis nostri; numquam inimicos suos vastare dimittit, quae sua sunt"; trans. Stephen Allott, Alcuin of York: His Life and Letters (York: William Sessions, 1974), 40.

(40.) Fletcher, Barbarian Conversion, 220-2, though hastening to add here that "Alcuin was not going soft. The king was doing God's work. However, God's work lay not simply in conquering but also in teaching the conquered. Alcuin's concern lay with finding the most effective way to teach, and this involved doing away with obstacles such as the resentments generated by compulsory payment of tithe."

(41.) Donald A. Bullough, Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 127-330, offers the most in-depth study of the reformer's early experiences and influences, including his monastic background.

(42.) Mary Alberi, "'The Better Paths of Wisdom': Alcuin's Monastic 'True Philosophy' and the Worldly Court," Speculum 76, 2001, 896-910.

(43.) Thomas E X. Noble, "The Monastic Ideal as a Model for Empire: The Case of Louis the Pious," Revue Benedictine 86, 1976, 235-50: 248.

(44.) Ibid., 244. The only potential exception Noble found was Charlemagne's Admonitio Generalis (789), but he cautioned that "the moral fervor of the Proemium Generale is absent as is the moral responsibility implicit in the latter text."

(45.) Alcuin, Epistolae, 99-101, 330-4, 340-3, and 461-2. See also the anonymous Vita Alcuini, ed. Wilhelm Arndt, MGH" Scriptores 15 (Hanover: Hahn, 1887), 192: "Vir quoque Domini Benedictus ei prae omnibus monachis familaritate iunctus, ad eum gratia consilii salutis suae et suorum accipiendi saepius Gothiae de partibus properabat."

(46.) Alcuin, Epistolae, 160: "Fides quoque, sicut sanctus ait Augustinus, res est voluntaria, non necessaria. Adtrahi poterit homo in fidem, non cogi. Cogi poterit ad baptismum, sed non profecit in fide, nisi infantilis aetas, aliorum peccatis obnoxia, aliorum confessione salvari poterit. Perfectae aetatis vir pro se respondeat, quid credat aut quid cupiat. Et si fallaciter fidem profitetur, veraciter salutem non habebit." For the translation, see Allott, Alcuin, 76.

(47.) Ibid., 159: "Et hac fide roboratus homo et praeparatus baptizandus est. Et sic tempore oportuno saepius evangelica praecepta danda sunt per sedulae praedicationis officium, donec adcrescat in virum perfectum et digna efficiatur Spiritui sancto habitatio et sit perfectus filius Dei in operibus misericordiae, sicut pater noster caelestis perfectus est; qui vivit et regnat in trinitate perfecta et unitate benedicta, Deus et Dominus per omnia saecula saeculorum" (see Allott, Alcuin, 74).

(48.) Ibid., 154: "Et esto praedicator pietatis, non decimarum exactor, quia novella anima apostolicae pietatis lacte nutrienda est, donec crescat, convalescat et roboretur ad acceptionem solidi cibi. Decimae, ut dicitur, Saxonum subverterunt fidem. Quid inponendum est iugum cervicibus idiotarum, quod neque nos neque fratres nostri sufferre potuerunt? Igitur in fide Christi salvari animas credentium confidimus" (see Allott, Alcuin, 75).

(49.) Ibid., 308-10.

(50.) Ibid., 309: "Hunorum vero, sicut dixisti, perditio nostra est neglegentia; laborantium in maledicta generatione Saxonum Deoque despecta usque huc; et eos neglegentes, quos maiore mercede apud Deum et gloria apud homines habere potuimus, ut videbatur" (see Allott, Alcuin, 79).

(51.) Ibid., 309: "Ideo, dilectissime fili et merito venerande frater, tuos hortare fratres regulariter vivere et devotionem primam firmiter servare; dicente scriptura: 'Vovete et reddite domino Deo vestro'; item: 'Melius est non vovere, quam vota non reddere.' Prope enim estis vos terminis paganorum. Sit salus vestra protectio et misericordia dominus Deus noster, qui air: 'Sine me nihil potestis facere.' Commotio magna est in mundo; et in mentibus multorum infidelitas et in nomine monachorum neglegentia. Volunt dici, et non fieri; dicente scriptura: 'Vuh piger, et non vult'; id est: vult beatus esse et non vult laborare, unde beatus fat" (see Allott, Alcuin, 79, with minor modifications).

(52.) Ibid., 309: "Noviter congregationem quandam feci, quasi octavo miliario a monasterio sancti Martini, monachicae vitae et regularis relegionis: primo ex fratribus de Gothia, ubi Benedictus abba regularem constituit vitam. At nunc, volunte Deo, aliqui veniunt sancta se devotione mancipantes. Non est claudicandum in Dei servitio, sed via regia gradiendum" (see Allott, Alcuin, 80, with minor modifications).

(53.) Ibid., 310: "Quicquid vero de tua audio canonica conversatione satis mihi placere fateor. Hoc quoque addatur ad mercedem industriae vestrae, ut fratres, qui sub manu vestra sunt, secundum sanctitatem regularis vitae vivant. Nec ego aliter audivi; nec eo minus decere debeo quae agnosco proficere fraterna caritate" (my translation). It is not altogether clear which "monks" Alcuin had in mind here; perhaps those living in monasteries within Arno's archdiocese?

(54.) Ibid., 310: "Populo quoque, ut saepius deprecatus sum, praedica instanter verbum Dei; ne ullius anima in tuo pendeat iudicio vel ate quaeratur. Ostende illis viam salutis; hos secreta conlatione, illos publica praedicatione confirmans. Unicuique secundum suae conditionis vel personae modum hortamenta ingere: potestatibus et iudicibus iustitiam et misericordiam; iunioribus oboedientiam humilitatem et fidem in senioribus; omnibus aequitatem, caritatem Dei et proximi, castitatem corporis, benignitatem et pietatem in aelymosinis, quatenus cum multiplici laboris tui fructu ad aeternae beatitudinis sedem pervenire merearis, eo miserante, qui ait: 'Sic luceat lux vestra coram hominibus, ut videant opera vestra bona, et glorificent pattern vestrum, qui in caelis est.'" (my translation).

Steven A. Stofferahn is Assistant Professor of History and Faculty Adviser to Phi Alpha Theta at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is the author of several articles on early medieval intellectual and political culture, and is currently preparing a monograph on exile in the early Middle Ages. Special thanks are extended to John J. Contreni and the late Richard Sullivan and Joseph Lynch for offering helpful comments on early incarnations of this study.
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Publication:The Historian
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Date:Sep 22, 2009
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