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The just king and De Duodecim Abusiuis Saeculi.

Locating the development of speculum principum literature within the political landscape of early medieval Britain and Ireland allows a glimpse into the constitution of regal authority. As a discourse on kingly prerogative, insular advice literature reveals the unfolding relationship between ruler and cleric as the texts progress from admonition to encouragement. The ninth abuse of De Duodecim Abusiuis Saeculi is a pivotal text in understanding the influence and evolution of this literature. A detailed manifest of contemporary Western political concepts of Christian theocratic kingship, this mid-seventh-century text is implicitly concerned with the 'just' exercise of a king's authority. Its rulership terminology presents a cohesive clerical vision of the model king, and can be assessed against contemporary Irish texts that attempt to circumscribe the geo-political reach of a king within a Christian social framework.

There is an abundance of scholarly discussion on the genre of speculum principum covering a variety of chronologies and countries. Limited interest, however, has been directed towards understanding the development of this genre in early medieval Britain and Ireland. In part, this is because early documentary evidence from Britain is slender whilst Irish evidence is often in the vernacular and ignored due to perceptions of its sui generis nature. Nevertheless, as will be shown, evaluating this genre against the changing political landscape of Ireland and Britain reveals concurrent developments in consolidating kingship and the increasing influence of clerics on social organization. Whether clerics were attempting to re-frame kingship in light of political developments or whether they were directing political change, by the beginning of the eighth century a symbiotic relationship between king and bishop existed that increased the geo-political authority of both offices. Anglo-Saxons, Britons, Gaels, and Picts moved simultaneously towards redefining the institution of kingship under the direction of Western political ideas transmitted through clerical agents. This paper argues that the insular speculum principum genre was a consciously developed literate discourse, participating in Western Christian political ideas, in response to changing political circumstances and the implementation of a Christian normative social structure.

The documentary evidence of advice to kings discussed in this essay is principally drawn from Irish texts. This is due to the predominance of Old Irish documents surviving from the period and the interest that these texts evince in the nature of power and authority (both temporal and spiritual), and in their manifestation and control. In relation to kings, the Old Irish legal and status texts, in particular, indicate that political changes provided an impetus for the discourse. Previously, scholars assumed that these texts merely displayed the reconciliation of existing pagan sacral kingship under Christianization. (1) Indeed, documentary texts of this period can rarely be separated from a clerical agency, and Anglo-Saxon and Pictish evidence for the development of a Christian office of kingship is primarily ecclesiastical in authorship and, sometimes, audience. Despite the uneven distribution of textual evidence there is certainly a case to be made for the transmission of key political ideas on constituting a Christian society amongst insular clerics who, in turn, advised their kings. (2) Insular clerics directly engaged with the discourse on the constitution of Christian government that was exercising the minds of their brethren across the Catholic world.

At an early stage in the process of the Christianization of Britain and Ireland, clerics attempted to define actively the correct behaviour of a Christian populace. This process of definition took the form of admonitory advice literature, predominately directed towards the king. In the same period the institution of insular kingship was being transformed into one of larger territorial consolidation. However, the coercive authority by which the king gained territory required ideological support in order to maintain his rule and perpetuate a dynasty. Willing promoters of theocratic kingship, clerics directed kings towards a new vision of authority, that of moral legitimacy and Christian example. By reworking the political role of the king through comparison with Christ as the king of all kings, and the concept that the office of kingship was at God's disposal, clerics enabled the increasing authority of secular as well as ecclesiastic government.

Admonitory advice to the Christian populace was clearly the aim of the mid-seventh-century tract entitled De Duodecim Abusiuis Saeculi, attributed at various times to Augustine, Cyprian, Isidore, and Patrick. (3) This text is extant in over 200 manuscripts and has been accepted as Irish in provenance. (4) As the numerous manuscripts testify, this text proved popular in the West over a number of centuries. Indeed, according to Patrick Wormald De XII was 'one of the most profoundly influential formulations of Christian political obligation in the entire Middle Ages'. (5) Of particular interest is the ninth abuse dealing with the unjust king (rex iniquus) whose abuse of office causes not merely his own damnation but cosmological tragedy. (6) In this grade an unjust king threatens the fertility of the earth, the safety of his people and his dynasty. It is this cosmological impact of the unjust king that places the text directly within an Irish milieu. Michael Enright was convinced that the impact of an unjust king on the balance of the cosmos was a purely pre-Christian concept taken from an Old Irish tecosca (precepts) tradition, extant in texts such as the Audacht Morainn (The testament of Morann). (7) This vernacular text describes the justice, or truth, of the ruler (fir flathemon) as directly impacting the fertility and peace of the realm. The inherent archaisms found in Audacht Morainn and the apparent lack of Christian terminology have led scholars to suggest a long oral tradition of advice to kings from their pagan religious practitioners. The editor of Audacht Morainn (Recension B) dated the text to c. 700 and found nothing to imply that De XII influenced, or was influenced by, a postulated tecosca tradition but suggested the possibility of Christian agency. (8) Comparison between the warning advice in the ninth grade to the unjust king and Audacht Morainn (devoted to advice on the correct ruling principles for a new king) does reveal significant similarities. (9) This does not rule out clerical authorship as secular early Irish law texts similarly used pre-Christian heroic figures to emphasize 'a unique cultural continuum' whilst patterning themselves on the Old Testament Levites. (10)

The didactic tone of De XII and Audacht Morainn could easily have drawn its model from Old Testament Wisdom texts. In particular, the book of Proverbs takes an emphatically paternal and admonishing tone that could have provided a template for the insular development of advice to kings. Similar appropriation of the Old Testament by the Merovingians indicates the appeal that this rich storehouse of moral messages and 'histories' had for clerical authors. (11) The insular author Gildas in his De Excidio Brittonum (c. 540) made full use of biblical quotes to represent the antithesis of good kingship. (12) Popular amongst the Irish for his canons and used by Bede for the history of pre-Anglo-Saxon Britain, the Briton Gildas's antithetical text provides the first insular evidence of clerical interest in kingly behaviour. Old Testament precedents of prophets dooming the kings of Israel provide Gildas with sufficient justification for demanding the compliance of his own kings. Gildas uses the same threat of Solomon's sin causing the rending of his kingdom (I Kings 11. 11-13) as appears later in De XII, and his Old Testament references bear a close resemblance to the cosmological impact of an unjust king in De XII and the tecosca works. (13) This is clear in his admonition from Proverbs 29. 4, that 'if a ruler listens to unjust words, all his subjects are the prophet said "the just king establishes the land"'. (14) These texts identify temporal authority, residing in the personhood and deeds of the monarch, as ultimately corrupting with a concomitant impact on his subjects' prerogatives. In essence, the king must redeem himself from the corrupting influence of power by the exercise of appropriate moral behaviour to ensure his kingdom's cosmological welfare.

References to the king's justice and the fertility of his realm pervade the Old Testament and are extensively employed in Gildas's complaint to his kings. (15) The cosmological responsibility of the Christian king as portrayed in De XII was not universal. An early-seventh-century letter from the Visigothic king Sisebut to the Lombard king Adualuald compared his current Christian peace to pre-Christian times when there were harvest failures, constant wars, pestilence, and every kind of misfortune. (16) Sisebut's equation makes it clear that cosmological calamities were a result of the Goths' ignorance of God and Christian salvation whereas De XII and, to some extent, the tecosca texts present cosmological order as predicated on the king's continuing practice of (Christian) truth and justice. There is no doubt that there are many pre-Christian precedents for a king's cosmological responsibilities. (17) However, it may be more germane to understand why insular literati used these themes to promote the ideal of the 'just king'.

Writers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Plutarch viewed society as closely mirroring the hierarchy of the heavens, with the king ultimately responsible for all aspects of his subjects' temporal and spiritual wellbeing. (18) Earlier, Hellenistic political theory maintained that the king was to establish and embody justice in order to ensure divine favour. (19) In the same way that man was created in the image of God, so the Christianized temporal kingdom could be seen as reflecting that of heaven and its failures could be seen not merely as spiritual calamities but physical ones. (20) The insular advice literature was clearly influenced by these political and theological theories. As representative of his people the king had a contractual obligation to ensure correct Catholic practice. Gildas, quoting Isaiah 24. 1-6, makes clear the outcome should the contract be broken: that the world would ebb away and 'a curse shall devour the earth'. (21) Gildas also made liberal use of the book of Wisdom (6. 2-11) to elaborate on this point, that in so much as God granted the king authority, misuse of his position through injustice was rewarded by God's severe judgement. (22) Moreover, a late-seventh-century Irish legal text, Corus Bescnai, argued that failure by the king to ensure that contracts and treaties were properly maintained amongst his people would cause the disorder of the world with plague and floods of war. (23)

Western ecclesiastical development of an ideal Christian ruler had important repercussions for the emergence of Christian theocratic monarchy. Augustine outlined the virtues of a paternal ruler whose happiness rested on both his Christian faith and the protection of the state. (24) According to Gregory of Tours (c. 575) the Merovingian king Theodebert was an exemplar of Christian kingship because he ruled his kingdom justly, was respectful to his clergy and generous to churches and his people. (25) Expanding on this image, Isidore of Seville (d. c. 636) found an attentive audience with the publication of his Sententiae, which outlined unified Christian kingship. (26) A section of this tract defined the ideal virtuous king who exercised his authority in due humility, after the example of the Israelite king David, whilst actively instituting and delighting in justice. (27) His role was to be instructor and corrector of his subjects rather than simply punisher of transgression. (28) A similar role was envisioned for the king at the fourth Council of Toledo (633), which described the king as having a distinct moral purpose as ruler of his, and God's, subjects--namely, to rule with justice, piety, a humble heart, and good works. (29) Emphasis was placed on the authority of the king as God-given and his fundamental moral duty was to protect and preserve his subjects.

Of course, as Joseph Canning has pointed out, the idea of the king's authority being given by God (rex dei gratia) had some biblical foundation (John 19. 11) and there had been a history of debate on how Christian rulership was to be constituted. (30) Hypothetically, once normative Christian theocratic monarchy was established there were limited ways in which royal absolutism was kept in check and limited legitimate means for the clergy or his subjects to depose the king. A similar dilemma had been encountered when Nero claimed divine appointment for his rule, a major constitutional move away from the norm of authority being invested in the ruler by Senate and people. (31) This was not entirely successful, as later Roman emperors acknowledged a dual appointment by God and the people with failure to either his people or God justifying the emperor's deposition; this resulted in his moral standing becoming a constitutional necessity. (32) Similarly, from the sixth century in the Christian West the formulation of a distinct moral code for royal behaviour (stressing the king's role as personally answerable for his subjects' temporal and spiritual welfare) ensured that the king's 'freedom of action' could be checked. (33) The ultimate penalty for a Christian king's failure to act correctly is expressed in the ninth abuse of De XII, which concludes that 'since, he is set up on the throne as the first of all men, if he fails to act justly, in the same way he inhabits the first place of punishment'. (34)

I. Justice of the Ruler

The justice of a king is the dominant theme within the ninth abuse of De XII and, as such, it is important to understand how it was conceptualized. While De XII and Audacht Morainn link the justice of a ruler with social and agricultural harmony, it is unclear how the king's justice would function. De XII declares that the 'iustitia uero regis' should not crush anyone unjustly ['est neminem iniuste per potentiam opprimere'] and he is to pass judgement impartially ['sine acceptione inter uirum et proximum suum iudicare']. (35) Whilst this implies justice through judgement, iustitia also has a range of translations such as 'justice, equity, righteousness, uprightness' and 'compassion'. This suits the continuing clause of De XII that the king is to defend strangers, orphans, and widows. De XII nona abusio provides for both truth and justice as constitutional conditions of kingship, in that: 'the throne is raised in the king's justice, and the governance of peoples is secured in the king's truth' ['quoniam in iustitia regis exaltatur solium, et in veritatem regis solidantur gubernacula populorum']. (36) The meaning of iustitia may also encompass 'conduct in accordance with the divine law'. (37) This could be viewed as a contractual condition, requiring the king to guard his conduct and by the actualization of his conduct he safeguards the cosmic balance.

Contractual relationships endorsed and maintained early Irish society and were keenly scrutinized and ordered according to sophisticated legal prescriptions and proscriptions. (38) According to the Old Irish law tract Di Astud Chor (On the Securing of Contracts) 'the Great World is secured/by contracts which are proclaimed'. (39) This law tract also equates an oath, sworn to bind a contract, as akin to a 'covenant of God'. (40) Indeed, Irish intellectuals in the seventh to eighth centuries were making a conscious attempt to reconcile existing native legal precepts with biblical concepts of justice and law. (41) The evidence from vernacular texts indicates that the Irish king was endowed with increasing participatory rights in judgement and the ratification of new legislation. (42) Judgement was one aspect of the king's function, as De XII emphasizes that iustitia regis should be exercised by correct judgement and punishment of transgression, but the ruler's justice also included compassion and generosity to innocents and the defence of Catholic precepts and churches. The usage of this term within the text suggests that the justice of the ruler was understood to encompass the legal probity and integrity of the ruler through the function of truthful and right judgement that included the practice of a range of appropriate Christian virtues and honourable conduct. Furthermore, the introduction to Audacht Morainn alludes to a popular story (expanded in the Middle Irish tale of Bruiden Meic Da Reo) where the vassals' regicide of a tyrant ruler, and their attempt to raise their own king, is met with environmental disasters only reversed by the reinstatement of the rightful heir to the kingship. (43) The moral message of this tale appears to be multi-valent. A tyrannical king causes his vassals to overthrow him but 'cosmic order and secular well-being' is only achieved through the maintenance of proper and rightful social orders whereby nobles rule over vassals and a virtuous king, from the correct dynastic line, sustains the hierarchies. (44)

The layered meaning of De XII's 'iustitia regis' appears to equate to the Old Irish fir flathemon (ruler's truth/justice) of Audacht Morainn; where Patrick Henry noted that the stanza formation echoed biblical poetic rhythmic units. (45) Henry questioned the exact nature of fir flathemon, as 'fir' may be either 'justice' or 'truth', suggesting that an English translation is unable to 'render the ancient and medieval ethic-cosmic concept of the truth'. (46) Similarly, Anders Ahlqvist found 'no good English equivalent' to adequately translate 'fr' and, while he raised the idea that it might be considered in terms of 'a legal concept that makes truth and justice dependent on each other', nevertheless has translated fr flathemon as 'la justice du souverain'. (47) Ahlqvist's suggestion that 'fir' may be a legal term does appear to be borne out in another Old Irish text that implies the provision and maintenance of law (hence social order) was a constitutional necessity for a king. The early-eighth-century Irish status text, Crith Gablach, refers to a king as fir flathemon when he ensures the safety of his people in peace and war, legally and physically. Adding, that a king must 'be a man of all sides, full of right ['landligid'--full of law/entitlement]; let him be a man inquiring after knowledge; let him be steady and patient'. (48) A man who seeks knowledge, according to Plato, loves truth and abhors falsehood, a sentiment that is implied by Crith Gablach's receipt for the model king. (49) This is supported by a legal text of the same period, Uraicecht Becc (the little primer), which outlines the prerogatives of a social category of persons referred to as nemed (sacred, privileged, entitled, professional), of which the king is the ascendant member. Distinguished by their specialist learning, Uraicecht Becc declares that 'truth and right are founded on the nemed' ['Fir ocus dliged imaille for neimiudh']. (50) The king, therefore, exercised his authority through understanding, upholding, and obeying the law, endorsing legislation and mediating justice. In doing so he protected the rights of his subjects. Without the consent of his subjects, however, the king's ability to exercise his executive functions would be severely limited. As will be discussed, negotiating the balance of power between people and king was fundamental to developing an authoritative theocratic monarch.

II. The King's Contract

There is a danger in accepting these speculum principum texts as a true illustration of early medieval autocratic kingship rather than representing a political program or a clerical wish list. (51) The development of this genre in Ireland may have been driven by political instability caused by the emergence of centralizing monarchy, or high-kingship. The Ui Neill dynasty, split between northern and southern territories and numerous familial branches, emerged around the seventh century. Amidst plenty of internecine bloodshed and competition they created kings who gained hegemonic control of a wider territorial extent than had been previously the case. According to Wormald the hegemonic aggression of the Ui Neill 'irrevocably' altered the political and territorial structure of Ireland and by the late eighth-century they were not merely subjugating neighbouring polities but replacing local kings with their own candidates. (52) The northern Ui Neill dominated and 'monopolised the kingship of Tara' from 695-743. (53) While this dynasty had powerful clerical support in the familia Columbae, limiting their authority may have become difficult as more territory was gained and polities subjected. (54) The Irish status text Crith Gablach asks 'king [Ri], why is he so called?' and answers that he 'exerts [riges] the power of correction over the members of his tiath (the tuath remains untranslated as it is more closely related to the Latin gentes, than 'tribe'). (55) Wendy Davies translated chun[d]rig as 'coercive' power (rather than the 'power of correction' as has been translated here), suggesting that the term indicates a distinct attitude to authority and power found in contemporary texts. (56) Cuindrech is translated by the Dictionary of the Irish Language as correcting, chastising, or controlling but translates cumachtu(i) chun[d]rig as 'coercive power'. (57) It should be recalled that De XII asserted that the justice of the ruler should not crush anyone unjustly and in a familiar interrogative it asks of a king 'how would he be able to correct others, [he] who does not correct his own morals so that they are not unjust, if he is not correct?' (58) This would suggest 'correction' rather 'coercion' should be understood by the Crith Gablach description of a king's integral function. Furthermore, there are indications that clerics considered physical punishment as an appropriate 'corrective' measure for the king to use. With reference to Old Testament precedent the early- to mid-eighth-century Irish collection of Canons known as Collectio Canonum Hibernensis declared the 'word of the king is a sword for beheading, a rope for hanging'. (59) It would appear that clerics were directly encouraging a greater exercise of physical authority by the king, framed in Irish law as 'coercive power to prevent every evil'; a legal point that both legitimized autocratic action yet bounded it within justifiable grounds as correction. (60)

De XII and tecosca texts emphasized the king's 'duty' of rule whereby his 'right' to rule was secured by his preservation of justice. (61) These texts express ideological expectations of authoritative kingship and the vernacular status text Crith Gablach attempts to explain the constitutional arrangements that would maintain this authority. Following a description of levels of kingship it asks who is higher in dignity: the king or his tiath? (62) It answers that the king is higher because his tiath raises him to his position but then enumerates the conditions by which he retains his position through protection of the rights of his tiath. (63) Crith Gablach specifies the rights of a king's tiath to receive protection, both physical and legal, as well as fair judgement. The expectation of the tiath that the king would govern consensually is also expressed by the warning that the king is not to make binding promises on behalf of his tiath at an assembly where only his nobles are represented. (64) This is further endorsed in Di Astud Chor in 'that which the assembly of the kingdom does not confirm is not an accepted practice'. (65) Similar sentiments were expressed in lines nine to eleven of Audacht Morainn which describes the mutual obligations of the king and his people, with the clear directive that if he cares for his peoples they will reciprocate. (66) Criteria as to how a king could govern were endorsed by the declaration that in exercising these functions the king would be a just/true ruler (fir flathemon), but he is 'not to violate them by falsity or violence or overmight'. (67) The tuath can therefore be seen to have conspired in allowing the king to exercise his executive functions and authority so that the office maintained social order, prosperity, and honour. That the question was even raised in this text argues for a degree of ambiguity regarding the authority of a ruler over his subjects. It may be, as Thomas Charles-Edwards maintained, that an Irish king as the highest status lord (flaith) achieves his status by the possession of clients so that, by extension, the tuath were considered the clients of the king. (68) Nevertheless, Charles-Edwards has suggested that while Crith Gablach offers an insight into the 'matched obligations between king and people', the image of the king as ordained by God overtook the collective's function in raising their king. (69) Certainly, a careful balance was being negotiated between the king's prerogatives and the rights of his subjects but there is every indication that his ordination by God increased the king's responsibility towards his subjects and should not be mistaken for modern concepts of 'divine right'. (70) De XII's emphasis on the king's duties towards his subjects is developed within the vernacular status texts into a constitutional framework for the exercise of royal authority by an increasingly theocratic kingship, where royal prerogatives could be gained and limited by the contractual obligation between the king and his people.

Overall, the intent of vernacular texts such as Audacht Morainn and Crith Gablach appears to have been to achieve widespread dissemination of a political agenda. This is underscored by the use of a traditional literary formula to provide further legitimacy and aid public declamation. The vernacular was not only used for secular matters but would also have been used by clerics to achieve a wider public through oral presentation. (71) The ruler's subjects would therefore know how a 'just' ruler should behave. If the ruler did not act 'justly' his subjects, in theory, would not have to obey him. This was further emphasized by the production of saga tales set in the imagined past through which moral messages on social-order and rulership could be demonstrated through 'narrative conundrums.' (72) Conversely, the Latin texts were the authoritative clerical voice used for a privileged audience who had an understanding of Latin or access to translators. Latin was uniformly used for ecclesiastic matters and according to Bede the four distinct political and linguistic groups in Britain were joined by their use of Latin. (73) By using this language to define theories of Christian government, clerics were appropriating responsibility for socio-political organization. The use of biblical precedents connected the audience into a familiar pan-Christian thought-world, which Hen describes as 'a social language'. (74) Latin texts were shared amongst the clerics of other kingdoms, transcending political boundaries to participate in a catholic intellectual community that was defining a conceptual framework for theocratic temporal rule. Clerics would more likely have been the conduits through which the ideas outlined in texts like De XII were disseminated to the populace, although their audience would have remained more select than that achieved for vernacular texts. Moreover, as will be discussed below, leadership terms within De XII indicate a deliberate modelling of insular kingship on ecclesiastical rule.

III. The Language of Rule

In order to ensure popular acceptance, the vernacular descriptions of the king and his functions needed to reflect social norms. The Latin terminology used in contemporary documents to describe the rule of the king, however, anticipates a role of authoritative paternal action. The ninth abuse of De XII uses a limited variety of command and leadership terms, including, in two cases, imperii. (75) Both examples are used as warnings against loss of the king's overall authority and right of command. In describing the king's 'duty' of rule, the term rector appears to be used to emphasize leadership. (76) Gregory the Great used rector extensively in his widely popular Regula Pastoralis (c. 590) to describe spiritual or ecclesiastic leadership and its appearance in De XII conveys this paternal context. (77)

The use of rector, in the text of the ninth grade of De XII, is matched by the single use of gubernacula. This appears following a rhetorical query as to how the king can bring order to his subjects if he is not himself correct, as the government of the peoples is secured in the king's truth. (78) Gubernacula has a long antecedence in pre-Christian and Christian writing to describe government or governance yet it was also used to describe, as in the case of some early Irish Latin texts, a helmsman or rudder. (79) Gregory's Regula Pastoralis uses gubernacula in the context of government, such as his admonishing reference to Saul's pride upon seizing government. (80) In a letter to Theoctista, Gregory also cites the more auspicious Proverbs 1. 5, that 'a man of understanding shall possess governments'. (81) Knowledge and education appear to be inextricably linked to good governing practices, a connection made in Crith Gablach. (82) In a letter to another eminent queen, Brunhilda of the Franks, Gregory praises the successful government of her kingdom and the education of her son as a testament of her 'God-pleasing goodness'. (83) Boethius' influential Philosophiae Consolatio used gubernacula extensively in a similar context. After quoting from Plato's Republic on the benefits of a ruler who was a philosopher (or wise), Boethius explained the need for the participation of philosophers in government [rei publicae] 'to prevent the reins of government [gubernacula] falling into the hands of unprincipled or wicked men'. (84) When abbot Ceolfrid of Wearmouth and Jarrow wrote to Nechtan filius Derelei, the king of the Picts, around 711-15, he praised the king: 'whenever rulers themselves take trouble to learn and teach and watch over the truth, it is a heaven-sent gift to God's holy Church'. (85) The encomium is completed by the same reference from Plato's Republic, quoted by Boethius to explain his motives for pursuing a high office as being out of a love of justice; 'that the world would be in a happy state if kings were philosophers and philosophers were kings'. (86) Ceolfrid's is not a direct quote, but rather a rhetorical memory of the res that, for the literate Nechtan, would have evoked a memory of textual arguments for the necessity of just government. (87) It was a particularly appropriate message as Nechtan was setting out to reform church practices within his kingdom in order to align them with Roman orthodox usage. (88) In so doing, the king was exercising his authority as a just ruler duty-bound to correct his people and safeguard their spiritual and temporal wellbeing. Similarly, the use of gubernacula within De XII could be used to recall a range of political ideas on just Christian theocratic government.

King Nechtan's request to Abbot Ceolfrid for advice is symptomatic of clerical engagement with rulers by the early eighth century. The insular speculum principum sources, however, may suggest that an intimate relationship between king and cleric was not originally the case. Gildas's admonitions suggest limited direct moral authority over the actions of his tyrannical kings; the tenth abuse of De XII on 'the negligent bishop' limits the bishop's function to that of watchman (speculator) over his local flock. (89) With the papal selection and installation of Archbishop Theodore at Canterbury in 668, however, a new image of clerical authority emerged. Theodore's spiritual responsibility covered more territory than any contemporary Anglo-Saxon king and his yearly convocation of bishops ensured orthodoxy as well as underscoring his position as head of the English ecclesiastics. (90) Attended by kings, Theodore's regular synods ensured unanimity of orthodox Catholic practice and an increase in dioceses, thus allowing a closer clerical scrutiny of people's behaviour. (91) Theodore's example of centralized authority would have provided an interesting lesson to insular kings. The church of Armagh may have studied this example as, by the beginning of the eighth century, it was legitimizing its claim to primacy over all the Christian faithful of Ireland through its founding father Patrick. (92) The presence of a bishop became a necessary part of all legal proceedings to legitimize sworn oaths and from the end of the seventh-century, clerics such as Adomnan of Iona were actively participating in diplomatic missions between kings. (93) Crith Gablach places the dignity of a bishop over that of the king while acknowledging the ambiguity of a relationship that was both superior yet subject. (94) The evidence further indicates that clerics considered themselves actively involved in the business of temporal government. A letter of Bishop Wealdhere of London to Archbishop Brihtwold (704-05) describes a dispute between kings and ecclesiastics 'who share the direction of the government [gubernacula] under them'. (95) By the end of the seventh century it is clear that insular bishops and abbots viewed their role as joint governors of the temporal kingdom with the king and sole arbiters of moral behaviour.

The Collectio Canonum Hibernensis requires a Princeps (ruler of an ecclesiastic establishment and responsible for his church's temporalities) to be a gubernator. (96) This, according to Colman Etchingham, suggests a 'substantial ideological common ground between [ecclesiastical] and secular leadership'. (97) Earlier, Columbanus (d. 615) used the term within the context of governing ecclesiastic brethren. (98) Contemporary Anglo-Saxon writers certainly used gubernacula interchangeably to describe the rule of kings and clerics. Aldhelm (d. 709) addressed the southern King Geraint and King Aldfrith of Northumbria as holding sceptra gubernanti." The authority of Archbishop Theodore was expressed with similar terminology in Aldhelm's letter to Heahfrith: 'Theodorus summi sacerdotii gubernacula regens'. (100) Gubernacula was also favoured by Bede in his Historia Ecclesiastica in reference to the reign of kings and in one instance for abbatial authority. (101) Bede's descriptive focus on the various kings within Historia Ecclesiastica, as John Wallace-Hadrill has pointed out, reads as an exemplar of correct kingly and Christian behaviour. (102)

The use of gubernacula in insular documents from the seventh to early eighth centuries appears to convey an image of rulership as guiding and piloting the kingdom (temporal and spiritual) rather than coercive rule. (103) Indeed, Boethius referred to God's rule as by the 'helm of goodness'. (104) This is clearly stated in a previous passage that describes the goodness of God as the 'helm and which the fabric of the universe is kept constant and unimpaired'. (105) A similar metaphor is found in Columbanus' letter to Pope Boniface where he warns of unorthodoxy and addresses the papacy as 'masters and helmsmen of the spiritual ship'. (106) Gregory's Regula Pastoralis exploits a nautical metaphor when he compares an experienced seaman disordered by a storm as akin to taking up leadership (this as a caution against those who would desire this role). (107) Unsurprisingly, our modern metaphor describing government as 'the ship of state' was a commonly accepted analogy from at least the Roman period. (108) The word gubernacula as applied to a king imagines a centralized role, evoking the image of a single figure grasping the rudder or calling orders from the helm to thereby dictate the direction of the ship. God, creator and controller, made a particularly good model for kingship as an enlarged, active, and paternal role, holding a personal contract with a chosen people. As these 'leadership' words were applied to both secular and spiritual rulers, their use reflects clerical ideals of Christian government--like the church, hierarchical and paternalistic.

Davies has argued that secular leadership terminology in documents of this period was deliberately adopted by the clergy to emphasize the 'ruling and governing capacities' of clerical leaders. (109) Indeed, Gregory the Great, in an epistle to Bishop John of Constantinople and other Patriarchs, questioned whether the function of a Pastor was any different to that of an earthly noble. (110) Within an insular context, however, it appears that both clerical and secular leaders were developing their roles in tandem with the onus on secular leaders to model their kingdoms on that of heaven. (111) Clerical authors made careful and considered choices in the terms they employed to describe the duties of kings as being similar to that of clerical leaders, pastoral and patriarchal. In turn, these terms tapped into a range of political ideas defining the authority of Christian theocratic kingship. These ideas had been in circulation from the earliest Patristic writers and were articulated by ecclesiastics such as Isidore and Gregory, whose writings were speedily disseminated amongst insular clerics. Indeed, insular clerics had been participating in this catholic dialogue on Christian kingship since Gildas and it is indicative of the ongoing importance of this debate on authoritative rule that insular texts, such as De XII, influenced the Carolingians. A catholic clerical constitution on kingship therefore requires a Christian king's temporal authority to be reliant on his personal morals and self-rule, answerable to God and by extension the Church for the prosperity of his kingdom. (112)


The insular speculum principum literature directly engaged with a continuing Western Catholic dialogue on the constitution of Christian kingship. The insular clerics actively involved in matters of temporal government used the genre to create a theoretical, constitutional model of authoritative kingship based on scriptural precedent. In doing so they developed a mandate for the exercise of a king's increased executive functions in a period of geo-political transition. The king was to be the patriarch of his subjects, accountable to

God and his subjects, a seeker of knowledge and above all 'just'. The political effectiveness of this program is clearly shown in the developing intimacy between king and cleric as antithetical texts alter to intimate clerical advice in early-eighth-century correspondence. The concept of the 'Just King' is a pervasive paradigm in clerical correspondence and the rulership terminology employed highlights the dual responsibility of cleric and king in maintaining the temporal and spiritual life of the people. The relationship that emerged between king and cleric was not a contest for authority. Rather it was symbiotic as, together, they mediated the expansion and creation of kingdoms and consolidated communal identity.

School of Historical Studies

University of Melbourne

(1) The prevailing 'nativist' view is undermined by Kim McCone in his analysis of a range of Irish vernacular texts, previously considered pagan, where he noted a conscious use of biblical precedent. Nevertheless, McCone attempted to mediate across the divide of native versus non-native institutions of sacral kingship by seeking to 'assess the interplay of pagan and Christian factors' (Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature (Naas, Kildare: An Sagart, 1991), pp. 107-37).

(2) Historiography has only recently begun to assess insular early medieval polities for their similar constituencies rather than isolating their differences. See: James Campbell, 'Archipelagic Thoughts: Comparing Early Medieval Polities in Britain and Ireland', in Early Medieval Studies in Memory of Patrick Wormald, eds Stephen Baxter and others (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 47-63; also in the same volume: Thomas M. Charles-Edwards, 'Celtic Kings: "priestly vegetables"?', pp. 65-80.

(3) The text used is Pseudo-Cyprianus, 'De XII Abusiuis SaeculV, in Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 34.1, ed. Siegmund Hellman (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1909), pp. 32-60 [Henceforth abbreviated to De XII]; otherwise, citations will specify any divergent reading where applicable from: Pseudo-Cypriani, ' De XII Abusionibus SaeculV, in Patrologiae Cursus Completus. Series Latinus, ed. J. P. Migne, vol. 4 (Paris: Garnier, 1891), cols 947-60. Aidan Breen has cautioned that the published texts represent a revised version from a period of later transmission ('De XII Abusiuis: Text and Transmission', in Ireland and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: Texts and Transmissions, eds Proinseas Ni Chathain and Michael Richter (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002), pp. 78-94 (pp. 86-89)). Nevertheless, a version very close to both these cited texts appears in the Collectio Canonum Hibernensis which, according to its authors' obits, was compiled before 743 (Hermann Wasserschleben, Die Irische Kanonemsammlung (Leipzig: Scientia Verlag Aalen: 1885 (reprint 1966), Liber XXV, caput 3-4, pp. 77-78). Due to their close affinities (other than orthographic discrepancies, ll. 3-5, p. 51, are the only ones to differ from Migne's, ll. 1-4, col. 956), the pseudo-Cyprian texts provide accessible editions until a critical edition of De XII is available.

(4) Mario Esposito, 'Notes on Latin Learning and Literature in Medieval Ireland--III', in Latin Learning in Medieval Ireland, ed. Michael Lapidge (London: Variorum Reprints, 1988), pp. 221-49 (pp. 221 and 227). It was also a favoured text of the Carolingian court and King Alfred, who appears to have had a version translated into Anglo-Saxon (see Max L. W. Laistner, Thought and Letters in Western Europe A.D. 500 to 900 (London: Methuen and Co., 1957), pp. 143-46).

(5) 'Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Kingship: Some Further Thoughts', in Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture, eds Paul E. Szarmach and Virginia Darrow Oggins (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1986), pp. 151-83 (p. 160).

(6) De XII, pp. 51-53. The twelve abuses in De XII are: the scholar without works, the old man without religion, the young man without obedience, the rich man who gives no alms, the woman without modesty, the master without virtue, the contentious Christian, the proud poor man, the unjust king, the negligent bishop, the common folk without discipline, the people without law. It is of interest that the chapters move from the personal to public responsibility, and emphasize the expectation of individual religious probity not just of those in authority. Rob Meens perceived a structural similarity between the De XII and the seventh chapter of the Rule of Benedict ('On the twelve grades of humility'), although this comparison seems to be based more on the division of twelve than any significant matching of the grades of humility in the Rule against the abuses found in De XII (see Meens, 'Politics, Mirrors of Princes and the Bible: Sins, Kings and the Well-Being of the Realm', Early Medieval Europe, 7.3 (1998), 345-57 (p. 349)). Of more significance is the suggestion by Aidan Breen that the twelve abuses reflect the twelve steps of Jacob's ladder ('De XIIAbusiuis: Text and Transmission', pp. 80-81).

(7) Michael J. Enright, Iona, Tara and Soissons: The Origin of the Royal Anointing Ritual (Berlin, New York: Walter De Gruyter, 1985), p. 54.

(8) Audacht Morainn, ed. Fergus Kelly (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976), pp. xiv-xv. Dating early Irish texts is problematic, and in this essay any dates provided will be those of the editors of the texts.

(9) This is particularly the case where the texts attribute the securing of peace and agricultural fecundity to the king's justice. For instance: DeXII, ll. 7-19, p. 52 and 1-2, p. 53. Audacht Morainn, [section]12-17, pp. 6-7. De XII, however, presents a mostly antithetical case (with the positive summarized in ll. 7-15, p. 53), whilst Audacht Morainn asserts a positive equation between justice and cosmological stability.

(10) McCone, Pagan Past, p. 106. This Levitical aspect is explored further by Robyn Chapman Stacey, Dark Speech: The Performance of Law in Early Ireland (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2007), p. 204.

(11) Yitzhak Hen, 'The Uses of the Bible and the Perception of Kingship in Merovingian Gaul', Early Medieval Europe, 7.3 (1998), 277-90.

(12) Gildas, De Excidio Brittonum, in Gildas: The Ruin of Britain and Other Works, ed. Michael Winterbottom (London: Phillimore, 1978). This text may be considered the earliest extant indication of insular ecclesiastical admonishment of their kings. The potentially sixth-century--Irish-Columban poem, Altus prosator, reveals a similar view regarding the moral hazards in the office of kingship to that of Gildas. The poem is translated in Thomas Owen Clancy and Gilbert Markus, Iona: the Earliest Poetry of a Celtic Monastery (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994), p. 47, stanza 10, using a nautical metaphor popular within the Western clerical milieu, as will be shown:

The momentary glory of the kings of the present world, fleeting and tyrannical, is cast down at God's whim. See, giants are shown to groan in great affliction beneath the waters, to be scorched by fire and in torment, and stifled by the swelling whirlpools of Cocytus, covered with rocks, they are destroyed by billows and sharp stones.

(13) Gildas, De Excidio Brittonum, ep. 36.31 and ep. 39.34.

(14) Gildas, De Excidio Brittonum, ep. 35.6.

(15) Similar thematic allusions in De XII are found throughout Gildas' address to provincial kings, such as: 'abandon the rage that brings destruction and that will someday waste you also' (ep. 32.3); 'The land has grieved and ebbed away' (ep. 44.2); 'The Lord says: Make judgements and pronounce justice; free the man who is oppressed by force from the hand of his accuser; bring no sorrow to the stranger, the orphan and the widow. Cause no unjust oppression' (ep. 50.6); 'They shall be as chaff in the wind, as dust snatched up by the whirlwind. Let his property fail his sons' (ep. 59.2); '"Love justice, you who judge the earth". If this one piece of witness were kept whole-heartedly, it would be quite enough to put the commanders of our country right' (ep. 62.2).

(16) Monumenta Germaniae Historica--Epistolae Merowingici et Karolini, ed. Wilhelm Gundlach (Berlin: Weidmannschen Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1892), p. 672, ep. 9 ['Immensas tunc calamitates et diversa penuria acerbissima, crebius bella et quotidiana miseria, indigentia fruguum et pestifera vulnera hanc insolentius gentem retroacto tempore praessit'].

(17) McCone devotes an entire chapter to early Indo-European comparative evidence of sacral kingship (Pagan Past, pp. 107-37).

(18) Henry Chadwick, 'Christian Doctrine', in The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c. 350-c. 1450, ed. James H. Burns (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 11-20 (p. 19).

(19) John Procope, 'Greek and Roman Political Theory', in The Cambridge History, ed. Burns, pp. 21-36 (p. 27).

(20) R. A. Markus, 'The Latin Fathers', in The Cambridge History, ed. Burns, pp. 92-122 (p. 93).

(21) De Excidio Brittonum, ep. 44.42.

(22) De Excidio Brittonum, ep. 63.51.

(23) Corpus Iurus Hibernici, ed. Daniel A. Binchy, 6 vols (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978), II, 522.28-35; this section appears with a translation in Donnchadh O Corrain, Liam Breatnach, and Aidan Breen, 'The Laws of the Irish', Peritia, 3 (1984), 382-438 (p. 384).

(24) St Augustine: City of God, trans. Henry Bettenson (London: Penguin Books, 2003), book V.24, pp. 219-20.

(25) Gregory of Tours: The History of the Franks, trans. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1985), book III.25, p. 185. See: Roger Collins, 'Theodebert I, "Rex Magnus Francorum'", in Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society, eds Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough, and Roger Collins (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983), pp. 7-33 (p. 8).

(26) Joseph Canning, A History of Medieval Political Thought 300-1450 (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), p. 20. Isidore's writings were widely circulated and Hillgarth has detected the influence of Isidore's Etymologies as well as the Sententiae on De XII (Jocelyn N. Hillgarth, 'Ireland and Spain in the Seventh Century', Peritia 3 (1984), 1-16 (p. 9).) Likewise, Breen detected the influence of the Sententiae in the ninth abuse ('De XII Abusiuis: Text and Transmission', p. 84).

(27) Sancti Isidori, Sententiae, ed. J. P Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus. Series Latinas, vol. 83, (1862), col. 720-21, caput XLIX, also col. 722, caput L, and col. 723, caput LI. De XII, whilst warning of Solomon's sin, notes that David's 'just' heritage remained as a light in Jerusalem (ll. 2-5, p. 53).

(28) Sancti Isidori, Sententiae, col. 721, caput L.

(29) Sancti Isidori, Collectio Canonum, PL, 84, col. 385, caput LXXV.

(30) This included Eusebian ideas of the king as God's representative (Canning, A History of Medieval Political Thought, pp. 4 and 17).

(31) Procope, 'Greek and Roman Political Theory', p. 31.

(32) Procope, 'Greek and Roman Political Theory', pp. 31-34.

(33) Canning viewed the subjects of a theocratic monarch as an independent entity, a regnum (A History of Medieval Political Thought, p. 21).

(34) De XII, ll. 10-13, p. 53 ['Attamen sciat rex quod sicut in throno hominum primus constitutus est, sicut in poenis, si iustitiam non fecerit, primatum habiturus est'].

(35) De XII, ll. 9-11, p. 51.

(36) De XII, ll. 8-9, p. 51. As will be shown below, the pairing of justice and truth appears in Audacht Morainn which supports the careful pairing in De XII and attempts to explain the importance of this dualism.

(37) This translation of iustitia from Romans 9. 31 is provided by the online Latin word search facility of the Perseus project--Latin lexicon, Tufts University: <www.perseus.> accessed 19 August 2009.

(38) Early medieval Britain also had a similar system of sureties guaranteeing contractual arrangements. The sixth-century British poem, Elegy for Gwallawg ap Lleenawg, carries the line, 'They pledge sureties, the wealthy' implying a similar legal use of pledges (see Thomas Owen Clancy, The Triumph Tree: Scotland's Earliest Poetry AD 550-1350 (Edinburgh: Canongate Press, 1998), pp. 92-93). Compensatory legislation, in operation amongst Anglo-Saxons, Britons, and Picts, also required pledges and, despite the lack of direct documentary evidence, sophisticated customary and contract laws would have been in place. Some of these are discussed by Robyn Chapman Stacey, 'Law and Order in the Very Old West: England and Ireland in the Early Middle Ages', in Crossed Paths: Methodological Approaches to the Celtic Aspect of the European Middle Ages, eds Benjamin T. Hudson and Vickie Ziegler (Lanham: University Press of America, 1991), pp. 39-60.

(39) Neil McLeod, Early Irish Contract Law (Sydney: Centre for Celtic Studies University of Sydney, 1995), stanza 36, pp. 168-69 ['Ar in bith an astaither/A coraib bel bertaigter'].

(40) McLeod, Early Irish Contract Law, stanza 6, pp. 132-33 ['Ni- timne De -taithbestar'; 'the Covenant of God should not be dissolved'].

(41) McCone, Pagan Past, pp. 93-96. Bart Jaski proposes a conscious adaptation of Old Testament provisions by Irish literati who 'stressed their belief that Irish native culture had a distinctive Mosaic outlook' ('Early Medieval Irish Kingship and the Old Testament', Early Medieval Europe, 7.3 (1998), 329-44 (pp. 343-44)).

(42) There has been a general perception that Irish kings had no effective judicial (or indeed governmental) powers, unlike Anglo-Saxon kings for whom law-making is considered the major function of their authority. See, for example, Clare E. Stancliffe, 'Kings and Conversion: Some Comparisons between the Roman Mission to England and Patrick's to Ireland', Fruhmittelalterliche Studien, 14 (1980), 59-94. However, compare Wormald, 'Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Kingship', pp. 168-70, where Wormald rehearsed the evidence for the king's executive role in justice, including the role of the king outlined in De XII. A revisionist article by Marilyn Gerriets has further established the judicial role of the early Irish king ('The King as Judge in Early Ireland', Celtica, 20 (1988), 29-52). In agreement with Gerriets' thesis, Stacey has recently provided extensive evidence from early Irish legal tracts for the king's central place in the administration of law and judgement (Dark Speech, pp. 148-49). A more detailed discussion of the king's participation in judgement and ratification of legislation (such as cain law) is beyond the scope of this article.

(43) Ralph O'Connor, 'Searching for the Moral in Bruiden Meic Da Reo\ Eriu, 56 (2006), 117-43. This tale became even more popular in Ireland during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when kings were being imposed on the people and land was being extensively alienated.

(44) O'Connor, 'Searching for the Moral', p. 136.

(45) See Henry's review of Audacht Morainn, ed. Fergus Kelly, Studia Hibernica, 17-18 (1977-78), 202-10 (p. 204).

(46) Henry, review of Audacht Morainn, ed. Kelly, p. 208. Anders Ahlqvist kindly directed me to this reference, and drew my attention to the debate on translating fir flathemon.

(47) Ahlqvist, 'Paragraph 16 of Audacht Morainn: Linguistic Theory and Philological Evidence', in Historical Linguistics and Philology, ed. Jacek Fisiak (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1990), pp. 1-10 (p. 1); and 'Le Testament De Morann', Etudes Celtiques 21 (1984), 151-70 (p. 157). It should be noted that Ahlqvist's use of 'souverain is deliberate, as it distinctly describes a ruler who wielded public power but could not assert this power over the private rights of his subjects (see Nicholas Henshall, The Myth of Absolutism: Change and Continuity in Early Modern European Monarchy (London: Longman Group, 1992), p.140).

(48) Crith Gablach, ed. Daniel A. Binchy (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1941), stanza 39, p. 21 ['Ataat dano a triaili todacrat do rig: rop fer cach leithe landligid, rop fer frecmaircc fiss; rop forus [n-]ainmet']. An English translation is by Eoin MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law: The Law of Status and Franchise', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 36C (1923), 265-316 (stanzas 124-25, p. 303).

(49) Plato, The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee (London: Penguin Books, 2003), book VI, 485c-d, p. 206.

(50) Corpus IurusHibernici, vol. II, 635.8. An English translation of UraicechtBecc can be found in: MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', pp. 272-81. The nemed category bears closer analysis as a paradigm for early medieval governmental organization.

(51) It is of interest that Breen has attributed De XII to the Irish clerical reformers collectively named by modern scholars as the Romani ('De XII Abusiuis', p. 84).

(52) Wormald, 'Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Kingship', p. 165.

(53) Thomas M. Charles-Edwards, 'The Ui Neill 695-743: The Rise and Fall of Dynasties', Peritia, 16 (2002), 396-418 (pp. 412-13).

(54) It may be of significance that Columba, in his Vita and later tradition, was particularly associated with forecasting and granting success in battle (Adomnan's Life of Columba, eds and trans. Alan Orr Anderson and Marjorie O. Anderson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), book I.1).

(55) Crith Gablach, stanza 31, p. 18 ['Rii cid ara n-eperr? Arindi riges cumachtu(i) chun[d] rig fora thuatha(i)']. The English translation is by MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', stanza 115, p. 300.

(56) Davies suggested that Muirchu's life of Patrick, in particular, equated 'power over persons with political submission' ('Clerics as Rulers: Some Implications of the Terminology of Ecclesiastical Authority in Early Medieval Ireland', in Latin and the Vernacular Languages in Early Medieval Britain, ed. Nicholas Brooks (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1982), 81-97 (pp. 89-90)).

(57) See: Royal Irish Academy, Edil Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (University of Ulster, 2007); <> accessed 3 August 2009.

(58) De XII, ll. 7-8, p. 51 ['Sed qualiter alios corrigere poterit qui proprios mores ne iniqui sint, non corrigit?'].

(59) Die Irische Kanonemsammlung, Liber XXV, caput 17, pp. 81-82 ['Sermo regis gladius est ad decollandum, finis ad constringendum, trudit in carcerem, in exilium damnat']. O Corrain, Breatnach and Breen discuss the development and clerical justification of capital punishment ('The Laws of the Irish', pp. 387 and 390).


(61) De XII, ll. 8-9, p. 51 ['Quoniam in justitia regis exaltatur solium, et in veritatem regis solidantur gubernacula populorum'].

(62) Crith Gablach, stanza 35, p. 19; trans. MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', stanza 119, p. 302 ['Cair: cia de as sru[i]thiu, in rii fa thuath?'].

(63) Crith Gablach, stanzas 35 and 36, pp. 19-20; trans. MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', stanzas 119 and 120, p. 302. Charles-Edwards translates the answer with due attention to its paradox: 'for it is the people which ordains a king, it is not a king which ordains a people' (Thomas M. Charles-Edwards, 'A Contract between King and People in Early Medieval Ireland? Crith Gablach on Kingship', Peritia, 8 (1994), 107-19 (p. 110)).

(64) Crith Gablach, p. 20, stanza 35; trans. MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', p. 302, stanza 119 ['Dligit nad ngella(i) oenach forru nad tiunmell tuath ule acht comaithe'].

(65) McLeod, Early Irish Contract Law, stanza 52, pp. 186-187 ['Ni nos nertha tuaithe terchomrac'].

(66) AudachtMorainn, pp. 4-5 [[section]9: 'Coicleth a thuatha, fa-rresat'].

(67) Crith Gablach, stanza 39, p. 21 ['ni(i)s for[r]ge goi na ecin na forniurt']; trans. MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', stanza 124, p. 303. According to Edil Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, forniurt can be translated as tyrannical power and oppression, and the injunction that the king is not to use oppressive tactics makes a very careful juxtaposition to the earlier description in the text that a king is so named because he enacts his authority by coercive or corrective power [cuindrech].

(68) Charles-Edwards, 'A Contract between King and People', p. 111.

(69) Charles-Edwards, 'A Contract between King and People', p. 118. Cosmological failure did retain its popularity as a narrative device to endorse correct ruling principles and imbue kingship with a 'sacral' image; this may have been due to the continued popularity of De XII on the Continent.

(70) Early modern examples suggested to Henshall that while 'royal power was limited by foreign superiors ... guarantees of subjects' freedom remained implicit'; once 'it became imperial and sovereign, guarantees were spelled out' (The Myth of Absolutism, pp. 125 and 128).

(71) Michael Richter, 'O Quam Gravis Est Scriptura: Early Irish Lay Society and Written Culture', in Ireland and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: Texts and Transmissions, eds Proinseas Ni Chathain and Michael Richter (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002), 27-36 (p. 28).

(72) O'Connor, 'Searching for the moral in Bruiden Meic Da Reo\ p. 143.

(73) The Irish Penitentials, ed. Ludwig Bieler, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1975), V, p. 47; Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, eds Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), [Henceforth abbreviated to HE],

(74) Hen, 'The Uses of the Bible and the Perception of Kingship', p. 285.

(75) De XII, ll. 9-10, p. 52: 'multas nimirum adversitates imperii tolerabit' [On the other hand, he who does not manage the realm in conformity to this law, shall excessively suffer great adversity of command/governance]; and l. 19, p. 52-l. 1, p. 53d: 'non solum praesentis imperii faciem offuscat' [In fact above all the injustice of a king not only causes a shadow to be cast over his present authority].

(76) De XII, l. 6, p. 51: 'ut subjectis omnibus rectoris officium procuret' [So that as he administers his duty of rule over all his subjects]. Rector can be defined as guide, helmsman and ruler.

(77) Gregoire Le Grand: Regle Pastorale, eds and trans. Bruno Judic, Floribert Rommel, and Charles Morel, Sources Chretiennes, no. 381 (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1992).

(78) De XII, ll. 8-9, p. 51 ['Quonium in iustitia regis exaltur solium et in veritate solidantur gubernacula populorum'].

(79) For example, Muirchu uses it in the literal sense as rudder ['et mitte te in nauim unius pellis absque gubernaculo'] (Ludwig Bieler, The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh (Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1979), I.23 (24) l. 26, p. 104.

(80) Gregoire Le Grand: Regle Pastorale, I.3 ['Sic Saul ... mox ut regni gubernacula percepit, intumuit'].

(81) S. Gregorii Magni, Registrum Epistularum: Libri I-VII, ed. Dag Norberg, in Corpus Christianorum Series Latina, vol. 140 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1982), Liber I, ep. V.64-65 ['et intelligens gubernacula possidebit'].

(82) Refer to n. 48.

(83) S. Gregorii Magni, Liber VI, ep. V.1-2 ['Excellentiae uestrae praedicandam ac Deo placitam bonitatem et gubernacula regni testantur et educatio filii manifestat'].

(84) Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii, Philosophiae Consolatio, ed. Ludwig Bieler, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina, vol. 94 (Turnholt: Brepols, 1957), book I.IV.6 ['Tu eiusdem uiri ore hanc sapientibus capessendae rei publicae necessariam causam esse monuisti, ne improbis flagitionsisque ciuibus urbium relicta gubernacula pestem bonis ac perniciem ferent']. English translation from: Victor Watts, Boethius--the Consolation of Philosophy (London: Penguin, 1999), p. 10. Boethius' government retained a senate and the resemblance to insular forms of government is limited.

(85) HE, V.21 ['Scimus namque caelitus sanctae ecclesiae donatum, quoties ipsi rerum domini discendae, docendae, custodiendae ueritati operam inpendunt'].

(86) A similar encomium was in the letter sent to king Oswiu from Bishop Vitalian, when in response to a request to consecrate an archbishop Vitalian wrote, 'That race is indeed blessed which has been found worthy to have so wise a king' ['Benedicta igitur gens, quae talem sapientissimum et Dei cultorem promeruit habere regem'];HE, III.29 (Philosophiae Consolatio, Book I.IV.10 ['Numquam me ab iure quis ad iniurium quicquam detraxit!']).

(87) Abbot Ceolfrid in this way displayed a method of dealing with texts through a response to their intent and adaptation to a different situation that was a normal and admirable scholarly procedure in this period. Mary J. Carruthers, The Book of Memory. A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 191.

(88) For a discussion of Ceolfrid's letter, see: Julianna Grigg, 'Paschal Dating in Pictland: Abbot Ceolfrid's Letter to King Nechtan', Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association, 2 (2006), pp. 85-101.

(89) De XII, episcopus negligens, pp. 53-56. Die Irische Kanonemsammlung, Liber I, De episcopo, pp. 3-12, follows the content of De XII for the bishop but also offers detailed constitutional advice as to the bishop's election, his authority within his church and limitations to this authority.

(90) HE, IV.4 and 17.

(91) Michael Lapidge, 'The Career of Archbishop Theodore', in Archbishop Theodore: Commemorative Studies on His Life and Influence, ed. Michael Lapidge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 1-29 (pp. 26-27).

(92) This claim is framed in legislative form as: (13) 'Am I not content to be the apostolic teacher and chief leader for all the tribes of the Irish, especially as I retain my own tax rightly to be rendered, and this is given me even by the Most High as a truly fitting due all over the free churches of the provinces, and this right is decreed likewise to all monasteries of cenobites without any doubt in favour of the ruler of Armagh forever? ['Nonne utique contentus sum esse apostolicus doctor et dux principalis omnibus Hiberionacum gentibus, praesertim cum peculiare censum retineo recte reddendum, et a summus mihi etiam illud est donatum uere decenter debitum super liberas prouinciarum huius insolae aeclessias et uniuersis cynubitarum similiter monasteries ulla dubitatione ius decretum erit rectori Airdd Machae in perpetuum?'] (Bieler, The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh, ll. 7-13, pp. 184-85).

(93) HE, V.15.

(94) Crith Gablach, stanza 48, p. 24; trans. MacNeill, 'Ancient Irish Law', stanza 137, p. 306 ['Cia de as sruithiu, in ri[g] fa epscop? Is [s]ruithiu epscop, huare arneraig ri(g) fo bith creitme; tuarga[i]b epscop dano a glun ria rig'].

(95) Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland, eds Arthur W. Haddan and William Stubbs, 3 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), III, pp. 274-75 ['ecclesiastici etiam in hanc ipsam dissensionem qui sub ipsis regiminis gubernacula sortiuntur'].

(96) Die Irische Kanonemsammlung, Liber XXXVII, caput 3, p. 132 ['gubernator sit ad corrigendum'].

(97) Colman Etchingham, Church Organisation in Ireland A.D. 650 to 1000 (Maynooth: Laigin Publications, 1999), pp. 50-51. Wendy Davies found that, in general, the preferred leadership terminology in Irish sources were regnum and princeps for secular and ecclesiastic alike (Davies, 'Clerics as Rulers', pp. 82-84).

(98) At the end of Epistula IV he refers to Attala as not being strong enough to govern Columbanus' brethren ['et no sufficiat Attala ad gubernationem vestram'] (Sancti Columbani Opera, ed. G. S. M. Walker (Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1957 (reprint 1970)), II, ll. 38-39.

(99) Aldhelmi Opera, ed. Rudolf Ehwald (Berlin: Weidmannsche, 1961), p. 480 ['Domino gloriosissimo occidentalis regni sceptra gubernanti'], and p. 493 ['Illustri Acircio aquilonalis imperii sceptra gubernanti, Illustris regalis regni regimina dispensanti'] (Aldhelm the Prose Works, eds and trans. Michael Lapidge and Michael Herren (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1979), p. 155: 'To the most glorious [King Geraint], who guides the sceptre of the western kingdom', and p. 34: 'illustrious Acircius [Aldfrith], who governs the kingdom of the northern empire and dispenses rule over a famous royal realm'). It is of interest that Aldhelm uses the term regnum in reference to Geraint's territorially small western kingdom while Aldfrith rules a northern imperium.

(100) Aldhelmi Opera, p. 493 (Aldhelm the Prose Works, p. 163: 'Theodore who pilots the helm of the high priesthood').

(101) HE, II.5: 'But after the death of Aethelberht, when his son Eadbald had taken over the helm of state' ['At uero post mortem Aedilbercti, cum filius eius Eadbald regni gubernacula suscepisset']; III.4 'In the year of our Lord 565, when Justin the second took over the control of the Roman Empire after Justinian' ['Siquidem anno incarnationis dominicae quingentesimo sexagesimo quinto, quo tempore gubernaculum Romani imperii post Iustinianum Iustinus minor accepit']; III.8: 'In the year of our Lord 640, Eadbald, king of Kent, departed this life and left the government of his kingdom to his son Eorcenberht' ['Anno dominicae incarnationis DCXL Eadbald rex Cantuariorum transiens ex hac uita Earconbercto filio regni gubernacula reliquit']; III.12 (in regard to Oswald's saintly cure of a sick child): 'for while he was ruling over his temporal kingdom' ['qui temporalis regni quondam gubernacula']; HE, IV.28: 'Cuthbert was to undertake the government of the church at Lindisfarne' ['cudberct ecclesiae Lindsfarnensis gubernacula susciperet'].

(102) John M. Wallace-Hadrill, Early Germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), p. 79.

(103) This is by no means an exhaustive study of the appearance of gubernacula in insular documents from this period, merely an attempt to understand how this word may have been applied and understood in these contexts.

(104) Philosophiae Consolatio, Book III.XII.34 ['Deum quoque bonitatis gubernaculis uniuersitatem regere']; trans. Watts, Boethius--The Consolation of Philosophy, p. 82.

(105) Philosophiae Consolatio, Book III.XII.14 ['et hic est ueluti quidam clauus atque gubernaculum quo mundane machina stabilis atque incorrupta seruatur']; trans. Watts, Boethius--the Consolation of Philosophy, p. 80.

(106) Sancti Columbani Opera, ep. V.13 ['magistris ac spiritalis navis gubernatoribus']. Columbanus continues with a warning of spiritual shipwreck as the church navigates through raging storms due to failure to guard against heresy.

(107) Gregoire Le Grand: Regle Pastorale, I.9 ['Quamuis plerumque in occupatione regiminis ipse boni quoque operas usus perditur, qui in tranquillitate tenebatur. Quia quieto mari recte nauem et imperitus dirigit, turbato autem tempestatis fluctibus, etiam peritus se nauta confondit'] ('For it is very often the case that the discipline of good works, which was maintained in a time of tranquillity, is ruined in the assumption of leadership. For an inexperienced sailor can steer a ship in calm waters, but even an experienced seaman is disordered by a storm'; translated in George E. Demacopoulos, St Gregory the Great: The Book of Pastoral Rule (Crestwood, New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2007), p. 42).

(108) I am grateful to Roger Scott for discussing this point with me.

(109) Davies, 'Clerics as Rulers', pp. 84-85.

(110) S. Gregorii Magni, RegistrumEpistularum, Liber I, ep.XXIV, p. 31 ['ita ut saepe incertum fiat utrum pastoris officium, an terreni proceris agat'].

(111) Davies, 'Clerics as Rulers', p. 84.

(112) Discussed, with continental parallels, in Wallace-Hadrill, Early Germanic Kingship, pp. 53-59.
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Author:Grigg, Julianna
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Date:Jan 1, 2010
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