The Heroic Age

Issue 6

Spring 2003

An Appeal to Rome

by Deanna Forsman

Notes and Bibliography


1. Alcuin Ep. 100 (in MGH Epistolae 4) names the priest Odberht as one of the exiles harbored by Charlemagne. According to Campbell, Anglo-Saxons, 106, Odberht was probably a claimant to the throne of Kent. Charlemagne may have also harbored Egbert (802-839), before he became king of Wessex (see Campbell, Anglo-Saxons, 106). The evidence for the diplomatic marriage is preserved in the Gesta Fontanellensis 12.2.

2. Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum an. 792:

Anno DCC.Xcij Karolus Rex Francorum misit sinodalem librum ad Britanniam sibi a Constantinopoli directum. In quo libro, heu, pro dolor! Multa inconvenientia et verae fidei contraria reperientes, maxime quod pene omnium orientalium doctorum non minus quam trescentorum vel eo amplius episcoporum unanima assertione confirmantium imagines adorare debere, quod omnino ecclesia Dei execratur. Contra quod scripsit Albinus epistolam ex auctoritate Divinarum scripturarum mirabiliter affirmatam, illamque cum edoem libro, et persona episcoporum ac principum nostrorum, regi Francorum attulit.

English translation, EHD 1.247:

"Charles, king of the Franks, sent to Britain a synodal book, directed to him from Constantinople, in which book-grievous to say-were found many things improper and contrary to the true faith, especially that it had been asserted with the unanimous consent of nearly all the scholars of the East, no fewer-rather more, in fact-than 300 bishops, that images ought to be adored, which the Church of God utterly abhors. Against this Albinus wrote a letter, wonderfully supported by the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and presented it with the same book and in the name of our bishops and nobles to the king of the Franks."

3. Alcuin Ep 101 (in MGH Epistolae 4):

Similiter et Ae_ilredo regi et ad suas episcopales sedes dona diRexit. Sed, heu pro dolor, donis datis et epistolis in manus missorum, supervenit tristis legatio per missos, qui de Scotia per vos reversi sunt, de infidelitate gentis et nece eius. Qui, retracta donorum largitate, in tantum iratus est contra gentem-ut ait: 'illam perfidam et perversam et homicidam dominorum suorum', peiorem eam paganis estimans-ut omnino, nisi ego intercessor essem pro ea, quicquid eis boni abstrahere potuisset et mali machinare, iam fecisset.

English translation from Allot, Alcuin of York, 53-54:

"He similarly sent gifts to King Ethelred and his bishoprics. But, alas, when the envoys had taken the gifts and letters, messengers brought the sad news (on their way back from Scotia through Mercia) of the murder of the king and the rebellion of his people. King Charles took his generous gifts back, he was so angry with the people . . ."

4. Campbell, Anglo-Saxons, 107-110.

5. ASC MS A, an. 812 (recte 814): Her Carl cyning for_ferde 7 he ricsode .xlv. wintra. English translation in EHD 1.184, "In this year King Charles died, and he had reigned 45 years."

6. ASC MS A an 800 (recte 802): Her Beorhtric cyning for_ferde 7 Worr aldormon; 7 Ecgbryht feng to Wesseaxna rice. English translation in EHD 1.183, "In this year King Brihtric and Ealdorman Worr died, and Egbert succeeded to the kingdom of the West Saxons."

7. ASC MS A an 797 (recte 799): Her Romane leone _æm papan his tungon forcufron 7 his eagan astungon 7 hine of his setle afliemdon, 7 _a sona eft Gode fultomiendum he meahte geseon 7 sprecan 7 eft was papa swa he ær wæs. English translation in EHD 1.183, "In this year the Romans cut out Pope Leo's tongue and put out his eyes and banished him from his see; and then immediately afterwards he could, with God's help, see and speak and was again pope as he had been before."

8. Acknowledgement of Charlemagne's imperial title and his claim to rule the Roman Empire in the West probably does not appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle because this information would have undermined Alfred's propaganda.

9. Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum, an 801:

His temporibus Eardulf Rex Northanhymbrorum duxit exercitum contra Kenwlfum regem Merciorum propter susceptionem inimicorum ejus. Qui et ipse congregans exercitum secum aliarum promovit auxilia provinicarum plurima. Longa inter eos expeditione facta, tandem cum consilio episcoporum ac principum Anglorum ex untraque parte pacem inierunt per gratiam Regis Anglorum. Factaque firmissimae pacis Concordia inter eos, quam sub jurejurando in evangelio Christi ambo reges confirmaverunt, Deum testem atque fidejussorem interponentes, ut in diebus eorum, quamdiu vita potierentur praesenti et regni essent infulis suffulti, pax firma veraque inter eos amicitia inconcussa et inviolate persisteret.

English translation EHD 1.276:

"In these times Eardwulf, king of the Northumbrians, led an army against Cenwulf, king of the Mercians, because of his harbouring of his enemes. And the latter king collected an army and led many forces from other provinces with him. When there had been a long campaign between them, they finally made peace by the advice of the English bishops and nobles on boh sides, by the grace of the king of the English. And an agreement of most firm peace was made between them, which boh kings confirmed with an oath on the gospel of Christ, calling God as witness and surety that in their lifetime, as long as they should possess this present life and be invested with the insignia of the kingdom, a firm peace and a true friendship should persist between them, unbroken and inviolate."

10. Simeon of Durham, Libellus, lxxi. The transmission is actually a bit more complex. According to Rollason, Simeon copied from Byrhtferth of Ramsey's (c. 970-c. 1020) compilation that included a lost series of Northern annals, written at York c. 800. For a brief discussion of the Northern Annals, see also the relevant article in Lapidge, Encyclopeida of Anglo-Saxon England.

11. Of the extant charters ascribed to Offa, only nine describe him as Rex Anglorum within the body of the charter. Offa signs the majority of these nine charters as Rex Merciorum: S 104 (spurious); S 108--witness list has Offa sign as Rex Merciorum (authentic basis but is a later interpolation); S 109--signs as Rex (authentic with reservations); S 110 (tenth century forgery); S 111 (forgery); S 132--signs as Rex Merciorum (forgery); S 133 (forgery); S 145--signs as Rex (forgery); and S 146--signs as Offa Rex Anglorum (questionable to authentic).

12. Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum, an. 849:

Anno Dominicae incarnationis DCCC.xlix exortum est lumen e tenebris. Elfredus Rex Anglorum natus est in regali villa quae ab Anglis Wanetinge appellatur: cujus genealogia tali serie contextitur.

English translation Simeon, Historical Works, 465:

"In the year of our Lord's incarnation eight hundred and forty-nine, there sprung up a light out of darkness; there was born, in the royal vill, called by the Angles Wantage, Elfred, king of the Angles, whose pedigree is unfolded in this order."

When Bede used the term Rex Anglorum, it was always in the plural, Bede, HE 3.1, 3.8, 3.9: regum Anglorum; 3.29: reges Anglorum; 5.19: regibus Anglorum. Bede used the term imperium to indicate an Anglo-Saxon king who exercised authority over the other kingdoms in Britain.

13. EHD 1.276, n. 2.

14. Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum an. 801:

Contigit in illis esse completum quod legitur, "Gratius astra nitent, ubi notus // Desint imbriferos dare sonos; // Lucifer ut tenebras peulerit, // Pulchra dies roseos agit equos." Astra splendebant gratius; hoc est, principes gaudebant profusius dum reges pacem dagant inter se clementius. Notus ventus est calidus, qui solet imbriferos dare sonos. Ut dies roseos agit equos; id est totius regni status exultabat dum serena redierunt tempora illius aevi mortalibus, gratia Domini largiente, Qui tempestatibus et coruscis praestat quietudinis serentitatem: "Et numeris elementa ligat, ut frigora flammis, // Arida conveniant liquidis, ne purior ignis // Evolet, aut mersas deducant pondera terras."

English translation in Simeon, Historical Works:

"It thus came to be fulfilled in them, as it is said, 'When ceaseth the south wind of showers to give warning, / More kindly the bright stars their lustre display; / When darkness hath fled from the face of the morning, / Her rose-colour'd coursers drive onward fair day.' 'The bright stars their lustre display;' that is, the chiefs were enlivened with joy when the kings so kindly made peace between themselves. 'The south wind' is a warm wind which usually portends showers. 'The rose-coloured coursers,' that is, the whole kingdom was filled with exultation when times of serenity returned to the men of that age, through the bounteous favour of the Lord, who calms the stormy tempests, and who 'In equal measure weighs the elements; / Tempers the heat with cold; the sold earth / In balance with the waters holds; for else / Would fire unmingled rage, or o'er the earth, / Sunk by its ponderous weight, the waters roll.'"

Simeon is quoting from Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, 3.1.7-12.

15. See for example Bede, HE 2.2, where Oswald defeated Cædwalla after erecting a cross and praying for divine aid. Oswald's victory was accompanied by a clear appeal to divine justice and several miracles. In Bede, HE 3.24, Oswiu triumphed over Penda after promising to consecrate his daughter to God.

16. Further examples include an. 740, where God prevents the theft of a saint's relics by surrounding them with intense heat; an. 769 a king who is responsible for burning a town receives divine punishment when he dies in a fire; an. 852, where God is behind a victory over the Danes.

17. Geary, "Extra-judicial", 594.

18. ASC MS A an. 799 (recte 801): Her __elheard ærcebiscep 7 Cynebryht wesseaxna biscep foron to Rome. English translation, EHD 1.169, "In this year Archbishop Æthelheard and Cyneberht, bishop of the West Saxons, went to Rome."

19. Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarum, a thirteenth century source notes that he was driven by his kingdom by Ælfwald. Roger was probably interpolating based on Simeon of Durham's statement that Eardwulf was succeeded by Ælfwald. According to Roger's account, Eardwulf was expelled by Ælfwald in 808, possibly regained his kingdom (although this is not clear), and then was succeeded by Ælfwald for two years.

20. RFA an. 808:

Interea Rex Nordanhumbrorum de Brittania insula, nomine Eardulf, regno et patria pulsus ad imperatorum, dum adhuc Noviomagi moraretur, venit et patefacto adventus sui negotio Romam proficiscitur; Romaque rediens per legatos Romani pontificis et domni imperatoris in regnum suum reducitur. Praeerat tunc temporis ecclesiae Romanae Leo tertius, cuius legatus ad Britaniam directus est Aldulfus diaconus de ipsa Britania natione Saxo, et cum eo ab imperatore missi abbates duo, Hruotfridus notarius et Nantharius de sancto Otmaro.

English translation in Carolingian Chronicles, 89: [WHAT IS THIS SOURCE?]

"In the meantime Eardwulf, the king of the Northumbrians from the island of Britain, had been driven from his throne and country. He came to the emperor while the latter was still at Mijmegen and, after saying why he had come, continued to Rome. On his reutrn from Rome he was taken back to his kingdom by the envoys of the Roman pontiff and the Lord Emperor. At that time Leo III ruled the Roman church. As his envoy the deacon Aldulf, a Saxon from Britain was sent to Britain. Two abbots were dispatched with him by the emperor, the notary Hruotfrid and Nanthar of St.-Omer."

21. Note that Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 95 assumes that Eardwulf was reinstated, whereas Powicke & Fryde, Handbook makes his reinstatement doubtful. Simeon of Durham's genealogy does not indicate a break in Eardwulf's reign, having the kingdom go straight to Ælfwald and then to Eardwulf's son, although he does indicate the lacuna in Æthelred's reign. The same narrative is preserved in the anonymous de Regibus Saxonicus (list goes up to 1119).

22. The letters between Leo III and Charlemagne are Jaffé Regesta 2516, 2517, and 2518.

23. Haddan and Stubbs, Concilia identify the Wada mentioned in Leo's letter with the individual who revolted against Eardwulf in 798 (see Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum an. 798). Apparently, Wada took refuge with Cenwulf, which may have sparked the 801 dispute, in which Eardwulf accused Cenwulf of harboring his enemies.

24. ASC MS D an. 796. N. .dccxcv.

Her wæs se mona a_ystrod betwux hancræde 7 dagunge on .v. kalendas Aprilis. 7 Eardwulf feng to Nor_anhimbra cynedome on .ii. idus Mai, 7 he wæs sy__an gebletsod 7 his cynestole ahafen on .vii. kalendas Iunii on Eororwic fram Eanbalde arcebischop 7 Æ_elberhte 7 Higbalde 7 Badwulfe.

English translation, EHD 1.168,

"In this year there was an eclipse of the moon between cockcrow and dawn on 28 March, and Eardwulf succeeded to the kingdom of the Northumbrians on 14 May; and he was afterwards consecrated and enthroned on 26 May in York, by Archbishop Eanbald, and Ethelbert, Higbald and Badwulf."

25. Jaffé Regesta 2516: De vero epistolis, quibus vobis Eandbaldus archiepiscopus et Coenulfus Rex atque Wado emiserunt, relegentes, repperimus eorum dolositatem, quam inter se habent. "Indeed regarding the letters that Archbishop Eanbald, King Cenwulf, and Wado sent to you, while rereading them, we discovered that they have deceit among them." (English translation mine.)

26. Jaffé Regesta 2516: Unde valde constristamur. Quia ipse praedictus Coenulfus Rex nec suum Archiepiscipum pacificatum habet nec istum Eanbaldum idem Archiepiscopum. "Therefore we are greatly saddened because the same aforementioned King Cenwulf is at peace with neither his own bishop nor with Archbishop Eanbald." (English translation mine.)

27. RFA an. 809:

Postquam Ardulfus Rex Nordanhumbrorum reductus est in regnum suum et legati imperatoris atque pontificis reversi sunt, unus ex eis, Aldulfus diaconus, a piratis captus est, ceteris sine periculo traicientibus, ductusque ab eis in Brittaniam a quondam Coenulfi regis homine redemptus est Romamque reversus.

English translation in Carolingian Chronicles, 89-90:

"When Eardwulf, king of the Northumbrians, had been taken back to his kingdom and the envoys of the emperor and pontiff were returning, all crossed without mishap except one of them, the deacon Aldulf, who was captured by pirates and taken to Britain. But he was ransomed by one of King Cenwulf's men and returned to Rome."

28. The annalist's version of the story echoes a letter Pope Leo sent to Charlemagne, Jaffé Regesta 2518: Remeante ad nos Deo annuente Sabino religioso episcopo de partibus transmarinis, obtulit nobis serenitatis vestrae epistolam, continentem de iniuncta sibi legatione, vel captu atque redemptione Aldulfi diaconi, missi nostri. "After the pious bishop Sabinus returned to us with God's approval, he gave us your serenity's letter pertaining to the mission assigned to him and the capture and redemption of the deacon Aldwulf, our legate." (English translation mine.)

29. Jaffé Regesta 2516:

Quia ipse praedictus Coenulfus Rex nec suum Archiepiscopum pacificatum habet nec istum Eanbaldum idem Archiepiscopum. Nam et de eorum divisione cotidie in confessionem beati Petri apostoli, licet velut inmeriti, preces fundimus, ut eos omnipotens Deus pacificet et discordiam, quam inter se habent, absolvat. Et sicut coepit vestra serenitas in ipsam pacem nobiscum decertare, sic incessanter elaborare dignemini, quatinus vestra mercis copiosa accrescat in caelis.

"Because the same aforementioned King Cenwulf is at peace with neither his own bishop nor with Archbishop Eanbald. For indeed, regarding their dispute we daily offer prayers at the altar of St. Peter the Apostle, although we are undeserving, so that almighty God can make peace and resolve the dispute that they have between them. And just as your serenity begins to strive for this same peace with us, something you should deem worthy to effect without delay, so will your abundance of reward increase in heaven." (English translation mine.)

30. This incident was not the only dispute between Cenwulf and Wulfred that required papal intervention. A land dispute erupted between the two between 817 and 821, see further below.

31. See for example, S 146, S 1258, and S 1429.

32. Simeon of Durham, Historia Regum an. 801 (see note 9).

33. Alcuin Ep. 100-101 (in MGH Epistolae 4). Campbell, Anglo-Saxons, 101, also notes that Charlemagne had this perception.

34. Thus Boniface (d. 754) went to the pope to receive permission to preach in Germany, and Willibrord (658-739) evangelized Frisia with the support of Pope Sergius I (687-701).

35. John, "Early English Church", 51 suggests that Wilfrid was not protesting the division of his see so much as the break-up of his "supra-tribal monastic connection".

36. Haddan and Stubbs, Concilia, 3.587-8 (Synod of Clofesho, 825):

Tuncque in eodem concilio cum maxima districtione illo Episcopo mandavit quod omnibus rebus quae illius dominationis sunt dispoliatus debuisset fieri, omnique de patria ista esse profugus, et nunquam nec verbis domne Papae nec Caesaris seu alterius alicujus gradu, huc in patriam iterum recipisse, nisi hoc consentire voluisset. . . Sed et hocque ille Rex Coenwulf illo Episcopo reconciliavit.

"And then at the same council, with great severity he ordered that the same bishop be despoiled of all his possesions, and completely exiled from his homeland, and let nothing, neither the words of the Lord Pope nor the Caesar or anyone else of rank, cause him to be received from his exile here in this country, unless he wishes to suffer the same. . . But then King Cenwulf reconciled with that Bishop." (English translation mine.)

For a narrative overview see Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 229-230.

37. The Caesar in question for this dispute would have been Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious (814-840).

38. Levison, "Annales" an. 797: Eardulf regnavit X. Iste duxit uxorem filiam regis Karoli. "Eardwulf reigned ten [years]. He married the daughter of King Charles." (English translation mine.)

39. Simeon of Durham, Libellus, xlvi.

40. ASC MS D an. 806: N. .dcccvi. Her sona a_ystrode on kalendas Septembris, 7 Eardwulf Nor_hymbra cyning wæs of his rice adrifen. English translation, EHD 1.170, "In this year there was an eclipse of the moon on 1 September. And Eardwulf, king of the Northumbrians, was driven from his kingdom." Levison, "Annales", an. 808: Ælfwald regnavit II annis. Eanbert hagustaldensis episcopus obiit. An. 809: Eanred regnavit XXXIII annis. "A. D. 808: Ælfwald reigned two years. Eanbert, bishop of Hexham, died. A. D. 809: Eanred reigned 33 years." (English translation mine.)

41. Levison, "Annales" an. 718: Leo imperavit annis XXIIII. Abhinc usque Carolum Magnum Romani imperatores defuerunt per LX annos. "Leo reigned for twenty-four years. From him until Charles the Great, there were no Roman emperors for sixty years." (English translation mine).

42. These three emperors were Constantine V (741-775), Leo IV (775-780), and Constantine VI (780-797).

43. For a discussion of Charlemagne's titles both before and after 800, see Ganshof, Frankish Institutions, 9-11.

44. Geary, "Extra-judicial", 594-600 discusses arbitration as a binding agreement between equals, negotiated with the assistance of a patron, or someone of higher status.

45. Jaffé Regesta 2517:

Sed precamur clementiam vestram: ut pro amore beati Petre apostoli fautoris vestri-in cujus servitio praedictum Hadulfum diaconum sub juramento emisimus, immo etiam in ipsum, quod nobis sub jusjurando pollicitus est, ut ad profectam sanctae Dei Ecclesiae et vestrum atque nostrum decertare debuisset et pace in ipsa insula seminare studuisset. . .

"But we beg your clemency: so that for the love of St. Peter the apostle, your patron-in whose service we sent the aforementioned deacon Aldwulf under oath, indeed certainly the same that he swore to us under oath, so that he would be committed to work for the benefit of the holy Church of God as well as for you and us, and so that he should desire to bring forth peace in that island." (English translation mine.)

46. Jaffé Regesta 2516, see note 29.

47. Einhard, Vita Karoli 16:

Scottorum quoque reges sic habuit ad suam voluntatem per munificentiam inclinatos, ut eum numquam aliter nisi dominum seque subditos et servos eius pronuntiarent. Extant epistolae ab eis ad illum missae, quibus huiusmodi affectus eorum erga illum indicatur.

English translation from Dutton, Charlemagne's Courtier, 273.

48. See note 3.

49. Allott does not offer a suggestion for Scotia in his translation of Alcuin Ep 101. Whitelock, EHD 1.850 translates the relevant section as "the sad news came to us by the messengers who had returned from Ireland by way of you." Perhaps the best translation would be "the sad news arrived through messengers who had returned from Northumbria through your territory."


ASC: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

HE: Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People

EHD: English Historical Documents: c. 500-1042. Vol. 1. See Whitelock.

MGH: Monumenta Germaniae Historica

RFA: Royal French Annals



Gesta Sanctorum Patrum Fontanellensis Coenobii. Editors and translators F. Lohier and J. Laporte. (Rouen, 1936.)

Epistolae Karolini aevi: Tomvs II. Editor Ernst Ludwig Dümmler. MGH Epistolae 4. MS A: A Semi-Diplomatic Edition with Introduction and Indices. Editor Janet M. Bately. (Cambridge, 1983.)

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition, MS D. Editor G. P. Cubbin. (Woodbridge, 1996.)

Alcuin. Alcuin of York, c. A.D. 732 to 804: His Life and Letters. Translator Stephen Allott. (York, 1974.)

Bede. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Editors and translators Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors. (Oxford, 1992.)

Campbell, James, Eric John, and Patrick Wormald. The Anglo-Saxons. (London, 1991.)

Einhard. Annales regni Francorum. Editors Friedrich Kurze and Georg Heinrich Pertz. MGH SrG 6.

-----. Einhardi Vita Karoli Magni. Editors Georg Waitz, Oswald Holder-Egger, and Georg Heinrich Pertz. (Hannover, 1911.)

-----. Charlemagne's Courtier: the Complete Einhard. Translator Paul Edward Dutton. (Peterborough, Ont., 1998.)

Ganshof, François Louis. Frankish Institutions under Charlemagne. Translators Bryce Lyon and Mary Lyon. (Providence, 1968.)

Geary, Patrick J. "Extra-Judicial Means of Conflict Resolution." In La Giustizia Nell'Alto Medioevo, 571-605. (Spoleto, 1995.)

Haddan, Arthur West Ed, David Wilkins, and William Stubbs. Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain and Ireland. (Oxford, 1869.)

Jaffé, Philipp. Regesta Pontificum Romanorum. (Graz, 1956.)

John, Eric. "The Social and Political Problems of the Early English Church." Agricultural History Review 18, Supplement (1970): 39-63.

Lapidge, Michael. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. (Oxford, 1999.)

Levison, Wilhelm. "Die Annales Lindisfarnenses et Dunelmenses Kritisch Untersucht und neu Herausgegeben." Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 17 (1961): 447-506.

Powicke, Frederick Maurice, and E. B Fryde. Handbook of British Chronology. (London, 1961.)

Scholz, Bernhard Walter, and Barbary Rogers, translators. Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard's Histories. (Ann Arbor, 1970.)

Simeon, of Durham. The Historical Works of Simeon of Durham. Translator Joseph Stevenson. (London, 1854.)

Simeon of Durham. Symeonis Dunelmensis opera et collectanea. Editor John Hodgson-Hinde. (Durham, 1868.)

Simeon of Durham. Symeon of Durham: Libellus de exordio atque procursu istius, hoc est Dunhelmensis, Ecclesie. Editor and translator David W. Rollason. (Oxford, 2000.)

Stenton, F. M. Anglo-Saxon England. (Oxford, 1990.)

Whitelock, Dorothy, editor. English Historical Documents: c. 500-1042. Vol. 1. (London, 1979.)



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