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Who Was Auxilius?: Ethnic Identity in Late Carolingian Italy

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Abstract

Almost all our knowledge about the early tenth-century polemicist, Auxilius, comes from his own writings. Two statements in these writings have led scholars and most reference works to identify him as a Frankish priest, living near Naples. By looking more carefully at the polemic Auxilius was writing, and the time and place in which he wrote, I propose to demonstrate that these same statements actually prove that he was not a Frank at all, but a southern Italian. Auxilius was a priest who lived somewhere in southern Italy, probably in or near Naples, at the turning from the ninth to the tenth centuries. 2 We know of him chiefly through several polemics that he wrote in the early tenth century, defending the validity of the ordinations that had been performed by Pope Formosus, and by Stephen II, bishop of Naples. I should, perhaps, provide some background to this conflict. Pope Formosus died on Easter of 896
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 1 -
Who Was Auxilius?: Ethnic Identity in Late
Carolingian Italy
by William S. Monroe
1
Brown University
(©2004, William S. Monroe)
Abstract
Almost all our knowledge about the early tenth-century polemicist, Auxilius,
comes from his own writings. Two statements in these writings have led scholars and
most reference works to identify him as a Frankish priest, living near Naples. By looking
more carefully at the polemic Auxilius was writing, and the time and place in which he
wrote, I propose to demonstrate that these same statements actually prove that he was not
a Frank at all, but a southern Italian.
Auxilius was a priest who lived somewhere in southern Italy, probably in or near
Naples, at the turning from the ninth to the tenth centuries.
2
We know of him chiefly
through several polemics that he wrote in the early tenth century, defending the validity
of the ordinations that had been performed by Pope Formosus, and by Stephen II, bishop
of Naples. I should, perhaps, provide some background to this conflict.
Pope Formosus died on Easter of 896 (April 4). In his place, Boniface VI was
elected, but he also died only two weeks later. Stephen VI, who had been consecrated
1
An earlier version of this paper was presented at one of the Early Medieval Europe sessions at the 39th
International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, May 6-9, 2004. I have made only minor
changes to it since then, but am making it publicly available now, since it has been referenced in a
forthcoming book, and someone may wish to read the original.
2
The most complete treatment of Auxilius is the artlicle, “Ausilio,” by Ovidio Capitani, in the Dizionario
biografico degli Italiani, v. 4 (1962), p. 597-600.
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 2 -
bishop of Anagni by Formosus, assumed the papal throne sometime later.
3
For reasons
that are not very clear, Stephen bore an enmity toward Formosus, and nine months after
the former pope’s death, Stephen had the dead pope’s corpse removed from its grave,
placed on the papal throne, and put on trial. Not surprisingly, Formosus was found guilty
of the charges, whatever they were, and his pontificate was voided, along with the
ordinations he had performed.
The council in which this trial took place, known as the Cadaver Synod, was itself
overturned at another synod held in Ravenna at the beginning of 898. Unfortunately, the
acts of the Cadaver Synod were ordered to be burned, leaving us to reconstruct the trial
from the indirect information provided by the Synod of Ravenna, and from other sources,
among which are the writings of Auxilius, who in the course of defending the ordinations
provides some details of the conflict.
Auxilius had been ordained as a priest by Formosus, and his ordination having
been nullified by the Cadaver Synod, he was forced to submit to a reordination. He wrote
three treatises in defense of Formosus and his ordinations, as well as another treatise in
defense of the ordinations of Stephen II, bishop of Naples.
The works of Auxilius obtained a readership outside of Italy. The best manuscript
containing all of them, although written in southern Italy, found its way to Bamberg in
the late 10th century.
4
There are later copies in several collections in France. He is
3
Auxilius, “Appendix” to his In defensionem sacrae ordinationis Formosae papae, in Dümmler, Auxilius
und Vulgarius, p. 95.
4
See Mirella Farrari, “Mannoscritti e testi fra Lombardia e Germania nel secolo X," Mittellateinisches
Jahrbuch 24/25 (1989/1990): 105-115.
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 3 -
mentioned by Sigebert of Gembloux,
5
and by some later writers dependent on Sigebert.
Two of the treatises were published by Jean Morin in 1655, and another by Ernst
Dümmler in the mid-nineteenth century.
The most thorough study of the these works is a book by a Romanian priest,
Demètre Pop, published in 1933, and based on his doctoral dissertation at the University
of Paris.
6
My summary of the works of Auxilius will be based on that of Pop.
The first of Auxilius’ works is In defensionem sacrae ordinationibus papae
Formosi,
7
written and published in two separate and independent books, but in the same
year, 908.
8
The second is the Libellus in defensionem Stephani episcopi,
9
written shortly
after the first work. A few years later,
10
he compiled the De ordinationibus a Formoso
papa factis,
11
a collection of mostly papal letters and conciliar material. A short time
5
Sigebert of Gembloux, Liber de scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, c. 112 (in PL, v. 160, col. 521): “Auxilius
scripsit dialogum sub persona infensoris et defensoris, divinis et canonicis exemplis munitum, contra
intestinam discordiam Romanae Ecclesiae, scilicet de ordinationibus, exordinationibus et
superordinationibus Romanorum pontificum et ordinatorum ab eis exordinationibus et
superordinationibus.” Cited by Demêtre Pop, p. 2. Dümmler suggested that Sigebert may have known the
De ordinationibus of Auxilius, but does not mention it because it followed the Infensor et Defensor in the
manuscript without any notice. (Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius, p. 27, n. 1.)
6
Demètre Pop, La défense du pape Formose (Paris: Gabalda, 1933).
7
Published by Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius, p. 57-95.
8
Pop, p. 22. The date is based upon the appendix to the work, a list of popes for the previous 26 years.
9
Also published by Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius, p. 96-105.
10
911/912, according to Pop (p. 31).
11
Published by Morin, and reprinted in PL, v. 129, col.
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 4 -
later, he wrote the dialogue Infensor et defensor,
12
at the request of bishop Leo of Nola.
Within these works, and in prefatory material to them, Auxilius reveals a few facts about
himself, some of which have been interpreted to mean that he was a Frank, living in
southern Italy.
His first publisher, Jean Morin, already made this suggestion: “Quis fuerit
Auxilius non liquet. Italus non fuit, ut ipse testatur”
13
This is because his interlocutor in
the Infensor et Defensor refers to him as “homo exterae gentis.”
14
In another work, he
declares that he had travelled very far to be consecrated by Formosus.
15
In the prefatory
letter to his Infensor et Defensor, addressed to bishop Leo of Nola, he states that Leo had
sought opinions on the validity of Formosus’ ordinations from experts “both Frankish and
Beneventan.”
16
This statement has led scholars to conclude that, since he was a
“foreigner”, who travelled very far to Rome, he must have been a Frank. Morin had
written, “That he was a Frank can hardly be doubted, but at that time the name Francus
12
Published by Morin, and reprinted in PL, v. 129, col.
13
Morin, in the preface to the De ordinationibus of Auxilius (in Commentarius de sacris ecclesiae
ordinationibus. Paris: Gasparus Meturas, 1655; editio nova: Antwerp: B. Bellaevallus, 1695), reprinted in
PL vol. 129: col. 1055-1056.
14
Bk. 2, c. 31.
15
Auxilius, In defensionem sacrae ordinationibus papae Formosi, c. 9: “Nobis autem, qui de longinquis
terrarum spatiis ad apostolorum principem confluximus et ab eius uicario consecrationem, .... (in Dümmler,
p. 70; ms. B1, fol. 25)
16
Auxilius, Epistola praevia ad Leonem Nolanum episcopum, in PL 129, col. 1075-1076: “Qua ex causa
fateris te mirificae soleriae Francos, necnon et Beneuentanae ciuitatis peritos consuluisse viros ....”
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 5 -
could mean German as well as Gallic.”
17
In fact, some German scholars had proposed
that he was German, an identification founded mostly upon his use of a Germanic word
in the In defensionem.
18
The general consensus has been that Auxilius was a Frank.
19
Who are the Franks in Italy?
As Patrick Geary has recently pointed out, ethnic identity can be quite fluid,
especially in the early Middle Ages.
20
Ethnic appellations can also be quite specific to
time and place, as we find with the name Romanus, as applied in Aistulf’s code, where it
denotes not a “Roman” from the Lombard kingdom, “but a ‘foreigner’ from Italian
territory still under the control of Constantinople.”
21
Eduard Hlawitschka has written
extensively on the prosopography of the nobility of Lotharingia as well as Italy in the
Carolingian period. He has pointed out that the Dukes of Spoleto were generally referred
to as Franci, because they were transplanted to Italy from northwestern France.
22
17
Morin, ibid. “Francum fuisse vix dubitari potest: sed eo tempore Franci nomine, Germani non secus ac
Galli intelligebantur.” This is echoed by Capitani (“Ausilio”, p. 597): “Franco, probabilmente, o
germanico, comunque non italico e tanto meno romano ....”
18
“Sed, ut decere coeperam, quidam ex eis, quod absque uerecundia exprimere nequeo, ad instar lanifici
instrumenti, quod a uoluendo uindile appellatur ad cuiuslibet suassionem uel minarum asperitatem in
mendacium deuoluuntur.” In defensionem, Bk. 2, c. 8 (p. 88 in Dümmler; B1, fol. 39v).
19
See Capitani in the DBI, cited above. I will list more examples below.
20
Patrick Geary, The Myth of Nations (Princeton, 2002).
21
Geary, p. 126-127. The reference is to The Lombard Laws: Aistulfi leges, 4.
22
Eduard Hlawitschka, "Die Widonen Im Dukat Von Spoleto," Quellen und Forschungen aus italienschen
Archiven und Bibliotheken 63 (1983), p. 35-36. “Sieht man die Privaturkunden des mittelitalienischen
Raumes einmal durch vor allem die Urkunden von Farfa ud Casauria --, so fällt einem die grosse Zahl
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 6 -
Hlawitschka cites numerous passages in Erchempert’s Chronicle, refering to the
Spoletans as Franks or even Gauls.
23
In fact, in many places where Erchempert is clearly
writing about the Franks, he uses the term Galli: e.g., cap. 19, “In these days, with the
death of Lothar, the Gallic kingdom was divided five ways ...”
24
; cap. 29, Because of the
attack of the Saracens on Benevento, “the army of the Gauls, coming to suppress their
ferocity, ....“
25
; cap. 79, “... Guido, leaving the province of Benevento and the duchy of
von Leuten fränkischen und auch alemannischen Rechtsbekenntnisses auf, d. h. die ansehnliche Schar
nordalpiner Zuwanderer, die hier Rechtsgeschäfte Schenkungen, Käufe, Tauschhandlungen, Verkäufe,
Verpachtungen etc. vornahmen oder auch bei solchen Vorgängen als Zeugen auftraten. Wido hat sich
also wie wohl schon seine bis 841 bezeugten anderweitigen und zum Teil auch klar als Franken
erweisbaren Vorgänger auf ein starkes fränkisches Element stützen können und es mit den 834 ins Exil
gegangenen Gefolgsleuten Lothars wohl noch verstärkt. Der Eindruck, den diese Bevölkerungsgruppe
hinterliess, war jedenfalls so beherrschend, dass Papst Johann VIII. 877 in einem Brief gleich zweimal die
Francos Lamberti, d.h. die Franken des Widosohnes Lambert, erwähnte, als er Lambert und sui homines
kennzeichnen wollte ....
23
Ibid., p. 36: ... auch der Beneventaner Erchempert bei ganz anderer Gelegenheit von den Franci
Lamberti comitis sprach, ja dass er in mehreren Kapiteln seiner Historia Langobardorum Beneventanorum
einfach die Leute aus Spoleto als Franken oder Gallier bezeichnete. Auch mehere Gastalden, Unterbeamte
des Herzogs bzw. Markgrafen von Spoleto, sind uns als Franken überliefert.
24
cap. 19. [a. 855] His quoque diebus mortuo iam dicto Luthario, regnum Gallicum pentifarie divisum est
.... (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum langobardicarum, ed. Georg Waitz et al.
(Hannover: Hahn, 1878), p. 241)
25
cap. 29. [a. 860] Inter haec Saugdan, nequissimus ac sceleratissimus rex Hismahelitum, totam terram
Beneventanam igne, gladiis et captivitate crudeliter devastabat, ita ut non remaneret in ea alitus. Quam ob
rem et Gallorum exercitus crebrius adveniens eorum efferitatem opprimendam .... Quo tempore Maielpotus
Telesinus et Guandelepert Bovianensis castaldei multa cum prece conduxerunt Lambertum ducem
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 7 -
Spoleto ... went to Gaul to reign.
26
At other times, it is clearly the Spoletans who are
designated Franks: e.g., cap. 42, “For Guaiferius, placing himself belligerently against the
city wall, besieged it, while he placed Lando across the river with the Franks of Count
Lambert.”
27
; cap. 48, After the death of Guiferius, in 880, “Gaideris was handed over into
the custody of the Franks.”
28
Other examples are more ambiguous.
29
We can find many other examples in the sources. A placitum of 878 has the
judges identifying themselves as “we the undersigned judges or boni homines, Franks or
Lombards,”
30
almost certainly with the meaning “Spoletans or Beneventans.” The
Spolitensium, et Garardum comitem, et obviantes eidem Saugdan, cum de Capuae depopulatione
reverteretur, in Arvium tellure irruerunt super eum; set exurgens iam dictus vir, et super Beneventanos et
Francos fortiter se iniecit, ac dirruptis cuneis .... (MGH, SRL, p. 245)
26
cap. 79. “Cognoscens autem Guido Carlum augustum seminecem iacere, cupiditate regnandi devictus
deceptusque a contribulibus suis, relinquens Beneventanam provinciam sibi subacta et Spolitentium
ducatum, abiit Galliam regnaturus. (MGH, SRL, p. 263-264)
27
42. [a. 879] Nam Guaiferius hostiliter iuxta murum urbis residens, obsidebat eam; ultra fluvium vero
cum Francis Lamberti comitis Landonem constituit. (MGH, SRL, p. 250)
28
48. [After the death of Guaiferius of Salerno, in 880]: Gaideris vero Francis traditus in custodia, fuga
lapsus pervenit urbem Barensem, quo morabantur Graeci .... (MGH, SRL, p. 255)
29
cap. 10. [a. 818-821] Suscepto itaque Sico principatu, foedus cum Francis innovit, Beneventanos bestiali
efferitate persequitur .... Oppressi igitur durius a genitore et filio per sedecim continuos annos cives
praefataeurbis [i.e. Naples], cum iam ad estremitatem maximam pervenisset, ad Francorum se contulere
praesidium. (MGH, SRL, p. 238-239); cap. 34. Quibus ita patratis, ut superius promissa promam, videns
diabolus suos eliminari Christoque universia restaurari, principia recolens et dampna inferni dolens, suo
instincto coeperunt Galli graviter Beneventanos persequi ac crudeliter vexare. (MGH, SRL, p. 247)
30
C. Manaresi, I placiti del “Regnum italiae”, (Rome, 1955), v. 1, no. 84 (a. 878): “Tunc nos suprascripti
iudices vel boni homines Franci vel Langobardi interrogavimus ipsum predictum Fuldradum ....” (p. 304)
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 8 -
Chronica Sancti Benedicti Casinensis refers to some territories that were “handed over to
the Franks, that is, to Count Wido”
31
Meanwhile, the Catalogus regum langobardorum
et ducum beneventanorum refers to the Spoletans as both Franks and Gauls.
32
Likewise,
a short Beneventan chronicle of 891-897 refers to Arnulf as “rex Gallorum” and to his
invasion of Italy in 895 as an “adventum Francorum.”
33
From these and other examples, it seems clear that the Beneventans, and perhaps
other people living in southern Italy, commonly refered to the Spoletans as “Franks”.
This may have been because the Spoletan nobility was ethnically Frankish, or because the
dukes of Spoleto were agents of the West Frankish kings or the Frankish emperors. It
“Audientes nos suprascripti iudices vel boni homines Franci et Longobardi ipsum Foldradum omnia taliter
dicere ....” (p. 305)
31
“Nam dictus Ademari Suram, Erpinum, Vicum Album et Atinen tradidit Francis, id est Widoni comiti.”
(MGH, SRL, p. 475) (cf. Erchempert, c. 25)
32
[in 895:] “His quidem diebus Theodorus turmacha Benevento preaerat; qui audiens adventum
Francorum, nimio timore concutitur; tamen de custodia et vigilibus urbis plurimum manebat sollicitus. Et
qui predicto Barsaci manum confferre Gallis non presumebat, postulans, ut sibi saltem mitteret solacium ad
Beneventi menia conservanda, seu langobardos capiendos secum morantes, quos valde pavebat. Sed aliter
hinc divina providentia quam humana malitia disposuerat; petitum namque adiutorium iam ei veniebat, sed
et Francorum sollercia istud presenserat et ad Beneventanorum auxilium avide festinabat; prius auem longe
posuit castra.” (MGH, SRL, p. 496)
33
The work was published by Georg Waitz as “CONTINUATIO codici Vaticani” [i.e., Vat. lat. 5001, fol.
140v-143v], in MGH, Scriptores rerum Langobardicarum (Hannover, 1878), p. 495-497. Huguette
Taviani-Carozzi considers it a continuation of the Historia of Erchempert, and I would agree. See her La
principauté lombarde de Salerne (IXe-XIe siècle) (Rome, 1991), p. lxiv. The passage about Arnulf is on p.
495 of Waitz’s edition, and the “adventum Francorum” on p. 496.
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 9 -
may be simply that the southern Italians did not always distinguish between the Franks
and their Italian proxies. When we read the designation “Frank” in our sources, it does
not necessarily mean someone from Francia, or at least not immediately from Francia.
Moreover, this designation is applied to the Spoletans and the Tuscans by those
from the Lombard territories of Benevento, Salerno, etc., and not by Romans or by the
Spoletans and Tuscans themselves.
34
In fact, later in the tenth century, the chronicler
Benedictus of St. Andrea on Mont Soracte, describing the coronation of the Spoletan
Duke Wido as king, refers to him and his followers as Lombards.
35
This was the view of
a Roman.
36
In an earlier description of the campaigns of Louis II, Benedictus had made
a clear distinction between Louis and his “Franks”, and the earlier Spoletan Wido.
37
It
probably should not surprise us that the southern Italians would describe those to the
34
See Hlawitschka, p. 35-36 (as in note __ above). In the placitum cited above (note __), the designation is
made in the first person plural, but probably written by a southerner.
35
Il Chronicon di Benedetto, monaco di S. Andrea del Soratte, ed. Giuseppe Zucchetti (Rome, 1920), p.
155. (Fonti per las storia d’Italia; n. 55). “In Langobardorum gens civitate Ticine preeat rex nomine
Quido, cuius temporibus redactum est regnum langobardorum sue postestative regia potestate. fecit idem
Quido synodum cum episcopis et abbatibus et cum fidelibus Langobardis capitulis legis, et in edictis affigi
precepit.”
36
Zucchetti, following Bethmann, considered Benedictus to be of Roman origin. See Il Chronicon di
Benedetto, p. xix. Earlier historians had thought he was a Frank. See the article “Benedetto di S. Andrea,”
in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, v. 8 (1966), p. 446-451, esp. p. 447-448.
37
Il Chronicon de Benedetto, ed. Zuchetti, p. 151: “Quido marchiones cum suo comitatu, Loduicus rex cum
quantos Francis evaserat, in Roma sunt reversi. propter hoc populi Romani in derisione abuerunt franci,
usque in odiernum diem.”
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 10 -
north of them as “Franks”, just as some of our Byzantine and Arabic sources use the
same term to refer to anyone from Western Europe.
38
Auxilius
Let us look more closely, then, at how Auxilius refers to himself, and how he uses
the term “Frank”. The “prosecutor” (Infensor) of the Infensor et Defensor refers to the
Defensor as “homo exterae gentis.”
39
The point of the Infensor’s remark is to imply that
the Defensor, being a foreignor and a guest among the Romans, should not presume to
involve himself in this controversy.
40
To this, the Defensor answers only that he is of
that nation which the Apostle Peter praises, that is, the Christian nation,
41
and as a
Christian, he cannot be prevented from testifying to the truth.
42
He adds that the apostles
themselves were Jews, yet they spread the Gospel throughout the world with their
preaching.
43
Is the Defensor impying that he, too, was a Jew? The Infensor is the voice
38
On Byzantine references, see the article “Frankoi” in the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford,
1991), v. 2, p. 803. Arabic took the term (ifrandj or firandj), with the same meanings, from the Byzantines.
See the article by Bernard Lewis, “Ifrandj,” in Encyclopedia of Islam, v. 3 (Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1976), p.
1044-1046.
39
I would like to thank Danuta Shanzer for urging me to look more closely at this passage.
40
Bk. 2, c. 31: “[INF.:] Porro cum sis homo exterae gentis, et apud nos humanae vitae subsidiis indigeas,
quid at te pertinet nostris resistere disceptationibus?”
41
“Notum tibi sit quoniam illius generis sum quid apostolus Petrus his laudibus extollit: Vos estis genus
electum, regale sacerdotium, gens sancta, populus acquisitionis.” (Ibid.) The citation is from I Peter, 2:10.
42
“ ... propterea recipiendus sum, et a veritate testificanda nusquam exludendus.” (ibid.)
43
“Quis enim nesciat ex Hebraeis fuisse apostolos, qui sanctum Evangelium sua praedicatione in toto
mundo coruscare fecerunt?” (Ibid.)
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 11 -
of the party that tried Formosus, made up mostly of Roman clergy (even if they had been
appointed to bishoprics outside of Rome). So, it is implied only that the Defensor is not
Roman. It would not preclude his being a Lombard, Beneventan, Greek, Frank, or Jew.
We must also ask whether the Defensor is meant to be Auxilius himself, or
merely a fictitious character. This is a rhetorical work in which the Infensor stands for
the prosecutors of Formosus, and the Defensor his advocates. Auxilius clearly sides with
the Defensor, but this does not imply that the Defensor and Auxilius are one. But
Auxilius raises this question in a chapter which bears the rubric: “Quod ad testificandum
quae recta sunt nullius gentis homo prohibendus sit.” It must, then, refer to a criticism
that had been lodged against one or more of the defenders of Formosus, whether Auxilius
or another. Since the Infensor et Defensor is probably the last of Auxilius’ treatises in
favor of Formosus, he could very well be answering a criticism levelled against him. But
the criticism itself would seem to be a sign of Roman particularism. The Infensor wishes
to deny the right of this foreigner to question the decisions made in Rome. But the
judgments made against a pope and his ordinations are obviously of wider import than to
be limited to the interest only of Romans, or even of Italians.
44
In another work, Auxilius writes that he had travelled very far to Rome, to be
consecrated by Formosus.
45
But here we must remember that he is making an excuse for
not having to do so again, and is exaggerating the distance travelled. It need not imply
44
In this sense, it seems even more likely that the Defensor is a Jew or a Muslim, for only then would he
not have an interest in this case.
45
Auxilius, In defensionem sacrae ordinationibus papae Formosi, c. 9: “Nobis autem, qui de longinquis
terrarum spatiis ad apostolorum principem confluximus et ab eius uicario consecrationem, .... (in Dümmler,
p. 70; ms. B1, fol. 25)
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 12 -
that he travelled so far as from Francia. We have reason to believe that Auxilius lived in
Naples or its region, which is far enough for rhetorical value.
Bishop Leo of Nola, he writes, had sought opinions on the validity of Formosus’
ordinations from experts “both Frankish and Beneventan.”
46
As the other statements
have been interpreted to mean that Auxilius was a foreigner (non Italian), who travelled
far to Rome, it is assumed that he could not have been a Beneventan, and so must have
been a Frank. But I believe I have shown that the dichotomy Auxilius is suggesting here
is not between Franks and Italians, but rather beween (Frankish) Spoletans and
(Lombard) Beneventans. Or, perhaps, between northern or central Italy (under control of
the Emperor) and southern Italy (under control of the princes of Benevento and Salerno).
The very fact that Auxilius uses the term Frank most likely means that he was from the
South.
What other references does he make to Franks or to other ethnicities? In his
Infensor et Defensor, he mentions that he was called to a synod in Rome for reordination,
but declined to attend: “If ever the sheep ran to the voice of the wolf, then I should have
run to that synod. For this is what the Savior said: The sheep follow the shepherd because
they know his voice. The stranger, however, they do not follow, but flee from him, for
they do not know the voice of strangers. Are they not wolves, are they not strangers, who
in overturning the aforesaid ordination, have turned all of Italy from the religion of Christ
....”
47
Auxilius’ use of alieni to describe those who called him to the synod, echoes the
46
Auxilius, Epistola praevia ad Leonem Nolanum episcopum, in PL 129, col. 1075-1076: “Qua ex causa
fateris te mirificae soleriae Francos, necnon et Beneuentanae ciuitatis peritos consuluisse v iros ....”
47
cap. 12 (PL vol. 129, col. 1086): “Si aliquando ad uocem lupi cucurrit ouis, et ego ad synodum illam
occurrere debui. Hic est quod Saluator ait: ‘Oves pastorem sequuntur, quia sciunt uocem eius; alienum
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 13 -
biblical passage, but does it imply more? These alieni would include Sergius III and his
followers, most of them Romans. Is Auxilius suggesting that they are not merely
“strangers”, but “foreigners”?
When writing of the flight of Formosus from Rome, Auxilius says that he took
refuge among the Franks. John VIII sent messages to him to no avail, and eventually
went, himself, to Francia.
48
We know that Formosus initially went to Spoleto, and that
John VIII sent letters to the fugitives and to the duke of Spoleto, before Formosus went to
Francia. In the In defensionem, he mentions that “A certain Sergius [Pope Sergius III],
who had been among the Franks for a long time, with the aid of the Franks and the
machinations of certain Romans, ... entered Rome ... and climbed the papal throne.”
49
Sergius had been in exile in Tuscany. In the list of popes he provides at the end of the In
defensionem, he refers to Lambert as “rex francorum”.
50
Lambert was Duke of Spoleto,
autem, non sequuntur, sed fugiunt ab eo, quia non nouerunt uocem alienorum.’ [John 10: ] An non sunt
lupi, non sunt alieni, qui praefatam ordinationem subuertentis fere totam Italiam a pluribus annis ueluti
paganam absque Christi religione uixisse blasphemant?”
48
In defensionem, cap. 4 (Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius, p. 63-64): “Unde factum est, ut nocturnis
horis repentio nuntio perterriti urbem egredientes, iminens periculum fugiendo euaderin, nec multo post ad
francis peruenerunt. ... John sends messages, then takes “tres dromones, quibus ascensis in Franciam
transfretauit.”
49
In defensionem, cap. 1 (Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius, p. 60): “Deinde Sergius quidam, qui apud
Francos plurimis iam temporibus fuerat commoratus, ualido Francorum auxilio et quorundam Romanorum
machinationibus praefatum comprehendi ac recludi fecit christophorum, nec multi post latenter romam
ingrediens eiidem opitulatibus francis apostolatus festigium conscendit.”
50
Dümmler, Auxilius und Vulgarius, p. 95. Deinde fuit Iohannes, qui ad confirmandam ordinationem
Formosi synodum septuaginta et trium episcoporum in urbe Rauenna statuit, in qua synodo etiam
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 14 -
King of Italy, and then Roman Emperor, but never king of the Franks. Auxilius, then,
follows the typical southern Italian practice of refering to the Spoletans and the Tuscans
as “Franks”. Thus, the very evidence that has been used in the past to identify Auxilius
as a Frank, actually indicates the very opposite. It is more likely that Auxilius came from
the area in which we find him living when he wrote his polemics in defense of Formosus.
Conclusion
It may not be of any significance, for an analysis of Auxilius’ polemics, whether
he was a Frank or a southern Italian. His defense of the ordinations of Formosus seems
to be prompted mostly by the fact that he was adversely affected by their annulment. It
may be impossible to tell whether his own partisanship offers any indication of where
southern Italians, in general, stood in this controversy which was really very political.
51
Yet two larger issues are worth addressing.
archiepiscopi et rex Francorum affuerunt. Ibi namque coram eis igni combusta est synodus, quam
memoratus Stephanus Aganinae ecclesiae in damnationem Formosi fecerat.
51
Older scholarship, for example, held that the Cadaver Synod was held at the instigation of Lambert of
Spoleto and his mother Ageltrude, who was a Beneventan. This was supposedly to punish Formosus for
having abandoned Lambert and given Arnulf the imperial crown. Some earlier scholarship also posited
that Formosus was long a member of the “German” as opposed to the “French” faction in Rome. Most of
these arguments are repeated in the general literature of the past century, which is mostly based on the
account in Louis Duchesne’s, Les Premiers temps de l’état pontifical, 3rd ed. (Paris, 1911). An earlier
edition was translated into English as The Beginnings of the Temporal Sovereignty of the Popes, AD 754-
1073 (New York, 1908). My dissertation (in progress) calls into question all of these points.
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 15 -
First, we must beware of taking ethnic designations in our sources at face value.
Ethnicity has a history,
52
and and often carries meanings that may be lost to us today.
The Lombards of southern Italy were never really subdued by Charlemagne, and proudly
retained their independence from the “Franks” of the North, even when those Franks
were no longer Frankish.
53
Likewise, the Romans remained suspicious of the Lombards,
even when those Lombards of Spoleto became Franks. An 898 charter of Radelchis II of
Benevento refers to him as “gentis Langobardorum princeps.”
54
At the end of the short
Beneventan chronicle cited earlier, the chronicler describes the the interregnum of Peter,
archbishop of Benevento, who had succesfully held off the “Argiva falanx” of the
Byzantines. These Beneventans had a long memory.
The second point is one that we all should know. We need to question our
sources and our reference works. Auxilius never called himself a Frank, but was only
assumed to be through a maze of circumstantial evidence. This circumstantial evidence,
however, appears to grow more certain over the years. Eugène Mangenot, who wrote the
article on Auxilius in the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique in 1923, wrote, “On ne sait
52
A vast literature has sprung up in the past two decades on the history of ethnicity in late antiquity and the
early Middle Ages. I will only mention some more recent titles: Patrick Geary’s The Myth of Nations
(Princeton, 2002), Walter Pohl and Helmut Reimitz, eds., Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of
Ethnic Communities, 300-800 (Leiden, 1998), and Hans-Werner Goetz, Jörg Jarnut, and Walter Pohl, eds.,
Regna and gentes : the Relationship between Late Antique and Early Medieval Peoples and Kingdoms in
the Transformation of the Roman World (Leiden, 2003).
53
This Lombard national memory is the subject of the recent book by Walter Pohl, Werkstätte der
Erinnerung: Montecassino und die Gestaltung der langobardischen Vergangenheit (Vienna, 2001).
54
Antonio Ciaralli, ed., Le più antiche carte del capitolo della cattedrale di Benevento (668-1200) (Rome,
2002), no. 5 (p. 15-16).
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 16 -
pas avec certitude quel était le lieu de son origine. Il se dit étranger à Rome et venu d’un
pays éloigné. Les critiques conjecturent qu’il était Français ou Germain de nation.”
55
This is a pretty accurate assessment. It loses something less than ten years later, when
Paul Fournier wrote the entry for Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiatiques:
“d’origine inconnue, peut-être française, peut-être germanique ....”
56
In 1948, the
Dictionnaire de biographie française held, simply (and understandably, given its charge),
“On suppose qu’il est Français.”
57
The Dizionario biografico degli italiani (1962) has,
“Franco, probabilmente, o germanico, comunque non italico e tanto meno romano ....”
58
By 1983, the Dictionary of the Middle Ages tells us that he was “a priest of uncertain
(though probably Frankish) origin ....”
59
And, most recently, the new edition of the New
CatholicEncyclopedia states with confidence that Auxiliius was a “Frankish priest and
polemicist.”
60
I hope that I have, at least, brought us back to Mangenot’s state of
uncertainty.
55
Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, v. 1, pt. 2 (Paris, 1923), col. 2622-2623.
56
Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, v.5 (1931), c. 971-972.
57
M. Prevost, in Dictionnaire de biographie française, v. 4 (1948), col. 791-792.
58
Ovidio Capitani, in DBI, (cited above, n.1).
59
William Crawford, in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, v. 2 (1983), p. 11.
60
S. P. Lindemans, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C., 2003), v. 1, p. 927-928.
William S. Monroe / Who Was Auxilius? - 17 -
William S. Monroe, “Who was Auxilius” Kalamazoo, May 2004.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
MANUSCRIPTS:
B1 Bamberg. Staatsbibliothek. Can. 1. (P.III.20; formerly Cathedral K3; 10th
century; 115 leaves. Contains Auxilius and Vulgarius on Formosus and his
ordinations. Used by Dummler for his editions in Auxilius und Vulgarius.
B2 Bamberg. Staatsbibliothek. Can. 4. (P.I.8; 10/11th century; formerly belonged
to the Cathedral of Milan) Contains a Bishopslist for Milan (f. 7-8; Anatelon to
Arnulfus (d. 1018), Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae (f. 17-140), Auxilius, Liber de
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L Leiden. Universiteitsbibliothek. Vossianus latinus Q. 54. Infensor et Defensor
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P1 Paris. Bibliothèque Nationale. Lat. 2449 (formerly Regius 3812; 9th-10th
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tam agentis persone quam rei geste turpitudine ofensionem causa contaxerit ... pro
re hominem.”
T Troyes. Bibliotheque municipale. 246 De ordinationibus. (ff. 9v-12v)
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Mo Morin, Jean. Commentarius de sacris ecclesiae ordinationibus. Paris:
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Article
Lors de son étude sur la Collectio XII Partium , P. Fournier n'avait pas identifié tous les textes qui précèdent cette collection dans le manuscrit Troyes, Bibliothèque Municipale, 246.
Histoire De La Littérature Latine Du Moyen Âge. Translated by Henri Rochais. 2 v. in 3 vols. Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain Institut d'études médiévales; Brepols
  • Franz Brunhölzl
Brunhölzl, Franz. Histoire De La Littérature Latine Du Moyen Âge. Translated by Henri Rochais. 2 v. in 3 vols. Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain Institut d'études médiévales; Brepols, 1990-1996.
Les Premiers Temps De L'état Pontifical
  • L Duchesne
Duchesne, L. Les Premiers Temps De L'état Pontifical. 3. éd. ed. Paris: Fontemoing, 1911.
Manoscritti e testi fra Lombardia e Germania nel secolo X
  • Mirella Ferrari
Ferrari, Mirella, "Manoscritti e testi fra Lombardia e Germania nel secolo X," Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 24/25 (1989/1990): 105-115.
Die Widonen Im Dukat Von Spoleto
  • Eduard Hlawitschka
Hlawitschka, Eduard. "Die Widonen Im Dukat Von Spoleto." Quellen und Forschungen aus italienschen Archiven und Bibliotheken 63 (1983): 20-92.
Auxilius et le manuscrit Vallicelan Tome XVIII
  • Stephan Lindemans
Lindemans, Stephan, "Auxilius et le manuscrit Vallicelan Tome XVIII," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 57 (1962): 470-484.
Le manuscrit tomus XVIIIus de la Vallicelliana et le libelle <De episcoporum transmigratione et quod no temere judicentur regula quadraginta quattuor>
  • Joannes Pozzi
  • Petrus
Pozzi, Joannes Petrus, "Le manuscrit tomus XVIIIus de la Vallicelliana et le libelle <De episcoporum transmigratione et quod no temere judicentur regula quadraginta quattuor>," Apollinaris 31 (1958): 313-350.