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A letter from a nobleman (840-42)

Sender

Translated letter: 

To the most eminent and excellent, and to be named with the highest veneration Ermengard, august empress, N., with all exertions and every affection of faithful service, I wish perennial prosperity and blessedness in Lord Jesus Christ.
The letter of your sublimeness was brought to me, and I accepted it, filled with what words pleased you, and having accepted it I read it through and having read I determined to answer with a few [words]. For you said that an unhoped for opinion had reached you namely that I tried to disturb the peace of the church and destroy fraternal concord: and this work you ascribed to demons. Demons do, indeed, as most manifestly appears, rejoice in the dissension and disturbance of good men and delight in discord. And this is true since whoever, stimulated by the zeal of malice, disturbs the church existing in peace by nefarious attempts and loves the rending of true fraternity becomes a participant of demons, from whose participation the mercy of the Lord deign to grant me immunity perpetually. For he does not desire universal discord who seeks only justice for himself. And therefore I do very little the work of demons since I seek not iniquity but rather equity and justice. For if reason were considered, he would be more truly said and believed to be a participator with demons who loves iniquity and does not do justice and always puts discord before equity and never ceases from this purpose, as he does who incites your lord, that he act so against me.
For if there were a memory of the benefits and if former times were recalled, you would find me more often to have fought for your lord [Lothar] so that he would have peace and concord, and for that to have provoked the hatred of many against me, which broke out in the time of the lord emperor of blessed memory [Louis the Pious], so that I incurred his displeasure because of that, and almost all the magnates by birth of the Franks were angry with me. After his death also you might, if you will, remember how often I pledged myself to be useful to him. For as much as was in me, I always worked for this, that they [the sons of Louis] should have peace among themselves. And in this my lord and his faithful persist even now and desire to persevere, if it were rightly observed on his side. Now however in contrast I am rewarded with such recompense for the love of peace, I who labored for the justice of others, that I have lost my justice, and because of this I am called an imitator of demons, that I only ask justice. Finally, I have the nature of other men that I love those who treat me well and those who oppose me wherever they can I flee and turn away from. Therefore I have been zealous for their peace so that I might be made not worse but better. Whoever therefore tells you that I sow discord among the sons of my lord who nurtured me, is deceived. For I do not believe that the discord of the lords and the disturbance of the kingdom is in this, if I sought my justice about which I shall in no way be silent until I obtain it with ChristÂ’'s favor. Indeed some think me unfaithful to your lord since I did not leave my lord and did not subject myself to him. Which if I had done it for transitory things, I would not be afterwards accepted by him nor by anyone who thought rightly.
I am very much afraid about the discord of these kings and I speak grieving that while they listen to childish counsel and fight amongst themselves, they will swiftly perhaps, would it were not so, be called back to lat concord by the power and zeal of external wise men and strong enemies, who surround us everywhere.
What you added further, that I decided to go to holy places and tried to take away from their right, I do not understand enough what you mean. For I do not remember that I did this anywhere, since through the mercy of the Lord and the kindness of my lord, I have such an abundance of things that I have no need to take anything unjustly from holy places. Therefore you may believe so many useless and vain things easily about me, since many and innumerable lies are told to you about me by those whom you trust, who ought to tell you the truth.
What indeed you added that I enjoyed your familiarity/intimacy, while you felt my spirit to be benevolent towards you, know that I have always been very grateful for your familiarity, but I do not know in what I now offend it. And though a certain sudden and unexpected change disturbs you, I shall still persevere in the faith once so freely begun. For the rest I pray your serenity that you reject from your spirit the storm of tumultuous indignation and having removed the adulation of lying men, you open the agreeable and tranquil harbor of your breast and call me back with your customary gentleness of mind within the bosom of that very safe shore from which I was ejected, and without any scruple/trace of doubt, as I was up to now, I wish to continue to be faithful to you. For if I learned anything of good after, I shall be from now on more useful and faithful to you, the more I have progressed in the study of doctrine. Truly God alone knows with what purity of mind and from how much devotion of heart I shall have been and am faithful to you and desire always to be.

Original letter: 

Eminentissimae atque excellentissimae, summaque veneratione nominandae Hermengardi imperatrici augustae N. totis nisibus omnique servitutis affectu fidelis prosperitatem atque beatitudinem in Iesu Christo domino opto perennem.
Epistolam vestrae sublimitatis ad me perlatam, qualibus vobis placuit refertam sermonibus accepi, acceptamque perlegi, perlectam paucis respondere decrevi. Dixistis namque insperatam ad vos pervenisse opinionem, scilicet quod pacem ecclesiae perturbare et fraternam evertere niterer concordiam: et hoc opus daemonibus adscripsistis. Demones quippe, ut manifestissime patet, dissensione et perturbatione bonorum hominum gaudent et discordia delectantur. Et hoc verum est, quia quisquis zelo stimulatus livoris, in pace consistentem ecclesiam nefariis conatibus turbat, et verae fraternitatis discidium amat, particeps demoniorum efficitur, a quorum participatione Domini misericordia inmunem me perpetuo reddere dignetur. Non enim universalem discordiam cupit qui tantum iustitiam propriam quaerit. Et ideo demonum opus minime ago, quia non iniquitatem, sed potius aequitatem et iustitiam quaero. Nam si ratio consideretur, ille verius et dicendus et
credendus est particeps esse demonum, qui iniquitatem diligit et iustitiam non facit et discordiam semper aequitati proponit et ab hac intentione numquam recedit, sicut ille est qui seniorem vestrum incitat, ut taliter adversum me agat.
Si enim benefactorum esset memoria et preterita recolerentur tempora, inveniretis me saepius pro seniore vestro certasse, ut pacem haberet et concordiam, et propterea multorum in me odium provocasse, quod tempore beatae memoriae domni imperatoris erupit, ita ut eius offensam incurrerem propter illum, et omnes paene maiores natu Francorum adversum me indignarentur. Post obitum etiam illius quotiens me pro utilitate illius opposuerim, reminisceri potestis, si vultis. Nam quantum in me fuit, semper in hoc laboravi, ut ipsi inter se concordes efficerentur. Et in hac senior meus et fideles eius
hactenus persistunt, et perseverare cupiunt, si ex parte illius rite observatum fuerit.
Nunc autem versa vice pro amore pacis talibus remuneror praemiis, et qui pro aliorum iustitia laboravi, iustitiam meam perdidi, et ob hoc imitator daemonum dicor, quod tantum iustitiam requiro. Ego denique natu[ram] ceterorum hominum habeo, quia eos, qui mihi bene faciunt, diligo, et eos, qui mihi ubicumque possunt adversantur, refugio atque declino. Propterea ergo de pace eorum studui, ut non deterior, sed melior inde fierem.
Quisquis igitur vobis dicit, quod inter filios senioris mei, qui me nutrivit, discordias seminem, fallitur. Neque enim in hoc seniorum discordiam et regni perturbationem esse arbitror, si iustitiam meam quaesiero, de qua nequaquam prius silebo, donec eam Christo annuente adipiscar. Quidam vero arbitrantur me idcirco seniori vestro infidelem esse, quia seniorem meum non reliqui, et illi me non subdidi. Quod si hoc propter res transitorias facerem, neque illi neque cuiquam recte intellegenti postmodum acceptus essem.
De discordia autem istorum regum valde metuo et dolens dico, quia, dum illi puerile attendentes consilium discordes inter se existunt, cito forsitan, quod utinam absit, exteriorum sapientium et fortium inimicorum virtute et studio ad seram concordiam revocabuntur, qui nos undique circumdant.
Quod autem subiunxistis, quia quaedam loca sancta adire decreverim, atque a iure proprio subtrahere temptaverim, non satis intellego quid dicere velitis. Non enim recolo me uspiam hoc egisse, quia per Domini clementiam et senioris mei misericordiam, tantam copiam rerum habeo, ut nihil de locis sanctis iniuste abstrahere sit necesse. Idcirco autem tam multa inutilia et vana facile de me credere potestis, quia multa et innumera vobis mendacia de me dicta sunt ab his quibus bene creditis, qui vobis vera dicere deberent.
Quod vero addidistis familiaritatem vestram me habuisse, usque dum animum meum erga vos benivolum esse sensistis, scitote gratissimam semper mihi fuisse familiaritatem vestram, sed in quo nunc eam offenderim nescio. Et licet vos repentina quedam et subita exagitet mutatio, ego tamen in fide semel coepta libentissime perseverabo.
Caeterum obsecro serenitatem vestram, ut reiectis ab animo tumultuantium indignationum procellis et remotis mendacium hominum adulationibus, blandum atque tranquillum pectoris portum
pandite, meque solita mentis lenitate infra tutissimi litoris sinum, unde abiectus fueram, revocate, ut absque ullo dubietatis scrupulo, sicut hactenus fui, fidelis vobis existere queam. Nam si quid boni postea didici, eo deinceps utilior et fidelior vobis ero, quo magis in studio doctrinae profeci. Veruntamen Deus solus novit, qua mentis puritate et ex quanta cordis devotione fidelis vobis fuerim et sim et semper esse cupiam.

Historical context: 

The nobleman has been caught up in the conflicts among the sons of Louis the Pious, who died in 840, apparently in the service of the youngest, Charles the Bald, but wanting to hold on to the favor of Ermengard, the wife of the oldest brother, Lothar, with whom he has had good relations in the past, until malicious rumors about him were reported to her.

Printed source: 

MGH, Ep.Kar.Aevi 3, ep.var. 27, p.343-45.

date

840-42