Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Hincmar of Rheims: Life and Work

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Hincmar of Rheims: Life and Work

Article excerpt

Hincmar of Rheims: Life and Work. Edited by Rachel Stone and Charles West. (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. Distrib. Oxford University Press. 2015. Pp. xv, 309. »110.00. ISBN 978-0-7190-9140-7.)

This volume gathers fourteen articles that were presented as papers at the Leeds International Medieval Congress of 2012 in sessions about the illustrious archbishop Hincmar of Rheims ([dagger]882). It presents many different Hincmars such as the adviser to kings, the expert in canon law, the "manager" of an important archdiocese, the intellectual and prolific author of a varied oeuvre, and the ecclesiastical and political authority constantly entangled in disputes and debates. The compact articles present single cases, and it is only when the reader starts to add them up that Hincmar's "life and work" (perhaps better described as "troubles and stress") starts to unfold.

As Rachel Stone explains in her introductory chapter, the volume is first and foremost intended as a 'roadmarker' (p. 2) that shows how recent research has changed our understanding of Hincmar and the world in which he operated. A first glimpse of that world is described by Jinty Nelson (chapter 2), who uses his historical writings to gather the little he tells us about his own life. Much more prolific were his writings about his disputes with his nephew, Bishop Hincmar of Laon, which, according to Christine Kleinjung (chapter 3), were rooted in different interpretations of the episcopal office. Nor was Hincmar's relation to Emperor Lothar I easy, as Elina Screen (chapter 4) explains, since "his" king, Charles the Bald, and the latter's imperial brother both demanded loyalty in ways that were mutually exclusive. More trouble with royal brothers is discussed by Clémentine BernardValette (chapter 5), who focusses on the difficult year of 875, when Louis the German invaded the kingdom of his brother, Charles the Bald, exactly when the latter was on his way to Rome to be crowned emperor. When Louis the Stammerer succeeded to the throne of Charles the Bald in 877, Hincmar saw new chances to be influential at the royal court, as Mary McCarthy shows (chapter 6), but these ambitions where thwarted by younger men. …

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