Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lantbert of Lyons

Translation is the copyrighted property of Sarah Brush (nee Hamilton)

Vita Lantberti Fontanellensis, ed.W. Levison, Monumenta Germaniae Historica Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum V pp. 606-612.


1. Lantbert, who was a truly illustrious and noble man, was born to a most noble family, to a father by the name of Erlebertus who came from the territory of Le Ternois. Lantbert succeeded first after the great Wandrille in the rule of the monastery of that admirable father, the priest of the Lord. Here in the court of the young King Chlothar, the son of Clovis, Lantbert first performed service in the garb of the secular world. However his mind gasped more for another form of service just as is evidenced by the turn of events. Then, in the eighth year of the reign of the aforesaid young king, he left the service of the doomed king. He was stripped of the iron of sword and other weapons and he hastened most devotedly to the shining camp of Christ. He was dressed in the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of faith and the sword of the Holy Spirit and battled happily against the invisible enemy. His head was tonsured in that monastery under the aforesaid venerable father Wandrille of holy memory, four years before that servant of Christ passed on and took up his journey of the fathers. Lantbert’ maternal uncles were men who were most illustrious and noble in the world. They were called Hrotbertus and Haltbertus. Of these two the first, Hrotbertus was the senior referendary of the palace at that time. The second, Haltbertus, later received the clerical habit from that holy man Lantbert. These same men led the illustrious man to that monastery of Fontanella with great honour. Yet they wished to turn him from his intention so that he might rather continue in the life of ordinary people. As well as other small gifts of divers kinds, on the day that his hair was cut off, he gave the aforesaid great Father Wandrille seventy gold shillings which were elegantly worked onto his ornamental garments and possessions, that is to say on his girdle and belt and on some vessels. These were from the possessions of his most rich and honourable parents. They shone with great honour and were greatly admired in the royal house. Indeed, just as he had showed himself to be noble in the business of the world, thus he made himself even more noble by the life of innocence. Yet the aforesaid admirable father of that monastery loved his innocent chastity and his conversation. Indeed by his order he assumed the rule of the order after him, as is now to be described in this present work.

2. Therefore, when the aforesaid blessed man of Christ Wandrille had held that monastery in his rule from when it was first built for the space of nineteen years and five months, it then happened that he was in a decrepit and old state. Having lived ninety-six years before the day of his death, he was seized with a languor. Then, as he was placed at the end of his life and the whole flock of brothers was in intense contest because he was dying, they asked him whom they should institute as leader after his death. To which the following response is said to have been given: “To you my illustrious sons, I believe God will give the best of leaders after my death. However as a supplicant servant I implore clemency that he might give a worthy steward to his family who may give double tribute of alms to him. You indeed my most dear ones take heed of his wishes and place all those things which are to be done to his judgement. Do not weary yourself further over my passing. More precisely, defend me with your prayers and always remember my warnings. Today I commend the care of you, all my flock, to the great Christ. May he allow that you retain my little warnings and guard his most sweet commands continually so that in this way you might happily merit to come to him in eternal brightness. However there are two of my most agreeable sons here to whom the place of rule may come after my imminent death.” Indeed Lantbert was one of these two and the other was the most illustrious Ansbert. These two were companions in the work of God and were greatly and most excellently distinguished with the virtues of religion. When this same servant of God had completed his holy speech, he returned his soul to heaven to be joined with the angelic choruses and to possess the joy of paradise. This was on the 22nd July, the seventh day in the seventh year of the indiction. After his glorious transition the whole convent of monks beseeched Christ for clemency. They all celebrated for three days with the devotion of fasting. When this had been most devotedly celebrated the convent of monks elected the aforesaid Lantbert to have charge of the place of rule. This was in the year of the incarnation of our Lord 663 in the year of the indiction written above which was the eleventh year of the reign of the aforesaid young King Chlothar and the seventh year of Pope Vitalianus. He remained in that monastery for thirteen years and eight months during the reigns of the three royal brothers who held the sceptre of the kingdom of the Franks in turn that is Chlothar, Childeric and Theuderic.

3. Indeed that same venerable Father Lantbert was chaste in work and profuse in charity. He was most firm in faith as well as prudent in counsel and conspicuous in goodness. Not only was he affable in conversation and visibly best in all things but he was also great in stature and beautiful in appearance. Indeed he was most elegant from the base of his feet up to the height of his head. During that time all these aforesaid kings reached out to him and no other both in mutual conversation and from the descriptions in laws or letters. Also they wished to call him, ‘Lord’ and ‘our venerable Father in Christ Abbot Lantbert.’ Indeed when the life of the aforesaid young King Chlothar was finished he left his brothers Childeric and Theuderic surviving and there arose between them a truly heated battle for the highest position of the kingdom with some favouring the part of Childeric and with others inclining to Theuderic. However that venerable man retained caution within himself so that he inclined to neither part. At that time, one faction of the people rose above the other part. For when Childeric was raised onto the seat of the kingdom, Lantbert was accommodated with great honour in his house so that, whatever he asked from the king, he gained without the obstacle of any difficulties. Also, from the largesse of certain possessions which king gave to the same venerable father and the same monastery, it remained rich in wealth. Then at the petition of his queen, Bilichild, and of his venerable bishops – that is Bishop Leudegar of good memory who afterwards was made a most glorious martyr, and also Bishop Nivo and Bishop Ermonius – and of some other illustrious men who were called, Fulcoaldus, Almaricus, Vulfoaldus, the mayor of the palace, Bavo, Waningus, Adalbertus, Gerinus the brother of the aforesaid Bishop Leudegar, the king gave two properties to the aforesaid venerable father which are called Osmoy and Varenne. These were situated in the region of Le Talou next to the rivers called Arques and Varenne. They were given along with all those things adjacent to them that is Cressy, Cideville, Magnerot, Neon, Toscaria and likewise the same land on the shore of the sea and the areas of salt-works and fisheries which had been established there as well as the vineyards in Warnacus next to the river Seine which were situated in the region of Le Vexin with all the things that went with them. Acting with authority from his two privileges, he lawfully handed all these things into the possession of the same venerable father of that monastery of Fontanella. Indeed this royal gift was given along with the delightful palace of Arlaunus, in the eleventh year of the aforesaid king’s reign in Austrasia which was his first year of his rule in Neustria. At that most shining monastery it was in the fifth year of the rector who received the place of rule after the death of the great and most happy father, Wandrille the most noble priest of Christ. Indeed many of the divers gifts and possessions of that same king which were given to the most reverend father remain extant, even now, but it would be most laborious to enumerate them. Indeed, among other divers gifts he also gave part of the forest of Jumi├Ęges to that same venerable father. Some of this forest remains in our privilege and is held in that remote monastery founded from that sacred treasure. For, if anyone had read certain texts, he would find the designated places where the boundary of this gift ends.

4. At that time, there arose a quarrel, which was far from petty, between that venerable father Lantbert and the most reverend Filibertus, who was the rector of the monastery of Jumi├Ęges, concerning the boundary of that forest. On account of his authority and that of the aforesaid king granted in a letter directed to him concerning this matter, the great Pontiff Audoin of Rouen of glorious memory restored concord to true peace. He divided that forest with equal share between those same nourishing fathers. Since the major portion seemed to be conferred to father Lantbert, with Lantbert’s consent, the aforesaid bishop conferred another small portion from that division to the basilica of the noble Denis, martyr of Christ. This is situated on the edge of the hollow Seine in a place which is called Duclair and Lidoaldus held the place of rule there. As Lantbert was manifest in sanctity, there were always such signs of perfection in him that he opened the way of holy salvation to his citizens through his preaching and he instructed the ignorant of the people with the sense of a shining example. Having been inflamed with the vigour of the supernal spirit he also restored discords back to the splendour of concord with great industry.

5. However the aforesaid King Childeric was robbed of his life and his kingdom by the ambushes of his attendants that is to say by Amalbertus and Ingobertus and also by Bodilo and Lupus and others together with his wife Bilichild and his son Dagobert. The body of the aforementioned great … [man was buried by the priest Audoin.]

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