of Arles, Letter of the bishops of
southern France to the clergy of
Italy concerning the Truce of God (ca.
Translated by Oliver J.
Thatcher and Edgar H. McNeal, in A Source Book for
Mediaeval History: Selected Documents illustrating the History of
Europe in the Middle Age (New
York, 1905; reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1971), no. 242, pp.
414-416. Translation revised with introduction and
notes by John S. Ott, Department of History, Portland State University,
from the Latin edition of Ludwig Weiland, MGH Legum, sectio IV, Constitutiones et acta
publica imperatorum et regum,
vol. 1, 911-1197 (Hannover: Hahn, 1893), no. 419, pp.
596-587. A new edition has been achieved by Detlev Jasper, ed., Die
Konzilien Deutschlands und Reichsitaliens, 1023-1059, MGH Concilia 8
(Hannover: Hahn, 2010), pp. 181-83.
The translation by Thatcher and McNeal is in the public
domain. Revisions, introduction and notes are (c) John S. Ott,
but may be employed without the author's permission for classroom
use. Revised 9 September 2011.
The following letter seems to have been composed and sent after a
church council, with likely candidates being councils held in October
1040 at Marseille; at Nice in
1041; at Saint-Gilles in 1042, or, the following year, at
Narbonne. Its author, Raimbaud,
archbishop of Arles (r. 1030-1069), was one of the leading prelates of
southern Europe in his day, well connected in Italy and a participant
in the Synod of Sutri (1046), at which Henry III of Germany (r.
1039-1054) deposed two
rivals for the papal throne and installed his own candidate.
Bishops from the neighboring ecclesiastical provinces of Narbonne and
Vienne had witnessed peace legislation or participated in peace
assemblies on multiple occasions before Archbishop Raimbaud wrote to
the Italian clergy. Weiland, who edited the letter in 1893,
that Raimbaud's was the same missive referenced much later by Landulf
Saint-Paul in the second book of his History
of Milan (2.30), though there is no direct evidence that this
was case. A translation of Landulf's passage
nevertheless follows that of the letter.
[1.] There is little consensus on the precise date of the
document, or its geographic point of issue. The last three
question are briefly summarized by Odette Pontal, Les conciles de la France
capétienne jusqu'en 1215 (Paris: Cerf, 1995), 134-37, who
favors the Nice council of 1041 as the point of issue. Emile
Amann and Auguste Dumas, L'Eglise au
pouvoir des laïques
(888-1057) (Paris, 1940), 499-500, also give the document's date
explanation) as 1041. Hartmut Hoffman, Gottesfriede
und Treuga Dei (Stuttgart, 1964), p. 82, opted for a range from
1037-1042, based on the regnal dates of the principal authors
of the letter. I have opted here to combine the observations of both
sources on dating.
[2.] See Hans-Werner Goetz, "La paix de Dieu en France autour de
l'an Mil: fondements et objectifs, diffusion et participants," in Le roi de France et son royaume autour de
l'an Mil, ed. Michel Parisse and Xavier Barral i Altet (Paris:
Picard, 1992), 131-145.
Here begins the letter of the
bishops of Gallia (southern France) sent to [the clergy of] Italy
concerning the Truce of God.
In the name of God the
omnipotent Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Raimbaud,
archbishop of Arles, with Benedict, bishop of Avignon,
Nithard, bishop of Nice, and also with the venerable abbot lord Odilo
[of Cluny], together with all the bishops and abbots and all the clergy
living throughout Gaul, to all the archbishops, bishops, priests, and
clergy residing throughout all of Italy. Grace and peace to you
from God the omnipotent father, who is, was, and always shall be.
We ask and beseech that all you who fear God and believe in him and
have been redeemed by his blood be on guard and take precautions for
the salvation of your souls and bodies, and that you follow in God's
footsteps by keeping peace with one another, so that you might merit to
have perpetual peace and tranquility with him. Therefore receive
and keep the peace and truce of God, which, having been transmitted to
us from heaven by divine mercy, we received and have firmly clung to,
and was constituted and disposed in the following way: from vespers 
on Wednesday there shall be among all Christians--friends and enemies,
neighbors and strangers--a firm peace and stable truce until sunrise on
Monday. In this way during these four days and five nights,
everyone may feel secure at every moment and may go about their
business freed from the fear of their enemies and confirmed in the
tranquility of this peace and truce. Whoever observes and firmly
keeps this peace and truce shall be absolved by God the Father
almighty, together with his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and
by holy Mary along with the choir of virgins and by St. Michael with
the choir of angels, and by St. Peter, the prince of apostles, together
with all of the saints and all of the faithful, now and forever, world
without end. Whoever swears to the promised truce and yet
knowingly wishes to infringe it, shall be excommunicated by God the
Father almighty, together with his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
and by all God's saints, and shall be excommunicated, cursed, and
scorned forever, and shall be damned like Dathan and Abiron and just
like Judas, who betrayed the Lord, and shall be submerged in the depths
of hell like Pharaoh in the middle of the sea, providing they do
not make amends as has been established. Namely, if anyone
commits homicide in the days of the truce, he shall be made an exile
and ejected from his own homeland, and, turning to distant Jerusalem,
he shall endure his exile there. If he should break God's truce
and the peace in any other way whatsoever, once examined he shall be
compelled to make account according to the measure of his guilt by the
decrees of the secular law and shall be assessed a double penance by
the laws of the holy canons. For we consider it appropriate
that if we should presume to corrupt in any way the promise made there,
we should be doubly condemned by secular and spiritual
judgment. For we believe that this heavenly [peace] was given to
us by God in divine aid, because we believe that we did nothing but
evil when it was sent by God to his people. The Lord's day was
not kept, and every kind of servile task was carried out. Thus we
have pledged and devoted the four days mentioned above to God: Thursday
because it is the day of his ascension, Friday on account of his
passion, Saturday because of the veneration at his tomb, and Sunday
because his resurrection is inviolably celebrated by everyone. On
that day no work of any kind will be done in rural areas, and no man
shall fear his enemy. According to the authority of God passed
down from the apostles, we bless and absolve all those who cherish this
peace and truce of God, as was said above; and we excommunicate, curse,
and anthematize those who speak out against it, and cast them out from
the limits of holy mother church. Moreover, should it happen that
someone carries out vengeance against those who would presume to break
this charter and the truce of God, the vengeance-takers shall be
considered liable for no crime, but shall go out and return blessed by
all Christians just like defenders of God's causes. If, however,
something is stolen during the other days [of the week] and then found
during the days of the truce, he shall not be restrained [from
recovering it] unless an opportunity should thereby be given to his
enemy. In addition, we beseech you, brothers, that on whatever
day the aforesaid peace and truce will be constituted among you, you
keep that day in the name of the Holy Trinity. May you expel and
abominate, curse and excommunicate all thieves from your land on behalf
of all the above-named saints. Offer to God your tithes and
first-fruits of your labors, give to the churches from your goods for
the salvation of the living and the dead, so that God may free you from
all evils in this life and may lead you after this life to the kingdom
of heaven, [through him] who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
Endnotes to text
[1.] Rev. 1:8. Benedict was bishop of Avignon from
1037-1047; Nithard I was
bishop of Nice from ca. 1037-1040/42, and Odilo was abbot of Cluny from
994-1048. The diocese of Avignon was under the
religious authority of the archdiocese of Arles, while Nice lay within
the province of Embrun (Alpes Maritimae).
[2.] Vespers was the evening liturgical service kept in churches
and monasteries, and typically included the recitation of psalms.
[3.] Dathan and Abiron rose up against Moses in the desert and
complained of his leadership; they were swallowed up alive by the earth
for holding Moses (and, therefore, God) in contempt (see Numbers
16:12-15, 25-34). The punishment of Dathan and Abiron is
frequently cited along with that of Judas in the closing prohibitive
clauses of many charters at this time.
[4.] In other words, he will be held accountable under both
secular and spiritual legal jurisdictions, and have to render an
account according to the laws of each.
[5.] Literally, "an enemy shall not fear his enemy."
Landulf of Saint-Paul,
History of Milan (Historia
Translated by John S.
Ott, Department of History, Portland State University, from the edition
of L. C. Bethmann and W. Wattenbach, MGH
SS 8 (Hannover, 1848), 2.30,
In [Archbishop Aribert of Milan's(1)] time, a holy law and a new and
good mandate from heaven--attested by holy men--was given to all
faithful and unfaithful Christians, stating that all men should go
about their affairs in security, no matter their faults, from the first
hour of Thursday until the first hour of Monday; and that whoever would
transgress this law, namely the truce of God, which had newly appeared
in the land by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, would without doubt
be damned in exile and would suffer corporeal punishment for a certain
length of time. And whoever observed it would be absolved by
God's mercy from the shackles of all [his] sins.
Endnotes to text
[1.] Aribert was archbishop of Milan from 1016 until 16 January