Agobard of Lyon, also Agobardus, Agobert, Agobald and Agabo (* 769 in Spain, † June 6 840 in Saintonge ), was one of the most learned prelates of his time and Archbishop of Lyon from 816 to 840

Agobard was one of the most important churchmen during the reign of Louis the Pious and participated in all major government and church matters relating to his time. He was an author of theological, philosophical and political writings an important representative of the Carolingian Renaissance and one of the most authoritative opponents of Judaism in the 9th century.

  • 3.1 writings against superstition and theological content
  • 3.2 Anti- Jewish writings
  • 3.3 Political writings


Although Agobard is often mentioned in the written sources of the time, the knowledge of his life and work comes primarily from his own writings. Little is known about his family and youth, by name Agobard but could have been Frankish or Burgundian origin. He was born after the common data either in 769 or 779 in Septimania or Spain. He came at a young age to France, where he is said to have spent some time living in Narbonne, until he went to about 800 to Lyon.

Ecclesiastical career

In Lyon, he was ordained a priest in about 804 and was completed in 813 Chorbishop. After the death of Archbishop Leidrad of Lyon, he joined 816 on its successor. As archbishop led the Agobard begun by his predecessor church reform policy in the sense of Karl on the Great and Louis the Pious and renewed the scientific life in Lyon. He also participated in and outside of his diocese actively in the political and religious issues of his time. So Agobard preached in his writings decided against superstition in magic and incantation weather and against the ordeals by fire and water. Furthermore, addition, but he refused the Synod of Frankfurt in accordance with the Adoptionism and the veneration of icons, about the saints and angels worship from. What were concerned the relationship between church and state, he supported strongly the position of his stand and called for the primacy of the spiritual against the secular power, according to the principle: He who acts against the church sins against God. This was true for Agobard the Pope, but only insofar as the authority in the church, as it was in line with the Frankish Empire Church and this served as an institution. These views represented Agobard both in his writings and in his speeches, such as at the Synod of Attigny the year 822, at the request of the clergy carried out a public act of repentance for the Louis the Pious.

Anti- Jewish attitude

Agobard was one of the most significant enemies of Judaism of his time and wrote between the years 822-830 several anti-Jewish writings. In it, he denounced especially the ruling of the court of Louis the Pious pro-Jewish policy. The Jews were an important trade representative in the Carolingian Empire numerous privileges and had their own officials, the so-called "Jewish Champion " ( magister Judœorum ), which dealt solely with the interests of the Jews. At Ludwig's courtyard also a Jew- friendly party under Empress Judith had come together, to among other things, the Jews and Rabanus Maurus Master Eberard included. Agobard was decided against them and spoke openly for the enforcement of canon law from. After this the Jews had been restricted as under the Merovingian rule in their freedoms, which they had retaken a low social and legal position. This was in line with the then current Church teaching and the opinion of a majority of the clergy of this period, which saw a threat to Christianity in the preferred treatment of the Jews.

In the year 827 the issue by favoring the Jews reached its climax when Agobard baptized the runaway slave of a Lyon Jews and their delivery refused. The Jews of the city turned then to the Jews master Eberard while Agobard support in the ecclesiastical party was looking at the court, whose most prominent representative Wala, Abbot of Corvey and Hilduin, Abbot of Saint- Denis were. Finally, the case was presented to the Emperor, who as a result of the Jews of Lyons letters of protection ( Indiculi ) conceded during Agobard was asked under threat of punishment to stop his anti-Jewish sermons. This ignored this arrangement, whereupon Eberard had to send two commissioners to Lyon. Agobard thereupon with sending letters to the bishops of the empire, in which he asked her to act against the Jews before the emperor. Finally, he organized 829 even a council at Lyons, as the result of a Synodalschreiben ( " De judaïcis superstitionibus " ) was sent to the emperor, in order to convince those of the sinfulness and danger of favoring Jews. In the end, all his efforts proved in this case, however, unsuccessful.

Political action

How many of the clergy of his time was also Agobard a representative of the religiously charged imperial unity idea, which was based on the idea that there is only one God, only one faith, one Church only, so even a kingdom, and a kingdom leader. He entered accordingly for ordinatio imperii of 817 after which Louis firstborn son Lothar I was the sole successor of his father. When Judith, second wife of Louis, prevailed to change these Erbregelung by old-fashioned laws in favor of her own son Karl to Agobard sided with the Empire Unity Party and thus on the side of Lothar and against Louis the Pious.

Whether he has been involved in the rebellion of 830, is not known. It is clear, however, that it has a major role in the banishment of Louis had the monastery of Saint- Médard in Soissons during Louis disempowerment 833 next Archbishop Ebo of Reims. When Louis 834 came back to power, Agobard had to flee along with Lothar to Italy and was officially dismissed from 835 at the Council of Thionville his office. This was then held for two years Amalarius until it was accused of heresy. Agobard had again reconciled in the meantime with the Emperor and received 837 back his episcopal throne. Agobard accompanied Louis the Pious probably 839 on the train to Aquitaine and remained after the departure of the emperor in the wake of Charles the Bald, where he died in Saintonge on June 6, 840.

Agobard aftereffect and honor

" The after-effect of his work in the MA was low; the 19th century saw in him especially the representatives of a religious rationalism (see Theological rationalism ), but also made ​​him a precursor of the reformers of the 14th - 16th Century ( see Reformation ). Up to the present highly controversial was his attitude towards the Jews. "

In Lyon Agobard is venerated as a saint. His life story was published by the Bollandists ( Acta Sanctorum see ), though his canonization is controversial. St. Agobard feast day is June 6.

Agobard was the first owner of the therefore named after him Agobardinus Codex, a collection of the works of Tertullian from the 9th century. Agobard she gave the Saint Stephen 's Cathedral in Lyon, where it remained until the mid-16th century.

Agobard writings (excerpt)

Agobard writings were believed lost until Papirius Masson at a bookseller in Lyon a manuscript of his writings accidentally rediscovered. The manuscript was published by him in 1605 and went to his death in the possession of the library of the French king over. Since Masson's edition contained some errors, Étienne Baluze gave a corrected 1666 edition based on the original manuscript out, to which he still added his own notes.

The writings of Agobard fall on Their clear, content arrangement, their clear and vivid expression and its correct Latin and have Agobard so as one of the best stylists of his time. They also testify to his convictions, his versatile education and his erudition in the scriptures and the former church law. His oeuvre, which consists of a series of occasional papers various contents, is at the service of Christianity and its unification and defense. In this sense, can be both anti-Jewish, as well as his theological understanding, and enlightening political activity.

Writings against superstition and theological content

  • De modo regiminis ecclesiastici ( pastoral letter at the beginning of his ministry as Archbishop of Lyon published)
  • De rerum dispensatione ecclesiasticarum, de iure et privilegio sacerdotii (font for championing the rights of the clergy)
  • "On Hail and Thunder" ( English translation of a text against weather evocation of WJ Lewis)
  • "On the Deception of Certain Signs" ( English translation of a text against superstition on obsession by WJ Lewis)

Anti - Jewish writings

  • Epistola ad proceres palatii Walam et Hilduin (Send letter to the abbot Wala and Hilduin, probably after 826 )
  • Consultatio ad Adalhardem, Walam et Helisachar ( writing on Adalhard, Wala and Helisachar, probably after 826, English translation "On the Baptism of Slaves Belonging to Jews" by WL North )
  • Ad Nibridium (send letter to the bishop of Narbonne Nibridius, probably before 829 )
  • De insolentia Judœorum ( "From the arrogance of the Jews", to Louis the Pious, probably 829, English translation "On the Insolence of the Jews " by WL North )
  • De judaïcis superstitionibus ( "From the superstition of the Jews", written by Agobard, Bishop Bernard of Brienne and Bishop of Châlons dAoF; Synodalschreiben of 829 )

Political writings

  • Liber adversus legem Gundobadi (font repealing the Burgundian people, in favor of a unified kingdom right )
  • Epistola flebilis ( Scripture from 833 to Louis the Pious regarding the retention of ordinatio imperii )
  • De comparatione utriusque regiminis
  • Liber Apologeticus ( pamphlet in defense of his actions against Louis the Pious )