Libri Carolini - Authorship


The work begins, "In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ beginneth the work of the most illustrious and glorious man Charles, by the will of God, king of the Franks, Gauls, Germany, etc., against the Synod which in Greek parts firmly and proudly decreed in favour of adoring (adorandis) images," followed immediately by what is called "Charlemagne's Preface". However, it is unlikely that Charlemagne wrote any of the books himself, although the views expressed were influenced by him. He apparently did not accept that art had any advantages over books, a view not held by many of his advisers.

The preferred candidate as author of most modern scholars, following Anne Freeman, is Bishop Theodulf of Orleans, a Spanish Visigoth in origin, of which traces can be detected in the Latin and the liturgical references in the work. The Vatican manuscript has an author, considered to be Theodulf, and a corrector. It is very likely that several clerics at the court contributed to discussions formulating a work to be issued in the Emperor's name, but it seems likely that Theodulf composed the text we have.

In the past, some have attributed the writings to Angilram, Bishop of Metz or others of the bishops of France, alleging that Pope Adrian having sent Charlemagne the Acts of the Council in 790, he gave them to the French bishops for examination, and that the Libri Carolini was the answer they returned. There is also evidence that the author was Alcuin; besides the English tradition that he had written such a book, there is also the remarkable similarity of his commentary on St. John (4, 5, et seqq.) to a passage in Liber IV., cap. vi., of the Libri Carolini.

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