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John Van Engen 9. Sacred Sanctions for Lordship Imprisoned in Pavia and frustrated in his episcopal ambitions, Rather of Liege, writing his Praeloquia about 935,denounced lordly pretentions among the hereditary nobility. The "patron" or "lord" (senior), as he was now customarily flattered,1 paid no heed to what Augustine, Gregory, and Benedict had set down long ago about human "equality" before God. Distinctions among people arose, Rather pointedly noted, from the human will, not from nature (non natura sed uoluntate homines &seinuicem distare). More than three centuries earlier Gregory had described asmysterious the providential ordering of human affairs (occulta administratio) by which, though all born equal, some enjoyed less esteem even as others became prelates. He urged humility on the privileged, while ascribing such ranking partly to merit (variant? meritorum ordine).2 Rather echoed this passage, then quipped that in his day "people were frequently made lords even over their betters."3 He addressed lords directly (tu): He who proves superior in good works and humbly servesis better than some lord who arrogantly scorns, he who proves faithful in doing what he promises nobler than the lord who mendaciously deceives, and he who keeps the laws of nature by not deserting his place more generous than the lord who violates the great good of "friendship." 1. "Patronus siue—ut usitatiue a multis dici ambitur—senior es?" Ratherius Veronensis , Praeloquia i, 10; ed. Peter L. D. Reid, CCGM 46A (1984), pp. 22-27. On Rather, seeJean Flori,Uideolqgie duglaive:prehistoire de la chevalerie (Geneva1983), pp. 105—7; and Carlo Guido Mor, "Raterio di fronte al mondo feudale," and Ilarino da Milano, "La spiritualita dei laici nei Praeloquia di Raterio di Verona," in Raterio da Verona, Studi sulla spiritualita medievale 10 (Todi 1973), PP-165-86, 35-93. 2. Gregory, Moralia 21: 15 (22-24); ed. Marcus Adriaen, 3 vols., CC 143 (1979-85), 2: 1082-83. Compare hisRegulapastoralis 2, 6; (PL 77: 34). For interpretation and additional references , see Carole Straw, Gregory the Great: Perfection in Imperfection (Berkeley CA, 1988), pp. 81-89, and Robert Markus, "Gregory the Great's Europe," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 31 (1981), 21-36. Compare Georges Duby, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, tr. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, 1980), pp. 346°, who emphasized Gregory's influence. 3. ". . . ut plerumque aliqui dominentur etiam melioribus." Rather, Praeloquia, i, 10; (CCCM 46A, 22). This follows on a paraphrase of the text from Gregory'sMoralia in note 2 above (not seen by the editor). 204 John Van Engen So familiar had this picture of grasping lords become by the midtenth century, Rather contended, that people now imagined the Lord God himself to rule and judge people the same way they did, that is, asjealous of one another's advantage, anxious about power and possessions, swelled up with greed and ambition, convinced that another man's gain was their loss.4 Rather's social critique, unusual for its perception of a reversed link between the sacred and the social, substituted no radicalvision of a society constructed on a divine exemplar.He too presumed aworld in which kings ruled supreme and bishops pleaded for recognition, the miles represented a warrior rather than a social class, and "laborers" enjoined to "constancy and contentment" in fulfilling their obligations comprised the most numerous group of Christians. Few today, he observed, merited their standing as free men (libertatewi). It was not lineage but property (noningencre sed in ipsa consisterepossessione) and possessions (ea quae circumstant hominibus}^ most often, that rendered lords powerful, and this, he insisted, fortune— or rather, the Almighty—could easily alter. He paraphrased Ecclesiastes: I see a servant sitting in the place of the lord.5 Personal pique as much as social conviction or Christian charity animated his diatribe, an unusual example for the tenth century of direct discourse on Christian society. Few churchmen—with the singular exception of John of Salisbury in the 11508 (whence the fame and influence of his Policmticus)—wrote out general expositions of the sacred and social orders prior to the recovery of Aristotle's Politics in the i26os. They prepared "mirrors for princes" in the ninth century, contended about legitimacy and authority during the Investiture Struggle, and alluded to such matters ever more regularly in scriptural and legal commentaries.6 But their expositions commonly echoed a restricted number of inherited textual authorities. Jonas of Orleans in the ninth century, like many others, cited Isidore of Seville, another Roman magnate and prelate who had placed more emphasis...


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