By George Tavard
Theological Studies, Vol. 34 (1973)
Introduction: Hincmar, a monk from the Abbey of St. Denys on the outskirts of Paris, was elected archbishop of Reims in 845 by the bishops of the province meeting at Beauvais. Since the conversion of Clovis (482-511), and more than ever since the Carolingians, with Pepin the Short (751- 768) and Charlemagne (768-814), initiated their reforming policy, the Frankish bishops were, for all practical purposes, selected by the king. Hincmar had in fact been known at the court of Louis the Pious (d. 840) since 822, and he was to remain loyal to the cause of Charles the Bald (d. 877) in the King’s conflicts with his half brothers. The son of Louis the Pious by a second marriage, Charles was made by his father King of the Western Franks despite the agreement of 817 on the division of the Empire: only the sons of the first queen were to inherit the crown. With the treaty of Strasbourg in 843, Charles’s position became, like that of Louis the German (d. 876), King of the Eastern Franks, fairly secure. On the contrary, Lothair (d. 855), whose imperial ambitions had provoked the coalition of his younger brothers, Louis and Charles, found himself on the defensive. Pepin, King of Aquitaine until 833, had died in 838 and his kingdom, never officially recognized, had been given to Charles the Bald.