By Courtney M. Booker
Viator, Vol. 39 no. 2 (2008)
Abstract: This article offers a new critical edition of the narrative that recounts, justifies, solemnizes, and defines the consequences of the public penance of Emperor Louis the Pious in October, 833. Composed by an anonymous bishop on behalf of his episcopal peers as their collective account and decree of the proceedings, the narrative, known since the late nineteenth century by the title Episcoporum de poenitentia, quam Hludowicus imperator professus est, relatio Compendiensis, has long been believed to be extant only by way of its first printed edition from 1588. The recent discovery of three early sixteenth-century manuscript witnesses allows for a new edition of the text, and provides evidence that suggests a number of editorial interventions during the ninth century, accounting for its unlikely preservation. These interventions refine our understanding of the Carolingian polemics and intertextual dialogues that treat the nature of Louis the Pious’s reign and inform its remembrance.