Walter Ysebaert (Vrije Universiteit, Brussel)
Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire: Tome 83 fasc. 2, 2005. Histoire médiévale, moderne et contemporaine – Middeleeuwse, moderne en hedendaagse geschiedenis. pp. 285-300.
1. Around 1190, Stephen of Tournai, abbot of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, sent one of his canons to Denmark to collect funds for the restoration of his abbey. The canon had to meet several Danish dignitaries, one of them being the bishop of Ribe: Omer. To the latter, as to the others, Stephen wrote a letter, which is still extant (91). “There are four things”, he said in the first sen tence, “which help to establish new friendship or strengthen old: conversations between two persons, mutual services,an intensive exchange of letters, and a reputation of virtue corresponding to reality” (92). He continued by praising the fame and virtue of bishop Omer, and then went to the core of his subject: he asked the bishop to protect and help his canon (during his mis sion) (93), and finished with a quote from Luke 6, 38, suggesting that Omer would certainly be rewarded in heaven for this help (94).
One might assume that the explicit reference to friendship, amicitia, in the first sentence – a possible reference to Cicero’s wellknown work De Amicitia (95) – points to a relationship between friends, amid. Stephen of Tournai apparently wrote to his ‘friend’, the bishop of Ribe, asking for material help and protection for his canon, within a context of mutual friendship, created by the introduction of the letter (96). However, our knowledge of the author and the addressee does not allow us to consider both as ‘good friends’ without reservations.