Christianity’s Criminal History, 138

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Use and abuse of slaves as livestock

From Gregory himself we know that many bishops did not care for the oppressed or the poor. On the occasion of the appointment of the defensor romanus as rector, he wrote to the coloni of Syracuse:

I therefore recommend that you obey his orders with good spirit, which he considers appropriate for the furtherance of the interests of the Church. We have authorised him to severely punish anyone who dares to be disobedient or rebellious. We have also instructed him to resume the investigations on all slaves who belong to the Church but who have escaped and to recover with all prudence, energy and promptness the lands that someone illegally occupies.

For the cultivation of his lands it is natural that Gregory needed entire armies of slaves, of settlers tied to the ground. ‘Free ecclesial peasants were scarce’ (Gontard). The pope did not confront slavery. Where else could the ‘treasurer of the poor’ have obtained the money to meet his needs? Not to mention the maintenance of ‘jobs’, which in his time was the concern of any master. Gregory certainly reminds the lords—for his Church will have to do justice to the rich and the poor simultaneously, which is perhaps the greatest of all his miracles—that slaves are people and that they have been raised equal by nature to their masters. But although men have been created equal, absolutely equal, without a doubt that circumstances have completely changed. Then it would be necessary, according to Gregory himself, to admonish the slaves ‘so that at all times they consider the baseness of their state’ and that they ‘offend God, when with their presumptuous behaviour they contravene the order established by him’. Slaves, the holy father teaches, must ‘consider themselves as servants of the lords’, and lords as ‘fellow-servants among servants’. Beautiful expression!

Isn’t this a profitable religion? By nature, Gregory teaches that ‘all men are equal’ but a ‘mysterious disposition’ places ‘some below others’, creates the ‘diversity of states’, and of course as ‘a sequel to sin’. Conclusion: ‘Since each man does not walk in the same way through life, one has to dominate over others’. God and the Church—which in practice are always identified with the high clergy!—exists for the maintenance of slavery. And from Great Britain to Italy, passing through Gaul, there was in his time a constant trade in Christian slaves.

The Roman Church needed slaves, and the monasteries needed them. Gregory himself encouraged, through the Gallic rector Candide, the purchase of Anglic boy slaves for the Roman monasteries. Everyone bought and abused slaves as if they were cattle. And even to an enemy such as Agilulf, king of the Lombards, the pope could assure him that the labour of the forced ones would be beneficial to both parties. If the most unfortunate escaped their misery, which happened frequently enough, the holy father naturally pressed to be returned to their owners. He chased the escaped slave from a Roman monastery as well as the escaped baker from his brother. But then the pope was magnanimous and instead of punishing the crime of the coloni with the deprivation of his possessions, he wanted to see them punished with a beating by ‘duly returning the slaves to his friends’ (Richards).

Gregory, who insistently proclaimed the imminent end of the world, and who with the struggle for faith made this preaching the ‘guiding idea’ of his pontificate, still had time to do great business. And he made Saint Peter an increasingly wealthy character. He greatly increased the profits of his estate and laid the foundations for the decisive and victorious territorial rule of the papacy. With his Sicilian latifundia he supplied grain to Rome, paid the imperial troops of the Roman parts, took care of supplies and defence, and in times of crisis he even commanded the Roman garrison. In this way the ‘treasurer of the poor’, as he called himself, set in motion the evolution towards the State of the Church, with a hardly imaginable sequence of failures, wars and deceptions.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 137

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Saint Gregory the Great
by Francisco Goya.

‘The property of the poor’

The same man who prophesied the calamitous end of the world and the impending divine judgment carried out an ecclesiastical property policy as intense as if that divine judgment were never to come.

The pope had a series of well-organised patrimonies, about fifteen at the beginning of his pontificate, and territory of many hundreds of square kilometres, called the patrimony of St. Peter. This meant that all this did not belong to the pope, the clergy or the Church, but actually belonged to the blessed prince of the Apostles. And that property of Peter extended from North Africa, where to Gregory’s great joy the almost depopulated territories were worked by prisoners of war (the cheapest ‘labour’), passing through Italy, the urban territory of Rome (Patrimonium urbanum), to Corsica, Sardinia, Dalmatia, Istria and Provence: a property of enormous extension and certainly the largest in Italy. Much of it came from imperial foundations. Perhaps the last gigantic increase was due to the estates of the Arian Church, which was plundered after the destruction of the Ostrogoth kingdom. And while private property diminished more and more, the riches of the Church were always increasing.

In Sicily, the granary of Rome since ancient times, the patrimony of ‘Saint Peter’ was so great that Gregory divided it into two administrative centres (rectories): Palermo and Syracuse, with about 400 tenants in total (conductores). And he personally was informed that for years ‘many people suffered violence and injustice by the administrators of Roman ecclesiastical property’, from whom he had deprived them by taking away their slaves. In the exploitation of the territories, the pope had the support of some of his closest associates as well as the rectors of different patrimonies (obliged with an oath before the supposed tomb of Peter, covered by him with 100 pounds of gold).

Gregory, who ordered the deacons of Catania to wear sandals (compagi) because it was the only thing allowed to Roman deacons, despite his gloomy penitential sermons and his corrosive expectation of the destruction of the world, still found time, surprisingly long, to take care of the fields, the belly mares, the old oxen, the useless cows and the slaves, who had to be naturally baptised members of the holy Church whenever possible. The methods of the holy father do not seem to have been too scrupulous. The main reason was to increase revenue before the impending doomsday and to present the boss with a perfect balance sheet. It has been written that his slogan was: ‘Prestige, efficiency and discipline’. Today, that could be the creed of any American marketing scholar…

Papal real estate continually provided Gregory with large amounts of merchandise and money, making the Catholic Church the leading economic power in Italy… The miserable peasants who were already being deprived with the taxes on the land (burdatio) that were collected three times a year, in addition to the leases and deliveries to the Holy Catholic Church, saw themselves oppressed… But Gregory called himself ‘treasurer of the poor’, describing the immense pontifical riches as ‘the property of the poor’: one ‘of the most beautiful expressions of him’, sings the Church History Manual.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 136

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The altar of Gregory in St. Peter’s Basilica
contains the remains of Pope Gregory.

 
‘Thinking different from most—almost a crime worthy of death’

Soon this pope, like most of his predecessors and especially those who followed him, intervened harshly against those who thought differently, against all non-Catholics. His great goal was propagatio fidei, the planned extension of papal power, at almost any cost.

For this reason he interfered in the affairs of England and in the Frank-Merovingian kingdom, whose kings he vainly sought to win over to ecclesiastical reform. He recommended torture and imprisonment as coercive means, and occasionally also the peaceful transformation of pagan places of worship or Gentile customs, ‘so that people thus confidently go to the usual places’, always following the circumstances. He also advised, on occasion, promising converts a tax cut and ‘converting’ the stubborn with higher taxes. To the Sardinians, who still persisted in their paganism, their bishop had to Christianise them by force, as if they were slaves!

But not only did Gregory propagate the conversion of the ‘pagans’ in Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica, and elsewhere. He also tirelessly fought ‘heresy’ and intervened with great zeal in the war against heretics within the missionary war for the expansion of the faith outward, gladly called ‘defence of the Roman Church’ or ‘the pastoral care of the pope’. Not even those who were simply outsiders or disagreed could remain unmolested. ‘Thinking differently than most, leading a different way of life from that led by people in general, increasingly meant a direct questioning of the doctrines and practices of the common people, already constituting almost a crime worthy of death’ (Herrmann)…

Gregory was a propagandist convinced of the virtue of humility. And humble, of course, it is only he who is where the pope is and obeys him with the greatest submission. Conversely, in Gregory’s mind a ‘heretic’ could in no way be humble. The ‘heresy’ was a priori the opposite, a division of hearts, the ruin of souls, a service to Baal and the devil; it was apostasy, rebellion and pride. ‘The place of heretics is pride itself… the place of the wicked is pride, as conversely humility is the place of good’. Tolerance towards ‘heretics’ was unthinkable from the beginning, from New Testament times. The ‘heretics’ were already fought in the primitive Church as ‘antichrists’, as ‘firstborn of Satan’, ‘animals in human form’, ‘beasts’, ‘devils’, ‘slaughter cattle for hell’ and so on. All of this was, indeed, an old and accepted tradition in the Church, which a worthy predecessor of Gregory, Pope Gelasius I (492-496), had summed up in this sentence: ‘Tolerance towards heretics is more pernicious than the most terrible destructions of the provinces by the barbarians’.

In Africa, where after the total annihilation of the Arian vandals the Catholic imperial house prevailed again, the pope was annoyed by the Manicheans, some remains of the Arians, and to a great extent also the Donatists. Once again, as in Augustine’s time, domination was the champion of the impoverished! But soon Gregory forced the repression of the ‘heretics’. In a letter to the African prefect in 593, he is extremely surprised that the state does not act energetically against the sectarians. He later protested also by sending three bishops as delegates to Constantinople before the emperor, for the violation of the imperial laws in Africa. But the truth is that in the second half of his pontificate there is no longer any talk of the Donatists at all.

The ‘great’ pope hated anything that wasn’t Catholic, otherwise he wouldn’t have been ‘great’…

For Gregory the pagans had neither divine nor human rights. And messing it all up—as has been done in his circles to this day—he presented the pagans as persecutors of the Catholics! It is true that he did not advocate outright violence, lashing, torture and jail at any cost for the Gentiles, who according to him ‘live like wild animals’. Nothing of that! Magnanimous and good-natured as he was, he cordially encouraged to wipe out the pagan tenants from ecclesiastical lands by financial imposition. The stubborn and hard-headed peasant who refused ‘to return to the Lord God’ had to ‘be burdened with so many taxes that this punishment would push him to enter the right path as quickly as possible’.

And if even with the most unbearable tax pressure someone was reluctant to enter ‘the right path’, the Holy Father was a little tougher. He then ordered a rigorous prison and, in the case of slaves, even torture which Augustine, the preacher of the mansuetudo catholica or ecclesial meekness, already allowed. And he allowed it not only with slaves but also with all schismatics (Donatists). The clever Numidian thinker twists the words and calls torture emendatio, as if it were a kind of baptismal cure and preparation, a trifle compared to hell.

Gregory thus Christianised the sad remains of Sardinian paganism in the light of doctor Augustine. In 599 he exhorted by letter ‘with the greatest fervour’ to Archbishop Januarius of Cagliari ‘to pastoral vigilance against idolaters’. He first recommended conversion through ‘a convincing exhortation’ and not without evoking ‘divine judgment’. Then he wrote clearly:

But if you find that they are not willing to change their way of life, we wish that you arrest them with all zeal. If they are slaves, punish them with whipping and torment, seeking their correction. But if they are free people, they must be led to repentance employing severe prison, as it should be, so that those who despise hearing the words of redemption, which save them from the danger of death, may in any case be returned by bodily torments to the desired healthy faith.

Through bodily torments a healthy Catholic mentality is achieved…

At that time, ‘pagans’ still existed in many regions, not only where Archbishop Januarius himself tolerated them among his tenants. There were pagans in Corsica, in Sicily, in Campania, let alone in Gaul and even in Great Britain. Everywhere Gregory pushed for their disappearance.

For this he not only set in motion his clergy but the nobility, the landowners and the civil arm too. He had to strike everywhere in union with the ecclesiastical arm. Thus, in 593 he ordered the praetor of Sicily to render all his assistance to the bishop of Tyndaris in his work of annihilating the ‘pagans’. And in 598 he ordered Agnelo of Terracina to seek out the tree worshipers and punish them so that ‘paganism’ would not be passed on to others. He also required the assistance of Mauro, the local military commander. And of course all of this happened, to put it in the words of John the Deacon, ‘through the application of legitimate authority’.

Pope Gregory accepted and even openly sanctioned the religious war to subdue the Gentiles… They had to submit by force without further ado and then more or less smoothly seek conversion: a rule that the Catholic historian Friedrich Heer defines as ‘the Christian policy of conquest and expansion until the eve of the First World War’. In this regard Gregory worked, as we see in his letter to the emperor, with the old Ambrosian idea that ‘the peace of the res publica depends on the peace of the universal Church’. He consequently kept his military commanders and even his own soldiery, which repeatedly prevailed victorious… In the eyes of the Catholic historian of the popes, all this happened ‘in an absolutely natural way’ as by himself Pope Gregory was ‘the bulwark and leader’, the ‘consul of God’, who took in his hands ‘in an autonomous way the history of Italy, the history of his country’.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 135

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Left, Mass of St. Gregory, c. 1490, attributed to Diego de la Cruz, oil and gold on panel (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

From Gregory I, the humble servant of servants, until the 20th century it is well known that the popes had their feet kissed. The peculiarities were regulated by the ceremonial books. But, as we also know, the one who was actually being kissed was not his foot, but God’s. That is why all the emperors, including Charles V, also regularly performed this ugly rite on the portico of St. Peter’s basilica.

It is understood that Gregory’s personal conscience was marked by the origin, career and status of his character. He always made himself respected by both the clergy and the laity. In modern parlance it could be said that he was a Law-and-order type, a person of order, a former prefect of police, a judge of the criminal who strongly insisted on obedience and discipline, especially by monks and nuns, taking a special interest in their morality—or immorality—as well as in the observance of their vow of poverty.

Gregory used to call his clerics and officials, whose influence was decisive in the Roman municipal administration, ‘soldiers of Peter’ and also ‘soldiers of the Roman Church’ (milites beati Petri, milites Ecclesiae romanae). The first monk elevated to the pontifical throne administered the Lateran almost in the manner of a monastery, populating it in any case with monks, whom he elected to high offices. But he, who adopted the humble monastic catchphrase of ‘servant of the servants of God’—which after his death became an official title of the popes—naturally wanted to be ‘the first servant in the Church of God’ (Altendorf).

Gregory never used the name of St. Peter without the tag ‘prince of the apostles’. He strictly forbade subjects (subditi) to dare to pass judgment on the life of prelates or superiors (praepositi). Even if they were unworthy and justly deserved to be censured, they should not be reproached. Rather, one had to voluntarily embrace the yoke of reverence.

 
The man of double standards

Where he had power, Gregory exercised it without regard, very proud of his justice in front of his subordinates. Archdeacon Lorenzo, who for his sake was preferred in the papal succession and who could not hide his disappointment, lost his post. A year later, Gregory burned him in a solemn ceremony and in the presence of all the clergy ‘for his pride and other crimes’.

Yet more significant is the following event. The monk Justus, a doctor at the Monastery of Saint Andrew, who cared for the increasingly ill pope, confessed to brother Copious that he had hidden three gold coins. When Gregory found out, he rigorously forbade anyone to treat Justus, that no one from the monastery should visit him on his deathbed or assist him. And after his death his corpse had to be thrown with the three coins into a dunghill while the assembly shouted: ‘To hell with you and your money!’

With such severity Gregory understood the monastic vow although, personally, everything that he hadn’t given to his monasteries he sold, distributing the money among the poor. As a monk he was so wealthy that in 587 he was able to make another donation to the Monastery of Saint Andrew (to which with the expression of owner he called ‘my monastery’). Furthermore, at least thirteen years after becoming a Benedictine monk, he still possessed many rustic goods.

Undoubtedly, the pope was also a man of compromise and double standards. As hard as he was always with the defrocked monks and nuns, forcing them to return to the monastery, in the case of nobles he could make exceptions.

Venantius, a patrician of Syracuse and probably a friend of Gregory, left his monastery in contempt of the ecclesiastical precept. He took home the beautiful and dominant lady Italica who made him the father of two girls, also becoming the epicentre of a circle of anti-monastic literati. But Gregory didn’t force him to return to the monastery. He only tried with great effort to convince him to do it voluntarily, although in vain. What is more, he aided the children born of that anti-canonical marriage, proving once more—as Jeffrey Richards, his modern and often benevolent biographer says—‘that in Gregory’s image of the world was a law for the rich, and another for the poor’…

One last example about Gregory’s double standards: When Bishop Andrew beat a poor woman who lived off ecclesiastical charity so barbarically that she died shortly after, the pope simply forbade him to celebrate Mass for two months—perhaps to the satisfaction of the bishop himself. On the contrary, Gregory had ‘all carnal sinners’ locked up in the prisons of the monasteries, so that a modern researcher (Grupp) writes that this ‘evokes the old slaveholders’, taking such crowds into those monastic houses of repression that according to the monk John Climacus—a contemporary of Gregory, somewhat younger than him—they ‘could hardly take a step’.

______________

Editor’s note. ‘But, as we also know, the one who was actually being kissed was not his foot, but God’s’.

This means that even proud kings had to symbolically kiss the feet of the god of the Jews, since the god of the New Testament is the same as the god of the Old Testament.

When will American white nationalists see something so obvious? Or is it that they don’t realise that the Christian religion of our parents is somehow connected with the empowerment of Jewry?

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 134

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CHAPTER 7

Pope Gregory I (590-604)

A 1627 interpretation of Gregorio
Magno by Francisco de Zurbarán

‘Just and loving was Gregory, both with the poor and the economically weak, as with the slaves, the heretics and the Jews.’ —F.M. Stratmann, Catholic theologian

‘The history of the Church has not produced many characters who have rightfully carried the nickname of The Great’. —Heinrich Kraft

‘Nor was it the worst that he advised proceeding against the recalcitrant with whipping, torture and jail, but with naive cynicism he recommended the increase in taxes as a means of conversion: those who converted had to be relieved of the established taxes, and those who were reluctant had to be softened with tax pressure’. —Johannes Haller
 

The flight from the world and the desire to make a career

Of the more than 260 popes, only Leo I and St. Gregory I (590-604) are the pontiffs who, in addition to the title of Doctors of the Church, bear the appellation of ‘The Great’ (San Gregorio Magno). He came from the ‘big world’. The first monk who reached the supposed chair of Peter was of the senatorial lineage of the Anicius; that is to say, of the high and rich Roman nobility, de senatoribus primis. All ecclesiastical writers emphasise the ‘noble’ or rich origin of their heroes. Even in the purely external aspect of him it was the ‘miracle of his time’ for being a man of average height, with small, yellowish eyes, a discreet aquiline nose, and four miserable little curls, and a powerful, almost bald skull: a miracle in himself, and not only in his time. Well, that truly extraordinary head multiplied and, like a holy relic, it could be in many cities at the same time: Constance, for example, possessed the head of Gregory, as did Prague, Lisbon and Sens.

By 573 Gregory was praefectus urbis, the highest civil office in Rome. Decked out in precious stones and flanked by an armed personal guard, he resided in a sumptuous palace because, although he was ‘already driven by the yearning for heaven’, as he confesses, he was interested in beautiful appearances, in their ‘external standard of living’ and without excessive disgust he served ‘the earthly world’.

The family was wealthy with possessions in and around Rome, and especially in Sicily. He even had contacts in Constantinople, and also apparently was intensely religious. Wealth and religion are not excluded in any way. Quite the contrary: whoever God loves makes him rich, and despite the camels and the needle eyes, he gets to heaven. The powerful bloodline of Gregory had already given the world two popes: Agapetus I and Felix III, whom he himself calls his ancestor (atavus). And the Church also canonised his mother Silvia…

Already between his election and consecration on September 3, 590, Gregory, who because of his weakness almost always lay in bed, had called to fight the bubonic plague from Egypt, to which even his predecessor Pelagius II had succumbed on February 8, 590.

Of course, Gregory declared the plague as punishment from God, as revenge for the sins of the Lombards, the ‘pagans’, the ‘heretics’ and demanded their conversion ‘to the true and upright Catholic faith’ through repentance, penance, prayers and songs of Psalms for three days, ‘while it is still time for tears’.

He also set in motion among the ruins of the destroyed city a spectacular seven-round procession—with it Ferdinand Gregorovius begins History of Rome in the Middle Ages—with pitiful choral songs and tedious invocations to all possible martyrs, including those who never had existed but were invented in the bloody comedy of the doctor of the Church, St. Ambrose of Milan. The success was tremendous but an eyewitness told St. Gregory of Tours that then ‘in the space of an hour, while the people raised their voices in prayer to the Lord, eighty men collapsed and fell dead’. In any case, in Constantinople, by God’s inscrutable design, between 542 and 544 the plague had claimed the lives of 300,000 people.

Amid such gloomy feelings, visions and realities of worldly decay—not only was the plague raging: ancient temples were also being razed, and even the papal granaries and churches—, Gregory, who has been called ‘the last Roman’ and ‘the first medieval pope’, surprisingly started his career knowing exactly what he wanted…

In 590 Gregory ascended the pontifical throne despite his ailments and, naturally, supposedly against his will. This was part of the etiquette and until the 20th century it has been part of clerical hypocrisy. In his time, however, even the humblest ecclesiastical offices were so coveted that in 592 or 593 Emperor Maurice forbade soldiers from entering monasteries and civil servants from embracing the clerical state. And Gregory knew very well that ‘someone who strips off his worldly garments to immediately occupy an ecclesiastical office only changes places, but doesn’t leave the world’.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 133

Christianity does not belong to the church! It might have once, but certainly not since the American and French Revolutions. Secularisation rarely opened doors to atheism—more often, it made the Jewish creed reborn in fierce anti-Aryan liberalism where the empty idea of money trumps the sacred matter of blood and soil. Only in Germany did Jesus die—and yet, he resurrected in 1945, in the unholy spirit of anti-racism, anti-discrimination, of egalitarian idealism that draws no distinction between the Aryan and the Negro, dead and alive, living and a rock. A faith so crudely nihilistic nobody dares to believe its malice—and yet, it permeates the entire sick body of Europe!—cf. the essay ‘The Red Giant’.

—Adûnâi

Editor’s note: This recent comment by Adûnâi on The Unz Review doesn’t mean that he has earned the privilege of commenting here. It only means that what drives me to continue with these instalments of Karlheinz Deschner’s Christianity’s Criminal History is the red giant, a nova that’s engulfing the West: Christianity in its secular form.

For the context of Deschner’s work see: here.

The Conversion of Reccared I as recreated by
Antonio Muñoz Degrain, Senate Palace, Madrid.

 

CHAPTER 6

The Conversion of the Visigoths to Catholicism

No other country in the Western world experienced such a profound and lasting transformation by Christianity as Spain. —Willliam Culican

After the defeat of Poitiers (507) at the hands of Clovis, the great Toulouse kingdom collapsed completely and the Visigoths, almost entirely expelled from southern France, concentrated in Spain, where they had conquered one province after another. From 473 they were owners of the entire peninsula, except for the small Swabian kingdom in the northwest and the Basque territories of the Bay of Biscay. Its new capital was Toledo, which supplanted Toulouse…

Liuvigild, the last Arian king of the Visigoths, certainly reinforced the power of the crown. He improved the monetary system, and revised the laws, filling in deficiencies and eliminating superfluous aspects. He was the first German prince who founded cities, the most important of which he called Reccopolis, after his son Reccared (in the upper reaches of the Tagus). During his eighteen-year reign he re-unified the Visigothic kingdom, which was crumbling. Even St. Isidore of Seville, who attributes Liuvigild’s successes to the favour of fate and the bravery of his army, admits that the Goths, until then reduced to a small corner in Spain, came to occupy most of the territory. ‘Only the error of heresy obscured the reputation of his bravery’. That was naturally the decisive point: ‘the pernicious poison of that doctrine’, the ‘deadly plague of’ heresy’.

Full of the fury of Arian infidelity, he persecuted the Catholics and exiled most of the bishops. Liuvigild deprived the churches of their income and privileges and through terror he drove many into the Arian pestilence and won many more without persecution with gold and gifts. In addition to other heretical depravities, he even dared to re-baptise Catholics, and not only lay people but also members of the priestly state.

In reality, and in the face of radically intolerant Catholicism, since it had already established itself in the Visigothic kingdom, Liuvigild carried out a proven policy of detente. During his reign many Arian monasteries were founded and many churches were built. The king personally endowed Abbot Nanctus and his monks from Africa with real estate. Moreover, he theologically compromised with the Catholics through certain concessions in Trinitarian doctrine…

Editor’s Note: After five pages of describing fights, Deschner writes about how the tide turned from Arianism to Catholicism, and he concludes:

Finally, the Goths who—Bishop Isidore writes— had drunk so thirsty and so long retained the ‘pernicious poison of heresy’, ‘thought of the salvation of their souls, freed themselves from the deeply ingrained and by the grace of Christ reached the only beatifying faith, which is the Catholic faith. Hallelujah!’

At the III Council of Toledo, held in May 589 (see painting above), and whose worthy preparation was preceded by a three-day fast, ordered by the king, part of the Arians went to the victor’s field. The king declared Catholicism the official state religion and began by uprooting Arianism quickly and completely: destroying its ecclesial organisation, excluding the Arians from all public office, and burning their sacred books…

At the same time that Reccared, together with the bishops, put an end to Arianism in Spain, he also turned the Church into an instrument of oppression as had never happened before in the history of the Goths. All Christian opposition disappeared, the Arians were forbidden from any public office, all Arian ecclesiastical property passed to the Catholic bishoprics and celibacy was imposed on the converted clergy.

Conversions were also reached by force. Some within the Arian episcopate, such as the obstinate prelate of Mérida, Sunna, met their death in exile. Catholicus nunquam ero, it seems that Sunna responded to Reccared’s demands for conversion. ‘I will never become a Catholic, but in the faith in which I have lived I want to live also in the future, and I will gladly die for the faith that I have maintained since my youth!’

Many Arian bishops embraced Catholicism just as in Liuvigild’s time many Catholic clergymen had joined the Arian national Church. Then began the alliance of the State with the Catholic Church, what Bishop John of Biclaro* calls the renovario, the attitude of the christianissimus imperator. According to the old Catholic tradition, Reccared ordered the immediate burning of all Arian Bibles and doctrinal writings in Toledo, in the public square. ‘Not even a single Gothic text was left in Spain’ (Thompson).

___________

(*) John of Biclaro attended council of Toledo where Reccared converted to the Catholic faith, represented in the painting above.

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Christianity’s criminal history, 132

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CHAPTER 5

The last Merovingians

‘No one rules more than the bishops, our glory no longer exists…’ —Chilperic I

While the difference between Franks and Gallo-Romans disappeared little by little, although not the different legislation, the external borders of the Merovingian kingdom remained until the end of the Merovingian period. There were indeed political complications, as well as some attacks by the misers against Thuringia and by the Visigoths against southern France, as well as some outright riots and raids of prey beyond the borders. But the main objective was no longer expansion outwards, nor the expansion of the kingdom as a whole, nor the subjugation and exploitation of strange and distant neighbours.

It was the kings, once again four, and their numerous successors who sought to enlarge their possessions and territories at the expense of the territories of others, and in an almost uninterrupted way to harm and weaken them in this way. In a word, each was seeking supremacy.

This caused that at the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century almost all the Merovingian princes died a premature and violent death, that brutalities and large-scale outrages continued to occur in the kingdom, that civil wars and looting would incessantly break out, that many places were reduced to ashes, entire areas were devastated and innumerable looting, mutilations and murders were committed, to which were added plagues and famines.

The peasants hid in the woods and robbed for their own account. Amid this debauchery and impasse, all means were good for the combatants…

Published in: on December 13, 2020 at 1:08 pm  Comments (4)  

Christianity’s criminal history, 131

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Odin and Frigg looking out of a window in the heavens…


…and spotting the Lombard women with their long hair tied as to appear as beards.
 

CHAPTER 4

The Invasion of the Lombards

The Lombards (the men with long, ‘long’ beards, according to the traditional interpretation of the name) belonged to the East Germans more than to the Westerners. They were a demographically small town and probably hailed from Scandinavia, perhaps Gotland. They became sedentary around the time that is indicated as the passage from the Ancient Ages to the Middle Ages, and thus related to the Saxons, in the lower Elbe, where part of their people remained constantly and where still in the 20th century names as Bardengau and Bardewick remember them.

For centuries the Lombards are hardly mentioned in history. Their presence is proven in the manner of geological strata, the emigrants first followed the course of the Elbe to spread from the 4th century, and for two hundred years, through Bohemia, Moravia and a part of present-day Lower Austria, ‘Rugiland’, which they occupied around 488, after the withdrawal of the Rugian: another Germanic people, also a native of Scandinavia and who left the name of their island there, Rugen. Through Hungary they advanced south, creating in the Danube basin a kingdom that extended as far as Belgrade.

Auxiliary Lombards troops had supported Justinian’s wars against the Persians, as well as in 552 under the command of Narses, in the decisive battle against the Ostrogoths. Disillusioned by Byzantium, its leader Alboin allied himself with the misers, in union with whom he annihilated in another decisive battle (567) the kingdom of the Gepids, another East Germanic people. The carnage on both sides was such—there were 60,000 deaths—‘that out of such a large crowd hardly a messenger to announce the destruction survived’ (Paul the Deacon).

Alboin took Rosamund, daughter of Cunimund, the defeated Gepid king, as his wife. The Gepids no longer continued their settlement between the Lombards and the Avars, who broke in immediately. In the spring of 568—according to a contemporary Burgundian chronicler—‘the entire Lombard army, having set fire to their settlement, left Pannonia, followed by the women and the rest of the population’. Under the pressure of greedy expansion and attracted by the south, at the orders of their boss Alboin they stormed through Emona and the gorges of the Julius Alps, entering the generally unprotected north of Italy. It was the same path that Alaric and Theodoric had already travelled.

This was the last great advance of the invasion of the Nordic peoples.

With the Lombards, who together may have formed a people of 130,000 souls, came other tribal groups, populations from Pannonia, the Noricum, numerous Saxons, remnants of Gepids, Thuringians, Swabians, and Slavs. And just as the Lombards were open to the integration of other peoples, they were also open to religious tolerance. Converted to Christianity in good part from about the year 500, the majority of the population was made up of Arians. But among them there were also Catholics—Alboin was first married to Chothsind, daughter of Chlothar I—and there were above all pagans, who for a long time continued their sacrifices and sacrificial banquets, without apparently the change of beliefs of the different kings playing any role.

Published in: on November 23, 2020 at 12:48 pm  Comments Off on Christianity’s criminal history, 131  

Christianity’s criminal history, 130

For the context of these translations click here

 

CHAPTER 3

THE SONS OF CLOVIS

‘The successors of the first great Frankish king also protected the Church and the worship; monasticism developed… The remnants of paganism were fought with increasing energy’. —H. H. Anton

 

The division of the kingdom

The kingdom of Clovis was divided almost aequa lance, almost equally, passing in principle to his four sons: all ‘kings of the Franks’; all heirs with the same rights, according to the German rule of succession; all Catholics, except for Theuderic I, with a saint for his mother. And they all also led a life full of hideous cruelties, wars and military campaigns. In the proven tradition of the father they systematically expanded the kingdom and conquered Thuringia (531), Burgundy (533-534) and Provence (537). The aforementioned annexations were joined by numerous raids in search of loot in an extraordinarily troubled time, one of the darkest and bloodiest times in history, brimming with disorder and brutality, fratricides, wars between brothers and betrayals: a race unleashed ‘for power and wealth’ (Buchner), a ‘foolish desire for loot and slaughter’ (Schulze).

But even critical historians bend the knee before the ‘founding of the kingdom’ of the Merovingians, before the bridge they built ‘between Antiquity and the Middle Ages’, before their contribution to the triumph ‘of Catholic Christianity’ to the alliance ‘between throne and altar’. As if all this had not made the story much more gruesome!

The boundaries of the four partitions of the kingdom are not stated with sufficient precision. The one we know best is the inheritance of Theuderic I (reign 511-533). The presumed Hugdietrich of the saga received the lion’s share with the capital, Reims: a territory which would include what later became Austria with its predominantly Germanic population: the entire east, from Burgundy to the Rhineland, and perhaps even as far as the Fritziar and Kassel region, as well as large territories that had belonged to the Alemanni, which was the case in eastern Aquitaine. But each of the sons obtained a part of the Aquitaine lands south of the Loire, which the father had taken over; three of them were exclaves.

Chlothar I (reign 511-561), the youngest of Clovis’ sons, and perhaps not yet twelve years old, the Salic age to reach legal age, obtained mainly the territory of the Salian Franks with the royal cities of Tournai and Cambrai. For the same reason, it included the old Frankish territory between the coast of the English Channel, the Somme and the Carboniferous Forest, with approximately the same borders that it had before the predatory incursions of his progenitor. As the seat of government Chlothar chose Soissons, in the extreme south. Southern and western France corresponded to Chlodomer and Childebert respectively.

Chlodomer (reign 511-524) was around fifteen when his father died and ruled as king of western Aquitaine, the northernmost territory of the middle Loire, at Orleans. And Childebert I (reign 511-558) controlled the coastal lands from the Somme to Brittany; he resided in Paris, the undisputed capital.
 

A saint and murderer

Shortly after the Auvergne rebellion, the Catholic Frankish kings attacked the Catholic kingdom of Burgundy.

Sigismund (reign 516-523), son of the Burgundian king Gundobad, still ruled there. Since 501 Sigismund was viceroy in Geneva. And what the jealous Avitus had not achieved with the father, he obtained with the son. Around the year 500 Sigismund converted from Arianism to Catholicism. Sigismund later introduced Catholicism throughout Burgundy. He was the first German king to make a pilgrimage to Rome…

Sigismund, the murderer of his own son, makes his way as a saint of the Catholic Church! They ended up thanking him for the conversion of the Burgundians to Catholicism. Soon his cult began in the monastery of St. Moritz founded by him. Those with fever had masses celebrated in honour of Sigismund (who allegedly helped against malaria and tertian fever). In the 7th century he also appears as a saint in the so-called Martyrologium Hieronymianum. At the end of the Middle Ages he will be one of the patron saints of Bohemia and even become a fashionable saint. The Archbishop of Prague declared the feast of Sigismund a feast of the archdiocese.

His statue appears on French and German altars as well as in the Freiburg Cathedral; there are churches dedicated to Sigismund and a brotherhood named after him. His relics were requested, which initially rested at St. Moritz. The head was taken to the church of St. Sigismund, although a fragment of it is found in Plozk of the Vistula; in the 14th century a part of the body was deposited in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, and another was taken around the same time to Freising, which eventually became the centre of its veneration in Germany.
 

______ 卐 ______

 
Editor’s interpolated note: Regardless of the repulsiveness of relic worship—pieces of decomposed corpses —, what is currently happening in France and Germany has very dark and old historical roots that no one in white nationalism sees for the simple reason that none lives under the weirwood but in the inane present.

It should be obvious that, if these Germanics hadn’t been infected with a cult of Semitic origin, they would have regarded Hermann as a hero who fought against the Romans when the latter were already mongrelising.

Instead, after the Christian takeover these Germanics were forced to worship Catholic monsters. Tell me whom you worship and I’ll tell you who you’ll become. Read pages 23-32 of The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour: the only article by a Jew in that compilation. Even the Nazis translated it to German in the Czernowitzer Allgemeine Zeitung of September 2, 1933.

Now let’s go back to Deschner’s account of how a female ‘saint’ gives orders to murder her grandchildren:
 

______ 卐 ______

 
On the death of Chlodomer, his three brothers, ‘warriors above all and simple gang leaders’ (Fontal) shared the inheritance, ignoring all the rights of the three minor children of the deceased king and without allowing any regime of tutelary government from their mother.

The pious Childebert got, it seems, the lion’s share. He was a true father of the nation, who promoted ecclesiastical institutions, enjoyed dealing with bishops granting them real estate, war spoils and large sums of money while being in constant communication with the ‘Holy See’. And as Childebert and Chlothar, who had married Guntheuc, the widow of Chlodomer, certainly feared that the hereditary rights of Theuderic and Gunthar, Chlodomer’s minor children, would be asserted, Childebert didn’t doubt in encouraging their murder, of which Chlothar ‘was very glad’.

After all, both sovereigns had a saint for their mother, Saint Clotilde, and furthermore, being already a Catholic princess, she had imposed baptism on the children of Clovis, had ‘raised them with love’ and had certainly given them a good Catholic upbringing. And since Clotilde also took care of the education of the minor children of the late Chlodomer, the kings Childebert and Chlothar, who had taken over her nephews, asked Clotilde if she wanted her grandchildren to ‘continue living with their hair cut off [like monks] or if they had to kill them both’. And ‘the ideal figure of the desire for feminine holiness’, the francorum apostle who felt for the two children ‘a singular affection’ (Fredegar), replied: ‘Rather dead than tonsured, if they are not going to reign’…

Chlothar put the knife to the neck first to one and then to the other of his brother’s sons, who cried out in anguish. ‘After they had also dispatched the boys’ servants and educators’ Chlothar mounted his horse ‘and left there’. One of them was ten years old and the youngest seven… Queen Clotilde led such a life that she was venerated by the whole world… ‘Her conduct was always of the utmost purity and honesty: she granted goods to churches, monasteries everywhere to holy places, willingly and supplying them with whatever they needed…’

The third son of Chlodomer, the youngest, named Clodoald, was saved from the carnage and entered the clergy, after allegedly shearing himself. ‘He renounced the earthly kingdom and dedicated himself to the Lord’, Gregory writes beautifully. And Fredegar adds: ‘And he led a dignified life; the Lord deigns to perform miracles on his grave’. Clodoald was the founder of the monastery of Saint-Cloud in Paris, which bears his name, and died around the year 560… Clotaire, the uncle-murderer and the executioner, obtained Tours and Poitiers, with the sanctuaries of the patron saints of France, Martin and Hilary, together with the treasure.
 

Theudebert I, and killer kings

Theudebert [editor’s note: the son of Theuderic I and the father of Theudebald] was the first Frank to call himself Augustus and who felt he was the successor of the Roman Caesars and liked to adopt imperial attitudes like minting gold coins with his image that could be described as illegal. He ordered circus games to be held in Arles in the manner of the emperors and must have even thought of the conquest of Constantinople, cherishing the hope of seizing imperial dignity and world domination through an incursion against Byzantium, something planned jointly with the Gepids and Lombards. Such a man naturally had to be on good terms with the Church…

King Theudebert was a benefactor of the Church, which he ‘exempted from tax obligations and deliberately favoured’ (Zollner) while he did nothing more than bleed his Frankish subjects with taxes in the Roman manner… Very significant is the fact that his finance minister, Parthenius (grandson of Bishop Ruricius de Limoges, the murderer of his wife and her lover), on the death of Theudebert and despite the episcopal protection, was removed in Trier from a church, spat on, beaten and stoned by the enraged people.

Even more criminal and even more devoted to the Church was the family clan, which outlived Theudebert. Chlothar I also fought almost continuously during the last years of his life, without this fact bothering at all and not even attracting the attention of those who preached peace and love of neighbour and enemy. The king, undoubtedly the weakest of the Frankish princes until after the death of Theudebert I (558), took over the entire kingdom. He had nevertheless criticised the growing ecclesiastical wealth, but per his brother’s constitution of 554, he also tried to uproot whatever was left of the indigenous religions of his subjects.

It is true that in a winter campaign (555) against the Saxons he bore the worst of it, but the following year he imposed himself on the association of Saxons and Thuringians and even sent troops against the Ostrogoths of Italy. In 557 he fought again against the Saxons, apparently reluctantly, but ‘he was beaten with such enormous bloodshed, and with such a great multitude of casualties on both sides that no one can calculate or evaluate’ (Gregory). But he managed to beat the Danes and Eutenians…

A year later Clotaire also died, and with him the last of Clovis’ four sons, all of whom—like their father—had lived for robbery, murder and war. Everywhere they had gone in search of relics of martyrs, had taken care of relocating them and had promoted the veneration of the saints. They founded many monasteries and endowed them generously. They awarded large real estate to the clergy and made donations to them. The old annals abound in their praises…

Clotaire I, in whose territory the Church was poorly organised and the victim of special relaxation, perhaps didn’t care about Christianity at all. Anyway, he too became a Christian and a faithful Catholic, who waged war after war and had his closest relatives murdered, including young children, maidens, and even his own son, while personally bankrupting himself with countless concubines and at least six marriages ‘and not always successive’ (Schultze). Despite this, the ecclesiastical author of the 7th century compares this king with a priest, showering him with praise. And it is that, indeed, he worried about the transfer of the remains of martyrs, promoted the veneration of Medard, the patron saint of the royal house and supported the founding of churches and monasteries…

Childebert I showed a very special fervour and devotion to the clergy. The usurper and incestuous erected the Holy Cross and the Spanish proto-martyr Vicente de Zaragoza—whose martyrdom was adorned with great propagandistic displays—a basilica in Paris, which would later become the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He made a pilgrimage to the cell of Saint Euspicius, in whose honour he also built a church. He made donations of land and large sums of money, including the spoils of his wars for Catholic churches and monasteries, in which he ordered to pray for the salvation of his soul and the prosperity of the Frankish kingdom.

Thus he distributed among the Frankish churches dozens of chalices and numerous patens and gospels, all made of gold and precious stones, and all material that he had stolen in his Spanish war. Childebert made Orleans the ecclesiastical capital of his kingdom. There four national synods met (in the years 533, 538, 541 and 549). All Frankish kings sent their bishops to them (exception made for the one celebrated in 538). In 552 Childebert summoned another national council in Paris. He promulgated a decree against ‘paganism’ that was still alive, mostly in northern and eastern France. He harshly persecuted anyone who erected ‘idols’ in the fields or prevented their destruction by the priests. He forbade even pagan banquets, songs, and dances, though certainly without demanding conversion by force…

Vigil, the murderous pope, described Childebert in 546, as ‘our most glorious son’ and praised his ‘Christian will, pleasing to God’… Pope Pelagius died in 561, the same year that Clotaire I, the last son of Clovis, did. In that same decade, and together with the Franks and the Visigoths, another Germanic people began to play an increasingly important role: the Lombards.

Christianity’s criminal history, 129

For the context of these translations click: here

 

CHAPTER 2

CLOVIS, FOUNDER OF THE GREAT FRANKISH EMPIRE

‘One of the most outstanding figures in universal history’. —Wilhelm von Glesebrecht, historian

‘And it is certain that he knew himself to be a Christian, and a Catholic Christian, something that is manifested over and over again in the various performances of his reign’. —Kurt Aland, theologian

 
The Rise of the Merovingians

The original land of the Franks, whose name was associated at the beginning of the Middle Ages with the concepts of ‘brave’, ‘audacious’ and ‘daring’, was in the Lower Rhine. These people, which lacked a unitary leadership, arose probably from the coalition of numerous small tribes throughout the 1st and 2nd centuries c.e., between the rivers Weser and Rhine. They are mentioned for the first time just after the first half of the 3rd century, when they fought fierce struggles against the Romans that would continue throughout the 4th and 5th centuries. The Franks settled on the right bank of the river and then breached the Roman line of defence of the Rhine, which some had probably already overcome before by infiltrating the border region. They advanced on Xanten, that the Roman population had evacuated towards 450, having occupied it later by the small Frankish tribe of Chatuarii. They then entered the territory between the Rhine and the Moselle; the Franks took Mainz and Cologne, a city that, on occupying it definitively around 460, became the centre of an independent Frankish state, immediately on the left bank of the great river. Little by little they annexed more territory. During the first half of the 5th century they conquered the city of Trier four times and the Romans recovered it as many times, until in 480 it became definitively owned by the Franks. The number of its inhabitants, from about 60,000 in the 4th century, dropped to a few thousand in the 6th century.

The invaders founded small Frankish principalities in Belgium and northern France, each subject to a kinglet or little king. As early as 480 the entire Rhenish region between Nijmegen and Mainz, the Maas territory around Maastricht, as well as the Moselle valley from Toul to Koblenz, belonged to the Frankish territory. The Romans allowed the Franks to settle on the condition that they rendered certain military services as foederati (allies) and they became their most loyal comrades in arms of all Germans, although they were generally torn apart amid fierce tribal strife. But in the end it was the Merovingians who bid for all of Roman Gaul…

King Childeric died in 482. Almost twelve hundred years later, in 1653, a doctor from Antwerp discovered his tomb at Tournai, endowed with such wealth and sumptuousness that it far surpassed the more than 40,000 tombs of the Merovingian period uncovered by archaeologists. At the death of Childeric in 482 he was succeeded by Clovis I (466-511), aged sixteen and apparently an only child. Allied with different sister tribes, Clovis expanded the Salic territory around Tournai, which was insignificant and reduced to a small part of northern Gaul in Belgium Secunda, though he continued the plunder, assassinations and wars, increasingly widespread over the regions from the Roman province to the left bank of the Rhine.

Such attacks reached first as far as the Seine, then as far as the Loire and finally as far as the Garonne, bringing the Gallo-Romans under the rule of the Franks. Even then, that was called ‘having the Franc as a friend, and not as a neighbour’.

Such a bellicose people, over which the reputation of disloyalty also floated, was attractive to the Christian clergy from the beginning. The Arians, and even more so the Catholics, sought to win over their leader. In fact all the notable princes of that time in the West were Arian or heathen. Thus, as soon as Clovis was appointed King of Tournai, he was addressed by the Bishop of Reims, St. Remigius, a man of ‘eminent science’ and resurrector of the dead, according to the praise of Bishop Gregory who simultaneously highlights both traits…
 

A great bloodbath and the first date in the history of the German Church

Clovis soon passed from Soissons to Paris, which became the most important city and, at least since the 7th century, the true epicentre of the Frankish kingdom, in which almost all the Merovingian kings are also buried…

The Alemanni (or Suebi), first named in 213, had emigrated from the Elbe region and probably by the end of the 2nd century had made themselves strong in the Main region through various incorporations of German emigrants and soldiers. The name ‘Alemanni’ would mean what anyone who knows some German can still understand today: all males (alie Manner). The Alamanni, who were pressing on the Rhine and the line of fortifications on the frontier of the Roman Empire, broke in 406, accompanied in part by Vandals and Alans, dispersing through Gaul and Hispania.

When they tried to advance north-west from there, they clashed with the Franks, and in particular with the Francorans, who dominated the Moselle region. They had already allied with the Burgundians in 475 against the Alemanni, without clearly prevailing around 490 in a battle near Cologne, where the local kinglet Sigobert was wounded in one knee. Reason enough for Clovis to attack: in around 496-497 the Alaman king of unknown name died on the battlefield of Toibiacum. Clovis advanced into the German territory of the right bank of the Rhine and annihilated a good part of its still pagan inhabitants.

It is true that a decade later, around 506, they rose again; but again they suffered a bloody defeat, probably near Strasbourg, the Alaman king dying in battle again. Pursued by the Franks, they fled south to the pre-Alpine regions: Raetia Prima (province of Chur) and Raetia Secunda (province of Augsburg): territories under the influence of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric, who restrained his brother-in-law Clovis and who settled to the fugitives in Retia, Pannonia and northern Italy. But in the southern part of the Rhenish Hessen, in the Palatinate and the basins of the Main and Neckar the Alemanni were victims of the direct arrogance of Clovis. And from there the Franks later spread eastward to the Saale, the Upper Main and almost to the Bavarian Forest…

King Clovis had himself baptised in Reims with great pomp and with the assistance of numerous bishops. According to some, it ran annus 496-497, according to others 498-499; while according to some researchers, who put the war against the Alemanni in 506, we should think of the years 506-508. ‘It is the first date in the history of the German Church’ (Kawerau). Curiously, the event is linked to a great bloodbath and constitutes one of the most important events of the early Middle Ages.

The baptism of Clovis was a great feast. Streets and churches sparkled with their ornamentation. The baptismal church was filled with a ‘heavenly fragrance’, to the point that the attendees believed they were transferred ‘to the pleasant perfumes of paradise’.

Clovis was venerated as a saint in France.

Gregory of Tours refers that the king ‘advanced to the baptismal bath like a new Constantine’, and the comparison is terribly accurate, ‘to purify himself in the clean water of old leprosy and the dirty stains, which he had from ancient [pagan] times’. And Remigius, ‘the saint of God’, spoke to him with eloquent words: ‘Sigambrer, meekly bend your neck and worship what you burned and burn what you worshiped (adora quod incendisu, incende quod adorasli)’.

Who was this saint, who so arrogantly incited persecution, as did his colleague Avitus in his time? St. Remigius, like most of the prelates of that time (and not only of then), was of ‘illustrious’ lineage, and already at the age of twenty-two promoted to bishop of Reims. His older brother, Principius, was also bishop (of Soissons) and a saint too (their relics were to be burned by the Calvinists in 1567). Remigius, the apostle to the Franks, preached Catholicism to pagans and Arians with fervent zeal, something that clearly developed a ‘radical war’ (Schuitze), in which, according to a council of Lyon, ‘smashed the altars of idols everywhere and vigorously spread the true faith with many signs and miracles’…

Catholic Clovis made his own converts, pagans or Arians, so that the entire house of the Franks ended up being Catholic. Henceforth, a close ‘alliance between monarchy and episcopate’ (Fleckenstein) was created. The princes of the Church occupy the position of honour in the surroundings of Clovis and exert the maximum influence over him, especially Avitus and Remigius. And naturally the clergy are generously rewarded with the war spoils of the Merovingian. He rewards the prelates with largesse and splendour through foundations and donations of land… Since then ‘monarchy and church acted together for the further spread of Christianity’ (Schultze)…

From the research that we have today, it can well be argued that in reality the conversion of Clovis was a political, as that of Constantine had been before. Unlike the other Germanic peoples, the king and his people accepted Catholicism because it provided in advance a link between the conqueror and the Gallo-Romans who were subjected or who were to submit; linkage that did not occur in the rest of the Germanic kingdoms. Clovis, a sympathiser of the Church from an early age, became a Catholic to subdue the Arian Germanic tribes and win over neighbouring Gaul more easily with his strong majority of Roman Catholics…
 

Are we to free ourselves from a moralistic assessment of history?

After Clovis had won the war against the Visigoths with the help of the Francorans, between 509 and 511, the last years of his life, he achieved royal dignity over them. In any case, it forced the fusion of the Francorenan tribes with the Salian Franks.

He first instigated Chlodoric, son of King Sigobert of Cologne, to get rid of his father. ‘Look, your father has grown old and is limping with a crippled leg’. Sigobert ‘the Lame’, a former companion of Clovis, had limped since the battle of Toibiacum against the Alemanni, in which he had been wounded. At the hands of a hired assassin the prince eliminated his father in the beech forest. Through a delegation, Clovis congratulated the parricide and through it, he crushed his skull. The German historian Ewig describes all this with an elegant expression, too elegant we would say, of ‘diplomacy of intrigues’. After the double act, Clovis went to Cologne, the residential city of Sigobert, solemnly proclaimed his innocence in both crimes and, joyfully welcomed by the people, seized the ‘kingdom and the treasures of Sigobert’ (Gregory).

Then he fell on the Salian kings, with whom he was related. Such was the case, for example, of a Frankish king, Chararic, who had not once fought against Syagrius. With tricks Clovis seized him and his son. Later he locked them up in a monastery, had their hair cut off (the tonsure was a sign of the loss of royal dignity), forced Chararic to be ordained a priest and his son a deacon, and after having them beheaded he took over their treasures and kingdom.

Another relative, King Regnacar of Cambrai, his first cousin, was defeated by Clovis after having won over his entourage with a great amount of gold, which later turned out to be fake. After the battle, he mocked Regnacar, who was led into his presence in chains and who in 486 had helped him in the war against Syagrius: ‘Why have you humiliated our blood to that point and allowed yourself to be put in chains? You’d be better off dead!’ And he smashed his head off with an ax. They had also arrested Richar, the king’s brother: ‘If you had helped your brother, we would not have taken him prisoner’, Clovis rebuked him and killed him with another blow. ‘The named kings were close blood relatives of Clovis’ (Gregory of Tours). He also had their brother, Rignomer, liquidated in the vicinity of Le Mans. ‘Clovis thus strengthened his position throughout the Frankish territory’, to quote again the historian Ewig, thus summarising the existing situation.

The victims of Clovis’ consolidation of power throughout the Frankish territory were, it seems, several dozen Frankish cantonal princes. The tyrant had them murdered, seized their land and wealth, without ceasing to complain that he was alone:

‘Woe to me, now I find myself as a stranger among strangers and none of my relatives could help me, if calamity befalls me!’ But this was not meant because he was sorry for their death, but by cunning, in case perhaps there was still someone he could kill.

Such is the comment of St. Gregory, for whom Clovis was a ‘new Constantine’, and who embodied ‘his ideal of the ruler’ (Bodmer) and to whom he frequently appeared ‘almost like a saint’ (Fischer). Without shame the famous bishop adds:

But day after day God brought down his enemies before him and he increased his kingdom, because he walked with a right heart in His presence and did what was pleasing to His divine eyes.

This, as the context shows, also applies to Clovis’ murders of relatives. All is holy in the extreme, even the extreme crimes!

Such, then, was the primus rex francorum (Salic law), the king who ruled following to the letter the words of St. Remigius at his baptism: ‘Worship what you burned and burn what you worshiped’. Such was the Catholic king, that no longer tolerated any pagan vestige, although he commanded almost like an absolute tyrant and was bursting with hypertrophic brutality and rapacity, showing himself cautious and cowardly in front of the strongest and mercilessly crushing the weakest; the king who did not back down from any treachery and cruelty, who waged all his wars in the name of the Christian and Catholic God; the king who, with a sovereign power like few others and at the same time as a good Catholic, combined war, murder and religious piety, who ‘began his Christian reign with all premeditation on December 25’, who with his booty built churches everywhere, then he splendidly endowed and prayed in them, who was a great devotee of St. Martin, who carried out his ‘wars of the heretics’ against the Arians of Gaul ‘under the sign of an intense veneration of St. Peter’ (K. Hauck), and whom the bishops at the National Council of Orleans (511) exalted as ‘a truly priestly soul’ (Daniel-Rops).

That was Clovis. A man who, hearing the passion of Jesus, seems to have said that had he been there with his Franks, no such injustice would have been committed against the Lord. In the words of the old chronicler, he was as ‘an authentic Christian’ (christianum se verum esse adfirmat—Fredegar). And as the current theologian Aland also says: ‘And it is certain, and again and again he manifests it in the different performances of his reign, that he felt of himself as a Christian, and certainly a Catholic Christian’. In a word, that man who made his way ‘with the ax’ to climb the absolute rule of the Franks—as Angenendt graphically puts it—was no longer simply a military king, but thanks precisely to his alliance with the Catholic Church became the ‘representative of God on earth’ (Wolf). A man who, in the company of his wife St. Clotilde, finally found his last resting place in the Parisian Church of the Apostles, which was later called Sainte Geneviéve, when he died in the year 511, just turning forty: a great criminal, devious and ruthless, who established himself on the throne and, according to the historian Bosi, ‘a barbarian, who civilised and cultivated’.

The theologian Aland qualifies Clovis as akin to Constantine and euphemistically says that both were men of power, violent sovereigns and believes that justifiably: ‘Such rough times could only be controlled by such men’. But is it tough times that make tough men? Or is it not rather the other way around? One and the other are intimately united. And already St. Augustine had corrected the stupid accusation of the times: ‘We are the times; which are we, that’s the way the times are’. Aland wants to leave open the question of whether Constantine and Clovis were Christians:

Because both the sons of Constantine and Theodosius were rulers, of whose Christian confession there can be no doubt, and yet committed perfectly comparable acts of blood. If we want to understand them, we must free ourselves from such a moral assessment of history. Well, who among us whose people have a history of 1,500 years behind under the sign of Christianity, can say that he is Christian? Luther speaks of Christianity, which is always being made and which is never finished.

The Merovingian chroniclers glorify Clovis mainly for two reasons: for his baptism and his many wars. He became a Catholic demolishing and depredating everything around him he could destroy or prey. And thus, from an insignificant territorial principality, he created a powerful German-Catholic imperium, sealed in France the alliance between the throne and the altar, and became the chosen instrument of God who day after day struck down his enemies before him— :

because before God he walked with an upright heart, doing what was pleasing to His eyes.

—according to the enthusiastic praise of the bishop, St. Gregory.

As long as history is viewed in this way, as long as it remains outside of its ‘moral’ valuation and the vast majority of historians continue to crawl before such hypertrophic beasts of universal history with respect, reverence and admiration… history will continue to unfold as it does.