Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.19-26
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[1.19] If a bishop writes to another bishop, he places his own name in second position for the sake of humility and so do all peers, namely a king to another king, a duke to a duke, count to a count, palatine to palatine, abbot to abbot, etc.

[1.20] Archbishop to an archbishop, in this manner: To A.1 by the grace of God archbishop of Trier, S.2 by the same grace humble minister or pontiff of Reims, although unworthy: Please the highest pastor in the pastoral regime or Care for the Lord's flock, that you can be praised by the highest pastor.

[1.21] Abbess to an abbess: To S. by the mercy of God venerable abbess of the church of Nivelles3 with the virgins there serving God, P.4 humble abbess of the nunnery of Jouarre: Please the spouse of virgins in the resolve of virginity and sanctity or Persevere happily in the virtue of sanctimony or Keep oil in the lamps with the wise virgins or Await the spouse with lamps.5

[1.22] King to a king: To H.6 by the grace of God most noble king of the English, L.7 by the same grace king of the Franks, salvation from He who gives salvation to kings or Govern this present kingdom in such a way that in the future kingdom one deserves to be received into the eternal tabernacle or Administer temporal things in such a way that one does not lose eternal things.

[1.23] <Duke to a duke>: To F.8 by the grace of God celebrated duke of Germany, G.,9 duke of Normandy: Have a fortunate end to all wars or Conserve the resolve of justice with an inflexible mind or Carry out justice at present so that one should merit to attain a doubled glory.

[1.24] This rule must be understood and maintained, that individual names are first noted within a salutation by single letters, excepting names which have several consonants before a vowel, such as 'Stephen'10 and the like; for then these two consonants should be written. But all names which are added after the salutation should be written whole, with no abbreviation.

[1.25] If two friends should write each other, the salutation would be as follows: To his most cherished and dear friend , H. <sends> anything for his other self or Keep the bonds of friendship inviolate or Imitate the faithfulness of Euryalus and Nisus11 in friendship or Understand the force of true friendship or Be united in an incontestable interlace of friendship or Emulate the faithfulness of Theseus and Pirithous12 in friendship with an indissoluble knot.

[1.26] If we should write to a convent of nuns, the salutation will be: To the virgins devoted to God assembled in the convent of Jouarre,13 H. by the grace of God archdeacon of the church of Sens: Keep lamps full of oil for the coming of the Bridegroom14 or Follow the steps of the Lamb by means of sanctimony of life and morals.15


1 Adalbero, archbishop of Trier (1131-1152).

2 Samson de Mauvoisin, archbishop of Rheims (1140-1161).

3 The abbey of Sainte-Gertrude at Nivelles (Brabant).

4 Praxedes, abbess of Jouarre, who also appears above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.9 and below 1.26.

5 cf. Matt. 25.1-13.

6 Henry II, king of England (1154-1189).

7 Louis VII, king of France (1137-1180).

8 Frederick Barbarossa, duke of Suabia (1147-1152), or after Barbarossas's elevation to the German throne, Frederick IV. von Rothenburg was duke of Suabia (1152-1167).

9 Geoffrey Plantagenet, duke of Normandy (1144-1151). Although his son Henry II, future king of England, was not invested with the duchy until Dec. 1149 at the earliest, John of Salisbury Historia pontificalis c. 19 (CHIBNALL ed. 47) titles Henry the duke of Normandy already in 1148. CHIBNALL notes: "It is possible, however, that contemporaries were uncertain of the date of cession, and that Henry became duke of Normany in common parlance before he acquired the title by law; for Arnulf of Lisieux, writing to the bishop of Lincoln in the summer of 1149, speaks of Henry as duke of Normandy (Letters ed. BARLOW no. 4, p. 7)." -- The reading 'G.' of Brugge 528 undoubtedly was also found in the French model of Admont 759, whose scribe then wrote a 'V.' (modern 'W.') because he assumed the 'G.' initial stood for William (Fr. Guillaume) the Conqueror, duke of Normandy (1035-1087). --- Though he may have also have been titled duke of Normandy, Henry II's first-born son William died in 1156 at the tender age of three. Both the styling of the ducal title and the suggested salutations would rule out this child.

10 The cathedral at Meaux was dedicated to S. Stephan, as was the archiepiscopal see at Sens. But among names used in twelfth-century Champagne and beginning with two separately voiced consonants, Stephan was by far the most common. cf. CH. LALORE Les principaux cartulaires du diocese de Troyes I-VII (Paris 1875-1890) ad indices (e.g.: Blanche, Clemens, Clarembaudus, Drogo, Fromundus, Gregorius).

11 Virgil Aeneidos 5.294-6.

12 Ovid Met. 8.303.

13 Jouarre, a royal nunnery near Meaux. See above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.9,21,26, 3a.15.

14 cf. Matt. 25.1-13 and above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.21.

15 cf. I Peter 2.21.

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
Scrineum © Universitą di Pavia 1999