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Bishop Jonas of Orleans and monastic ideals in the De institutione regia

James Francis LePree

Department of History
City College of New York

Bishop Jonas of Orléans was an erudite scholar, writing a speculum principum (mirror for princes),
a speculum laicorum (mirror for laymen), a major theological treatise on the cult of images, the De
cultu imaginum a polemical treatise refuting the iconoclastic ideology of Bishop Claudius of
Turins, dedicated to King Charles the Bald about 840 and a major hagiographical work, a recension
of the eighth century Vita et translatio s. Huberti written, according to Alain Dubreucq, in 825.1
Additionally, Jonas participated in the leading church councils of his day and as Josh Timmermann
has noted, “served as notary, compiling most, though probably not all, of the conciliar acta” of the
Council of Paris held in 829. Confirmation of this comes from Alain Dubreucq who has
demonstrated that many canons of this council in particular were exercepted, in some cases,
verbatim from Jonas’ De institutione regia and De institutione laicali.2

Jonas’ De cultu imaginum can be found in PL, 106, cols. 303-386. Alain Dubreucq has dated the De cultu
imaginum to about 840 in De institutione regia, ed. and trans. Alain Dubreucq, Paris, 1994 (SC, 407), p.31. For futher
information on Claudius and the De cultu imaginum as well as his scriptural exegesis, see Jonas, De institutione regia,
pp. 31-33 and Pierre Boucaud, “Factus est homo in animam viventem: Anthropologie chrétienne et psychologie dans
l’exégèse de Claude de Turin (827/828)”, in Multiple Meaning of Scripture: The Role of Exegesis in Early-Christian
and Medieval Culture, ed. Ineke Van’t Spijker, Leiden-Brill, 2009, ( Commentaria. Sacred Texts and their
Commentaries, Jewish Christian and Islamic 2), 129-154. See also Jonas of Orleans, De institutione laicali, ed. and
tran, Odile Dubreucq, Paris, 2012 (SC, 549-550), 1, p. 35. See Jonas of Orleans, Vita et translatio s. Huberti (BHL
3994-5), AASS, Nov. 1, pp. 806-18. According to Alain Dubreucq, The occasion for Jonas writing this recension, a
portrait of the ideal bishop, was the transfer of the relics of the saint from the church at Liège to the monastery of
Andage. At this time, Bishop Walcaud of Liège, an influential person at the court of Emperor Louis the Pious requested
Jonas to rewrite the Vita et translatio s. Huberti in good Latin. Dubreuq’s remarks are in De institutione regia, p. 37.
Odile Dubreucq also discusses this briefly in De institutione laicali, 1, p. 35. For a fuller discussion of the Vita et
Translatio s. Huberti, see the excellent study of Thomas Head in Hagiography and the Cult of Saints: The Diocese of
Orléans 800-1200 Cambridge, 1990 (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 4 Series, 14), p. 42. It has

also come to my attention that Alain Dubreucq is currently preparing a new critical edition of the Vita et Translatio s.
Huberti, but to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been completed.

Josh Timmerman, “Sharers in the Contemplative Virtue: Julianus Pomerius’ Carolingian Audience”,
Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies t. 45, 2014, p. 36; Jonas, De institutione regia, pp. 35-37.
Dubreucq remarks that many of the canons of the council are faithfully reproduced shortly afterward in the De
institutione regia.

Contemporary sources indicate that Jonas functioned as a major ecclesiastical and monastic
reformer, and more importantly, he occupied the prestigious see of Orléans from 818-842 and
served as confidant of the Carolingian ruler, Louis the Pious3. Yet, of all the literary works
mentioned above, it is his “mirrors of princes” or spiritual guides for Carolingian rulers and
magnates for which we perhaps best remember Jonas. These include the De institutione regia
written in 831 for King Pepin of Aquitane, and the De institutione laicali, written at the request,
(as Jonas tells us in the preface), of Count Matfrid of Orléans. Moreover, as Odile Dubreucq has
argued, the paleographical evidence supports the writing of two versions, the original dated
between 820-828, with the dedication to Matfrid intact and a corrected recension which dates to
829 where Matfrid’s name has been omitted.4

In this study, I will discuss Bishop Jonas of Orléans’ De institutione regia penned for Carolingian
ruler, Louis the Pious..5 One must begin with the influence of the Bendictine tradition by
underscoring former studies as well as more recent ones which have identified extensive passages

Both Odile and Alain Dubreucq date Jonas’ death to 841 -842, since the evidence indicates that in 843, a new
bishop, Agius, occupied the See of Orléans. See Jonas, De institutione regia, pp. 25-26 and De institutione laicali, p.
43. For evidence of Jonas’ close relationship with the Emperor Louis the Pious, see Philippe Depreux who discusses
Jonas’ loyalty to the emperor when the former fought against the former Count of Orleans Matfrid and his associates,
assisted the Emperor in enforcing his monastic reform program and was sent by the Emperor to Rome to lay before
the Holy See arguments of the Council of Paris held in 825 concerning the cult of images. Philippe Depreux,
Prosopographie de l’entourage de Louis le Pieux (780-840), Sigmaringen, 1997 (Instrumenta 1), pp. 276-277: “En
décembre 825, Jonas fut envoyé par Louis auprès du page pour lui soumettre les travaux des Pères du concile de Paris
sur le culte des images”. “En juin 829, Jonas participa au au concile tenu a Paris, de même, il prit part en 832 a
l’assemblée chargée d’introduire la réforme monastique a Saint-Denis”. “ Il joua certainement la carte de la fidélité,
puisqu’il recut l’ordre d’Eudes, comte d’ Orléans, de participer au combat, in 834, contre Matfrid et Lambert”.
According to Dubreucq, the date of 831 accords well with political situation which occasioned the writing of
the De institutione regia. The Council of Paris was an attempt by Jonas to assert the superiority of Emperor Louis the
pious over the Frankish episcopacy and the empire. Since Pepin had revolted against his father in 830, the De
institutione regia was an attempt of reconcilation and 831 seemed an opportune time to convey it to Pepin in Aquitaine.
See Jonas, De Institutone regia, p. 49: “ Le climat, a l’automne de 831, s’harmonise bien avec l’envoi de institutione
royale à Pepin”. Odile Dubrucq also gives an excellent discussion of former arguments on the dating of the text. See
her remarks in Jonas, De institutione laicali, 1, pp. 87-102. The recension reflects the deterioration of Jonas’
relationship with Matfrid who had been deposed in 828 from his comitial position by Emperor Louis the Pious, and as
discussed earlier, Dupreux remarks that Jonas, loyal to Emperor Louis the Pious engaged in combat against Matfrid in
834 at the order of the newly installed Count of Orléans, Eudes. For a fuller discussion, see Philippe Depreux, “Le
comte Matfrid d’ Orléans (av 815-836)”, Bibliothèque d l’école des chartes, t. 152, no. 2, 1994, pp. 331-374, and
Prosoprographie de l’entourage de Louis le Pieux, pp. 276-277. See also Adrevald of Fleury, Les Miracles de Saint
Benoit ecrits par Adrevald Aimoin, Andre, Raoul Tortaire et Hugues de Sainte Marie moines de Fleury, ed. Eugene de
Certain, Paris, 1858 (BHL 1117): I, 20: Coeperat (Count Eudes of Orleans, on the order of Emperor Louis Pious), eo
in tempore, expeditionem parare, viribus undecumque contractis, adversum Lambertum atque Matfridum sociosque
eorum Neustriae partibus residentes qui ab imperatore ad Lotharium defecerant. Cui expeditioni jusserat quoque
interesse Jonam, venerabilem episcopum Aurelianensem, et Bosonem abbatem s. Benedicti quorum res iniuste sibi
Rachael Stone has identified significant distinctions between mirrors for laymen and rulers. For her
discussion and analysis, consult Rachel Stone, “Kings are different: Carolingian mirrors for princces and lay morality
in Frederique Lachaud and Lydwine Scordia (eds.), Rouen, 2011, pp. 68-86. For further information on the De
institutione laicali and its recipient Count Matfrid of Orleans, see Rachel Stone, Morality and Masculinity in the
Carolingian Empire, Cambridge, 2012, pp. 38-40. For an extremely detailed analysis of Jonas’ lay mirror and his
sources, see Franz Sedlmeier, Die laienparänetischen Schriften der Karolingerzeit: Untersuchungen zu ausgewählten

that Jonas extracted from the Regula s. Benedicti based on close parallels of wording and
conceptual framework. Furthermore this study will extend the parameters of former ones by
identifying and analyzing further influence of the Benedictine tradition, connections which have
hitherto gone unnoticed. Extending this avenue of approach even further, I will show that far from
being static and unoriginal as earlier scholarship suggests, Jonas altered and manipulated the
Regula s. Benedicti as he strove to adapt, for example, Benedict’s description of the abbatial cura
animarum to his model of Carolingian Christian rulership. Finally, I will discuss the importance of
ideals culled by Jonas from other monastic sources such as the Cassianic (filtered, for the most part,
through the Regula s. Benedicti) as he attempted through his De institutione regia to unite the
Carolingian episcopacy and laity under a reinvigorated spirituality inspired by the vita regularis to
ensure the stabilitas of the Frankish Christianum imperium and the eternal salvation of the Frankish
people as Louis the Pious had envisoned.

Jonas’ Early Life and Episcopal Career

The events of Jonas’ life is shrouded in obscurity, but a partial reconstruction can be attempted
with the aid of his own writings and those of other contemporary Carolingian sources.

Alain Dubreucq placed Jonas’ birth approximately in the year 760, and Jonas, based on his own
testimony, was born and raised in Aquitaine, receiving an education in the liberal arts and the
tonsure there, dedicating his life to Christ.6 Dubrecq also adds that the extent of Jonas’ early
education in the liberal arts can be estimated from Bertholdus of Micy’s Vita s. Maximini (Life of
Saint Maximinus), where Jonas is referred to as a second Homer, although Dubreucq does not
mention that Bertholdus, in the early 9 century Vita s. Maximini also compared Jonas favorably to

the Roman epic poet, Vergil, In addition, Thomas Head in his study of of Hagiography in the
Diocese of Orleans has observed that, “Jonas, in an aside to Bishop Walcaudus of Tongres-Liége,
recalled their studies of the ‘science of letters’ at the palatine school.” 7

Athough it seems evident, based on the aforementioned evidence, that Jonas pursued the study of
secular literature at the court of Charlemagne and may have been exposed to monastic literature
and ideals there, as Valerie Garver has noted, and Thomas Head has argued that ‘Jonas had learned
his “science of letters” in a different milieu from the local monastic school of both his eighth-
century predecessor and most contemporary writers of his own diocese, there exists nonetheless

Texten des Paulinus von Aquileia, Alkuins, Jonas von Orleans, Dhuodas und Hinkmars von Reims, Neuried, 2000
(Deutsche Hochschuledition 86), pp. 191-372. However Stone in her Morality and Masculinity, p. 3, has observed
that “Franz Sedlmeier’s study of the Carolingian lay mirrors, meanwhile, provides a very detailed account of them
and their sources, but gives little sense of their social context.
Jonas, De institutione regia, op. cit., pp, 9-10 and Admonitio: Nec immerito quippe cum vestrae potestati, in
cuius regno ortus et altus litterisque admodum imbutus comaque capitis deposita, Christi militae sum mancipatus…

Jonas of Orleans, De institutione regia, op. cit., p.10; Bertholdus of Micy, Vita s. Maximini I, “Carmen auctoris

Jonam Aurelianensem episcopum”, Acta Sanctorum ordinis Sancti Benedicti, 1: 591. See Thomas F. Head,
Hagiography and the Cult of Saints op.cit., p. 42.
some indication that the fundamentals of his later secular and spiritual erudition were established
during his early years within the confines of a monastic environment.8 Jonas’ remarks, discussed
previously in this chapter, that he received an education in the liberal arts, was tonsured and handed
over to Christ’s service in Aquitaine, lend a certain degree of credibility to this notion. Additionally,
Jonas’ expression sum mancipatus indicates that he was handed over to a monastery, perhaps as a
child oblate. This is a plausible supposition. As Mayke de Jong has noted It was only in the decades
after the Aachen council of 816/817 that child recruits to monastic life were expected to be
Benedictine oblates rather than childen informally entrusted to abbots or other monastic educators”.
Alcuin also in the Epistula de litteris colendis strongly recommended that children, both lay and
cleric should receive their education in a monastic environment and return to the world, imbued
with monastic ideals.9 Added to this is Jonas’ intimate familiarity, as we shall see later in this study,
with monastic sources previously mentioned in this study.

As bishop of the important see of Orléans, Jonas seems to have been actively involved in the
ecclesiastical affairs of his diocese10. In the case of Micy, the anonymous author of the late 9 th

century Vita s. Maximini II recorded that the monks and their abbot, Heiric requested Jonas to return
the remains of Saint Maximinus and two anonymous disciples to the church of Saint Stephan at
Micy. In addition, as Dubreucq has noted, Letaldus of Micy, writing in the tenth century, in the

Liber miraculorum s. Maximini, indicated that Jonas also enlarged Saint-Stephan’s and covered the
eastern furnace most elegantly with tiles made of lead and restored other buildings as well.12

Jonas also appeared prominently in the service of Louis the Pious, serving him as an advocate of
monastic rights. In 835 at the request of Abbot Boso of Fluery, Jonas and Count Hugh of Tours
were sent by the Emperor to investigate the charge that Gislehar had usurped the villa on Sonchamp

Valerie L. Garver, “The Influence of Monastic Ideals upon Carolingian Conceptions of Childhood”, in

Childhood in the Middle Ages and Renaissance : The Results of a Paradigm Shift in the History of Mentality, ed.
Albrecht Classsen, Berlin, 2005, pp. 67-85 ; Thomas F. Head, Hagiography and the Cult of Saints, op. cit., p. 43.

Jonas of Orleans, De institutione laicali, op.cit., pp. 148-50, see also Dubreucq’s remarks on p. 140, no.1 ;
Mayke de Jong,” From Scolastici to Scioli : Alcuin and the Formation of an Intellectual Elite, in Alcuin of York:
Scholar at the Carolingian Court”, eds. L.A.J.R. Houwen and A.A. MacDonald, Groningen, 1998 (Mediaevalia,
Groningana, 22), p. 52. In addition. For more on the subject see Mayke de Jong, In Samuel’s Image : Child oblation
in the Early Medieval West, Leiden, 1996, p. 101 : “Moreover, not all those who entered monasteries and nunneries in
childhood did so as a result of child oblation. Abbeys also harbored young secular clerics who were brought up and
educated within monastic schools. Some of them left the community for service elsewhere but others made their
profession and became monks.” For Alcuin’s remarks on the monastic education of both laitiy and clergy, see Alcuin,
Epistula de litteris colendis, ed. Alfred Boretius, in Capitularia regum francorum Hanover 1883 (MGH, Leges II.), t.
1, p. 79

Head, Hagiography and the Cult of Saints, op. cit., p. 232, n. 141

Letaldus of Micy, Liber miraculorum s. Maximini, MGH SS 1 : 518-613, cited in Jonas of Orleans, De
institutione regia, op. cit ., p. 16. It should be noted that Charles Vulliez is preparing a new critical edition of Letaldus
of Micy’s Liber miraculorum s. Maximini. For more information on this and other aspects of Letaldus’s Vita, see
Charles Vulliez, “Les miracula sancti Maximini de Letald de Micy : Prolegomenes a une nouvelle edition,” in Rerum
gestarum scriptor : Histoire et histoire et historiographie au moyen age: Melanges Michel Sot, eds, Magali Cooumert,
Marie-Celine Isaia, Klaus Kronert and Sumi Shimahara, Paris, 2012, pp. 612-636.
that had been donated to the monastery by the Emperor’s grandfather, Pepin. Because of the
investigation, Louis issued a diploma in the same year, ordering a full restitution of the villa to the

monastery. He further decreed that “the villa should be under the governance and authority of the
monastery of Fleury, for the use of the monks, in perpetuity.13
In contrast to the paternalistic role he played at Micy and Fleury, Jonas exercised a more punitive
function at an assembly convened on June 22, 832 in Paris at the request of Abbot Hilduin of Saint-
Denis. The evidence suggests that a portion of the monks of Saint-Denis had contested the strict
observance of the Regula s. Benedicti imposed by Louis the Pious and Benedict of Aniane. The
assembled bishops attributed the behavior of the recalcitrant monks to the “snares of the devil,”
and decreed that they should submit to the Regula s. Benedicti and undergo penance as prescribed
by canon law.” 14 Jonas’ death seems to have occurred between 841 and 843.15

Jonas’ De institutione regia and the Monastic Ideal

To begin, the Regula S. Benedict appears to have exercised a significant influence over Early
Carolingian spirituality, filtered through Jonas’ specula prcinipum which past and recent
scholarship has ably demonstrated. Several important studies have discussed the influence of the
Regula s. Benedicti on this genre of Jonas’ writing. As early as 1933, André Wilmart in his
discussion of the De institutione regia noted the existence of a close relationship between the
former and the Regula s. Benedicti. We can see the parallels that he drew in the following textual

De institutione regia, 144 Regula s. Benedicti, prologue

Hiis ita per accessum exsecutis sed te Ad te ergo nunc mihi sermo dirigitur….
rex bone, rex pulcherrime, specialiter
sermo mediocritatis meae rursus dirigitur.

Recueil des chartes de l’abbaye de Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire, eds., Maurice Prou and Alexandre Vidier, 2 vols,

Paris, 1907 (Société historique et archéologique du Gatinais, 5) no. 19, 1 : 44-6.

Constitutio de partitione bonorum monasterii s. Dyonisii, ed. Albert Werminghoff, Hanover, 1908 (MGH Con.

2.2) 688-98 : …antiquae salutis humanae hostis versutia…” Philippe Depreux also emphasizes Jonas’ close working
relationship with Louis the Pious in his study, Prosopographie de l’entourage, op. cit ., pp. 276-7. Alain Dubreucq
has also noted that Jonas appears in the sources as a missus of Louis the Pious several times. See Jonas of Orleans, De
institutione regia, op. cit ., p. 17 : “Jonas fut à plesieurs occasions un missus de l’empereur. C’est en effet a ce titre
qui’il accompagna Donat, comte de Melun, pour enquêter sur un différend qui opposait les moines de Fleury à ceux
de Saint-Denis.” See also Alain Dubreucq, « L’heritage de Jonas d’Orleans et des carolingian princes dans la pensee
politique Abbo de Fleury », in Parole et lumière : Autour de l’an mil, ed. Jean Heuclin, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, 2011, pp.

For Dubreucq’s remarks, see Jonas of Orleans, De institutione regia, op, cit., pp. 25-6. According to

Dubreucq, in 843, Agius, a relative of Jonas’ appears as vocatus episcopus of Orleans in the Acts of the council of
Germigny. See also Alain Dubreucq, « L’heritage de Jonas d’Orleans » , op. cit., pp. 155-172.
De institutione regia, admonitio 225 Regula s. Benedicti, chap. 4

Tertium ut diem mortis suae quotidie …mortem cotidie ante oculos

ante oculos sibi ponat…. suspectam habere.

For Wilmart, Jonas almost certainly derived his ad te sermo dirigitur and diem mortis suae quotidie
ante oculos sibi ponat from the ad te ergo nunc mihi sermo dirigitur and the mortem cottidie ante
oculos suspectam of the Regula s. Benedicti.16 Thomas Noble in a similar fashion attempted to
establish parallels between the De institutione regia and the Regula s. Benedicti. According to
Noble, Jonas’ notion that “earthly kings should be mindful of they account they will have to lay
down before God for their conduct in office” derived from Benedict’s admonition in chapters 2, 27
and 37 of the Regula s. Benedicti that the abbot should render an account to God for the souls of
all those entrusted to him. Likewise, as Noble as noted, Jonas was indebted to Benedict’s notion in
chapters 3, 64 and 65 that the abbot will have to render an account for all his actions and

Etienne Delaruelle, and more recently, Alain Dubreucq echoing the views of Wilmart and Noble
accentuated the impact of the spirituality of the Regula s. Benedicti on Jonas’ eschatological
thought, outlined in the De institutione regia and De institutione laicali. Delaruelle has
characterized Jonas as a representative of a new Carolingian episcopacy, imbued with a renewed
sense of morality and concerned with pastoral duties, the care of souls and concomitantly, the Last
Judgment. In Delaruelle’s opinion, the twin pillars of the Old testament and, more importantly, the
Regula s. Benedicti provided a firm foundation for this new moral ethos (Delaruelle 1984, 137-
8).18 In particular, he referred to their common use of Benedict’s injunction to “place nothing before
the love of Christ,” as well as Benedict’s adaptation of the Pauline theme of dying daily, found in
his First Letter to the Corinthians, thus underscoring Jonas’ debt to the Regula s. Benedicti.19

In addition to the parallels between Jonas’ De institutione regia and the Rule of St. Benedict
previously discussed, evidence strongly suggests that Jonas also deliberately selected Benedict’s
description of the abbatial cura animarum from the Regula s. Benedicti, not only to underscore his

Compare Wilmart, « L’admonitio de Jonas au roi Pepin et le florilege canonique d’Orleans », Revue
benedictine, t. 45, 1933, p. 217, n.1 with Regula s. Benedicti, ed. Rudolph Hanslik, 2 ed., Vienna, 1977 (Corpus

Scriporum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, lxxv), prologue and chap. 4, pp. 1- 34.

Thomas Noble, « The Monastic Ideal as a Model for Empire », op. cit., , p. 244.

Etienne Delaruelle, « Jonas d’Orleans et le moralisme carolingien », Bulletin de litteraire ecclesiastique, t. 55,
1984, pp. 137-138. Hans Hubert Anton has also stressed the importance of monastic ideals in defining the spirituality
ofJonas, see Hans Hubert Anton, Furstenspiegel und Herrscherethos, op. cit ., p. 355. For the notion of nihil amore
Christi praeponere, see Dubreucq’s remarks in De institutione regia, op. cit., p. 160, n. 3 and Regula s. Benedicti,
chap. 4, p. 32. The scriptural source is 1 Cor. 15 :31. For Dubrecuq’s discussion of Benedict’s adaptation and attribution
of this theme see De institutione regia, p. 166. Adalbert de Vogüé also has discussed the moriens cotidie theme. He
saw it as a common monastic theme, also Pauline in nature, see Adalbert de Vogüé, « Avoir la mort devant les yeux
chaque jour comme und événement imminent », Collectanea cisterciensia, t. 48, 1986, pp. 267-268.
own personal theological beliefs, but also to provide a fundamental conceptual framework in order
to instruct rulers in their spiritual duties and responsibilities as well as their role in the proper
functioning in a Christian society. A comparison of the texts in question will perhaps illustrate this:

De institutione regia chap. 5 Regula s. Benedicti, chap. 3

Valde enim exigit necessitate ut, Ipse tamen abba cum timore dei et
Quia ipse procul dubio rex aequissimo observatione regulae omnia faciat
iudici de commisso sibi ministerio sciens se procul dubio de omnibus
rationem redditurus est, ut etiam singuli iudiciis suis aequissimo iudici deo
qui sub eo constituta sunt ministri rationem redditurum.
diligentissime ab eo inquirantur, ne ipse
pro eis iudicium incurrat divinum.

Here we can see remarkable stylistic parallels as well as close similarities in thematic approach.
Most conspicuous is the analogy between Jonas’ remarks on the royal cura animarum and
Benedict’s on the abbatial cura animarum. Jonas’ observations that each king must render an
account to God, the most just judge, for the ministerium entrusted to him on the Day of Judgment,
closely parallels those of Benedict’s in chapter 3 of the Regula s. Benedicti. There Benedict teaches
that the abbot should do everything with the fear of God and observation of the Rule, know that he
must render an account to God, the most just judge, for all his judgments.

From a linguistic point of view, both texts share the phrase procul dubio that occurs within the
same contextual framework and both use an identical expression, aequissimo iudici, when referring
to God as the most just judge. Yet, Jonas deliberately reshapes Benedict’s words that the abbot
must render an account to the most just judge for all his judgments when he says that the king must
render an account to God for the ministerium entrusted to him.” Such an alteration and manipulation
reflects the originality of Jonas’ exegetical skill as he adapts his original source to the contemporary
theological ideology of ninth-century Christian kingship.20

However, although past and present scholarship have taken great strides in demonstrating the
extensive influence of the Benedictine tradition on Jonas’ De institutione regia, clearly much more
research remains to be done, more monastic influence identified and additional parameters need to
be established to extend our knowledge of the Regula s. Benedict as a model of spirituality for
Jonas’ De institutione regia. A case in point in the De institutione regia is Jonas’ chapter entitled
Quod in ecclesisa Christi non sit otiosis turpibusque fabulis vacandum, et quod qui haec faciunt
on solum sibi peccata non minuant, sed etiam maiora accumulent (That Christians should not, in

Compare De institutione regia, op. cit., chap. 5, p. 210 with Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit., chap. 3, p. 31. Jonas’
adaptation of this Benedictine theme derived from the 57 canon of the Council of Paris held in 829, see Concilium

Pariensiense, A.829, c. 57, in Concilia aevi Karolini, tomus I, Pars II , ed. Albert Werminghoff, Hanover-Leipzig,
ncilia,1908 (MGH. Legum sectio,III,Concilia, tomus II, pars II, p. 656. See also Alain Dubreucq’s remarks in La
littérature des specula, p. 24. For Bishop Hincmar of Reims’s appropriation and adaptation of the same theme I, see
Hincmar, De divortio Lotharii regis et Theutbergae reginae, ed. Letha Bohringer, Hanover-Leipzig, 1992 (MGH LL
Con 4; suppl 1), and Ad episcopos regni, chap. 13, PL 124, col. 1015.
the church of Christ, occupy themselves with lewd and idle stories, and that those who do these
things not only increase their sins but even accumulate greater ones). Clearly for the content of the
chapter, Jonas drew extensively on the monastic ideals of the

Benedictine tradition, something that has gone virtually undetected in both past and present

Just a cursory examination of Jonas’ chapter suggests a remarkable similarity between his structure
and that of the Benedictine lectio divina. But what is the purpose of the divina lectio of the
Benedictine tradition and what sacred texts does Benedict recommend that excercised such an
influence over Jonas’ chapter in question? To address the first part of this question, we must
consider the words of Columba Stewart. Speaking of the Benedictine lectio divina, Stewart notes
the following, “One readily sees the pre-eminence of sacred texts for liturgical preparation,
prayerful meditation and understanding of the monastic life. The focus was conversion of heart
rather than intellectual curiosity, though mind and heart obviously have to work together in the
project of monastic living.”21 Therefore, the lectio divina involves reading and listening to the
sacred texts which must be memorized and mediated upon, providing spiritual food for prayer
thoroughly permeating Benedictine spirituality. By listening intently to the Word of God with “the
ear of the heart” (comprising reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation) as Benedict
recommends,22 it brings us into the presence of God and and allows us to hear and understand his
word. It is not surprising then that Benedict warned that “idleness is the enemy of the soul” and
that he forbid brothers from engaging in idle stories while performing the lectio divina since “They
would not only be spiritually useless to themselves but to others.”23

Columba Stewart, Prayer and Community: The Benedict Tradition, Maryknoll: NY, 1998, pp. 38-39. See also
Raymond Studzinski, Reading to Live: The Evolving Practice of Lectio Divina, Collegeville, 2009, Michael Casey, An
Exciting Life: Reflections on Benedictine Spirituality, Petersham, 2005, pp. 413-428. For fuller descriptions of the
Lectio divina, consult Enzo Bianchi, Prier la parole lecture et méditation des écritures, Maine-et-Loire, 1997
(Collection vie monastique 15) and Duncan Robertson, Lectio divina: The Medieval Experience of Reading,
Collegeville, 2011 (Cistercian Studies Series 238).

Benedict, Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit ; prologue: Obsculta, o filii, praecepta magistri et inclina aurem cordis
tui et admonitionem pii patris libenter excipe et efficaciter comple… (Listen, of son, to the precepts of your teacher
and incline the ear of your heart. Freely receive the admonition of a pious father and effectively carry it out). According
to Abbot Smaragdus of St. Mihiel in his 9 century commentary on the Regula s. Benedict, to listen with the “ear of

the heart” occurs when God’s admonitions are received with all humility and retained with a pure heart. See Smaragdus,
Expositio in regulam s. Benedicti, Siegburg, 1974 (Corpus Consuetudinum monasticarum, 7), p. 8: Auris enim cordis
nostri tunc ad audiendum veraciter inclinatur, quando admonitio pii patris, id est domini, a nobis et libenter auditur
et efficaciter impletur, quando humiliter excipitur et puro corde tenetur.

Benedict, Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit ., ch. 48:1, p. 125: Otiositas inimica est animae; et ideo certis temporibus
occupari deent fratres in labore manuum, certis iterum horis in lectione divina, and ch. 48: 17-18, p. 129: Ante omnia
sane deputentur unus aut duo seniors, qui circumeant monasterium horis, quibus vacant fratres lectioni, et videant, ne
forte inveniatur frater achediosus, qui vacat otio aut fabulis et non est intentus lectioni et non solum sibi inutilis est,
sed etiam alios distollit. Benedict is almost certainly Jonas’ source here. Compare the latter’s strikingly similar words
and concepts in Jonas, De institutione regia, op. cit; ch. 24, p. 268: Sunt itaque plerique, quibus potius cordi est vanis
et obscenis confabulationibus vacare, quam lectionibus divinis aurem accomodare…
But what sacred writings did Benedict indeed recommend that served as monastic models for Jonas’
chapter on the lectio divina. First, St. Benedict enjoins brothers to follow the divinely inspired
words and pages of the Old and New Testaments as a most righteous rule for living (Quae enim
pagina aut qui sermo divinae auctoritatis veteris ac nobi testamenti non est rectissima norma vitae

humanae?).24 Jonas follows this model as he culls readings from both the Old Testament; Psalms,
Deuteronomy, and the New Testament; the gospel of John, Luke and Paul’s First Letter to the
Corinthians for the edification of the Carolingian laity. Benedict’s injunction that the readings of
the Catholic Fathers will ensure that we will reach our creator by the most direct route (Aut quis
liber sanctorum catholicorum patrum hoc non resonat, ut recto cursu perveniamus ad creatorem
nostrum) is reflected in Jonas’ use of Bishop Caesarius of Arles’ sermons.25 Jonas, when he cites
passages from Bede’s 17th Homily on the Evangelist, Origens 12th homily on Exodus and Bede’s
20th homily on the Gospel of Luke is following the injunction of St. Benedict when he instructs
brothers to read during vigils, the divinely inspired books of both the Old and New Testaments as
well as their commentaries, written by famous and orthodox Catholic fathers (Codices autem
legantur in vigiliis divinae auctoritatis tam veteris testamenti quam nobi; sed et expositiones
earum, quae a nominatis et orthodoxis catholicis patribus factae sunt).26 Finally when Jonas
discusses the divina lectio, meditation and prayer, in language strikingly similar to that of the Rule
of St. Benedict, he is following Benedict’s advice that they can admirably serve as instruments of
virtue and spiritual models for obedience and living well.

Moving from the structure of Jonas’ chapter on divina lectio to its content, we immediately notice
Jonas’ utilization of language from the Benedictine tradition for his initial remarks on prayer. This
is particularly evident when he states that Christians entering the church are not directing a pure
and simple prayer to God because what they pray with their mouth, they are not reflecting upon
with their heart (Multi ecclesiam ingressi non ad Deum puram simplicemque orationem dirigunt,
quoniam, quod ore precantur, hoc etiam mente non meditantur).27. In chapter 19 of the Regula s.
Benedicti on the divine office (De disciplina psallendi), the words of Benedict provide clear
parameters for Jonas’ spirituality: and thus, we should stand when chanting the psalms in such a
way that our minds and voices should always be in unity.”28

In the rule of St. Benedict, pure and simple prayer is one of the most significant characteristics of
Benedictine spirituality. In Chapter 20 In the Reverence of Prayer (De reverentia orationis),
Benedict stresses this most emphatically: “And therefore prayer should be short and pure, unless
by chance it should be extended by the prompting of the inspiration of divine grace.” Benedict in
chapter 2 Concerning the Oratory of the Monastery (De oratorio monasterio), again draws attention

Bendict, Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 73, p. 180.


Benedict, Regula s. Benedict, op. cit., ch. 73.4, p. 180; Jonas, De institutione laicali, ch. 14, p. 268-272.

Benedict, Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 9.8, p. 61


Jonas, De institutione regia, op. cit., ch. 14, p. 268: Many who enter the church are not directing pure and

simple prayer to God because, what they are praying with their mouth, they are thinking intently with their mind.
Jonas of Orleans, De institutione regia, op. city., ch. 14, p. 268: Multi ecclesiam ingessi non ad Deum puram

simplicemque orationem dirigunt, quoniam, quod ore precantur; Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 19, p. 82: et sic
stemus ad psallendum, ut mens nostra concordet voci nostrae.
to simple and pure prayer, “But if by chance a brother wishes to secretly pray elsewhere, he should
enter the oratory in simplicity and pray, not in a loud voice, but in tears and intention of heart.29


Jonas also incorporates monastic ideals into his notion of spirituality when he stresses the lectio
divina as the foundation and essence of pure and simple prayer and the soteriological
ineffectiveness of such prayer when offered to God with the voice but allowing worldly
preoccupations to cast a veil over the “ears of the heart.” This becomes apparent when Jonas
complains that many in the church are spending their time listening to idle and scurrilous
conversation and turning a deaf ear to the sacred readings.30

Jonas almost certainly derived these notions from the Rule of St. Benedict. In chapter 48 of the
Rule, Benedict underscores the soteriological danger when a brother allows worldly preoccupations
to distract him from listening to the sacred word intently with both ear and heart:

One or two seniors should be appointed to go around the monastery during

hours brothers are engaged in reading the holy scriptures and see that
no idle brother may be found, who is engaged in leisure or stories and is
not fully attentive to the sacred readings so that he is not only spiritually
useful to himself but also may distract others.31

Finally, Jonas, further drawing upon the Benedictine tradition, describes the final stage in the
achievement of pure and simple prayer: “Instead of Christians preoccupying themselves with idle
and scurrilous conversation while turning a deaf spiritual ear to the read of the Holy Scriptures,
they should approach and call upon the Lord with humility and devotion and confess their sins with
weeping.32 Turning to the Rule of St. Benedict, we can see the remarkable similarities between the
theology of prayer of both Benedict and Jonas. In chapter 20 De reverentia orationis (Concerning

For the idea of pure and simple of prayer in the Benedictine tradition, see Columba Stewart, Prayer and
Community: The Benedictine Tradition, Maryknoll, NY, p. 31: “Benedict presents a simple theology of prayer: We
should believe that the divine presence is everywhere…We should believe this all the more, without any doubt
whatsoever, when we attend to the divine work.” Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 20.4, p. 82: Et ideo brebis debet
esse et pura oratio, nisi forte ex affectu inspirationis divinae gratiae protendatur, and ch. 52.4: Sed et si aliter vult sibi
forte secretius orare, simpliciter intret et oret, non in clamosa voce, sed in lacrimis et intentione cordis.

Jonas of Orleans, De institutione regia, op. cit ., ch. 14, p. 268: Sunt itaque plerique, quibus potius cordi est
vanis et obscenis confabulationibus vacare, quam lectionibus divinis aurem accomodare, quibus etiam nusquam tam
delectabile videtur esse consiliari, susurrationes aliorum auribus ingerere, cachinnis ora dissolvere…
Benedict, Regula s. Benedicti, op. cit ., chap. 48.17-18, p. 129: Ante omnia sane deputentur unus aut duo
seniores, qui circumeant monasterium horis, quibus vacant fratres lectioni, et videant, ne forte inveniatur frater
achediosus, qui vacat otio aut fabulis et non est intentus lectioni et non solum sibi inutilis est, sed etiam alios distollit.
Jonas, De institutione regia, op. cit ., ch. 14, p. 268: Sunt itaque plerique, quibus potius cordi est vanis et
obscenis confabulationibus vacare, quam lectionibus divinis aurem accomodare, quibus etiam nusquam tam
delectabile videtur esse consiliari, susurrationes aliorum auribus ingerere, cachinnis ora dissolvere quam in ecclesia
Dei, ubi eum humiliter devoteque debuerant invocare et peccate sua deflere. Jonas’ humiliter devoteque debuerunt
invocare is highly reminiscent of Benedict’s works in his chapter on prayer. Compare Benedict, op. cit., Regula s.
Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 20.2, p. 82: quanto magis domino deo universorum cum omni humilitate et puritatis devotione
supplicandum est.
Reverence of Prayer), Benedict establishes clear parameters for Jonas to follow: “When we wish
to propose something to powerful people we do not presume to do so without humility and
reverence. How much more should we petition the Lord God of the universe with great humility
and devotion,” and in the Instruments of good works, Benedict anticipates Jonas with his stern


warning that monks should, “confess their past sins to God with tears and groaning at daily


In 1968, Hans Hubert Anton in his magisterial study, Furstenspiegel und Herrscherethos in der
Karolingerzeit, influenced by the earlier work of Hans Klinkenberg and broadening Klinkenberg’s
perspective, underscored the importance of the monastic ethos in Early Carolingian
Furstenspiegel.34 Additionally Thomas Noble in 1976 discussing the importance of monastic
spirituality in shaping the ruling ideology of Louis the Pious, noted particularly the influence of the
Benedictine tradition, filtered through the specula of Jonas’ De instititione regia and Abbot
Smaragdus of St. Mihiel’s Via regia and confirming Anton’s major premise that specula of the
early ninth century were imbued with monastic spirituality in contradistinction to those of the later
ninth century that were more juristic in tone.35

More recently, Alain Dubreucq has recognized the importance of Anton’s and Noble’s
contributions. Alain Dubreucq in the most recent critical edition of the De institutione regia has
recognized the intimate relationship between Benedict’s Rule and Jonas Furstenspiegel. According
to Dubreucq: “Jonas connait et utilise le Règle de saint Benoît, dans son « Admonition » au roi
Pépin. On retrouve également l’influence ou l’esprit de la Règle dans la première partie de
l’Admonition, en particulier dans l’opposition marquée par Jonas entre la conditio humana et la

The concept of praying with tears is a central characteristic of Benedictine spirituality, see Benedict, Regula
s. Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 4.57, p. 35: Mala sua praeterita cum lacrimis vel gemitu cottidie in oratione deo confiteri, and
ch. 52.4-5, p. 135: Sed et si aliter vult sibi forte secretius orare, simpliciter intret et oret,non in clamosa voce, sed in
lacrimis et intentione cordis. Ergo qui simile opus non facit, non permittatur explicito opere dei remorari in oratorio,
sicut dictum est, ne alius impedimentum patitur (But if another should wish to pray privately, let him go in and pray
with simplicity, not in a loud voice, but with tears and full attention of the heart. However, he who does not pray in
this fashion should not be permitted to do the work of God and should be removed from the oratory as it is called so
that he may not obstruct the spiritual work of another . See also Gabriel Bunge, Irdene Gefässe: Die Praxis des
persönlichen Gebetes nach der Überlieferung der heiligen Väter, Würzburg, 1996.

Hans Hubert Anton, Furstenspiegel und Herrscherethos, op. cit., p. 355: Die im Zeichen kirchen-und
monchsreformerischer Bewugungen entstandened Furstenspiegel aquitanischer Verfasser (Smaragd, Ermold) atmen
ganz den Geist kirchlich-monchischer Pragung. Das Monchsethos ist weitestegehend repraesentative fur die
Konigsethin, das Gewaltenproblem noch nicht akut. Die patrischen und fruhmittelalterlichen “Staatstheoretiker”
beginnen erst bei Ermold eine Rolle zu spielen. See also Hans Martin Klinkenberg, “Uber Karolingische Furstenspiegel
Geschichte,” Wissenschaft und Unterricht 7, 1956, pp. 82-98.
Thomas F.X. Noble, “The Monastic Ideal”, op. cit., p. 243; Anton, Furstenspiegel und Herrscherethos, op.
cit., p.355. For a different view, see Jasmijn Bovendeert, “Smaragdus ‘Via regia and Diadema monachorum
Discovered,” in Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Richard Corradini, Vienna, 2006 (Forschungen zur
Geschichte des Mittelalters 12), 239-51.
professio christiana, ou dans l’évocation des « terrestres passagères et temporaires » que l’on
retrouve dans l’Admonition. De même, le premier instrument des bonnes oeuvres: « aimer le
Seigneur Dieu de tout son coeur, de toutes ses forces; ensuite son prochain comme soi-même »,


se retrouve dans l’Admonition qui regroupe dans le même ordre des versets du Deuteronome et de
l’évangile de saint Matthieu.”36

Dubreucq consequently notes that such knowledge of the Rule was common for a bishop, since the
Carolingian episcopacy normally, under the reign of Louis the Pious was charged with the
superintendent of monasteries under its jurisdiction and responsible for ensuring the strict
application of the Benedictine Rule in accordance with the reform movement of Benedict of
Aniane. Perhaps as Dubreucq notes, this did not necessarily prove that Jonas was a monk but it
does indicate the extent of the influence that the Carolingian monastic reform movement had on
Carolingian bishops such as Jonas

Although the studies of Anton, Noble, Alain and Odile Dubreucq have been instrumental in
determining the monastic foundation of Jonas’ spirituality and their contributions have been
invaluable, clearly much more remains to be done. As the present study has clearly indicated, Jonas’
theology of prayer owes much to the Benedictine monastic tradition and this connection has been
virtually ignored in past and present scholarship. Undoubtedly, Jonas’ references to pure and simple
prayer, praying with heart and voice in harmony and confessing sins to Gods with tears, humility
and devotion are fundamental aspects of and central to the spirituality of Benedict. Hopefully this
study will stimulate further research in this area which needs to be more clearly assessed and more
properly explored.

Jonas, De institutione regia, op. cit ., p. 111: Jonas knew and used the Rule of St. Benedict, in his Admonition
to king Pepin. One finds especially the influence or the spirit of the Rule in the first part of the Admonition, particularly
in his distinction between the human condition and the Christian profession or in the conjuring up of transient earthly
sojourns which one finds in the Admonition. At the same time we find in the Admonition the first instrument of good
works; to love the Lord God with all his heart (Pepin) and all his strength, followed by the precept to love his neighbor
as himself, with the verses from Deuteronomy and the Evangelist Matthew grouped the same was as the Rule of St.
Benedict. Cf. Jonas, De institutione regia, op. cit., .Admonitio 1, 148-153: Humiliter etiam vestrae mansuetudine
suggero, ut Dominum Deum tuum, sicut se diligendum cultoribus suis praecepit, ex toto videlicet corde, ex tota anima
et ex tota virtute semper diligas (Deut. 6: 5), eiusque amori nihil praeponas. Porro quod proximum vestrum, sicut
vosmetipsos diligere debeatis (Cf. Matth. 22: 39) with Benedict, Regula S. Benedicti, op. cit., ch. 4, 1-2, p. 31: Inprimis
dominum deum diligere ex toto corde, tota anima, tota virtute (Deut. 6: 5); deinde proximum tamquam se ipsum (Cf.
Marc. 12: 31; Luc. 10: 27; Matth. 22: 39).

In this study, I will attempt to reconstruct Jonas’ life and episcopal career from his own writings
and other extant contemporary sources, and establish the primary premise of the paper, the
influence of Benedictine spirituality on Jonas of Orleans’ De institutione regia..This will primarily
consist of drawing parallels between Jonas’ aforementioned writings and the Regula S. Benedicti
which could serve as parameters to furnish a monastic model of spiritual salvation, utilized by those
living the vita regularis but especially adapted by Jonas for the vita secularis of the Carolingian
ruler Louis the Pious.