Ebbo (Ebo) of Reims

views updated


Archbishop of Reims, France; b. c. 775; d. Hildesheim, Germany, March 20, 851. He was the son of a serf from beyond the Rhine and of Himiltruda, nurse of Louis I the Pious. Ebbo was a fellow student of the prince who, on becoming king of Aquitaine, made Ebbo his librarian. When Louis became emperor, he obtained for his companion the archiepiscopal See of reims, and Ebbo fulfilled this charge with distinction, organizing the chapter, constructing buildings, including a new cathedral, and reforming the monasteries. He enjoyed great prestige at court and was royal missus in his province, but he failed in his missionary effort as legate of Pope paschal i to Denmark in 822823. Under politico-religious pretexts he tried to dethrone Louis the Pious in favor of Louis's son lothair i, and at Compiegne in 833, he was at the head of the group of bishops who proclaimed the dethronement of the emperor and put him under obligation to do public penance and accept imprisonment. On the restoration of Louis in 835, Ebbo fled and, despite his recantation, was deposed unanimously by the synod at thionville in March of 835 and interned in the Abbey of fulda. On the death of his father in 840, Lothair restored Ebbo to his see, but he was exiled again after the victory of charles ii the Bald over Lothair at Fontenoy-en-Puisaye on June 25, 841. Pope sergius ii also refused to recognize him since Ebbo had not been reelected according to proper canonical procedure, and the pope went so far as to reduce him to the lay state for having exercised episcopal functions in violation of the canons. After quarreling with Lothair and being deprived of his revenues for having declined a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, Ebbo took refuge with Louis the German and received from him the See of Hildesheim. He did not, however, renounce his claims to Reims, where hincmar had been archbishop since 845, and after a reconciliation with Lothair he arranged for the meeting at Trier of a synod consisting of papal envoys and bishops, especially those loyal to Charles the Bald, that would examine his case. But neither Ebbo nor the papal envoys appeared; he died at Hildesheim without having been rehabilitated. The clergy he had ordained at Reims during his brief restoration from 840 to 841 were the cause of many legal disputes between 845 and 867, for in Gaul, contrary to the Roman opinion, the ordinations performed by a deposed bishop were considered invalid.

Ebbo left only several minor works (Patrologia Latina v.105; l16). flodoard of reims (Historia Remensis ecclesiae, 1.2. 19) cited two inscriptions, and the Appendix ad historiam Remensis ecclesiae reproduces a regulation for the "ministers" of the Church of Reims dating from Ebbo's tenure. In a letter to Haltigar, Bishop of Cambrai (d. 831), he invited this bishop to compose a penitential ritual to restore the administration of penance, and in an Apologia the statement he made at the synod of Thionville is partially reproduced. The false decretals, justifying Ebbo's conduct, are no longer considered to be his work. The municipal library of Épernay has preserved the famous Evangeliarium of Ebbo (MS 1722), written with perfect regularity in letters of gold on vellum. It originated in the Abbey of Hautvillers in Champagne, where the monks executed it, apparently between 817 and 834, at the request of the archbishop.

Bibliography: m. bouquet, Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France (Rerum gallicarum et francicarum scriptores) v.6, 7. Histoire littéraire de la France v.5. É. lesne, La Hiérarchie épiscopale in Gaule et en Germanie (Lille 1905); L'Origine des menses (Lille 1910). f. lot et al., Les Destinées de l'empire en Occident de 395 à 888, 2 v. (Paris 1928; new ed. 1940). a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) v.6. l. halphen, Charlemagne et l'empire carolingien (Paris 1947). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed f. cabrol et al, 4.2: 16971703; 14.2:221390. p. viard, Catholicisme 3:12241225.

[j. daoust]