ABSTRACT

In June 833, the conflict between Louis the Pious and his three eldest sons that had been building for the past year came to a head. Armies converged upon the Rotfelt near Colmar, in Alsace, a place that would become known as “the Field of Lies,” because Louis’s supporters went over in droves to the camp of his eldest son Lothar and his brothers. Those on the side of the rebel sons, however, interpreted this massive desertion as a divine judgment which justified the public penance that had been imposed on Louis in the autumn of 833. God had obviously withdrawn his favor from this mighty emperor.1 One of those who continued to advocate this view, long after the event, was Paschasius Radbertus, a monk of Corbie and a highly accomplished biblical scholar, who was the abbot of this monastery between 843/44 and 849/53.2 In retirement, having relinquished his abbacy, he embarked on the second book of his Epitaphium Arsenii. Radbert had already completed the first book of this funeral eulogy in the years immediately after his abbot Wala’s death in 836. A cousin of Charlemagne, Wala had been a powerful secular magnate until 814, when, denied the favor of the new emperor, he left the political arena, was tonsured, and entered Corbie, where he none the

1 Mayke de Jong, e Penitential State. Authority and Atonement in the Age of Louis the Pious (814-840) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 224-49; Courtney M. Booker, Past Convictions: e Penance of Louis de Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), pp. 140-82.