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Aachen, Synods of

AACHEN, ɑ̄´ken, SYNODS OF: The political importance of the town of Aachen (Latin Aquisgranum; French, Aix-la-Chapelle) under Charlemagne and his successors made it a favorite meeting-place for various assemblies. The first synod of Aachen (or Aix) is usually reckoned as having met on Mar. 23, 789, and there is no doubt that a gathering took place on that day; but its results are known only from two royal decrees, the so called Admonitio generalis (MGH, Leg., i., Capitularia regum Francorum, ed. A. Boretius, i., 1883, cap. 22), and the instructions for the royal representatives (cap. 23). The former repeats a summary of the earlier canonical legislation on the duties of the clergy, and adds further regulations for the improvement of clerical and social life, dealing with diligence in preaching, the education of the clergy, the observance of the Lord’s Day, just judgment, equal weights and measures, hospitality, and the prevention of witchcraft and perjury. The other document treats of monastic discipline and the regulation of civil society. It is questionable if this gathering can be properly called a synod; and still less can the name be applied to that of 797 (cap. 27), which regulated the condition of the conquered Saxons. On the other hand, the assembly of June, 799, in which Alcuin disputed with Felix of Urgel (see Adoptionism) may be so called, and likewise the three meetings in the years 801 and 802. Their deliberations led to a series of decrees (cap. 33-35 and 36-41) which throw light on Charlemagne’s endeavors to elevate clergy and laity. The most important is the great instruction for the missi dominici sent out in the spring of 802, dealing with the discipline of bishops, clergy, monks, and nuns, the faithful performance of their duties by public officials, and the establishment of justice throughout the empire. Among the results of the autumn synod of 802, cap. 36 and 38, deserve special attention; they deal with the duty of intercession for the emperor and bishops, the education of the people, tithes, divine worship and the sacraments, clerical discipline, and the system of ecclesiastical visitations. The next synod (Nov. 809), was occupied with the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Ghost. In the autumn of 816, or the summer of 817, Louis le Débonnaire assembled his first synod at Aachen, when the bishops laid down new regulations for the community life, both of canons and nuns. In the summer of 817 an assembly of abbots discussed the observance of the Benedictine rule. The diets of 819 and 825 and similar later assemblies can again scarcely be counted as synods, though the one held in the sacristy of the cathedral, Feb. 6, 835, has a synodical character. It adopted a thoroughgoing pronouncement on the life and teaching of bishops and inferior clergy, and on the position of the king, his family, and his ministers, with a view to regulating the confusion which the strife between Louis and his sons had caused. It also required of Pépin of Aquitaine that he should restore the church property which he had appropriated. For the synod held at Aachen in connection with the question of Lothaire’s divorce, see Nicholas I. The last two synods of Aachen were held under Henry II, one in the year 1000 in connection with the restoration of the bishopric of Merseburg (see Willigis); the other, in 1023, when the contest between the dioceses of Cologne and Liége for the possession of the monastery of Burtscheid was decided in favor of the latter.

(A. Hauck.)

Bibliography: Fragmentum historicum de concilio Aquisgranensi, in Mabillon, Analecta, i. 52, Paris, 1723, and in Bouquet, Recueil, vi. 415-443; Epistola Synodi Aquisgranensis ad Pippin, in Labbe, Concilia, vii. 1728, and in Bouquet, Recueil, vi. 354; A. J. Binterim, Pragmatische Geschichte der deutschen . . . Concilien, ii., iii., Mains, 1836-37; MGH, Leg. i. (1835) 465; ib. Capitularia reg. Franc., ii. 2 (1893), 463-466; Hauck, KD, ii.; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vols. iii., iv.; MGH, Leg. sectio iii., Concilia, i. 1 (1904).

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