Theodulf of Orléans

ca. 760–821


Little is known about Theodulf’s early life, but various statements in his written works point to an upbringing and theological education in northern Spain. His poem “De libris quos legere solebam” (“About the books that I was accustomed to read”) offers a list of significant historic authors such as Augustine, Chrysostom, Virgil, and Ovid, and these same authors are quoted in his works in many places, clearly demonstrating access to higher education, especially Christian theological training. This same text singles out the venerable Spaniard Prudentius as a patriarch: “Diversoque potens prudenter promere plura metro, o Prudenti, noster et ipse parens” (“And with distinct meter, wisely able to bring out more things, O Prudentius, one of us and the father himself”). Manuscripts surviving from the period exhibit Latin grammar and spelling consistent with nuances found in northern Spain, plus literary influences from Spanish liturgy. One of his earliest poems says, “Nec me praesulibus doctorem praefero sanctis, … cum sim levitide turba pars” (“I do not offer myself as a teacher before the bishops, … with the multitude of deacons may I be a part”), and it lists duties befitting a deacon. Theodulf must have been ordained in that capacity before becoming involved in the Frankish court. Read more >

by Chris Fenner
The Hymn, vol. 63, no. 1 (Winter 2012)

Featured Hymns:

 Gloria laus et honor

Collected Works:

Jacobi Sirmondi, Theodvlfi Avrelianensis Episcopi Opera (Paris: Sebastianum Cramoisy, 1646): HathiTrust

J.P. Migne, Theodulfi Aurelianensis Episcopi, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina (PL), vol. 105 (Paris, 1864):

Ernst Dümmler, Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), vol. 1 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1881):

Nikolai A. Alexandrenko, The Poetry of Theodulf of Orléans: A Translation and Critical Study, dissertation (Tulane University, 1970).

Related Resources:

Louis Baunard, Théodulfe, évèque d’Orléans et Abbé de Fleury-sur-Loire (Paris: Charles Douniol, 1860).

Henry Austin Wilson, “Theodulfus,” A Dictionary of Christian Biography, vol. 4 (London: John Murray, 1887), pp. 983-989: Google Books

J.I. Mombert, A History of Charles the Great (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1888):

James Mearns & John Julian, “Gloria laus et honor,” A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1892), p. 426: Google Books

Charles Cuissard, Théodulfe, évêque d'Orléans, sa vie et ses oeuvres avec une carte du Pagvs Avrelianensis au IXe siècle (Orléans: H. Herluison, 1892): HathiTrust

Stephen A. Hurlbut, Hortus Conclusus: A Series of Mediaeval Latin Hymns with Selected English Renderings, Part V (Washington, DC: St. Albans Press, 1931), pp. 10-13.

Roger Collins, Charlemagne (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998).

Ann Freeman, Theodulf of Orléans: Charlemagne’s Spokesman Against the Second Council of Nicaea (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003).

Ann Freeman, “Theodulf of Orléans,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 13 (New York: Gale, 2003), p. 886.

Alessandro Barbero, Charlemagne: Father of a Continent, trans. Allan Cameron (Berkley: University of California Press, 2004).

Paul Meyvaert, The Art of Words: Bede and Theodulf (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008).

Chris Fenner, “Theodulf: Theologian Charlemagne’s Court, Poet, and Bishop of Orleáns,” The Hymn, vol. 63, no. 1 (Winter 2012), pp. 13-20: HathiTrust

David Wulstan, “Theodulf of Orléans,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology: