A Warrior Bishop of the Twelfth Century: The Deeds of Albero of Trier, by Balderich

Translated by
Brian A. Pavlac

MST 44. 2008. viii, 90 pp. ISBN 978–0–88844–294–9 • $16.95

This translation of the Gesta Alberonis provides an exciting record of a remarkable prelate and of the tumultuous age in which he lived.

Balderich’s Deeds of Albero offers much insight into the conflicts between church and state during the twelfth century. The Gesta Alberonis records the exploits of Albero von Montreuil (Archbishop of Trier, 1131–1152), portrayed as a daring hero doing battle on behalf of the “Liberty of the Church.”

During the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, political and ecclesiastical rulers alike sought to clarify the responsibilities, rights, and obligations they had in common and those that were unique to their different but related kinds of rule. Balderich opens the Deeds with explicit reference to these struggles for power, which later came to be known as the Investiture Controversy. This conflict between the church and the German emperor centred on the question of control over the appointment of bishops: clergy and princes alternately allied with and fought against one another, seeking to consolidate their respective powers through different structures of governance.

As a young cleric in Metz, Albero resisted an imperially appointed bishop. His audacious use of disguise while traveling on secret missions for his church shows him to be very much a folk-hero. And once Albero had been appointed archbishop, Balderich characterizes him as the linchpin in the actions of popes and kings. Albero ensured the election of King Conrad III, and led troops on campaigns in Italy and northern Germany. But it was Albero’s rule as a prince-bishop that proved paramount. Albero directed the spiritual affairs of the church in Trier while exercising political rule over the principality, and it is the latter that is Balderich’s principal focus, and which makes the Deeds the remarkable document it is.

The translation of the Deeds, based on Trier, Stadtbibliothek MS no. 1387/6/8°, with accompanying notes, is prefaced by a wide-ranging historical introduction. The volume includes maps, a selected bibliography, and an index.

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