Monday, 7 October 2013

The Norman Anonymous Tract on Christian Kingship

Rouen, Late 11th early 12th century

Extract from and Summary from a section in the
Electronic Norman Anonymous Project

Tract 24 expresses The Norman Anonymous' extreme royalist theological viewpoint, in which some historians declare that it was a significant contemporary example of the passionate opposition to the decrees and reforms of Pope Gregory VII. This tract, however, is more than just a defence of the rights of kings, but it also investigates the nature of the Christian kingship. The NA regards kingship as sacramental and it is this sacramental nature of kingship which is the foundation of his entire argument.  He grounds this in the conviction that the anointing of a king at his coronation transforms the individual into another man, as is described in the Bible (1 Sm 10.6): the king during the coronation ceremony becomes "the Lord’s Anointed" (christus Domini1 Sm 24.7). And it is by means of this sacramental anointment that the king becomes another Christ, and, through grace, takes on the character of Christ himself.

Indeed this sacramental participation in Christ is not limited to the king, but applies equally to bishops, who are also anointed sacramentally when they are consecrated. In fact, NA asserts directly that "kings and priests hold this grace in common" (reges et sacerdotes hanc habent gratiam commune). However, it is the NA's thesis that the anointing, sanctification and power of the king is greater than that of a priest (maior regis quam sacerdotis et unctio et sanctificatio et potestas), not necessarily because the priest's consecration is inherently inferior, but because of the different way each participates in Christ. He says kings are sacramentally united with Christ the King, whereas bishops are sacramentally united with Christ the Priest. The NA then goes on to state that Christ's Kingship is linked with his divine nature, by which he creates and governs all things; but Christ's Priesthood is only linked with his human nature, by which he mediates, and breaks down the barrier between God and humanity. Therefore, The NA contends, as Christ's divinity is clearly superior to his humanity, an anointed king must therefore logically hold a superior position above that of an anointed priest within a Christian community.

The NA supports his argument through a discussion of royal anointing as it is described in the Old Testament, and by the analysis of key New Testament passages on rulers, and a detailed comparison of the prayers used in the liturgies of consecration of bishops and kings, and how the king often has takes on a pivotal role in the councils of the church.


I. Due in ueteri testamento personę
In this section the NA considers the significance of the Old Testament, its references to anointing for understanding the relationship between the priest and the king. 154

II. Nunc ueniamus ad nouum testamentum
The NA turns to a consideration of the king in the New Testament, to the New Dispensation inaugurated by Christ. He outlines in detail his sacramental theology of kingship and its superlative character, and presents his ideal of the king's role and function in the church. 159

III. Habent tamen et sacerdotes quandam regiminis communionem
This section examines the legitimacy of the king's power and authority in ruling the church, discussing the liturgical basis for this authority and considering kings and emperors who convened and presided over the councils of the church. 179

IV. Nunc autem inseramus benedictionem et consecrationem sacerdotis et regis
The NA compares the prayers of the episcopal and royal consecrations, and argues on this basis for the exalted status of the king. 187

V. Nunc inseramus consecrationem sacerdotis
An appendix containing texts of the episcopal and royal consecrations, and an Insular florilegium of materials relating to Christian kingship. 192


Wikipedia The Norman Anonymous
The Norman Anonymous Project. 2013.

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