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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

10 - Pope Gregory

from Part II


This final chapter discusses a letter, attributed to Pope Gregory IV (d.844), to the bishops of Francia. In 833, Pope Gregory IV made the journey across the Alps to mediate in the conflict between Emperor Louis the Pious and his sons. The chapter addresses the issue of the identity of the author who composed the letter. It discusses both the content of the letter and the details of its transmission, because this text is highly relevant to the reception of classical ideas on free speech. The unidentified author draws upon the late antique tradition of free speech in an attempt to persuade the bishops of Francia to speak out to the emperor. An analysis of this letter shows that the classical vocabulary of free speech, which disappeared in letters and literature of the Latin West after the sixth century, was reintroduced in political discourse. The chapter shows how within the ninth-century movement to bolster spiritual authority, the old vocabulary of free speech found a new place.