Nielsen Hayden genealogy

St. Arnulf, Bishop of Metz

Male Abt 582 - 640  (~ 57 years)


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Arnulf  
    Prefix St. 
    Suffix Bishop of Metz 
    Alternate birth Abt 580  Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Born Abt 13 Aug 582  Heristal, Liege, Belgium Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Gender Male 
    Died 18 Jul 640  Remiremont, Vosges, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 5
    Alternate death 16 Aug 640  Remiremont, Vosges, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Alternate death 643  [6
    Alternate death Between 643 and 647  Remiremont, Vosges, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Buried Church of the Apostles, Metz, Moselle, Lorraine, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Person ID I3993  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of AP, Ancestor of AW, Ancestor of DDB, Ancestor of DGH, Ancestor of DK, Ancestor of EK, Ancestor of GFS, Ancestor of JDM, Ancestor of JMF, Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of LDN, Ancestor of LMH, Ancestor of TNH, Ancestor of TSW, Ancestor of TWK, Ancestor of UKL, Ancestor of WPF
    Last Modified 28 Jul 2022 

    Children 
    +1. Ansegisel, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia,   b. 602,   d. Between 648 and 669  (Age 46 years)
    Last Modified 28 Jul 2022 
    Family ID F3425  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Also called Arnoldus; Arnoul de Heristala.

      Ansegisel, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, widely accepted as his son, is a proven ancestor of Charlemagne.

      He should not be confused, as Wikipedia does and as we did for many years, with St. Arnoul or Arnulf (d. 1087), bishop of Soissons, patron saint of hop-pickers and Belgian brewers. (Thanks to Susannah Greig for pointing this out.) Arnulf of Metz has no association with beer known to us. His Wikipedia page includes a "legend of the beer mug" supposedly associated with him, but this is unsourced.

      From the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia:

      Statesman, bishop under the Merovingians, born c. 580; died c. 640. His parents belonged to a distinguished Frankish family, and lived in Austrasia, the eastern section of the kingdom founded by Clovis. In the school in which he was placed during his boyhood he excelled through his talent and his good behaviour. According to the custom of the age, he was sent in due time to the court of Theodebert II, King of Austrasia (595-612), to be initiated in the various branches of the government. Under the guidance of Gundulf, the Mayor of the Palace, he soon became so proficient that he was placed on the regular list of royal officers, and among the first of the kings ministers. He distinguished himself both as a military commander and in the civil administration; at one time he had under his care six distinct provinces. In due course Arnulf was married to a Frankish woman of noble lineage, by whom he had two sons, Anseghisel and Clodulf. While Arnulf was enjoying worldly emoluments and honours he did not forget higher and spiritual things. His thoughts dwelled often on monasteries, and with his friend Romaricus, likewise an officer of the court, he planned to make a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Lérins, evidently for the purpose of devoting his life to God. But in the meantime the Episcopal See of Metz became vacant. Arnulf was universally designated as a worthy candidate for the office, and he was consecrated bishop of that see about 611. In his new position he set the example of a virtuous life to his subjects, and attended to matters of ecclesiastical government. In 625 he took part in a council held by the Frankish bishops at Reims. With all this Arnulf retained his station at the court of the king, and took a prominent part in the national life of his people. In 613, after the death of Theodebert, he, with Pepin of Landen and other nobles, called to Austrasia Clothaire II, King of Neustria. When, in 625, the realm of Austrasia was entrusted to the kings son Dagobert, Arnulf became not only the tutor, but also the chief minister, of the young king. At the time of the estrangement between the two kings, and 625, Arnulf with other bishops and nobles tried to effect a reconciliation. But Arnulf dreaded the responsibilities of the episcopal office and grew weary of court life. About the year 626 he obtained the appointment of a successor to the Episcopal See of Metz; he himself and his friend Romaricus withdrew to a solitary place in the mountains of the Vosges. There he lived in communion with God until his death. His remains, interred by Romaricus, were transferred about a year afterwards, by Bishop Goeric, to the basilica of the Holy Apostles in Metz.

      Of the two sons of Arnulf, Clodulf became his third successor in the See of Metz. Anseghisel remained in the service of the State; from his union with Begga, a daughter of Pepin of Landen, was born Pepin of Heristal, the founder of the Carlovingian dynasty. In this manner Arnulf was the ancestor of the mighty rulers of that house. The life or Arnulf exhibits to a certain extent the episcopal office and career in the Merovingian State. The bishops were much considered at court; their advice was listened to; they took part in the dispensation of justice by the courts; they had a voice in the appointment of royal officers; they were often used as the king's ambassadors, and held high administrative positions. For the people under their care, they were the protectors of their rights, their spokesmen before the king and the link uniting royalty with its subjects. The opportunities for good were thus unlimited; and Arnulf used them to good advantage.

      From The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe (citation details below):

      In the eighth and ninth centuries, the story of Arnulf underwent mythical retouching as part of an effort to exalt the achievements of this glorious forebear of the Carolingians. Fabricated legends connected him with the nobility of Aquitaine and even went so far as to make him a scion of the Merovingian family, a fantasy to be sure. On this account, it is best to follow Arnulf's biography as written in the mid-seventh century by an anonymous contemporary.

      Arnulf was born about 580, to a family that possessed vast domains in the Woëvre plain (an expanse lying between the Mosel and Meuse rivers) as well as in the vicinity of Worms. In his youth, Arnulf learned to read and write under a tutor; such was the tradition among noble families who wished to outfit their children with the rudiments of learning and a religious upbringing. With the coming of adolescence, he moved on to the royal court, as did many well-born sons of the time, where he was placed in the care of Gundulf, the mayor of the palace and a landowner near Metz who seems to have stemmed from the family of Gregory of Tours. Arnulf distinguished himself by his military skills and entered the service of King Theudebert II, son of Childebert I. He became a manager of royal domains and was also entrusted with administrative duties in the counties. Despite his success, Arnulf probably began to dream with his friends Romaric and Bertulf of leaving the world and joining the Irish monks settled since 590 near the Vosges highlands. Although Columbanus had been obliged to flee to exile in Italy, he had left disciples whose brand of ascetic life appealed to youthful Austrasian nobles. Nevertheless, under pressure from his parents, who sought to transmit and augment the family patrimony by marriage, Arnulf agreed to wed a young woman of illustrious birth. The marriage produced many children, and to two of the sons, Chlodulf and Ansegisel, we shall have occasion to return. A leading figure at the court, Arnulf cast his lot against Brunhild, as noted above, and rallied behind Chlotar II. In doing so, he linked his interests to those of Pippin, a fellow nobleman. The marriage of Ansegisel, son of Arnulf, with the daughter of Pippin would strengthen this tie. [...]

      When Chlotar I became conqueror and master of the entire Frankish realm in 613, he rewarded the two noble families that had supported him. Around 614, Chlotar offered the vacant bishopric of Metz to Arnulf, whose administrative and religious merits the king appreciated. The duties of bishop of Metz were important ones owing to the town's role as capital of the Austrasian kingdom. Within the town of 70 hectares walled with Roman fortifications, the cathedral of Saint Stephen, the baptistery, and other churches formed a special quarter; in the southern section lay basilicas and monasteries, of which the famous St. Pierre-aux-Nonnains remains to this day. A Merovingian bishop was more than the leader of his clergy; he was the watchful administrator who supervised the working of his town and assisted the king in political matters. Arnulf wielded an accumulation of administrative and religious duties, since, as his vita, or "saint's life," reports, he continued to hold his former duties as domesticus and palatinus (steward and courtier). Moreover, when Chlotar II chose to accommodate Austrasian particularism by establishing his ten-year-old son Dagobert at Metz, the king entrusted Arnulf with the upbringing of the young prince and the government of the realm. To share this heavy responsibility, Chlotar II named Pippin as mayor of the palace of Austrasia.

      The duty of mayor of the palace was an ancient one. In the sixth century, the maior palatii was attached to the person of the king or queen, and he oversaw the managers of the royal domains. This important responsibility vested great power in the mayor, who subsequently became the king's principal collaborator and sometimes his rival. When Pippin I was named mayor of the palace of Austrasia, he in fact ruled the kingdom together with Arnulf. Soon he ruled it alone.

      Now about forty years of age, Arnulf returned to the resolve of his youth and took up monastic life. He resided increasingly at hermitages situated on his domains around Metz and along the fringe of the Vosges highlands. His friend Romaric had left the court around 613. After spending several years at Luxcuil, Romaric founded the monastery of Habendum on his own properties, which later came to be known as Remiremont. Arnulf hoped to join him and relinquish his episcopal responsibilities, but Chlotar II refused permission. Only after the death of the king in 629 did Arnulf succeed. He retired to a place near Habendum in the company of a few monks and lepers whom he served in humility. There he died between 643 and 647. Buried at Remiremont, he immediately gained a reputation as a saint. This renown would serve the future prestige of his family.

      From The Arnulfings Before 687, thesis presented to the University of Manitoba, by Richard A. Gerberding, October, 1977:

      Einhard, writing between 814 and 820, laments not being able to find reliable sources concerning even Charlemagne's birth. This causes us to pay particular attention to the fact that Einhard only records the Emperor's lineage back as far as Pepin II. Given Einhard's caution, one wonders how other contemporary authors were able to create extensive genealogies for the period when the family had not yet reached the pinnacle of power. Einhard had access to the same archival facilities as did Paul the Deacon and others, and yet the eminent scholar and biographer apparently could find no sources he deemed worthy. The Vita Sancti Arnulfi, written about 680, also mentions neither the saint's father nor his offspring.

      With Paul the Deacon, however, a genealogy of the Carolingian house begins to form. Paul was an intimate of Charlemagne, and if we can believe Paul when he tells us that he heard the story about Saint Arnulf throwing away and retrieving his ring in a fish from the Emperor himself, then it would seem that not only was Charlemagne aware of who his ancestors were, but he was also interested in them and wont to tell stories about them. Compared to what will come later, Paul's information concerning Charlemagne's ancestors is still rather sober. Picking up the same legend as does Fredegar and the Liber Historiae Francorum, Paul too ascribes the origins of the Franks to Troy. Here he speculates that the name of Arnulf's son, Anchisius, derived from Anchises, Aeneas' father. Aside from this obvious touch of fantasy, Paul's genealogical comments have been generally accepted. He begins with Saint Arnulf, and through a series of "genuits" traces the accepted line to Charlemagne. There is no attempt here to use ancestry to legitimize the new dynasty. Paul makes no attempt to connect the Carolingians either with the Merovingians or with the ancient Roman ruling classes. Of Arnulf's forebears he tells us only that the family was Frankish and noble. He does not connect other bishops of Metz, such as Aigulf and Arnoald with Arnulf, and his descriptions of Arnulf's sons are happily lacking the cloud of holiness with which the tenth century hagiographers would obscure them. But while Paul's genealogy seems modest, unelaborated, and relatively believable, there is still that gnawing awareness that the more reliable Einhard will apparently have none of it.

  • Sources 
    1. [S35] Encyclopedia Britannica.

    2. [S4308] The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline and History of the Catholic Church, eds. Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, Conde B. Pallen, Thomas J. Shahan, and John J. Wynne. 15 volumes. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907-1912., year only.

    3. [S6517] The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe by Pierre Riché, trans. Michael Idomir Allen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993., year only.

    4. [S145] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis and Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. 8th edition, William R. Beall & Kaleen E. Beall, eds. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004, 2006, 2008.

    5. [S4308] The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline and History of the Catholic Church, eds. Charles G. Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, Conde B. Pallen, Thomas J. Shahan, and John J. Wynne. 15 volumes. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907-1912., year and place only.

    6. [S346] The Oxford Dictionary of Saints by David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press, 1978.

    7. [S6517] The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe by Pierre Riché, trans. Michael Idomir Allen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.

    8. [S160] Wikipedia., article on the Abbey of Saint-Arnould.