Adalberon (bishop of Laon)

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Adalberon, or Ascelin (died July 19, 1030/1031), was a French bishop and poet. He was a son of Reginar of Bastogne, and a nephew of Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims.

He studied at Reims[1] and was in the chapter of Metz Cathedral.[2] He became bishop of Laon in 977.

The chronicler Richer of Rheims reports an accusation of 977 against him of adultery, with Queen Emma of Italy.[3] Emma's son Louis V of France removed him from Laon in 981.[4]

When Laon was taken by Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, in 988, Adalberon was put into prison, whence he escaped and sought the protection of Hugh Capet, king of France. Winning the confidence of Charles of Lorraine and of Arnulf, archbishop of Reims, he was restored to his see;[1] but in 991 he gave Laon, together with Charles and Arnulf, into the hands of Hugh Capet.[5]

Subsequently, he took an active part in ecclesiastical affairs, and died on July 19, 1030/1031.[1]


Adalberon wrote a satirical poem, Carmen ad Rotbertum regem, in the form of a dialogue dedicated to Robert II of France, in which he argued against contemporary episcopal and monastic reform. He showed his dislike of Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, and his followers, and his objection to persons of humble birth being made bishops.[1] Versions include:

  • Carozzi, Claude (ed. and trans.). Adalberon de Laon. Poème au roi Robert. Les classiques de l'histoire de France au moyen âge 32. Paris, 1979.
  • Migne, J.P. (ed.). Patrologia Latina, vol. 141. Paris, 1844. Transcription available from Documenta Catholica Omnia
  • Valois, H. (ed.). Carmen panegyricum in laudem Berengarii. Paris, 1663. First (modern) publication of the poem.
Diagram of the three orders

He seems to be famous in French history because of a poem in which he made mention of (the) three orders in society : "oratores, bellatores, laboratores" : the clergy ("praying Church"), nobles and chivalry ("the fighting church"), and, third, the labouring people ("church of toiling"), the last one supporting the others, and all supporting the whole edifice of mankind. This idea was incorporated into the "three social orders" of the Ancien Régime in France.

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Histoire de la France, ed. George Duby, Larousse 1988, vol I, p. 301;
  • Franco Gardini, in The Medieval World, ed. Jacques le Goff, 1987, Eng. transl. 1990, Collins & Brown, p. 75. Not in the more pragmatic (?) English literature. -


  1. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Adalberon". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 167. This cites:
    • Richer, Historiarum Libri III. et IV., which appears in the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Scriptores. Band iii. (Hanover and Berlin, 1826–1892)
    • A. Olleris, OEuvres de Gerbert pape sous le nom de Sylvestre II. (Paris, 1867)
    • Histoire litteraire de la France, tome vii. (Paris, 1865–1869).
  2. ^ Heinrich Fichtenau, Patrick J. Geary, Living in the Tenth Century: Mentalities and Social Orders (1991), p. 187.
  3. ^ Jason Glenn, Politics and History in the Tenth Century: The Work and World of Richer of Reims (2004), p. 147.
  4. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia: Soissons". 1912-07-01. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  5. ^ Patrick J. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millennium (1994), p. 151.