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date: 27 January 2020

Agobard of Lyonslocked

  • James W. McKinnon


(b Spain, 769; d Lyons, 840). Frankish ecclesiastic. He came as a youth to Gaul, taking up residence in the monastery of St Polycarp near Narbonne. He was ordained in 804 and named bishop of Lyons in 816, where he remained for the rest of his life, except for a period of exile in Italy during the years 835–8 because he had sided with the sons of the emperor Louis the Pious against their father; his temporary replacement as administrator of Lyons was his rival Amalarius.

Agobard was a vigorous controversialist of conservative bent. He was outspoken in his opposition to Frankish folk religious practices, to trial by ordeal, to royal interference in church affairs and to Jewish influence at court. In the liturgical realm he was against the employment of images in worship, the use of non-biblical texts and the allegorical interpretation of the liturgy, the two latter positions being directly contrary to those of Amalarius. After his reinstatement as archbishop of Lyons in 838, he and his deacon Florus sought to undo the liturgical innovations of Amalarius, particularly by revising his Office antiphoner. The principal change was the replacement of non-biblical texts. The opposition of Agobard to non-biblical texts may account for the longstanding absence of hymns and tropes in the liturgy of Lyons....

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