2 On Brunechild, see VI. 5, note 4. Having after the death of her son Childebert II. acted as guardian of his son Theodebert II., who had received the kingdom of Austrasia with his Capital at Metz, she had been expelled by the Austrasians in the year 599, and been received by her other grandson, Theoderic II., who reigned over Burgundy with his Capital at Orleans. When this letter was sent (a.d. 602) Theoderic would be about fifteen years of age, and, as appears from the letter to himself which follows, under the management of his grandmother.
6 If the accounts given by the Frankish historians be true, Brunechild's influence over her grrandson was not in all respects such as to prepare him for life with the angels. She is said to have encouraged him in licentious living for fear of her own power being undermined by the introduction into his court of a lawful queen. (Greg Turon., Hist. Franc. Xl. 36; Fredegar. XXX., XXXVII.).
7 For the rest of this epistle see preceding Epistle IX with which, mutatis mutandis it is identical, as was Epistle VIII., save for an additional paragraph given under Epistle VIII. See what has been said with regard to that Epistle. The genuineness, or at any rate the freedom from interpolation, of all these three Epistles is disputed. The Benedictine Editors of Gregory's works defend their authenticity. See their note (b) to Ep.VIII( Patrologiae Tomus LXVII. Sancti Gregorii Magni tomus tertius). The purport of all three letters is to confer privileges on, and provide for the future security and regulation of, three recent foundations of Queen Brunechild at Augustodunim (Autun); viz. 1. A hospital, or guest-house (xenodochium) in Autun, over which a Senator, described as "presbyter and abbot," had been appointed to preside; 2. A monastery for women, of which Thalassi had been appointed Abbess; 3. The Church of St. Martin in the suburbs, over which Lupo "presbyter and abbot," presided. These foundations are referred to, though not described, in Epistle VI. to Brunechild herself, where Gregory speaks of having issued decrees for their protection in the future, which he desires should be kept among the royal archives. In those times of continual conflict among the Frank potentates royal founders might naturally wish to protect their foundations from disturbance by means of spiritual fulminations ; and the queen's desire in this respect might account for the anathemas in these epistles, which have been said to be characteristic of a later age than that of Gregory. It may be observed further that the appointment of the heads of these religious institutions is, in the letters before us, reserved to "the kings of the province" instead of free election, subject to episcopal approval, being left to the inmates, as was usual in other cases. This might be due, if the letters are genuine, to the request of Brunechild, whom, as a staunch Catholic and a supporter of the Church, Gregory ever shews himself anxious to conciliate. With regard to his politic flattery of her, or of others similarly situated, cf. VI. 5, note 4.
9 Sacerdotes, meaning here apparently parish priests, though more commonly, in Gregory's epistles, denoting bishops. The abuse complained of seems to have been that of charging priests of parishes unreasonably for the remuneration of the clerici who attended the bishops on their confirmation progresses.
14 Filii ecclesae, or, according to the authority of mss., simply filii. Cf. III. 56, where the expression occurs. It is understood to denote the lay members of any Church, among whom those of the highest social position were called nobiles (see below), and others plebs. Mandates for the election of bishops are addressed to clero, nobilibus, ordini, et plebi (as in II.6), or to clero ordini, et plebi (as in I.58), or occasionally clero et nobilibus (as in I. 80); ordo being understood to denote persons of position, though not ranking as nobles.