AGOBARD: Archbishop of Lyons 8l6-840 [b., probably in Spain, 779; d. in Saintonge (an old province of western France) June 6, 840]. Nothing certain is known of his youth. He went to Lyons in 792, and probably owed his education to Leidrad, archbishop of Lyons, one of the most diligent of Charlemagne's helpers in his civilizing work. Later he became Leidrad's assistant, and then his successor. When the order of succession established by Louis le Débonnaire in 817, largely through ecclesiastical influence, was set aside at the instigation of the empress Judith (829), Agobard was one of its most zealous defenders. He seems to have taken no part in the rising of 830; but in 833 he appears among the professed opponents of Louis. He approved the deposition of the emperor, and was one of the bishops who forced him to his humiliating penance at Soissons. Consequentially in 835, when Louis had recovered his power, Agobard was deprived of his office. He regained it later, being reconciled with Louis.
Agobard takes a foremost place in the annals of Carolingan culture. In strictly theological treatises such as the Liber adversus dogma Felicis, against Adoptionism, and another, against image-worship, he is as much a mere compiler as any of his contemporaries. When, however, in a polemic against Fredegis, abbot of St. Martin at Tours, he deals with the question of inspiration, he speaks out boldly against the doctrine of verbal inspiration, while still declaring himself to be governed by the tradition of orthodox teachers. In his political writings he was less governed by traditional views. He was not afraid to touch one of the most difficult questions of the time, that of the restitution of Church property, at the diet held at Attigny in 822; and he renewed the demand in the tractate De dispensatione ecclesiarum rerum. His Comparatio utriusque regiminis ecclesiastici et politici (833) is one of the first writings in which the claim is outspokenly made that the emperor must do the bidding of the pope. He wrote a book against the popular superstition that storms could be caused by magic, basing his argument on religious grounds, yet making appeal to sound reason. In advance of his age, again, he denied absolutely the justice of the ordeal by battle, and wrote two tractates against it. He was also to some extent a liturgical scholar; and in the preface to his revised antiphonary laid down the principle that the words of Holy Scripture should alone be used.
BIBLIORAPHY: A. Cave, Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum historia literaria, vol. ii., London, 1688 (contains list of the works of Agobard); Opera, ed. E. Baluze, 2 vols., Paris, 1666, and thence in MPL, civ.; also in MGH, Leges, i. (1835) 369, MGH, Epist., v. (1899) 150-239, and in MGH, Script., xv. 1 (1887), 274-279.
For his life and times: Menestrier, Histoire civile de la ville de Lyons, 3 parts, Lyons, 1696; K. B. Hundeshagen, Commentatio de Agobardi vita et scriptis, Gieseen, 1831; P. Chevallard, L'Eglise et l'etat en France au neuvieme siecle, Saint Agobard, Lyons, 1869; T. Förster, Drei Erzbischöfe vor 1000 Jahren, Gütersloh, 1874; B. Simson, Jahrbücher des fränkischen Reichs unter Ludwig dem Frommen, i. 397 sqq., Leipsic, 1874; H. Reuter, Geschichte der religiössen Aufklärung im Mittelalter, i. 24-41, Berlin, 1875; DCB, i. 63-64; A. Ebert, Geschichte den Litteratur des Mittelalters, ii., 209-222. Leipsic. 1880; J. F. Marcks, Die politisch-kirchliche Wirksamkeit des...Agobard. Viersen, 1888; Hauck, KD, ii. 453 sqq.; Wattenbach, DGQ, i. 232, Berlin, 1904; F. Wiegand, Agobard von Lyons und die Judenfrage, Leipsic, 1901.