Hilduin was from a prominent Frankish family. He was educated in the school of Alcuin, acquired much erudition, and corresponded with Rabanus Maurus. Hincmar of Reims, his pupil, speaks of him with great respect.
In 815 Hilduin obtained the Abbey of St-Denis near Paris; to which were added later the Abbey of St-Germain des Prés, Abbey of St-Médard in Soissons, and Abbey of St-Ouen. Louis the Pious appointed him his archchaplain in 819, or, more probably, not until 822.
He accompanied Louis's son, Lothair, on his expedition to Rome in 824, on which occasion the latter took part in the conflict over the election of Pope Eugene II. Hilduin brought back with him from Rome some relics of St. Sebastian and bestowed them on the Abbey of St-Médard.
In the war between Emperor Louis and his sons (830) Hilduin took the side of the latter. Thereby he lost his abbeys and was banished, first to Paderborn and then to the Abbey of Corvey (near Höxter on the Weser). Abbot Warin of that monastery received him kindly, in return for which Hilduin presented him with the relics of St. Vitus, which thereafter were profoundly venerated in Corvey. No later than 831, however, Hilduin regained Louis's favour. He was reinstated in the Abbey of St-Denis, whereupon he successfully undertook a reform of that monastery.
In 835, Louis commissioned Hilduin to write a biography of St. Dionysius of Paris, the emperor's particular patron saint. Hilduin executed this commission, with the aid of the pseudo-Dionysius's writings, a copy of which had been sent to the Frankish court by the Byzantine Emperor Michael II, and of other authorities. In his "Vita" Hilduin identified Dionysius of Paris with the Areopagite Dionysius, a view not generally accepted at that time, but which Hilduin's biography popularized for several centuries, until Sismondi and others dispelled this error.
Hilduin also helped to complete the Carolingian "Reichsannalen", or imperial annals.
In 1940, Max Buchner identified Hilduin as the author usually referred to as "The Astronomer," the author of the Vita Hludovici, a biography of Louis. This theory has achieved some popularity amongst later scholars, notably Ernst Tremp in 1985.
- Calmette, J. (1904). "Les Abbés Hilduin au IXe Siècle". Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes: revue d'érudition consacrée spécialement au moyen âge (in French) 65: 530–536.
- Dümmler, Ernest (1862). Geschichte des Ostfränkischen Reiches (in German). Duncker & Humblot.
- Ebert, Adolf (1874). Allgemeine Geschichte der Literatur des Mittelalters im Abendlande (in German). Akademische Druck.
- Foss, R. (1886). Ueber den Abt Hilduin von St. Denis und Dionysius Areopagita (in German).
- Monod, G. (1896). Hilduin et les Annales Einhardi (in French). Paris: Mélanges Julien Havet.
- Wattenbach, W. (1885). Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter bis zur Mitte des Dreizehnten Jahrhunderts (in German). Berlin: W. Hertz.
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