Turpin (archbishop of Reims)
Turpin (died c. 2 September 800) was an archbishop of Reims during the late 8th century. He was for many years regarded as the author of the legendary Historia de vita Caroli Magni et Rolandi, and appears as one of the Twelve Peers in a number of the chansons de geste, the most important of which is La Chanson de Roland.
He is probably identical with Tilpin, an 8th-century archbishop of Reims alluded to by Hincmar, his third successor. According to Flodoard, Charles Martel drove Rigobert, archbishop of Reims, from his office and replaced Rigobert with a warrior clerk named Milo, afterwards bishop of Trier. The same writer represents Milo as discharging a mission among the Vascones, or Basques, the very people to whom authentic history has ascribed the great disaster which befell the army of Charlemagne at Roncevaux Pass.
It is thus possible that the warlike legends which have gathered around the name of Turpin are due to some confusion of his identity with that of his martial predecessor. Flodoard says that Tilpin was originally a monk at Saint Denis Basilica, and Hincmar tells how after his appointment to Reims he occupied himself in securing the restoration of the rights and properties of his church, the revenues and prestige of which had been impaired under Milo's rule. Tilpin was elected archbishop between 752 and 768, probably in 753; he died, if the evidence of a diploma alluded to by Jean Mabillon may be trusted, in 794, although it has been stated that this event took place on 2 September 800.
Hincmar, who composed his epitaph, makes him bishop for over forty years, and from this it is evident that he was elected about 753, and Flodoard says that he died in the forty-seventh year of his archbishopric. Tilpin was present at the Council of Rome in 769, and at the request of Charlemagne Pope Adrian I sent him the pallium and confirmed the rights of his church.
The Historia Caroli Magni was attributed to him although this is disputed. It was declared authentic in 1122 by Pope Calixtus II. It is, however, entirely legendary, being rather the crystallization of earlier Roland legends than the source of later ones, and its popularity seems to date from the latter part of the 12th century.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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