Drogo of Metz
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Decorated initial T from Drogo's personal sacramentary.
June 17, 801|
December 8, 855 (aged 54)|
River Oignon, at Himeriacum, Bourgogne, Germany
Early life and family
Drogo was born on 17 June 801 at Aachen, Gaul (Aix-La-Chappelle). The Annales Weissemburgenses record Drogo’s birth as "802 aut 803 15 Kal Iul".
Einhard names "Drogonem et Hugum" as sons of Charlemagne by his concubine "Reginam". Drogo’s mother, Regina, was one of four concubines taken by Charlemagne in 800 after the death of his Alemannian wife who had borne him no children.
Drogo had many half-brothers and sisters (through his father, Charlemagne) but only one full brother, Hugh (802-844), who was the younger. He and his brother Hugh, and their half-brother Thierry, were brought up in the palace of their half-brother Louis the Pious (Emperor Louis I) after their father died.
In the collection of Einhard’s Charters, there is one written in 815 by Louis the Pious in which he grants a village (Mulinheim, later Seligenstadt) situated on the banks of the Main River to Einhard and his wife. This property was once owned by a Count Drogo. This person could possibly be identified as Charlemagne's son Drogo, although he was only 14 years old in 815.
Drogo's brother, Hugh, was ordained and served as the abbot of Charroux, St-Quentin, Lobbes, St-Bertin and Noaille. He later served as archchancellor to Louis the Pious from 834 to 840 and became archchaplain to Charles the Bald (son of Louis the Pious) in 841 after the battle of Fontenoy. Hugh was killed in battle at Angoulême in June 844. The Annales Fuldenses record that "Hugo abbas, patruus Karoli et Rihboto abbas, Rhaban quoque signifer" was killed "844 VII Id Jun" in the battle in which "Pippini duces" (Pippin's generals) defeated the army of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks.
As one of the few children to outlive his father, Drogo's prospects for political power were very favourable. Only one older son of Charlemagne remained, and was eager to ensure his few opponents were placated.
Forced out of the royal court when Louis the Pious became Emperor in 814, Drogo and Hugh were forcibly tonsured and "put under free custody into monasteries".
In 822, as a deeply religious man, Louis performed penance (for causing the death of Bernard of Italy and other issues), at his palace of Attigny near Vouziers in the Ardennes, before Pope Paschal I, and a council of ecclesiastics and nobles of the realm that had been convened for the reconciliation of Louis with his three sons. Also in attendance were his three younger half-brothers, Drogo, whom he soon installed as Bishop of Metz in 823 (the previous bishop was Gondulphus of Metz, 819 to 822), Hugo, who he soon made Abbot of St-Quentin, and Theodoric.
Drogo became less significant at court and as a court figure by 829 – he had no formal position and did not become a player again until the 830s.
Throughout the 830s Louis the Pious was busy with the rebellions of his sons and assorted counts, dukes, abbots, bishops and archbishops. This was a period when loyalty and oaths were of paramount importance so it is probable that Drogo’s loyalty to Louis the Pious would have been greatly appreciated.
Louis was re-installed as Emperor at Metz in 835 after his temporary deposition in 833-834. Drogo wielded much influence in the last years of Louis the Pious’ reign. According to the Astronomer, Drogo was Louis the Pious’ daily confessor. It was Drogo who finally persuaded Louis to forgive his rebellious sons. Drogo became Archbishop of Metz in 844 and remained in this position for the duration of his life.
Drogo was also the most prominent figure at Louis the Pious’ deathbed. On his deathbed, Louis asked Drogo to send the royal regalia (crown and sword) to his son Lothar thus indicating the transfer of power. Drogo took charge of his remains and had them transported from the island in the Rhine where he died. The Annales Fuldenses record that "Druogonem archicapellum et Adalbertum comitem" (Arch-chaplain Drogo and Count Adalbert) were sent to the east bank of the Rhine in 840 to take the body to Metz where Drogo presided over the funeral rites. The Sepulchre of Louis the Pious in St. Arnulf in Metz has often been considered as representative of the family tradition. Arnulf of Metz, mayor of the palace in Austrasia, is supposed to be the progenitor of the Carolingians (Arnulflings). But in fact, Saint-Arnulf of Metz was primarily a burial place for the women of the Carolingian family. Before or after Louis the Pious, no Carolingian king was buried there. One could instead see this sepulchre as a sign of archbishop Drogo's ambition of elevating his city of Metz by making it the cradle of the Carolingian family. In all probability he wished to establish Saint- Arnoul, whose patron saint was a family ancestor, as the royal mausoleum of the Carolingians (see K.U. Jaschke, Die Karolingergenealogien aus Metz, in list of sources).
In 844, when Sergius was elected Pope Sergius II, Emperor Lothar sent his son Louis to Rome accompanied by Drogo who had recently been raised from bishop to archbishop of Metz. Sergius appointed Drogo his Vicar apostolic for the Frankish lands of France and Germany. Drogo also served as Vicar to Pope Leo IV and Benedict III in France.
In October 844, the three sons of Louis the Pious (brothers Lothar, Louis the German and Charles the Bald) met at Thionville to attempt to unite the three portions of the kingdom in peace. Drogo presided over the assembly and offered his support to Lothar. His control over the assembly came to nothing as the attempt was referred for future action and eventually Drogo ceased to preside.
Drogo supported Louis the Pious in 839-40 during the Third Civil War between Louis and his sons. Once Louis died, he supported Lothar then changed sides to support Charles in 841, then changed back to support Lothar.
Drogo remained extremely loyal to his half-brother Louis the Pious and amassed great power under him. Drogo was also one of the greatest patrons of the arts in the 9th century. His influence began to wane after Louis' death, and his influence fell even more after the death of his only full brother, Hugh, in 844. Still, he managed to ensure the production of the Drogo Sacramentary, which is named for him. The Drogo Sacramentary was written and painted around 845-855 for his personal use, as Bishop of Metz. The manuscript, which is on vellum, is the work of several artists employed by the imperial court. The sacramentary would have been used in Metz’s Carolingian cathedral and constitutes a precious record of the liturgical practices of the time and the accoutrements used in the liturgy. This manuscript is one of the monuments of Carolingian book illumination and contains all the prayers which would have been spoken by Drogo, as the officiating priest, during the course of the year. It has become a monument to his name and one of the treasures of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
Metz was an important bishopric: Charles the Bald was crowned in the Basilica, and both Drogo and Louis the Pious are buried there. In 843 Metz became the capital of the kingdom of Lotharingia, and several diets and councils were held there. Drogo's position enabled him to be one of the great patrons of 9th-century arts. He embellished his cathedral in Metz with works which rank among the highlights of Carolingian art in beauty and preciousness. In 852 he translated the relics of St. Celeste of Metz (see Clement of Metz) at Marmoutier, together with those of Saint Author (see Abbé Petin, Dictionnaire hagiographique in list of sources).
There is a particularly interesting entry in the Annales Bertiniani: anno 839 "Dominicae nativitatis festum hilariter, a Drogone fratre suo et Metensis urbis episcopo decentissime susceptus, in eadem civitate caelebravit".
Drogo died on December 8, 855 after falling into the River Oignon, at Himeriacum, Bourgogne, while fishing. He is interred at the Abbey Church of St. Arnulf in Metz. A list of bishops of Metz records "domnus Drogo archiepiscopus et sacri palate summus capellanus, filius Karoli imperatoris" (Drogo lord archbishop and sacred palace chief chaplain, son of Emperor Charles) as 40th bishop, holding the position for 32 years, 5 months and 7 days. After his death, he was succeeded as bishop of Metz by Adventius (858 to 875).
- Fried, Johannes (1995). "The Frankish kingdoms, 817-911:the East and Middle Kingdoms". In McKitterick, Rosamond. The New Cambridge Medieval History. Vol. II. Cambridge University Press.
- Theuws, Frans; Nelson, Janet Laughland, eds. (2000). Rituals of Power: From Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. Brill.159