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Halitgar (Halitgarius, Halitcharius, Halitgaire, Aligerio) was a ninth-century bishop of Cambrai (in office 817–831). He is known also as an apostle to the Danes, and the writer of a widely known penitential.


In 822 he travelled to Denmark as a missionary with Ebbo of Rheims and Willeric of Bremen, though not to great immediate effect.[1] In 823 he dedicated the church and relics of St Ursmer at Lobbes.[2] In 825, with Amalarius of Metz, he carried the conclusions of a Paris synod on iconoclasm to Louis the Pious.[3] He went as ambassador to Byzantium in 828.[4]

De Paenitentia[edit]

His De Paenitentia laid down qualities Christians should aspire to in their lives.[5] He discussed a distinction between killing in warfare (a sin), and in self-defense in battle.[6][7] Heavy penances for homosexual acts were imposed on older men.[8] The work is also a source for information about surviving pagan practices.[9]

It was written in five volumes, at Ebbo's request.[10] Ebbo's intention was to have a normative penitential; Halitgar set aside tariffs of penances for exhortations.[11][12] This work and the two attributed to Hrabanus Maurus were considered to supersede those written before, and were very influential, particularly in pre-Norman England.[13] At this point, "the books used by confessors began to consist more and more of instructions in the style of the later moral theology".[14]

His sources have been much debated:


  • Die altenglische Version des Halitgar'schen Bussbuches : (sog. Poenitentiale pseudo-Ecgberti), Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1964
  • Raymund Kottje (1980), Die Bussbucher Halitgars von Cambrai und des Hrabanus Maurus: Ihre Uberlieferung und ihre Quellen


  1. ^ Carole M. Cusack, Conversion among the Germanic Peoples (1998), p. 135.
  2. ^ http://users.skynet.be/bk342309/Lobbes/page7.html Archived 2005-01-04 at the Wayback Machine, in French.
  3. ^ Rosamund McKitterick, The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians (1983), p. 133.
  4. ^ New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. V: Goar - Innocent | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  5. ^ Philippe Ariès, Paul Veyne, Georges Duby, A History of Private Life (English translation 1987), p. 536.
  6. ^ Frederick H. Russell, The Just War in the Middle Ages (1975), p. 31.
  7. ^ Janet L. Nelson, The Frankish World, 750-900 (1996), p. 78.
  8. ^ Jody Madeira, Rebuilding the Closet: Bowers v. Hardwick, Lawrence v. Texas, and the Mismeasure of Homosexual Historiography(PDF), p. 10 Archived 2006-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ John T. McNeill, Folk-Paganism in the Penitentials, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Oct., 1933), pp. 450-466.
  10. ^ a b New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. II: Basilica - Chambers | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  11. ^ a b Henry Charles Lea, A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church I (1896), p. 105.
  12. ^ Michael Lapidge, Anglo-Saxon England (2003), p. 227.
  13. ^ Thomas Pollock Oakley, English Penitential Discipline and Anglo-Saxon Law in Their Joint Influence (2003), p. 31.
  14. ^ Phillimore, Walter George Frank (1911). "Canon Law" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 193.
  15. ^ David Ganz, The Ideology of Sharing p. 26 in Property and Power in the Early Middle Ages (1995) edited by Wendy Davies, Paul Fouracre.
  16. ^ Ghostly Recensions in Early Medieval Canon Law: The Problem of the Collectio Dacheriana and its Shades, The Legal History Review, Volume 68, Numbers 1-2, January, 2000