Abbot of Saint-Riquier (d. 814)
Angilbert, Saint, Abbot of Saint-Riquier, d. February 18, 814. Angilbert seems to have been brought up at the court of Charlemagne, where he was the pupil and friend of the great English scholar Alcuin. He was intended for the ecclesiastical state and must have received minor orders early in life, but he accompanied the young King Pepin to Italy in 782 in the capacity of primicerius palatii, a post which implied much secular administration. In the academy of men of letters which rendered Charlemagne's court illustrious Angilbert was known as Homer, and portions of his works, still extant, show that his skill in verse was considerable. He was several times sent as envoy to the pope, and it is charged against him that he identified himself with the somewhat heterodox views of Charlemagne in the controversy on images. In 790 he was named Abbot of Centula, later known as Saint-Riquier, in Picardy, and by the help of his powerful friends he not only restored or rebuilt the monastery in a very sumptuous fashion, but endowed it with a precious library of 200 volumes. In the year 800 he had the honor of receiving Charlemagne as his guest. It seems probable that Angilbert at this period (whether he was yet a priest is doubtful) was leading a very worldly life. The circumstances are not clear, but modern historians consider that Angilbert undoubtedly had an intrigue with Charlemagne's unmarried daughter Bertha, and became by her the father of two children, one of whom was the well-known chronicler Nithard. This intrigue of Angilbert's, sometimes regarded as a marriage, has been disputed by Henocque and others, but is now generally admitted. We should probably do well to remember that the popular canonizations of that age were very informal and involved little investigation of past conduct or virtue. It is, however, stated by Angilbert's twelfth-century biographer that the abbot before his death did bitter penance for this "marriage", and the historian Nithard, in the same passage in which he claims Angilbert for his father, also declares that Angilbert's body was found incorrupt some years after his burial. Angilbert has been claimed as the author of a fragment of an epic poem on Charlemagne and Leo III, but the authorship is disputed. On the other hand, Monod believes that he is probably responsible for certain portions of the famous "Annales Laurissenses".