THEODULF, bishop of Orleans, was born about the middle of the 8th century, of a noble family of Gothic extraction, probably in Spain. He found favour at the Prankish court, was made abbot of Fleury and of Saint- Aignan, and in 781 became bishop of Orleans. He was a staunch supporter of Charlemagne's principles of government and educational reforms; he established schools, and by his own literary achievements showed himself a worthy member of the learned circle which graced the Carolingian court. He was likewise a good churchman and an able administrator of his diocese; he encouraged the reformation of the clergy and the monasteries. In 798 he was appointed missis dominicus, and two years later performed so great services for Leo III. as judge in the cause between the pope and his enemies, that he returned from Rome with the pallium. After the death of Alcuin he became the foremost councillor to the king on theological matters: it was he who made, on Charlemagne's request, a collection of the opinions of the fathers on the much-disputed point of the procession of the Holy Ghost. Theodulf maintained his influence a short time after the death of Charlemagne, being sent as escort to Pope Stephen V. who came in 816 to crown Louis the Fair. Later, however, he was accused of having taken part in the conspiracy of Bernard of Italy, and in 818 was deposed from all his dignities and imprisoned in a monastery at Angers. Theodulf asserted his innocence to the end, and no proof of his guilt has come down to us; in fact, from what we know of the bishop's life and political principles we should presuppose his innocence. He died in prison, probably from poison, in 821.
Theodulf was called Pindar in the palace school of Charlemagne. Fond of Latin literature, whether Christian or pagan, and a friend of the arts, he was himself one of the best writers of the period. His prose works include sermons, treatises on vices and on baptism, a penitential, capitularies and exhortations to bishops, priests and judges. His poems are his best work, and afford us a vivid picture of the times. Theodulf was the author of at least part of the hymn for Palm Sunday, the Gloria laus. The complete works of Theodulf are in J. P. Migne, Patrol. Lat., vol. 105 (Paris, 1851). The best edition of his poetry is that of E. Diimmler in the Man. Germ. Hist. Poetae latini aevi carolini, vol. i. (Berlin, 1881).
See C. Cuissard, Theodulphe eveque cf Orleans, sa vie et ses osuvres, (Orleans, 1892) ; and a critical study of the writings by M. Manitius in Neues Archiv der Ges.fur a. deutsche Gesch. xi. (1886).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)