Notker of Liège

Notker of Liège

Notker of Liège, late 19th century, by Louis Gallait
Born 940
(now in St Gallen, Switz.)
Died 10 April 1008 (aged 67–68)
Known for First Prince-Bishop of Liège
Title Prince-Bishop of Liège
Predecessor Eraclus (as bishop)
Successor Baldrick II
Religion Christian (Order of Saint Benedict)

Notker (or Notger) of Liège (940 – 10 April 1008) was a Benedictine monk, bishop (972–1008) and first prince-bishop (980–1008) of the Bishopric of Liège (now in Belgium).

Notger was born about 940 and probably belonged to a noble Swabian family. He is mentioned in the Annales Hildesheimenses as Provost of Saint Gall in Switzerland, but he is not mentioned by the otherwise prolix historians of St Gall. It is practically accepted that he is the "monk of St. Gall" (monachus Sangallensis), author of the legends and anecdotes Gesta Caroli Magni. In 969 he was appointed imperial chaplain in Italy, and in 972 he was nominated by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor as bishop of Liège, a suffragan of the Archbishop of Cologne.

When he received in 980 the countship of Huy, he obtained simultaneously secular power for the see and thus became the first prince-bishop of Liège. After receiving secular power from Otto II, Notger transform the episcopal city into the capital of an ecclesiastical principality in the Holy Roman Empire. He built a new cathedral, the Saint Lambert Cathedral, seven collegiate churches, including St. John's in Liège, after the model of Aachen Cathedral, two abbeys and a city wall.

He laid the foundation of the fame of the Liège Schools, to which studious youths soon flocked from all Christendom. By procuring the services of Leo the Calabrian and thus making possible the study of Greek, Notker gave notable extension to the Liège curriculum. Among Notker's pupils, who extended the influence of the Liège schools to ever wider circles, may be mentioned Hubald, Wazo of Liège, Franco, who also taught at Liége, Gunther of Salzburg, Ruthard of Mainz and Erlwin of Cambrai, Heimo of Verdun, Hesselo of Toul, Heriger of Lobbes, Adelmann (who later studied under Fulbert at Chartres), Gozechin who taught at Mainz and Adalbald of Utrecht. In Folcwin's opinion Notker's achievements surpass those of any of his predecessors. He developed the urban structure of the city, its fortifications, commerce and education. Under his rule, the city of Liège was sometimes called the "Northern Athens".

Praiseworthy also were his services as a politician under Otto II and Henry II. He travelled to Rome for the coronation of Otto II by Pope Gregory V, and later negotiated a peace treaty between Henry II and Robert, the king of France. He adhered faithfully to the cause of the emperor Otto III, whom he accompanied to Rome. It was also he who brought back his corpse to Germany and prayed at his funeral in 1002.

The Gesta episcoporum Leodiensium have been frequently wrongly attributed to him, although he merely suggested its composition, and lent the work his name to secure it greater authority.

Johannes Fried considers Notger, not John Canaparius, as the author of Vita sancti Adalberti episcopi Pragensis on Adalbert of Prague, written around 1000, which for the first time mentions Danzig/Gdansk as urbs Gyddanyzc.


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