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A letter from Matilda of Swabia (1025)

Translated letter: 

To Lord M[ieszko] truest cultivator of true virtue and most unconquered king, Matilda, supreme joy in Christ and happy triumph over the enemy.
Since divine grace granted you equally the name and honor of kings and endowed you with the necessities for the art of ruling most honorably, you have from its fortunate beginning as I have heard consecrated the first fruits of your kingdom to the divinity with a devout breast.
Who among your predecessors has built so many churches? Who has united so many tongues in praise of God? Though you could worship God worthily in your own language and in Latin, not satisfied with that you added Greek. If you persevere in these and such endeavors to the end [Math.24:13], they will call you most blessed and testify most truly that you were chosen not by human but by divine judgment to rule the holy people of God, you who are held to be provident in judgment, outstanding in goodness, illustrious in the universal honesty/integrity of your customs, a husband to widows, a father to orphans, an uncorrupted defender of the needy and the poor, you are shown to be not one who favors the position of the poor or honors the face of the rich, but who examines all things on the scale of justice. Without doubt, you keep the soldier of Christ, with St. Sebastian, hidden under the robe of royal dress, only so that you can restore souls deceived by devilish fraud to God. Eager to return the talent committed to you a hundredfold, you will have heard the blessed voice that said, "well done, good and faithful servant, etc." [Mt.25:23]. Instructed certainly by the paternal example, you have turned almost completely to heavenly things, who in that part of the world where you reign are like a fountain and source of holy catholic and apostolic faith. For those whom the holy preachers were not able to correct by word, he compelled with the sword, bringing barbarous and ferocious nations to the lord's supper.
I have addressed this book to you in case there is something in the divine offices that is unknown to your royal dignity, knowing that without doubt you have accepted the presiding office with a spiritual prerogative. In it the curious reader may easily find collected what the varieties of different offices from different times signify. May almighty God by whose disposition you are crowned with the royal diadem, make you stronger over all your enemies, bestowing on you the span of life and the palm of victory.
Be well in that wish.
This book, Matilda gives king Misegon/Mieszko, she whom the illustrious duke of Swabia, Herman, engendered.

Original letter: 

Domno M[isegoni] uirtutis uere cultori uerissimo, regique inuictissimo M[ahthild] suppremum in Christo gaudium ac felicem super hoste triumphum.
Quoniam tibi diuina gratia regium nomen pariter et honorem concessit, arteque regnandi ad id necessaria honestissime ditauit felici inceptu, ut audiui, ipsi diuinitati regni tui primitias deuoto pectore consecrasti.
Quis enim predecessorurn tuorum tantas erexit aecclesias? Quis in laudem dei totidem coadunauit linguas? Cum in propria et in latina deum digne uenerari posses, in hoc tibi non satis, grecam superaddere maluisti. Haec et
huiusmodi studia te si in finem perseueraueris beatissimum praedicant, teque non adeo humano quam diuino iudicio electum, ad regendum populum sanctum dei ueracissime testantur, qui in iudicio prouidus, in bonitate conspicuus, in uniuersa morum honestate preclarus haberis, uiduis ut uir, orphanis ut pater, egenis et pauperibus incorruptus defensor ab omnibus comprobaris, non considerando personam pauperis, uel honorando uultum potentis, sed libra iustitiae quae proponuntur cuncta examinas. Christi
procul dubio militem cum beato Sebastiano sub regalis uestitus cultu ducis absconditum, deo tantum ut restituas animas diabolica fraude deceptas, qui talentum tibi commissum reportare centuplicatum uehementer anhelas,
auditurus beatam uocem qua dicitur: Euge serue bone et fidelis et caetera. Paternis nempe exemplis ammonitus, totus pene uersaris in caelestibus, qui in illa mundi parte quam regis quasi quidam fons et origo sanctae catholicae
et apostolice extitit fidei. Nam quos sancti praedicatores corrigere non poterant uerbo ille insecutus est ferro, compellens ad caenam dominicam barbaras ac ferocissimas nationes.
Hunc autem librum ideo tibi direxi, ne quid in diuinis officiis incognitum foret tuae regiae dignitati, sciens te spiritali praerogatiua preditum procul dubio habere acceptum. In quo quid significent uarietates quae per diuersa tempora in eisdem recoluntur officiis, curiosus lector facile reperiet. Deus omnipotens cuius constitutione regali diademate coronatus es, ipse tibi spacium uitae palmamque uictoriae largiendo, cunctis efficiat hostibus fortiorem.
Ad uelle uale.

Historical context: 

The letter accompanied a liturgical book Matilda presented to the king who ruled from 1025 to 1034. Mieszko (Misegon), who was married to a niece of emperor Otto III, Richeza, was at that time at war with emperor Conrad II, whom Matilda also opposed; but he ultimately defeated Mieszko.

Printed source: 

Brygida Kürbis, "Die Epistola Mathildis Suevae an Mieszko II, in neuer Sicht, Ein Forschungsbericht," Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 23 (1989), 318-43, dated 1025; also in PL151 c1332-33.