Thursday, September 01, 2022


Cadaver Trial

Michael Edward Moore, "The Body of Pope Formosus," Millennium 9.1 (2012) 277-298 (at 286-287):
The Annales Alamannici gave the following account of the Cadaver Trial:
And thereafter Stephan put Pope Formosus out of his tomb, and placed him in the Apostolic throne, and a deacon was delegated to answer for him, and his apostolic vestment was stripped off, and dragged across the basilica; and blood was flowing from his mouth, and he was thrown into the river.58
The Annales Laubacensium repeated the strange detail of blood flowing from the pope's mouth, as if the body of Formosus was still suffering:
Stephan put Pope Formosus out of his sepulcre and placed him upon the throne, and a deacon was established for him, so that he might give the defense; and having deposed him, he had the pope dragged across the basilica and thrown into the river; and gore was flowing out of his mouth onto the pavement.59
58 "Basilica in Lateranis maiori parte cecidit: et postea Stephanus papa formosum de sepulcro eiecit et in apostolica sede locavit, et diaconum pro eo constituit ad respondendum, et apostolicam exuit vestem, et traxit per basilicam; et sanguis de ore eius fluebat; et in flumen proiectus est." Annales Alamannici, MGH, SS 1, ed. G.H. Pertz (Hannover, 1826), Anno 896, p.53.

59 "Et Stephanus papa Formosum de sepulcro eiecit eumque super locavit, atque diaconum pro eo constituit, ut responsum dedisset, et eo devicto, fecit papam per basilicam trahere atque in flumen proicere; et ex ore eius cruor per pavimenta fluebat." Annales Laubacensium pars tertia, MGH, SS 1, ed. G.H. Pertz (Hannover, 1826), Anno 896, p.53.
Hat tip: A friend, who compared this posthumous attack to the recent treatment of a famous classical scholar in the pages of the journal he founded. I think we should call it a "cadaver trial," whenever a deceased person arouses the indignation of the bien pensants.

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