Back in 2011, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at a workshop in Toronto which was intended to launch a magisterial new edition of the letters of Boniface, co-ordinated by Andy Orchard and Alain Stoclet. Yesterday, a blogsite for the project went live, promising information and podcasts from that workshop, and further news on how things are progressing.
The letter collections – for there are three – rank amongst the most famous and well-studied of the early Middle Ages. They have long been available in a very good but not entirely flawless Latin edition by Michael Tangl, published in 1916, with various subsequent translations into modern languages of selections of letters (in English, most notably by Ephraim Emerton in 1934). Two further letters might now be added to Tangl‘s collection, notably a letter of protection written for Boniface by the mayor Carlomann (retired 745) announced only recently by Heinrich Wagner (Deutsches Archiv, 2011).
The maximalist view of the edition would see a new edition with up-to-date historical commentary and new translations into English, French and German of all the letters. Certainly at the workshop there was also much enthusiasm for embracing some kind of online element, especially since two of the three collections are now freely available to browse on the internet. Whatever final decisions are made, the project will see some exciting international co-operation, great scholarship, and a welcome chance to reassess not only St Boniface but letter-based communication in the Middle Ages.