Charter a Week 2: The Synod of Troyes and Papal Monasteries

The big story of 878 – indeed, the big story of the entire reign of the short-lived Louis the Stammerer (notoriously, one scholar spent their PhD studying Louis’ reign for longer than Louis had actually reigned… I’ve read that PhD thesis, actually, it’s quite good) – was the synod of Troyes. Pope John VIII, beset by Italian factional politics, journeyed to Arles and then to Troyes, where he held a lengthy synod with all of the Gaulish bishops and crowned King Louis. Today’s charter is one of several documents from this synod, and I’ve chosen it because it shows just how big the synod was, and illustrates an important port about papal monasteries.

MGH Conc. 5, no. 9L (18th August 878, Troyes) = JE no. 3176

Bishop John, servant of the servants of God, to all bishops throughout all the provinces of Gaul, abbots, priests, and all similar orders given over to divine ministry, as well as counts, viscounts, vicars, hundredmen (vicarii, centenarii), judges, and everyone established in positions of power, and all the people and similarly the whole general Church. With God Almighty the Creator in our midst, in the year of the Incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ 878, on the 15th kalends of September [18th August], in the 11th indiction, happily in the Lord, in the presence of lord Louis [the Stammerer], most serene of kings, residing in the present council.

Amongst the beginnings of other complaints, let it be known to all celebrating a synodal council for the state of the holy Church of God at the town of Troyes, Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims, Archbishop Ansegis of Sens, Archbishop Aurelian of Lyon, Archbishop Rostagnus of Arles, Archbishop Sigebod of Narbonne, Archbishop Theodoric of Besançon, Archbishop Otrand of Vienne, Archbishop Frothar of Bourges, Archbishop Adalald of Tours, Archbishop John of Rouen, Archbishop [sic] Isaac of Langres, Bishop Otulf of Troyes, Bishop Ingelwin of Paris, Bishop Hadebert of Senlis, Bishop Berno of Châlons-sur-Marne, Bishop Hincmar of Laon, Bishop Girbald of Chalon-sur-Saône, Bishop Rainelm of Noyon, Bishop Odo of Beauvais, Bishop Walter of Orléans, Bishop Macarius of Lodève, Bishop Alaric of Béziers, Bishop Theotard of Girona, Bishop Frodoin of Barcelona, Bishop John of Cambrai, Bishop Berner of Grenoble, Bishop Arnulf of Turin, Bishop Rainelm of Meaux, Bishop Agenulf of Mende, Bishop William of Limoges, Bishop Radbert of Valence, Bishop Gislebert of Chartres, Bishop Hildebald of Soissons, Bishop Egfrid of Poitiers, Bishop Adalbert of Thérouanne, Bishop Agilmar of Clermont, Bishop Adalgar of Autun, Bishop Lambert of Mâcon, Bishop Abbo of Nevers, Bishop Aetherius of Viviers, Bishop Ratfred of Avignon, Bishop Walafrid of Uzès, Bishop Gerbert of Nîmes, Bishop Abbo of Maguelone, Bishop Radbert of Valence (*), Bishop Gerald of Amiens, Bishop Wandelmar of Toulon, Bishop Leutgar of Carcassonne, Bishop Audesind of Elne, Bishop Waldric of Ampurias, Bishop Waltbert of Reôme [Porto], Bishop Leo of Rennes; let it be known to all the aforesaid that in times gone by, when We went by sea to Arles to deal with the affairs of all the churches there, recollecting the monastery of Saint-Pierre in which rests the body of the blessed Egidius, in Flavian Valley in the county of Nîmes, within the limits of Septimania, which valley the late king of the Goths Flavius [Wamba] gave to the aforesaid blessed Egidius, and Saint Egidius in turn gave as a donation entirely to the apostolic see of Rome.  Since, though, a large distance separates this abbey from Our church, because We did not want to send a legate there due to Our other cares, the bishop of Nîmes presumed with great temerity to usurp that monastery. But when We sought in Our archive the muniments of charters, We found the precept given by the blessed Egidius.

Then, We sought it from Bishop Gerbert of Nîmes, who sits in the present council, through Our advocate Deusdedit, duke of Ravenna. The same Gerbert wanted to vindicate his claim through a precept of lord [pope] Nicholas [I], which he secretly obtained by fraud from the apostolic see as if it concerning his own property; and through a precept which he had falsely received from a certain king of the Franks, which had no proper validity. But I admonished all the bishops and judges of Rome and the provinces to speak and act in accordance with true law in this matter, under the anathema of excommunication. Then Archbishop Rostagnus of Arles and Archbishop Sigebod of Narbonne and Archbishop Heribert of Embrun, Bishop Walbert of Porto, Bishop Pascal of Amelia, Bishop Radbert of Valence, Bishop Leodoin of Marseilles, Bishop Aetherius of Viviers and other bishops of Provence, and the judges, John, duke and representative of Ravenna, Ardus, Adbert, Gislefred, Ardrad, Godulf and no few other provincial judges, as they heard the precept read, quickly understood that the apostolic judgement of lord Nicholas was only an excuse. Protesting, they said that this monastery could not be defended with that precept, and immediately judged that Bishop Gerbert should restore the aforesaid monastery to Us and should pay to me the penalty for his invasion of the abbey. Because of his poverty, We acquit him from the penalty, if he sins no more; and We received the monastery in its entirety, sending Our advocate Duke Deusdedit there, who accepted concerning this matter the physical handover of all the goods of the aforesaid monastery from the aforesaid Bishop Gerbert.

Also because of this, supported by divine assistance, I and all the bishops of this council, by the authority of our lord Jesus Christ, through which and through whom and in whom are all things [see Romans 11:36], curse and interdict and forbid by excommunication under every anathema that none of Our successors in this holy apostolic see which, by God’s action, We serve should at any place or time present or future, nor any emperor nor king or any worldly power, should be able to give in benefice, exchange, or concede for a census anything from the same goods in future times; nor should any pontiff of the same diocese to whose parish [i.e. diocese] the place itself pertains, nor any count of the same power dare to accept anything from within that monastery’s immunity. And in addition, let no-one be permitted in any way to inflict any diminution or force on any of this.

Rather instead, We confirm at the present council all of this at the said monastery, with all its appendages and the throne and other places and the mobile and immobile goods which are known to have been bestowed there through the largess of the God-fearing, for Emile, priest and archdeacon of the church of Uzès. In respect of this matter, We commend to you this notice to be managed and protected and well-established, in such a way that they, receiving from you each and every year 10 silver solidi and 12 pennies by way of a pension for ecclesiastical reasons, should endeavour to give the support of pious paternity to the same monastery against all who trouble it (**).

 ‘No-one, brothers, should doubt that the apostolic Church, from whose rules it is not proper for us to deviate, is the mother of all churches; and just as the Son of God came to do the will of the Father [see John 6:38], thus should you fulfil the wish of your mother which is the Church, whose head, as was said before, is the church of Rome.’ [Pseudo-Calixtus, Letter 1, cap. 2]

‘Our father, therefore, is without doubt God Who created Us, and Our mother the Church, who renewed us spiritually in baptism, and thus whoever steals the riches of Christ and the Church is a fraud and a plunderer, and will be considered to be a murderer in the sight of the Just Judge. It is written of this: Whoever steals his neighbour’s riches commits iniquity; so whoever takes away riches or goods from the Church commits sacrilege. Like Judas, who embezzled the riches which by the command of the Saviour (in whose place bishops stand) he should have distributed in Church uses, that is, to the poor, whom the Church ought to feed, they are made not only a thief but a bandit and a sacrilege. Indeed, concerning such people, that is, those who plunder, defraud or steal the Church’s means, the Lord threatens everyone, speaking through a prophet and saying: “Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God” [Psalm 83:1], and so on.’ [Pseudo-Lucius, cap. 7]

In the letter of Pope Symmachus: ‘As long as by the Lord’s disposition, the doctrine of the catholic faith remains that of the saviour, no bishop of the apostolic see is permitted to transfer an ecclesiastical estate, however great or small, to anyone’s right by a perpetual alienation or exchange.’ [Psuedo-Symmachus,  502 Synod of Rome, cap. 4]

And from a letter of Pope Simplicius: ‘That no bishop should be permitted to in any way alienate or commute the estates of their office or anything of their right. Whoever tries to do this, should be punished by the loss of his rank.’ [see Pseudo-Symmachus, 502 Synod of Rome, heading of cap. 6] Also in the same: ‘Whoever attacks an estate of the Church and accepts it into his own right: or if any priest or deacon or defender subscribes the gift, let them be struck with anathema.’ [see above, heading for cap. 7]

Also in the canons: ‘If a bishop makes a testament and bequeaths anything from the property of the Church’s right, let it not be valid except in the sole case that he makes it good from the means of his own right.’  [Council of Agde 506, cap. 51]

Therefore, both I and all the bishops of this council separate, damn and excommunicate under every anathema all those who plot against this monastery of the apostolic see and this priest [Emile] (if anyone becomes an adversary and perpetrates such a crime) from the communion of the body of Christ and the company of Christ’s brotherhood and from the association of all Christians. Let them be cursed in the city and cursed in the field [Deuteronomy 28:16]’, ‘cursed be the fruit of their land [Deuteronomy 28:18]’. Let them be cursed within and without. ‘Let the heaven which is over their head be brass and the land on which they tread be iron [Deuteronomy 28:23]’. Let their prayers before God come as a sin [see Psalm 109:7]. Like Dathan and Abiron, let them go living into the inferno. Let everyone who abets them, or takes a meal with them, or knowingly decides to hear their accursed songs (***), be joined in this curse with Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of the Lord. Let their water putrify, let their wine boil, let blight consume their bread, let worms eat their garments. What more? Let all the curses of the Old and New Testaments come upon them, until they come to worthy satisfaction and suitable penance with the mother Church.

John of the apostolic see of Peter the Apostle says farewell to all the churches of Christ who observe this.

Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, confirms this. Ansegis, archbishop of Sens, confirms this. Aurelian, archbishop of Lyon, confirms this. Rostagnus, archbishop of Arles, confirms this. Sigebod, archbishop of Narbonne, confirms this. Theodoric, archbishop of Besançon, confirms this. Otrand, archbishop of Vienne, confirms this. Frothar, archbishop of Bourges, confirms this. Adalald, archbishop of Tours, confirms this. Berno, bishop of Châlons, confirms this. John, archbishop of Rouen, confirms this. Hadebert, bishop of Senlis, confirms this. Isaac, archbishop of Langres, confirms this. Ingelwin, bishop of Paris, confirms this. Otulf, bishop of Troyes, confirms this. Hincmar, bishop of Laon, confirms this. Hildebald, bishop of Soissons, confirms this. William, bishop of Limoges, confirms this. Gislebert, bishop of Chartres, confirms this. Radbert, bishop of Valence, confirms this. Girbald, bishop of Chalon, confirms this. Rainelm, bishop of Noyon, confirms this. Abbo, bishop of Maguelone, confirms this. Odo, bishop of Beauvais, confirms this. Gerbert, bishop of Nîmes, confirms this. Walter, bishop of Orléans, confirms this. Walafrid, bishop of Uzès, confirms this. Macarius, bishop of Lodève, confirms this. Ratfred, bishop of Avignon, confirms this. Alaric, bishop of Béziers, confirms this. Aetherius, bishop of Viviers, confirms this. Theotard, bishop of Girona, confirms this. Abbo, bishop of Nevers, confirms this. Frodoin, bishop of Barcelona, confirms this. Lambert, bishop of Mâcon, confirms this. John, bishop of Cambrai, confirms this. Adalgar, bishop of Autun, confirms this. Berner, bishop of Grenoble, confirms this. Agilmar, bishop of Clermont, confirms this. Arnulf, bishop of Turin, confirms this. Hadebert, bishop of Senlis, confirms this. Rainelm, bishop of Meaux, confirms this. Egfrid, bishop of Poitiers, confirms this. Agenulf, bishop of Mende, confirms this.

George, secretary of the holy Roman church, who completed and closed the abovewritten judgement, after the subscription of the witnesses and the making of the gift.

Count Raymond confirms this. Viscount Berengar confirms this. Aimeric confirms this. Olunbellus confirms this. Theotrand confirms this. Gozelm confirms this. Viscount Emenus confirms this. Viscount Odo confirms this. Count Hugh confirms this.           

 (*) The MGH notes say that Radbert shows up here twice. The form of the name is different each time (Radbertus Vallensis episcopus vs Rotbertus Valentinensis episcopus) so I wonder if that’s right. In context I’d suspect a bishop of Le Puy or Sion, but neither of those appears to be correct, so I am somewhat mystified.

(**) This passage is somewhat obscure. What I think it means is that Emile (who is presumably being addressed) should give the Provençal bishops (?) the aforesaid pension per annum and in return they will support him against the bishop of Nîmes. If anyone has a better idea, I’d like to know it!

(***) Cantica maledicta seems like it should be biblical, but I can’t find it.

Before we get into this properly, a little excursus on how I write these things. My commentary (including the hyperlinks in the charter) is actually done in more-or-less the order you read it on the page, which means that, as I write this at mid-afternoon, it’s about three or four hours later than I wrote the bit on the top and since then I have been on a whirlwind excursion through papal diplomatic and the medieval history of the abbey of Saint-Gilles.

IMG_20180808_141412.jpg
Courtesy not least of these gentlemen.

The upshot is that French-language scholarship largely believes that this bull was forged at the end of the eleventh century whereas German-speaking scholars think that, despite some interpolation, it’s a largely-accurate product of the late ninth century.  I’m going with the Germans here because a lot of the context seems to me to be better placed earlier than later, so my comments will be on that basis(*); but bear in mind that this could all be coming two-hundred-odd years after its nominal date.

Anyway, the first thing to point out about the synod of Troyes is that it’s flippin’ huge. Around 50 bishops, plus laymen, plus the king. Assuming all these notables brought a small retinue, let’s say about 10 people each, we’re talking around 600 people and probably rather more, on the order of thousands. And look where they’re from! Italy, the Spanish March, Provence, Burgundy… About the only missing people are the suffragans bishops of Tours and Rouen, and the former are mostly in rebellion and the latter disrupted owing to Viking attack.

So Pope John has a captive audience here for the little sermon which finishes the text. These quotations – and the reason this diploma gets so much attention from canon law scholars – are from a group of materials known as the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries, which are ninth century and from Frankish Gaul and anything else about their origin is both highly technical and extremely controversial. That said, the citations here are a good idea of its content: decrees, largely forged, of classical and Late Antique popes. So what are they being used for? My best guess involves taking the core narrative of the charter seriously, which may well be a dangerous thing to do; but they all concern how a bishop can’t alienate the goods pertaining to his office, so they might be put there to show why the grant of Pope Nicholas I, which Gerbert of Nîmes was using to prove his entitlement to Saint-Gilles, was invalid. It is possibly unsurprising that the active late ninth-century papacy had the best lawyers…

But what I really wanted to point out about this charter is how it relates to papal jurisdiction over subordinate monasteries. By the late ninth century, a reasonable number of abbeys have been given directly to Rome (although we won’t get to the most famous example until later on…). There’s some question about how serious this is – it’s not like the pope’s going to come a-knocking at the door, so what does subjecting your monastery to him involve? And what this indicates is that, actually, the pope might come a-knocking at the door. Admittedly having him show up in Septimania in person to start making complaints is unusual, but, as surviving papal letters indicate, the popes were concerned about institutions under their jurisdiction, and they did make an effort to keep an eye on them.

(*) [EDIT: People on Twitter have raised questions about this, and so I thought it best to show my reasoning. On one hand, the Flavian Valley bit is, as we scholars say, well dodge, and the whole thing’s clearly been tidied up. On the other hand, the list of bishops, the roles of Deusdedit and John suggest that the interpolator knew quite a lot about the 870s specifically. Moreover, the list of Pseudo-Isidorean citations is about how the Pope can’t grant the monastery away, which fits the 870s but is unlikely when the popes are kicking up a storm about how very in charge they are in the late eleventh century. Finally, per Amy Remensynder, the diplomatic of the act fits well with others from the time of John VIII. So I think the balance of probability is that there’s a genuine act of 878 underlying reasonably closely the version as we have it; but on the gripping hand this absolutely doesn’t prove beyond reasonably doubt that it isn’t falsified or outright forged.]

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Charter a Week 1, part 2: Carlopolis

As warned on Monday, there’s another of these last diplomas of Charles the Bald. Sometimes, you just can’t choose, and this is a particularly rich case. I mentioned on Monday that in 877, Charles did not expect to die; he expected to rule more and more of his family inheritance. This diploma in particular is a rich tapestry of Carolingian memory and aspirations:

DD CtB no. 425 (5th May 877, Compiègne) = ARTEM no. 1787 = DK 5.xx

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by mercy of the same Almighty God emperor augustus.

Whatever We offer by way of thanks in vow or action to God Almighty, to Whom We owe not only that which We have and which We got from His hand but Our very self, Who deigned to elevate Us and the emperors and kings Our predecessors to the garland of royalty not by Our merit but by His most beneficent grace, We in no way doubt that this will be of greater consequence for Us in more happily passing through the present life and more fruitfully laying hold of the future.

Hence, because the emperor of rich recollection, to wit, Our grandfather Charle[magne], on whom divine providence deigned to bestow sole rule of this whole empire, is recognised to have built a chapel in the palace of Aachen in honour of the blessed virgin Mary the mother of God, and to have established clerics therein to serve the Lord for the remedy of his soul and the absolution of his sins and equally for the dignity of the imperial highness, and to have consecrated the same place with a great collection of relics and to have cultivated it with manifold ornaments, We likewise, desiring to imitate the custom of him and other kings and emperors, to wit, Our predecessors, since that part of his realm has not yet fallen to Us as a share of the division, nevertheless raised from the foundations within the domain of Our power, that is, in the palace of Compiègne, a monastery in honour of the glorious mother of God and always ever-virgin Mary, to which We give the name ‘royal’, and We enriched it, by the Lord’s help, with great offerings, and We decreed that there should be clerics therein numbering a hundred, to constantly implore the Lord’s mercy for the state of the holy Church of God, for Our fathers and progenitors, for Us, Our wife and offspring, and for the stability of the whole realm.

We consigned these estates to be held perpetually for the use of this basilica and for necessary stipends for the aforesaid brothers. That is, in the district of Tardenois, the estate of Romigny with a chapel and in its entirety; and in the district of Beauvaisis, the estate of Longueil-Sainte-Marie, Sacy-le-Petit, and Marest-sur-Matz with everything pertaining to them; and in the district of Amiénois, Piennes and Erches; in the district of Boulonnais, the estate of Attin, and the cell of Sainte-Macre in the district of Tardenois with all its appendages; and in the Soissonnais, the estate of Bruyères; and in the district of Laonnois, the estate of Estraon and Berry-au-Bac (after the death of Primordius); and in the district of Vermandois, the estate of Cappy, and also the cultivated land which We conceded with a fishery to the same brothers for their outside uses outside the monastery; a chapel in Venette, a chapel in Verberie, a chapel in Nanteuil-le-Haudoin, a chapel in Montmacq (after the death of Berto); in the district of Noyonnais, the small estate which is called Les Bons Hommes; also, the tithes of the fiscs which We conceded to them through a precept, that is, the tithe of Le Chesne, Verberie, Cuignières, Roye, Montmacq, and two parts of the tithe of the estate of Orville, Doullens, Creolicupinus, Ferrières, Sinceny, Amigny, Voyenne, Rozoy-sur-Serre, Samoussy, Andigny, Erquery, Sevigny-Waleppe, Attigny, Belmia, Taizy, Bitry, Ponthion, Merlaut and Bussy, and all the others which they have through Our precept; and cottages in Bourgogne, and the bridge over the Vesle pertaining to Fismes, and the all the toll of the annual market with the meadow by Venette where it usually takes place. Also, We similarly confirm that the custom of complete silence and quiet should be canonically observed there, and be violated by no outside guest, as is contained in the same precept. Moreover, We concede to the said holy monastery and the brothers assiduously serving the Lord therein on this day when We celebrated the dedication of that holy basilica, that is, the 3rd nones of May [5th May], through the same precept of Our authority, the estate of Sarcy in the district of Tardenois, with a demesne, and a chapel, and whatever is beholden there, and whatever Count Othere once held from the same; and in the district of Beauvaisis, in Béthancourt, whatever is beholden there from Margny-lès-Compiègne.

And thus, We resolve that all the aforesaid, those estates and goods which We conceded before the dedication of the aforesaid basilica and those which We conceded at the dedication of the same, with chapels and all their appendages, lands, vineyards, woods, meadows, pastures, waters and watercourses, mills, bondsmen of both sexes dwelling thereon or justly and legally pertaining to the same, roads in and out, and all legitimate boundaries, should be eternally held and canonically disposed of by the said holy place and the congregation serving the Lord therein for their advantage; and from Our right We place them in the right and power of the same monastery, such that, as We ordained in Our other precepts, they may have, hold and possess whatever from this day divine piety might wish to bestow upon the said place and brothers through Us and through Our successors or by gift of any other person and have free and most firm power to act and make canonical dispositions in everything, to wit, on the condition that the offices and ministries of the same place, to wit, of lighting, of guests, and of the reception of the poor, and of the brothers’ stipends should remain ordained in accordance with what We or Our representatives or the prelates of the same monastery might dispose.

Finally, We enact as well that all the aforesaid goods should remain under that defence of Our immunity and tutelage under which the goods of other churches which earned to obtain this from Us or from Our predecessors are known to remain, such that none of Our followers or anyone with judicial power or anyone else, both present and also future, might dare to enter into the churches or places or fields or other possessions of the aforesaid monastery which it justly and legally possesses in any pagi or territories, or those which henceforth divine piety wishes be placed within the right of that holy place to hear cases or exact fines or tribute, or make a halt or claim hospitality, or take securities, or distrain the men both free and servile dwelling on its land, or require any renders or illicit requisitions in Our or future times, nor might they presume to exact anything from what is noted above. And whatever the fisc might be able to hope for from the goods of the said church, let it be completely open that We have conceded it to the aforesaid holy place for eternal repayment, so that for time everlasting it might contribute towards alms for the poor and an increase in the stipends of the canons serving the Lord therein, so that it might delight these servants of God and their successors to exhort the Lord’s mercy for Us more fruitfully. And because all the aforesaid goods are from Our fiscs, We wish and equally command that they should be protected and defended under that law under which the goods of Our fisc constantly remain, and under the relevant mundeburdum and defence, and that they should remain under that imperial tutelage under which the abbey, to wit, Prüm, which Our forefather Pippin built; and the monastery of nuns at Laon established in honour of Saint Mary are known to remain.

Verily, whatever We have conceded in gold, silver and jewels, garments, goods or in any kind to the same place, because We offered them to be consecrated to the Lord out of love for divine worship and equally for the remedy of Our soul and Our fathers and progenitors, We ask and prohibit under the witness of the divine name that no successor of Ours as king or emperor, nor anyone endowed with the dignity of any rank, should receive anything from whose which are recorded above into their own uses or put them to use in the worship of their chapel, nor (as is known sometimes happens) confer them to another church under the supposed pretext of almsgiving. Rather, let them completely and perpetually conserve them as We have given them, to be held by the Lord and the aforesaid holy place. Truly, let no-one presume to diminish anything from all of the aforesaid goods, which We have established as aid for the advantage of the basilica and the aforesaid brothers, numbering one hundred. Rather, this concession of Our piety and ordinance of imperial highness be as conserved in perpetuity as is set out in the privilege of the lord and Our most holy father John [VIII], the apostolic and universal pope, and in the privileges of other bishops. And, if anyone might wish to add to it, after their goods and uses have been increased and multiplied let the number of those taking care of divine service be increased. Finally, We confirm through this Our word the said privilege of the most holy pope lord John, and, as his ordinance decreed, let Our strengthening also decree that it should endure in perpetuity.

And that this authority of Our donation and establishment of an edict and strengthening of an immunity should be conserved, in God’s name, inviolably and be more truly believed for all time, We confirmed it below with Our own hand, and We commanded it be sealed with impressions of Our bulls.

Sign of Charles, most glorious of august emperors.

Sign of the glorious king Louis [the Stammerer].

Odoacer the notary witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Gozlin.

Given on the 3rd nones of May [5th May], in the 10th indiction, in the 37th year of the reign of lord emperor Charles in Francia and the 7th in succession to King Lothar [II] and the second of his empire.

Enacted at the imperial palace of Compiègne.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

CW1.2 877
It’s an impressive looking sucker, too. From the Diplomata Karolinorum linked above. 

The year before this, in 876, Charles’ dangerous older half-brother Louis the German had died. Charles immediately moved to try and claim a portion of his kingdom – Louis had already thwarted his efforts to claim Lotharingia in 869, after the death of Lothar II. However, Charles suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Louis’ son Louis the Younger at the Battle of Andernach.

With that in mind, this diploma doesn’t sound particularly defeated. Sure, Charles is explicitly building a substitute for Aachen; but that’s only because it hasn’t fallen to his part yet. In the meantime, Charles is building a full statement in stone of his absolute right to succeed Charlemagne: Compiègne is big, it’s rich, and above all it’s royal. Charles calls it royal, and he endows it with the same privileges of Notre-Dame de Laon and above all of Prüm, which is the Carolingian family foundation. It’s a statement of intent: Charles will be the head of the Carolingian family no matter who controls the dynasty’s old heartlands.

Of course, within a few months Charles would be too dead to do anything much, and Compiègne’s importance abated somewhat. Hereafter, its associations would be primarily not with Charlemagne, but with Charles the Bald himself – and one future monarch would be particularly interested in the place. However, that’s many moons down the line from here…

Reading the West Frankish Coronation Liturgy, no. 6 and last: A Note on Philip I’s Coronation and the Romano-German Pontifical

Bet you thought I’d forgotten about this, huh? I think I could have been forgiven for having done so, because this is the only coronation-liturgy-related text between the Ratold Ordo and the thirteenth century, so from our point of view the buck stops here. Anyway, this is less a liturgical text and more a memo from Archbishop Gervais of Rheims proving how great his see is.

[A MS]
1. An example of the royal profession.
2. In the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1058, in the 12th indiction, in the 32nd year of the reign of King Henry, on the 10th kalends of June, in the 4th year of the episcopate of Lord Gervaise, on the holy day of Pentecost, King Philip was consecrated with this ordo in the greater church, before the altar of Saint Mary, by Archbishop Gervaise. When the mass had begun, before the epistle was read, the lord archbishop turned towards him, and explained the catholic faith to him, asking him whether he believed it and wished to defend it. When he assented, his profession was brought to him, and taking it up he read it – while being yet seven years of age – and subscribed it. This was his profession.
3. “I, Philip, with God propitious soon the future king of the Franks, on the day of my ordination, promise before God and His saints, that I will conserve for each of the things committed to you canonical privilege and due law and justice, and provide defence, with the Lord’s help, as far as I am able, as a king ought rightly to provide in his realm to each bishop and the church committed to him. And that, to the people entrusted to Us, I will concede by Our authority the dispensation of laws which remains rightfully theirs.”
4. When this was done, he placed it in the hands of the bishop, in the presence of Hugh of Besançon, the legate of Pope Nicholas, and with him Ermenfred of Sion, and archbishops Mainard of Sens and Bartholomew of Tours, as well as bishops Heddo of Soissons, Roger of Châlons, Elinand of Laon, Baldwin of Noyon, Frotland of Senlis, Lietbert of Cambrai, Guy of Amiens, Hagano of Autun, Harduin of Langres, Achard of Chalon, Isembard of Orléans, Imbert of Paris, Walter of Meaux, Hugh of Nevers, Geoffrey of Auxerre, Hugh of Troyes, Iter of Limoges, William of Angoulême, Arnulf of Saintes, and Guerech of Nantes.
5. As well, the abbots Herimar of Saint-Remi, Rainer of Fleury, Hugh of Saint-Denis, Adrald of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Gerwin of Saint-Richer, Watho of Saint-Valery, … of Landevennec, Warin of Saint-Vanne, Fulk of Faremoutiers, Gerard of Saint-Médard, Henry of Homblières, Gonzo of Florennes, Fulk of Saint-Michel de Laon, Arthenveus of Laon, Guy of Marchiennes, Ralph of Mouzon, Albert of Saint-Thierry, Warin of Hautvillers, Wenric of Saint-Basle, Hugh of Orbais, Odilard of Châlons, Wandelgar of Clairvaux [? Clervensi], Walerand of Verdun, Adalbero of Dijon, Arnald of Pothières, William of Tournus, Hugh of Charlieu, Avesgaud of Le Mans, Hugh of Crespin.
6. Taking the staff of Saint Remigius, he [Gervaise] quietly and pacifically explained how the election of a king and the consecration of a king ought to pertain in the most part to himself, because Saint Remigius had baptised and consecrated King Clovis. He also explained how, through that staff, Pope Hormisdas had given to Saint Remigius this power of consecration and the primacy of all Gaul, and how Pope Victor had conceded it to him and his church.
7. Then, with the assent of his father Henry, he [Gervaise] elected him as king. After him, the legates of the Roman see (although it was clearly said to be licit to do this without papal permission, it was still done for the sake of his honour and love for him), his legates were present there. After them, archbishops and bishops, abbots and clerics. After that, Guy, duke of Aquitaine. Afterwards, Hugh, son and legate of the duke of Burgundy. Afterwards, the legates of Marquis Baldwin and the legates of Geoffrey, count of Anjou. Then counts Ralph of Valois, Heribert of Vermandois, Guy of Ponthieu, William of Soissons, Rainald, Roger, Manasses, Hilduin, William of Auvergne, Aldebert of La Marche, Fulk of Angoulême, the viscount of Limoges.
8. Then Philip issued a precept, as his ancestors had done, concerning the goods of Notre-Dame-de-Reims, and the county of Rheims, and the goods of Saint-Remi, and the other abbeys. He confirmed and subscribed it. The archbishop also subscribed it. Then he [Philip] established him [Gervaise] as archchancellor, as his ancestors had done for his ancestors, and thus he [Gervaise] consecrated him as king. When the archbishop had gone back to his seat and sat down, the privilege which Pope Victor had given to him was brought out, and read to the bishops present and listening. All of this was done with the greatest devotion and thoroughgoing alacrity, without any disturbance or any contradiction at all from anyone, or any loss to the commonwealth. Archbishop Gervaise freely received all these things, and gave fully to them from his property, but to none of them out of duty besides the king; rather, for the honour of his church and because of his liberality.

 

Filip ab.jpg
Philip, rather older. (source)

So whilst there’s lots going on here, not much of it necessarily pertains to liturgy. Now, it is interesting how Gervaise is bringing up two issues – that of the primacy of Gaul and that of the archchancellorship – which have been in one way or another dead letters for decades at this point. Perhaps his background – he was forced out of the bishopric of Le Mans and given Rheims as a bit of a consolation prize – made him touchy about any privilege he could reasonably claim…

In any case, liturgically what we have here is a coronation ceremony which does not appear to be based on any of the preceeding ordines we have translated. Instead, it looks like it’s based on some version of the liturgy for a coronation found in the collection generally known as the Romano-German Pontifical, although that’s actually a really complicated question and I don’t want to go into it. Because otherwise this is going to be a very short post, and because I kinda already did it, then, I’ll finish this series with a translation of that liturgy.

72. Here begins the ordo for blessing a king when he is newly elevated to the throne by the clergy and people.
First, when he leaves the bedchamber, one of the bishops should say this prayer:
“O God Almighty and Eternal, Who deigned to raise thy servant to the height of the realm, give unto him we pray that he might dispose of salvation to all in common in the course of this life, so that he might not fall away from the path of thy truth. Per.”
Then let two bishops take him by the hand, honourably prepared at his right and left, with holy relics hanging from their necks; let the other clerics be adorned with chasubles, preceded by the holy gospel and two crosses with sweet-smelling incense, and let them lead him to the church, singing the responsory, ‘Ecce, mitto angelum meum’, and in response ‘Israel si me audieris’, with all the people following him.
At the door of the church, the clergy should stop, and the archbishop should say the following prayer:
“O God, Who knows the human race cannot stand in virtue, propitiously concede that thy servant N., whom thou hast raised over thy people, might be so supported by thy help that he has the strength to profit those over whom he has been able to preside. Per.”
The preceding clerics, entering, should sing an antiphony: ‘Domine salvum fac regum’ up to the entrance of the choir.
Then the metropolitan bishop should say the following prayer:
‘O Eternal God Almighty, governor of Heaven and Earth, Who has deigned to promote thy servant N. to the height of the realm, concede we pray that he, freed from all adversity, might be defended by the gift of ecclesiastical peace, and merit to come, by thy gift, to the joys of eternal peace. Per.’
Then, before the choir, let the prince-designate take off his pallium and arms, and, having been led between the hands of the bishops into the choir, let him walk up to the altar, upon a floor entirely covered with carpets and rugs, let him humbly lie there prostrate in a cross-shape, along with the bishops and priests thence prostrated, and with the others singing a brief litany in the chorus, that is, the 12 apostles and all the martyrs, confessors, and virgins, and other figures suitable for this blessing until the end. When the litany is finished, let them get up.
After the prince has stood up, let him be questioned by the metropolitan bishop as to whether he wishes to justly and religiously rule and defend the holy churches of God and the rulers of churches and the whole people subjected to him with royal providence in accordance with the custom of his fathers. Let him profess that he will faithfully act in such a manner through everything insofar as he can, supported by divine help and the solace of all his followers.
Let the bishop address the people, if they wish to subject themselves to such a prince and ruler, and stabilise his realm in firm faith, and obey his commands, in accordance with the words of the Apostle: ‘Should every soul be subordinate to the higher powers as if to an excellent man?’
Then, therefore, let the clergy and people who are present unanimously exclaim: “Let it be done! Let it be done! Amen!”
Then, after he has devotedly bowed, let this prayer be said by one bishop:
“Bless, O Lord, this our king, O thou who governs every kingdom in this world, and glorify him with such a blessing that he might hold the sceptre of Davidic sublimity and, glorified, immediately be found worthy. Give to him by thy breath to rule thy people with mildness, as thou caused Solomon to obtain a peaceful kingdom. May he always be subdued to thee with fear, and soldier for thee in quiet. May he be protected by thy shield with his magnates, and may he by thy grace be ever a victor. Honour him before all the kings of the nations; may a happy people be ruled and the nations happily adorn him. May he live nobly between the crowds of the nation. May he be unequalled in the judgements of equity. May thy rich right hand enrich him. May he obtain a fruitful fatherland, and may thou grant blessings to his children. Give him a long temporal life, and may justice arise in his days. May he hold from thee a mighty throne of rule, and be glorified in the kingdom eternal with happiness and justice. Per.”
Another.
“O Eternal God Almighty, creator of all, emperor of the angels, king of those who rule and lord of those who lord, Who caused thy servant Abraham to triumph over his foes, gave many-fold victories unto Moses and Joshua, who were set above thy people; and elevated thy humble child David to the peak of the realm, and enriched Solomon with the ineffable gift of wisdom and peace, hear our humble prayers we beseech thee, and upon this man thy servant N., whom we elect as king with suppliant devotion, multiply the gifts of thy blessings upon him, and cover him always and everywhere with the hand of thy power, so that he, firm in the faithfulness of the aforesaid Abraham, trusting in the mildness of Moses, defended with the fortitude of Joshua, exalted with the humility of David, ornamented with the wisdom of Solomon, might please thee in everything, and walk ever on the path of justice with uninterrupted steps, and so nourish and teach, defend and instruct thy Church and the people joined to it, and powerfully and regally administer the government of thy virtue for it against all enemies visible and invisible, and restore their souls to the concord of true faith and peace by thy grant, that he, supported by the due subjection of the people, might be glorified with worthy love, and, by thy mercy, merit to decently ascend to the throne of his fathers; and, defended by the helmet of thy protection and constantly protected by an unconquerable shield and girded with celestial arms, faithful and happily gain the triumph of a desirable victory, and inflict the terror of his power upon the unfaithful, and joyfully carry back peace for those soldiering for thee, through our Lord, who destroyed Tartarus with the Cross’ virtue, and, having overcome the Devil’s realm, ascended to Heaven, in whom all power and the victory of kings dwells, who is the glory of the humble and the life and salvation of the people, who lives and reigns with thee.”
Then let this prayer be said by another bishop.
“O God, unspeakable author of the world, creator of the human race, governor of empire, confirmer of kingship, Who pre-elected future kings of the world from the bosom of thy faithful friend Abraham, our patriarch, enrich this present king and his army, through the intercession of all the saints, with fruitful blessings, and confirm him in the throne of the realm with firm stability. Visit him as Moses in the burning bush, Joshua of Nave in battle, Gideon in the field, Samuel in the Temple, and bathe him in that heavenly blessing and the dew of thy wisdom, which the blessed David in the Psalter, by thy reward, and his son Solomon received from heaven. Be to him armour against the battle-lines of his enemies, a helmet in adversity, patience in prosperity, an eternal shield in protection; and provide that the people should keep the faith, his magnates might have peace and love charity, abstain from cupidity, speak justice, guard truth. And may the people so flourish, having grown together by the blessing of eternity, that they remain always rejoicing victors in peace. May He deign to grant it.”
15. Then let his head, breast and shoulders and both joints of his arms be anointed with sacred oil by the bishop of the see,
17. And the following prayer be said:
“O God, Who is the glory of the just and the mercy of the sinners, Who sent thy son to redeem the human race with his most precious blood, Who crushes wars and is the hope of those believing in thee, and under Whose judgement the power of every kingdom is kept, we humbly pray thee that You might bless thy present servant N., confiding in thy mercy, in the present royal seat, and deign to be propitious to him, so that he who asks to be defended by thy protection may be stronger than all enemies. Make him, O Lord, blessed and victorious over his enemies. Crown him with a crown of justice and piety, that, believing in thee with his whole heart and whole mind, he might serve thee, defend and elevate thy holy Church, justly rule the people committed to him by thee, and that no-one should turn him to injustice with evil plots. Kindle, O Lord, his heart to love of thy grace through this oil of unction, whence thou hast anointed priests, kings and prophets, so that, loving justice and leading the people through the path of justice, after what course of years in the royal excellence thou disposeth is done, he might merit to reach eternal joys. Through the same.”
18. Again another.
“May God, the son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was anointed by the Father with the oil of exaltation before his partakers, through the present infusion of the sacred oil of the paraclete Spirit upon thy head, pour out a blessing and cause it to penetrate thy innermost heart, so that thou might merit through this visible and tangible gift to take up invisible gifts, and by pursuing just government in this worldly kingdom to reign eternally with Him, Who alone is without sin, king of kings, and lives and is glorified with God the Father, God in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever. Amen.”
19. Afterwards, let him accept the sword from the bishops, and with the sword let him know that the whole realm is faithfully commended to him to rule, in accordance with these words, which the metropolitan should say:
“Take the sword, royally imposed on thee through the hands, although unworthy, of bishops, yet consecrated on behalf and by the authority of the holy apostles, and divinely ordained in defence of the holy Church of God by the office of our blessing, and be mindful of what the Psalmist prophesied, saying ‘Gird the sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty’, so that in this, through the same, you might exercise the might of equity, powerfully destroy the mass of iniquity, and fight for and protect the holy Church of God and His faithful, and no less execrate and destroy those false in faith, who are enemies of the Christian name, clemently help and defend widows and orphans, restored what is desolate, conserve what is restored, avenge injustice, confirm what is rightly done, so that in enacting this triumph of virtue, glorious, an outstanding cultivator of justice, thou might merit to reign without end with the saviour of the World, whose type thou bearest in name, who lives and reigns with Father and Holy Spirit.”
20. Having been girdled with the sword, let him similarly take from them arm-rings and a pallium and a ring, and the metropolitan should say:
“Take the ring of royal dignity, and know a sign of catholic faith in thyself through it, because, as today thou art ordained the head and prince of realm and people, thus too should thou endure an ongoing supporter and stabiliser of Christianity and the Christian faith, that, happy in deeds, wealthy in faith, thou might be glorified with the king of kings forever, ‘to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever’”.
21. Then, let him take the sceptre and staff, with the one ordaining him saying to him:
“Take the rod of virtue and equity, by which thou might know to delight the pious and terrify the reprobate, to lay out a path for the erring, to reach out a hand to the lapsed; destroy the proud and raise the humble; and may Jesus Christ our Lord open to thee the door, who said of himself, ‘I am IT Service Desk <IT.services@leeds-ac.uk>the door, if any man enter in, he shall be saved’. And he, who is the key of David and the sceptre of the house of Israel, ‘he that openeth and no man shutteth, that shutteth and no man openeth’, may he be to thee a supporter, who ‘brings out the prisoners from the prison, and those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death’, that thou might merit to follow in everything him of whom the prophet David sang, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom’. And by imitating him, ‘You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore God, your God, has anointed you’, after the example of him who was anointed before the world, ‘with the oil of gladness beyond your companions’, Jesus Christ our lord, who lives.”
22. Then let the metropolitan reverently place the crown on the king’s head, saying:
“Take the crown of the realm, which is placed upon thy head by the hands, though unworthy, of bishops. Know that it is a clear sign of the glorious and honour of sanctity and the work of fortitude and do not be unaware that through it thou art a participant in our ministry, such that, just as we know ourselves to be pastors and rulers of souls in inner matters, thou also might always appear as a true worshipper of God, and a vigorous defender of the Church of Christ against all adversity, and a useful executor of the realm given to thee by God and through the office of our blessing, committed to thy governance on behalf of the apostles and all the saints, and a beneficial ruler, so that, decorated with the jewels of virtue amongst the glorious athletes and crowned with the prize of eternal happiness, thou might glory with Jesus Christ the saviour and redeemer, whose name and position thou art entrusted to bear, without end. He lives and rules, God with God the Father in unity.”
23. And let this blessing be immediately said over him, which should be said over the king during a synod:
“May the Lord bless thee and keep thee, and, as thou wish to be king over His people, may He thus bestow happiness in the present age and a consortship in eternal happiness. Amen. May He cause thee to happily govern the clergy and people, whom He has wished by His generosity to place under thy rule, by His dispensation and thy administration through long-lasting time, Amen. For which reason, obeying divine commands, being free from all adversity, abounding in good works, serving thy command with faithful love, may they be fruitful in the tranquillity of peace in the present age, and merit to become with thee consorts of the heavenly citizens. Amen. May He deign to provide this, Whose kingdom and empire endure without limit for ever and ever, amen. May the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon thee. Amen.”
24. Then, having been crowned, let him be honourably led through the choir from the altar up to the throne, with the metropolitan saying to him:
25. “Stand firm and hold fast henceforth this place, which thou hast held thus far delegated to thee in hereditary right by paternal succession, through the authority of God Almighty and our present gift, to wit, of all the bishops, and the other servants of God; and as much as thou see the clergy to be closer to the sacred altars, by that much more take care to give them greater honour; so that the mediator between God and Man might confirm thee as a mediator between clergy and people” (at this point, the lord metropolitan should have him sit on the seat, saying:) “in the throne of the realm, and make thee to reign with him in the kingdom eternal, Jesus Christ our lord, king of kings and lord of lords, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.”
26. Then let him give them the kiss of peace.
27. Let the whole company of clerics, rejoicing in such a ruler, singing hymns, sing together a Te Deum.
28. Then let the metropolitan bishop celebrate mass in full procession.

Charter a Week 1: ‘Our dearest duke’ (877)

It’s well-known by now that I enjoy translating sources, and that I like charters; and it’s probably becoming clear as well that I like getting narrative about the late/post-Carolingian world. So today is the first entry in a new series, which is exactly what it says on the tin: each Monday, I’ll post a new translation of a charter going right through the long tenth century, one (at least – see below) each year from 877 up to 1032. A couple of caveats before beginning:

  • So far, I’ve planned out about half of what we’re going to be seeing. During this process, I’ve found that the really juicy stuff tends to cluster noticeably – it’s not so much that one year will have two potentially-interesting charters and one three; more that one will have one and another will have five. In most cases I’ve tried to be strict, but some years I just couldn’t pick. In these cases, I’ll post one on Monday and the rest a few days later. As it happens, this first week is one of these cases, so expect another charter later this week!
  • A note on coverage: this is fundamentally a French story. Mostly, we’ll be talking about the West Frankish monarchy, but as you might expect by now we’ll be looking over the border into Provence and occasionally Transjurane Burgundy, and the East Frankish kingdom and Lotharingia will also play a part.

Let’s crack on!

DD CtB no. 419 (6th January 877, Quierzy) = ARTEM no. 788 = DK 5.xix

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by mercy of the same Almighty God emperor augustus.

If We lend Our Serenity’s ears to the just and reasonable requests of servants of God, and bring them into effect, We both follow the custom of the emperors, to wit, Our ancestors; and We in no way doubt that through this will the prize of an eternal blessing follow.

Let the industry, therefore, of all those faithful to the holy Church of God and to Us, both present and future, know that Boso [of Provence], Our dearest duke and representative in Italy and the chief minister of Our sacred palace, coming before Our Excellence, made known to Our Serenity the appeals of certain monks, that is, from the monastery of the holy martyr Benignus: to wit, that they had appealed to Our Highness that We might for Our soul’s reward and on account of the appeal of the same Boso, who is very worthy of Our affection, restore to the aforesaid holy martyr Benignus and the brothers serving therein goods which had been alienated from their said monastery for a long time.

Therefore, Our Serenity’s clemency complied with the prayers of Our said dearest man and succouring the needs of the aforementioned brothers, We restore to them through this Our precept the goods which are described below, that is, in the district of Oscheret, the estate which is called Longvic with churches and everything justly and reasonably pertaining to it; and in the district of Portois, the estate of Saint-Marcel with churches and everything pertaining to it.

Accordingly, We commanded this precept of Our Imperial Highness be made and given to the aforesaid brothers, through which let them hold and possess eternally all the said goods with everything pertaining to them, and let them turn them back to their own uses without contradiction from any person.

And that this might be inviolably conserved for all time and obtain in the name of God a fuller vigour of firmness, We confirmed it below with Our hand and We commanded it be sealed with Our signet.

Sign of Charles, most glorious of august emperors.

Odoacer the notary witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Gozlin [of Paris].

Count Boso ambasciated.

Given on the 8th ides of January (6th January), in the 10th indiction, in the 37th year of the reign of the lord emperor Charles in Francia, and the 7th in succession to Lothar [II], and in second of his rule as emperor.

Enacted at the imperial palace of Quierzy.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

CW 1.1 877
The surviving original, from the Diplomata Karolinorum linked above.

We begin in the last year of the reign of Charles the Bald, not that anyone knew that at the time. Charles, who was 53 when this diploma was issued, had recently become emperor in Italy, and as we’ll see later this week was clearly aiming further. No-one expected him to die within the year, so this diploma was issued not as a deathbed grant from a fading ruler but as a statement from a man who hadn’t stopped pushing for greater power yet. There are a lot of diplomas from early 877 as Charles prepared to head once more to Italy.

By this point, the pattern of Charles’ late reign is clear, because these diplomas in general feature the small clique of supermagnates on whom Charles’ power was based (and who based their own power on Charles’) – men such as Hugh the Abbot (who we will encounter later in this series), Bernard Plantevelue, father of William the Pious, and above all, as here, Boso of Provence.

At the exact point this diploma was issued, Boso was riding remarkably high even for him. His sister Richildis was married to Charles and had recently given birth to a son (in the event short-lived) to whom Boso stood godfather. This diploma, for the abbey of Saint-Bénigne in Dijon, is a testament to his status. Look at Boso’s titulature: not every Tom, Dick or Megingoz gets to be carissimus noster dux et missus Italiae sacrique palatii nostri archiminister! Boso was a high-status, powerful aristocrat – but his position was fragile, and the prospect of the succession of Charles’ son Louis the Stammerer was not an appealing one. To paraphrase Stuart Airlie: when you’re that high up, where can you go but down?

Some Issues in Aquitanian History, pt. 6: The Last Years of Stephen of Clermont

All twenty of them. Thing is, and why this post has been less than forthcoming, is that with the end of hostilities in the Auvergne in the early 960s, we lose even a semblance of narrative. Piecing together tenth-century history is always difficult, but here it becomes close to impossible. We, quite simply, do not have enough evidence to build any kind of story here, let alone the relatively coherent and/or detailed one of the last five posts. Thus, the last twenty-odd years of Bishop Stephen II of Clermont’s career can be covered in about a quarter of the space of the first twenty.

Rather than going chronologically, it’s best to speak about what the evidence does and doesn’t have in it. Let’s start with the basics: when did Stephen die? We know he was still alive in 977, when he is noted as owning land bordering a donation to the monastery of Sauxillanges. After that, things get complicated. A couple of charters from the abbey of Conques have him as being still alive in the thirtieth year of the reign of King Lothar, which should in theory be 984. However, two more charters, one from 981 and one from 980, give the abbot of Conques as Hugh and the bishop of Clermont as Bego respectively, both Stephen’s successors. I think what’s happening here is either that some scribes are taking Lothar’s reign as beginning earlier than 954 (as we know some did) or there’s been a transcription error – Lothar’s XXX-th year and his XXV-th year, or something like that, aren’t too difficult to mix up. It is also possible these charters might be right, but that doesn’t change things too much. Bego and Hugh had both been Stephen’s co-rulers before 980, so even if the by-this-point-rather-elderly bishop of Clermont was still alive, what has probably happened is that he is no longer active – living, but out of the picture. One way or another, we can put the end of Stephen’s career in around 979-980.

So what was Stephen doing between the early 960s and the later 970s? Ruling Auvergne, probably. The charter evidence from these decades shows that Stephen is pretty much the only substantial authority figure visible in the region – no counts of Poitiers, no viscounts of Brioude that matter, just the bishop. What this says to me is that he probably didn’t face much by way of challenge. Our closest look at him comes from what’s known as the Landeyrat Charter of 972, where he consecrates the abbey-church of Aurillac in the presence of a large assembly. The problem is that this document is at minimum heavily interpolated, although some scholars argue strongly for an authentic core (and that it’s a precursor to the Peace of God, an idea we will return to in a later post), so we need to be cautious in dealing with its actual provisions.

Sauxillanges today. (source)

More interesting is a charter from the cartulary of Sauxillanges. The big problem with this thing is that it is undated, and by formal criteria undatable. It’s not likely to be earlier than about 960, and it can’t be later than 979, and it can’t be pinned down more closely than that. With that said, the man giving the charter, one Rigald, gives off the impression that he’s dying – he appoints people as his executors – and he appears fairly frequently in the 950s but not in the 960s or 970s, so this is probably in the earlier part of the period, 963-965 or so. What’s interesting about this charter is that it features both Stephen, the four main viscounts of the Auvergne, and Archbishop Amblard of Lyon who was himself from a prominent Auvergnat family and had major interests in the region. We saw him last time helping broker peace in the Auvergne, and his presence here surely implies that he remained an important figure there. On his own death in 979, he donated the Auvergnat abbey of Ris to Cluny, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he acted (as in this Sauxillanges act) as a supporter of Bishop Stephen.

By this time, though, a new generation was clearly coming up. Amblard of Lyon was dead, Stephen of Clermont was either dying or incapacitated, and other figures were circling. A new bishop in Le Puy, Guy, was taking some of Stephen’s ideas; a new group of counts was emerging; and King Lothar himself was preparing to take an interest. And that’s what we’ll get into next time…

Why is Donkey Kong like tenth-century Flanders?

Birthday post! OK, it’s not actually my birthday (I ain’t putting that on the internet), but it is proximate thereto, which is one reason I haven’t been posting recently. Posts will resume after I’ve moved house and gone to the EHS Conference in two weeks, but recently I discovered something fun which is almost entirely devoid of scholarly content, but tickled me so I’m putting it up here anyway.

I have on occasion hinted at something which I like to call the ‘Arnulf Problem’, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained what it is. Basically, in late tenth-century Flanders, Count Arnulf the Great was having family troubles. One of his nephews rebelled, and so he had him executed, earning the hostility of the executed man’s brother, who was also called Arnulf. These two things, that he was a nephew of Arnulf the Great and that he was also called Arnulf, are the only things we have to identify this man. This is a problem, because ‘Arnulf’ is an incredibly common name. Hence, there are about six potential candidates for our Arnulf – and thus, the Arnulf Problem: not knowing who someone is because everyone has the same damn name.

(Ninth-century historians have a different version of this known as the Three Bernards Problem, although these Bernards at least have better nicknames – Bernard Hairypaws, anyone?)

 

Donkey_kong
Segue! (source)

Now, as I say, I recently discovered that medieval history is not the only field where this is true. It turns out fans of the venerable Donkey Kong franchise have to deal with a similar problem. The first appearance of Donkey Kong was in 1981, in the arcade game Donkey Kong, which also featured the first appearance of Mario – then named Jumpman – as an animal-abusing builder’s carpenter. However, in more recent games we have learned that the current Donkey Kong is in fact the second holder of that title, the first being the ape now known as DK’s grandfather Cranky Kong (not to be confused with either Swanky Kong or Lanky Kong…). It is, though, not quite clear when the current Donkey Kong took over from Cranky Kong. It certainly happened by Donkey Kong Island, but although the wiki claims that the Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong 3 is Cranky Kong, in fact there’s no real way of knowing. Essentially, it’s the Arnulf Problem all over again.

In fact, there’s a specific equivalent. At some point in the 960s, a series of English bishops wrote to Count Arnulf of Flanders about various matters. Problem is, because Arnulf I (the Great) was succeeded by Arnulf II, we don’t know which Arnulf they were writing to. It’s even a grandfather-grandson transition (although, unlike the current Donkey Kong, we know exactly what happened to Arnulf II’s father)!

So there you have it – if you’re a gamer, then tenth-century historians face your problems. And if you’re a tenth-century historian, then… let’s see if we can get a Mario Kart tournament going at the next IMC?

Prologues and the 936 Diploma for Autun

Grgh. You find me, dear reader, in the midst of trying to write my paper for the big medieval congress in Leeds whilst at the same time not getting enough sleep, and so I’m going to spend this post hearkening back to something relaxing. You see, sometimes in the midst of doing more relevant research I take a little time to go and look at the prologues, or arengae, of royal diplomas – the little introductory spiel which gives the backstory and the motives behind the act the diploma commemorates (and from which the word ‘harangue’ is derived). It’s early days yet, but I have found one particularly interesting thing.

Do you remember that 936 diploma in favour of Autun we discussed earlier on here? Well, I found where its prologue came from, and it’s actually from an act in favour not of any institution in Autun, but a diploma for Saint-Germain d’Auxerre. That diploma, issued by Charles the Bald in 864, was a quite significant confirmation of the abbey’s goods, and was followed by a solemn charter from the episcopal synod which was taking place at the same time.

That the scribe used this in 936 shows us a few things. First, it emphasises that there wasn’t a representative from Autun there – presumably they would have brought their own diplomas as a model. Second, though, it illustrates the importance attached to the diploma. They could have used any text, but they chose one from a particularly elaborate and significant ninth-century document. This in turn pushes in favour of Louis IV and Hugh the Great actively trying to get Bishop Rotmund of Autun on side rather than just assuming he would be, which strengthens my point that Hugh is actively trying to promote Louis’ regime in Burgundy rather than making some token gestures. Fourth and finally, as I said in the previous post, it evidently worked because the church of Autun kept the diploma – but its prologue represents the irruption of another institution’s diplomatic tradition into that of Autun, and by closely studying that tradition we can glean more precious hints about the way diplomas were produced and the contexts in which people produced them.