Source Translation: Hugh of Arles and Louis IV’s succession

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Hugh and Lothar, by grace of God kings. Let the entirety of all the fideles of the holy Church of God and us, to wit, present and future, know that […] humbly asked Our Majesty that We might deign to concede to and bestow on Count Hugh, Our most beloved nephew, Our certain estate within the realm of Burgundy, and near the county of Vienne, which is named Saint-Jean-d’Octaveon, with 700 manses, and in its entirety, by Our perceptual authority.

Assenting to his petitions, and considering the love, goodwill and fidelity of this Our nephew, We commanded this Our precept to be made, through which, just as We are justly and legally able, We concede, donate, and bestow the aforesaid estate, pertaining to Our right, lying by the aforesaid county, in its entirety, to Our said nephew, by Our perceptual authority; and We transfer and consign it entirely from Our right and dominion into his right and dominion, along with churches, houses, lands, vineyards, meadows, pastures, woods, groves, plantings, waters and watercourses, mills, fisheries, mountains and valleys, peaks and plains, with male and female serfs of both sexes, with emburdened freedmen and -women (aldionibus et aldianis), with its distraints and renders, and with all the things justly and legally beholden to that estate, which is named Saint-Jean-d’Octaveon, that is, seven hundred manses entirely, that he might have, hold and firmly possess them, and have power to sell, hold, donate, exchange, alienate, make dispositions for the state of his soul, and do whatever his own lights dictate, absent contradiction from any man. And thus, if anyone might violate this Our precept, let them know themselves liable to a fine of one hundred pounds of pure gold, half to Our treasury and half to Our aforesaid nephew Count Hugh and his heirs. And that this might be more truly believed and more diligently observed by all, strengthening it with our own hands, We commanded it be marked below with Our seal.

Sign of Hugh and Lothar, most serene of kings.

Chancellor Peter witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Abbot and Archchancellor Gerland.

Given on the 8th Kalends of July [24th June], in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 937 [sic], in the 10th year of the reign of lord Hugh, most invincible of kings, and the 6th of lord Lothar, also a king., in the 9th indiction.

Enacted at Pavia, happily, amen.

So, at the moment things are a little hectic chez McNair. I’m in my last six weeks at Tübingen (alas!), and in that time I have to write up a lengthy contribution to a conference that I’m organising, do revisions to an article about land-lease practices, organise international moves (again), and, at some point, sort out my actual work. Last week, I had actually just finished part of the penultimate one of these, and was flying back to Germany, hence why there was no blog post. I’m going to try and keep on top of the blogging, but things might be a little sporadic: after all, I do this because it forces me to write something relatively chunky every week, but at the moment I’m already doing that so this might take a back seat.

But not today! After all, when all else fails, there’s charter translations. In this particular case, I mentioned in a previous week that there appears to have been an unofficial division of Provence into zones of influence after about 928. This charter neatly illustrates that.

If you remember, after the 928 death of Louis the Blind, it doesn’t look like Provence actually had a king. Based on my research, it looks like Provence was split into a northern, southern, eastern and western zone, and here we’re interested in the north-south division. In the south, it looks like Hugh of Arles was unproblematically hegemonic even if not actually king; in the north, by contrast, everyone looks to have piled in. The line of division between this is roughly around Valence.

Now, this diploma was issued in 936. As we’ve also covered before, in that year King Ralph of Burgundy died, and his place was taken over by Louis IV. Louis, along with his chief magnate Hugh the Great, immediately went forth to profit from Ralph’s death by trying to scoop up the allegiance of his allies in Burgundy, for that network was recently – and rather violently – created and after Ralph’s death was distinctly floppy. Both Louis IV and Ralph’s brother Hugh the Black attempted to assert themselves in this region by force of arms.

As you may also remember, part of Ralph’s hegemony was Vienne, and he’d pushed further south as well at points. Hugh of Arles may well have feared that this disruption would spread into the south of Provence. This diploma looks to be his response. His nephew, another Hugh, Hugh the Cisalpine (that makes four, for those keeping score), was the son of Count Warner of Sens and the brother of a Count Richard (of Troyes?), as well as a prominent figure in the court of Transjurane Burgundy, and a colleague at least of Hugh the Black for that reason. As a point-man for this region where the three kingdoms met, he was a good choice.

Moreover, I would emphasise the sheer scale of this donation. 700 manses is a vast number, roughly equivalent to a mid-level monastery such as Lobbes. It’s enough to make Hugh the Cisalpine a regional-strength military power in and of itself. Thus, Hugh of Arles’ response to Louis IV’s succession was to implant a locally-well connected close family member in the border region of his sphere of influence with enough muscle to back up any threats he might need to make. I think it’s fair to say that he was concerned…

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