Charter a Week 3, part 2: Adalgar of Autun

So, Boso is now king. But one man was missing from the Convention of Mantaille, one key figure: Bishop Adalgar of Autun. Like Boso, Adalgar had been one of Charles the Bald’s most important courtiers, and as bishop of Autun and abbot of Flavigny, he was very rich and powerful. He was also one of Boso’s most important supporters, and the first royal diploma issued in Boso’s name was for Adalgar and his church.

DD Provence no. 17 (8th November 879, Lyon)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Boso, by grace of God king.

If We take heed in giving help to the pious petitions of servants of God, We in no way doubt that God will be more propitious to Us because of it in the world present and to come.

Wherefore, let it be known to the concord of all those faithful to the holy Church of God and to Us that Adalgar, venerable bishop of Autun, coming before the mildness of Our Sublimity, made an appeal that We might confirm by a writing of Our authority the authorities and precepts of the kings, that is, Our predecessors, for the vigour of greater firmness; and strengthen them in accordance with what is customary.

We yielded to his petitions as freely as We beheld it would more fully benefit Us.

Therefore, We establish, confirm, and by confirming decree that every precept which was made for the said church by Our ancestors, that is, kings and emperors, should endure unbroken for all time, both those concerning both the abbey of Flavigny and the estate of Bligny-sur-Ouche and also concerning the villa of Lucenay-le-Duc, and as well concerning the estate of Tillenay, as well as also concerning all the things of the same church. Let the precepts and authorities be strengthened by Our rule, and let them endure undisturbed.

We eternally delegate and, in delegating, concede to the said church and its bishop Adalgar the hill which is called Semur, with the church which is thereon and two mills, and We transfer it by royal custom from Our right into the right and dominion of Saint-Nazaire.

But that this confirmation of Our authority might obtain greater vigour, confirming it below with Our own hands, We commanded it be sealed below with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of Boso, most glorious of kings.

Elibert the chancellor witnessed on behalf of Archbishop Aurelian [of Lyon].

Given on the 6th ides of November [8th November], in the 12th indiction, in the 1st year of the reign of lord Boso, most glorious of kings.

Enacted at the city of Lyon.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

So there’s a few things happening here. The first thing to note is that the late ninth-century diplomas of the church of Autun are all fairly suspect, not least because of Adalgar, who composed a lot (like, a lot) of forged royal diplomas for his church. I think this one is fairly solid, not least because at least one of the properties – that of Semur, which we’ll talk about later – doesn’t show up again in later royal diplomas. It’s quite possible that Adalgar had a hand in creating this diploma, but that would be fair enough – he was very shortly to become Boso’s archchancellor, and the two men were sufficiently close that there wouldn’t be much point in faking it when the genuine article could be acquired easy enough.

Anyway, this diploma was issued only a little while after Boso’s coronation, which took place in Lyon. Adalgar, who had apparently been an early and enthusiastic supporter of Boso, was rewarded for his loyalty by a visible display of his importance to the new king. Boso, equally, was able to confirm the acts of his predecessor Louis the Stammerer – a number of these estates, notably Bligny, had been confirmed within the previous few months.

Circuit cyclo entre Brenne et Ozerain le 27 mai 2015
Semur-en-Auxois’ castle today. (source)

But then there’s Semur, which is probably Semur-en-Auxois (although there is a minority opinion which makes it Semur-en-Brionnais). Semur, whose name means ‘old walls’, has a marvellous defensive position, on top of a granite bluff and surrounded on three sides by a river, and there was a late Carolingian castle there. (I have been trying to find archaeological studies of Semur to see how precisely we can date Semur’s early fortifications, so far without luck.) Between Semur, Flavigny, and Lucenay-le-Duc, this diploma places Adalgar right at the heart of the Auxois, on the northern border of Boso’s sphere of influence. It may well be that this diploma, in addition to rewarding Adalgar, is entrusting him with the defence of this northern region against the inevitable Carolingian counterattack. Next week, we’ll have a look at exactly how that went.

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