Charter a Week 8: Integrating the North

The factional politics of Carloman II’s reign, as we have been learning these last weeks, are very complicated. However, one region above all did not want Carloman: the region known as Francia, which is the part of northern France east of the Seine. This was ultimately a personal clash between Gozlin, abbot of Saint-Amand and later (as of 883, in fact) bishop of Paris, and Hugh the Abbot. Whilst Carloman’s brother Louis III lived, each of these groups could have their own king: Carloman got Burgundy and Aquitaine and Louis got Francia (and Neustria, although given that in practice ‘Neustria’ meant ‘Hugh the Abbot’ I wonder how far this ever translated into practice). After Louis’ death, however, things got tense.

The northern magnates did invite Carloman to be their king, but they seem to have broken with him immediately afterwards. At the assembly in Worms in 882, Hincmar notes that a group of magnates had withdrawn their support from Carloman, hamstringing his efforts to fight off the Viking menace; this group was probably this northern collective. The objection was probably that they weren’t being given a role in Carloman’s government: the king’s diplomas in 882 and 883 are almost entirely destined for and petitioned by southerners. Some northern magnates were clearly trying to work with the king – Count Theodoric of Vermandois petitioned for a diploma in favour of Adalgar of Autun – but this was the exception not the rule.

Carloman clearly realised this was a problem, and began trying to with the northerners over, with a key moment here being when Gozlin was made archchancellor in summer 883. This coincided with a campaign against the Vikings in the north which led to the king’s forces retreating at Grand-Laviers and Vikings raiding the north-east during the winter.

A gratuitous bit of Scandinavian art because this week’s charter isn’t original (source)

This, in turn, led to a crisis. According to the Annals of Saint-Vaast, ‘all the princes of the realm’ gathered at Compiègne to decide what to do about the Vikings, because the king was a minor. The king was actually eighteen, by contemporary standards perfectly adult; so this must represent the magnates trying to bypass royal decision-making entirely. They made an agreement with the Vikings to pay tribute, which bought them eight months. In that time, you can see Carloman trying to retake the reigns of power. Part of this we’ll cover on Wednesday, but part of it we’ll deal with today.

DD LLC no. 76 (13th March 884, Compiègne)

In the name of Lord God Eternal and our saviour Jesus Christ. Carloman, by grace of God king.

If We expend the means of Our liberality on places given over to divine worship or, also, legally restore Church goods rightly pertaining to the same which were once alienated by Our progenitors through pastoral indolence, or rather through the deceitful lips and lying tongues of crooked men, We do not doubt this will benefit the souls of Our predecessors in earning pardon for sin and Us in divinely protecting the state of Our present realm and acquiring the crown of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Wherefore let it be known to all those faithful to the holy Church of God and Us, both present and future, that the venerable Berno, bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne, who is full advantageous and faithful to Us amongst the vanguard of Our realm in both counsel and aid, and who resolved to abide in the same fidelity, approached Our Serenity and made known to Us that the little abbey of Saint-Sulpice, which Our vassal and judge Rothard holds in benefice, was unjustly stolen from the church of the blessed protomartyr Stephen, and submissively requested that We restore the same to him. Our followers, to wit, the venerable Ingelwin, bishop of Paris, and Count Theodoric [of Vermandois], greatly beloved of Us, advising and appealing for the same thing with him.

Therefore, favouring their petitions, We restore the aforesaid little abbey, sited in the suburbs of the city next to the bridge over the river Marne, to the aforesaid church of the blessed Stephen, that he might protect Us and Our realm by his glorious prayers and defend Us and it from the devastation of the pagans, to wit, on the condition that the said Rothard should hold the same little abbey in right of benefice, through the consent of the venerable bishop Berno, for such time as it takes Us to compensate him with something appropriate in place of that benefice. After, however, Our aforesaid vassal has received a substitute benefice or, as it may be, has by the lot of the human condition departed from this life, let the aforesaid church presently gain possession of the same goods freely, as its own, without any resistance or need for further evidence.

Concerning this, We commanded this precept of Our Highness be made, through which We re-endow the church of the blessed Stephen with the aforesaid goods in their entirety, that is, with bondsmen of both sexes dwelling thereon or rightly pertaining to the same, and lands cultivated and uncultivated, vineyards, meadows, mills, pastures, roads in and out, woods, and all legitimate borders, so that it might justly and legally hold and possess them, as We said before, like other Church goods, and dispose of them canonically in accordance with its will.

But that this Our restitution might obtain inviolable vigour through times to come, We confirmed it below with Our own hand and We commanded it be safeguarded by the impression of Our signet.

Norbert the notary witnessed on behalf of Gozlin [of Paris].

Given on the 3rd ides of March [13th March], in the 2nd indiction, in the 2nd year of the reign of King Carloman in Francia.

Enacted at the palace of Compiègne.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

This diploma is weird in a number of ways. The biggest is that Bishop Engelwin of Paris, by March 884, has been dead for several months. I thought that the 883 death date might be a mistake in the literature, but nope, it’s pretty certain. Could it be a fake? Well, it could be, but there’s nothing formally wrong with it. The process of issuing any charter doesn’t take place all in one go, and we know that some diplomas can’t have been issued with everyone present there. What this suggests, then, is that the March diploma was issued regarding an issue which had actually been resolved a while ago.

The diploma, then, is at least in part performative in the purest Koziolian sense. That is, it’s being issued above all to show that the northern magnates are now fully part of the king’s circle. Berno, bishop in the strategic see of Châlons-sure-Marne, Count Theodoric of Vermandois, the new bishop of Paris Gozlin as archchancellor, and the old one, Engelwin, mentioned as a petitioner as a gesture of reconciliation for the last few years – all get to show themselves as key parts of Carloman’s regime.

It’s also clearly being issued in a time perceived as one of disaster – note the need for St Stephen to defend the kingdom from Viking attacks. Carloman, as we’ll see on Wednesday, was very keen on getting the affairs of his realm in order to gain divine support, but it was part of an overall strategy of belligerence – he wanted to fight the Northmen, not least because most of the time he won at least tactical victories!

The final interesting point of this diploma is the dating, which is the regnal year in Francia. This is unique in Carloman’s diplomas, but it’s also (minus one diploma issued on the king’s deathbed for an abbey in Soissons) the only diploma for a Francian recipient, so that does make sense. MacLean has read this as regional posturing, which I think is fair so long as we’re careful to keep in mind that this posturing is a very short-term product of factional politics which Carloman is here validating to gain short-term military support.

Not that it worked. That deathbed diploma I mentioned? Issued in December of this year. Hunting accident, natch. This left only one adult Carolingian male to come and pick up the pieces – but before that, we’ll be looking at the biggest statement of Carloman’s ideas about rule, the Capitulary of Ver.

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