Charter a Week 28: This Church was a Steal!

After 903, we are definitely at the point where trying to do conventional narrative is basically impossible, at least until the double-whammy of happenings in 911. With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to what’s going on the provinces… As we saw with Geilo, the bishops of Langres were big deals, and they stayed so into the tenth and (as we’ll see) the eleventh centuries. So what’s up with them?

Cartulaire de Saint-Bénigne no. 1.157 (3rd June 904) = ARTEM no. 151

In the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 903, in the 6th indiction, in the month of September, when, in the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity, I, Argrim, by the favour and succour of the mercy of our same holy saviour humble bishop of Langres, residing in the bosom of the same mother church in general synod, along with those faithful to that church and to Us, of every order, that is, abbots, archdeacons, priests, monks, deacons and other ministers of the churchly order, and also lay followers, was settling the affairs and advantages of the churches committed to Our Unworthiness with pastoral solicitude, insofar as Our ability and understanding allowed; and was giving an equal amount of attention* to disposing that what was legitimately established should endure undisturbed; and, if anything, perchance, could be found to be twisted and without authority, with divinity propitious was busying myself to get it back in line, amongst other endeavours of Our reckonings, which everyone together sweated to fortify and confirm with ecclesiastical sanctions, and We were sorrowing over the destitutions of certain churches pertaining to Our diocese and seeking how, with the Lord’s help, they could be restored by a common vow, the case of the church of the holy martyr of Christ Vincent sited in the castle of Dijon was aired and considered by us, for it seemed at that time to be destitute of necessities and widowed of a ruler and nearly brought down to nothing.

When We sought a recoverer and diligent restorer for it, amongst Our other good-willed followers, there presented himself someone fully devoted to Us and rightly cooperating with Our intention, an archdeacon of Our church named Rather, along with his nephew named Aldefred, saying that they wanted to receive and restore the same church, as far as they could, and were prepared to increase it from their own goods, as befit them, if We would succour it by an increase of Our beneficence and assist it so that it could enjoy legitimate stability in future times.

Favouring them with a resolution of pious generosity, with everyone cleaving to Our Goodwill, in honour and love for God and Saint Vincent, and for the eternal salvation and remuneration of Our soul and of Our predecessors and those who will come after Us in the sacred governance of pastors, and for an assiduous and unfailing remembrance in the prayers in the same church, We consigned and bestowed a certain manse of Our power and authority to the same place of Saint-Vincent, with the serving-people duly dwelling there, and with the vineyards, lands and all the goods beholden to it, sited near the suburbs of the aforesaid castle of Dijon, in the estate which is called Fontaine-lès-Dijon, to benefit that church perpetually as Our alms. Furthermore, Our aforesaid followers, to wit, Archdeacon Rather and his aforesaid nephew Aldefred, giving to that church for divine love another manse sited in the district of Oscheret, in the estate of Seroiches, with what is thereon, and 5 serving-people, and dwellings and meadows, and everything beholden to it, as is laid out in the charter of donation, asked that that church and the aforesaid things and the entrance-hall next to it be conceded and given to them in benefice for their lifetimes, on the condition that they should restore it as far as they could and respect it with due honour and have in it a necessary refuge whilst they lived. After their death, the same goods should no less serve the same church in perpetual stability.

We freely did this, with the assent of all Our men, and We conceded that they might hold the same church with these goods more certainly and securely in future times through this constitution of Our Liberality, which We strengthened with Our own hands and gave to be confirmed by everyone.

I, Argrim, poor bishop of the holy church of Langres, strengthened and subscribed. Prior Otbert subscribed. Archdeacon Isaac subscribed. Alberic the levite subscribed. The unworthy priest Helgaud subscribed. Archdeacon Pazus subscribed. Deacon Fulculf subscribed. Deodatus the priest subscribed. Bernard, under-sacristan of Saint-Mammès, subscribed. Deacon Gozelm subscribed. Archdeacon Arnald subscribed. Arnald the priest subscribed. Everard the levite subscribed. Subdeacon Lambert subscribed. Ursino the priest subscribed. Ingelbert the levite subscribed. Arembert subscribed. Christian the priest subscribed. Garemagnus the levite subscribed. Dominic the priest subscribed. Subdeacon Warner subscribed. Winerand the priest subscribed. Deodatus the priest subscribed. Alexander the priest subscribed. Seguin the priest subscribed. Letulf the levite subscribed. Gozelm the acolyte subscribed. Aimbald subscribed. Robert subscribed. Alger subscribed. Eilbert subscribed. Wandalmar the acolyte subscribed. Witbert subscribed. Archembald subscribed. Gisleher subscribed. Eldulf the levite subscribed. Ferlagius the levite subscribed. Ermenald subscribed.

I, Siric, an unworthy priest, wrote and subscribed this tenancy agreement.

Given in the month of June, on the 3rd nones of the same month [3rd June], in the 7th indiction, in the 8th year of the reign of King Charles.

*The phrase is praeponderans aequo libramine, ‘weighing on an even scale’, which I have taken as a poetic flourish for ‘considering similarly’, but could as well refer to the manner of Argrim’s dispositions.

Original document taken from ARTEM, as given above.

This is at first glance fairly straightforward. The church of Saint-Vincent in Dijon has gone to rack and ruin, Archdeacon Rather – who as prior of Saint-Etienne in Dijon is in a position to know – has volunteered to rebuild it and has devoted some funds for its upkeep, which Argrim, to help them out, adds to.

There is, of course, more going on. First, Saint-Vincent is far from destitute – it was at the time owned by the monks of the abbey of Saint-Bénigne, who still resented having their church usurped in the mid-eleventh century; and who were able, eight years later, to get Argrim’s successor to restore Saint-Vincent to them. So Rather is actively trying to get control of someone else’s church here. Even more, as we will see more of on Wednesday, Rather was particularly able to benefit from this kind of transaction under Argrim. Given Argrim’s slightly tenuous hold on the bishopric, the support of a major archdeacon must have been significant, and these transactions suggest that Rather was able to exact quite a price for that support.

The other thing that I want to flag up regarding this charter is its form. This document takes the form of a synodal record, something quite unusual in the tenth century. It’s not unknown (this being why as far as I can tell no-one else has ever commented on its unusual degree of employment by the bishops of southern Burgundy), but outside of the Church province of Lyon it’s hard to find tenth-century examples of this charter form (as opposed to records of synods themselves, which are more frequent). Why might this be? Well, we’ve already seen that provincial synods were particularly prominent in late-Carolingian Burgundy, and this seems to be a case of ‘as above, so below’ – what happens on a provincial level being reproduced on a diocesan one. There’s something else which makes the charters of the bishops of Langres particularly interesting – but we’ll leave that for another time…


3 thoughts on “Charter a Week 28: This Church was a Steal!

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