Charter a Week 53: The High Point of Bosonid Europe

Big times in the Middle Kingdom! (And I know I use ‘Middle Kingdom’ as a synonym for Lotharingia, which was the area I meant last post, but this time I mean the whole thing.) As we’ve had cause to mention before multiple times, Louis the Blind, ruler of Provence, died in June 928 and then everything went to hell in a handbasket. The twists and turns of the aftermath of Louis’ death have been covered on this blog before, but what matters for our purposes today is that there were four branches of the same extended family all competing for parts of Provence, and all of them ended up with bits of it: Ralph of Burgundy got most of the north, his maternal cousin Rudolf II of Transjurane Burgundy got most of the mountainous eastern bit, his paternal cousin Charles Constantine of Vienne got to be the biggest non-royal cheese in Louis the Blind’s capital, and their more distant relative (by blood, anyway; he was Rudolf II’s stepfather) Hugh of Arles got to be the most important guy in the south even if not the ‘actual’ king. Outright warfare was avoided, but there were tension – until this charter. 

CC 1.379/Romainmôtier 3 (14th June 929, Boyer)

It is clear to all sensibly considering it (that God’s disposition has looked out for certain rich persons such that if they use will those things which are fleetingly possessed they can earn prizes which endure forever. Divine speech, indeed, shows this to be possible, and urges it in every way, saying ‘the riches of a man are redemption of the soul for him’ [Proverbs 13:8]. I, Countess Adelaide, solicitously thinking of this, and desiring whilst it is permitted to provide for my own salvation, thought it certain – indeed, very necessary – that I should impart some small part of the things which have been bestowed on me in this world for the benefit of my soul – I, indeed, who am seen to have become so prominent in these matters – so that I could not possibly be found guilty at the last of having expended it all on the care of the flesh, but rather so that, when final destiny takes everyone, I might rejoice to have reserved something for myself. This purpose truly seems to be unachievable in any more fitting way or form than to make for myself, in accordance with the Lord’s command, friends of His poor; and that an action of this sort might be done not at any given point in time, but continuously, I should sustain from my own resources a group gathered in the monastic profession. Accordingly, it is in this faith, in this hope, that, although I, Adelaide, am unable to scorn all things, I might nonetheless receive the reward of the just as long as I take care of those who do scorn the World, whom I believe to be just.)

Therefore let it be known to all those living in the unity of faith and awaiting the mercy of Christ that [I, Adelaide, by God’s gift countess] transfer goods of my right, which fell to me through a precept of the lord king Rudolf [I of Transjurane Burgundy], that is, my sweetest and most beloved brother, specifically the monastery which is called Romainmôtier, which is sited in the district of Vaud, with the whole abbacy and with all the goods and adjacencies pertaining to the abbey, which were previously set in order there by the holy fathers. This aforesaid monastery of Romainmôtier was once built in honour of the prince of the apostles, to wit, Peter and Paul, under the monastic profession; but is now completely empty of any who live there. For love of our lord Jesus Christ and the same apostles, I, the said Adelaide, transfer it from my right and domination into the dominion and oversight of the monks in every way, that is, of the venerable and most reverend abbot Odo [of Cluny], and all of the brothers and monks of the crowd dwelling in the abbey of Cluny under his rule. This is done on the condition that the monks, as far as they can, should endeavour to reform this monastery, with Christ propitious, through the intercession of the apostles, into its prior state. Let the aforesaid abbot, then, as long as he lives, and the monks, possess the same monastery in such a way that although it might be delegated to the apostolic see just as Cluny is, they should nevertheless always act and be disposed as one congregation under one abbot in such a way that when he dies it should not be permitted to one group or the other to place an abbot over themselves without joint consent; nor might they presume (God forbid!) to substitute for him anyone except him whom the other group has, because it would be very unjust if those who happen to grow up like sons in the monastery of Romainmôtier should be at any time divided from the society of Cluny, who raised them up, like fathers, once more. Of course, in ordaining an abbot the constitution of St Benedict should always be prominent to the extent that if a smaller part of either one congregation or the other should, with wiser counsel, wish to elect a better person, the others should give them their consent in accordance with the Rule. Concerning the matter of brothers whom it is useful to send there from here, or here from there; and also concerning the transference of subsidies, which might perchance be more abundant in one place than in the other, from one placed to the other, let this be in the abbot’s power. And that a more brotherly society might endure between them, let them communally hold ordinations of divine service or almsgiving or any good works, such that what is done at Cluny for William [the Pious] of good memory, and (without doubt) others, whether living or dead, at Cluny should benefit Us and Ours; and in like manner they should share in that which has been done at the monastery of Romainmôtier for Us in accordance with God’s will.

Therefore, I make this donation in the first place for love of God and of the holy apostles; then for the soul of my sweetest brother the lord king Rudolf, that is, the bestower of these goods; then for the rest of my lord of pious memory Prince Richard [the Justiciar], and for Queen Willa [wife of Rudolf I]; then for myself and my son the lord king Ralph [of Burgundy]; and also King Rudolf [II of Transjurane Burgundy], my nephew; and for my other sons Hugh [the Black], Boso [of Vitry] and my nephew Louis [son of Rudolf I, count of Thurgau], and furthermore for our other kinsmen, and for those who are attached to our service; also for my father and mother, and lord Hugh, the distinguished abbot [Hugh the Abbot], and for our other relatives of both sexes; finally, for those who offer help and defence to the monks dwelling there, for the state of all of religion too, and for all Catholics whether living or dead.

Let the monks dwelling therein conserve the way of life which they now transfer from Cluny to shape those yet to come such that they in no way diminish this same way, in food and clothing, in abstinence, in psalmody, in silence, in hospitality, in mutual love and submissiveness, and in good obedience.

It is also pleasing to insert into this testament that from this day the same monks congregated there should be subject to the yoke neither of Us, nor Our relatives, nor the pride of royal highness, nor of any terrestrial power; nor should any worldly prince, nor any count, nor any bishop, nor the pontiff of the aforesaid see of the town of Rome (I beseech and call as my witness, through God and in God, all of His saints and the day of the Tremendous Judgement) invade the goods of these servants of God, nor steal, nor diminish, nor exchange, nor give to anyone in benefice, nor establish any prelate above them against their will. And that such an abomination might be more tightly forbidden to all temerarious and wicked persons, to drive home the same point, I add [and] implore you, O holy apostles and glorious princes of the Earth Peter and Paul, and you, O pontiff of pontiffs of the apostolic see, that through the canonical and apostolic authority which you have accepted from God, you should estrange from the fellowship of God’s holy Church and eternal life robbers and invaders and thieves of these goods, which with a joyful mind and willing heart I donate to the aforesaid servants of God; and you should be protectors and defenders of the said place of Romainmôtier and the servants of God dwelling and staying therein, and of all of these resources, for the alms and clemency and mercy of Our most pious redeemer.

If, perchance, anyone (God forbid! And which, through the mercy of God and the patronage of the apostles I do not think will come to pass), whether from my kinsmen or an outsider or of any condition or power should with any craftiness try to inflict any injury against this testament, which I have sanctioned be made for love of God Almighty and out of veneration for the princes of the apostles Peter and Paul, in the first place let them incur the wrath of God Almighty, and let God take their part from the land of the living, and delete their name from the Book of Life, and let their part be with those who said unto the Lord ‘Depart from us’ [Job 22:17], and incur everlasting damnation with Dathan and Abiron, whom the Earth swallowed into its open mouth, and took living into the inferno, and be held thrust into eternal tortures as a companion of Judas, betrayer of the Lord; and – that they should not seem unpunished to human eyes in the present world – let them endure the torments of their future damnation on their own body, sharing the fate of a double plunderer with Heliodorius and Antiochus, of whom one was battered with terrible scourges and barely escaped half alive; and the other, struck by Heaven’s will, perished in a most wretched fashion with their limbs putrescent and bubbling with worms; and be a fellow of the other sacrileges who presumed to defile the treasury of the house of the Lord; and unless they come to their senses let them have the keymaster of the whole monarchy of churches, and Saint Paul along with him, as an obstructor and contradictor of their approach to the amen-worthy paradise – whom, if they had wished, they could have had as most pious intercessors on their behalf. In accordance with worldly law, let those who inflict a calumny be compelled by judicial power to pay 100 pounds of gold, and let their conflict be frustrated and obtain no effect whatsoever; but let the firmness of this testament be buttressed with all authority and endure every inviolate and undisturbed, relying on this guarantee.

S. Countess Adelaide, king’s mother and abbess, authorising this testament and commanding it be made. S. Hildegang, an unworthy priest. S. Odalric. S. Judith, daughter of King Rudolf. S. Alberada. S. Guy, Henry. S. Hugh [the Black], famous count and brother of the august King Ralph. S. Geoffrey. S. Ralph, son of Emperor Louis. S. Stephen, Christian, Gunfred, Humbert, Boso, Bavo, Leofred, Blitgar, Ralph.

Given on the 14th June.

I, Hildebrand the priest, on behalf of the chancellor, wrote and subscribed this, in the 5th year of the reign of the most glorious King Ralph, in the 2nd indiction.

Enacted publicly in the estate of Boyer.


The abbey of Romainmôtier as it looks today (source)

A quick note on the technical diplomatic of this document – it survives in both the Romainmôtier and Cluny cartularies in slightly different forms. I have put (stuff from only Romainmôtier in brackets) and {stuff from only Cluny in hooked brackets}. Normally this merging of documents would cause a bit more methodological hand-wringing; but in this case the Cluny version is clearly just an abbreviated version of the Romainmôtier one. The only major difference, other than the Cluny charter omitting the preamble, is at one key point in the witness list. I have followed the Romainmôtier version in rendering Hugh the Black as ‘famous count and brother of the august King Ralph’. The Cluny version, though, has ‘S. Hugh, famous count and brother. S. the august King Rodulfus’. Read literally, this implies the presence of Rudolf II (probably him rather than Ralph); but it leaves the word ‘brother’ hanging awkwardly so I think it’s just a scribal error somewhere.

The underlined bits are direct quotations of Cluny’s foundation charter. (Honestly, between Adelaide, Ebbo of Déols, and others, I must have translated Cluny’s foundation charter around five times now.) It’s an interesting decision. We saw in previous weeks that this is within a few years of Ralph of Burgundy and Odo of Cluny conspiring to take Cluny, and the Mâconnais, out of the hands of Acfred of Aquitaine. Referring directly back to William the Pious’ charter is a direct way of establishing continuity with the new set of masters. It also speaks to Adelaide’s spiritual goals: Romainmôtier was to become, quite simply, Little Cluny in the Jura. Of course, the point of that is to tap into the spiritual benefits of William’s foundation (and vice-versa), so it’s not distinct from political goals… And, of course, William was also part of this extended family through marriage – his wife Ingelberga was the sister of Louis the Blind.

This charter is evidence for extended family diplomacy, such that I have previously pointed to it as the high point of ‘Bosonid Europe’ (my term for the multipolar Frankish world between c. 900 and c. 950). It’s clearly Adelaide who’s important here, working as a ‘peace-weaver’ between all these different groups. Even the location bears this out: Boyer, as we have in fact seen on a previous instalment, was one of Adelaide’s estates, granted by her to the cathedral of Chalon a few years previously. The witness list reveals a kind of summit meeting. I’d like to say ‘with Adelaide and Hugh the Black on one side and Judith on the other’ but given the number of ties of kinship and office-holding the two sides are actually very mixed-up. Hugh was a count in Rudolf’s kingdom as well as Ralph’s; Adelaide was – as this charter is itself evidence for – a major landholder in Transjurane Burgundy. Given the relatively low stakes of the division of Provence, these were useful people to negotiate a settlement, and indeed we do not see Rudolf II trying to make any push towards Vienne after this. The nominal goal of the charter, the grant of Romainmôtier to Cluny, fits the political objectives perfectly: creating a bond of brothership between a West Frankish and a Transjuranian abbey as symbolic of inter-regnal co-operation; allowing all the different members of the family to be seen to consent on a worthy public act; and indirectly further legitimating the takeover of Aquitaine. It’s the good old Trans-Ararian Fluidity Zone at work again!

3 thoughts on “Charter a Week 53: The High Point of Bosonid Europe

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