Where There’s A Will There’s A Way 2: Roger the Old

This week’s will is from c. 1002. We’ve discussed the career of Roger the Old before on this blog, but it was really darn long. Roger’s career started in the 950s and this will is from about ten years before his death – sixty-odd years! What that means is that whereas the will of Raymond III looks like what wills looked like at the start of his career, by the time of his death they looked very different: 

HGL V.162/cxxxviii

I, Count Roger, make this brief dividing my possessions between my sons Raymond and Bernard. 

  1. To my son Raymond, I give the city of Carcassonne, except the abbeys which I give to my son Peter [Roger, later bishop of Girona], as determined between his mother Adelaide and you, Raymond. 
  2. And I give to my same son Raymond the castle of Rennes-le-Château with its county, my part thereof, excepting my part of the abbeys which I give to my son Peter and excepting that allod which I acquired in that county of Razès, which I give to Lord God and to his saints for the remedy of my soul.
  3. And I give to Raymond the arrangement concerning the county of Razès which I have with my brother Count Odo and with his son Arnald. And if Odo and his son Arnald die, let the arrangement concerning the county go to you, Raymond. 
  4. And let the other arrangement which I have with my brother Odo and his son Arnald, concerning Quercorb and the Quercorbès, go to Raymond.
  5. And let the other arrangement which I have with my brother Odo, concerning the castle of Quielle and concerning the Coliès similarly go to my son Raymond. 
  6. And let the castle which they call Saissac with its castellany and with its vicariates which pertain to that castle and with the allods which Arnald my father held there in that castle go to Raymond, except the abbeys which I give to my son Peter. 
  7. And let the allods in the county of Toulouse which were Bernard the Red’s, which Viscount Raymond [of Toulouse] holds from me, Roger, and from you, Raymond, go to you my son Raymond. 
  8. And let the castle which they call Cintegabelle with the allods which pertain to that castle go to my son Raymond.
  9. And let half of Volvestre and a third part of the county of Comminges go to you, my son Raymond. 
  10. And let my part of the castle of Minerve, which Viscount Rainard [of Béziers] gave to me on his deathbed, with the land which pertains to the castle and the allods which I have in the Narbonnais go to my son Raymond; excepting those allods which I give to God Almighty and the saints for the remedy of my soul. 
  11. And let the abbey of Caunes and the abbey of Bernassonne go to my son Raymond. 
  12. And let the vicariate of Sabartès, after [Roger’s wife] Adelaide’s death go to my son Bernard, if he does not employ any force regarding it; and if he does employ any force and wants to make amends regarding it, let the arrangement concerning Sabartès and concerning Castelpenent which I have with my brother Odo and his son Arnald after their deaths go to my son Bernard. 
  13. I give the county of Couserans with the bishopric, and with half of Volvestre, and with the castle of Foix with the land of Foix to my wife Adelaide and my son Bernard together. 
  14. And I give Dalmazanès and Podanaguès and Agarnaguès and half of the whole wood of Boulbonne, which is between the river of l’Hers and the river of Ariège to my son Bernard, with the allods which I have there, except the abbeys and the churches which I give to my son Peter, and except those allods which I give to Lord God and his saints for the remedy of my soul, and except the allods of Escosse and Bézac, which I give to my wife Adelaide, your mother.*

 Thus let this writing as it was written above have firmness, if I, Roger, do not undo it; if I do not change it as my thinking advances. 

Let my wife Adelaide hold all the abovewritten as a guardian; let what was written above have as much firmness as she wishes, on the condition that while they live they may hold and possess it; if they have children from a legitimate marriage, let them similarly hold it as guardians for them that are alive. 

 Let no-one have permission to sell or alienate these, except to another heir. 

 And if they do not have children from a legitimate marriage, let this inheritance remain with those brothers who live.

 Count Roger confirmed this writing with his hand. 

 *gramatically speaking, the ‘you’ here is plural marking her as the mother of both Raymond and Bernard (and for that matter Peter). 

So, first things first: the most superficial sign of change is that – appropriately enough in terms of last week’s post – the parts in italics were written not in Latin but in the vernacular. (This made them a bit of a challenge to translate, because I don’t usually work in Old Provençal; I’m about 75% confident in my rendering but don’t rest any world-changing hypotheses on it.) Quite why this phrase and only this phrase is in the vernacular is an interesting question; in this particular charter, I suspect it is because the verb in question, forçar, doesn’t have an obvious Latin equivalent (inferre vim?) and in the developing West Frankish ways of talking about property disputes it was a more elegant usage… 

Thinking about the little picture, what strikes me the most about this will is how clear the plan is. Roger has an evident end point for each of his sons: Raymond is the main heir, who gets the most stuff; Bernard gets confined to Foix and neighbouring regions on the southern border; Peter gets the vast majority of the Church property. (Although, Bernard gets an actual bishopric – episcopatus – although this might refer to some kind of advocacy over the bishopric’s temporal goods. There’s some historical debate about what the meaning of episcopatus in the Midi actually is, on which I am not really qualified to speak. From this charter, though, I suspect that Magnou-Nortier is more correct than Wood – this reads more like the descendant of ‘public’ patronage rights than outright property.) 

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s interesting to compare this will with Raymond III’s. Both of them give a good sense of the scale of the power of their actors, but in very different ways. In Raymond’s will, I was talking a lot about ‘spheres of influence’, with the will doing a reasonable job of reflecting the limits of his influence. However, he was still dealing mostly with estates: the will consisted mostly of individual, discrete, estates and castles. Here, what’s being divided is different. Roger’s sons are largely handed zones of control – the closest parallel, to my mind, is less with Raymond’s will and more with the Ordinatio imperii, albeit at a much lower social level. It’s interesting how little Roger distinguishes between the different types of bequest, even though there are clearly a number of different types of thing. First, Roger uses jurisdictional terms like ‘county’ and ‘vicariate’. Second, he deals with individual, concrete things like castles, allods, and abbeys. Third, he deals with vague area terms – places like Dalmazanès which are not given any kind of description. Some of these are mixed together – the Quercorbs, for instance, seem to be an area subject to control from a central castle rather than any more formal jurisdiction; by contrast Saissac and Razès mix up castles and what do look like formal jurisdictions. In this regard, the most interesting thing is that all these types of control seem to have fallen into one another in this context: whatever they mean in practice on the ground, for Roger they can all be divided up between his sons like so many apples. Some of them can, of course, be paralleled in Raymond’s will. The castles and even ‘arrangements’ (how I’ve rendered the Latin word convenientia. To be honest, it could have been left in Latin; but this is a question of translation philosophy that could well make another post. Hang on, let me add it to the schedule…) were far from absent in Raymond’s testament. As such, Roger’s will seems to me more like it’s showing the development of certain aspects found in Raymond’s will rather than being evidence of some kind of social or political revolution. However, this development of a will into a kind of ordinatio comitatus gives it the feel of a political testament which Raymond’s doesn’t have, and that’s important. 

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