Not the Peace of God

Since last week, I’ve spent much of my time thinking about the Council of Charroux in 989, trying to work out what on Earth they thought they were doing, because seriously you guys it’s –

OK, hang on. Let’s back up. I’ve blogged a couple of times here about the Peace of God, for one thing, and I don’t think I’ve explained what it is, or at least what it’s supposed to be. So, the Peace of God is a term modern historians apply to a series of Church councils held from the latter part of the tenth century onwards, intending to regulate violence within society, especially against the Church and the poor. These councils can be distinguished by 1) a vocabulary of ‘peace’ (pax), 2) legislative activity, 3) the swearing of oaths to enforce the peace, 4) some participation by the people (populus) and 5) the presence of saints’ relics. Basically every aspect of these councils is subject to serious debate: how much of a novelty were they? How important was popular participation? Who were the new rules aimed at? How far did lay rulers take the initiative in calling Peace councils? And so on.

The first council which modern historians call a Peace council was held at the abbey of Charroux, south of Poitiers, in 989. Thomas Head has analysed the context here, basically unconvincingly. He argues that the Council was held to promote good behaviour towards churches, and specifically to do so in the aftermath of a feud between the viscounts of Limoges and the lords of La Marche which had been prolonged and dangerous. He can only argue this, however, with some chronological slight-of-hand, because as far as we can tell the ‘feud’ in question took place over a couple of years in the mid-970s and was resolved a decade before the Council of Charroux.

So this raises the question, what did the bishops who assembled at Charroux and issued three canons against various nefarious persons think they were doing? Because it certainly wasn’t ‘holding a Peace of God council’. As I said, that is a term of art used by modern historians, and they couldn’t possibly have been thinking in those terms. It looks like it could have been a provincial council (i.e. an archbishop and his suffragans getting together), but that’s by itself weird. As far as I have been able to find, the last provincial council held in Second Aquitaine had been seven hundred years earlier, which is certainly a delay, but makes me fairly confident that holding a council was itself a novelty.

Let’s abandon, then, if only temporarily, the ‘Peace of God’ label and think about a ‘Pre-Millennial Aquitanian Conciliar Movement’. In eastern Aquitaine, that is, the Auvergne and its area, there is one of these, associated above all with Bishop Guy of Le Puy, who I think was possibly following in Stephen II of Clermont’s footsteps. Thing is, these are eastern and head more eastwards: Guy gets involved with Burgundian and Provençal bishops, but not with Gascon or Poitevin ones. There’s no overlap between any of the councils Guy is involved with and the bishops who were at Charroux. The language used at Charroux might also be different (although I need to look at that further).

But, as we’ve seen, Charroux is the first in the west. Does the political context help? Yeah, a little. The thing to note here is that there has been a fairly major shift in personnel in the preceding two years: a new viscount of Limoges, a new count of Angoulême, and a new archbishop of Bordeaux. Bishop Gilbert of Poitiers has been around for a while, but it’s only in the past few years he’s been showing up at the side of William Fierabras, duke of Aquitaine and count of Poitou. The time is ripe for the expansion of Poitevin influence over the neighbouring regions. And in fact this is more-or-less what happens: whereas before 989 the counts of Poitiers are fairly strictly confined to Poitou minus some very sporadic influence over the city of Limoges, afterwards their power is visibly wider-spread. This is probably deliberate – Head, in the article above, notes that Charroux was at the start of a programme of episcopal bolstering of William’s monastic reform programme over the next year or so. For that and other reasons, I think we could actually give William some initiative in calling the council, rather than just taking advantage of it.

The political context may just give us the ‘why then’, but it doesn’t answer the ‘why a legislative council’ question. Why not a lay assembly like the rulers of Neustria and indeed the dukes of Aquitaine have been holding for the previous century or so? This aspect of Charroux is why historians like to point at Guy of Le Puy – because he’s also been legislating at councils in the immediate vicinity within the last few years. It’s not him the bishops at Charroux themselves point at, though. The acts of the council begin ‘reinforced by the synodal authorities of our predecessors…’ Our only manuscript copy of these acts – as far as I know, the only one we can ever show to have existed, because it’s what the Early Modern printed editions are based on – was scribbled in the back of a very nice mid-ninth-century codex of conciliar decrees from Angoulême around the year 1000 (Vatican Lat. Reg. 1127, which is very well-digitised). (1)
And this in fact is it. Usefully, it comes with its own copyright notice. 

I therefore have to wonder whether or not these are the ‘synodal authorities’ the council is referring to…* It would make sense if they were, because the manuscript is full of tenth-century additions, mostly about councils – synodal blessings, canons, etc. Evidently the canons of Angoulême were interested in keeping up-to-date with best synodal practice.

Which is doubly interesting because, as I said, as far as we know there hadn’t been any provincial synods in Aquitaine since the later days of the Roman Empire. Abbo of Fleury thought that the Frankish kings had erred in not holding proper Church councils, so the idea that councils were important was evidently in the air. I’d love to find the origin of this idea. If it had been later, we might have said that Abbo was the source – our one manuscript of his canonical collection comes from Adhemar of Chabannes – but Charroux is too early. Lots to still research here, therefore (although not in the immediate future because I need to write my paper for the Leeds International Medieval Congress) – but I’m pretty sure that the term ‘Peace of God’ won’t help me get further with it.

* Head elsewhere argues that the opening of the council is a pastiche of the forged decretals of Pseudo-Isidore, which got me very excited, before a fair chunk of time spent searching the canons came up completely empty and left me shaking my head over how this claim got past the reviewers…


(Oh, and for good measure a translation of the source (again, it’s short)):

Reinforced by the synodal authorities of our predecessors, in the name of the Lord and our saviour Jesus Christ, on the 1st June, I, Archbishop Gunbald of Second Aquitaine, with all the bishops of this province, convened in the hall which was once called Charroux. Both bishops and also religious clerics, and yet more as well everyone of both sexes implored the help of divine piety in order that – by consideration of divine grace – the harmful things which we know have flourished for a long time in our abodes by pestilential customs due to the long delay in the Council might be eradicated and useful ones planted. We, therefore, specially gathered in the name of God, decree this which shines openly in the following.

  • An anathema against those who violate churches.

If anyone should violate a holy church or steal anything from there by force, unless they come quickly to satisfaction, let them be anathema.

  • Anathema against those plunder the goods of the poor.

If anyone should pillage a sheep or a cow or an ox or a ram or a goat or pigs from a farmer or other poor person, unless the victim were at fault, if they neglect to make amends for everything, let them be anathema.

  • Anathema against those who strike clerics.

If anyone should attack or capture a priest or deacon or any kind of cleric at all not bearing arms (that is, a shield, a sword, a hauberk, a helmet) but simply walking or staying at home, except if after examination by his own bishop he [the priest] had fallen into any sin, if he [the attacker] does not come to satisfaction, let them be held a sacrilege and outside the threshold of the holy Church of God.

I, Archbishop Gunbald of Bordeaux, subscribed.

I, Bishop Gilbert of Poitiers, subscribed.

I, Bishop Hildegar of Limoges, subscribed.

I, Bishop Frothar of Périgueux, subscribed.

I, Bishop Abbo of Saintes, subscribed.

I, Bishop Hugh of Angoulême, subscribed.


Exploring the Origins of the Peace of God

Ugh. Y’know, I spent my PhD avoiding the Peace of God movement, and then I started working later and further south, and now I’ve blogged about it, and on Tuesday I went to a really good paper about it, and then there’s all the Aquitanian stuff; and now I’ve kinda got to.

“Why so?” I hear you ask. Well, reader, there is at least a case to be made that if you trace back the intellectual genealogy of these things, you end up with long-time friend of the blog Bishop Stephen II of Clermont. But before I get there, we need to make it clear that you’ve got to be careful when talking about the Peace of God, because it’s not a term from the time, it’s a modern technical term. This might be less important when we’re dealing with the ‘second wave’ of councils around the 1020s, where the influence of one council on another is often very explicit, but in the late tenth century it’s not clear where to draw the line.

Take the 989 Council of Charroux, for instance, often claimed as one of the earliest Peace councils. Absolutely nothing about it cannot be paralleled from earlier tradition. The council claims that there has been a long delay in holding a council and that terrible things have arisen in the land because of it. The 909 Council of Trosly is a fairly direct comparison for this. (That said, one might note that Charroux claims that the council has been delayed and therefore evils have arisen whilst Trosly says that the council has been delayed because evils have arisen, which may indicate an actual strengthening of the power of the conciliar idea by 989; but really I don’t think the difference is particularly important.) Otherwise much of its rhetoric can be compared closely and in some cases verbatim with Carolingian legislation. Notably, the word ‘peace’ does not show up once.

Where it does show up is in 958, at that meeting in Clermont we’ve talked about before. The charter here says… actually, y’know what, it’s short, let’s give you the whole thing:

In the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 958, in the first indiction, it happened in that year that the princes of the Auvergne rebelled against each other in turn. But, with God’s help and in the reign of Bishop Stephen of Auvergne, peace, which passeth everything, currently reigns within our borders.

Meanwhile, it happened that one of our princes, that is, Calixtus, had invaded some of the goods of another: he obtained, that is, the allod of one of the canons, named Amblard, not justly but unjustly.

For this reason, because of what he was holding unjustly, the aforesaid Calixtus and his wife Oda and their children, that is, Peter and Hugh and Stephen, came into the city of Clermont, where Stephen, bishop of that see, shines. Present there were Viscount Robert and Abbot Stephen and Abbot Robert and other lay and clerical lords and monks, and there the said Calixtus recognised that he had held that allod in Gergovie unjustly, and in the presence of that crowd he gave it up and commanded this notice of surrender be made, and he confirmed it with his own hand and had it confirmed by his children and his knights and by everyone.

Sign of Calixtus. Sign of Hugh. Sign of Stephen. Sign of Bishop Stephen. Sign of Viscount Robert. Sign of Abbot Robert. Sign of Abbot Stephen.

Done in the month of September, on Thursday, in the 4th year of the reign of King Lothar.

Theodoric subscribed.

Told you it was short. Anyway, this is the first use I can find of the combination of a meeting, the word ‘peace’, and the settlement of disputes in a context of violence to show up together in Aquitaine. These are all things that will be develop into the Peace of God, and I think it’s reasonable to see this as a fairly close ancestor, not least because the early ‘Peace of God’ is probably best seen as just one flavour of central Aquitanian discourse which happens to become unusually successful.

Question is, can we push it further back? What I’ve been looking at in the last couple of days is that reference to peace, pax omnia superat. This is a clear reference to Philippians 4:7, ‘the peace of God which passeth all understanding’ (pax Dei quae exsuperat omnem sensem, in the Vulgate – superat is a variant found in some versions of the Old Latin Bible).

Problem is, I’ve been coming up mostly empty. I tried looking in various places for liturgical parallels, and didn’t really find any, although one manuscript of conciliar ordines suggests using it in an assembly for dealing with quarrels, which would be absolutely ideal except that this is only found in a marginal annotation from Mainz. Otherwise, it is also quoted in a section of the 829 Council of Paris about how the council is going to settle civil discord, which given what we now know to be that council’s normative value would also be very useful, except that I can’t find that there’s a manuscript of the council itself in Clermont. I asked some real liturgical specialists, who actually know what they’re doing (thanks, Arthur!) and was told that Philippians is used for readings in Advent, but as this is a summer or early autumn document, I’m not sure there’s direct causation there…

So I wonder if this might not be, in some sense, where the ball starts rolling for this particular strand of political language. It’s not like ‘the New Testament’ is an implausible place for a medieval cleric to be looking for ideas, after all…

Source Translation: A Flemish Genealogy


The most noble Ansbert begat Arnold from Blitchildis, daughter of Chlothar, king of the Franks; and Feriolus and Moderic and Tarsicia.

Arnold begat Arnulf. Arnulf begat Flodulf, Walchisus, and Anschisus.

Walchisus begat the confessor of the lord Wandregisl.

Duke Anschisus begat the elder Pippin.

The elder Pippin, the duke, begat the elder Charles.

The elder Charles, the duke, begat Pippin, Carloman, Grifo, and Bernard from the queen; Remigius and Jerome from a concubine.

King Pippin begat Charles and Carloman and Gisla from Queen Bertrada.

Emperor Charles begat Charles, Louis and Pippin, Rotrude and Bertha from Queen Hildegard; Drogo and Hugh and Rothaida from a concubine.

Emperor Louis begat Lothar, Pippin and Louis, Rotrude and Hildegard from Queen Ermengard; Charles and Gisla from Empress Judith.

Emperor Lothar begat Louis, Lothar and Charles from Queen Ermengard.

King Louis begat Carloman, Louis and Charles from Queen Emma.

King Carloman begat King Arnulf.

King Arnulf begat Louis from Queen Uota; Zwentibald, though, from a concubine.

Emperor Charles begat from Queen Ermentrude four sons and the same number of daughters, that is: Louis, Charles, Carloman and Lothar; and + Judith* and Hildegard, Ermentrude and Gisla.

([in the margin:] You will find more on Judith on the next page.)

King Louis begat Louis and Carloman and Hildegard from Ansgard, called queen; and Charles (posthumously) and Ermentrude from Queen Adelaide.

King Charles begat from Queen Frederuna Ermentrude, Frederuna, Adelaide, Gisla, Rotrude and Hildegard; and from a concubine, Arnulf, Drogo, Roric, and Alpaidis. Then, after Queen Frederuna died, he joined himself in marriage to another, a queen named Eadgifu, from whom he begat a son named Louis of handsome appearance. And later, from Queen Gerberga, Lothar, Charles, Louis and Matilda.


Baldwin, mightiest of counts, joined the beautiful and very prudent Judith to himself in the union of matrimony.

From her, he begat a son, placing on him his own name, that is, Baldwin.

This Baldwin, having taken a wife from the noblest stock of the kings beyond the sea, got from her two sons of good character, of whom he named one Arnulf and his brother Adelolf. This last was, with God’s permission, rescued from the burden of this world, and is known to be buried in the monastery of the holy confessor of Christ Bertin. If he had lived in this world for a longer time, his valour would have been the greatest joy to his people.

Lord Arnulf, now, most venerable of counts and greatly beloved to lord Jesus Christ, excels in prudence, is strong in counsel, shining with all goodness, a most perfect restorer of churches of God, a most pious consoler of widows, orphans, and wards, a most clement dispenser of help in necessity to all who seek it from him.

What more? If someone were to have a hundred mouths and tongues, they could never speak of the gifts of his kindnesses. Indeed, because we can in no way say enough about his thousand goodnesses, let us speak a little of many.

For there is a monastery in the palace of Compiègne, named in honour of the holy mother of God Mary, which he honoured with many donations, that is, in gold and silver and cloths. He often distributed lavish wealth in coins to the clerics serving the Lord therein. We know for certain that the bier of the holy witnesses of Christ Cornelius and Cyprian was decorated by him in the purest silver, weighing ten pounds. He bestowed that noblest of signs, which is called by another name a bell, to the same holy place. Nor is this to be wondered at, because the said place was in fact founded by his great-grandfather Emperor Charles, who was called ‘the Bald’, with workmanship marvellous in every way.

Now, the aforesaid venerable count Arnulf took a wife named Adele, daughter of lord count Heribert and niece of two kings of the Franks, to wit, Odo and Robert. From her, by God’s protection, he begat a son of handsome appearance named Baldwin, beautiful in his face, beloved to God and dear in every way to his followers, noblest of counts, after the example of his father a lover of churches of God, humble, mild, pious, modest, kind, sober, and in addition moreover replete with all goodness.

He, reaching the appropriate age, by God’s concession and his father’s will, took a wife whose nobility was worthy of his own, named Matilda, daughter of a most noble prince named Hermann. From them, by the grace of supernal largess, may his distinguished father and mother see sons of sons (if it pleases God), to the third and fourth generation, and may bodily health and complete safety and absolution from every crime be conceded to him, now and here and in world without end. Amen.

May this be done by the mercy of Almighty God the Father from heaven, amen. May this be done by the concession of His son lord Jesus Christ our Lord, amen. May this be done by the bestowal of the supernal grace of the paraclete Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, amen, amen, amen.

The priest called by the name Witger desires this, that the said count should be healthy for a long time. Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen.

Let whoever reads this venerable genealogy of lord Arnulf, the most renowned prince of this world, and his son the most noble Baldwin, prostrate themselves for them in prayer, and sing and cry with a pure heart:


May God Almighty, a strong lord, pious and clement, king of kings and lord of the lordly, save lord Arnulf, most glorious of counts, and his son, beloved to God, named Baldwin. May He rule, guard, protect and defend, preserve and support, exalt and comfort, safeguard and strengthen them all the days of their lives in this present world. After a long life in this world, with the intervening mertis of all the saints, may they deserve to go to the glory of paradise, by the gift of Him by Whom they were created. Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen.

Having recently received the offprints of my article on the Flemish succession crisis of 965, I thought that whilst I ponder what exactly to do with about fifty paper copies of the thing, I could share with you an important bit of evidence for late tenth-century Flanders, the Genealogia Arnulfi Comitis. This genealogy was written around 960 by a priest named Witger who was probably but not certainly associated with the Flemish abbey of Saint-Bertin.

Where I have actually been, although the town of Saint-Omer is not what you’d call a tourist hotspot… (photo by author)

It’s a unique document for its period – other noble families in the West Frankish kingdom did not write their genealogies this way – or indeed at all, the big explosion in genealogical literature is in the eleventh century – and they didn’t go out their way to link themselves to the Carolingians the way Witger does here. In fact, the first half of this is an early tenth-century genealogy dictated by Charles the Simple back in the day, which Witger is using to give the tie more credence.

Arnulf was not, after all, particularly closely related to the ruling Carolingian king, Lothar; and his father, Baldwin the Bald (yes, I know), had not been particularly interested in pursuing his Carolingian roots specifically. Sure, Arnulf was (we know from one source) named after the Carolingians’ great ancestor Arnulf of Metz; but his brother was named after their grandfather King Æthelwulf of Wessex, and it seems to be kingship in general rather than dynasty in particular motivating their choice.

This all changed in the 960s. Arnulf had gobbled up a lot of land very quickly over the course of his decades-long reign, and made a lot of enemies on his southern border. His son Baldwin being quite belligerent, he needed a southern ally and fast; and wouldn’t you know it, there was the new king, Lothar, to whom he was distantly related. This genealogy’s oddness comes about because it is the product of a very serious charm offensive to woo the young ruler into supporting Arnulf. Note how the genealogy describes Arnulf’s political actions (i.e. endowing the church at Compiègne – which was the real emotional heart of the descendants of Charles the Bald) as motivated by family concerns – this is the flipside of trying to persuade Lothar that their kinship ties matter.

Did it work? Well, sort of. If you want to know more, you’re going to have to read the article…

Source Translation: Hang On, What’s the Bishop of Autun Doing Here?

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Louis, by grace of God king of the Franks. If We proffer the necessary assent to the just and rational petitions of servants of God and chiefly of reverend pontiffs which they relate to Our ears concerning the necessity of the churches of God committed to them, We press on with works of royal highness and through this We do not doubt that We will more easily secure divine propitiation.

And thus, be it known to all of the fideles of the holy Church of God and Us, to wit, present and future, that Our well-beloved, dearest and extraordinary Hugh, outstanding duke of the Franks, and Bernard, count of Beauvais, bringing themselves before Our Sublimity, prayed full humbly that We might concede to Rotmund, the memorable bishop of the church of Autun beloved by Us, a precept of Our authority concerning all the things of his holy mother church, which is dedicated in honour of the nourishing mother of God Mary and the martyr of Christ Nazarius; that is, that, because by the occurrence of some carelessness (by accident, as usually happens), the goods and testaments of the same church’s charters were burned and destroyed, the necessity, or diminution, of their goods might by this precept of Our authority be relieved and made new, as if all the instruments of the same goods or charters were at hand. They also humbly asked that at the same time an authority of Our immunity might be written down in the same precept.

Hearing, I say, their just and reasonable prayers, We commanded this precept of Our Highness, which is called a pancarte, to be made and given to the said bishop, through which We establish, sanction and decree that the said church of the holy martyr Nazarius should obtain everywhere, both in the public mallus and also before Our presence and the sight of all Our fideles, a vigour as much and as great as if all their instruments were at hand, that is, concerning the monasteries subject to the same church and concerning the villas newly stolen from it, which Our predecessors, that is, Ralph and others, restored; that is, Tortoria and Sully and Laizy, which St Siagrius bestowed on the same church, Savigny-le-Vieux, Commissey, Cussy-en-Morvan, Luzy, Tillenay, and the little abbey of Saint-Pancrace, and the woods of Montes with everything legally pertaining to them, and with the other villas and churches concerning which it is now seen to hold just and reasonable and legal vestiture.

Giving orders about all of these, We command that they be held honoured and supported by a privilege of immunity, along with their mother, that is, the church of Autun; as other bishoprics and houses of God are known to be held by the largess and concession of Our predecessors as kings and emperors and Ourself; and might endure in the oft-said holy mother church of Autun through future times by the perpetual stability of assignment, donation and restitution in royal mundeburdum and the defence of immunity, both those which are now contained by the same (as We said) in legitimate vestiture; and as well those which anyone might assign thereto hereafter.

And that this munificence of Our authority might through times to come obtain fuller vigour in the name of God, We confirmed it below with Our hand and We decreed it be sealed with the impression of Our seal.

Sign of the most glorious king Louis.

Odilo the notary witnessed on behalf of Ansegis, bishop and archchancellor.

Enacted at Auxerre, on the 8th kalends of August [26th July], in the year 936, in the 9th indiction, in the first year of the reign of the most glorious king lord Louis.

So, I’m back in the UK. I’m also about to head out to go to a conference, so there’s not that much time to write something for the blog. But, I can give you a preview of next week. I mentioned last time that one of the things on my deck I need to clear off it is a short bit on Louis IV’s Burgundian campaign of 936. We’ve spoken about this before, and when we did I brought up exactly this charter. To recap: after the death of King Ralph in 936, his regional hegemony in Burgundy fell apart a bit, and there was a short but sharp war between his brother Hugh the Black on one hand and Louis IV and Hugh the Great, Louis’ main supporter, on the other. This diploma was issued when it was clear that Louis and Hugh the Great had won.

The mere fact it’s being issued for Autun is interesting. Last time I said that Bishop Rotmund was actually there in Auxerre for the issuance of this diploma, which was actually wrong – the church of Autun might be receiving the precept, but it’s clear that the bishop isn’t actually there. Autun is one of the places where Hugh the Black is strong – his first (surviving) charter as ruler of Burgundy was issued for an Autunois institution – and so now I would read this diploma as a way of enticing Rotmund to clearly support the ‘royalist’ party. After all, it’s no mean concession. Koziol reads this diploma as a ‘canard of an excuse’ for Hugh the Great and Louis to have a big mutual back-slapping party; but actually what it represents is basically a carte blanche for the church of Autun to win any legal disputes where it doesn’t have any evidence – what it basically says is that if the bishop of Autun is called to the court or before the king about their claims to property, it should be treated as though they have appropriate written title even if they don’t unless the claim is flagrantly wrongful.

The diploma survived, so evidently Bishop Rotmund took the bribe. And why would he not? One point of the diploma is how Louis is perfectly properly Ralph of Burgundy’s heir, and Rotmund had been a quite important supporter of the late king. Why wouldn’t he support the new king now? But, of course, that’s the same point I made last time. There’s more to this story – but that’ll wait for next week.

Source Translation: A Mass Against Barbarian Persecution

…look, I just finished running a conference. My exhaustion is currently winning a battle against my  ongoing adrenaline-rush on-edge activity. I translated this a couple months ago with the idea it might be useful at some point; I have nothing much to say about it, but have fun:

[edit: this mass was composed at Saint-Martin of Tours, probably in the mid-ninth century.]

A Mass Against the Threat of Barbarian Persecution

O God eternal and almighty, Thou Who spared Nineveh for three days of repentance and rescued the three boys unharmed from the fiery furnace,  and as well freed Daniel from the lions’ den, preserve us and through Thine ineffable mercy save us from the terrible madness of the encroaching barbarians, in order that we who have been thus freed, with the gratitude owed for such an act and in the service due to thee,  may continue in constant devotion. Per.

Alternatively. Grant us, we beseech thee O God Almighty, through the merits and intercession of the blessed N., that we who are rightfully afflicted due to our iniquity might be swiftly rescued from barbarian savagery by the gift of Thy goodness through Thine only-begotten son. Per.

Prayer over the offerings. We beseech thee, O Lord, look favourably on these present sacraments and kindly accept this which is offered to thee in great faith, on account of our suffering, so that we might speedily earn liberation from the current Northman disaster and thereafter by Thy mercy continue to obey Thy commands with the greatest devotion. Per.

After mass. O God eternal and almighty, we beseech Thee through Thine only-begotten son, give us the help of Thy salvation, that we, having been gained security from the barbarian cruelty which now threatens us, may deserve to serve Thee freely and unconditionally hereafter. Per eundem.

Ad complendum. We beseech Thee, O Lord, help Us Thy servants, appressed by the miseries of so many disasters, and be pleased to guard us with the right hand of Thy majesty, and after the cruel barbarian terror has been removed, kindly and speedily grant us the joy of comfort everlasting. Per.

Source Translation: Hugh of Arles and Louis IV’s succession

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Hugh and Lothar, by grace of God kings. Let the entirety of all the fideles of the holy Church of God and us, to wit, present and future, know that […] humbly asked Our Majesty that We might deign to concede to and bestow on Count Hugh, Our most beloved nephew, Our certain estate within the realm of Burgundy, and near the county of Vienne, which is named Saint-Jean-d’Octaveon, with 700 manses, and in its entirety, by Our perceptual authority.

Assenting to his petitions, and considering the love, goodwill and fidelity of this Our nephew, We commanded this Our precept to be made, through which, just as We are justly and legally able, We concede, donate, and bestow the aforesaid estate, pertaining to Our right, lying by the aforesaid county, in its entirety, to Our said nephew, by Our perceptual authority; and We transfer and consign it entirely from Our right and dominion into his right and dominion, along with churches, houses, lands, vineyards, meadows, pastures, woods, groves, plantings, waters and watercourses, mills, fisheries, mountains and valleys, peaks and plains, with male and female serfs of both sexes, with emburdened freedmen and -women (aldionibus et aldianis), with its distraints and renders, and with all the things justly and legally beholden to that estate, which is named Saint-Jean-d’Octaveon, that is, seven hundred manses entirely, that he might have, hold and firmly possess them, and have power to sell, hold, donate, exchange, alienate, make dispositions for the state of his soul, and do whatever his own lights dictate, absent contradiction from any man. And thus, if anyone might violate this Our precept, let them know themselves liable to a fine of one hundred pounds of pure gold, half to Our treasury and half to Our aforesaid nephew Count Hugh and his heirs. And that this might be more truly believed and more diligently observed by all, strengthening it with our own hands, We commanded it be marked below with Our seal.

Sign of Hugh and Lothar, most serene of kings.

Chancellor Peter witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Abbot and Archchancellor Gerland.

Given on the 8th Kalends of July [24th June], in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 937 [sic], in the 10th year of the reign of lord Hugh, most invincible of kings, and the 6th of lord Lothar, also a king., in the 9th indiction.

Enacted at Pavia, happily, amen.

So, at the moment things are a little hectic chez McNair. I’m in my last six weeks at Tübingen (alas!), and in that time I have to write up a lengthy contribution to a conference that I’m organising, do revisions to an article about land-lease practices, organise international moves (again), and, at some point, sort out my actual work. Last week, I had actually just finished part of the penultimate one of these, and was flying back to Germany, hence why there was no blog post. I’m going to try and keep on top of the blogging, but things might be a little sporadic: after all, I do this because it forces me to write something relatively chunky every week, but at the moment I’m already doing that so this might take a back seat.

But not today! After all, when all else fails, there’s charter translations. In this particular case, I mentioned in a previous week that there appears to have been an unofficial division of Provence into zones of influence after about 928. This charter neatly illustrates that.

If you remember, after the 928 death of Louis the Blind, it doesn’t look like Provence actually had a king. Based on my research, it looks like Provence was split into a northern, southern, eastern and western zone, and here we’re interested in the north-south division. In the south, it looks like Hugh of Arles was unproblematically hegemonic even if not actually king; in the north, by contrast, everyone looks to have piled in. The line of division between this is roughly around Valence.

Now, this diploma was issued in 936. As we’ve also covered before, in that year King Ralph of Burgundy died, and his place was taken over by Louis IV. Louis, along with his chief magnate Hugh the Great, immediately went forth to profit from Ralph’s death by trying to scoop up the allegiance of his allies in Burgundy, for that network was recently – and rather violently – created and after Ralph’s death was distinctly floppy. Both Louis IV and Ralph’s brother Hugh the Black attempted to assert themselves in this region by force of arms.

As you may also remember, part of Ralph’s hegemony was Vienne, and he’d pushed further south as well at points. Hugh of Arles may well have feared that this disruption would spread into the south of Provence. This diploma looks to be his response. His nephew, another Hugh, Hugh the Cisalpine (that makes four, for those keeping score), was the son of Count Warner of Sens and the brother of a Count Richard (of Troyes?), as well as a prominent figure in the court of Transjurane Burgundy, and a colleague at least of Hugh the Black for that reason. As a point-man for this region where the three kingdoms met, he was a good choice.

Moreover, I would emphasise the sheer scale of this donation. 700 manses is a vast number, roughly equivalent to a mid-level monastery such as Lobbes. It’s enough to make Hugh the Cisalpine a regional-strength military power in and of itself. Thus, Hugh of Arles’ response to Louis IV’s succession was to implant a locally-well connected close family member in the border region of his sphere of influence with enough muscle to back up any threats he might need to make. I think it’s fair to say that he was concerned…

Source Translation: A Challenger Appears! Pt. 2 (Putting Some Charters Behind Provençal Oddness)

In the last post, I mentioned that Sheffield has seen something of an increase in its already fairly substantial online translation presence, and that this had provoked me to action to join in the fun here. A little before that, a translated diploma of King Lothar II of Lotharingia was put up by occasional commentator Charles West, and it’s very interesting and all that, but he introduced it with this Tweet, which hit close to home:

 Indeed, they are very seldom translated; and given I have literally hundreds of the things sitting in my big folder o’ translated texts, I should get on with polishing some up and making them available. And where better to start than with the Kingdom of Provence, which, as we’ve already established, spends much of the mid-tenth century being very weird?

In the name of our lord, the eternal king, Jesus Christ. Hugh, by grace of God, king. If We were to corroborate that which was donated or will be granted hereafter to God Almighty and His saints by Our authority expressed in a precept, We truly know this will be a great prize for Us.

Wherefore, let the industry of all the fideles of the holy Church of God and Us, to wit, present and future, know that the venerable Archbishop Anskeric and Gipper, abbot of Saint-Oyen-de-Joux, humbly exhorted Our Clemency that, out of fear of God Almighty and for the remedy of Our soul, We should deign to confirm and corroborate all the mobile and immobile goods which were donated or will be granted hereafter to the aforesaid monastery of Saint-Oyen by faithful men, to wit, justly and legally, by Our authority expressed in a precept.

Proffering assent to their petitions, We therefore confirm and corroborate geverything whatsoever justly and legally donated there, that is, the estate of Molinges and the estate of Viry, and the estate of Dortin with all their appurtenances; and the estate of Saxio, and Martignat and Cessy and Cosges and Outriaz and Tessonge and Château-des-Prés and Nermier and another Martigny[-Combe?], and Tusonus and Onoz and Moirans, Nants and Banziacus, and the villa of the monks and… Chanaz, Calenadis, Coloniacae, Lentus, Ardio, Loncanus, Cessiat, Idris, Sablo, Soinae, Berius, Quintinadis, Velosus, Taldaurus; both these estates and everything whatsoever Saint-Oyen… and is in Provence, which were justly and legally donated there by faithful men, with houses, lands, vineyards, fields, pastures, woods, groves, land for transhumance, waters and watercourses, mills, fisheries and mountains, valleys, peaks and planes, with male and female serfs of both sexes and with all their appendages, and with everything which can be spoken of or named in the same estates and in the goods of the same church entirely, remote from all human contradiction.

We therefore command and establish that no duke, marquis, count, viscount, or any other official should dare to inflict any molestation or loss on the monks serving God there at this time, nor their men, without just judgment, nor should they presume or try to exact or require any hospitality or provisions or toll or bridge-tax or port-fees or cattle-levies or wheel-tax or any renders in any way.

We therefore command by this Our royal authority, that if, by any fire or disaster any confirmations are lost, the aforesaid church and the monks serving God therein at this time should hold and possess these goods through this Our royal authority, as if they held these confirmations at the present time.

If anyone, without Our just judgement, tries to rise against this Our royal precept, let them know themselves to be liable to pay a fine of a hundred pounds of pure gold, half to Our treasury and half to the aforesaid church and the abbot and the monks serving God there at this time.

That this might be more truly believed and more diligently observed by everyone, strengthening it with Our own hand, We command it be annotated below with Our seal.

Sign of the invincible king lord Hugh.

Peter the notary witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Abbot and Archchancellor Gerland.

Given on the …th of November, in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 928, in the third year of the reign of the most pious king lord Hugh, in the first indiction.

Enacted at Vienne, happily in the name of Christ, amen.

The rather unimpressive cathedral of Saint-Claude as it is today. Definitely wouldn’t get my vote on #RealCathedralWorldCup (source)


Context: this diploma is issued by Hugh of Arles, king of Italy, former right-hand man of the late Emperor Louis the Blind, and still probably the most powerful magnate in the kingdom (we know from his niece’s will and a few other royal diplomas that he had land all over the place up to his death in 947). It is issued in winter 928, while Hugh is staying in Vienne, which is odd enough itself given that the reason he went north of the Alps in the first place appears to have been to make a deal with the West Frankish king Ralph involving handing over Vienne to a West Frankish magnate. Nonetheless, he hangs around for a few months making grants to Provençal monasteries of roughly this type.

And that’s odd. I’m still not sure whether or not he’s trying to be king of Provence. This certainly looks like he is – he’s basically putting Saint-Claude under his protection as king, making them particularly reliant on him, and doing so by his own royal authority. But, if he is, no-one at all appears to be taking him seriously. Even his closest family members and allies in the south are still dating their documents by the death of Emperor Louis, right up to the point where they jump ship to Italy to participate in Hugh’s regime there.

So is he trying to be king and failing, or trying to do something else? Another possibility did occur to me: that he’s specifically putting the more important local monasteries under his protection to ensure he’s still got a stake in holding the balance of power in the north between the creeping influence of the West Frankish and Burgundian kings. I think, for reasons involving yet another royal diploma, that Hugh basically accepts that, within the central Rhone valley, Ralph and Rudolph can fight over everywhere north of Valence and leave the southern bit to him; but to ensure that, he needs to maintain a foothold there, and these diplomas may well be what’s helping him do that. Still, Provence between Louis the Blind and Conrad the Pacific remains the oddest bit of Carolingian politics I can think of…