In 946, Otto the Great came to help Louis IV. He brought an army bigger than any force Western Europe had seen in a long time, and… well, it didn’t do that much. The main achievement – which is not a small one – was to retake Laon for the king, but attempts to take Senlis, Laon, and Rouen failed, in the latter case embarrassingly. Still, despite that, it was a game-changer. Hugh the Great was forced completely on to the back foot, and Louis IV was forced into a dependent relationship with the East Frankish ruler. This wasn’t expressed in terms of direct subordination (as with Otto’s relationship with King Berengar II of Italy, at least as he himself saw it), but in terms of subtle ritual and ceremonial reminders that Otto was the bigger dog. Reminders such as:
Let all Our followers present and future know that We, for the remedy of Our soul and also that of Our most beloved spouse of blessed memory Edith, conceded certain goods of Our property to the stipends of the brothers worthily soldiering for God in the place of Chèvremont as property: that is, two holdings sited in the estate of Hermalle and 1 church with all its appendages justly and legally beholden there; besides which, We gave to them 1 church built in the estate of Rengin the district of Hainaut, and another built in the estate of Vilvoorde; and again in the estate of Budel with all tithes and all commodities justly and legally pertaining to the aforesaid churches.
And We commanded this present gift to be written thereof, through which We wish and firmly order that they should obtain this donation of Our gift firmly and securely without the obstacle of any contradiction, having confirmed it with Our own hand and strengthened it with Our signet.
Sign of lord Otto, the invincible king.
Chancellor Bruno [of Lorsch/Cologne] witnessed on behalf of Archchaplain Robert [archbishop of Trier].
Given on the 14th kalends of May, in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 947, in the 6th indiction, in the 11th year of the reign of the pious king Otto.
Enacted at Aachen.
Happily in the Lord, amen.
The big threat Louis IV posed to Otto was in Lotharingia. The West Frankish kings had only held Lotharingia entirely during the reign of Charles the Simple, but they had proven difficult and tenacious competitors for a much longer period, and Louis himself back in 939 had been chosen as king by the area’s noblemen. This diploma was issued in Easter 947, when Louis was visiting Otto at Aachen, and was one of several diplomas issued at various places in Lotharingia for Lotharingian recipients where Louis was present to really rub in that Otto was, and by right ought to be, king of Lotharingia. (One of these diplomas, issued at Douzy in August, had Bishop Gozlin of Toul, Charles the Simple’s old notary, as an intercessor, which really does add insult to injury.) This week’s diploma, then, is not tremendously complicated, but it is important: it’s a sign of growing Ottonian hegemony across Europe.
One of the reasons for that is also in this diploma (and Simon MacLean has written about it at various points): the death of Queen Edith, Otto’s wife, in 946. Edith was Louis’ aunt, and her death represented a shift from a network of alliances centred around English women to one centred around the Ottonians. With Edith’s death and the side-lining of Louis’ mother Eadgifu, Queen Gerberga was able to rise to prominence, and her mediation played a key role in drawing Otto in to his in-law’s problems in the West.
Last time, things were going badly for Louis IV. He was being kept in prison by Hugh the Great, whilst the duke of the Franks decided what to do with him. It’s probable that Hugh wasn’t trying to depose the king, although not certain; but what seems likely is that Hugh was trying to work out just how tightly he could put the screws on. And so, by July 1st, two weeks after Hugh’s charter for Chartres, Louis was released. The price? The price was Laon, which had been held by Louis’ wife Queen Gerberga. Laon was the most powerful and important fortress of the north-east, and by holding both it and Rheims, Hugh could make a reasonable claim to have won the war which he, his late brother-in-law Heribert II of Vermandois, and various kings had been fighting since the late 920s about control in the region.
In return, Louis got to be king again, having his status and honour fully restored to him. This was marked by a ceremony at Chevregny, just south of Laon. No fewer than three diplomas to Cluny were issued on this occasion, but all three are textually similar so – in an experiment with the format – I’ve translated them all side-by-side, so that you can see where they are similar and different.
D L4 no. 27
D L4 no. 28
D L4 no. 29
In the name of Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.
by ordination of divine providence,
by propitiation of divine clemency,
king. (no. 29: king of the Franks).
If We indeed proffer assent to the prayers of servants of God
and as well
their advantage, We far from doubt conserve (no. 27: exercise) royal dignity (no. 28: in all things) and We decree (no. 27: wish) that it should endure in future with the firmest (no. 29 and inviolable) right (no. 28: inviolably).
Therefore, let the industry of all the followers of the holy Church of God and Us, to wit, present and future, know that
princes of Our realm, that is, Hugh [the Great], duke of the Franks, and another Hugh [the Black], (no. 27: to wit,) duke of the Burgundians, and Count Leotald [of Mâcon], approached
the excellence of
Our Royal Serenity, deprecating that We might concede through a royal precept to the monastery of Cluny, consecrated in honour of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul,
certain goods, that is, a church dedicated in honour of St Jon sited in the suburbs of Mâcon, with all the goods pertaining to the same church, and also the estate of Vésines and Ozan, and the woods and estate of Senozan,
a certain little estate, from the rule of the viscount of Lyon. This estate is sited in the same district of Lyon, on the river Saône, which We donate with all the goods pertaining to it, to wit, vineyards and fields,
a certain monastery consecrated in honour of St Stephen, which is named Charlieu, and the cell of Rigny pertaining to it, dedicated in veneration of St Martin; also a church pertaining to the rule of the blessed Martin of Tours, sited in the suburbs of Mâcon. We concede these places named above, sited in the district of Mâconnais, with all the goods pertaining to it, that is, churches, estates, bondsmen of both sexes, vineyards, fields, meadows, woods, waters and watercourses, in their entirety.
with lands, meadows, woods, (no. 28: waters and) great water(no. 28:course)s and little streams, parks, ditches and the port
of the abovesaid Ozan, and other ports
With (no. 27: pastures,) incomes and renders, (no. 28: with pastures) and all adjacencies, and all fisheries (no. 28: and fishers, and all male and female serfs and colonis with their children and their whole kin-group,) sought and to be sought after,
and with Arnulf and his wife and their sons and daughters and all the male and female serfs and children beholden to the aforesaid goods, and their allods within and without, wherever they are, except a third part of Osan which pertains to Saint-Vincent [of Mâcon], and also Sigebert of Davayé with his wife, sons and daughters, with all their allods and goods, and everything which he holds in the said county.
I cede and transfer wholly and entirely
(nos 27, 29: We did this freely both) for love of (no. 28: God) (no. 29: the divine) and of the (no. 28: His) blessed apostles (nos 27, 29: and for Ourself, and also) for the state (no. 28: and stability) of Our realm, and at the same time the salvation of Our princes and all the (no. 27: Christian) faithful (nos 28, 29: of Christ) (no. 28: to wit, the living and the dead.) (nos 27, 29: and We freely assented to their pious and devoted petition.)
Commanding, therefore, We order that hereafter the aforesaid witnesses of Christ (no. 28: judges of the age, that is) the blessed Peter and Paul, and their abbot (no. 28: the abbots and rulers of their aforesaid abbey) and (no. 28: also) the monks serving the same apostles of Christ should hold and possess (no. 29: the aforesaid goods) with the firmest right through
this Our authority,
this authority of Our sublimity,
and whatever they wish to do or judge concerning it, they may enjoy (no. 28: use) free judgement in everything to do (no. 28: and ordain) whatever they choose.
And that this
authority of Our Highness
authority of Our Sublimity
might be held more firmly and conserved better through future (no. 28: coming) times, We commanded it be sealed below with Our signet.
Sign of King Louis.
Chancellor Roric witnessed on behalf of [Bishop] Achard [of Langres].
Enacted at the estate of Chevregny, on the 1st July, in the 11th year of the reign of King Louis, when he also recovered Francia.
So everything’s hunky dory now, right? Not quite. You’ll note these acts all have the same intercessors: not just Hugh the Great, but Hugh the Black and Leotald of Mâcon. Hugh the Great – finally – got to be re-acknowledged, for the first time since 936, as dux Francorum in a royal diploma, but this had to be balanced out. Hugh the Black is called dux Burgundionum, a title he had not previously claimed in any of his own acts or any royal diplomas, and which he would not claim in the future. It seems that he, too, agreed with Raymond Pons’ analysis of the problem posed by Hugh the Great: ‘duke of the Burgundians’ meant that he remained Hugh the Black’s equal and not his superior. Equally, the presence of Leotald of Mâcon is interesting. Cluny was of course in the Mâconnais, but there’s more to it than that. Leotald’s presence reminded Hugh the Great that the Burgundians mattered, that they were watching and – bluntly – that they outnumbered them.
The content of the diplomas is also carefully balanced in this regard. The first deals with property in Mâcon itself. The second, however, deals with land pertaining to the viscounts of Lyon, in the kingdom of Conrad the Pacific, where Hugh the Black was count. This, though, was counterbalanced by the gift of a church in Mâcon under the rule of the abbey of Saint-Martin of Tours, over which Hugh the Great ruled. That is, we have three different acts speaking to the interests of the three different magnates, rather than having Hugh the Great clearly dictating terms. For all that Hugh the Great might have had his title recognised, after almost a decade of hard fighting, he had not been able to overawe the kingdom’s other leading magnates, and these tense acts were the result.
This makes Louis’ ‘recovering Francia’ somewhat ironic. Hugh’s stripping him of key fortresses meant that the Chevregny acts didn’t convince everyone. For all Flodoard says that he had the royal name and power restored, East Frankish sources were more cynical: Adalbert of Magdeburg said that Louis was ‘expelled from the kingdom’. The reason that Adalbert knew this was that Queen Gerberga spent a big chunk of 946 in her brother Otto the Great’s kingdom trying to call for his help. Next week, we’ll see how that went.
In 945, everything went wrong for Louis IV. The background to this is something we haven’t really discussed, because there’s more-or-less no charter evidence relating to it, but we have seen in other contexts: the assassination of William Longsword, count of Rouen, by Arnulf the Great of Flanders in 943. William had no obvious heir – he had one illegitimate son who was a small boy – and so his quite substantial lands and offices were up for grabs. Louis and Hugh the Great spent several years arguing with each other and several viking chieftains about who got what. In the end, the vikings won: Harald, ruler of Bayeux, whose own position was probably recent and somewhat precarious, ambushed Louis and captured him. He was then sold down the river Seine to Hugh the Great (in exchange for hostages, one of whom – as we’ve previously discussed– was Bishop Guy of Soissons). Hugh then proceeded to keep him in prison for the rest of the year.
However, international and domestic pressure was mounting. King Edmund of England send angry embassies on behalf of his nephew. He was then murdered at Pucklechurch, but he wasn’t the big problem anyway. The big problem was Louis’ brother-in-law, who was generally somewhat cool towards him but whose sister Queen Gerberga now launched frantic embassies to seek his assistance: Otto the Great. Otto, who had faced multiple serious rebellions in his ten-year reign, was in no mood to see a king treated badly by successful rebels. It was with these storm clouds gathering that Flodoard described Hugh hold public assemblies to decide what to do with the king. And, as it happens, a charter from one of these meetings survives.
Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres no. 7 (19th June 946)
In the name of the highest and eternal Saviour, our lord Jesus Christ.
Hugh, most excellent margrave and duke of the Franks.
Since, in this doubtful and inconsistent life, each mortal is, by gift of the Highest Benefactor, ennobled with the happiness of worldly advantage and nourished by an abundance of temporal goods, each of the faithful should take the greatest care that celestial goods should be acquired through that which they possess in this world, and that, by a happy exchange, the invisible is bought by the visible and the incorruptible by the corruptible. Indeed, anyone will more easily deserve to obtain the rights of an enduring heavenly inheritance if (amongst other efforts to pious action) they faithfully cede their worldly and transient goods to the Bestower of All Goods and strive to honour and elevate the most holy Church, that is, His house, with gifts of perishable things.
Let, therefore, the prudent sagacity of all the faithful of the holy Church of God, present and future, and of Our successors, know that – reinforced by the admonition of this holy exhortation and taught by the inspiration of divine grace – along with the consent and will of Our relatives and followers, We concede and donate to the mother church of Notre-Dame de Chartres a certain fisc of Ours, named Ingré, which We have until now possessed freely and by hereditary right, which is in the district of Orléannais, in the vicariate of Les Muids, with all its appendages, which have these names: Champoigny, Grand Muid, Petit Muid up to Alleville and up to the estate which is called Cercottes, Cultura, Boignaux, Montpatour, Brogilus, Villaris, Chiregius, Coust, Changelin, Sorberes, Pataliacus, Les Masures, Montabusard, Sucrogilas, Buiras, Le Buisson, and certain land which lies in the estate which is called Ormes, and other adjacencies lying both within and also without the town, whatever is seen to be beholden there at present; and the rulers of the estate will have the ability to reclaim whatever has been taken away at any time; and We transfer it from Our dominion and place under its rule, with lands cultivated and uncultivated, pastures, meadows, woods, and bondsmen of both sexes and a church there named and built in honour of St Lupus.
And thus, conceding this gift of Our right, We established through deliberation that it should be delegated to the feeding of the brothers of the said church, and assigned to their stipends and usages, from whence they might every day have food and nourishment and more freely pay attention to divine worship and spiritual exercises, and constantly pour out unceasing prayers to the Lord for us and our wife and as well all our offspring, so that He, by the merits of his mother Mary, for whose love We gave a little gift of this sort, and by the plea of all the saints, might rule and govern Us in the height of temporal dignity and sublimity, by which in the land of the living We might at some time merit to see and gain its good things and possess the freedom of a heavenly inheritance.
If, though, any of Our relatives, heirs or proheirs or any calumniating person should try hereafter to violate the authority of this gift, let them incur the wrath of the Three-In-One Deity and Mary Mother of God on whom they committed this fraud, knowing that she will never be their helper; and let them be unable to vindicate what they have claimed, and withdraw in confusion from this presumption, and let the present writing persist undisturbed and undefiled through times to come, relying on this guarantee.
But so that this page might obtain the strength of stronger firmness, We and Our son Otto [of Burgundy] undersigned it with Our own hands, and We determined it be strengthened by the hands of Our nephews and followers.
Sign of Hugh, duke of the Franks, who made and affirmed the authority of this writing. Sign of Hugh [Capet], his son. Sign of Otto, his son. Sign of Heribert [the Elder], his nephew. Sign of Odo. Sign of Robert. Sign of Theobald. Sign of Fulk. Sign of Bernard. Sign of Godfrey. Sign of Aimo. Sign of Ivo. Sign of Warin. Sign of Gauzbert. Sign of Godfrey. Sign of Frotmund [of Sens]. Sign of Adelelm. Sign of Isembard. Sign of Ansculf. Sign of Walter. Sign of another Walter. Sign of Gauzbert. Sign of Cadelo. Sign of Robert. Sign of another Robert. Sign of Landric. Sign of Hugh. Sign of Heriveus. Sign of Suger. Sign of Gislebert. Sign of Odo. Sign of Ralph.
Given on the 13th kalends of July [19th June], in the 11th year of the reign of King Louis.
Obviously, the big interest here is the witness list. We have a veritable Who’s Who of Robertian allies. We’ve got a bunch of relations and clients of the late Count Heribert II of Vermandois, including his sons Heribert the Elder, Robert of Troyes and probably Odo of Amiens, as well as Bernard of Beauvais. We’ve got Hugh’s Neustrian subordinates, including Theobald the Trickster and Fulk the Good; the ‘Ivo’ is perhaps the ancestor of the Bellême on the southern border of the future Normandy, and I’d be inclined to put the ‘Aimo’ there too. We’ve got various Burgundian figures, most obviously Frotmund of Sens but I’d lay decent odds that the ‘Landric’ in the list is the ancestor of the later count of Nevers. In short, these are Hugh the Great’s fideles – but no-one else. That’s far from a negligible base of support, and its certainly enough to be a threat to anyone else in the West Frankish kingdom – but it likely does indicate that he’s having problems winning over anyone else.
We also have Hugh’s sons, Hugh Capet and Otto of Burgundy, both making their first public appearances at the age of about six to eight (their father and mother married in 937, so they can’t be much older). It’s interesting that Otto is the one who confirms this charter, and not Hugh Capet. It’s often assumed that Hugh was the oldest son, but that may well not be the case: this isn’t the only time that Otto shows up first in tenth-century sources… In fact, if Otto were the eldest and Hugh the Great intended for him to get Neustria (as his presence here implies), that might explain developments of a couple of decades later which we’ll get to in time…
Was Hugh the Great planning to depose Louis? It’s a picture that has tempted many historians, and I’ve softened on the idea over time; but ultimately I think he wasn’t. This charter provides one key clue: the dating clause. If Hugh were really planning to kick Louis off the throne, why would this charter be dated by Louis’ regnal years? A subtle clue such as anno Domini dating would be key evidence here; the fact that no such thing exists indicates that whatever Hugh’s goals were, outright deposition is unlikely to have been one of them.
So what did he do instead? That, I’m pleased to say, is a question for a different day, specifically this time next week. Tune in to find out!
Sometimes in Charter A Week, there’s a document which I think is so important that it has to be translated, but precisely because it’s so important, I’ve already discussed it at length. Such a one is this week’s act, and so this week’s post will be concomitantly shorter than usual. Without further ado, here’s the text:
Grand Cartulaire de Brioude no. 434(7th October 945, Saint-Germain-Lembron)
In the name of the holy and individual Trinity.
Stephen, by assent of divine mercy, extraordinary bishop of the church of Clermont, most worthy in life and customs.
I wish to make it known to all those administering the cares of the holy Church of God, that is, present and future, and all the famous of the Earth, that, I, Bishop Stephen, most humble servant of the servants of God, considering the disaster of human fragility, in order that the pious and merciful Lord might deign to loosen something of the frightfulness of my crimes, both for me and for my lord King Louis and his wife and their offspring, and for the souls of my father Robert and his wife Aldegard and my mother Adalgard who is dead and my uncles, to wit, Eustorgius, Matfred and Guy, and my cousin Stephen, and my brothers Eustorgius and Robert, and my uncle Armand and his son Amblard and Eustorgius son of Eustorgius, and also Abbot Robert [of Mozat] and his brothers, and all Our kinsmen and faithful men, and all Our friends and enemies, I render to my Creator, the Lord, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and I bestow upon the blessed Julian of the church of Brioude, who did not decline to endure a death sentence for Christ, the place and estate which is named Saint-Germain-Lembron, with manses, fields, meadows, vineyards, woodlands, and three churches, of which one is dedicated in honour of Saint Germanus, the other in honour of Saint John the Baptist, and the third in honour of Saint Clement, martyr of Christ, with male and female slaves who live now and might be born or beogtten therein later, with mills and all the tithes pertaining to the same churches, and as much as, by gift of God, I have there in the present day, or which in posterity, I, Bishop Stephen, and Abbot Robert, might be able to justly acquire, I render to the Lord, Creator of All, in its entirety, so that it might be under the domination and power of the blessed Julian and his canons, and I give and transfer them from my power into their domination, so that they might have, hold and possess them such that it might be seen to be subject from the present day under the tutelage of the blessed Julian just like the monastery which is called Chanteuges, which is constructed in honour of the blessed Marcellinus and the blessed Julian and the blessed Saturninus; thus let the estate of Saint-Germain-Lembron, with churches and all its appendages, after my death, be in the tutelage and domination of the church of the blessed Julian.
I, Bishop Stephen, although unworthy, desire, if the Lord gives me the space of life, to construct a little monastery in the aforesaid place, and, by disposition of divine grace, I desire to establish there in the aforesaid little place, in honour of the Eternal King and the twelve apostles, twelve monks, so that they monks might, for all the days of their life, serve God, fear the Lord, love the Lord, and to observe the precept of the blessed Benedict and their abbot according to their men and possibility, for that they might constantly exhort the Lord for me and the statue of the holy Church of God day and night.
Thus, I, the aforesaid Stephen, wish to hold the aforesaid things for the days of my life, under my power and tutelage, and each year, in census, at the time of the vine harvest, I should have ten pecks gathered into the cellar of the blessed Julian, until such time as, by disposition of God, I might establish twelve monks in the aforesaid place; after twelve monks have been established there, let them pay no census, except, on appropriate days, let them say a prayer after Matins, and rise from the earth, and let each, prostrate, sing two psalms, of which the first should be Beati omnes qui timent Dominum, for the salvation of the living, and the other Lauda anima mea Dominum for the rest of the dead, at Primes, at Terce, at Sext, at Nones, and similarly at Vespers, let both them and their successors do this.
After my death, I wish to add that no king nor count nor bishop nor abbot nor father nor brother nor uncle nor any kinsman might presume to arise with rash daring against this page and against those monks who, by disposition of God, have come into that place, or presume to go, act or disturb it with any calumny, unless they come to their senses and to emendation, let them incur the wrath of God Almighty and the offence of the saints, and be immersed in the deepest inferno with Dathan and Abiron, Ananias and Saphira, and with Judas, betrayer of the Lord, and in addition let they who presumed to do it be compelled to pay twenty pounds of the purest gold, and not vindicate what they seek. And it pleased me that, after my death, it should remain in the hand and domination of Abbot Robert, son of Gozbert, so that for the days of his life, for the love of God and the remedy of my soul and all the Christian faithful, he might rule, build and govern the aforesaid place, so that in future he might merit to hear that desirable voice which the Lord says to His faithful: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy lord’.
But that this charter might be firm and true through time to come, I, Bishop Stephen, of my own free will, asked it be written and confirmed, and I asked it be confirmed by the hands of noble men. If it should happen, which I little believe, that any son of Belial should arise who might with rash daring wish to twist this render to God Almighty and donation to the blessed martyr Julian from the power of God and the tutelage of the blessed Julian into their uses, and they are such a strong person that no-one is able to resist them, let all their presumption be frustrated in a vacuum, and in addition let these things revert to my relatives through their succession.
Sign of Bishop Stephen. Sign of Robert, father of the lord bishop, who conceded this and confirmed it with his own hand. Sign of Aldegard. Sign of Eustorgius, uncle of the lord bishop. Sign of Robert. Sign of Eustorgius. Sign of Desiderius. Sign of Armand.
This cession given on the seventh of October, at the estate of Saint-Germain-Lembron, in the 10th year the reign of King Louis, ruling France and Aquitaine.
As I say, I’ve discussed this in detail elsewhere, so I’ll quickly summarise and then if you like you can read the fuller treatments. In 944, Louis IV had gone to Aquitaineagain, a visit probably occasioned by the impending demise of Raymond Pons of Toulouse. During that visit, he settled several questions, and that probably included appointing Stephen as bishop of Clermont. This charter is what Koziol calls an ‘accession act’, staking Stephen and his faction’s claim to be the most important group in the old Guillelmid sphere of influence.
As such, it’s quite important that Louis IV heads up the list of people for whom the canons of Brioude are to pray. Stephen’s authority as a regional potentate was closely tied to royal authority, and we can see that in this charter. This is significant, because as we’ve had cause to note before, the West Frankish kings are not usually supposed by historians to have much impact on Aquitanian politics at all. This charter, then, acts as a useful counter to the standard narrative, and gives us a look into the political and ideological world of a bishop and regional magnate.
None of the charters for the actual year of 944 were particularly inspiring, so I’ve taken something from a broader date range. This week’s act comes from ‘the reign of King Louis’, almost certainly meaning Louis IV. (There is a tiny, tiny chance it could mean Louis V as king of Aquitaine, but I doubt that very strongly.) Christian Lauranson-Rosaz dates it to 951 specifically, but I’m not sure of his reasoning. Realistically, this charter can’t be dated more precisely than ‘the middle of the tenth century’.
Grand Cartulaire de Brioude, no. 449
It is written, ‘it is seen to be in no few places as though the angel of greed were urging people on’, and thus it has come to pass that recently Dalmatius [II], viscount of the same place, subdued all this through the force of his own power or by his own kinsmen: a church which is within the cloister of Saint-Julien, named in honour of Notre-Dame; and in the place called Brioude, another consecrated in honour of the holy martyr Praejectus, and in that county of Brioude, in the place which is called Champagnac, the church which is founded in honour of St Peter, and within the confines of the land the manse which is called Feuvetulus, and in the region the estate which is called Teinat and in the county of Brioude the church which is called Blassac with all its appurtenances, taken from the community of canons serving Christ therein.
On which account, the aforesaid brothers, when they heard, showed him how he had done this injuriously to the holy martyr Julian and his servants. However, the mercy of God Almighty, which wishes that none should perish but that all should be saved, at length sent to him such a counsel: that, to wit, at his request the aforesaid clerics should write a privilege and lord Dalmatius should confirm it with his very own hands, and that he should render what he unjustly possessed there. Indeed, when they had done this, the aforesaid lord Dalmatius, with everyone who was there in the church of Saint-Julien looking on, holding this authority in his very own hands, restored the said churches in their entirety and with all the abovewritten goods in their entirety to the dominion of that holy martyr and his servants.
Therefore, we in turn, seeing his great love in the Lord and fervent love of the holy martyr Julian, and the benefits to be earned in future, cede the abovewritten things to him, that is, to Viscount Dalmatius, such that as long as he lives he might hold and possess them and each year at Easter should pay in census to the canons one peck of the best wine. After his death, let the aforesaid goods remain in the common rations of the canons soldiering for the Lord there without any perturbation or delay.
Therefore, thereafter, lord Dalmatius, supported by God’s providence, for love of God and remedy of his soul and of his father and mother and his grandfather and all his relatives, ceded to God and Saint-Julien a church in the country of Brioude which is called Saint-Cirgues with all its adjacencies which pertain to it; and in another place, in the estate which is called Auzat, he parted with as much as he was seen to have and possess wholly and entirely; and in the vicariate of Auriac*, in the estate which is called Volvige, he ceded that estate without any contradiction after his death, on the condition that Ebbo should hold all of the abovewritten in obedience.
This charter made in the reign of King Louis.
Sign of Viscount Dalmatius who asked this charter be written and confirmed. Sign of Stephen, son of Bertrand. Sign of Gerald. Sign of Hildegar. Sign of Leotard. Sign of Achard. Sign of Bertrand. Sign of Stephen.
*My own ID based on looking at the map, dubious.
I know, I know: a dispute settlement record which isn’t from Saint-Martin at Tours? Absurd. But in the context of our previous discussions of Martinian material, there are certainly parallels here. The brief introduction reminds me of the arenga of the 930 charter we looked at months ago, putting the dispute into a wider picture of human greed. With that wider perspective, we can address the place of this charter in historiography.
This charter has attracted some scholarly discussion, above all from Lauranson-Rosaz whom I mentioned above. For him, this is a primary symptom of a thoroughgoingly orthodox case of feudal revolution. Lauranson-Rosaz sees Viscount Dalmatius II of Brioude as a predatory local noble, taking advantage of a dissolving public power to enrich himself at the expense of the local Church through violence. Indeed, it is to specifically this background that Lauranson-Rosaz places the emergence of the Peace of God in Auvergne.
However, to us, this looks rather less dramatic. We’ve already seen similar chains of events befall Robert of Neustria and Hugh of Arles, for instance. One thing this charter doesn’t mention is that Dalmatius was actually Brioude’s lay abbot at this time. This means that, even before we consider the place of the abbey within its local milieu, this is already a dispute within the abbey’s own community. Sure, Dalmatius is a layman, but he’s also an abbot; it might mean he’s not there all the time, but see Odo of Cluny, who was a monk and definitely wasn’t at the dozens of abbeys over which he presided all the time! What this means in turn is that, because monastic communities aren’t monoliths, Dalmatius likely had supporters within the abbey. This, I think, helps explain compromises like this and others we’ve seen: at least part of what the winning side gets here is the acknowledgement that they were in the right, and temporarily giving up the goods in question is part of the price for that acknowledgement.
What we are dealing with here, ultimately, is therefore not a symptom of sudden and dramatic change in the mid-tenth century. We’ve seen too many other things that resemble it for too long. Rather, this document is evidence that, when it came to resolving disputes, mid-tenth century Auvergne was firmly embedded in a Late Carolingian milieu.
If you cast your mind back several years, you may remember me complaining about the incredibly inconsistent nature of mid-tenth century Provençal dating clauses. I had done some research and worked out that if you correlated the date and the day of the week in a selection of charters from the area, you could get dates for the beginning of Conrad the Pacific’s reign which stretched over a spectrum of about seven years. What I then did not talk about in any detail was how Conrad did, in fact, take over Louis the Blind’s former kingdom. After all, when we were following Louis IV on his whirlwind tourof Aquitaine last we, we noted that his first stop was in Vienne, where he met the local count, Charles Constantine, and received his submission. This makes sense: ever since Ralph of Burgundy had taken over northern Provence, it had stayed under West Frankish rule.
What had changed by the early 940s, however, was the geopolitical situation. After the death of the Transjurane king Rudolf II in 937, Otto the Great was able to swoop in and kidnap Rudolf’s son and heir, the young Conrad the Pacific. (At the ripe old age of 24 in 937, Otto was already an elder statesman of European politics compared to Louis IV (17) and Conrad himself (12, perhaps?).) What this meant was that when Otto and Louis ended up on opposite sides, Otto had a convenient pawn to move into northern Provence to nibble away at Louis’ powerbase there. Thus, in 943, one of the first things Conrad did after being sent back south was to go to the Rhône valley, where the young monarch issued several documents, one of which was this:
Let it be known to all of Our followers, that servants of God, monks from the monastery of Cluny, lodged a complaint in Our presence, in the district of Viennois, about Our kinsman Charles [Constantine]; the same Charles unjustly contested their goods, which Ingelbert had given to the same place through a charter of donation. He, though, when he saw and heard that he did not hold this rightly, presently gave up every quarrel and immediately corroborated the charters which Ingelbert had made, and confirmed them again in the king’s hand. And then the lord king commanded this judgement be written, through which let the said charters endure inviolable for all time; and We commanded the names of Our followers be inserted below and it be sealed with Our seal.
Sign of lord Conrad, the most pious king.
Bishop Aimo [of Geneva] was present. Archbishop Guy [of Lyon] was present. Archbishop Sobbo [of Vienne] was present. Bishop Bero [of Lausanne] was present. Bishop Odalbert [of Valence] was present. Hugh [the Black], count and margrave, was present. Odalric, count of the palace, was present. Henry, son of Louis [of Thurgau], was present. Count Anselm was present. Count Odalric, Anselm’s brother, was present. Count Azo was present. Count Leotald [of Mâcon] was present. Humbert [of Salins, Leotald’s brother], was present; and all the dominical vassals, greater and lesser, were present.
I, Henry the notary, wrote this judgement, given on the 5th kalends of July [27th June], in the 6th year of the reign of the most pious king lord Conrad.
Since the end of 941, Louis’ position had already started to crumble. A bad sign was when Viscount Ratburn of Vienne, perhaps seeing an opportunity to undermine Charles Constantine, issued a charter in November 942 dated by Conrad’s rule. Conrad himself had arrived by Spring 943, issuing a set of diplomas which – notably – prominently feature Hugh the Black. Hugh had of course been cut off from Louis’ courtby Otto the Great, but he also had strong ties to Transjurane Burgundy which allowed him to pursue Königsnahe elsewhere – which is precisely what he seems to be doing in the witness list of this diploma.
In fact, the witnesses to this act are balanced neatly between Transjurane figures like the bishops of Geneva and Lausanne and Conrad’s cousin Henry on one hand; Transjurane allies in the Trans-Ararian Fluidity Zone like Hugh the Black and Leotald of Mâcon on another; and on a mutant third hand more strictly Provençal figures like the archbishops of Lyon and Vienne, whose closest ties at this point were probably to Hugh of Arles. What brought these men together was the opportunities provided by the shifting balance of power, expressed in immediately terms by the opportunity (or the requirement) to gang up on Louis IV’s most prominent supporter in the region.
Charles Constantine was of course present at this judgement, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen someone arrive at court to find the deck stacked against them. This diploma can reasonably be seen as an attack on Charles. Note, for instance, that he’s not given any title, even the comital one. With a coalition banded against him, Charles was humiliated and forced to accept Conrad’s authority. The following year, in fact, Charles appears in a charter alongside a similar list of people, with his comital title restored, apparently reconciled, however begrudgingly, with the Transjurane regime. It was a very, very bad sign for Louis IV’s authority in Provence.
Last time we saw Louis IV, he had been pounded flat by Otto the Great and a group of West Frankish allies, and it’s safe to say his position had not massively improved in the meantime. In mid-to-late 941, he had been caught in a surprise attack by Hugh the Great and Heribert of Vermandois, suffering an embarrassing defeat and losing key supporters, notably Archbishop Artald of Rheims, who threw in the towel and surrendered to the two magnates. This was a worrying position to be in – but Louis was not out yet. Owing to the importance of Flodoard’s Annals, historians tend to focus on the kingdom’s north-east, but there was a lot more kingdom than that, and in late 941 Louis set out to strengthen his position in the rest of it. He began by approaching Vienne, where he met Count Charles Constantine. From there, he set out into Aquitaine, where Flodoard loses sight of him, beyond saying that he received the submission of the Aquitanians. However, the charter record gives us a sense of both what Louis was doing and how it was received. By the turn of the year 941/942, Louis was in Poitiers. Poitou was a part of Aquitaine which had enjoyed close ties to the West Frankish monarchy since the reign of Charles the Bald, and Louis set out to capitalise on that. And to demonstrate what’s happening, we have no fewer than three acts!
Louis, by propitiation of divine clemency king of the Franks.
If We rightly ordain and deal with holy places surrendered to divine worship on account of love of God and reverence for the saints resting within, We little doubt God will be propitious towards Us on account of it in the present world and that to come.
Wherefore let the skillful industry of all the followers of the holy Church of God both present and also future know that, approaching the presence of Our Serenity, the count and margrave William [III Towhead of Poitiers] and his brother Ebalus [later bishop of Limoges] and Count Roger [II of Laon] humbly asked that We might deign to confer upon the brothers of the most excellent confessor of Christ Hilary a precept of Our authority concerning the estates and churches assigned to their divers usages by Our predecessors, and concerning their prebends and houses; and this We did.
Whence We ordered this decree of Our Highness to be made and given to the said brothers, through which We command and sanction by royal authority that the aforesaid canons should with everlasting right possess all this: the aforesaid estates with their churches, that is, Champagné-Saint-Hilaire, Rouillé, Pouant, Luzay, Frontenay, Benassay, Mazeuil, Cuhon, Gourgé, Vouzailles, Vieracus, Saint-Laurent, in the county of Quercy, a church in honour of Saint Hilary; and Cainontus in the district of Toulousain, and in the district of Carcassès the place of Saint Mamet and the field of Olivetus; and in the county of Poitou, Allemagne, Moussay, Neuville, with allods, that is Crispiacus, Eterne, Remcionacum, Clavinnus, Belloria; let their prebends too always be under their power. We also concede the houses with the land within the walls recently built around the monastery, and establishing without and within the walls of the city in the same way to the same brothers, that each might have licence to do as he wishes with his own goods, except alienate them to an outsider; and let no count or other official of the commonwealth dare to become an invader of these goods and of the land placed mutually within the walls from a quarteron in the estate of Pouant without the will of the canons.
If anyone might presume to violate the muniment of this royal authority, in the first place let them incur the wrath of God Almighty and of Saint Hilary and of all the saints, and have perdition with Dathan and Abiron, whom the Earth swallowed alive, and know themselves to be perpetually damned, immersed in the inferno with Judas the betrayer, consumed all over by flames and worms, under the chains of anathema.
Whence, so that this testament of royal dignity persevere through the course of times to come, and be more firmly believed and attentively observed by all, confirming it under Our own hand, We commanded it be corroborated by the image of Our ring.
Sign of lord Louis, the glorious king.
Odilo the chancellor witnessed on behalf of Bishop Heiric [of Langres].
Enacted at the city of Poitiers, on the nones of January, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 942, in the 15th indiction, in the 6th year of the reign of the most glorious king of the Franks Louis.
In the name of God, amen.
D L4 no. 19 (7th January 942, Poitiers)
In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.
Louis, by God’s grace king of the Franks.
If We rightly deal with places surrendered to divine worship on account of love of God and his saints, and reform them for the better, We are certainly confident to be repaid for this by the Repayer on High.
Wherefore, let the skill and prudent industry of all the followers of the holy Church of God both present and future know that, approaching the presence of Our Dignity, the illustrious Count Roger [II] of Laon and Ebalus [later bishop of Limoges], humbly asked Our Clemency that We might deign to confer a certain abbey in honour of St John the Baptist, in the place which is called Angély, which is now completely devoid of its original honour, on a certain servant of God named Martin through a precept of Our Regality in order to improve it; and this We did.
Whence We commanded this decree of Our Highness to be made and given to the said Martin, through which he might hold the aforesaid abbey in its entirety as long as he lives, and gather, with God’s help, monks there in accordance with the Rule; and let the monks after his death for all time elect an abbot for themselves in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict; and let no count or any other powerful person inflict any damage on the aforenamed abbey of Saint-Jean. Rather, in accordance with the custom of other places soldiering under the Rule of the said nourishing Benedict, let it remain immune under Our defence and that of Our successors.
And that this emolument of Our authority might persevere inviolably through the course of times to come, confirming it beneath Our own hand We commanded it be corroborated with the image of Our signet.
Sign of lord Louis, the most glorious king.
Odilo the notary witnessed on behalf of Bishop Heiric.
Enacted at the city of Poitiers, on the 7th ides of January, in the 10th indiction, in the 6th year of the reign of Louis king of the Franks.
Happily in the name of God, amen.
Let’s start with the obvious. The first document has three petitioners, and the first two are brothers, the sons of Ebalus Manzer, Count William Towhead, and Ebalus, abbot of Saint-Maixent. Ebalus also shows up in the second document. Both of them are receiving a big dose of Königsnahe. William, you’ll note, gets the prestigious title of marchio (‘margrave’), something neither he nor his father had at any other time. Ebalus doesn’t get anything quite that formal, but he was given a more concrete reward for his support. As we’ve discussed before, it was likely at this time that Ebalus was assured of his succession to the bishopric of Limoges, which he would then assume a few years later. This alliance had real and ongoing effects. After Louis’ return to the north, he mustered his armies at Rouen, and William Towhead showed up with troops. The royal army then marched to the Oise, where they were able to compel Hugh and Heribert to negotiate.
The role of Abbot Martin here is also significant. Martin had been a very big name in Aquitanian monasticism for about a decade. He was abbot of institutions in Limoges, Angoulême and Poitiers, as well as of Jumièges in Normandy. That is, he was extremely well-connected, better so even than William Towhead, and drawing him into the coalition that was being assembled was an important was of stretching that coalition’s boundaries. Indeed, after leaving Poitou Louis actually went to Rouen, where he confirmed his alliance with William Longsword, count of Rouen.
This is all well and good, though – but what makes this set of actions really something special is that we also have a charter from William Towhead issued during Louis’ stay.
William, by God’s grace count of the palace of the Poitevins.
We wish it to be known to all of the faithful of the holy Church of God, to wit, present and future, that one of Our followers, named Viscount Savaric [of Thouars], and his vassal Elias, approaching Our Mildness, beseeched Us that We might deign to concede to a certain man named Hosdren and his wife Aldesind something from their benefice, which is sited in the district of Poitou in the lower district of Thouars, in the vicariate of Thénezay, in the estate which is called Vaulorin* and in the place which is named Ad Illo Maso, amongst the goods of Saint-Remi, which is in the brothers’ wasteland, that is, more or less 8 uncultivated quarterons with no heir, along with meadows and arable land along the stream of the Vandelogne, cultivated and uncultivated, visited and unvisited, and as much as is beholden or seen to be beholden to these quarterons, through this writing of Our authority under an rent from a rental agreement; and this is please Us in every way to do.
We, then, considering their petition just did not deny it, but freely granted to him what he asked, that is, on the condition that each year on the feast of St Hilary which falls on the kalends of November [1st November], the aforesaid Hosdren and his wife Aldesind should without any delay act to render a rent of 3 shillings to the ruler who is seen to hold the same benefice under their rule, and after their deaths… their… have, hold and possess it, and if they appear tardy or negligent with this rent for any difficulty, let them render the rent twofold, and let them in no way lose the aforesaid goods.
But that this rental agreement might in God’s name obtain firmness, I confirmed it below with my own hands and after Us We decreed that venerable men should corroborate it below.
+ Count William. Sign of Viscount Savaric. Sign of Viscount Fulk. Sign of Lambert the auditor. Sign of Acfred. Sign of Ebbo. Sign of Rorgo. Sign of Gozlin. Sign of Boso. Sign of Rainald. Sign of another Boso. Sign of Adalelm. Sign of Abiathar. Sign of Aimeric. Sign of Elias. Sign of Rocco. Sign of Dilibal. Sign of Odo. Sign of Thietmar. Sign of Geoffrey.
Given in the month of January, in the 6th year of the reign of King Louis.
Warner wrote and subscribed.
*ID mine based on looking at the map; to be taken with a large pinch of salt.
The really key part of this charter is William’s title. Comes palatii is new, a title never held by Ebalus Manzer or by William before now. That William issued his own charter with this title whilst Louis was present and in a position to be seen to personally endorse it shows that the count of Poitiers was actively taking advantage of the king’s being there to take to the stage himself and display his Königsnahe and bolster his legitimacy. That is, we know that Louis was not shouting into a void: William was in fact integrating his new-found role as the king’s close ally into his own strategies of legitimacy.
One final note. It’s interesting that the recipient of this charter is named Hosdren. Hosdren is a Breton name. It’s not wise to rest too much about this, but at the very least it’s interesting to note in this regard two things. First, that the Breton duke Alan Barbetorte was also part of this alliance, and also showed up with troops alongside the two Williams. Second, that Alan and William were also negotiating concerning the disposition of some districts south of the Loire, the Mauges and its neighbours, at about this time. It might be that Hosdren played a minor role here, or that his reward was part of these negotiations; it might well be that Louis was arbitrating these negotiations to give them the stamp of royal approval. This is speculative, certainly, but it’s not wise to underestimate the authority of kingship…
The real scholarly commentary was on Tuesday. I just wanted to put this charter up because it’s fun. It’s also, somewhat sadly, the last of our Martinian dispute settlement records. The abbey’s surviving archive starts decreasing in content from the end of the reign of Charles the Simple, and in the mid-tenth century there’s a big hiatus. Even after it starts up again in the 960s, it’s never the same (and indeed I don’t think we’ll be encountering another charter of Saint-Martin again). So as a fond farewell:
A notice of how a certain priest of Saint-Martin named Tesmund, from the castle of Amboise, came on the ides of August [13th August], before the presence of lord Fulk [the Red] and of his son [… and of] Fulk [the Good], and of other noble men residing therein, making a complaint concerning… his allod which is sited in the estate of Avon, which his uncle Ansebald left to him in proper order and he legitimately held until the time when the Northmen took him and led him captive overseas, when Isembert wrongly and against the law held that allod.
Then lord Fulk and his aforesaid son interrogated him for which reason he held that allod. The same Isembert responded that he had bought that allod for his fixed price from Guy, who he held to be a late cousin of Tesmund and for that reason he held it. The aforesaid lords also said that he should show a charter or testimony as to how he had bought the aforesaid allod. Isembert responded that he had neither a charter nor testimony. They also interrogated the aforesaid Isembert if he could have such an advocate as would dare to prove on the field against an advocate of the aforesaid Tesmund that the aforesaid allod pertained more to Isembert through purchase than to the aforesaid Tesmund through inheritance from paternal and other relatives. Finally Isembert responded that he would have his advocate prepared to defend this at the established assembly. Therefore, they judged that both should formally bring their advocates to the first court, who would thus be able… one against the other, and thus they did.
But when they came to the court, the aforesaid Isembert… was able to have [nothing], who would dare defend this against the advocate of Tesmund, because… to everyone who was there that he held the aforesaid allod unjustly and against the law.
Then lord Fulk made him give a bond of 60 shillings because of this, that he formally bring his advocate to the established assembly… he was not able to have. Thereafter everyone who was there judged that Tesmund should make no other judgement that on holy relics with his own hand, because he was a priest… which he did immediately. And the aforesaid Isembert yielded thereafter and surrendered it through a rod. Then not… to the aforesaid Tesmund, that he should seek a notice concerning such a decision, which they commanded be done immediately.
This was enacted in the presence and sight of these people:
[Sign of the holy Cross of lord abbot Hugh.] Sign of lord Fulk [the Red]. Sign of his son lord Fulk [the Good]. Sign of Erard, advocate and legislator. Sign of Arduin the legislator. Sign of Eldemand the vicar. Sign of Wanilo the vicar. Sign of Bernard. Sign of Markward. Sign of Fulculf. Sign of Odalger. Sign of Rainald. Sign of Adalelm.
Given in the month of August, in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 941, or the 4th year of the reign of King Louis, son of Charles.
So what’s happening here? We start with Tesmund the priest, for whom everything was apparently hunky-dory until he was captured by Northmen. The circumstances under which he was captured bear some consideration, because it’s distinctly unlucky. Amboise is probably too far upriver to be affected by the fighting in Brittany after 936; but there was a raid into Berry in 935 in which the men of the Touraine participated. Tesmund was probably captured in this campaign – the last we know about on the Loire until the Norman War of the 960s. Anyway, Tesmund is ransomed or escaped, but was a captive for long enough that his estate goes to his cousin who then sells it to Isembard. When Tesmund gets home, he wants his land back.
At this point, the count of Anjou, Fulk the Red, and his son and heir Fulk the Good show up. Fulk the Red is a very old man by now, in his mid-to-late seventies at least. He’s also quite far east of Angers. This charter lends some support to the twelfth-century Deeds of the Consuls of Anjou which say that Amboise was a very early acquisition of the family. Of note, therefore, is that Fulk is probably not holding the mallus court because he’s count of the area. This fits with an argument I’ve made before, that the Carolingian judicial charter tradition covers up a much more flexible and informal set of practices even at very high levels.
In the end, the participants settle on trial by battle. The charter emphasises the problems Isembert has finding someone to support him, to the point that he ends up having to pay a forfeit and Tesmund wins the case. I wonder about the dynamics underlying this. That Isembert can find no-one suggests a stitch up, but the fine of 60 solidi makes me wonder if Isembert wasn’t being punished for being too stubborn and resisting the judgement… In any case, Tesmund gets his land back.
The problem of what to do with captives of the vikings was not unique to Tours. The Old Frisian law-codes, first written down in the thirteenth century but possibly containing older material, have provision for what happens if a child is sold into slavery to the heathens and returns: if he can recognise his land and his close kin, he can reclaim the land without further ado. One wonders if Tesmund wished he had been a Frisian. In any case, this charter is interesting evidence for the problems of re-integrating freed captives back into their original society.
The archives of the abbey of Blandijnberg in Ghent can do one. I’ve actually been to the abbey on holiday, it’s an interesting visit and I liked the site – but the archives are something else. The monks of Sint-Pieters are some of the most notorious forgers of the Middle Ages. Geoffrey Koziol has described the Blandijnberg archives as retreating into ‘an Escher-like dimension where fact and fiction become indistinguishable’. Charters have been worked up out of whole cloth, reworked thoroughly, lightly touched up. Their dating clauses have been stripped and remade on the basis of – seemingly – nothing. And how tainted any given charter is is going to vary wildly depending on which diplomatist you’re talking to. As such, it’s quite pleasant to note that the charter establishing the reform of Blandijnberg, issued by Count Arnulf the Great in 941, has not only been given a generally clean bill of health, it’s also really interesting.
Arnulf, supported by the clemency of the King on High margrave, to the followers of the Holy Church soldiering catholically for God anywhere and in any order of society.
We read in the divinely-written books of Maccabees that God’s Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the most nefarious of kings Antiochus, but that after many and most weighty triumphs in battle Judas Maccabeus rebuilt and decorated it with the gold and silver which he had acquired from the spoils of the enemy; by which deed, to wit, he believed he would receive help from the heaven of the King of the Stars.
Therefore, urged on with keen desire to follow this example, I, the most humble Arnulf, wishing with every sinew of my heart to share in the benefits of those who, obeying the Lord’s commands, have transferred a worldly patrimony for heavenly treasure, was animated by the exhortation of religious and truthful men and – so to speak – rising as if awoken from a deep sleep, I began in silent contemplation day and night to reflect upon a certain monastery, under my rule, anciently sited by the most holy Amand, a pontiff worthy of praise from the good, next to the river Scheldt in the castle of Ghent, which he called Blandijnberg, and which, by Christ’s favour, he solemnly ennobled with relics of the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and many saints which he brought with him on his second return from Rome. He did this at the time when Pope Martin [I] ruled the Roman Church, 75 years [sic] after the blessed Peter, keymaster of Heaven’s hall, in the time of the famous King of the Franks Dagobert [I], while Eligius of wonderful sanctity presided as bishop of Noyon and Tournai. I rejoice, truly, that the said monastery is made illustrious in so many ways by the relics of such saints; but I sorrow greatly that it lacks the honour with which the saints these relics came from shine in the court of Heaven; with which, if I had my way, I would raise up relics of such dignity on Earth.
Finally, with the permission of King Louis, and having taken counsel with Bishop Transmar [of Noyon], to whose diocese the place pertains, and with my friends and especially with my followers, I made returns and restorations to the holy place, partially of those renders from the land which the most blessed Amand sought from the kings who at that time subjected themselves to divine laws; and which, out of love for the prince of the apostles Peter, he gave in perpetual right to those dwelling in same abbey; and partially of those which faithful people in divers times and places have bestowed from the time of the aforesaid King Dagobert up to Our days. And if not everything, I have at least returned some of what was taken away from there in the time of my predecessors; and which I estimate will suffice the monks dwelling there for love of Christ.
That is: I concede to the relics of the aforesaid monastery the census which is taken from the houses sited in the port of Ghent, from the river Scheldt up to the confluence with the river Lys; and the tithe which those dwelling in that port should pay to God for the remedy of their souls; and the fare exacted from passing traffic; and the floral meadows which lie next to the port.
I cede to their power 1 mill in the place which is called Afsnee; 1 chapel named in honour of St Mary in the estate of Mariakerke; the vineyard which I rebuilt next to the monastery and the land which lies adjacent to it up to the port; and the other farms which are next to the monastery, on which they may built suitable workshops and gardens in which they may plant vegetables appropriate for the monks; and I restored and strengthened with my own hand the other things which are written in the charter of Abbot Einhard.
In the district of Flanders, next to the castle of Oostburg in the place named Merona Bennonis, pasturage which can suffice 120 sheep; and in another place next to the sea named Kommerswerve, land to feed 100 sheep; and in that district half my fisc which is called Snellegem, the half-part of which lies next to the eastern part; of which I consent to give 1 manse to the abbot and brothers of the aforesaid monastery whilst I live; and desire with all my heart that they should have, hold and possess the part of the remaining half after the end of my life.
In the district of Hainaut, on the river Selle, I restore to them the estate which is called Douchy-les-Mines with its appendages.
Moreover, in the district of Waas, on the river Scheldt, there is an estate named Temse in which for a long time rested the body of the most blessed virgin Amalberga, which she was seen to possess in hereditary right while she lived; and because of this I restored it to those who keep vigil attending her holy body day and night.
All though all this seems a bit small in quantity and number, let the crowd of monks and their abbot established in the aforesaid monastery perpetually obtain them, provided with solace from which they may be able to indefatigably serve the Lord, putting aside all grumbling, which is generally typical of monks.
I desire and greatly wish that the monks in the aforesaid monastery should serve Christ according to the Rule for all time, as was enacted in the time of the said most holy Amand; and let them, living in accordance with the norm of St Benedict, place in charge an abbot in accordance with their choice and the consent of that lord and margrave who might have succeeded me in the chief position after my death. Animated by his exhortation and rule, let them put aside the worldly and endeavour to meditate on the heavenly.
If any of my successors should endeavour with abominable daring to calumniate or diminish these benefices of my restitution which We restored out of love of God and the holy prince of the apostles Peter and the other saints whose precious remains are kept within, unless they quickly come to their senses let them incur the wrath of God Almighty, for Whom St Amand, the builder of this place, sincerely soldered; and the offence of the keymaster of the stars Peter and the outstanding teacher Paul and the miraculous virgin Amalgberga and of all the saints; and let him endure forever deprived of their company, indissolubly joined to the company of demons. The company of all good men and I say amen!
Enacted at the abbey of Blandijnberg, on the 8th ides of July, in the 6th year of the reign of Louis, son of the imprisoned King Charles.
Sign of Arnulf, most clement count and margrave, who asked the writing of this document be done and confirmed.
Before looking at the content, let’s address what at first sight appears to be the most suspicious thing about this charter: the seal. A layman’s seal on a charter from this early is by itself a massive red flag to Continental diplomatists, because lay seals don’t start showing up, really, until well into the eleventh century and only explode in popularity in the twelfth. However, I want to make a small attempt at defending both this example and others. All the examples of sealed lay charters (most only now known through later descriptions and/or drawings) come from the Channel coast – Flanders, Normandy, Brittany. This is significant because lay seals are a well-known phenomenon in England. There aren’t huge surviving numbers, but they definitely existed, and existed this early. Given the geographical proximity and political-cultural influence of England on the coastal parts of Gaul, I think there’s at least a meaningful possibility that lay aristocrats in these areas adopted – even if only temporarily – Insular sealing practices. (And, in fact, Jenny Benham has pointed out that an Anglo-Norman treaty of 991 makes reference to Normans carrying seals.)
In terms of the content, the most interest thing to me is the arenga. A big part of my research is the use of charters to transmit ideology and communicate legitimacy to audiences, and this is one of the most straightforward examples. The witness list of this charter is relatively amenable to prosopographical investigation, and once you’ve done that the result is that they are all what Flodoard calls maritimi Franci: men from the seaside parts of Flanders around Saint-Omer and Ghent, and more generally people on the wrong side of the river Oise, which is where West Frankish kings tended to make their stand against Viking fleets. Men like these had borne the brunt of the viking attacks for generations by 941, and in particular Arnulf himself had likely led many of them against the Northmen of Rouen about ten years earlier. By casting himself as Judas Maccabeus, Blandijnberg as Jerusalem, and the vikings as the evil Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV, Arnulf was able to relate their shared experiences to a well-known and prestigious narrative which bolstered his own position by analogy.
However, it’s not quite enough. Striking in a charter otherwise so replete with Arnulf’s own authority, the count puts right up front that he is doing what he is doing with the permission of Louis IV. This added legitimacy to Arnulf’s games with Blandijnberg. For a man so heavily involved in Church reform, Arnulf’s actions could be breathtakingly cynical, and historians have consequently speculated about his motives. The most recent hypothesis is that reform removed the final vestiges of royal rights over the abbey, but I don’t find this convincing. There had been no royal intervention in Flanders for decades at this point. Rather, I suspect that Arnulf was using royal authority to expel local rivals. In the case of Blandijnberg we don’t know who those were – there are some very scattered and/or iffy hints that the Robertians had a presence there – but it’s likely that Arnulf’s control of Ghent was not as good as is usually imagines.
However, although Louis had in fact visited Flanders multiple times in the run-up to this charter, this reminder of Arnulf’s Könighsnahe would have sounded awkward in 941. Arnulf was temporarily on the outs with Louis, having been part of the Ottonian-led coalition which attacked him the previous year. The mention of Louis, then, can also be seen as aspirational on Louis’ part. Arnulf’s hostility to Louis had a pretty clear policy objective: compelling him to abandon his designs on Lotharingia and resume the alliance with Otto the Great which Arnulf had originally brokered. In this context, the 941 charter also shows Arnulf and his supporters dreaming of the great things king and count could do together.
Last week, we took a break from high politics for 939. This was not an unimportant year to pass over. That year, a huge rebellion amongst the magnates of Lotharingia asked Louis IV to become their king. He did – although, sadly, no diplomas survive from his abortive reign there – but not for very long. At the Second Battle of Andernach, the two main East Frankish rebels, Eberhard and Gislebert of Lotharingia, were killed and the whole thing collapsed. Louis was forced back on the man who, after he had torn himself away from Hugh the Great, had become his most important supporter: his predecessor’s brother, Hugh the Black.
If We lend Our ears to the fitting petitions of Our followers, We maintain the customs of Our predecessors as king and We render them rather more familiar to Our Highness.
Wherefore let it be known to all Our followers, both present and future, that the famous Count Hugh approached Our presence and beseeched that We might give certain abbeys, sited in the district of Porthois, to one of Our followers, named Adelard, and his wife Adele and their heirs. One of these monasteries is called Faverney, named in honour of St Mary; the other is called Enfonvelle, and it is named in honour of the holy martyr Leodegar.
And thus, most freely favouring the prayers of the aforesaid glorious Count Hugh, We concede to the same Adelard and his wife Adele the aforesaid abbeys in their entirety, that is, Faverney in its entirety, with its appendages, that is, with churches, estates, bondsmen of both sexes, fields, meadows, woods, waters and watercourses, mills, incomes and renders, visited and unvisited; and Saint-Léger similarly wholly and entirely with everything pertaining to it; only on the condition that by this precept of Our Highness which We commanded to be made and given to the same couple, as long as Adelard and his said wife and their heirs live, they might hold and possess the abovewritten abbeys, and after their deaths (whenever they are), let the same abbeys revert without diminution or deterioration to that state they are known to have been in until now.
And that this Our statute might endure more firmly, We commanded this precept be made concerning it and be signed with Our signet.
Sign of the lord and most glorious king Louis.
Odilo the notary witnessed on behalf of Heiric [of Langres], bishop and high chancellor.
Given on the 16th kalends of March [14th February], in the 3rd year of the reign of the most glorious King Louis, in the 13th indiction.
Enacted at the estate of Gurziaicus on the river Marne.
The diploma in the original (source above)
If Louis 936 Christmas diploma shows the regime Hugh the Great forced upon him, this act shows him using patronage to develop his support in Burgundy. Hugh the Black is, obviously, the main event; but Hugh’s old rival Bishop Heiric of Langres shows up as archchancellor. Hugh the Black evidently knows how to relate to Louis better than Hugh the Great did: there are no extravagant titles here, but rather a simple ‘famous count’. Nonetheless, Hugh the Black clearly did have demands: Adelard and Adele get two plum monasteries for their own uses.
Notably, this is not the first time we’ve met Notre-Dame de Faverney. Last time, it was the focus of an exchange of property between its holder, Guy of Spoleto, later king of Italy and would-be king of the West Frankish kingdom, and Archdeacon Otbert of Langres. I find it interesting that Louis, in the diploma, is kind of shifty about Faverney’s current state. Given Guy’s withdrawal to Italy after the turn of the tenth century, I see two main possibilities as to what happened to it. First, it’s possible that Hugh the Black took it over as the predominant regional magnates and felt he either needed or wanted Louis’ consent to justify the transfer of monastic property to two laypeople. Second, and I think this is more likely, I suspect Otbert of Langres kept Faverney. In this scenario, Louis’ involvement becomes more crucial, as he is in effect using the legitimacy provided by his royal position and his ties to Bishop Heiric to justify using something which is – sort of – Langres’ property to reward Hugh’s followers.
Whatever the reality, Hugh the Black was not going to hang around in Louis’ following too much longer, although in his defence, that’s not really his fault. Louis’ presence in Burgundy was in part because his support of the Lotharingian rebels had provoked a rebellion of his own in the north, a rebellion which his angry rival, the East Frankish king Otto the Great, was supporting. Shortly after this diploma was issued, Otto headed south and – in essence – absolutely merked Hugh. There was fighting around Troyes, and Otto forced Hugh to give him hostages and an oath not to harm the northern rebels. Hugh’s humiliation was capped when he was made to give Otto his own golden brooch (later donated to the abbey of Corvey). With Hugh’s absence, Louis lost his most powerful support. What would he do next?