Charter A Week 81: Pinning Down Status in Lotharingia

We’re going big this week, with no fewer than four [!] documents translated here. As often is the case in medieval history, such showboating reflects weakness rather than strength. In essence, I finished translating the first of these charters and realised I didn’t have much to say about it (the options for 957 were not terribly compelling and this was the best of a bad lot…). However, it is part of a complex of four charters, and these charters are quite interesting, so I thought, why not?

So, let’s start at the beginning. It’s summer 957 (or, perhaps more likely, 958), and a nobleman named Ragembald is ill. In fact, he’s dying. Ragembald is a big cheese in the western Saulnois (just south-east of Metz), and he has close ties with institutions in the area, notably Saint-Arnoul. With his only son having predeceased him, he decides to hand over (at least) two of his major estates to two important ecclesiastical institutions, Gorze and Saint-Arnoul de Metz:

Gorze, no. 106 (957 [recte 958?], Destry)

It befits the human intellect to think with a wise mind as much as it can, so that each might for the salvation of their soul solicitously be on guard so that the strict Judge might find no-one unprepared when He comes, and so that He does not find what He might damn, but rather what He might crown. That is, that everyone, while they remain in their own right of freedom, seek to exchange perpetual life in eternal tabernacles for fallen and transitory things, and make God their repayer, so that they might obtain a desirable place amidst the company of the just.

Indeed, I, Ragembald, son of Ragembald and Heriburgis, often turning this over in my mind, and because (as is written) the goods of the Church are the vows of the faithful, the patrimony of the poor and the price of sins, thought that I should give something from the goods conceded to me by my aforesaid parents to the part of the congregation of holy Gorze, so that I might both be able to receive pardon for my sins and so that on the day of the strict examination I might be able, standing more securely, to hear the desirable voice of the Lord saying ‘Come, ye blessed of my father, take up the kingdom’; and this I did. For indeed I gave through the hands of my followers living by Salic law, that is, Winemand and Wachin and Gerulf, my estate sited in the district and county of Saulnois, named Vertignécourt, with all its buildings and appendages, both in houses and in manses, churches, fields, meadows, vineyards, woods, orchards, estates, small estates, bondsmen of both types, pastures, fisheries, waters and watercourses, bridges, incomes and renders, mobile and immobile goods, and in everything which can be said and named pertaining to that curtilage, both from that conceded by my parents and from that acquired by me, so that, in the same manner as I gave the said allod to them, they might thus give and invest the part of the altar of St Peter, which is in the aforesaid monastery of Gorze, where also that venerable relic, to wit, the body of St Gorgonius, is held, and of whence Agenold of memorable sanctity is discerned to be abbot – on the condition, to wit, that as long as my wife Fredelind should live, she should possess the usufruct, having no pontificate [sic!] to diminish anything of them, but rather to increase, improve and restore; and each year, let her pay in vestiture for it, on the feast of St Gorgonius (which is the 5th ides of September [9th September]), a pound of silver. After her death, whenever God wishes it, let these things immediately and without any contradiction, with everything of theirs, revert to the right and rule of the abbot of the said congregation and to the prebend of the monks dwelling for God therein, and let them have such power over them as they do with the other things pertaining to their prebends.

If they are negligent or tardy in regard to this rent, and delay carrying out their legal obligations, let the same thing happen. I in addition beseech that the writing of this deed should be raised up in full court, and confirmed by the count, the scabini, and other God-fearing men. 

If anyone of my heirs might wish to rise up against this donation made by me, and try to infringe it, in the first place let them incur God’s wrath, and let them pay 100 pounds of gold and a thousand of silver to God’s holy Church, on whom they inflicted force, and let them be unable to vindicate their claim. 

Enacted in the estate of Destry, in full court, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 957, in the 15th indiction, in the 17th epact, in the 3rd concurrent, in the 21st year of the reign of Emperor Otto [the Great]. 

+ Count Theobert. These are the scabini: + Sigebert + Raginard + Hugh + Walter + Ribald + Warnard + Angebald + Liuzo + Aldric + another Walter + Robert + Adalbert + Fulmar + Otto. 

I, Adelard, an unworthy priest, wrote this on behalf of Chancellor Norman. 

Saint-Arnoul, no. 82 = ARTEM no. 212 (16th June 958, Destry)

Whoever, for love of God Almighty and the remedy of their souls, bestows anything from the goods and resources of their patrimony to places of the saints surrendered to divine worship in the name of pious devotion, believes not unfruitfully that this will (far from doubt) prosper for them many-fold, both in  help in present temporal matters and to gain the unfading goods of eternal happiness.

Whence let the magnificence of all of the faithful of the holy Church of God, that is, present and future, learn that I, Ragembald, born from a family of no meagre nobility, while falling into bodily weakness, concerned that I should labour over loss in the present life, thinking of the salvation of my soul so that I might be able to at least gain pardon for my sins from the ineffable mercy of the Lord on the day of His strict examination, I decided that, because (by judgement of divine equity) I have been deprived of children to whom I might relinquish them, I should, of my free will, offer much from those things which fell to me by hereditary right as a legitimate patrimony to the Lord (and His saints) from Whom I received them. Because, the body of my pious father, and my only son, and my other ancestors and relatives, are known to be buried by solemn custom in the basilica of the most holy confessor of Christ Arnulf, where I too, by assent of divine clemency, had the desire to be buried, I believed it was opportune and very convenient that I should bestow something from my resources on the same venerable place so that it might benefit both me and them in common, and thus with a very ready will I carried this out.

And thus, with the consultation of my most beloved wife, and also my friends, illustrious men, who are also guarantors of this donation, and with the confirmation of the faithful, I gave to the part of the same outstanding confessor and pontiff of Christ Arnulf, and to the table of the brother monks soldiering for the Lord therein, through the hands of the same guarantors, a certain allod of my property, falling to me legally by right of my father, named Morville, sited in the county of Saulnois, with all appendages and goods pertaining to it, that is, churches, bondsmen of both sexes, buildings, vineyards, woods, fields, meadows, pastures, waters and watercourses, mills, cultivated and uncultivated, mobile and immobile, just as my aforesaid father held in his lifetime; and whatever by my own devices I later justly and reasonably gained, I transfer it all inseparably and universally by the same condition and law into the right and power of that monastery and the monks serving therein, to be had, held, and most firmly possess in perpetuity, without contradiction from any person or power, that is, on the condition that my aforesaid wife might enjoy the usufruct henceforth during her lifetime only.

Let the brothers of the aforesaid place, keeping all this I have invested them with entirely at the present time in their own hand and rule, have them under their oversight and mundeburdum for all time; and after the death of my wife, let them all go into their uses with all accoutrements and without any retraction; and each year in her lifetime, on the feast of St Arnulf, let her pay 10 shillings in rent to his altar; and let this largess and donation, made by me of my own free will, be supported perpetually by a firm and stable corroboration, so that by the most pious intercession of the most blessed Arnulf and the assiduous supplication of the brothers, having gained pardon from God’s mercy, with those who (in accordance with the admonition of divine precepts) passed happily from the worldly to the heavenly, I might deserve to be given inestimable prizes in eternal tabernacles in the blessing of perpetual quiet.

Therefore, through the fearful name of divine majesty and the venerable merits of the saints, I call to witness, beseeching and firmly oath-swearing all who are to come, that no powerful person, worldly or churchly, nor any of my relatives, should presume to alienate this donation or confirmation either from the holy place or from the table of the brothers in any way, neither through benefice nor exchange nor precarial grant nor any trick.

If anyone should try to come against this, let them have the blessed Arnulf be a very strict accuser against them on the Day of Universal Judgement, with the wrath and harshness of God Almighty, with all the saints; and let them be completely unable to vindicate their claim. We also pray that the writing of this deed be read in full court, and be confirmed by the count, the scabini, and other God-fearing men.

Enacted in the estate of Destry, on the day of the 16th kalends of July [16th June], in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 958, in the reign of King Otto, in the realm of King Lothar, happily, in the 15th indiction.

+ Sign of Fredelind, wife of the same Ragembald +.

+ Count Theobert. + Winemand and Wahin, guarantors. + Count Odoacer. + Waldo. + Fulmar. + Folcuin. These are the scabini: + Sigebert. + Rainard. + Hugh. + Walter. + Ribald. + Warnard. + Angebald. + Liuzo. + Aldric. + Another Walter. + Robert. + Adalbert. + Otto.

I, Adelard, recognised this on behalf of Chancellor Norman.

The first thing to note here is that neither Saint-Arnoul nor Gorze seem to be the real motivating forces behind these documents. The role of the priest Adelard is important here. The document collections we have aren’t quite good enough that I’d want to die on this hill, but I don’t think he’s associated with either institution. We do see him again in another charter a couple of years later (which we will actually cover in a couple of weeks’ time), writing for Duke Frederick of Lotharingia, and I think he’s more likely to be a priest associated with a constellation of Upper Lotharingian nobles, including Count Theobert and the counts of Chaumont. This fits with the milieu in which we see Ragembald operating: he’s not terribly well-attested, at least as far as I know, but he can be seen witnessing a(n admittedly very suspicious) donation of Countess Eve of Chaumont to the abbey of Saint-Arnoul in 950.

This fits into the location of the donations, Destry. Charles West has looked at these documents, and said that although they seem very Carolingian, some things have nonetheless changed. I would actually be even more inclined to stress the continuities. This charter is witnessed by scabini at a mallus court. Destry itself was in the process of becoming the centre of a county (the earliest evidence is from 966, but isn’t exactly unimpeachable) by the latter part of the tenth century, but its role here as the home of a mallus fits neatly into Carolingian tradition, such as Richard the Justiciar holding courts at Longvic, or his ninth-century predecessors at Lux, or Fulk the Red at Amboise. I rather suspect that Destry became the centre of a county because it was one of these important ‘third places’. Certainly, we see here a fairly important set of sub-regional nobles in play. (The same charter which claims that Theobert was count of Destry also puts Odoacer as count of Sarrebourg, which is also odd, and I’m not sure how far to trust it.) In any case, what we’re looking here is a fairly straightforward donation of a man who was part of a sub-regional network of nobles to the major local institutions, with an added twist of personal tragedy.

Then there’s further developments:

Saint-Arnoul no. 83 = ARTEM no. 216 (16th August 967, Metz)

In the time of the venerable Abbot John in the monastery of Saint-Arnoul, it happened that men from an estate of the most illustrious man, the late Ragembald (which is called Morville, which he, in good hope for the remedy of his soul, transferred into the right and rule of the monastery from his hereditary right) asked the clemency of the aforesaid abbot in the matter of benefitting their necessities, that out of the munificence of his grace he might deign to institute for them that, because of what would be declared to them in the present sanction, from then and thereafter in future more service ought never be exacted from them in posterity, in order that they could rely on something certain in the face of any command to obey orders, by the custom of surrounding powers subjected to the uses of the Church, to wit, because that man, the most renowned Ragembald, had subjected them with the whole estate to the monastery on the same law and under the same dominion of service by which he had kept them during his lifetime.

The venerable Abbot John, referring this to the brothers of his congregation soldiering for the Lord with him, after the case had been attentively turned over amongst them for a long time, when nothing on their part seemed to block his advantage, decided it was not unworthy to assent to their request.

And thus, by the common consultation of the brothers, with too the legal counsel of the most renowned man Theobert, count of the palace, advocate of that monastery, with many faithful both from his rule and those who in some fashion were from the same place, with all of the people of that estate jointly agreeing and receiving with a grateful soul and confessing themselves pleased, the said Abbot John decreed, as far as he saw it was possible for them, by the custom of others remaining in the right of the monastery, to emancipate them from their former servitude by right of freedom, that is, that each of those who are known to have dwelled therein should each year pay an ounce of silver between the feast of St Arnulf and that of St Martin.

Besides, each manse should take one ensange in corvee, 2 days for each sowing, two days in the meadow, and seven nights for wagon-work (2 wagons are appointed for any sort of service); each should grind 5 pecks of any kind of grain; send two people to the vineyards; enclose 2 perches of the public manse and 4 perches on corvee, 4 perches in the vineyards; 3 chicken; 15 eggs; it should sell 8 pecks of wine in the public tavern. Regarding dependents, if they are outwith the estate, let a male pay 5 pennies and a female 1 chicken. Otherwise, let them have both the lands of their share and anything pertaining to them under the name and right of freedom, and let them hold and possess them freely.

So that this liberty of freedom might endure firm for them for all time in posterity from anyone who will succeed hereafter in the monastery, and as it has been bestowed and engaged upon by the common confirmation of the whole congregation, Abbot John, together with the others of the holy monastic order under him, wished this strengthening of its authority to be made for them, and they confirmed it by their signs and names and those of their followers in the place.

Enacted publicly at Metz, at the annual fair, on the day of the 17th kalends of September [16th August], in the 6th year of the empire of the most serene augustus Otto [the Great], and in the 7th year of the reign of the famous king, the younger Otto [II], in the 3rd year of the bishopric of the outstanding bishop lord Thierry [of Metz], with Frederick [of Lotharingia] as most illustrious duke, in the 10th indiction.

Sign of the most reverend abbot lord John. + Sign of Dean Warnard. + John the priest. + Allo the priest. + Gundin the priest. Sign of Amalfred the priest. Sign of Fredulf the priest. + Sign of Haimo the deacon. + Deacon Odo. + Deacon Rainard. + Deacon Radeco. + Deacon Martin. + Deacon Aimeric. + Deacon Dudo. + Subdeacon Constantius. + Sign of Theobert, count of the place. + Anselm the judge. + Odo. + Baldrad. + Ailard. + Gerard. Sign of Widric. Sign of William. Sign of Honrad. + Sign of Baseus. + Nevasus. + Theother. Sign of Amalric. Sign of Johm. Sign of Leutbert. Sign of Theotald. Sign of Bernulf. Sign of Herwin. Sign of Hermer. Sign of Fainulf. Sign of Otbert. Sign of Hildebrand. Sign of Hardrad.

John, chancellor and priest, although unworthy, wrote and subscribed.

The charter as it survives today, sourced from ARTEM as above.

In this charter and the next one, there’s a lot of technical language; and in this one in particular the prose is not exactly lucid. Admittedly, this one I was able to check against a pre-existing French translation; but if you see any mistakes in either please let me know!

Anyway, this charter is pretty interesting: since Ragembald gave Morville to Saint-Arnoul, there have apparently been disputes over exactly what the estate owes to the monks. A band of locals make petitions and – amazingly, perhaps, given some of the apocalyptic things which have been written about medieval aristocrats – the abbot decides to accept them. This means the peasants end up performing some dues which are, not quite token (I wouldn’t want to do them), but certainly not huge.

More interesting to me is the role of Ragembald’s memory and the original donation. Tempore Regimbaldi here serves much the same purpose as tempore regis Edwardi did in the Domesday Book: a kind of Year Zero, a point where things could be fixed. Ragembald’s donation serves as an ideological touchstone here, and we can note with some interest the role of Count Theobert. Theobert – called here ‘count of the palace’ rather than, say, ‘count of Destry’, which also suggests a kind of Carolingian continuity in his role – was a high-status witness of the original transaction, as well as a major figure within the home life of the abbey, and that was presumably a major part of his appeal to both parties. In a sense, Ragembald may have got what he wanted: his memory was undoubtedly being preserved, and on this very small scale his life came to define local chronology.

Things are slightly different in our final document:  

Gorze no. 116 (17th August 984, Gorze)

Ermenfred, by God’s grace humble abbot of the monastery of Gorze, to all those living piously under Christ’s empire.

Let it be known to all, present and future, that the people of the power of Bruoch, which was given to our patron St Gorgonius by Count Ragembald of pious memory to be possessed in perpetuity, asked Us full humbly that We might strengthen for them by Our authority the firmness of a privilege, in accordance with the law by which their predecessors served the king until the fisc was given to the aforesaid Ragembald.

We, considering a matter of this sort deeply and piously, judged it very unworthy to burden them in Our time with service greater than previously. Whence, with all Our brothers praising and suggesting it, it was pleasant to consult them on what service they carried out up until now under secular lords and Our holy predecessors, to wit, Agenald, John, Odalbert, and to confirm it for them hereafter for times to come with a most certain privilege, on the law and condition that, if anyone should be found guilty of lying and concealing any due service, their aforesaid petition should be completely annulled.

In any case, the service professed by them is seen to be adjoined below:

Each dependent owes 6 pennies on the feast of St Remigius, even if their son is free. Each year, each will observe the assembly, even they are accused, until their case is closed. Each will thresh within the power 2 pecks of straw and one of provisions. Each will send one reaper into the field. Each will carry out one day of sowing in the meadow and one in the field. Each will send 2 reapers into the meadow.

There are 21 manses and 3 quarters. From a half-manse, nothing is to be paid except from an ensange; a whole manse will bear 8 pecks of provisions, either 15 days before the feast of St Remigius or 15 days afterwards; and a half will bear a cartload of wine, and if they are commanded, let them sell one. If an indominical house or granary is destroyed, they will restore it with our carpenter. After Christmas, five manses owe 8 pennies in offerings; at Easter, 5 manses owe 2 chickens and 15 eggs. Seven of the manses pay 4 chickens and 30 eggs. In May, a whole manse owes 2 carts of wood. Five manses should carry out two perches of building-work wherever they are commanded within the power. A manse should pay 200 maniples of reeds on the feast of St John. They will thresh whatever grows in the ensanges and croads. In the croads, whatever should be given from our part: 2 pecks of provisions for bread and 6 for beer-making.

Enacted publicly at Gorze, on the day of the 16th kalends of September, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 984, in the 12th indiction, in the 15th epact, in the 3rd concurrent, after the death of Otto III and the assumption of the realm by Otto III; and in that same year, after Thierry died, Adalbero II received the episcopal throne of Metz.

In terms of its economic provisions, Gorze is here doing much the same thing Saint-Arnoul did twenty years earlier, confirming the rights of the peasants by reference to the past. In this case, Ragembald doesn’t get to stand alone. Instead, it turns out that Bruoch used to be fiscal land, and the monks of Gorze have to promise not to go beyond what the kings demanded. It’s a shame we don’t have Ragembald’s donation of Bruoch, because it would be interesting to see how the land’s royal past was reflected in a royal grant.

However, what I really want to ask here is: is this the same guy? You’ll note that Ragembald has, all of a sudden, been given a comital title which he didn’t have in his own documents or in the 967 Saint-Arnoul charter unquestionably referring to the same man. Is it just a different Ragembald? Well, perhaps. On one hand, a ‘Count Ragembald’ appears not just in this charter but also the dubious 966 charter I’ve mentioned a couple of times, a charter of 959 and a couple of charters from Bouxières from the years around 960. This suggests that they were different: the Ragembald of 957 is evidently seriously ill and has no surviving children. However, on the other hand, the cartulary of Saint-Arnoul records how Ragembald the Elder, count of Saulnois, and his son Ragembald the Younger, gave gifts to the abbey and were buried there (probably, one could construe the text differently). This seems to pretty clearly refer to the Morville charters, but notably the younger Ragembald was not given the comital title. What seems to me to be the most likely case, then, is that Count Ragembald is not the same man as the Ragembald of 957 (or else the Saint-Arnoul documents would presumably know about it), but that Count Ragembald is closely related to the man of 957, whether as a somewhat more distant relative or simply as the child of a political ally. We are certainly dealing here with a flexible comital title. The Ragembald of 957 seemingly came from a comital family, and his family’s legacy, whether directly or indirectly, could help the Count Ragembald of the 950s and 960s gain comital status; but Ragembald, for whatever reason, was apparently unable to claim it himself. For all that these charters purport to fix things in place, there’s a lot of fluidity underpinning them too.   


Charter A Week 80: Border Warfare in Auvergne

The idea of a ‘charter’ is a flexible one. My favourite example of this is a document from the church of Saint-Maturin de Larchant, which is half saint’s life and half property register and probably wouldn’t be counted as a ‘charter’ except for the fact that it’s a parchment single-sheet. Another case in point is this week’s document, from the archives of Fleury’s priory Perrecy, located about half-way between Autun and Mâcon. Perrecy has had a lot of interest from historians because it preserves some really interesting ninth-century documents, including what seem to be the traces of a lay archive; but it also has the following oddity, which has the remnants of a charter in it at one point, but is really more of a short sacred history:

Fleury no. 51 (late 950s)

In the time of Hugh the Great, and Lambert [of Chalon], count of the Allobroges, Letald the knight, uncle of Teduin of Sancerre, seeking Burgundy, committed himself to the aforesaid Lambert and to Bernard, that is, his relative. Having received their grace, they bestowed many goods upon him, from which he acquired certain others by his labour. Therefore, in their times, the men of Auvergne left their borders and entered Burgundy, and plundered the fields, and took everything, and thus went home. When they had already completed three return journeys, the report reached the Allobroges and disturbed some of the powerful among them, and incited Lambert and Bernard (by God’s gift always victor in battle), to battle.  

They came together, and took counsel with their gathered potentates as to what should be done in circumstances of such peril, and whom they should send to oppose such evil. Their unanimous opinion settled on Bernard and entreated he be made their leader. Lambert, joyfully assenting to their petitions, exhorted Bernard in these words: ‘As you see, most faithful follower of mine, great necessity urges us to stand against our enemies; but it befits us to first establish someone experienced who can lead our forces with distinction. For this reason, because your nobility in such matters has, by God’s gift, been often proven, we ask you to be the general of our forces and to help out with such a necessity’. Bernard said, ‘I give thanks to God, Who has led me back safe from such perils as often as has pleased Him; but up until now I have been greatly worn down by this, and my inner voice is currently not telling me to seek them out, having not been enriched by such labours.’ Lambert responded to this: ‘I know for sure that you have deserved much more than your nobility possesses, and for this reason you will not feel sorry for having worked in vain if you do not put off coming to help with such a necessity.’ Bernard spoke and responded: ‘I am not conniving to seek any advantage for what Your Highness asks – particularly since I know not what the Highest Majesty has decreed in this conflict – but if God’s usual clemency should make me victorious and unharmed, let your soul deliberate what it might worthily and in the very best way bestow’. Lambert promised this quite happily. Together they sought Perrecy, and approached Richard (who presided over the same place at that time), to defend themselves by grace of prayer. Having offered from his estates one manse in Curdin with a serf and meadows, vineyards, lands cultivated and uncultivated; and another with another serf in Gentiliaca Villa, in the place called Renosus, with meadows, vineyards, lands cultivated and uncultivated, and enjoyment of the wood, Bernard brought with him relics of the saints he had already used in some battles. 

Fortified (under God’s clemency) by such a defence, therefore, he met the enemies in the district of the Bourbonnais, and battle was joined over the estate of Chalmoux, and he slew them with such slaughter that the rivers were blocked up, losing no more than 15 of his own men, including the aforesaid Letald, Guy, and Arnald. Therefore, to fulfil his vow, having gained the victory, he returned home rejoicing with the aforesaid, bringing Letald to Perrecy. For the remedy of their souls, the aforesaid Lambert and Bernard both bestowed on the same place in perpetuity as a gift whatever they possessed from them or had bought from others from their estates: that is, one manse with an enclosure in the estate which is called Vicille Vigne, another in the place which is called Montceau (which the aforesaid Letald bought from Constable and from his heirs), with one field between La Creuse and La Goutte, which descends from Hill Bridge; another manse in the place called La Vaux, and half of Hill Bridge, and half of Taxeneriarus; and whatever Guy and Arnald acquired in L’Hessard, that is, one curtilage at Dear Place, one field with vineyards, lands cultivated and uncultivated, and woods, and whatever is there with renders and customs from everything, under such an injunction that whosoever might try to infringe or reclaim any of these which have been named should receive damnation with Judas the Betrayer, Annais and Caiphas, with the Devil and his angels in the eternal fire; and should pay 10 pounds of gold to them on whom he inflicted the quarrel, with the fisc confiscating, and his claim should be entirely frustrated. 

That this donation might endure firm and stable, relying on this guarantee, after witnesses have subscribed, we undersigned it. 

Lambert (☧), Bernard, Leotald (☧), Giso, David, Hilderic, Antus, Rainer, Deodatus, Budo.

The church of Perrecy as it exists today (source)

This is another document where the date it all happens is unclear, not least because it evidently takes place over the course of several years. The reference to Hugh the Great, who died in 956, puts our terminus ante quem in the mid-950s; but Lambert of Chalon (for it is he) only became count in around 959. With that said, Lambert, the son of Viscount Robert of Dijon, was still a prominent figure in southern Burgundian politics before Lothar handed Chalon over to him, and so c. 955-960 is a good time-frame for these events.

And these are pretty interesting events: fighting between royal allies (Lambert and co.) and Auvergnat raiders in the marches of the Auvergne and Mâconnais. This all fits into what we were discussing last time: the attempts by William Towhead of Poitiers to assert himself in eastern Aquitaine. The year 955 had largely frustrated him: he had been defeated outside Poitiers (although an attack on the city itself had been thwarted) and the archbishopric of Bourges had gone to Richard I, brother of Hugh the Great’s key ally Theobald the Trickster. By the years around 958, though, he was doing better, probably capturing Nevers. It is in this context that we can probably see the Auvergnat raids this charter refers to.

We have noted in prior posts that the Auvergnat elite in the latter 950s was divided, with one portion favouring William Towhead and one portion favouring Stephen of Clermont. In 956/957, Stephen had the upper hand (as we have seen in other charters on this blog) but William remained a contender and the raids of 958 and earlier years into Burgundy may have a surprising amount in common with viking raids. One of the standard explanations for viking raids is that they were expeditions to gain booty and political capital in order to pursue political objectives at home; and this may well be what’s happening here. (Not for nothing did Timothy Reuter say that ‘for most of Europe the Franks were the vikings’.)

However, raids into this area would have been particularly problematic for Lambert, whose powerbase seems to have been in precisely this border region, around the Charolais and Paray-le-Monial. I don’t think we have to see an actual civil war here. Lambert of Chalon and Abbot Richard of Fleury between them are a constellation of royal allies. But although (as we’ll cover later) Lothar certainly had a vested interest in keeping William down, this reads more like a primarily local affair, dictated by local interests and at best secondarily reaching towards a wider frame.

As such, the shafts of light this act shines on relations within an aristocratic entourage are quite interesting. Letald appears as a roving warrior, seeking employment based on family ties with an up-and-coming pair of leaders. (I have to confess I have no idea who Bernard is outside of this charter; he’s clearly important, but also subordinate to Lambert.) Lambert and Bernard evidently have a duty of care towards him even after his death. Lambert also apparently has a duty towards Bernard, but although Bernard acknowledges Lambert as his boss, he’s also apparently in a position to basically blackmail him for more stuff in situations of urgency. In fact, the transactional nature of the relationship reminds me of nothing so much as the Conventum of Hugh the Chiliarch; and like that text makes me wonder whether the relationship in question is purely transactional. Ultimately, I think not: the negotiations around Bernard’s appointment come in the context of an assembly of whoever the scribe is subsuming under the Classicising term ‘Allobroges’ (for my money, it probably would be something like ‘Southern Burgundians’), under Lambert’s leadership. What I think is happening is that this kind of (leader-based?) group membership is the stage setting in which this kind of negotiation can take place, and that the combination of intercutting regional and sub-regional groups and negotiable relations of fidelity within them are pretty basic for noble power at this time. (I also think this represents a bit of a change from the late ninth century, but that’s a story for another moment!)

Charter A Week 79: A New Aquitaine?

Last time we were in Aquitaine, Bishop Stephen II of Clermont was getting his local authority reinforced through a renewed connection to royalty. Yet there was a cloud on the horizons: the presence of William Towhead, count of Poitiers, on the Loire with him. William’s position in the first half of the 950s was difficult, not least because when Louis IV died Hugh the Great was able to exploit the new king, Lothar, to attack him. Nonetheless, William fought Hugh off, and even pushed eastwards to try and suborn an old royal ally:

CC no. 1.825 (June 955/shortly thereafter, Huillaux/Ennezat)

Since, in the laborious pilgrimage of this world, whilst it is yet allowed and whilst the time is right and the days of salvation are seen to be at hand, provision ought to be made with every fibre of one’s being that if we can do anything good we should put aside all delay and not hesitate to carry it out, making our debtors those whom we know truly to consult for the safety of the body in the present and whom we little doubt will be judges of our souls in future. Because after death we can do nothing good, we deem it worthwhile to give satisfaction to the Hidden Judge before we are led to that subtle and incomprehensible Judgement. We should not cease to wipe what we have negligently committed clean with the hand of penitence however we can in this brief life.  

Therefore I, Stephen, an unworthy sinner, and my wife named Ermengard, considering the enormity of our sins, and – which is more salubrious – delighting to hear the sweetest voice of our lord Jesus Christ, which says ‘Give alms and behold, everything will be clean unto you’, and also that which holy Scripture admonishes us, saying ‘the riches of a man are the redemption of his soul’, donate because of this exhortation and admonition something from the goods of our property to God and His holy apostles Peter and Paul at the place of Cluny, which the humble abbot lord Aimard is seen to preside over. The place is sited in the district of Mâconnais, and is consecrated in veneration of the blessed mother of God Mary, ever-virgin, and of the same apostles. These goods are sited in the county of Auvergne, in the bishopric of Autun: that is, the indominical curtilage which is called Huillaux with a chapel which is built in honour of the blessed mother of God Mary, where St Leotald rests in body. 

We make this donation on this condition: whilst we live, I, Stephen and my wife Ermengard, we should hold and possess it, and the rulers of the abovenamed place should hold the chapel in vestiture with everything which is seen to pertain to that chapel. After both of our deaths, we donate and wish to be donated in perpetuity to Lord God, as we have often already said, as much as is beholden or seen to be beholden to that curtilage or to that chapel which is built therein in its entirety, for the remedy of our souls, and for the remedy of the souls of our parents, and in addition for the salvation of the living and the rest of the dead, with serfs and freedmen, fields, meadows, vineyards, woods, waters and watercourses, mills, houses, buildings, with everything thereon, mobile and immobile goods, incomes and renders, cultivated and uncultivated lands, sought and to be sought, beholden or pertaining to that inheritance, as is ruled and possessed by us at the present time, so that the rulers of the said monastery and those serving God therein might, without interruption by anyone, firmly and solidly hold it always in perpetuity. 

If anyone, which we do not believe will come to pass, we ourselves (God forbid!) or anyone at all joined to us by kinship, a son or a daughter, a nephew, or anyone else at all, might against divine right become an invader or contradictor of this donation spontaneously made by Us, and endeavours to transfer the good named to God and entrusted to His saints into their uses, in the first place let them incur the wrath of God Almighty, Whose goods they have presumed to by rash daring, let them be bound by the chains of a terrible anathema, and unless they come to their senses, let them be subject to every curse, and let this donation endure firm. 

S. Stephen and his wife Ermengard. Heldin. Rainald. Robert. Caro. Warner. 

Enacted publicly at Huillaux. 

Boso wrote and gave this in the month of June, in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 952 [sic], in the 3rd indiction, in the 1st year of the reign of King Lothar, who commanded a precept be made about the same donation and signed it with his seal. 

At lord Stephen’s command, this charter was read in the court at Ennezat before the lord count William [Towhead], in the presence of lord Stephen [II], bishop of the Auvergne, on the day when the lords of the Auvergne gathered with the aforenamed count and commended themselves to him; and he had the male and female serfs who were not there to be written by name. These are their names: Bladald, who is vicar of that power, with his wife, named Ermentrude, and their sons and daughters, and another named Godin with his wife and their sons and daughters, and as well all the other serfs who are seen to pertain to the same power.

This charter was confirmed and corroborated in the same assembly, at the prayer of lord Stephen, who asked it to be made. S. lord Stephen, bishop of Auvergne, Count William, Viscount Robert [of Clermont], Abbot Robert [of Mozac], Girbern, Theotard, Stephen, Viscount Dalmatius [of Brioude], Heldin, William, Deodatus. 

The church at Ennezat as it exists today (source)

This document’s dating is all out of whack, which is an issue. We also have at least two different events being described here, and probably three: the giving of Stephen’s gift at Huillaux, Lothar’s confirmation of it, and the assembly at Ennezat. Ennezat definitely followed Huillaux, so the question becomes twofold: 1) when was Lothar’s diploma relatively; and 2) when did these events take place in absolute terms?

The second question is easiest to answer. The Ennezat assembly is almost certainly summer 955, and most historians will give you that date. In fact, they’ll normally tell you June 955; but the charter’s June dating probably attaches more properly to the Huillaux donation than to the Ennezat assembly. In any case, though, the latter probably followed shortly after the former. The main question then is when Lothar’s diploma was issued. Here, we have to confess that given that the charter as it currently survives is evidently a melange, it could really have been at any point in his reign. However, we do have to consider when, exactly, Lothar would have been interested in confirming Stephen and Ermengard’s donation. (I am here assuming that the diploma was specifically in regard to this donation rather than merely mentioning it as part of a general confirmation.) What I want to have happened is a first donation, perhaps in 952, which was then confirmed at Lothar’s coronation (we can surmise relatively easily that Stephen and Ermengard’s patron Stephen of Clermont was there). Realistically, though, there’s no particular reason to assume that the original donation was prior to the charter being written in 955, and – as we’ll see in upcoming weeks – the early 960s would provide a better point for that diploma to be issued.

This leaves us with the events of 955 themselves. If so, then this charter gains an interesting frisson. Much of the context for this act has been covered before on this blog long ago, but in fact there’s some crucial chronological nuance which means that picture needs a little revising. To summarise, William Towhead had been an ally of Louis IV, but ties had loosened after the late 940s. Then, when Louis died in 954, Hugh the Great took partial control of his young son Lothar’s regime, and was – according to Flodoard – ‘given’ Aquitaine by the king. This was a final attempt by Hugh to regain his position as uncontested second man in the kingdom, and I think it prompted something much like what Raymond Pons of Toulouse had done almost twenty years earlier. Unlike Raymond, William did not claim to be ‘duke of the Aquitanians’ – yet – but he did move into Auvergne, a place none of his ancestors had held any interest. We’ve seen before that William’s infringing on Stephen of Clermont’s territory was not without friction, and it also prompted Hugh to respond with the military attack on Poitiers we discussed in passing last time – according to Richer, William marched to Poitiers directly from Auvergne. William’s rejection of the authority of Hugh and Lothar basically failed. He kept Poitiers, but his authority in Auvergne became yet more precarious. However, William may have been down, but he was not out. The struggle for Aquitaine was just beginning.

Charter A Week 78: Meet the New Dux, Same as the Old Dux

With this Charter A Week, we enter a new age: as 2022 finishes, so too does the reign of Louis IV. Louis died young, aged only in his mid-thirties, in a hunting accident. One source remembered him as ‘having led his whole life full of troubles and strife’, and indeed his final year or so was somewhat anti-climactic. One of the reasons for this was that his patron Otto the Great was locked in the last major rebellion of his career, as his son Liudolf and son-in-law Conrad the Red allied with dissident elements to try and regain influence they perceived they were losing at court.

In the West Frankish kingdom, a combination of these difficulties and Louis’ death opened the door for Hugh the Great to make one last stab at becoming secundus a rege, second only to the king. In return for a promise not to make trouble, Hugh was allowed access to the new king, Lothar. Lothar’s main guardian was his mother, Queen Gerberga, with hefty input too from her brother, Otto the Great’s new point man in Lotharingia, Archbishop Bruno of Cologne. They decided that, to stabilise the first period of Lothar’s reign, it was worth giving Hugh access to the king to legitimise some of his pet projects. And so we get documents like:

D Lo no. 2 (954-955)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Lothar, with divine clemency propitious most excellent and most powerful king of the Franks of youthful age.

If (preserving the custom of kings) We confer any supplement on Our followers through a precept of Our defence, We hold most firmly that this will eternally benefit the increase of Our honour.

Wherefore We wish it to be known to the followers of God’s holy Church and of Us, to wit, present and future, that Hugh, duke of the Franks and nearly the most powerful man in the whole empire, and Gilbert, special count of Burgundy, the strongest knight of the aforenoted Hugh, and Count Theobald [the Trickster], Our follower extraordinary in everything, came and asked Our Highness and the dignity of Our Sublimity, strenuously beseeching that We might deign to have a precept of immunity made for Witlenc and his sons, to wit, Guy and Norduin, concerning certain goods of Saint-Beurry lying in the district of Burgundy. These goods are sited in the district of Burgundy, as We said, in the estate of Cheilly on the river Dheune, that is, 10 and 8 manses and half a church in the county of Beaune, with another entire church in the county of Chalon, named in honour of St Lupus, sited on the aforesaid river.

Lending the ears of Our Serenity to their petitions, preserving the custom of kings, We commanded this precept be made to the people spoken of, and (led by free-flowing piety) We confirmed it, on the condition that the said Witlenc and his two sons Guy and Narduin should have, hold and possess it in their lifetimes, and after the course of their lives it should all return to the aforesaid basilica of Saint-Beurry.

But that the writing of this precept might be held more firmly and creditably, and be more diligently conserved by all in future times, We confirmed it below with Our own hand and We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of Lothar, glorious king of the Franks.

Chancellor Guy witnessed on behalf of Artald [of Rheims], archbishop and archchancellor.

Enacted in the town of Paris, in the first year of the reign of the most glorious king Lothar, in the 13th indiction. 

This act, issued some time between the middle of 954 and the middle of 955, is more pointed than it looks. For one thing, its protagonists either are about to, or have just (probably the former), launched a military campaign on Poitiers. This campaign would not be a massive success: Lothar would acquit himself well (doubly well for someone only just pubescent) on the battlefield, but the siege of Poitiers was a failure and Hugh and his men retreated home ingloriously. (The embarrassment of the defeat was remembered at Sens decades later.)

To justify this war, we have Hugh the Great with titles as grandiloquent as they had been since the early years of Louis IV. ‘Nearly the most powerful man in the whole empire’! After decades of warfare, it was as close as Hugh could have come to validating the position he had always sought. Even more, the presence of Gilbert of Chalon, now Gilbert of Burgundy, indicates that a significant shift has taken place in the balance of power. Hugh the Black, duke of Burgundy, was dead. Gilbert had taken his place, but Gilbert was also deeply ensconced within Hugh’s network of allies: one of Gilbert’s only two children was married to Hugh’s son Otto and the other to Hugh’s nephew Robert. From being a counterbalance to the Robertians, it looked like Burgundy might swing fully into their camp. It is thus noteworthy that Burgundy is described as a ‘district’ (pagus) – usually some more prestigious word is used. The hint, I think, is that Burgundy has been reduced to a mere appendage of Hugh’s ducal power. How that situation would play out, we will see next year, as we dive into the long, poorly documented reign of Lothar.

Finally, a brief bit of housekeeping: with Christmas and the move back to the UK from Tübingen, my buffer has run low. As you future people of the year 2023 read this, I am writing it at the end of December 2022, about to leave for the US to finish our wedding celebrations. As such, I’m going to be taking a week off. Normal service (minus a bit of rejiggling to sort out the scheduling of Charter A Week) will resume with another post from Sam on the 12th.

Charter A Week 76: Rheims and Rheims of Kingship

Almost no-one, including Louis IV himself, was as strongly invested in the peace between the king and Hugh the Great than Archbishop Artald of Rheims. Because the story of the Rheims archbishopric isn’t prominent in charter evidence, we haven’t really covered it, but it was a crucial component of the cocktail of grievances which caused the thirty-year long civil war in the mid-tenth century. It all started with the death of Archbishop Heriveus and his replacement with Archbishop Seulf. Seulf needed the help of Heribert II of Vermandois to reclaim some land, and promised that Heribert’s son could succeed him as archbishop. However, Heribert’s son Hugh was only five when Seulf died, and when Heribert began fighting Ralph of Burgundy, Ralph took Rheims and imposed Artald as archbishop. During the nadir of Louis IV’s fortunes in the 940s, Artald was also deposed and Hugh reinstated; and then when Otto the Great reimposed Louis IV as king Artald was reimposed as archbishop alongside him. The years of division at Rheims, though, meant that the community was not exactly a stable place, and Artald took various steps to purge his political opponents. His consolidation of power, however, was closely tied to his Ottonian backing, and so in 952 Artald sent Abbot Hincmar of Rheims to Otto the Great to get an immunity for his East Frankish lands.

D O1, no. 156 (9th September 952, Bothfeld)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Otto, by concession of divine clemency king.

Let the industry of all Our followers, to wit present and future, know that Artald, archbishop of Rheims, restoring to the church of the blessed Remigius a certain abbey named Kusel, sited within the limits of Our realm, sent to the clemency of Our presence Hincmar, abbot of the same abbey of the blessed Remigius, asking and beseeching Our Clemency that because this land is contained within the rule of Our empire, We should confirm this bishop’s concession by a precept of Our authority. 

Clemently assenting to his embassy, and receiving the benign petition of Our duke Conrad [the Red] on this matter, for the remedy of Our soul We restore the aforesaid abbey of Kusel to the monks serving in that holy place under the Rule of St Benedict, to wit, in its entirety with estates, lands, places, woods and all adjacencies. To wit, We renew and confirmed to be restored by a decree of Our royal authority whatever is seen to pertain to that abbey in within the Vosges and in the district of Rosselgau in the county of Bliesgau, just as is known to have been given to him – that is, to the most blessed Remigius whilst he still lived – by King Clodomir, son of the first king of the Franks Clovis, and by other kings of the Franks, indeed Our ancestors. 

Whence We commanded this precept of Our corroboration on the matter to be made at the petition of the aforewritten Abbot Hincmar and the monks dwelling under his regime, through which We wish and sanction that in Our times and those of Our successors, the aforesaid goods should remain at the aforesaid place of the most holy Remigius inviolably with perpetual stability, and no-one should have licence to take away the same land, firmly conceded from the abundance of Our liberality to the aforesaid monastery in the manner written above; or usurp anything for themselves there anymore. 

And that this Our authority might gain most perfect firmness forever, and be more truly believed and diligently observed by everyone, We confirmed it belove with Our own hand and We commanded it be signed by the impression of Our signet. 

Sign of lord Otto, the most serene king.

Otbert the chancellor witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Archchaplain Bruno.

Given on the 5th ides of September, in the year of the Incarnation of our lord Jesus Christ 952, in the 10th indiction, in the 17th year of the reign of the most serene king Otto.

Enacted in the place Bothfeld, amen.

So far, so relatively straightforward. The church of Rheims had been concerned about these lands for some time – the historian Flodoard was involved in efforts to get them confirmed – and this diploma represented something of a triumph for the clerics. However, that there was more going on here than simply land management is shown by today’s second document:

D L4, no. 44 (27th March 953, Laon) = ARTEM no. 8 = D.Kar no.8.X

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Louis, by assent of divine clemency king of the Franks.

We wish it to be known to all of Our followers both present, to wit, and future, that the reverend Abbot Hincmar and the congregation of monks of the blessed father Remigius subordinated to him humbly asked Our Royal Highness that it might be pleased to concede and confirm by a decree of Our authority the immunities conceded by previous kings of the Franks to that sacred place concerning the goods which the church possesses by uncontested right. 

Freely proffering assent to this faithful vow, chiefly out of intimate devotion to that most blessed bishop who was specially granted by God as pastor and patron of Our royal bloodline, which through God’s grace he led to the Catholic faith, conceded to do what they asked, and simultaneously decided provide this necessity: that the monks living under the pastoral solicitude of a regular abbot therein should soldier for God without the disturbance of any perturbation freely and securely in a holy way of life, and should have something from the benefice of Our largess, for which they should worthily exhort God for Us and the safety of Our sons and the prosperity of Our realm. 

Therefore, as is the custom of kings and was often discerned to have been constituted by Our ancestors, We decreed by the authority of a royal command and in sanctioning established that, in the first place, the castle in which the most blessed pastor rests in body should be completely immune and established solely and freely under their rule, and that no-one should dare to exercise within the ambit of the same castle any judicial domination against their will, as preceding kings of the Franks establish in their privileges which We too renew and confirm by Our clemency; at the same time, let everything from the estate of that sacred abbey which the monks previously possessed with free firmness, or in addition that which was later added for the support of holy religion and the restoration of the place, that is, Crugny, and the estate which is called Bazancourt and as well other lands lying in divers parts, and also at the same time Kusel with everything within the Vosges and in the district of Rosselgau, in the county of Bliesgau, wholly pertaining to it, should be absolved and free from all exaction and toll and also provisioning and all exactions of revenue public and private from now and for all time. 

And that We might merit to find the blessed Remigius, Our most holy patron, as a helper on the tremendous examination of the final judgement, We think it is also congruous to add that (this decree of Our corroboration having been firmly established) that in every place everywhere inside or outside the limits of Our realm the monks are discerned to have and possess anything, no-one at all, neither king nor bishop nor count nor the thoughtless daring of any person, should presume to inflict any prejudice or any violence of unworthy oppression against what is right and proper in any of the land of their rule.

We benignly request those who will succeed Us in the realm of the Franks that, for the redemption of their souls, they should take care to improve this sacred place. If they do not do this, at least let none of them (lest they offend God, the king of kings, and gain eternal perdition for themselves) have – like a reckless and rash person – any license at all to take or diminish anything from any of their property.

But that this royal decree of Our immunity and constitution might endure through times to come and might receive truer firmness of belief from everyone, We commanded it be corroborated by the present assertion of Our hand and that of all Our followers, and confirmed below by being signed with the impression of Our signet. 

Odilo, notary of royal dignity, witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Archbishop Artald [of Rheims].

Enacted on the mount of Laon, on the 6th kalends of April, in the 11th indiction, in the 17th year of the reign of King Louis.

The original of the diploma, courtesy of Diplomata Karolinorum linked above.

Interesting, no? We spoke in a previous week about the new operam dantes formula used for charter prologues after 949; but Louis’ diplomas for Saint-Remi don’t use this formula, and it’s evidently because they are reflections of particularly Remois concerns. Those aren’t necessarily concrete, either. As we’ve just seen, Saint-Remi had already had these lands confirmed by the king whose kingdom they actually lay in, so Louis’ act can’t have been set up for primarily material ends. Instead, an analysis of the text of the act reveals the primary concern is ideological.

We start with the rhetorical linkage of Louis’ family with the see of Rheims. The ‘family’ in question is not Louis’ Carolingian dynasty, but Frankish kingship more widely. This act makes reference to St Remigius’ conversion of the Merovingian king Clovis to Christianity, placing the see’s most important saint as the key helper of Frankish royalty. Notably, this was a largely new development. The reigning queen Gerberga seems to have been unusually attached to Remigius by c. 950, and it’s possible that she felt that way earlier; but Louis himself, and his predecessors too, did not put much rhetorical weight on Remigius’ patronage. That it shows up now, in this document, is both a cause and an effect of the way that Louis’ kingship had become tangled up in the Rheims question. This act positions Remigius, and thus Rheims, as specially important to Frankish kingship; and Frankish kingship’s help to Rheims as a special royal prerogative.

But there is more. One of the uses of eliding the Carolingians and Merovingians is that you can extend the elision further, and this takes us back to Otto’s diploma. You may have noticed that Otto’s diploma also places him in the line of the Merovingians, going back to Clovis’ son Chlodomir. This must have been planned in advance by the Rheims clergy, because the effect is a triple bind. Otto and Louis are connected in these documents by a Frankish kingship imagined as one dynastic bloodline including the Merovingians, Carolingians, and Ottonians. Having been linked together, they are in turn linked to St Remigius because he is the special patron of Frankish kings. St Remigius means the see of Rheims, in turn meaning the position of Archbishop Artald. It’s a very neat bundling together of the new West Frankish regime after 948.

Most of the time when historians look at charters, they’re looking at expressions of, or attempts to create, support amongst beneficiaries of the charters by the actors. Here we have a mirror-image, and a fascinating one: an attempt by the nominal beneficiary of these diplomas to create a support network amongst the actors!  

Charter A Week 76: Charles Constantine in the Viennois Void

…so, erm, when I said that 948 was the last we’d see of Provence for a while, ‘a while’ in this instance turned out to mean ‘a bit over three weeks’. There are a couple of reasons for this U-turn: first, I wanted to go a little more into Louis IV’s 951 trip to Aquitaine that we spoke about last time; and second (it occurred to me as I sat down to write this), it might provide an interesting illustration of some of the ‘mandala polity’ stuff from last week. For those of you concerned about consistency in the one-year-per-week thing, incidentally, there will be a 952 act; but for reasons which will become clear in the next of these posts I’m covering it alongside the 953 charter.

With that out of the way, a brief reminder of what happened in 951. With peace in the north fragile, Louis went south to shore up his alliances in southern Burgundy and Aquitaine. Last time we looked at the Aquitanian side of this; this time, I want to talk a bit about Provence. The last time we met Count Charles Constantine of Vienne, son of Louis the Blind, he had been low-key compelled to submit to the Transjurane king Conrad the Pacific. Now, though, he went back to Louis IV and submitted to him. This was not a sham, either:

CC no. 1.797 (January 952)

It is clear to all reasonably considering it that the dispensation of God has looked out for certain rich men such that from the goods which are possessed in this passing world, if they use them well, they can earn prizes which endure forever. Divine speech shows this to be possibly, saying ‘The riches of a man are the redemption of his soul’, and also ‘give alms, and everything shall be made clean unto thee’. I, Count Charles, solicitously thinking of this, decided it was necessary that from the goods which have been, by Christ’s largess, bestowed on me in this world, I should impart a little bit for the improvement of my soul, so that – in accordance with Christ’s precept – I might make for myself friends of His poor, so that in future they might receive me in eternal tabernacles. 

Therefore, let it be known to all the faithful that I, the aforesaid Count Charles, donate something from the goods of my right, for love of God, to His holy apostles, that is, Peter and Paul, at the monastery of Cluny, in alms for the brothers dwelling there and assiduously serving them: that is, my allod and estate in the district of Viennois which is called Communay with its churches, one in honour of the blessed Lazarus, and the other in honour of St Peter; in addition with all appendages, to wit, vineyards, fields, meadows, woods, waters and watercourses, serfs of both sexes and all ages, incomes and renders, visited and unvisited, cultivated and uncultivated, in its entirety. 

I donate all this to God Almighty and His said holy apostles for the remedy of my soul and the salvation of the souls of my parents, and also of all my kinsmen, and finally for all the faithful of Christ, living and dead; on the condition, to wit, that as long as I live, I might hold and possess it and each year, on the feast of St Peter, I should pay 12 shillings in rent. After my death, though, let the rulers of the aforesaid place immediately receive it into their uses without any contradiction. 

If anyone, then, might endeavour to inflict a calumny against this donation, unless they make amends, let them be subjected to every curse. And let this charter of donation endure stable and undisturbed. 

Sign of Count Charles, who asked this donation be made and confirmed; of Count Leotald [of Mâcon], Narduin, Iter, Hugh, Rather.

Andrew wrote this. 

Given in the month of January, in the 16th year of the reign of King Louis, who commanded a precept be made concerning the same donation and signed it with his seal. 

That last line is interesting, isn’t it? Louis’ diploma doesn’t survive aside from this one mention. There are a few lines like this in Cluniac charters, and they’re key evidence for a proposition I hold dear to my heart: that absence of evidence for late Carolingian royal diplomas is far from being evidence of absence. The Cluniac archives, after all, are massive; and even here they don’t preserve everything. This has serious repercussions for our understandings of the sphere of action of West Frankish kings. Analysis of the mentions of non-surviving diplomas in Cluniac charters indicate that royal influence in the region was intense, and that Burgundy remained a royal heartland in the tenth century much as it had been in the ninth.

Charles Constantine himself, lest we forget, had history with Louis. Ten years earlier, when Louis had made his last support-seeking southern trip, Charles had received him in Vienne and given him his support. Now, Louis’ presence offered Charles a way to shore up his position against what I have argued was an unfriendly Transjurane court. Intriguingly, when Archbishop Sobbo of Vienne died in 949, he doesn’t seem to have been replaced. The next archbishop, Theobald, is traditionally assigned to the late 950s. (You know, whilst writing this post I was wondering if anyone had written on the archbishopric of Vienne between Sobbo and Theobald; and, hey, sometimes the system works!) Theobald’s Vita says that there was significant dissension between the clergy and laity of the region on Sobbo’s death; but Conrad the Pacific wasn’t able to intervene and ensure that a new bishop was appointed. Instead, there was stalemate. This strongly suggests that Conrad’s power in the Viennois was in fact weakened in the years around 950. Turning to Louis IV to shore up his position would have come naturally to a politician such as Charles Constantine whose power-base lay in the Trans-Ararian Fluidity Zone.

At this point, it occurred to me: this is another case where the ‘mandala polity’ model can come in handy. After all, what is the Fluidity Zone if not a region pulled in different directions by the ‘gravitational pull’ of multiple different realms? James C. Scott has discussed cases where such overlapping sovereignties cancelled each other out, and that seems to be what’s happening in the Viennois at this time. The Viennois, within the pull of the West Frankish kingdom and Transjurane Burgundy, ended up being functionally part of neither.

Charter A Week 75: New Peace, Old Tricks

In early 950, Louis IV and Hugh the Great finally agreed to an Ottonian-brokered peace deal. One of the effects of this was a de facto division of the West Frankish kingdom into spheres of Carolingian and Robertian influence. However, this peace was fragile. Part of the reason was that Louis’ and Hugh’s subordinates were not necessarily compliant: they had their own personal interests, and a peace between their masters did not always affect their behaviour. Flodoard, for instance, tells us that in 950 both one of Louis’ subordinates (Ragenold of Roucy) and one of Hugh’s (Theobald the Trickster) infringed the peace deal. Notably, whereas Louis persuaded Ragenold to step back, Hugh was unable to do the same with Theobald. Louis responded by rattling sabres, displaying public support for Hugh’s enemy Arnulf the Great of Flanders and – going back to his strategies of the 940s – seeking to strengthen his alliances in the south.

In 951, Louis set out for Aquitaine. As we’ve seen in previous weeks, there were reasons to think he’d find a good reception there. Bishop Stephen of Clermont, the big cheese of the Auvergne, had probably been appointed by Louis, and had certainly backed him over Hugh when Louis was imprisoned in 945. However, this doesn’t appear to have translated into concrete support in the key years of the late 940s, and it makes sense that Louis would have wanted to renegotiate his relationship with central Aquitaine. Moreover, a little before 951, Stephen had reorientated his strategies of legitimacy:

CC no. 1.792 (c. 950)

In the name of Lord God Eternal.

Stephen, by grace of the Holy Spirit bishop of Auvergne.

If it can be done, I want it to be known to all Christ’s followers in common how I and my father Robert and his wife Hildegard endeavoured to summon to the place which is called Sauxillanges the abbot named Aimard from the monastery of Cluny, who delegated monks therein to build up the same place in accordance with the Rule, both for the salvation of our souls and also for the remedy of Count Acfred [II of Aquitaine], who bestowed that allod on God Almighty, of whom my same father was also an almsman; and for the soul of William [the Pious], the first and greatest duke; and as well for the younger William [the Younger], and for the rest of all our relatives, and all the Christian faithful living and dead, such that they might busy themselves to offer prayers to God Almighty there. 

Therefore, we established concerning this matter that from this day forth for all time the same place should be held and disposed and ordained, with God’s help, legally and in accordance with the Rule by the aforesaid abbot and after his death by his successors and by the monks of Cluny.

If, perchance, anyone is displeased that we have so ordained the goods which were given to God Almighty (as is written in the aforesaid place’s charter), they should remember that Lord Jesus gave His Church, which He deigned to call His bride, and which He bought with his own and precious blood, to the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, commanding not merely once but also twice and three times that he should nourish this flock. And thus, because of this, we prohibit and call to witness in God and through God and through Lord Jesus that no prince, no bishop succeeding me in this episcopal office, nor any invader should presume to prey upon, devastate, or diminish the goods of this place, nor exact any service or dues from the power of this place with any trickeryor ordain anything unjustly using episcopal authority as an excuse, nor exercise dominion over anything by the power of his situation.  

Witnesses: Stephen, bishop of the Auvergne. Viscountess Hildegard. Bishop Otgar [unknown see, probably southern Aquitanian]. Viscount Robert [of Clermont]. Viscount Eustorgius. Stephen, abbot of Mozac. Abbot Robert [of Mozat]. Gilbert. William. Hector. Godo. Andrald. Albion. Desiderius. Hugh. Eliseus. Bernard. Roger. Prior Bernard. Keymaster Stephen. Archdeacon Deodatus. Stephen son of Theotard. Theotard. Eldin. Another Eldin. Gulfer. 

Stephen, like a number of central Aquitanian elites in the first part of the tenth century, kept alive the memory of the Guillelmid dukes, and Sauxillanges became a lieu de memoire par excellence, even if Acfred II wouldn’t have appreciated it. In fact, subordinating Sauxillanges to Cluny would have particularly galled him… In any case, though, this charter shows Stephen and his family, the viscounts of Clermont, putting Sauxillanges into a Cluniac orbit. My best reading of this is that it was an act of ideological reconciliation: with Ralph of Burgundy out of the way, the two halves of the Guillelmid monastic legacy could finally team up, and Stephen and his family, who – as you can see here – claimed to follow in Guillelmid footsteps, could present a past of central Aquitanian regional hegemony where troubles had been smoothed over.

In 951, Louis showed up with an army, evidently expecting trouble. However, the major magnates of Aquitaine – Charles Constantine of Vienne (on whom more next time), William Towhead of Poitiers, and Stephen II of Clermont – appeared and submitted to him. There were several meetings. Stephen’s submission took place, significantly, at Pouilly-sur-Loire, a traditional meeting place for meetings between Aquitanian magnates and West Frankish kings going back to the ninth century. The only surviving documentary evidence for this is the following charter:

D L4 no. 37 = CC no. 1.763 = ARTEM no. 1604 = D.Kar VIII.8 (3rd February 951, Pouilly-sur-Loire)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Louis, by propitiation of divine mercy king of the Franks.

If in giving work to divine worship We endeavour to raise God’s Church to the highest state of holy religion, We use royal custom and the privileges of Our predecessors.

Wherefore let the skill of all the faithful of the holy Church of God both present and future know that the venerable Bishop Stephen [II] of Auvergne, approaching Our Presence, reverently asked that We might deign to confer by a precept of Our Regality certain goods, the same goods which the late Count Acfred [II of Aquitaine] bestowed on God and His saints from the right of his property in the district of Auvergne for the remedy of his soul and that of his relatives to build up the Rule of St Benedict there, for the monastery of Cluny and its abbot, and this We did. 

Whence We commanded this decree of Our Highness to be made and given to Aimard, abbot of the aforesaid monastery, through which the same abbot and his successors might perpetually hold the aforesaid goods in their entirety just as is contained in the charter of the aforesaid Count Acfred, disturbed by no-one.

And that this emolument of Our authority might be inviolably conserved through the course of times to come, confirming it below with Our own hand, We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of lord Louis, the most glorious king.

Odilo the notary re-read and underwrote on behalf of Archbishop Artald [of Rheims].

Enacted at the estate of Pouilly-sur-Loire, on the 3rd nones of February [3rd February], in the 6th indiction, in the 15th year of the reign of the glorious King Louis. 

The original diploma (source linked above).

Whilst this diploma is significant, it is also straightforward. Despite everything which had happened over the years, despite the many shocks the realm had undergone since the foundation of Sauxillanges in 927, the fundamental dynamic of early medieval kingship had changed little. Stephen of Clermont led a regional aristocratic group, to which he gave Louis access; in return, Louis legitimised Stephen’s position at the head of that group. Way back in my original series of posts on Aquitaine, I noted how important this royal connection was to Stephen, and this was a key link in the chain, next to 945 and 962. This significance came down to the place itself: as Stephen stood in Pouilly, where Aquitanian rulers from Charles the Child to Bernard Plantevelue had met their West Frankish overlords, he must have felt the symbolic resonances empowering his rule. However, Stephen was not there alone. Probably at Pouilly with him was William Towhead, count of Poitiers. The Poitevin counts did not normally come that far east, and one wonders how many plans occurred to William along the journey…

Charter A Week 74: Sobbo and Charlieu

More on Burgundy! We did some of this last week, I know. However, the Cluniac archives are such a rich source that it’s hard not to succumb to the temptation to highlight some of the gems they contain. Moreover, the historiographical emphasis on the north-east as both a hub for royal power and, more generally, the cockpit of the West Frankish kingdom is so prevailing; and the historical importance of Burgundy so significant, that it’s really important to emphasise and re-emphasise the point. Burgundian support was key to West Frankish rulers from Charles the Bald onwards, and despite how fragmentary our evidence is, it’s clear that it remained so into the tenth century. As a case in point, this charter:

CC no. 1.730 (c. 950) 

Unless it is defeated either by love of an eternal homeland or frightened off by the terror of future judgement, the insatiable greed of this world is – far from doubt – in no way able to extinguish misery; it happens for this reason that people do not fear to transfer not only the goods of the poor, but also churchly goods, into their own uses. I, Sobbo the sinner, confess myself to have done this. But returning now to my right mind, and considering the most exacting judgment of divine reproach, I wish and desire that both the sublimity of princes and the priestly dignity and also the generality of everyone should know that until now I unjustly kept hold of the abbey of Charlieu, and I render myself culpable thereby. The same place was the inheritance of the late Robert, bishop of Valence, who build a monastery there, and took care to solemnly dedicate it in honour of the blessed martyrs Stephen, Felix, Fortunatus and Achilles, and delegated brothers to live there in accordance with the Rule. Once his praiseworthy vow had been put into effect, he did not neglect to give it over to the holy Roman church, to that it might endure under the perpetual tutelage of the same.

Later, lord Odo [of Cluny], whose memory is fittingly celebrated with praise, through King Hugh [of Arles], by the ordination of apostolic authority, obtained through a privilege that the aforesaid place be bestowed on the monastery of Cluny; the most glorious King Louis [IV] as well deigned to confirm it by a precept of his regality.

Therefore, overcome by such authorities, breaking asunder the bridle of greed, I restored and surrendered the aforesaid abbey in its entirety to lord Aimard, venerable abbot of the abbey of Cluny, for the remedy of my soul, and cast myself out from there forever. To destroy all calumnies, I prayed the testament of this notice of restoration be made, through which let the said abbot and his successors perpetually possess the aforesaid place, hold it as their own, and ordain it legally and in accordance with the Rule.

If any of my heirs, or anyone else, might presume to calumniate this testament, let them be subject to every curse unless they quickly come to their senses.

Sobbo. Maimbod, bishop of the holy church of Mâcon. Guy, bishop of Soissons. Gibuin, bishop of Autun [recte Châlons]. Anskeric, son of Sobbo. Roland. Bernard. Guy. Walo. Prior Humbert. Aimoin. Abbot Robert. Ragenold [of Roucy], count of Rheims. Hugh. Odalric. Theodoric. Ingobrand. Richer. Aimo. Stephen. Aldin. Bernard. Otard.

In the reign of King Louis.

Charlieu today (source)

A small thing to start with: there was a protracted (and frankly interminable) debate amongst older scholarship as to whether Ragenold of Roucy was count of Roucy or count of Rheims. Personally, I don’t think his comital status derived from specific comital office at all – Flodoard says pretty explicitly that it derived from his Königsnahe and whatever administrative jurisdiction he possessed was probably irrelevant to it – but this charter is decent evidence that he did have lay jurisdiction at Rheims. It’s not perfect evidence, though – this is an eleventh-century copy that gets other things wrong (Bishop Gibuin’s see, for example), and we’ve seen in the pastthat later scribes were not averse to giving people erroneous titles based on what held true in their own day.

Regardless of that, if last time we saw Burgundians communicating with the royal court, here we can see a fairly hefty delegation of northerners going south. We don’t know exactly when this happened (beyond ‘around 950’), but it’s evidence of continuing and ongoing ties between Burgundy and West Frankish kingship. Particularly interesting is the reference to a royal precept referring to Charlieu. This is one of the Chevrigny diplomas we saw a few weeks ago, and it’s therefore intriguing that we have this private charter later and separately. I think what’s happening here is that, both practically and symbolically, Louis’ delegation is confirming this transaction now that the king is out of Hugh the Great’s thumb. As that specific diploma was also the one granting to Cluny property pertaining to Saint-Martin of Tours, I wonder if we might not also be seeing a kind of show of force in front of Sobbo, reminding him who’s boss?

On a bigger picture, despite the fact that by now Conrad the Pacific was fully set up in Provence, this is yet another occasion where the Trans-Ararian Fluidity Zone is in effect! Sobbo refers to precepts from both Louis and Hugh of Arles, and although the abbey is in the Mâconnais it was founded by the bishop of Valence; and Sobbo himself probably has kinship ties to several archbishops of Lyon and Vienne. There’s a bit of a parallel between this and the Lotharingian networks we were looking at last week: whatever the nominal borders were, cross-border networks were really important for actual on-the-ground politics.

Charter A Week 73: A New Beginning

Not one but two charters for you today! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, after Louis IV’s imprisonment in 946, Otto the Great came to help his brother-in-law, and the tide turned in Louis’ favour. By 949, it was clear that Louis was going to win the war – or, rather, that Otto was, as the East Frankish king’s interests weighed heavily in the balance. However, Louis’ own authority was substantially repaired, and we can see that in our documentary evidence, including both of today’s documents. Our first comes from the north-east, from a very small abbey called Homblières that I wrote about in one of my very first articles. The backstory here is that the materially poor community also had a holiness problem. Most of the time monks replace nuns, the nuns’ character is slandered by the community which replaced them to justify the replacement. At Homblières, the opposite is true: the new abbot, Berner, wrote hagiographical works lauding his predecessor Abbess Bertha, trying to establish that Homblières always had been a holy centre of true religion – which strongly suggests that, in this case, it was perceived as genuinely problematic by some of its neighbours. Anyway, we have a community of badly behaving nuns – what now?

D L4, no. 32 (1st October 949, Rheims)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Louis, by God’s grace king of the Franks.

If, by paying attention to divine worship, We endeavour to raise the Church of God to the highest state of holy religion, We use royal right and the privileges of Our progenitors.

Wherefore, let the skill of all the followers of the holy Church of God both present and future know that, approaching the presence, Count Albert [the Pious of Vermandois] of famous character, along with the noble man Eilbert [of Florennes] and his wife Hersind, suppliantly entreating Our Munificence that Our Clemency might deign to hep a certain little place sited in the district of Vermandois, which is vulgarly called Homblières, where the most sacred bride of Christ Hunegund awaits the day of blessed remuneration, because certain nuns were not living entirely honourable therein and, being unwilling to be subject to the governance of the Rule, were removed therefrom, and monks were put in their place who would obey the Rule and an abbot, because, with the assent of Our authority, the aforesaid Elibert restored the aforesaid abbey to his lord the count, that is, Albert, and the same count bestowed the same on Our rule, to wit, on the condition that We might command it be defended by a precept of Our authority in such a way that, without any diminution at all, and without any subjection to anywhere else, it might remain conceded to a regular abbot inviolably and in perpetuity.

Therefore, by the favour of Our wife [Queen Gerberga] and the venerable Archbishop Artald [of Rheims], with Bishops Guy [of Soissons] and Gibuin [of Châlons] and the most splendid Abbot Hincmar [of Saint-Remi de Rheims] and the monks of the same congregation, and Counts Albert (the aforesaid) and Ragenold [of Roucy], and by the prayers and praises of all Our followers who were present, We decreed it be so done. With the counsel of all of them, We established that the said abbey in its entirety should be held in perpetuity by a regular abbot for the observation of the Rule in the same place.

And that this emolument of Our authority might be conserved inviolably through the course of times to come, confirming it below with Our hand We commanded it be corroborated by Our seal.

Seal of lord Louis, most glorious king of the Franks.

Odilo the notary witnessed on behalf of Artald, archbishop and high chancellor.

Enacted at the city of Rheims in the monastery of Saint-Remi, on the kalends of October, in the 6th indiction, in the 14th year of the reign of the glorious King Louis, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 948 [sic]. 

There’s a lot going on here. Albert the Pious is a significant figure to show up at this time. He was a son of Heribert II of Vermandois, one of Hugh the Great’s nephews, and in 949 he had jumped ship to Louis’ side. As we saw back in 946, the Heribertians were key allies of Hugh the Great, so Albert’s loss was emblematic of the significant blows his cause was suffering. Albert’s place amongst Louis’ supporters is validated here by the presence of a coterie of people who were now Louis’ main supporters in the north-east: Artald of Rheims (on whom more in a couple of months), Guy of Soissons, and the young Gibuin of Châlons, probably not older than his early twenties and at the start of fifty years of being a major prop of the Carolingian regime. (The main missing figure here is Louis’ half-brother Roric, formerly a royal notary but recently installed as bishop of Laon.) We also have Ragenold of Roucy, now one of Louis’ key lay followers, who at this time also probably became Albert’s brother-in-law: Ragenold was married to one of Gerberga’s daughters and likely at this time Albert married another.

Some of the little left of the abbey of Homblières (source)

Yet purely material concerns aren’t the only thing happening in this document. The arenga there, which I think of as following the operam dantes formula after the opening words, is a new development which is significant. This arenga would be used in almost all Louis’ acts until the end of his reign. It coincides with the emergence of this new court circle and the renewed importance of Queen Gerberga and her Lotharingian and Lotharingian-facing allies. The sentiment of the arenga, emphasising the need for Church reform and the specifically royal privilege and duty to carry it out, spoke to this new circle and suggested a new, or at least newly emphasised, basis for royal authority (again, we’ll come back to this when we talk about Rheims in 953).

The north-east wasn’t the only important place, though. Our second diploma comes from Burgundy:

D L4 no. 33 (10th November 949, Autun)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Louis, by propitiation of divine clemency king of the Franks.

We wish it to be known to all of the faithful of the holy Church of God that, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 949, when the lofty margrave Hugh [the Black], son of Richard [the Justiciar], Our follower, and Count Gilbert [of Burgundy], and the magnates of the realm of Burgundy had convened in the city of Autun to deliberate over the holy Church of God and to deal with the utility of the realm, amongst other things, Hildebod, bishop of Chalon, and the monks of Cluny, made a complaint concerning the failure of religion at the monastery of Saint-Martin [d’Autun], sited in the suburbs of the same city, which was once special with all religion and honour, but is now completely deprived of the status of its dignity and the patronage of an abbot. Therefore, whilst they were seeking in turn a person on whom this salubrious burden could be imposed, the monks of the same place stood by with a privilege of Pope Gregory, asking that, as is contained in the same document, the election might be conceded to them. This was conceded, and they unanimously elected one of their own, named Humbert, whom they brought with them not many days later, that is, on the feast of St Philibert, and presented to the same princes. Rejoicing in their choice, and proffering assent to their petitions, they committed the aforesaid abbey in its entirety on Our behalf to the same Humbert.

But because the same place should be given by the king’s hand, the aforesaid man approached the presence of Our Highness as quickly as he could. Whence, on account of the intervention of Our wife, and with the leading men of Our realm, to wit, Archbishop Artald [of Rheims], Bishops Gozlin [of Toul] and Achard [of Langres], and the venerable Abbot Hincmar [of Saint-Remi] and Counts Ragenold [of Roucy], Bernard and Theodoric standing by and approving with Our other followers, for the remedy of Our soul and Our progenitors, We conceded the same place to him for the repair of religion.

Wherefore, We ordered a precept of Our Highness to be made and given to the aforesaid Abbot Humbert, through which he might hold the aforesaid abbey with the cell which is called Anzy-le-Duc and all its appendages in accordance with the Rule.

And that this concession of Our authority might be conserved inviolably, confirming it below with Our own hand, We commanded it be corroborated by the image of Our signet.

Sign of lord Louis, the most glorious king.

Odilo the notary witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Bishop and High Chancellor Artald.

Given in the city of Autun, on the 4th ides of November, in the 7th indiction, in the 14th year of the reign of the glorious King Louis. 

The diplomatic of this document is peculiar, and appears to have been formed out of a mash-up of a synodal document and a royal diploma per se. There’s no reason to doubt its authenticity, despite how weird it is: what I suspect happened is that Abbot Humbert bought the synodal document and it was just copied wholesale by the royal scribe (although it’s quite possible that this is a later mash-up of two separate but still genuine documents).

Anyway, second verse same as the first: we see here once again the importance of sponsoring monastic reform to Louis’ re-established authority; and we also get another sense of that new court circle. Counts Bernard and Theodoric’s spheres of influence are unknown, but were probably in the forested regions to the east of Rheims, on the West Frankish-Lotharingian border. Ragenold of Roucy we’ve already met. Gozlin of Toul – Charles the Simple’s old notary – is a particularly interesting case, and his presence illustrates the importance of Lotharingians to Louis’ new regime. With Louis now acting as (in essence) Otto’s underking, there was a kind of merging of the West Frankish and Lotharingian kingdoms at the highest level after a 940s where the two realms looked in different directions. Finally, as always, we have the Burgundians. Achard of Langres’ presence is a major indicator of how important this see was – in fact, Achard’s predecessor Heiric had acted as Louis’ archchancellor in the past. Overall, though, the importance of Burgundy to West Frankish royal power at this time can’t be understated, and definitely shouldn’t be minimised – and we’ll see more of this next week.

Charter A Week 72: Manasses of Arles

Another short one this week, as I’ve discussed the background to this one extensively in a previous post. Just to give a little bit of context, though: in 947, Hugh of Arles, king of Italy and overlord of southern Provence died. Provence had already been in a political vacuum since the death of Louis the Blind in 928, and this further disrupted the balance of power. Who would take better advantage of the situation: Louis IV or Conrad the Pacific? The machinations which took place are invisible to historians, but there are tantalising hints. Hints such as:

CC 1.726 (September 948)

While one lives in the difficult pilgrimage of this world, since it is permitted during this time and whilst an acceptable time and the days of salvation are seen to be imminent, the highest care should be taken that, if we can do any good, putting aside all delay, we should not hesitate to act in making our debtors those whom we truly know and little doubt look after the safety of bodies in the present and will be judges of the soul in future. Because, indeed, we can do no good after death, we believe that before we are led to that subtle judgement beyond understanding, to satisfy the hidden Judge, we should not cease to cleanse with the work of prayers and the hand of penitence in this brief life however we can what we have negligent committed.

Therefore I, the unworthy archbishop Manasses, considering the enormity of my sins, and, which is more salubrious, adoring the sweetest voice of our lord Jesus Christ, who said ‘give alms and behold, the whole world shall be made clean unto thee’; ‘store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt’, and ‘the riches of a man are the redemption of his soul, give and transfer wholly and entirely in perpetuity these which are my goods which lie in the county of Chalon, which fell to me from paternal inheritance, which my father [Count] Warner [of Troyes] possessed by right of dominion, to God Almighty and St Mary mother of God and as well His holy apostles, to wit Peter and Paul; and I ultimately entrust this deed to the monastery of Cluny and establish it as preceptor and vicar, so that from this day and hereafter lord abbot Aimard, who now, by God’s assent, administers the governance of the aforesaid abbey with pious rule, and all his successors, might rule and ordain and dispose the same goods for all time as pleases them in God’s service. This place, indeed, is consecrated in honour of God and in veneration of the blessed Mary ever-virgin and the same apostles, and is sited in the district of the Mâconnais. These goods are, as already mentioned above, sited in the county of Chalon, in the vicariate of Buxy, that is, Jully, with all its appurtenances pertaining to it, that is, a church consecrated in honour of St Maurice and a church of the holy mother of God Mary, and of St John, and also another of St Martin, in their entirety, as was written above, with male and female serfs and all buildings, vineyards, meadows, fields, woods, pastures, waters, mills, incomes and renders, orchards, cultivated and uncultivated lands, sought and to be sought, I donate and wish to be donated in perpetuity to Lord God, for the remedy of my soul and also for the soul of my father and my mother Teutberga, and my brothers, that is, Hugh and Richard and also Boso and all my other relatives, and in addition for the salvation of the living and the rest of all the dead, so that the rulers of the said monastery and those serving God there might without any challenge always hold them firmly and solidly in perpetuity.

If, though, anyone (God forbid!), I myself or any person, might endeavour to inflict any calumny against this donation, let them be subject to every curse, unless they come to make amends.

Sign of Manasses, who commanded this donation be made. S. Gunther. Airard, humble bishop of the holy see of Avignon, confirmed. S. Countess Bertha. Abbot Warner. Lambert. Odilo. Pons. Ado. Warmund. Ragembert. Archembert. Rostagnus. Boniface. Hildegar. Madalgaud. Arnulf. Hugh.

Given in the month of September, in the 13th year of Louis, king of the Franks.

Ralph the levite wrote this.

This cannot have been a private party. Hugh of Arles’ niece Countess Bertha (wife of Raymond III of Toulouse) and the bishop of Avignon are a delegation if ever there was one. Manasses must have spoken to Conrad, and probably to Hugh the Black as well. At the time, moreover (and we’ll see more of this next time), Louis was also talking a lot to Hugh. Something must have been going on – but, as I said in the original post, it’s really not clear what.

This is the last we’ll see of Provence for a while, so it’s worth giving a little epilogue. After the late 940s, Louis IV and, eventually, Lothar lost all control of northern Provence, and the whole kingdom minus the east bank of the Rhône passed under the sway of Conrad the Pacific. It would remain part of the Transjurane kingdom until there wasn’t a Transjurane kingdom anymore – but that’s a story for much, much later.