Charter A Week 62: How to Improve the Rental Market (with Very, Very Powerful Friends)

Some time ago, I was asked to contribute a chapter to a volume on land leasing practices in the early Middle Ages, and as part of that I went through the evidence from Burgundy. This week’s charter is something which had somehow escaped me the previous times I had looked through the Autun cartulary, but is nonetheless extremely cool:

Autun Eglise no. 31 (9th January 938, Autun)

In the name of Lord God eternal and our saviour Jesus Christ.

We, the congregation of the famous witness of Christ Nazarius, wish it to be known to all the sons and followers, to wit of this our holy mother church of Autun, both present and future, that Enguerrand, a honourable and dear vassal of Count Gilbert [of Burgundy] very often beat at the hearts of our piety that We might deign to confirm to him a certain portion of our property pertaining to the table of the brothers in the written form of a precarial grant. These goods, to wit, are sited in the county of Beaune, in the estate of Bouilland, to wit, three cultivated manses and five uncultivated pertaining to the fisc of Bligny-sur-Ouche.

Yet because this said man could not bring this to pass by his prayers, he brought with him the aforesaid count and in addition lord Hildebod, whom we once raised from the cradle and who was recently made, by God’s ordinance, bishop of Chalon.

Overcome by their prayers, in the end we began to open to him the bosom of humanity, and thus we ordered a writing of this common decree be made to him, in which we decree and confirm that the said Enguerrand and his wife Wandalmodis might hold and possess the aforesaid goods in their lifetime, on the condition that each year on the mass of St Nazarius they should render two shillings in cash to the table of the brothers. In return for this matter, the same man gave to our part his whole allod which he acquired in the same estate from Alo, brother of the late Archpriest Odilard, through instruments of charters, restoring to us these charters and all his acquisitions and additionally adding nine charters from the side of him and his wife.

But that all this should endure undisturbed through times to come, We commanded it be strengthened worthily below by our own hands via the subscription of names.

Enacted publicly at Autun, happily in the Lord, amen.

Rotmund, [bishop] of the holy church of Autun, proffered assent and subscribed this writing. The humble archdeacon Gerard subscribed. Bishop Hildebod subscribed this decree. The humble archdeacon Theobert subscribed. The humble dean Bernard subscribed. The humble prior Radald subscribed. The humble archpriest Emile subscribed. Archpriest Idgrin subscribed. Heriveus the levite subscribed. Sign of Arlegius. The humble precentor Aidoard subscribed. The humble Odalmand subscribed. Sign of Wandric.

I, Lambert, wrote and subscribed.

Girbald, the humble minister of this work related and subscribed.

Given on the 5th ides of January [9th January], in the second year of the reign of King Louis.

So, you can see my interest in this re: land-lease practices. My main argument for that article is that precariae, leases, are fundamentally worked out on a social, rather than economic level. You can see, for instance, wildly divergent rents for roughly similar lands which are presumably based not on the land’s actual worth but on the social environment the leases are made in. Here, it’s much more direct. Be he never so honourable and dear a vassal, Enguerrand couldn’t get anything from the canons of Autun, so he brought out the big guns. For whatever reason, he was in tight with Gilbert of Burgundy, count of Chalon, whom we have met recently as a follower of Hugh the Black and the newly minted bishop of Chalon Hildebod. With them applying pressure, he was able to get the land he wanted – clearly not an economic problem, but a social one. Enguerrand the vassal couldn’t get what he wanted, but Enguerrand the socially connected guy could.

If you want more on that, then the chapter is out soon enough and you can read it (or, given it’s in German, send me an email for the English version if you’d like); but re-reading it now, something else springs to mind. We saw in 936 that Hugh the Black wasn’t necessarily on good terms with Rotmund of Autun, perhaps because Rotmund had sided with Louis IV and Hugh the Great in 936. I wonder if perhaps Rotmund and the canons are being leaned on by Gilbert and Hildebod because the situation has changed: there’s no chance that Hugh the Great, at least, is going to end up in Burgundy again in the foreseeable future, which gives his opponents carte blanche to extort his old allies for favours? By autumn 938, Hugh the Black was allied to Louis IV – one almost wonders if that was in the works in such a way that royal backing could play a part, but January of that year is probably a bit early. Nonetheless, what we have here is, at the very least, a really interesting insight into how you could leverage social ties to get favours; and perhaps, an unexpected glimpse into high politics.

Charter A Week 61: Gosh, This Seems Very Polite

It did not take very long after Hugh the Great screwed Louis IV over in Burgundy for the king to decide that letting his former uncle-by-marriage monopolise him so thoroughly wasn’t going well. Early in 937, he (as Flodoard put it) ‘separated himself from Hugh’s oversight’. Hugh responded by mending fences with his brother-in-law Heribert II of Vermandois. There was clearly tension in the air. However, the march into outright warfare was much slower than it’s often portrayed. As a case in point, here’s a diploma Louis issued at the same time as the break:

D L4 no. 5 (1st February 937, Laon)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Louis, by grace of God king.

We are completely confident that whatever We strive to effect with the eagerness of good zeal for love of God and reverence of His saints will benefit Us in more easily obtaining the eternal glory of being blessed and happily passing through the present life.

Therefore, let the skill of all the followers of the holy Church of God and of Us both present and also future know that Our illustrious followers, Count Hugh and Bishop Walter of Paris and Viscount Teudo [of Paris], approaching the presence of Our Serenity, humbly asked that We might renew and confirm by a precept of Our authority the rental contracts of the church of Saint-Pierre [i.e. Saint-Merri], in which St Mederic rests in body, which Count Adalard and Abbo the vassal made, which the most glorious kings Carloman [II] and Odo corroborated in precepts. And so, it pleased Our Highness to acquiesce to their most salubrious requests, and so We commanded a precept of Our Loftiness on this matter be made and given to John and his mother Alberada and her son, named Walter, through which We order and command that both the above-named persons, that is, Alberada and her two sons John and Walter, and their successors might possess in their uses, for all time, and without any diminution, the little abbey of the aforesaid church of Saint-Pierre and the most precious confessor of Christ Mederic, where are beholden 20 little manses in the estate of Linas, similarly 20 little manses in la Grand-Vivier, 3 manses in Morvilliers, 6 manses in Ivry-sur-Seine; 4 manses where there are 20 arpents of vines on Monsivry and 20 arpents of meadow on the Seine; 2 manses in Belleville where there are 4 arpents; and similarly 20 arpents of vineyard in Morgevalle; 6 bonniers and 6 perches of land below Montmartre; 6 arpents of meadow above the estate of Nigeon; and 4 arpents of vineyard at Vémars, which pertain to the bondsmen of the same church; 12 bonniers of land around the church itself, and at the aforesaid bonniers six where there are threshing-floors; then again at Montmartre 2 arpents of land with a little field; 3 manses at L’Hay; two and a half arpents of vineyard at Thermes; and 4 arpents of meadow in the place which is called ‘Cow’s Head’; 1 manse in Drancy: all this, in the advantages of the said church. Nor should any judicial power henceforth receive toll, nor water-toll, nor fodrum or rivage nor also freight-charge.

But that this precept of Our authority might in God’s name obtain inviolable vigour in perpetuity, We confirmed it below with Our own hand and We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of the most glorious king Louis.

Gerard the chancellor witnessed on behalf of Archbishop Artald.

Enacted at Clavate Laon, on the kalends of February [1st February], in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 936, in the 5th indiction, in the 1st year of the most glorious King Louis.


Saint-Merri as it look in the seventeenth century (source)

 So, what’s going on here? Well, first of all we’ve got a bevy of Robertian allies showing up at the royal court. The identity of Count Hugh is unclear. Lauer, who edited the diploma, thought it was Hugh the Great himself. If so, that’s a pretty big downgrade in status for a man who, in the last diploma he was in, was literally called one step below the king. It could, however, be Count Hugh II of Maine, in which case this become simply a high-powered delegation from Hugh the Great rather than the man himself.

The timing and location is important here. Part of the way that Louis emancipated himself from Hugh the Great was by inviting his mother Eadgifu to come and join him at Laon. I said above that this was early in the year. What that means is that if this diploma wasn’t issued whilst Eadgifu was there – and I would argue that the sense of the timings we get from Flodoard mean that in all probability it was – she must have been on the way and the Robertians must have known about it.

This diploma, it seems to me, thus represents a kind of olive branch, a way of trying to show Hugh that even without having his yoke on Louis’ neck his interests would still be looked after. Note, for instance, the citation of Hugh’s uncle Odo as a ‘most glorious king’. Louis’ actions here show a young man trying to control how much of a breach his actions are actually going to cause.

It quite reminds me of Zwentibald in 898. As I’ve written elsewhere, in that year the Lotharingian king was forced by a combination of circumstances and his well-meaning but not entirely competent-to-decide father to abandon his chief supporter Reginar Long-Neck in favour of reconciling with a bunch of Upper Lotharingian aristocrats, including Archbishop Ratbod of Trier. We have two copies of the same diploma stripping Reginar of the abbey of Sint-Servaas in Maastricht. I’ve commented before on how the one produced by the church of Trier is vindictive and uncompromising; but that produced by the royal court is much more hesitant, perhaps hoping that a reconciliation with Reginar is still possible. Zwentibald and Louis are trying similar strategies and, I have to say, it didn’t work amazingly for either of them. Zwentibald’s fate we have spoken about on this blog before. Louis had a bit more success, but the forces propelling him and Hugh into conflict were bigger than just the two of them – we’ll hear more about this quarrel again.

Charter A Week 60: Two Responses to the Accession of Louis IV

This is, I promise, the last time I’ll mention the issues of finding charters to translate for the last years of Ralph of Burgundy, but it’s really noticeable how much the accession of Louis IV changes the evidential picture. This is actually the fifth post I’ve written over the years covering the events of 936, and it’s a twofer. That’s right, I couldn’t decide between two charters and so I’ve done both. What links them is that both are responding to Louis’ accession in different ways. The salient point here is that, as we’ve covered before, once Louis was crowned his main backer Hugh the Great took him into Burgundy to try and claim as much of it as possible. You see, Ralph’s brother Hugh the Black, whose powerbase was really more in Transjurane Burgundy, was also trying to do the same thing. We’ve seen before some of the tactics Louis and Hugh the Great tried to use to outbid Hugh the Black for regional support, but we’ve never looked at it from the other side. This brings us to our first charter – one of the most elaborate surviving in Hugh the Black’s name – issued just after the successful conclusion of Louis’ campaign.

ASSA no. 7 (1st September 936, Autun).

In the name of Lord God Eternal and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Hugh, humble count and margrave.

We wish to make it known to the faithful of the holy Church of God, present and future, but chiefly those before whose presence it should happen that this charter of this Our largess should come, that, when We approached the parts of Autunois for a certain necessary reason and entered the hall of the outstanding martyr St Symphorian to pray, and were awaiting the coming of Our followers there for a little while, there came into the presence of Our view Count Gilbert [of Chalon], Count Alberic [of Mâcon] and his son Leotald, and Our follower Adso, intimating to Our Sublimity that the abbot and prior of that place, Teudo, and the whole multitude of canons dwelling under him were suppliantly asking for some gift for Our commemoration in future; and that the place now seemed to be like it was brought to nothing due to the poverty, need, and want of the canons serving there.

We, then, wishing to obey their advice, for love of God and St Symphorian, and in alms for Our father Richard [the Justiciar] and Adelaide, and as well for the remedy of Our soul, restore and give certain manses of land to the stipends of the brothers serving the church of Saint-Symphorien: to wit, in the county of Beaune, twelve manses of land of fruitful vines in the estate which is called Nolay; and in the same district, in another place, eight-and-a-half manses in the estate of Créancey pertaining to the estate of Panthier which a certain matron named Drosia once gave to Saint-Symphorien.

Moreover, Our said followers beseeched that We might concede to them a charter concerning this gift of Our largess to be held in posterity. And thus We commanded a testament of this Our assent to be made, a decree of which We decreed, and in decreeing We urge that the aforesaid manses of land, with everything pertaining to them, visited and unvisited, should endure perpetually assigned and eternally deputed to the uses of the brothers and canons of Saint-Symphorien, and that they should unceasingly exhort the Lord and St Symphorian for Our life and safety; and, when the time comes and the end of Our life, let them, moved by mercy and led by piety, not neglect to commemorate the day of Our death, sustained by the aforesaid goods.

May peace and blessings, long life and joy, honour, praise and glory without any end come to those who conserve this Our decree; but to those who destroy it, may their part be anathema maranatha, be written with Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, and may they be thought of with Dathan and Abiron whom the Earth swallowed alive, subject to an endless curse.

And that this charter of Our largess might in the name of God grasp fuller firmness, We confirmed it with a touch and We asked it be confirmed by Our followers written herein.

Enacted at Autun, happily in the Lord, amen.

Sign of Count Hugh. Sign of Count Gilbert. Sign of Count Alberic. Sign of Adso. Sign of Humfrid. Sign of Viscount Robert [of Dijon]. Sign of Humbert. Sign of Witlenc. Sign of Manfred. Sign of Hugh. Sign of Leotald.

Given on the first day of the month of September, in the …th indiction, in the first year of the reign of King Louis.

I, Boso, chaplain of Saint-Symphorien, wrote and gave this.

As you can see right at the end there, by this point Hugh has recognised Louis as king, so this is probably after the division of Burgundy into spheres of influence. Partly, in fact, the charter seems to be asserting spheres of influence. As we’ve seen before, the big bone of division was over Langres. The end result of the fighting seems to have been to split the diocese of Langres in two, leaving the south under Hugh’s direct influence. The estates he confirms here are significant, therefore: they are in the county of Beaune, but the north of it (specifically, Créancey the northernmost of the two estates, is in Auxois). This is an assertion of power: Louis might have cut him out of Langres, but Hugh can still reach pretty far north.

With that said, it’s unlikely that any division cut Hugh off from his support. What we can see here, I think, is very much his established following and I don’t think that a charter from, say, July 936 would have had a witness list that looks very different. The biggest petitioners are Alberic of Mâcon and Gilbert of Chalon. Alberic is an old hand here: in addition to being count of Mâcon, he’s also count of Besançon, another significant Transjurane player and someone who has been allied to Hugh for a good long while now. The bond between Hugh and Gilbert is a little less obvious, but nonetheless present. Gilbert was a major figure in Ralph’s Burgundy and with a power-base mostly around Chalon, another important southern figure. The final titled person here, Viscount Robert of Dijon, supports the idea that the north/south split was a de facto division as much as anything else. And, of course, on the southern front, this is all taking place in Autun – although, you’ll note, without Bishop Rotmund being present. If he had (as I’ve suggested) had his coat turned by Hugh the Great and Louis, maybe he was persona non grata that winter?

Our second charter takes us to a familiar place and a familiar response. We’ve seen before that Hugh of Arles was a bit worried about all of this. He wasn’t the only one.

Brioude no. 337 (28th August 936, Brioude)

The Commander of everything good and the Lover of human salvation, Who gave himself for our redemption, has deigned to look out for us such that we can buy eternal prizes from the transitory goods which we will leave behind after a short time when death interrupts us. Wherefore it is greatly expedient that we should endeavour to entrust if not all then part of the doomed goods which we secure by His grant to His service, so that (that is) when the others are used up in the usages of this life, we might rejoice that what we gave to Him will remain with us forever.

Therefore, let everyone, both present and future, who will take their place in the congregation of the most blessed martyr Julian at Brioude, that I, Cunebert, levite and prior of the aforesaid congregation, at the exhortation and with the consent, to wit, of lord Hector, our dean, and all the canons of our said congregation of all ages, hand over a certain possession named Chanteuges in honour of our Saviour and the holy martyrs, to wit, in the first place the said lord Julian and another Julian, nicknamed ‘of Antioch’, and Saturninus, churches of the two of whom have been built therein, for this end: that hereafter a monastic way of life might exist therein. My grandfather Claudius, himself a convert, wished to make this possession a canonical congregation, as did his wife; she managed her other part with holy nuns, and because she was overtaken by death she left the aforesaid possession to me by right of a testament, so that after her death it should remain with St Julian at the abbey of Brioude.

However, since I and our abovesaid Dean Hector and all the brothers spoke frequently of the perils of this life and as well the tremendous trail of the Final Judgement, at length we all came to this consensus: that we should hand over the aforesaid place to a stricter way of life, that is, of monks, for our common salvation; and because charity already grows cold, since iniquity overflows all around and the order of things is soon overthrown such that we are unable to change our way of life to the canonical institution, at least it should benefit us before the Lord if we sustain from our rights those who might live according to the Rule, particularly fearing this, that for the honour of our lord Julian much should be given by us in alms lest it should happen that the Judge of All should impute to us that prophecy and hold us to have eaten up the sins of the people.

Both Prince Raymond [Pons] of the Aquitanians, and our abbot and viscount Dalmatius [I of Brioude] and certainly our bishop Arnald [of Clermont] and also the excellent men of this region, to wit, Bertrand and Viscount Robert [of Clermont] and the younger Robert and Eustorgius, and certain other provincials, consented to this decree in order that they would not be seen to rejoice half-heartedly, abjuring, indeed, their successors, in the name of God and the aforesaid holy martyrs, and chiefly indeed the most holy lord Marcellinus, bishop of Embrun, whose most holy body (with many other relics of the saints) were at the present time, by God’s gift, received in that place, that each of them in his time should defend this our constitution as much as possible, and that they should never endure that it be infringed.

Let this offering be first for our congregation, both living and dead; and then for our king and lords and our abovesaid princes, as well as for our kinsmen and intimates. After that – just all of us members of the church are held in one binding of charity, thus let it profit all of the faithful, so that we might be able to share in the good of each; then let this offering be, truly, for the soul of Duke William [the Pious] and his nephews William [the Younger] and Acfred, and for the soul of Claudius – to wit, my grandfather – and the other deceased; otherwise, let it be specially for all of those who offered defence or solace to this place and its inhabitants.

If anyone, God forbid, should contradict this Our ordination, or try to change this we have decreed to injure us and St Marcellinus and the aforesaid holy martyrs, not only let them be deprived of this reward, but also, unless they correct themselves, let them incur the crime of a reckless person and persecutor before Christ’s tribunal; and beholding their own damnation, let them be immersed in the inferno by the Devil with Judas, betrayer of the Lord.

We also communally decree that we should commit the case and execution of this matter to the venerable lord abbot Odo [of Cluny]; and because he is occupied with many other things, therefore we delegate the business of the aforesaid matter to the most reverend man lord abbot Arnulf to be carried out. Let the monks, with their abbot, lead a life entirely according to the Rule as it was handed down by the blessed Benedict. After the death of the present abbot, moreover, let them make another for themselves not in accordance with the ordination of anyone else, but in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict; and let them and all their goods be free and absolved from all dominion of any person.

Therefore we entrust to the service of God and the holy Rule, absolved in every way, the aforesaid place of Chanteuges, sited on one side on the river Allier and on the other on the river Desges, with two churches, as we said, with other woods, meadows, waters, mills, all their adjacencies, cultivated and uncultivated, currently known and to be discovered; with another wood, that is, named Bourleyre. This place is in the district of Auvergne, in the county of Brioude, in the vicariate of the same estate. We also give to that place, in another place, the estate which is called Vaunat with all its adjacencies; and in another place, one double manse, called Benac, in its entirety; in that aich, two manses, of which one is called Bonnavat, in its entirety; and in the vicariate of Nonette, in the estate which is called Collanges, and in that aich, two manses called Combrunas, and in that vicariate, in the estate which is named Sauciat, as much in these estates as we are seen to have and possess, we cede wholly there with all its adjacencies. And I, Cunebert, for the honour of God our Saviour and the most holy Marcellinus and other saints whose merits are venerated there by all, cede to that place something from the goods of my property which fell to me through acquisition and inheritance legitimately; that is, in the estate called Paredon, three manses, with all their adjacencies, and in that aich, in the estate called Rivacus, two manses with appendages, with a garden and an indominical meadow; and in another place called Vaillac, three manses in their entirety, as much in those said estates as I am seen to have and possess; and in another place which is called Cros, as much there as I acquired from Ainard, and will be able to acquire both in land and in vineyards.

I give, transfer and give over this wholly and entirely to God, as was written above, the Saviour, and Saint Marcellinus; but, because the said place was bestowed from the dominion of Saint-Julien, as the case is being enacted for spiritual reasons, thus we ordered that spiritual rent should be rendered for the sake of recognising possession (nothing to men); to wit, that they should on ordinary days pay two psalms for the living and the office for the dead in each of the Regular hours. Indeed, our congregation holds a privilege, conceded anciently, that is, from the time of King Pippin, that whatever we might communally decree concerning the goods of our church should endure entirely undisturbed and inviolable. Therefore we pray and call to witness through the Lord and in the Lord and through all His saints, that no king at all, nor any bishop, nor any viscount, nor (as was said above) any person at all might presume to disturb this our constitution, fearing the divine warning which says ‘‘Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark’, and he who consents, and let him deserve blessings who consents to good.’

Sign of Cunebert, prior and levite, who asked this constitution to be made and confirmed. Sign of Raymond, duke of the Aquitanians, whose other name, by God’s will, is Pons. Sign of Bishop Godeschalk [of le Puy]. Sign of Viscount Dalmatius. Sign of Ingelberga. Sign of Dalmatius [II of Brioude], his son. Sign of Bertrand. Sign of Stephen. Sign of Viscount Robert. Sign of Bertelaicus. Sign of Eustorgius. Sign of Bernard. Sign of Wirald. Sign of Rodrand.

The authority of this testament given on the fifth kalends of September [28th August], in the first year of the reign of lord king Louis, in the basilica of the nourishing martyr Julian, before the altar of Saint Stephen.

I’ve actually spoken about the politics behind this one before so I can be shorter here than with the above. There are two main arguments here. First, Raymond Pons of Toulouse is never otherwise seen this far north. This is probably a show of force to rally support: with Ralph dead, the settlement of affairs in Auvergne which he oversaw and which we’ve discussed in passing in a couple of previous Charter A Weeks was potentially vulnerable. This meant that Raymond’s loose suzerainty could be challenged – but it could also be reinforced. Hence his presence here alongside the great and the good, reminding them of his claims and his power. Second, the claim to be ‘duke of the Aquitanians’ is new. Such a claim must be a response to Hugh the Great’s claim to be ‘duke of the Franks’, a denial of Hugh’s authority over Raymond and a claim that his status is equal. Even more, it may well be a warning to Hugh not to try anything in Aquitaine.

Hugh didn’t try anything in Aquitaine, but he did in Burgundy. Details are scanty, but it seems he cut a separate deal with Hugh the Black, leaving Louis IV out of the loop. Why he did this is unknown, and it appears to involve a change in his intentions since summer 936 (so much for Good Guy Hugh, past me…) but it’s the first sign of some really serious tensions between Hugh the Great and Louis. Next time on Charter A Week, we’ll look for a sign of some more…

Charter A Week 59: Intercession for the Dead

Most of the time when choosing material for Charter A Week, I’m dealing with stuff I already know. After all, I’ve been working with this material for a decade by now – I know what is and isn’t important, and I’ve already got scratch translations of basically all of it. As we limp towards the end of the reign of Ralph of Burgundy, however, the options I knew about were so uninspiring that I went a-searching elsewhere. Specifically, I had a look at the Regesta Imperii for the tenth-century papacy. And there, I found something rather curious: two letters, which once upon a time I had skimmed and dismissed in the cartulary of the Dijon abbey of Saint-Bénigne as mid-eleventh century, redated to the 930s. The reason behind the redating is simple enough: despite the first letter being in the name of ‘Abbot H.’, suggesting the eleventh-century Abbot Halinard, the second letter says that the ‘duke of the Romans’ to whom it is addressed has the same name as the abbot writing it. This is not true of Halinard, but it is true of the tenth-century Abbot Alberic, who shared his name with the lay ruler of Rome Alberic. The text itself is evidently corrupt at points – the Saint-Bénigne text is gibberish in one spot, so I actually went to the cartulary, which is digitised, to see what it said and, yep, it’s gibberish there too. An older version printed by Mabillon has different readings in places – I don’t know the source, he just says it’s ex nostris schedis, which I think means ‘from my notes’ – but these actually make sense so I have followed them where necessary to produce something comprehensible. Anyway, the point is it’s a lot easier to see how an A might become an H than to see how someone would confuse the names ‘Halinard’ and ‘Alberic’, so I’m quite happy to follow the Regesta here. This is doubly so because these letters are still pretty interesting. With that said, a lot of their interest comes from what they show about diplomacy and city planning, so I’m going to need to channel my inner Ottewill-Soulsby… 

Saint-Bénigne 325 (c. 930-935)

To the holy lord and teacher of the whole world, that is, the universal Pope John [XI], [Alberic], humble abbot of the power of Saint-Bénigne, with the entire congregation, sends the faithful service of holy prayers.

It is not hidden from the whole world that the pastor of the Roman church performs their duties on behalf of the Apostle, so that what he establishes concerning the ecclesiastical order should endure fixed and stable and inviolable forever. Therefore, it is worthy for one who resolves problems that he should have with him always a philosophy of civic virtue, to wit, good judgement, so that he to whom the power over churches has been given should not ignorantly establish because of malicious rumours what, when he knows true antiquity, he should not have any doubts about destroying.

We say this, father, to come before your presence, because it was brought to Our notice that the canons [of Saint-Étienne de Dijon] who neighbour Us, desiring to take away monastic honour, wanted to seek the highness of your authority so that, after gaining permission from you, they could transfer our cemetery into the castle for themselves. You should know, however, that those who wish to change the ancient establishment of the Fathers seek not what is God’s but what is their own. Therefore, We ask in God’s name that you do not concede this; and We will fittingly hold a memory of service.

 Saint-Benigne 326

To the most illustrious lord, chamberlain of the sacred palace, first senator and sole duke of the Romans [Alberic], an abbot holding his same name [Alberic of Saint-Bénigne], sends the service of continual fidelity.

Distance between places can never separate those whom a true connection of charity joins together. For this reason, let it be known to Your Highness that although I am far away in body, nonetheless I am always near you in mind and spirit, and not only me myself, but also my fellow brothers sedulously serving St Benignus, and indeed our lord himself as well, and we cherish your salvation in all prosperity with holy prayers; in the present world, you will have me – who is not unmindful of your good deeds – in your service in the next case as long as I live. Otherwise, because We confide many things in you, whatever should happen to Us, We confidently disclose and request that if any of Our neighbouring rivals should want to plot anything before the lord Pope against Our place, you (as well as you can) should prohibit it from being done.

We don’t ask for anything unjust; instead, We wish that the ancient law of Our place to be safe concerning the graveyard which they unjustly want to move. This was known to you, but will become better known shortly. If you take good care of it, you will cause us to remember you.

[The blessed pope Gregory says that the soul of anyone whose body is buried within the city walls will wander for all time. And in another place it is said that it is not permitted to bury the dead within the city walls, because we read and known that the Lord both suffered and was buried outside the city; similarly St Stephen and many others; and for this reason the holy fathers forbade any cemetery from being made within the walls of a city or a castle. We ought to follow Christ, indeed, in everything.]

(The bit in square brackets, for the record, was included in the Saint-Bénigne cartulary text and clearly relates to the same thing; but it’s on a separate page of the manuscript and I don’t think it was originally part of the letter as sent to Alberic in Rome.) 


The manuscript in question, BM Dijon 591, fol. 62r (source)

I was actually tempted to try and do a parody of Sam’s writing style, but as I’m doing this on the morning I’ve registered (successfully, thank the Lord) at the Tübingen Auslanderamt, which involved both an early morning appointment and little sleep the night before, I’ll spare you and me. Anyway, the fundamental reason that the abbot of Saint-Bénigne is so opposed to moving the graveyard isn’t stated here, but is likely to be, in the most direct sense, the burial fees the abbey would have received for disposing of the dead. More broadly, the home of a family’s dead could expect to have a privileged relationship with that family. We know this most obviously from royal and comital necropoli, such as Saint-Denis. Losing the dead may well have meant losing that relationship. Even worse, from the point of view of the abbey of Saint-Bénigne, was losing it to the collegiate church of Saint-Étienne. A good long while ago now, we looked at the activities of Archdeacon Rather of Langres, prior of Saint-Étienne, who had tried to defraud Saint-Bénigne of a church they owned, something which rankled years on after he did it. It’s a reasonable presumption that there as a rivalry between the two institutions which lent a particular spice to this quarrel. 

Interestingly, the proof texts which I have put in square brackets are a remarkable call-back to Classical ideas of burial in the city. Famously, during Classical Antiquity, dead bodies could not be buried within the city walls. As Late Antiquity shifted into the Earlier Middle Ages, though, this became a more and more common practice. Here, though, the practice is called back to, although it is justified with reference to a Christian not a Roman past. In particular, it is the need to follow Christian exemplars, most obviously Jesus himself, which is cited. 

It is, as I noted above, not certain whether or not either Pope John XI or Alberic of Rome actually saw these texts. Instead, Alberic of Saint-Bénigne takes a much more straightforward approach. To the pope, he simply offers a quid pro quo, trading on the idea that as monks Saint-Bénigne’s prayers are worth more than Saint-Étienne’s. However, he’s also trying to hedge his bets, hence the letter to John’s half-brother Alberic, a serious figure to be reckoned with in mid-tenth century Rome. This is, unfortunately, the only evidence we have of communication between Rome and Dijon at this time, so we don’t know if the abbot actually did have prior knowledge of the patrician. Nonetheless, this is a really interesting example of how intercession was sought by would-be clients. 

Recently in Tübingen, Sam gave a roundtable discussing the so-called New Diplomatic History, an approach to diplomatic history which aimed to restore individuality, agency, and political culture to what was often perceived as a history of abstractions. He was very gung-ho about the prospects for it, but I was more sceptical. Especially coming from a tenth-century background, where we’re accustomed to talk about everything in terms of negotiation and intercession, it seems to me that this approach runs the risk of dissolving the history of Earlier Medieval diplomacy into being simply a history of political culture. During the round table, one of the questions I asked Sam was whether or not such a dissolution was a bad thing. After musing, and bearing these letters in mind, I now think it does run that risk, but that that’s not a bad thing, at least not for our period. In a world where social and political organisation is simply managed and reproduced differently, I would not care to discuss whether or not what Abbot Alberic is doing is or is not diplomacy – he certainly thinks he’s part of the same structure as John, if not as the patrician Alberic. What strikes me as a more useful approach in an earlier medieval context is how perceptions of different kinds of difference (of status, geography, language, etc) impacted on practices of negotiation, and Abbot Alberic’s problems are a good way into that. 

Charter A Week 58: A Triple Alliance in Provence and Italy

934 and 935 continue to be pains to pick charters for, so once again I’m playing a little fast and loose with the format. In this case, like last week, the dating elements in the document we’re going to look at are discordant: the AD year is 934, but the indiction gives 933. Schiaparelli, who edited the act, plumped for 933; the Regesta Imperii isn’t so sure, and that’s good enough for me to put it here.

So, somewhat unusually, we’re in Italy. We’ve spoken before about the multipolar Europe of the 930s, and this act is an interesting insight into that.

D HL no. 34 (8th March 933/934, Pavia)

In the name of Lord God Eternal.

Hugh and Lothar, by God’s grace kings. 

If we grant worldly benefits on places venerable and dedicated to God, we do not doubt we will gain eternal prizes from the Lord.

Consequently, let the entirety of all the followers of the holy Church of God and ourselves, to wit, present and future, know that we, for love of God Almighty and of the holy virgin Mary and of the blessed apostles, to wit, Peter and Paul, and for love of the other apostles, and for the remedy of our souls and those of Our father and mother, to wit, Theobald and Bertha, and our other relatives, concede to the holy and venerable monastery of Cluny, where Odo is at present now seen to be abbot, two curtilages from the right of our property lying in the county of Lyon, of which one is called Savigneux and the other Ambérieux-en-Dombes, in their entirety (besides Leotard the baker and five other servants pertaining there, who now serve us, whom we reserve for our power); that is, with chapels, houses, lands, vineyards, fields, meadows, pastures, woods, salt-pans, feeding grounds, waters and watercourses, hills, valleys, mountains, plains, male and female serfs of both sexes (besides those six servants whom we reserved for our power above), labouring men and women, and with everything they can say or name justly and legally pertaining to these two curtilages in their entirety (these six servants put to one side), so that from the present day, in their entirety (these six servants, as we said, put to one side), they might be in the right and dominion of the same abbey and of the abbot who is there now and of his successors, for the common advantage of the brothers serving God there at the time, rightly, quietly, and without any contradiction. 

If anyone might with reckless daring endeavour to infringe or violate our donation, let them know themselves to be damned by God Almighty like a sacrilege; in secular terms, as well, let them know themselves to be liable for a fine of one hundred pounds of pure gold, half to our treasury and half to the abbot of the aforesaid abbey and his successors and the brothers who are there at the time.

And that this might be more truly believed and diligently observed by all, we strengthened it with our own hands and commanded it be marked below with our signet.

Sign of the most serene kings Hugh and Lothar.

Chancellor Peter witnessed on behalf of Abbot and Archchancellor Gerland.

Given on the 8th ides of March [8th March], in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 934, in the 8th year of the reign of the most pious lord king Hugh and the 3rd of lord king Lothar, in the 6th indiction

Enacted in Pavia.

Happily in God’s name, amen.

By itself, this might not look like very much. It’s a royal grant of property with added extra memorialisation, to Cluny no less – and royal diplomas for Cluny, from across Europe, are ten a penny. However, what’s interesting about it is the way that it takes us into the middle of alliances spanning most of western Europe: Hugh of Arles, for this short period, was the man in the centre of almost everything, and right behind him was Odo of Cluny. Hugh and Odo may have known each other (so thinks Isabelle Rosé) from Odo’s upbringing at the court of William the Pious, and they seem to have remained on good terms. However, this was particularly expressed in the early 930s. Besides this diploma, in 929, Hugh arranged his own betrothal with the important Roman noblewoman Marozia, who in 931 imposed her son as Pope John XI. Shortly afterwards, he granted Odo a papal privilege. He also intervened in 932 to confirm the new archbishop of Rheims, Artald, who (as we will have much cause to hear about in subsequent weeks) had recently been imposed on that church by Ralph of Burgundy.

In 933, too, Ralph of Burgundy was active in northern Provence. In 931, Count Charles Constantine of Vienne had promised his loyalty to Ralph; in 933, he actually handed it over. Hugh of Arles may well have had a hand in this. In 929, he had played an important role in ending the rebellion of Count Heribert II of Vermandois, the jailer of Charles the Simple, who had released his captive from prison and set him up against Ralph. Part of the deal was that Hugh agreed to grant Heribert the ‘province of Vienne’ (whatever that meant) on behalf of Heribert’s son Odo. West of the Rhône, the role of Odo of Cluny in West Frankish politics is something we’ve covered a lot recently; but to summarise, Ralph’s takeover of the duchy of Aquitaine was thoroughly aided along by the fact that he had the support of Odo, along with the networks of alliances surrounding his abbeys.

We have here a three-pointed alliance. Hugh can help both Ralph and Odo on the Italian side, as in the cases of Artald and Odo’s papal privileges (notably, both papal interventions came before the breakdown in relations between Hugh and the Romans later in 932). Odo can help Ralph in Aquitaine. His use for Hugh is a bit more obscure to me, but my guess is that, amongst other things, his connections with the Transjurane court and thus with Hugh’s rival for the kingship of Italy Rudolf II may be the operative factor. Ralph, meanwhile, can help Odo against his monastic rival Guy of Gigny; and he can ensure that the situation in northern Provence remains relatively stable. In fact, I would say that ensuring regional stability in the face of the deaths of both William the Younger and Louis the Blind (at least, once they’ve all helped themselves after the initial instability) is probably the most obvious binding force between these three men.

This diploma hints at that more than it says any of it. It is nonetheless significant that the estates in question are right next to Anse, where Ralph issued a diploma for Cluny in summer 932; and are also in William the Younger’s former county of Lyon. These gifts have presumably, therefore, been selected to implant Odo more firmly in Lyon and to emphasise the ongoing role of Hugh and Ralph together in ensuring a stable division of power in Provence. Much of the diplomatic activity of this period is hidden from us, and so there’s a lot of inference in this picture. Nonetheless, our box of hints builds up to a pretty convincing picture of a multipolar Frankish world in the 930s, all centred on the Trans-Ararian region.

Charter a Week 57: North or South?

Bear with me here. I said last time that the mid-930s was a problematic time to be focussing on whilst running a series which looks at charters, and this week is a case in point. It doesn’t help that my plans for the 933 charter were completely ruined when writing up the commentary for my charter from a few weeks ago. You see, originally my choice for a 933 charter was a no-brainer. However, doing the reading around the charter of Bishop Godeschalk of Puy that I put in the 931 slot, it turns out that it is by no means clear that my 933 choice was actually from 933, and rather more likely that it wasn’t. I had a look at other options, but none of them were very inspiring. So, I thought, I don’t often get into the weeds of technical diplomatic here – why not look at this act’s problematic dating, and explain which this fairly dry discussion matters to our knowledge of the period?

D RR no. 21

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

Ralph, by God’s grace pious, invincible and ever august king of the Franks and Aquitanians and Burgundians.

Since ‘there is no power but of God’, who (as is written) ‘doth establish kings upon their throne’, it thus follows entirely that those on high should humble themselves below His powerful hand and that the ministers of their realm ought to conduct themselves in accordance with His will.

Wherefore let it be known to all carrying out duties to the realm in time both present and future that I, solicitous to restore to wholeness the state of religion, decreed that the abbey of Tulle should be renewed in a Regular way of life, as once it was. It is sited in the district of Limousin, on the river Corrèze, built in honour, that is, of the most blessed lord Martin. In this place, by God’s largess, the ancient reverence is preserved to this day by new miracles.

By the prayers of the noble man Adhemar, who has until this point held that place, and also at the suggestion of Count Ebalus [Manzer], I commended the same place to a certain religious abbot named Aimo to restore a Regular way of life; and I made it subject to the abbey of Saint-Savin. However, because experience proved that this subjection was an obstacle to religion, wishing to take complete care of that same religion, by wiser counsel We decreed that, in accordance with ancient custom, it should be held under the protection – as opposed to the domination – of the king alone.

However, no-one may decide to do this against the laws of the realm. Seeing that the most excellent emperors are read to have changed their decrees whenever the situation made it necessary and – as the apostle adduces – ‘there is made of necessity a change in the law’, We therefore by the authority of this Our precept establish this monastery, with everything which now pertains to it or which might fall to it hereafter, should endure such that they might be subjected to the domination of no-one save only the holy Rule.

Furthermore, after the death of Our most faithful and beloved lord Odo [of Cluny], who succeeded the aforesaid venerable Aimo, and after Adacius, whom the same venerable Odo asked be ordained to supply a replacement for him, let them have permission in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict to elect from amongst themselves whomsoever they, through wiser counsel, choose.

And let neither king nor count nor bishop nor any other person presume to disturb their goods nor give them to anyone; and let no-one at all dare to dominate them. Let them receive after his death the whole part of the abbey which the aforesaid Adhemar, by the abbot’s consent, retained. When he dies, let whomsoever they communally wish have mundeburdum and legal oversight.

In addition, We concede the right of immunity and the reverence which now and previously has been divinely observed in that holy place, such that no-one should undertake to inflict any violence on either it or the goods pertaining to it. As for the rest, let both the abbot and the monks together – as if before the eyes of God – conserve a regular way of life.

But that this Our precept might persevere undiminished, We signed it in the name of the Creator on High with Our signet.

Sign of the most glorious king Ralph.

Godfrey the priest, on behalf of Bishop Ansegis [of Troyes], witnessed and subscribed.

Enacted at Anatiacus, on the ides of [most copies: September; one copy: December] [13th September/December], in the third indiction, in the 11th year of the reign of the most glorious King Ralph.

So, what’s the problem here? The problem is the fact that the elements of the diploma’s dating clause don’t add up. The third indiction (a Byzantine system – figuratively and literally – to do with Roman tax collection) ought to be 930; the 11th year of the reign of King Ralph ought to be 933. How do we tell which is which? There are a few methods. First, we might note that scribes tend (although by no means universally) to be more confident about the regnal year than the indiction. This would point us towards 933. Second, though, we might look to contextual elements. Take Abbot Aimo, for instance. Aimo is last attested at Tulle in May 931, and this again pushes us towards 933.

So far, it’s sounding like 933 is a pretty solid choice for a date. But wait! There’s one key element we have to talk about here, and that’s the place at which the act was issued, Anatiacus. The act’s editor, Dufour, plumped for Anizy-le-Château, roughly halfway between Soissons and Laon. However, Jean-Pierre Brunterc’h pointed out that Anizy’s Latin form is always something like Anisiacus – it’s always got that first i and a following s, not an a and a t. He pointed instead towards Ennezat, a centre for assemblies under the Guillelmid dukes and – crucially – a place whose Latin orthography fits Anatiacus notably better. The problem now is that by dint of his itinerary, Ralph cannot have been at Ennezat at any point in 933. However, as we’ve seen, thanks to the reference to Abbot Aimo, 930 is also out. Brunterc’h therefore proposes 931, a time when we know that Ralph was in the Auvergne and one which requires the scribes who wrote the later copies in which this act survives to have simply misplaced a minim, turning ‘the IXth year’ into the ‘XIth year’ (as well, perhaps, as the ‘IVth indiction’ into the ‘III indiction’), something known to have happened elsewhere.

That such changes to the no-longer-surviving original might have been made are indicated by other signs this charter has been tampered with. This is, for reasons we’ll discuss below, an unusual document anyway, which makes our job harder; but the sections in first person singular (‘I’) rather than first person plural (the royal ‘We’) are very suspicious to my mind, and may have been added later. (I doubt, though, that it was much later.) Similarly, the reference to miracles at Tulle strikes me as a later addition – we know from a letter of Odo of Cluny to the brothers at Saint-Martin of Tours that Tulle was experiencing a surge of miracles at this time, but as a former canon of Saint-Martin himself I don’t think any act in which Odo was so heavily involved would have made quite so much of them at Tulle. For these reasons, I think December 931 (as Brunterc’h suggests) is the most plausible date, although it’s far from conclusive.

Why does this matter? It matters because this act is crucial evidence for Ralph’s involvement with the Aquitanian elite, and that involvement looks very different depending on whether this diploma comes from Ennezat in 931 or Anizy in 933. I covered the Ennezat side in my previous installment of Charter A Week, so you can go there for the details; but the short version is that if it’s from there he appears as a regional peacemaker in the wake of the disturbances following the death of the last Guillelmid duke of Aquitaine Acfred. If it’s from Anizy, it’s a different story. In 933, Ralph’s attention was firmly focussed on attacking and defeating the persistent northern rebel Count Heribert II of Vermandois, in pursuit of which goal he besieged Château-Thierry and Ham. In this context, Adhemar and Ebalus Manzer are most likely north to provide Ralph with military support. This would be far from unprecedented – the most clear-cut example comes from the reign of Ralph’s successor Louis IV, where Ebalus’ son William Towhead is unambiguously attested doing just that for the new king – but in that case this diploma would be firm evidence that connections between the king and the Aquitanian magnates were less arms-length than often supposed.

Whether the act is from 931 or 933, though, one important thing remains unchanged. The unusual preamble and titulature Ralph is given here has usually – and in my view correctly – been taken to show the influence of Odo of Cluny on the drafting of the diploma. We’ve noted the importance of Odo to Ralph’s regime at this time in previous posts, but this is quite a dramatic departure for West Frankish diplomatic, and is an interesting view of a road ultimately not taken, where Cluniac  – or, better, Odonian – ideology became a crucial part of West Frankish kingship.

Charter a Week 56: Gotta Have Those Bishops

I’ll be honest with you all: these last few years of Ralph of Burgundy’s reign are probably the hardest of the whole period I’m covering with Charter A Week. As I mentioned before, the number of private charters is small; but compared to the earlier period where that’s made up for by a good survival of royal diplomas, the mid-930s (until the reign of Louis IV) are also short on those as well. As such, the next three of these are slightly peculiar in a number of ways. This week, for instance, we’re going a little off the beaten track:

D Burg, no. 23 (932)

By the favouring grace of a supernal gift, Rudolf, king of the people of the Jura to all soldiering perfectly under the yoke of the eternal king, everything more pleasant on Earth and happier in Heaven.

At the time when a multi-faceted and desirable peace, by the largess of divine clemency, was being enjoyed in the areas under Our rule and everyone was rejoicing greatly, Our churches suffered the loss caused by the death of three bishops. For this reason, obeying the statutes of the holy pontiffs which they desired to be fixed in words, that the benediction of the bishops who are to be ordained should not be delayed by too great an interruption (that is, so that the Mother Church should not endure any loss of its members along with the absence of consecration by unction), We sent to the lord archbishop of Besançon, to wit, Metropolitan Girfred, that he, with his remaining suffragans, might deign to succour those basilicas currently widowed by the death of their pastors.

He, acting in accordance with the holy canons and at the same time obeying Our command, ordained bishops for the abovementioned churches, that is: for Lausanne, Bero; for Belley, Jerome; for Sion, Asmund.

This round letter is preserved in British Library Additional MS 15222, which has the marvellous advantage of being digitised such that one can see that this heads up a series of oaths taken to the archbishops of Besançon over the course of the eleventh and twelfth century.


This being that manuscript (source)

It’s essentially a written foundation stone for the right of the archbishop to exercise authority over his ecclesiastical subordinates, and its interesting that it comes from the reign of Rudolf II, a man whose exploits outside Italy are not well-preserved. One wonders if the fact that Girfred had to ordain three men at once stuck in the memory.

Or perhaps it was the inevitable Louis the Blind. I’ve mentioned before on this blog how after Louis’ death Rudolf II gets basically the eastern portion of his kingdom. I’d call it the ‘mountainous portion’ except that I have actually now been to Apt, at least, and if it’s not exactly flat it’s certainly not vertiginous. Anyway, this letter is some of the best evidence for this process. The last time we have a handle on the bishops of Belley they are firmly part of the kingdom of Louis the Blind; now they’re firmly under Rudolf’s control. It’s probably not a coincidence that this comes after the family meeting of 929 which probably divided up Provence between the competing parties. We know that Ralph of Burgundy spent a fair chunk of time around 930 attending to Provençal affairs, and this may be his Transjurane cousin doing the same on his end.

Indeed, there’s lots of diplomacy we don’t have much of a handle on occurring in this and following years, culminating in a meeting between Ralph, Rudolf and the East Frankish king Henry the Fowler on the Chiers in 935. Everything happening there is still murky to me, not least because the Transjurane role is so obscure; but letters like this are an important part of whatever’s going on.

As far as the bishops themselves go, whilst this is as straightforward a case of royal appointment as you’re likely to see, that’s still not very straightforward. If you remember the charter of Bishop Fulcher of Avignon, then you know that there’s a fair bit of manoeuvring behind Rudolf’s relatively bland command – although usually we don’t have such a lovely piece of evidence showing it. (And, finally, the reference to a delay relates to the canonical injunction that there shouldn’t be more than three months’ delay between the death of one bishop and the selection of another – I’ve been reading a lot of the letters of Gerbert of Aurillac lately and he gets very hot under the collar about this after the death of Archbishop Adalbero. That, though, is another story!)

Charter A Week 55: The Squabbling Aquitanians

The reign of King Ralph is not a good time for private charters. I don’t know why this should be – with the usual exception (Cluny), a drop-off in the number of private charters from the 920s and 930s is a kingdom-wide phenomenon. What this means is that we’re dealing this week with an undated charter, albeit one that has a fairly narrow range of possible dates (c. 930-935, and my guess is on the earlier side). We’ve already seen in previous weeks how Ralph of Burgundy established his personal hegemony over large chunks of Guillelmid Aquitaine after the death of Duke Acfred – but what were the members of the old Guillelmid network doing?

Cart. Brioude 28 (5th June, c. 930, Polignac)

To the sacrosanct church of God and the martyr St Julian in the village of Brioude, in which that holy martyr of God rests with other saints, in which place Dalmatius [I of Brioude], by God’s grace viscount, is seen to preside as ruler, in the time of Prior Cunebert and Dean Hector administering its cares.

Therefore we, in Christ’s name Bishop Godeschalk [of Le Puy], Bishop Aurelius, Viscount Dalmatius, Suffician, Gerald, Odilo, Heraclius, Desiderius, Rainer, Bernard, the almsmen of William [the Younger, duke of Aquitaine] who is deceased, through a bequest and through his donation and for the absolution of his soul, that the pious Lord, through the intercession of St Julian and all the saints, might deign to give indulgence to his sins, cede to it in the common victuals of its canons his own goods which fell to him as an inheritance from his parents.

These goods are sited in the fatherland of the Auvergne, in the county of Brioude, in the vicariate of Usson, in the estate which is called Pineta. In that estate we cede to God and St Julian two double manses with manses and fields and meadows and woods, cultivated and uncultivated, sought and whatever is to be sought, with two parts; and we cede the whole tithe to God and St Julian to be had and sold, donated or exchanged in common amongst the brothers, such that from this day forth you might have permission to do whatever you wish by your judgement to do with it, without any contradiction.

If any person, though, either my heir wishing to change our mind, or any other person, should exert themselves to disturb the canons of Saint-Julien, in the first place let them incur God’s wrath, and share a place in the inferno with Dathan and Abiron and with Judas the betrayer, who betrayed the Lord, unless they come to their senses and come to make amends, and in addition let them be compelled to pay one pound of pure gold, and let what they seek find no purchase.

This affirmation was made on the third nones of June [5th June], at the castle which is called Polignac, in the reign of Ralph, king of the Franks and the Aquitanians.

Let this charter, written at that time, endure firm for all time, with these witnesses: Bishop Godeschalk, Aurelius, Dalmatius, Suffician, Gerald, Odilo, Heraclius, Desiderius, Rainer, Bernard; all these almsmen of William asked this charter be made, with Antoard hearing and Bernard Antrive.


The impressive-looking fortress of Polignac as it exists today (source)

The first thing to note here is that I don’t know who Bishop Aurelius is. He’s not the bishop of Clermont or the archbishop of Bourges; if I had to guess, I’d say either Nevers or Mende, but probably Mende. ‘Aurelius’ is a name which rings more of the Velay than the Nivernais. It would also fit with the general southern tinge of the assembled people. You wouldn’t necessarily pick this up from William the Pious’ appearances on this blog, but compared generally to the Guillelmid following twenty-odd years earlier, this is very focussed on the Auvergne and its environs – no Berrichons, probably no one from Nevers, nor the Mâconnais. It’s also delivered in a much more southerly location than the Guillelmid dukes themselves can be seen. Polignac is a fortification immediately outside Le Puy. This makes sense in terms of the fact that it’s the bishop of Le Puy issuing the charter, but that fact itself is quite important – why not Bishop Arnald of Clermont, given the importance of Auvergne to William the Pious and his successors?

Intriguingly, after receiving the submission of the Aquitanians in 930, Ralph went to meet them in winter 931 because they were discordantes – squabbling. We have (if one follows Jean-Pierre Brunterc’h’s argument) a diploma issued at Ennezat at this time, whose intercessors are Ebalus Manzer and Viscount Adhemar of Echelles. That’s a pretty wide range of recipients in an Aquitanian context, and it makes one wonder what they were squabbling over. In fact, it was probably precisely the question of where power should reside in the newly overturned region. The men not at the table in late 930 were Counts Ermengaud of Rouergue and Raymond Pons of Toulouse. Ralph’s meeting at Ennezat was likely an intercession to resolve these disputes.

In that light, this donation by this group, five years or so after the death of William the Younger, is likely to be preliminary to the Ennezat meeting. We may be looking at an attempt by a network of allies to remember their roots, reaffirm the reputation of their old lord, and determine where they stand in the new, William-less world. As we’ve seen, this network would eventually end up loosely attached to the power-base of Raymond Pons, but it preserved enough continuity to reactivate as a regional power in its own right under Bishop Stephen of Clermont in the 940s. Acts like this are likely to be an important way this continuity was maintained.

Charter A Week 30: From Law to Liturgy at Saint-Martin, Sort Of

Man, this cross-branding thing is really getting out of hand. Once again, we’re looking at dispute settlement charters from Saint-Martin of Tours. This time, though, we’re further afield than usual – and if you’re expecting a trial record then, well, prepare for disappointment:

Brunterc’h, ‘Succession d’Acfred’, appendix (3rd May 930, Bourges)

As it has been from the very beginnings of the holy mother Church, from its birth through time up to the end of the age, such people have always joined together in the bosom of its organisation who, having been faithfully reared at its breasts, in turn repay it like a mother, increasing it and lifting it up; and, burning with the love of brotherly affection, do not cease to bear Christ in their bodies through glorifying him and to glorify Christ through bearing him [see 1 Cor. 6:20], fulfilling that which the Truth itself said: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself’ [Matt. 22:37-39].

By contrast, it is undoubted that there are some held in it who envy the advantages of common life, being separated from it by their own iniquity, and who, to increase their own greed, exert themselves to take away from simper people the offerings of goods or the resources from which Christ should be recreated in his poor to through worldly cunning to make them their own as much as they can. Indeed, as the evil of this negligence becomes more general, it becomes more distressing and graver in members of Christ and the Church. For this reason, indeed, the more widespread the estates upon which any place consecrated to God is founded in these times, the graver the weight of the ruin by which it is typically ground down – the higher the status, the heavier the disaster.

Therefore, when the flock of Saint-Martin had been communally beaten and plagued by these calamities and by many others, partly from the savagery of the Northmen, partly, in fact, from the greed of depraved people who popped up within and without, ceaselessly and without respite, it was finally compelled to take the misfortune which it had endured, along with the authority of royal precepts and as well apostolic privileges, to the notice of the most reverend abbot lord Hugh [the Great]; and to zealously intimate to him that the common goods from which they should be fed and clothed had been greedily taken from them by certain parties, and – to leave other things out in order to give a more succinct account of the present matter – to devotedly beseech that Monnaie with all its appendages and in its entirety (and if there was anything else which had once been delegated by the canons for the service of the granary) be restored to them by the abbot.

Indeed, our elders – that is, the fathers who came before – pursuing in every way the pursuit of piety and burning with the zeal of lovingkindness, assigned certain renders from the aforesaid estate to the common uses of the brothers’ mill. However, against this were some, puffed up with the arrogance of pride and defiled by the itchy rash of depraved greed (which is the root of all evil), who sought the ministry of the granary not freely from the brothers (as was the custom) but through the abbot’s command having given him gifts, desiring to deprive the communion of the brothers of that whole power, and this they did. <At that time, indeed, the brothers needed the granary and the mill, because they freely supplied what had been stored in it; not, they cannot satisfy that need, because they do not supply what is placed there, and neither was anyone able to receive a prebend for a year and two months.>

At length, the same venerable abbot was repeatedly accused by this most worthy petition of the aforesaid flock, and assented to it in this matter to the extent that he knew it to be most eager in faith to Martin, the lord and outstanding confessor of Christ, and to his service. Therefore, a notice was made on this matter, how a little later an embassy of no small dignity from the congregation of the excellent confessor of Christ the blessed Martin –  that is, Berner the levite and dean, Farmand too, also a levite and the keymaster; and Archenald the priest and head of the school; as well as Prior Nefingus [later bishop of Angers] and Leotrand the deacon, on behalf of all the other canons – came to the city of Bourges, into the presence of the sweetest lord and oft-named abbot Hugh, one more renewing and intimating to his most pious familiarity the necessity of themselves of their confreres, so dolefully lamentable and lamentable doleful, and their complaint, which so many times before had not been granted, and asking with a submissive prayer that he in his piety might for love of God and St Martin rescue them who laboured under this grave and long-lasting loss, and deign to kindly grant them a small amount of worldly goods in this world, that he might be repaid by many goods in eternity by the Lord.

Mercifully assenting to their legitimate petitions, he promised not only to amend and restore the neglected and lost good about which they had come, but also to provide many benefits for them in future. Soon, having summoned not only the bishops who were there, but also all of his followers of both orders, he explained this case to them, and the very necessary petition of the brothers, seeking from them what and what sort of counsel they wanted to give him on this matter. At this, they unanimously gave him the counsel, so useful and so beneficial, that he should never permit the canons of Saint-Martin to ever sustain any kind of harmful loss from their property and from the things which pertained particularly to them, which they were incontestably known to possess (as was said before) through royal precepts and apostolic privileges. They added that no-one at all who agreed to infringe and violate the aforesaid authorities of Saint-Martin could obtain the Kingdom of God.

Giving to their salubrious and agreeable suggestion consent given as freely as he believed that it was beneficial for him before God and Man, he restored to them, for love of God and St Martin as well as for the remedy of the soul of his father lord Robert [of Neustria], the late most pious king, and his mother, and for the remedy of his uncle lord Odo, also a glorious king, and all of his relatives and friends, the aforesaid Monnaie, with all its adjacencies and in its entirety, that which was said to pertain to the granary and that which was usurped by the greed of certain men, through the consent (as was said) of the pontiffs present there and of his followers, to wit, to sustain them in this life, as was contained in the precept of the most glorious king lord Charles and in the privileges of the apostles, such that from this day forth they might hold and possess the said estate of Monnaie for their stipend without any contradiction or opposition from any abbot of the same place of Saint-Martin, whoever it might be, as with their other goods.

But that the authority of this notice might be able to endure firm and inviolable for all time, now and in the time which remains, and obtain more certain firmness in God’s name from his successors as abbot of Saint-Martin, lord Hugh, the oft-named abbot, corroborated it with his own hands under the sign of the holy Cross, and asked both the bishops who were present to subscribe it and also his followers, certain venerable men, to confirm it.

✝ Sign of the holy cross solemnly written by lord Hugh, abbot of Saint-Martin.

☧ Robert, archbishop of Tours, subscribed.

☧ Gerontius, archbishop of Bourges, was present and subscribed.

☧ Turpio, bishop of Limoges, confirmed.

☧ Walter, bishop of Paris, subscribed.

☧ Anselm, bishop of Orléans, subscribed.

Sign of Viscount Fulk [the Red]. Sign of Viscount Theobald [the Elder]. Sign of Geoffrey, an indominical vassal. Sign of Erwig, advocate of Saint-Martin. Sign of Count Burchard [probably of Vendôme]. Sign of Count Hugh [I of Maine], son of Roger. Sign of Ebbo [of Déols?]. Sign of Hildebert. Sign of Roger. Sign of Gimo. Sign of Viscount Geoffrey [of Bourges]. Sign of Sulpicius. Sign of Emeno.

The renewed firmness of this notice was given in the year of the Lord 930, in the month of May, on the fifth nones [i.e. May 3rd], outside and near the city of Bourges, in the sixth year of the reign of the lord and glorious king Ralph [of Burgundy].

Leotrand, a certain unworthy levite by office, wrote and subscribed on behalf of Archenald the schoolmaster.

[Experimenting with new formatting for crosses and chrismons on witness lists – hopefully this works!]

So this is not what we’re expecting, huh. In my article I said:

The language here is not that of the dry and formal Carolingian dispute-settlement record. Instead, we are faced with a sermonizing, highly morally coloured document… writing the case in to the entire arc of Christian history in a fallen world.

I don’t think this is a change in the courts (older-style documents can be found throughout this period) as much as a change in discourse. Compared to the ninth century, it was a lot clearer who had to deliver justice by the 930s: the viscounts, the advocates, and so on. However, through the inevitable process of competition between local elites, these same people were also some of the most likely to challenge Saint-Martin’s interests. Reform of the system wouldn’t work, because the system was already reformed – so there was a shift instead to a reform of the people involved, through exhortations to virtue in informal settings such as we see in this charter. (You can read the article for the full argument, but this is a decent summary of the relevant section.) The end result is the charged semi­­-clamor of this charter, which looks so distinct from earlier documents even though the same processes were at work behind the scenes. It’s notable that this is the last evidence for advocates at Saint-Martin – within an ideological framework such as this charter, there wasn’t really any room for them and so their role faded out.

Of course, there’s a smaller picture here too. Note that this charter concerns an estate at Monnaie. This had, at the turn of the tenth century, been held by the advocates of Saint-Martin, Adalmar and Erwig. Their possession of it does not seem to have been popular, and by 914 the granary-master Guy had been able to reclaim it from Erwig. One wonders if the unnamed malefactors of the 930 included Erwig? It might well explain why this is the last charter any advocate of Saint-Martin appears in, if Hugh the Great’s judgement against him led to a loss of face or office.

Leaving behind the internal history of Saint-Martin, why are all these people at Bourges? They’re in the entourage of Hugh the Great, and Hugh is in the entourage of Ralph of Burgundy.  We saw in previous years that Ralph was able to put Acfred of Aquitaine out of the picture and set up networks of his own allies in the old Guillelmid dominions. In 930, he had a further big success. It helped that Charles the Simple had died in 929, removing one of the main barriers to Ralph’s legitimacy; but the biggest help was that Ralph won a big victory over the Northmen in the Limousin. In the aftermath of this, the biggest names of central Aquitaine submitted – and Hugh and his men were there for it.

It is, in this respect, interesting that this charter refers to Robert of Neustria both as a king and as a good one. We’re not covering it in Charter A Week, but in Easter 931, Ralph came to Tours, where he and Hugh both issued acts emphasising Robert’s positive memory. In the north-east, Hugh was Ralph’s main ally against their mutual brother-in-law Heribert of Vermandois. It looks rather like part of his reward for this, and for his help in Aquitaine, was a public statement that Robert of Neustria’s memory actually was glorious, thank you very much; and this charter might well be preparing the groundwork for that.

Charter a Week 53: The High Point of Bosonid Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Given on the 14th June.

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

Enacted publicly in the estate of Boyer.


The abbey of Romainmôtier as it looks today (source)

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

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

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