Which Ralph? Italy, Provence and the Succession to Louis the Blind

Happy New Year, y’all. Apologies for the delay in blogging – I had meant to start yesterday, but I’ve been polishing off an article for the proceedings of the Power of the Bishop conference I went to last year, and between that and the Humboldt Lecture I’m supposed to be giving at the start of February, things are fairly hectic. It’s a shame, because what I really want to be doing is tapping away at writing a detailed narrative history of post-Carolingian France (well, that and working my way through a) Adhemar of Chabannes and b) the charter evidence from Limoges). But I’m putting in the odd hour on it here and there, and at the moment I’m writing about the year 928. 928 is an important year, once again because of a succession crisis (I am finding, a bit, that you can write the entire history of the century as one succession crisis after another). Specifically, the death of Louis the Blind, emperor and king of Provence, in June of that year.

               This is an issue for me, because I hardly ever go that far south-east, and because Italian history is largely a closed book to me. But because it’s clear that King Ralph gets involved in the transfer of power in the region to – well, that’s one of the questions – it behoves me to get involved. And I’ve got a question about Bishop Liutprand of Cremona, which hopefully someone can answer for me, and the question is this. In Antapodosis 3.48, Liutprand describes how the Italians ‘sent for Rodulfus in Burgundia’; whereupon Hugh of Arles, king of Italy since 923 and old right-hand man of Louis the Blind, promised him all the land he had in Gaul in return for a promise that Rodulfus wouldn’t interfere in Italy ever again.

               Historians are, as far as I can tell, almost unanimous in dating this to around 933, largely because it comes in the text after a description of Hugh of Arles’ expulsion from Rome, which according to Flodoard happened around this time, and his granting the march of Tuscany to his brother Boso, which happened shortly before 931. Equally unanimous is the opinion that the Rodulfus in question is Rudolf II, king of Transjurane Burgundy: Rudolf had been an active contestant to be king in Italy for several years, and the deal described by Liutprand seems to explain how Provence ended up under Burgundian rule. But, there are some issues here, at least if we follow Janet Nelson (who isn’t concerned with this story and brings them up quite separately): first, Burgundian rule in Provence appears to be, in practice, several decades later. Second, Rudolf may have given up his claims to rule in Italy years earlier, in 926. Third (and this is me), the Italians had kicked Rudolf out only a few years previously. I know Italian politics is turbulent, but is it that turbulent?

               Here’s another story. The Rodulfus and Burgundia aren’t Rudolf and Transjurane Burgundy, but Ralph (which is the same name as Rudolf) of West Francia and ducal Burgundy. A faction of Italians invited him to be king as the closest living already-royal relative of their one-time ruler Louis the Blind (his first cousin), and Hugh of Arles bought him off with a grant of land which is the same as Flodoard records in 928.

               This story also has problems. First, it requires Liutprand to have made an error. Evidently, this is not so implausible – in the aforementioned story about the Romans expelling Hugh of Arles, he makes it sound as though the local bigwig did it with the Pope’s help rather than (according to Flodoard) imprisoning him. Plus, Rudolfus and Burgundia could well be quite confusing without other qualifiers. But still, it’s an issue. Second, the 928 grant of land Flodoard describes is the land of ‘the whole province of Vienne’ being given not directly to Ralph but to the son of Count Heribert II of Vermandois; whereas Liutprand describes Hugh giving Rodulfus ‘all the land he had in Gaul’. This could be poetic license (if ‘province of Vienne’ means ‘ecclesiastical province’ rather than just ‘region of’, it’s not actually that much poetic license), but it’s another issue.

               It also fits oddly into the political context. On one hand, it explains why Ralph isn’t in the north of the West Frankish kingdom for the whole of 929 – he’s dealing with matters in the south which are a bit more important, trying and (eventually) failing to assert himself in the region. It also explains why so many diplomas in the region keep being dated by the reign of the late Louis the Blind – that’s what you do when kingship is contested. On the other hand, Hugh of Arles spent the latter months of 928 issuing diplomas for recipients in Vienne and the surrounding regions, which implies that he made a deal and immediately abrogated it. (On a third hand, this is also fairly odd anyway, given he’s supposed to have granted it to Heribert’s son.)

               As you can tell, I’m not fully convinced by the Rodolfus-is-Ralph story. So what do you think? Is there any outstanding reason to favour one version over the other?


Name in Print II

So I’ve just got back to London after speaking at the Revisiting the Europe of Bishops conference in Liverpool, which was great fun but also very tiring. But, whilst I was there I discovered that an article which has been in the pipeline for a while has finally seen the light of day, and maybe you all would like to know about it.

The article in question is entitled ‘Sub-Kingdoms and the Spectrum of Kingship on the Western Border of Charles the Bald’s Kingdom’, and can be found in The Heroic Age via this finely-crafted hyper-link. As with my last article, it’s all open access and freely-available, so please do go and enjoy yourself.

As for what it covers, it’s basically an exercise in comparison between the rulers of Neustria, Aquitaine and Brittany, and how they are all kings, but not fully kings. The basic point, that kingship is a spectrum not an either-or, is fairly simple; but hopefully it puts a little flesh on those bones. To be honest, this is one where I wish that I’d brought in more Merovingian comparison (a sentence I never thought I’d say) – I wonder how odd any of this looks from a 6th century perspective…

The gritty details: This one had a while before it saw the light of day. After being one of the organisers of a conference in Cambridge on the Carolingian frontier, I was contacted by Cullen Chandler in Summer 2015 to ask if I wanted to contribute something to a special Heroic Age edition on Carolingian borderlines. At the time, I was busy finishing off my thesis, I prevaricated; but Cullen generously said that proposals didn’t have to be in until Winter 2015. I got something together for February 2016. One round of revisions, resubmitted December 2016, and finally opened for the public just over a year later!

Some Issues in Aquitanian History, pt. 3: Kings and Poitevins, c. 945-955

Previously on ‘Excruciatingly-Detailed Trudge Through The Narrative History Of A Region Where The Sources Aren’t Good Enough To Support Narrative History’, Bishop Stephen II of Clermont had just staked his claim to be the predominant figure in the Auvergne, trading on royal backing and a shift in power after the disappearance from central Gaul of Raymond Pons, the count of Toulouse. You may well be wondering, ‘what happened next?’ Well, for the first half of his reign, up until about 965 or so, that’s easier to answer than the second (which is to say, not very easy at all).

               In around 948, Stephen, his father Viscount Robert, and his stepmother Viscountess Hildegard, handed over the Auvergnat abbey of Sauxillanges to be ruled by Abbot Aimard of Cluny. In the document making the handover, Stephen called for prayers for Duke Acfred, William the Pious, and William the Younger, placing himself in a tradition of Aquitanian rulership. This was then confirmed in 951, when Louis IV showed up again at the borders of Aquitaine. Stephen and many of the other Aquitanian magnates went to meet him. Stephen apparently paid him special attention, and was rewarded with a royal diploma confirming his grant of Sauxillanges. So things seem pretty solid on that front – Stephen’s position at the forefront of local society was reinforced through royal confirmation of his special status vis-à-vis the kingship.

               A few years later, Louis died. Aquitanians were present at his son Lothar’s coronation, presumably including Stephen; but, as when Louis succeeded Ralph, things were unsettled. Lothar was, as his father had been, under the thumb of Hugh the Great, to whom he granted Aquitaine. Hugh seems to have meant to enforce this: he intervened in a diploma for Bishop Gottschalk of Puy, and he got Lothar to lead an attack on Poitiers. Unlike the similar situation at Langres in 936, there was no complexity here: Count William Towhead had been happily in place for about thirty years, and this invasion can only be seen as a straightforward landgrab. It didn’t end up working, and Hugh died the next year.

               Of course, William himself was not innocent here. In 955, he attempted to push his power into Auvergne, where no previous count of Poitiers had had an interest. He held a meeting at Ennezat, a place redolent with the power of the old Guillelmid dukes, where the lords of Auvergne swore to be his men. Rather like Hugh, William seems to have decided to enforce this: it is only at this point that he starts claiming to be ‘Count of Auvergne’, and his name starts appearing in Brioude’s charters. Interestingly, Stephen was also at the meeting, and appears to have had read there a royal diploma for some of his clients; this no longer survives, but I wonder if we might not take it as a sign that William and Stephen were negotiating for how power in the Auvergne would be divided between them?

               Anyway, Hugh died in 956 as I said, and the situation changed dramatically. And that’s where we’ll leave it for today, and indeed for this year. This is the last post up before Christmas, and I’m off to relax and unwind after a full and busy year of working, international moves and, not least, blogging. We’ll be back in the New Year. In the meantime, I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy 2018!

Source Translation: The 829 Council of Paris on Kingship

Council of Paris 829 on Kingship

You know, it’s just not the same without the big chunk of text above whatever I’m writing. In this case, though, the passage was just too damn long to legitimately work in the usual format. What you’ll find if you click the finely-crafted hyperlink above is an English translation of Book 2, Chapters 1-5 of the 829 Council of Paris, an intensely important source of norms about how Carolingian kings were supposed to be.

And, my God, this was a thrill. I’m a tenth-century man, you all know that, but translating this source… Well, I felt like a seventeenth-century Highland sheep farmer going to London, overwhelmed by the riches. At the very least, it’s given me more insight into all of you ninth-century types.

As you know if you’ve got this far, there’s a lot to say here, but most of it is my actual research and so I guarantee it’ll come up again later. One thing which isn’t, really, so I can talk about now, is something the source doesn’t focus on, but which is in there, and which fits in nicely with my previously-documented views on Carolingian dynasticism. What these passages do is provide an idea of how the situation we seem to see in the Carolingian kingdoms, where kingship is in practice hereditary but in theory very easily not.

When it talks about fathers being succeeding by their sons, notice that it doesn’t talk about kingship descending because of the right of the sons, but due to the moral qualities of the father. A son who follows his father does so not because he has the crown by hereditary right, but as an expression of the successful rule of this father. What this justifies is a situation where father-son succession is key (because refusing the son would undermine the whole system by saying that the previous king was no king at all, but a tyrant) but family rights are not. (It’s striking that you start getting the first non-Carolingian kings at a time when the ‘father’ is Louis the Stammerer, who is notoriously a bit useless; maybe calling him a bad king was felt to be more palatable than Charles the Bald or Louis the German…) This then explains why so few people seem to care all that much when non-Carolingians spring up everywhere in 888: because father-son succession has until now been a fact, not a principle; and because in principle, kings are derived from doing right not from blood.

Towards a Typology of the Carolingian Count?

I wasn’t sure about writing this one. I started, and then went, ‘Insofar as this isn’t half-baked, I think I’ve just ended up at Matthew Innes’ arguments about royal power in the localities; and in any case this is an old battle to fight’. But, apparently there’s interest, so I might as well jot this down and see if people think there’s anything to it. (Plus, it’ll be a break from the Aquitanian stuff, although there’ll be more of that next week.)

               The question of the Carolingian count is a big historiographical question, more or less revolving around the questions of ‘what did a count do?’ and ‘where did he do it?’ There’s an old model that a count is a government functionary, he exercises state power, and he does it in his comitatus (‘county’) which can be directly equated with the districts known as pagi (such as Flanders, Touraine, or Wormsgau). Modern historians have raised serious questions about this (many of these questions are in German, in a literature dealing with south Germany, which I have tried to read a little of in preparation for this but basically don’t really know, so consider yourself forewarned). Hence the idea that 1 pagus = 1 comitatus now seems very questionable indeed. I myself have observed that some pagi just don’t have counts at all. The Limousin is a case in point here: one will often find references to William the Pious being ‘count of Limoges’, but actually what that means is he shows up on a charter witness list in the 880s and again in a diploma dealing with land in the area a decade or two later, and there’s no evidence at all to assume that he had administrative jurisdiction or even real political clout there unless you assume that every pagus had to have a count.

               I want to go further than that today, though. Like I said, maybe this will be obvious to people who know the literature better than me, but I would propose that the title comes (‘count’) did not have the same meaning all the time. So here is a list of all the different types of counts I think I’ve encountered. Some of them in fact overlap; but not all of them do.

               First, you have counts who are counts of comitatus. These are much easier to see in Lotharingia and the East Frankish kingdom, where royal diplomas often refer to property as being in ‘the pagus of X, in the county of Y’. And we know that the pagus and the comitatus don’t necessarily overlap, so that you can have multiple pagi under the same comital jurisdiction; but you can also have multiple comitatus in the same pagus. I went looking for examples of the latter, actually, and found one in DD Arnulf no. 60, where a grant to Corvey is ‘in pago Huueitago in comitatibus Ecperti et Reithardi et Herimanni’; sometimes one finds one comitatus being held by multiple people but the plural here suggests that it is multiple counties. (Because this isn’t really what I’m supposed to be doing at all, I stopped there; but there may well be others.)

               However, there’s a twist. Because much of this work comes from historians working east of the Meuse, they’re not necessarily as familiar with the West Frankish evidence, because I can tell you that we do in fact have counts who are explicitly counts of pagi. Thus Odo of Paris, the later King Odo, can describe himself in the 880s as ‘count of the pagus of Parisais’. So sometimes counts evidently were made counts of individual pagi.

               ‘Made’ is an important word there, because some of these counts are as well royal functionaries, or at least royal appointees, coming in from outside to run a locality. Odo is also a good example here: he seems to have spent most of his life in Lotharingia and became count of Paris mostly because Charles the Fat put him there.

               Some of them, however, don’t appear to be. This post in fact comes out of the older one about Gerald of Aurillac, who I think is a good example of a figure who is locally entrenched already and whose acquisition of the comital title is a bottom-up process: he is first called count as a mark of respect in the locality, and then the king decides to roll with it as a way of co-opting them. My suspicion is that the evidence for Alemannia, Bavaria, or the middle Rhine would show more of these guys, if I had any familiarity with it at all…

Maybe a count, maybe not; but certainly a Carolingian aristocrat (source)

               Another suspicion is that these people might be how to explain counts who it’s hard to place geographically. A shout-out here to my friend and colleague Jelle Lisson, who’s done some work on this regard about ancestors of the counts ‘of Vermandois’ (coming soon, he informs me, in the Journal of Family History as ‘Family Continuity and Territorial Power in Early Medieval West Francia: A Reconsideration of the “House” of Vermandois (9th-10th Centuries)’ [edit: and it is now available open access through this finely-crafted hyperlink.). What his work shows is that Heribert I of Vermandois is actually really hard to localise, and that past work calling him the count ‘of Soissons’ or ‘of Meaux’ or the like is reading too much into the contemporary evidence. I’m not sure he’d push it this far, but I think that this is because Heribert I doesn’t actually have a comitatus at all, just a cluster of local interests. Hence, he might be a count who controls an abbey in Soissons or territory in Vermandois, but he’s not count of Soissons or of Vermandois, or of anywhere: his title is unconnected to his territory.  

               Opposite to him are people who definitely have comitatus (it’s an annoying word to write in English, because the Latin plural of comitatus is comitatus, not comitati, but it looks wrong…), but whose comital title seems to me unlikely to rest on that fact. The ancestor of the Capetians Robert the Strong looks to me like an example of this sort of figure: the Annals of Saint-Bertin show him being shuffled between the counties of Angers and Auxerre and Nevers, but I think his status is such that his comital title probably doesn’t depend on which specific counties he possesses. Some evidence for this comes from the Annal’s entry for 867, which describe how Charles the Bald took the county of Bourges away from Count Gerald and gave it to Egfrid; that Gerald is still described as ‘count’ suggests that his title was socially embedded rather than legally linked to possession of a specific official competence.

               This leads to a final category, which is counts whose title was strictly palatine. There is a title ‘count of the palace’ (comes palatinus), which isn’t quite this, not least because by about 900 it’s become smooshed together into conspalatinus, a separate title you can hold together with comes. I mean counts whose title goes right back to the word’s origin – comes was originally the Latin word for ‘companion’, meaning men who were members of a ruler’s retinue and whose prestige came therefrom. It’s very hard to prove that a given count was a comes in this sense, but if I had to propose one figure, it would be Charles the Simple’s favourite Hagano. Everything we know about his career links him to the palace and only to the palace. I don’t think he ever was a comes in the sense of an administrative functionary in a locality; his title was always a product of his status at court.

               Wow, that went on longer than I’d expected, and it’s still rather brief. In any case, it looks rather like the single word comes is hiding a number of different animals, different in degree and not just in scale… Is there anything to this, or have I stumbled the roundabout way onto something obvious?

Reading the West Frankish Coronation Liturgy, no. 5: The Ratold Ordo

Here begins the seeking or election of the bishops and clerics as well as the people to consecrate or bless a king.
132. The admonition of the bishops or clerics or people to the king, to be said in this way, and read out by one bishop before everyone.
“We seek that you should grant to us that you will conserve for each of us and the churches committed to us canonical privilege and due law and justice, and provide defence, as a king ought rightly to provide in his realm for each bishop and the church committed to him.”
133. The king’s response.
“I promise and grant to you that I will conserve for each of you and the churches committed to you canonical privilege and due law and justice, and provide defence, as far as I am able, with the Lord’s help, as a king ought rightly to provide in his realm for each bishop and the church committed to him.”
134. Then two bishops should call on the people in the church, seeking their will. And if they are in agreement, let them give thanks to God Almighty and sing a Te Deum. And let the two bishops take him in their hands, and bring him before the altar; and he should prostrate himself until the end of the Te Deum.
135. Invocation over the king.
“We call upon thee, O holy lord God Eternal the Father Almighty, that thou shouldst make this thy servant N., whom by the providence of divine dispensation thou hast conceded from the beginnings of creation until the present day should grow rejoicing into the flower of youth, enriched with the gift of thy piety, full of the grace of truth, from day to day, before God and Man, always to improve, that he might rejoicing take up the throne of the highest government by the largess of supernal grace, and, defended by the wall of thy mercy from any enemy adversity, merit to happily rule the people committed to him with the peace of propitiation and the virtue of victory. Through the Lord.”
136. Another prayer.
“O God, Who takes care of the people by thy virtue and rules them with love, give to this man, thy servant, the spirit of wisdom, with the guidance of instruction, so that he, wholeheartedly devoted to thee, might always remaing worthy in guiding the realm; and so that during his reign the security of the church might be steered with thy defence, and Christian devotion might endure in tranquillity, so that, enduring in good works, he might by thy lead come to the eternal Kingdom. Per.”
137. Another.
“May there arise in his days equity and justice for all, help for friends, hindrance for enemies, solace for the humble, correction for the proud, instruction for the rich, piety for the poor, peacemaking for the pilgrims, peace and security for those at home in the fatherland, governing all moderately, in accordance with their measure; may he sedulously know himself, that, watered by thy compunction, he might provide an example to the whole people pleasing to thee; and walking the path of truth with the flock subdued to him, may he abundantly acquire worthy riches, and accept, conceded by thee, everything for the salvation not only of the body, but also of the soul. And thus, may he be seen always to find the thought and inner counsel of thee, settling the government of the whole people with peace and wisdom. And by thy aid may he live long in this life, and come through good times to the height of venerable old age, and having made a good end in this fragile world, liberated from the chains of all his sins by the largess of thy piety, may the perpetual prize of infinite prosperity and eternal commerce with the angels follow. Per.”
138. The king’s consecration.
“O eternal God Almighty, creator and governor of Heaven and Earth, maker and manager of angels and men, king of kings and lord of lords, thou Who caused thy servant Abraham to triumph over his foes, gave many-fold victories unto Moses and Joshua, who were set above thy people; and elevated thy humble child David to the peak of the realm, and freed him from the mouth of the lion and the claw of the beast and Goliath, and from the wicked sword of Saul, and all his enemies, and enriched Solomon with the ineffable gift of wisdom and peace, hear our humble prayers we beseech thee, and upon this man, your servant N., whom we elect as king of all Albion, that is of the Franks, with suppliant devotion, multiply the gifts of thy blessings upon him, and cover him always and everywhere with the hand of thy power, so that he, firm in the faithfulness of the aforesaid Abraham, trusting in the mildness of Moses, defended with the fortitude of Joshua, exalted with the humility of David, ornamented with the wisdom of Solomon, might please thee in everything, and walk ever on the path of justice with uninterrupted steps, and so nourish and teach, defend and instruct the Church of all Albion and the people joined to it, and powerfully and regally administer the government of thy virtue for it against all enemies visible and invisible; and may he powerfully and royally administer the rule of thy virtue, that the royal throne might not forsake the sceptres of the Franks, but may he restore their souls to the concord of true faith and peace by thy grant, that he, supported by the due subjection of the people, might be glorified with worthy love, and, by thy mercy alone merit to stabilise and govern the height of paternal glory for a long life; and, defended by the helmet of thy protection and constantly protected by an unconquerable shield and girded with celestial arms, faithful and happily gain the triumph of a desirable victory, and inflict the terror of his power upon the unfaithful, and joyfully carry back peace for those soldiering for thee. Adorn him with the virtues with which thou adornest thine aforesaid faithful and the blessing of many-fold honour, and place him sublimely in control of the realm, and anoint him with the oil of the Holy Spirit’s grace.”
139. Here he is anointed with oil.
“Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king in Zion, and those present rejoiced, and said ‘May the king live forever!’”
140. “With this hast thou anointed priests, kings, prophets and martyrs, who conquered kingdoms through faith and did works of justice and received promises. Let its most holy unction flow upon his head, and descend within him, and enter into his innermost heart; let him be by thy grace made worthy by the promises which the victorious kings received, and may he happily reign in the present age and reach their company in the Kingdom of Heaven, through our lord Jesus Christ, thy son, who was anointed with the oil of joy before his fellows and vanquished the powers of the air with the virtue of the Cross, who destroyed Hell and overcame the Devil’s kingdom, and rose victorious to Heaven, in whose hand all victory, glory, and power consist, and who lives and reigns with thee, God in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.”
141. Another
“O God, the fortitude of the elect and the height of the humble, Who wished at the beginning to chastise the crimes of the world through the outpouring of the Flood, and Who demonstrated through a dove carrying an olive branch the restoration of peace to the Earth, and anointed thy servant Aaron priest through the unction of oil, and later through the infusion of this might made priests, kings and prophets to rule the people of Israel, and predicted that the face of the Church would be exalted in oil through the prophetic voice of thy servant David; thus we beseech thee, Father Almighty, that through the oil of this creation, thou might deign to sanctify by thy benediction this thy servant, and that thou might make him to give the people committed to him the peace of simplicity like unto the dove, and diligently imitate the example of Aaron in the service of God, and always pursue the heights of kingship in the counsels of knowledge and the equity of justice, and by thy help have a face of joy prepared through this unction of oil for the whole people. Per.”
142. Another
“May God, the son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was anointed by the Father with the oil of exaltation before his partakers, through the present infusion of consecration which we anoint, pour out upon they head the blessing of the paraclete Spirit and cause it to penetrate thy innermost heart, so that thou might merit through this visible and tangible gift to take up invisible gifts, and by pursuing just government in this worldly kingdom to reign eternally with Him, Who alone is without sin, king of kings, and lives and is glorified with God the Father, God in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever. Amen.”
143. Here the ring is given.
“Take this ring, that is, a sign of holy faith, the solidity of the realm, an augmentation of power, through which thou might know to fend off enemies through triumphal power, destroy heresies, unite thy subjects, and be joined to the ongoing catholic faith. Per.”
144. Prayer after giving the ring.
“O God, Whose is all power and dignity, give to thy servant effect for the spirit of his dignity, in which, by thy gift, may he remain, and always fear thee and struggle constantly to please thee. Through our lord Jesus Christ thy son.”
145. Here the archbishop girdles him with the sword.
“Take this sword, given to thee with the blessing of God, with which, through the virtue of the Holy Spirit, thou might resist and drive out all thine enemies and every adversary of the holy Church of God, and defend the realm committed to thee, and protect the camps of God, through the aid of the invincible victor our lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.”
146. Prayer after the sword.
“O God, Who by thy providence governs Heaven and Earth, be thou propitious to our most Christian king, that all fortitude of his enemies might be shattered with the virtue of the spiritual sword, and, for thou fightest for him, completely crushed. Per.”
147. Here he is crowned.
“May the Lord crown thee with a crown of glory and justice, with honour and works of fortitude, that through the office of our blessing, with correct faith and the many-fold fruit of good works, you might reach a crown of the realm everlasting, by the largess of Him Whose realm and empire endures forever and ever.”
148. Prayer after the crown.
“O God of perpetuity, leader of virtues, victor over all enemies, bless this thy servant, bowing his head to thee, and conserve him with good health and prosperous joy, and be ever present when he invokes thy aid, and protect and defend him. Give unto him we beseech thee O Lord the riches of thy grace, fulfil his desire in good things, crown him in mercy and compassion, and may he constantly serve thee as his lord with pious devotion. Through our lord.”
149. Here the sceptre is given.
“Take this sceptre, sign of royal power, to wit, the rightful rod of the realm, the rod of the virtue with which thou mayest rule thee thyself and the holy Church; that is, defend with royal virtue the Christian people committed to thee by God from the unrighteous, correct the corrupt, direct the righteous that they might hold to the right path by thy aid, so that you might go from a worldly kingdom to the Kingdom Eternal, by aid of Him Whose realm and empire endures without end, forever and ever.”
150. Prayer after the sceptre.
“O Lord, fount of all goods, O God, founder of all success, we beseech thee, give it to thy servant N. to bear well the dignity he has taken up, and deign to corroborate him in the honour so furnished; honour him before the other kings of the Earth, enrich him with fruitful blessings, and confirm him in the throne of the realm with firm stability; visit him with offspring, grant him long life. May justice always arise in his days, that he might be glorified with favour and eternal joy in the Kingdom. Through our lord Jesus Christ.”
151. Then the rod is given to him.
“Take the rod of virtue and equity, by which thou might know to delight the pious and terrify the reprobate, to lay out a path for the erring, to reach out a hand to the lapsed; destroy the proud and raise the humble; and may Jesus Christ our Lord open to thee the door, who said of himself, ‘I am the door, if any man enter in, he shall be saved’. And he, who is the key of David and the scepter of the house of Israel, ‘he that openeth and no man shutteth, that shutteth and no man openeth’, may he be to thee a supporter, who ‘brings out the prisoners from the prison, and those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death’, that thou might merit to follow in everything him of whom the prophet David sang, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom’. And by imitating him, ‘You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore God, your God, has anointed you’, after the example of him who was anointed before the world, ‘with the oil of gladness beyond your companions’, Jesus Christ our lord.”
152. Then this blessing is said.
“May He reach out the hand of His blessing, and pour upon thee the gift of his propitiation, and envelop thee with the happy wall of His watchful protection, by the interceding merits of Saint Mary and the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles, and Saint Gregory, apostle of the angels [sic], and all the saints. Amen. May He forgive thee the evils which thou hast done, and bestow upon thee the grace and mercy for which thou hast humbly besought Him: and may He free thee from all adversity, and from all the plots of enemies visible and invisible. Amen. May He place His good angels always and everywhere to precede, accompany, and follow thee, for thy protection; and may He liberated thee by His power from sin or sword, and from the crisis of all perils. Amen. May He convert thine enemies to the benignity of peace and charity, and make those hateful to thee pleasing and friendly, and may He visit upon those who are obstinate in criticism and hatred of thee a beneficial confusion; may an eternal sanctification flourish upon thee. Amen. May He always make thee victorious and triumphant over enemies visible and invisible, and fill up thy heart with fear and love of His holy name, and make thee to persevere in right faith and good works, and, having granted peace in thy days, lead thee to a kingdom everlasting with the crown of victory. Amen. And may He who has wished to establish thee as king over the people bestow happiness in the present age and a consortship in eternal happiness. Amen.”
153. Another blessing.
“Bless, O Lord, this patron [praesul, more usually ‘bishop’] and prince, thou who rules the realms of all kings in this world. Amen. And glorify him with such a blessing that he might hold with Davidic sublimity the sceptre, and sanctify it with the gift of atonements, and be found wealthy. Amen. Give to him by thy breath to rule thy people, as thou caused Solomon to obtain a peaceful kingdom. Amen.”
154. The designation of royal status.
“Stand firm and hold fast henceforth this place, which thou hast held thus far delegated to thee in hereditary right by paternal succession, through the authority of God Almighty and our present gift, to wit, of all the bishops, and the other servants of God; and as much as thou see the clergy to be closer to the sacred altars, by that much more take care to give them greater honour; so that the mediator between God and Man might confirm thee as a mediator between clergy and people in the throne of the realm, and make thee to reign with him in the kingdom eternal, Jesus Christ our lord, king of kings and lord of lords, who is with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
155. Proper behaviour for a king newly ordained and taken up to the throne is to command the Christian people subdued to him these three precepts: first, that the Church of God and the whole Christian people should conserve true peace for all time; second, that he should forbid all ranks from rapacity and all iniquity; third, that he should command equity and mercy for all judges, that clement and merciful God might indulge him and them by His mercy. Who with the Father…
156. Then let him be praised by all the clergy and people, and each should say ‘Long live the king, happily and forever’, and three times ‘long live the king’ as above. And after the Gospel reading, let the king offer an offering and wine to the archbishop. And thus let mass be carried out in his order; thence let him take communion from the archbishop of the body and blood of Christ. And thus let them give thanks to God. Let them then proceed to the table.

Anglo-Saxon kingship! (source)

(Skipping the royal ordo in the Romano-German Pontifical, which I was going to do, but found Henry Parkes’ work in time enough to get my foot out of that quicksand…)

Don’t worry, I hadn’t forgotten. Last weekend was taken up with Christmas markets, so I couldn’t post it, but it was already written. Next on our list of ordines is the so-called Ratold Ordo, named as such because it is found in the liturgical book commissioned by Abbot Ratold of Corbie at some point in the 970s or 980s. It’s interesting because it’s based in part on an Anglo-Saxon manuscript; and indeed the coronation ordo is based heavily on the so-called Second English Ordo, from the latter part of the tenth century. My own hypothesis about the date, given that the ordo contains a couple of references to the king being young and ruling in combination with his father suggests that the inspiration was the coronation of Louis V as king in the late 970s, although it’d be unlikely that this ordo was actually used in that ceremony.

Much of the ordo is English, but there are some characteristically Frankish bits, such as the reintroduction of the promissio. With that said, much of the Anglo-Saxon material, such as section 137 (‘May there arise in his days’) almost looks to me like an influence of the Twelve Abuses of the World by Pseudo-Cyprian. This isn’t alien to Frankish tradition, but it’s not what the ordines have previously picked up on; at the very least, there’s more of an emphasis on temporal success: this is the first ordo to talk about the king living for a long time and to include a ‘long live the king!’ formula…

The other thing this is the first ordo to do is to add the word Francorum (‘of the Franks’) to describe the kingdom ruled. In fact, this is the first of our ordines which has specified that the kingdom ruled is the Frankish one, which is interesting in light of the addition made to section 138 (‘O eternal God Almighty’) praying that ‘the royal throne might not forsake the sceptres of the Franks’). If we do want to date this to around 980, this is an interesting time for someone to write this, for it’s at this time that Lothar is engaging in a war with his cousin Otto II where a lot of divisions between West Franks and easterners are being exposed…

One final thing: there’s a lot of King David here. Not sure what it means, but it’s very noticeable…

After the Christmas holidays (next week, you get a special treat, because I translated some conciliar records), it’s the last thing we’ll cover, not an ordo proper, but a note describing the coronation of Philip I.

Some Issues in Aquitanian History, pt. 2: The Impact of Louis IV, 936-945

Last time, Raymond Pons of Toulouse had just declared himself to be duke of Aquitaine, and you may well have been wondering, ‘What has this got to do with Bishop Stephen II of Clermont?’ Well, today we find that out.

               You may remember that Raymond’s claim to the ducal title had occurred in the context of the dislocation brought on by the death of King Ralph of Burgundy in 936. The problem is that the next five years or so of Aquitanian political history are very murky indeed. The situation is not helped by the fact that a lot of the documentary evidence we rely on for the Toulouse side of things looks very dodgy. The good news, is that this means the period of just under a decade between 936 and Stephen’s emergence in 945 can be zipped through rather more quickly than the previous ten years.

               The first thing to say is that, once again, evidence of conflict between Toulouse and Poitiers is non-existent, and evidence of the counts of Poitiers playing any role in Auvergnat politics ditto. There are three main actors in the Auvergne of the late 930s and early 940s: the local nobility, the count of Toulouse, and the king.

               Of these, the local nobility are basically the same as the following of Duke Acfred. They stick together as a community, and it is these people who you can see around Raymond in 936. Raymond himself plays the very classic role for a major aristocrat of working with the king when Louis IV starts to display an interest in Aquitaine in around 940. (There’s theoretically a diploma issued for one of Raymond’s abbeys in 939, but the whole of the dating clause is spectacularly forged, and I don’t think we can take it seriously. I’d be more likely to put it in either 941 or 944, absent other evidence.) And the king is evidently a significant figure during the early 940s: he shows up in Vienne in winter 941, where the Aquitanians submit to him and he issues a diploma for the abbey of Chanteuges, the same foundation where Raymond had appeared to claim the title of ‘duke of Aquitaine’ in 936. Aquitanians then proceed to give him military assistance, so this doesn’t look purely formal.

               Louis’ visit in 941/42 appears to have been fairly significant long-term. After going from Vienne to Poitiers, he issued several diplomas with Ebalus, the count of Poitiers’ brother, as intercessor. If we take seriously Adhemar of Chabannes’ claim that Louis played a role in acquiring for Ebalus the bishopric of Limoges, it is probably now that he made any agreement to the effect that Ebalus could legitimately succeed to the bishopric after the death of its current inhabitant. Louis went back to Aquitaine in 944 to negotiate with Raymond and other Aquitanians.

               Unlike in 941/2, this visit was not obviously occasioned by any challenge to the king’s position in the north, which was at this time fairly stable. The most likely reason for Louis’ visit, therefore, is to deal with purely Aquitanian affairs. What were these? Well, one of them probably was ensuring the installation of Ebalus as bishop of Limoges. It is also possible that dealing with the succession to the bishopric of Clermont was on the agenda, for it was around this time that Stephen II became bishop. Finally, 944 is the last sure reference we have to Raymond Pons of Toulouse being alive, and I think it is likely that he died shortly afterwards (although some scholars think he lived until 950 or even 960).* In any case, what I think we have here is another shift in power.

               Certainly, Raymond doesn’t appear to have troubled the Auvergne again. Liutprand of Cremona refers to a ‘Raymond of Aquitaine’ appearing in Italian politics at this time; personally, I think this was Raymond Pons’ son shifting his political sphere of action; but for our purposes, what matters is that Toulousain influence cannot be shown in the Auvergne. This is significant, because (as was hinted last week) Viscount and lay abbot Dalmatius of Brioude looks to have been linked to him; and with Stephen’s emergence, a different set of local nobles, the family of the viscounts of Clermont, appear to have replaced Dalmatius as the key figures within Aquitaine. As I said previously, Stephen was the son of Viscount Robert of Clermont, who figures prominently in his early charters. Robert and Dalmatius don’t appear to have been unfriendly or poorly-disposed to one another – they show up at many of the same gatherings – so I think this is not the product of conflict, but rather a simple transfer of power due to Stephen’s appointment.

               It’s at this moment that the charter discussed when Stephen first appeared on this blog was issued, in 945. We don’t necessarily have to imagine Louis coming down in 944 and settling things with a wave of his royal hand, but I think that his kingship was a key element in whatever happened in the mid-940s. Stephen’s act is an ‘accession act’, firmly staking his claim as the predominant local figure in the Auvergne, displaying the core members of his faction, and doing so based on and legitimated by his connection to King Louis.

*Some, in fact, think he died earlier and the Raymond who shows up in 944 is a different guy. The reason for this is that the 944 guy is just ‘Raymond’ and Raymond Pons always shows up in his charters as ‘Raymond Pons’ or ‘Pons’. Problem is, the evidence from 944 isn’t one of his own charters, it’s Flodoard, who always refers to him as just ‘Raymond’ and there’s no reason to think it’s a different person.