On the Origins of Viscounts

Recently Months ago, friend of the blog Jonathan Jarrett posted some reflections on Carolingian viscounts over on A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe. At the time, I was visiting my wife in Georgia, but it’s a topic on which I have a lot of thoughts, so I wrote up some ideas offline during a car ride between Vardzia and Tbilisi. Since then, it has sat in a drafts folder waiting to be posted. Today, I decided to clear out said drafts folder and revisited it. Turns out, it’s pages long, which is too long for a comment – but, as it happens, I have this place I can put short-form written content and so you guys now get the dubious benefits of being able to read it, so enjoy…

Jonathan’s musings were prompted by having read an edited volume by Hélène Débax on Vicomtes et vicomtés, viscounts and viscounties. Débax and her fellow authors, who were mostly but not entirely focussed on southern France, basically saw viscounts as the product of comital weakness, ‘taking over unattended jurisdictions’ and acting as their own little lords of the manor. Jonathan, by contrast, was used to a Catalan historiography which sees viscounts as ultimately comital delegates, i.e. public officials there to represent the counts in places the counts cannot be. Jonathan doesn’t like this argument in a Catalan context because viscounts don’t emerge at a time when there’s any special reason for counts to need delegates and because when we seem them in charter evidence from the Spanish March, they don’t often behave like counts except maybe in presiding over courts. For Jonathan, the vicecomital title puts its holder in relation with a count and thus with public power. Its emergence is thus best seen as a way of getting ‘powerful independents’ to engage with comital power by offering them certain kinds of authority which only public officials could wield in return for their own acknowledgement of their subordinate status. He then emphasises the sheer amount of variety we see in a Catalan context, but concludes that “if there’s a pattern there, it seems to me that it is the one of powerful independents accepting a space in a hierarchy which they could work to advantage that explains most cases”.

This might work for Catalonia, but I think in the rest of the West Frankish kingdom, the delegation theory holds up better – albeit perhaps amended with some ideas of this sort. Comital weakness, by contrast, I think we can dismiss. Even if I wasn’t inherently opposed to the idea of ‘strength’ and ‘weakness’ as analytical terms, most viscounts north of the Dordogne show up at a time when authority in their regions is getting more intensive and (less demonstrably but still there) having its connections to a royal centre strengthened.

We have to distinguish here between viscounts and vice-counts. ‘Viscounts’, in this context, are more institutionalised figures, whose status isn’t contextual and/or temporary. To give you an example, royal legislation from the reign of Charles the Bald sets up a meeting between the king and vicecomites from Paris and Sens in the immediate future. Here, I think we are dealing with ‘duly appointed comital deputies’ nominated for this specific task rather than permanent officials – like advocates at St Gallen vs advocates at Saint-Martin – because otherwise viscounts don’t show up in our sources for these areas until much later.

By contrast, the first significant institutional viscounts I know of from the West Frankish kingdom north of the Dordogne, which are also the ones I know best, are on the Neustrian March. Men such as Viscount Atto I of Tours begin to emerge in the 870s, and this looks like genuine change rather than just the revelation of things that have been there all along, not least because normative formulae change at the same time as specific vicecomital individuals appear. Even more, this does look like delegation. Men such as Atto, and then later Fulk the Red and Theobald the Elder in Angers and Tours respectively, appear when the supra-local authority of the Neustrian marchiones makes actual on-the-spot rule logistically impractical, and our evidence suggests that these viscounts are in fact holding things together for the March’s rulers. Now, this is admittedly mostly holding courts in the charters we have – but that’s also most of what the charter evidence reveals the marchiones doing as well!

Similar patterns can be seen in Aquitaine. This is straightforward, I think, in Poitou and its environs. Greater Poitou is doing much the same thing in political-cultural terms as Neustria, and its viscounts are pretty well controlled by the counts for the tenth century and beyond; pace Delhoume and Remy, the first viscounts of Limoges don’t seem to be associated with the counts of Toulouse, but with Ebalus Manzer of Poitiers, who is also able to assert his jurisdiction over them pretty effectively. In Auvergne and its environs, viscounts show up at the very end of the ninth century, and (as Lauranson-Rosaz says in the Débax volume) appear to be appointments of William the Pious at exactly the time when his personal hegemony stretches over a massive chunk of central Aquitaine. The role of specifically royal authority here might be questioned, but it is I think relevant that William’s subordinates are called ‘viscounts’ rather than anything else, tying them into Late Carolingian regional hierarchies. William himself was trying to capitalise on his Königsnahe at basically the same time, and these phenomena might be connected.

Notably, in generally weird Burgundy, viscounts are mostly absent, and the earliest example I can think of is Ragenard of Auxerre, who is based precisely in one of the key centres of Richard the Justiciar’s power. Based on our analogies above, I’d say Richard’s wobbly personal hegemony, which did not have the benefit of royal approbation for much of its existence, didn’t – perhaps couldn’t – use the language of legitimate Carolingian hierarchy. Equally, viscounts tend to be absent in the north-east, which is much more politically fragmented, and it looks to me rather like comital jurisdictions there are sufficiently small not to need deputies.

Could we consider this in political culture terms? Yes, certainly, but not primarily I think as a means of getting ‘powerful independents’ to participate in the system. Insofar as we can see viscounts in these regions, they tend to be nobodies. Fulk the Red of Angers, for example, has been the focus of a long-running debate about whether or not he was a novus homo because of his family’s onomastic connections to the important Widonid family; but what tends to go overlooked is that whether or not he had famous relatives he himself started his career not as a big Neustrian cheese but as a very minor member of the retinue of the count of Paris. His Tourangeau counterpart Theobald the Elder seems to have been a complete no-name. What I think vice-comital office offers is a means of legitimising counter-weights to the powerful independents. There was no way that, say, Fulk the Red could face off against a genuine powerful independent in Neustria like the Rorgonid Gauzfred, whose family had been there since dot and whose authority in the area doesn’t seem to have depended at all on his intermittent possession of a comital title, without the might of Carolingian royal authority behind him. I’ve spoken before about the calcification of Neustrian hierarchies, and the delegated authority of the vice-comital office is a part of that.

Now, can these guys pull out of comital orbits? Yes, certainly, but it only really works when areas of jurisdiction become simultaneously areas of conflict over spheres of influence – like the way that the viscounts of Thouars become much more independent than the other Poitevin viscounts because they end up caught between Poitiers and the counts of Angers.

The walls of Thouars (source)

A final point I’d like to consider here is that, despite the centuries-long history that the vicecomital office would go on to have in France, their genesis looks like a very specifically Carolingian phenomenon. In most of the regions we’ve been considering, viscounts have a straight line of descent from a Carolingian inheritance. Even in the Limousin, ‘the land of viscounts’, the proliferation of viscounts is fundamentally owed to the prominence (and fecundity) of the viscounts initially appointed by Ebalus Manzer. When the counts of Flanders’ domain got big enough in the tenth century that they started appointing their own delegates, these men were castellans, not viscounts. The vicecomital moment had passed, and new ways of conceptualising comital subordinates were on the rise.

Charter A Week 69: That Stephen of Clermont Charter in Full

Sometimes in Charter A Week, there’s a document which I think is so important that it has to be translated, but precisely because it’s so important, I’ve already discussed it at length. Such a one is this week’s act, and so this week’s post will be concomitantly shorter than usual. Without further ado, here’s the text:

Grand Cartulaire de Brioude no. 434 (7th October 945, Saint-Germain-Lembron)

In the name of the holy and individual Trinity.

Stephen, by assent of divine mercy, extraordinary bishop of the church of Clermont, most worthy in life and customs.

I wish to make it known to all those administering the cares of the holy Church of God, that is, present and future, and all the famous of the Earth, that, I, Bishop Stephen, most humble servant of the servants of God, considering the disaster of human fragility, in order that the pious and merciful Lord might deign to loosen something of the frightfulness of my crimes, both for me and for my lord King Louis and his wife and their offspring, and for the souls of my father Robert and his wife Aldegard and my mother Adalgard who is dead and my uncles, to wit, Eustorgius, Matfred and Guy, and my cousin Stephen, and my brothers Eustorgius and Robert, and my uncle Armand and his son Amblard and Eustorgius son of Eustorgius, and also Abbot Robert [of Mozat] and his brothers, and all Our kinsmen and faithful men, and all Our friends and enemies, I render to my Creator, the Lord, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and I bestow upon the blessed Julian of the church of Brioude, who did not decline to endure a death sentence for Christ, the place and estate which is named Saint-Germain-Lembron, with manses, fields, meadows, vineyards, woodlands, and three churches, of which one is dedicated in honour of Saint Germanus, the other in honour of Saint John the Baptist, and the third in honour of Saint Clement, martyr of Christ, with male and female slaves who live now and might be born or beogtten therein later, with mills and all the tithes pertaining to the same churches, and as much as, by gift of God, I have there in the present day, or which in posterity, I, Bishop Stephen, and Abbot Robert, might be able to justly acquire, I render to the Lord, Creator of All, in its entirety, so that it might be under the domination and power of the blessed Julian and his canons, and I give and transfer them from my power into their domination, so that they might have, hold and possess them such that it might be seen to be subject from the present day under the tutelage of the blessed Julian just like the monastery which is called Chanteuges, which is constructed in honour of the blessed Marcellinus and the blessed Julian and the blessed Saturninus; thus let the estate of Saint-Germain-Lembron, with churches and all its appendages, after my death, be in the tutelage and domination of the church of the blessed Julian.

I, Bishop Stephen, although unworthy, desire, if the Lord gives me the space of life, to construct a little monastery in the aforesaid place, and, by disposition of divine grace, I desire to establish there in the aforesaid little place, in honour of the Eternal King and the twelve apostles, twelve monks, so that they monks might, for all the days of their life, serve God, fear the Lord, love the Lord, and to observe the precept of the blessed Benedict and their abbot according to their men and possibility, for that they might constantly exhort the Lord for me and the statue of the holy Church of God day and night.

Thus, I, the aforesaid Stephen, wish to hold the aforesaid things for the days of my life, under my power and tutelage, and each year, in census, at the time of the vine harvest, I should have ten pecks gathered into the cellar of the blessed Julian, until such time as, by disposition of God, I might establish twelve monks in the aforesaid place; after twelve monks have been established there, let them pay no census, except, on appropriate days, let them say a prayer after Matins, and rise from the earth, and let each, prostrate, sing two psalms, of which the first should be Beati omnes qui timent Dominum, for the salvation of the living, and the other Lauda anima mea Dominum for the rest of the dead, at Primes, at Terce, at Sext, at Nones, and similarly at Vespers, let both them and their successors do this.

After my death, I wish to add that no king nor count nor bishop nor abbot nor father nor brother nor uncle nor any kinsman might presume to arise with rash daring against this page and against those monks who, by disposition of God, have come into that place, or presume to go, act or disturb it with any calumny, unless they come to their senses and to emendation, let them incur the wrath of God Almighty and the offence of the saints, and be immersed in the deepest inferno with Dathan and Abiron, Ananias and Saphira, and with Judas, betrayer of the Lord, and in addition let they who presumed to do it be compelled to pay twenty pounds of the purest gold, and not vindicate what they seek. And it pleased me that, after my death, it should remain in the hand and domination of Abbot Robert, son of Gozbert, so that for the days of his life, for the love of God and the remedy of my soul and all the Christian faithful, he might rule, build and govern the aforesaid place, so that in future he might merit to hear that desirable voice which the Lord says to His faithful: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy lord’.

But that this charter might be firm and true through time to come, I, Bishop Stephen, of my own free will, asked it be written and confirmed, and I asked it be confirmed by the hands of noble men. If it should happen, which I little believe, that any son of Belial should arise who might with rash daring wish to twist this render to God Almighty and donation to the blessed martyr Julian from the power of God and the tutelage of the blessed Julian into their uses, and they are such a strong person that no-one is able to resist them, let all their presumption be frustrated in a vacuum, and in addition let these things revert to my relatives through their succession.

Sign of Bishop Stephen. Sign of Robert, father of the lord bishop, who conceded this and confirmed it with his own hand. Sign of Aldegard. Sign of Eustorgius, uncle of the lord bishop. Sign of Robert. Sign of Eustorgius. Sign of Desiderius. Sign of Armand.

This cession given on the seventh of October, at the estate of Saint-Germain-Lembron, in the 10th year the reign of King Louis, ruling France and Aquitaine.

As I say, I’ve discussed this in detail elsewhere, so I’ll quickly summarise and then if you like you can read the fuller treatments. In 944, Louis IV had gone to Aquitaine again, a visit probably occasioned by the impending demise of Raymond Pons of Toulouse. During that visit, he settled several questions, and that probably included appointing Stephen as bishop of Clermont. This charter is what Koziol calls an ‘accession act’, staking Stephen and his faction’s claim to be the most important group in the old Guillelmid sphere of influence.

As such, it’s quite important that Louis IV heads up the list of people for whom the canons of Brioude are to pray. Stephen’s authority as a regional potentate was closely tied to royal authority, and we can see that in this charter. This is significant, because as we’ve had cause to note before, the West Frankish kings are not usually supposed by historians to have much impact on Aquitanian politics at all. This charter, then, acts as a useful counter to the standard narrative, and gives us a look into the political and ideological world of a bishop and regional magnate.

Source Translation: Louis IV in the Midi

Once again, I ummed and erred about which charter to give you for Charter A Week 942, and once again I ended up translating more than I needed. But, given there’s no point letting a perfectly good charter going to waste, and because it also feeds back to things I’ve spoken about before, I thought it would be useful to put this one up on our semi-regular Translation Tuesday. So, a quick reminder of context and then we’ll get on with the show. At the end of 941, Louis IV, forced out of the north-east and Burgundy by a coalition under the overlordship of Otto the Great, began a great tour of the south and west of his kingdom, building up a group of allies to fight back. Last time, we focussed on Poitou, but that wasn’t the only place he ended up going:

D L4 no. 17 – 5th December 941

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

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

If We confer anything to places of the saints surrendered to divine worship for love of God and His saints, or corroborate by Our royal authority that which has been devotedly bestowed by the faithful, We are confident for certain that it will be repaid to Us by the Highest Repayer of all goods.

Wherefore let the industry of all of the faithful of the holy Church of God, both present and also future, know that the monks of the outstanding confessor St Marcellinus of the abbey of Chanteuges, humbly approaching Our the presence of Our Dignity, strenuously asked that We might deign to confirm for them by a precept of Our Regality certain goods, which the late Prior Cunebert and the other brothers of Saint-Julien [de Brioude], for their common salvation, through the consent of Raymond [Pons], prince of the Aquitanians, and of the other magnates of that country, both bishops and laymen, bestowed on the aforesaid monastery, as is sanctioned in their testament.

Proffering Our assent to their petitions, out of love of Christ and His saint, the aforesaid Marcellinus, and owing to the request of Our followers, that is, of Bishop Heiric of Langres and Bishop Godeschalk of Le Puy and of the illustrious Count Roger [II of Laon], We commanded this royal decree be made, in which We through confirming decree and through decreeing confirm that the monks of the aforesaid place of Chanteuges should perpetually possess the said goods in their entirety, with both bondsmen and everything rightly and legally pertaining to it, and that whatever in future might be conceded to them should be corroborated by the same authority.

Finally, We order that no powerful person should inflict on them any prejudice at all, nor unjustly require any renders; rather, let them and all their goods be free and absolved from all dominion of any person. Let them institute an abbot for themselves not through anyone’s command but in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict for all time.

And that this grace of Our authority might be observed inviolably through the succeeding course of times to come by everyone, confirming it with Our hand We order it be confirmed by the image of Our signet.

Sign of the most glorious king Louis.

Odilo the chancellor witnessed on behalf of Heiric, bishop and high chancellor.

Given on the nones of December [5th December], in the 15th indiction, in the 6th year of the reign of the most glorious King Louis.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

Raymond Pons’ role in this diploma is significant. You may remember from 936 that the foundation of Chanteuges was a moment when Raymond made a special display of his power over the elites of Auvergne, a display closely connected with Hugh the Great’s assumption of the title dux Francorum. Now, Louis confirms the original charter. The importance of this is that Raymond Pons and the Auvergnats didn’t have to seek out Louis – Raymond Pons in particular was much geographically closer to Hugh of Arles in Italy. However, in an Auvergnat context in 941, it was considered important to have royal endorsement. The key was that Louis was finally out from under Hugh’s thumb, and could therefore bestow patronage on his rivals. Raymond was ideally placed to take advantage of that, and in this diploma that’s exactly what we see him doing.

If that’s what Raymond was hoping to do, though, then the title he is given in this diploma specifically suggests what Louis IV’s circles were doing. Louis was not an ignorant man. He was well aware of how Raymond had responded to his accession, and to the claims of Hugh the Great. By now acknowledging Raymond’s role as ‘prince of the Aquitanians’, in a diploma to the same institution as the charter of 936, he was participating in this ongoing conversation, endorsing Raymond’s analysis of the problem, and agreeing with its solution.

Raymond’s sphere of influence had never been that closely connected to West Frankish kingship in the ninth century under Charles the Bald, and it’s unsurprising that the rest of Louis IV’s reign saw the king reproduce his predecessors’ much closer ties to königsnah Poitou. However, Raymond and Louis’ joint intervention at this critical moment undoubtedly did much to strengthen Louis’ hand, and gave the young king the in he needed to worm his way into the Midi. A few years later, in 944, as Raymond was probably dying, Louis came back and (as we have talked about in previous posts) rearranged matters in Aquitaine once more. This diploma, then, acts as a pointer towards a West Frankish kingship that has much more geographical reach than is usually allowed – and a southern nobility more concerned with it.

Charter A Week 66: Coalitions and Königsnahe in Poitiers

Last time we saw Louis IV, he had been pounded flat by Otto the Great and a group of West Frankish allies, and it’s safe to say his position had not massively improved in the meantime. In mid-to-late 941, he had been caught in a surprise attack by Hugh the Great and Heribert of Vermandois, suffering an embarrassing defeat and losing key supporters, notably Archbishop Artald of Rheims, who threw in the towel and surrendered to the two magnates. This was a worrying position to be in – but Louis was not out yet. Owing to the importance of Flodoard’s Annals, historians tend to focus on the kingdom’s north-east, but there was a lot more kingdom than that, and in late 941 Louis set out to strengthen his position in the rest of it. He began by approaching Vienne, where he met Count Charles Constantine. From there, he set out into Aquitaine, where Flodoard loses sight of him, beyond saying that he received the submission of the Aquitanians. However, the charter record gives us a sense of both what Louis was doing and how it was received. By the turn of the year 941/942, Louis was in Poitiers. Poitou was a part of Aquitaine which had enjoyed close ties to the West Frankish monarchy since the reign of Charles the Bald, and Louis set out to capitalise on that. And to demonstrate what’s happening, we have no fewer than three acts! 

D L4 no. 18 = ARTEM no. 1106 = D.Kar VIII.6 (5th January 942, Poitiers)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

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

If We rightly ordain and deal with holy places surrendered to divine worship on account of love of God and reverence for the saints resting within, We little doubt God will be propitious towards Us on account of it in the present world and that to come.

Wherefore let the skillful industry of all the followers of the holy Church of God both present and also future know that, approaching the presence of Our Serenity, the count and margrave William [III Towhead of Poitiers] and his brother Ebalus [later bishop of Limoges] and Count Roger [II of Laon] humbly asked that We might deign to confer upon the brothers of the most excellent confessor of Christ Hilary a precept of Our authority concerning the estates and churches assigned to their divers usages by Our predecessors, and concerning their prebends and houses; and this We did.

Whence We ordered this decree of Our Highness to be made and given to the said brothers, through which We command and sanction by royal authority that the aforesaid canons should with everlasting right possess all this: the aforesaid estates with their churches, that is, Champagné-Saint-Hilaire, Rouillé, Pouant, Luzay, Frontenay, Benassay, Mazeuil, Cuhon, Gourgé, Vouzailles, Vieracus, Saint-Laurent, in the county of Quercy, a church in honour of Saint Hilary; and Cainontus in the district of Toulousain, and in the district of Carcassès the place of Saint Mamet and the field of Olivetus; and in the county of Poitou, Allemagne, Moussay, Neuville, with allods, that is Crispiacus, Eterne, Remcionacum, Clavinnus, Belloria; let their prebends too always be under their power. We also concede the houses with the land within the walls recently built around the monastery, and establishing without and within the walls of the city in the same way to the same brothers, that each might have licence to do as he wishes with his own goods, except alienate them to an outsider; and let no count or other official of the commonwealth dare to become an invader of these goods and of the land placed mutually within the walls from a quarteron in the estate of Pouant without the will of the canons.

If anyone might presume to violate the muniment of this royal authority, in the first place let them incur the wrath of God Almighty and of Saint Hilary and of all the saints, and have perdition with Dathan and Abiron, whom the Earth swallowed alive, and know themselves to be perpetually damned, immersed in the inferno with Judas the betrayer, consumed all over by flames and worms, under the chains of anathema.

Whence, so that this testament of royal dignity persevere through the course of times to come, and be more firmly believed and attentively observed by all, confirming it under Our own hand, We commanded it be corroborated by the image of Our ring.

Sign of lord Louis, the glorious king.

Odilo the chancellor witnessed on behalf of Bishop Heiric [of Langres].

Enacted at the city of Poitiers, on the nones of January, in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 942, in the 15th indiction, in the 6th year of the reign of the most glorious king of the Franks Louis.

In the name of God, amen. 

The original of this diploma, from D.Kar linked above.

D L4 no. 19 (7th January 942, Poitiers)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

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

If We rightly deal with places surrendered to divine worship on account of love of God and his saints, and reform them for the better, We are certainly confident to be repaid for this by the Repayer on High.

Wherefore, let the skill and prudent industry of all the followers of the holy Church of God both present and future know that, approaching the presence of Our Dignity, the illustrious Count Roger [II] of Laon and Ebalus [later bishop of Limoges], humbly asked Our Clemency that We might deign to confer a certain abbey in honour of St John the Baptist, in the place which is called Angély, which is now completely devoid of its original honour, on a certain servant of God named Martin through a precept of Our Regality in order to improve it; and this We did.

Whence We commanded this decree of Our Highness to be made and given to the said Martin, through which he might hold the aforesaid abbey in its entirety as long as he lives, and gather, with God’s help, monks there in accordance with the Rule; and let the monks after his death for all time elect an abbot for themselves in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict; and let no count or any other powerful person inflict any damage on the aforenamed abbey of Saint-Jean. Rather, in accordance with the custom of other places soldiering under the Rule of the said nourishing Benedict, let it remain immune under Our defence and that of Our successors.

And that this emolument of Our authority might persevere inviolably through the course of times to come, confirming it beneath Our own hand We commanded it be corroborated with the image of Our signet.

Sign of lord Louis, the most glorious king.

Odilo the notary witnessed on behalf of Bishop Heiric.

Enacted at the city of Poitiers, on the 7th ides of January, in the 10th indiction, in the 6th year of the reign of Louis king of the Franks.

Happily in the name of God, amen. 

Let’s start with the obvious. The first document has three petitioners, and the first two are brothers, the sons of Ebalus Manzer, Count William Towhead, and Ebalus, abbot of Saint-Maixent. Ebalus also shows up in the second document. Both of them are receiving a big dose of Königsnahe. William, you’ll note, gets the prestigious title of marchio (‘margrave’), something neither he nor his father had at any other time. Ebalus doesn’t get anything quite that formal, but he was given a more concrete reward for his support. As we’ve discussed before, it was likely at this time that Ebalus was assured of his succession to the bishopric of Limoges, which he would then assume a few years later. This alliance had real and ongoing effects. After Louis’ return to the north, he mustered his armies at Rouen, and William Towhead showed up with troops. The royal army then marched to the Oise, where they were able to compel Hugh and Heribert to negotiate. 

The role of Abbot Martin here is also significant. Martin had been a very big name in Aquitanian monasticism for about a decade. He was abbot of institutions in Limoges, Angoulême and Poitiers, as well as of Jumièges in Normandy. That is, he was extremely well-connected, better so even than William Towhead, and drawing him into the coalition that was being assembled was an important was of stretching that coalition’s boundaries. Indeed, after leaving Poitou Louis actually went to Rouen, where he confirmed his alliance with William Longsword, count of Rouen.

This is all well and good, though – but what makes this set of actions really something special is that we also have a charter from William Towhead issued during Louis’ stay.

Saint-Hilaire no. 20 = ARTEM no. 1107 (January 942)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

William, by God’s grace count of the palace of the Poitevins.

We wish it to be known to all of the faithful of the holy Church of God, to wit, present and future, that one of Our followers, named Viscount Savaric [of Thouars], and his vassal Elias, approaching Our Mildness, beseeched Us that We might deign to concede to a certain man named Hosdren and his wife Aldesind something from their benefice, which is sited in the district of Poitou in the lower district of Thouars, in the vicariate of Thénezay, in the estate which is called Vaulorin* and in the place which is named Ad Illo Maso, amongst the goods of Saint-Remi, which is in the brothers’ wasteland, that is, more or less 8 uncultivated quarterons with no heir, along with meadows and arable land along the stream of the Vandelogne, cultivated and uncultivated, visited and unvisited, and as much as is beholden or seen to be beholden to these quarterons, through this writing of Our authority under an rent from a rental agreement; and this is please Us in every way to do.

We, then, considering their petition just did not deny it, but freely granted to him what he asked, that is, on the condition that each year on the feast of St Hilary which falls on the kalends of November [1st November], the aforesaid Hosdren and his wife Aldesind should without any delay act to render a rent of 3 shillings to the ruler who is seen to hold the same benefice under their rule, and after their deaths… their… have, hold and possess it, and if they appear tardy or negligent with this rent for any difficulty, let them render the rent twofold, and let them in no way lose the aforesaid goods.

But that this rental agreement might in God’s name obtain firmness, I confirmed it below with my own hands and after Us We decreed that venerable men should corroborate it below.

+ Count William. Sign of Viscount Savaric. Sign of Viscount Fulk. Sign of Lambert the auditor. Sign of Acfred. Sign of Ebbo. Sign of Rorgo. Sign of Gozlin. Sign of Boso. Sign of Rainald. Sign of another Boso. Sign of Adalelm. Sign of Abiathar. Sign of Aimeric. Sign of Elias. Sign of Rocco. Sign of Dilibal. Sign of Odo. Sign of Thietmar. Sign of Geoffrey. 

Given in the month of January, in the 6th year of the reign of King Louis.

Warner wrote and subscribed.

The original of William’s charter, taken from ARTEM linked above.

 *ID mine based on looking at the map; to be taken with a large pinch of salt. 

The really key part of this charter is William’s title. Comes palatii is new, a title never held by Ebalus Manzer or by William before now. That William issued his own charter with this title whilst Louis was present and in a position to be seen to personally endorse it shows that the count of Poitiers was actively taking advantage of the king’s being there to take to the stage himself and display his Königsnahe and bolster his legitimacy. That is, we know that Louis was not shouting into a void: William was in fact integrating his new-found role as the king’s close ally into his own strategies of legitimacy.

One final note. It’s interesting that the recipient of this charter is named Hosdren. Hosdren is a Breton name. It’s not wise to rest too much about this, but at the very least it’s interesting to note in this regard two things. First, that the Breton duke Alan Barbetorte was also part of this alliance, and also showed up with troops alongside the two Williams. Second, that Alan and William were also negotiating concerning the disposition of some districts south of the Loire, the Mauges and its neighbours, at about this time. It might be that Hosdren played a minor role here, or that his reward was part of these negotiations; it might well be that Louis was arbitrating these negotiations to give them the stamp of royal approval. This is speculative, certainly, but it’s not wise to underestimate the authority of kingship…

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 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 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.

Forteresse_de_Polignac,_Haute-Loire,_France_(DSC0217)

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.

Brothers-in-Arms: The Treaty of Liège (Feb 854)

One of the enduring fascinations of the medieval world for the present is the way it pitches high politics as family drama. The cosily intimate domestic squabble prosecuted on the battlefield is an inherently gripping story. Notoriously the Carolingians have a great deal to offer for aficionados of familial conflict in the Middle Ages. This is also an interesting period in the study of diplomatic relations. The middle of the ninth century saw three brothers – Lothar I, Louis the German and Charles the Bald – who all ruled separately as independent monarchs over a population of elites that saw themselves as part of a wider shared Frankish and Christian community. Their struggles against each other married dysfunctional family relationships with matters of state in front of an aristocratic audience who could easily change allegiance or refuse to participate. The Treaty of Liège of February 854 serves as a sort of sequel to my previous post on the Treaty of Valenciennes. But it also offers a window into the way the brothers sought to communicate the rightness of their respective causes to each other, and to the watching Frankish nobility.

‘Hlotharii et Karoli Conventus Leodii Habitus’, in MGH Capit. II, no. 207 (pp. 76-8).

The most serene Emperor Lothar:

  1. We wish all those who are faithful to us to know that in the past year we have frequently sent invitations to our most beloved brother Louis in order that we might have a common conversation with our faithful and with his concerning the Lord’s will, insomuch as He wishes to send inspiration, and that we might manage and ordain the advantage of God’s holy Church and the common progress, honour and needs of ourselves and our men. But because our aforesaid brother has because of some sort of impediment put off coming until now, as we had hoped, We were unwilling to set it aside in such a way that we did not usefully come together. 
  2. Now we want you to be sure of our coming together, because, with Christ propitious, we want to come together indissolubly in thought and deed in accordance with God’s will, for the salvation of the holy Church and for our and your common advantage and needs, so that we may be one in Christ and you may be one with us.
  3. Understand that we grant to you a law of the kind which our ancestors, that is, our father and grandfather, conceded to and conserved for your ancestors, and we wish to respect it in every way inviolably and incorruptibly, in both present and future times.

The most glorious king Charles: 

  1. Accordingly, we have for this reason delayed having this meeting up until now, because we wished that our aforementioned brother would meet with us as well and attend the same meeting with us. But because he, being hindered by some impediment, neglected to come, we, having heard the disturbance which his son is attempting to cause, wished to ally with each other. Know therefore that we shall be together in prosperity and adversity; nor, with God’s help, will any trifling offence be able to separate us from that love by which we are bound together by fraternal bonds. Rather, wherever we are in need of reciprocal comfort and assistance, as far as the Lord permits, we desire to be supported and sustained by each other, and we wish to bring one another assistance against every earthly enemy.
  2. But if our same brother delays coming to us in the manner that we desire and send to him, we are united to each other such that one shall provide such comfort and assistance to the other wherever it is necessary from this time forward, as we have said above, so that each can rest assuredly in the kingdom that has been entrusted to him by God. And if either one outlives his partner, let him who is left keep his nephews under their tuition and protection together with their father’s kingdom, so that they may be so fortified against the machinations of adversaries with the help of God that they can rest assuredly in the kingdom of their father.
  3. Therefore, We desire Your Devotedness to know for certain that we truly recognize that we have offended God in many things and have carelessly troubled your minds, so have made a vow to, by Christ’s favour, make every effort to amend all of these things so that we might be able to appease God and give satisfaction to Your Devotedness. When a greater number of our faithful men shall come together, or when our aforesaid brother, as we have commanded him to, shall come, if he wishes to come, We will take care to keep you informed of all things in whatever way will be agreeable to you, such that you might truly know us to want to observe and keep our promise most fully and in every way.
  4. In addition, let your skill and the skill of everyone discover it in common, that for this reason we earnestly wished to announce these things to you in this sacred place so that you may know that we will inviolably observe everything which we say, with the favour of the Lord and the support of his saints in whose presence they are announced. 

This is the oath which they swore to one another:

From this day forth, if our brother Louis (or his sons) is breaking or will break the oath he swore to us, regarding that part of the realm which you have received as your share from him, insofar as the Lord give me the power to do so, if you ask it I will offer you help with your defence against him, and against his sons and against all others who wish to take it from you without just or reasonable pretext. And if I should outlive you, I will not take away from your sons that part of the kingdom which you have received as your share from me and my brother but will consent for them to have it. And if they or their faithful men ask for help in defending against our brother, his sons, and anyone, so that they can hold it, I will aid them as far as I can, so long as you and your sons give us the same aid and do not part with us.

Regular readers will remember that when we last left Charles and Lothar in November 853 things were looking pretty good. The situation was stable enough that Charles could concentrate on domestic affairs and the two brothers went through a number of items concerning the church and the law. By February 854 things were considerably less rosy. In late 853, leading Aquitanians had invited the second son of Louis the German, Louis the Younger, to become their king. Charles had only recently won the last war for Aquitaine and had managed to alienate an important kindred of magnates by having an otherwise unknown Gauzbert beheaded in March 853 for similarly mysterious reasons. These rebel Aquitanians received a positive reception from Louis. Alarmed by the alliance between his brothers and annoyed at getting shut out of the question of Lothar’s inheritance, Louis was inclined to support the venture. As news of this development spread, Charles became increasingly concerned that Lothar might decide he was a bad bet and reach out to Louis instead. The result was another meeting between Charles and Lothar, this time at Liège in February 854, where the brothers made their military and political alliance explicit in this treaty.

psalter

Some dubious looking brethren assembling in the Stuttgart Psalter, Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, Bibl. fol. 23.149v.

This background emerges in the text of the treaty. In order to keep Lothar invested in the alliance, Charles promises to protect his children’s inheritance if Lothar predeceases him (Charles c.2; oath). The treaty is very clearly aimed at Louis, inviting him to join them in their alliance (Lothar cc.1-2; Charles c.1), but warning him that an attack on one will be counted as an attack on the other (Charles cc.1-2; oath). Special reference is made to the ambitions of the younger Louis in Aquitaine, with Louis the German called upon to restrain his son (Charles c.1), and the brothers specifying that their alliance would also apply against Louis’ children (oath). Even as they threatened him, Lothar and Charles were probably sincere in inviting Louis to join them, at least in the short term. Both would benefit from peace as Charles dealt with his problems in Aquitaine and Lothar would get the agreement of both of his brothers for his succession plan.

But there was another audience for the treaty, and that was a Frankish elite that was largely tired of internecine conflict. Family drama is entertaining from a distance, but participants in it need to find ways to make other people care about and adopt their cause as their own. By publicly offering Louis a place at the table, Lothar and Charles were deflecting blame for subsequent fighting while suggesting a means by which the multipolar Carolingian world could be peacefully organised. For anyone watching who felt that the problems besetting the empire had more profound causes, they also promised to discuss ecclesiastical matters and to undertake measures that would win back divine favour (Lothar c.2; Charles c.3). Lothar placed particular emphasis on the laws initiated by Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, assuring that the brothers would follow and keep the legal protections accorded to their people (Lothar c.3).

A further, more speculative, point. Liège was an important site in Lothar’s realm, which benefitted Charles in that it meant that the emperor publicly committed to the alliance in front of an assembly of his own people, making it harder to weasel out of it without losing face. I’m struck by the reference to the oath being sworn in a sacred place (Charles c.4), and I wonder if it means that it is being taken in St Lambert’s Cathedral. Liège had been patronised in the early eighth century by the Carolingians as an alternative to Maastricht. Liège was also the centre of Charles Martel’s power in the civil wars that followed the death of Pippin II, and as much the cradle of the Carolingian dynasty as anywhere else. While it is almost certainly a coincidence, I can’t help wondering if there was a deliberate choice made in making this treaty about the need for family unity in a place intimately associated with the beginning of that family, in a cathedral dedicated to a bishop who had been killed as a result of civil conflict (slightly awkwardly by Pippin of Herstal).

Viewed from a distance, this treaty was a success. The alliance between Lothar and Charles held down to the former’s death a little over a year and a half later, at which point Lothar’s sons succeeded as planned. Looked at more closely, this outcome had relatively little to do with the treaty. Lothar had talks with Louis later in the year, forcing Charles to hold another meeting with the emperor, this time at Attigny, to remind him of the agreement, distracting him from affairs in Aquitaine. Undeterred by the alliance, Louis the Younger had travelled to Aquitaine to claim the throne in early 854. Although support for his bid was not as strong as he had been promised, he managed to make trouble until he went home in the autumn.

Charles’ dealing with these problems owed fairly little to the vision of family comity found in the treaty of Liège. There is no evidence that Lothar intervened in the conflict. Rather, Charles neutralised Louis the German by encouraging Slavs and Bulgars to attack the East Frankish kingdom, leaving him unable to support Louis the Younger. He also may have divided the Aquitanians by releasing the imprisoned Pippin II, who immediately gathered many of the people who might have otherwise backed Louis the Younger. The Treaty of Liège may have promised a concert of Carolingian princes working in amity to resolve problems. The reality was altogether messier and depended more on the politics of division than of unity.

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.