Charter A Week 76: Charles Constantine in the Viennois Void

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

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

CC no. 1.797 (January 952)

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew wrote this. 

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

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

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

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


Charter A Week 75: New Peace, Old Tricks

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

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

CC no. 1.792 (c. 950)

In the name of Lord God Eternal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

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

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

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

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

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

Sign of lord Louis, the most glorious king.

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

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

The original diploma (source linked above).

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

Charter A Week 74: Sobbo and Charlieu

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

CC no. 1.730 (c. 950) 

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

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

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

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

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

In the reign of King Louis.

Charlieu today (source)

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

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

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

Charter A Week 73: A New Beginning

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

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

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.

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

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

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

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

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

Sign of lord Louis, the most glorious king.

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

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

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

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

Charter A Week 72: Manasses of Arles

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

CC 1.726 (September 948)

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

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

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

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

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

Ralph the levite wrote this.

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

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

Charter A Week 71: Posturing Over Lotharingia

In 946, Otto the Great came to help Louis IV. He brought an army bigger than any force Western Europe had seen in a long time, and… well, it didn’t do that much. The main achievement – which is not a small one – was to retake Laon for the king, but attempts to take Senlis, Laon, and Rouen failed, in the latter case embarrassingly. Still, despite that, it was a game-changer. Hugh the Great was forced completely on to the back foot, and Louis IV was forced into a dependent relationship with the East Frankish ruler. This wasn’t expressed in terms of direct subordination (as with Otto’s relationship with King Berengar II of Italy, at least as he himself saw it), but in terms of subtle ritual and ceremonial reminders that Otto was the bigger dog. Reminders such as:

D O1, no. 88 (18th April 947, Aachen)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. 

Otto, by help of divine clemency king.

Let all Our followers present and future know that We, for the remedy of Our soul and also that of Our most beloved spouse of blessed memory Edith, conceded certain goods of Our property to the stipends of the brothers worthily soldiering for God in the place of Chèvremont as property: that is, two holdings sited in the estate of Hermalle and 1 church with all its appendages justly and legally beholden there; besides which, We gave to them 1 church built in the estate of Reng in the district of Hainaut, and another built in the estate of Vilvoorde; and again in the estate of Budel with all tithes and all commodities justly and legally pertaining to the aforesaid churches. 

And We commanded this present gift to be written thereof, through which We wish and firmly order that they should obtain this donation of Our gift firmly and securely without the obstacle of any contradiction, having confirmed it with Our own hand and strengthened it with Our signet.

Sign of lord Otto, the invincible king.

Chancellor Bruno [of Lorsch/Cologne] witnessed on behalf of Archchaplain Robert [archbishop of Trier].

Given on the 14th kalends of May, in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 947, in the 6th indiction, in the 11th year of the reign of the pious king Otto.

Enacted at Aachen.

Happily in the Lord, amen.

The big threat Louis IV posed to Otto was in Lotharingia. The West Frankish kings had only held Lotharingia entirely during the reign of Charles the Simple, but they had proven difficult and tenacious competitors for a much longer period, and Louis himself back in 939 had been chosen as king by the area’s noblemen. This diploma was issued in Easter 947, when Louis was visiting Otto at Aachen, and was one of several diplomas issued at various places in Lotharingia for Lotharingian recipients where Louis was present to really rub in that Otto was, and by right ought to be, king of Lotharingia. (One of these diplomas, issued at Douzy in August, had Bishop Gozlin of Toul, Charles the Simple’s old notary, as an intercessor, which really does add insult to injury.) This week’s diploma, then, is not tremendously complicated, but it is important: it’s a sign of growing Ottonian hegemony across Europe.

One of the reasons for that is also in this diploma (and Simon MacLean has written about it at various points): the death of Queen Edith, Otto’s wife, in 946. Edith was Louis’ aunt, and her death represented a shift from a network of alliances centred around English women to one centred around the Ottonians. With Edith’s death and the side-lining of Louis’ mother Eadgifu, Queen Gerberga was able to rise to prominence, and her mediation played a key role in drawing Otto in to his in-law’s problems in the West.

Courtesy of the Magdeburg Cathedral Museum, it’s Otto and Edith mugs!

Charter A Week 70/2: Restoration

Last time, things were going badly for Louis IV. He was being kept in prison by Hugh the Great, whilst the duke of the Franks decided what to do with him. It’s probable that Hugh wasn’t trying to depose the king, although not certain; but what seems likely is that Hugh was trying to work out just how tightly he could put the screws on. And so, by July 1st, two weeks after Hugh’s charter for Chartres, Louis was released. The price? The price was Laon, which had been held by Louis’ wife Queen Gerberga. Laon was the most powerful and important fortress of the north-east, and by holding both it and Rheims, Hugh could make a reasonable claim to have won the war which he, his late brother-in-law Heribert II of Vermandois, and various kings had been fighting since the late 920s about control in the region.

In return, Louis got to be king again, having his status and honour fully restored to him. This was marked by a ceremony at Chevregny, just south of Laon. No fewer than three diplomas to Cluny were issued on this occasion, but all three are textually similar so – in an experiment with the format – I’ve translated them all side-by-side, so that you can see where they are similar and different.

D L4 no. 27

D L4 no. 28

D L4 no. 29

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

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity.


by ordination of divine providence,

by propitiation of divine clemency,

king. (no. 29: king of the Franks).

If We indeed proffer assent to the prayers of servants of God


and as well

their advantage, We far from doubt conserve (no. 27: exercise) royal dignity (no. 28: in all things) and We decree (no. 27: wish) that it should endure in future with the firmest (no. 29 and inviolable) right (no. 28: inviolably).

Therefore, let the industry of all the followers of the holy Church of God and Us, to wit, present and future, know that


most illustrious

most celebrated

princes of Our realm, that is, Hugh [the Great], duke of the Franks, and another Hugh [the Black], (no. 27: to wit,) duke of the Burgundians, and Count Leotald [of Mâcon], approached


the excellence of

Our Royal Serenity, deprecating that We might concede through a royal precept to the monastery of Cluny, consecrated in honour of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul,

certain goods, that is, a church dedicated in honour of St Jon sited in the suburbs of Mâcon, with all the goods pertaining to the same church, and also the estate of Vésines and Ozan, and the woods and estate of Senozan,



a certain little estate, from the rule of the viscount of Lyon. This estate is sited in the same district of Lyon, on the river Saône, which We donate with all the goods pertaining to it, to wit, vineyards and fields,

a certain monastery consecrated in honour of St Stephen, which is named Charlieu, and the cell of Rigny pertaining to it, dedicated in veneration of St Martin; also a church pertaining to the rule of the blessed Martin of Tours, sited in the suburbs of Mâcon. We concede these places named above, sited in the district of Mâconnais, with all the goods pertaining to it, that is, churches, estates, bondsmen of both sexes, vineyards, fields, meadows, woods, waters and watercourses, in their entirety.

with lands, meadows, woods, (no. 28: waters and) great water(no. 28:course)s and little streams, parks, ditches and the port

of the abovesaid Ozan, and other ports


With (no. 27: pastures,) incomes and renders, (no. 28: with pastures) and all adjacencies, and all fisheries (no. 28: and fishers, and all male and female serfs and colonis with their children and their whole kin-group,) sought and to be sought after,

and with Arnulf and his wife and their sons and daughters and all the male and female serfs and children beholden to the aforesaid goods, and their allods within and without, wherever they are, except a third part of Osan which pertains to Saint-Vincent [of Mâcon], and also Sigebert of Davayé with his wife, sons and daughters, with all their allods and goods, and everything which he holds in the said county.

I cede and transfer wholly and entirely

(nos 27, 29: We did this freely both) for love of (no. 28: God) (no. 29: the divine) and of the (no. 28: His) blessed apostles (nos 27, 29: and for Ourself, and also) for the state (no. 28: and stability) of Our realm, and at the same time the salvation of Our princes and all the (no. 27: Christian) faithful (nos 28, 29: of Christ) (no. 28: to wit, the living and the dead.) (nos 27, 29: and We freely assented to their pious and devoted petition.)

Commanding, therefore, We order that hereafter the aforesaid witnesses of Christ (no. 28: judges of the age, that is) the blessed Peter and Paul, and their abbot (no. 28: the abbots and rulers of their aforesaid abbey) and (no. 28: also) the monks serving the same apostles of Christ should hold and possess (no. 29: the aforesaid goods) with the firmest right through


this Our authority,

this authority of Our sublimity,

and whatever they wish to do or judge concerning it, they may enjoy (no. 28: use) free judgement in everything to do (no. 28: and ordain) whatever they choose.

And that this

Our authority

authority of Our Highness

authority of Our Sublimity

might be held more firmly and conserved better through future (no. 28: coming) times, We commanded it be sealed below with Our signet.

Sign of King Louis.

Chancellor Roric witnessed on behalf of [Bishop] Achard [of Langres].

Enacted at the estate of Chevregny, on the 1st July, in the 11th year of the reign of King Louis, when he also recovered Francia.

So everything’s hunky dory now, right? Not quite. You’ll note these acts all have the same intercessors: not just Hugh the Great, but Hugh the Black and Leotald of Mâcon. Hugh the Great – finally – got to be re-acknowledged, for the first time since 936, as dux Francorum in a royal diploma, but this had to be balanced out. Hugh the Black is called dux Burgundionum, a title he had not previously claimed in any of his own acts or any royal diplomas, and which he would not claim in the future. It seems that he, too, agreed with Raymond Pons’ analysis of the problem posed by Hugh the Great: ‘duke of the Burgundians’ meant that he remained Hugh the Black’s equal and not his superior. Equally, the presence of Leotald of Mâcon is interesting. Cluny was of course in the Mâconnais, but there’s more to it than that. Leotald’s presence reminded Hugh the Great that the Burgundians mattered, that they were watching and – bluntly – that they outnumbered them.

The content of the diplomas is also carefully balanced in this regard. The first deals with property in Mâcon itself.  The second, however, deals with land pertaining to the viscounts of Lyon, in the kingdom of Conrad the Pacific, where Hugh the Black was count.  This, though, was counterbalanced by the gift of a church in Mâcon under the rule of the abbey of Saint-Martin of Tours, over which Hugh the Great ruled. That is, we have three different acts speaking to the interests of the three different magnates, rather than having Hugh the Great clearly dictating terms. For all that Hugh the Great might have had his title recognised, after almost a decade of hard fighting, he had not been able to overawe the kingdom’s other leading magnates, and these tense acts were the result.

This makes Louis’ ‘recovering Francia’ somewhat ironic. Hugh’s stripping him of key fortresses meant that the Chevregny acts didn’t convince everyone. For all Flodoard says that he had the royal name and power restored, East Frankish sources were more cynical: Adalbert of Magdeburg said that Louis was ‘expelled from the kingdom’. The reason that Adalbert knew this was that Queen Gerberga spent a big chunk of 946 in her brother Otto the Great’s kingdom trying to call for his help. Next week, we’ll see how that went.

Charter a Week 70/1: Meetings About an Imprisoned King

In 945, everything went wrong for Louis IV. The background to this is something we haven’t really discussed, because there’s more-or-less no charter evidence relating to it, but we have seen in other contexts: the assassination of William Longsword, count of Rouen, by Arnulf the Great of Flanders in 943. William had no obvious heir – he had one illegitimate son who was a small boy – and so his quite substantial lands and offices were up for grabs. Louis and Hugh the Great spent several years arguing with each other and several viking chieftains about who got what. In the end, the vikings won: Harald, ruler of Bayeux, whose own position was probably recent and somewhat precarious, ambushed Louis and captured him. He was then sold down the river Seine to Hugh the Great (in exchange for hostages, one of whom – as we’ve previously discussed – was Bishop Guy of Soissons). Hugh then proceeded to keep him in prison for the rest of the year.

However, international and domestic pressure was mounting. King Edmund of England send angry embassies on behalf of his nephew. He was then murdered at Pucklechurch, but he wasn’t the big problem anyway. The big problem was Louis’ brother-in-law, who was generally somewhat cool towards him but whose sister Queen Gerberga now launched frantic embassies to seek his assistance: Otto the Great. Otto, who had faced multiple serious rebellions in his ten-year reign, was in no mood to see a king treated badly by successful rebels. It was with these storm clouds gathering that Flodoard described Hugh hold public assemblies to decide what to do with the king. And, as it happens, a charter from one of these meetings survives.

Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres no. 7 (19th June 946)

In the name of the highest and eternal Saviour, our lord Jesus Christ.

Hugh, most excellent margrave and duke of the Franks.

Since, in this doubtful and inconsistent life, each mortal is, by gift of the Highest Benefactor, ennobled with the happiness of worldly advantage and nourished by an abundance of temporal goods, each of the faithful should take the greatest care that celestial goods should be acquired through that which they possess in this world, and that, by a happy exchange, the invisible is bought by the visible and the incorruptible by the corruptible. Indeed, anyone will more easily deserve to obtain the rights of an enduring heavenly inheritance if (amongst other efforts to pious action) they faithfully cede their worldly and transient goods to the Bestower of All Goods and strive to honour and elevate the most holy Church, that is, His house, with gifts of perishable things.

Let, therefore, the prudent sagacity of all the faithful of the holy Church of God, present and future, and of Our successors, know that – reinforced by the admonition of this holy exhortation and taught by the inspiration of divine grace – along with the consent and will of Our relatives and followers, We concede and donate to the mother church of Notre-Dame de Chartres a certain fisc of Ours, named Ingré, which We have until now possessed freely and by hereditary right, which is in the district of Orléannais, in the vicariate of Les Muids, with all its appendages, which have these names: Champoigny, Grand Muid, Petit Muid up to Alleville and up to the estate which is called Cercottes, Cultura, Boignaux, Montpatour, Brogilus, Villaris, Chiregius, Coust, Changelin, Sorberes, Pataliacus, Les Masures, Montabusard, Sucrogilas, Buiras, Le Buisson, and certain land which lies in the estate which is called Ormes, and other adjacencies lying both within and also without the town, whatever is seen to be beholden there at present; and the rulers of the estate will have the ability to reclaim whatever has been taken away at any time; and We transfer it from Our dominion and place under its rule, with lands cultivated and uncultivated, pastures, meadows, woods, and bondsmen of both sexes and a church there named and built in honour of St Lupus.

And thus, conceding this gift of Our right, We established through deliberation that it should be delegated to the feeding of the brothers of the said church, and assigned to their stipends and usages, from whence they might every day have food and nourishment and more freely pay attention to divine worship and spiritual exercises, and constantly pour out unceasing prayers to the Lord for us and our wife and as well all our offspring, so that He, by the merits of his mother Mary, for whose love We gave a little gift of this sort, and by the plea of all the saints, might rule and govern Us in the height of temporal dignity and sublimity, by which in the land of the living We might at some time merit to see and gain its good things and possess the freedom of a heavenly inheritance.

If, though, any of Our relatives, heirs or proheirs or any calumniating person should try hereafter to violate the authority of this gift, let them incur the wrath of the Three-In-One Deity and Mary Mother of God on whom they committed this fraud, knowing that she will never be their helper; and let them be unable to vindicate what they have claimed, and withdraw in confusion from this presumption, and let the present writing persist undisturbed and undefiled through times to come, relying on this guarantee.

But so that this page might obtain the strength of stronger firmness, We and Our son Otto [of Burgundy] undersigned it with Our own hands, and We determined it be strengthened by the hands of Our nephews and followers.

Sign of Hugh, duke of the Franks, who made and affirmed the authority of this writing. Sign of Hugh [Capet], his son. Sign of Otto, his son. Sign of Heribert [the Elder], his nephew. Sign of Odo. Sign of Robert. Sign of Theobald. Sign of Fulk. Sign of Bernard. Sign of Godfrey. Sign of Aimo. Sign of Ivo. Sign of Warin. Sign of Gauzbert. Sign of Godfrey. Sign of Frotmund [of Sens]. Sign of Adelelm. Sign of Isembard. Sign of Ansculf. Sign of Walter. Sign of another Walter. Sign of Gauzbert. Sign of Cadelo. Sign of Robert. Sign of another Robert. Sign of Landric. Sign of Hugh. Sign of Heriveus. Sign of Suger. Sign of Gislebert. Sign of Odo. Sign of Ralph.

Given on the 13th kalends of July [19th June], in the 11th year of the reign of King Louis.

Obviously, the big interest here is the witness list. We have a veritable Who’s Who of Robertian allies. We’ve got a bunch of relations and clients of the late Count Heribert II of Vermandois, including his sons Heribert the Elder, Robert of Troyes and probably Odo of Amiens, as well as Bernard of Beauvais. We’ve got Hugh’s Neustrian subordinates, including Theobald the Trickster and Fulk the Good; the ‘Ivo’ is perhaps the ancestor of the Bellême on the southern border of the future Normandy, and I’d be inclined to put the ‘Aimo’ there too. We’ve got various Burgundian figures, most obviously Frotmund of Sens but I’d lay decent odds that the ‘Landric’ in the list is the ancestor of the later count of Nevers. In short, these are Hugh the Great’s fideles – but no-one else. That’s far from a negligible base of support, and its certainly enough to be a threat to anyone else in the West Frankish kingdom – but it likely does indicate that he’s having problems winning over anyone else.

We also have Hugh’s sons, Hugh Capet and Otto of Burgundy, both making their first public appearances at the age of about six to eight (their father and mother married in 937, so they can’t be much older). It’s interesting that Otto is the one who confirms this charter, and not Hugh Capet. It’s often assumed that Hugh was the oldest son, but that may well not be the case: this isn’t the only time that Otto shows up first in tenth-century sources… In fact, if Otto were the eldest and Hugh the Great intended for him to get Neustria (as his presence here implies), that might explain developments of a couple of decades later which we’ll get to in time…

Was Hugh the Great planning to depose Louis? It’s a picture that has tempted many historians, and I’ve softened on the idea over time; but ultimately I think he wasn’t. This charter provides one key clue: the dating clause. If Hugh were really planning to kick Louis off the throne, why would this charter be dated by Louis’ regnal years? A subtle clue such as anno Domini dating would be key evidence here; the fact that no such thing exists indicates that whatever Hugh’s goals were, outright deposition is unlikely to have been one of them.

So what did he do instead? That, I’m pleased to say, is a question for a different day, specifically this time next week. Tune in to find out!

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.

Charter A Week 68: Feudal Revowhatnow?

None of the charters for the actual year of 944 were particularly inspiring, so I’ve taken something from a broader date range. This week’s act comes from ‘the reign of King Louis’, almost certainly meaning Louis IV. (There is a tiny, tiny chance it could mean Louis V as king of Aquitaine, but I doubt that very strongly.) Christian Lauranson-Rosaz dates it to 951 specifically, but I’m not sure of his reasoning. Realistically, this charter can’t be dated more precisely than ‘the middle of the tenth century’.  

Grand Cartulaire de Brioude, no. 449

It is written, ‘it is seen to be in no few places as though the angel of greed were urging people on’, and thus it has come to pass that recently Dalmatius [II], viscount of the same place, subdued all this through the force of his own power or by his own kinsmen: a church which is within the cloister of Saint-Julien, named in honour of Notre-Dame; and in the place called Brioude, another consecrated in honour of the holy martyr Praejectus, and in that county of Brioude, in the place which is called Champagnac, the church which is founded in honour of St Peter, and within the confines of the land the manse which is called Feuvetulus, and in the region the estate which is called Teinat and in the county of Brioude the church which is called Blassac with all its appurtenances, taken from the community of canons serving Christ therein.

On which account, the aforesaid brothers, when they heard, showed him how he had done this injuriously to the holy martyr Julian and his servants. However, the mercy of God Almighty, which wishes that none should perish but that all should be saved, at length sent to him such a counsel: that, to wit, at his request the aforesaid clerics should write a privilege and lord Dalmatius should confirm it with his very own hands, and that he should render what he unjustly possessed there. Indeed, when they had done this, the aforesaid lord Dalmatius, with everyone who was there in the church of Saint-Julien looking on, holding this authority in his very own hands, restored the said churches in their entirety and with all the abovewritten goods in their entirety to the dominion of that holy martyr and his servants.

Therefore, we in turn, seeing his great love in the Lord and fervent love of the holy martyr Julian, and the benefits to be earned in future, cede the abovewritten things to him, that is, to Viscount Dalmatius, such that as long as he lives he might hold and possess them and each year at Easter should pay in census to the canons one peck of the best wine. After his death, let the aforesaid goods remain in the common rations of the canons soldiering for the Lord there without any perturbation or delay.

Therefore, thereafter, lord Dalmatius, supported by God’s providence, for love of God and remedy of his soul and of his father and mother and his grandfather and all his relatives, ceded to God and Saint-Julien a church in the country of Brioude which is called Saint-Cirgues with all its adjacencies which pertain to it; and in another place, in the estate which is called Auzat, he parted with as much as he was seen to have and possess wholly and entirely; and in the vicariate of Auriac*, in the estate which is called Volvige, he ceded that estate without any contradiction after his death, on the condition that Ebbo should hold all of the abovewritten in obedience.

This charter made in the reign of King Louis.

Sign of Viscount Dalmatius who asked this charter be written and confirmed. Sign of Stephen, son of Bertrand. Sign of Gerald. Sign of Hildegar. Sign of Leotard. Sign of Achard. Sign of Bertrand. Sign of Stephen.

*My own ID based on looking at the map, dubious.

I know, I know: a dispute settlement record which isn’t from Saint-Martin at Tours? Absurd. But in the context of our previous discussions of Martinian material, there are certainly parallels here. The brief introduction reminds me of the arenga of the 930 charter we looked at months ago, putting the dispute into a wider picture of human greed. With that wider perspective, we can address the place of this charter in historiography.

This charter has attracted some scholarly discussion, above all from Lauranson-Rosaz whom I mentioned above. For him, this is a primary symptom of a thoroughgoingly orthodox case of feudal revolution. Lauranson-Rosaz sees Viscount Dalmatius II of Brioude as a predatory local noble, taking advantage of a dissolving public power to enrich himself at the expense of the local Church through violence. Indeed, it is to specifically this background that Lauranson-Rosaz places the emergence of the Peace of God in Auvergne.

However, to us, this looks rather less dramatic. We’ve already seen similar chains of events befall Robert of Neustria and Hugh of Arles, for instance. One thing this charter doesn’t mention is that Dalmatius was actually Brioude’s lay abbot at this time. This means that, even before we consider the place of the abbey within its local milieu, this is already a dispute within the abbey’s own community. Sure, Dalmatius is a layman, but he’s also an abbot; it might mean he’s not there all the time, but see Odo of Cluny, who was a monk and definitely wasn’t at the dozens of abbeys over which he presided all the time! What this means in turn is that, because monastic communities aren’t monoliths, Dalmatius likely had supporters within the abbey. This, I think, helps explain compromises like this and others we’ve seen: at least part of what the winning side gets here is the acknowledgement that they were in the right, and temporarily giving up the goods in question is part of the price for that acknowledgement.

What we are dealing with here, ultimately, is therefore not a symptom of sudden and dramatic change in the mid-tenth century. We’ve seen too many other things that resemble it for too long. Rather, this document is evidence that, when it came to resolving disputes, mid-tenth century Auvergne was firmly embedded in a Late Carolingian milieu.