…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.