Charter a Week 27, part 1: Robert’s Back!

The split between Robert and Charles didn’t last forever. In 903, the Neustrian ruler was back in the West Frankish king’s good graces. Quite why then is a little bit open to question. My preferred answer is that there are hints in the sources that 903 was a time when Viking attacks were starting up again – in that year, Tours was burned down by two leaders named Bard and Eric – and Charles, being basically unable to lead an army out of a wet paper bag, needed his most experienced anti-Viking commander to help. This doesn’t really explain why he wouldn’t turn to Richard, who had form fighting Vikings as well, but it’s the best answer I’ve got. Another possibility is that the death of Charles’ mother Queen Adelaide in around 902 had opened the way to reconciliation. But what did the reconciliation look like?

DD CtS no. 47 (5th June 903, Melay) = ARTEM no. 3043 = DK 6.xiv

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by the gracious favour of divine clemency king.

If We pay heed to the petitions of servants of God and things advantageous to churches, and bring them into effect, We are confident that the Lord will make repayment for it.

Therefore, let the profit and skill of people both present and future know that the venerable Count Robert, truly beloved of Us, abbot of the monastery of the holy martyr of Christ, the champion and Our special patron Dionysius and his companions came before Our Clemency and made known a certain little abbey in the realm of Our most beloved kinsman Louis, that is, Lièpvre in the Vosges, which the late venerable abbot Fulrad of the aforesaid monastery had bestowed on the most holy Dionysius and the brothers serving him by charters’ firmness and the authority of precepts; and which the aforesaid brothers had always held from then for their own uses with one salt-pan and one saline in the township of Marsal; and he humbly appealed to Our Clemency that We might deign to renew and confirm the aforesaid goods through a precept of Our authority against abbots to come, so that the brothers might be able to hold the aforesaid goods for all time without any disturbance or invasion or division from any abbot.

And thus, assenting to the prayers of the aforesaid Count Robert, in accordance with what is contained in the testament of the venerable abbot Fulrad and in the privilege of the apostolic lord Leo [III], We perpetually confirm by a precept of Our authority the aforesaid goods for the monks of the aforesaid monastery of Saint-Denis, both for food stipends and for the lighting and for the reception of the poor, reminding and invoking future abbots that they should guard inviolably what We have conceded and strengthened. May he who hears and observes this precept receive an eternal reward, but let anyone who violates it, if they do not come to their senses, remain bound by the chains of the anathema concerning the confirmed goods in the privilege of the apostolic lord Leo.

But that this precept, written after the fashion of a privilege, might be more truly believed and more fully observed, We confirmed it below with Our own hand and We commanded it to be sealed by Our ring.

Sign of Charles, most glorious of kings.

Ernust the notary related and subscribed on behalf of Bishop Anskeric [of Paris].

Given on the nones of June [5th June], in the 6th indiction, in the 11th year of the reign of Charles, most glorious of kings, in the 6th of his restoration of unity to the kingdom.

Enacted at the estate of Melay.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

CW 27 903
Original diploma taken from dMGH as above.

Once again, this charter has been analysed by Koziol, and in this instance he’s basically right. The Saint-Denis diploma came as the culmination of a series of acts for Robert (I didn’t translate them because there are some minor questions of authenticity over their surviving versions), where he was restored to Charles’ grace over the course of the Easter celebrations. The big difference between my reconstruction and Koziol’s is that I don’t think Robert had prior claim to any of the abbeys he received, so when Charles presented him with the major Parisian abbeys of Saint-Denis and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, these were bribes not restorations.

This diploma is also a reminder of how wide-spread these abbey’s resources were. When anyone talks to you about ‘narrowing horizons’ and ‘territorial consolidation’ in the tenth century then, well, they might have a point, but it’s evidently not in terms of the extent of landholding. As you can see if you click through to the map, the cell of Liepvre is in the middle of Alsace; but Robert has to take it into account along with the closer-to-home estates in the Paris Basin. Also interesting is that Charles apparently has no problems confirming an estate in Louis’ kingdom. Unlike when he did the same to Zwentibald, though, here Louis is marked as being the king and being, officially at least, well-regarded. The dynamics at play here are a little shadowy to me, honestly. Maybe it’s something as simple as Charles keeping his hand in re: claims to Lotharingia…

Charter a Week 26: An Aquitanian at King Louis’ Court

This week, the south. We haven’t seen much of Louis the Blind since his election in 890. So far, things have been going pretty well for him. In 900, he was asked to become king of Italy and a little later, emperor. This is going to go very badly for him (see: Louis the Blind), but for the moment it’s still working out. Winter 902 sees him back in Provence, giving a diploma to a very familiar figure…

DD Provence no. 41 (11th November 902, Vienne) = ARTEM no. 2485 = DK 9.iv

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Louis, by grace of God emperor augustus.

Let the industry of all Our followers, to wit, present and future, know that William [the Pious], the famous duke and margrave, approaching Our Excellence, earnestly requested that We might concede to some of Our followers, to wit, Bernard and Theobert, what seemed just and legal, that is, an abbey named in honour of Saint Martin, which is named Ambierle, pertaining to the county of Lyon, lying in the district of Roannais, with everything justly and legally pertaining to it, and there are in total thirty manses along with dependents of both sexes, completely and entirely, which could be legally done through a precept of Our authority.

Proffering assent to his prayers, We decreed this precept of Our Serenity be made, through which let Our aforesaid followers Theobert, and also Bernard, be able to possess in future times all that which is covered above, which is just and legal, along with male and female serfs, vineyards, meadows, cottages, pastures, woods, fields, waters and watercourses.

We concede all of the aforesaid to Our aforesaid followers and We give it into their dominion, as can be legally done, so that they might have power hereafter to do whatever they wish, that is, sell, cede, donate, exchange and freely bequeath to their heirs, remote from disturbance from any power.

And that this might be held more truly, We confirmed it with Our own hand, and We commanded it be signed by Our seal.

Sign of lord Louis, most serene of august emperors.

Arnulf the notary witnessed on behalf of Archbishop and Archchancellor Ragemfred [of Vienne].

Given on the 3rd ides of November [11th November], in the year of the Lord 902, in the 5th indiction, in the second year of the imperial rule of lord emperor Louis.

Enacted publicly at Vienne.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

CW 26 902
Diploma photo taken from dMGH as above.

Yes, it’s the Trans-Ararian Fluidity Zone again. William the Pious, who is count in Lyon, shows up in almost as many diplomas of Louis the Blind as of Charles the Simple (which is to say, one versus two). To some extent this is inevitable: William, not least, is married to Louis’ sister Engelberga. As count in Mâcon as well, William is plugged into that network of Burgundian bishops we’ve seen before – and in fact this will become very evident in a few years time. For the moment, though, what we are seeing is William operating as much in one kingdom as in another, and helping his followers do the same. The Theobert in the diploma is generally accepted to be Count Theobert of Apt, who had been an important figure in Louis’ court but is on the way out. He will, however, find a new life in William’s domains, helped along not least by his possession of Ambierle as per this act. There’s more to say about how things go on the borderlands between Provence, Transjurance Burgundy and the West Frankish kingdom – but that will wait for a later blog post.

Charter a Week 25: Richard the Justiciar’s Time in the Limelight

After Robert of Neustria’s departure from court in summer 900, he stayed away for several years. Charles, whose favouring of Richard the Justiciar had probably instigated the conflict in the first place, continued to favour Richard. Although he continued to build up wider alliances, it was unquestionably Richard who held the dominant place at court:

DD CtS no. 38 (22nd April 901, Troyes)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by grace of God king.

If We freely give a hearing to the petitions of servants of God, We copy works of royal excellence and through this We do not doubt that We will gain possession of the prize of eternal life.

Therefore, let the industry of all the faithful of the holy Church of God, to wit, present and future, know that Our follower, the venerable, the most noble of counts, and as well abbot of the monastery of Saint-Germain d’Auxerre, Richard [the Justiciar], approaching the clemency of Our Highness, sought from Our Munificence that We might concede certain goods from the same abbacy to the monks of the same most holy place for use in the stipends of the monks; to wit, twenty little manses sited in the district of Auxerrois, in the estate which is called Irancy, which Walcaud and Leotard used to hold in benefice.

Lending the ears of Our Sublimity to his right salutary requests, which are beneficial for Our soul, We conceded the aforementioned goods to the same sacrosanct place, and We commanded this precept of Our Magnitude be made and given to them concerning it, through which We confirm that the same goods should eternally serve their uses, and, disturbed by no-one, no abbot, nor any officer or judicial power, We decree in entrusting them to them that they be perennially possessed, on the authoritative terms that they should possess the freest judgement in anything whatever they should decree be done with the same things for their needs, and that the aforesaid monks, faithfully and worthily thinking upon this largess, should not desist from beating the pious ears of God Almighty with continuous prayers for Our safety and the state of Our whole realm and the salvation of Our beloved and faithful Richard.

And that this largess might be held more firmly through many times to come and be more diligently be conserved in perpetuity by all God’s faithful, confirming it below with Our own hand, We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Given on the 10th kalends of May (22nd April), in the 3rd indiction, in the 9th year of the reign of and 3rd year of the restoration of unity to the kingdom by Charles, most serene of kings.

Enacted and confirmed at the city of Troyes.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

The abbey of Saint-Germain-d’Auxerre as it appears today (source)

This is one of the five royal diplomas Richard petitioned for between summer 900 and spring 903 (out of a total of 11 surviving acta). It was issued at Troyes, well outside of Charles’ usual travel range. The 22nd April in 901 was just after Easter – the implication seems to be that Charles went to visit Richard in Burgundy for Eastertide, an idea perhaps reinforced by a diploma purporting to have been issued in Autun in March 901. As it currently stands, it is an obvious forgery; but if real information is underlying that dating clause, it could support this suggestion.

In any case, this diploma shows how high Richard’s star was at court in the early 900s. His description as venerabilis et nobilissimus comes, set et fidelis noster necnon et abbas monasterii Sancti Germanii is a very high-flown bit of titulature, and his inclusion in the prayer clause is very unusual in Charles’ diplomas. This is a remarkable bit of favour.

Richard’s time in the spotlight would come to an end relatively shortly. Next week, however, we’ll be taking a quick peek outside the West Frankish kingdom.

Charter a Week 23: Kingship and Bishops in Langres

Remember how Burgundy was unusually violent during the civil war? Well, now it’s 899 and we’re still dealing with the fallout from that. Bishop Adalgar of Autun’s murder wasn’t the only bit of violence Richard the Justiciar oversaw – he also tried to take advantage of a dispute in the see of Langres. There was a dispute between two candidates, Theobald and Argrim. Of the two, Theobald looks to have been the local choice but Argrim was more willing to lend a hand to Richard, and so Theobald was blinded and Argrim supported. Argrim, however, ordained Bishop Walo of Autun and this ticked off Pope Stephen V, who deposed him. Stephen’s successor Formosus, however, restored Argrim as Archbishop of Lyon. Then, however, Argrim was moved back to Langres, and everyone basically agreed on him as a candidate. This is where our story starts:

Papsturkunden no. 10 (May 899) = JL no. 3520

Bishop John, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved sons the clergy and people of the holy church of Langres.

We accept this trust from the blessed Peter, the lord of this holy see and the founder of the apostolic church, and the prince of the apostles: that We should with an energetic disposition labour for the whole Church redeemed by the blood of Christ, and succour all the servants of the Lord and help out everyone living piously with apostolic authority, and not delay to correct and emend, by the Lord’s assistance, whatever is harmful.

To this end, the foresight of divine dispensation has established divers grades and distinct orders, so that when lessers show reverence to the more powerful and the more powerful give love and assistance to their lessers, one bond of concord should be made out of diversity and the administration of each office should be borne correctly.

We freely received the letters of Your Belovedness, indeed, which you sent to the see of the blessed apostle Peter to deal with your affairs not simply once, but twice and even three times, along with the letters of Our beloved son King Berenger [I of Italy]. Indeed, We sorrowed to no small degree over your afflictions and misfortunes, which you sorrowfully complained of having endured for such a long time: to wit, that your church, worn down by many calamities, should be devoid of all pastoral solace from the point when the venerable Bishop Argrim – whom you testify that you all concordantly elected, sought and acclaimed –  left his church owing to the deceitful theft of certain people, and you did not receive any bishop after him of your own free will, as the outline of your complaint fully laid out.

In fact, We already knew this thanks to Count Ansgar [of Ivrea], Our beloved son, who humbly confessed that he had gravely erred in this. We, therefore, who bear the care and concern for all the churches of God and wish and ought to incontestably observe undefiled right and canonical authority for every church, shall not permit you to endure such a thing. Rather, having compassion for Your Brotherhood and confirming by truthful assertions that your tearful complaint is true, with a college of Our brother bishops, with the service of the other orders, We canonically restore to your Our aforesaid confrere the venerable bishop Argrim, and We send him into his church, which is in need of restoration. We do not find fault with the sentence of Our predecessor Pope Stephen [V] but We do change it for the better for the sake of advantage and necessity, in the same way that We are manifestly aware that Our predecessors did in many cases.

In this case, We admonish you and We exhort you through these letters of Our pontificate and We order by the authority of God and Us, that you should receive the same Bishop Argrim, whom We have restored to Your Unanimity as you sought, with beneficent love and harmonious devotion without any delay; and be obedient to him in everything, and you should honourably hold and cherish him as a pious pastor of your souls, observing his canonical commands in everything.

If any of you presume to act against this Our apostolic judgement and statue or to minister without Bishop Argrim’s consent in his church of Langres and do not want to receive him in accordance with Our decree, let them know themselves to be excommunicated and damned by Our authority. Farewell!

Written through the hand of Samuel the notary and secretary of the holy Roman church, in the month of May, 2nd indiction.

The Lateran Palace in Rome, where all this decision-making took place (source)

This is massaging events. Argrim was probably not the local choice, and it’s noticeable that Pope John IX (for it is he!)’s letter is mostly taken up with implicit threats. In fact, John probably knew this, because he sent a second letter:

Papsturkunden no. 11 (11th May 899) = JL no. 3521

Bishop John, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son the glorious king Charles.

Because We know from the report of many that you, most beloved of sons, manfully act in accordance with the custom of your royal predecessors for the defence and profit of the holy Church of God against the madness of crooked men and also pagans, We rejoice in every way and We venerably embrace you as Our son in Christ, and paternal exhort you that you should work hard to improve, love peace, justice and truth; and never deviate in any way from the right path either, so that you might attain a blessed from Our most clement of lords Jesus Christ as from his gatekeeper and the prince of the apostles Peter, for love of whom you busy yourself with such great things.

Accordingly, We wish it to be known to you, Our son, that the groaning and tearful complaint of the church of Langres came to Our Clemency’s ears not simply once, but twice and even three times, concerning the deposition of their pastor Bishop Argrim, whom they witness that they had all unanimously elected, sought and acclaimed, but who was separated from them owing to the deceitful theft of certain people. Because of this, the church is devoid of pastoral consolation and shaken incessantly by sundry disturbances and misfortunes, so much so that it appears nearly reduced to nothing.

Carefully considering this case with a college of venerable bishops with a diligent examination, and investigating the truth of the matter, and mercifully succouring their unhappiness, We canonically ruled that his church should by Our authority be restored to him, changing the sentence of Our predecessor Pope Stephen [V] to a better one for the sake of necessity and advantage, as We are manifestly aware that Our predecessors to have done in many cases.

We provided for this, and We admonish Your Glory and Religiosity that, because We have canonically restored him to his aforesaid church of Langres, you should always extent a helping hand to him and consent to what We have instituted, and be to him a helper and defender whenever it is useful, for love of God Almighty and reverence of the blessed apostles and Our Apostolic Paternity, so that he might be able to rule the same church peacefully and worthily under your royal munificence, so that he might be able to profit those over whom he should preside. Farewell!

Written through the hand of Samuel the notary and secretary of the holy Roman church, on the 5th ides of May [11th May], in the 2nd indiction.

John here commissions Charles to go and sort out any disturbance in the bishopric, essentially inviting him to give his royal imprimatur to the final settlement of Argrim on the episcopal throne. Given Langres had been so prominent under Charles’ predecessors, this was a sensible decision. What interests me about John’s letter to Charles is two things. First, this letter is absolutely dripping with a very traditional description of Charles in the best traditions of Carolingian kingship. Second, John apparently expects Charles to be able to help him.

This speaks volumes about the efficacy of Charles’ regime. As we saw last week, Charles was able to put together an invading army at short notice in 898, and this letter indicates that he had sway at home as well. There is a certain tendency to chalk this kind of rhetoric up to a kind of wilful blindness on the part of the popes: after all, we already know that kingship had Declined by this point. This has the distinct demerit of assuming that we know what was going on better than contemporaries did. John wasn’t an idiot, nor was he uniformed about events in the West Frankish kingdom. If he thought Charles could help him, that’s probably because he had good reason.

Charter a Week 22, part 2: Overwriting King Zwentibald

Describing the opening of Charles’ reign as ‘competently-executed’, as we did on Wednesday, seems a bit damning-by-faint-praise for such an interesting and intelligent monarch. Happily, though, Charles’ next diploma does something a little more out of the ordinary:

DD CtS no. 11 (13th February 898, Compiègne)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by the gracious favour of divine clemency king.

If We bestow advantageous benefices on places given over to divine worship for love of God and of those who serve in the same places, We are not doubtful that We will be repaid with the prize of eternal repayment before the Lord.

Therefore, let the sagacity of all those faithful to the holy Church of God and to Us, both present and future, know that Our venerable mother Queen Adelaide approached the presence of Our Dignity, devotedly asking that We might for love of God deign to consign through a precept of Our authority certain goods of the holy archangel Michael, which are known to have formerly been given over as benefices for certain people, to the stipends of the brothers serving the Lord therein.

Favouring her petitions with pious love, We concede and consign them to the brothers of the holy archangel Michael for their use and stipends, that is, in the district of Verdunois, the estate of Buxières-sous-les-Côtes with Heudicourt-sous-les-Côtes, with all their dependencies, meadows, fields, woods, buildings and bondsmen of both sexes pertaining thereto; and in the estate of Vaux, the chapel of Saint-Rémi with all its dependencies; and in Refroicourt one manse with a mill; also, in the district of Scarponnais, in the estate of Essey, one chapel with all its dependencies.

Whence We decreed this precept of Our Magnitude be made for them concerning this, through which We order and command that from this day forth the monks should hold and possess the goods here enrolled for their advantage in their entirety, and do whatever is necessary for them therewith, disturbed by no-one.

And that this edict of Our precept might in God’s name be conserved inviolably through times to come, We confirmed it with Our own hand and We commanded it to be sealed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of Charles, most glorious of kings.

Heriveus the notary witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Archbishop and Head Chancellor Fulk [of Rheims].

Given on the ides of February [13th February], in the 1st indiction, in the 6th year of the reign of and 1st year of the restoration of the kingdom’s unity by of Charles, the most glorious of kings.

Enacted at the palace of Compiègne.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

Any of this looking familiar? Yes, Charles the Simple is getting his claws out. This diploma basically overwrites Zwentibald’s diploma from Trosly-Loire – “Now I’m the king you damn well go to”. There is, methinks, some bitterness here. Even more, though, Charles is confirming lands in Zwentibald’s own kingdom. This is surely a precursor to Charles’ invasion of Lotharingia, which we have discussed on the blog before. It’s certainly a good sign about Charles’ regime, though, that he was after so little time sufficiently well-entrenched that he could launch a credible attack on another king.

That king’s days were themselves numbered. This will be our last encounter with King Zwentibald – enough is happening in the West in 899 and 900 that none of his diplomas made the cut – but Charles’ involvement was not finished. Zwentibald bungled his patronage – switching from supporting Reginar Long-Neck to throwing him to the wolves might have made sense in theory, but somehow he failed in practice – and ended up with most of his nobility arrayed against him. Charles had a hand here. In 899, Zwentibald held a major colloquium at Sankt Goar, on the Rhine. Present were Bishop Anskeric of Paris and Count Odoacar, both Charles’ men. Privately, Charles’ men, the men of Zwentibald’s dying father Arnulf, and the Lotharingians, were probably conspiring to overthrow Zwentibald, something which happened in 900 and which led to Zwentibald’s death in battle. In the end, Charles go the last laugh over his once-so-overbearing cousin.

Charter a Week 20: Peace, Saint-Denis, and Who’s King, Again?

A two-for-one special today, folks, as once again we pick apart the tangled relationship between Charles the Simple and Zwentibald of Lotharingia. Let’s start with the recipient of both these diplomas: the priory of Salonnes, in Lotharingia. Salonnes was a priory of Saint-Denis, originally given to that abbey by Abbot Fulrad in the time of Charlemagne centuries earlier. One particular winter’s day, a group of Sandionysian monks, accompanied by the magnates Reginar Longneck and Odoacer of Bliesgau, petitioned Zwentibald to restore to the Parisian abbey the cell of Salonnes, which had apparently been lost to Saint-Denis in the mid-ninth century.

What’s going on here? Ultimately, this is all part of the fallout from the failed seige of Laon we mentioned last week. Having originally agreed to help Charles the Simple, Zwentibald managed to alienate Charles’ camp, who sent peace envoys to Odo. Zwentibald himself made a truce with Bishop Dido of Laon and withdrew back to Lotharingia. And then he issued this diploma:

DD Zw no. 7 (22nd January 896, Schweighausen) = ARTEM no. 3041 = LBA no. 8310

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Zwentibald, by the procuration of divine clemency king.

It is therefore meet for Us, who enjoy royal power, to above all place the fear of God before all mortal business, and to love and build up the places which Our ancestors built in honour of God before other worldly things, because, as We believe, for this reason God, for love of Whom We do this, be more pleased with Us, as well as his saints, whose service We worthily venerate.

Wherefore let it come to the notice of the whole Church trusting in God that the congregation of the blessed martyr Dionysius and his companions sent one of their brothers to make a claim for the goods which are sited in Our realm, which Our ancestors and religious men had given to the aforesaid martyrs for their salvation to be used for the lighting and for the advantage of the brothers and to take care of the poor and for the honour of that place.

We, hearing their claim, because of the intervention of Our followers Odoacer [of Bliesgau] and Reginar [Long-Neck], restore to them a certain little abbey sited in the district of Saulnois, named Salonnes, for the abovesaid uses with all its appendages. Concerning this little abbey, they asked Us to concede two estates specially for the lighting and the care of the poor, that is, Suisse and Baronville, with all their appendages. We consented to this for the salvation of Our soul and Our ancestors, and We decreed it be done, and also We conceded all the demesne of the tithes of that little abbey, as is done throughout the abbey of Saint-Denis, for the use of the paupers and the poor pensioners who serve Saint Privatus each day and offer offerings daily, at their request, for common advantage; and let no-one ever come as a dominator who might dare to infringe this.

If anyone should begin to violently infringe this alms, first let them incur the wrath of God and His saints, to whose places We decreed this concession be made and – that I might shortly conclude – let them remain bound by the chains of anathema now and forever unless they come to their senses, and let the present edict endure firm and stable. And that it might be more credible to everyone who sees it, in God’s name, We confirmed it with Our own hand and We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of lord Zwentibald, most glorious of kings.

Waldger the notary witnessed on behalf of Archbishop and High Chancellor Ratbod.

Given on the 11th kalends of February (22nd January), in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 896, in the 14th indiction, in the first year of the reign of lord Zwentibald.

Enacted at Schweighausen.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

zwent 896
Zwentibald’s diploma, from the Marburg Lichtbildarchiv älterer Originalurkunden linked above.

This diploma represents a sign of peace between Odo and Zwentibald. The petitioners, Reginar and Odoacer, are Zwentibald’s “western specialists”, particularly involved with West Frankish affairs, and their role in petitioning for the diploma probably is a symbol that the relevant parts of Zwentibald’s court are behind the deal. Odo and Zwentibald never seem to have been what you’d call ‘friendly’, but Zwentibald’s active engagement outside his own kingdom was over.

896 was a rather more turbulent year for Charles. His supporters tried hard to make peace with Odo, but their efforts were thwarted by Baldwin the Bald, count of Flanders, who disrupted the assemblies at which Odo was trying to make peace. One by one, Charles’ supporters abandoned him and went over to Odo, probably to get protection from Baldwin. Charles’ supporters had spent the winter of 895/896 ravaging Baldwin’s land, and Baldwin was out for revenge – later (we’re not quite sure when), he had one of them, Heribert I of Vermandois, murdered. Given that, as we are told at several points, Odo had taken all of Charles’ supporters lands and fortresses, going back over, in the absence of a peace treaty, was probably a necessity.

This left Charles in a pickle. As more and more of his men defected, his cause began to look weaker and weaker, and so more and more of his men defected. Eventually, even Archbishop Fulk of Rheims left Charles’ side, and Charles withdrew to Lotharingia. There he issued this diploma:

DD CtS no. 7 (25th July 896, Gondreville) = ARTEM no. 204 = DK 7.xx

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by God’s mercy king.

Certainly, if We lend the ears of Our Piety to the petitions of Our followers of Our Highness and especially those soldiering for God, We do not doubt that whatever We bestow on that which is given over to divine worship (*) will benefit Us in every way, and through this We believe God on High will establish and ennoble the garland of Our realm.

Wherefore, We wish it to be known to all of those faithful to the holy Church of God and Us, to wit, present and future, that, for the increase of Our reward and for the remedy of Our soul and Our relatives, and through the appeal of Our venerable and dearest mother Adelaide on behalf of the brothers of the monastery of Salonnes, for veneration and love of the most holy martyrs resting therein, that is, the nourishing Privatus, Frodoald and Iddo, and Dionysius, most blessed of martyrs, Our lord and patron, to whom as well the same place is subject, because the same brothers are seen to be afflicted with the poverty of want, and their prebends are known to have been completely destroyed and taken away, it pleased Us and seemed just to honour the same holy place and the brothers strenuously serving God therein through a precept of Our authority concerning the goods of the abbey, so that they might hold them more freely and firmly, and so that they might more fully delight in exhorting the Lord for the peace and stability of the realm.

These goods, then, are in the district of Chaumontois, to wit, the estate of Loromontzey with a church in honour of Saint Martin on the river Loro, with the small estates nearby, as follows: Vicherey, Morelmaison, Maconcourt and Gironcourt-sur-Vraine; and in the district of Charmois, in the place which is called Montenoy, 1 manse with a vineyard beholden to it, and in Pompey 1 vineyard of 10 pecks, and next to the aforesaid monastery, in the estate named Courcelles [since destroyed], 2 manses with a vineyard of 40 pecks, [{interpolated:} and in Ancy-sur-Moselle, 12 manses with a vineyard of 100 pecks, and in Bey-sur-Seille, 7 manses, 1 church].

We commanded this precept of Our Highness concerning these to be made and given to the same brothers, through which We order and command and in God and because of God witness that no king, no abbot or anyone endowed with any dignity should dare to steal, alienate or by any trick purloin the aforesaid goods from the aforesaid holy place or the brothers assiduously serving God there. Rather, let the same brothers without any contradiction have, hold and possess the same goods with everything pertaining to them, with bondsmen of both sexes dwelling therein or justly and legally pertaining to the same, with lands cultivated and uncultivated, meadows, woods, vineyards, pastures, waters and watercourses, roads out and in, and with all legitimate borders as prebends or for their necessary uses, and let them have free and very firm power in everything, by canonical authority, to do whatever henceforth they might elect to do.

And that this largess of Our authority might endure stable and undisturbed through times to come, We confirmed it below with Our own hand and We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of Charles, most glorious of kings.

Robert the notary, at the request of King Charles, wrote and subscribed this.

Given in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 896, in the 15th indiction, and in the 4th year of the reign of King Charles, on the 8th kalends of August [25th July].

[Adelaide and Rothildis [daughter of Charles the Bald] appealed for this.]

Enacted at Gondreville. Happily in the name of God, amen.

(*) There’s no way around the fact that the opening lines of this diploma don’t actually make grammatical sense, so I’ve done the best I can.

cts 896
Charles’ diploma, from the Diplomata Karolinorum linked above.

I admit, if I were in Charles’ shoes here, I’d be a bit worried. If all my supporters had abandoned me, and I were stuck at Gondreville, I might get to wondering about the fate of the bastard son of Lothar II, Hugh, who had tried to become king in the 880s and who had been arrested and imprisoned at Gondreville. This diploma is, it’s fair to say, issued at a low ebb. Note that there isn’t even an archchancellor here…

In relation to the last one, this diploma has caused confusion. Is it expressing alliance with Zwentibald or rivalry? Well, first of all, I don’t believe for a second Charles is living off Gondreville without at least Zwentibald’s tacit approval. More relevantly, I don’t actually think it’s primarily related to the Lotharingian king at all. Koziol has looked at this diploma as Charles’ way of connecting himself to Saint Dionysius without actually controlling Saint-Denis, and I’m sure that’s part of it; but Koziol’s analysis assumes as its base that Charles is trying to rival Odo here. Certainly the king and the anti-king are not best buds, but by this point attempts at compromise and peace-making have been ongoing for a year. What I think Charles is actually doing here, therefore, is trying to appeal to Odo. He might have no supporters, but he’s still a king, he’s still got a connection to one of the premier royal saints, and if you can negotiate with Zwentibald, why not with him? This diploma, slightly weirdly-redacted as it is, is a message to Odo saying Charles is still a legitimate king and can’t be ignored.


Charter a Week 19: The Attempted Conquests of King Zwentibald

Enough hanging around in the provinces! Let’s get to where the action is really happening: the civil war, baby! We’ve had cause to mention a couple of times that, beginning in 893, there was a rebellion launched against Odo in the name of Charles the Simple. The underlying cause for this appears to be that, for whatever reason, Archbishop Fulk of Rheims did not like Odo – he had, in 888, tried to crown his relative Guy of Spoleto king instead, although that hadn’t taken – but more broadly, given that the rebels were largely confined to the north-east, the immediate catalyst seems to have been Odo’s execution of his cousin Walker, who held the castle of Laon. (There may be parallels as well to the north-east’s distrust for King Carloman II a decade earlier.)

Things did not go terribly well for the rebels. After Easter 893, Fulk and Heribert I of Vermandois, with the young Charles and an army, set out against King Odo. When they met him, the Latin of our main source, the Annales Vedastini, does not make it fully clear what happened, but it is evident that the rebels lost an important political struggle to win over Richard the Justiciar, William the Pious, and Count Adhemar of Poitiers, who were won over to Odo. Odo then won a strategic victory against Fulk that autumn, forcing him to leave the kingdom and spend the winter negotiating for peace (probably, in Fulk’s case, in bad faith).

The following year, Odo took Rheims, forcing Fulk and Charles to flee to Arnulf of Carinthia, who apparently received them warmly but did not give them any support against Odo. Charles now went to Richard the Justiciar, who looks to have been at best lukewarm about having Fulk and Charles there. By the start of 895, then, Charles and Fulk were in a bit of a spot.

All was not lost, though. Whilst this drama had been playing out in the West, Arnulf himself had been trying to make his bastard son Zwentibald king of Lotharingia. In 895, he succeeded. Zwentibald, however, appears to have felt like expanding his kingdom. Thus, although his father Arnulf was a supporter of Odo, Zwentibald provided military support for Charles. And thus, this week’s charter:

DD Zw no. 3 (14th August 895, Trosly)

In the name of the holy and inseparable Trinity. Zwentibald, by the assent of supernal clemency king.

Let all those faithful to the holy Church of God and Us know that Our beloved and faithful archbishop and chancellor Ratbod [of Trier] appealed to Us that We might concede something to a certain congregation of monks which is the congregation of the holy archangel Michael for their prebend. We, not refusing his petition, for the increase of Our reward, conceded to them a manor named Buxières-sous-les-Côtes and Heudicourt-sous-les-Côtes with everything which pertains to that benefice, that is, forty-four manses, and one manse in Refroicourt with a mill, as well as one chapel in Bannoncourt with its appendages, and it is sited in the district of Verdunois, in Ricuin [of Verdun]’s county; and in the district of Scarponnais, in Iremfred’s county, one chapel in the estate of Essey with its appendages.

And all this which We concede to the aforesaid abbey used to previously pertain not in fact to the allowance for the monks, but was specifically rendered to the abbot. But We considered their poverty, which stemmed from the oppression of the gentiles, and with the consent of their abbot Stephen We concede to them the aforesaid goods with everything which is seen to pertain there, that is, bondsmen, fields cultivated and uncultivated, mobile and immobile goods, meadows, vineyards, pastures, woods, waters and watercourses, with paths and impassable land, with roads out and in, with incomes claimed and to be claimed, so that they might more freely and faithfully pour out prayers for Us before the Lord.

For this reason, We commanded this precept be written on this matter, so that the present concession might endure firm and uncorrupted. In addition We, holding the pen in Our hand, signed and confirmed this, whereby this donation might be firmer, and We commanded it be imprinted this Our seal, that it might persevere perpetually undisturbed.

Sign of lord Zwentibald, most glorious of kings.

Sign of lord Louis [the Child], most serene of kings.

I, therefore, Waldger the notary, witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Archchancellor Ratbod.

Given on the 19th kalends of September (14th August), in the year of the Lord 895, in the 13th indiction, in the first year of King Zwentibald.

Enacted in the township of Trosly-Loire, next to the city of Noyon.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

Given on the 16th kalends of September (16th August), in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 908, in the 11th indiction, in the 9th year of the reign of lord Louis.

Enacted at Frankfurt.

A modern-day statue of King Zwentibald. (source)

Now, qua diploma, this diploma isn’t all that interesting (except the confirmation of it by Zwentibald’s half-brother and successor Louis the Child, which is interesting but we’re not going to deal with it now). Its content will become relevant shortly, but not today. No, what’s interesting about it is where it’s issued: in the West Frankish kingdom. The closest analogy here is Hugh of Arles’ diplomas from Provence – Zwentibald is doing king stuff in a kingdom, but how far he’s trying to claim it as his kingdom is up for debate. (Remember, Charles the Fat became West Frankish king precisely by coming to the kingdom and doing king stuff.)

That said, Zwentibald’s aggression is much more evident than Hugh’s. Zwentibald is not helping Charles out of the goodness of his heart. Charles’ supporters had promised him part of their kingdom, and whilst Charles and Zwentibald are besieging Laon, some of Charles’ men swap sides and go to Zwentibald – including Baldwin the Bald of Flanders. (There’s even a Flemish charter dated by Zwentibald’s reign, which is a very suspicious document but I think the dating clause is right because – well, no-one likes Zwentibald, why make it up?) After that, Charles’ men are worried Zwentibald is planning to kill him. So this alliance doesn’t really work out.

What is interesting about it, though, is that it’s one of the few efforts to conquer a bit of a kingdom that I know of from this period. Most invasions are with the aim of taking the whole lot. Admittedly the old Middle Kingdom has some fuzzy borders, so Zwentibald might feel like he has more wiggle room; and some of his key supporters, including Reginar Long-Neck, are from precisely the north-west area he’s trying to expand into. Still, it’s an unusual thing, and makes me think that the Charles/Odo civil war is a lot stranger and more important than the Annales Vedastini’s terse reportage implies.

Charter a Week 18: Murder in Autun!

Y’know, I didn’t mean this to work out so well. Two weeks ago we did Neustria, last week Aquitaine, this week Burgundy – it’s all worked out quite well, not least because each document neatly encapsulates something important about all these groups: the Neustrian charter involved Saint-Martin, lay abbacy, and a somewhat queasy relationship between formal and informal structures of governance; the Aquitanian charter was about family and capillary governance; and today’s document is about bishops and murder.

Before we get to the murder, though, I’m going to make you sit through a discussion of terminology. You see, I used the word ‘groups’ above, which is a bit weak sauce, but is really about addressing a problem. If you say ‘Neustria’ or ‘Aquitaine’ or ‘Burgundy’, then you end up with an image of a territorial polity – a straightforward equation between land, people, and political group, so that all the people in the land of Neustria are Neustrians and are ruled by the Neustrian ruler. This is, though, not really how medieval politics works full stop, and certainly not what these things look like. We saw with William the Pious how network-y and variable rule was, and this is fairly generalisable. In fact, both German and French have better terms for what we’re dealing with: Machtkonstellation in German and mouvance in French. I like both because of the imagery. Machtkonstellation (lit: ‘power constellation’) suggests an actual constellation, points of light linked together rather than a uniform field, and reminds us that there’s a lot of gaps between nodes of power. Mouvance I like even better, although the imagery is a little less straightforward to explain. Have you ever been swimming, and tried to move your arm in the water? The water tends to follow your arm, but there’s resistance and little eddies and swirls breaking off and going in other directions, and it requires you to keep pushing to do things. This is what I imagine a mouvance as like: it’s not a ‘command’ structure properly speaking. The ruler moves, and most of his followers move with him, some don’t, there’s a fair bit of grumbling, and constant effort is required.

But, murder! One of these mouvances is that associated with Richard the Justiciar, known to history as the first duke of Burgundy. We’ve already encountered Richard abandoning his brother Boso and going over to King Carloman II, and in the meantime he’s been slowly becoming more important. By the late 880s, he was well-placed to take advantage of the civil war between Odo and Charles the Simple, and take advantage he did. We’ve seen that the major figures in late Carolingian Burgundy were its bishops, and Richard acted not least to subdue them: he imprisoned Archbishop Walter of Sens, he blinded Bishop Theobald of Langres, and as for our old acquaintance Adalgar of Autun – well….

Flavigny no. 25 (1st May 894, Chalon-sur-Saône)

In the year 894, in the 12th indiction, there was birthed like a miscarriage an infamous rumour in the monastery and public castle of Flavigny, inspired by jealousy and springing up from evil men, concerning a certain levite and monk of that place, Girfred, who performed the office of prelate: that he had murdered the most pious father and reverend bishop lord Adalgar, bishop of Autun, with a deadly poison. The extremely unjust accusation of this crime, equally horrifying to God and men, beat at the ears not only of that church but also literally the whole of Gaul, and was fully recorded in an infamous list of charges.

The aforesaid levite and monk, though, was utterly horrified at being accused of such an outrage, since the number and magnitude of the benefices that he had gained from that sweetest of fathers was fully and abundantly clear to everyone. Concerning this matter, he first sought out the counsel of his successor the glorious bishop lord Walo [of Autun], and confirmed in his presence with God Who is judge of all and sees the hearts of men as witness that he was innocent from such an abominable sin not less in intention than in deed.

Eventually, the bishop, so greatly and so very lofty, learned as well in matters divine and human, supported by the counsel of the sons of the Church, did not want a sheep entrusted to him to perish. Rather, he piously and mercifully employed a poultice of exhortation and the medicine of divine eloquence, so that, if the Devil’s blandishments had by any chance instilled anything similar in his heart, he might at the least by the Holy Spirit’s suggestion and the infusion of its word be healthfully cured and purified in accordance with what the Church has instituted. The said levite and monk, though, completely ignorant of such a shameful act, proposed that he receive the judgement of the Holy Spirit, and unhesitatingly advised in every way that he would be judged by any test in accordance with ecclesiastical custom.

Wherefore the aforesaid bishop, hesitant to decide so great and so unheard-of a crime by his own judgement, decided it should be discussed and determined at a holy provincial synod in the presence of the well-known Archbishop Aurelian [of Lyon] and his other fellow bishops. He, insofar as he was free from other burdens, did not at all delay doing this.

Hence, with God propitious, on the prearranged day of the kalends of May [1st May], there gathered at the town of Chalon-sur-Saône, in the church of the blessed precursor of Christ John which is in sight of the same town, sacred pontiffs: Aurelian [of Lyon], first of all Gaul, with his most illustrious fellow bishops Walo of Autun, Ardrad of Chalon-sur-Saône and Gerald of Mâcon, as well as messengers from the notable Bishop Theobald of Langres. There, canonically promulgating the institutes of the holy fathers in accordance with the rules and diligently dealing with Church business, they laboured to examine with precise inquiries and many questions the said monk placed before them and oft-marked with infamy. The same monk, learned in every judgement, both ecclesiastical custom and the experience of human law, could discover neither anyone making open accusations about this infamous act nor anyone who would proclaim anything certain about it. Commanding this to be cried out three times under the witness of the Holy Spirit, and discovering nothing at all with the appearance of truth about it, they enacted by common counsel that, because they had found neither proof of guilt nor a confession despite the fact that the trial had been publicised and news of it had been disseminated everywhere, he should be made completely free from any suspicion in a more local synod which Bishop Walo, worthy of all reverence, should celebrate for the sons of the Church. By the ordeal of the body and blood of Christ, which alone is proven more true and believed to be more terrible, or rather more life-giving, he should be purified publicly of the outrage he was said to have committed. To wit, in this way: he should be solemnly told in advance that if he is guilty in any way of such a crime, he should not come and accept the host, and if he should rashly presume to do so, by the censure of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the Prince of the Apostles, he would be denied the life-giving price of our redemption and, with Judas, who betrayed the Lord, he would be irrecoverably doomed and damned to eternal suffering. But if he truly knew himself to be innocent of everything, trusting in the mercy of God, he should not despair of most beneficially gaining the gift of such a prize for the remedy of his salvation. This was completely satisfactory to everyone.

From there¸ the most pious pastor Walo, moved by mercy, brought together a holy synod of his own church at the abbey and public castle of Flavigny, and, in accordance with what was established by the aforesaid bishops, having led solemn masses, he brought everyone who was present together in the foremost church of Saint-Pierre and warned the aforesaid man that he must decide for himself whether to accept the host or refuse it as his conscience dictated. He did not hesitate, and most faithfully invoking as his judge and witness God and that which will secure the price of redemption, in view of everyone, he fulfilled in every way the vow laid out above. Therefore, after he was given such a gift, lest he should be further hurt by such wounds from the jealous, he asked that this writing should be related by the aforesaid lord Walo and his colleagues (who are written below), and corroborated by their hands.

Walo, humble bishop of the holy church of Autun, related and subscribed this.

Ardrad, humble bishop of the church of Chalon, subscribed. Gerald, ruler and humble bishop of the holy church of Mâcon subscribed.

You’ve been seeing a lot of pretty original documents, but this is more often what we have to work with: the cartulary of Flavigny has been lost for centuries, so this is one of the Early Modern copies which preserve it (specifically, grace of the BNF, MS Baluze 40 fol. 47r).

Despite the text’s claims, historians have been fairly sure that Girfred was in fact guilty of Adalgar’s murder. This began very early, in fact – a short history of the abbey known as the Series Abbatum Flaviniacensium makes reference to Girfred’s guilt. So why was Adalgar in the way? As we’ve seen, Richard was already count of Autun, and that was one thing, but Adalgar of Autun was much more important – it’s quite possible Richard was the local second fiddle. This might not have mattered whilst Adalgar was supporting King Odo and Richard had close ties to Louis the Blind, but Richard can’t be seen in Provence after the very early 890s, and it looks like he was taking advantage of the disruption caused by the civil war between Odo and Charles the Simple to retrench himself in Burgundy.

This comes through clearly in Adalgar’s replacement. Bishop Walo there is actually Richard’s nephew, and he’s basically a tame prelate. This is one reason why historians have been fairly confident that Girfred was the murderer: when accused, he immediately fled to the one person who benefitted most directly, the new bishop, who had been ordained by an archbishop of Lyon so new that he technically wasn’t allowed to do it. (The charter actually covers this up by substituting the name of Archbishop Aurelian – the long-lived former archbishop – for Archbishop Argrim, who actually carried out the consecration.) Given how important bishops were in Burgundy, Richard needed to get them in line to have a shot at regional dominance.

Doing this by violence, though, is unusual. Of Richard’s immediate contemporaries, Robert of Neustria was mostly appointed to his honores and William the Pious largely inherited his. Both men had to fight at one point or another – Robert of Neustria, as we breezed over two weeks ago, was involved in an unsuccessful fight to become count of Poitiers; and William the Pious (on the other side) successfully fought to prevent a candidate of King Odo named Hugh from becoming count of Bourges in his stead. But straightforwardly launching multiple coups de main and having them succeed is out of the ordinary for this period, and I’m still not clear how Richard gets away with it. The civil war is a key element – Odo is a busy man, and Richard is able to play him and Charles the Simple off against each other for recognition – but there are missing elements here. Still, Richard the Justiciar’s emergence is quite important precisely because it is violent and to a degree unprecedented. Whereas William and Robert are very much late-Carolingian potentates, Richard has aspects of something else…

Charter a Week 17: Brothers and Sisters

Do you know what we haven’t really dealt with? (In this series, anyway…) Aquitaine. It came up in passing when dealing with its submission to King Odo, but that was five years ago now and a lot has changed. For one thing, none of the major figures who submitted to Odo in 889 are still around. Frothar of Bourges died. Ramnulf of Poitiers and Ebalus of Saint-Denis died, the latter in rebellion against Odo. (There’s a whole story about what happened to Poitiers which we can’t deal with, but basically Odo tried to make his brother Robert count of Poitiers and it looks like he rather mismanaged the whole affair, leading to a revolt in Aquitaine which led to a further revolt which will actually be relevant this week.)

So who’s in charge instead? We mentioned Bernard Plantevelue as being one of Charles the Bald’s palatine magnates, but he looks to have died in around 886 and to have been replaced with his son, William the Pious. William’s base of power is rather further east than the word ‘Aquitaine’ might make you think. Do you remember how Bernard took over Mâcon during Boso’s rebellion? The Mâconnais is one of the centres of William’s power. So too is Lyon. The centre of gravity in William’s reign is rather further north and east than it is for Stephen of Clermont, largely because these all get sheared off in the 920s – again, we’ll get to it. The point is that William’s powerbase is big and it’s diverse. His wider interests actually go even further north and east than Mâcon – let me show you.   

CC no. 1.53 (9th November 893) = ARTEM no. 1579 = Plus anciens documents de Cluny no. 2

We are taught by divine and churchly documents that one should before everything do good work in observing a double love: that is, of God and one’s neighbour, so that we who have been pure-heartedly fortified in both might both not be without present assistance and also rejoice in eternal help, because without these it is impossible either to please God or to lead a present life of praiseworthy honour.

I, Ava, a humble servant of Christ, recalling this in divine contemplation, and considering that the nearness of kinship is worth of affection, donate to you, William [the Pious] my brother and glorious count, my certain estate named Cluny, sited in the district of Mâconnais on the river Grosne, in its entirety, with its appurtenances and what is legitimately beholden to it, although only after the course of my present life is complete. After my death, I give and transfer this estate, with everything which pertains to it both in churches and in chapels, bondsmen of both sexes (except 20 bondsmen), manses, portions of arable land, arboreta, fields cultivated and uncultivated, vineyards, meadows, mills, waters and watercourses, roads out and in, from my power into your dominion with perpetual right, so that you may have the firmest power in everything to do whatever you want to do with it, whether donation or sale or exchange.

I give and donate this estate to Your Brotherhood on this condition, indeed: that in return for the same estate you should bestow on me a certain allod of your rightful property, which is called Einville-au-Jard, which is sited in the county of Chaumont, for use in my present life; and after my death it should return to you and your kinsmen.

Moreover, if I outlive you and God lengthens my days beyond yours and gives, by divine mercy, the fertility of sons and daughters from a legitimate marriage, let them, after my death, receive the estate of Cluny which I donate to you after my death in perpetual right in the place of an heir, and let them have, hold and possess it as an inheritance, contradicted by nobody.

If anyone, moreover (which I do not believe will happen), either I myself or any of my biological or legal heirs or any person opposed to it, might try to come against or generate any calumny of controversy against this charter of donate made of my own free will, let them be unable to vindicate their claim, but rather let them pay you and your heirs and the associated fisc 50 pounds of gold; and thus let this present donation endure true, free and firm for all time, with this corroboration attached.

Enacted publicly at the estate of Cluny.

Sign of Abbess Ava, who asked this donation be made and confirmed. Sign of Viscount Raculf [of Mâcon].

[First column] Sign of Amalung. Sign of Warulf. Sign of Grimald. Sign of Ramnald. Sign of Fulcrad.

[Second column] Sign of Sigebald. Sign of Achard. Sign of Waning. Sign of Grimo. Sign of Stephen.

[Third column] Sign of Guntard. Sign of Gladirus. Sign of Otbert. Sign of Tullo. Sign of Aloin. Sign of Ungrim.

[Fourth column] Sign of Isengar. Sign of Ernerius. Sign of Heribert. Sign of Amalbert. Sign of Giso. Sign of Eilbert.

Sigebert, having been asked to, subscribed.

I, Ratbod, an unworthy levite, wrote and subscribed this, given in the month of November, on the day of the kalends, the 5th ides of November [9th November], in the first year when two kings contended over the realm, that is, Odo and Charles [the Simple].

Image from ARTEM as linked above

Surprise Cluny! Yes, this charter is the proximate beginning of the history of everyone’s favourite hegemonic medieval abbey. We’ve covered before on this blog the ‘capillary government’ of William the Pious’ Aquitaine, and here we can see another aspect of it. If Gerald of Aurillac was William’s man in Quercy, Ava was his woman in the northern Mâconnais. Thanks to the even-at-this-point-fairly-dense archives of Cluny, we can see Ava with a fairly dense cluster of properties between Cluny and the river Saône, and plenty of ties to local nobles. In particular, an entry in the Liber Memorialis of Remiremont seems to show her with Viscount Raculf; the sons of Warulf of Brancion, Cluny’s second-biggest patron after William the Pious himself in its early years, donated a fair chunk of property for her soul specifically; and so on – these can (from experience) be worked out into a 5000-word paper. We can see some of this in the witness list, where we have a group of local notables, including Raculf, Warulf, and the man whose name I have rendered as ‘Sigebald’, but who appears in Latin as Sievoldus and who might well be Sievertus, the advocate of Mâcon cathedral (orthography can be very inconsistent; but the ‘Sige’=’Sie’ elision is quite uncommon).

William doesn’t actually appear without Ava during her lifetime, so it makes sense to see these people as here because of the siblings as a pair, rather than just as William’s followers. In this sense, Ava is another version of Gerald of Aurillac – a middlewoman between William and the locality. She pulls the locals into William’s orbit, and is herself pulled into William’s orbit by bonds of kinship and – as in this instance – property.

Interesting is that William gives Ava an estate in Lotharingia. William was another actor in that Transararian Fluidity Zone, as we’ll see a bit down the line; but his interests in Lotharingia are largely a blank book, as are what Ava did with it.

A final note is that dating clause: in 893, Archbishop Fulk of Rheims finally got sick enough of Odo to anoint the young Charles the Simple as king and lead a rebellion. This was not thrillingly successful, but a lot of the southern magnates, including William and Richard the Justiciar, hedged their bets at least at the beginning, and this dating clause expresses that in the most direct way possible: both Odo and Charles are acknowledged, as is their fight, without any side being taken.

Charter a Week 16: Smoke-Filled Rooms in Neustria

For once we’re not going to be looking at high politics, but something a little more domestic. We have actually met today’s charter before, back when I did that list of my top 10 charters. Given that you don’t need much context in advance here, we may as well kick straight off.

DD RR no. 37 (13th June 892, Tours)

A notice of how Prior Erfred, with Adalmar, advocate of Saint-Martin, came into the city of Le Mans on Monday, the eighth kalends of May [24th April], before Count Berengar, and lodged a complaint that his vassal, Patrick by name, was wrongfully retaining the goods of the brothers which Guy had once held due to his advocacy.

Then Count Berengar responded that he was not only his vassal, although he held something from his benefice, but rather a vassal of his friend Robert, because he held more from him in benefice. But he immediately restored that which pertained to him, for love of Saint Martin, saying ‘If he wants to enjoy my benefice, he won’t retain any of the land of Saint-Martin anymore.’ And thus they left.

Still, he was unwilling to give up these goods, but rather began to issue threats. Then Erfred and Adalmar went to Tours, on the ides of June [13th June], into the presence of lord Robert, count and abbot, and they said to him that the canons of Saint-Martin wanted to lodge a complaint before King Odo – who was then present in the city of Tours – concerning his vassal Patrick, who unjustly held the brothers’ goods.

He said, ‘There won’t be a need for you to lodge a complaint before the king, because I’m their abbot and I should do justice regarding others much more than I should consent to injustice done by others. But now, Adalmar, tell me, by the oath you have sworn to me, how many shields you saw he could provide for my service.’

‘Not more,’ he replied, ‘than three.’

‘What, I’m supposed to steal their goods from Saint Martin and the brothers and lose my soul [see Matthew 16:26] for three shields? Who,’ he said, ‘has a wadium?’

Then Erfred took out a dagger from the scabbard which he had with him and gave it to him. He extended the dagger to Adalmar the advocate and said to him, ‘You should take this, because you’re their advocate. And if it is necessary, you will fight for them.’ And thus was the complaint resolved.

Enacted in the presence of the noble men who confirmed below.

Sign of the holy cross of lord abbot Robert, who confirmed this notice with his own hand and commanded his followers to confirm it. Sign of Viscount Atto [of Tours]. […]

I, Maimbert, having been asked to do so, wrote and subscribed, in the city of Tours, on the ides of June, in the 4th year of the reign of lord king Odo.

So, first off, it’s a strange little document. Roman Deutinger for one has argued that it’s not authentic– none of his reasons stand up (to give the least technical one, why would a twelfth-century forger not mention the name of the land in question?), but you can see why he’s puzzled. This looks a lot more like a little bit of a saint’s life than the documents we’ve been seeing so far.

 That’s really more of a problem on our end, though. A ‘charter’ is a kind of historiographical label of convenience. Most ‘charters’ resemble one another perfectly well, but there are several which start pushing into other forms of texts. One of my favourites to illustrate this is something which by every formal external characteristic is a charter, but which is in its text a combination saint’s life/property inventory. So it’s entirely plausible for scribes to be writing these little vignettes.

What does the vignette show? Partly, it shows the growth of Neustrian governance – note the presence and role of Adalmar the advocate, which we’ve discussed before. Adalmar’s role as an enforcer for the brothers is relatively new; we’ll be talking more about this when we reach 908, but here let’s just note that this charter relies on an office which may not have existed in 877 when this series started.

But it also shows the many recourses available for people seeking to resolve disputes. It’s clear that the participants here can slide between formal and informal methods of dispute settlements, and that this had different weights. There’s no particular reason that formal methods were better or more just. The implication Robert gives when the brothers threaten to go to Odo is that they’re rather more embarrassing. This is how studies of dispute settlement have argued that conflict resolution in large chunks of the middle ages happened – the participants switching between different venues to get a favourable result – and it’s nice to see it in action here.

The final thing is a question of scale. Patrick has to provide men for Robert’s military forces, but it’s clear that three men is not considered a major addition certainly to Robert’s armies and perhaps to Patrick’s. This suggests a certain minimum size of aristocratic military forces in the tenth century, although it would be easier to say more if we knew anything else about Patrick. He never shows up again in Saint-Martin’s charter record and my suspicion – given the role of Count Berengar, who was probably based in Rennes, that he’s a point man near the Breton border. This has implications for his social status and certainly for his military preparedness; it’s just a shame we can’t go into any detail about it.