Who Were The Preceeding Kings?

Man, I had such a good idea for my IMC paper next year. I was going to look at every post-Carolingian royal diploma, seeing who named their predecessors, either by name (‘King Odo’) or generically (‘the custom of Our royal ancestors’) and see what changed. Problem was, this was such a good idea that someone else on the panel had already had it, based on their long-standing research… Still, thanks to my collection of West Frankish royal diplomas actually doing the start of the research as a feasibility study only took a morning, and if I can do nothing else with it it can at least serve as a blog post, so here goes. At least this way I don’t have to spend a thousand words on the methodological issues (although I have thought about them!) …

The first thing I noted was that the overall amount of citations in both categories remains fairly consistent between 888 and 1032, at around 66%. There are two major exceptions to this: Ralph of Burgundy, and Robert the Pious. My first thought was that Ralph and Robert both came to power in coups, so might not want to remind people of their – implicitly more legitimate – predecessors; but this isn’t true of Hugh Capet… I still wonder if the ‘don’t mention the predecessors’ reason might be valid for Ralph – who also basically never mentions specific, named, precursors, and who did after all come to the throne after a shockingly-violent battle – but I think in Robert’s case it might fit into a wider pattern in his kingship, the meandering trend towards being less royal about the whole thing. This is also, as far as I can tell, not a universal percentage: I also did the kings of Transjurane Burgundy, and their historical memory is very limited – they hardly ever mention their predecessors, and when they do it’s overwhelmingly their father.

Not that most kings aren’t above all interested primarily in their immediate predecessors, if you look at who they cite by name. This usually, but not always, means their father: Louis IV cites Charles the Simple, and Lothar cites Louis IV. However, this does mean there are some interesting exceptions: Louis isn’t interested in his immediate predecessor (and father’s usurper) Ralph of Burgundy, for instance. More widely, both Charles the Simple and his predecessor Odo of Paris take as their most-cited figure Charles the Bald, not Charles the Fat; probably because Charles the Bald was such a dominating presence that his after-effects were still being felt a quarter of a century later.

Finally, historical memory going further back is a lot weaker. Contrary to what you might expect, Charlemagne is not a normative figure: Odo and Louis IV don’t mention him at all, and in total Louis the Pious is rather more cited than Charlemagne is. On the other hand, exactly in accordance with what you might expect, the Merovingians hardly ever appear. The exception is Charles the Simple, whose memory evidently goes back much further than his fellow-kings’: he cites no fewer than six Merovingian monarchs, and has more time than the other kings for Pippin the Short. Admittedly many of these Merovingian mentions can be accounted for by Saint-Denis’ interest in King Dagobert I and Archbishop Fulk of Rheims’ pulling out all the stops in terms of historical precedent in one particular charter for Saint-Vaast; but not all of them can. It does seem to support Geoffrey Koziol’s idea that Charles is an unusually thoughtful monarch. Talking to a colleague the other day, I was saying that I increasingly get a kind of Joseph-II-of-Austria-vibe off Charles: a policy wonk who happened to actually be the ruler…

On that note, it’s announcement time! As previously said on this august forum, I’m shortly going to be moving countries, and will be trapped in Schwäbisch Hall on an intensive German course for the next two months. Consequently, blog posts will be few and far between. If inspiration really strikes me, I might write something; but I rather suspect my time will be full-up… Thus, normal service will be resumed in November.

Top 10 Charters: The House Selection, pt. 2

We’ve already covered the first half of the #top10charters list I put up on Facebook a couple of months ago; so without any further ado, let’s get on with the second half!

No. 5: Robert of Neustria to Saint-Martin of Tours, 892.

‘I’m supposed to steal the property of Saint-Martin and the brothers and hurt my soul for three shields?’

Roman Deutinger is sceptical of the authenticity of this charter. I’m not: his reasons basically boil down to ‘it’s weird, and it doesn’t look like a trial record’, to which I would respond ‘it’s not that weird, and that’s because it isn’t one’. It’s a notice wherein the brother of Saint-Martin and advocate Adalmar of whom we have spoken go and get some land of Saint-Martin of their abbot Robert; it’s interesting institutionally, and it’s got some nice echoes of personality in it.

No. 4: Richard the Fearless to Saint-Denis, 968.

‘Wherefore let the provident industry of both peoples, to wit, the Franks and the Normans, know…’

This is the foundational document of Norman identity. I’d write more about it, but as it happens I’ve already done that at length elsewhere, so you can read that if this interests you.

No. 3: Louis IV to Saint-Remi of Rheims, 953.

‘…the most blessed bishop, who was specially bestowed by God on Our royal bloodline as a pastor and patron…’

The middle of the tenth century was a crucial time of change for West Frankish kingship. Briefly, after about 920 everything went to hell and stayed there for about thirty years. It took Louis IV his entire reign, quite a lot of desperate improvisation, and in the end the help of some absolutely vast Ottonian armies to establish his throne on solid ground, and when he did so its ideological basis was distinctly different. Key here was the see of Rheims, and this charter exemplifies that, drawing links between the Carolingian bloodline (which is otherwise unusual), the patron saint of Rheims, Remigius, and the office of king.

It also has links to a diploma of Otto I issued at around the same time, linking the three protagonists – Carolingians, Ottonians, and the see of Rheims – together in an ideological framework which reinforces the hegemonic role of the Ottonian kings in stabilising West Frankish kingship.

No. 2: Charles the Simple to Saint-Denis, 917.

‘…similarly let them carry out my memorial, and the memorial of my dead wife Frederuna…’

Rather like no. 4, I’ve already written about this elsewhere. Suffice to say, it is the greatest love story of the entire century.

No. 1: Odo I of Blois-Chartres-Tours to Bourgueil, 995.

‘…and unless he repents, let him join Nero and Diocletian and Julian the Apostate and those who followed them as persecutors of martyrs in the eternal fires of Gehenna’

Coming from the same tradition as number 6, this charter, purely and simply, validates my whole approach to these documents, by proving that questions of legitimacy mattered enough to fight over, and being one of the few direct responses to ideological claims by lay magnates. That legitimacy mattered should, you’d think, be self-evident, but apparently not: I have been told, by a senior scholar as well, that no-one in the tenth century cared about legitimating their power because they were all bloodthirsty warlords who only spoke the guttural tongue of violence.

But no! The situation here is fairly simple. Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou, and Odo I of Blois-Chartres-Tours were fighting for dominance in Brittany. In the year 992, Fulk had fought a battle with Count Conan of Rennes at a place called Conquereuil, and massacred him and his army. This was a big deal – killing Christians was never seen as a good thing, and was increasingly frowned on at this time. Thus, when, two years later, Fulk’s castle at Langeais was besieged by Conan’s patron Odo, before setting off to defend it, Fulk issued a charter ‘in penitence for the exceedingly great slaughter of Christians which happened on the plain at Conquereuil’, evidently issued in order to gain divine favour before the siege.

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The author explaining all this at the tenth-century donjon of Langeais, which still survives.

The siege of Langeais lasted for some time, beginning in or around May or June and continuing into the next year. Things got desperate for Fulk, sufficiently desperate that he offered to surrender to Odo. These terms, as recorded in the history of Richer of Rheims, were humiliating: Fulk offered to pay compensation for the death of Odo’s ally Conan of Rennes, to give service to Odo, and to pledge his son to Odo’s service. However, news reached Fulk that reinforcements were coming, and he withdrew the terms. After this, and almost certainly in response to it, Odo issued this charter.

In it, there is one key clause in the charter which demonstrates that the siege of Langeais was an ideological as well as a literal battleground. Odo threatens violators of his grant thusly: ‘let him be associated in the flames of eternal gehenna with Nero and Diocletian and Julian the Apostate and their followers as persecutors of martyrs.’ This formula is unique in tenth-century France, and it is a directly and unsubtle attack on Fulk Nerra: Fulk was a killer of Christians, Fulk was an insincere penitent, Fulk would not get the salvation he claimed.

The greatest princes of tenth-century France, then, were sufficiently concerned about justifying their rule to go beyond simple school-bully tactics. They developed and contested ideological claims, going beyond simple coercion to develop strategies of legitimacy which not only existed, but mattered. For Odo, denying Fulk the moral high ground was as important as denying him the literal high ground.

Charity and Kingship: Eleventh-Century Royal Diplomas

Yesterday was going so well. Writing the last bit of written work I’ve got scheduled for while I’m still here, I polished off one section, and prepared to move onto the next. So, King Robert the Pious’ chancellor puts together a new prologue to his charters, does he? Let’s pull out the textual models of that, write about how the historiographical consensus is wrong about him and monks, and then all I need to do is spend a few days counting witness lists and I can spend my last two months in Brussels napping and playing video games.

Several hours later, I’d spent so much time staring at the damn thing that I’d most of it memorised, but textual parallels weren’t going so well.

So what this means is that today on the blog, I’ll be using it for the purest form of its intended purpose: as a sketch pad. I’m going to take this new standard prologue, read it in excruciating detail, and try and work out what it means about Robert the Pious’ kingship. First, the text:

Cum in exhibitione temporalium rerum, quas humana religio divino cultui famulando locis sanctorum et congregationibus fldelium ex devotione animi largitur, tam presentis quam perpetue vite, ut jampridem multis expertum est indiciis, solatium adquiratur, saluberrimus valde et omnibus imitabilis est hic fructus primitive virtutis, scilicet caritatis, per quam et mundi prosperatur tranquillitas et felici remuneratione eterna succedit felicitas.

Since (as has been proved by many tokens) it is in the presentation of worldly goods, which, by the soul’s devotion, human religion bestows on the places of the saints and the congregations of the faithful for the service of divine worship, that the comfort of both this life and the next is acquired, such an action is very beneficial and imitable by everyone; it is the fruit of the first of the virtues, charity, through which the peace of the world prospers and eternal happiness follows by a happy repayment.

First appearing just after 1020, this prologue is the work of a man named Baldwin, chancellor under Kings Robert the Pious and Henry I. It will go on to be the standard opening of royal documents for most of the eleventh century, so it’s quite important. To deal with it, I’ll start by doing bullet points of each of the individual words, and then pull together some overall observations at the end.

  • Exhibitio temporalium rerum: An exhibitio is literally a handout, but it’s slightly unusual in the context of royal diplomas. Usually one would expect to see a word like largitio (grant), which emphasises royal generosity. Exhibitio suggests something more public – it’s an exhibition of generosity, geddit – which does fit with a consistent theme of Robert’s reign, which is that a lot of his kingship is performed in public, before large crowds.
  • Humana religio: This is an odd one. Religio can mean religion, in the sense that we’d use it day-to-day, but it’s also reverence, and religious awe… Mostly around this time, it would be connected to words like ‘divine’ or ‘sacred’, with the first meaning predominating. Here, though, it’s clearly being used as an opposition to divinus cultus (divine worship), which has the interesting function of really stressing the mediation provided by the clergy between the human and the divine.
  • Congregationes fidelium: This is particularly so in light of the use of the word congregatio, which literally means ‘assembly’ but almost always by the early eleventh century means ‘organised group of clerics’, and – as far as I can tell – usually monks. The word congregatio derives from the phrase for ‘to flock together’, and the word for flock, grex, is almost entirely associated with groups of monks in this context.
  • Fructus primitivae virtutis – Describing royal action as motivated by caritas (usually translated as ‘charity’ but better thought of as ‘lovingkindness’) is again unusual. The reference here is to Galatians 5:22: ‘the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith’. Caritas has a long Christian history, which Guyotjeannin points out about this formula, but it’s hard to find precise textual parallels for how its described here. The closest is perhaps the eighth-century scholar Alcuin’s treatise on Virtues and Vices. He describes caritas as ‘first place in the precepts of God’: to love both God and your neighbour with every fibre of your being.
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A diploma of Robert to a church in Châlons, featuring a recognisable predecessor of this formula. (Source. Turns out its a lot harder to find nice images of Capetian royal diplomas than Carolingian ones. You know, the first three Capetians don’t even have their diplomas properly edited yet.)

Thus: it is in giving alms to religious institutions, allowing them to mediate between God and the laity, that relief is acquired in both this life and that to come. This almsgiving is the product of an internal caritas, a virtue which is necessary for both worldly and heavenly success.

It’s not very royal. This is important, because charter prologues are usually imbued with the language of, specifically, royal majesty; but not here. Note that the whole thing is written mostly in the passive: solace ‘is acquired’, for instance. If you parce it, the element of the sentence actually acting is the animus, the soul of the individual believer. It’s therefore noticeable that almsgiving is described as ‘imitable’; it looks rather like the king is being set up not as a figure separate from his subjects, but as an example for them to follow; as a man, not as a king. Geoff Koziol has written about Robert’s self-presentation as a Christian rather than as a king; as it happens, I disagree with him about his specific example (the use of Cross monograms) – I might write about why in the near future, actually – but the idea might be applicable here…

Well, that was a helpful exercise. Much to chew over there, but it was good to get things written down. Am I missing anything? Please let me know if you have any comments – this formula shows up so often that unlocking it is a big deal.

 

The Nuns of Chartres, At Last

Going down my top 10 charters last time, I mentioned that I would finally get round to telling the story of the nuns of Chartres, and so here goes. These particular charters having been bothering me for a while, and I still haven’t worked out what’s going on here. First, a translation of the act, which was charter no. 6 in the list:

I, in the name of God Liutgard, most devoted and faithful of the servants of God. Be it known to all the faithful of the orthodox and catholic Church that I myself and another Deo sacrata, named Godeleva, joined to me both in body and soul [michi tam corpore quam anima conjuncta], having made an agreement, bought a certain allod from a certain man named Otbert, wholly and entirely, whatever was left to him by both his grandfather and his great-grandfather, in the villa which is generally known as Prasville, for an agreed-upon and suitable price, to wit, in the county of Chartres; on the condition that from this day until the end of the world, it might past from his right and person into our dominion and power. This purchase was made in accordance with this condition and vow, that as long as we live, it should remain at our disposition; but after our death, it should pass and go into the power and dominion of Saint Peter, established in the suburbs of Chartres, and the brothers serving God therein, in its entirety, and without calumniation from anyone. That this charter might be believed more firmly and truly, we had it strengthened by our own hand and the hands of the faithful of God’s holy Church.

Acted publicly at Chartres.

Count Odo. Conan, count of Brittany. Landric. Arduin. Robert. Erchambald the cleric. Teduin.

Given on the 15th kalends of September [i.e. 16th August], in the 25th year of the reign of King Lothar.

That ‘joined to me both in body and soul’ is a puzzler, isn’t it? If that were Liutgard and, I don’t know, Hucbert, I’d read it as a poetic description of marriage, but here I think it’s unlikely for two reasons. First, the ‘Count Odo’ in the witness list is actually Liutgard’s son by Count Theobald the Trickster, who we’ve met before. Both these men had lots of enemies, and given how despised same-sex relations were at this time, it seems unlikely that his enemies would pass up the opportunity to criticise Liutgard were she in a prominent-enough same-sex relationship to be putting it in her charters.

The other reason is that Godeleva actually appears elsewhere at around the same time, also donating to Saint-Père de Chartres: ‘Illuminated by [Biblical precepts about the joy of giving] and other proofs of good instruction, and the flame of the Holy Spirit, I, Godeleva, and my mate [compar, a Latin word as ambiguous as ‘mate’ in English] Clementia give… a certain church which we bought… from a canon… named Gerald… to Saint Peter’. So we’re unlikely to be dealing with an elderly nun free love commune.

Saint-Père de Chartres in the Early Modern Period. Source.

Still, this is some very strong language. Fassler says that phrases such as ‘joined in both body and soul’ indicate a kinship link, and I used to think she must be right, but now I wonder whether or not something a little more interesting is going on. Liutgard describes herself and Godeleva as Deo sacrata, a type of religious women who were not strictly speaking nuns, but rather women, often high-ranking widows, who chose to live lives dedicated to God. This seems to be the case here: certainly between them Liutgard, Godeleva and Clementia have cash to throw around and spend on their own salvation.

More than this, though, Godeleva’s language in that second document seems to imply that she perceived herself as perhaps a visionary, ‘illuminated by the flame of the Holy Spirit’. Equally, the use of terms like compar suggests a closeness between the women here which is hard to parallel from other charters in this region. So I wonder if we are not perhaps dealing a semi-communal but non-formalised small female religious community within Chartres: a group of high-status religious women bound together by an unusually intense piety to do acts of charitable giving.

There is another option: these charters are preserved in the cartulary of Saint-Père de Chartres, which was written in the twelfth century by a monk named Paul, who was not above forging documents to better establish his abbey’s claims to land. This does not necessarily make things less odd: instead of a tenth-century property-magnate prayer group, we could be dealing with a twelfth-century monk’s imagining of same…

Anyway, this whole knot still puzzles me somewhat. What do you all think?

Top 10 Charters: The House Selection, pt. 1

Well, my list of the #top10charters has now come to an end, so here and in an upcoming post I’ll list them for posterity, and for those of you not following me on Twitter. It was a fun little experiment. What makes a charter top ten material is wildly subjective: some of them show interesting things about the way documents were used, others about specific historical moments, others about longer-term trends; some were the most elevated of politics, and others snapshots of individual life. Into this latter category falls:

No. 10: Adalelm the knight donates some land and a silver crucifix to the abbey of Fleury, 975.

“… I offer to our Lord and Saviour… an exquisite silver cross… with the wish and desire that He who, by his death hanging on the wood of the Cross, destroyed death and defeated the Devil might deign to wipe out the weight of my crimes…”

It goes without saying that the Cross has always been important for Christians, and this was no less true for tenth-century Christians. The abbots of Saint-Martin of Tours – who, by 975, had also been the Robertian rulers of Neustria for almost a century, and whose contemporary representative Hugh Capet was Adelelm’s lord and hosted the assembly at which this gift was made – had as one of the key visual representations of their authority the fact that they signed their documents, explicitly, with the sign of the Holy Cross. Nonetheless, Adalelm is doing something interesting here. He’s participating in a renewed Cross-focused spirituality, and he’s also picking up on an artistic trend for making large, monumental crucifixes, which at this time were becoming more common in the Ottonian empire. This was quite important for the Church in the area around Orléans – this 975 charter is actually the first evidence for monumental crucifixes in the Orleanais. And it was pretty substantial – thanks to a later description of it, it seems likely that this cross was made of about ten kilos of silver.

In light of the solemnity of the occasion, the charter offers a meditation on the role of the Cross in the salvation of mankind, and it’s this which makes it worthy of a spot on this list. The role of charters was to communicate information, but this information wasn’t just legal. A charter was as much a sermon as a notification of donation – in the charter, Adalelm communicates to the audience not just that he’s given Fleury some holy bling and land near Sens, but why he’s done it and how the sacrifice of Jesus works for him and the whole world.

No. 9: Albert III of Habsburg donates a hunting horn to the abbey of Muri, 1199.

“Let everyone who sees this horn know that Count Albert… enriched this horn with sacred relics…”

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Photo by author.

As the picture indicates, this is not a single sheet of parchment, or a cartulary copy of a text. This is in fact an ivory horn. But it is no less a charter – the text inscribed on it uses the formulae of charters, albeit in this case of a short charter. What’s particularly interesting about this one is that the donation and the text recording it are identical. This isn’t how we use documents nowadays, but it was much more common in the earlier medieval period. At least in some cases, the issuance of a (parchment) charter text served itself as a symbol of the donation, aiding in the performance of handing over property from one party to another. This horn is probably the epitome of this way of using the written word.

No. 8: Robert of Neustria donates land to the abbey of Saint-Denis, 923.

“…by divine clemency, because the situation made it necessary, with the support of all the princes, We took up the sceptre of royal majesty to steer the ship of the kingdom…”

This is the only charter on this list that isn’t important to me because of work I’ve done on it, but rather because, if it weren’t for Geoffrey Koziol’s work on this charter, I’d never have worked on any of the others. We’ve mentioned here before how Robert of Neustria rose in rebellion against Charles the Simple; and, as Koziol, demonstrates very clearly, this document is not simply a donation, but a manifesto very specifically justifying Robert’s actions and his claim to the throne. I don’t agree with everything Koziol says, but his article is fantastic.

 

No. 7: Geoffrey Grisegonelle confirms his reformation of Saint-Aubin d’Angers, 966.

“…so that the mercy of the pious Redeemer might be well-disposed to concede His help and aid to me, Geoffrey, caught up in the whirlwinds of worldly wars…”

I’m going to be a bit less fulsome with these last two. Here, it’s because I wrote about this charter for my thesis and when that eventually becomes a book, this document is going to feature prominently; so, you know, spoiler warning…

What I will say about it is, whatever my own very particular theories, this charter commemorates what may be the single most cynical ‘reform’ of a monastery in the tenth century. Saint-Aubin had been ruled by Geoffrey’s ancestors as count of Anjou as lay abbots, but by the 960s it was under the rule of his brother Guy, who might have been a cleric but probably wasn’t a monk. A very strange charter exists in which Guy appears to say that he tried and failed to be a good abbot, and so turned it over to monks out of Saint-Remi de Rheims. However, Geoffrey appears to have used the opportunity to assert his control over the abbey, and Geoffrey’s son Fulk Nerra even more so: the counts of Anjou appear to have disposed of Saint-Aubin’s land to reward their own followers. This lack of interest in reform for its own sake comes through in the document itself: ‘Supposedly,’ Geoffrey says,  ‘monasticism flourished in the monastery once upon a time; but because there’s no obvious proof, We don’t care whether it flourished or not’.

No. 6: Liutgard of Vermandois and Godeleva make a bequest of land to the abbey of Saint-Père de Chartres, 979.

“I myself, and another woman dedicated to God, Godeleva by name, joined to me in both body and soul…”

This one I won’t say anything about at all, because I have promised a whole blog post about the Lesbian Nun Property Magnate Commune of Chartres before, and by thunder, a whole blog post you will get… Possibly soon, although not this week. The week after is a possibility, though. Also, I’ll be posting part 2 of this countdown soon, outside my normal schedule for posts – so stay tuned!

Charter Top Tens: The Sunny South

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@ralphtorta *winks*) probably already know that, this week, I’ve been listing my Top 10 charters. This has provoked a little response, because, as one might expect, my favourite charters (almost) all come from my research period and area, that is, tenth-century northern France. However, the world of charters is vast and endlessly fascinating, and as evidence of that Thomas Lecaque (@tlecaque) posted his own list of documents from Languedoc. So this week’s blog will be something of the text equivalent of a response video*, as I talk about what struck me about these documents as an outsider to the area. I won’t respond to them all, but I will list them all – let’s get started.

10: ARTEM no. 3960, Bernard of Peyrolles to the Holy Sepulchre, 1060: http://www.cn-telma.fr/originaux/charte3960/.

What struck me is that Bernard doesn’t give directly to Jerusalem, but to Rodez cathedral, instructing Dieudonné Bordet, the sacristan, to send the Holy Sepulchre itself a cash sum each year. This might not be a banking network, but at the least it’s an indication that people think you can move money over long distances reliably enough for it to be worth doing.

9. Cartulaire de Saint-Sernin no. 133, a notice of the end of the quarrel between the canons of Saint-Sernin and Saint-Etienne de Toulouse, 1076/7: http://www.cn-telma.fr/chartae-galliae/charte217764/.

Here, the elderly bishop of Lectoure, Raymond Ebo, wants to go to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, but has to resolve a dispute over some land he holds: in addition to being bishop, he is prior of Saint-Etienne, but holds the land from Saint-Sernin, so both sets of canons claim the land. I have to say I don’t agree with one element of Thomas’ comments here:

I’m not sure Raymond Ebo’s role here is much of a problem… As the cartulary of Saint-Florent de Saumur amongst many others could show, reformed monks are no strangers to petty litigiousness, and Raymond Ebo’s links within Toulouse do actually have enough pull to get a settlement to stick, at least temporarily. Which, as an old man wanting the kids to shut up long enough to go on pilgrimage, is presumably all he wanted…

8. Cartulaire de Saint-Sernin, no. 546, Count William IV of Toulouse and Bishop Isarn of Toulouse permitting Peter Benedict to set up a hospital, 1075-1078: http://www.cn-telma.fr/chartae-galliae/charte218192/

7. Cartualire de Saint-Sernin, no. 291, Count William IX of Poitou and his wife Philippa to Saint-Sernin, 1098: http://www.cn-telma.fr/chartae-galliae/charte217926/

I have nothing to add to this, but it’s great.

6. BNF MS Lat. 9189 fol. 25v, Raymond of Saint-Gilles to Lezat, c. 1058: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b525024870/f422.image

Thomas highlights the apocalyptic rhetoric here, and the introductory phrase ‘appropinquante etenim mundi termino et ruinis crescentibus’ (For the end of the world draws nigh, and desolation groweth) in the context of the apocalypticism of Raymond of Saint-Gilles’ Crusade army. I’m more interested by his implication this formula is rare in the Languedoc, because it’s incredibly common in the north – this implies, at the very least, something about the transmission of documentary forms southwards…

5. ARTEM no. 2676, Pons, Geoffrey and Bertrand to Raymond of Saint-Gilles, 1103: http://www.cn-telma.fr/originaux/charte2767/

Ooh, vernacular text!

4. ARTEM no. 3841, Roger II of Foix to Fredelas, 1111: http://www.cn-telma.fr/originaux/charte3841/

Again, I’m not sure about the interpretation of reform here. By comparison, Robert of Neustria makes a similar restoration of property to Saint-Martin in 900, but it’s presented as his own initiative; that Roger highlights the papal role in the restoration indicates how far the papacy has managed to infiltrate discourse by the early twelfth century.

(Also, I like how the ‘comes Fuxensis’ gives no Fux.)

3. ARTEM no. 2443, Gerard I of Roussillon makes his will: http://www.cn-telma.fr/originaux/charte2443/

2. Arles, BM 1242, f. 55v, no. lx, Prior Peter of Arles exchanges lands with two Jews, 1008: http://www.cn-telma.fr/chartae-galliae/charte251699/

There are some royal diplomas in favour of early tenth-century Narbonne which repeat each time the same phrase about how the Jews aren’t paying their taxes to the archbishop’s men, which implies either a scribe wasn’t paying attention or that he had the least efficient tax collectors in the world. (Or, y’know, that the text of these things doesn’t alwaysnecessarily matter; but that’s another argument.)

1. HGL no. 365/CCXCVII, Peter of Melgueil donates his entire county to the papacy, 1085: https://archive.org/stream/histoiregnra05viccuoft#page/n396/mode/1up

Wow. This is indeed a great one to finish on – to me, whose ideas of ‘normal’ political behaviour are based on the mid-tenth century, by the point someone’s donating a whole county to the Pope, there’s definitely been a discursive shift, and this is fascinating evidence of that; as well as the shift from the position of count being an office to being a possession – I don’t think a late Carolingian count would even have conceived of their county as being something they could give to anyone, let alone the pope!

Also interesting is that Peter donates the bishopric of Maguelonne (episcopatum Magalonensem). I don’t know if episcopatum has some other meaning in the south, but how’s that for ‘Church in the hands of the laity’?

Anyway, thanks to Thomas for posting that – he’s certainly illustrated the great richness of southern French charters!

I’ll be posting a list of and commentary on my own picks once the countdown is finished, over the weekend. But if you’re reading this and you have your own nominations for #top10charters, then please do put them up with the hashtag – if I can think of things to say about them, I might do this whole ‘response’ idea again…

*(Tweets copied with permission)

Blogging at the BnF 1: Aides-Memoires in Eleventh-Century Tours

There’s nothing like Paris in the spring: swearing at a microfilm reader because the zoom function won’t focus properly. Yes, this month your humble blogger is in one of his least favourite major world cities, working his way through a fearsome array of Early Modern charter collections, and discovering that, whilst there are people out there who care about the endless undated chart-notices of dispute settlements from eleventh-century western France, he’s not one of them… In any case, what that means is that this month the blog will be doing something different. Rather than the usual stately progress of one post every Thursday, I’ll be putting something up every time I find an unpublished document interesting enough to blog about. (Of course, if it’s really interesting I might hold it back for publication down the line…)

The first thing to go up, then, is something I came across in MS Lat 5441(4), a collection of the charters of Marmoutier made in the late seventeenth century(ish). The charters of the two major abbeys of the city of Tours, Saint-Martin and Marmoutier, are in a fairly chaotic state, and there are all kinds of things from them that have never seen the light of print. This charter, dating from 1044, is one of them.

marmoutier
Marmoutier today; I believe it’s a girls’ school, actually…

How do I know it dates from 1044? Because when describing when the transaction took place, it begins ‘this is the exchange which took place when Count Geoffrey captured the city of Tours’. This phrase is actually the only dating element, but it’s relatively common in Marmoutier practice: there are several examples of Marmoutier scribes dating charters by newsworthy events, from Hugh Capet destroying a local fortification to King Lothar invading Lotharingia.

What’s particularly interesting about this is the lack of precision. As someone who’s recently lost several bets to his colleagues about when such-and-such a song was a number 1 hit (I could have sworn that Pretty Fly For A White Guy was no. 1 in 2000…), ‘the year when event x occurred’ is no guarantee that you’ll get the right year. But of course, for these purposes, you don’t need exactitude: it doesn’t matter exactly when the transaction took place, so long as you can say ‘oh yeah, when Count Geoffrey took over, I remember that land sale…’ There’s a kind of ‘memory palace’ effect at work here, associating something big with something small so that the one prompts the recollection of the other. It’s a neat little trick to ensure that your transaction can enjoy a few decades of permanence, as long as there are people around to remember it…

The transcription of the document follows; obviously it’s not a formal edition, but if you want the text, here it is:

BnF MS Lat 5441(4)

Fol. 57:

In illa rerum conuersione et mutabilium commutatio=/ne quae facta est cum comes GAUSFREDUS TU=/RONORUM Ciuitatem cepisset aliorum ad alios/ incolarum ad extraneous possessiones & hereditates Deo/ cuique iusta tribuente, transierunt. Unde factum est/ vt prefati comitis satelles quidam nomine andreas/ cognomento ARRIBATUS omnia que fuerant/ Rainaldi IUUENIS civis olim Turonici sortiretur/ Sed quoniam mentis humane auditas limites de=/dignatur habendi et concessa fastidiens in non con=/cessa caeco ruit impetu ambitu, miles ille in terram/ quamdam Sancti Martini Maioris Monasterii, Sapalicum nomine/ quam naturaliter et antiquitus solidam quietamque/

Fol. 58:

Tenebat, violentas inferre manus moliens, totam/ prorsus sibi illam quibusdam quod est ejus generis ho/minum, occasionum preiudiciis vindicare nitebatur./ loci autem Illius monachi conatibus iniustis ob=/viare jus suus reclamando illius iniusticiam ra=/tione convincendo, querelas iustas apud memoratum/ comitem persepe deponendo, stagebant. Tandem/ pars utraque concordie favens in hanc hommuni/ decreto venere sententiam, ut permissu domini/ alberti abbatis maioris monasterii fratrum dimidiam in/ ipsa terra consistentis luci partem, reliqua omnia/ Sancto Martino sicut antea Libere possidente, invita/ duntaxat sua pretaxatus andreas possideant, ita ta=/men ut neque vendat neue donet, neque dissipet quic/quam de sua illa parte, sed tantum ad sua necessaria/ id est ad se calefaciendum vel domum suam, vel vineas/ meliorandas inde accipiat et cetera conseruet & de=/fendat, post mortem uero eius id ipsum in sancti Martini/ dominium redeat, luci uidelicet pars concessa, et ut ali/quam beneficii huius gratiam mercedem maioris mo=/nasterii c [space of around 11 characters, presumably ‘comes gaufridus’ or something] retribueret, sepefato sancto post suum/ itidem decessum x agripennos vinearum dedit, ad locum/ qui dicitur Monasteriolum et II. pratorum ad mem=/breolam. Hec omnia asensu & auctoramento/ comitis Gauzfr{e}idi (e crossed out w/ i) et Vxoris eius comitisse AGNE=/TIS. facta sunt prima[?]tibus ipsis et hugone archiepiscopo/ VESANTIAE, et domno abbate ALBERTO, aliis/que quamplurimis clericalis monastici laïcalis/ ordinis, quorum aliquos firmitatis gratia huic sub=/scripsimus noticiae.

3 cols:

Col. 1:

Domnus Airardu

Walterius precentor

Petrus canonicus

Warnerius maior

Col. 2:

Rainaldus maior.

Ricardus maior.

Rotbertus maior.

Otbertus senior.

Col. 3:

otbertus iunior

Arnulfus malus finis

Rotbertus caput lupi

Martinus furnerius

Source Translation: The Spectrum of Kingship in Ninth-Century Brittany

And we’re back. Hello everyone, happy 2017, hope your new year hasn’t had as many onrushing deadlines as mine has. This week, I want to show you a Breton charter from 869. It’s a long ‘un, but a good ‘un. The scenario: Salomon, ruler of Brittany, is giving a grant to the abbey of Redon, on the borderline between Breton-speaking Brittany and the former Frankish province of Nantes, now under Breton rule. The charter goes as follows (and I’ve experimented in this translation with using a slightly more formal register, which may or may not work…):

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Salomon, by grace of God, prince [princeps] of the whole of Brittany and a great part of the Gauls.

Be it known unto all of Brittany, as well bishops as priests and all the clergy, and also besides counts and other noble leaders [duces] and mighty warriors [milites] and all those subject to Our dominion, that the venerable abbot Ritcand, with certain of his monks, though yet bringing the petition of all the others, approached Our presence, in my monastery which is in Plélan, in which place I had aforetime held my court.  Yet under the threat of the Northmen, Abbot Conwoion, carrying the prayer of his monks, approached Us and Our venerable spouse Gwenvred, and sought not once nor even twice a place of refuge for him and his monks in the face of the Northmen. Proffering assent to them, We not only gave unto them the aforesaid hall, but also ordered be built from Our public goods in the same place a monastery by no means base in honour of the holy Redeemer, as a refuge for the aforesaid monks, to gain a heavenly inheritance and the redemption of our souls, and forsooth for the present and everlasting prosperity of Our offspring, and all Our realm, and for the most peaceable steadfastness [stabilitas] of Our fideles; which place also We wished to name ‘Salomon’s monastery’.

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The Cartulary of Redon, in which this charter is preserved (image source)

Therein even now Abbot Conwoion lies interred, and Our venerable spouse Gwenvred too rests honourably interred; and therein I as well, by the counsel of the nobles of Brittany, both priests and laymen, vowed to have my body buried, should the most pious clemency of God deign to grant it me. And, for the increase of the joy and peace of all Brittany, I had the most holy Maxentius, the greatest gift passed unto Us by God, placed therein, a thing the like of which was unheard of amongst Our people in times past [OR: a man who had not been heard of as coming amongst Our people in times past], to Aquitaine’s sorrow and Brittany’s light, praise, and honour.

And then, coming to this place on the 15th Kalends of May [17th April], the day of the Resurrection of our Saviour, to pray to the holy Redeemer and the venerable Maxentius, I bestowed on the aforesaid holy Redeemer and Saint Maxentius and the aforesaid monks other gifts from Our treasury which were with me, as much as pleased Our inclination at that time, to gain the Kingdom of God and for the redemption of Our soul and the stability of the realm. That is:

  • a golden chalice of fine gold, made with marvellous workmanship, having 333 gems, costing 10 pounds [libras] and 1 shilling [solidus]; and its paten, having 145 gems, costing 7 and a half pounds;
  • and the text of the Gospels, with wonderfully-made golden cover, costing 8 pounds and having 120 gems;
  • and a great golden cross, of wonderful workmanship, weighing 23 pounds and having 370 gems;
  • and one case [capsa] wonderfully carved from Indian ivory, and – which is more precious – full of most splendid relics of the saints;
  • a precious priestly chasuble, chequered on the outside and interwoven with gold [extrinsecus interstinctae {sic} ex auro cooperatam], which my godfather [compater], the most pious king of the Franks Charles [the Bald], sent to me as a great gift – for such it is;
  • and a pallium of wonderful size to go over the saint’s body;
  • and, to cap the wonders, and in sooth by the virtue of Saint Maxentius, sent, by God’s providence, before his dispatch to Brittany, I acquired for that holy helper a Gospel-book honourably bound in gold and ivory;
  • and moreover a sacramentary [liber sacramentorum] covered in Indian ivory, then and now intended for the saint;
  • and another book decorated in silver and gold within and without;
  • and a Life of Saint Maxentius composed in prose and poetry, and containing a Life of the holy martyr Leodegar;
  • to say nothing of other gifts which I had already given beforehand, that is, an altar fashioned of silver and gold;
  • and a cross made of silver on one side and having on the other side the image of the Saviour made of the finest gold and gems;
  • and another little cross made of gold and gems;
  • and two priestly vestments;
  • and precious changeant;
  • and 3 cloaks of wondrous size.

That same day, the aforesaid Abbot Ritcand, coming with his monks, besought Us that We might deign by royal custom to receive under Our defence whatsoever Our ancestors, that is, Nominoë and Erispoë, had given, and also what I myself had given, and what other good and noble men, each in accordance with his measure, had given or would give to the holy Redeemer and the monks serving in the aforesaid monasteries [i.e. both Redon and Plélan] under the Rule of Saint Benedict; and for this We would surely be made in addition a sharer in the alms of all the said people. They also sought that We should grant to them whatever was received by Our dominion from their men and from the abbey of Saint-Sauveur [Redon], as well from dependant peasants [coloni] as from serfs and freemen [ingenui] dwelling on their land, from both meadows and woods and waters as much as from forests, in return for a hundred-fold reward in the life eternal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
What Redon abbey looks like now; the buildings are mostly twelfth-century (image source)

Favouring their petition, by the counsel of Our nobles, We, to gain the Kingdom of God and for the redemption of my soul and my relatives and sons, and for the stability of the whole Brittanic realm, released unto them wholly and entirely as much as is owed to me and my men from their abbey, both from the upkeep of horses and dogs [pastu caballorum et canum] and from messenger service [angariis] and all dues, and thus I give and transfer it from my dominion to their power, such that whatever was received for Our advantage should thereafter all benefit their advantages and the brothers’ stipends, so that the monks might delight to pray to more joyfully and devotedly exhort the mercy of the Lord for Our salvation and that of the Christian people. We forbid that no-one should after this day presume to disturb them over this matter in Our times or those to come.

We also establish and command that any cause or quarrel concerning the monks or their men which was not aired against them or their men in the time of Abbot Conwoion should never be aired; and should anyone endeavour to receive any toll or census or any render from their men carrying out their business whether by sea or on land or on any river; rather, let everything profit the advantages of the aforesaid monks.

This was done in the pagus called Poutrocoët, in Plélan, in the aforesaid monastery which is called Salomon’s monastery, on the 15th Kalends of May [17th April], on Sunday, on the 1st day of the lunar cycle, in the 2nd indiction, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 869.

Salomon, prince of all Brittany, who gave this donation and asked it be confirmed, witnessed. Abbot Ritcand, who acceped, witnessed. Riwallon and Wicon, sons of the aforesaid Salomon, witnessed. Ratvili, bishop of Alet, witnessed. Pascwethen witnessed. Bran witnessed. Nominoë, son of Bodwan, witnessed. Ronwallon, son of Bescan, witnessed. Drehoiarn witnessed. Iaruocon, his son, witnessed. Ratfred witnessed. Tanetherht witnessed. Hinwalart witnessed. Catworeth witnessed. Hetruiarn witnessed. Sidert witnessed. Trethian witnessed. Kenmarhoc witnessed. Guethenoc witnessed. Arvidoe witnessed. Salutem witnessed. Hedrewedoe witnessed. Hidran witnessed. Gleudalan witnessed. Koledoc witnessed. Balandu witnessed. Tenior witnessed. Arthnou witnessed. Eucant witnessed. Woran witnessed. Gleu witnessed. Chourant witnessed. Abbot Ronwallon witnessed. Judhocar the priest witnessed. Bili the cleric witnessed. Conwoion the cleric witnessed. Haelican the priest witnessed. Egreval the priest witnessed. Richard the priest witnessed.

There are several interesting things to note here, but the one I’d going to concentrate on is that Salomon is, basically, putting on airs. This charter takes many of its forms from Carolingian royal diplomas – the invocation of the holy and indivisible Trinity, the address clause (‘be it known’), the way Abbot Ritcand humbly approaches Salomon, the fact Salomon acts ‘by royal custom’, the way he forbids his men from taking revenues from abbatial land (a clause taken from an actual Carolingian diploma issued for Redon by Charles the Bald); all this is very much biting Carolingian style.

Thing is, Salomon’s kingship is a bit up-in-the-air. Sometimes, he is called a rex – a king; other times, he is a dux or (as in this case) a princeps. Sometimes, indeed, he’s both a king and not a king in the same charter. Of course, this needn’t necessarily mean that he’s less a king – the current king of Spain, for instance, is also duke of Milan, representing the fact that, historically, the kings of Spain were also dukes of Milan. The royal title doesn’t lose meaning because of the ducal one.

However, Salomon is not a modern monarch, but an early medieval one, and things are a bit different there. This charter is a good example of that – the scribe borrows some but not all of the features of a royal diploma. Carolingian kings, for instance, don’t have witness lists. Could the scribe have left out the witness list? Sure: evidently Salomon’s royal status wasn’t seen as sufficiently convincing that simply assuming wholesale the features of Carolingian kingship was a viable move. Salomon is a kind of quasi-king, assuming some but not all of the attributes of kingship.

In a Breton context, this makes sense: in 869, Breton monarchy was a relatively new idea. Before the time of Charlemagne (and here I repeat the arguments of Caroline Brett), most references to Breton rulership, at least in the eighth century, refer to multiple, unnamed rulers, implying a situation where the Bretons were ruled by many chiefs rather than one king. The transition to a situation under which Brittany was ruled by only one ruler appears to have happened under Frankish pressure, and at least in part with Frankish collusion – Nominoë, the most important sole ruler of the Bretons, was actually set up by the Frankish emperor Louis the Pious in the early ninth century. Breton monarchy was new, and it was also unstable. Salomon had murdered Nominoë’s son Erispoë to get the throne and would in turn be murdered about five years after this charter was issued. Under such circumstances, it makes sense that his political presentation might involve a degree of caution.

king_salomon_of_brittany_-_2
He still got canonised, though, because that’s how nationalism works (image source)

There are other things that could be said about this charter – the significance of books as gifts to the saints, the amount of moveable wealth Salomon can draw on, the fact he has the effrontery to try and gain the benefits of the alms given to Redon by Erispoë, the man he murdered. Still, in the name of not testing your patience, I’ll stop here. Next week, a research post on violence and the tenth-century.

Onomastic Oddities in Tenth-Century Langres

Names are important. Something’s name is a crucial part of its identity, and also an important part of the identity of the person who named it – just think of the implied difference between someone who names their dog ‘Kylie’ and one who names it ‘Lucifer’. This is just as true of people as of objects or animals. People give names to play up ethnic identities (think of fourth-generation Irish-Americans with names like Muirchertach), family connections (Bill Jnr.), celebrity fixations (Kylie again), political or religious opinions (Francis Xavier), or even simply the aesthetic tastes of the name-giver (liking the way the name sounded seems to be why south India has a politician named Adolf Hitler).

In the early medieval period, where surnames were uncommon to the point of non-existence, names have attracted a lot of historical attention as a marker of family connections. Some names are so common in families, the argument goes, that they can themselves be used as to indicate that someone with such-and-such a name belongs to such-and-such a family. There’s certainly a case to be made along these lines: the Carolingians, notoriously, were big fans of the names Charles and Louis, such that one ends up reading genealogies along the lines of ‘Charles begat Louis begat Charles begat Louis begat Charles begat Louis begat Charles begat Louis’ (an entirely genuine line of descent, incidentally). Whether or not this works as much as many scholars, particularly French- and German-speaking ones, think is for me a bit of an open question.

capturericher
This was a problem at the time: J. Lake, translation of the Histories of Richer of Saint-Remi, p. 3.

Partly, this is because we have so little explicit reasoning about why people gave their children the names they did. Cases such as Arnulf the Great of Flanders, explicitly named to highlight his connection with his royal ancestor St. Arnulf of Metz, are rare; cases such as King Zwentibald of Lotharingia (a Carolingian, but named after his godfather King Sviatopolk of Moravia to highlight the alliance between Zwentibald’s father and the Moravian ruler) where the reason can be readily inferred are more common, but only slightly.

Sometimes, though, one comes across a name that provokes all kinds of speculation, and this happened to me this week. Reading through a 908 charter of Bishop Argrim of Langres in which the bishop makes an exchange of land, goods and people with his follower Arnold, I came across a list of slaves. Most of them had perfectly ordinary names for the time and place – Benedict, Alberada, Adalsind, Sigelm – but one rejoiced in the name of Bellerophon. This raises so many questions.

nama_epinetron_bellerophon
A Classical urn showing the Bellerophon of myth.

Bellerophon was the Greek hero who rode Pegasus and slew the Chimera; he appears in the Iliad and a few other ancient Greek works. It’s not a common name in the early medieval West – I’ve never seen it before in ninth- or tenth-century France, and the only other bearers of it I can find are two middling-status Italians from the eighth century. Our Bellerophon, though, is no priest or noble – he’s an unfree dependent, property. This makes me think that he’s likely named after the Bellerophon, which provokes the most interesting question of all: where did his parents hear the name?

Two possibilities arise. First, that the name comes from interaction with high culture: his parents knew their way around Latin – or even Greek – well enough to know a fairly-obscure Classical myth well enough to name a child after it. Second, it comes directly from pop culture: the story of Bellerophon – and presumably by extension other Classical myths – were still in circulation, directly continuous from the Roman past. Here, we would have a peasant thought world which hasn’t changed all that dramatically for centuries.

For me, the former is more likely. The parents didn’t have to read Homer themselves to know someone who did. Bellerophon’s estate, Bannes, is right next to Langres,  so it could be trickle-down from the episcopal court; it could simply be a well-educated local priest or lord (as we know were around at this time). The story here is implicitly rather sweet: it implies a real appetite for learned culture on the part of the slaves (which is not itself surprising) but also good enough relations between social groups as to allow for transfer of knowledge.

(Of course, as I wrote this, the darker interpretation, that this was like nineteenth-century slaveholders naming their slaves ‘Caesar’ as a sick joke, occurred to me. A priori, I wouldn’t give Carolingian lords that level of social control; but I don’t actually know.)

In the end, all these stories are imaginary. We don’t know why Bellerophon was given that name. Whatever story lies behind it, though, Bellerophon’s name speaks to the depths of the social world of the Frankish peasantry.  

Source Translation: Unknown Knowns In Eleventh-Century Compiègne

It’s a busy couple of weeks ahead, so this post and the next will be translated sources rather than anything more substantial. This week, though, it fits neatly with how things have turned out at work… You see, over the weekend, I was reading one of the handful of surviving charters from tenth- and eleventh-century Soissons, and came up with this gem (text here):

 In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, holy and indivisible Trinity. We wish it to be known to all of the faithful that the holy church of God at Compiègne, which was founded by Emperor Charles [the Bald] and his successors and superbly enriched from their benefices, was consecrated by the holy John [VIII], the Supreme Pontiff and Roman pope, and seventy bishops, and ennobled with privileges such that anyone who presumed through violence to take away or steal anything would be without any doubt struck by anathema and incur apostolic damnation and the displeasure of the terrible Judge.

But later, as times and customs changed, wicked men arose, whose violence erupted into such madness that not only did they not give thanks to God for the benefices given to them, they gave themselves over to pride and abused God’s goodness and patience. Rising against God’s holy church, they oppressed God’s servants and laid waste church estates until finally, completely mixing up right and wrong, they would think little of any anathema. Whence it happened that the incursions of the evildoers grew crueller as time went on, and a certain allod named Cappy, which King Charles had given to the same church – the gift of which had been confirmed by his own hand in the privileges of the same church – was ripped away from the aforesaid church of Compiègne by the violence of certain princes, and remained utterly lost to the church for the course of many years.

screenshot-31
Cappy, with Péronne and Compiègne also visible

But by the favour of God’s clemency, there arose amongst the successors to the princes of Péronne one, named Odo, son of Robert, a very devout Christian, who was splendidly elevated to the principality of Péronne. Since he clasped the aforesaid church to the bosom of his heart with worship and reverence, when he heard that certain parts of the aforesaid allod were, by ancient custom, named ‘the fields of Saint Cornelius’ by the inhabitants and neighbours, inspired by the Lord, he did not neglect to come to the aforesaid church of Compiègne. Rereading there the privileges in the presence of certain clerics who had come with him, he learned without any ambiguity that Cappy pertained to the church of Compiègne. When this was done, since – although unknowingly- he had learned that until that point he was subject to anathema, he humbly implored the brothers of the church that they should forgive him. After he had procured indulgence and absolution from the merciful brothers serving in the same church, he restored certain parts of the said allod to the church.

When this had been done, the brothers of the same church restored to him the same parts which, as we said, he had restored to the church, on the condition that, each year, as long as he lived, he should pay twelve solidi to the canons of the church of Compiègne as rest on the feast of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian. After his death, the brothers of the church of Compiègne should hold a memorial on the anniversary of his death; and on that anniversary day, his successors should always pay those twelve solidi to the brothers of the church of Compiègne without any delay or any change in the established date. He also agreed that if any of his men who held any of the aforesaid land should wish to restore that same land which they held into the authority of the aforesaid church, he would praise and confirm that restitution as being fixed and firm. And that this institution might endure firm and undivided, he commanded this precept and this subscription be made, which he confirmed with his own hand and the impression of his seal, and made fixed and firm under an anathema.

Enacted at Péronne, in the 1091st year of the Incarnate Word of God, in the fourteenth indiction.

Sign of Odo, lord of Péronne. Sign of Lucy, his wife. S. Dean Andrew. S. Stephen the treasurer. S. Gillan the chancellor. S. Fulk the cantor. S. Castellan Odo. S. Efred of Ancre [modern Albert]. S. Gerard. S. Mainer. S. Roger. S. Odo. S. Albert. S. Drogo. S. Roric of Ancre.

The names of the canons of Compiègne who were present: S. Willibert the priest. S. Canon Hezelin. S. Canon Robert. S. Canon Guy.

There are a few interesting things here. The first is that the little account of the house’s history at the start is about as stereotypical as it gets – it shows up in a royal diploma of the same time about something entirely different. It’s also gainsaid by the charter itself, because what really interests me about this document is how the canons of Compiègne don’t seem to have been particularly concerned about enforcing the rights they nominally possessed. It’s only, apparently, when a particularly devoted lord of the area, Odo, overhears some farmers talking about the fields of Compiègne’s patron saint Cornelius that anyone feels motivated to go and dig in the archives to see whether or not the abbey actually has any claim to the land (based on the seminar I was at today, modern scholars are still sometimes surprised by discoveries you can make talking to local farmers). The local inhabitants, equally, preserved a connection between Cappy and Saint Cornelius, but seemingly didn’t associate this with Compiègne’s lordship.

mottet_compic3a8gne
Compiègne before the French Revolution (source)

It looks rather as though the canons didn’t actually want the land all that much. Cappy is a ways away from Compiègne, but right next door to Péronne, so may have been difficult to keep control of. Notice how Odo keeps the land, but pays a reasonably-significant rent (census) for it – this looks rather like the canons thought it was better to have a powerful regional lord in their debt than to control a few fields of land which fell largely within someone else’s sphere of influence (which makes a good deal of sense when phrased like that). Some rights were more useful in abeyance.