Charter A Week 67: The Tide Turns in Provence

If you cast your mind back several years, you may remember me complaining about the incredibly inconsistent nature of mid-tenth century Provençal dating clauses. I had done some research and worked out that if you correlated the date and the day of the week in a selection of charters from the area, you could get dates for the beginning of Conrad the Pacific’s reign which stretched over a spectrum of about seven years. What I then did not talk about in any detail was how Conrad did, in fact, take over Louis the Blind’s former kingdom. After all, when we were following Louis IV on his whirlwind tourof Aquitaine last we, we noted that his first stop was in Vienne, where he met the local count, Charles Constantine, and received his submission. This makes sense: ever since Ralph of Burgundy had taken over northern Provence, it had stayed under West Frankish rule.

What had changed by the early 940s, however, was the geopolitical situation. After the death of the Transjurane king Rudolf II in 937, Otto the Great was able to swoop in and kidnap Rudolf’s son and heir, the young Conrad the Pacific. (At the ripe old age of 24 in 937, Otto was already an elder statesman of European politics compared to Louis IV (17) and Conrad himself (12, perhaps?).) What this meant was that when Otto and Louis ended up on opposite sides, Otto had a convenient pawn to move into northern Provence to nibble away at Louis’ powerbase there. Thus, in 943, one of the first things Conrad did after being sent back south was to go to the Rhône valley, where the young monarch issued several documents, one of which was this:

D Burg no. 29 (27th June 943)

In the name of God Eternal.

Conrad, by will of God Almighty most serene king.

Let it be known to all of Our followers, that servants of God, monks from the monastery of Cluny, lodged a complaint in Our presence, in the district of Viennois, about Our kinsman Charles [Constantine]; the same Charles unjustly contested their goods, which Ingelbert had given to the same place through a charter of donation. He, though, when he saw and heard that he did not hold this rightly, presently gave up every quarrel and immediately corroborated the charters which Ingelbert had made, and confirmed them again in the king’s hand. And then the lord king commanded this judgement be written, through which let the said charters endure inviolable for all time; and We commanded the names of Our followers be inserted below and it be sealed with Our seal.

Sign of lord Conrad, the most pious king.

Bishop Aimo [of Geneva] was present. Archbishop Guy [of Lyon] was present. Archbishop Sobbo [of Vienne] was present. Bishop Bero [of Lausanne] was present. Bishop Odalbert [of Valence] was present. Hugh [the Black], count and margrave, was present. Odalric, count of the palace, was present. Henry, son of Louis [of Thurgau], was present. Count Anselm was present. Count Odalric, Anselm’s brother, was present. Count Azo was present. Count Leotald [of Mâcon] was present. Humbert [of Salins, Leotald’s brother], was present; and all the dominical vassals, greater and lesser, were present.

I, Henry the notary, wrote this judgement, given on the 5th kalends of July [27th June], in the 6th year of the reign of the most pious king lord Conrad. 

Since the end of 941, Louis’ position had already started to crumble. A bad sign was when Viscount Ratburn of Vienne, perhaps seeing an opportunity to undermine Charles Constantine, issued a charter in November 942 dated by Conrad’s rule. Conrad himself had arrived by Spring 943, issuing a set of diplomas which – notably – prominently feature Hugh the Black. Hugh had of course been cut off from Louis’ courtby Otto the Great, but he also had strong ties to Transjurane Burgundy which allowed him to pursue Königsnahe elsewhere – which is precisely what he seems to be doing in the witness list of this diploma.

In fact, the witnesses to this act are balanced neatly between Transjurane figures like the bishops of Geneva and Lausanne and Conrad’s cousin Henry on one hand; Transjurane allies in the Trans-Ararian Fluidity Zone like Hugh the Black and Leotald of Mâcon on another; and on a mutant third hand more strictly Provençal figures like the archbishops of Lyon and Vienne, whose closest ties at this point were probably to Hugh of Arles. What brought these men together was the opportunities provided by the shifting balance of power, expressed in immediately terms by the opportunity (or the requirement) to gang up on Louis IV’s most prominent supporter in the region.

Charles Constantine was of course present at this judgement, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen someone arrive at court to find the deck stacked against them. This diploma can reasonably be seen as an attack on Charles. Note, for instance, that he’s not given any title, even the comital one. With a coalition banded against him, Charles was humiliated and forced to accept Conrad’s authority. The following year, in fact, Charles appears in a charter alongside a similar list of people, with his comital title restored, apparently reconciled, however begrudgingly, with the Transjurane regime. It was a very, very bad sign for Louis IV’s authority in Provence.

Charter A Week 30: From Law to Liturgy at Saint-Martin, Sort Of

Man, this cross-branding thing is really getting out of hand. Once again, we’re looking at dispute settlement charters from Saint-Martin of Tours. This time, though, we’re further afield than usual – and if you’re expecting a trial record then, well, prepare for disappointment:

Brunterc’h, ‘Succession d’Acfred’, appendix (3rd May 930, Bourges)

As it has been from the very beginnings of the holy mother Church, from its birth through time up to the end of the age, such people have always joined together in the bosom of its organisation who, having been faithfully reared at its breasts, in turn repay it like a mother, increasing it and lifting it up; and, burning with the love of brotherly affection, do not cease to bear Christ in their bodies through glorifying him and to glorify Christ through bearing him [see 1 Cor. 6:20], fulfilling that which the Truth itself said: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself’ [Matt. 22:37-39].

By contrast, it is undoubted that there are some held in it who envy the advantages of common life, being separated from it by their own iniquity, and who, to increase their own greed, exert themselves to take away from simper people the offerings of goods or the resources from which Christ should be recreated in his poor to through worldly cunning to make them their own as much as they can. Indeed, as the evil of this negligence becomes more general, it becomes more distressing and graver in members of Christ and the Church. For this reason, indeed, the more widespread the estates upon which any place consecrated to God is founded in these times, the graver the weight of the ruin by which it is typically ground down – the higher the status, the heavier the disaster.

Therefore, when the flock of Saint-Martin had been communally beaten and plagued by these calamities and by many others, partly from the savagery of the Northmen, partly, in fact, from the greed of depraved people who popped up within and without, ceaselessly and without respite, it was finally compelled to take the misfortune which it had endured, along with the authority of royal precepts and as well apostolic privileges, to the notice of the most reverend abbot lord Hugh [the Great]; and to zealously intimate to him that the common goods from which they should be fed and clothed had been greedily taken from them by certain parties, and – to leave other things out in order to give a more succinct account of the present matter – to devotedly beseech that Monnaie with all its appendages and in its entirety (and if there was anything else which had once been delegated by the canons for the service of the granary) be restored to them by the abbot.

Indeed, our elders – that is, the fathers who came before – pursuing in every way the pursuit of piety and burning with the zeal of lovingkindness, assigned certain renders from the aforesaid estate to the common uses of the brothers’ mill. However, against this were some, puffed up with the arrogance of pride and defiled by the itchy rash of depraved greed (which is the root of all evil), who sought the ministry of the granary not freely from the brothers (as was the custom) but through the abbot’s command having given him gifts, desiring to deprive the communion of the brothers of that whole power, and this they did. <At that time, indeed, the brothers needed the granary and the mill, because they freely supplied what had been stored in it; not, they cannot satisfy that need, because they do not supply what is placed there, and neither was anyone able to receive a prebend for a year and two months.>

At length, the same venerable abbot was repeatedly accused by this most worthy petition of the aforesaid flock, and assented to it in this matter to the extent that he knew it to be most eager in faith to Martin, the lord and outstanding confessor of Christ, and to his service. Therefore, a notice was made on this matter, how a little later an embassy of no small dignity from the congregation of the excellent confessor of Christ the blessed Martin –  that is, Berner the levite and dean, Farmand too, also a levite and the keymaster; and Archenald the priest and head of the school; as well as Prior Nefingus [later bishop of Angers] and Leotrand the deacon, on behalf of all the other canons – came to the city of Bourges, into the presence of the sweetest lord and oft-named abbot Hugh, one more renewing and intimating to his most pious familiarity the necessity of themselves of their confreres, so dolefully lamentable and lamentable doleful, and their complaint, which so many times before had not been granted, and asking with a submissive prayer that he in his piety might for love of God and St Martin rescue them who laboured under this grave and long-lasting loss, and deign to kindly grant them a small amount of worldly goods in this world, that he might be repaid by many goods in eternity by the Lord.

Mercifully assenting to their legitimate petitions, he promised not only to amend and restore the neglected and lost good about which they had come, but also to provide many benefits for them in future. Soon, having summoned not only the bishops who were there, but also all of his followers of both orders, he explained this case to them, and the very necessary petition of the brothers, seeking from them what and what sort of counsel they wanted to give him on this matter. At this, they unanimously gave him the counsel, so useful and so beneficial, that he should never permit the canons of Saint-Martin to ever sustain any kind of harmful loss from their property and from the things which pertained particularly to them, which they were incontestably known to possess (as was said before) through royal precepts and apostolic privileges. They added that no-one at all who agreed to infringe and violate the aforesaid authorities of Saint-Martin could obtain the Kingdom of God.

Giving to their salubrious and agreeable suggestion consent given as freely as he believed that it was beneficial for him before God and Man, he restored to them, for love of God and St Martin as well as for the remedy of the soul of his father lord Robert [of Neustria], the late most pious king, and his mother, and for the remedy of his uncle lord Odo, also a glorious king, and all of his relatives and friends, the aforesaid Monnaie, with all its adjacencies and in its entirety, that which was said to pertain to the granary and that which was usurped by the greed of certain men, through the consent (as was said) of the pontiffs present there and of his followers, to wit, to sustain them in this life, as was contained in the precept of the most glorious king lord Charles and in the privileges of the apostles, such that from this day forth they might hold and possess the said estate of Monnaie for their stipend without any contradiction or opposition from any abbot of the same place of Saint-Martin, whoever it might be, as with their other goods.

But that the authority of this notice might be able to endure firm and inviolable for all time, now and in the time which remains, and obtain more certain firmness in God’s name from his successors as abbot of Saint-Martin, lord Hugh, the oft-named abbot, corroborated it with his own hands under the sign of the holy Cross, and asked both the bishops who were present to subscribe it and also his followers, certain venerable men, to confirm it.

✝ Sign of the holy cross solemnly written by lord Hugh, abbot of Saint-Martin.

☧ Robert, archbishop of Tours, subscribed.

☧ Gerontius, archbishop of Bourges, was present and subscribed.

☧ Turpio, bishop of Limoges, confirmed.

☧ Walter, bishop of Paris, subscribed.

☧ Anselm, bishop of Orléans, subscribed.

Sign of Viscount Fulk [the Red]. Sign of Viscount Theobald [the Elder]. Sign of Geoffrey, an indominical vassal. Sign of Erwig, advocate of Saint-Martin. Sign of Count Burchard [probably of Vendôme]. Sign of Count Hugh [I of Maine], son of Roger. Sign of Ebbo [of Déols?]. Sign of Hildebert. Sign of Roger. Sign of Gimo. Sign of Viscount Geoffrey [of Bourges]. Sign of Sulpicius. Sign of Emeno.

The renewed firmness of this notice was given in the year of the Lord 930, in the month of May, on the fifth nones [i.e. May 3rd], outside and near the city of Bourges, in the sixth year of the reign of the lord and glorious king Ralph [of Burgundy].

Leotrand, a certain unworthy levite by office, wrote and subscribed on behalf of Archenald the schoolmaster.

[Experimenting with new formatting for crosses and chrismons on witness lists – hopefully this works!]

So this is not what we’re expecting, huh. In my article I said:

The language here is not that of the dry and formal Carolingian dispute-settlement record. Instead, we are faced with a sermonizing, highly morally coloured document… writing the case in to the entire arc of Christian history in a fallen world.

I don’t think this is a change in the courts (older-style documents can be found throughout this period) as much as a change in discourse. Compared to the ninth century, it was a lot clearer who had to deliver justice by the 930s: the viscounts, the advocates, and so on. However, through the inevitable process of competition between local elites, these same people were also some of the most likely to challenge Saint-Martin’s interests. Reform of the system wouldn’t work, because the system was already reformed – so there was a shift instead to a reform of the people involved, through exhortations to virtue in informal settings such as we see in this charter. (You can read the article for the full argument, but this is a decent summary of the relevant section.) The end result is the charged semi­­-clamor of this charter, which looks so distinct from earlier documents even though the same processes were at work behind the scenes. It’s notable that this is the last evidence for advocates at Saint-Martin – within an ideological framework such as this charter, there wasn’t really any room for them and so their role faded out.

Of course, there’s a smaller picture here too. Note that this charter concerns an estate at Monnaie. This had, at the turn of the tenth century, been held by the advocates of Saint-Martin, Adalmar and Erwig. Their possession of it does not seem to have been popular, and by 914 the granary-master Guy had been able to reclaim it from Erwig. One wonders if the unnamed malefactors of the 930 included Erwig? It might well explain why this is the last charter any advocate of Saint-Martin appears in, if Hugh the Great’s judgement against him led to a loss of face or office.

Leaving behind the internal history of Saint-Martin, why are all these people at Bourges? They’re in the entourage of Hugh the Great, and Hugh is in the entourage of Ralph of Burgundy.  We saw in previous years that Ralph was able to put Acfred of Aquitaine out of the picture and set up networks of his own allies in the old Guillelmid dominions. In 930, he had a further big success. It helped that Charles the Simple had died in 929, removing one of the main barriers to Ralph’s legitimacy; but the biggest help was that Ralph won a big victory over the Northmen in the Limousin. In the aftermath of this, the biggest names of central Aquitaine submitted – and Hugh and his men were there for it.

It is, in this respect, interesting that this charter refers to Robert of Neustria both as a king and as a good one. We’re not covering it in Charter A Week, but in Easter 931, Ralph came to Tours, where he and Hugh both issued acts emphasising Robert’s positive memory. In the north-east, Hugh was Ralph’s main ally against their mutual brother-in-law Heribert of Vermandois. It looks rather like part of his reward for this, and for his help in Aquitaine, was a public statement that Robert of Neustria’s memory actually was glorious, thank you very much; and this charter might well be preparing the groundwork for that.

Charter A Week 52: Sint-Servaas Redux

Remember Sint-Servaas? Gislebert of Lotharingia remembered Sint-Servaas. As we’ve seen on a previous occasion, conflict between his family and the archbishops of Trier had been centring around this little abbey for decades by the time that Charles the Simple confiscated it off him in 919; and that confiscation was one of the main events in the civil war that erupted between Gislebert and the king. After 919, events in Lotharingia spiralled out of control. Different magnate factions invited Ralph of Burgundy and Henry the Fowler to rule them, and despite the predominance of power lying with Ralph originally, by 925 Henry had gained control of the region. Part of the reason for that was Gislebert himself, whose loyalties to either side or neither ping-ponged all over the place for most of the early 920s. At one point, his brother Reginar II ransomed him from captivity and Gislebert immediately started ravaging his lands: there was presumably a logic to this that is now lost to us, rather than Gislebert being simply a random asshole, but it is illustrative of just how volatile Lotharingian politics were.

Gislebert, then, was too powerful to ignore and too much of a loose cannon to easily trust. How could East Frankish king Henry the Fowler deal with him?

MRUB no. 169 (928, Maastricht)

 In the name of God Eternal and our saviour the highest shepherd Jesus Christ. Gislebert, by God’s grace duke and ruler of the holy church of Maastricht.

We wish it to be recognised by all the followers of this church and of the holy lord Servatius present and future that, through the council of Our followers, clerics and laymen, We have acquired the abbey of Sint-Servaas through the consent of Roger, archbishop of the see of Trier. I, then, in return for this largess, gave by a legal and very firm gift to the altar of the blessed Peter a certain estate named Bourcy lying in the district and county of Ardenne, with all the appendages justly and legally pertaining to it, very much on the condition that I might hold both, to wit the abbacy and the same estate, in usufruct for my whole lifetime. After my death, let all the goods, the monastery, and every possession of Sint-Servaas with the aforesaid estate of Bourcy revert in their entirety to the altar and power of St Peter, and endure with perpetual stability in their dominion.

Right now, I gave another place which is called Burg by the river Moselle in the county of Maifeldgau by a legitimate gift to St Peter to be held without end. Moreover, I restored Güls, from the goods of Sint-Servaas, in the aforesaid district and in Eberhard’s county lying next to the Moselle for vestment and firmness. I, Gislebert, also concede to the aforesaid church of St Peter in benefice from the goods of [the abbey of] St Maximin [in Trier] an estate named Thalfang with all its appendages, on the condition that whilst I live the same estate should serve the uses of the holy church of Trier and be disposed of at the bishop’s judgement.

This covenant and pact concerning this affair was established before Our lord the glorious king Henry [the Fowler] and before his princes, and was praised and sanctioned by him with the consent of his magnates. However, lest perchance the notice of this agreement and gift fall into oblivion, so that it might instead endure stable and inviolate, We commanded the testament of the present writing to be made and the names of certain men who were present be added beneath, that is, of those who saw the gift and vestment before the altar of Sint-Servaas.

Sign of Odalbert, who brought the security. S. Count Waltger. S. Count Dirk. S. Count Christian. S. Count Fulcauld. S. Godfrey. S. Gerulf. S. Razo. S. Hugh. S. Reginald. S. Burgeric. S. Giselbert. S. Godfrey. S. Ingobrand. S. Ansfred. S. Waltgar. S. Arnold. S. Abbot Nithard. S. Frederick the deacon. S. Prior Herulf. S. Saruward the deacon. S. Herimar the custodian. S. Stephen the priest. S. Arnold the priest. S. Gerard the priest. S. Sigebert the priest. S. Helmerin the priest. S. Walter the priest. S. Odric the priest. S. Gerold the priest. S. Reginhard the deacon. S. Sfogilus the deacon. S. Warner the deacon.

Sigibert, pupil of Sint-Servaas, wrote and subscribed this.

Enacted at Maastricht, in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 928, in the 5th year of the most serene king lord Henry over the realm of the late Lothar [II], in the 1st indiction.

In its form, this is about 90% a normal precarial grant, but oh what a 10%! Let’s start with the basics here: Henry has clearly brokered a compromise. The pattern ‘the challenging party gets the land in their lifetime and the Church gets it afterwards plus some extras’ is a fairly common compromise, but see the documentary evidence of it at this social level is somewhat unusual. I say ‘this social level’, but this is presumably another part of what Gislebert gets. Note the ducal title. This special mark of status is lent extra force by the recognition and acknowledgement of Henry the Fowler and all the princes. Indeed, the fact that Henry is explicitly mentioned as giving his consent is another part of what makes this strange. I suppose it wouldn’t be a royal diploma because Henry is simply overseeing the transaction, he’s not any part of it, but there were royal acts confirming exchange which could have been adapted… I wonder whether this is a way of keeping Gislebert at arms’ length or whether it’s added extra prestige, issuing a sort-of royal act?

Another interesting thing to note: the witness list. Waltger, Dirk, and Christian were all supporters of Charles the Simple back in the day. That they’re here with Gislebert might perhaps have been worrying for Henry. Whatever you can say about Gislebert’s loyalties, Charles had a lot of supporters in Lotharingia and whilst he himself is in prison at this point – although presumably would have been out of prison for a brief attempted restoration whilst this was being negotiated, an interesting chronological coincidence – it’s a potential pool of support for a West Frankish ruler. Henry had other ways of dealing with this than just a land transaction. Around this time, Gislebert got married to Henry’s daughter Gerberga. Lotharingia was thereafter pretty quiescent for the rest of Henry’s reign.

(Of course, you will note the chronological qualifier there…)

Charter a Week 50 – The Long Long Long Trek to Carolingian Justice

It is striking: the longer this goes on, the greater the likelihood that I’ve already written about the charter. Still, it does mean anyone who wants to see the charter can come and read the blog, so I guess this is synergy?

In any case, this week we’re in Neustria and Aquitaine. The western end of the Loire valley (i.e., Touraine-Anjou, south-east Brittany, and Poitou) form a reasonably coherent geographical area, so it’s not surprising that they were all so often up in each other’s business. This was true not least of the abbey of Saint-Martin in Tours: as one of the richest and most important churches in Europe, it was particularly well-endowed in its native region. Of course, the bigger you are the bigger a target you are, and so it proved in this case:

Chartes Poitevines 925-950, no. F004 (21st May 926, Thouars; 29th May 926, Avrigny)

A notice of how the power of Saint-Martin made a complaint at Poitiers before the lord count Ebalus [Manzer] and the lord viscount Aimeric [of Loudun] and also lord Savaric, viscount of Thouars, saying that they had lost most of the goods of Saint-Martin which they held for their daily uses in the district of Thouarsais, to wit, in the curtilage of Curçay and Antogné and everything pertaining to them. This reclamation went on for nearly six years, but they could never get it to go to justice because of the greed of the Frankish men who (in whatever way) possessed them. At that time, with the help of God and St. Martin withdrawn, it became necessary for the canons of Saint-Martin to go from there and make their claim to lord Hugh [the Great], their abbot and count.

He gave them the counsel that they should go and once again make their claim before lord count Ebalus, his special friend, and his aforesaid followers on behalf of Saint-Martin and his property; and if they did not do them justice, they should wait until they could see them all together to talk, and they should pursue their case at that time.

Therefore, Theotolo, dean of Saint-Martin [and later archbishop of Tours], and lord Walter the treasurer came into the chapter of the brothers at Tours; and in turn, with the general counsel of the brothers sent out their messengers (that is, Farmann, the provost of the said estates, and with him the priests Arduin and Archenald) to the said lord count Ebalus and his followers concerning the same matter.

However, when they came to the castle of Loudun, they discovered the abovesaid viscount lord Aimeric there, and they let him know the sorrow and difficulties of the brothers, and that their lord and master Hugh had send them to his friend lord Ebalus. He, hearing the brothers’ sorrow, consoled them, and advised them that they should remain in the estate of Curçay until such time as he might talk further with them and with the above-said viscount Savaric. But the following day, the representative of lord viscount Savaric came to them at Curçay, and said to them that they should accompany him as far as Orbé, and that he and his companions (to wit, Boso and Berengar and Ingelbald) and many of his followers would meet them there.

Therefore, the aforesaid messengers from the brothers – that is, Farmann and Arduin and Archenald – came to the aforesaid estate of Orbé on the 12th kalends of June (21st May), into the presence of lord viscount Savaric and other noblemen and followers of Christ, and there publicly deplored the straits of the brothers. Inspired by divine clemency, they were goaded to repentance by love of St Martin, to the point that none of them would deny to the brothers and St Martin whatever they wished from them. Therefore, lord viscount Savaric, knowing their wishes and statements to be right and just, and also in accordance with what lord Ebalus and his followers had judged concerning this matter in Poitiers, through the counsel and consent of those residing thereabouts restored to Farmann the provost (on behalf of all the brothers) all the power over the goods of Saint-Martin which were in his viscounty through a staff which he held in his hand, such that he might have permission and power to do with the same things whatever he could in fidelity to the brothers; and if there should be anyone in his viscounty who might resist this ordinance, he, with the help of his lord and their followers, would help as much as possible for love of St Martin. This was enacted in the presence of these people.

After that, the said three canons came to the castle of Colombiers, before the aforesaid lord count Ebalus and lord Frothar, bishop of the Poitevins, and their followers, and they read this notice before everyone, who gave them the counsel that Provost Farmann should wait for them with this notice until he and his viscounts could come together to the estate of Avrigny, and there they would confirm it in front of everybody.

Therefore, on the 4th kalends of June (29th May) Provost Farmann came to the estate of Avrigny, and the lord Ebalus confirmed it there first, and asked his followers to confirm it.

[cross] Sign of lord Count Ebalus, who carried out this justice faithfully for love of Saint Martin.

[cross] Lord Bishop Frothar [of Poitiers], devotedly touching it, confirmed.

[cross] Sign of lord Savaric, viscount of Thouars, who judged it, consenting.

Sign of Berengar. Sign of Amelius. Sign of Boso. Sign of Geoffrey. Sign of Rainald. Sign of Veco. Sign of Turald. Sign of Walter. Sign of Abiathar. Sign of Hildebert. Sign of Isembert. Sign of Roger. Sign of Theobald. Sign of Berengar. Sign of Bego. Sign of Dilebald.

This notice was given on the 12th kalends of June [21st May] in the castle of Thouars, and corroborated on the 4th kalends of June [29th May] in the estate of Avrigny, in the third year of King Ralph.

 I, Godnedram, having been requested, wrote and subscribed.

Image illustrative de l’article Château de Loudun
The (slightly later but still post-Carolingian) tower at Loudun, the first stop on the canons’ journey. Click for source.

The way this charter is written means that what’s going on can be quite difficult to follow, so here’s a summary:

  • In about 920, representatives of Saint-Martin had made a complaint before Ebalus Manzer and some of his chief viscounts that their estates in northern Poitou had been stolen.
  • However, whilst they got a verdict in their favour, they couldn’t get it implemented.
  • So, the most important canons of Saint-Martin went to their lay abbot, Hugh the Great, to try and get him to help out, which he agreed to do.
  • Thus, the canons sent a delegation to Poitiers, but – what a coincidence! – just happened to come across Aimeric of Loudun, whom they told of their newfound support from Hugh and Ebalus.
  • Aimeric sent them to Curçay (almost exactly halfway between Thouars and Loudun) to meet Viscount Savaric of Thouars.
  • In turn, Savaric’s messengers ask them to come to Orbé.
  • At Orbé, the delegation makes a similar complaint to Savaric and his followers as they made to Aimeric.
  • Savaric finally agrees to give back Saint-Martin’s estates (and this is in some way formalised in Thouars itself).
  • Just to be sure, the brothers go further south-east, to Colombiers just south of Châtellerault, to meet Ebalus Manzer and the local bishop, who tell them to go back up towards Loudun and meet them at an assembly at Avrigny.
  • There, the account of the proceedings is confirmed in front of Ebalus’ leading followers.

The first thing to note here is just how long the whole process takes. Partially, this is because the canons clearly want as many people as possible to see that a) yes, we’re in dire straits because of this crime and b) and all these important people have said they’re going to do something about it. That in turn, though, is a result of how much political pressure the canons have had to exert to get their stuff back. I count four different parties being played off against one another (Hugh the Great against Ebalus Manzer, Hugh and Ebalus against Aimeric, Aimeric and Hugh and Ebalus against Savaric). The canons of Saint-Martin are clearly good at this – it’s more-or-less what we saw them doing way back in 892.

It’s also a useful reminder that long, drawn-out processes of negotiation and compromise are not the result of the end of the Carolingian court. Another thing you wouldn’t get from this charter but which we can see from dispute settlement charters written in Poitiers itself – we’ve seen at least one example – is that the records of Ebalus Manzer’s court look like a fully functioning Carolingian court. This kind of behind-the-scenes peak is another indication that the indications that justice was swift, severe and complete come largely from the records of people who (for various reasons) wanted it to look that way, and that actually trying to get people to do things in practice was much, much harder.

Charter a Week 43: A Question of Perspective

This Charter A Week is going to be shorter than usual, for the simple reason that I’ve already written a whole article about the diplomas we’re going to be looking at. Still, they’re some of my favourite charters, it’s a fascinating case, and if you’re reading the article it might be useful to have some translations to hand.

Some background: by 919, Charles’ rule in Lotharingia is starting to look shaky. In 916, Charles’ most important Lotharingian ally Reginar Long-Neck died. His son Gislebert initially seems to have taken over some, although perhaps not all, of his fathers honores. However, within a few years things had gone downhill, and Gislebert was in open rebellion. This seems to have been his problem – we can see from evidence dating to shortly after Reginar’s death that Gislebert was in an honoured place at Charles’ court, but he seems to have wanted more. Gislebert’s rebellion was countered by Charles, who began to favour Gislebert’s enemies. Above all, in terms of our sources, Charles intervened in a long-running dispute over the abbey of Sint-Servaas in Maastricht. Sint-Servaas had been granted to Reginar by King Zwentibald, but in 898 Zwentibald regranted it to Archbishop Ratbod of Trier. When Charles became king, he gave it back to Reginar, but now…

DD CtS no. 100 (13th June 919, Herstal)

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

We are taught by divine teaching and admonished by royal majesty that We should provide for the places of the saints under solid protection, and if any are worn down by anyone’s depravity, We should cause them to return to their pristine state.

Therefore, let the industry of all those faithful to the holy Church of God and to Us, that is, present and future, know that Roger, archbishop of the church of Trier, a venerable man and very faithful to Us, often approached Our Highness in lamentation, saying that the abbey of Sint-Servaas, which is built in Maastricht, in the count of Maasgau, which King Arnulf gave to the church of Trier committed to him through his precept, had already previouslybeen unjustly stolen from the aforesaid church of Trier by the violence of Count Reginar [Long-Neck] and his son Gislebert [of Lotharingia]. Therefore, sending his claim to Our court, by the judgement of the scabini of Our palace, by the testimony of all Our followers, We restored that abbey to St Peter, in whose honour the church of Trier is built, and to the aforementioned bishop, in such a way that he and his successor might hold and possess that abbey in perpetuity without contradiction from any person in its entirety, and have free power to do anything they might decree to do with it for the profit of themselves and their church.

And that this notice might be believed to be fixed and held more firmly by those present and in future time, We commanded it to be strengthened by the seal of Our palace.

These are the names of those who bestowed the aforesaid judgement: that is, the bishops Wigeric [of Metz], Dado [of Verdun], Robert [of Noyon], Abbo [of Soissons], Stephen [of Liège or of Cambrai]; and counts Matfred [of Metz], Sigard [of Liège], Otho [of Verdun], Fulbert [Charles’ standard-bearer], Christian, Erchengar [of Boulogne], Isembard, Hunger, Egfrid [of Artois], Ermenfred [of Amiens], Walter, another Walter; and the scabini Bildulf, Ragenard, Adalbert, Sigebert, Witter, Adelard, Gotbert, Bernacer, Ragembald, Fulmar, Roric, Otter, Enguerrand, Betto, Ingelbert, Bivin, Eilbert, Isuard.

Ratbod the notary wrote and subscribed this notice at the command of lord king Charles.

Given on the ides of June [13th June], in the 7th indiction, in the 27th year of the reign of King Charles, the 22nd of his restoration of unity to the kingdom, and the 7th of his acquisition of a larger inheritance.

Enacted at the palace of Herstal.

Charles’ diploma for the Church of Trier (image from LBA Marburg, whose website is set up so I can’t link to the specific document, but which can be found here)

We can see in this diploma a lot of the rhetorical themes that Carolingian kings generally, and Charles in particular, like to sound when they’re doing something controversial, notably that of consensus. Geoffrey Koziol wrote a really good article arguing that the introduction of witness lists into the diplomas of Robert the Pious was an expression of a commitment to being seen to take the opinions of his magnates into account. It is therefore noticeable here that the really long list of men involved in making the judgement in to all intents and purposes a witness list, evidence of Charles going ‘Look! It’s not just me, it’s all these key magnates in my kingdom too!’

This is doubly significant because we actually have another diploma about exactly the same issue:

DD CtS no. 103 (9th July 919, Thionville)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Charles, by largess of divine mercy king of the Franks.

If We freely lend Our ears to the petitions of servants of God for love of divine worship, We honourably follow the custom of kings and We truly believe that We will secure the prize of eternal life because of this.

Wherefore, let the industry of all those faithful to the holy Church of God and to Us, that is, present and future, discover that the venerable Archbishop Robert of the church of Trier approached the height of Our Serenity, complaining that the late King Arnulf, at the request of Ratbod, previously archbishop of the aforesaid church, had entrusted to the holy apostle Peter at the cathedral of Trier a certain abbey which is built on the river Meuse in the place named Maastricht, where the body of the most holy confessor of Christ Servatius rests, and had endeavoured to confirm it with a precept of his sanction; but, divers misfortunes intruded and the former Count Reginar had violently taken the same abbey away from the power of the same see. Later, at the said Ratbod’s reclamation before King Zwentibald, he was compelled to restore it to St Peter. However, once Zwentibald had been killed, it was again invaded by Reginar, and after him by his son Gislebert with equal violence, who has until now refused to restore it.

Knowing his petition to be salubrious, with the consent of Our bishops and by the judgement of Our counts and of their followers, We commanded the aforesaid abbey in Maastricht, sited on the river Meuse, in the county of Hesbaye, be restored to the aforesaid archbishop in Our sight and in the presence of Our princes themselves, for love of God, in such a way that once it has been restored by Us to St Peter and the uses of the holy church of Trier, from now and henceforth no-one should be able to take it away or divide it hereafter. Rather, let Archbishop Roger and his successors have and hold the oft-said abbey by the defence of Our Piety, with the estates, churches, bondsmen of both sexes and all things justly pertaining thereto, and the exactions from the same goods, and let them rule and dispose everything pertaining to it in pursuit of their advantage, as the authorities of previous kings make clear.

Therefore, We strengthened this restoration of the abbey by a precept of Our authority for Archbishop Roger and his church with Our own hand, and We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our signet.

Sign of Charles, most glorious of kings.

Gozlin the notary witnessed on behalf of Archbishop and Archchancellor Roger.

Given on the 7th ides of July [9th July], in the 7th indiction, in the 24th year of the reign of the famous king Charles, the 23rd of his restoration of unity to the kingdom, and the 8th of his acquisition of a larger inheritance.

Enacted in Thionville.   

This diploma was redacted not by the circles around the king, but by the Church of Trier. It’s therefore really noticeable that the ‘consensus’ note is heavily underplayed, but the ‘screw you Gislebert’ note has come to the forefront. (The same is true of the diploma they wrote for King Zwentibald, incidentally.) Whereas Charles wants to emphasise to his magnates that he’s behaving entirely legitimately and with their consent, Archbishop Roger of Trier apparently just wants to emphasise that he and his predecessors were right and Gislebert and his father Reginar were wrong. It’s probably issued for Trier home consumption, as opposed to the Herstal diploma which would likely have reached a larger audience. In any case, though, these fractures in Charles’ base aren’t a good sign going forward…

Charter a Week 32: Running a Court in Governmentalised Neustria

This week’s theme was originally supposed to be dealt with about twenty-six years – erm, five months – ago, in 882. But, it turns out there were some cool royal diplomas and it would have duplicated this week’s material anyway, and so we’re dealing with it now. I’ve mentioned before that in the later part of the ninth century, Charles the Bald and his point-man in Neustria, Hugh the Abbot, engaged in a process of calcifying and formalising the hierarchies of what had previously been a chaotic atelier of civil war. Robert of Neustria inherited their efforts, and as of the middle of Charles the Simple’s reign, they’re still going:

ARTEM no. 1434 (23rd June 908, Tours)

A notice of how and in what way the power of Saint-Martin de Marmoutier – that is, Dean Erlald and Dodo, levite and precentor, representatives in court – came and issued a complaint on behalf of all the brothers that lord Robert, levite and treasurer from the flock of the basilica of the blessed Martin and also a canon of the aforesaid Marmoutier, held one of their meadows, sited in the district of the Touraine in the place which is called Mercureuil, against their will. Lord Robert, though, diligently investigated and examined the complaint which had been raised, and found in this regard that the brothers of Marmoutier’s complaint was very true.

Wanting not to work against them anymore, he then made restoration. Coming, then, to the public gathering-spot (locus accessionis) with Adelelm, by then dean of the same flock, and Deacon Dodo, and Ingelger the priest, he quit that meadow before them, and declared before everyone that he would not hold it anymore.

However, Amalric, attorney (legislator) and ruler of the gatehouse of the basilica of Saint-Martin immediately asserted that lord Robert should neither make that meadow over to them nor litigate with the brothers over it; and he wished to reclaim it for the work of the gatehouse which he held. Yet with the brothers immediately contradicting him over that meadow, Amalric sent his followers – that is, Wichard and Erlo and Martin, who wanted to acquire that meadow for their benefice, which they held from the aforesaid gatehouse – to make diligent inquiries into the matter amongst their own cottars and see that they had not unjustly stolen the meadow from the brothers.

They, shaking down their own cottars, found no-one who dared to go either to judgement or to oath in the matter, because everyone knew that the brothers’ complaint was very just.

The aforesaid Adelelm, priest and dean of the aforesaid Marmoutier, and Deacon Dodo and Ingelger the priest, who had first brought this case forward on behalf of the brothers, went on the 9th kalends of July [23rd June] to the city of Tours, on the wall on the side of the Loire, to the assembly which thereupon, before Viscount Theobald [the Elder], and Walter and Fulcrad and Corbo, royal vassals, and all the aforementioned of both orders, accepted their right. Present there as well was lord Peter, sacristan of the aforesaid monastery, with other brothers, who had there legitimate and worthy and very truthful witnesses from amongst their own cottars, that is, Rainfred, who the local headman at the time when that meadow, through God’s judgement, had previously been proven in the work of Saint-Martin de Marmoutier, and Adalher and Gerald, also Robert, who was now local headman, and Adalgis, who undergo God’s judgement [i.e. undertake an ordeal] at any time to come. All of them once more were prepared to undergo God’s judgement and swear oaths.

Seeing this, the aforesaid followers of Amalric dared to receive neither a second judgement of God atop the first, nor an oath. Rather, they quit the aforesaid complaint and judgement and oath and also the meadow before everyone, in the same place and assembly.

Concerning which, the brothers found it necessary to receive a notice about this sentence, lest anything be shaken up again about this claim, which they commanded them to make and confirm immediately, through the undertaking of everyone.

These people were present when the act was enacted:

Robert, dean and custodian of the basilica of Saint-Martin and an unworthy canon, subscribed. Viscount Theobald confirmed this. Walter confirmed this. Ebalus the vicar confirmed this. Dean Erlald confirmed this. Dodo the levite subscribed this. Fulcrad confirmed this. Ingelger the priest subscribed this. Corbo, a proven vassal, confirmed this. Adelelm the priest confirmed this. Amalric the attorney, who then made restoration, confirmed this. Wichard confirmed this. Herlend confirmed this. Martin confirmed this.

Given on the 9th kalends of July [23rd June], in the year of the Lord 908, in the reign of King Charles [the Simple].

I, Gozlin, a priest of the flock of the blessed Martin and master of the school, wrote and subscribed this.

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The original charter, from ARTEM, as linked above.

So, important things to note. First, despite how it’s described (and in Latin, the words used to talk about Erlald and Dodo there are quite formal), the initial complaint to Treasurer Robert appears to have been done informally. Erlald, Robert’s nominal superior, showed up and told him that he was holding some of Marmoutier’s property wrongfully, and this appears to have been settled amicably out of court.

It is only when Amalric gets involved that things go to trial. This makes sense, really: as we’ve talked about before, Amalric is a lawyer. The court itself is constituted in the way we might expect. It’s the local vassi dominici, overseen by the viscount – this is how other Neustrian courts run at this time. In fact, the viscount running things seems to be a policy decision. I can point you at a charter from 895 where the marchio is actually there, but it’s the viscount still in charge of the mallus court.

Despite its dry and legalistic tone, the notice that survives is a parti pris record of what must have been more colourful events. Amalric’s men allegedly, even after some light intimidation, can’t find anyone willing to act as a witness for their side; but the thing still goes to court. There, two interesting things happen. First, apparently neither side’s witnesses are enough on their own. Second, and relatedly, the whole things seems to have turned on a previous ordeal, and this is what ends the trial now: Marmoutier evidently won the last time, and the other side aren’t quite willing to try again.

On the gripping hand, note that we have this charter but not a record of the first ordeal. It’s possible that it just wasn’t written down. It’s also possible that this, second, contest got preserved because it was seen as less ambiguous than the first (the first one, after all, was demonstrably subject to challenge). It’s also also possible that it just seems that way because the canons of Saint-Martin got to write the charter…

What is important, though, is that dry and legalistic tone. No matter how informal, how compromised, or how morally-weighted the actual events were, the people of governmentalised Neustria knew that this is how you wrote down disputes. Government, in this sense, happened by portrayal rather than by action.

Charter a Week 27, Part 2: Courting the Crowd in Poitou

This one is being written in a bit of a hurry – I was down in London for the last two weekends on research trips and, somehow, although I have a full buffer of regular blog posts, Charter A Week has fallen behind; and I also have marking to do… So, let’s get straight into it:

CC no. 1.81 (14th May 903, Poitiers) = ARTEM no. 1580 = Plus anciens documents de Cluny no. 3

It was decreed by the custom of the fathers of old and the law of all Roman citizens in the orb of the world that worldly princes, preserving legal precepts, should destroy the false and seek the right with judicial power.

Whence it should be known to the whole world that, while the venerable count lord Ebalus was residing with his entourage in the city of Poitiers, on the day before the ides of May [14th May], the advocate of the monastery of Notre-Dame et Saint-Junien de Nouaillé, Waldo by name, was present there, calling before the lord count and his princes for a right judgement concerning Hildebert of Limoges, who by the flame of greed and worldly malice had very unjustly taken the wood of Notre-Dame which is commonly called Bouresse away from the aforesaid monastery.

The lord count and all his magnates, hearing this, questioned him as to why he had done this. Responding, he said that he had a better right to the property.

Then the Poitevins arose, and for love of Saint Mary and Saint Junian (albeit at the count’s command) declared that he should not separate from them until he had judged rightly thither. Everyone bore witness that for two or three hundred years, that monastery had been vested with this property, and that a certain Leodegar had just possession of it until now by gift of all the brothers of that place.

Then Hildebert, bound by princely judgement and legal examination, after an inquest had been carried out by his followers who were there, recognised that he had not acted well, and legally restored what he had unjustly stolen.

Accordingly, both Abbot Warin and the monks of the place and Waldo the advocate found it necessary that they should receive this notice from him, and it is clear that this was done, and it was enacted in the presence of these people.

Sign of Count Ebalus. Sign of Viscount Maingaud [of Poitiers]. Sign of Frotgar. Sign of Aimeric. Sign of Bego the pupil. Sign of Hucbert. Sign of Erland. Sign of Adrald. Sign of Savaric. Sign of Arbald. Sign of Viscount Atto [of Melle]. Sign of Amalric. Sign of Reinfard the vicar. Sign of Rainer the scribe.

Given in the month of May, in the 6th year of the reign of King Charles [the Simple].

Emmo, having been asked to do so, wrote and subscribed this.

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Image taken from ARTEM as given in the link above.

This is Ebalus Manzer (‘the Bastard’), count of Poitiers, of whom we have yet to see much. He is seen here overseeing a typical court, the nature of which has sometimes been idealised and shouldn’t be. Note above all, it’s a comital stitch-up – what is presented as a kind of mass rally of support is actually jussu comitis, at the count’s order. This is also a kind of interplay of formal and informal aspects which the legalistic terminology and formal diction shouldn’t blind us to.

Also, it’s interesting that it’s Viscount Hildebert of Limoges who’s on trial here. Limoges wouldn’t really be part of the Poitevin mouvance until rather later in the century – links are there, as on this occasion, but they’re a bit tenuous. That Ebalus apparently has the power to compel him in this regard is interesting. Again, the ‘Poitevins’ must play a role here – it’s phrased as though it’s a formal declaration of piety, but I wonder in light of what they’re actually saying (‘you ain’t gonna leave before we let you’) I wonder if Ebalus has orchestrated Hildebert’s subjection to a mob in order to force his hand…