Charter A Week 33: Clearing Up a Deposed King’s Messes

It’s a quiet year in Charles the Simple’s kingdom. (Actually, in June of this year there’s a prominent Church council held at a place called Trosly, but I didn’t think of that far-enough in advance to put it up as a source translation. We may get back to it anyway.) Given this, we haven’t turned our attention eastwards for a while, not really since the death of Zwentibald. As it happens, though, his legacy is still a live issue:

DD LtC no. 70 (9th November 909, Ingelheim)

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity. Louis, by ordinance of divine grace king.

Every time We succour the needs of holy churches of God with the defence of regality, We imitate the custom of Our ancestors and We believe without hesitation that this will profit Us in securing aid in the present age and the prize of future blessing.

Wherefore let the prudent knowledge of all those faithful to the holy Church of God and to Us, present and future, know for certain that the venerable archbishop Hatto and Gebhard approached Our Highness and recounted how Our brother Zwentibald, after the magnates of the kingdom of Lotharingia deposed him from the government of the realm, gave a certain property to a man named Roing, which Roing afterwards consigned in whatever way to the resources of the canons dwelling in the place named Chèvremont. And when the aforenamed count scrutinised such an act, he brought it to Our ears and, with the aforesaid pontiff Hatto, he sought that We might confirm the same goods for the aforenamed canons through a precept of Our authority for the salvation of Our soul.

We, freely acquiescing to their petition, concede and confirm the aforesaid goods, sited in the county of Liège, and the place named Mortier, with all their appendates, as the said Roing is seen to have held them up to the present, for the resources of the said canons henceforth, that is, with a demesne and a church with 12 other manses, cottages, fields, meadows, pastures, woods, cultivated and uncultivated land, waters and watercourses, mills, fisheries, passable and impassable land, roads out and in, incomes claimed and to be claimed, mobile and immobile goods, and bondsmen of both sexes residing there; establishing and enacting strenuously that the aforesaid canons should have, hold and possess them by ecclesiastical custom from this day for their portion of the abbey’s resources (mensa), and delight to become remembrancers of Us because of it.

And that this present precept of Our largess and confirmation might be more truly believed and more diligently observed through times to come, We confirmed it below with Our own hand and We commanded it be signed with the impression of Our seal.

Sign of lord Louis, most serene of kings.

Theodulf the notary witnessed on behalf of Archbishop and Archchancellor Ratbod [of Trier].

Given on the 5th ides of November [9th November], in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 910, in the 13th indiction, in the 10th year of lord Louis.

Enacted at Ingelheim.

Happily in the name of God, amen.

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Chèvremont today. I have actually been here – the church is nineteenth century, but it’s a big darn hill… (source)

My commentary this week is going to be pretty short, but this charter has some unusual features. The first is that Zwentibald’s kingdom is now, apparently, ‘Lotharingia’, none of that ‘that some men call Lothar’s business’ of previous years. The second is that Louis’ court is apparently chill with Zwentibald having been deposed. Admittedly, this is probably because it ultimately worked out in Louis’ favour; but it definitely goes against the idea that you’ll see occasionally that the Carolingians don’t really know how to deal with deposition.

The final thing is that Zwentibald’s gift to Roing apparently took place after his deposition, whilst he was a man on the run. I get the feeling from this charter that Roing was a little unsure of his tenure: the ‘consigned in whatever way’ makes me think that he’s handed the land off to Chèvremont in the hope that with their backing he’ll be less vulnerable that he’d be by just himself… In any case, the presence of Gebhard of Lotharingia and Archbishop Hatto of Mainz shows that he’s firmly back in Louis’ good graces. Still, apparently even ten years later trying to re-integrate Lotharingia as a political unit is apparently an ongoing process.

Source Translation: Lothar-what-now?

This actually was a regular charter of the week, until I realised that I had been misreading the date and placing it too early… So enjoy this week’s plethora of acts, and we’ll be back with non-translated material next week!

Meanwhile in the East Frankish kingdom, Arnulf of Carinthia has died and Zwentibald of Lotharingia has been overthrown then killed. Their successor is Arnulf’s other son, this one legitimate, Louis the Child. Per his name, he’s a child. This means that the kingdom is in the hands of his minders, above all Archbishop Hatto of Mainz and Bishop Adalbero of Augsburg. This could in theory create problems, but they seem to have dealt with it relatively successfully:

DD LtC no. 20 (24th June 903, Forchheim)

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

If We clemently assent to and piously take care the petitions of Our followers which they suggest to Us for the profit of the churches committed to them, We are clearly confident that this will benefit Us both in the state of the present realm and to happily obtain the prize of the future kingdom.

On which account, let the general company of all Our followers, to wit, present and future, know that Salomon [III], the venerable bishop [of Constance] and abbot of the abbey of Sankt Gallen, who was first substituted by royal power in place of Abbot Bernhard – whose abbatial office was taken from him because of his crimes, because he supported Bernard [the bastard son of Charles the Fat], an alien invader of the realm, in resisting royal majesty – and then elected by the common consideration  of all the brothers serving the Lord therein, because he endeavoured to manage them will in both divine and human affairs, in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict, in Our general assembly held at Forchheim, through the advice of Our followers, that is, the chief men who were present there, gathered from the sundry corners of Our realm, whose names are as follows: the venerable bishops Hatto [of Mainz], Waldo [of Freising], Adalbero [of Augsburg], Erchanbald [of Eichstätt], Theodulf [of Chur], Tuto [of Regensburg], and Einhard [of Speyer], and Counts Conrad [the Elder], Gebhard, duke of the realm which many call Lothar’s; Burchard, margrave of the Thuringians; Adalbert [of Babenberg]; Burchard, margrave of Churrhaetia; Liutpold, duke of the Bavarians; Papo; Odalric; Conrad [the Younger]; Hugh; Reginpold; Adalgoz; Roger; Burchard, son of Walaho; Liutfred; Godedank; Ernust and Erlolf – by the intervention and consultation, as was said before, of all of these Our followers and many others, the aforesaid Salomon, Our beloved bishop, asked Our Clemency that We might fortify all the privileges conceded to the aforesaid abbey by Our pious father of good memory, that is, the august emperor Arnulf [of Carinthia], and by his other predecessors, that is, his great-grandfather Emperor Louis [the Pious] and his son Louis [the German], the most glorious of kings, and also his paternal uncle the august emperor Charles [the Fat], by the authority of Our writing.

We freely assented to the advice of Our said beloved bishop and Our aforementioned followers, and We complied with and rejoiced in their just and reasonable petition, and We receive that abbey with the brothers soldiering for the Lord in it under the tutelage of Our immunity, and whatever the aforesaid emperors or kings of the Franks conceded, We confirmed completely and in every way by this writing, decreeing and establishing that no public judge or any person of higher or lower order should presume either to hear cases or exact peace-money or make a halt or claim hospitality in the churches, estates, places or fields of that monastery, nor distrain through force the men both free and servile dwelling on the land of the same abbey, or to take securities, nor dare to unreasonably disturb them; and let whatever should be investigated in respect of that monastery by a legal inquest with oaths required from the noble men dwelling in each county where an inquest of this sort should be carried out be carried out in such a manner as was conceded to the nearby monastery of Reichenau in carrying out their inquests.

And because this petition was made particularly for a privilege of election for the same brothers by the above-written bishop and abbot and by them and all his above-written friends, although We should wish all the statutes laid out above to be valid and firm (and they ought rightly so to be), We firmly establish with the power divinely bestowed on Us that the brothers of the oft-said monastery should from this day forth hold secure power to elect an abbot from amongst themselves, as long as such a one can be found amongst them who can order and rule a monastic way of life well, in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict.

And that the present page of this privilege might endure firm for eternity and beyond, and be more truly believed and diligently conserved by all Our followers, We confirmed it with the inscription of Our own hand and We commanded it be authenticated by Our seal.

Sign of lord Louis, most serene of kings.

Ernust the chancellor witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Archchaplain Thietmar.

Given on the 8th kalends of July [24th June], in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 903, in the 6th indiction, in the 4th year of the reign of lord Louis.

Enacted at Forchheim.

Happily, amen.

(This is an original diploma, but I can’t find a reproduction of it…)

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Instead, a propos of nothing, it turns out that the abbey of Sankt Gallen, which received this diploma, has a hot-air balloon shaped like it (source)

Those really long lists of petitioners are important. They represent a kind of team-building exercise, a public demonstrate of everyone involved’s consent to Louis’ regime. But it’s one of those names in particular that I want to point out specifically today, that being Gebhard.

Gebhard was a member of the kin-group historians call the ‘Conradiner’, a powerful family in the East Frankish kingdom. He had been part of the 899 meeting in Sankt-Goar which had led the plot to overthrow Zwentibald, and his status in this diploma as ‘duke of the kingdom which many call Lothar’s’ must reflect part of the reward for doing that.

But, ‘the kingdom which many call Lothar’s’ is a bit of a funny thing to be a duke of, no? His colleagues are all the rulers of some straightforwardly-described things: peoples, like the Bavarians; or places, like Churrhaetia, all of which have apparently-uncomplicated names. (How uncomplicated they were in practice is entirely another question, but apparently at least the chancery scribes knew what they were talking about there in a way they evidently don’t with Lotharingia.)

Lotharingia is in fact an interesting case where there is a clear sense of what it is not but not necessarily a clear sense of what it is. The identity of Lotharingia would become clearer over the tenth and eleventh centuries, but for the moment it seems awfully like regional distinctiveness has arisen before anyone has a very particular idea of how or why the region is actually distinctive…