Last time we were in Aquitaine, Bishop Stephen II of Clermont was getting his local authority reinforced through a renewed connection to royalty. Yet there was a cloud on the horizons: the presence of William Towhead, count of Poitiers, on the Loire with him. William’s position in the first half of the 950s was difficult, not least because when Louis IV died Hugh the Great was able to exploit the new king, Lothar, to attack him. Nonetheless, William fought Hugh off, and even pushed eastwards to try and suborn an old royal ally:
CC no. 1.825 (June 955/shortly thereafter, Huillaux/Ennezat)
Since, in the laborious pilgrimage of this world, whilst it is yet allowed and whilst the time is right and the days of salvation are seen to be at hand, provision ought to be made with every fibre of one’s being that if we can do anything good we should put aside all delay and not hesitate to carry it out, making our debtors those whom we know truly to consult for the safety of the body in the present and whom we little doubt will be judges of our souls in future. Because after death we can do nothing good, we deem it worthwhile to give satisfaction to the Hidden Judge before we are led to that subtle and incomprehensible Judgement. We should not cease to wipe what we have negligently committed clean with the hand of penitence however we can in this brief life.
Therefore I, Stephen, an unworthy sinner, and my wife named Ermengard, considering the enormity of our sins, and – which is more salubrious – delighting to hear the sweetest voice of our lord Jesus Christ, which says ‘Give alms and behold, everything will be clean unto you’, and also that which holy Scripture admonishes us, saying ‘the riches of a man are the redemption of his soul’, donate because of this exhortation and admonition something from the goods of our property to God and His holy apostles Peter and Paul at the place of Cluny, which the humble abbot lord Aimard is seen to preside over. The place is sited in the district of Mâconnais, and is consecrated in veneration of the blessed mother of God Mary, ever-virgin, and of the same apostles. These goods are sited in the county of Auvergne, in the bishopric of Autun: that is, the indominical curtilage which is called Huillaux with a chapel which is built in honour of the blessed mother of God Mary, where St Leotald rests in body.
We make this donation on this condition: whilst we live, I, Stephen and my wife Ermengard, we should hold and possess it, and the rulers of the abovenamed place should hold the chapel in vestiture with everything which is seen to pertain to that chapel. After both of our deaths, we donate and wish to be donated in perpetuity to Lord God, as we have often already said, as much as is beholden or seen to be beholden to that curtilage or to that chapel which is built therein in its entirety, for the remedy of our souls, and for the remedy of the souls of our parents, and in addition for the salvation of the living and the rest of the dead, with serfs and freedmen, fields, meadows, vineyards, woods, waters and watercourses, mills, houses, buildings, with everything thereon, mobile and immobile goods, incomes and renders, cultivated and uncultivated lands, sought and to be sought, beholden or pertaining to that inheritance, as is ruled and possessed by us at the present time, so that the rulers of the said monastery and those serving God therein might, without interruption by anyone, firmly and solidly hold it always in perpetuity.
If anyone, which we do not believe will come to pass, we ourselves (God forbid!) or anyone at all joined to us by kinship, a son or a daughter, a nephew, or anyone else at all, might against divine right become an invader or contradictor of this donation spontaneously made by Us, and endeavours to transfer the good named to God and entrusted to His saints into their uses, in the first place let them incur the wrath of God Almighty, Whose goods they have presumed to by rash daring, let them be bound by the chains of a terrible anathema, and unless they come to their senses, let them be subject to every curse, and let this donation endure firm.
S. Stephen and his wife Ermengard. Heldin. Rainald. Robert. Caro. Warner.
Enacted publicly at Huillaux.
Boso wrote and gave this in the month of June, in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 952 [sic], in the 3rd indiction, in the 1st year of the reign of King Lothar, who commanded a precept be made about the same donation and signed it with his seal.
At lord Stephen’s command, this charter was read in the court at Ennezat before the lord count William [Towhead], in the presence of lord Stephen [II], bishop of the Auvergne, on the day when the lords of the Auvergne gathered with the aforenamed count and commended themselves to him; and he had the male and female serfs who were not there to be written by name. These are their names: Bladald, who is vicar of that power, with his wife, named Ermentrude, and their sons and daughters, and another named Godin with his wife and their sons and daughters, and as well all the other serfs who are seen to pertain to the same power.
This charter was confirmed and corroborated in the same assembly, at the prayer of lord Stephen, who asked it to be made. S. lord Stephen, bishop of Auvergne, Count William, Viscount Robert [of Clermont], Abbot Robert [of Mozac], Girbern, Theotard, Stephen, Viscount Dalmatius [of Brioude], Heldin, William, Deodatus.
This document’s dating is all out of whack, which is an issue. We also have at least two different events being described here, and probably three: the giving of Stephen’s gift at Huillaux, Lothar’s confirmation of it, and the assembly at Ennezat. Ennezat definitely followed Huillaux, so the question becomes twofold: 1) when was Lothar’s diploma relatively; and 2) when did these events take place in absolute terms?
The second question is easiest to answer. The Ennezat assembly is almost certainly summer 955, and most historians will give you that date. In fact, they’ll normally tell you June 955; but the charter’s June dating probably attaches more properly to the Huillaux donation than to the Ennezat assembly. In any case, though, the latter probably followed shortly after the former. The main question then is when Lothar’s diploma was issued. Here, we have to confess that given that the charter as it currently survives is evidently a melange, it could really have been at any point in his reign. However, we do have to consider when, exactly, Lothar would have been interested in confirming Stephen and Ermengard’s donation. (I am here assuming that the diploma was specifically in regard to this donation rather than merely mentioning it as part of a general confirmation.) What I want to have happened is a first donation, perhaps in 952, which was then confirmed at Lothar’s coronation (we can surmise relatively easily that Stephen and Ermengard’s patron Stephen of Clermont was there). Realistically, though, there’s no particular reason to assume that the original donation was prior to the charter being written in 955, and – as we’ll see in upcoming weeks – the early 960s would provide a better point for that diploma to be issued.
This leaves us with the events of 955 themselves. If so, then this charter gains an interesting frisson. Much of the context for this act has been covered before on this blog long ago, but in fact there’s some crucial chronological nuance which means that picture needs a little revising. To summarise, William Towhead had been an ally of Louis IV, but ties had loosened after the late 940s. Then, when Louis died in 954, Hugh the Great took partial control of his young son Lothar’s regime, and was – according to Flodoard – ‘given’ Aquitaine by the king. This was a final attempt by Hugh to regain his position as uncontested second man in the kingdom, and I think it prompted something much like what Raymond Pons of Toulouse had done almost twenty years earlier. Unlike Raymond, William did not claim to be ‘duke of the Aquitanians’ – yet – but he did move into Auvergne, a place none of his ancestors had held any interest. We’ve seen before that William’s infringing on Stephen of Clermont’s territory was not without friction, and it also prompted Hugh to respond with the military attack on Poitiers we discussed in passing last time – according to Richer, William marched to Poitiers directly from Auvergne. William’s rejection of the authority of Hugh and Lothar basically failed. He kept Poitiers, but his authority in Auvergne became yet more precarious. However, William may have been down, but he was not out. The struggle for Aquitaine was just beginning.