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 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…

Source Translation: A Royal Privilege of Free Election

Hello readers. I meant to post something about my research today, I really did; I realised last week that the last time I actually posted directly about it was over a month ago. However, my time at the minutes is taken up with finishing everything I need to do in Brussels before I move to Germany, which would be fine except it turns out that the last bit of writing that’s got to be finished before the end of this month is really hard, you guys. With that in mind, here’s a translated source that I’m using for that very piece, a diploma of Best King Ever Charles the Simple, issued in 913 to the Church of Trier, granting them the right to freely elect their bishops.

In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity and singular Godhead. Charles, by the preordination of divine providence, glorious king. Since the whole body of God’s holy Church should be cared for by priestly oversight and administration and royal tutelage, and since royal majesty ought to be of one mind with the ministers of the Lord, We judge it equitable to proffer assent to the petitions of Our pontiffs, beseeching Us concerning churchly business, by whose prayers We believe that We and the state of Our realm are ceaselessly supported. Therefore, let the industry of all who follow the Christian religion and Our faithful men, present and future, know that Ratbod, the venerable metropolitan of the holy see of Trier, and Our archchaplain, providing for and mindful of the welfare of the church committed to him in future like a provident and good shepherd, asked Our Highness that We might conceded a privilege of Our authority to his see concerning episcopal elections after his death. Freely acquiescing to his pious petition, out of respect for the divine and reverence of the blessed Peter, and due to his love and faithfulness, We commanded this privilege of Our present letters be made, earnestly commanding and sanctioning with the inviolable stability of perpetual firmness that after the death of this bishop, whomsoever the clergy and people of Trier might by common consent elect from amongst the very sons of the same Church should be given to them, by God’s favour, as bishop without contradiction from any party; nor might they be compelled against their will and against canonical authority to receive as a pastor any person they have not chosen. And if, perchance, which We little believe will come to pass, no-one suitable can be found in that church, who is worthy of being given up to an honour of this kind, let an election not be denied to them thereby and Our privilege broken, but rather let them receive from royal majesty whomsoever else they might wish to elect. If it should come to pass, moreover (as is seen to have happened recently in the election of certain bishops) that the votes of the electors are divided, let royal authority favour the part of him on whom the clergy and the men of better intention agree, those who are proven to pursue God’s cause and the salvation of the Lord’s flock, and let the one so chosen be established over them as bishop in accordance with their election. And that this authority of Our privilege might in God’s name obtain firmer vigour of everlasting stability through all times to come, and be inviolably conserved by Our successors, We confirmed it below with Our own hand, and We commanded it be marked with the impression of Our seal.

Sign of the most serene king, lord Charles.

Gozlin the notary witnessed and subscribed on behalf of Archbishop and Archchancellor Ratbod.

Given on the ides of August (i.e. the 13th) in the 1st indiction, in the 21st year of the reign of the most glorious king Charles, in the 16th of his renewal, in the 2nd of his acquisition of a larger inheritance.

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

(I actually have no idea what the reference to contentious elections in other sees is referring to. The ongoing disputes over the bishopric of Strasbourg in the 900s and 910s, maybe?)

trier_dom_bw_1
Trier Cathedral today (source)

The writing style here is a little unusual; like many contemporary diplomas for the Church of Trier, it appears to have been written by that church’s writing staff, with less involvement by royal personnel. Nonetheless, there’s an intriguing sign here of attitudes to royal involvement in episcopal elections. There was a simmering dispute in the ninth century about whether or not royal involvement should be active or passive; that is, whether or not the royal power actually played a role in making a bishop a bishop or whether it simply removed itself as an obstacle. Men such as Florus of Lyon and Hincmar of Rheims (the latter of whom said ‘kings only agree, they don’t elect’) argued at one time or another for the latter, but over time it is clear that the former position removed competition.

This is neatly illustrated by this charter. Compared to other, earlier, diplomas granting similar rights, Charles actually gives up more power – usually, for instance, kings reserve the right to pick someone if no-one suitable can be found within the recipient church; here, it is specified that Trier can pick anyone, even if from outside Trier itself. However, it also rhetorically emphasises the role of kings more: royal authority and royal majesty play an active part as agents, even if what this might involve in practice has probably not changed all that much. The difference is that here and now, it is being perceived as being much more active and participating much more directly. This, I think, is a key part of that specifically-late-Carolingian political culture that we’ve discussed here before, and it would go on to have knock-on effects that would reach for centuries – but that is perhaps something for another time…