Carolingian royal charters II

Now I’ve had time to think about the question I raised in the last post, I think I’ve come up with a way of formulating my objection. Let us agree that if one, as a king, wished to make a public demonstration of one’s support for a particular magnate, that you might indeed use the bestowal of what these documents charmingly call ‘munificences’ upon him to do this; it’s a good ceremony (we imagine, as we don’t know how they did it), hey, the ideal way to do it. Okay, I have no problem with this.

Now. Let us suppose instead that, most likely because of some local circumstances—all the mead ran out on his estates last winter, he needs more bee-keeping land, or fisheries or whatever, to live in the style to which the king, should he happen by, would be accustomed—such a magnate, with whom your connection is already perfectly amicable due to years of good service carrying your messages, negotiating with towns, leading troops and so on, comes to you asking for some extra land. You have no problem with this, and grant it. What’s the ideal way to do this? Well, there’s this useful ceremony and documentation procedure designed for land transfers…

You see?

As usual, we need to look at the individual cases, and while Professor Koziol is wise to open up the possibilities, it remains possible in any of those cases that we may need to close them down again.

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4 responses to “Carolingian royal charters II

  1. Because I’m writing a post on charters at the moment and wanted to check what you’d said about Geoff, I’m re-reading this, and wondering if maybe this is where the Inszenierung comes in (or, if you’re English, the Sir Humphrey Appleby moment). In other words, that before a magnate approaches the king with a petition, there have been informal soundings to make sure that he gets a favourable response and/or that there is a list of deserving recipients of munificence ready to hand when the king feels like being generous. It’s the equivalent of nowadays making sure that if you offer someone a knighthood they won’t turn it down: there’s a lot of backstage negotiation that we don’t see in the final document.

  2. Mark Mersiowsky

    If you look for information of backstage information, you can find a lot of traces, for instance in the Carolingian letters. I gave once a paper on this topic, unfortunately in German. There is also an example of an abbot (Redon) who tried and tried again to get a diploma of Louis the Pious without success, until the duke of Britanny helped him. He gained no acces to the court and so he had no possibility to make a petition. If my book on Carolingian charters will be published, you can check such informations.

    • Alas, still not published? I did think I would have heard if it had been. Hopefully soon! Your paper in the volume edited by Karl Heidecker is already my usual reference for the initiative of the petitioner in these matters, however. Thankyou for the useful example meanwhile!

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