I should have read this the moment I bought it, VIII

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All right, last one of this series as I finally reach the end, blog-wise, of Jennifer Davis’s and Michael McCormick’s The Long Morning of Medieval Europe. The last section, two articles and a commentary paper, is entitled ‘The Intellectuality of Early Medieval Art’. It’s led, apart from the McCormick introduction, by the redoutable Mayke de Jong pondering the structure of the upper reaches, quite literally, of Charlemagne’s palace at Aachen, the solarium that so many of that family seem to have had problems with in times of evil auspice (as recently mentioned by Magistra et mater).1 Mayke perhaps works too hard to imbue the royal balcony, where few are allowed and from which everyone else can be seen, in Notker‘s Panopticon-style depiction, with symbolic significance, but the political significance of access to the king’s private counsels and the visibility of that access is very sharply drawn out, along with the way Einhard makes it clear in his Translatio Marcellini et Petri that he enjoyed such access. Thomas Noble quibbles about the architectural details in the response paper but is basically in agreement.2

The cathedral of Aachen as it stands today

The cathedral of Aachen as it stands today

I have to question the importance that both place on the term solarium itself though. Mayke spends a few pages demonstrating that the term is used almost, if not actually, exclusively of buildings that the king might be in, palaces and royal vills and so forth, and Noble compares usages in Rome and concludes, “Perhaps solarium was not a common word”.3 This may well be true for the central Carolingian zone and the ninth century, I certainly wouldn’t want to try and prove otherwise, but on the other hand, it takes me only two or three minutes to find this, from rural Catalonia in 921:

In nomine Domini. Ego Atto et uxor sua Virgilia, que vocant Druda, vinditore sumus tibi Amblardo et uxor tue Eldregodo, emtores. Per hanc scriptura vindicionis nostre vindimus vobis terras cultas et incultas, vineas edificatas vel ad edificare, regos et subreganeis, nostro proprio, qui nobis advenit per nostro comparacione quod nos emimus de te ipso emtore vel iamdicta uxori tue. Et sunt ipsas terras cultas et incultas, vineas edifikatas vel ad edificare, regos et subreganeis in comitatum Ausona, in valle Ausore vel infra ipsos termines. Sic nos vobis hoc vindimus hec omnia quod nos de vos comparavimus in predicta valle Ausore vel infra ipsos termines, exceptus ipsos domos vel ipsos solario cum curtes et ortos et terras et vineas et cultum et incultum, qui fuerunt     de condam Geirardo, quod vos ipsos comparastis de condam Geirardo vel de filios vel filias suas, vel de eredes illarum…

Yes, OK, sorry, perhaps too much Latin, sorry, I got carried away.4 (The superscript addition and the gap are in the original, the emphasis is not.) Rendered into breezy English though, a curious tale emerges:

In the name of the Lord. I Ató and his wife Virgilia, whom they call Druda, are seller to you Amblard and your wife Eldregoda, buyers. By this our scripture of sale of do we sell to you cultivated and uncultivated lands, vineyards constructed or to be constructed, streams and pools, our own, which came to us through our purchase that we bought from you the selfsame buyer or your already-said wife. And these cultivated and uncultivated lands, constructed and to-be-constructed vineyards, streams and pools are in the county of Osona, in the Vall d’Osor or within its term. Thus we sell this to you, all these things that we purchased from you in the aforesaid Vall d’Osor or within its terms, except those houses and that solar with courtyards and barns and lands and vines both cultivated and uncultivated, which were       of the late Gerard, which you yourselves bought from the late Gerard or his sons or daughters, or [his daughters’] heirs…

So, OK, it pains me but let’s leave aside the question of why Ató and Virgilia, I mean Druda, are selling back this land that they bought from these same guys, less what sounds like a plum and well-developed little farmstead that had belonged to another guy before that. Mainly I am willing to leave it because I don’t have the index volume of the relevant charter collection to hand so I can’t look any of these people up easily. The point is that Gerard’s old farmstead has a solar, as I usually translate it, an upper storey partly open to the sun; balcony might do but we’re talking a whole floor here, I think. This is not an uncommon thing; it’s uncommon enough that I had to search a bit, and you could, given how rattly and distorted the Latin of this document is, agreements all over the place, orthography varying and so on, argue that this is just a formula. Certainly the word is unusual, but on the other hand it is clear that these things are cut about to fit the circumstances of the document’s issuing. What I mean is, most transaction charters in this area don’t mention houses with solars. When they do, the most obvious reason is, it seems to me, is that there is one, not that the scribe that day has a model charter or a formula which covered that. If that was the case I’d expect a range of other gear that sometimes turns up too, dovecotes, winepresses, sheds, meadows. The fact that these things are not here but a house with a solar is, for me, best explained if they were actually selling a house with a solar. So I think Ató and Virgilia’s house had one, and so did a few other places.5

Map of central Osona and the Ripollès, Catalunya, <i>c. </i>950

Map of central Osona and the Ripollès, Catalunya, c. 950

Now, Osor is not an area full of palaces. It’s a bit up in the mountains: on the map there, if you can see Sant Llorenç near the middle bottom right, the Vall d’Osor is the next river valley south-east. So it’s probably two days’ walk to Vic, less if you don’t mind crossing some 800 m-high mountain ridges but it must be 35 km if you stick to the valleys. It’s a decent day’s walk down to the Ter too, and the Ter bends so much upriver that rowing wouldn’t get you anywhere any faster unless you had to cross anyway. Osor seems to have been well-settled at this point, there’s no new land being taken in even if it’s not all being used, but it’s some way off being top-rank.6 There are a couple of reasons to suppose that these are well-to-do people, though, not least because they get 50 solidi for the land they sell back, which gives us a sort of ballpark figure for the worth of what they keep, in as much as the way they’ve described things only makes much sense if the lands that they retain are enveloped within what they sell, so it must be smaller. 50 solidi is a fair bit of money by local standards, but it’s an order of magnitude smaller than what places that get called palaces go for out here.7 The other sign of status is that Ató apparently signs the document himself, which implies a certain amount of leisured education, though around here it’s perhaps not all that far out of the ordinary. Anyway, there really isn’t any prospect of the king or probably even the count turning up at Gerard’s old house. And this is a big one; I could find you other (less interesting) examples that are worth lots less.8

View down the Vall d'Osor, viewed from the source of the river of the same name, from the Catalan Wikipedia

View down the Vall d'Osor, viewed from the source of the river of the same name, from the Catalan Wikipedia

So, well, I don’t want to be over simple but I think there may be two things going on here that decrease the significance of Mayke’s royal balconies: firstly, as ever, we’ve just got more data out here and that means more odd stuff turns up, whereas in the north big estates are much more common per charter survival because the little stuff hasn’t made it down to us. Secondly, well, weather, quite frankly. I’m sure they have some lovely summers around the Meuse and Aachen, in fact Gabriele at the Lost Fort will doubtless have pictures of half the relevant areas in blazing German sunshine, but you still might not build for it in the same way as you do nicely south of the Pyrenees. I think we can expect to see more solars in Catalonia than in Francia because there was just that much more sun, to be honest. This doesn’t diminish the significance of Mayke’s points about access to the king and the articulation of power in architecture at all, of course; but it does warn us about arguments that include silence. There is so much dark matter in statistical use of medieval documents, because we never know what we might have if the preservation had been kinder.

(Edit: extensive argument with me in the comments below reveals that several people think I’m being anachronistic here and that what tenth-century Catalans are calling solaria has nothing to do with what the word meant in ninth-century Aachen. I still think plural uses, however far across Western Europe they are from each other, indicates a word that could mean more than just ‘palace balcony’ and don’t think the word itself carries Mayke’s symbolic significance, but I must admit that opinion is generally against me here so you should consider that I may just be being hidebound here.)

München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 14000, the so-called Codex Aureus

München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 14000, the so-called Codex Aureus

Anyway. The second paper in this section is a lavishly-illustrated one (though colour would have made such a difference here, especially as it features in the argument in places; the above manuscript’s cover makes Kessler’s plate 2, and it may be clearer in grey-scale, but, well…) by Herbert Kessler about depictions of Christ in the Carolingian period.9 This was a sticky issue, as you may be aware, because of the response to the Byzantine controversy over the use of icons in worship. The problem is the Biblical prohibition on idols, of course; is a picture of God, even in human form, really even slightly holy, or is it a graven image that distracts the worshipper from the real divinity that can only be experienced in the mind and the soul? Christ was after all a man, and one can depict that, but can one depict the God that that man also was, or is to draw Christ actually to deny one of his natures? One of the great merits of this paper is that it actually provides a reasonably accessible way into these debates for the laymen by marrying up text and image and showing how the images try to get round the problem or confront it, individual artists making informed choices of presentation such as leaving some of Christ out of the picture, vanishing out of the top of the frame at Ascension as below (the manuscript that sources Kessler’s plate 7, but even this tiny image is more fun to look at than the greyscale) and so on. Not only does one get a sense of craftsmen at work on something highly intellectual, rather than just colouring nicely as medieval art sometimes gets presented, but one also sees how these images were taking positions in a debate of the day and, not least important, genuinely concerned with Salvation and how best to help someone towards it rather than hinder them.

Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS Y6, fol. 81v.

Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS Y6, fol. 81v.

This therefore supplements the somewhat less successful section on religious practice earlier in the book and winds the volume up, after Noble’s few adjustments, very nicely.10 My initial bedazzlement with the volume has worn off slightly after this much detailed analysis and reviewing, but really, it’s still a very worthwhile volume. It’s also physically nice: the paper is gloss and heavy, the binding tough but good-looking and the dust-jacket is glossy and thick too. The illustrations, where they exist, are good (though, yes, greyscale) and there are, as far as I noticed, almost no typoes. There are fully 18 pages of index, whereas with most edited volumes there wouldn’t be any, suggesting that the publishers or the editors recognised that it will have reference value as well as reading value. Furthermore, though some of the papers are not quite there and some areas are definitely less covered than others, it really is a pretty all-round state-of-the-question assemblage of work on Carolingian Europe and so, I continue to recommend its purchase to those who might want such a thing.


1. Michael McCormick, “The Intellectuality of Early Medieval Art” in Jennifer Davis & idem (edd.), The Long Morning of Early Medieval Europe: new directions in early medieval studies (Aldershot 2008), pp. 275-276; Mayke de Jong, “Charlemagne’s Balcony: The Solarium in Ninth-Century Narratives”, ibid. pp. 277-289.

2. Thomas F. X. Noble, “Matter and Meaning in the Carolingian World”, ibid. pp. 321-326 at pp. 321-324.

3. De Jong, “Charlemagne’s Balcony”, pp. 282-284; Noble, “Matter and Meaning”, pp. 321-322.

4. Text from Ramon Ordeig i Mata (ed.), Catalunya Carolíngia IV: els comtats d’Osona i Manresa, Memòries de la Secció històrico-arqueològica LIII (Barcelona 1999), 3 vols, I doc. no. 232.

5. For example, Ordeig, Catalunya Carolíngia IV, I doc. no. 214, “… vindimus tibi casas cum curtes et ortos, cum solos et superpositos et terras cultes et incultes, nostras proprias…“. But, you say, a solum is not the same thing as a solarium! Check it in the new online Lewis & Short, man! To which I say, firstly, du Cange says you’re wrong, at least sometimes: Charles du Fresne du Cange & D. A. Carpenter, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, ed. G. A. L. Henschel, re-ed. L. Favre (Paris 1886), p. 523, “SOLUM, ut supra Solarium, Locus idoneus solarium ædificando”, and secondly, well, that’s why my first example had “solarium” instead innit.

6. This sort of assessment is much easier for owning Jordi Bolòs & Victor Hurtado (edd.), Atles del comtat d’Osona (785-993) (Barcelona 2001); the map on pp. 44-45 is most useful here.

7. For example, in Ordeig, Catalunya Carolíngia IV I doc. 419 Bishop Radulf of Urgell and his son Oliba sell an estate at a place called Palau to the bishop’s brother Count-Marquis Sunyer of Barcelona, Girona and Osona and that goes for 1000 solidi. This isn’t going to have been a royal palace, but given that Abbess Emma also has land next-door it is clearly comital family land, and that and the name suggest strongly that this was a fiscal estate, a big hall and its demesne or similar. For the suggestion that place-names in Palau (‘palaciolo‘ or similar) refer to such establishments, see in this case A. Benet i Clarà & A. Pladevall i Font in Pladevall, J. Sarri i Vilageliu, Benet & D. Arumí i Gómez, “Santa Maria de Palau” in J. Vigué (ed.), Catalunya Romànica II: Osona I, ed. J. Vigué (Barcelona 1984), pp. 230-235 at pp. 230-231, and more generally Ramon Martí, “Del fundus a la parrochia. Transformaciones del pobliamento rural en Cataluña durante la transición medieval” in Philippe Sénac (ed.), De la Tarraconnaise à la Marche Supérieure d’al-Andalus : les habitats ruraux (IVe-XIe siècle). Desde la Tarraconense a la Marca Superior de al-Andalus: los asentamientos rurales (siglos IV-XI), Méridiennes : Études Médiévales Ibériques 2 (Toulouse 2006), pp. 145-166, citing Martí, “Palaus o almúnies fiscals a Catalunya i al-Andalus” in Hélène Debax (ed.), Les sociétés méridionales à l’âge féodal : Hommage à Pierre Bonnassie (Toulouse 1999), pp. 63-70.

8. For example, that mentioned in n. 5 above went for only 15 solidi and the solos are only part of the estate there.

9. Herbert Kessler, “Image and Object: Christ’s Dual Nature and the Crisis of Early Medieval Art” in Davis & McCormick, Long Morning, pp. 290-319.

10. Noble, “Matter and Meaning”, pp. 324-326.

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24 responses to “I should have read this the moment I bought it, VIII

  1. The surname Solarich turns up regularly in the region around Vic, but anyone who says that these were obviously one-time owners of your solarium probably deserves to be dropped out of one.

    • How interesting, I’ve not met the name. Perhaps it would, at least, come from a place-name where there had been a notable example. Given how many place-names in Catalonia are basically “rock”, “big rock” or similar it wouldn’t be out of keeping…

  2. Cullen Chandler

    I think you’re making too big a deal out of de Jong’s point. Now, I have yet to read the book–I bought it during the summer but it has had to sit on my shelf during the teaching season–but if her point is that solarium-type spaces are rare, and you cede that such is true for the regions with which she is primarily concerned, I don’t see how it really damages her argument that she neglects a place a thousand miles away and a century later.

    I also think that it has fallen to you and me to help bring Catalonia into better view for our fellow Carolingianists. It’s part of why I favor the ninth century: my strategy is really to use the Spanish March as a way to understand the nature of the empire, while others (including Mayke de Jong) are content to look at the center. Thus their neglect of Catalan source material.

    But I still don’t think your example damages her argument.

    • Well, both she and Noble argue that only prestigious buildings have solaria, and they do this basically from the fact that they are rare. But how much writing do we have about mundane buildings from the central Empire? I don’t know, but I bet a few runs through charter corpuses would find some non-palatial ones even there. So I don’t argue with the rarity at all, but I don’t think that we can assume that rarity equates to status, at least in terms of the word’s use. That’s all. Where we might perhaps find room to play is in the possibility that the Carolingian instances she describes are genuinely unusual occurrences which the regular word only just fits, but for which there is no better. But you can’t get there from the word itself–you have to argue it from the sources back to the word, not from the word to what the sources mean.

      Sorry, convalescent logic there, but hopefully you see what I mean.

  3. This is an interesting point about solaria but don’t you have a problem comparing Aachen in the late 8th/ early 9th century with Catalonia in the early 10th century? Couldn’t this be a case of aping, of Charlemagne’s “empire of the mind” (pace Jinty Nelson) spreading outwards from the center?

    • Cullen Chandler

      Not completely different from what I was thinking, but certainly put better. We’re dealing with a great expanse of space and time here, and the point raised, while worth a bit of consideration, still does not in my estimation demolish de Jong’s argument.

      (Now off to read it for myself and potentially return with a retraction.)

      • Matt, if what you’re suggesting is that pre-Catalan farmsteaders by 970 are building upper stories to their houses because they want to feel like they’re Carolingian bishops, then, well, I’d have to look askance at you. If not, what are you saying? (And I apologise if I’m being dull, because I know I probably am.)

        I don’t think de Jong’s wrong at all that these bits of the palace are special places, in case I haven’t made that clear, I am quite convinced she’s right about that. I just don’t think that the word solarium is part of that special nature, and in fact that it has quite mundane uses in areas where people just built that way more often.

  4. Sorry, I’m probably being thick, but how does the statement, “the word solarium is common in tenth-century Catalonia” undermine the statement, “the word solarium is rare in ninth-century northern Francia”?

    The only way I can see is in your point about Catalonia having different sources, in which case you could argue that if northern Francia had the same source base, you might start finding solaria.

    But by the same token, you can’t argue the opposite – the Catalonian sources prove nothing whatsoever about the frequency of the word in the north a hundred years earlier. And I think you’d concede that de Jong knows the North Frankish sources better than you do.

    And you undermine your own ‘silence doesn’t mean absence argument’ when your refer to the weather. If the existence of solaria is a function of different weather patterns, then the silence of the northern sources is more likely to reflect real absence, and having one would be more likely to be a sign of conspicuous consumption. (Compare the status of home swimming pools in the US and UK.)

    Mind you, I haven’t read the article either. ;-)

    • I’m honestly not sure how I’m failing to express this!

      1. Mayke and Prof. Noble are both arguing that solaria only occur on prestigious buildings and that they are unusual. (They make no regional specification, though Noble’s examples are from Italy, which might undermine my climate suggestion. You of course only have my word for this till you read the piece…)

      2. I think solaria are just unusual in north Francia because I think they are common elsewhere, see example.

      3. Also, my examples undermine the idea that you only get these things on prestigious buildings because my examples are mundane.

      4. Therefore I suggest that the word itself has no special significance for the social phenomenon Mayke’s writing about, even though I entirely accept that phenomenon.

      Now can one of you guys, erudites and scholars as you all are, explain why you think the word should be left special? or have I just failed to get my point over thus far?

    • I suppose the question is how much difference does a century and many hundred miles make, but even then, as I said to Matt, either we’re looking at a frankly unlikely derivation from Aachen etc. to the March, or else the Aachen way is not the only way of using this word, and I’m very much of the latter persuasion here.

      • I’m an ignorant rustic, but I’d have thought that “solarium” here simply refers to building/nucleal land in the sense of the Latin “solum” or the modern Spanish “solar”. That’s the clarification given here for use at the other end of the Pyrenees 90-odd years later, and I think it’s also the general implication found in 10th-11th century Spanish texts, like the following, dug up on Corde: “monasterium vel villarum, divisarum vel domos aliquorum, rusticorum vel solarium hereditatum, terrarum seu vinearum”.

        • The grammar in that last cite could make it mean almost anything, couldn’t it? But I’d have to say you could be right. In that case, though, the usage here is absolutely nothing to do with that of the original article that started the discussion; Einhard and so on are not meeting up for private chats to watch the palace people on Aachen’s foundation plot. As you can see from the above I’m far from unready to see the two usages as separate; but I still think this undermines the idea that the word is significant at Aachen.

          That Andres and Jiménez paper was new to me, by the way, and very interesting, thankyou. I also admire the cynicism of your site!

  5. Cullen Chandler

    Just to pile on, I think a century and several hundred miles actually do make a difference. I can easily imagine you critiquing someone else for that same kind of elision.

    • If they were saying that the word meant the same thing over that period, then yes, I would skewer it. But I am saying that the word clearly means different things and therefore must have had multiple meanings.

      Perhaps I’m just not understanding what your preferred alternative is?

      • Cullen Chandler

        Which, again, does not undermine Mayke’s argument!

        • It would probably help you assess that if you read it, you know. Until then, when I say, “This doesn’t diminish the significance of Mayke’s points about access to the king and the articulation of power in architecture at all, of course; but it does warn us about arguments that include silence”, you may notice that I’ve accepted the bulk of her argument. And she is indeed very careful to specify ‘ninth-century’ whenever she discusses the meaning of the term. So I’m not in the game of faulting her argument. I’m just saying that there are more usages of the word solarium than are dreamt of in this article, and so when the word turns up we shouldn’t automatically be thinking palaces. And I’m still not seeing you propose an alternative that makes this wrong, rather than just saying that Mayke is right. I know she is! These spaces at Aachen and these other royal estates were obviously very important. And the ones on the Catalan farmhouses, almost certainly not (though I do like Theo’s swimming pool argument). What are you saying is wrong about this argument?

          • Cullen Chandler

            Here we are, nesting within nests…

            I’m not trying to say you are wrong about your point. I just don’t particularly care for or see the utility in folks denouncing others’ arguments on the basis of something the arguments don’t in fact argue. And what you admit that Mayke aruged was, at worst, phrased in such a way as to come out as Aachen-centric rather than inclusive of all regions of the empire, especially Catalonia. But you and I know how frequently Carolingianists cite Catalan evidence…

            You yourself say that Mayke is right. So her piece accomplishes its objectives. Your pointing out that the term solarium exists elsewhere in space and time is enlightening, but the original formulation of your point came across as something of an attack on her argument, as if you were saying that she was wrong because she didn’t know of or acknowledge the use of the same term in a completely different region and century. I simply don’t see how such a critique is either valid or valuable.

            I further don’t see the need to point out an alternative to what you’re saying about tenth-century Catalan usage of the term solarium, because I don’t believe you to be wrong. and neither shall I expend the time and energy in this very busy time for me to look up documents in the hopes of catching you in error. That’s not what I do; it’s not what I got into this line of work to do.

            When we read things that cause us to think and to approach our own sets of source material with fresh insight, that’s great. We should acknowledge the work that caused us to do so. But going after (in an apparently hostile way) individuals’ works because they don’t have our sources material in mind strikes me as rather unfair.

            Hopefully I’ll have time to get to the whole volume during Christmas break. Until then, I’ll be teaching and serving on various committees.

            Happy Thanksgiving to those who observe it this week!

            • Your pointing out that the term solarium exists elsewhere in space and time is enlightening, but the original formulation of your point came across as something of an attack on her argument, as if you were saying that she was wrong because she didn’t know of or acknowledge the use of the same term in a completely different region and century. I simply don’t see how such a critique is either valid or valuable.

              Well, I’m sorry that it can be read that way but even now I look over it with that in mind, I don’t see how one does so. I just saw a good excuse to bring in an interesting document and broaden a perspective. Now here you are telling me that I’m denouncing Mayke’s argument (I’m not, I’m simply saying that it’s not the word solarium that makes it) and that I also admit that her argument is right. But I think my apparent inconsistency here is largely of your making, I have to say.

              Enjoy the turkey, anyway!

  6. So you’re arguing that the word ‘solarium’ didn’t function as a special ‘brand’ in the way that nowadays the YSL monogramme is supposed to make a bog-standard item into something desirable purely by virtue of it being a specific, exclusive set of letters?

    I can see how that might open their argument to charges of circularity, but I still don’t see how you get round the fact that you’re talking about a different place and time. A brand’s exclusivity can change – see fcuk.

    • I don’t really like the brand analogy. I’m arguing that the word ‘solarium’ is not as exclusive as the balconies of these palaces are, and does not only describe them, whereas Mayke and Prof. Noble seem to think it does. That really is all I’m arguing. The unexpressed counter-argument appears to be, “well, perhaps it did then!” which is fine except then we either have to explain the later Spanish usages as derivation, which would be very strange, or just admit that there were multiple possible meanings of the word out there in Latin-speaking society at large. If the latter be accepted, I think it makes it questionable that the Aachen sense of ‘solarium’ is necessarily how people at the time would have read it; it seems easier to me to assume that they need a word to describe these special spaces and use an already-common one. After all, it’s not as if that court was unaware of Spanish usage if that’s what the difference is. I do think it’s interesting that Du Cange gave only the usage I’m talking about, for example; I wonder what Niermeyer says? It may be worth pointing out that Isidore of Seville says that a solarium is the bit of a building that David watched Bathsheba bathing from (Etym. XV.3.xii). I wonder therefore if Einhard’s usage at least isn’t deliberately learned.

      I should admit at this point that somewhat to my frustration the word doesn’t occur at all in the early Cluny material, which would have helped my case tremendously. I’m a bit short of searchable charter corpora otherwise, though.

      Again, though, as I said to Cullen, I get that you all think I’m being anachronistic but I’m not getting your preferred case; is it really that we should consider these two zones of use of this word as entirely unconnected, and say that what we think Aachen authors think a solarium is in the ninth century cannot be informed by what other people elsewhere think one is?

  7. “we … have to … admit that there were multiple possible meanings of the word out there in Latin-speaking society at large.”

    But your “Latin-speaking society at large” includes an area hundreds of miles away in another century. To me, that’s not the same society, so finding another meaning there says nothing about how it was used in the north.

    is it really that we should … say that what we think Aachen authors think a solarium is in the ninth century cannot be informed by what other people elsewhere think one is?

    It certainly can’t be informed by what tenth-century Catalonians thought, because the latter weren’t born yet. So, yeah, that’s precisely what we should say.

    • If we were talking something with a broad meaning like uilla I would agree with you. In fact, I am arguing that this is such a term and that narrow meanings are likely to be insufficient, but, I can’t make that case any more clearly than I have (at least, without doing actual research in charter collections closer to the time and place) and you guys still don’t agree, so I’ll edit to indicate that there is disagreement with me and refer people to the comments. Thankyou for the clarification.

  8. Jonathan Grove

    Niermeyer, you may not be aware, is now available online at archive.org (http://www.archive.org/stream/MedievalLatinLexicon/NiemeyerMediaeLatinitatisLexicon1976#page/n0/mode/1up).

    • Ye gods. No, I was not aware. Thankyou. Thankyou very much! How did they swing that? It’s only just been reprinted (well, 2001)!

      So, a quick look there brings the Spanish usage that Trevor mentioned above back to 829, and in a royal document from a king who corresponded with Aachen, no less. Sadly I suspect it of being very dodgy, though I don’t have access to Floriano right now to check. But even the Frankish (and English) usages vary enough that I have to wonder whether this is really ‘not a common word’.

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