Three sorts of priest, part 3: important men, as long as nobody’s looking

Time at long last for the third and final of these posts about the priesthood in my much-beloved subject area, tenth-century Catalonia. So far we’ve had priests posted to distant areas by enterprising cathedral chapters and loaned books with which to preach to the people, or something like that; and we’ve had priests in hilltop burial centres who look like collegiate and zealous preservers of very old jurisdictions right next to that same pushy cathedral, perhaps explaining why its own men are stationed so far from home. There’s an obvious sort of priest remaining, the little local guy who writes all the documents in his community and farms alongside his congregation, but I’m not going to study them, partly because it’s hard to establish that’s actually whom you’re seeing in the same way as it’s hard to be sure you’re looking at a peasant (have I explained this? Perhaps I should), but mainly because really Wendy Davies’s recent work on this level of pastoral care is much better than mine would be and is still developing, so I don’t want to risk writing something I’ll probably have to rethink a lot in a year’s time.1

View of Vallfogona, Ripollès, immediately to the south of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, from the Castell de Milany to the south

View of Vallfogona, Ripollès, immediately to the south of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, from the Castell de Milany to the south

So, instead, there is a fourth sort of priest we can cover, and these ones are even more mysterious than the last one. We have to start, once again, with a certain super-size hearing in the year 913, at Sant Joan de Ripoll as it then still was.2 One of the things one can do with that hearing is distinguish peasants, of course, but that’s not the point today.3 The point is that, as I’ve mentioned before, the document of that hearing was written, in two stages, and then updated twice, by the same guy, a priest called Garsies. I said in the last post I wrote about this document (which explains, you know, what it is) that I couldn’t `describe his status more fully’, and this is both true and false. I can’t tell you what it is, but I can parallel it. The problem is, you see, that Garsies doesn’t appear anywhere else. We now have almost all the charter evidence for these areas in print and indexed, so it’s possible to be reasonably definitive about this.4 The charter must have been written and updated over a period of months, if not years, for all of which, the unity of the hand even if not the ink, makes clear, Garsies was able to be found. The nunnery’s usual notary, Gentiles, signed as witness but didn’t himself trifle with this highly unusual document.5 Something about Garsies’s status made it important that he be involved in it, but we don’t know what that status was.

Sant Andreu de Tona and the Castell de Tona

Sant Andreu de Tona and the Castell de Tona

So we have this guy who turns up when a vast number of people are being sworn to lordship, and not otherwise. He is not a scribe of either of the counts who are present, nor is he a cleric of the nunnery whose lordship is at issue; in either of those cases, he surely ought to turn up again, but he doesn’t. He ought, also, given that he is presumably at least fairly local, to turn up in the nunnery’s documents as a neighbour or similar, but no. If he does hold property nearby, he does it somewhere where the nunnery has none and no-one will give or sell them any. But he is presumably not nobody: Gentiles should be doing this job, so if Garsies does it that means he is a better choice in some way that we can’t quite see. Now we have someone else like this, whom like Garsies I’ve mentioned before without expanding on this odd status. This second fellow’s name was Centuri son of Centuri, which is, yes, apparently a hereditary name derived from the Latin for `Centurion’. He was a judge (whatever exactly they mean by that), and he was also at this hearing, and at two others, in both of which, again, large areas were signed out of the fisc and into ecclesiastical hands. He doesn’t appear in any other context.6 But when you’re appropriating a lot of ex-fiscal property (and there are various reasons to suppose that what had once been the king’s properties was remembered in this area, though I’m never sure how far to believe them),7 apparently these guys have to be involved. I didn’t feel I could justify this in the book, but my feeling about these guys is that they own, somehow, a kind of stewardship of old fiscal lands, to which the claims of the counts, in a time when the kings whose they notionally are still exist but aren’t able to affect them, are dubious.8 So when the counts act as if they can alienate them, without consulting the king, Centuri or Garsies (or both!) have to turn up and show that it’s been seen and is happening with approval of those who ought to approve. That makes me wonder where Garsies might have been to oversee all this, and the best answer, I suspect, is the Castell de Milany, the closest castle to Sant Joan, looking at it from the south across the valley of Vallfogona up at the top of the post. There’s not much property held by the nunnery in that area, and I wonder if that’s not because it was owned of old by someone else. Not much to see there now, though.

Ruins of the Castell de Milany

Ruins of the Castell de Milany

Another possibility is the Castell de Mogrony, out to the north-west, which is a bit more problematic and would make for a blog post in itself. (If you’re interested I’ll write it.) Here early documents do suggest property owned by the nunnery, but I’ve argued that they’re all tampered with in order to claim this.9 There are also old stories of a Prince Quintilian who based himself there in the eighth century, but these rest on hearsay reports of documents which were probably also tampered with, since they came from the same house, and which can no longer be found to have the reading checked. But it was certainly there, and it also has a church which could have been a base for someone like Garsies. The current church is from the eleventh century, but the view down towards the abbey’s valley is still pretty dominating.

View from the interior of the hermitage of Sant Pere de Mogrony

View from the interior of the hermitage of Sant Pere de Mogrony

So that might be Garsies, although let’s be absolutely clear, there is no evidence for what I’ve just said at all, which is why it isn’t in the book. But he is not the only priest like this. Here we are helped by the fact that Abbess Emma was a very litigious woman, and as well as the big hearing over rights at the abbey itself that brought all these possible fiscal stewards out of the woodwork, there are five others of a smaller size.10 At one of them, the panel of those judging includes, not any judges, but two priests. Their names are Arià and Daguí, both of which are interesting, because one would not expect a priest to be named `Arian’ in this day and age really but hey, and because Daguí was the name of the abbot of Santa Maria de Ripoll up the road, and before Emma came of age and took over at Sant Joan it is thought that Daguí administered it for her. He is thought to have died in 902; this is 913 so it couldn’t really be him, but he was a priest right enough.11 And again, these two don’t appear anywhere else; this hearing has brought them to view, presumably because their authority and knowledge was respected by the men of the area, but they didn’t have any visible property or dealings with the nunnery and so don’t make it to record.12 More like Garsies? Harder to place if so, this isn’t a fiscal hearing in any sense. There is a church in Vallfogona, but it’s in an area where property is sold to the nunnery and they may well have founded the church, so we should see these guys again if they were there.13 But what they do share with Garsies is that they show us that local authority, in the informal sense, firstly could easily wear the guise of the priest, secondly was apparently affectively felt by the locality’s inhabitants who respected their judgements and were, presumably, swayed by their endorsements of others’ judgements, and thirdly, could almost entirely avoid interacting with the local `official’ power in any way that left any record of their existence for us…

1. Meaning mainly Wendy Davies, Acts of Giving: individual, church and community in tenth-century Christian Spain (Oxford 2007), pp. 36-65, but also forthcoming work due to be presented at Leeds this year.

2. Ramon Ordeig i Mata (ed.), Catalunya Carolíngia IV: els comtats d’Osona i de Manresa, Memòries de la secció històrico-arqueològica LIII (Barcelona 1999), 3 vols, doc. nos 119 & 120, on which see J. Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia 880-1010: pathways of power, Studies in History (London forthcoming), Chapter 2 part 1.

3. For that, see ibid.

4. Ordeig, Catalunya Carolíngia IV; Santiago Sobrequés i Vidal, S. Riera i Viader, Manuel Rovira i Solà (edd.), Catalunya Carolíngia V: els comtats de Girona, Besalú, Empúries i Peralada, Memòries de la secció històrico-arqueològica LXI (Barcelona 2005), ed. Ramon Ordeig i Mata, 2 vols; P. Ponsich (ed.), Catalunya Carolíngia VI: Els comtats de Rosselló, Conflent, Vallespir i Fenollet, ed. R. Ordeig i Mata, Memòries de la secció històrico-arqueològica LXX (Barcelona 2006). We await the volumes for Urgell and Cerdanya, the latter of which remains a possibility, but its record is mostly comprised of the documents from the abbey of Cuixà, ed. R. d’Abadal i de Vinyals as “Com neix i creix un gran monestir pirinenc abans de l’any mil: Eixalada-Cuixà” in Analecta Montserratensia Vol. 8 (Montserrat 1955), pp. 125-337, ap., and he isn’t there either.

5. All of these interpretations hang to a great extent on the palæographical notes made in the earlier edition of these documents by Federico udina Martorell, El Archivo Condal de Barcelona en los Siglos IX-X: estudio crítico de sus fondos, Textos 18, Publicaciones de la Sección de Barcelona 15 (Madrid 1951), as doc. nos 38 & ap. II A; it is also he who identified the hand of Gentiles in various other documents.

6. J. Jarrett, “Centurions, Alcalas and Christiani perversi: organisation of society in the pre-Catalan ‘terra de ningú'” in Alan Deyermond & Martin Ryan (eds), Early Medieval Spain: a symposium, Papers of the Medieval Hispanic Research Seminar 63 (London forthcoming). The other documents are Ordeig, Catalunya Carolíngia IV doc nos 182 & 420.

7. Property boundaries generally, Jordi Bolòs i Masclans, “Paisatge, poblament i societat a Catalunya entorn de l’any 1000” in Imma Ollich i Castanyer (ed.), Actes del Congrés Internacional Gerbert d’Orlhac i el seu Temps: Catalunya i Europa a la Fi del 1r Mil·lenni, Vic-Ripoll, 10-13 de Novembre de 1999 (Vic 1999), pp. 254-283, with English abstract pp. 285-286; on fiscal persistence specifically, see now Ramon Martí, “Del fundus a la parrochia. Transformaciones del pobliamento rural en Cataluña durante la transición medieval”, in Philippe Sénac (ed.), De la Tarraconaise 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.

8. On the persistence of the kings you will I hope some day be able to read a print version of Jonathan Jarrett, “Legends in Their Own Lifetime? The Late Carolingians and Catalonia”, paper presented in session ‘Legends of the Carolingians’, Haskins Society Conference, Georgetown University, 7 November 2008.

9. idem, “Power over Past and Future: Abbess Emma and the Nunnery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses” in Early Medieval Europe Vol. 12 (Oxford 2004), pp. 229-258 at pp. 240-241.

10. The other hearings are Udina, Archivo Condal doc nos. 16, 35 & 53 & ap. II 14 & 58.

11. The two priests turn up ibid., doc. no. 35. On Abbot Daguí see Ramon d’Abadal i de Vinyals, “La fundació del monestir de Ripoll” in Miscel·lània Anselm M. Albareda vol. I, Analecta Montserratensia Vol. 9 (1955-56), pp. 187-97, repr. in Abadal, Dels Visigots als Catalans, ed. Jaume Sobrequés i Callicó, Estudis i documents 13-14 (Barcelona 1969, repr. 1974 & 1989), I pp. 485-494, the suggestion of control of Sant Joan being at p. 487 of the reprint.

12. Here and with the claims that Garsies is not seen in other records, there is a big elephant in the room that ought to be identified: the archive of Santa Maria de Ripoll, which was perhaps the richest and most famous monastery in the Tarraconensis at this point, was lost in a fire in 1835. We have a surprising amount of it in regesta and even copies, but a great deal was lost, the regesta are by their nature partial and usually omit witnesses and neighbours, and if Arià, Daguí or Garsies had been based there, we might well have lost the evidence that would tell us so. All the same, I think someone with this importance ought to show up more widely if he was based there; the monks of Ripoll do get recorded elsewhere, e. g. Udina, Archivo Condal, doc. 139 which lists them transacting with the count.

13. On the church, known only as ipsa ecclesia but probably on the site of the tenth-century Sant Julià, see Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled, Chapter 2 parts 1 & 2.

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