On boundaries

Aerial view of bocage in Normandy

Some modern Norman boundaries

A post by the inimitable Gesta at On Boundaries had me wanting to go, hey, hey look at my stuff in the way that I do, and that seemed best done over here.1 Specifically, among lots of other interesting things about the recent Norman Edge symposium, “Local boundaries and national frontiers of the Norman World”, that they’d just been to, they reported on a paper by Ewan Johnson, which seems to have been called “Land boundaries and cultural contact in Southern Italy”, and which talked about boundary clauses in charters. Aside from the matter of what language they’re in, which has fascinated people like Patrick Geary, there isn’t actually that much work ‘On Boundaries’ in this context that I’m aware of.2 Gesta will probably now set me a reading list, and fair enough, I need it. Before they can, however, I just want to say, I have thought about this for my material, and not come up with much. Let me tell you how it goes.

Almost all of the charter material I use concerns land, and it is usually concerned to delineate that land. There’s a small number of schema by which this is done, right across Catalonia. The one that’s commonest in my area is to describe it by compass points, thus, here, from a donation to the cathedral of Sant Pere de Vic from 930:3

Et afrontat ipsa vinea de parte orientis in strata qui pergit ubique, et de meridie in torrente, et de occiduo in vinea de nos donatores, et de circii similiter in vinea de nos donatores.

The which, translated roughly, goes:

And this vine is bounded from the eastern side on the street that goes to everywhere, and from the south on a torrent, and from the west on the vine of us the donors, and on the bit around similarly on the vine of us donors.

The first thing I get from these clauses is a sense of landscape, therefore. These people appear to be in the wilds: there is a castle nearby, we learn from elsewhere in the document, but there are no other people but them on these lands, and there’s only one road and it leads out. This could be misleading, of course; if they’re only giving one tiny corner of a larger estate they may still be small fish in a big pond who’ve just installed St Peter in their garden, in a way.4 It’s very rare for these documents to give lengths of the sides, so we don’t know how much vineyard was actually involved here. But it’s obviously not heavily subdivided landscape; in other areas you wind up with roads on every side, for example, whereas with some where the bounds are just forest or rock you get the idea that they’re your actual pioneers(-oh).5 So it’s not much like this, with its lots of plots:

Vines in the foothills of the Penedès, Catalonia

Vines in the foothills of the Penedès, Catalonia

On the other hand, it’s also obviously formulaic. Almost every charter in the cathedral archive is like this, but not every plot of land can have been square and arranged with its sides north-south-east-west. Sometimes, indeed, you get the same feature turning up on two (or even more) boundaries, indicating that topography didn’t fit the form, but the form is still adhered to, here at least.6

It’s the ‘here at least’ bit that interests me. That’s how it’s done at Vic; but, for example, in a sale to Abbess Emma of Sant Joan de les Abadesses of land in Vallfogona that leaps off the page of Catalunya Carolíngia IV.1 at me, we get this instead:7

… afrontat ipsa casa cum curte et orto de I parte in torrentem discurrentem et de alia parte in strada publica et de tercia parte in terra Reinulfo et de IIII parte afrontat in terra de te iamdicta emtrice.


… the selfsame house with courtyard and garden is bounded, on one side on the flowing torrent and from another side on the public street and from a third side on the land of Reinulf and from a fourth side on the land of you the already-said buyer.

It’s usually four sides at Sant Joan, too, but they’re not compass-linked, and when necessity drives they’ll go up to five or even six sides, and quite often drop to three.8 This looks as if it reveals more about the land, as well as illustrating that we’re in a more developed zone here: the public street is probably the Camí de Vallfogona which joins up the local area to the strata francisca from Narbonne to Zaragoza and beyond, and the nunnery’s just over the next ridge.9 In fact, if you look at this…

Aerial view of the Vall de Sant Joan de les Abadesses

Aerial view of the Vall de Sant Joan de les Abadesses

… we’re about four or five miles off to the left, and that vague cluster of buildings just visible in the middle distance is where Abbess Emma had her pad. Now this too is another formula, though as I say they do seem to make it work harder here.10 The thing that intrigues me, as a charter scholar, is that they differ at all, because in other respects the documents are formulaically pretty close and so, indeed, is the whole March.11 But these two houses, which are not far from each other, have different institutional practices in the recording of boundaries. (The very few documents recorded in any detail from Santa Maria de Ripoll suggest that they also used this scheme.12) The only formulary we have from this area doesn’t even get as far as boundary clauses, it’s really only interested in how you start documents off.13 So I have no real idea how this stuff is being taught to the scribes except that it’s presumably in-house (and this is why I have, reluctantly, to persist with Michel Zimmermann’s book and obtain various others).14 But in case it also intrigues anyone else, even potentially Gesta or Ewan, I stick it out there.

1. At least, I couldn’t imitate them, and I’ve never heard of it being done…

2. For example, P. J. Geary, “Land, Language and Memory in Europe 700-1100” in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th Series Vol. 9 (Cambridge 1999), pp. 169-184. Now, if you like frustration, try pinning down some of the Languedoc references from that article. I found one, not where he says it is. Anyway.

3. Ramon Ordeig i Mata (ed.), Catalunya Carolíngia IV: els comtats d’Osona i de Manresa, Memòries de la Secció històrico-arqueolòlogica LIII (Barcelona 1999), doc. no. [hereafter CC4] 367.

4. I unpack that idea at greater length in J. Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia, 880-1010: pathways of power, Studies in History (London forthcoming), pp. 122-125, and that is the first time I have ever been able to cite a page reference from this book that now has them, rooooaaaarrrrr!

5. For example, CC4 473, a sale of land in Montpeità whose bounds are given as: “… terra qui est a Monte Pectano afronta: de oriente in roca et de meridie in serra et de occiduo similiter de circi similiter in serra“. I figure it’s not lowland fields here.

6. For example, CC4 561, where the bounds are: “de parte orientis in vinea Auria, de meridie in terra Richila, de occiduo in terra Endaleco, de circi in vinea Auria vel suos eres“, which is one of quite a number of documents out in these once-pioneer areas where the principal landholders appear to be widowed mothers.

7. CC4 229.

8. If this really interests you, I give references and a few examples in J. Jarrett, “Pathways of Power in late-Carolingian Catalonia”, unpublished Ph. D. thesis (University of London 2005), online here, pp. 67-68.

9. I talk about Vallfogona and its social make-up, and indeed the Camí, in great detail in Rulers and Ruled, pp. 30-49 (roar again!), but if you can’t wait that long or want expertise on roads, the Camí is discussed by Jordi Bolòs i Masclans, “Camí de Vallfogona” in Antoni Pladevall (ed.), Catalunya Romànica X: el Ripollès, ed. J. Vigué i Viñas (Barcelona 1987), pp. 449-450.

10. The other thing we see, occasionally, and especially where large properties are at issue it seems, is bounds that are continuous, as if they’d been walked out (which they may of course have been) such as CC4 513, where one property is bounded as follows: “de ipsa casa vel de ipso orto qui fuit de fratri meo Walafonso usque in ipsa strada que discurrit ante domum Sancti Andree apostoli usque in ipsa karreira“. The biggest of these is unquestionably E. Junyent i Subirà (ed.), Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic (segles IX i X), ed. Ramon Ordeig i Mata (Vic 1980-1996), doc. no. 445, which sets it out for the whole bishopric of Osona. That goes on for a bit.

11. See J. Jarrett, “Uncertain Origins: Comparing the Earliest Documentary Culture in Carolingian Catalonia”, paper presented in session ‘Problems and Possibilities of Early Medieval Diplomatic, I: Formulas and Realities – Did Charters Reflect Real Life?’, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 9 July 2007, hopefully to appear in the volume of essays we’re putting together from the sessions.

12. For example, CC4 603.

13. It is published as Michel Zimmermann (ed.), “Un formulaire du Xème siècle conservé à Ripoll” in Faventia Vol. 4 no. 2 (Barcelona 1982), pp. 25-86, online here. It is, in any case, from later than any of the documents I’m talking about here: see Jarrett, “Pathways of Power”, pp. 63-68.

14. Not least Peter Erhart, Karl Heidecker & Bernhard Zeller (edd.), Die Privaturkunden der Karolingerzeit (Zürich 2009), he says in paltry declaration of intent. (PDF flyer including contents here.)

35 responses to “On boundaries

  1. clio's disciple

    They continued to name boundaries by compass points in Catalonia for centuries, for what that’s worth; I see the same formulas in 13th- and 14th-century charters.

    • That is interesting, thankyou; I ought to have thought whether that stuck after 1167, when so much else changes. It’s actually the 1st, other, 3rd, 4th form that interests me more, just because it’s unusual and so may help demonstrate vectors of influence. But I need to get back up towards the Pyrenees where things are early to really get anywhere with that… which means more volumes of Catalunya Carolíngia to slog through.

  2. Looking at a very limited subset of catalonian documents (years 898-899, total 59 docs) 20 have boundary descriptions:

    12 uses a cardinal sides notation (not stricly). Charts from Pallars, Ribagorça, Girona, Osona , Bages, Arles, Alsona and two royal precepts.

    8 uses a relative notation (‘de una parte terra Rodegario’) Charts from Pallars, Urgell, Cerdanya and Berga.

    There’s not a clear division, as some documents of the first set, use the formula ‘de parte circi/meridie’.

    • Joan, that’s interesting because that set is rather earlier than most of my stuff, though whether fifty years should really make a difference is another question. I’m not quite clear what you mean by `cardinal sides’, though; could you give an example?

      • I am sorry for my poor english.

        The first set (12) uses the cardinal points to describe the segments of the boundary, ie: ‘ad meridie in terra de Stephano’ or ‘de parte orientis…’.

        The other 8 uses only the genèric form ie: ‘de una parte … de tertia parte … de alia parte…’

        The document set is too narrow to be of much value, but it’s a local snapshot.

        • Aha! The more usual English for what you’re calling cardinal points would be compass points, as in punts de la brúixola.

          It’s interesting that it’s geographically mixed in your set too, but as I say I think we are looking at practices of individual houses here, which is itself interesting.

          • If you’ll forgive a compass-related interjection (which adds nothing to the history of early medieval boundary clauses), the proper usage here should be ‘cardinal direction’: the points of the compass include the 4 cardinal points, but also the 4 ordinal points (NE, SE, etc) at the very least, if not also the 8 ‘false’ points (NNE, ENE, etc), associated in Latin with all those lovely named winds. For the really discriminating, you can add another 16 further intermediary points for the full complement of 32. Which is a few more points than you’d need in a boundary clause…

  3. Do you try to ‘map out’ some neighborhoods in _Rulers and Ruled_? I’ve thought about trying to do so, which I think would be really cool, but also really difficult. Thoughts?

    • I did try it while working on my thesis, for a few places in the Vic charters that seemed especially dense, as much to try and work out how many properties recurring landholders really had as anything. You know, of course, that there are a few documents, for places like Riuprimer or Lláes, that give boundaries for seven or eight properties at once and a lot of them seem to be edged by the same people.

      So I did try mapping some of those out, which allowed conclusions like, “this woman must have at least four different plots in this village fairly widely separated”. I think that does tell one something, but the assumptions that one has to make to do the exercise at all: all these plots are equal in size, all these plots are square, we have no changes in ownership to account for other than those visible in the charters, all these pieces of property should be as contiguous as mathematically possible… would be so easy to falsify with any real knowledge of the actual situation, and the results were so small-scale, that I’m afraid the whole exercise only gets a sentence or two in the book. I could scan and explain one of the sketches here if you’d be interested, but I’m afraid it would only suffice to show that it’s never going to be more than a hypothesis.

    • You may of course mean something else, which is to actually try and place recorded properties on a map. There I think there is very limited potential. Some places with strongly geographical boundaries would allow you to place one or two properties, and then from their boundary clauses one might be able to place others, subject of course to the assumption that each person only holds one visible piece of property (which the above method falsifies…). There is for example a Vallfogona property that has the R. Milany on one bound and the R. Vallfogona on another; there’s really only one place that can be. There’s then another which has them on two different bounds, in such a way that you can see these two plots must face each other across the Milany. And from that you might get others, though what it might tell you, apart from where someone actually lived, is harder to say. That would be cool, but possibly of value only to you and me…

      There is also the same problem that one doesn’t know how large these estates are, but sometimes that’s also possible to defeat. For example there’s one really big estate that spans most of the eastern half of Vallfogona which keeps coming up and is recognisable because it runs from ridge to ridge and river to river. One can see that that was a fair old chunk, and more or less where it was, even though the old R. Archamala’s mostly gone now. I get some quite important deductions about power in the area from that, and that’s all in the book. I hope you can score yourself a review copy. The EME people would probably be highly amused to let you review it :-)

      • I was thinking mostly along the lines of your first reply, but also a bit of the second. All this time, it’s been only an idea, and unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to the charters anything like full-time, so if you say it’s well nigh impossible and of relatively little value, then there you go.

        But then, I have precious little to say on charters that 1) I didn’t put in the article in SMRH last year and 2) you haven’t covered (I presume). I’ll have to get my review copy of your book to know for sure!

        • Well, unless I’m failing to see a deeper value for that kind of micro-detail, which is quite possible!

          • If you plotted the plots on a map over a reasonably large area you might see patterns looking at the whole (smaller plots _here_, larger plots _here_) which you might not see looking at the individual plots.

            Such a map might also usefully link to documents related to a particular plot, colour plots described by documents of a particular sort, etc.

            • This is true, but hampered by the very few plots we might actually be able to map with the information we have. One thing we might be able to do, which I have been thinking about, largely because of this, is map the focus of the land market as it moved out following the frontier, which would in turn allow us to say something about the movement of the frontier. But that isn’t really the same exercise; that’s points, not boundaries.

  4. I’m not going to give you a reading list, for reasons I outlined in my report of the December 2009 post http://border.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/normans-on-the-edge-and-an-edgy-normanist/. I could do with one myself it has to be said, though there is a lot out there on Anglo-Saxon boundary clauses.

    I have since come across this project – do you know it? http://www.langscape.org.uk/index.html . I haven’t had time to look at it in more detail yet, but it certainly seems promising.

    As for specifics, in the afternoon papers at the symposium, there was much talk of walking boundaries and plotting them on maps for the north of England and the border region with Scotland (Angus Winchester and Sandy Grant).

    Ewan also pointed up some of the differences in description that you mention: i.e. some boundaries are described by compass points (Lombard) and others by sides (Greek).

    Do any of your charters have a drawing of the measurement used? Someone (possibly Ewan) mentioned this also.

    • Drawing of the measurement, no, but very occasional ones do actually give a measurement: the unit where this happens is always dextri, and I’m not immediately clear what that actually is.

      It’s very interesting to me that for Ewan’s sample the practices I’m talking about are ‘national’ ones, so thankyou for that. There’s so little Gothic material to work with from my area that it’s probably not going to be possible to divide Gothic and Frankish like that, especially since they both ought to get their documentary mores from the Romans, but it’s a way to think that wants testing.

      That Langscape project does look interesting; there’s also this, which may turn up related things once it gets going…

  5. I should add to this that I did just lately come across a document (CC4 155, see refs above) that uses both compass points and ordinals as bounds for different properties. I suspect that this means that the scribe had original documents for the various properties to hand and was copying from them, but it is at least untrue to say that never the twain systems did meet.

  6. Have only just come to this (in paranoia at what will be said about forthcoming book hence googling names and reviews). I can summarise roughly what I said, and then go from there. I can see similarities and differences with what you observe, but am unsure what is of interest to you.

    Because of lack of any central norms, especially in the conquest period, descriptions of land varied enormously in S.Italian charters ranging from the very simple (a place name), to a description which could be walked (by features and directions) to a description using compass points, although often not consecutively and never consistently (compass points matter in the south because Greek practice starts at East, Arabic at South). There is no consistency, although there are trends, between donors or recipients-although this may reflect the fact that major houses and landholders acquired land across the south rather than a lack of house style.

    My argument was that land definition, so essential to the foundation of Norman power, needed to be seen as a process in which local groups were intimately involved. This is clear in the few guarantee clauses and seeming perambulations which would have needed a local iudex (or at very least boni homines) to attest, as well as in the names of some places. It is also clear that local units of measurements were used-the physical objects given or, failing that, an appended diagram. I would also suggest two sets of local elites were involved-those who knew the land and were present at its measuring, and those who recorded the grant (the key evidence would be non-consecutive boundaries-S,N,W,E and the use of passi which reflected usage local to the land not the recipient).

    What really interested, though, was the survival and change in scribal practice and what that said about how scribal and legal elites adapted to new structures. I would suggest that in the Western peninsula in particular local scribal elites maintained forms and ‘sold’ them to the Normans. The rub is why. Describing a very small valuable piece of land very precisely using compass points, precise lengths and neighbouring holdings makes sense, and much is urban property or in Campania-which was basically a huge olive grove at this point-therefore the usage may reflect Normans pragmatically adapting to circumstance and forcing scribes to do so too. On the other hand, the occassional use of east-south-west-north to delineate much larger pieces of land (where a description using physical features might make more sense), what seems to be a ‘practice’ document, the pragmatic lack of utility over time of a charter naming 57 different landholders as bordering, would seem to suggest it was about a scribal tradition. The methodological question is whether these ‘exceptions’ show a rule breaking down under the difficulties of life-as I believe-or are just badly thought through individual documents. And, in all humility, I don’t know how you sort that out since you are of necessity dealing with exceptions.

    To me the key question was not just making sense of the vast variety, but that key aspects of landholding in Southern Italy were defined not by Norman landholders but by those who legitimised their conquest and enabled later transfer. And given Norman identity is so concerned with land, that raises interesting questions about the driving forces behind acculturation in Italy. And I think that’s why they are fascinating elsewhere-they allow a socially differentiated story of acculturation which accepts but does not foreground ethnic inheritances above all else, and centres on a key aspect of aristocratic identity. But its equally fascinating simply form an antiquarian point of view.

    Ask questions, will supply hypotheses.

    • Hullo, Ewan, and thankyou for the loads of details here!

      My initial interest here was where my scribes, or by comparison anyone else’s, were getting their idea of what a charter should look like and contain. I had variation between houses, and it looked as if that might be trackable, which was one thing, but I also wanted to know if it was practical to attribute the different practices to different documentary norms and identify them as ‘national’ or ‘local’, etc. So, in that respect what you say here is very interesting because you’re apparently able fairly clearly to distinguish Arabic, Lombard and Greek practices (though when you say that the Greeks enumerate compass points starting in the east, I have to say, hey, so do my Latins, how about yours? and make me think that there may be something in that for me yet.

      I think you’re doing something of rather greater significance with your data though, and that too is something whose terms I could use as a frame for my material: what do the Carolingians bring to Catalonia and what do they find, etc. For me this is a problem because the earliest period is largely undocumented, but after about sixty years documentation is preserved that is already fully-developed and surprisingly uniform (but not to any Carolingian template I’ve yet discovered). It seems that your documents don’t have this problem with early preservation so that you can see the before as well as the after, have I understood that right?

      One thing I might want to complicate your picture with is the question of underlying documents, as in my hypothesis at comment #5 above, where older text appears to have been used to source a new document. Could any of your practice identifiers be such fossils, and if so what would that do to your picture?

  7. Actually, ‘national’ distinctions are not as clear cut as might be imagined because practice, especially Greek/Lombard, was borrowed. With Arabic it’s a little more certain, and Alex Metcalfe has argued that the occurrence of south starting boundaries in one particular class of document (sales) suggests Arabic practice remained for one area of land transfer. Some much earlier Lombard stuff uses W-E-N-S (or E-W-N-S), but comes later to use E-S-W-N. I would argue that this is an adaption of Greek practice-which is evident elsewhere in some formulae too-but it most emphatically does not make the scribe Greek. Ultimately Alex has Greek, which helps, but another way in for me was to look at later Latin translations of Greek documents and note how often forms which looked odd within a Latin cartulary cropped up. The question is rather how and why they have adopted another norm, and the answers to that may vary between cultural respect and simple pragmatism, depending on scribe.

    House style is hard because there are a mix of scribes (and, critically, notaries) being used according to the land given, as well as ‘home produced’ documents. You can see ‘training’ in process-individuals who appear as witnesses for the notary or judge (or head the monastery or chapter’s list), then start drawing up documents in their own right using their master’s practice. But it never quite boils down to ‘local’ either-its more a self-perpetuating administrative class setting its rules (as if PhD supervisors set their own style guides?). The practice document is a ‘fossil’ but a revealing one-a copy of an earlier charter but with names and witnesses left blank and some additional information-lengths-added but no numeric value given. It seems very much an exercise in reworking to new norms, but with the explicit intention of not looking like a forgery. Luckily, the cartulary compiler was less careful-just saw the name of his house and filed away.

    Actually, I do have a problem with early preservation-but not a total lacuna. But my argument, like yours, would focus on onamastics-Lombard names, lack of anything resembling (a very loosely defined) Norman practice, and the speed of consistent forms being taken on, which would be odd if dislocation of existing elites and their expertise were the norm. It contrasts sharply with Sicily itself, where the administration had to reinvent itself because old elites and their knowledge were lost. Do you have information from across the settlement period, is your early stuff as consistent as your later stuff?

    I think one of the key differences in how we might use material, though, is the relatively well developed civic and legal culture of much of the South-there were a variety of notaries in place when the Normans ‘conquered’, and their civic frameworks remained (even if you get the sense at times of a ‘shadowland’ of documentary wishful thinking, as when reading Gregory of Tours). This gives me much more to work with than the charters of religious houses that produced their own documentation.

    My biggest problem in many ways is what I’m doing with charters-this is not a series of detailed local studies drawn together but a trawl (3000+ documents across the peninsula) looking for very specific things. Whether I can ever get to the bottom of specific circumstances behind usage in this way, or whether it has any probative value unless every document is consulted, causes me sleepless nights.

    • Thanks again for some lengthy and detailed things to think about!

      As to the last, I think we all worry about the documents we haven’t seen (or that haven’t survived!) that might contradict our perceived patterns, but as long as those patterns can be perceived I think it would be an odd historian who wouldn’t try to explain them and that to do so is legitimate, with suitable qualifiers that is. In some sense, every document has specific circumstances of usage that it testifies to; none of them can be ignored or discounted, and that applies to the ones you’ve seen as well as the ones you haven’t, which means that conclusions drawn upon a partial sample (which all our samples are) are always worth something. Or at least, so I hope.

      I do still wonder about E-S-W-N bounds being diagnostically Greek though, just because it’s so usual in my area. What do the Normans do in early Norman Capua? Just use Lombard norms? Do they bring nothing with them?

      I also have problems with house style because of non-house scribes, but often the differences they make are illustrative and show up orthographies and formulae that otherwise one might not register as house, rather than formulaic, practice. As long as one can identify some house scribes there’s something there to talk about, right?

      As to consistency, I might need a longer window than I have to tell you how much change there is. My preservation starts in the 840s, is scanty in the extreme till the 870s and starts to boom from the 940s onward. I stop paying attention roughly at 1030. Over the course of that time, I see increased use of Romance-looking terms, greater uniformity of practice and formularisation in some areas (which is probably institutional sampling, at a guess) but not in others, and most of all increased verbosity from the scribes, although this is largely coming from one particular body of highly-trained individuals based in Barcelona who really really bend the record, and I don’t think it can be taken as usual until later. But most of this is becoming evident roughly in proportion with survival, or such is my impression, leaving me open to the Great Barthélemy Argument of documentary revolution and related problems. I don’t have any substantial Visigothic material to compare to, either, only Frankish, so important antecessor traditions are lacking.

      The question of notary culture survival is a problem, but maybe not as much of one as you might think even in my stuff. I’ve talked here about the stuff that’s coming from religious houses because obviously you can only see house practice in that stuff; but the houses in question archive stuff from a wide variety of sources, and so we see that there other scribes out there in some number. Not all of these use clerical titles (though some demonstrably do but not always). Only once, admittedly, does one get called a notary, in an abstract of an earlier document that said notary is supposed to have written, over some 3,000 documents I’ve looked at, but one assumes that while most of these guys are probably local clergy some of them could just write charters, perhaps by imitating their family’s own stash of them!

      • Maybe this notarius is an Algerandus (from Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic D. 28 & D. 29)?

        I’ve just hipotetized him to be the same person as the Agerandus who wrote (Diplomatari de la Catedral de Vic D. 40 | CC4 D.78) ten years after. Not only the names match, but the second seems to be a laic, (he does not identify itself as levita).

        • That’s the one, if you mean nos 27 & 28 anyway. These are also the only non-papal documents on the March I’ve ever encountered that mention a cancillarius. There’s some formula at work here that I can’t pin down, which is a pity as the account of the ceremony would be incredibly useful if it were representative.

          I hadn’t before considered that that Algerand might be Ageramn of Vic 40, but if he is I think he may also be found writing Vic 30, 47, 51, 75, 108, 158, 168 & 180 and quite possibly Udina, Archivo Condal, no. 106, and I don’t see him in any other context than writing documents, so I suppose at that rate notary would not be an unfair description of his appearance in the evidence. Annoyingly, my online notes don’t bother to specify whether all of those are without clerical title and I don’t have my paper ones where my internet connection is, but now I shall have to check. I had honestly figured that the transaction being recovered in Vic 27 & 28 was rather older than that but there’s no reason why it should be. This may have been a very useful coincidence you’ve just pointed out, Joan!

          • Yes, those douments (27 & 28) are quite rare.

            Udina 106, is a clericus, but that’s year 935, so we have probably a different Agerandus here.

            The Agerandus on Vic 47, 51 & 75 (909-917) are not defined as levita, so probably it could be considered to be our suppoused notarius (that is, if the 27 & 28 docs where not falsified at the end of 10th century…?). Unfourtunately I could not check the other documents, as I have not the full text at hand.

            • I think 27 and 28 are diplomatically authentic enough, it’s just that there’s no other evidence for the kind of procedure they’re reporting (by which I don’t mean reparatio scripturae, which is evidenced and is in the Law even, but the drafting by named officials and the reading and re-reading at the site).

              One might mischeviously suppose that the 935 reference shows our ‘professional’ notary eventually being unionised into joining the ‘corporation’ asserting control over literacy :-) except that there’s not much evidence of that anywhere else in the area that I know of.

              • Following your comment about cancellarius.
                In (Gothia , start of 10th century (898-907)) I keep track of 3 by now:

                (901) Austaldus – Nimes – Cartulaire du chapitre de l’église cathédrale Notre-Dame de Nîmes D. 9

                (903) Arnulfus – Lyon – HGL V. 2 D. 150 (also in 898 – Avignon – Recueil des actes des Rois de Provence (855-928) D. 36?)

                (908) Aribertus – Nimes – Cartulaire du chapitre de l’église cathédrale Notre-Dame de Nîmes D. 11

                All they seems to be related to Luois the Blind ;(this Arnulfus (903) is the only other notarius I’ve meet until now (except Charles’ charters, and Agerandus of course).
                So maybe what we have here (notarius + cancellarius references) it’s a provencal influence.

                • That’s interesting, especially the two being from Nîmes. It’s all later than our instance, thoigh not by much, and also from Gothia as you say, but all the more interesting as a mixed-origin case for that… Thankyou again.

  8. Do your documents give a sense of non-scribal local practice being maintained-of individuals attesting boundaries, walking them, of names ‘in the common tongue’ or ‘commonly called’, or of references to land held by someone in a certain time? These would also seem useful ways in if considering the negotiations and compromises during conquest/settlement.

    • Occasionally! Walking bounds is usually not necessary (or at least not referred to) in cases but where boundaries are at issue it is sometimes said to have been done. Similarly there are occasional references to names “quod vulgus dicit” and so on, and one intriguing one that the scribe refuses to give because it is “obscene and malformed”, something that doesn’t bother the next scribe to record the place at all (and is not visible to me in the name that scribe uses, either). Land held by someone in a certain time, however, yes, a great deal; almost always immediate forebears, but also deceased neighbours, and sometimes several generations back where village founders and the like are concerned. Of course, royal chronology is rather easier for people to refer to in my part of the world…

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