From the sources VII: to demilitarise and populate

I can’t quite believe I haven’t yet posted this charter, as it’s important for a whole bunch of things, but as I noticed a few posts ago I haven’t, so here it is. This is a document from 973 that is unusually informative about the processes of settling a frontier, defending a frontier principality, about the rôle of the Church and counts in those things, and it also joins up with a couple of previous posts because as well as the inevitable Borrell II, it also features his mysterious kinsman Guifré whom I’ve mentioned here before and additionally a person who may or may not have been self-identifying as a Goth, in the late tenth century, which has also been a recent discussion here. So, here it is in translation; I’ll stick the Latin in first footnote again.1 It’s long, but it’s so full of stuff that it’s worthwhile, honest.

In the name of God. I Borrell, Count and Marquis and also Guifré, my kinsman, we together as one, under an inviolable faith in God and his sacred confidence, have chosen to make this donation to the Lord God and his holy martyr Saturninus, whose house is sited in the county of Urgell, not far distant from its selfsame see of Holy Mary next to the river, and so we do. For we give, willing of heart, to the aforementioned monastery, and to Abbot Ameli and the brothers dwelling with you or those who shall be hereafter, churches that were founded in ancient time and endowed with holy altars in the furthest outermost limits of the marches, in the place called Castell de Llordà or in the city of Isona, which was destroyed by the Saracens, and the churches… which were built in their confines or which shall have had to be built in the future. Of which, the first church is called Sant Sadurní, in its castle of Llordà. Another is called Santa Maria in the selfsame city of Isona, which was destroyed. Another Sant Vicenç which was a monastery in the centre of the already-said town, next to the spring which they call Clarà.

Portal from the belltower into the now-missing nave at Sant Sadurní del Castell de Llordà

Sant Sadurní del Castell de Llordà seems to have been a fairly accomplished building, though as you can tell by the sunlight around the edges of this Viquipèdia view of the doorway between the belltower and the nave, not so much of the latter now stands

These aforesaid churches we do concede and give to the aforementioned monastery with their praises and possessions and the sum of their acquisitions with their tithes and first-fruits or offerings of the faithful living and dead in integrity; and we do concede the tithes of our dominical workings, present and future, to Holy Mary in whole. We have arranged similarly for the plots of the selfsame scouts and guards who have guarded the selfsame castle, and we bestow upon the selfsame already-said churches that which we have… [the bounds follow].

Whatever these same bounds include, thus we do concede to the monastery of Sant Sadurní aforementioned or to the abbots, to the monks present and future, so that they may make perprisiones wheresoever they may wish or may be able to far and wide through all places, build churches in the waste solitudes, make endowments in all the places; and let them spread labourers everywhere who shall reduce the selfsame wastes to cultivation and let them live in the selfsame endowments and there let them acquire and let them buy from the selfsame possessors whatever God shall have given to those people and shall have been possible for them. And the selfsame tithes which shall go forth from those selfsame perprisiones which they may have made there or will make in future, or from their acquisitions, we do concede and give all of them to the precious martyr Saturninus and from our right into his we do hand over possession, with the entrances and exits of the properties too. Again, we accord to the already-said monks that they may make aprisiones on the selfsame riverbank of the Noguera, in the place which they call Calzina, in the selfsame plain before the rock of Pugentoso, in the place which they call Calzina and before the rock of Petra and the selfsame water which descends from the selfsame mountains, ten plots in one year and ten in the next; and let them build a church in honour of Holy Mary and let the selfsame church have the tithes and first-fruits and offerings of Perafita itself and as far as the river Noguera and as far as the river Covet and over the selfsame mountains of Calzina. Let this however be under our hand and fidelity and those of our sons and let the assembled things which pertain or ought to pertain to the monastery serve under our defence and governance for all time.

Church of Santa Maria de Covet, Pallars Jussà

The monks may or not have put in a church of Holy Mary as requested; either way, there's a twelfth-century one there now... (Image from Wikimedia Commons))

The charter of this donation made in the city of Barcelona on the 3rd Kalends of August, in the 19th year of the rule of King Lothar. If anyone against this donation should have wished to disrupt it, let him not avail in so doing but let him compound twofold and accept a portion with Datan and Abiron.

Signed Borrell, Count [and] Marquis. Guisad, Bishop, subscribed. Guifré subscribed. Fruià, chief-priest, subscribed. Sig+ned Marcoald. Sig+ned Guadall, chief of the Goths. Sig+ned Arnau. Sig+ned Senter.

Bonfill, priest, who wrote this as requested.

So, OK, my temporary pupils, some talking points here:

  1. This area had obviously been in the wars—one wonders how long ago Isona (the old Iberian city of Æso) had been destroyed by the Saracens—but equally there were people out there, which we can tell not just because there was no problem at all giving the boundaries, even if, unusually, they name no other landholders at all.
  2. That would probably be because Borrell actually claimed to own all the land in the area and the people there are his direct subject peasants, which is something that we very rarely actually see but which, some would argue, and by some I mean Gaspar Feliu, we should be expecting much more widely.2 Here, at least, the count helpfully informs us that he has dominicaturas, presumably demesne farms, out in this extremis ultimas finium marchas. So, had he moved the farmers all in as some would believe, or were they there already?3
  3. Castell de Llordà, Isona, Catalunya

    The current state of the Castell de Llordà (much later as it stands; image from Viquipèdia)

  4. Whatever their situation was—and remained, since the count only conceded the tithe off those dominicaturas, which you might think he hardly had a right to anyway—he was also getting shot of a castle and the “scouts and guards who guarded” it, who seem to have been supporting themselves by agriculture, but it looks as if Borrell provided the starting capital and as if they may not yet have been paying their way, an expenditure that was now passed onto the monastery.
  5. The monastery also got a to-do list a mile long: take in land and clear it, put churches on it, establish estates and find labourers for them, set up markets where those labourers can get their wherewithal (because not many merchants were likely to be coming this way, I suppose—on the other hand it may have been because of the obvious advantages to the monks of running the Company Store) in exchange for produce.
  6. For this the monastery got the workers’ tithes, and presumably whatever profit they made from the markets, but it’s not clear that they were the landlords, at least not to me. If not, the monastery was basically acting as a contracted developer here, which was presumably something they thought would be worthwhile somehow.
  7. The monks did get to make their own clearances too, in fact they were required to, putting at least ten fields into cultivation each year for the next two years (if I’ve properly understood that), and also to put a church up for them, which the count remained the landlord for, because as this document makes implicitly evident and others of his state, he claimed fiscal rights over all wasteland and despite the population that seems to have been in this area, this area is being counted as waste for these `accounting’ purposes.4

So there’s that, and this is all very informative about exactly how the whole process of rolling out organised settlement might work, but there’s also some points that aren’t about process and play more to my particular and peculiar interests. You may by now know the word aprisio, which is used here to describe the clearances the monks may make in their own right, but note that it contrasts with the word Borrell or his scribe used for the ones the monks might make in order to settle labourers, perprisio. This appears to be an actual Latin recognition of the difference that Gaspar Feliu (again) has seen between private and lordly clearance; the monastery will be clearing for others, as agent, and that means they don’t get the full alodial rights that supposedly accrued to those who cleared land unless other arrangements were made. As keen readers of my stuff will know, I think that these rules were essentially only being finalised at this late stage, in other words that Borrell was here floating new terms that his father’s generation would not have understood, but this is where he was doing it, in the palace at Barcelona with two bishops who also owned frontier properties and his mysterious kinsman, whose concern with frontier matters seems to have meant that he must be involved.5

There's only a certain amount of land use going on here even now

But lastly, what about the other notable witness, Guallus princeps cotorum, here rendered as `Chief of the Goths’? Well, if Jesus Lalinde had been right about `Goth’ by now essentially meaning someone living on land that made them liable to military service in the city garrison of Barcelona, this would fit pretty nicely wouldn’t it?6 Guallus would be the head of the garrison. Unfortunately, this charter is only a copy, not an original. The original, if that’s what it is, comes as you’d expect from Sant Sadurní de Tavèrnoles, who were getting all this stuff to make and do.7 And that version refers to Guallus not as princeps cotorum, which our editor here, Federico Udina i Martorell, ever the neo-Gothicist, read as a variant spelling of gotorum, but princeps coquorum, `Prince of the Cooks’.8 Udina’s text, indeed, has also been read as `princeps cocorum‘, a variant spelling of the same thing. `C’ and `t’ look a lot alike in this script, and Udina’s modification wasn’t stupid, but all the same, if it’s wrong, that might give Guallus rather a different place in the palace hierarchy, though apparently still one grand enough to flaunt in a charter signature. He doesn’t turn up again, so there’s no way to be sure.9 Obviously the original would be nice to have just to settle this, but I’d also love to know whether he could write. And also, how he cooked, of course…

1. Barcelona, Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó, Cancilleria, Borrell II, no. 7, ed. Federico Udina i Martorell in his El Archivo Condal de Barcelona en los siglos IX-X: estudio crítico de sus fondos, Textos 18 (Madrid 1951), no. 174*:

In nomine Domini. Ego Borrellus, comes et marchio seu Guifredus, consanguineus meus, nos simul in unum, sub inviolabile Dei fide eiusque sacra confidencia, hanc donacionem Domino Deo eligimus facere santoque suo martiri Saturnino, qui est situs in comitatu Orgellitense, non longe distante ab eiusdem sedem Sancte Marie iusta amne, sicuti et facimus. Donamus namque, pronto animo, ad coenobium prelibata et ad Amelio abbate et fratribus tibi comorantibus vel qui post ea futuri erant ecclesias, qui ab antico tempore erant fundatas et sacris altaribus titulatis in extremis ultimas finium marchas in locum vocitato caustrum Lordano vel in civitate Isauna, que est destructa a sarracenis et ecclesias que ibi sunt, scilicet, in castro Lordano vel in civitate iamdicta quam in earum confinia vel in eorum omnia pertinencia qui infra sunt constructas vel ad future erant construendas. Quarum prima in eius castro Lordano sancti Saturnini est nuncupata Ecclesia. Alia sancte Marie est nuncupata in ipsa civitate de Isona, que est destructa. Alia sancti Vincencii qui fuit Monasterium in caput iamdicte ville, iustam fontem que dicunt Clara.
His prefatas ecclesias concedimus et donamus ad prelibatum cenobium cum eorum laudibus et possessionibus ac universis adquisicionibus cum illorum decimis et primiciis seu oblaciones fidelium vivorum et defunctorum ab integre; et de nostras dominicas laboraciones presentes et futuras ipsas decimas concedimus ad ipsam ecclesiam sancte Marie integriter. Similiter facimus et de laboraciones de ipsos spiculatores ac custos qui custodiunt ipsum castrum ponimus ad ipsas ecclesias iamdictas que incoamus a parte orientis in sumitate de ipsa rocha que vocant Dronb et sic vadit per sumitatem de ipsa serra usque in collo de Tolo et sic descendit per istam aquam qui discurrit ante Tolo et pervadit usque in Procerafita et ascendit per ipsum rivum de Abilio usque in collum de Abilia et usque in collum de Spina.
Quantum iste affinitates includunt, sic concedimus ad monasterium sancti Saturnini prelibato vel ad abbates, ad monachos presentes et futuri, ut faciant per presiones ubicumque voluerint nec potuerint longe lateque per universorum loca, hermis solitudinis edificent ecclesias, faciant munificenciis in congruis locis et obducant laboratores qui ipsas heremitates reducant ad culturam et in ipsis munificenciis habitent et adquirant ibi et emant de ipsis possessoribus quantum illis Deus dederit et possibile eis fuerit. Et de ipsis per prisionibus qui tam ibidem factas habent vel future facture sunt, seu de acquisicionibus eorum ipsas decimas que inde exierint, concedimus et donamus ea omnia ad preciosum martirem Saturninum et de nostro iure in eius contrahimus possessionem, simul cum exiis et regresiis eorum. Iterum damus monachi iamdicti ut faciant aprisiones ad ipsam ripam de Noguera, in locum que vocant Calzina, in ipso plano ante podium de Pugentoso, in locum que vocant Calzina et ante podium de Petra et ipsam aquam qui descendit de ipsis montibus decem pariatas ad uno anno in decem ad alio et construant ecclesiam in honore sante Marie et ipsam ecclesia abeat decimas et primicias et oblaciones de ipsa Perafita et usque ad flumen Nogaria et usque in flumine Gaveto et super ipsos montes de Calcina. Hoc tamen sit sub manu et fidelitate nostra filiorumque nostrorum et cuncta que ad Monasterium pertinent vel pertinere debent sub defensione et gubernacione nostra servetur per cuncta tempora.
Facta huius [carta] donacionis in Barchinona civitate die iii. kalendas augusti, anno xviiii. regnante Leutario rege. Si quis contra hanc karta donacionis voluerit disrumpere non hoc valeat facere sed componant in duplo et cum Data et Abiron porcionem accipiat.
Signum Borrellus, comes marchio. Wisadus, episcopus, SS. Wifredus, SS. Frugifer, presul, SS. Sig+num Marchoaldus. Sig+num Guadallus, princeps cotorum. Sign+num Arnaldus. Sig+num Senterius.
Bonifilius, presbiter, qui hoc rogateus scripsit.

2. J. Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia, 880-1010: pathways of power, Studies in History (London 2010), pp. 117-118 for comital claims to wasteland and pp. 154-155 for direct lordship over peasants; cf. G. Feliu, “La pagesia catalana abans de la feudalització” in Anuario de Estudios Medievales Vol. 26 (Barcelona 1994), pp. 19-41, repr. in idem, La llarga nit feudal: Mil anys de pugna entre senyors i pagesos (València 2010), pp. 93-110.

3. Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled, pp. 15-17, gives some account of the differing models that have been suggested for frontier settlement; J. Jarrett, “Settling the Kings’ Lands: aprisio in Catalonia in perspective” in Early Medieval Europe Vol. 18 (Oxford 2010), pp. 320-342, has some worked-out examples and engages more critically with the historiography on the issue.

4. A more obvious example of this happening can be found in J. Rius Serra (ed.), Cartulario de «Sant Cugat» del Vallés (Barcelona 1946), II no. 464, which I discussed in an earlier post here.

5. Referring to Feliu, “Pagesia”, and also his “Societat i econòmia” in Federico Udina i Martorell (ed.), Symposium internacional sobre els orígens de Catalunya (segles VIII-XI) (Barcelona 1991-1992), also published as Memorias de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona Vols 23 & 24 (Barcelona 1991 & 1992), I pp. 81-115. On the peculiar rôle of Guifré on the frontier, see my earlier post here and references there.

One question I haven’t reopened here is why, if what is happening here is something that was so common in later eras, the count used a charter of donation rather than an actual contract to do it with. One may argue that those documents have yet to be developed, and that the change is only in the documents, and here I might be more inclined to buy that than I was last time I raised that argument, because firstly this must have been going on in many forms for many centuries, and secondly because such contracts are almost unknown this early; there are pacts of complantation and so on (explained here) but not actual deeds of obligation or whatever. I suspect that in this case at least, the answer is that the count liked the idea of couching this in a way that means the monks would have to pray for him for getting all this work to do.

6. J. Lalinde Abadia, “Godos, hispanos y hostolenses en la órbita del rey de los Francos” in Udina, Symposium Internacional II, pp. 35-74.

7. Printed in Cebrià Baraut (ed.), “Diplomatari del monestir de Tavèrnoles (segles IX-XIII)” in Urgellia: anuari d’estudis històrics dels antics comtats de Cerdanya, Urgell i Pallars, d’Andorra i la Vall d’Aran Vol. 12 (Montserrat 1995), pp. 7-414, doc. no. 23. The doubt over it being an original isn’t serious, but it seems to have been used, along with Manuel Riu i Riu, “Diplomatari del monestir de Sant Llorenç de Morunys (971-1613)” in Urgellia Vol. 4 (1981), pp. 187-259, no. 1, to create at least Baraut, “Tavèrnoles”, doc. no. 21 and Petrus de Marca, Marca Hispanica sive Limes Hispanicus, hoc est geographica & historica descriptio cataloniæ, ruscinonis, & circumiacentium populorum, ed. É. Baluze (Paris 1688; repr. Barcelona 1972 & 1989), ap. CXV, ostensibly a copy of a copy of this document found in Urgell, which might even be the Tavèrnoles original but if so got `improved’ somewhere along the transmission. That forgers have had their hands on it doesn’t, however, seem to me to prejudice the original itself. It’s also from the Tavèrnoles version that I get the form of Guallus’s name, since as you can see Udina’s text renders him as Guadall. That would be a much more common name, which is partly why I reject it; I want this guy to be odd in as many ways as possible…

8. I discussed this in Rulers and Ruled, pp. 158-159, where I pointed out and will do again here, that a princeps coquorum, one Gunzo, is (unambiguously) recorded by the poet Ermold the Black in his praise poem on Emperor Louis the Pious, In honorem Hludowici, ed. Ernst Dümmler in idem (ed.), Poetae latini ævi carolini II, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Poetae) IV, p. 71. I can’t show that the two can be connected, but if there was a copy of Dhuoda’s Manual for William in Barcelona perhaps there was also a copy of In honorem Hludowici somewhere that someone had read and mentioned one day to Guallus…

48 responses to “From the sources VII: to demilitarise and populate

  1. highlyeccentric

    Much as I’m sure an Actual Goth would be handy for you, I kind of like the idea of a Prince of Cooks. Especially one held in high enough esteem to sign charters.

    • highlyeccentric

      *crinkles nose* Although Princeps Coquorum isn’t the best title I could think of… If I wanted to go around naming a head chef in Latin i’d call him Dux Coquinarum, I think.

      • highlyeccentric

        That is, provided ‘cookery’ makes sense as a plural noun in Latin. Acts of cookery?


      • It’s very difficult to get at the loadings of these words. Princeps is very grand and is what the legislator in the Visigothic Law is called, so the counts get fonder and fonder of that title as the new millennium opens up. On the other hand it’s not an actual official title and has a faint ring of barbaricum about it leftover from Roman usage.

        Dux, on the other hand, properly means only warleader (so Guallus’s cooks would have had to be quite belligerent) but it had been and in some cases was still in current use for a ruler who stands between a king and counts. The Catalan counts never use it, though others from outside sometimes use it of them in flattery (dux citerioris Hispaniae for example, something of an overstatement of Borrell’s importance); I have a feeling that it was politically difficult, because of the number of rival counts in the area, and that consequently it would have been avoided. But it also, by this period, bespeaks a hierarchy that princeps escapes, which may make the latter just semantically easier to use.

        • highlyeccentric

          Dux, on the other hand, properly means only warleader (so Guallus’s cooks would have had to be quite belligerent)

          … Thus speaks a man who has never worked in food service. Cooks are, by definition, belligerent. Thus my preference for the term Dux, you see.

          • Oh, I have done my share of waiting, but the idea that you could put one cook in charge of a large group of others and it still work seems unlikely. How many sous-chefs make a regiment?

            Damn, I totally should have called Guallus `chef’.

            • highlyeccentric

              the idea that you could put one cook in charge of a large group of others and it still work seems unlikely.

              Fair point. More likely to lead to internal strife than anything else. The sous-chef at the place I used to work at once made *all* of the wait-staff, except me, cry in the space of one evening. It was rather impressive.

      • The established term these days actually appears to be DUX COQUORUM ;-)

    • Only once so highly esteemed, though, that’s the weird thing. An actual Goth would be rather hard to fit in just for that reason; if no-one else so identifies, of whom on earth can he be prince? But even if he’s a cook, which I just find that much easier to imagine myself, why on earth did they get him to witness? There’s two bishops and a triplet of laymen there, it’s not as if there weren’t enough people. So the reason the Goth thing might make sense, if there were one, is that he’s actually from the area concerned, and that it’s not the Barcelona garrison that he’s chief of, but the old city of Isona. That would fit with other weird frontier identities we know about and also explain why he disappears, as this document is about that area being normalised. If the manuscripts were more unanimous about the Gothic identity (i. e. said it at all) that is how I think I would have to explain it. Otherwise, I’m forced back on `something weird happened that day’, which is probably true much more often than we allow but still not the analytically most rigorous answer.

      • highlyeccentric

        I’m forced back on `something weird happened that day’, which is probably true much more often than we allow

        It’s a terrible pity that’s not more acceptable as an argument…

  2. Personally, I’d prefer a cook over a Goth anytime ;-)

    But seriously, even if we ignore the “original” from Sant Sadurní, and even if we accept that in Udina’s text the letter in question is “t” rather than “C”, we still don’t get “gotorum”, but merely “cotorum” – so it really takes a lot of, shall we say, good will to turn Guallus into a “Chief of the Goths”…
    Then again, why indeed would anyone call in a cook to co-sign a charter? Hm, perhaps a “princeps coquorum” wasn’t necessarily a cook himself but rather the 10th century equivalent to something like a “General Director of the Food and Supplies Department”?

    • I would say, then he should appear more, but actually he would not be the only such ‘official’ to turn up only once. Borrell also had a custos monetae in Barcelona whom we only know from one hearing, and Borrell’s son Ramon appears once with a custos comitis and twice with a guy called Queruç who one of those times is called procurator. Ramon Borrell’s documentary footprint is considerably larger than his father’s and that’s still all we get, as far as I so far know. So I think we can admit that household officials can witness but that it’s terribly unusual; this does not, however, settle the question of why it ever happened if it was so unusual. This may be a way into the wider problem of who gets to witness more generally

      Oh gawd I’ve just come up with next year’s Leeds paper haven’t I. <sigh>

      • Er, would that be a sigh of relief (as in “I’ve finally come up with a topic”) or a sigh of exasperation (as in “not another thing to add to my workload”)?

  3. There were ‘catalonian’ princeps (two sons of Wilfred the Hairy, if my memory serves me well). As for the goths… i can only repeat that restrictive senses doesn’t seems to match the term’s usage.

    Maybe Guadall could be read as ‘princep of cocks’? A gaulois one then? :)

    • damm polysemy… I mean Gallus gallus of course… :)

    • I’d be interested in those usages; I know that Ramon Borrell used the title occasionally, but I don’t know of anything in the actual rulers’ voice, as opposed to being said of them by others, prior to that. I also don’t know of any other uses of the word `Goth’ in the charters of the tenth century except to refer to the lawcode; do you? I don’t think there’s any way we can make this man usual…

      • Why not?
        There are a lot of references to Gothia, his marquis, princeps, and even kings in the VIII-X timeframe. I don’t know how such a restrictive interpretation (goth=urban militar garrison) could make sense even in an small part of those references.

        • But these references are almost all, if not actually all, from the Carolingian court! And they are largely references to a geographical area. I have no problem at all with the idea that Gothia remains a current term; that area is still problematic to designate and any name that worked would probably have done. But to say that Gothia still meant something is not to say that there were Goths living in it, and references to Goths the people are by the late tenth century vanishingly rare. I don’t think there is any hard evidence after, say, 878, of people in this area identifying themselves as Goths or even being so identified by other people, unless it be this charter.

          • Well, a Gothia without goths is too much for my taste. There is evidence, scanty, yes, but evidence after all : Raimon (Toulouse) , Bernard & Willhem (Auvergne) were princeps gothorum in the IX-Xth century, like Borrelll (Barcelona), and I think there were even more, ie: Guifré-Borrell, Sunifred and Miro appears as ‘princeps’ at the start of the Xth century.

            Western Gothia posses difficult questions, yes, but really interesting ones! :)

            • Borrell, I know about. The only person who calls him princeps gothorum is Richer of Rheims, who also calls him dux citerioris Hispaniae, as I say; these are not titles Borrell ever used. There are four preserved documents that call him princeps, usually princeps marchio, but one of them is a copy of one of the others, only one, where the Law is being referenced, is original, and in none of them is Gothia mentioned. Out of 150+ documents I don’t find this convincing. Is the evidence for the previous generation any better?

              As for a Gothia without Goths, well, obviously it was known for Goths being there once. How long would you say there were Lombards in Lombardy, Bulgars in Bulgaria, Britons in Britain, Romans in Romania… ?

              • highlyeccentric


                • Even the Tory party doesn’t use that term for us, though. It’s a usage I personally file with St George flags when there’s not a sporting even on, or with the elderly ladies in Scotland who tell one they’re descended from Pictish stock and are therefore the aboriginal inhabitants of the British Isles. The current usage of `Briton’ is as connected to the ancient one as, well, the usages of `druid’.

                  • highlyeccentric

                    Even the Tory party doesn’t use that term for us, though.

                    I was’t talking about you. Last I checked the Welsh are still speaking brythonic, and are in fact, still britons, britons being the pre-Saxon, pre-Norman inhabitants of said island. It was in fact a Welshman who *cointed* the term Briton in the 19th century.

                    • highlyeccentric

                      Wait, no, my bad, a Welshman coined the term Brythonic in the 19th century. The term Briton is far older than that, we all know that. *facepalms* Comes from Latin and Greek, I think, and my point stands, the people to whom it referred are still hangin’ about in Wales.

                    • Argh, caught in Anglocentricism. You are quite right in fact. But they no longer call themselves that, which still makes it a reasonable example to cite against the “place called Gothia must contain Goths” argument; they are cymri not brythoniaid… and the fact that they occupy only a part of Britain (and not the part once inhabited by the Priteni/Cruithni) also presents problems.

  4. highlyeccentric

    Can’t reply to thread, can’t locate button.

    Argh, caught in Anglocentricism. You are quite right in fact.

    *This is my best imitation of a Helen Fulton Disappointed Face*

    But they no longer call themselves that, which still makes it a reasonable example to cite against the “place called Gothia must contain Goths” argument; they are cymri not brythoniaid

    Did they ever call themselves Britons? It’s a Greco-Roman descriptor… No, wait, I guess the Romano-Britons would’ve used Roman terminology, which then dies out with Latin (when a Welshman writes in Latin today, does he still call himself a Briton? ENQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW).

    I concede your point about Goths, though, having made my point on behalf of celticists everywhere (this is what comes of living with a celticist!).

    • Well, some people called themselves Britons, that was my point in introducing the Cruithni, who for those not reading in Gaelic, are the Picts, or at least some of them are, and who do at some point in the period appear to have been known (to the Irish) as `Britons’.

  5. Pingback: Building states on the Iberian frontier, II: clearing the land | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

  6. Pingback: Another Prince of Cooks! | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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  8. Whatever happened to the Cruithni in Ireland? Exterminated, expelled, assimilated, enslaved, all of the above?

    • Gawd. The only safe answer I can give is that I don’t know: I don’t do Irish stuff to anything like the same depth I do Great British, and as a result I don’t know any more when the Cruithni are first or last attested and what schemes the genealogies fit them into. I think they became known as the Dál nAraide, but even to check spelling of that I had to resort to Wikipedia and find that it thinks I’m wrong.

      But you’re not here for safe answers, are you? And the most interesting question to answer is maybe the one of why the name is shared between the populations when so little else seems to be (as in, all Cruithin names in the Irish Annals are Old Irish, not anything P-Celtic, there are no symbol stones in Ireland). Here I think the etymology has to be important: whatever the Picts were, as a group and expressed culture, the word used of them in Irish sources reflects an identity not as something different but as Britons. The historical horizon of the Irish Annals is hard to figure but it’s probably after the first switches of control to Anglo-Saxon leaders in mainland Britain, and thus after we might expect the beginnings of a British exodus. So whereas O’Rahilly saw these groups as the indigenous Britons, following the idea that there’s something pre-Celtic about the Picts, so that this ‘original’ people, Gaelicised, was one of the several groups split across the highway that was the Irish Sea, we could instead perhaps guess at an exilic British noble inclusion into a ruling kindred in Ulster that was remembered subsequently under this kind of branding.

      One thing that I think makes that easier and is worth supposing for other reasons is the supposition that lumped into the political formation known as Picts were probably peoples of several different descriptions and origins. If the relevant British group on the mainland side wound up as part of that formation for a while, and perhaps even contributed genealogically to its rulership, I can imagine Irish scribes, used to genealogy describing political allegiance, considering that group, and all its non-Cruithni components too, as Cruithni for political purposes. The Annals are stratified in such a complex way that it might only need to be one editor going through his text amending the references he caught to reflect a sixth- or seventh-century situation that didn’t last long to leave us the historical traces of that moment in the almost inexplicable form in which we now have it.

      What should really happen now, however, is that Alex Woolf or someone else knowledgeable in the field with less of a record as a reader here, should drop in and set me right about how wrong the above is, because it’s probably fairly wrong…

  9. With the Q-sound -> P-sound applied, doesn’t Cruithne appear to mean “Britons” rather than “Picts”?

    • Exactly! But the Irish Annals use it in Old Irish for people the Latin entries call Picts, even so.

      • Allan McKinley

        Do we know what the Irish Annals (at least linked with Iona it appears) called the non-Pictish, non-Anglo-Saxon population of Britain then?

        • <pokes at CELT>

          If there’s an Irish word in use for them in the Annals of Ulster, it’s not one I know. Latin Britones is all I get from that. We need someone more expert than me in this stuff here!

  10. People were until recently happy to call all USAians “Yanks”, though only a small minority were Yankees. I’m not sure there’s much mileage in assuming that ethnic/racial words are necessarily very precise, or translate precisely from one tongue to another. Maybe “Picts” to an Ulsterman meant “People like the people who live in Britain who are neither Gael nor German”.

    • I would certainly reckon that as a possibility, but I suppose that what I was getting at is that the ‘Picts’ said Ulsterman could have met close by might have been so largely by political affiliation, and quite different in some important cultural ways, like language and ornament, from the people actually calling the shots in the Pictish kingdom at the other end of the Great Glen and points north.

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