Tag Archives: patronage

Leeds 2013 report part 2

Sorry, this has taken a couple of days to find the time to write. But, as with the conference experience itself, the only way out of the backlog is through! Or something. So, resuming the Leeds 2013 report on Tuesday 2nd July, your blogger found himself breakfast (which was reassuringly, basically the same as it had been at Bodington, which is to say, there were many options healthier than the somewhat limp fry-up but that’s what I always have anyway). Thus fortified, I headed for dispute!

506. Law, Violence, and Social Bonds, I: Power, Conflict, and Dispute Settlement

  • Matthew McHaffie, “Warranty of Land in eleventh- and early twelfth-century Anjou”
  • Kim Esmark, “Power and Pressure: the micropolitics of 11-century aristocratic networks”
  • Warren C. Brown, “Conflict and the Laity in Carolingian Europe”
  • Mr McHaffie here was looking at at a particular procedure in Angevin charters whereby the actor undertook to stand warranty for the recipient’s onwership of the property, meaning that they would defend it at law and if necessary by force. He emphasised that this was rare (120 cases in the 3000+ documents he’d looked at), that it was by no means always carried out when it should have been (as, as Geoffrey Koziol pointed out in questions, we see in the Conventum Hugonis), and that a lot of what it involved must have been going on outside the courts that provide us with half the relevant records. It very quickly comes down to the micropolitics of who was involved with whom, which meant that Dr Esmark followed on very neatly, especially since he was also talking about Anjou: the thrust of his paper was that lords’ actions were shaped by the pressures of their followings as much as any other factor. Matthew Hammond tried to use this to suggest that Thomas Bisson might exaggerate lords’ freedom of action in the period; Dr Esmark, as my notes have it, thought there was “lots more to do to prove him fully wrong”. Both I and Bob Moore pressured him for more on the ties of the groups involved, whether they were a steady body of people and how they were linked between themselves, but variability over both time and case seems to be the motif, as I reluctantly suppose we’d expect, though core membership of the groups seems to be more identifiable than in my materials till, well, I suppose the mid-eleventh century actually! Hmm…

    The donjon of the Château de Loches

    The donjon of the Château de Loches, originally built by Count Fulk Nerra of Anjou. Probably room for a few amici

    Lastly, Warren Brown, as is his wont, emphasised that for the early Middle Ages, formulae are in some ways a richer source for social practice than land transfer documents and showed it by extracting from them information on judicial process in disputes between laymen, something that given most surviving documents’ involvement of the Church we otherwise hardly see; this shows up, even in Frankish sources, a picture of negotiation, settlements, tactical defaults, oaths and corruption that looks a lot more like the picture we have from the more detailed Italian evidence, although also a significant amount more homicide and highway robbery than we find in any other sources.1 He also emphasised that women were envisaged as aggressors too, not just by underhand means like sorcery but sometimes by flat-out assault. His conclusion was that the formulae show the patches that had to be applied to a system that often went wrong, which I think is pretty realistic.

I seem now to have skipped a session, which if I remember rightly was simply because I didn’t get the location of the one I had decided to go to worked out in time, realised I would be late and decided I would do better just to get coffee and decompress for a short while. This is probably the point at which most of this happened, too:

A stack of books bought at Leeds IMC 2013

The haul from Leeds 2013

I must have slipped! So after that obviously stern strictures were required, in the form of law.

703. Origin, Usage, and Functionality of the Frankish Leges

  • Magali Coumert, “Isidorus Hispalensis and the Lex Salica
  • Lukas Bothe, “Let ‘Em Pay or Hang ‘Em High?: tackling theft and robbery in Merovingian legal sources”
  • Stephan Ridder, “Traces of the Frankish King in the Lex Baiuvariorum
  • Start of a copy of the Salic Law in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Latin 4404

    Start of a copy of the Salic Law in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Latin 4404

    Dr Coumert started from the odd fact that although Isidore of Seville would seem to have precious little to do with the supposed codification of old Frankish custom into the Salic Law, nonetheless, a quarter of its manuscripts also contain his work, and from there went into a lengthy but justified plain about how misleading the canonical edition of Lex Salica is in terms of how anyone actually used it, since it raids manuscripts of radically different traditions to construct a ‘pure’ text that it is obvious no-one at the time had or used. “He just didn’t care,” said she of Karl August Eckhardt, and it’s hard to disagree, though as the paper revealed, it’s also very hard not to use his groupings of the manuscripts anyway.2 What taking the manuscripts as wholes reveals, however, is that they almost never have only one code in, but are always collections of several laws or sources of law, and Isidore seems to have been an authority that could travel with these too. The users of these manuscripts were not doing with them what the nineteenth-century editors thought they should have been, and it’s probably worth trying to figure out what they were doing rather than seeing that use as something in the way of our scholarship…

    Mr Bothe, meanwhile, approached the question of death for thieves, something that is supposed often to be normal ‘barbarian’ practice, especially for those caught in the act, but which is often deprecated in the actual laws in favour of heavy fines, which he suggested were preferred because of not implicating the judiciary in the feud that might result from executing someone. I thought that that, and the idea of a legislating state trying to patch up law, both sat oddly next to the idea we seem otherwise to be developing of Merovingian Frankish law as a more or less decentralised set of ideals, something on which I’ve heard enough since to make it impossible for me to recover what I thought about this session at the time. That picture was much more present in Mr Ridder’s study of the Laws of the Bavarians, though, a text whose origin and issuer is almost perfectly unclear, but which attributed to the king of the Franks considerable connections to and authority over the Agilolfing dukes of the Bavarians. Mr Ridder suggested that here we might even take the text seriously and associate it with a Merovingian move into the duchy to coordinate its defence against the Avars. The questions mainly focused on Mr Bothe’s fines, however, and whether, given their size, even they were supposed to be more than deterrents; he thought that probably was their function, but pointed out that what seems to be an impossibly large amount of gold might still be achievable in cattle, because cows were surprisingly expensive (say two solidi each?), or of course in land, which, as in Spain (why I’d raised the question) was not envisioned in the law but certainly happened here. Here again, therefore, we saw that the actual law texts bear only the sketchiest relation to what was actually done, meaning that they were not the kind of resource we usually think they were. How many other sorts of text does that apply to, we might ask?

Then coffee and then fireworks, at least of an intellectual kind.

803. Defining Kingdoms in 10th-Century Europe

  • Geoffrey Koziol, “The (Dark) Matter of France: monasticism and the making of the West Frankish kingdom”
  • Simon MacLean, “Who Were the Lotharingians? Defining political belonging after the end of the Carolingian Empire”
  • Charles Insley, “Beyond the Charter Horizon: (un)making England in the 10th century”
  • Saint-Philibert de Tournus

    The eventual home of the monks of St Philibert, at Tournus. “Tournus-StPhilib” by MorburreOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    Despite the plethora of brackets, this session was surely my favourite of the conference, probably mainly because it’s so nice to have people other than myself looking at the tenth century as if it might tell us something. Professor Koziol was excited to tell us about about his new theory, which was coming in the wake of the completion of the most substantial work on the Carolingian tenth century for quite a while.3 The problem he was seeking to solve was how the West Frankish kingdom, of which large parts repeatedly rebelled in the ninth century and much of which was beyond the control of its kings for the tenth through to twelfth centuries, held together as any kind of unit. Why did the idea of France even include Aquitaine and Provence by the time the Capetian kings could make that mean anything? For Professor Koziol, the answer is monks, or more specifically, congregations of monasteries or single houses with really wide-ranging property interests, like the familia of Saint Philibert whose sporadic flight from the Vikings took them through four different homes with supporting endowments.4 Another obvious one would be Cluny, which though outside Francia proper controlled a network of houses within it and saw the king as their principal defence. Such places relied on the kings’ support, and by doing so gave the kings the framework of a state which kept them present, even when ineffective, in peoples’ schemes of the world. Such at least was the theory, but the fact that such royal documents were rarely brought out of archives, as far as we can tell, and that even allowing for Cluny there’s really no way to show any shared ideology other than Christianity between all Frankish monasteries, gave others pause. For me there’s also the question of why this didn’t work in Catalonia, which even in its parts then north of the Pyrenees stopped asking the kings for such documents quite sharply after 988, yet meets most of the same criteria before then. Nonetheless, Professor Koziol did not seem unconvinced so I guess that we will see further versions of this thought, and even I’m sure it explains something, I’m just not quite sure how much yet…

    Old map of Lotharingia with some more modern captions

    Old map of Lotharingia with some more modern captions

    Simon, meanwhile, was asking a quite similar question but without the surviving monarchy, which makes the old ‘kingdom of Lothar’, Lothari regni, Lotharingia or Lorraine or Löthringen, as an idea even harder to explain. Despite the completely arbitrary origins of the area, evident in its name, Simon cited sources from the 960s talking about the ethnic characteristics of Lotharingians. Of course, as he said, this just goes to show that even when ethnicity is entirely constructed and situational (which is possibly always, I might throw in), it’s still a powerful idea. For this case, Simon thought that its power was being appropriated by the writers who supported local noble groups against a West Frankish crown that returned to the area as a conqueror, not as an heir, in the form of King Charles the Simple in 911, so that what had been ‘Lothar’s kingdom’ became more comfortably separate as an area with a people named after him than as a territory that had clearly belonged to the Carolingian monarchy. In doing so, however, he mentioned various other formulations that didn’t seem to stick, like ‘regnum Gallicanum’, and in questions some of the most interesting points for me were raised about other such ethnicities that fail, for example the Ribuarians, who had a Frankish lawcode but who seem never to have been a people anyone could locate. There are others, and so the question may be why this one stuck and others didn’t, and I suppose that one answer might be, it was not controlled by outside interests for long enough at a time to remove the value of an ‘inside’ identity, in which case I need to look at it rather more closely…

    British Library, Cotton MS Claudius B VI, fo. 109v

    The Abingdon Cartulary, demonstrating its interest in the kingdom by picturing Edward the Confessor, albeit quite a long time after he would have cared. British Library, Cotton MS Claudius B VI, fo. 109v

    Lastly, Charles Insley took aim at the developing historiography, of which you’ve had plenty reported here since it’s largely coming from Oxford, that is trying to place the definitive development of an English state in the tenth century. He pointed out that by using Koziol-like tactics of analysing the uptake and issue of royal diplomas, it seems clear that large parts of this supposed kingdom just did not deal with the kings in the way that the south did.5 Instead, therefore, he suggested that far less of tenth-century England was governed by consent, as opposed to grudging acceptance of the king’s ability to beat them up with southern armies, and that governmental structures may therefore not be enough to tell us about unity. Most of the questions Charles got were about preservation: there has been so much Anglo-Saxon material lost that arguing from areas of absence is dangerous, but, as he says, there are lots of charters from East Anglia, just no royal ones, and there aren’t no documents from the north (though it’s very close!) so there is still something to explain.6 Julie Hofmann suggested that we might be looking less at obedience to royal power projection in the tenth century and more at subservient submission to royal dissolution in the sixteenth, which as Charles said is a possibility that late medieval registers might help eliminate. Work to be done, therefore!

All the same, this session hit a great many of my buttons: three scholars I think are always interesting and argumentative, all pushing more or less big ideas, and happy to let others take shots at them in the cause of testing them out, with plenty of people happy to do so; it may look quite disputational, and I suppose it isn’t for the thin-skinned, but in a session like this one can practically feel the field energise and take shaky steps forward. There was plenty to think about over dinner. But then there was also some more to think about after dinner, in the form of a dessert of databases.

910. ‘Nomen et Gens’ and ‘The Making of Charlemagne’s Europe’: early medieval database projects – a round table discussion

    This took the form of two short presentations of the respective projects by their principal investigators, introduced by Jinty Nelson, with a question and answer section for each. I’ve yet to see a round table at Leeds that really is a round table, though I do generally avoid them which is probably why, but nonetheless there was lots of information here. Nomen et Gens is a project that’s been running since the 1970s—as Steffen Patzold who was introducing it said, long enough to have its own Traditionskern—but has lately advanced fully into the database age, and its aim is to amass enough prosopographical data to assess quantitatively what ethnic identifiers actually meant to their early medieval users.7 What this means, however, is that it now contains basic biographical and personal information for 10,000-plus people of the seventh and eighth centuries and the easiest way to find out more is to go and look, here. The only real question was why this was only a demo version, but apparently there is much more to check and unify before the full thing can go live to the world. Accounts are available for those who can help, though.

    Screen-capture of <em>Nomen et Gens</em>'s entry for Charlemagne

    An example of cross-over: screen-capture of Nomen et Gens‘s entry for Charlemagne

    Alice Rio spoke for The Making of Charlemagne’s Europe, a project I’ve heard a lot about given its staff’s frequent presence at the Institute of Historical Research. Here the aim has been to database all the charters from the reign of Charlemagne and the territories which he ruled. A lot has been learned from the approaches used at Kings College London, where the project lives, on Prosopography of the Domesday Elite, and its structure is quite sophisticated. Here, again, the best way to find out more is probably to go and play with it: it wasn’t live in July 2013 but now it more or less is, so take your Charlemagne-period enquiries to it and see what it has to tell you! At this point it was still very much in development: I asked, for example, if it could answer stacked queries (a query performed on the results of a previous query) and was told that it had been able to since two o’clock that afternoon… But it was clearly going places at last, after many frustrations, and the two databases were also probably going to be able to talk to each other behind the scenes in productive ways.

And thus, pretty much ended the second day. [Edit:: I forgot to mention that Magistra also blogged the first and last of these sessions, and particularly in the former her impressions were quite different from mine, so you may like to take a look there as well.] More will follow, after a short digression about a tiny church…


1. W. C. Brown, “Conflict, letters, and personal relationships in the Carolingian formula collections” in The Law and History Review Vol. 25 (Cambridge 2007), pp. 323-44; cf. Chris Wickham, “Land Disputes and their Social Framework in Lombard-Carolingian Italy, 700-900” in Wendy Davies & Paul Fouracre (edd.), The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge 1986), pp. 105-124, rev. in Wickham, Land and Power: studies in Italian and European social history, 400-1200 (London 1994), pp. 229-256.

2. Eckhardt did about a hundred different editions of the Lex Salica but I guess that the definitive ones are the MGH ones, K.-A. Eckhardt (ed.), Pactus Legis Salicae, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Leges Nationum Germanicum) IV.1 (Hannover 1962), online here, and idem (ed.), Lex Salica, MGH Leges IV.2 (Hannover 1969), online here. The problems of assuming an Urtext behind the manuscripts of course also dog attempts to come up with a single translation, such as Katherine Fischer Drew (transl.), The Laws of the Salian Franks (Philadelphia 1991), where pp. 52-55 demonstrate the awkward choices that had to be made.

3. That being none other than Geoffrey Koziol, The Politics of Memory and Identity in Carolingian Royal Diplomas, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 19 (Turnhout 2012).

4. The last word on the monks of Saint Philibert appears now to be Isabelle Cartron, Les pérégrinations de Saint-Philibert – Genèse d’un réseau monastique dans la société carolingienne (Rennes 2009), which Professor Koziol cited.

5. Referring to Koziol, Politics of Memory, in case that’s not clear, though cf. Mark Mersiowsky, “Towards a Reappraisal of Carolingian Sovereign Charters” in Karl Heidecker (ed.), Charters and the Use of the Written Word in Medieval Society, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 5 (Turnhout 2000), pp. 15-25!

6. What there is from the north is now printed in David Woodman (ed.), Charters of Northern Houses, Anglo-Saxon Charters 16 (Oxford 2012).

7. I had here some acid comment about how it would be normal to look to Germany for a project working to establish ground-base values for ethnicity then realised the problem with making such a generalisation…

Feudal Transformations XV: proving a negative with power relations in Catalonia

Will you permit me one another post dancing round the supposed feudal transformation? You will? So kind, I’ll try and make it interesting by including, as well as the duelling historians, good old Unifred Amat, the much-beloved castellan of previous posts, as well as the inevitable Count-Marquis Borrell II of Barcelona. Let’s first set up some background. As Chris Wickham teaches us, there are several ways one can read the word `feudal’ when you’re actually doing scholarship on this period: there’s the grand-scale Marc Bloch whole-society sense, in which feudalism is the defining ethic that pervades social conduct and organisation, as espoused these days by Poly and Bournazel; there’s the Marxist sense, in which it is an economic organisation in which production is controlled by the producers but a ruling class extracts surplus from the producing class in order to maintain their social and economic dominance, as opposed to various other forms I won’t discuss here, as espoused, well, mainly by Chris really; and there is a more restricted sense about the organisation of power, in which the resources for military power are farmed out to lesser lords by greater ones in exchange for the lesser lords doing various services to the greater. This can also be called `feudo-vassalitic’, which is a horrible word but avoids confusion with the other two senses, something that has otherwise happened a great deal leading for several scholars to argue for an end to the use of the term `feudal’ at all, since what happens is that people use evidence for one sense about another and so on and so on.1 (Like matriliny and matriarchy.) So here I am talking solely about the third, feudo-vassalitic, sense. Obviously there is some cross-over: a society where power is organised solely via military bonds of service is probably not going to have a capitalist economic set-up, because that would allow other means of power organisation to operate and would make a paid army far more effective and less dangerous to those in power. (There are probably exceptions, but stay with me.) Likewise such a society is likely to preach ethics of loyal service and heroism that get into the literature and help pass those ethics out more generally, and so on. This is kind of the Bloch argument by the back door, however, and I don’t want to go there with this post (not least because it took him a two-volume book). I just want to talk about organising military service in frontier Catalonia.

A battle scene from the Biblia de Ripoll

A battle scene from the Biblia de Ripoll

By, say, 1040, it was very simple how this was done here: a great lord, like the count, bestowed a certain property, usually a castle but potentially, at the very bottom of the scale, just a salary, on a lesser character, and that lesser character swore to return it on demand, not to deny the count use of or access to the castle, and generally not to prejudice his interests in any way. The obligations were almost always negative here, not to do things, rather than to actually do things, though the obligation to turn up with troops on demand is usually there. This comes out in undated oath documents that read like this:

I, Amat son of the woman Ermengarda, swear that from this hour in future I will be faithful to you, Elisabeth, countess, without fraud or evil intent and without any deception and without your trickery, just as a faithful man ought to be to his lord, as I know myself, by direct faith. And I the above-written Amat will not do you, the already-said Elisabeth, out of the New Castle of Barcelona that I hold, not I, [any] men or man, women or woman, by my counsel nor by my cunning, and through whatever means you shall ask it of me, by your yourself or by your messengers or messenger, I will put you in power over it without your trickery. And if there should be man or men, woman or women, who take from you, Elisabeth, the already-said castle or do you out of it, I Amat already-said will have neither [common] end nor truce nor society with them or with him or with them or her until you shall have the already-said castle returned; and just as much will I be your helper in this cause until it be returned, I will not do you any harm over it, but just as it is written above, thus I will carry it out in correct faith. Just as it is written above, so I will hold it and attend to it. By God and these relics of the saints.2

I freely admit that I give that in full solely because I need it for the Feudal Transformation course next year, but you get the idea. The bits I’ve thrown into bold were in the vernacular in the original, these documents containing the earliest written Catalan there is.3 So okay, there’s that. Now there’s an argument against the whole idea that Western European society goes through terrible spasms around the year 1000 (or, ya know, whenever) that runs that instead the documentary record does so, and starts recording things that have been going on for a long time already that we previously didn’t see because the documents were formulaic, and recorded Roman-derived ideals not actual practice.4 Leaving aside the obvious issue that if the documents are changing the demand for them must also be changing, implying changes in the constitution of society that are probably quite substantial, it is also possible to attack this idea in more direct ways by proving that the documents do respond to change.5 And then it’s possible just to haul up counter-examples where what seem to be contemporary details over the organisation of power are thrashed out in a completely different way, and that’s where I’m going here. So, Unifred Amat, right?

A group swearing homage to the Count of Barcelona, from the Liber Feudorum Maior

A group swearing homage to the Count of Barcelona, from the Liber Feudorum Maior

Unifred was son of a major frontier nobleman called Sal·la, the kind of independent who doesn’t need a title and who owned all over the counties of Osona and Manresa, putting up castles, clearing lands, funding settlers and founding a monastery, which is just as well as otherwise I doubt we’d have any of the documents that tell us about this stuff. He is, in any case, the sort of person whom a scribe can have called “egregious prince” and it not immediately be assumed by scholars that the document was a forgery.6 Because he divided this importance between his sons, none of them are as irrepressible, but Sal·la also appears to have got them to take service with or hold lands from Count Borrell II, something that he himself did not do. I’ve never understood why he did this; times had presumably changed. In any case, one result was that in 951 Borrell was prevailed upon to give Unifred a substantial whack of land at Buc, on the Riu d’Or in Manresa. The document of this was unusually sonorous in phrasing, cursing any infringers with the recipient’s sins and a portion in Hell with Judas, which is unusual for non-ecclesiastical properties.7 I can’t explain that either, but I can tell you what happened next, or what is recorded anyway, which is that on the same day with most of the same people watching Unifred sold that same property straight on to one Guifré for 200 solidi.8 Obviously that put Guifré in his debt, but the only expression of a relation of subjection here is between Unifred and Borrell: Unifred was Borrell’s fidelis, whereas there’s no link specified between Guifré and anyone. So what was going on here? I see four possibilities:

  1. Unifred is hard up for cash and effectively mortgages a gift from the count to provide it. Guifré gets the land, Unifred the money, Borrell gets to push his old chief magnate’s family just a little bit further into subjection. Obvious problem: why doesn’t Unifred just ask for the money himself? Borrell may have more land than cash, but this is not a big amount for Borrell.9
  2. Guifré is a frontier settler, wanting a new project, and Unifred is his local lord; Unifred doesn’t have spare land so gets some from the count. Problem: why does Unifred do this? Guifré must be subject to him in some way that is not stated for this to work.
  3. the classic feudal answer: Unifred wishes to repay Guifré for various services or to enrol him for future ones (effectively enfeoffing him with land) and thus prevails upon his own lord to grant the land and then sells it. Guifré gets the land under terms of service that we don’t have, possibly entirely oral given the vernacular’s use in such oaths later, Unifred thus gets a client and the money, Borrell gets, well, nothing. Obvious problems: Borrell gets nothing while Unifred becomes more important, and then there is the money: Guifré pays through the nose for this land, can he really also be a feudal dependant? With that kind of spare money, why be dependent at all, or at least, why not get better terms than that?
  4. even more complex: Guifré is Unifred’s follower in some way or other and they wish, or Unifred wishes, to arrange a relationship of subjection for land in a quasi-feudo-vassalitic style for which as yet the documents do not exist; Unifred gets the land from Borrell and gives the money to Guifré so that Guifré has a counter-gift to make which expresses his obligation in some way; that is, the money is a token for the service that Unifred was really receiving. Advantage: pacifies Barthélemy. Problems: involves assuming that almost all the documents are misrepresenting things and that we know better. In particular, why use a sale formula that explicitly says that Guifré has paid all his dues for the land (“nichil de isto precio ad me comparatore remansit et est manifestum“)? A donation formula would have been more suitable; there are plenty of documents out there that do contain donations with conditions, using phrases like “in tale racione videlicet ut…” and then setting a rent or whatever.10 So the documents could have done this better, if this is what’s going on, and the money is still very hard to explain.

At the end of this, I at least am clear in my mind that this is not a feudal agreement. A fifth way of reading it is that a client of Borrell’s is here being set up with a local lord, or that Borrell is increasing his trusted castellan’s personal army to help him hold the frontier zone down; Borrell was keen on ensuring that sort of thing, ideally without paying for it himself.11 In that case, the initiative might have been the count’s, which would have its echoes in genuinely feudo-vassalitic documents but which is not here being arranged feudally. If the initiative was Guifré’s, however, then his terms were presumably advantageous to him; he wanted the land and was willing to pay. Why he approached Unifred is harder to say, but Unifred’s family was certainly important. If the initiative was Unifred’s, it makes slightly more sense, but one would expect the terms of subjection to be more explicit. It must be said that Borrell often did this, selling land to his men for large sums, but they were usually holding from him on other terms elsewhere beforehand.12 Maybe that’s the case here too and Unifred had already set up Guifré in this area and now wanted to let him do more; it’s odd that we don’t have the document but arguments from silence never hold much water round here. But it’s the money, the money that messes up any simple feudal equivalence here; Guifré obviously had means, he could have just bought land from someone else.

Buc is now known as Castellnou de Bages

On the other hand, it’s the gift from Borrell that messes up a simple sale hypothesis. Unifred was demonstrating a connection to the count here, and that implies patronage. But if it was straight feudalism, he’d have no need to do that; the need to demonstrate patronage implies competition with other possible patrons. And that gives agency to Guifré; presumably, he could choose from whom to get his land. (I mean, presumably he could have approached the count himself!) So in fine, I think what we have here is Borrell choosing to reinforce Unifred’s status as local domnus (not that that term is used), which might also explain the solemn curse and so on, and Unifred apparently needing comital help to hold on to that status when a wealthy local chooses to test this. I don’t see anything here to indicate that that local need have wound up as Unifred’s vassal, or that Unifred wound up with anything more than 200 solidi. If that was the aim of the game, this was a very strange way to organise it and, although much better ones would be available later, rather better ones were also available now.
Because of the implied competition for clients, however, it seems more likely to me that the local climate of lordship itself was not fully formed here, rather than that the means of record for it hadn’t yet been invented. I see here Carolingian, Matthew-Innes-style patronage, where the centre chooses to endorse one of a number of possible local interests who need that endorsement to achieve local dominance.13 We seem to be a long way here from the world of the convenientiae, and that’s in political as well as documentary terms. So there is still, for me, a transformation to explain here, and probably will be for a while.


1. It’s probably as well to give these references again I suppose: Chris sets out the three ideal types in “Le forme del feudalesimo” in Il Feudalesimo nell’Alto Medioevo (8-12 aprile 1999), Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo Vol. 47 (Spoleto 2000), pp. 15-46 with discussion pp. 47-51; opposition to the whole idea mounted classically by Elizabeth A. R. Brown, “The Tyranny of a Construct: Feudalism and Historians of Medieval Europe” in American Historical Review Vol. 79 (Washington DC 1974), pp. 1063-1088, repr. in Lester K. Little & Barbara H. Rosenwein (eds), Debating the Middle Ages: issues and readings (Oxford 1998), pp. 148-169, and more thoroughly and crossly by Susan Reynolds, Fiefs and Vassals: the medieval evidence reinterpreted (Oxford 1994). Bloch: M. Bloch, La société féodale (Paris 1949), transl. L. A. Manyon as Feudal Society (New York City 1961); Poly & Bournazel, Jean-Pierre Poly & Eric Bournazel, La mutation féodale, Xe-XIIe siècles (Paris 1981), transl. Caroline Higgit as The Feudal Transformation, 900-1200 (New York City 1983), 2nd edn. in French 1991.

2. Here I’ve used F. Miquel Rosell (ed.), Liber feudorum maior: cartulario real que se conserva en la Archivo de la Corona de Aragón (Madrid 1945), 2 vols, I. doc. no. 418 of between 1039 and 1049; this must be reprinted in Gaspar Feliu & Josep María Salrach (eds), Els Pergamins de l’Arxiu Comtal de Barcelona de Ramon Borrell a Ramon Berenguer I, Diplomataris 19-21 (Barcelona 1998), but I didn’t have time to order that up as well. If you want the Latin/Catalan, I can provide. For more on this kind of document you can see the very excellent Adam J. Kosto, Making Agreements in Medieval Catalonia: power, order, and the written word, 1000-1200 (Cambridge 2001), though it doesn’t entirely supplant Michel Zimmermann, “Aux origines de Catalogne féodale : les serments non datés du règne de Ramon Berenguer Ier” in J. Portella i Comas (ed.), La Formació i expansió del feudalisme català: actes del col·loqui organitzat pel Col·legi Universitari de Girona (8-11 de gener de 1985). Homenatge a Santiago Sobrequés i Vidal, Estudi General: revista del Col·legi Universitari de Girona, Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona Nos. 5-6 (Girona 1986), pp. 109-151, with English summary p. 557.

3. J. Bastardas, “El català vers l’any 1000” in Immaculada 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. 495-513 with French & Provencal résumés & English abstract p. 514.

4. This argument is of course forever associated with the name Dominique Barthélemy, who propounded it in “La mutation féodale a-t-elle eu lieu? (Note critique)” in Annales : Économies, sociétés, civilisations Vol. 47 (Paris 1992), pp. 767-777, later expanded into La mutation féodale a-t-elle eu lieu? (Paris 1997) with the addition of other reprinted articles, the whole question reprised again in his L’An mil et la Paix de Dieu : la France chrétienne et féodale, 980-1060 (Paris 1999); in English, his thinking can be accessed in idem “Debate: the feudal revolution. I”, transl. J. Birrell in Past and Present no. 152 (1996), pp. 196-205; Barthélemy, “The Year 1000 Without Abrupt or Radical Transformation”, eds & transl. Lester K. Little & Barbara H. Rosenwein & rev. Barthélemy, in Little & Rosenwein, Debating the Middle Ages, pp. 134-147 and now Barthélemy, The Serf, the Knight and the Historian, transl. Graham Robert Edwards (Ithaca 2009).

5. The best counter-attacks so far mounted (of course) by Pierre Bonnassie, firstly in “Sur la genèse de la féodalité catalane : nouvelles approches” in Feudalesimo nell’alto medioevo, pp. 569-606, and idem, “Nouveautés linguistiques et mutations économico-sociales dans la Catalogne des IXe-XIe siècles” in Michel Banniard (ed.), Langages et Peuples d’Europe : cristallisation des identités romanes et germanique. Colloque International organisé par le Centre d’Art et Civilisation Médiévale de Conques et l’Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail (Toulouse-Conques, juillet 1997), Méridiennes 5 (Toulouse 2002), pp. 47-66.

6. J. Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia, 880-1010: pathways of power (London 2010), pp. 144-151.

7. Ramon Ordeig i Mata (ed.), Catalunya Carolíngia IV: els comtats d’Osona i de Manresa, Memòries de la Secció històrico-arqueològica LIII (Barcelona 1999), doc. no. 678. Like most of the documents relating to Sal·la and sons, this one only survives as a typescript copy of an original that someone took away for `safe-keeping’ during the Spanish Civil War. I live in hope that this cache will some day turn up. There is also ibid. no. 679, which does survive in the original and appears to be a variant copy of 678 by a different scribe allotting slightly different terms to the grant. I can't work out any way to make this part of solving the puzzle I deal with here, rather than just another complication, so I leave it aside in the argument.

8. Ibid., doc. no. 680.

9. Michel Zimmermann would have us believe that Borrell and his father were extremely short of money, which is why they kept selling castles (“La rôle de la frontière dans la formation de Catalogne (IX-XIIème siècle)” in Las Sociedades de Frontera en la España Medieval. Aragón en la Edad Media: sesiones de trabajo, II seminario de historia medieval (Zaragoza 1993), pp. 7-29 at pp.17-18), but for me at least the way that Borrell managed his resources doesn’t fit thus; he frequently gave stuff away, as here, which you might think he could have demanded payment for, and it’s not clear to me why his expenses should have been much higher than his forebears, who certainly went to war more often than he did. I don’t mean to say he didn’t want to keep those expenses down (see n. 11 below!) but that isn’t the same thing, necessarily.

10. If you’ve already got Ordeig, Catalunya Carolíngia IV, out and in front of you by this point (as I’m sure you all have) you can find such a donation there as doc. no. 700, where a priest called Esperandéu gives a church to the cathedral at Sant Pere de Vic, “in tale racione, videlicet, ut” he gets the revenues from the estate for his life and he also gets to choose the next priest, who will be similarly funded by those revenues, and that priest the next one and so on, though all these priests will at least have to come from the cathedral chapter. Is this simony? I actually can’t work it out…

11. So, witness 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 where Borrell gladly passes on to the eponymous monastery a frontier civitas and fortress that he has apparently been garrisoning with standing troops at his own expense, turning it into into a monastic development zone. This is, I think, the only clue we have that he did this and it also contains a fabulous lengthy description of what he expects that development to look like, so it’s well worth a look. In fact I should make it into a ‘From the Sources’ post.

12. The most obvious example is the family of the previous post, the castellans of Gurb, where Ansulf was Vicar of Sant Llorenç already when Borrell gave him a whack of land in Gurb but who then bought a church nearby from the count for a swingeing amount of gold (discussion and references Jarrett, Rulers and Ruled, pp. 116-117) but he is far from the only example (more and general discussion ibid. pp. 151-154).

13. Matthew Innes, State and Society in the Early Middle Ages: the middle Rhine valley 400-1000, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought 4th Series 47 (Cambridge 2000), more or less passim really.

I should have read this the moment I bought it, part V

The section of Davis & McCormick’s Long Morning of Medieval Europe that deals with religion is rather shorter than that dealing with the economy, which matches my interests I suppose. I only thought of this as incongruous when I read the two papers that are its main components, bracketed by another McCormick introduction and a short response by Thomas Head. Both of these papers are somewhat totalising and made me wonder, idly, which of economy (in the original sense of household welfare as much as the macro-scale one of trade and money) and religion was on the mind of the Platonically-average medieval man or woman more. This is somewhere our preconceptions don’t let us voyage, I think. Certainly mine won’t let my historian passport into the time-travel chamber. So anyway, enough with the laboured metaphor.

A later illumination showing Archbishop Gregory of Tours as suppliant before a king

A later illumination showing Archbishop Gregory of Tours as suppliant before a king

The first paper is about hagiographical texts, then being analysed on a massive database scale by Michel Trigalet as a doctoral project under the supervision of Guy Philippart who wrote this article ‘with’ Trigalet.1 (I hate this convention of the humanities, writings credits ‘with’ or ‘assisted by’. We all know what this means, right? It means that the junior party did the grunt-work but the main name has supplied the erudition and interpretation. In the sciences that would be co-authorship with no distinction except order of precedence in the list of authors. Why can’t we be big enough to allow that to struggling juniors?2) Some parts of the database, meanwhile, are online here (which is even the same URL as they give in the article) so you can examine it yourself if you like. I don’t know if it’s possible to do much serious work with the online version, because one wants to be able to set queries rather than just get lists of contents, but even as a list of the hagiography that exists (though as Head says in his response, they could have included even more by not sticking to the Bollandist definitions of sainthood; I suspect that decision was made for operational reasons such as Trigalet ever getting his doctorate, rather than by neglect as Head seems to believe…3) it’s quite something. I’ve added it to the increasingly-jumbled sidebar.

Two good points they make, one that is basically theoretical (in the sense of thought-rather-than-proven) and goes back to the question of the representation of survival that I was quoting about here only a short while ago. Here’s another good quote, applicable to their sample rather than mine:

The concept of “texts at high risk”, that is,texts which did not circulate widely, proves helpful. The fewer copies of a text once existed [sic], the higher the risk that the text would disappear. “Best sellers” had the highest survival rate. Many works in our databank are attested today by only one or even no surviving manuscript. Sometimes the whole set of texts dedicated to a particular saint (what hagiographers call the saint’s “dossier”) was at high risk. Most hagiographical works were intended for and circulated exclusively in local communities that were not pilgrimage shrines; pilgrimage fostered the “export” of texts. This means that text loss is not random: it affects first and foremost “local” works.4

And they go on to demonstrate that a great proportion of the saints’ lives that exist from North Italy are of saints whose shrines are along the pilgrim routes. (They also have a good anecdote from Prudentius showing how these tales could travel from shrines.) They also show that Italy gets writing this stuff first, in the fourth century, the Germanic-speaking lands last and Gaul and Spain both really only start generating hagiography (that survives) in between in the seventh century. And they show that whereas in Italy the majority of the hagiography is martyr narratives that don’t necessarily connect to any larger power structure, in Gaul the majority are definitely saintly and senatorial bishops, though I wonder how much of that is down to Gregory of Tours’s selection at work.5 So you can see that there is stuff that can be done with data collections this large no matter what Head’s reservations about the rôles played by living holy men in local piety and the fact that the database, as he had seen it at least (and the online version doesn’t allow me to check) there was no discrimination by gender, which seems like a pretty powerful analytical category missing.6

Byantine icon showing offering at an altar, date unknown

Byantine icon showing offering at an altar, date unknown

Less innovative is the other paper, in which Arnold Angenendt attempts to redirect study of medieval donations in a liturgical direction.7 His idea that what is involved is a gift exchange as per Marcel Mauss, in which, as well as the practical function of maintenance of a priest to say the prayers that one wants said, the gift of money or property (he has lots of (early) examples of gifts of money for prayers, which is very interesting) is something for which the priest has to make the sacrifice of your prayers or penance contrasts nicely to Barbara Rosenwein‘s argument that it’s a big attempt to repay Christ for his original sacrifice. I also think there’s some power in his drawing the origins of the practice back to penance, though I wonder if we really think that penance originates with the Irish. (I haven’t read all I should have on this.) However, it would work better if he had referenced either Mauss or Rosenwein. Head correctly points this out, and accuses both papers of lacking awareness of English-language work. This is OK with Philippart’s because his data is new, but with Angenendt’s basically interpretative work it really is a problem that English-language work has reached several of his points and moved beyond them now: as Head says, the anthropologist of resort on this practice is not now Mauss but Weiner, and we’re looking at the practice of giving to a church less as gift exchange and more as negotiation of a special relationship with its access to the sacred.8 I myself also wonder whether we don’t just complicate this too much. What the charters say is that the donors are afraid of Hell, and that they “have heard the warnings of the Holy Fathers that alms may save the soul from death”.9 I don’t see why we can’t take that literally, even if there is then a developed practice by which you sometimes remind people, or indeed the saint (and his or her representatives) that you or some ancestor have given, either by regiving or by contesting and conceding the goods as per Rosenwein. So Angenendt’s paper is a bit of pity but with Head’s critique and references to shore it up still useful.

This was supposed to be a short post. I ought to know better by now.


1. Guy Philippart with Michel Trigalet, “Latin Hagiography before the Ninth Century: A Synoptic View” in Jennifer R. Davis & Michael McCormick (edd.), The Long Morning of Medieval Europe: new directions in early medieval studies (Aldershot 2008), pp. 111-129.

2. Mind, I may just be bitter because I recently learnt that two papers on which I was expecting to be named as co-author have been junked by the other author, who now wants to write something else. And furthermore I can’t do anything with the work I did for them, which was extensive and well beyond what I was paid for, because it clashes with their own publication and I need their goodwill. If that sounds OK to you, do ignore my rant.

3. Thomas Head, “The Early Medieval Transformation of Piety”, ibid. pp. 155-160 at p. 157.

4. Philippart with Trigalet, “Latin Hagiography”, p. 114.

5. Ibid., pp. 122-123, 121, 117 & 118-119 respectively.

6. Head, “Early Medieval Transformation”, pp. 157-158.

7. A. Angenendt, “Donationes pro anima: Gift and Countergift in the Early Medieval Liturgy” in Davis & McCormick, Long Morning, 131-154.

8. Head, “Early Medieval Transformations”, pp. 158-160, referring to: Marcel Mauss, The Gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies, transl. Wilfrid D. Halls (New York City 1990); Barbara Rosenwein, To Be The Neighbor of Saint Peter: the social meaning of Cluny’s property, 909-1049 (Ithaca 1989); & Annette Weiner, Inalienable Possessions: the paradox of keeping-while-giving (Berkeley 1992).

9. E. g. 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, doc. no. 643: “Magnum nobis et satis licitum esse videtur domum Dei edificare et de nostris rebus honorare atque concedere, audientes precepta sanctorum patrum quia elemosina a morte liberat anima…”

A document of partition: how to cope with the Treaty of Verdun (843)

If I leave aside the porn searches and count only strings that look academic, the two things that bring people to this blog from search engines more than anything else are, firstly, my piece on the First Crusade, which is good as that’s what it’s there for, and secondly, the piece I wrote about Charles the Simple, because it includes a reference to and a map of the Treaty of Verdun. It’s searches for “treaty of Verdun” that bring people to that, and they can’t really be getting what they want out of it. I’m not going to try and fill that gap here, because there are already better sites out there explaining what the Treaty was, but I will do two things. Firstly, I will make an important point about the Treaty’s effect, and then I will do what I do best, or at least most, and tell you a story from a charter that helps to illustrate the sort of thing that was going on.

Map of the Treaty of Verdun

Map of the Treaty of Verdun scrounged from the defunct MSN Encarta

First things first. The map above is very nice, but it doesn’t give you the whole story. You, if you were searching for it, have probably been told that the Treaty laid the foundations for the division of France and Germany. This is half-true. It’s true, in as much as West and East Francia are meaningful divisions hereafter and do, eventually, come to be something like what we now know as France and Germany, including the confused bits in the middle that have place-names in multiple languages. It’s not true, in as much as no-one could yet have told you where those areas ended. A big chunk of what would later be called Germany, what the Ottonians called Franconia, was still Francia to the people of the tenth century, and though Germans went on Crusade alongside Italians and people from what was by then France, outsiders were clear that really they were all just Franks. Germany, after all, isn’t a single country with an overall government, until Bismarck. The kingdom of the Germans is a subtly different thing that includes, for example, big chunks of Italy… So, as well as that map you need this one:

Map of Frankish Europe circa 880

Map of Frankish Europe circa 880

And if you click through that map, you’ll find a page with nine different post-Verdun divisions mapped on it any of which might equally be said to `create’ France and Germany (except the 884 one). That project of state-formation has a way to go yet in 843. Neither France nor Germany comes out of it, the line where the areas separate is argued over for the next century or more, and the two are even briefly unified again under Charles the Fat (hence the 884 map), though that raises further questions about how far the regions have their own identities by then, what those regions are, and whether they constitute nations yet. That set of uncertainties is where you need to locate your answer I’m afraid, not at the end of the Brüderkrieg.

That said, we can get a bit closer to the realities of those politics than the lengthy reports in the Annals of St-Bertin and Fulda, useful though they be. One of the things that does result from Verdun, just as it does from most subsequent and indeed preceding royal divisions, is that people find themselves in awkward positions. If you have opted to back, for example, Charles the Bald in the hope that he will take over Alemannia, because your family have had lands at Zürich for ages, and then it goes to Louis the German in 843, you have hard choices to make. Join Louis, and give up whatever Charles may have given you (not much, most likely, chimes in Nithard bitterly from the sidelines) to keep the family lands safe? Try and maintain good relations with both kings without being called a traitor or generally kept out of patronage because you’re not a safe bet as a supporter? What happens, after all, if one of the kings threatens you with expropriation unless you support an invasion of the other’s territory? No-one will be exactly sure whose side you’re on. Or, finally, sell up in Alemannia and go to Charles a supplicant saying, “I’ve given up all I had to support your majesty, plz halp“?

Text sample from a book in the Hochstift Freising

Text sample from a book in the Hochstift Freising

All hypothetical you may think, but I learn from my current reading that actually we have good evidence of someone in just this position, apparently actually at Verdun in 843. Coincidentally, his charter is one of the best pieces of evidence we have for the people present with the kings. But he’d taken the third option, and was selling what he owned in Bavaria, always Louis the German’s heartland, to go west. Here is the document in translation. It’s a bit confusing, partly because when Cosroh, the scribe who wrote up most of the oldest Traditionsbuch of Freising Cathedral, which is where this is preserved, copied this one up, he seems to have tried to blur bits, and bits have gone missing. This seems to be because the bishop, having bought the lands, immediately passed them into the care of his nephews rather than putting them to the service of Mother Church whose money he’d presumably bought them with. All the same, Paldric here is just the example we need…

Notice, that Erchanbert the venerable bishop and also a certain noble man, Paldric by name, constituted an agreement to exchange between themselves.

In the name of the lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let it be known to all those dwelling in the Christian religion, that Erchanbert bishop of the Church of Freising by rewarding divine grace collected together with the venerable man Paldric such things, as following reason is set out in order; this is that the same bishop and the same man named met together in the place called Dungeih which is next to the city of Verdun where was held the meeting of the three brothers Lothar, Louis and Charles and they agreed the division of their kingdom, for that the aforesaid Baldric might hand over a property that he had in the limits of Bavaria for money worth 250 pounds to the house of Holy Mary and so that Erchanbert the already-said bishop… to his nephews namely Reginpert… may have the same property till their departure from their own lives and let come from them every year to the already-said house of God 2 solidi of silver, that is from whichever of them between themselves while they live. After these things the aforesaid Baldric approached and handed into the treasure-chests of Holy Mary and into the hand of Bishop Erchanbert and his nephew Reginbert and their advocate Eparharius such property as he may have in the army-province of Bavaria in the places named Tandern, Hilgertshausen, Klenau and Singenbach with all pertaining to these things, that is a courtyard with a house, slaves, plots, meadows, pastures, woods, waters and streams, movable and immovable property, all complete in all integrity and pertaining to the aforesaid place by acquisition.

These are the witnesses brought by their ears according to the law of the Bavarians: Fritilo Count of the Palace, Count Cundpald, another Count Cundpald, Count Ratold, Count Herland, Count Orendil, Adalperht, Managolt, Reginperht, Adalhoh, Irinc, Hunolf, Cundalperht, Cundperht, Keio, Piligrim, Heriperht, Meginoit, Canto, Kepahart, Liuthart, Folmot, Petto, Regino, Reginperht, Eparherius, Otperht, Altolf, Adalo, Eginolf, Althrih, Unillihelm, Kepahoh, another Kepahoh, Tozzi, Hringolf, Sigiwart, Cozzolt, Waltfrid, Alprhih, Mahtperht, Rihperht, Willihart, Rocholf, Kernod, Tozzilo, Kartheri, Job, Friduperht, Reginhart, Immo, Tagaperht, Hiltikern, Ludwig, Erchanperht, Irmfrid, Regindeo, Chuniperht, Manno, Enginpald, Cotaperht, Jacob, Alpkis, Eccho, Helmuni, Antres, Oadalsalh, Reginheri, Perhtram, Urolf, Eigil, Ermpehrt, Offo, Rihheri, Heriperht, Engilrih, Meginperht.

And these are the demesne vassals of Freising: Ermfrid, Waldker, Lantfrid, Germo, Perhtolt, Adalhart, another Adalhart. And these the vassals of Paldric: Sigipôt, Kerans, Otachar, Camanolf, Folchaus, Deotolf, Hiltihram, Kerrih, Drudpald, Leipwin, Engilperht, Dincfrid, Magnus, Reginperht, Frumolt. These also are the sureties: Sigipot, Cundpald by whom bishop Erchanpert and his advocate Eparharius as one with his nephew Reginperht… accepted the investiture of the aforesaid things on the 11th Kalends of September among a multitude of witnesses whose names were: Adalperht, Cotaperht, Etih, Cundperht, Piligrim, Hitto, Eparheri, Jusiph, Folmot, Willihelm, Waldker, Oadalrich, Isankrim, Isanhart, Froimar, Nordperht, Wisunt, Reginpot, Perhtrih, Pisin, Jacob, Altolf, Lantperht, Talamôt, Erchanolf, Rihheri, Hucperht, Frecholf, Paldrih, Ekkiheri, Cozperht, Hrodperht, Rihheri, Lantperht, another Hitto, Hiltolf, Hrodlant, Eparhelm, Reginolt, Reginpot.

Done the year of the Lord 843, in the 6th Indiction.

Done the tenth day of the 8th month, that is the 4th Ides of August.

Leaving aside the diplomatic nuggets like the three different dates, transaction, invesititure and redaction, this is a pretty interesting set of data. Half the world is at Verdun this 843 autumn; even if we don’t know who they all are, it’s an indication of the sort of scale of hubbub such a meeting of kings would produce. On the other hand, the kings aren’t taking any part in this. That doesn’t, I think, imply that they weren’t very close by, but it does imply that this sort of business is serious enough not only to bring more supporters than your buyer does, but also that many others were there too. Each side seems to name a surety, which implies that Freising doesn’t have the money straight away (not surprising, but interesting). And Paldric is clearly not short, but if as it looks he’s selling up all he owns in Bavaria, where these gatherings are being held, what happens to his ‘vassals’ he leaves behind, presumably master-less? That could matter, yet they’re here participating. Does he retain ties that will keep them afloat? Or do they now become Freising’s vassals? If so, do they serve the bishop, or his nephew custodians? And why is it, I ask suspiciously, that only one of Erchanbert’s nephews seems to fall through the copying gaps? If I knew Freising’s material better—it’s often really interesting diplomatically but I can’t be me and Warren Brown at once—I might have an idea who this nepotic embarrassment was but as it is, I can only guess that there is some scandal here marked by the documentary silence…

As usual many questions to which we don’t have answers, but it’s still fun to wonder. And, meanwhile, if you want to know how big a deal the Treaty of Verdun was, there are 79 people who seem to have turned up for it, and that’s not even counting each side’s named dependants or the people who were presumably still hanging round the kings making sure they didn’t fight and angling for positions in the new territories…


On Verdun itself and its aftermath the best place to start may well be both of Jean Dunbabin’s France in the Making, 843-1180 (Oxford 2000) and Timothy Reuter, Germany in the Early Middle Ages, c. 800-1056 (Harlow 1991). The charter is edited in Theodor Bitterauf (ed.), Die Traditionen des Hochstifts Freising (Aalen 1905-1909, repr. 1967), 2 vols., I doc. no. 661, and I read about it in Wilfried Hartmann’s Ludwig der Deutsche (Darmstadt 2002), p. 39. I will shortly be recommending this book in more detail, but for these purposes you’ll possibly also be pleased by the fact that there’s a good map of the Treaty in the endpapers…

A library with pedigrees

A package came for me the other day that turned out to be a copy of Ramon d’Abadal i de Vinyals’s Els Primers Comtes Catalans, which is pretty much the starting book for what I work on, an attempt to sort the national myths from the actual evidence for early Catalonia. I’d browsed for it on ABE Books on a whim and found a copy for sale in the UK. I was so pleased to score it—and it’s a nice copy too, dust-jacket has one chip and that’s all, tight, VG+, yes I did use to work in the trade since you ask—that I never thought to wonder why there was a copy for sale in the UK.

Cover of Ramon d'Abadal i de Vinyals's Els Primers Comtes Catalans

Cover of Ramon d'Abadal i de Vinyals's Els Primers Comtes Catalans

The last two trips I’ve made to Exeter have been for conferences, I mentioned one here and the other one was before the blog, and on both occasions Professor Richard Hitchcock has been selling no-longer-wanted parts of his library, as I guess he settles down to working only on what he intends to continue with. I’ve never had the money to buy the few things he was offering that touched my period, much to my chagrin. So it’s kind of amusing to find his signature in the flyleaf of my new book.

I can add this to the few volumes of Philip Grierson‘s, the couple of presents from Rosamond McKitterick and Matthew Innes and the long ton of Jinty Nelson’s cast-offs that make up a good chunk of my library. Mind you, this is not the most extreme case I know of: Matthew still has a copy of Braunfels’s Karl der Große Bd I. that he got from Rosamond, who’d been given it by Philip (who was in it). I really need to have books to give to these people to link the ends of this loop up, sadly not possible to Philip but otherwise it would be neat. I wonder if any of what I amass will be of worth to my students in the inevitable end, and if any of it will have passed to me by such means like these. How many generations can we pass books through?

A Jarrett bookcase

A Jarrett bookcase