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Disputing and Dispute Resolution in Monastic Charters from the Vendômois, c. 1040-1118


1. Death, Captivity and Inheritance in the Touraine (in and around 1040-1045)
2. How the dispute over the vines at Landes was resolved (1047-1081)
3. The Monks Call a Duellist’s Bluff (September 24, 1069)
4. Secular Lordship and the Humiliation of Relics (August 1074)
5. Monks, Duelling, and Paid Champions (1087-1090)
6. A Victim of Lordly Warfare Calls for the Monks (c. 1100)
7. The Count of Vendôme Disputes with the Monks of Vendôme, 1108
8. Viscount Geoffrey of Châteaudun grants rights at Cormenon to the monks, 1134
9. Changes in agricultural practice lead to a conflict, which is settled in the Count’s court, 1146
10. A Serf Causes Problems for the Monks, circa 1148
11. A Judicial Duel is Narrowly Averted, 1146-1152
13. Freedom, Land Tenure, and Power: the Case of the Provost of Villedieu (sometime before 1159)
14. A man inflicts violence on the monks and then pays for it with a penitential whipping (before 1188)


1. Death, Captivity and Inheritance in the Touraine (in and around 1040-1045)

There is a certain castle in the Touraine called L’Ile-Bouchard, which formerly a certain miles, Hugh, possessed by hereditary right.  He was the oldest of his brothers, whose names were Haimericus and Geoffrey Fuel.  He had one son, named Burchard; when he was dying, Hugh relinquished the hereditas of this castle to this son, who was still very young. When he had died, Count Theobald [of Blois-Chartres], in whose power [potestas] the county of the Touraine lay, came to the aforesaid castle in order to receive it and deliver it to he whom he trusted.  But the men of this castle feared that the count would deliver the castle to the boy’s mother, whom they didn’t love very much. Although they knew that the boy, the son of Hugh, was the correct heir, they didn’t want to receive the count in the castle until he had given sureties that he would do nothing concerning the honor of the castle without their advice.  While they were doing this, Haimericus, brother of Hugh, came to this castle, where the men received him with joy.  Through these same men, Haimericus requested from the count that he be allowed to have the inheritance of the castle.  But the count, who did not want to disinherit the boy Burchard, who was the more legitimate [justior] heir, finally came to such an agreement [conventum] with him that Haimericus might hold that inheritance not as heir, but as advocate [advocatus] of the boy for a span of fifteen years.

And thus, after the mother had departed with the boy, Haimericus possessed the castle, which he did for ten years. When, however, he became moved by fear of God and wished to become a monk, Haimericus surrendered wardship [procuratio] of the castle to his aforesaid brother, Geoffrey Fuel, for the rest of that span of years that Count Theobald had fixed, of which no more than five remained.  He did this with an oath.  

Meanwhile Count Geoffrey [“Martel”, of Anjou] invaded the entire county which Count Theobald [of Blois-Chartres] used to possess in the Touraine, and expelled the same Geoffrey [Fuel] and others from their castles; from the inheritance of the aforesaid boy, Burchard son of Hugh, which Count Geoffrey likewise seized, he donated a villa named La Rivière to the abbey of Vendôme. The monks held this villa for a while.

Afterwards Geoffrey Fuel, since he was unable to recover everything [of his former estate], received from Count Geoffrey only the castle [of L’Ile-Bouchard], which Geoffrey had been holding as a spoil of conquest, lest he lose the rest of his honor; but he did not recover La Rivière, which the count had given to the said abbey against Geoffrey Fuel’s wishes.  But when Count Geoffrey died, Geoffrey Fuel expelled the monks from the villa which he had unwillingly lost and took it for himself.  

Meanwhile, the boy Burchard, son of the said Hugh, was now of age, and had been furnished with warlike harness [cum armis militaribus] by Count Theobald; as the rightful heir, he recovered his castle of L’Ile-Bouchard after expelling his uncle, Geoffrey Fuel.  The latter, even though he had been justly expelled, waged the fiercest war [maximam guerram] against his nephew, so much so that he fortified a castle at the villa of Tavennam, which is a cell of Marmoutier [n.b.: another important abbey in the area]. But Burchard gathered an enormous force of horsemen and foot soldiers [milites et pedites] and attacked Tavennam; there, having burned the monastery, he captured his uncle with his soldiers [milites] and held him in captivity until the end of his days.  Finally, moved by fear of God, he delivered half of La Rivière to Marmoutier as reparation for the burning of the church dedicated in honor of the blessed Mary mother of God.

And, when death approached and Burchard had received the monastic habit from the monks of St Martin, he delivered the other half to them, agreeing to force his uncle, whom he still held in captivity, to promise under oath to cause no injury to the monks of St Martin. But once Burchard was dead, [Geoffrey] did not observe the bond of his oath and expelled the monks. Still, Pelochinus, Burchard’s nephew, who had received the inheritance of the said castle of L’Ile-Bouchard, did not want to allow the alms of his uncle to be wholly destroyed, and thus restored the aforesaid La Rivière as restitution to the monks whom Geoffrey had unjustly expelled.  Nevertheless, Pelochinus retained a fair part of it during his life.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 399. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

2. How the dispute over the vines at Landes was resolved (1047-1081)

Concerning the resolution of the dispute over the vines at Landes:

Among other benefits [commoda] of the many gifts with which Geoffrey, Count of the Angevins, was always accustomed to benignly augment at every opportunity the place of the monastery of Holy Trinity, Vendôme, of which he was its original founder, he delivered through an open donation to the monks three and a half arpents of vines at Landes, so that the cure of his soul might more readily be obtained before God the Eternal Judge. And after these [arpents] had been held free from any interference of claimants for a not-insubstantial amount of time, an unexpected claim popped up after a long time from a certain Constantine, a suburbanus of Angers, who had initially possessed the vines, and from his sons.  Then Lord Abbot Odricus set up a hearing [placitum] concerning this matters with the disputers to be held before the Count, who was the donor of the vines; at this meeting the opposing claim might more competently be addressed. But the aforesaid disputants reversed the intended hearing, or rather their objection in the unjust quarrel, for a short while and for that reason, with the count still living, they avoided having to discuss the case just by being silent.  After the death of the aforesaid Prince, they accepted more sane counsel and what they had been unable to obtain through disputing they finally were able to attain through mercy.  At last, with the great intercession of Bishop Eusebius of Angers’ request, their prayers towards lord Abbot Odricus and the other monks gained strength such that, once father, mother and sons had been received within the orations and the benefice of the brethren [consortium], the monks conceded half of those vines for the sake of fraternity and peace to these three alone for the length of their lives, with no right of alienation, that is, to Constantine and to his current wife and to Lisoius their first born; all others had been irrevocably alienated from that possession.  After the deaths of those who have been named, just as was decreed, the church will recover the vines in their entirety.  These ones, truly, before they had accepted the benefice of the monastery, manifestly dismissed whatever they had claimed, with all of their children in assent. Afterwards the monks made this agreement with Constantine and his wife, namely that if for the good of their souls they would relinquish to the monastery at their death whatever [goods] fortune shall have bestowed upon them, then the monks would receive their bodies to be buried as honorably as if they were monks.  If however they didn’t wish to, or delivered goods that were not wholly theirs, nevertheless for the sake of fraternity the divine office of burial would still be shown to them, just as was said.  It should be known that Lisias the clerk, son of the said Constantine, became the man [homo] of Abbot Odricus for this recovery of the vines alone.  This agreement was made and confirmed before these religious and these legitimate men [legitimos] whose names are found below:

Bishop Eusebius, Geoffrey the archdeacon, Geoffrey de Intrammes, Geoffrey the brother of Bishop Martin, Primaldus the clerk, Harduin the man [homo] of Bishop Eusebius, Constantine suburbanus, Lisias his son, Lord Abbot Odricus, Vitalis the monk, Robert the deacon, Tescelinus, Severinus his brother, Arnaldus the household-man, Frogerius the household-man of the secretary, Vivian the household-man, Peter, Thetbertus, [and] Adraldus the household-man.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 1, no. 170. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

3. The Monks Call a Duellist’s Bluff (September 24, 1069)

Concerning the land of the fief of Peter Cadbert:

Let it be known .... [the only surviving manuscript elides most of the prologue] ... He [Peter Cadbert] said he was ready at any time to prove this through an oath as well as through judicial battle, but when the day of the duel arrived, and our man Alcherus was prepared once again to convince him [Peter] of the falsity of his claims, he [Peter] instead gave himself wholly over to the counsel of his friends, who suggested to him that he should amicably dismiss the quarrel in good faith [per fidem; that is, not through combat] and that he, not wanting to chance a duel, might confidently expect to receive 30 shillings of ecclesiastical money for that concession. In the year 1069, 8 kalends of October.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 1, no. 189. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

4. Secular Lordship and the Humiliation of Relics (August 1074)

Concerning the end of Eudo of Blaison’s dispute over Cheviré:

We want it to be known to all who come later through the recording of these words, lest through the passage of the ages carelessness should steal it away and it be delivered to oblivion, but also so that if necessity should require it it might more easily and more truthfully deserve to be recorded, that Eudo, who is called ‘of Blaison,’ since he had for long been bringing dispute against the monks of Holy Trinity Vendôme concerning a certain church called Cheviré and had finally found the right time and the right opportunity, turned his hand to assault and carried the church off.  He did this with the consent of Fulk, Count of the Angevins [Fulk IV Rechin, 1068-1109], even if, as Fulk himself confessed, and as the conclusion of the affair showed, Fulk was entirely unwilling to be complicit in this matter.  But since at that time Fulk was still of youthful age, still inexperienced as a commander, and still beset by the danger of many wars, he did not dare to resist (nor was he able to resist) Eudo or the other persecutors of the Holy Church as he wanted and as was correct for him to do. [So], for a short while as was mentioned above Fulk unwillingly went along with the seizure, although he would gladly have spoken against it if circumstances [tempus] had permitted it.

But the monks, impoverished [curtati] by such a great injury to their food supplies [victualium] and at that point seeing no refuge in human assistance, since he who ought to procure justice for them had joined with the plunderers, turned to God with the greatest contrition in their hearts and made a simultaneous clamor and complaint [querimonia], such that, by lowering the very image of the crucifixion of our Lord, that is the cause [causa] of our salvation, from its proper place, they placed it on top of thorns that had been laid on the bare pavement of the church. The monks did this not out of shame nor in order to dishonor the Lord’s image, but so that by this act the malefactors might be frightened into ending their unjust invasion of the church and their seizure of its possessions.  For truly the brothers daily prostrated themselves in prayer before the feet of the Crucifix and by the recitation of psalms and the litany of the mass, they venerated the same image of the Lord of Humanity with the most humble devotion.

This was done until such time as the necessity of war against the count of the Poitevins began pressing down on the same aforesaid Count Fulk. When Fulk perceived himself to be placed in such danger that the matter had reached a climax, and that he would either have to fight in close combat or flee in shame, forced by this moment of such imminent danger and mindful of the injury which he had inflicted on the church of Holy Trinity, he vowed and, indeed, promised openly when many of his milites were listening, that if God would grant them victory over his enemies in this case, he would restore for certain to God and the monks of Vendôme whatever he had unjustly allowed to be seized from them. And having spoken in this way, he initiated battle. Having obtained victory through God’s favor, and having captured certain noble men from the enemy side, the uninjured Fulk returned home with great haste.

Then, after he had caused Eudo to come before him, he effected the following agreement of concord with Eudo: Eudo accepted ten pounds of pennies from the monks of Holy Trinity and in turn gave up his claim to the church which he had taken from them, as well as the claim to other things that he had been prosecuting. Once the agreement had been completed, both proceeded to the monastery of Holy Trinity, and, with both standing before the Lord’s altar, the agreement was first read out in the hearing of all who had come, just as it had been arranged by them. The count, moreover, added to the agreement, namely that the same Eudo would freely get his wife and sons to affirm the agreement and that even if the count should not fully attend to the agreements he had made with Eudo in this matter, as he had promised to do, Eudo would nevertheless make no further complaint against the monks on this account.  Freely agreeing to all these things, he placed both the gift and his authorization on the altar with his own hand, using an Angevin penny and a small knife which a certain homo of Holy Trinity, namely Warner called the son of Mary, had given him for this purpose.

Then returning to the standard of the Lord’s Cross, which is the principal insignia of human redemption, and which chiefly on account of both of these men still lay removed from its accustomed location on the pavement, they united their hands and most reverently lifted it from the ground and restored it to its proper place; they received help from many others, many of whom were crying, and the populace that had gathered to witness this watched and applauded with great joy.

There were so many witnesses of both sexes and all ages present at the satisfaction of this matter that they filled the walls of the church. Since we did not know the names of all, nor did we care to mark down one-by-one the names of everyone, we instead took pains to briefly write down several selected names to transmit the memory of the testimony to our successors:

Count Fulk; Robert the provost, nicknamed Martel; Hugh de Mayenne; Simon de Francigena; Girard Calvellus; Warin the cellarer; Warner son of Mary, homo of Holy Trinity; Alcherius and his son Raynald; Robert the carpenter; Stabilis the carpenter, and his brother Bernard hortolanus; Arnald the cook; Bernard the fisherman; Joscelin the fisherman; John the fisherman; Stephen the cook; Ademar the cook; Arnald the boy portarius; Warin the portarius; Mainard the tailor; Benedict also a tailor; David the boy; Eudo de Blaison; Ralph son of Cadelo; Peter his brother; Landry homo of Eudo; Grossinus the faber; Marcoard the canon of Saint-Maurice; Eblo the canon of Saint-Laud; Geoffrey Pipin the canon of Saint-Martin; Bernard the priest of Holy Cross; David the clerk; Israel the miles; Rainald the voyer [vicarius]; David the count’s cook; William the baker; Archembald de Aquaria and his son the clerk.

[Here is] Eudo’s sign which he made in the Count’s chamber +  with these witnesses whose names are listed below having seen him make it: Sigebrannus of Chemillé, Harduin of Arestario; Fulk de Matefelon; Pagan de Anceniso; Geoffrey; Martin the clerk and canon of Saint-Maurice; Godfrey the brother of Ivo; Gosbert the voyer; Alberic, brother of Hildrad the monk; Clarembald the miles; Gerald Gorellus; Frodomundus the monk, Arnald the monk.

This was done at Angers, in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1074, in the 12th indiction, in the month of August, in the twenty-sixth year of the bishopric of Bishop Eusebius of Angers, and during the time when Lord Oderic was abbot of the monastery of Vendôme.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 1, no. 245. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

5. Monks, Duelling, and Paid Champions (1087-1090)

We want it to be known to all that an altercation formerly existed between us, the monks of Vendôme, and the monks of Marmoutier concerning the tithe of a certain of our lands belonging to the parish of Fontaine. Those monks, since they had defied the ordained canons to their benefit (for we had held that tithe in utter quiet for more than thirty years), went to the Countess [Euphronia], since the count was at that point being held captive [ed. by Lancelin of Beaugency], and to Vulgrin, who was acting in her place, and to the other barons of Vendôme, and through prayers and bribery got them to compel us to come to a legal debate concerning this matter.  At this meeting a controversy occurred.  By the clear law of the duel they judged it should be decided between one of our men and someone from their household, neither of which should be an expert at this [ie., at duelling]. But although the aforesaid monks [of Marmoutier] should thus have brought someone of this sort, they instead brought a man who had been paid, and who was available for hire to anyone engaged in such business.  But the men of Vendôme recognized this man. Once he had been recognized, they would immediately have lost their case, except that out of the integrity of our sense of justice we agreed to advise them they could produce another champion if they desired. And thus they produced Lealdus, a sufficiently law-worthy man and a servant [famulus] of a priest, who was already standing before the relics on which the oaths were to be sworn. And we had our man prepared for our side, and he had been already waiting for a long time. The two were to fight. But the monks of St Martin [i.e., of Marmoutier] were not ignorant of the injustice of their claim, and so they abandoned wholly the legal claim [lex] which they had begun and announced that their claim against us was now quiet.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 333. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

6. A Victim of Lordly Warfare Calls for the Monks (c. 1100)

Let us take care to notify the monks of Holy Trinity that Norman, son of Drogo de Montoire, having been captured and grievously wounded by Geoffrey de Mayenne, pledged himself to God and promised to the aforesaid monks to make himself a monk if Geoffrey, who held him prisoner, would permit it. Geoffrey, at the request of these monks, agreed to this. And therefore the monks who dwelled at Villedieu, namely Walter and Fulcradus, came and clothed him with the monastic habit in the dungeon of La Chartre, where he was held captive. He truly gave to the same abbey of Holy Trinity half of the church of Marthaiaco, with all its revenues.  These witnesses were there: Robert, brother of the same Norman, who freely confirmed the gift; Aimery son of Hugh; and Christiana his wife. Afterwards Fulcradus came to Montoire so that he might know whether Robert’s wife might also concede the gift, which she freely did in Fulcradus’ hearing. Her son, Hugh, also confirmed it. 

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 391. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

7. The Count of Vendôme Disputes with the Monks of Vendôme, 1108

Let all of our successors, both present and future, know that at one point our men violated the castle of Vendôme, dragging from it by force certain goods. Whence our Abbot Geoffrey offered to Count Geoffrey [of Vendôme], who was called “Greymantle,” the lord of that castle, to make amends in the court of the abbey of Holy Trinity, just as formerly Count Geoffrey [“Martel” of Anjou], who founded this abbey from nothing, had firmly ordained and just as is found to be correct procedure in our privileges secured from the Holy See.  Even though he had rightfully been told by his barons that at this point he ought to come around to what is right, the indignant count declared that he would in no way come to our court concerning this matter.  And thus, believing the counsel of none of the prudent men [boni viri], and having been greatly aroused both by his youth and by the fury of inconstancy, he violently invaded our burgus and held it. And he left his guardians there, but caused nothing to be carried off from the burg.

At length, having been overwhelmed simultaneously by justice and reason, he offered and made right concerning this to God and to our lord Abbot Geoffrey, and to all the monks, by placing a little knife on the Lord’s altar. He promised through a good oath from that point on to be the helper of this place and its defender against all men. Moreover, he conceded and authorized to us in perpetuity our privileges and all our other goods to be wholly free and quiet, just as Count Geoffrey [Martel] had held them, and [just as] the Popes had strengthened them.  And he promised, in the presence of the relics which were held inside the altar and in the presence of the body of our Lord which was placed above the altar, that he would impose no more customs or violence against our monastery, against our burg, or against our goods on any occasion, and that he would thenceforth not seize or hold our burg on account of any misdeed of ours or of any of our men.  This was done in the year of the Lord 1108. 

Those who saw and heard it were: the same Count Geoffrey Greymantle, Hugh Capellus of Chateaudun, Geoffrey Pagan, Hieremias, Adelemus de Semblançay, Gano de Catellione, Archambaud the provost, Walter the nutricius, Fulcher of Ferraria, John de Pont-Saint-Bienheuré, his son Geoffrey the clerk, Ansaldus Bucherius, his brother Milo, Geoffrey Gombertus, Ralph Irleius, Arembert Irleius, Rainald corvisarius, Berenger Bubuculus, Henry Britellus, Robert Ollanus, Pagan of Blois, and lord Abbot Geoffrey and the entire convent of monks. 

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 420. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

8. Viscount Geoffrey of Châteaudun grants rights at Cormenon to the monks, 1134

Charter concerning Cormenon:

Whenever we give to the poor or to churches we do not give our things to others; rather we return their things. For those things which we return to them for love of God we can expect a reward from Him through hope, not through vanity.  Therefore, I, Geoffrey, viscount of Châteaudun and lord of Mondoubleau, and Helvisa, my most noble wife, confirm to God and to the monks of Vendôme into the hands of Fromond, abbot of Vendôme, for the love of God and for our souls and the souls of all our ancestors, all things which were given by our ancestors to the monastery, as well as all things given by other which they had confirmed. Namely, [we confirm] the church of St Peter of Cormenon with all revenues pertaining to that church; also the land of Petrariorum and all things which our ancestors gave to them in their charters.  Afterwards we conceded to them the land of Rainald Inforciatus whole and quiet. In all these things we retain nothing for us or for our heirs, not vicaria, not blood, not theft, not fire, not adultery, not tallage, not bidannum, except only the pannage of the monks’ pigs.  And if by chance a fight between two of the monks’s men, or between one of their men and someone else, shall come to be ended by a duel, the duel shall be held in our court at Mondoubleau. If on market day the men of the monks shall sell anything in the market or on the public road to the market, they shall pay to us and to our successors the required custom. Concerning all those things that they might sell on other days within the monks’ lands, they shall render no custom to us or to our successors.  In our woods the monks shall have their own pigs, and will render no pannage for them. They and their men can take trees for building homes, for fire, and for necessary uses from those lands belonging to us.

Done in the forest called Perche, in the house of the knights of the Temple, in the year from the Incarnation of the Lord 1134, on the kalends of December.

These men saw and heard: Frodo de Saint-Martin, Berard his son, Girard the devil, Girard de Morenville, Hilgot, Balfredus.

Afterwards the following confirmed this at Chateaudun: our first born son Hugh, Isbert Pagan, and our daughters Alpet, Helvisa and Matilda. These men saw and heard it: Gelduin Disreatus; Hugh Esclencherius; Hubert Esclencherius; Robert Piscatdarsum; Theobald son of Forratus. From the monks of Vendôme, Hilarius the almoner, who wrote this charter, Fulk the chamberlain. From the household, Geoffrey Burgotus, Peter his brother. We commanded this charter to be written and sealed with our seal and we annotated it in our own hands with the sign of the holy cross, on the day of the feast of the Innocents.

Sign of Viscount Geoffrey:  +
Sign of Viscountess Helvisa: +

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 471. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

9. Changes in agricultural practice lead to a conflict, which is settled in the Count’s court, 1146

Concerning the tithes of Cheviré

Among the ancient muniments of the monastery of Vendôme we find that Geoffrey Martel, famous count of the Angevins [died 1060], gave to the monastery of Vendôme the burg and church of Cheviré with a great part of the tithes pertaining to it. The inhabitants rendered these tithes in grain for many years; however it pleased them to plant grapevines on the greater part of those lands, from which they had used to pay the grain-tithe. But, partly led by avarice and partly confused by the men and by the strength of their lords, they refused to pay the tithe of grapes. Due to this disagreement between the monks of Vendôme and the inhabitants of those lands, there was contention up until the time of Abbot Robert of Vendôme. 

Hearing of the injury being done to his church, the abbot lodged his complaint [clamor] in the ears of Geoffrey, most noble duke of the Normans and count of the Angevins [Geoffrey le Bel, 1129-1151]. Since he was capable of reason and was a lover of justice, Geoffrey ordered Hugh de Clefs, who was steward of L’Ile-Bouchard and Baugé, to put an end to this business through a judgment in such a way that the count might never again hear anything about this complaint. And truly, since those lands were part of the fisc of Waldinus of Malicorne, the count commanded that Waldinus be summoned in order to admonish his leading men to pursue in the court of Baugé whatever justice demands. And thus the steward summoned Waldinus, who willingly ordered his sub-vassals [vavassors] to come to the court of Baugé and answer to the abbot of Vendôme concerning these tithes. 

On the day that had been set [for the judgment], Waldinus was at the court with his milites and the abbot was there with the monks and their friends. Having listened to the arguments of both sides, the judges decreed that the abbot should stand back from there with his men so that they could discuss the matter among themselves.  Finally, by unanimous counsel they agreed that in no way ought the tithe of grapes be denied to them who had formerly held the tithe of grain. The abbot’s adversaries, pondering this, said among themselves that it would be better to surrender the tithe to the abbot out of love for Holy Trinity than to permit the judgment to be announced and thereby to lose the tithe through judgment [judicium]. Having been summoned again, the abbot came into court, uncertain who would read the response or sentence concerning his complaint. Then Hugh de Clefs, who held part of the rent [census] of those vines from which the abbot sought a tithe, said with the agreement and in the presence of everyone: “We and our ancestors and our men held these vines, from which you are seeking a tithe of grapes, in this way: that no one ever rendered any grapes nor any wine except so much as he wished to give voluntarily. However, out of the deepest love for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we have conceded to you and your successors, the monks of Vendôme, that a full tithe of grapes shall be paid to you in the aforesaid vines, just as when, before the vines were planted, the tithe of grain-harvests used to be paid.” The entire crowd of the abbot’s adversaries offered assent to this speech, and each of them responded that he wanted it thus; these are their names: Matthew de Baugé, Hamelin de Troeio, Corbinus de Rugiaco, Barbotus de Tessero, Geoffrey son of Bernard and provost of Baugé, Peter Coleia, Maurice Reiniaco, Pagan son of Oggerius.

Having heard this, the abbot asked the steward which of their adversaries concerning these matters weren’t present or had not offered assent to the present men. Then through the judgment of the comital court it was adjudged [adjudicata] that the tithe in grapes from the vines was to be paid by everyone, just as had previously been paid from the field harvests. These are the names of the men who made this decision: Hugh de Clefs, comital steward; Fulk de Molinternia, Fulk the forester, Russell of Montfaucon, Geoffrey de Villaguaii, Helias Ligerii. 

A great multitude of clergy, milites, and townsmen who had gathered on market day praised this judgment and acclaimed it as just. These offered assent to the judgment: Waldinus de Malicorne, Basilius Fisardi, Barbotus de Fishio, Mischinus filius Seimari. These saw and heard from the clergy: Baiamundus archdeacon of Angers, Vaslotus the school master [magister scolarum], Geoffrey de Vaux, Geoffrey Isabie, Geoffrey the priest of Old-Baugé, Robert the priest of Cheviré, Ebrard prior of Villedieu, Goslin de Bruillio. These saw and heard from the abbey’s household: John the chamberlain, Maurice the cook, Benedict the marshal, Raegotus, Christopher, Evraldus de Cheviré the provost of Waldinus and of the monks. These saw and heard from the estate [curtis] of Cheviré: Robert Mulot, Eudetus de Butreio, Herbert Blancus, Escotus de Baionaria and many other clergy and laymen.

Enacted publicly at Baugé in the court of Geoffrey, most noble duke of the Normans and Count of the Angevins, in the year 1146 from the Incarnation of the Lord, on the Fifth of the Ides of April, on Monday.

I Geoffrey, by the grace of God duke of the Normans and count of the Angevins, ordered this quarrel to be settled by judgment, and hearing it, I approved the decision. I ordered a charter to be made thence, and I confirmed it with my seal, ordering the steward of Baugé and the provost to always be assistants to the monks in acquiring this tithe, and ordering that these officers ensure that this tithe not be plundered or diminished.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 514 Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

10. A Serf Causes Problems for the Monks, circa 1148

Concerning Geoffrey Pagan’s female servant:

Let it be known to all, both present and future, that Geoffrey Pagan formerly gave his female servant [ancilla], the daughter of Osbert of Solesmes, with that land which her father Osbert had given her as her marriage-portion, and all her progeny to God and to the monks of Holy Trinity Vendôme in alms to possess forever; he did this for the redemption of his soul and for the souls of his ancestors.  Geoffrey, the most famous pastor of the monastery of Vendôme at the time of Geoffrey Pagan’s gift, who is now dead, gave her and her land to a certain serf [servus] of the church, namely Hugh S. de Sartrino, as his wife.  Hugh and she had a son who was called Barbotinus. He, growing older as time progressed, reached maturity when, owing to the intervention of bad fortune, he was deprived of both his parents. Once this happened, Barbotinus forgot his condition and the servitude of his parents; he climbed up a mountain of pride such that he abandoned the path of his father, who had faithfully served the monks, his lords, for all his life as best he could. Instead, Barbotinus neglected any reverence he ought to owe to the monks and despised them; he substituted injury and contumely for the service he owed.  Abbot Geoffrey, considering this and pondering it to himself with prudent deliberation, recognized that he was not able to resist Barbotinus’ depravity by himself; so, having taken wiser counsel to despise the pride of Barbotinus, the abbot promised that he would bind Barbotinus at some point into the former lordship of servitude. 

Meanwhile Barbotinus died without heir and the land fell into the hand of Bartholomew. It happened however, after many intervening years, that Bartholomew, once he had legitimately betrothed his daughter to Josbert de Boschat, made plans to go to Jerusalem and thus delivered that land with his daughter into the guardianship of Josbert; Josbert would remain the heir of this land after the death of Bartholomew.  But Bartholomew died on his journey and Josbert succeeded him.  Robert, at that time by the grace of God the distinguished pastor of the monastery of Vendôme, was intent on acquiring the benefices of this monastery that had been carried away before his time wretchedly and perhaps by the laziness of the inhabitants. So he asked the aforesaid Josbert, both in person and through friends, about such a possibility. The abbot made the matter known to him by recounting the story from its beginning, including how the original gift had been made by Geoffrey Pagan and how an understanding had been reached between Bartholomew and the lord Abbot. Hearing this, Josbert recognized the monks’ legitimate right and, out of fear and love for God, out of affection for lord abbot Robert, and after having been convinced by his friends, he restored the aforesaid land to the monks without any retention, to be possessed in perpetuity by them just as Geoffrey Pagan had given it to father Bartholomew [sic].  Nevertheless, Josbert received a gift of 300 shillings of Angevin money out of love from the communal treasury of the monastery. This restoration and the confirmation of the restoration was made in the chapterhouse of Vendôme into the hands of lord Abbot Robert, with all the monks hearing and seeing it; these very many clergy and laymen were also there, affording testimony to this matter.

Their names are these: Josbert himself, Hervey de Bellovidere, Stephen Graol, Peter Torellus, Bocardus Buccellus, Erchembaud the provost of Caput-Asini, Arnulf Bodellus, Guerris Charous the relative of William of Solesmes, this same William and his brother Brito, Hilgot of Caresmo, William de Posterna, Bartholomew his brother, Odo the dean, Hilgot the priest; from our men, Lord Abbot Robert and the entire chapter; from the household, G. Burgotus, Geoffrey Faber, Geoffrey Brito, Sirot, Lambertus, Robert de Villedieu, Geoffrey son of Guibaldi, Odo Polardus, Vitalis de Sartrino, Rainald Russell, Lucas de Tesla, Roger de Quoquina Malecalciatus; also from his party, Bartholomew son of Oggerius his seneschal.

Charous the relative of William of Solemes also confirmed this in his house, as did his wife who received for it 6 d., and their two sons, Osbert and Peter, who each received 2 d., and his daughter, who received 2 d.; Osmund who had been sent there to hear this, together with the household-man Geoffrey Brito, gave them this money. 

The aforesaid Josbert warranted this in the hand of Lord Abbot Robert, in the chapter of Holy Trinity, and the pledges given thence were William, Lisoius, Walebrunnus de Mainleio, and John de Saint-Anton. This was done in the chamber of Lord Robert.  These aforesaid milites warranted this according to this agreement: that if the said Josbert should violate this agreement, which would not be right, the said milites, after having been summoned by the abbot, shall be held captive within Vendôme for so long as it takes for this matter to be pacified to the abbot’s pleasure. These saw it: Lord Abbot Robert, Fulcherius the cellarer, Simon the almoner, Frodo the prior of Coulommiers, Osmund then the hospitaller; from the household, Richard Roillaguth, Goeffrey Brito; on his part, Josbert himself, Theobald de Gravia, Hilgotus Boccellus, William Poncetus, Rainaud the man from Maine, and very many others.

Lord Abbot Robert sent Osmund, then the hospitaller, to Preuilly so that Adeleldis, daughter of the said Bartholomew and wife of Josbert, might confirm it; she received for her confirmation a silver cup worth one mark. These saw and heard: the same Josbert, Bartholomew son of Oggerius, Philip son of Pagan Cornutus, Aamers, Odo, William Bofferez, Bestornatus, Warin asinarius, Hugotus Foras, Hamelina of Solesmes, Osmund the monk and his household-man, Sirot. 

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 524. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

11. A Judicial Duel is Narrowly Averted, 1146-1152

Concerning Baigneaux:

On the feast-day of St Solempnis, the men of Baigneaux perform commendation to Borellus de Conan; namely, each person who has cow renders a Blesois sexter of oats, while each person who has a hearth but no cows renders a Blesois mina of oats.  It happened moreover that Borellus de Conan acknowledged this, but said that if he did not receive this commendation on the day of St Solempnis, he would seize spoils from Baigneaux, for which he would accept 40 shillings of Blesois money as a fine. Hearing this, Lord Abbot Robert argued against Borellus de Conan through means of a duel in the court of Count Theobald that Borellus did not possess the right to this fine in Baigneaux.  This court was held in Count Theobald’s place by his son Henry, by Peter de Faut, by Joscelin de Auneello, and by Guibert the count’s provost.  And after Abbot Robert had appeared in court with his champion in order to fight Borellus, Abbot Robert and Borellus instead made peace concerning that duel and the fine of 40 shillings with the advice of the court in the following way: if Borellus does not receive the said commendation on the day of St Solempnis, he shall receive the same commendation from the provost of Baigneaux either in person or through a messenger. The same provost shall deliver the commendation to him without a fee within twenty-four hours; if he doesn’t receive it within twenty-four hours, Borellus shall have a 5 shilling fine. 

These men saw and heard: Lord Abbot Robert, Fulcherius the cellarer, Baldwin hospitalis, Flucherius son of Vivian, Girard the prior of Craon, Rahier de Vieuville, Hardouin de Chantosma, Vulgrin son of Geoffrey Pagan, William Ruillatus, Geoffrey de Vaux, Pagan Galachus and his brother Orricus, Hilgot the provost of Baigneaux, Borellus de Villa Gumberge; [these saw and heard] on the part of Borellus de Conan: Hervey Teonius the nephew of Borellus de Conan, Peter Torellus, Joscelin de Saint-Brice. 

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 535. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

12. Problems Arising from Joint Possession of a Piece of Land, 1146-1152

Concerning the land of Buslot:

Let it be known to all men that we, the monks of Vendôme, held a certain land in common with Peter Papilio. This land was in the place called Buslot, and Walter Papilio, Peter’s father, had given us our share. But since that land, as we already said, was held jointly, we were not able to deliver it over to our villeins to be held or cultivated since the same Peter had the right to participate jointly with us in all things. For which reason the said land remained uncultivated for a long time, since no one dared to occupy it for fear of all the heavy customs and exactions that would be levied by the same knight [ie., by Peter].  Finally, when the said Peter saw that the land profited neither him nor us, he augmented his father’s gift for the sake of his soul and for the souls of his kinsmen, and thus he liberally gave us six measures from this land, without that part that was to be cultivated by him, to do with as we pleased just as if it were our own.  His mother Abbia and his brother Papilio the clergyman confirmed this; for this concession of land, they received 12 pennies as a gift. For their concession of a pond which we had built in this place, they received 2 pennies.

These people saw and heard: Fulcherius the cellarer, Theobald the prior of Pisotus, Girald the armarius, Hubert the provost of Pisotus, Hildearius the provost of Peter Papilio, Haimericus the forester of Rainald of la Tour, Picot the knight [miles], Hugh son of Rainer, Solomon, Rainald Britel, and many others.

Afterwards the same Peter, with his mother and brother Papilio, came and placed this gift of this deed on the alter of Holy Trinity. All of the choir monks saw this. From the household, Hubert the provost of Pisotus [saw this].  

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 533. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

13. Freedom, Land Tenure, and Power: the Case of the Provost of Villedieu (sometime before 1159)

Concerning the provost-ship of Villedieu:

Let as many as possible know, and would that everyone knew, that Walter the provost of Villedieu came from the household of the monastery of Vendôme, since son .... [sic; a hole in the surviving manuscript]; even though he was born of servile stock Walter was nevertheless esteemed for his upright conduct [bonis moribus]; he cheerfully and properly served the monks of Vendôme as his lords. On account of this service, Lord Abbot Geoffrey commended to him the provost-ship of Villedieu. He ministered in this office prudently and vigorously to the benefit of the monks and the inhabitants of that lordship [curtis]. After Abbot Geoffrey died, and Lord Fromond had taken up the direction of the abbey, Fromond asked Walter the conditions under which he held that provost-ship, even though Fromond had learned the truth from his predecessor.  To this interrogation Walter responded that his lord, Geoffrey, Abbot of Vendôme, had given the provost-ship to him and that he had nothing in it in fief, nor from his patrimony, nor had he ever possessed such rights; moreover, he said he was ready to relinquish it at the command of Fromond or the chapter of Vendôme. These saw and heard this: Gatho the monk who was prior of Villedieu, Walter the monk; these saw from the household, Walter de Crocé, Babinus his nephew, Geoffrey Rebutatus.

After the death of Walter, Fromond’s successor, Abbot Hubert, held the provost-ship for a short while in his own hand. Afterwards, William, son of Walter the provost, came to him and through his own pleas and those of his friends, especially Bartholomew son of Geoffrey Pagan, asked him to give him the said provost-ship, knowing full well that he could claim nothing in it as patrimony or as any other hereditary right, unless by the gift of the abbot and chapter.  The Lord Abbot, with the assent of the chapter, conceded to him the provost-ship at the request of Lord Bartholomew, for so long as he administered it justly and correctly. So that the lord abbot and the monks might trust themselves and their land to his guardianship, William swore on the Holy Gospels at Vendôme in the chapel of Saint-Benoit that he would not hold it longer than they wished him to, that he would return it without complaint at their command, that he would not take a wife without their advice and permission, and that he would maintain the ancient customs of Villedieu.  These saw and heard this: Alberic the Dane, Bartholomew de Boscato, Geoffrey son of Guibald.

And just as was said, William swore to all this, but he soon delivered his oath into oblivion. For William claimed that he could send his servants contrary to custom to collect the tithes of navinarum [ships?], that he should receive pennies beyond those received in taxes, and that he didn’t have to bring those disputes which he could settle on his own before the prior.  At that time the prior of Villedieu was Robert de Alneriis, a monk of Vendôme; he summoned William before Lord Abbot Hubert to answer concerning jurisdiction over these disputes. Once the quarrels had been described by both sides, it was judged that William had acted unjustly against his lords, and had acted with the greatest presumption against them.  Therefore, William offered warrantee and was fined, paying five shillings for the tithes of navinarum and another five shillings for the pennies he collected beyond the normal rent, both of which actions he had usurped unjustly. He also wholly relinquished the cases which he claimed he could settle without the prior, and as proof of his abandonment of them, he produced for decision before the prior the case of a certain pimp and a certain prostitute.

After a short while, William made a marriage agreement. When the prior of Villedieu, the same Robert, heard this, he spoke against it and announced that it couldn’t occur without the license of the abbot and the chapter of Vendôme; he therefore brought the matter before Abbot Hubert.  Hubert knew of William’s oath, so when he heard that William had transgressed it, he took the provost-ship away from William and held it for a long time in his own hand.  And when William saw that he had lost the provost-ship and was unable to take a wife, he again asked the said Abbot to permit him to marry. Remembering the violation of William’s oath, for a long time the abbot refused William’s requests.  Finally William added money to his supplication, and in this way sought license to marry. Once he had received this license, he came to the chapter and there, before all the monks, acknowledged that he held no part of the provost-ship of Villedieu in fief or from hereditary right, and that if he ever had an heir, his heir would be unable to claim any rights therein. 

These saw and heard this: Lord Abbot Hubert and the whole convent, Robert prior of Villedieu, Haimericus who was maintaining the abbey’s goods at Villedieu; from the household men, Albericus the monks’ provost, Dano the chamberlain, Maurice the cook, Geoffrey Guibaldus, Odo Polardus, Vitalis of Sartrineio; from Villedieu, Girard son of Fulcherius, Theobald de Cour, Peter son of Parva, Hervey Vivian, Robert Caella, John of Vendôme and many others.

And thus William got married and for a long time did not hold the provost-ship.  Finally, after many days, the said abbot again commended the provost-ship to him, subject to the renunciation that he had made concerning it and the oath he had sworn concerning it.

Once lord Abbot Hubert had died, Robert, who had been the prior of Villedieu, took up the direction of the abbey. In his time a certain usurer was captured at Villedieu and was convicted of being a carrier of false money; he was delivered into the safekeeping of William the provost. But the captive managed to dig under the wall in the night and escaped.  Later, Ebrard, prior of Villedieu, delivered two thieves into William’s custody. We don’t know whether it was with William’s knowledge or without it, but the two thieves also escaped.  Abbot Robert heard about this and demanded that William produce the usurer and the thieves.  There was already a contention between them at that point concerning a certain land which is next to Terretulum, which William’s father had surrendered in the time of Abbot Fromond, but which William claimed belonged to the provost-ship. Moreover, William sought four sexters of the harvest, even though he didn’t claim a tithe or a land-tax over the fields; and besides this he exacted eight candles and four pennies from the church offerings on annual feast-days. William told the abbot that until he was invested with all these things [ie., the land, the four sexters, and the candles and pennies], he would not respond to the abbot concerning the usurer and the thieves.  The abbot bore his response with grief, and, so that he might draw William away from his allies, he summoned William to Angers to respond. He set a day for the hearing. On that day, the lord Abbot held his court in the house of the Bishop of Angers, and William was present.  And when the abbot sought from him the usurer and the fugitive thieves, William responded that he would first like to have it decided whether he was obligated to answer this charge before he was invested with those rights that had been taken away from him. The judges then asked him if he was claiming the provost-ship as a fief [ex fisco]. He answered that he claimed nothing in it as a fief [per fiscum]. These heard: Nicholas Lusco who was on William’s side, and Matthew the servant of William; on the part of the abbot, Recnesius the household-man of the prior of Angers, Durand the household-man of the prior of Craon, and Robert son of Goslin de Villedieu. Having heard William’s answer, it was judged that he ought to respond to the abbot before being invested with those things. [unfortunately for historians, the case of William the provost terminates abruptly at this point ....]

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 560. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

14. A man inflicts violence on the monks and then pays for it with a penitential whipping (before 1188)

Concerning the forest of Campus-Crepatus:

We make it manifest to those present and those to come that Garnaud de Couesmes [Caresmo] disputed with us a certain land in our forest, which is called Campus-Crepatus.  Garnaud unjustly claimed a land-tax [terragium] over this land. What else? While a certain man, named Augerius, was cultivating that land, the aforesaid Garnaud came and seized the land-tax through violence, and he even pushed Vitalis the monk with his horse, such that Vitalis was moderately injured. As a result, Garnaud was denounced publicly in the churches. Fearing lest he incur the separation of excommunication, he came to the chapterhouse of Holy Trinity Vendôme on account of both the land-tax that he had unjustly seized and the monk that he had injured; he arrived nude and carrying switches in his hands.  He made satisfaction to the monk and the whole convent, promising to God and to lord Abbot Girard while touching the text of the Holy Gospel that he would no longer lay hands on monks. Then, before the Lord’s altar and at the command of Abbot Girard, Odo the dean of Vendôme struck him three times with the switches he had brought in honor of the Holy Trinity as satisfaction for the wrong. The whole convent and many laymen and clergy saw this. And thus Garnaud returned the land-tax and promised that the land would be surveyed. Next, the aforesaid monk Vitalis set forth boundaries with the assent of Garnaud and his men, from Pierrefitte up to that land which Augerius cultivated; and Garnaud reclaimed nothing more in that land. This was seen and heard by John Gastor-Villanum, Geoffrey the forester, John of Danzé who brought and placed the boundary-markers, Andrew Caprarius, Andrew the vicarius, and many others.

Source: Cartulaire de la Trinité de Vendôme, 5 vols., ed. Charles Métais (Paris, 1894), v. 2, no. 582. Translated from the Latin by Richard Barton. 

Source: See each document above. ©Translations by Richard Barton Permission given for use at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

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