Exercise of royal power in early medieval Europe: the case of Otto the Great 936–73

emed_283 389..419

David Bachrach

Current scholarly orthodoxy holds that the German kingdom under the Ottonians (c.919–1024) did not possess an administration, much less an administrative system that relied heavily upon the ‘written word’. It is the contention of this essay that the exercise of royal power under Otto the Great (936–73) relied intrinsically on a substantial royal administrative system that made very considerable use of documents, particularly for the storage of crucial information about royal resources. The focus of this study is on Otto I’s use of this written information to exercise royal power in the context of confiscating and requisitioning property from both laymen and ecclesiastical institutions. Introduction Ottonian politics is not easy for us moderns to grasp. Quite apart from its being so much about inheritances and feuds within or between kinships, it largely lacked anything which we can recognize as an administration or a bureaucracy, such as we historians have tended to think of as the spine of any body politic which they study. Ottonian rule was not, in Max Weber’s terminology, bureaucratic but patrimonial.1 Given the depth of Henry Mayr-Harting’s knowledge regarding Ottonian historiography and his well-deserved reputation for thorough scholarship, it cannot be doubted that he has accurately set out the orthodox context in which he places his 2007 study of the church of Cologne under the leadership of Archbishop Brun.

Henry Mayr-Harting, Church and Cosmos in Early Ottonian Germany: The View from Cologne (Oxford, 2007), p. 3.

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David Bachrach

Indeed, in 1928 Marc Bloch, looking back over more than a generation of scholarship, observed that scholars specializing in the history of medieval Germany tended to ignore the problem of administration all together, a tendency that he compared unfavourably with the historiographical tradition in France.2 Taking up the question of Ottonian administration in 1979, after a historiographical gap of almost a century going back to the work of Georg Waitz, Karl Leyser concluded on the basis of an impressionistic investigation of a small selection of the relevant sources that the German royal government operated on the basis of ‘a modest array of institutions’ and very little use of written documents.3 In contrast with even this mildly optimistic view of governmental capacity, however, in an important article of 1989 Hagen Keller, a leading specialist in Ottonian history, specifically rejected the idea that the Ottonian government had any administrative capacity. Keller asserted baldly: ‘Despite the continuity of the idea of empire and the model of Charlemagne, everything that was of particular importance for high Carolingian imperial organization – centrality, office, law-giving, and writing – was absent in its successor states. Indeed they simply came to an end.’4 Writing a decade later in 1999, Gerd Althoff defended the provocative subtitle of his work on the Ottonian dynasty, Die Ottonen:



March Bloch, ‘A Problem in Comparative History: The Administrative Classes in France and in Germany’, in Land and Work in Medieval Europe: Selected Papers by Marc Bloch, trans. J.E. Anderson (Berkeley, 1967), pp. 44–81, here p. 44. The article was first published in Revue historique de droit français et étranger (1928), pp. 46–91. Karl Leyser, Rule and Conflict in an Early Medeval Society: Ottonian Saxony (London, 1979), p. 102 for the quotation; and also Karl Leyser, ‘Ottonian Government’, English Historical Review 96 (1981), pp. 721–53, repr. in idem, Medieval Germany and its Neighbours, 900–1250 (London, 1982), pp. 68–101. It should be emphasized that although Leyser discusses some Ottonian period charters and narrative sources, he does not examine the ways in which royal officials recorded, maintained and accessed information that was necessary to carry out the myriad activities that Leyser, himself, recognizes that the Ottonian kings undertook. For the earlier tradition regarding administration in the Ottonian kingdom, Georg Waitz, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte 6, 2nd edn, ed. G. Seeliger (Berlin, 1896), pp. 323 ff., began by looking for continutities between the Carolingian and Ottonian periods. He was frustrated, however, by the lack of prescriptive legislation of the type found in Carolingian era capitularies. For Waitz’s observation concerning a lack of higher supervision over economic affairs in Ottonian Germany, see Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte 8, 2nd edn (Kiel, 1878), pp. 216–18. Hagen Keller, ‘Zum Charakter der “Staatlichkeit” zwischen karolingischer Reichsreform und hochmittelalterlichen Herrschaftsausbau’, Frühmittelalterliche Studien 23 (1989), pp. 248–64, here p. 257: ‘Trotz der Kontinuität der Idee des Imperiums und der Vorbildhaftigkeit Karls des Großen wirkt gerade das, was in Besonderheit der hochkarolingischen Reichsorganisation ausmachte – in Stichworten: Zentralität, Amt, Gesetzgebung, Schriftlichkeit –, in den Nachfolgerreichen des karolingischen Imperiums zunächst nicht fort, sondern bricht geradezu ab.’ For a slightly more positive assessment of the existence of a royal administration, similar to that set out by Leyser in ‘Ottonian Government’, see Hans-Werner Goetz, ‘Staatlichkeit, Herrschaftsordnung und Lehnswesen im Ostfränkischen Reich als Forschungsprobleme’, in Il Feudalesimo nell’alto Medioevo, Settimane (Spoleto, 2000), pp. 85–147, here p. 123: ‘Wie weit vorwiegend personale oder aber Amtsbindungen das Herrschaftsgefüge bestimmten, hing nicht zuletzt von der Existence einer funktionierenden Verwaltung (sic) und deren Einordnung in eine feudale Gesellschaftsordnung ab.’

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Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great


Königsherrschaft ohne Staat, by simply asserting the absence of royal administration of any type, much less written administration.5 Against this historiographical tradition must be set the realities of Otto I’s rule. In the course of three and a half decades (936–73), Otto had a record of extraordinary achievement in many facets of public life. In the realm of military affairs, Otto and his military commanders launched dozens of successful campaigns of conquest in the Slavic east as well as in the Italian kingdom; the latter Otto eventually conquered and incorporated into his empire in 962.6 Otto launched a massive invasion of the west Frankish kingdom in 946 during the course of which he established himself as the hegemon in west Frankish affairs.7 The king weathered two major civil wars (938–9, 953–4) in which he overcame the array of military and political forces commanded by his brother Henry, his son Liudolf, the dukes of Swabia, Franconia, and Lotharingia, as well as numerous



Gerd Althoff, Die Ottonen: Königsherrschaft ohne Staat (Stuttgart, 2000), p. 8: ‘Mit den konstitutiven Elementen moderner Staatlichkeit – Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung, Ämterorganisation, Gerichtswesen, Gewaltmonopol – läßt sich Königsherrschaft im 10. Jahrhundert nicht zureichend erfassen.’ This study, which is a popularizing adaptation of Althoff’s collection of essays, Spielregeln der Politik im Mittelalter: Kommunikation in Frieden und Fehde, takes as its central premise that the Weberian model of the state is the appropriate benchmark against which to compare the Ottonian and Salian kingdoms. See the devastating review of Gerd Althoff, Spielregeln der Politik im Mittelalter: Kommunikation in Frieden und Fehde (Darmstadt, 1997), by Howard Kaminsky in Speculum 74 (1999), pp. 687–9. Although sympathetic to Althoff’s effort to project the Ottonian kingdom as a Weberian ‘archaic’ polity, Kaminsky emphasizes Althoff’s, ‘slack way with his Latin sources. These are quoted in German translations that are sometimes wrong but that are not corrected by reference to the Latin originals (usually quoted in the footnotes), themselves sometimes misunderstood. Some of the mistakes are serious, and one or two are tendentious’ (p. 688). The corresponding Anglophone tradition before the publication of Mayr-Harting, Church and Cosmos, is neatly summed up by John W. Bernhardt, Itinerant Kingship and Royal Monasteries in Early Medieval Germany c. 936–1075 (Cambridge, 1993), p. 5: ‘Since the Ottonian and the Salian kings lacked the governmental infrastructure of the Carolingian kingdom and empire at the height of its power, they governed less through their representatives or written instructions sent out from the court and generally had to make their will manifest in person. There is little doubt that the Ottonian kings made less use of the written word in government than the Carolingians had at the height of their power. In fact, the east Frankish kingdom of the Carolingians already used the written word in government less than did its west Frankish or Italian contemporaries’ (my emphasis). For an overview of Otto’s military campaigns within the context of Ottonian and Salian warfare, see Bruno Scherff, Studien zum Heer der Ottonen und der ersten Salier (919–1056) (Bonn, 1985). Concerning military organization of Germany under Henry I and Otto I, see Bernard S. Bachrach and David S. Bachrach, ‘Saxon Military Revolution, 912–973?: Myth and Reality’, EME 15 (2007), pp. 186–222; and David S. Bachrach, ‘The Military Organization of Ottonian Germany, c. 900–1018: The Views of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg’, Journal of Military History 72 (2008), pp. 1061–88. For the most part, the administrative aspects of Ottonian military organization have been ignored by specialists in both German and military history. See the discussion by David S. Bachrach, ‘Memory, Epistemology, and the Writing of Early Medieval Military History: The Example of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg (1009–1018)’, Viator 38 (2007), pp. 63–90, particularly pp. 63–70. For a discussion of this campaign, see Les Annales de Flodoard, ed. Ph. Lauer (Paris, 1905), s.a. 946, and the new English translation The Annals of Flodoard of Reims 919–966, ed. and trans. Steven Fanning and Bernard S. Bachrach (Peterborough, 2004); and Widukind, Res gestae Saxonicae, MGH SS 3, 3.3 (Hanover, 1839), p. 451.

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and Scherff. see Bachrach. Königshöfe und übrigen Aufenhaltsorte der Könige im deutschen Reich des Mittelalters I: Hessen (Göttingen. Epistemology. in Joachim Henning and Alexander T. The Battle of Lechfeld and its Aftermath. including a very large number built directly by the Ottonian kings. particularly p. With regard to this particular fortification system see. Eschwege and Frieda. corresponded with the invasions of these lands by Ottonian military forces.9 The bulk of these military operations required the mobilization of very large armies. 127–36. 74–82. 83–97. Saale. Michael Gockel. ‘Probleme der Reichsgutforschung in Westfalen’. including the very large fortified complexes at Altstedt. 1998). Archaeological discoveries since the 1950s have confirmed the dominant role of sieges in Ottonian warfare. in Michael Gockel and Karl Heinemeyer (eds). Karl Heinemeyer. In this context. pp. in ibid. 1–21. so too did his opponents in the Slavic east. Schlotheim. 211–30. 288. a list of the tithe revenues held by the monastery of Hersfeld in the Unstrut. pp. pp. and Italy make considerable use of fortresses for defensive purposes. Hans-Wilhelm Heine. Francia 13. in ibid. ‘Fritzlar’. ‘Eschwege’. Michael Gockel. and Michael Gockel. Hömberg. were elements of a defensive system of fortifications that was erected by Pippin I and Charlemagne. idem. 75–90.. as archaeological research has shown. from which Hersfeld received tithe revenues. ‘Archäologische Forschungen an Ringwällen in Niederungslage: Die Niederlausitz als Burgenlandschaft des östlichen Mitteleuropas im frühen Mittelalter’. Königshöfe und übrigen Aufenthaltsorte der Könige im deutschen Reich des Mittelalters. in ibid. ‘Mühlhausen’. pp. ‘Zum frühmittelalterlichen Burgwall von Gars/Thunau. who demonstrated conclusively that the so-called Hersfelder Zehntverzeichnis (HZV). ‘Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen auf der Burg Horsadal. and Middle Elbe River valleys. Peter Ettel. p. Working on the basis of Schlesinger’s insights. emphasizes that the construction of forts by the inhabitants of the Lausitz region. pp. Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 96 (1960). with regard to this important text. many of which were built in stone. see Bernard S. idem. Bachrach. although late in date. The substantial archaeological discoveries of the past fifty years have unearthed a vast number of fortifications. 9–29. 137–49. pp. 1985). pp. A second major line of fortifications was identified by Walter Schlesinger. ‘Ebersdorf ’. 186–222.. in ibid. considerable attention should be paid to the maintenance and expansion of Carolingian period fortification systems such as those located in the Hassegau region between the Unstrut and Saale Rivers. for example. whose core consisted of the royal military household. 71–8. Concerning the central role attributed to sieges during the Ottonian period by contemporary narrative sources. 258–318. vol. ‘Military Organization’. in Henning and Ruttkay (eds).1 (2000). Die deutschen Königspfalzen: Repertorium der Pfalzen. and maintained hundreds of substantial fortifications. See. in ibid. and the Writing of Early Medieval Military History’. Die deutsche Königspfalzen: Repertorium der Pfalzen. passim. passim.8 In his most famous military achievement. from the Ottonian period. pp. not only did Otto’s opponents in Germany. Otto met and destroyed the fighting potential of the Hungarians in 955 at the battle on the Lechfeld and in subsequent moppingup operations. described conditions in 780.392 David Bachrach lesser secular and ecclesiastical magnates. ‘Military Organization’. Studien. Frühmittelalterliche Burgenbau... On this basis. ‘Magyar–Ottonian Warfare: à-propos a New Minimalist Interpretation’. Tutinsode. Bemerkungen zu den Fortifikationsresten und der Innenbebauung. that Otto and his officials constructed. August 955: The End of the Age of Migrations in the Latin West (Aldershot. Frühmittelalterliche Burgenbau in Mittel und Osteuropa (Bonn. ‘Ermschwerd’. The basic study is now Charles Bowlus. pp. the west. Ein Vorbericht’. Albert K. Bachrach and Bachrach. 457–509. 2006). Ruttkay (eds). particularly stone fortifications. Mühlhausen.10 It is in this context. for example. pp.11 8 9 10 11 With regard to Ottonian military operations during the period of civil wars. 98–130. to take on the grinding exigencies of siege warfare. expanded. II Thüringien (Göttingen. for example. ‘Saxon Military Revolution’.. Thus. 2000). pp. Bachrach. ‘Memory. 11. pp. the archaeologist Paul Grimm synthe- Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . Roßtal bei Nürnberg’. Erik Szameit. Joachim Henning. ‘Frühmittelalterliche Burgen in Niedersachsen’. pp. Schlesinger argued that the nineteen urbes listed in the HZV.

only 30 are named in surviving written sources. 1941). Otto maintained control over a vast panoply of no fewer than 800 royal fiscal holdings. Königshöfe und übrigen Aufenhaltsorte der Könige im deutschen Reich des Mittelalters. hardly exhaust the catalogue of building projects undertaken by Otto during his reign. Teil I (Dresden. ‘Die bauliche Entwicklung der Pfalz Ingelheim im Hochmittelalter am Beispiel der Sakralarchitektur’. 2 (Göttingen. pp. 1989). from an archaeological perspective. 7 Zentren herrschaftlicher Repräsentation im Hochmittelalter.700–c. industrial facilities for the sized archaeological. ‘Ergebnisse’. Deutsche Königspfalzen: Beiträge zu ihrer historischen und archäologischen Erforschung vierter Band: Pfalzen – Reichsgut-Königshöfe. and maintenance of many hundreds of church buildings ranging from simple parish churches to vast and elaborate stone edifices that served as the religious adjunct to the numerous royal palaces located throughout the kingdom.). Ulrich Reuling. including salt and silver mines. ‘Archäologische Ausgrabungen an Stätten der ottonischen Herrscher’. Die Burgwardorganisation im obersächsisch-meissnischen Raum: Archäologisch-archivalisch vergleichende Untersuchungen (Berlin. (Göttingen. and Gerhard Billig. ecclesiastical and palatine building projects undertaken by Otto have left no trace in the surviving written record. vol. Paul Grimm.13 It is important to emphasize that a great many of the military.und frühgeschichtlichen Burgwälle der Bezirke Halle und Magdeburg (Berlin.1000. Architektur und Zeremoniell (Göttingen. and particularly the question of the development of a system of defence-in-depth. ‘Quedlinburg: Königspfalz-Reichsstift-Markt’. complexity and organization of this system of fortifications. pp. vol. 101–20.14 In addition to his successes as a military commander and as a builder. Deutsche Königspfalzen: Beiträge zu ihrer historischen und archäologischen Erforschung. expansion. On this point. pp. see. passim. vols 1–4 (Göttingen. To give but one example. The major archaeological explorations of the past thirty years make clear that Otto also provided funding for the construction. see Walter Schlesinger. 79. of the more than 250 fortifications identified through archaeological excavations in northern Bavaria dating from the period c. for example. The basic starting point for discussions of royal palace complexes in the Ottonian period is now Die deutsche Königspfalzen: Repertorium der Pfalzen. pp. passim. 127. topographical and onomastic studies dating back to the nineteenth century. p. and Holger Grewe. in Deutsche Königspfalzen: Beiträge zu ihrer historischen und archäologischen Erforschung. 1965). Die Entstehung der Landesherrschaft.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 393 These fortresses. Paul Grim. With regard to the size. for example. in Caspar Ehlers. Jörg Jarnut and Matthias Wemhoff (eds). Grimm’s conclusions regarding the development of the fortress system in Elbe–Oder regions under the Ottonian and Salian kings were confirmed by Gerhard Billig in his magisterial study of Burgward organization in upper Saxony and the Meißen March. formed only a small part of the vast complex of monumental stone buildings and numerous outworks that comprised royal palaces. Herrschaftsrepräsentation im Ottonischen Sachsen (1998). p. 273–99. and so additional archaeological excavations have the potential to expand our knowledge of Ottonian building activities even further. 12 13 14 Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . 1982–2000). to provide a detailed and comprehensive examination of this defensive system from the perspective of military history. Handbuch vor-und frühgeschichtlicher Wall-und Wehranlagen Teil I: Die vor. 184–247. 2001). ‘Archäologische Beobachtungen an Pfalzen und Reichsburgen östlich und südlich des Harzes mit besondere Berücksichtigung der Pfalz Tilleda’. 2007). who argues for a massive royal construction effort on churches in Saxony from 919 onwards. Very large numbers of royal charters issued by Otto I also demonstrate the support of church establishments.12 Moreover. in Lutz Fenske (ed. See. For royal construction or royal support for the construction of particular churches. Gerhard Leopold. however. 33–76. 1958). Geschichte. see Ettel. these palace chapels themselves.

394 David Bachrach production of iron and bronze goods. Additional insights. . alongside bishoprics. Sacral kingship. There was yet another point to the itinerary. 1968).15 These fiscal holdings were complemented by a wide range of taxes. however. noting that the grants of certain percentages of toll revenues. as well as royal fiscal properties from the eighth. pp. emphasizes the important role that monasteries. . Bernhardt. pp. published through the auspices of the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte at Göttingen. and early tenth century that can be identified in royal hands under Otto I’s successors. How have scholars sought to explain the ability of the Ottonians generally. It was sacral . Gistum Serivitum Regis: Studien zu den wirtschaftlichen Grundlagen des Königtums im Frankenreich und in den fränkischen Nachfolgestaaten Deutschland. ninth. EME 13 (2005). have been developed through the series Deutsche Königspfalzen: Beiträge zu ihrer historischen und archäologischen Erforschung. as well as cloth and clothing factories. grain farms. Karolingische Königshöfe am Mittelrhein (Göttingen. bis zur Mitte des 14. Frankreich und Italien vom 6. This study focuses considerable attention on the problem of record keeping by fiscal officials. Pfalz und Fiskus Frankfurt: Eine Untersuchung zur Verfassungsgeschichte des fränkischen-deutschen Königtums (Göttingen. Wolfgang Metz. art historical and architectural perspectives. 179. Ganshof. the most recent work is Neil Middleton. 1960). . p. With regard to Ottonian period taxes and tolls. Settimane 6 (1959). 265 and passim. for example. cattle and stud farms. the basic work remains Carlrichard Brühl. .L. played in providing material support for the royal court on the move. 1963–2007). ‘A propos du tonlieu a l’époque Carolingienne’. passim. derived from counting the fiscal properties identified in surviving royal and so-called private charters from Otto I’s reign.17 Again. 327). see F. for example. forest lands. and Peter Schmid. e. Marianne Schalles-Fischer. In face-to-face politics the king’s periodic presence was vital. Jahrhunderts (Cologne. Das karolingische Reichsgut (Berlin. p. the historiographical tradition dealing with Ottonian rule has simply ignored this problem. a tenth. a fundamental question is raised. 1977). from archaeological. 1970). Mayr-Harting provides a clear synopsis of scholarly orthodoxy on this point: The royal court was constantly on the move . 313–58. but it was partly political. Tolls and Controls on Foreign Trade’. tanneries. Many scholars have added to the picture of the royal itinerary in a variety of areas. Fodrum. In regard to the enormous continuity in royal possession of Carolingian fiscal assets under the Ottonians see. The itinerary was partly economic in point – to exploit effectively the rulers’ estates in the regions. p. vineyards. Itinerant Kingship. With regard to the central role of the itinerary in the practice of royal government.16 In light of the undoubted successes enjoyed by Otto in exercising royal power in so many areas of public life. and the series Die deutsche Königspfalzen: Repertorium der Pfalzen. noted above (nn. urban rental properties.g. 11 and 14). was no easy or 15 16 17 The figure of 800 fiscal units must be considered a minimum. Michael Gockel. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . and fisheries. 1969). Regensburg: Stadt der Könige und Herzöge im Mittelalter (Kallmünz. and Otto I in particular. ‘Early Medieval Port Customs. necessarily required the keeping of toll records over the course of the entire year (p. preferring to focus enormous attention on the role of the royal itinerary and on the practice of sacral kingship in the realm of politics. tolls and tributes that provided Otto with large-scale revenues both in kind and in cash. 284 and passim. For comparative purposes regarding the revenues obtained by Charlemagne from tolls. to rule the German kingdom in the supposed absence of any royal administrative capacity? In short. 7 vols (Göttingen. 485–508.

both pagan and Christian. as Marc Bloch emphasized eighty years ago. see Gerd Althoff. Symbolik und Visualisierung in der Kultur des ottonischen Reiches’. . Above all. was the itinerary. Die Macht der Rituale: Symbolik und Herrschaft in Mittelalter (Darmstadt. pp.20 However. explain the government’s possession and mobilization of the economic wherewithal that permitted Otto to build and maintain hundreds of churches? How did the commissioning of hagiographical accounts of the lives of Ottonian princesses provide prebends and other endowments to thousands of clerics. These aspects of sacral kingship were very important in the Ottonian period. memorials in royal burials and tombs in churches. Regarding the importance of sacral elements of rule to both pagan and Christian Roman emperors. and even the route of the itinerary. ‘Ritual. gift-giving. 3–4. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . hagiographies of saintly members of the dynasty were all part of the build-up. the support of their garrisons. and indeed for the Roman emperors. very much. 2003). a perception that the Ottonian kings assiduously cultivated. On this point. sacral kingship. Byzantium. and the Early Medieval West (Cambridge. collection of saints’ relics for the royal chapel (which travelled on the itinerary). Church and Cosmos. in all of the scholarly discussion of royal politics. and the discussion by Mayr-Harting.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 395 short-term answer to political turmoil and rebellion. requiring hard work and perseverance. Eternal Victory: Triumphal Rulership in Late Antiquity. So. public crown-wearings. politics depended on the perception of the king as a sacral figure. or the equipping of the royal military obsequium? How does the collection of saints’ relics. . Church and Cosmos. Itinerant kingship was a highly ritualized business.18 In this model. The itinerary could itself be conceived as a sacral procession . To achieve it was a slow process. especially to churches. pp. Hagen Keller. sacral kingship provided the Ottonian kings with the means to cultivate and then represent consensus among the aristocrats upon whose support royal rule depended. representations of the ruler in art and in forms of buildings. see Michael McCormick. according to the orthodox model. Constant attendance at church festivals. pp. monks and nuns? How do the political functions of the royal itinerary explain the management of more than 800 fiscal complexes that were spread throughout the Ottonian realm north of the Alps? Here it should be emphasized that we are dealing with fiscal properties held directly in dominium that were not granted out as ben18 19 20 Mayr-Harting.19 Let there be no confusion here. or attendance at church festivals. 5. p. 23–59. gift-giving. 71–6. as they were in the Carolingian period. Frühmittelalterliche Studien 35 (2001). one question has remained conspicuous by its absence: how? How do any of the elements of the orthodox treatment of royal rule explain the construction of stone fortifications. 1990).

Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . In short.396 David Bachrach efices to churches to be managed by ecclesiastical authorities. Schalles-Fischer. 230. but also on the existence of well-functioning systems of fiscal. in fact. p. that a study of politics. these fiscal studies were written against a background in which writing of all types was understood to have played only a very limited role in the activities of the government. It should be noted that these studies were completed before the path-breaking work of Rosamond McKitterick. p. the burden of this paper to show that Otto I’s exercise of power depended not only on sacral kingship. The thesis of this study is that an analysis of the political aspects of Ottonian government through the monistic prism of sacral kingship and the royal itinerary alone cannot explain Otto I’s undeniable achievements as a military commander. material and financial resources that made possible his political and policy decisions. Karolingische Königshöfe. therefore. 65.21 How does the construction of royal tombs explain the ability of Otto I and his successors to access the revenues from estates that they did not visit. 1989) and the important studies on the use of written documents by the Carolingian government that came in its wake (see Janet Nelson below. themselves. n. and campaigns would be disrupted. It is. Once a political decision had been reached through a highly ritualized court proceeding of the type discussed in such detail by scholars such as Althoff and Keller. Schmid. relied upon the massive use of written 21 Regarding the active management of fiscal properties by royal officials in this period. scholars have failed to ask the most basic and pressing administrative questions of all. This does not mean that sacral kingship was not important. Rather. or that the resources were available to build a fortress or church of y dimensions? The answers to these questions required detailed information without which building projects would be stalled. 1956) p. legal and administrative institutions that. that is to ask how the king had available the information that was required to levy the human. or his ability to overwhelm political opponents both within and beyond the frontiers of the kingdom. before the highly ritualized building of a political consensus took place on the sacralized royal itinerary. Pfalz und Fiskus. largely missing from these early discussions of the administration of the fisc was the role played by written documents at the local level.J. it is necessary to turn to the problem of administration. what series of administrative acts were set in train to assure that these decisions were. Regensburg.. It does mean. Heyen. also cannot illuminate management of the royal fisc.e. as a builder. In order fully to understand the basis of Otto I’s ability to exercise power effectively. see Gockel. 22). carried out? Indeed. Die Geschichte des königlichen Fiskus Boppard (Bonn. however. 326. the great majority of the estates held by the king. and in communications between the two. in the court. 27. Consequently. and how the king made use of this information. Carolingians and the Written Word (Cambridge. and F. on what basis did the king and his magnates decide that x number of soldiers were available to be mobilized for a specific campaign. p. and as the custodian of the royal fisc. in isolation. i. at an even more basic level. Reichsgut im Rheinland.

51–71. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . The earlier tradition on this point is set out in Hans Fehr. pp. was tantamount to reducing him to the level of political and social nonentity. Because of the enormous scale of this problem. however. 130–4. the political decision by the king to exercise his power in this manner was fraught with considerable political risks and dangers to his position of political and moral authority. pp. Keller and Mayr-Harting. repr. pp. and the personal properties (allods) of royal subjects. 258–96. The focus of this essay is on Otto I’s ability to use royal administrative assets to exercise his power over secular individuals and ecclesiastical institutions specifically through confiscations and requisitions of property. the types of information. 1984). retrieve and use this 22 23 Janet L. ‘Early Medieval Canon Law and the Beginnings of Knighthood’. Louis the Pious and Charles the Bald. In this context. Nelson. As will be seen below. a distinction is to be drawn between the confiscation of benefices. 111–211. however. store. in idem. and even more so.). 1994). stripping him of his family’s allodial possessions. it is necessary to limit an examination of the ways that the royal administrative practices and institutions facilitated Otto the Great’s successes in the public sphere. 549–66. are the mechanisms by which these ostensibly political decisions regarding the confiscation of property could be put into practice. On the level of practical politics. ‘Literacy in Carolingian Government’. 272. The Uses of Literacy in Early Mediaeval Europe (Cambridge. the king had the power to confiscate both types of properties. see Karl Leyser. What remains to be explained. ‘Das Waffenrecht der Bauern im Mittelalter’. Communications and Power in Medieval Europe: The Carolingian and Ottonian Centuries. Confiscations The economic basis of power in the early Middle Ages. 1990). Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. However. royal confiscations of property from magnates can certainly be understood as having been made more palatable to the ‘political community’ in the manner suggested by scholars such as Althoff. in Instutionen. pp. Geburtstag (Sigmaringen. particularly pp. With regard to the loss of personal honour that attended the loss of honores in the Carolingian and Ottonian periods.23 Consequently. with the king presenting himself plausibly as the vicarius Dei carrying out the consensus decision of the magnates. Germanistische Abteilung 35 (1914). Timothy Reuter (London. here p.22 Stripping a magnate of the benefices that he held from the royal fisc.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 397 documents. was ‘efficient landlordship’. therefore. in Rosamond McKitterick (ed. and therefore the administrative procedures required to obtain. which were royal property that had been granted in usufruct as a benefice to a royal fidelis. ed. as Janet Nelson cogently observed in a discussion of the use of literacy in the Carolingian government under Charlemagne. Kultur und Gesellschaft im Mittelalter: Festschrift für Josef Fleckenstein zum 65. including both allodial possessions and benefices.

51–74. located in the modern Swiss canton of Schwyz. of all of his beneficia because of the latter’s leadership of a revolt against the king in 954. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . pp. appears in numerous narrative sources. pp. Otto I’s son.. Heinrich I. duke of Lotharingia. und Otto I. and that the charter for this subsequent grant has. Gerhard of Augsburg.a. 1879–84). known as Guntram the Wealthy. see Continuator Reginonis.27 24 25 26 27 Famously. 45–64. Otto I stripped his son-in-law Conrad the Red. 1841). The Frankish World (London. was given by the king a property called Liel (Lielahe). On 9 August 952. pp. one particularly forthcoming set of charters concerns the confiscation and subsequent disposition of a large quantity of both the benefices and allodial possessions held by Count Guntram. see Joachim Salzgeber. 954. The procedures by which such confiscations took place at the comital level in the east during the Carolingian period are discussed in detail by Warren Brown. see DO I 155.. The identification of the site of the trial as the royal palatio is found in DO I 236.28. MGH SS 4 (Hanover.398 David Bachrach information. itself. In this regard. des dritten Abtes von Einsiedeln: 996–1996 (Munich. see Janet Nelson. in Festschrift zum tausenden Todestag des seligen Abtes Gregor. one of the ancestors of the Habsburgs. to a layman. the trial proceedings leading to confiscations. 1996). and the subsequent administrative actions taken by royal officials with regard to the confiscation of lands must be reconstructed on the basis of the information that was recorded in later alienations of this confiscated property from the fisc. p. The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge. Interest. notes that Bishop Ulrich’s successor at Augsburg. For an overview of royal grants to Einsiedeln in the tenth century. For the property at Liel. 1836). 1996). 623. the monastery of Einsiedeln. ‘Landschenkungen an das Kloster Einsiedeln im 10. were different in the case of properties held as benefices as contrasted with those held as allods. DO I 155. p. as well as by other lords north of the Alps. located in the pagus of Breisgau within the comital jurisdiction of Liudolf. All references are to Die Urkunden der deutschen Könige und Kaiser: Konrad I. MGH SS 1 (Hanover.25 In this context. details of these confiscations generally can be identified only insofar as the lands and other resources confiscated or requisitioned by the royal government subsequently were granted to an ecclesiastical institution or. 1986). fortuitously survived. Theodor Sickel (Hanover. These differences will be examined in greater depth below.26 This was the first of several grants made by the king out of the fisc over a period of ten years consisting of properties that had been confiscated from Count Guntram populari iudicio at the Augsburg assembly.24 However. ‘Dispute Settlement in West Francia’. much more rarely. 2001). 243–66. Henry. and Authority in an Early Medieval Society (Ithaca. For the operation of comital courts in the western tradition during the reign of Charles the Bald. 1. s. in Paul Fouracre and Wendy Davies (eds). Unjust Seizure: Conflict. At a lower political level. Jahrhundert’. It should be emphasized that information about the confiscation of property by the royal government. and reprinted in Janet Nelson. 415. Vita Sancti Uodalrici. at a royal assembly in the palatio at Augsburg. Similarly. ed. sought in 973 to repossess the beneficia of several of the milites who had served in the obsequia of Bishop Ulrich’s nephews Manegold and Hupold.

or reacquired in the case of benefices. only a few days after Guntram’s trial and the judgement against him? Obviously. For the identification of the royal fidelis as Duke Rudolf. The cluster of eight villae in the environs of the modern Alsatian town. the properties that Guntram held in the pagi of Breisgau.29 These lands are situated some 280 to 320 kilometres southwest of the royal palace. Thurgau (modern Switerzland). also in Alsace.31 Guntram’s property in Thurgau (Switzerland) at the villa of Eschenz (Akinza) is located 220 kilometres south-west of Augsburg.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 399 Further alienations of fiscal property acquired. und Otto des III. noted above. Prihibo and Burchard). Theodor Sickel (Hanover. as well as holdings in the villae of Buggingen (Puckinga). Still further questions arise concerning the subsequent ability of royal fiscal officials to take possession of.. Einsiedeln again in January 958. Guntram’s matrix of properties in Breisgau included the locus of Liel. therefore. very likely in written form given the widespread practice in the German kingdom of keeping personal archives. from Guntram were made to the monastery of Lorsch in August 953. and Maurach (Muron). Taken in sum. were a further sixty and ninety kilometres to the south-west of Brumath respectively. see Die Urkunden Otto des II. how did the fiscal officials come to have this information on 9 August 952 about property at Liel. DO II 51 and DO III 273. the considerable size and distribution of the properties the king confiscated from Guntram raise important questions about the availability of information regarding the count’s possessions. to the monastery of Peterlingen in DO II 51 and DO III 273. or to repossess in the case of benefices. See DO I 155 and 236. 201 and 236. including Guntram’s former possessions at Colmar and Hüttenheim. the properties confiscated from Guntram were many weeks’ journey from the court. and to Bishop Conrad of Constance in February 962. is how did the royal officials at Augsburg know what properties Guntram held in these three widely separated pagi? More pressingly. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . Ihringen (Uringa). See DO I 166 and 201. 1893). ed.30 The properties at Hüttenheim and Colmar. The modern location of the property situated within the villa of Hillisazaas has not been identified by scholars. From an administrative perspective. Brumath. Also see the confirmation of the subsequent grant of these properties by Duke Rudolf. 189. and Alsace. are three hundred kilometeres west by north-west of Augsburg. Guntram had this information about his properties. The basic administrative question. in which Guntram had property holdings. but he had every incentive to hide 28 29 30 31 DO I 166. these being located hundreds of kilometres from the court at Augsburg.28 These grants included properties in fifteen villae located within three pagi that were within the comital jurisdiction of three separate comites (Liudolf. to a royal fidelis named Rudolf in April 959 (almost certainly Duke Rudolf ).

‘When Documents are Destroyed or Lost: Lay People and Archives in the Early Middle Ages’. videlicet forestem hiis locis et confiniis determinatam que et a nostra constat esse nullo imperiali precepto discreta. see Katherine Bullimore. Igitur nos fidelium nostrorum. the status of the animal populations in forest lands. quasdam res ad fiscum publicum pertinentes concesserunt sancto Petro ad Trevericam ecclesiam . this was hardly sufficient information to carry out. 39. Readers familiar with boundary clauses in Anglo-Saxon sources but not with contemporary German documents. 235. 433. prescripte petitionis preceptum innovamus. peticionibus annuentes illud imperiale preceptum ante nos recitatum et a nostris fidelibus approbatum. 28. 297. ‘Folcwin of Rankweil: The World of a Carolingian Local Official’. were coerced from him after his conviction for treason.400 David Bachrach this information from royal officials. 125.33 For example. nam quia sub hac ocasione tunc temporis depopulabantur circumquaque loca illius ecclesie a venatoribus . 204. included the following information about the historical background of earlier grants. 134. who received these lands as grants from the king. and the pagi in which they were to be found. 11. ne sub occasione ipsius forestie circumiacentes res ecclesie vastarentur. for example. EME 11 (2002). 220. 131. 50. are likely to be surprised by the comparatively detailed boundary clauses in large numbers of the latter. 191. 288. required detailed information about the boundaries as well as topographical information regarding the benefices and allods Guntram had held. Brunonis videlicet et ducis Cunradi et archiepiscopi Rothberti. pp. For a detailed examination of one particular lay archive. DO I 8. quin et roboramus. 178. who took over possession of the confiscated properties in fifteen separate villae. 110. See. . imperato Karolus predicta loca Cerviam et Servicaum pariter cum foreste ad sanctum Petrum. scilicet ex eo loco ubi Primancia fluvius oritur usque ad Bischofesfelt et sic via publica usque ad 32 33 With regard to the keeping of archives by lay people in the eastern kingdom. the confiscation of these holdings. it should be noted that there is nothing to differentiate in terms of detail between word maps describing properties north of the Alps. 96. The officials of the royal fisc.32 Moreover. . 27. Otto I’s confirmation on 15 May 949 of a grant to Archbishop Robert of Trier of two properties at Zerf and Serrig. EME 13 (2005). DH I 35. . 43–77. 292. 221. . 337–66. as well as administrative jurisdiction of forest lands attached to them. 262. 103. 90. 145. 165. and the boundary of the forest lands to be administered by the archbishop: predecessores nostri reges . In this context. see Warren Brown. . even if the names of the villae in which Guntram held property. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . pp. 278. DO II 14. and the beneficiaries of royal largess. 118. 47. . 53. as contrasted with simply declaring. 259. 66. dederunt villam Valeriam cum exceptis locis Cerviam et Serviacum cum foreste regia que sibi eotenus vendicaverunt causa venationis. and word maps describing properties south of the Alps.

36 It is highly problematic. Guntram’s possible participation in both property sales and exchanges had to be taken into account by royal officials. inde a locum Live nominatum. however. At the order of Charles. Cervia and Serviacus along with the forest land were given to St Peter to prevent that the properties of the church located nearby the forest from being devastated. Therefore we. 1967).’ Numerous royal as well as ‘private’ charters attest to land sales and exchanges throughout Otto I’s reign. the comes in whose comitatus Breisgau was located. repr. 1909. or even one of the members of his staff. passim. King Otto. not least. They gave the villa of Valeria. namely that the forest set within these places and boundaries that have been established and are in no way different from [those set out in] any other imperial order: thus. ‘Folcwin of Rankweil’. Die Traditionen des Hochstifts Freising: Band II 926–1283. Of course. In this case. in return for Count Adalbero’s property. but also various types of livestock. and Archbishop Robert. who had interceded with his father. nr. and shall confirm it. For at that time. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . ‘Our predecessor granted certain property belonging to the royal fisc to St Peter of Trier. fields. various human dependants of differing legal status. which also were located in Liduolf’s comitatus. it was Liudolf. Aalen. tools and. including not only lists of buildings. [the boundaries shall be] from a place where the Neckar (Primancia) River rises up to Bischofesfelt and from there along the public highway to Marciacus and then to the place where the Saon (Sarowa) flows into the Moselle. Even if someone had memorized these data. from Live where the Bodelaha flows into the Drogana River. On this point. a Lyve autem illuc ubi Bodelaha in Droganam fluvium cadit. It should be noted that Folcwin. but also the high mortality rates of both livestock and humans. DO I 155. In addition. the new recipient of these lands required further information. with the exception of the properties at Cervia and Serviacus. regarding this imperial order that was recited before us and which was approved by our faithful men. See DO I 236 for the properties in question.34 In addition to the boundaries and topography of these sites. Then the [boundary] goes from a place called Live. 1152 pp. Ihringen and Maurach. namely Bruno and Duke Conrad. this information was highly time-conditioned given not only the vagaries of yearly agricultural production. shall renew the command set out in this written request. ed. to suggest that either Liudolf. to obtain the property at Liel. for example. it is necessary to ask where he obtained this information and how such an oral report was to be confirmed at the royal court. 78–9. Then along the right bank of the Neckar River. meadows and vineyards. For more contemporary documents regarding land sales see. was a man of much lower social and political status than was Guntram. the areas around the church had been hunted out by hunters. the bishop of Freising offered property in the northern section of the villa of Hohinpurc that was surrounded by a ditch (vallum).37 34 35 36 37 DO I 110. had memorized all of the pertinent information regarding Guntram’s holdings at Liel. as a centenarius. much less all of the details of those properties at Buggingen. along with the royal forest which they had sold to them previously for the purpose of hunting. see Bullimore. the aforementioned places.35 According to the charter issued on behalf of the monastery of Einsiedeln at Augsburg in August 952. inde recto tramite ad ortum fluminis Primantie. accepting the petition of our faithful men. Theodor Bitterauf (Munich.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 401 Marciacum et sic inde usque quo Sarowa in Mosellam fluit.

here p. tools. 1995). that Henry II must have had some sort of written description of the lower-Bavarian properties held by the duke and the king before 1007’ (author’s translation). The Oral Tradition in the Early Middle Ages (Turnhout. it should be emphasized that the king. the records used by royal officials to advise Otto and his son Liudolf about the properties held by Guntram were probably not of the same type. As will be seen 38 In considering the maintenance of information over time. and property boundaries. it is impossible from a logistical standpoint that men were dispatched from the royal court to undertake a detailed property inventory and then make a report following Guntram’s conviction for treason. pp. tools. ‘Heinrichs II. In this regard. animals. buildings. as noted above. and Richter’s essays collected in Studies in Medieval Language and Culture (Dublin. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . it is useful to compare the discussion of oral performances. The Formation of the Medieval West: Studies in the Oral Culture of the Barbarians (Dublin. In this context. between these estates and Augsburg. This means. by Michael Richter. and Liudolf. under optimal circumstances. since Guntram held benefices from the fisc and also had allodial possessions. Both were confiscated at Augsburg. 1994). in explicit terms. since Liel was granted to the monastery of Einsiedeln mere days after the disgraced count’s trial had taken place. However. in Fenske (ed. for a trained performer to memorize an epic poem than it is for an untrained man to memorize complex lists of names. and that this locus was an appropriately valuable property to grant to the monastery of Einsiedeln? To put the matter in the clearest possible terms. So. 1994). with the observations by Wilhelm Störmer. otherwise they risked insulting the monastery with a niggardly gift. that Guntram possessed Liel. . for example. 377–408. such as Liudolf and Otto almost certainly had available. How did Otto and Liudolf know on 9 August 952.38 To suggest otherwise requires that one postulate some type of oral system for maintaining and updating literally millions of pieces of information regarding crops. Schenkungen an Bamberg: Zur Topographie und Typologie des Königs-und Bayerischen Herzogsguts um die Jahrtausend-Wende in Franken und Bayern’. the basic question remains. given the more than three-week round trip. The latter concludes with regard to Henry II’s (1002–24) efforts to carry out an inquisitio in Bavaria in 1007. . field dimensions. and the myriad other elements of thousands of fiscal and allodial properties that were of interest to royal planners. and concomitant claims that medieval society largely lacked a written component. in order to identify even a list of Guntram’s properties. had to have a pretty good idea about the overall value of the property that Guntram had at Liel.). humans.402 David Bachrach Moreover. the royal court required detailed records. it is almost certainly the case that these records were kept in written form. crops. These two practices should not be conflated. much less a more or less comprehensive descriptio of the boundaries and contents of these holdings. or harming the fisc by giving too much away. Given the quantity and complexity of the information that was required. buildings. 402. It is a very different matter. Deutsche Königspfalzen. it is important to emphasize that not all types of information were stored in the same manner during the early Middle Ages. ‘that it is not possible that the king and his chancery had simply memorized these numerous places .

1996). See. 376. 333–92.A. 286. p. She does point to the fact that Hincmar of Rheims.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 403 below. 287). p. 778–897’. see Eric J. and the wagons carrying the French royal documents fell into the river and were swept away. part 2. had lists of oath-takers. DC. Baldwin. Goldberg. 221. the discussion by John W. pp. in F. 2006). pp. here p.40 The second point that requires emphasis is that the Carolingians. Nelson does not indicate that there is any information to support her contention concerning the archives of missi with regard to the reign of Charlemagne. however. p. pp. including benefices that were held from the king as well as those held from other secular and ecclesi39 40 On the maintenance of royal archives by the later Carolingians into the tenth century. and Lothar I are all known to have maintained moving archives and even libraries. and further copies being designated for specific comital and episcopal archives. it is important to stress. Struggle for Empire: Kingship and Conflict under Louis the German. Later in the same study (pp. Regarding the transportion of Lothar I’s library on campaign. Mantello (ed. 817–876 (Ithaca. Regarding the production of multiple copies of documents for archiving purposes. in 854. EME 11 (2002). see Cullen J. ‘Between Court and Counts: Carolingian Catalonia and the aprisio Grant. including in the royal archives. 19–44. 1986). In this context. the Ottonians modelled their own administrative practices. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . 28 and 29. Louis the Pious. here p. here pp. ‘Literacy’. may have been collected in the archives of the missi themselves. The Government of Philip Augustus (Berkeley. Nevertheless. Nelson appears not to have taken into account the fact that under Louis the Pious. 56. noting that documents were drawn up for storage in Charlemagne’s royal archive. upon whom.). Chandler. Nelson contradicts herself with regard to the evidence for Charlemagne’s reign. Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide (Washington.39 For the later period. it is likely that Otto and his advisers turned to records that were kept at court as part of the impedimenta carried in the king’s baggage train. instead. 195–229. required that the comital vicarii and centenarii develop and submit to the royal court detailed records of all benefices within their areas of juridical competence. Klaus Verhein. having multiple copies of documents drawn up included one copy being reserved for the royal archive. ‘Secular Administration’. Certainly Charlemagne. most medievalists are well aware of the famous account of King Philip II of France losing his archive when the royal court was ambushed by Richard Lionheart’s forces. 199. with the unspoken presumption that these lists had been developed by Hincmar in his role as a missus.C. Records for benefices In considering the sources of information available to the king and royal officials regarding the location and composition of the properties that Guntram held as benefices. Nelson. Deutsches Archiv für Geschichte des Mittelalters 11 (1955). see Metz. different officials were responsible for the production and maintenance of records regarding these different types of holdings. Das karolingische Reichsgut. and most recently Brigitte Bedos-Rezak. p. 18. it should first be emphasized that the keeping of documents in an itinerant court was hardly a problem for medieval kings. 281 argues that there is no information to support the case that Charlemagne had a central archive that received reports from missi. that the reports drawn up by the stewards of royal estates and by the missi. ‘Studien zu Quellen zum Reichsgut der Karolingerzeit’. She indicates. for example.

Fodrum. 285. p. Karolingische Königshöfe. for now. with particular reference to the fisc. and the information seems almost certainly to have been at the royal court at the time of Guntram’s trial. Janet Nelson has made clear that such records were. Nelson. and Bachrach. shows that royal clerks had available detailed information about a property that was confiscated and incorporated into the fisc. as suggested above. and that 41 42 43 With regard to Ottonian use of Carolingian administrative models. in fact.43 When he took up pen and parchment. p. passim. With regard to the specific requirement that the centenarii were to provide detailed reports regarding the beneficia that were held in their areas of jurisdiction. Gistum. ‘Magyar–Ottonian Warfare’. 220–7. even though the charter was drawn up at a considerable geographical distance and years removed from Guntram’s trial at Augsburg in 952. ‘Literacy’. DO I 189.41 In discussing application of this administrative requirement in the west. and 580 kilometeres north of the villa of Eschenz. Moreover. see Bachrach. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . Reichsgut. This reality almost certainly required that Otto’s government had the same level of information about fiscal properties that had been granted as benefices as did Charles the Bald. 18–72. however. 49 c. This means that Otto had to hand information about Guntram’s benefices at the actual trial. the matter is rather more clear. some 500 kilometres north of the beneficiaries at Einsiedeln. see MGH Capitularia 1 (Hanover. the grant in 958 to the monastery of Einsiedeln of the property that Guntram had held in the villa of Eschenz. no. drawn up by missi. Bachrach and Bachrach. the royal clerk responsible for this still-extant document was at the palace at Pöhlde. see Metz. Specifically. While standing at his writing desk. Concerning Ottonian maintenance of Carolingian administrative practice with regard to military affairs. the clerk was provided with information that this fiscal property (res iuris nostri) was located in the Thurgau. noted above.42 As noted above. pp. passim. 1883). With regard to the particular locus at Liel. Liel was granted to the monastery just a few days after being confiscated from Guntram. an open question. The subsequent grants of Guntram’s former benefices illuminate further aspects of royal record keeping with regard to these grants from the royal fisc. 27. p. and passim. Brühl. it is possible to see in these charters glimpses of the ‘dossiers’ for these properties that travelled with the court. passim. ‘Military Revolution’. granted to Einsiedeln in 952. 4. ‘Ottonian Military Organization’.404 David Bachrach astical magnates. p. 68. For example. 136. Louis the Pious and Charlemagne. Otto required rather detailed information to ensure that the grant of the locus at Liel was appropriate for his gift to Einsiedeln. and Gockel. a series of properties that Guntram held as benefices were successfully confiscated by Otto I’s officials and subsequently granted to other recipients over a period of several years. Whether this information regarding all of these properties was held in a royal archive or was derived from other sources must remain.

48 44 45 46 47 48 DO I 189. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . The identity of the recipient of this grant has not been transmitted in the surviving written sources. and further.44 As these details make clear. some 650 kilometres from Colmar and 620 kilometres from Hüttenheim. This was.47 In this exclusion of the property at Brumal from the grant to Rudolf. two further Alsatian estates that had been confiscated from Guntram in 952. the fisc had reacquired these two properties. DO I 201: ‘omnia quae nobis ideo in ius proprietatis sunt redacta.45 The clerk who drew up this text was aware of the means by which.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 405 Thurgau was located within the comitatus of Duke Burchard within the duchy (ducatus) of Alamannia. we see that the dossier regarding this particular fiscal holding had been updated to note that Brumal was no longer available to be granted away. at a remove of almost six hundred kilometres and five years from the property itself. provides a similarly illuminating glance into the operations of the royal administrative apparatus that travelled with the king. and the consequent regular reassignment of pagi to new counts. and an up-to-date set of data about the political and administrative jurisdictions within which this fiscal property was located. The grant to the royal fidelis Rudolf in 959. as well as the holdings at Hillisazaas. is that this information had to be made available to the abbot of Einsiedeln before his administrators could effectively take possession of Guntram’s former lands.46 In addition. time-conditioned information given the nature of mortality rates in tenth-century Europe. of course. discussed above. What is certain. that it had been confiscated because of the latter’s perfidia and assigned to the fisc as the result of a public trial. and the reason why. we are dealing here with both an institutional memory about the historical status of the property now held by the fisc. Whether all of the details regarding the contents of this property were also available to the royal clerk cannot now be known. and from the trial at which it was confiscated. noting ‘we acquired all of these properties in full ownership because Guntram was a rebel against the public good and our royal power’. quia ipse Guntramnus contra rem publicam nostrae regiae potestati rebelles extitit’. While at Pöhlde the clerk also was made aware that the property at Eschenz had belonged to Comes Guntram. The charter on behalf of Rudolf was issued at Walbeck. the clerk was sufficiently well informed about the contents of the properties associated with the villa of Hillisazaas. to note that the dependent property at Brumal (Pruomad) and its appurtenances were not available to be granted to Rudolf. reatus iusto iudicio publice in ius regium et diiudicata. i. DO I 201. DO I 201. however.e.

DO I 236. in nostro palacio Augustburc iudicata fuissent. to identify specifically those properties which were the allodial possessions of individuals named in charters. that the information provided in these charters was based upon spot questioning of locals living within the villae in question. the clerk had available the historically pertinent information that the grant to Conrad consisted of those lands that Guntram had held in the three villae of Buggingen. as will be seen below. not to say impossible. The document was drawn up almost a full decade after Guntram’s trial at Augsburg in 952. Moreover. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . make clear. noted earlier. The clerk was also fully informed that these properties had come into the fisc (nostrum regium ius) following a trial at the royal palace in Augsburg. It was the practice in royal documents. Rather.49 The cleric who wrote out this surviving original charter had available up-to-date information concerning the pagus and the name of the count in whose comitatus these properties were located. in each of these latter two charters. very likely was a benefice rather than an allod. and the tenurial history of these properties. it is highly improbable.51 49 50 51 DO I 236. a fact that further indicates that the properties located in four villae in Thurgau and Breisgau had been held by Guntram as a benefice. while the king was at Riana. Consequently.50 As these documents. south of the Alps in Italy. Similarly. very likely as part of his comital ministerium. issued over a period of ten years. In addition. the properties granted to Einsiedeln in 958 and to Bishop Conrad of Constance in 962 were not identified as Guntram’s allods.406 David Bachrach The final surviving grant of property confiscated from Guntram was issued in February 962 on behalf of Bishop Conrad of Constance. as noted above. and to differentiate between these properties held in full ownership from those that were held as benefices. In this case. the clerks who drew up these documents had this information while hundreds of kilometres away from the sites in question. Information regarding allodial properties Guntram’s property at Liel. DO I 189 and 236. Liel was not identified as an allod. Guntram is identified as a comes. we are dealing here with a staff of clerks who had access to copious and time-conditioned documents regarding the property holdings of the royal fisc.e. Furthermore. royal officials had available detailed information about both the composition of royal fiscal holdings. Ihringen and Maurach. i.

who emphasizes the connection between keeping track of men with military obligations and tax assessments carried out by Charles the Bald. Braunfels et al. 321 and ibid. the confiscation of allodial lands required extensive written administration at the comital level combined with a sharing of information by the counts with the royal court. 1968).. had their focus in the itinerant royal court. 273 c. 188 c. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . 27.54 Thus. ‘Frankish Military Duty and the Fate of Roman Taxation’.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 407 The administrative procedures and documentary materials that were required to keep track of benefices. For a much more positive assessment of the capacity of the western Carolingian kings to enforce these list-making requirements. Bernhard’s men were able to identify the particular thirty hobae within these eight villae that belonged to Guntram. However. For a discussion of these list-making requirements and their implementation in the west from a pessimistic perspective. ‘Literacy’. in W. p. Given what is known about Carolingian administrative practice upon which Ottonian practice was modelled. following Guntram’s trial. lay with officials at court. Bernhard. 101–51. when in 953 the monastery of Lorsch received a grant of thirty hobae from Guntram’s former allodial holdings (quicquid hereditarii iuris) that were located in eight separate villae in Alsace. pp.e. and the reacquistion of the benefice by the royal fisc. no. see nn. see MGH Capitularia 2 (Hanover 1898).55 The charter issued to Lorsch makes clear that Bernhard had fulfilled his administrative responsibilities by the time the grant was made to this monastery since Guntram’s thirty hobae were already fully integrated into the royal fisc before August 953. see Nelson. and passed on this 52 53 54 55 56 Changes in the physical status of lands and other properties held as beneficia were to be reported to the court by comital officials. For the Carolingian capitulary legislation on this point. Ganshof. Karl der Grosse: Lebenswerk und Nachleben. I. no. much less detailed inventories of the contents of these holdings.L.53 In the Carolingian period. 5 vols (Düsseldorf. It was only from this central perspective that it was possible for the king’s advisers to know the status of royal fiscal lands throughout the many hundreds of pagi within the German kingdom north of the Alps. p. Bryce and Mary Lyon (Providence. Ganshof. pp. DO I 166 for the description. 39 and 41. 1965). 5. these administrative tasks had been the obligation of the count within whose region of administrative competence the pagus was located. EME 16 (2008). (eds). ‘Charlemagne et les institutions de la monarchie franque’. Frankish Institutions under Charlemagne. i. no. II. p. 13. pp. 349–93. DO I 166 for the grant to Lorsch in which the allodial nature of these properties is identified. 274 c.52 By contrast. trans. as noted above. the boundaries of the benefice. RI. Regarding continuities in royal administrative practice from the Carolingian to the Ottonian period. the main responsibility for maintaining up-to-date records regarding the possessor of the benefice. 166–90.56 Among other matters. as seen above. it benefitted from the administrative actions taken by the local count. see F. ‘Charlemagne and the Institutions of the Frankish Monarchy’. See this article in a revised version. were able to distinguish these from the hundreds of other hobae that comprised these complex economic units. it is unlikely that officials serving directly in the royal court kept lists of the allodial landholders within the hundreds of pagi in the kingdom. with an emphasis on keeping lists of men liable for military service. vol.L. 3–55. p. nostre vero potestati ut subiaceret fiscatum. published in F. 331. 10. 279. and now Walter Goffart.

For the application of this process under Henry I. see Bachrach and Bachrach. Following this process. 101–26. the lands were transferred to the fisc along with a detailed written report. for the use of the inqusitio in Burgundy.60 Here. as in the case of Guntram. 1999). and Bachrach. and the property was inventoried. passim. and passim. ‘Military Revolution’. ‘Ottonian Military Organization’.57 A further administrative question is raised in this context. pp. New Approaches to Medieval Communications (Turnhout. Das karolingische Reichsgut. These charters list the names of the electi viri who gave their judgement on the basis of testimony taken from knowledgeable people who had been summoned to the court proceedings.e. Concerning the use of the process of inquisitio by the Carolingians. Indeed. pp. the count could carry out an inquisitio on the model that had long been the norm under both the Carolingians and the Ottonians. an inquest. following the judgement (iudicium) of the local scabini. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . i. a royal charter issued on behalf of St Emmeram in February 961 illustrates how this procedure was executed. ‘Communications by Written Texts in Court Cases: Some Charter Evidence (ca. and 231–2. see DH I 35. 29–35. i. The scabini were probably responsible for the on-site process of investigating the boundaries and contents of Diotmar’s holding. 800 – ca. How did Count Bernhard know that Guntram had allodial properties within the comitatus? As suggested above. the comites with responsibility for a particular comitatus maintained lists of the allodial landholders within their areas of administrative competence. 210–13. regiae potestas. Otto granted a portion of the allodial property (partem hereditatis) that the nobilis vir Diotmar had held at Premberg (Priemperch). For a thorough presentation of this process. Regarding the continued importance of expeditionary levies under the Ottonians. or.61 Another example of comitial judicial efforts at the mallum being deployed in the interest of the royal fisc can be seen in a charter issued in 57 58 59 60 61 DO I 166. see Metz.).59 In this case. 1100)’. 15–17. see Karl Heidecker. DO I 219. If it became necessary to assess a particular landowner for military service.e. and by the Ottonians following Carolingian practice. For similar continuity in the use of the inquisitio in the regions of the middle kingdom. Count Berthold presided over a trial in which the scabini gave their judgement. The property had been taken into possession by the fisc. which was located in the pagus of Nordgau within the comitatus of Count Berthold. had taken place. here pp. there can be no question that an administrative procedure to identify the thirty hobae. in Marco Mostert (ed.408 David Bachrach information to the royal fiscal officials. 103–4.58 Since the grant to Lorsch in 953 makes clear that this information about Guntram’s allodial holdings was obtained by the court. with the record eventually finding its way into the hand of the royal clerk who drew up the charter on behalf of Lorsch. DO I 219. see DO I 419a and 419b which provide details of the inquisitio held to determine whether the bishopric of Chur had been wrongly dispossessed of properties by royal officials. to confiscate property. pp.

32. 78. 332. where Guntram’s former possessions were located. had been reached following the practice (ius) and knowledgeable decision (scitum) of Francorum iudicumve scabinorum. 333. Rather. the details of which have fortuitously survived in charters.62 Guntram’s case makes clear that the political decision to confiscate allodial property required that a set of administrative procedures be set in train. Consequently. 204. 175 kilometres north-west of Brumath. Moreover. 219. Rather. 115. the insights regarding royal administrative institutions and practice provided by the case of Guntram are further illuminated by more than twenty other cases of property confiscations north of the Alps. In the case of the properties confiscated from Guntram that subsequently were granted to Lorsch in 953. it requires emphasis that the procedures and documents that were deployed in this case hardly represent an isolated instance of the royal administration at work. Lantbert and Megingoz. such as Guntram. Just as importantly. 60. 320. 330. These properties had come into the fisc after being confiscated at a comital mallum headed by Count Emicho of Nahgowe.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 409 late May 961 on behalf of Theoderich. 194. the allodial possessions of men. 383. the royal clerk who drew up this charter was working at Mainz. 164. 217. 171. See DO I 30. who were convicted of treason. The text of the royal charter issued on behalf of Theoderich emphasizes that the judgement against the two landowners. the decision by Otto I and his advisers to grant the property in question to Lorsch. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd .63 62 63 DO I 226. was made possible by the availability of this written information to the royal court. In sum. 107. 80. 195. 59. The royal charters that describe the details of the confiscations of property from Diotmar. 331. comital officials deployed the judicial assets at their disposal to identify and then confiscate on behalf of the fisc. Lantbert and Megingoz. provost of the Mainz cathedral. This document lists properties in five separate locations in Nahgowe that Theoderich was to receive as an allodial grant from the king. 200. 135. 316. This is made clear by the survival of fragmenta of these proceedings that subsequently were recorded in royal charters. 226. demonstrate that these administrative procedures entailed considerable cooperation between officials of the royal fisc and officials employed at the local level by the counts. 52. the clerk certainly did not have immediate access to local scabini or iudici who could give him information orally about the trial. 207. he had to rely on the written report regarding the comital inquisitio. The outcome of the legal procedure at the comital level resulted in the production of written records.

but rather simply that the king had need of its lands at this time. 49–75. Fodrum Gistum. 66. ‘Das Bild Karl Martells in mittelalterlichen Quellen’. Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 79 (1971). or by his predecessors. pp. ‘Charles Martel. in Jörg Jarnut. Karl Martel in seiner Zeit (Sigmaringen. ‘The Imperial Church System of the Ottonian and Salian Rulers: A Reconsideration’. Ganshof.66 Unlike the confiscations discussed above. and reprinted with the same pagination in idem. 274..65 By contrast. Pfalz und Fiskus Frankfurt. it was not necessarily the case that the ecclesiastical institution had incurred royal disfavour. is that royal grants of this type were also used quite frequently for military purposes in the Carolingian era as well. and idem. In this regard. 48–70. p.67 In some cases. 316–407. ‘Der Kriegsdienst des Klerus unter den sächsischen Kaisern’. pp. however. pp. The most thorough discussion of the military aspects of servitium regis in the Ottonian period is Leopold Auer. In the traditional account regarding servitium regis. 1993). including properties that specifically had been granted in full ownership by the reigning king himself. and passim. as well as the similar uses of royal fiscal resources by the kings of France and England. Mounted Shock Combat. 148–49. 2001). pp. 61–78. It should be noted. pp.64 What generally is omitted in scholarly discussions of servitium regis in the Ottonian period. Frankish Institutions. 9–21. Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33 (1982). see Schalles-Fischer. The practice of requisitioning properties from churches was already quite old by the accession of Otto I. 347–74. Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 7 (1970). and Timothy Reuter. With regard to grants to various royal chapels in Frankfurt. but rather the assertion of royal power over the allodial holdings of the church. the Stirrup and Feudalism’. 1994). A number of scholars have recognized that grants by kings of the Ottonian dynasty to ecclesiastical institutions were not absolute. 57. as well as provide military supplies and contingents for royal campaigns. that Charles Martel’s role in this matter generally is agreed to have been exaggerated in contemporary sources. the requisition of church lands was not a quid pro quo agreement. for example. abbesses and bishops were required to provide material support to the itinerant court. Bachrach. ‘Karl Martell und das fränkische Lehenswesen. that subsequently were revoked. in ibid. ecclesiastical institutions were 64 65 66 67 The basic account of the system is Brühl. See in this regard. however. who sought to place Ottonian practices within a broader context that showed Carolingian grants of resources to ecclesiastical institutions. 387. Bernard S. ‘Der Kriegsdienst des Klerus unter den sächsischen Kaisern’. pp. Aufnahme eines Nichtbestandes’. however. pp. Bachrach. Herwig Wolfram. dating back at least to the reign of Charles Martel who famously requisitioned considerable church property pro verbo regis to provide material support for an expanded military establishment in the 730s. pp.410 David Bachrach Requistions and confiscations of church property There is an important distinction to be drawn between servitium regis on the one hand and the requisition of church property for the use of the king on the other. Armies and Politics in the Early Medieval West (Aldershot. see Bernard S. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . the Ottonian kings granted numerous fiscal resources to ecclesiastical institutions in return for which the abbots. n. MIÖG 80 (1980). Ulrich Nonn and Michael Richter (eds). and Ulrich Nonn. Early Carolingian Warfare: Prelude to Empire (Philadelphia.

Regensburg. pp.69 According to the text of the charter. i. coming as it does shortly after the extensive recovery efforts (Revindikationspolitik) undertaken by Otto I in Bavaria following the death of Duke Arnulf in 937 and the banishment of Arnulf’s son Eberhard in 938. However. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . see Hans Constantin Faußner. ad cameram nostram. Constable did not discuss this practice in the east. DO I 30. in return for the so-called ‘ninths and tenths’. Speculum 35 (1960). On 29 May 940. Obviously. of Otto and his advisers to conceive of such a policy.70 The acquisition of these properties by the fisc. with the grant subsequently being confirmed by his son Louis the Child (899–911). forced rentals of property pro verbo regis and outright requisitions. see Giles Constable.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 411 required to grant economic resources to the fideles of the king at a rental rate far below that which the current market would bear. 345–449. is. here p. Deutsches Archiv 29 (1973).e. The date of this charter is quite significant. indeed. 224–50. sheds considerable light on royal records regarding church holdings.68 As will be seen below. evidence of their possession of detailed records regarding royal fiscal holdings in Bavaria 68 69 70 71 For a useful survey of this practice in the west during the Carolingian period. and also to make a determination about which of these properties best suited royal needs at a particular moment. ‘Die Verfügungsgewalt des deutschen Königs über weltliches Reichsgut im Hochmittelalter’. In both sets of circumstances. boundaries and contents of a particular church’s lands. the royal government required very detailed written records of ecclesiastical holdings in order to know the extent. 409. in a manner identified by the king in the 940 charter as illegitimate. ‘Nona et Decima: An Aspect of Carolingian Economy’. It is to the evidence for these royal and ecclesiastical documents that we will turn next. Otto issued a still-extant charter on behalf of Bishop Landbert of Freising in which he ordered that the small monastery (abbatiola) of Moosburg and the fiscal property (curtis) at Föhring be returned to Landbert’s see. see Schmid. i. if at all. as well as royal administrative practice once church lands were added to the fisc. DO I 30. and. in other cases ecclesiastical institutions were not so fortunate. ipso facto.e. Regarding this Revindikationspolitik in Bavaria. and simply had their properties requisitioned with compensation paid at a much later date. Otto’s officials systematically reacquired fiscal properties for which the current holders did not have sufficient proof of legitimate usufruct or ownership. pp.e. 148. p. i. these two fiscal units originally had been granted to Freising by the Carolingian king Arnulf (887–99).71 The ability of royal officials to execute such a policy. per quondam machinationem these properties had come into the possession of the royal fisc. churches also required detailed accounts of lands that they had lost. With particular reference to this charter as evidence of Otto I’s effort to make good excesses committed by his officials in Bavaria.

it is important to emphasize that neither the alleged grant by Arnulf to Freising nor the confirmation by Louis the Child survive. even during the reign of Duke Arnulf. If Bishop Landbert had reason to be annoyed at the confiscation of his holdings by overzealous royal officials in 938. DO I 118 on behalf of Stablo.73 Rather. Moreover. it would have been impossible for such properties to have been reacquired by the fiscal agents Otto dispatched to Bavaria.72 Returning to the charter issued to Bishop Landbert. there is no mention in this charter issued to Landbert. 118. and alii fideles nostri Bawariensis regionis. Regarding the citation of earlier charters in confirmation grants by Otto I see. as there commonly is in Ottonian dipomata.75 In this context. As scholarship focused on the royal fisc in Bavaria has long maintained. and newly installed by Otto in place of Arnulf’s son Eberhard). had acted appropriately if perhaps aggressively. Widukind. including both bishops and counts. for example. The names of these mancipia subsequently were included by the royal clerk charged with drawing up the charter formally returning the curtis to Bishop Landbert. Landbert. the details of the contents of these fiscal properties in Bavaria were recorded. Worms. DO I 30. Duke Berthold (brother of the now deceased Duke Arnulf. with particular reference to the royal mint at Regensburg. if royal officials did not have written records of these fiscal holdings. this information included the names of the unfree dependants attached to the curtis of Föhring. Regensburg.16. p. In this case. had the satis72 73 74 75 With regard to the continued royal supervision of fiscal properties in Bavaria. the details provided in this charter shed light not only on the availability of detailed information regarding royal fiscal holdings in Bavaria before 938. but now political circumstances dictated that the king publicly disavow their machinatio in order to shore up support for Duke Berthold of Bavaria in the wake of the serious revolts against royal rule in 939. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . at least. DO 127 on behalf of Eichstät (NB this is a praeceptum from King Arnulf ). This set of circumstances suggests that the royal fiscal officials who reacquired Moosburg and Föhring. but also the procedures that royal officials followed when properties were confiscated from their holders and reintegrated into the fisc. With regard to the lands returned to Freising. he. it should be noted once more that information regarding the names of dependants attached to a particular estate was highly time conditioned. are depicted asking the king for the return of these lands to Freising.412 David Bachrach going back decades.74 From an administrative perspective. DO I 86 and 110 on behalf of Trier. of the bishop presenting documents (praecepta) to the king as confirmation of Freising’s legitimate possession of the monastery and curtis. see Schmid. DO I 83 on behalf of Reichenau. and DO I 392 on behalf of St Peter’s. Res gestae II.

the region where Liutharius desired to consolidate his properties. Lorsch was to receive Liutharius’s allodial possessions in the Rheingau located in three villae. The remaining third of the toll revenues there were granted to Worms in 953. p.e. the ability of the king to exchange Lorsch’s property at Hemmingsbach required a considerable amount of information. 1869). simply had to suffer the requisition of his properties by the king in 948. i. Evergisus. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . Lorsch benefitted from this forced grant of an ‘annuity’ to Liutharius. How did Otto come to have this detailed information? It should be emphasized.76 Liutharius was to receive lifetime usufruct (quamdiu vivat) of the Lorsch properties. p. 389. Otherwise. in a now-lost charter.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 413 faction of receiving these lands back within two years with something of an apology from Otto I. Ultimately. or required to be drawn up. quasdam res proprietatis ad ecclesiam sancti Nazarii. See DO I 161. Otto was able to require Lorsch to give up usufruct of its own properties for an extended period of time so that the fisc could acquire the immediate possession of properties owned by Liutharius in Lobodengau. Frankish Institutions. that Carolingian officials either drew up. the detailed study of the 76 77 78 79 DO I 95.77 In sum. The king also required detailed information concerning the value of Lorsch’s holdings and their boundaries. In addition.e. This was valuable to the king to help build up the infrastructure supporting the royal fortress complex (castellum) at Ladenburg.79 In the case of Lorsch. By contrast. The Chronicon Laureshamense records that Lorsch eventually was to receive back the lands that had been given to Liutharius as part of the exchange after the cleric’s death. inventories of the properties of ecclesiastical institutions following models resembling the one set out in the capitulary de villis. in return for properties that the latter held in six separate villae. 36. while Otto simply added Liutharius’s lands to the fisc. see Ganshof. in this context.78 From Liutharius’s perspective. he benefitted from being able to consolidate his own holdings in the Rheingau while trading away assets to the king in the Lobodengau. but not without medium-term dislocations in its portfolio of landed holdings. On this point. This fortress was in royal hands in 948. with a cleric and royal fidelis named Liutharius. consisting of thirteen mansi and forty mancipia. In this case. Otto arranged to exchange property at the villa of Hemmingesbach located in the Rheingau. Chronicon Laureshamense. which belonged to Lorsch. First. it would simply have been impossible for either Otto or the royal fidelis Liutharius to know whether this was an exchange that they desired. Otto and his officials had to know that Lorsch possessed land in the Rheingau. Two-thirds of the toll revenues collected there had been granted to the bishopric of Worms at some point before 953. In administrative terms. MGH SS 21 (Hanover. abbot of Lorsch and bishop of Minden. i.

‘Aspekte der Grundherrschaftsentwicklung von Lorsch vornehmlich aufgrund der Urbare des Codex Laureshamensis’. by making use of the detailed information he possessed about the monastery’s holdings. and DO I 83 issued in surviving duplicates on behalf of Reichenau. DO I 37 and 79. here pp. 104. as noted above. There are. Naturally. an exchange agreement between Otto and the 80 81 82 83 Franz Staab. 103. itself. Of course. including at least one from the late Carolingian period and at least three from the Ottonian period. even though Otto exercised his power to requisition Lorsch’s property. 327–8.414 David Bachrach so-called Lorsch Reichsurbar by Franz Staab. to respect the monastery’s various immunities. DO I 74 which exists in two original copies.83 All in all. Evergisus.800 and the end of the eleventh century. 327–8 for a summary chart. for example. and attest to the administrative practice of royal officials in this regard. of which three copies survive. 2nd edn (Göttingen. They produced no fewer than ten detailed property reports between c. including counts. numerous other property lists of this sort are recorded in surviving royal charters. 180. In this context. pp. DO I 34. However.80 As had been true of the Carolingians. for example. and 290. Such assurance could only come from a close examination of the monastery’s own charters and polyptyques. at least.82 Naturally. now also abbot of Lorsch. makes clear that the abbots there maintained this tradition of drawing up property inventories in both the Carolingian and Ottonian periods. See. it should be noted that on 15 September 940. 285–334. the abbots also had an interest in providing this information. royal officials had to be assured that Lorsch was not fraudulently claiming lands that belonged to other ecclesiastical institutions or secular landholders. but the royal government needed this list as well so that royal officials would know where they could and could not exercise their normal authority. 1993). By contrast. 174. It is precisely documents of this type that have been identified by Staab. as it was only on the basis of these detailed property records that the king could realistically inform royal officials. DO I 34. before the king could grant such an immunity. which appear to be two copies of an original list of properties and tithes granted to the monastery of St Maurice at Magdeburg. ‘Aspekte der Grundherrschaft’.81 This grant of an immunity was to cover all of the properties that the monastery then held (nunc possidet) and all of the properties that it might acquire (acquisierit). 289. DO I 70. in Werner Rösener (ed. pp. Otto issued a privilege on behalf of Bishop Evergisus. Otto required this detailed information in order to assign to Lorsch the appropriate levels of military and economic servitium that was to be provided to the king. in order for this immunity to function effectively not only did Lorsch. Strukturen der Grundherrschaft im Frühen Mittelalter. 210. See. moreover. 158. 146. could feel some comfort in 948 that his house would eventually receive back its property at Hemmingesebach along with a ‘profit’ for its grant of an ‘annuity’ to Liutharius. numerous surviving grants of immunities that list the properties of the ecclesiastical institution that are to be covered.). 168. granting an immunity covering the res et potestates quas per totam abbatiam that the brothers and abbot were to enjoy legally (iure). 118. DO I 222. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . require a list of its own properties. This property list does not survive for Lorsch in a royal charter.

DO I 28.89 Such pious and politically useful pronouncements. as was the case with Lorsch. DO I 2 and 55. Otto had available at the court. detailed records of Fulda’s holdings as a result of his confirmation of the monastery’s immunities in 936 and 943.87 Royal grants of church lands as benefices In addition to the acquisition of ecclesiastical lands to pursue royal objectives in a particular area. in which Otto ordered that no one should receive as a beneficium property that he had just granted to the church of St George in Limburg. which suggests that they remained in royal possession up through 973. the extant charter notes that with the consent (consensus) of Hadamar and the brothers at Fulda. did not keep Otto from requisitioning church properties to support his dependants with benefices. Even if this did occur. Mühlhausen. if not from other sources. Thuringia. DO I 160. Adalbrecht and Liubold. Eschwege and Frieda. Otto gave twenty-four separate properties held by Fulda in exchange for allodial property held by Rudolf and his sons. provided no such solace to Abbot Hadamar of Fulda. Tutinsode. makes clear. or at some later date. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . Otto and his father Henry I even used church properties to provide benefices to the vassalli of important royal fideles. it remains clear that Otto was able to requisition Fulda’s properties to pursue his own policy goals in the Saalgau region of Thuringia. despite the fact that it was commonly understood as an abuse. for example. Otto I devoted considerable resources to the system of fortresses located between the Unstrut and Saale Rivers in Thuringia.84 In this case. the possibility certainly cannot be excluded that Rudolf and his sons did make a separate concession to Fulda either in the immediate context of this exchange. the practice of using church lands to support royal dependants is also well attested for Otto’s reign. including the very large fortified complexes at Altstedt. nor that Otto intended to give to the monastery any of the properties he had acquired from Rudolf. As the exchange agreement between Otto and Liutharius.88 From a political perspective. in Saalgau (Salagowe). Otto found it prudent to include in many charters issued to ecclesiastical institutions a prohibition on granting out the particular church’s property as benefices. Schlotheim. however. At the very beginning of his reign 84 85 86 87 88 89 DO I 160. This acquisition of properties along the Saale River was probably intended to strengthen the royal economic resources that were devoted to maintaining these fortifications. therefore. See. As will be seen below.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 415 royal fidelis Rudolf in January 953. even Otto I’s charters describe as an abuse the acquisition of these properties on behalf of royal dependants. discussed above.85 There is no indication here that Rudolf was to give anything to Fulda. As noted above. however. Indeed.86 In considering the administrative underpinning of this agreement. These eleven properties do not appear again in the charters of Otto I as being granted away.

Otto issued a charter on behalf of the nuns of Alden-Eyck (modern Belgium). shows that the institutional memory at the royal court regarding the actual ownership rather than the possessio of these lands survived the accession of Otto I.e. i.416 David Bachrach in August 936. It was possible for censuales to gain their freedom through the payment of a fee. DO I 121. whether they were still alive at the time that this charter was issued. this memory was transpersonal. See. it must be emphasized that the misappropriation of these censuales had taken place long in the past (per multa tempora). of information about their names and changing status.91 In this case.95 In addition. for example. the nobilis Adalpreht gave property to Bishop Lambert in order to purchase the freedom of his wife and son. Otto’s charter on behalf of Pfävers emphasizes that the requisitioning of the monastery’s dependants had been illegitimate. Die Traditionen des Hochstifts Freising: Band II 926–1283.e. the recovery of these censuales was dependent upon the preservation. 30–1. DO I 121. makes clear that requisitions of ecclesiastical resources pro verbo regis to support royal dependants could endure for a long period before the ecclesiastical institution obtained relief. perhaps during the reign of a previous king. a number of census payers (homines censuales) had been requisitioned a long time before (per multa tempora) in order to provide benefices to some unnamed royal dependants. First. had been issued during the reign of Henry I. Consequently. i. Otto acted swiftly to alleviate the distress of the nuns of Alden-Eyck. however. nr. In this case. the fact that the original order. 1087 pp.92 In keeping with the generally negative opionion among ecclesiastical magnates regarding such alienations of church property. DO I 121. the homines censuales had been iniuste abstractos.93 To make amends for this ‘illegitimate’ use of church property. DO I 121. and whether they were still censuales. Otto’s charter solemnly requires that in the future neither the king (regia potestas) nor anyone else shall presume to take away these censuales in order to establish a beneficium for a third party. for example. i. over a substantial period of time. in which he ordered the return of eleven hobae located in the villa of Villina.e. In short.94 This return of the censuales to the control of the monastery at Pfävers further illuminates several aspects of royal administrative practice discussed above. A charter issued on behalf of the monastery of Pfävers (modern Swiss canton of St Gall) in 950. information had to be gathered and stored concerning the names of the children (or even 90 91 92 93 94 95 DO I 466. Hasapurc and Vodarhart. which had been taken from the convent iniuste in order to provide a benefice to an unnamed vassallus of Duke Gislebert of Lotharingia.90 In administrative terms. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . pro verbo regis.

Finally. Otto required detailed lists of the benefice holders. these tithes had been granted by the king to St Maximin. DO I 122. all of this data was inherently time conditioned.97 However. at a later date. which is still extant. whether these recipients were still alive. However.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 417 grandchildren) born to the censuales who had been abstracti from Pfäver’s control. the return to St Maximin of the right to collect tithe revenues held as benefices by royal dependants sheds light on the considerable scale of the written records available to the king. in the absence of a royal archive. so that they became the monastery’s property. in the period after the initial unjust requisition of these dependants. and. at that time he did not require those who held these churches and their tithes as beneficia to give them up. to know that this information existed. Otto had agreed to return to St Maximin a number of churches and their tithes that he had requisitioned. some of these tithes had been granted out to royal fideles as benefices. In 950. it was not enough for Abbot Willerus simply to provide Otto with a list of the requisitioned tithes that was 96 97 98 99 DO I 179. information regarding the person or persons to whom the censuales had been assigned as benefices. or whether the censuales had been regranted to yet another royal fidelis. The fact that Otto was in a position to return these censuales and their descendants to Pfävers. not specified in the charter. There is no necessity here that we are dealing with a central archive. All of these factors necessitate that the information about the censuales and about the individuals who received them as benefices was kept in writing. On 10 March of that year. See DO I 122.99 As was the case with regard to the return of the censuales to the monastery of Pfävers. the written records in question.96 The text makes clear that originally these tithes had been royal property (nostre regales) and had never belonged to any bishop (nulli umquam termino episcopoali vela ecclesiae subiacentes). Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . necessarily entails that royal officials had access to. Moreover. in which the royal clerk recorded that Abbot Willerus sought the return by the king of all of the tithes (dominales quas vulgo salicas vocant decimationes) of the churches possessed by St Maximin that had been granted out as benefices. The return of the actual revenues of the churches and beneficia to St Maximin in 956 thus represents a second step taken by the king. See DO I 122. if not possession of. and therefore needed to be regularly updated. In order to carry out his promise to return the revenues. had also to be collected and stored. Otto issued a charter. However. At some point in the past. A similar case arose with respect to the monastery of St Maximin near Trier in 956.98 It is under these circumstances that Abbot Willerus turned to Otto to obtain the return of the tithe revenues. we do require an explanation for the ability of royal officials to access this information. even more fundamentally. Moreover.

Giles Brown. made use of both a substantial written administration and also devoted enormous resources to projecting an aura of sacrality. the discussions by Janet Nelson. pp. In this context. 32–63. the king also required regularly updated reports regarding the quantity and productivity of the lands and animals. whether lay or ecclesiastical. concerning the bishopric of Osnabrück’s efforts to recover tithe revenues that it had lost. 122. this does not necessarily entail the presence of written records in a royal archive. in cases such as this.). level of production in a given year. in Rosamond McKitterick (ed. However. passim. 1–51. 179. Furthermore. Bachrach. or the Ottonians ruled a Weberian style ‘patrimonial’ polity on the basis of the charisma they developed through the ‘production’ of sacral kingship. Bachrach. as well as whatever craft and industrial production took place within each of the parishes in question. 132–59. 300–1215 (Woodbridge. since tithes were calculated as a percentage of the actual.418 David Bachrach based on St Maximin’s own records. or for the use of royal dependants as benefices. Charles the Bald and. 314. pp. DO I 212. passim. however. 157. Charles the Bald (London. ‘Introduction: The Carolingian Renaissance’. 1992). for example. that such an either/or argument is neither necessary nor even plausible.102 The monistic focus by historians who study the politics of the 100 101 102 See. In this regard see. and that the abbot was not attempting to steal tithe revenues that were held legitimately by others. when resources are being held as benefices from the king. Religion and the Conduct of War c. and Goldberg.101 Conclusion The current scholarly consensus concerning the government of Ottonian Germany is a classic example of an ‘either/or’ argument. see DO I. 319 and 428. 163. Certainly Charlemagne. it is necessary to explain how royal officials kept track of the grants of tithes and revenues over time. Struggle for Empire. it was hardly a rare event for there to be contention between ecclesiastical institutions regarding the possession of parishes and their revenues. It is clear. pp.100 Again. David S. 1994). The king required assurance and documentary evidence that the churches in question actually were the abbey’s property. For other examples of lands being requisitioned for use by the king. 72. Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . In considering the heuristic value of this case. 93. Louis the German. it should be noted that the examples of royal administrative practice regarding the requisition of church property discussed here. for example. 176. Either the Ottonians had a Carolingian-style administration that depended heavily upon the written word to manage and access royal resources. Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation (Cambridge. 2003). in the works of numerous specialists in Carolingian history. can be multiplied in numerous other charters dealing with the return of requisitioned properties to ecclesiastical institutions. Louis the Pious. rather than of a fictive. Early Carolingian Warfare. indeed.

is no longer tenable. University of New Hampshire Early Medieval Europe 2009 17 (4) © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd . access.Exercise of royal power: the case of Otto the Great 419 Ottonian period. Scholarly works on these topics have demonstrated massive and fundamental continuities with the Carolingian period in terms of both resources under royal control and administrative practices of royal officials. the building of royal tombs. the requisition of lands from churches. by scholars up to this point. and then use the massive quantities of time-conditioned information that made possible every aspect of their rule. or that they occurred in a fit of absence of mind. and the symbolic language of the court. on matters such as the meaning and purpose of the royal itinerary. has had distorting consequences. and to large-scale construction projects. to use Rosamond McKitterick’s evocative phrase. The reader should not form the misimpression that this essay in intended to show that sacral kingship was either not present or unimportant. This includes the wholesale failure to incorporate into their works the findings of specialist studies concerning the practices of the Ottonian government with regard to the fisc. big and small. made considerable use of ‘the written word’. or the myriad other tasks. undertaken by the royal government could ‘simply happen’ in the absence of the types of detailed information dealt with here. to military institutions. the focus here has been on affirming the importance of another dimension of royal power that has been neglected. This information was available to Otto because his government. To suggest that the confiscation of lands from traitors. ranging from the mobilization of armies. and even denied. The basic failure of scholars focusing on royal political history to incorporate into their syntheses the enormous research on the substantial range of government activities broadly outlined here. like those of his Carolingian predecessors. Rather. maintain. is compounded by their additional failure to ask one of the most fundamental questions of the historical discipline: how? How did the Ottonian kings gather. to the building of churches. to the confiscation of the allods and benefices of traitors? This study has touched on just one of the many areas in which Otto I’s exercise of power required the use of such detailed and timeconditioned information.