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Finiunt conventi? Status and Order in Early 11th-Century Poitou

(This paper will be published in a Festschrift for Stephen D. White’s 75th birthday, edited by Richard Barton and Tracey Billado, expected to come out in 2023.)

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the social dynamics of early eleventh-century Poitou in the context of the main narratives of society at the turn of the first millennium, focusing on the Conventum inter Guillelmum Aquitanorum comitem et Hugonem chiliarchum, an exceptionally valuable account of the (seemingly) turbulent relationship of William V, duke of Aquitaine, and Hugh IV, lord of Lusignan. In the debate of the “feudal transformation” of French society, different readings of this source were featured in arguments from both sides, but many aspects of the origins and the possible function of the Conventum are still under debate.

I approach the problem from three different angles. On the one hand, I contrast the Conventum’s depiction of early eleventh-century Poitevin society with information from other relevant sources and situate the results in the wider context of the transformations of Southern French aristocracy in the tenth and eleventh centuries. On the other hand, through a wide selection of contemporary charters, chronicles, annals, letters, miracle collections, and council regulations, I identify four widespread models of society and attempt to define the Conventum’s place in the political thinking of the era. Finally, I reflect on the composition’s style and define its probable purpose. Exploring these three aspects of the subject on hand allows us to have a deeper understanding of the goals, struggles, and worldview of landholders on the margins of the aristocracy.

„Colligite me in medietatem terrę…”: veszedelmes viszonyok La Cadière-ben [“Colligite me in medietatem terrę…”: Dangerous Liaisons in La Cadière]

In: Hunyadi Sándor – Rudolf Veronika – Varró Orsolya (szerk.): Micae mediaevales XI. Fiatal történészek dolgozatai a középkori Magyarországról és Európáról. Budapest, ELTE BTK Történelemtudományi Doktori Iskola, 2023.

A short document preserved in the cartulary of Saint-Victor of Marseille relates a conflict between the monks and two of their tenants, Theoderic and Noe, shortly before the turn of the first millennium, which culminated in the latte two killing a cattleman and breaking the lavabo of the church of Saint Damian in La Cadière. Viscount William I of Marseille pledged his help to the abbey, but the memorandum presents this act as the source of further calamities, as he eventually alienated the property from the monks. This case and the document itself have been frequently referenced in historiography to illustrate the transformation of tenth—eleventh-century Provençal economics and society as well as to support the analysis of the relations between the viscounts of Marseille and Saint-Victor, but some of the text’s unique aspects have had yet to be explained. This paper aims to recontextualise the events related in the document in order to provide a new hypothesis on the political situation in Marseille at the turn of the first millennium and on the birth of the memorandum.


Társadalmi felelősségvállalás a 11. századi Provence-ban [Social Responsibility in Eleventh-Century Provence]

In: Kovács Enikő – Rudolf Veronika – Szokola László – Varró Orsolya – Veszprémy Márton (szerk.): Micae mediaevales X. Fiatal történészek dolgozatai a középkori Magyarországról és Európáról. Budapest, ELTE BTK Történelemtudományi Doktori Iskola, 2022.

The aim of this paper is to explore how different groups of eleventh-century Provençal society interpreted individual and social responsibility. In order to examine this question, it is important to understand contemporary worldviews, attitudes to death and afterlife, relationships with the dead. I use the diplomatic material of the abbeys of Saint-Victor of Marseille, Saint-Pierre of Montmajour, and Saint-Honorat of Lérins as well as the Life of Saint Isarn to reflect on the aforementioned topics. Certain rites, preambules and sanctions of charters, and the notions of death in written sources (the diplomatic material and the Life) provide valuable information on the understanding of social responsibility, which can contribute to the deeper understanding of subjects such as expansion of Benedictine monasteries and the restructuration of society.

Az arisztokrácia átalakulása a 10–11. századi Dél-Franciaországban és Provence-ban [The Transformation of the Aristocracy in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century Southern France and Provence]
Sic Itur Ad Astra 75 (2021): 23–54.

“As long as the law prevailed, the world was at peace. / The laws are withering now and peace is fading away. / The customs of the people change, and the order changes too,” the Bishop warns the King in Adalbero of Laon’s Carmen ad Rotbertum regem, written around 1030. During the twentieth century, numerous scholars thought to have discovered this chaos and radical change in late 10th- and early 11th-century French and Provençal society, but the theory of feudal transformation or revolution became the target of vigorous criticism in the 1990s. Although the debate seems to have been settled, the questions raised during the discussion are still relevant: what kind of transformation did French society go through in the 10th and 11th centuries? What factors did determine it? In what relation was it with individual and collective identity? This paper examines the social dynamics of French provinces south of the Loire and Provence (the territory of the Kingdom of Burgundy), relying on contemporary diplomatic materials, narrative sources, and socio-philosophical texts, including hagiographic works and miracle collections. The analysis takes into consideration the circumstances that determined the birth and survival of sources necessary for the reconstruction of aristocratic society, the different understandings of proprietary rights, and the coexistence of systems of social theory. It is particularly important to explore how different groups of society defined the criteria of peace and what roles they assigned to themselves and others in establishing it. By reflecting on these issues, we can gain a closer understanding of the problems of French and Provençal society around the first millennium.

Barátok közt: a marseille-i Szent Viktor-apátság megtelepedése Brignoles-ban [Friends, Episode 1: The Settlement of Saint-Victor of Marseille in Brignoles]

In:  Kovács Enikő – Rudolf Veronika – Szokola László – Veszprémy Márton (szerk.): Micae mediaevales IX. Fiatal történészek dolgozatai a középkori Magyarországról és Európáról. Budapest, ELTE BTK Történelemtudományi Doktori Iskola, 2020. 189–199.

The 11th-century history of the abbey of Saint-Victor is a characteristic example of the social developments of the era: the political transformation of France and Burgundy, the expansion of prominent abbeys, the spread of the Cluniac reform movement, new strategies of acquiring and managing landed property, and the appearance of new narratives of society. During the decades between c. 924, which saw the dispersion of the original community, and c. 970, which saw its renovation, the former monastic lands were appropriated by other landholders, but the Church preserved the memory of Saint-Victor’s grandeur, which contributed significantly to the ambitions of the new abbey. At the turn of the first millennium, the monks strove to become integrated into the social network of their neighbours, which led to a long series of conflicts, negotiations, and agreements. The goal of this paper is to present the process and difficulties of integration in 11th-century Provence through the example of Saint-Victor and its neighbours in the territory of Brignoles.

Mary Beard: Women and Power: A Manifesto. London, Profile Books, 2017.


Sic Itur Ad Astra 67 (2018):  207–210.

Megállapodás Vilmos, Aquitania hercege és Hugó chiliarchus között: egy egyedülálló szöveg a 11. századi Franciaországból [Agreement between William, Duke of Aquitaine, and Hugh the Chiliarch. A Unique Text from 11th-Century France]

translation with introduction

Világtörténet 40/1 (2018): 125–151.

The Conventum inter Guillelmum Aquitanorum comitem et Hugonem Chiliarchum is a 342-line-long, anonymously written source narrating the relationship of Hugh IV, lord of Lusignan, and William V, duke of Aquitaine, from the former’s viewpoint in a Latin which shows strong vernacular influence. It has been frequently commented on in the debate on the ‟feudal transformation” of French society around the year 1000, due to the circumstances that it shows little resemblance to contemporary sources in its topic, as well as in its form and language. Its depiction of vassality is radically different from the model drawn by educated authors as Fulbert of Chartres or Ademar of Chabannes, and offers an alternative notion of authority and of the inner dynamics of feudal society, namely that of the lower stratum of the political elite (represented in the narrative by Hugh and his adversaries). As such, it is a unique source on medieval political thinking, and while it has multiple English and French translations, no Hungarian translation has been previously made. This paper aims to fill this gap, and it also contains a new translation of Fulbert of Chartres’ letter on vassality.

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