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Des chartes aux constitutions

 | 
François Foronda
, 
Jean-Philippe Genet

Partie I. Généalogies constitutionnelles

Thinking about Power before Magna Carta: the Role of History

Björn Weiler

Texte intégral

  • 1 Latinske Dokument til Norsk Historie fram til År 1204, ed. and trans. by E. Vandvik, Oslo, Norske s (...)
  • 2 R. Elze, “The Ordo for the Coronation of Roger II of Sicily: an Example of Dating by Internal Evide (...)
  • 3 Wiponis, Gesta Chuonradi, in id., Opera, ed. by H. Bresslau, Hanover, Hahn, 1915, 3rd ed., pp. 21-2 (...)
  • 4 M. Clayton, “The Old English promissio regis”, Anglo-Saxon England, 37, 2008, pp. 91-150; Die Geset (...)
  • 5 Hermann of Reichenau, Chronica, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. SS, 5), 1844, p. 133. See also J. Schlick, Köni (...)

1Magna Carta and similar charters of liberty pose something of a conundrum. There always had been attempts to define what royal power meant. Yet in the second half of the 12th century, starting perhaps with the coronation charter of King Magnus Erlingsson of Norway in the 1160s1, we find not so much attempts to codify abstract principles, but, first, to define concrete promises (the exact amount, for instance, that a king could charge for the succession to fiefs from his tenants-in-chief) and, second, to codify the means by which oversight of the governance of the realm could be exercised by the ruler’s leading subjects. Both features mark a noticeable departure from earlier attempts to define the meaning of royal power, be it in the coronation liturgy2, in descriptions of the ritualised exercise of good kingship3, or formalised ­coronation oaths4. What happened in the 12th century even went beyond the right that, according to the 11th-century chronicler Hermann of Reichenau, the German princes reserved for themselves, when, in 1053, they were asked to elect Henry III’s infant son as their future king: they would do so, but only as long as he would prove a just and good king5. In other words, earlier efforts frequently centred on ritual, on the promise to uphold abstract principles, but, unlike the documents surviving from the second half of the 12th century onwards, they did not envisage a formal system of oversight, nor did they put one in place with which royal duties – what being a good and just king actually meant – could be defined.

  • 6 P. Buc, L’ambiguïté du livre. Prince, pouvoir et peuple dans les commentaires de la Bible au Moyen (...)
  • 7 D. Baumann, Stephen Langton. Erzbischof von Canterbury im England der Magna Carta, Leiden/Boston, B (...)
  • 8 N. Vincent, “English Liberties, Magna Carta 1215 and the Spanish Connection”, in 1212-1214, el trie (...)
  • 9 Id., The Crisis of the Twelfth Century. Power, Lordship, and the Origins of European Government, Pr (...)

2One question frequently asked is where barons and prelates might have found those ideas about oversight and codification. Philippe Buc, for instance, has identified shifts in Biblical exegesis at the schools of Northern France in the second half of the 12th century6, where an increasing emphasis on the accountability of royal power, its limitations, and the need for oversight of the ruler by the ruled can be observed. Similarly, David d’Avray, John W. Baldwin and others have drawn attention to the thinking of Archbishop Stephen Langton of Canterbury, a former master at the university of Paris and a leading figure in the events surrounding Magna Carta in England7. There was clearly a Parisian connection, and the French – and Iberian – dimension of Magna Carta is perhaps further underlined by the work Nicholas Vincent and Adam Kosto have done on the reception of the Statute of Pamiers and the usatges of Barcelona in the wider Angevin world8. By contrast, Thomas N. Bisson has argued that notions of accountability arose from the expansion of royal government in the mid-12th century, which used new techniques to replace “accountability of fidelity” with “accountability of office”. These new techniques of holding nobles to account, in turn, were then applied to royal governance9. A desire to hold the king to account was not necessarily rooted in the works of the Paris schools, but conformed to a new zeitgeist marked by an expectation that those holding offices – whether from God or the king – could be made to abide by abstract norms of appropriate behavior through mechanisms of accounting and record-keeping. The two strands of argument are by no means mutually exclusive. They do, however, point to a lively intellectual climate in which concepts of accountability were debated with increasing vigour, and where new ways of turning abstract moral principles into concrete political action were explored.

  • 10 See, for instance, F. Oakley, Empty Bottles of Gentilism: Kingship and the Divine in Late Antiquity (...)
  • 11 See, for instance, Rufinus of Sorrento, De Bono Pacis, ed. and trans. by R. Deutinger, Hanover, Hah (...)
  • 12 A. J. Black, Political Thought in Europe, 1250-1450, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992; M (...)

3However, and this is the key contention of what follows, modern historians of political ideas may have overlooked key evidence for contemporary thinking about royal power. The oversight is to some extent rooted in the textual conventions of modern political science. That is, scholars frequently look for the kind of abstract writings modern theorists of politics might have produced: king’s mirrors, works on sovereignty, perhaps even legal treatises10. While such texts experienced a revival in the 13th century, they also constitute a genre of writing that – with a handful of notable exceptions – had lain mostly dormant since the 10th century11. Consequently, most modern studies of medieval political thought largely sidestep the period from the 11th to the early 13th century12. Nobody, one might infer, thought about power between the end of the Carolingian Empire and the issuing of Magna Carta.

  • 13 L. Melve, Inventing the Public Sphere: the Public Debate during the Investiture Contest, c. 1030-11 (...)
  • 14 See, in lieu of a rich corpus of literature: H. Beumann, “Die Historiographie des Mittelalters als (...)

4That picture is misleading. In fact, an abundance of sources exists to prove the point. Philippe Buc’s work on Biblical commentaries has already been mentioned, but attention should also be drawn to Leidulf Melve’s study of the public debate during the investiture controversy13. On this occasion, I would like to focus on yet another group of materials: historical writings. I am not, of course, the first to point to the value of such narratives as a source for past political norms. There is, in fact, a rich body of scholarship to which this chapter is greatly indebted14. Yet we also face the problem that it is sometimes difficult to see how far views held by a particular author may be typical of those of his contemporaries. One way of sidestepping the problem is to read several authors alongside one another, but even then the question arises as to how influential their ideas may have been, and how far they may reflect thinking outside the narrow circle of their immediate peers and audience. There is no easy solution to this problem: too many texts have been lost, while others only survive in later copies, making it difficult to say much, if anything at all, about their contemporary reception and circulation. We are, however, fortunate in what has survived. There is still extant a series of narratives dealing with issues of political organisation. It seems to have emerged within a loosely defined though culturally and intellectually significant milieu: the royal court, here understood as a ruler’s officials, attendants and key advisors. It is on these that the following will focus.

5Such writings, I would suggest, offer a rare glimpse of debates about the relationship between ruler and ruled conducted at the very heart of royal government. And debates there certainly were. They do so because of their subject matter and likely audience, as well as the social status of their authors. The first section of this chapter expands on the theme, and outlines a phenomenology of sources, with particular attention to issues of genre, purpose and audience. The second focuses on texts written in or for the wider environs of the royal court. Just as, in a modern context, political theory has few if any readers outside the university classroom, so in the Central Middle Ages, too, the writing of history reached a far wider and more diverse audience than formal treatises on power and royal governance. If we want to consider the political ideas that may have influenced thinking about power, studying charters, law codes, and even works of Biblical exegesis can only take us so far. These genres were of course important, and undoubtedly reveal concepts that often filtered through to a larger educated clerical public. Still, many more court clerics read, commissioned or wrote history, and we should take seriously how they imagined a past that set the precedent against which they invited their audience, peers and patrons to judge the practices and affairs of the present. Finally, I will sketch out some rival discourses with which historical texts may have engaged, and suggest possible reasons for the popularity of the particular concepts of royal power our texts espouse. Before turning to the matter at hand, though, let me stress that this chapter is inevitably speculative: more research needs to be done. I have no doubt incurred risks of misreading the evidence in the specific context of this contribution. However, they are outweighed by the potential benefits to be gained from engaging more thoroughly with the rich and as yet under-utilised a corpus of historical writings surviving from the age of Magna Carta, of asking what it can tell us about the cultural framework from which sprang charters of liberty and, in the long run, constitutions.

I

  • 15 See, for instance, B. C. Basington, “Non imitanda sed veneranda: the Dilemma of Sacred Precedent in (...)
  • 16 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, ed. and trans. by R. A. B. Mynors, R. M. Thomson and M (...)
  • 17 Ibid., pp. 82-95.
  • 18 I owe this point to M. Staunton. His forthcoming study of Angevin historical writing will deal with (...)

6To begin with a series of general observations: most importantly, historical writing was about more than just articulating ideas of power. Curiosity, a desire to find out about the past, the need to provide a community and its patrons with roots and pedigree also mattered15. When, around 1125, the English Benedictine monk William of Malmesbury produced the five books of his Gesta Regum Anglorum, the Deeds of the Kings of the English, he reflected on the purpose of writing history. The need to recover the English past ranked highly: the Gesta had initially been begun at the request of the queen, who, while of Anglo-Saxon stock, did not know that she was related to St Aldhelm, the founder of William’s abbey16. In fact, the chronicler complained just how difficult it was to unearth the history of England between the time of Bede and the arrival of the Normans17. There were no sources, and those that existed were often dubious and of little value. William sought to preserve and uncover an often shadowy and fragmentary past, and we should not rule out the possibility that the intellectual challenge of making sense of whatever information William had as his disposal was part of the appeal of writing history18.

  • 19 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, op. cit., V, 449, vol. 1, pp. 800-801.
  • 20 Ibid., V, 392, vol. 1, pp. 710-711.
  • 21 See also S. O. Sønnesyn, William of Malmesbury and the Ethics of History, Woodbridge, Boydell & Bre (...)

7This did not, of course, mean that history was value-free: Malmesbury repeatedly pointed out that it not only taught what happened, but that it also offered an opportunity to learn about the deeds of great men to emulate, and those of evil ones to shun19. History provided a mirror of mores, a means by which to understand what had caused failure in the past, and by which success could be ascertained in the future. In fact, when William started to write about his own time and the reign of King Henry I (1100-1135), he praised the monarch for his interest in history: it was through the study of literature in general, and of history in particular, that Henry had become so good a king20. Moreover, Malmesbury aimed his moral instruction at a powerful audience: King David of Scotland, Henry’s nephew; the king’s favourite (though illegitimate) son, Earl Robert of Gloucester; and Matilda, Henry’s daughter and sole surviving legitimate progeny. Thus he addressed those most likely to succeed to the throne, offering them a manual of English history, a compendium of good and bad kingship, and a guide to the successful exercise of the royal office21.

  • 22 Otto of Freising, Gesta Frederici seu rectius Cronica, ed. by F.-J. Schmale, trans. by A. Schmidt, (...)
  • 23 S. Bagge, “Ideas and Narrative in Otto of Freising’s Gesta Frederici”, Journal of Medieval History, (...)

8William never let the didactic uses to which history could be put remain implicit, and he aimed his work at the very audience that was most likely to profit from his instruction. He was, moreover, one of the most self-­referential writers of history in the Central Middle Ages, frequently expanding on his method and aims. Even so, comparable statements appear, for instance, in Otto of Freising’s Deeds of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, or Alexander of Telese’s account of the Norman kings of Sicily22. Both were directed at a powerful audience: in Otto’s case none other than Frederick himself; in Alexander’s, the king’s sister. In both instances, moreover, and especially in that of Otto of Freising, as Sverre Bagge has demonstrated, the role of the past as a means through which to draw lessons for the present remained paramount23. History was meant to instruct.

9Of course, not every author did espouse so clearly didactic a set of goals, nor was every writer of history as well connected as the Malmesbury chronicler. After all, being able to dedicate a work to the king, his family and his entourage required some prior connection. The overwhelming majority of texts were penned in contexts where there is little evidence for close links with either king or court. Thus, they did not necessarily set out to provide a programme of moral instruction, but sought simply to understand and evaluate what they recorded. More importantly, authors frequently had to imagine how events might have occurred, as they lacked the information to do otherwise. It is thus often in depictions of the distant past – events beyond the living memory of a writer and his informants – that we find renditions of an idealised reality. “Idealised reality”, I stress, does not necessarily mean a “good old past”, or an ideal status quo ante, but could entail a reconstruction of how a writer expected events to have unfolded, based on what else he knew about an event or individual. If, as was frequently the case, the deeds of kings mattered as a means of structuring time rather than as the central focus of a narrative, then the value of these accounts increases exponentially: precisely because the deeds of rulers mattered only because they situated events in time, there was little need for extensive research on what had actually happened. If, for instance, only vague rumours survived regarding a king’s flawed succession to the throne, then, depending what view, if any, a writer took of that ruler’s subsequent actions, he would fill in the gaps according to how he thought that succession would have unfolded.

  • 24 For the context see S. Dick, “Die Königserhebung Friedrich Barbarossas im Spiegel der Quellen – Kri (...)
  • 25 B. Weiler, “Tales of Trickery and Deceit: the Election of Frederick Barbarossa 1152, Historical Mem (...)

10The election of Frederick Barbarossa as king of the Romans in 1152 is a case in point. Frederick became king, although his eponymous cousin, the surviving (but under-age) son of Conrad III (r. 1138-1152), had perhaps a stronger claim to the throne24. Within a generation, several conflicting accounts emerged, most of them imbued with little knowledge as to what really happened in 1152, but all of them centring on the unusual circumstances of Frederick’s succession. Depending on the overall view that a chronicler took of the first Staufen emperor, he portrayed his election as the result of a successful ruse, with Barbarossa outwitting greedy rivals; as Frederick obeying the wishes of his predecessor, who favoured him over his own son; or as symptomatic of the moral depravity and trickery that was to characterise the remainder of his reign. None of these accounts tells us much about the reality of events in 1152. Many were even unable to record the name of Barbarossa’s cousin. However, in their emphasis on hereditary succession alongside election by the princes, they cast an important light on the framework of expectations, the norms and values by which writers of history judged and according to which they reconstructed events. That these norms were in striking contrast to the reality of imperial politics at the time these texts had been written, makes their refashioning of the past all the more intriguing to modern readers25.

  • 26 S. Patzold, “Wie bereitet man sich auf einen Thronwechsel vor? Überlegungen zu einem wenig beachtet (...)
  • 27 S. MacLean, “Recycling the Franks in Twelfth-Century England: Regino of Prüm, the Monks of Durham a (...)
  • 28 J. Campbell, “Some Twelfth-Century Views of the Anglo-Saxon Past”, Peritia, 3, 1984, pp. 131-150.
  • 29 B. Pohl, Dudo of St Quentin’s Historia Normannorum: Tradition, Innovation and Memory, Woodbridge, B (...)
  • 30 J. Tahkokallio, Monks, Clerks and King Arthur: Reading Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Twelfth and Thir (...)
  • 31 T. Foerster (ed.), Godfrey of Viterbo and his Readers: Imperial Tradition and Universal History in (...)

11These types of imagining of the past matter because they were ineluctably associated with how and for what purposes history was used. Most medieval readers, it seems, consulted historical narratives because they provided a record of how things used to be done. Steffen Patzold has thus drawn attention to a set of annotations in a manuscript of the Antapodosis, a history of emperors Otto I and Otto II, produced in the late 10th century by Bishop Liutprand of Cremona. The manuscript was preserved in the cathedral library at Freising. When a new emperor was to be elected in 1024, either the bishop himself or one of his clerics produced a summary of accounts as to how earlier elections had been handled26. While in this case, the actual procedure described mattered, a record of past conflicts could also be useful. Simon MacLean, for instance, has analysed an abbreviated version of a 10th-century chronicle by Regino of Prüm, produced at Durham Cathedral in the 1160s, which selected those passages treating conflicts either between kings and bishops, or emperor and pope. That the manuscript was in all likelihood produced at the height of the Becket conflict, and of the Alexandrine schism pitting Emperor Frederick Barbarossa against Pope Alexander III, provides the context for understanding both the selection of evidence and the uses to which it may have been put27. Similarly, a case can be made that at the turn of the 11th to the 12th century, English chroniclers searched records of Anglo-Saxon history for precedent that could be applied to negotiating the conflicts of the Investiture Controversy in the post-Conquest Church28. Works by Ben Pohl on the manuscript tradition of Dudo of St Quentin29, Jaakko Tahkokallio on the readers of Geoffrey of Monmouth30, and a volume, edited by Thomas Foerster, on the manuscripts of Godfrey of Viterbo31, will provide further evidence for the degree to which historical writing served as a point of reference, a means of finding precedents in the past that could be used to understand and to meet the challenges of the present.

  • 32 D. Stephenson, “The Laws of the Court: Past Reality or Present Ideal?”, in T. M. Charles-Edwards, M (...)
  • 33 A. G. Remensnyder, Remembering Kings Past. Monastic Foundation Legends in Medieval Southern France, (...)
  • 34 The best overview is still that provided by A. Plassmann, Origo gentis. Identitäts- und Legitimität (...)
  • 35 N. Vincent, Magna Carta, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 59.
  • 36 The Laws of the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary, vol. 1: 1000-1301, ed. and trans. by J. M. Bak, G. Bón (...)
  • 37 Godfrey’s works have been – partially – edited in Gotidfredi Viterbernsis Opera, ed. by G. Waitz, H (...)
  • 38 I owe this point to T. Foerster, who is producing a more detailed study of this “English” manuscrip (...)

12These studies add depth to, and employ materials not commonly used in exploring, an otherwise familiar phenomenon: the past as a source of hallowed precedent. Further instances include the idealised ruler and law-giver, as with Hywel Da in Wales and Godfrey of Bouillon in Outremer32; the legendary founder of a community33; or a noble lineage rooted in an imagined Roman or Carolingian past34. Charters of liberty were no exception: it seems that the coronation charter of King Henry I of England (issued in 1100) was consulted in the lead-up to Magna Carta35, while the Golden Bull of Hungary (1222) perceived itself as restoring an idealised status quo ante as it was believed to have existed at the time of St Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary, who had died in 1038, nearly two centuries before the Golden Bull was issued36. Last but not least, when abstract treatises on kingship began to be written again around the year 1200, the earliest surviving texts – Godfrey of Viterbo’s Memoria Seculorum and Pantheon (c. 1185) and Gerald of Wales’ De Principis Instructione Liber (c. 1217 in the final redaction) – came in the guise of universal histories37. Godfrey used the history of Rome and of recent events to establish a series of principles on which the exercise of royal power was to be based, but the medieval manuscript context seems to suggest that it was read essentially as history, consulted whenever imperial affairs might matter to a copyist’s readers. There is, for instance, manuscript evidence to suggest that the English royal court received a copy in the early to mid-1250s, just as Henry III of England was pursuing a claim to the Sicilian throne, simultaneously the possibility existed that his eponymous nephew (the son of Frederick II and Isabella Plantagenet) might play an important role in imperial politics, while the king’s younger brother prepared to claim the German throne38. In short, history was read because it provided useful information.

13Of course, that later readers should have used histories as a means of verifying facts and procedures does not mean that medieval historians wrote in a spirit of disinterested objectivity. Knowingly or not, writers on the past interpreted and selected the information they deemed worth reporting, highlighted important moral messages, and sought to reconstruct events as they expected them to have unfolded. In the present context, this also means that important principles were sometimes situated in a remote past: in periods for which few or no sources survived, but which for that very reason may have provided the ideal point of origin for principles and ideas historians deemed relevant to their own time and age. Just because a practice or procedure was unverifiable (or its depiction verifiably untrue) does not mean that authors and their audience did not consider its portrayal to be accurate. What mattered was that it was representative of how things should be or should at least have been. The very fact that, in the absence of evidence, historians were forced to imagine past norms and practices, makes their writings all the more useful for historians of political ideas. This will become all the more apparent once we turn from general points of principle to specific case studies: the writing of history for and at the court.

II

  • 39 John of Salisbury, Vita St Anselmi, in Patrologia Latina 199, ed. by J.-P. Migne, Paris, Migne, 185 (...)
  • 40 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum Anglorum, ed. and trans. by M. Winterbottom, Oxford, Oxford (...)
  • 41 John of Salisbury, Vita St Anselmi, op. cit., col. 1034.
  • 42 The Historical Works of Gervase of Canterbury, ed. by W. Stubbs, London, Longman, 1878-1879, vol. 1 (...)
  • 43 B. Weiler, “Bishops and Kings in England, c. 1066-c. 1215”, in L. Körntgen, D. Waßenhoven (eds.), R (...)

14Authors drew on a range of models. In the 1170s, John of Salisbury, a member of the court of both Henry II of England and Archbishop Thomas Becket, revised Eadmer’s Life of St Anselm. Eadmer had begun writing his vita of the second post-conquest archbishop of Canterbury during the saint’s life-time and completed it not long after 1110. John transformed Anselm into a paragon of virtuous and fearless counsel, who frequently stood up to the king, undeterred in his desire to provide moral counsel that also defended and defined the prerogatives of a ruler’s subjects in relation to their monarch39. Moreover, John placed Anselm in an established tradition of archiepiscopal remonstration, centring on St Dunstan, Anselm’s 10th-century predecessor. In fact, to several 12th-century writers, the interaction between Dunstan and King Edgar (r. 959-975) had been the ideal type of how such a relationship should unfold, with the archbishop as the moral authority guiding and directing the king40. In John’s version of the Life, Anselm’s sanctification was made complete when Dunstan escorted the prelate’s soul to heaven, just as he would that of Thomas Becket41. That Henry II’s penitential procession for the murder of Becket departed from a church dedicated to St Dunstan was perhaps no coincidence42. Archbishops were meant to defend the Church and all its members, if necessary by defying, but most certainly by admonishing the monarch43.

  • 44 Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum: Danmarkshistorien, ed. by K. Friis-Jensen, trans. by P. Zeeberg, C (...)

15Similar ideas, though focussing on secular advisors and rooted in the distant past, were espoused by Saxo Grammaticus, who, in book five of the Gesta Danorum (c. 1200), designed the relationship between the legendary King Frothi III, and his advisor Erik as a blueprint for that between the archbishops of Lund and the Danish kings. Frothi had been a most foolish and inept ruler – until he secured Erik’s services. By taking Erik’s advice, Frothi became one of the most successful of early Danish kings, while Erik acquired great fame and many riches. There was an edge to Saxo’s imagery: his Gesta Danorum opens with the Danes deciding to depose one of their kings because he was no good, and to elect someone more suitable in his stead44. Great kings were those who chose prudent counsellors, and they were also the ones who tended to live out their royal days in prosperity and peace.

  • 45 Sven Aggesen, Brevis Historia Regum Dacie. Scriptores Minores Historiae Danicae, ed. by M. C. Gertz (...)

16In his Lex Castrensis, probably written c. 1170, Sven Aggesen, another Danish historian, took a somewhat different approach. His text dealt with the king’s retainers, treating everything from seating arrangements to the king’s duty to remain loyal to his men, but also what happened when the king violated the law. Sven stressed that he dealt with the order of the court as it should be: many of the good laws of Cnut (d. 1035) had fallen into abeyance, and he was thus trying to preserve the memory of a long lost ideal practice. Sven reported an incident in which Cnut had drawn his sword and killed a man. According to law, this should have meant that the offender was moved down the seating order, which, were the king the culprit, would have meant the dissolution of his court, as nobody could legitimately rank above the king. The courtiers therefore convened to discuss the matter before deciding that the throne would be placed in their midst, and that Cnut had to prostrate himself before it. Once sufficient amends had been made, the king was pardoned and restored to his former status45. Thus, the ruler was as much bound by the law as his people, but it fell to members of the royal court, to his retainers and advisors, to ensure that this was indeed the case. The royal office, symbolised by the throne, existed independently of the king, while the individual ruler had to merit his kingship by obeying the laws and heeding the counsel of his courtiers.

  • 46 Anonimi Bele regis notarii Gesta Hungarorum et Magistri Rogerii Epistolae in miserabile Carmen supe (...)
  • 47 Anonimi Bele regis…, op. cit., pp. 16-19.

17We also find references that assign a right to oversight to the subjects as a whole, or at least to the leading strata among them. The Gesta Hungarorum, or Deeds of the Hungarians, may serve as example. Written by an anonymous Hungarian notary, it remains of uncertain date. It has commonly been dated to c. 1200, though Martyn Rady has suggested it may have been compiled as late as 123046. The text describes the adventures and travails of the first Hungarians: having initially settled in Scythia, they found that the region proved unable to sustain them. A band was therefore dispatched to conquer new lands, and they eventually settled in Hungary. What matters here is the image painted of the relationship between Álmos, the leader of the first Hungarians, and his companions: the Seven Leaders (precursors of the later Hungarian aristocracy) swore to follow Álmos wherever he would take them, but only under certain conditions. They and their progeny would always elect as their lord a member of Álmos’ lineage; all land and booty would be divided equally; the Leaders and their heirs would always advise their lord and participate fully in the honor regni, the honour and business of the realm; anyone seeking to sow discord would pay for this with his blood; if Álmos, any of the Leaders, or one of their descendants, violated these terms, he would be cursed for all eternity47. Much of the notary’s account echoes attempts to define royal authority in the generation or so before the issue of the Golden Bull in 1222. His narrative defined baronial participation in the king’s governance not only as rooted in a time well before the establishment of the realm over which the Árpads came to rule, but also as the source and origin of their power.

  • 48 The Laws of the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 34.
  • 49 Walter Map, De nugis curialium, ed. and trans. by M. R. James, C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors, (...)

18Finally, we frequently encounter references to who should not be consulted. Almost without exception, this meant lower-ranking members of the king’s administration. Even Sven Aggesen assigned oversight to the court, that is, the community of prelates and nobles attending the ruler, as well as his household knights, chaplains and court clerics. Kings were brought low when they failed to heed the counsel of these men, or of wise and prudent bishops. In fact, the Hungarian Golden Bull made explicit reference to this theme. The laws of St Stephen, its preamble declared, “had been diminished […] by the authority of certain kings, some of whom in personal anger took vengeance, others of whom paid heed to the false counsel of wicked and self-serving men48”. Accordingly, King Andrew II was forced to renew legal customs abandoned by kings who had acted unrestrained by wise and prudent counsel, or who called on the advice of evil men. Perhaps the most detailed depiction of the phenomenon was provided by Walter Map, a member of the court of Henry II of England (1154-1189), in his De nugis curialium, or On the Trifles of Courtiers, from around 1181-1183. Not only did Walter carefully contrast Henry I of England (who was always available to his people) with Henry II (who allowed officials to shield him from his subjects), but he also warned against what would happen if men of low birth advised the king49. In fact, Map warned repeatedly of the evils that would result from men of low stock holding positions of power and influence. When explaining, for example, why members of the clergy were especially prone to exploiting the king’s subjects, he declared:

  • 50 Ibid., pp. 12-13. See also E. Türk, Nugae curialium: le règne d’Henri II Plantagenêt (1154-1189) et (...)

It is because the gentry [generosi] are too proud or too lazy to put their children to learning, whereas of right only free men [liberis] are allowed to learn the arts, which is why they are called liberal arts. The villains [servi] on the other hand, […] vie with each other in bringing up their ignoble and degenerate offspring to those arts which are forbidden to them; not that they may shed vices, but that they may gather riches; and the more skill they attain, the more ill they do50.

  • 51 Once again, the court of King Henry I was the ideal court, as it combined a moral education with ar (...)
  • 52 Walter Map, De nugis curialium, op. cit., pp. 428-429.
  • 53 Ibid., pp. 430-431.

19Because of the hostility shown by the traditional elites, the generosi, towards the idea of learning, the schools were filled with men who had neither the pedigree nor the moral disposition to use their knowledge wisely51. In fact, there was only one reason why rulers might extend their patronage to unfree men: “because they want to serve vices, and shun the freedom of virtues52”. The wholly fictitious account of Edmund Ironside (d. 1016) remains a visceral example of what this meant in practice: Edmund had made a man of low birth one of his closest confidants. However, when Edmund withheld a benefice that his favourite desired, the latter contrived to murder the king (by hiding in a latrine and spearing the king from below when Edmund sat down to relieve his bowels), thereby not only ending the life of his master, but also delivering England into the hands of King Cnut53. A king should naturally heed the counsel of his people, of his advisors, officials and nobles. Yet a king who listened to servants of low status and even lower morals was bad news indeed.

  • 54 Sven Aggesen, Brevis Historia Regum Dacie. Scriptores Minores…, op. cit., pp. 94-95.
  • 55 Monumenta Historica Norvegiae, ed. by G. Storm, Oslo, Brøgger, 1880, p. 1.
  • 56 Gesta Principum Polonorum, trans. by P. W. Knoll and F. Schaer, with a preface by T. N. Bisson, Bud (...)
  • 57 Gesta Principum Polonorum, op. cit., pp. 110-111.
  • 58 Ibid., pp. 210-211.
  • 59 The Works of Sven Aggesen, Twelfth-Century Danish Historian, trans. by E. Christiansen, London, Nor (...)

20This line of thinking could have resonated especially well with the audiences of several of our texts. Sven Aggesen dedicated his writings to Archbishop Absalom of Lund54, Theodoric the Monk the Historia Norwegie to Archbishop Augustine of Trondheim55, and “Gallus Anonymus” the Gesta Principum Polonorum to Archbishop Martin of Gniezno56, and Bishop Paul of Poznań57, who were two of the duke’s leading ecclesiastical counsellors, as well as to the ducal chaplains58. Furthermore, as far as can be ascertained, the identity of the authors themselves points to the wider environs of the court: the anonymous notary had described himself as the notary of King Bela; “Gallus” paid special attention to the royal chaplains, and may himself have been a member of the court; and Sven Aggesen’s uncle had been archbishop of Lund59. If not the king, then members of his entourage, and those whose task it was to advise and counsel him, were frequently either the authors or the dedicatees of works of regnal history.

21Thus, many of our examples emerged from within the wider environs of the royal court, be it because authors were royal officials, or because they sought to garner the patronage and support of leading members of the king’s government and administration. This adds poignancy to their portrayal of the relationship between the king and his chief advisors. The emphasis on choosing the right kind of counsellors of course reflected the environment within which authors lived and of which they formed part: courtiers inevitably thought about how the court should function. Yet it would be simplistic to reduce such efforts to a mere echo of a writer’s life experience, or to the construction of a self-serving idealised past. Both certainly played their part: without the former we would not have the evidence at hand, but the latter falls short of a fully satisfactory explanation – why, after all, did courtiers in the last two decades of the 12th century feel the need to fashion an idealised image of the relationship between the ruler and his close counsellors?

III

  • 60 M. Münster-Swendsen, “Lost Chronicle or Elusive Informers? Some Thoughts on the Source of Ralph Nig (...)
  • 61 This tradition will be explored separately. For relevant case studies see: Die Briefe des Abtes Wal (...)
  • 62 J. G. Hudson, “Administration, Family and Perceptions of the Past in Late Twelfth-Century England. (...)
  • 63 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer. Constitutio Domus Regis: the Disposition of t (...)

22We do not know much about the educational background of our authors, though there is a possibility that Sven Aggesen, Saxo Grammaticus, Walter Map and the anonymous notary had studied at Paris. Even if that had not been the case, Sven Aggesen may well have accompanied his uncle into exile. That would also have brought him into contact with the court of another displaced prelate: Thomas Becket, who, like Sven’s uncle, stayed with the archbishop of Sens60. Even if only loosely, our sources could thus be placed within a well known context of intellectual inquiry about the norms and practices of power. Yet their thinking was also rooted in traditional ways of conceptualising the relationship between the king and his counsellors. Advising the monarch was as much a moral duty as it was a reflection of one’s administrative, legal or scribal expertise61. Even those who served the king primarily because of their technical knowledge stressed the moral dimension of their endeavours. The Dialogue of the Exchequer, for instance, a fictionalised conversation about the workings of the English king’s financial administration, written between c. 1177 and 1190, and commonly attributed to Richard Fitz Nigel (or FitzNeal), was explicit about its subject matter. It was conceived as a manual and guide to the workings of English fiscal administration. Yet it was also a work of history62, and the author stressed the moral dimension of the work done by him and his colleagues. Their efforts, he asserted, allowed the king to endow monasteries, defend the realm, and feed the poor63.

  • 64 M. Hartmann, Studien zu den Briefen Abt Wibalds von Stablo und Corvey sowie zur Briefliteratur in d (...)
  • 65 T. Reuter, “Mandate, Privilege, Court Judgement: Techniques of Rulership in the Age of Frederick Ba (...)
  • 66 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., p. 200.
  • 67 S. D. Church, “The Royal Itinerary in the Twelfth Century”, in J. Burton et al. (eds.), Thirteenth- (...)
  • 68 Das Briefbuch Abt Wibalds…, op. cit., nos. 185, 188.
  • 69 A concept popular well into the 12th century and beyond: M. Blattmann, “‘Ein Unglück für sein Volk’ (...)

23The Dialogue’s insistence on the moral dimension of working at the Exchequer may point to yet another issue; namely the degree to which expertise used to be kept distinct from the right to offer advice and counsel. The letter collection compiled in the 1150s by Wibald of Stavelot and Corvey, chancellor under King Conrad III and during the early years of Frederick Barbarossa, provides an example. It included several letters dealing with the affairs of the realm, but Wibald left matters of administrative procedure to the permanent staff of the imperial chancery64. Different administrative practices may have played their part in this (though these were probably more elaborate in the German context than modern scholarship often seems willing to accept)65. It may, however, also be possible to suggest a shift in the composition of the court during the second half of the 12th century, which was in evidence across much of Latin Christendom. The change brought with it both an increase in numbers and a rise in the specialised administrative skills required for success at court. This exacerbated a key problem: that of gaining access to the king, the root of standing within the realm, and a key precondition for being able to offer advice. A reminder of just how large the royal court was could prove useful here. The Constitutio Domus Regis, for instance, a document probably written in the 13th century, but purporting to reflect the composition of the English court c. 1135, lists daily provisions for about 700 individuals66. Modern estimates put the size of the English royal and German imperial courts in the 12th century at about 1,000 people each67. Consequently, competition for access to the monarch increased, while simultaneously the need to perform administrative functions further reduced access to the king. In fact, when Wibald of Stavelot and Corvey sought to recover a property for his community, he had to rely on Henry of Wiesenbach, a notary at the imperial court, to pursue the matter, as Wibald himself was away on imperial business68. This context may help us understand Walter Map’s invectives against low-born men ­entering the royal court to pursue personal profit rather than the common good. They lacked the moral habitus, the education and inner moral strength that would allow them to act in the best interest of the realm. Yet allowing such individuals to succeed also meant violating fundamental moral principles, as binding to royal officials as to the king. The people made the king, but they (or their leaders) also had the right and the duty to ensure that the king ruled righteously and justly. If either party failed to fulfil its obligations, it would bring about foreign invasions, civil unrest, and the corruption of the realm69.

  • 70 The following modifies T. N. Bisson, The Crisis of the Twelfth Century…, op. cit. Newer notions of (...)
  • 71 Diplomatarium Danicum, series 1, iv, ed. by N. Skyum-Nielsen, Copenhagen, C. A. Reitzels forlag, 19 (...)

24The emergence of a new class of professional administrators posed a challenge not only in terms of the social composition of the court and of the blurring of lines between expertise and moral advice. Just as significantly, these new men may have brought with them a different way of thinking about power70. The surviving evidence will not allow us to explore these shifts outside England: we simply do not have the same quality and quantity of sources as had been produced under the Angevin kings. In due course, more detailed studies of the letter collections of Wibald of Corvey, Suger of St Denis or William of Æbelholt71 may allow us to paint a broader picture of what may be termed “administrative identity”: the habitus, self-understanding and worldview of officials. In the meantime, while duly mindful of the specific conditions of the Anglo-Norman realm, the rather more prolific bureaucrats of Henry II and his sons will have to stand in for what may conceivably prove to be broader European trends.

  • 72 Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Anglie qui Glanvilla vocatur, ed. and trans. by G. D. (...)
  • 73 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., pp. 20, 22, 26.
  • 74 Ibid., pp. 2, 80.
  • 75 Tractatus de Legibus…, op. cit., p. 2.

25Texts like the Dialogue of the Exchequer (c. 1177-1190) and Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Anglie, or Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England, commonly attributed to Glanville (c. 1187-1189)72, certainly ­propose a rather more exalted reading of the king’s authority and might than do historical writings. Richard Fitz Nigel painted an image of royal power as absolute: the laws of the Exchequer were as binding as if they had been decreed by the king, but the ruler could also amend, revise and revoke them at will73. Kings could, moreover, exercise their power by a variety of means: by the due process of the law, ancient customs, secret decision, and royal pleasure alone. His subjects could neither judge nor question the monarch’s decisions: princes had received their power from God alone, and only God, not men, could judge them74. The Tractatus painted a similar image: English laws may not have been written down, but they had been decreed in consultation with the magnates, and, most importantly, had been enacted by the king. After all, what pleased the king had the force of law (quod principi placet, legis habet vigorem)75. The king made the law, and his power was absolute.

  • 76 See, for instance, ibid., pp. 35-36, 89-91; Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, (...)
  • 77 W. L. Warren, The Governance of Norman and Angevin England 1086-1272, London, Routledge, 1987.
  • 78 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., p. 2.

26Such pronouncements matter for two reasons: because they were underpinned by the very real might of the English king, far exceeding that of his counterparts on the European mainland76, and for what they reveal about the thinking of those entrusted with running the king’s administration. Nobody worried about kings who lacked the means to turn into reality the grandiose claims of their officials. The Angevin kings of England clearly did not fall into that category77. Yet the very men entrusted with running their administration, with collecting their taxes and staffing their courts, projected an image of royal power unfettered by any of the constraints formulated with increasing frequency and vigour by their contemporaries and fellow-courtiers. They also stressed very different reasons for their role at court. Of course, it mattered that the king should appoint wise men as advisors. In fact, to Richard Fitz Nigel, this was one of the reasons for the Exchequer’s success. The same author, however, also dismissed the very educational background that men like Walter Map upheld as providing the key qualification for a role at court: the Liberal Arts. What was needed, Fitz Nigel explained, was a guide to understanding how the king’s fiscal administration worked78. What mattered was therefore not the ability to offer moral guidance, but to collect taxes and fines and fees; not the expertise to meditate on Plato and Aristotle, but to distinguish counterwrits copied at the Exchequer from those copied at the Chancery. Men like Fitz Nigel and the author of the Tractatus posed both an intellectual and a social challenge to courtiers like Walter Map and John of Salisbury.

  • 79 T. N. Bisson, “An ‘Unknown Charter’ for Catalonia…”, op. cit., p. 76.
  • 80 See also the list, in the 1215 version of Magna Carta, of royal officials to be expelled from Engla (...)

27We may not have the sources to set the English example alongside others from Europe, but we do possess circumstantial evidence. In this context, note should be taken of the degree to which charters of liberty centred on the role of advice, and how frequently they were aimed at excluding specific groups or individuals from giving advice. The coronation charter of Magnus Erlingsson, for instance, stipulated that the archbishop of Nidaros was to act as moral guardian and counsellor of the king; the “Unknown Charter” for Catalonia (1205) stipulated what type of officials the king could appoint in the county of Barcelona79; and the Golden Bull centred on the measures to be taken to ensure that royal officials would no longer violate the rights of the Hungarian nobility, and entrusted the bishops with collating and investigating complaints against them80. Charters of liberty inevitably dealt with a range of grievances, but prominent amongst them was the desire to curtail the power of those royal officials whose role was rooted primarily in their procedural and fiscal expertise. Bishops and nobles should advise the king, not exchequer clerks and tax collectors. Charters also seem to have been designed to counteract the exalted image of kingship that we can find in writings produced by men like Fitz Nigel or the Tractatus author: the king’s power, while rooted in God, was by no means absolute. Rather, it was a gift, a sign of grace, an obligation and a duty. Failing to abide by the norms of legitimate kingship meant wronging not only one’s people, but also God. It fell to the king’s leading subjects, in turn, to ensure that the right order of the world was maintained, that both ruler and ruled followed the law of God.

  • 81 J. D. Cotts, The Clerical Dilemma: Peter of Blois and Literate Culture in the Twelfth Century, Wash (...)
  • 82 For England see most recently E. U. Crosby, The King’s Bishops. The Politics of Patronage in Englan (...)

28It would, however, be simplistic to postulate too clear a correlation between these views and the groups espousing them. There was considerable overlap. John of Salisbury, for instance, and Peter of Blois played a leading role in royal and episcopal administration81. Equally, most bishops in 12th-century Europe had served some time as royal clerks and administrators82. Conversely, the simple fact that someone had been an accomplished and loyal administrator did not mean that, on becoming bishop, he would necessarily fail to heed the expectations surrounding that particular office. Thomas Becket is perhaps the most famous example of a trusted bureaucrat-cum-henchman turning into a source of fiery reprimand, but less spectacular transformations were not uncommon. It would therefore be naïve to suggest that the pattern I have sketched reveals deep-seated and easily identified factions. What I do propose, however, is that a close reading of historical narratives can uncover rich and so far under-utilised evidence for conflicting discourses about royal power even among royal advisors and bureaucrats. These discourses, in turn, can be linked to shifts in the composition of the court, and in thinking about royal power. To some extent, the works discussed here were also (though not reducible to) attempts to fashion an image of legitimate kingship that sought to counter a more expansionist reading of royal might, often proposed by a new type of expert that came to prominence in the later 12th century.

  • 83 I owe this point to L. Veszprémy, “Umwälzungen im Ungarn des 13. Jahrhunderts: vom ‘Blutvertrag’ zu (...)

29It should also be noted, however, that a desire to curtail royal power was not necessarily a sign of opposition to the king. That Sven Aggesen may have followed his uncle into exile could have influenced his view of how the court should function. The anonymous Hungarian notary, by contrast, seems to have been a high-ranking member of the royal court, the very kind of official whose powers the Golden Bull sought to curtail. Moreover, while he constructed an ideal past in which to anchor the rights of the Hungarian aristocracy, he also sketched a history utterly devoid of resistance and conflict. The Seven Leaders claimed a right their descendants never exercised, partly perhaps because they had never been forced to exercise it83. That it recorded no instances of bad kingship, of rulers who had to be reprimanded and curtailed, also sets the anonymous notary’s text apart from the others discussed: unlike in Poland, England, Germany, or Denmark, Hungarian history consisted of little more than a sequence of wise and prudent leaders. We obviously do not know enough about the author to take our speculations further – he remains, after all, anonymous. His image of concord and amity may well have been all the more forceful a reminder of the reasons for Hungary’s long peace and tranquillity. It may also have flowed from a desire to record and compile a history of the Hungarians, to preserve tales of origin that might otherwise be lost to posterity. The two motivations are by no means mutually exclusive. In any case, the anonymous notary’s example should alert us to the degree to which events and precedents that could form the basis from which to challenge royal authority were recorded even by those fully supportive of their king. The mere fact that an author wrote about the right to restrain the monarch does not mean that he demanded that it be exercised at once. In fact, the relative ease and frequency with which these issues were discussed could suggest that the underlying principles were deemed to be self-evident – at least to those who took seriously the moral dimension of advising the king, who viewed kingship as an office assigned by God to fallible human beings in need of counsel and remonstration. Those denying these principles, in turn, defied both the right order of the world, and the hallowed precedent of history.

  • 84 It may even be possible to speculate that whatever resistance such charters of liberty encountered (...)

30There is, finally, considerable overlap in the image of kingship between historical narratives, charters of liberty, and works of Biblical exegesis. All stress the need for oversight, propose limits on the power of the monarch, and assign a right of remonstration to leading representatives of a kingdom’s people. They have furthermore in common that it is very difficult, almost impossible, to tie one group of sources to the other. We can surmise, for instance, that a chronicler may have studied in Paris, but we cannot be certain, and we certainly cannot identify who might have taught him. It is often similarly futile to try prove that those drafting charters of liberty consulted a particular historical narrative. But then my point is rather that Magna Carta and similar documents emerged from a ferment of thinking about power for which much richer and more varied evidence exists than modern scholars have tended to realise. Historical narratives allow us to see just how widespread the ideas that ultimately came to the fore in Magnus’ coronation charter, Magna Carta, or the Golden Bull were. Such documents may have been innovative, even revolutionary, in codifying norms and in seeking to enshrine as legal rights means of overseeing royal governance. Yet they also built on an already well-established line of thinking about kingship and power84. More detailed research will be needed. In the meantime, a closer reading of historical narratives can contribute two insights. First, it can provide a sense of just how widespread and deeply engrained the ideas that underpinned charters of liberty were. Second, it suggests that they competed with and responded to rival discourses. Much of the evidence can be found in passages and works that defy modern understandings of history and historical writing. But then we need to recognise that, while these texts can present problems in some contexts and for some questions, the conventions and practices evident in their narratives also enable us to ask broader and more far-reaching questions than have hitherto conventionally been raised. It is time for us to recognise that some of these texts reveal little about how the past had actually unfolded, but they tell us quite a lot about the ideas and expectations, the norms and ideals that guided both the production history, and the culture of power in the age of Magna Carta.

Notes

1 Latinske Dokument til Norsk Historie fram til År 1204, ed. and trans. by E. Vandvik, Oslo, Norske samlaget, 1959, nos. 9-10. Perhaps still the best overview of charters of liberty is presented by Album Elemèr Mályusz, Brussels, Librairie encyclopédique, 1976.

2 R. Elze, “The Ordo for the Coronation of Roger II of Sicily: an Example of Dating by Internal Evidence”, in J. M. Bak (ed.), Coronations. Medieval and Early Modern Monarchic Ritual, Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford, University of California Press, 1990, pp. 165-178, at pp. 170-172; id., “Königskrönung und Ritterweihe. Der Burgundische Ordo für die Weihe und Krönung des Königs und der Königin”, in L. Fenske, W. Rösener, T. Zotz (eds.), Institutionen, Kultur und Gesellschaft im Mittelalter. Festschrift für Josef Fleckenstein zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, Sigmaringen, Thorbecke, 1984, pp. 327-342, no. 1; Die Ordines für die Weihe und Krönung des Kaisers und der Kaiserin, ed. by R. Elze, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. Fontes Iuris Germanici Antiqui, 9), 1960, nos. ix, 2, 8; xi, 6-8. See also Ordines coronationis Franciae: Texts and Ordines for the Coronation of Frankish and French Kings and Queens in the Middle Ages, ed. by R. A. Jackson, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995-2000, 2 vols.

3 Wiponis, Gesta Chuonradi, in id., Opera, ed. by H. Bresslau, Hanover, Hahn, 1915, 3rd ed., pp. 21-23. On this passage see also J. Banaszkiewicz, “Conrad II’s theatrum rituale: Wipo on the Earliest Deeds of the Salian Ruler (Gesta Chuonradi imperatoris cap. 5)”, in P. Górecki, N. Van Deusen (eds.), Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. A Cultural History, London/New York, Tauris, 2009, pp. 50-81; B. Weiler, “Describing Rituals of Succession and the Legitimation of Kingship in the West, c. 1000-c. 1150”, in A. Beihammer, S. Constantinou, M. Parani (eds.), Court Ceremonies and Rituals of Power in Byzantium and the Medieval Mediterranean, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2013, pp. 115-139.

4 M. Clayton, “The Old English promissio regis”, Anglo-Saxon England, 37, 2008, pp. 91-150; Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, ed. by F. Liebermann, Halle, Niemeyer, 1903-1916, vol. 1, pp. 215-217; Die Urkunden der Lateinischen Könige von Jerusalem, ed. by H. E. Mayer, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. Diplomata), 2010, vol. 3.

5 Hermann of Reichenau, Chronica, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. SS, 5), 1844, p. 133. See also J. Schlick, König, Fürsten und Reich (1056-1159). Herrschaftsverständnis im Wandel, Stuttgart, Thorbecke, 2001.

6 P. Buc, L’ambiguïté du livre. Prince, pouvoir et peuple dans les commentaires de la Bible au Moyen Âge, Paris, Beauchesne, 1994; R. Pletl, Irdisches Regnum in der mittelalterlichen Exegese. Ein Beitrag zur exegetischen Lexikographie und ihren Herrschaftsvorstellungen, 7.-13. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main, Lang, 2000; W. Affeldt, Die weltliche Gewalt in der Paulus-Exegese. Röm. 13, 1-7 in den Römerbriefkommentaren der lateinischen Kirche bis zum Ende des 13. Jahrhunderts, Göttingen, De Gruyter, 1969.

7 D. Baumann, Stephen Langton. Erzbischof von Canterbury im England der Magna Carta, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2009, pp. 43-54; J. W. Baldwin, “Master Stephen Langton, Future Archbishop of Canterbury: the Paris Schools and Magna Carta”, English Historical Review, 123, 2008, pp. 811-846; D. d’Avray, “Magna Carta: its Background in Stephen Langton’s Academic Biblical Exegesis and its Episcopal Reception”, Studi Medievali, 3/38, 1997, pp. 423-438.

8 N. Vincent, “English Liberties, Magna Carta 1215 and the Spanish Connection”, in 1212-1214, el trieno que hizo a Europa. XXXVII Semana de estudios medievales, Estella, 19 a 23 de juliol de 2010, Pamplona, Departamento de Cultura y Turismo/Institución Príncipe de Viana, 2011, pp. 243-262; A. J. Kosto, “The Limited Impact of the Usatges de Barcelona in Twelfth-Century Catalonia”, Traditio, 56, 2001, pp. 53-88; T. N. Bisson, “An ‘Unknown Charter’ for Catalonia A.D. 1205”, in Album Elemèr Mályusz, op. cit., pp. 61-76.

9 Id., The Crisis of the Twelfth Century. Power, Lordship, and the Origins of European Government, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2009 [recte 2008].

10 See, for instance, F. Oakley, Empty Bottles of Gentilism: Kingship and the Divine in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages to 1050, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2010; id., The Mortgage of the Past: Reshaping the Ancient Political Inheritance 1050-1300, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2012.

11 See, for instance, Rufinus of Sorrento, De Bono Pacis, ed. and trans. by R. Deutinger, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. Studien und Texte), 1997; “Libellus de institutione morum” [Admonition of St Stephen], ed. by J. Balogh, in Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, ed. by E. Szenpétery, Budapest, Academia litter. hungarica atque Societate histor. hungarica in parten impensarum venietibus, typographiae Reg. universitatis litter. hung. sumptibus, 1937-1938, vol. 2, pp. 611-627; F. Hertter, Die Podestàliteratur Italiens im 12. und 13. Jahrhundert, Leipzig/Berlin, Teubner, 1910; repr. Hildesheim, Olms, 1973, pp. 4-41 (Osculus Pastoralis). The classic study remains: H. H. Anton, Fürstenspiegel und Herrscherethos in der Karolingerzeit, Bonn, Röhrscheid, 1968.

12 A. J. Black, Political Thought in Europe, 1250-1450, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992; M. Senellart, Les arts de gouverner. Du regimen médiéval au concept de gouvernement, Paris, Seuil, 1996; Fürstenspiegel des frühen und hohen Mittelalters, ed. and trans. by H. H. Anton, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2006; F. Lachaud, L. Scordia (eds.), Le prince au miroir de la littérature politique de l’Antiquité aux Lumières, Mont-Saint-Aignan, Publications des universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2007; C. J. Nederman, Lineages of European Political Thought: Explorations along the Medieval/Modern Divide from John of Salisbury to Hegel, Washington, Catholic University of America Press, 2009.

13 L. Melve, Inventing the Public Sphere: the Public Debate during the Investiture Contest, c. 1030-1122, abbreviated ed., Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2007, 2 vols.

14 See, in lieu of a rich corpus of literature: H. Beumann, “Die Historiographie des Mittelalters als Quelle für die Ideengeschichte des Königtums”, Historische Zeitschrift, 180, 1955, pp. 449-488; and F. Graus, “Die Herrschersagen des Mittelalters als Geschichtsquelle”, in H.-J. Gilomen, P. Moraw, R. C. Schwinges (eds.), Ausgewählte Aufsätze von František Graus 1959-1989, Stuttgart, Thorbecke, 2002, pp. 3-27. See also: S. Bagge, Kings, Politics, and the Right Order of the World in German Historiography, c. 950-1150, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2002; J. M. Bak, “Legitimization of Rulership in Three Narratives from Twelfth-Century Central Europe”, Majestas, 12, 2004, pp. 43-60; A. Rodríguez, “History and Topography for the Legitimisation of Royalty in Three Castilian Chronicles”, Majestas, 12, 2004, pp. 61-82; and, for England, A. Chaou, L’idéologie Plantagenêt. Royauté arthurienne et monarchie politique dans l’espace Plantagenêt, xiie-xiiie siècles, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2001.

15 See, for instance, B. C. Basington, “Non imitanda sed veneranda: the Dilemma of Sacred Precedent in Twelfth-Century Canon Law”, Viator, 23, 1992, pp. 135-152; L. B. Mortensen, “The Glorious Past: Entertainment, Example or History? Levels of Twelfth-Century Historical Culture”, Culture and History, 13, 1994, pp. 57-71.

16 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, ed. and trans. by R. A. B. Mynors, R. M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998-1999, vol. 1, 16-17, pp. 6-7.

17 Ibid., pp. 82-95.

18 I owe this point to M. Staunton. His forthcoming study of Angevin historical writing will deal with the issue in far greater detail. See also R. M. Thomson, William of Malmesbury, Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 2003, 2nd ed., pp. 14-39.

19 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, op. cit., V, 449, vol. 1, pp. 800-801.

20 Ibid., V, 392, vol. 1, pp. 710-711.

21 See also S. O. Sønnesyn, William of Malmesbury and the Ethics of History, Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 2012; S. Bagge, “Ethics, Politics, and Providence in William of Malmesbury’s Historia Novella”, Viator, 41/2, 2010, pp. 113-132. For a parallel case, see J. Dale, “Imperial Self-Representation and the Manipulation of History in Twelfth-Century Germany: Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 373”, German History, 29, 2011, pp. 557-583.

22 Otto of Freising, Gesta Frederici seu rectius Cronica, ed. by F.-J. Schmale, trans. by A. Schmidt, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe), 1965, pp. 114-115; Alexandri Telesini Abbatis Ystoria Rogerii Regis Sicilie Calabrie Atque Apulie, ed. by L. de Nava, historical commentary by D. Clementi, in Fonti per la storia d’Italia, Rome, Istituto Historico Italiano per il Medieoevo, 1991, pp. 2-3.

23 S. Bagge, “Ideas and Narrative in Otto of Freising’s Gesta Frederici”, Journal of Medieval History, 22, 1996, pp. 345-377.

24 For the context see S. Dick, “Die Königserhebung Friedrich Barbarossas im Spiegel der Quellen – Kritische Anmerkungen zu den ‘Gesta Friderici’ Ottos von Freising”, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte Germanistische Abteilung, 121, 2004, pp. 200-237, at pp. 236-237; K. Görich, Friedrich Barbarossa. Eine Biographie, Munich, Beck, 2011, pp. 104-105.

25 B. Weiler, “Tales of Trickery and Deceit: the Election of Frederick Barbarossa 1152, Historical Memory, and the Culture of Kingship in Later Staufen Germany”, Journal of Medieval History, 38, 2012, pp. 295-317; B. Schneidmüller, “Mittelalterliche Geschichtsschreibung als Überzeugungsstrategie: Eine Königswahl des 12. Jahrhunderts im Wettstreit der Erinnerungen”, Heidelberger Jahrbücher, 52, 2008, pp. 167-188. See also the general methodological points raised by K. Bergqvist, “Truth and Invention in Medieval Texts: Remarks on the Historiography and Theoretical Frameworks of Conceptions of History and Literature, and Considerations for Future Research”, Roda da Fortuna. Revista Eletrônica sobre Antiguidade e Medievo, 2, 2013, pp. 221-242 (online: www.revistarodadafortuna.com; accessed 22/05/2014).

26 S. Patzold, “Wie bereitet man sich auf einen Thronwechsel vor? Überlegungen zu einem wenig beachteten Text des 11. Jahrhunderts”, in M. Becker (ed.), Die mittelalterliche Thronfolge im europäischen Vergleich, Ostfildern, Thorbecke, 2017, pp. 127-157.

27 S. MacLean, “Recycling the Franks in Twelfth-Century England: Regino of Prüm, the Monks of Durham and the Alexandrine Schism”, Speculum, 87, 2012, pp. 649-681.

28 J. Campbell, “Some Twelfth-Century Views of the Anglo-Saxon Past”, Peritia, 3, 1984, pp. 131-150.

29 B. Pohl, Dudo of St Quentin’s Historia Normannorum: Tradition, Innovation and Memory, Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 2015; id., “Pictures, Poems and Purpose: New Perspectives on the Manuscripts of Dudo of St Quentin’s Historia Normannorum”, Scriptorium, 67, 2013, pp. 229-258.

30 J. Tahkokallio, Monks, Clerks and King Arthur: Reading Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, PhD, University of Helsinki, 2013.

31 T. Foerster (ed.), Godfrey of Viterbo and his Readers: Imperial Tradition and Universal History in Late Medieval Europe, London/New York, Routledge, 2016.

32 D. Stephenson, “The Laws of the Court: Past Reality or Present Ideal?”, in T. M. Charles-Edwards, M. E. Owen, P. Russell (eds.), The Welsh King and his Court, Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 2000, pp. 400-414; John of Ibelin, Le Livre des Assises, ed. by P. W. Edbury, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2003, pp. 51-52.

33 A. G. Remensnyder, Remembering Kings Past. Monastic Foundation Legends in Medieval Southern France, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1999; N. Vincent, “King Henry II and the Monks of Battle: the Battle Chronicle Unmasked”, in R. Gameson, H. Leyser (eds.), Belief and Culture in the Middle Ages: Studies Presented to Henry Mayr-Harting, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 264-286; A. Jotischky, The Carmelites and Antiquity: Mendicants and their Pasts in the Middle Ages, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002.

34 The best overview is still that provided by A. Plassmann, Origo gentis. Identitäts- und Legitimitätsstiftung in früh- und hochmittelalterlichen Herkunftserzählungen, Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 2006. See also: M. Zimmermann, “Les origines de la Catalogne d’après les Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium. Mythe fondateur ou récit éthiologique?”, in D. Barthélemy, J.-M. Martin (eds.), Liber Largitorius. Études d’histoire médiévale offertes à Pierre Toubert par ses élèves, Geneva, Droz, 2003, pp. 517-543.

35 N. Vincent, Magna Carta, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 59.

36 The Laws of the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary, vol. 1: 1000-1301, ed. and trans. by J. M. Bak, G. Bónis and J. R. Sweeney, with a critical essay on previous editions by A. Csizmadia, Bakersfield, Schlacks, 1989, p. 34.

37 Godfrey’s works have been – partially – edited in Gotidfredi Viterbernsis Opera, ed. by G. Waitz, Hanover, Hahn (Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores rerum Germanicarum, 22), 1872, pp. 1-305. A version of Gerald’s De Principis – with most of the first book, offering a theoretical model of good and bad kingship, left out – is available in Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, ed. by G. F. Warner, London, Longman, 1891, vol. 8.

38 I owe this point to T. Foerster, who is producing a more detailed study of this “English” manuscript tradition of Godfrey.

39 John of Salisbury, Vita St Anselmi, in Patrologia Latina 199, ed. by J.-P. Migne, Paris, Migne, 1855, cols. 1020-1023. The literature on John of Salisbury is vast. Perhaps one of the best introductions is that by C. J. Nederman, John of Salisbury, Tempe, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005.

40 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum Anglorum, ed. and trans. by M. Winterbottom, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007-2008, vol. 1, pp. 34-35; Eadmer of Canterbury, Lives and Miracles of Saints Oda, Dunstan, and Oswald, ed. and trans. by A. J. Turner and B. J. Muir, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 26-27; id., Historia Novorum in Anglia, ed. by M. Rule, London, Longman, 1884, p. 3; Memorials of St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, ed. by W. Stubbs, London, Longman, 1874, pp. 90-91; M. L. Dutton, “Sancto Dunstano Cooperante: Collaboration between King and Ecclesiastical Advisor in Aelred of Rievaulx’s Genealogy of the Kings of the English”, in E. Jamroziak, J. Burton (eds.), Religious and Laity in Western Europe 1000-1400. Interaction, Negotiation, and Power, Turnhout, Brepols, 2006, pp. 183-196.

41 John of Salisbury, Vita St Anselmi, op. cit., col. 1034.

42 The Historical Works of Gervase of Canterbury, ed. by W. Stubbs, London, Longman, 1878-1879, vol. 1, pp. 248-249.

43 B. Weiler, “Bishops and Kings in England, c. 1066-c. 1215”, in L. Körntgen, D. Waßenhoven (eds.), Religion und Politik im Mittelalter: Deutschland und England im Vergleich/Religion and Politics in the Middle Ages: England and Germany Compared, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, 2013, pp. 157-203; S. Ambler, “The Montfortian Bishops and the Justification of Conciliar Government (1264)”, Historical Research, 85, 2012, pp. 193-209.

44 Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum: Danmarkshistorien, ed. by K. Friis-Jensen, trans. by P. Zeeberg, Copenhagen, Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab, 2005, 2 vols., book 5. On Saxo: É. Fornet, “Saxo Grammaticus et l’écriture de l’histoire. Remarques sur le prologue des Gesta Danorum”, in G. Dahlbeck (ed.), Medeltidens mångfald: studier i samhällsliv, kultur och kommunikation tillägnade Olle Ferm på 60-årsdagen den 8 mars 2007, Stockholm, Sällskapet Runica et mediævalia, 2008, pp. 293-301; T. Riis, Einführung in die Gesta Danorum des Saxo Grammaticus, Odense, University Press of Southern Denmark, 2006.

45 Sven Aggesen, Brevis Historia Regum Dacie. Scriptores Minores Historiae Danicae, ed. by M. C. Gertz, Copenhagen, I kommission hos G.E.C. Gad, 1917-1918, 2 vols., repr. 1970, pp. 78-81. On the author: L. B. Mortensen, “Historia Norwegie and Sven Aggesen: Two Pioneers in Comparison”, in I. Garipzanov (ed.), Historical Narratives and Christian Identity on a European Periphery Early History Writing in Northern, East-Central, and Eastern Europe c. 1070-1200, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, pp. 57-70 and 78-81. On the text: M. Münster-Svendsen, “‘Auf das Gesetz sei das Land gebaut.’ Zum Zusammenhang rechtlicher und historischer Diskurse im mittelalterlichen Dänemark”, in N. Kersken, G. Vercamer (eds.), Macht und Spiegel der Macht. Herrschaft in Europa im 12. und 13. Jahrhundert vor dem Hintergrund der Chronistik, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2013, pp. 85-102.

46 Anonimi Bele regis notarii Gesta Hungarorum et Magistri Rogerii Epistolae in miserabile Carmen super destructione Regni Hungariae per Tartaros facta, ed. and trans. by M. Rady, J. M. Bak and L. Veszprémy, Budapest/New York, Central European University Press, 2010, pp. xxi-xxii. On the text: L. Veszprémy, “More Paganismo: Reflections on the Pagan and Christian Past in the Gesta Hungarorum of the Hungarian Anonymous Notary”, in I. Garipzanov (ed.), Historical Narratives and Christian Identity…, op. cit., pp. 183-201.

47 Anonimi Bele regis…, op. cit., pp. 16-19.

48 The Laws of the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 34.

49 Walter Map, De nugis curialium, ed. and trans. by M. R. James, C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1983, pp. 484-487.

50 Ibid., pp. 12-13. See also E. Türk, Nugae curialium: le règne d’Henri II Plantagenêt (1154-1189) et l’éthique politique, Geneva, Droz, 1977, pp. 158-177.

51 Once again, the court of King Henry I was the ideal court, as it combined a moral education with aristocratic pursuits such as hunting: Walter Map, De nugis curialium, op. cit., pp. 438-439, 472-473. See also A. Cooper, “Walter Map and Henry I: the Creation of Eminently Useful History”, The Medieval Chronicle, 7, 2011, pp. 103-114.

52 Walter Map, De nugis curialium, op. cit., pp. 428-429.

53 Ibid., pp. 430-431.

54 Sven Aggesen, Brevis Historia Regum Dacie. Scriptores Minores…, op. cit., pp. 94-95.

55 Monumenta Historica Norvegiae, ed. by G. Storm, Oslo, Brøgger, 1880, p. 1.

56 Gesta Principum Polonorum, trans. by P. W. Knoll and F. Schaer, with a preface by T. N. Bisson, Budapest, Central European University Press (Central European Medieval Texts), 2003, pp. 2-3. On Gallus: T. N. Bisson, “On not Eating Polish Bread in Vain: Resonance and Conjuncture in the Deeds of the Princes of the Poles 1109-1113”, Viator, 29, 1998, pp. 275-289; P. Oliński, “Am Hofe Bolesław Schiefmunds. Die Chronik des Gallus Anonymus”, in R. Schieffer, J. Wenta (eds.), Die Hofgeschichtsschreibung im mittelalterlichen Europa, Toruń, Wydawn. Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika, 2006, pp. 93-106; A. Plassmann, Origo gentis…, op. cit., pp. 292-320.

57 Gesta Principum Polonorum, op. cit., pp. 110-111.

58 Ibid., pp. 210-211.

59 The Works of Sven Aggesen, Twelfth-Century Danish Historian, trans. by E. Christiansen, London, Northern Society for Viking Research, 1992, pp. 1-2.

60 M. Münster-Swendsen, “Lost Chronicle or Elusive Informers? Some Thoughts on the Source of Ralph Niger’s Reports from Twelfth-Century Denmark”, in T. K. Heebøll-Holm, M. Münster-Swendsen, S. O. Sønnesyn (eds.), Historical and Intellectual Culture in the Long Twelfth Century: the Scandinavian Connection, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2016, pp. 189-210. In fact, the convergence of several of our authors or their patrons at the court of Archbishop William of Sens may prove an additional conduit for sharing ideas, and one that would warrant further investigation. See, in the meantime, J. R. Williams, “William of the White Hands and Men of Letters”, in Anniversary Essays in Mediaeval History by Students of Charles Homer Haskins, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1929, pp. 365-387.

61 This tradition will be explored separately. For relevant case studies see: Die Briefe des Abtes Walo von St. Arnulf vor Metz, ed. by B. Schütte, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. Studien und Texte, 10), 1995, no. 8; “Die Hannoversche Briefsammlung”, ed. by C. Erdmann, in Briefsammlungen der Zeit Heinrichs IV., ed. by id. and N. Fickermann, Hanover, Hahn (MGH. Briefe der deutschen Kaiserzeit, 5), 1977, no. 1; The Letters of Peter the Venerable, ed. by G. Constable, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1967, 2 vols., no. 131; The Life of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, ed. by R. Thomson, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1977, pp. 49-50; Suger, Œuvres, ed. and trans. by F. Gasparri, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2001, vol. 2, nos. 6 and 17; V. Postel, “Communiter inito consilio: Herrschaft als Beratung”, in M. Kaufhold (ed.), Politische Reflexion in der Welt des späten Mittelalters/Political Thought in the Age of Scholasticism. Essays in Honor of Jürgen Miethke, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2004, pp. 1-26; K. Hurlock, “Counselling the Prince: Advice and Counsel in Thirteenth-Century Welsh Society”, History, 94, 2009, pp. 20-35.

62 J. G. Hudson, “Administration, Family and Perceptions of the Past in Late Twelfth-Century England. Richard Fitz Nigel and the Dialogue of the Exchequer”, in P. Magdalino (ed.), The Perception of the Past in Twelfth-Century Europe, London, Hambledon Press, 1992, pp. 74-98.

63 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer. Constitutio Domus Regis: the Disposition of the King’s Household, ed. and trans. by E. Amt and S. D. Church, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 2, 4, 6, 8.

64 M. Hartmann, Studien zu den Briefen Abt Wibalds von Stablo und Corvey sowie zur Briefliteratur in der frühen Stauferzeit, Hanover, Hahn, 2011; H. Hoffmann, “Das Briefbuch Wibalds von Stablo”, Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters, 63, 2007, pp. 41-70; B. Schütte, “Nachrichtenaustausch und persönliche Beziehungsgefüge im Spiegel von Wibalds Briefbuch”, Concilium Medii Aevii, 10, 2007, pp. 113-151; Das Briefbuch Abt Wibalds von Stablo und Corvey, ed. by M. Hartmann, Hanover, Hahn, 2012, 3 vols., nos. 185, 188, 351.

65 T. Reuter, “Mandate, Privilege, Court Judgement: Techniques of Rulership in the Age of Frederick Barbarossa”, in J. L. Nelson (ed.), Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 413-431.

66 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., p. 200.

67 S. D. Church, “The Royal Itinerary in the Twelfth Century”, in J. Burton et al. (eds.), Thirteenth-Century England 11: Proceedings of the 2005 Gregynog Conference, Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 2007, pp. 31-45; J. Laudage, “Der Hof Friedrich Barbarossas: Eine Skizze”, in id., Y. Leverkus (eds.), Rittertum und höfische Kultur der Stauferzeit, Cologne, Böhlau, 2006, pp. 75-92.

68 Das Briefbuch Abt Wibalds…, op. cit., nos. 185, 188.

69 A concept popular well into the 12th century and beyond: M. Blattmann, “‘Ein Unglück für sein Volk’. Der Zusammenhang zwischen Fehlverhalten des Königs und Volkswohl in Quellen des 7.-12. Jahrhunderts”, Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 30, 1996, pp. 80-102.

70 The following modifies T. N. Bisson, The Crisis of the Twelfth Century…, op. cit. Newer notions of accountability and oversight certainly played their part, but while the techniques employed were new, their conceptual underpinning was not. Rather, I would argue that the rise of central royal administration triggered a desire to safeguard the role of traditional elites, partly also in response to a rather more exalted reading of royal prerogatives among some members of the king’s administration.

71 Diplomatarium Danicum, series 1, iv, ed. by N. Skyum-Nielsen, Copenhagen, C. A. Reitzels forlag, 1958. On the author see also T. K. Heebøll-Holm, “Why Was William of Æbelholt Canonised? The Two Lives of St William”, in id., M. Münster-Swendsen, S. O. Sønnesyn (eds.), Historical and Intellectual Culture in the Long Twelfth Century…, op. cit.

72 Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Anglie qui Glanvilla vocatur, ed. and trans. by G. D. G. Hall, 2nd ed. with a “Guide to Further Reading” by M. T. Clanchy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993. The following summarises points from B. Weiler, “Machtvorstellungen und Machtstrukturen in England”, in N. Kersken, G. Vercamer (eds.), Macht und Spiegel der Macht…, op. cit., pp. 119-144. For an important and detailed discussion of the moral ­dimension of royal administration, outlining these conflicting discourses, see F. Lachaud, L’éthique du pouvoir au Moyen Âge: l’office dans la culture politique (Angleterre, vers 1150-vers 1330), Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2010.

73 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., pp. 20, 22, 26.

74 Ibid., pp. 2, 80.

75 Tractatus de Legibus…, op. cit., p. 2.

76 See, for instance, ibid., pp. 35-36, 89-91; Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., pp. 140, 142, 144. To Gislebert of Mons, writing in the early 13th century, these royal prerogatives were a clear sign of Henry II’s tyranny: La Chronique de Gislebert de Mons, ed. by L. Vanderkindere, Brussels, Librairie Kiessling & Cie (Recueil de textes pour servir à l’étude de l’histoire de Belgique), 1904, p. 85.

77 W. L. Warren, The Governance of Norman and Angevin England 1086-1272, London, Routledge, 1987.

78 Dialogus de Scaccario: the Dialogue of the Exchequer…, op. cit., p. 2.

79 T. N. Bisson, “An ‘Unknown Charter’ for Catalonia…”, op. cit., p. 76.

80 See also the list, in the 1215 version of Magna Carta, of royal officials to be expelled from England. That the “circumstantial” evidence from England is backed by the uniquely rich survival of administrative sources thus adds considerable weight to the other examples. I am grateful to P. Lambert for raising this point.

81 J. D. Cotts, The Clerical Dilemma: Peter of Blois and Literate Culture in the Twelfth Century, Washington, Catholic University of America Press, 2009.

82 For England see most recently E. U. Crosby, The King’s Bishops. The Politics of Patronage in England and Normandy, 1066-1216, New York, Palgrave, 2013.

83 I owe this point to L. Veszprémy, “Umwälzungen im Ungarn des 13. Jahrhunderts: vom ‘Blutvertrag’ zu den ersten Ständeversammlungen”, in N. Kersken, G. Vercamer (eds.), Macht und Spiegel der Macht…, op. cit., pp. 383-402, at pp. 387-392.

84 It may even be possible to speculate that whatever resistance such charters of liberty encountered was aimed less at the principles enshrined in them than at the means through which they were to be enforced.

Auteur

Aberystwyth University (United Kingdom)

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