École des chartes » ELEC » Landesherrliche Kanzleien im Spätmittelalter » Scribes and writing offices: the charters of the counts of Angoulême before the late 13th century
[p. 658]

[p. 659] Scribes and writing offices: the charters of the counts of Angoulême before the late 13th century

I must begin with an apology for the somewhat rambling title I have taken for my communication to this Congress. Instead of discussing the Chancery of the counts of Angoulême, its development and place in comital administration, the various responsibilities of its personnel and the nature of its products, I must repeat what other speakers have said for other regions of what is now France: there is little sign of any institution in the county which might be graced with this name in the 12th century or earlier, and its existence has to be inferred rather than described in the 13th.

The rulers of Angoulême can in no way be compared with the counts of Flanders, dukes of Brittany or dukes of Burgundy as regards territorial power and methods of government. While not a poor region, the Angoumois was overshadowed politically and economically by Poitiers, La Rochelle, Bordeaux and even Saintes in the 12th and 13th centuries. The sources for the period are comparatively meagre – not as good as Brittany but better than Gascony – and this may be in some way a reflection of its position.

I mention this at the outset to stress the fact that I am dealing with relatively few comital charters, certainly an extremely restricted number when compared with those of the counts of Flanders, for example. Given this state of affairs, I think it better to make a series of observations about the charters rather than to undertake a detailed exposition of their changing nature, observations which will, I hope, without being too incoherent, throw some light on how they were produced and what form they took.

My credentials for talking about the subject derive from a doctoral dissertation which took as its theme the fortunes of comital government and authority in the Angoumois from the 9th to the mid 13th century, that is to say the period from which Carolingian monarchs ceased to exercise any effective control over this part of western France to the time when the kings of France again made comital government subject to their immediate authority and answerable to it. The defeat in 1242 of Hugh of Lusignan, count of La Marche and Angoulême, and his wife Isabel, widow of king John of England and last survivor of a long line of independent counts of Angoulême, is probably [p. 660] the best known event in this latter development. An extended appendix to this dissertation provided a list of over 270 comital charters dating from 882 to 12461. I want initially to make a few points about the history of the county which are, I think, of relevance to a discussion of comital charters.

The first point concerns the poverty of the Carolingian inheritance, as much as regards institutions of government and the archival legacy associated with them, as the rights which the counts could appropriate to consolidate their authority. This was no doubt a reflection of unsettled conditions in the Charente valley from the late 9th century. From their stronghold in Angoulême, the counts appear to have been unable to extend their authority substantially in the area until they took part in the expansion of the power of the dukes of Aquitaine, counts of Poitiers, in the first half of the 11th century. The only known Carolingian grant for any institution in the county was the diploma of Charles the Bald of 852 for the abbey of St Cybard. It is worth mentioning that royal diplomas of this date did not include the term cancellarius itself; this document was much copied and interpolated in the 11th and 12th centuries, and the absence of reference to the office of ‘Chancellor’ in [p. 661] the county before its reversion to the Crown in 1308 may in part be attributed to the fact that the word itself was not in circulation2. Carolingian institutions of government functioned in Angoulême up to the mid 10th century – up to this date we find a series of viscounts, apparently not related, operating in the city, as specified by Carolingian legislation, and also a court that can be approximated to the mallus. After the mid 10th century, these things disappear3.

Another point about the history of the county concerns its ‘provincialism’. This dangerous and subjective term has its use in characterising the rulers of which I am speaking. Comital power expanded in the wake of that of the counts of Poitiers, termed increasingly dukes of Aquitaine after 965, but the dukes inherited no rights over the county deriving from the Carolingian period. Angoulême was not, as is sometimes assumed, a satellite to centres of ducal authority but an independent region in which traditions peculiar to the area could flourish. Thus as regards diplomatic, the distinctive and unusual practice of beginning the year for dating purposes on 1 March was used until the mid 13th century. From a political point of view, the independence of Angoulême is reflected in the choice of its bishop as papal legate in 1108, as operating from a centre free from direct ducal intervention, or its use by the bishop elect of Poitiers in 1141 as a refuge from the wrath of the duke, Louis VII4.

My final point about the county’s history concerns its small size. Government could be carried out by energetic perambulation and military activity on the part of the count; there was little need to develop sophisticated institutions since problems could be solved by direct reference to the count. Names of comital officials appear from time to time in 12th & 13th century sources, [p. 662] but the chief executive arm of government seems to have been provided by individual knights from the count’s household who carried out a variety of tasks on an ad hoc basis. Only under the Lusignan counts in the 13th century do we find a more specialized apparatus of government, but even then we can find grounds for concurring with the conclusion of Jean Burias, who held that ‘administration médiocre’ was among the factors weakening comital authority in the 13th century and leading to the confiscation of the county by Philippe le Bel in 13085.

I come now to the charters of the counts, which are, of course, among our chief sources in studying the nature and development of comital authority.

The earliest documents that mention the counts, whether drawn up in his name or bearing his subscription, occasionally mention the names of scribes, and these can, with one exception, be shown to be the scribes attached to the public court over which the count or his officials presided. (The court corresponds to the mallus, though it was never given this name.) The activities of these scribes can be traced from the late 9th to the 10th century. Most, if not all, were clerics. We find the terms sacerdos, presbyter and levita used to describe them, though they also appear without any title. They produced documents for secular parties appearing before the court as well as in cases where either the cathedral or the abbey of St. Cybard were parties6. The position in Angoulême, then, parallels that in Poitiers, where scribes named Emmo and Adalbertus were attached to the mallus under Ebles, count of Poitiers from 902 to 934/5, and drew up documents for a variety of parties including the count7.

The phraseology and structure of these instruments bear a general family resemblance to those found in the Formulae Andecavenses or Formulae Turonenses of the Carolingian period. It is worth noticing that the scribes did not give themselves any title such as notarius. On one occasion the scribe Adalbertus, who ended documents dating from 908 to 923/45 with the phrases Adalbertus [p. 663] rogitus scripsit, or Adalbertus sacerdos rogitus scripsit, described himself as cancellarius, and the fact that this was in a comital privilege may show that such documents were considered deserving of a more pompous phraseology8. This is the only occasion I have met the term in a document in which a count of Angoulême was involved up to 1308.

Scribes of this kind, and the documents with which they are associated, disappear with the mallus and other institutions of government inherited from the Carolingian period. A document of 978 from the cathedral archives recording a private donation ends with the phrase Signum Walterio [sic] humillimus et indignus literator scripsit, which may stand as an example of the religious rhetoric that invades our phraseology henceforth9.

Documents drawn up in the name of the counts in the 11th century were all the products of beneficiary institutions. For the 11th century only one original survives, a privilege of count Geoffrey for St. Cybard datable to 1031/4310. Of a large size, measuring some 360 by 540 mm. and cut to a regular rectangular shape, it is written in a neat 11th century book-hand, not markedly different from the script used by Ademar of Chabannes, monk of both St. Cybard and St. Martial de Limoges before his death in 1034, or that found in late 10th century documents from the latter abbey, whose abbot was also abbot of St. Cybard at that time. The text bears a number of features taken from the Abbey’s 10th century muniments, though with long preambles before and after the suscription. Copies of a number of diplomas of this kind are to be found in the cartulary of St. Cybard, all of them dating from before the reform of the abbey in 1076/87, serve to show that this comital document was written by the beneficiary, the déstinataire.

The same can be said for all charters drawn up in the name of the counts of Angoulême before the mid 12th century, at least. Fluidity and variety of diplomatic forms is characteristic of much documentation of 11th century France, and this is particularly true of a region where the abbeys and ecclesiastical institutions producing archives and documents had among their own muniments few products of papal or royal chanceries to use as models. Many of the documents that relate to our counts in the 11th and early 12th century do not hide their character as ex post facto accounts of a transaction or series of transactions drawn up some time after it or they had taken place. The [p. 664] production of a written instrument does not seem to have been an essential part of comital decisions; as late as 1120/27, a comital judgment of some import was mentioned only in passing in an account of a protracted dispute11. Incidental reference to comital endowments of St. Cybard between 1187 and 1120 found in private charters of the period makes it conceivable, I think, that such endowments were made orally, especially since the 12th century cartulary of the abbey seems to contain a comprehensive account of the abbey’s muniments at this time. I say this with some diffidence, but since there is some indication that proceedings in the comital court were largely oral at this period, we must allow it as a possibility. In 1120/40 the monks of the poitevin abbey of Charroux prevailed on count Vulgrin to record in a sealed charter a gift made at least 33 years earlier by his grandfather; we do not necessarily have to conclude that the earlier gift had been recorded in writing, any more than we do when we find a document from the abbey of Baignes of 1101/20 referring to comital endowments made between 1047 and 108712.

If, in the 11th century, comital documents that we have were drawn up by ecclesiastical beneficiaries, we have to focus our attention on the changing nature of ecclesiastical documentation if we are to understand the changes in the form of comital charters. In Angoulême, ecclesiastical administration was more developed than that of the count in the 12th century, a state of affairs which can be paralleled elsewhere in ‘provincial’ France – we see this in the appearance of officials in the episcopal household; it is also reflected in the well drawn up documents made for legal and administrative purposes, whether charters or specialised registers such as that made under bishop Hugh in the mid 12th century recording the mortgaging of land13. The episcopal chancery was the innovative force in 12th century Angoulême, and not that of the count. Written documents played an increasing part in judicial proceedings in the bishop’s court. Bishop Ademar (d. 1101) used an antique gem as a seal – I say this on the authority of a collection of seal casts made by a 19th century antiquarian14. His successor, bishop Gerald, papal legate from 1108, certainly had a seal, as one would expect. A numbers of charters associated with him show his efforts to improve the way legal proceedings were conducted. [p. 665] I take as an example an account of a dispute between the monks of St. Florent de Saumur and those of Tournus, which came under Gerald’s jurisdiction as papal legate. He rejected a document produced by the latter party, describing it as no more than a narratio … que nec sigillo munito erat nec titulo alicuius persone titulata erat15.

The relevance of all this for the charters of the counts of Angoulême is that church courts were laying down standards for the drawing up of charters, and that those drawn up in the name of the counts would have to conform to these standards. The development of an efficient legal administration in which properly drafted instruments had a part is no doubt behind the remarkable growth of the gracious jurisdiction of the bishop and chapter of Angoulême apparent from shortly after 1150, a growth which culminated in the establishment of a deputed seal ad causas under the dean after 121316.

I have assumed hitherto that there was no comital chancery or writing office from the early 12th century which created a measure of standardisation in the diplomatic structure of comital charters. It seems fairly clear that the majority of comital charters for which a text survives were drawn up by scribes from the institutions to which they were issued. However, it is also clear that the counts had their own secretarial facilities, which indicates that they could issue their own charters. The first appearance of a comital seal is under Vulgrin, count from 1120 to 114017. It is during the same period that a comital chaplain is first mentioned, one Itier Calva, who fulfilled the same function under Vulgrin’s son William, count from 1140 to 1179. A comital charter of 1120/40 mentions an Ademar scriba in a list of witnesses, who may have been a scribe working for the count18.

[p. 666] There are more explicit references from the late 12th century. Charters from the abbey of St. Cybard in the name of count Ademar, count from 1186 to 1202, mention one Helias, notarius of the count, in a list of witnesses, and he is probably the same individual as the Helias scriptor mentioned among the witnesses of a comital privilege for St. Ausone dated 119719. A comital charter of 1189 from the abbey at Bassac mentions another individual, William Gualant, scriptor of the count, acting as a witness for count Ademar20. Rather than indicating some specialization of function, the use of the terms scriptor and notarius seem to indicate the lack of any formal office in the count’s household, each beneficiary institution describing the function with a different title.

The term ‘writing office’ seems more useful to describe the secretarial arrangements that these titles imply, rather than ‘chancery’ with its implication of a formal hierarchy of officials and established working procedures. I am saying nothing new if I suggest that men referred to as notarius or scriptor need not have been uniquely or even principally concerned with the drawing up of the count’s acta; the keeping of accounts, or dispatching correspondence may have been their major concern. The fact that they were called on to witness the charters of count Ademar indicate involvement with comital administration, even if they appear in only 4 of the 24 or so known texts of charters in Ademar’s name (household knights occur much more frequently acting as witnesses).

Hugh of Lusignan, according to a document of 1200 from Nouaillé in Poitou, expressly handed a charter to his notarius, William Amelot, for sealing, allowing us to conjecture that the notarius of the count of Angoulême was similarly responsible for his master’s seal21. It is probably more than a coincidence that references to a comital chaplain, the most likely candidate for custodian of the count’s seal, cease when the comital notarius appears in our sources.

[p. 667] There are no surviving examples of a comital seal from the time of count Vulgrin. However, a 16th century description refers to a comital charter of 1120/36 as ‘scelé de cire blanche en lacs de cuir; au sel il y a un hom figuré au cheval tenant une epée en une des mains’22. In 1199, the charter recording count Ademar’s treaty with Philip Augustus bore the impression of an equestrian seal (a fragment survives), the impression being in white wax23. The 17th century inventory of Dupuy described the seal as portraying ‘un homme à cheval qui tue un lion’, but it is not possible to show whether this subject was also the theme of earlier designs on comital seals. The surviving fragment of the 1199/1200 seal bears the impression of a counter-seal, a ‘secretum’, which bore as arms a shield lozengy. The use of a counter-seal provides evidence for specialization of function in the comital ‘writing office’.

It is difficult to say how consistently the counts used their seal from the time of count Vulgrin (1120/40). Of the 6 charters of this count for which a text survives (there are no originals), only 3 mention sealing in the text. But original charters from later in the century make it clear that sealed documents did not always have a sealing clause. What is worth remarking is that considerable weight is given in the texts of comital charters to autograph subscription by the count; of some 14 charters whose text we know in the name of count William (1140–1187), all but one refer to comital subscription whereas only 9 refer to sealing. Comital subscription, which originals show to have taken the form of a sign of the cross, virtually disappears under count Ademar (1186–1202), only 2 charters out of some 24 referring to it; some 15 charters bear his seal and have a sealing clause together with a list of witnesses. Until the time of Ademar, it appears that comital subscription was considered as essential as the impression of the comital seal to validate comital acta.

The most obvious question to ask about these charters is whether their structure conforms to a ‘house style’ that might debote the workings of a comital chancery. This is difficult to answer because we have anyway a movement towards uniformity in the language and structure of charters, and possibly a greater sense of what language and phraseology was appropriate to express the workings of comital authority.

There are groups of comital documents from the 12th century that bear evident marks that they were drawn up by beneficiaries. A number from St. Amand de Boixe have pious preambles that echo those found in the earlier [p. 668] muniments of the house; another feature that they have in common is that they lack dating clauses24. Three charters of count Ademar for the abbey of St. Cybard in Angoulême, very efficiently drafted documents, share virtually the same clause to announce the seal, a clause whose phraseology is not found in other comital documents25. A comital privilege for La Couronne of 1155/79 bases its calligraphy and diplomatic form on a papal bull, while another from this house of 1186/1202 gives Ademar the style dei gracia comes, unique for this count and best explained as a loan from the style of episcopal charters of the day – the only other instance of this form comes in a comital privilege of 1158 for St. Florent de Saumur where the count was permissione divina comes Engolismensis26. It is worth noticing in parenthesis about La Couronne that alone of the abbeys of the Angoumois it seems to have renewed comital privileges of a general nature with each new count, much as it renewed and updated its papal privileges on the advent of each new Pope in the 12th century; the same house is also remarkable in Angoulême for obtaining letters of protection from both king John of England when he ruled Aquitaine, and Philip Augustus in 121027. If the initiative to have documents of this kind came from the abbey, it is perhaps not surprising that it should have drawn up those in the counts’ names itself.

[p. 669] The most promising candidate for consideration as a product of the comital writing office is an original charter of 115728. It has a totally secular provenance, and probably found its way to Paris – it is now in the Archives Nationales – when the comital archives were removed there in the early 16th century. The document records a concord between the count and a feudatory, Helias Popellum, establishing the amount of an entry fine (acaptamentum). It has features which can be paralleled in a number of documents deriving from a variety of ecclesiastical archives. The count’s style, for instance, Willelmus Tallafer, comes Engolismensis, filius Vulgrini comitis, can be found in comital charters for La Couronne, St. Amand de Boixe, and the cathedral of Angoulême, as can the notification clause, presentibus et futuris notum fieri volo. In our charter of 1157, the exposition clause that follows succinctly expresses the opposing arguments of the count and his feudatory; once the concord is described, the count confirms it in a clause beginning Complacuit mihi … Witnesses are introduced with the phrase Huic concordie interfuerunt …, after which the sealing and comital subscription are announced. The date is in the form Factum est hoc dominice incarnationis anno M.C.LVII, and ends with reference to Louis as king of France, and Henry as King of England, count of Anjou and Duke of Aquitaine.

The structure and phraseology of this charter are very similar to one drawn up in the name of the same count for St. Amand de Boixe in 1154, the most significant differences being in the style – William is not said to be son of count Vulgrin – and in the final clauses, where the dating clause precedes the annunciation of sealing and comital subscription with which the text ends29.

One would leap to the conclusion that both documents were written by a scribe working for the count were it not for the fact that strikingly close parallels of language and structure can be found in episcopal documents of this date30. The charter of 1157 is a chirograph, though the text does not refer to the fact. I think it possible that this practice, where charters in the count’s name were concerned (at least 7 out of 24 such charters between 1186 and 1202 were chirographs), was adopted under the influence of the episcopal [p. 670] court, chirographs being frequently mentioned in proceedings before the bishops of Angoulême, especially in the first half of the century.

A cathedral canon witnessed the charter of 1157, and the charter of 1154 records a gift made in the presence of the bishop. The former charter was drawn up in the count’s name; a similar concord between count and feudatory of 1178, which we know from a text that survives again with a totally secular provenance, was recorded in a charter drawn up in the name of the bishop of Angoulême31. Given these facts, I think it possible that we are dealing with a situation in which the count prevailed upon a clerical scribe to act for him on an ad hoc basis, or in which scribes in comital service had spent part of their career in the episcopal or other ecclesiastical chancery.

Despite the increasing standardization of structure and phraseology in comital charters under Ademar (1186–1202) – the regular address, notification and dating clauses, witness lists, etc. – I must leave the 12th century with a negative point: we have insufficient evidence to deduce the workings of a chancery. The counts certainly had secretarial facilities and arrangements for custody of the comital seal, allowing us to use the term ‘writing office’. But even in the late 12th century, the stress is on the symbolic actions that accompanied a gift or grant rather than on the tenor of the privilege expressed in the clear language that betokens the routine product of the chancery clerk. Some of our late 12th century comital charters may well be the work of scribes in the count’s service, but what survives does not allow us to be categorical about any particular specimen.

From 1202 until after the death of John, King of England and husband of count Ademar’s daughter Isabel, Angoulême was ruled by agents of the English Crown. On her return to Angoulême in 1218, Isabel appears to have suppressed institutions inherited from Angevin government, retaining only that of seneschal. We have only one document dating from the period when she ruled the county alone, dated 121832. A 16th century copy of this document refers to it as ‘scellé à lacs de soye rouge, de cire verte’; on the seal was ‘une femme couronné’. This seal may not have been modified on her marriage to Hugh of Lusignan in 1220, since the sole surviving impression of her seal, appended to a document of 1246, does not refer to Hugh or to La Marche despite the inclusion in her style of the words ‘countess of La Marche and Angoulême’33. [p. 671] The seal used in 1246 fits the description of that mentioned in 1218: on the observe a lady standing and wearing a crown with a legend referring to her as Queen of England and domina of Ireland, on the reverse a similar lady without the crown with a legend referring to her as Duchess of Normandy and Aquitaine and countess of Anjou (Angoulême and La Marche are not mentioned). By 1243, Isabel also had a smaller seal that was kept with her, the other seal presumably being held by an official of her household. In a document of this date she referred to her sigillum parvum, which she was obliged to use quia sigillum quod consuevimus habere non habebamus. The impression of this small seal was again made in green wax34.

What evidence is there for a comital chancery after Isabel’s marriage in 1220? The couple evidently faced very different administrative problems from those of their predecessors since their lands stretched like a patchwork over the west of France. The word ‘chancellor’ or ‘chancery’ is not found in any document relating to the counts in the 13th century. Hugh of Lusignan, like his predecessor, count Ademar, had a notary attached to his household: Aimery Vignau was variously described as magister, dilectus et specialis clericus noster, and notarius noster between 1222 and 1226. His importance in the count’s administration is reflected in a large grant made to him of comital rights over a priory of St. Cybard at Nersac35. His successor, Filiquatus, is mentioned in 122736. Thereafter, the abandoning of long witness clauses in most surviving charters means that references to this official – and to others – cease.

We are fairly safe in regarding Hugh’s notary as the head of a writing office on which the count relied to govern his far-flung lands. The notary was certainly peripatetic with the count’s household at least some of the time in the 1220s, since he is mentioned in documents dated both inside and without the Angoumois. The personnel of the writing office was probably called on to provide a variety of documents. The bulk of what survives today for the period before Isabel’s death in 1246 comes down to us in ecclesiastical archives and involves disputes between the count and various ecclesiastical bodies, grants, renunciation of rights and so on. Before seeing what we can [p. 672] deduce about the workings of the comital writing office from these charters, I would like to refer to classes of document whose production was likely to have dominated the work of the office.

No example survives of the letters by which the count communicated with his servants, though they are referred to in the aveux he received from his subjects – these were obliged, for instance, to make their castles available to the count or suo certo mandato deferenti suas patentes litteras (a common enough provision in 13th century aveux)37. Letters of 1236 from count Hugh to one of his knights must stand as an example of letters of this sort. In it, the knight is informed that a gift made by a third party to the abbey of Charroux which he, the count, had previously vetoed could now be made. The form is brief. Hugh is given his style, count of La Larche and Angoulême, and the address is simply dilecto et fideli suo A. de Bernezay, milite; the notification is in the form noveritis quod, and there is no hint of any command. The letters end with a dating clause, ‘Given on the Friday after the feast of St. Matthew, anno gracie M.CC.XXX.XI’. How such a letter was sealed is not known: we have only an 18th century copy of a 15th century transcript to reconstitute the text38.

Another kind of letter is represented by those sent to Henry III of England by Hugh and Isabel. Here the name of the addressee precedes that of the sender, and there is no dating clause39. Their size is regular – a typical example would measure some 60 by 150 millimetres – and the seal was on a tongue, sur queue simple; it was folded once horizontally and three times vertically. Letters of this kind are written in good cursive charter hands, usually executed very neatly, that contrast with the book hands found in most 12th century comital documents. Letters of this kind are, of course, typical of those used for correspondence in the 13th century and later. It is difficult not to suppose that Isabel had scribes capable of producing them in her household when in England, and retained them in her service when she returned to Angoulême.

Whether scribes in comital service wrote out the aveux which were then sealed by comital feudatories in the count’s court is not made clear. There are [p. 673] copies of some 24 such documents, dating from 1222 to 1246, of which 16 expressly mention that the aveu was made before the count in his court40. The form and vocabulary used are very similar for each – and similarities are easy to find with other comital charters – but this reflects the work of trained lawyers as much as adherence to conventions of a particular chancery since they are similar to the aveux, for example, made to Alphonse of Poitiers as count of Poitou.

The registers of aveux compiled for the counts of Angoulême in the 13th century were presumably produced by men with legal training of some kind. We have only the barest glimpses of these registers, which probably went to Paris with the rest of the comital archive in the early 16th century and may have perished in the fire that decimated the royal Chambre des Comptes in 1737 or been lost subsequently. However, extracts were made from them (and from a number of other documents) when the registers were held in ‘la tour au chambre des comptes de … la comtesse d’Angoulême en son chastel à Couignac’ in 1475. We have references to 4 registers that date from the 13th century. One, entitled Iste liber est scriptus de redditibus et homagiis que debentur domino comiti Marchie et Engolisme, contained a copy of a document of 127841; another, headed more simply ‘Le registre des aveux des fiefs du comte d’Angoulême’, ended with a transcript of a document dated 1261 and had the last 17 of its 48 folios blank (it was said to be of paper, but we may be dealing with a late medieval copy of an earlier register)42. The other two registers are of uncertain date, though evidently ante-date the annexation of the county by the crown in 1308; to ascribe them to the servants of Hugh and Isabel is a matter of conjecture43. What these registers do make clear, however, is that the count’s ‘writing office’ was amassing some kind of archive in the 13th century44.

The only register of which we have a complete text survives in a 17th century copy, the original having been once in the royal Chambre des Comptes with other archives of the counts45. It contains transcripts of a variety of [p. 674] documents – from political agreements with the French and English crowns in the 1230s and 1240s, and charters by which comital property passed from one feudatory to another, to comital endowments of the church and a privilege for the inhabitants of Bellac. The material concerns La Marche as much as Angoulême and appears to have been put together before c. 1290. In no way can it be seen as a register of documents issued by the count; rather, it was a copy made of a number of files with incidental material added. The impression given by its lack of internal organization and by, for example, the inclusion of a large number of inspeximus versions of comital documents issued by bishops and others seems to show that record keeping was not highly developed in the comital administration.

This, then, is the sum of what can be discovered about the products of the comital writing office, other than what comes down to us in ecclesiastical archives. It appears meagre in the extreme when compared to the accounts, administrative correspondence and registers which abound in the rich archive of Alphonse of Poitiers. We have no insight into the institution that created and kept the records of comital government. But I think the point worth making that the counts did have a writing office of some kind, and that they produced the same kinds of record as other seigneurial administrations of the day.

What of the charters drawn up in the names of Hugh and Isabel that have come down to us with the muniments of ecclesiastical institutions? The 13th century is, of course, a period where fairly standard types of document gained general acceptance; the background to this is beyond the scope of my contribution. I think it probable that many of the charters issued in the name of the count or countess were written by scribes working for them rather than for the beneficiary, though one would need a greater number of original documents before one could become dogmatic on this point. I have found some 60 texts of documents in the name of Hugh and Isabel as rulers of Angoulême and La Marche, of which 28 are originals (of these, 17 are from the Trésor des Chartes and are likely to have been written by scribes not in comital service).

I want to say something about a small group of charters which throw some light on the operations of the comital writing office. They are close in date – 1225/6, 7 August 1226 at Angoulême, 1226 at La Couronne, and 1226 – and were drawn up for St. Amand de Boixe, La Couronne and the Cathedral of Angoulême46. We get a standard suscription and style, Hugh of Lusignan, [p. 675] count of La Marche and Angoulême, and Isabel, his wife, by the grace of God Queen of England, countess of La Marche and Angoulême. There follows an address to either universis christi fidelibus or omnibus as quos presentes litteras pervenerint, followed by a salutation. Common to all is the notification clause, universitati vestre sub huius scripti testimonio innotescat quod; final clauses in 3 are of the type ut autem huiusmodi factum plenum ac firmum robur obtineat perpetue firmitatis, and all have long witness lists.

I think it likely that these similarities indicate that comital scribes were using the drafts of charters recently issued to provide a model for the next charter required – this is a feature which has been noticed in the chancery of the counts of Flanders in the early 13th century47.

Despite their general uniformity, there are some small features in a number of comital documents which seem to denote groups drawn up by scribes other than those in comital service. Many of the documents recording agreements between the comital couple and Louis VIII and Louis IX lack clauses announcing the seal, and were probably the work of royal scribes. A charter of 1227 in the name of Isabel is demonstrably written by a scribe in royal service, since his work is found elsewhere in the archives of the Trésor des Chartes on documents not related to Hugh or Isabel48.

What can be said about the sealing of these charters? Of the 28 originals that I mentioned, all but three are sealed on a parchment tag through a turn-up, i.e. sur double queue, or on laces. It is difficult to perceive any consistency in the use of the colour for the wax on which the impression of the seal was made. The majority surviving are on green wax; those made on brown wax are all on documents recording agreements with the king or with Alphonse of Poitiers, the one exception being the brown seal on the testament of Hugh and Isabel issued in Angoulême in 1243. A comital privilege for the abbey of Grobosc dated 1267 was said to be sealed with white wax, a fact which reinforces the notion that colour was not used consistently for different kinds of document49.

As I mentioned earlier, there is no reference to any official who had custody of Hugh’s seal apart from his notarius, mentioned between 1224 and 1227. [p. 676] The seal itself represents a change from that of his father-in-law, count Ademar (d. 1202). The obverse, which referred to Hugh of Lusignan as count of Angoulême, showed the Lusignan arms, a figure on a horse with a hunting horn around his neck and holding a small dog on the horse’s hindquarters. On the reverse, Hugh of Lusignan was styled count of La Marche, and the arms were a shield baruly on a field of arabesque ornament50.

I want to end with a few remarks about the production of documents in the course of comital administration in the 13th century other than those drawn up in the name of the counts.

The head of comital government was the seneschal. The office was instituted when the county was under Angevin control, earliest references to it dating from 1214, and although Isabel drove the incumbent from the county on her return, the office itself was retained. In 1264, the seneschal was described as holding the locum et vicem domini comitis in the county; with references to servientes senescalli and homines senescalli, we find a clericus senescalli mentioned in 1224 and 126251. This is the only evidence we have for the secretarial arrangements at the seneschal’s disposal. No examples survive of the documents which, we may suppose, were used to convey orders to other officials such as the prévôt established in lordships throughout the county. The earliest known seneschal employed by Hugh of Lusignan, Anchius de Viron, probably came from near Chizé in Poitou52. One may conjecture that he communicated with his subordinates in much the same way as another official in Lusignan service, the prévôt of Lusignan itself. Among the Nouaillé muniments is a small letter of 1231 sealed sur double queue drawn up in the name of ‘S. prepositus’ and addressed ‘dilecto suo. pedagiario de Castro Novo.’ The recipient is told of Nouaillé’s exemption from péage (Significo vobis quod …), and ordered not to levy the toll (Unde vobis mando …). The order ends with the word Valete, after which is a dating clause53.

[p. 677] The seneschal of Angoulême used his personal seal on comital business throughout the 13th century. The earliest example I have found of a document in his name and once bearing his seal dates from 125054. (At an earlier date Hugh of Lusignan’s seneschal of La Marche, Audebert, Lord of La Trimouille, used his personal seal on a document of 1236 concerning comital rights)55. There were no deputed seals for the seneschal of Angoulême as there were for the seneschal of Gascony and his court after the 1250s and the vicarius of Toulouse after 125556. I may say in parenthesis that a lordship within the county, that of Marcillac, had a deputed seal: in 1274, Adam, lord of Beaumont and seneschal of Marcillac for its lord, Maurice de Belleville, issued letters sealed sigillo nostre proprie una cum sigillo senescallie de Marciliaco57.

The only deputed seals of the counts within the county in the 13th century were those associated with the exercise of gracious jurisdiction. As I mentioned earlier, the bishop of Angoulême had regularised this aspect of his activities in 1213 with the establishment of a dean among whose attributes was in causis tractandis jurisdictionem plenam. The court of this official and his seal became, in the 13th century, the chief resort for those establishing contracts and conveying property in the county – this follows a pattern common to much of France58. The count’s exercise of gracious jurisdiction is rarely made [p. 678] apparent in surviving sources: documents of 1229 and 1240 show letters patent in the count’s name and under his seal describing transactions that had taken place in his court in which he had no material interest59. At a later date, a series of contract seals were established in lordships in the county. The earliest I have found comes from Villebois and was appended to a document of 127560. The Sadoux collection of seal casts in the Archives Départementales de la Charente includes a cast of this seal: on the obverse is a shield baruly (the arms on the reverse of the second seal of count Hugh XII, where the legend describes him as count of Angoulême) and on the reverse a small shield charged with a sprig of oak leaves, probably the arms of Villebois. The arms of the obverse are also found on the Angoulême contract seal, to which the earliest reference I have found is datable to 1280/961. There was a similar seal in Bouteville from at least 128262, and one was one apparently established for Cognac and Merpins when the counts recovered these lordships in 128963. The comital contract seal at Aubeterre is first evidenced in 128864.

Though most of these seals appear in the 1280s, it seems likely that they were in fact instituted in most cases at about the time that the Villebois seal [p. 679] is seen to be in operation, that is to say in the 1270s. This latter date accords well with the appearance of similar seals in Poitou, if the sample to be found in Eygun’s Sigillographie de Poitou can be taken as representative65. The contract seals in the Angoumois appear at the same time as the earliest instruments drawn up by public notaries – the earliest such document I have come across is dated 127366.

The documents on which the comital contract seal was appended are all private charters drawn up in the name of one of the parties involved in the transaction. The use of the contract seal is mentioned always in the final clauses; the seal was brought forward at the plea of the parties concerned. It was rarely used on its own, usually being found with the seal of some other authority (most commonly the dean or an archpriest) and those of the parties concerned. Comital contract seals do not appear to have been widely used; certainly, they never rivalled that of the dean of the Cathedral at Angoulême. This situation changed with the seal instituted by the king in the county after 1308.

Who held the contract seal in each lordship? The clauses announcing the seal in most 13th century documents where it is found all refer to its production by the count: Nos comes … sigillum nostrum predictum [i.e. quod utitur in castellania de X in diversis contractibus] duximus apponendum. A document of 1290, however, mentions that the prévôt of Cognac and Merpins produced the seal of those castellanies de mandato domini comitis. The Angoulême contract seal appears in a document of 1299 as in the prévôt’s control, though at about the same time we have a reference to one Rannulf Curami, custos sigilli [quod apud Engolism’ utitur ad contractus], presumably a member of the prévôt’s staff. In Bouteville in 1307 a gerens sigillum is mentioned, though this may represent an innovation connected with countess Beatrice’s acquisition of the lordship. For Villebois there is no mention of a prévôt, but in 1303 the castellanus de Villaboe is seen producing a seal; a prévôt is similarly absent in Aubeterre, [p. 680] and the contract seal there appears to have been in the charge of one Itier Peudritz, miles tenens locum … comitis Engolisme in castris et castellanis de Albaterre, de Montemorello et de Blanziaco, in 1288 at least67.

The court to which each contract seal was attached had other officials by the late 13th century. The most explicit reference comes in a document of 1312. The custos et exequtor sigilli novi ad contractus in Villebois, recently instituted by the king, sealed a document on the fidelem relationem of a clerk named William de Pini; this clerk was said to have been the auditor sigilli quod in castro … de Villaboe … olim utebatur ad contractus, that is to say he was the auditor of the former comital contract seal68. On an aveu of 1290, the words ‘Guillelmus Baudoyni audivit pro utroque sigillo’ are written on the turn-up, referring to the Villebois contract seal and the seal of the prior of Peyrat, archpriest of Goz. We find here a practice reminiscent of that obtaining in the royal administration in the Île de France, developed by the celebrated établissement of Philip le Hardi promulgated in the spring of 128169.

The contract seals of the counts of Angoulême appear to reflect the influence of royal administrative practices. They were perhaps set up in response to facilities available not far from Angoulême in lands governed by Alphonse of Poitiers until his death in 1271 and by the king thereafter – this is suggested by the activities in the county of the auditor of the royal seneschal’s seal at Parcoul in the Saintonge70.

I end this account of comital institutions relevant to the production of written documents with these deputed seals. Lack of reference to any chancery in the 13th century does not indicate that the kind of secretarial facilities which characterise other princely and seigneurial governments of the period did not flourish.

1 R.C. Watson, ‘The counts of Angoulême from the 9th to the mid 13th century’, Ph. D., University of East Anglia, 1979 [henceforth referred to as: Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’]. In preparing this thesis, I was not able to use the unpublished École des Chartes thesis of Paul Cravayat, ‘Les Institutions du comté d’Angoulême de Bougrin I (866) à Guiard (1308)’, of which a résumé was published in the Positions des thèses de l’École des Chartes for 1943. I did not see this thesis until 1981; the catalogue of acta of the counts before 1202 which formed part of Cravayat’s work I saw first in December 1983, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mme Cravayat of Bourges for generously allowing me to use her late husband’s manuscript. Cravayat’s catalogue, unlike my own, contained only documents drawn up in the counts’ names, though he added a few known only from brief descriptions. His sequence runs from I to LXXXV. My impression is that Cravayat knew his catalogue to be incomplete, though material in it is edited to the highest standards. Two comital charters from Dalon are mentioned in notes added subsequently to his text (Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. nos. 154, 177), and a text from Moissac is in his ‘pièces justificatives’ rather than his catalogue (Ibid., cat. no. 23). Charters appearing in his catalogue overlooked in my thesis are his numbers LV and LVII, descriptions of comital grants to St. Martin de Bouteville of 1140/79 (Archives Départementales de la Charente, H 12, 1, fols. 376, 268 v), and his no. LXXX, a comital charter of 1199 (Paris, Bibl. Nat., Coll. Duchesne, vol. 68, fol. 140). Cravayat’s numbers LII, LXI, LXVII and LXXIII are forgeries. My own catalogue includes a number of documents not known to Cravayat. His approach is very much based on that of Luchaire in his manual on royal institutions (how far this is fruitful for a minor ruler in an unsettled area may be questioned), and is particularly detailed for the late 13th century. I have reduced references to my thesis to a minimum; I hope to publish it with its catalogue once the latter is revised and recast.

2 G. Tessier, Recueil des Actes de Charles II le Chauve, Chartes et Diplômes relatifs à l’Histoire de France (1943–1955), no. 149; Tessier, Diplomatique royale française (1962), p. 95. The term cancellarius crops up in 11th century France referring to people acting on behalf of a number of rulers but without always seeming to indicate any settled institution of government as such; see O. Guillot, Comte d’Anjou au XIe siècle (1972), vol. I, pp. 419–20; M. Fauroux, Recueil des actes des ducs de Normandie de 911 à 1066 (1961), p. 41; A. Richard, Histoire des comtes de Poitou (1903), vol. I, p. 378; J. Martindale, ‘The origins of the duchy of Aquitaine and the government of the counts of Poitou’, D. Phil. thesis, Oxford University, 1968, p. 167.

3 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, pp. 167–9, 179–81. The chronicle of Ademar of Chabannes has to be used with great caution for the 10th century.

4 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, pp. 66–9, 111–14; Cravayat, ‘Du style usité en Angoumois au moyen age (XIe–XIIIe siècles)’, Bulletin Philologique et Historique du Comité des Travaux Historiques, années 1944–5, pp. 165–172.

5 Géographie historique du comté d’Angoulême (1308–1531), Mémoires de la Société Archéologique et Historique de la Charente, année 1955 (1957), p. 44.

6 These documents are all in the cartularies of the Cathedral and St. Cybard of Angoulême; see Cartulaire de l’Église d’Angoulême, ed. Nanglard, Bulletin de la Société Archéologique et Historique de la Charente, année 1899, and Cartulaire de St. Cybard d’Angoulême, ed. P. Lefrancq (1930), the latter a partial edition containing only material the editor thought written before 1171. The Aimeritus who wrote a comital document of 902 is not known from any other reference, and was probably attached to the same court as the other scribes.

7 A. De Bouard, Manuel de Diplomatique … II. L’Acte privé (1948), pp. 131, 135; J. Martindale, ‘Origins of the duchy of Aquitaine’, p. 3.

8 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 12 (Cartulaire de St. Cybard, no. 200).

9 Cartulaire de l’Église d’Angoulême, no. IV.

10 Watson ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 54 (Cartulaire de St. Cybard, no. 224; for a facsimile, see Babinet de Rencogne, ‘Documents Paléographiques’, Bulletin de la Société Archéologique et Historique de la Charente, année 1870, after p. 392).

11 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 130.

12 Ibid., pp. 9–10, and references given there. See also F. Rousseau, Actes des comtes de Namur, 946–1196 (1936), p. CXXXV.

13 ‘Fragments d’un cartulaire de l’évêché d’Angoulême, XIIe siècle, MS. Ottoboni 687’, ed. L. Auvray, Mélanges Julien Havet (1895), pp. 389–94.

14 A collection of seal casts made by M. Sadoux was bought by the Archives Départementales de la Charente in 1910. The origin of each seal is not given.

15 Chartes poitevines de St. Florent de Saumur, ed. P. Marchegay, Archives Historiques du Poitou, II (1873), no. XVI. Work on bishop Gerald is not as extensive as his significance for the west of France in the 12th century warrants. H. Claude, ‘Un légat pontificale au XIIe siècle: Girard d’Angoulême. Essai sur l’histoire d’une légation permanente’, thesis for a doctorate in theology, Lille University, 1949, is useful.

16 The document setting up the office and court, drawn up in the name of the archbishop of Bordeaux, is printed in Gallia Christiana, ed. D. Sainte Marthe, revised P. Piolin (1870–7), vol. II, Instr., cols. 451–2. For the seal of this court, see below, n. 58.

17 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. nos. 133 (Arch. Départ. Charente, G 424/2), 136 (Cartulaire de St. Cybard, no. 43), 139 (Chartes … de l’abbaye de Charroux, ed. P. de Monsabert, Archives Historiques du Poitou, vol. XXXIX (1910), no. XXXI) are the earliest comital charters to mention a seal.

18 Ibid., cat. nos. 136 (Cartulaire de St. Cybard, no. 43), 174 (Cartulaire de l’Église d’Angoulême, no. CLXXVI).

19 Ibid., cat. nos. 204, 205 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 1, fols. 28, 28 v–29), 192 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 3, 93). The latter charter I knew only from 16th and 17th century descriptions when working for my thesis; the text of the original I first came across in Cravayat’s work. I am grateful to Mme Ducluzeau, Director of the Archives Départementales at Angoulême, for sending me a copy of the original. The verb notare was used in a comital charter to signify the writing of a document: eam [quitationem] constitui notari litteris (Ibid., cat. no. 193– Cartulaire … de St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord, no. 299).

20 Ibid., cat. no. 183 (Poitiers, Bibliothèque Municipale, Coll. Fonteneau, vol. I, p. 209).

21 Chartes de l’abbaye de Nouaillé, ed. P. de Monsabert, Archives Historiques du Poitou, vol. XLIX (1936), no. 226.

22 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 133 (see note 17).

23 M. Douët d’Arcq, Collection de Sceaux, Archives de l’Empire, Inventaires et Documents, vol. I (1863), no. 833.

24 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. nos. 182, 190, 193 (Cartulaire de l’abbaye de St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord (1982), nos. 253, 311, 315, 299). See also the remarks of Debord, ibid., p. 76. Other comital charters from this house are drafted in more concise language, but it would be hazardous to conclude that they were the productions of a different writing office.

25 Ibid., cat. nos. 196, 204, 205 (Arch. Départ, Charente, H 1, 175; above, n. 17). The clauses read: Et ne super huiusmodi quitacione (a me?) facta possit in posterum dubitari, presentis scripti cartulam per cirografum divisam sigillo meo feci communiri (cat. no. 196); Et ne super huiusmodi facto meo posse in posterum aliqua dubitatio provenire, presentis scripti cartulam per cyrographum divisam sigillo meo feci communiri (cat. nos. 204, 205).

26 Ibid., cat. nos. 176 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 2, 29), 203 (ibid.), 162 (Chartes Saintongeaises … de St. Florent près Saumur, ed. P. Marchegay, Archives Historiques de la Saintonge et de l’Aunis, vol. IV (1877), no. XXXII).

27 Freedom from all comital impositions granted to La Couronne by count Vulgrin (1120–1140) was mentioned in a similar privilege given by his son count William in 1155/79; count Ademar’s privilege to the same effect is datable only to 1186/1202 (Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. nos. 144, 176, 203; the latter is printed in Chronique Latine … de La Couronne, ed. Castaigne, Additamenta no. VIII). For John’s privilege, see Rotuli Chartarum … 1199–1216, ed. T.D. Hardy (Record Commission, 1837), col. 97 b. Philip Augustus’s privilege is mentioned only in the Chronique Latine … de La Couronne, p. 74 (Recueil des Actes de Philippe Auguste, Chartes et Diplômes relatifs à l’Histoire de France, vol. III, 1966, no. 1161); no trace of it has been found in the abbey’s muniments.

28 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 161. I knew this document only from an 18th century copy until I consulted the thesis of P. Cravayat; the original is in Paris, Archives Nationales, K 1144, no. 17. The 18th century copy (Bibl. Nat., Coll. Périgord, vol. LIII, fol. 233) referred to the original as in the ‘Archives du Royaume, carton coté Mélanges’.

29 Ibid., cat. no. 160 (Cartulaire de … St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord, no. 277).

30 The dating and sealing clauses in particular can be found in episcopal charters of this period, as can the business-like arrangement of the clauses, each short and to the point.

31 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 173 (Cartulaire Comitum Marchie et Engolisme, ed. G. Thomas (1934), no. XXXV).

32 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 209 (Babinet de Rencogne, ‘Nouvelle chronologie des maires … d’Angoulême’, Bulletin de la Société Archéologique et Historique de la Charente, années 1868–9, pp. 640–1).

33 Douët d’Arcq, Collection de Sceaux, no. 10010.

34 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 268 (Le Livre des Fiefs de Guillaume de Blaye, ed. Nanglard (1906), pp. 32–6).

35 Ibid., cat. nos. 212 (Chartes … de St. Maixent, ed. A. Richard, Archives Historiques du Poitou, vols. XVI–XVII (1886), no. CCCCXX), 219 (Cartulaire … de St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord, no. 304), 221 (ibid., no. 303), 223 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 175).

36 Cartulare Comitum Marchie et Engolisme, ed. G. Thomas, no. XXIX.

37 Cartulare Comitum, ed. G. Thomas, no. LVIII (dated 1246); Paris, Archives Nationales, P 721, fol. 5 (dated 1243).

38 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 252 (Chartes … de Charroux, ed. P. de Monsabert, no. LXXVII).

39 The original letters, of which most are published in Royal and other historical letters … of the reign of Henry III, ed. W.W. Shirley, 2 vols., Rolls Series, no. 27 (1862–6), are in the Public Record Office in London, S.C. 1, vols. I–IV.

40 These are contained in a volume of extracts made from comital archives in 1475, now P 720 in the Archives Nationales in Paris.

41 Archives Nationales, P 720, fol. 2; P. 513/1, no. XXVI.

42 Archives Nationales, P 720, fol. 9 v.

43 Archives Nationales, P 720, fols. 1, 10 v.

44 Apart from the transcripts in P 720 and P 721, there are some 30 original documents dating from before 1308 with the comital archives, though medieval copies of, and references to, 13th century documents are more common.

45 Cartulaire Comitum, ed. G. Thomas (see n. 31).

46 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. nos. 221 (Cartulaire … de St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord, no. 303), 224 (Paris, Archives Nationales P 1405/1, no. CCCIII, and Arch. Départ. Charente, G 424/6), 225 (Chronique Latine … de La Couronne, ed. J.F.E. Castaigne, Addit., no. IX), 226 (Cartulaire … de St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord, no. 301).

47 Prevenier, ‘La chancellerie des comtes de Flandre … à la fin du XIIe siècle’, Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, vol. CXXV (1967), p. 78.

48 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 228 A (Layettes du Trésor des Chartes, ed. A. Teulet, no. 1924); Archives Nationales, J 622, no. 1965, an aveu dated Feb. 1227 of Bertrand de Gourdon.

49 Arch. Départ. Charente, H 5, 37 (16th century copy).

50 Douët d’Arcq, Collection de Sceaux, no. 834.

51 Archives Nationales, P 721, fols. 3 v–4 v; Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. no. 219 (Cartulaire … de St. Amand de Boixe, ed. A. Debord, no. 304); Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Latin 13913, p. 55, printed in Martène and Durand, Veterum scriptorum …amplissima collectio, VII, 148 et seq.

52 A man of this name held property at Viron (commune Brulain) and was prévôt of Chizé in the first half of the 13th century (Censif de Chizé, ed. A. Bardonnet, Archives Historiques du Poitou, vol. VII (1878), pp. 122, 123).

53 Archives Départementales de la Vienne, 1 H 5, liasse 1, no. 215. The text reads as follows: S. Prepositus Lezigniacen’. Dilecto suo. Pedagiario de Castro Novo Salutem. Significo vobis quod abbas de Nobiliaco vel aliquis de corpore abbacie sue nullatenus darit pedagium in honore Castri Novi. Unde vobis mando quatinus ab ipsis vel eorum quadrigariis vel nunciis de cetero nullum pedagium exigatis. Val’. Dat’ in crastinum nativitatis beati Johannis. anno gracie. M. CC. XXX. primo.

54 Arch. Départ. Charente, G 15. Seneschals were, of course, knights and thus would have a personal seal. The association of seal and knighthood is mentioned in an aveu made by Helias of Mareuil, sealed with the seal of the lord of La Roche-beaucourt quia sigillum proprium non habebam, et quamcito miles fuero, litteras meas sigillo meo proprio sigillatas dare teneor comiti Engolisme (Archives Nationales, P 720, fol. 10 v–11).

55 Archives Départementales de la Vienne, 1 H 1, liasse 8.

56 P. Chaplais, ‘Le sceau de la Cour de Gascogne’, Annales du Midi, vol. LXVII (1955), pp. 19–29; J.B. Trabut-Cussac, L’Administration anglaise de Gascogne … 1254–1307 (1972); C. De Vic & J. Vaissete, Histoire général de Languedoc, vol. III (1737), cols. 517–18. The royal prévôt of Paris had an official seal from the 1230 s (R.-H. Bautier, ‘Origine et diffusion du sceau de juridiction’, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Comptes Rendus, année 1971, p. 309), and a similar seal was set up by the royal administration in Béziers at about the same time (A. Friedlander, ‘Le premier sceau de juridiction gracieuse dans le Midi: le “sigillum Curie Biterris” (1233)’, Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, vol. 141 (1983), pp. 23–35).

57 Arch. Départ. Charente, G 177/6. In a lordship beyond the county held by the count, Ruffec, we find a document sealed in 1264 sigillo vicarie de Roffiaco (Archives Nationales, P 721, fol. 9 r).

58 See n. 16. The earliest reference to the dean’s seal that I have discovered is dated 1223 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 2 [BBB cartulary], fo. 363 r, no. 376). The court’s auditor causarum was mentioned in 1269 (H 1, 132).

59 Watson, ‘Counts of Angoulême’, cat. nos. 233 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 12, 58), 261 (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 2, 29).

60 Babinet de Rencogne, ‘Notes et chartes extraites des archives du château du Repair’, Bulletin de la Société Archéologique et Historique de la Charente, année 1882, nos. XI, XIV; nos. XVI (1279), XVII (1281), XXII (a testament of 1299), and XXV (1301) from this publication are also documents once bearing the Villebois contract seal. I give here details of documents I have found that used the seal: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Latin 9234, no. 8 (1290); Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 260 (1305), H 2, 112 (1285 and 1296), H 5, 46 (1303), H 3, 103 (1304). A high proportion of these documents also bear the seal of the prior of Peyrat, archpriest of Goz.

61 Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 2, fol. 239, no. 217 [Cartulary BBB of St. Cybard]. For other documents with the Angoulême seal, see Archives Nationales, P 1405/1, CCCXXIIII (1299) and CCCXVI (1309); Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 190 (1289); H 1, 13/245 (1307); H 3, 40 (1294); H 3, 54 (1295); H 3, 73 (1306); H 3, 71 (no date).

62 Paris, Bibl. Nat., MS. Latin 9234, nos. 4 (1282), 14 (1307) and 15 (1307); Archives Nationales, P 1404/1, CLXXI (1282). The seal was often used with that of the archpriest of Bouteville.

63 Archives Nationales, P 1404/2, LII (1290, printed in F. Marvaud, Études historiques sur la ville de Cognac, Niort, 1870, vol. II, pp. 331–4); there are references to documents under the seal dating from c. 1289 to 1305 in a 16th century inquest into the ‘port saulnier’ at Cognac (P 1404/1, CLXXI).

64 Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 250 (1288 and 1298). For the status of the lordships mentioned in this paragraph, see the work of J. Burias mentioned in n. 5 above; coverage of the 13th century is patchy and can on occasion be supplemented by the Cartulare Comitum, ed. G. Thomas (1934).

65 See the index on pp. 472–3 of ‘Sceaux aux contrats’. The earliest Lusignan seal is here dated to ‘XIIIe siècle’. The earliest use I have found of it dates from 1281 (Archives Historiques du Poitou, vol. LVII, no. 57) and there is a drawing of the seal taken from a document of 1286 made by Fonteneau (Poitiers, Bibl. Municipale, Coll. Fonteneau, vol. LXXXII, fol. 14, no. 42) – the arms are a shield baruly, as they are on the Villebois and Angoulême contract seals.

66 The earliest instrument I have come across in Angoulême is dated Sunday before the feast of St. Luke, 1273; the sale involved is also sealed by the purchaser. The notary was William de Grasso Campo, clericus Albaterre, auctoritate apostolica tabellio deputatus (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 230). In 1276, Peter de Podio Moysso, cleric of the diocese of Angoulême, was auctoritate apostolica publicus notarius (Ibid., G95/2). Instruments by public notaries were never widely used in the Angoumois in the 13th century.

67 See notes 60–64 above.

68 Babinet de Rencogne, ‘Notes et chartes … du château du Repair’, no. XXIX; Paris, Bibl. Nat., MS Latin 9234, no. 8.

69 See the article by Bautier mentioned in n. 56, and L. Carolus-Barré, ‘L’Ordonnance de Philippe le Hardi et l’organisation de la juridiction gracieuse’, Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, vol. XCVI (1935), pp. 5–48.

70 Documents under the seal of the royal seneschal of the Saintonge concerning the Angoumois date back to the 1280 s (see, for instance, Arch. Départ. Charente, H 1, 131). In 1304 a sale under the Villebois contract seal was confirmed under the royal seal at Parcoul per manum Jaques de Chessy, custos sigilli, ad relationem Guillelmi Guinebaudi presbiteri comisarii mei [i.e. of Jaques de Chessy] et jurati qui nomine meo confessionem premissorum … audivit et recepit (Arch. Départ. Charente, H 3, 103).