Comital Authority, Accountability and the Personnel of Comital Administration in Greater Anjou, 1129-51

SESSION VIII:Power & Politics in the Long Twelfth Century

Comital Authority, Accountability and the Personnel of Comital Administration in Greater Anjou, 1129-51

Kathryn Dutton (University of Manchester)


This paper examined Geoffrey’s comital officials and the instances of abuse that occurred under his leadership. Abuses, such as taking uncustomary bridge toll payments, were not confined to local officials. Dutton looked at these rapacious officials in Geoffrey’s charters and posed some interesting questions: What do these charters tells us about these men’s family ties, their relationship to Geoffrey, and his administration? How we explain the prominence of certain kin groups in Geoffrey’s charters? Who were these people?

The reoccurring names common in these charters were: The Roonards, Clairveaux, Blazon, Clefs. This paper will examine Pagan of Clairveaux, Pippin of Tours and Joscelin Roonard. A chart was presented listing the “Most (and least) frequent Angevin lay witnesses to Georffrey’s charters”. Joscelin and Pippin often appear together but this is not unusual. Pippin would act in Geoffrey’s stead in certain cases. Pagan was witness to two charters for Geoffrey’s wife, and he was nominated as a hostage “of good faith” for Geoffrey. Pagan’s importance as a critical member of Geoffrey’s administration was demonstrated also by Pagan witnessing seven of Geoffrey’s acts. Geoffrey didn’t found anything or give much in the way of gifts to any church. Geoffrey acted to settle disputes within his entourage and settled issues over tithes. Pagan was hauled into the county’s court over a dispute with monks. Pagan and Hugh of Tours were accused of extorting excessive customs on lay monastics. Geoffrey’s men being hauled in front of the courts did not appear to affect their careers and was not a common occurrence.

How could Geoffrey attempt to guarantee the loyalty and accountability of these men? And why these men? Dutton had three suggestions:

1.) He selected people who needed him, meaning none of these men were great lords. 2.) It appears Geoffrey’s key followers and interests lay in strategic places for Geoffrey in Anjou. 3.) He employed men linked by kinship. Geoffrey was using these men for clear reasons.

This seems to suggest that key offices were hereditary but this was not always the case, it simply gave the illusion of it. Appointments appeared to be at the counts discretion; he was not ruling a bunch of men who had hereditary seats, they were all useful to him.

~Sandra Alvarez

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