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7-08-2015, 23:47

The principalities of capua-benevento and salerno

These Lombard states, if one can use such a term for markedly inchoate organisations, presented a great contrast to Byzantine Italy. They were undoubtedly much more stable in the first three-quarters of the tenth century than they had been before 900, and whereas in the earlier period the princely office had at times seemed little more than a football to be kicked back and forth among local gastalds and other members of the office-holding aristocracy, by the tenth century hereditary succession was the norm. This was made more certain by the nomination of sons as corulers in their father’s lifetime, which was also the practice in the duchies of Naples and Amalfi. In the principality of Capua-Benevento family stability was ensured by joint rule between brothers, as well as between father and son. For one very brief period in 939–40 no fewer than four individuals were using the princely title: Landulf I, two of his sons and his younger brother, Atenulf II (910–40). But generally no more than two princes held office at any one time, and the younger of two co-ruling brothers could not expect to pass the title down to his children. There were never more than two brothers holding the princely title at the same time. Pandulf Ironhead associated only his eldest son with him as co-prince, although he had several younger ones as well, and he did that only after his younger brother’s death in the winter of 968–9. It may sometimes have been the case that one, probably the senior, prince held Capua, while the other was associated with Benevento. This seems at first sight to be implied by the Chronicon Salernitanum’s account of Pandulf Ironhead abandoning Otto I’s army on the Calabrian border upon hearing the news of his brother Landulf’s death, and hastening to Benevento to secure his son’s enthronement as prince. However, the same chronicle also shows the two brothers acting together at Capua a few months earlier, escorting the prince of Salerno to meet their overlord Otto. The significance of the incident may simply be that the palace church of St Sophia at Benevento remained the traditional place for a new prince to be enthroned, as it had been back in the eighth century.25 Charters generally show princes acting together, as Pandulf I and Landulf III (961–8/9) invariably did in the 960s. In 943 Atenulf III (933–43), acting by himself from Benevento, issued a group of charters for Monte Cassino. Although he did this in the name of his absent father and younger brother as well as on his own behalf, his action was almost certainly a symptom of a political crisis; soon afterwards he was expelled from Benevento, according to the Chronicon Salernitanum for his ‘sins and cruelty’, and took refuge with his son-in-law, Guaimar II of Salerno (900–46).26 It looks as though the attempt to associate several members of the princely family together as co-rulers in the late 930s had not been a success, or perhaps Atenulf was simply displaced by his younger brother, to whose sons the princely title was eventually to pass. But the episode suggests that a division of Capua or Benevento between individual princes was neither normal nor wise. The association of a son with his father was clearly important in ensuring a smooth succession.Gisulf I of Salerno (946–77) was made co-prince when only three years old.27 From the few chronicle accounts we have it would seem, however, that whatever the importance of such designation and of the appearance of the co-prince in diplomata, in practice the senior ruler was the effective one who was considered to dictate policy. Only in exceptional circumstances would matters be different, and the most obvious would be when the inheriting prince was still a minor. This was the case with Prince Landenulf of Capua, who succeeded in 982 and was for some years under the tutelage of his mother, Aloara. Similar examples occurred in the duchy of Amalfi in the 950s and at Gaeta in the early eleventh century. But minorities could be very dangerous: the minor duke of Amalfi in the 950s, Mastalus II, was murdered in 958, and his family replaced by a new dynasty. Yet for the most part princely rule, and that of the dukes in the coastal cities, seems to have been stable in the tenth century – at least up to the 970s in Salerno and the 980s in Capua and Benevento – and certainly when compared with the chaos of the preceding century. But, paradoxically, the foundations of princely authority were being eroded. In the ninth century, the embattled princes of Benevento were careful not to alienate parts of their fisc and regalian rights; they preferred to give out property which had reverted to them either judicially or essentially by accident – for example, from men lacking heirs. Their tenth-century successors were less cautious, particularly after 950. It was under Pandulf Ironhead, when the prince was at least nominally at his most powerful, that the most extensive concessions were made. For example, in 964 Pandulf and his brother conceded the county of Isernia to their cousin Landulf, with an extensive immunity which effectively withdrewthe county fromtheir jurisdiction.Asimilar abdication of public power can be seen in the concessions which Pandulf II (982–1014) of Benevento made to a certain Count Poto in 988 of Greci and regalian rights over its inhabitants, and of Trivento on very similar terms to Count Randisius in 992.28 It may be that Pandulf Ironhead’s ambitious policy made him more reckless than his predecessors in securing support from his nobles, many of whomwere relatives, and from churchmen. Certainly more of his diplomata – nearly all embodying grants – survive from the twenty years of his rule as senior prince than for the preceding sixty years, since the union of Capua and Benevento. But it may also be that Pandulf’s policy was pragmatic, and that such grants as that to the count of Isernia were not really giving much away, but recognising alienations already made. There could also have been sound reasons for such concessions as that to Count Poto in 988. Greci was on the frontier with Apulia, and the grant of the right of fortification was an obvious security measure, while the generous judicial and financial concessions may have been necessary to persuade an aristocrat to settle an apparently deserted, quite possibly dangerous site. There was, however, a longer-term process at work in this privatisation of authority. By around 900, gastaldates were in effect probably hereditary, and already in the ninth century the authority of the prince was very obviously ineffectual in the remoter areas of his principality. Furthermore, to judge by the Chronicon Salernitanum, by far the lengthiest and most circumstantial historical work of the time, concepts of princely authority were still very personal, rooted in a traditional framework of fraternity, mutual obligation, gift-exchange and condominium of prince and aristocracy. Vassalic links were not so much weak (as for example in tenth-century Francia) as non-existent. Fidelitas in Lombard southern Italy implied a contractual relationship, not one of dependence.29 In Benevento the role of the princely palace as an effective institution of government had probably already begun to diminish c. 850; after that date its officials ceased to appear in princely diplomata. By making grants to nobles, the princes were at least making a statement that authority still ultimately came from them, however remotely. They were also creating some sort of short-term link and mutual goodwill, particularly when most of those receiving such concessions were kinsmen, who doubtless came to expect these marks of favour. In the long term, though, such hereditary grants – and there is very little evidence for temporary and revocable concessions – led to a haemorrhage of central authority outside the immediate vicinity of the princely residences. The symptom, and also one of the causes, of this privatisation of authority was incastellamento. The development of private fortifications (in southern Italy fortified villages rather than castles pure and simple) had several functions. It was partly defensive; even after the cessation of the Saracen threat there was still external danger. Hungarian raiders penetrated deep into the principality of Capua in 937, and as far as Apulia in 922 and again in 947. The castello was in addition a means of protection against greedy neighbours, especially when central authority was weak or distant. But it was also a means for effective exploitation by patrimonial landowners, attracting new settlers, imposing common rents and services, and providing a centre for collection of such rents and for local judicial authority. The creation of castelli and the attraction of immigrants could repopulate areas abandoned or under-exploited, although we should be cautious about taking at face value the claims in monastic chronicles as to the extent of such desertion before the age of incastellamento. Concessions by the princes of the regalian right of fortification, largely from the second half of the tenth century, were a symptom of central authority in decline. They were not necessarily the mark of a society in decline. Indeed, the tenth century was an age of growing population and increasing agricultural prosperity, though in southern Italy more than in most areas of Europe there could be striking regional variations. What might hold good for such fertile areas as the Capuan plain or the broad and flat Liri valley in the north of the principality of Capua was not necessarily the case for more mountainous areas like Molise. There were also contrasts between the different principalities. In Salerno the capital city and the princely court continued to act as a magnet for the nobility in a way that no longer applied in the more decentralised principalities of Capua and Benevento. This was probably a function of the greater size of the city of Salerno, and its correspondingly greater influence, economic and social, within the principality. A mark of the city’s development is that in the period 980–1000 twenty-nine notaries, all of them laymen, can be found operating there.30 Furthermore, the other main centres of habitation within the principality lay relatively close to the city. The prince’s kinsmen continued, for the most part, to reside at Salerno, whereas in the other two principalities they lived in their castelli and established their territorially based dynasties. The title of count, which had begun as a personal distinction signifying relationship to the princely family, evolved in Capua and Benevento into a territorial designation. The counts replaced the gastalds as the chief local princely officials. (The gastalds in the ninth century had fulfilled a role which was analogous to that of the counts in the regnum Italiae.) But the emergence of the territorial counts in southern Italy signified not merely a change in title, but also one of function, a step along the way to the privatisation of authority. There were far more counts in the principality of Capua in the later tenth century than there had been gastalds in the ninth, as local authority not only became more entrenched but also more fragmented. The process spread eastwards intoMolise and the principality of Benevento, although with less density in these more mountainous and sparsely settled regions.31 The role of princely cadets in this process is clear. Two of Landulf III’s sons became counts at Sant’Agata and Larino. Two of Pandulf Ironhead’s younger sons in turn became count of Teano, replacing an existing line of counts descended from Atenulf I. In the eleventh century the descendants of one of themwere counts atVenafro and Presenzano. This fragmentation of local authority was encouraged by the partible inheritance of Lombard law. The change in usage seems to have occurred particularly in the 950s and 960s, in the years of Pandulf Ironhead’s co-rulership with his father and in the early years of his own rule; in one case, that of the creation of the county of Isernia in 964, he can be seen expressly sanctioning this development. Perhaps significantly, the gastalds of Aquino, who were not descended from the Capuan princely dynasty, did not use the title of count until some twenty years later. In the principality of Salerno the process was much slower and less complete, for the reasons outlined above. It has been suggested that a count had been established by 947 in a territorial lordship at Nocera on the border with the principality of Capua, at a period when relations between the two princes were hostile. But the evidence for such a supposition is at best inconclusive, and it is more probable that the count was simply a princely relative who held property at Nocera. A son of either Atenulf II or the exiled Atenulf III of Benevento was established in a lordship at Conza on the southern border of the principality, facing Byzantine territory; however, he does not appear to have held the title of count, and his relationship with Prince Gisulf later deteriorated to the point that he was once again driven into exile, at Naples.32 Hence in Salerno the title of count remained a mark of personal status, not of institutional function. Furthermore, the princes retained their control over the church and their monopoly over public justice until well into the eleventh century. Legal cases first heard under local officials in outlying parts of the principality were often concluded at Salerno itself. The princes of Capua-Benevento sought to bolster their authority in the north of their principality by allying with and favouring the two great monasteries of the region, Monte Cassino and San Vincenzo al Volturno. Both of these were not just major landowners; they also possessed coherent blocks of territory, and could serve as counterweights to the local nobility in localities some distance away and geographically separate from the centres of princely authority. Both monasteries had been destroyed by the Arabs – Volturno in 881 and Monte Cassino two years later – and in the early years of the tenth century both communities were still in exile. The monks of Volturno returned to their mother house in 914, but those ofMonte Cassino remained in exile, first at Teano and later at Capua, until 949. This long residence at Capua was, to judge both from a contemporary papal letter and from later Cassinese tradition, the result of direct pressure from Landulf I in his greed to exploit the monastery’s property.33 If so, this policy was short-sighted, for the chief profiteers were not the princes but the nobles of the Liri valley, who alienated much of the abbey’s land. Under Landulf II (943–61) and Pandulf I the policy changed. The monks returned toMonte Cassino, and the princes actively supported them, forcing the local nobles to disgorge their stolen property and respect the abbey’s lands in future. The gastalds of Aquino were brought to heel by direct military action, and a series of land pleas in the early 960s consolidated this process. Landulf II similarly took action to protectVolturno’s territory from the incursions of the counts of Venafro.34 In the 960s Pandulf Ironhead conceded both fiscal immunities and, in 967, the right to erect fortifications to the monasteries.35 Admittedly one must not overestimate the extent of the incastellamento on the lands of either monastery. Pandulf ’s charter to Monte Cassino mentioned only two castelli by name, and a tower at a third site, and the development of fortified sites on the abbey’s lands was gradual. By around 1000 there were no more than half a dozen castelli there. The fortification of settlements was largely confined to the central portion of San Vincenzo al Volturno’s lands in the immediate neighbourhood of the mother house, and to some eastern parts about which the abbey was in dispute with the counts of Isernia.36 The beginning of incastellamento on these abbeys’ lands was more a matter of the reorganisation of their system of land exploitation, rather than being intended for directly military purposes, although those castelli founded in the San Vincenzo lands to which the counts of Isernia laid claim were set up primarily to symbolise the abbey’s claims to this territory. The abbeys could, however, rely on princely support, and indeed that of the emperorsOtto I and II, in case of difficulty. The princes could use their relationship with these abbeys to validate their rule in the north of their dominions, and to limit the building of local power bases by nobles whose activities they might otherwise find hard to check. After the two principalities of Capua and Benevento separated in 981 the relationship between the prince of Capua and Monte Cassino became closer; Prince Landenulf (982–93) appointed a kinsman,Manso, as abbot ofMonte Cassino, and in 1011, while the two principalities were briefly reunited, Pandulf II installed one of his sons as abbot. But by that stage San Vincenzo al Volturno was no longer playing any part in this policy. After 981 there were no further princely diplomata for the monastery, and by the eleventh century Molise had slipped entirely from princely control.

 

 

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