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The Royal Government Under Charlemagne and Louis the Pious According to Hincmar's De Ordine Palatii

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Palace officers were chosen from every region of the Frankish dominions and the closest entourage to Charlemagne, whence orders are given, were constituted by a litte number of faithfuls and familiar people. Alcuin only endeavoured to be a Prime Minister of sort. The political thinkers of after the return to the Empire defined the concept of 'Ministerium Regis,' or the King's function.' With that, the Frankish king was no longer a mere warlord but his function went beyond war and protection. The De Ordine Palatii is a political opuscule by which Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, in which he proposed a governmental structure for the governance of Francia Occidentalis by 882 A.D. Hincmar was the one who deviced the Treaty of Verdun, in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire. He was afterwards a favorite to Charles the Bald, who reigned over Francia Occidentalis, the Prime Minister of sort of who he was until by 877 A.D. As far as his religious office was concerned, Hincmar is considered like a kind of founder of the Gallicanism. The date of his treaty is the one of a epoch when Hincmar was back into politics among varied troubles, as the king then was Carloman II, who reigned two years only as Northmen were assaulting his kingdom and Greats got distant from monarchy. As far as the political program he exposed, Hincmar founded himself upon the legitimacy he holded from that he, under Louis the Pious, about 822 A.D., he knew first hand how Charlemagne had been ruling. The De Ordine Palatii thus, first, is a good publication of the rules of government as they existed under Charlemagne and Louis the Pious and, on a other hand, it is too, a program for a political restoration, in 880 A.D., in the Francia Occidentalis. Hincmar's program however was unluckily to be sparsely put at work and insufficient related to the troubles of the time. Hincmar died in 882. He himself writes that he based his work upon a treaty by Adalard, abbey of Corbie and a relative to Charlemagne as most of the work is from him however. His works is not far reaching as it mostly looks like it represents a faction, one might call 'Gallican,' of the Frankish Church. The De Ordine Palatii nethertheless is useful through the references he gives upon how the central and local government was working under Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. Here is how that treaty may be summarized in terms of the concepts it proposes and the description it gives of a good government, with some more recent source added about the latter point. Hincmar is aiming, through his ordered view, that the court of Charles stood in line with that of Constantine the Great. The court nonetheless, from varied source, was well organized, shared out between the buildings in the Aachen palace as the Chapel and clerics were playing a major part. Charles, generally, heard his counselors but he always had the last word and he took care to take those from the lower aristocracy and thus his obligees. With the king's family, servants, his guards, the great officials are constituting the court, or about 200 persons. The domination of a oral culture does not need, on a other hand, a too important administration

Views of Hincmar about the general conception of the sovereign were relatively few developed, which likely had to be linked to his Gallican opinions and to a relationship which was still few normalized with papacy hence more general views about what a prince had to be. King had to serve God as he was to also be accountable before Him for the government he had exercised. Two main powers have been instituted on Earth with the Pope and bishops, who are 'episcopos,' 'people who monitor' and kings, who are 'directors' or 'people who steer.' A king must maintain and defend Christian religion altogether with those who represent it, and especially to respect episcopal elections. A king, under himself, is establishing counts and below still judges. All of those, the king included, had to have the appropriate virtue and firmness necessary for people commanding, at the purpose of being both beloved and feared. Of note too that Hincmar was not a true proponent of a Christian Empire and, as he was the one who deviced the Treaty of Verdun, he gave his preference to a 'Republic of Christendom,' which was to be composed with friendly and brotherly states

From a pratical point of view, the good governance for a kingdom supposed, on a one hand, a orderly king's Palace -with the institution 'Palace' simply understood like the kingly home- and, on a other hand, a orderly kingdom's administration. The location where the ruler was located was itinerant albeit Charles kept alive the kingly residence in Pavia, Italy and had the Aachen palace built, which was considered a real capital city. The king's Palace consisted into the 'Palatine officers' who perform mainly domestic, clerical and judicial functions aside the sovereign. The king, the queen and their family were to be found above. Then came the officers who did not participate into the kingdom's administration, part of which were also high-ranking civil servants. As far as choosing of great, or Palatine officers was concerned, they were chosen based on their virtue and originating from diverse regions of the Empire. Each officer wa independent and only took his orders from the king (or the queen, or the royal family). Two first rank officers details of which are given below, were the Apocrisarius and the Chancellor -most of the time those through whom the other officers had to pass to present all what looked like exceeding their competence to the king. The Apocrisarius, or Arcchaplain, or the 'Warden of the Palace,' was in charge of the regular and secular ecclesiastical affairs as he was the chief of all the Palace's clerics. He mostly originally was a priest. Since Pippin the Short and Charlemagne, that office also had served like a spiritual and ethic reference for the Palace. The Archchaplain was the pope's representative to the Emperor and the chief to the Palatine School. The fact that Hincmar named him the 'apocrisarius,' the title of the pope's legate to the Byzantine emperor, is significant. The Chancellor, albeit theoretically under the command of the Apocrisarius, was independent and, due to a increased legislative activity, he acquired more importance. He was in charge of all that was legislative and the keeper to the stamp and the kingly archives. He had the help of notaries and scribes, all of them clerics. The Count of the Palace had in charge all the judiciary cases in last resort or for which a plaintiff or defendant had appealed. He was judging in equity as he conciled the lay law with God's law. His powers had increased due to the extinction of the Mayor of The Palace. His own jurisdiction knew of all secular trials, those implying the Greats excepted. He was the head to all counts, thus the head to the kingdom's administration. After that were to be found other lesser officers as a distinction settled between the Palace's officers, like the Chancelor, Bailiffs, or the Buttler, and the Imperial House's ones, like the Constable -the head of the Carolingian cavalry- and the Seneschal. All were laymen. Such lesser officers had always to be present in the Palace in a sufficient number so to provide a sufficient counsel to the king, to welcome embassies, or to protect the weak. Such officers were replaced at their death. Are part of those, the Cancellor who, with his officers, was in charge of the chancellery, or the writing of all royal decisions. Then come the Chamberman (with more details below), the Seneschal, the Buttler and the Constable. The Seneschal and Buttler, who had shared between themselves the functions of the former Mayor of the Palace, took care of the supplies (food, drink) of the court between and in his varied residences as the Constable had in charge the stables and the traveling of the officials -of which the missi. The Master of Houses was managing the king's residences in terms of housing only. Four Venators, or Hunstmen and one Falconer were in charge of hunting activities as they parted between those performed from the main kingly residence and those to come when the king resided in a other domain. At last lesser ranking officers were found with the Bailiff, Treasurer, Dispenser, Tableware Keeper who all had their own subalterns, called 'juniores' or 'decani,' like the Officers of The Hounds, Beaver Hunters and others still like chambellans, drink-purveyors, door-holders, cooks, etc.) The internal economic working of the Palace, drinking, food and the care for horses excepted, and above all the royal pomp and the yearly gifts paid by the king's vassals belonged to the Queen and the Chamberman under her command. The Chamberman was also in charge of the gifts presented by embassies except when the king commanded him to discuss and share the matter with the queen. The queen and the Chamberman had to alleviate the king's mind of all what was mere material organization. As etymologically, the Chamberman had in charge the king's chamber, that is why he had in charge the Public Revenue Department as the latter was to be found there. The royal treasure mostly served to rewards. Due to that few public finance, those who came to the yearly assembly had to bring with a gift to the king, which was customarily determined. But most of income, beyond trade duties, justice fines, sceal duties, consisted into the material products of kingly villae (which the king possessed at the number of about 60). Such a weakness of the Public Treasure was however balanced by that of spending which, for most, were made up for by domains' chore and duties. The administration of what was the closest of the king self was the charge of another set of persons. That set was divided into three classes. Those of the first class, or the 'royal servants,' were homed and feeded, on a informal basis by the great officers. Those of the second class, or the 'young men,' belonged to the miscellaneous services in the king's Palace as they were rattached to a high civil servant who served like their master. Those of the third class were the 'servants', great or small, who were sufficiently important persons however to themselves maintain other persons below them. In that count, eventually, account has to be taken too of people who came to, or left from, the Palace

All what belonged to the 'kingdom's administration,' or the political decision processes, was performed by what Hincmar calls tow yearly assemblies. A first one was what current historians are commonly calling the 'General Assembly.' That yearly assembly served to set the kingdom's governing rules for the coming year as it was gathering the clerical and lay Greats of it. Most considerable of them were deliberating and were taking decisions. Other were simply adhering to that as they could also sometime deliberate. Both had the General Assembly to also serve like the place where the Annual Gift were paid. The assembly was communicated with 'chapters,' or 'capitularies,' upon which its members were confering and examinating. Such 'chapters' was the form under which the main legal or administrative items as decided by the king self, were delivered to the assembly's members. The Assembly's members might ask for precisions as the king either was staying with the crowd of the people who came for that yearly event, or seating inside the Assembly. The General Assembly was held in the open air, or inside should the weather necessitates, inside several rooms, with some for the clerics and the others for the laymen only as both however might reunite function of the matter treated. Those deliberating in the assembly could have counsellors to participate. That General Assembly also allowed the king to get informed about what had occurred or was occurring in the Empire's provinces. Such events then could be taken in account for a discussion. Decisions of the Assembly was not binding the king as he usually obeyed them because such decisions were added with the Greats' commitment fo themselves apply them. The consent of the Assembly to more specifically legal capitularies was not considered a vote but simply the recognition that the capitulary was in accordance to law. The conflictual aspect of decisions taken by the Assembly was to develop with the weakening of the Carolingien rule, as soon as by 830 A.D. and they passed from negociated decisions to ones imposed to the ruler. The debates which were concerning the common wealth only did not draw the Greats anymore as the bishops only were. The other assembly which Hincmar mentions is what the current historians would better term the 'King's Council.' The King Council did gather the 'great and main counsellors,' or the 'first counsellors' only, as it was managing the following year's affairs which were needing a anticipated decision, or any unexpected event. The Council was in charge of the general affairs which pertained to the State, or the king's and kingdom's safety as the Council's decisions were kept secret, for cause of safety as they were ignored of people participating into the General Assembly until the latter was reunited. The General Assembly then could intervene upon some of such matters. Clerical or lay counsellors who were part of that restricted King's Council were chosen from their ethics and their fealty to the king. The King's Council also had in charge the cases which the king decided to take from the usual competence of the Count of the Palace or the other officers, or questions related to people who were attached to the King's Palace. The Chamberman and the Apocrisarius were part of the King's Council as other Palace's officers could also be invited into. Members of the Council deliberated in the same way than the members of the General Assembly, with chapters decided by the king a basis as precisions could also be asked

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