venerdì 4 settembre 2020

Where is Aquisgrana? It is found in the “Ministerium de Sancto Claudio”


Where is Aquisgrana?

It is clearly stated in the “Capitulare de Villis”


“Capitulare” is a Carolingian term that indicates the prescription of a law. The law or “capitulare” that we would like to focus on is defined as “De Villis vel Curtis Imperii”. It was enacted approximately in the year 770; it identifies the properties belonging to Charlemagne’s family and it mandates that these properties be protected and maintained exclusively for the sustenance of the royal family.

The “Capitulare de Villis” describes in detail the organization of the Ager belonging to Charlemagne and it underlines its structure that takes the shape of a pyramid, with “Ministeria”, “Curtis” e “Villae”.

It specifies in a very detailed and exhaustive manner what must be produced and raised in each “Ministerium”: it lists which crops must be cultivated and which animals must be bred, specifying even the number of animals that must be kept in the stables.

The “Capitulare” is detailed to the point of ordering the courtyards of the “Villae” to be made pleasant and elegant, with the presence of peacocks, pheasants and other charming animals.

            The management of the “Ministerium” is entrusted to a “judex” who must exercise both administrative and judicial powers and who is appointed directly by Charlemagne. “Judices” had to handle additional tasks: they had to take turns serving in the Palace and could be asked to perform various duties and even participate in military expeditions. They were obviously the highest personalities of the kingdom, tied to the king by an oath of loyalty.

            The “Capitulare de Villis” has always aroused a lot of interest in historians, but also a lot of confusion due to the list of crops that had to be cultivated in the “Ministeria”. Identifying Aquisgrana with Aachen and therefore placing it in northern Europe had the historians confused; based on the ability of growing the crops described in the law, keeping in mind that almost all of these products could be grown only in the mild Mediterranean climate, they could not figure out where the listed products were cultivated.

            The “Capitulare” states that only Charlemagne or, in his absence, his wife could impart orders in the entire “Ager”.

            We are interested not just in identifying the location where the crops described in the law had to be cultivated, but mainly in the in-depth analysis of the structure of the “Ager” as described in the “Capitulare”.

            As we analyze the document, we draw some key considerations:

1 – The “Ager” belonging to Charlemagne, given the type of products that must be cultivated in it, is located near the Mediterranean Sea.

​2 – Aquisgrana and its Palatium, the center of power given the activities that were taking place in it, had to be inside the “Ager”. Therefore, Aquisgrana had to be near the Mediterranean Sea as well.

3 – From the analysis of the documents from the High Middle Ages available to us, we realize that up until the 11th  and 12th   century the presence of “Ministeria”, “Curtis” e “Villae”, meaning the partition of the territory of Aquisgrana as described in the “Capitulare”, is found only in the areas of Macerata and Ascoli.

            We reiterate that, as they analyzed the “Capitulare de Villis”, the historians focused their attention on the type of agricultural products mentioned in the law. Since the historians had placed Aquisgrana in Aachen, in northern Germany, they had great difficulty in locating the places described in the “Capitulare”. Since the location of this “Ager” belonging to Charlemagne is strictly tied to the location of Aquisgrana, and given the fact that certain crops could not be grown in Aachen, the historians have considered Aquisgrana to be a capital that was spread out, attended by a traveling court.

            We believe that the “Capitulare de Villis” was never fully studied by the historians. We have taken the time to do that, paying particular attention on the fundamental function of the “Ager” organization, with its various “Ministeria”, which was intended for the sustenance of the king and his extended royal family and for the production and conservation of food supplies that were fundamental for the military campaigns that took place every summer.

            The quantity of animals and the abundance of the various crops bespeak a prevalent wellness and especially of a large availability of food to be used in the frequent military actions.             The efficiency of the military organization can also be seen in the prescription for the construction of the carts used to transport food supplies. The carts had to be light and waterproof, so that they could cross waterways without damaging the food.

            The “Capitulare” clearly defines the “Ager”: it describes a territory that is relatively contained, as one derives from the fact that whenever there was a dispute among citizens or between a citizen and the authorities and a citizen had to be reprimanded for reprehensible behavior, he had to walk to the court without eating. This shows that the area of the “Ager” was well defined and circumscribed.

            Every “Ministerium” was managed by a “Judex”, who is a trusted individual to whom Charlemagne gives the responsibility to run the “Ministerium”, both for administrative and legal purposes. This is a confirmation that with Charlemagne there is no trace of feudalism, rather there is a direct and trusted relationship between the king and the “Judex”, the individual managing the king’s property.

            The specification of the type and quantity of crops that needed to be cultivated, which and how many animals had to be raised, which fisheries needed to be managed and which mills had to be built, how much cooked wine was needed, it all shows a flourishing economy with a well-run system that keeps the “Curtis” and “Villae” very lively.

            The “Comes stabuli” as described in the “Capitulare” is a character of particular interest. This authoritative figure was in charge of the “Stabulum”, the area where you would find the buildings used for the breeding of various animals.

            There is a high concentration of place names in the province of Macerata that have a faunal origin, such as: Pieve Bovigliana, Pieve Taurina, Capriglia, Monte Cavallo. All these and other name places are an indication of how these areas were used for the raising of certain types of animals as prescribed in the “Capitulare”.

            We believe that for some of these buildings in the northern province of Macerata, especially those that present Syrian architectural features, we may backdate the origin. Undoubtedly, one of these is the castle in Beldiletto. Its most ancient part is a large quadrilateral structure, not far from the river stream, that seems built with the purpose of raising animals.

            Historical documents are fundamental for the reconstruction of history. Often enough, however, we see history scholars start their research relying on certain established assumptions. Instead of examining and analyzing historical sources scrupulously, historians tend to bend the facts and the meaning of the documents they are studying to fit what they believe or what they were told is a matter of fact, a notion accepted by everyone in the world of academia, a world that does not like to upset historical traditions.

            History scholars shy away from disputes that would require a deep analysis and additional studies instead of confronting with scientific proof whoever presents new theses.

sabato 22 agosto 2020

Il Crocifisso di Beirut o di Numana

 Il crocifisso di Beirut o di Numana, icona molto legata alle vicende di Carlo Magno è conservato da sempre a Numana, nelle Marche. Forse perché Aquisgrana era nel Piceno?

mercoledì 12 agosto 2020

La "Verità" per gli storici spesso è legata al: "tengo famiglia". Così sembra dirci il Prof. Enzo Mancini


                                     Dilexit  veritatem


   Grazie al Covid- 19 ho ascoltato qualche giorno fa un video di Alessandro Barbero che celebrava Marc Bloch. Barbero è un affabulatore  che riuscirebbe ad incantare i cobra con la sua parlantina spigliata. 

   Non mi è dispiaciuto. Ma il soggetto era interessante di proprio. Marc Bloch nacque a Lione, da una famiglia ebrea che veniva dall’Alsazia: da qui il cognome che suona più tedesco che francese. Anche il padre era un buon professore di storia, per cui si può considerare un figlio d’arte. Partecipò a due guerre mondiali, lasciando il segno in entrambe. Nella prima si guadagnò sul campo i gradi di capitano, cosa riuscita a pochi. Nella seconda non si imboscò nonostante avesse sei figli e cinquantatre anni. Ritornato a Lione dopo la sconfitta dei Francesi, organizzò la resistenza nella cosiddetta Repubblica di Vichy.  Fu preso dalla Gestapo l’otto marzo 1944, quando le sorti della guerra erano già segnate. Fu fucilato dai nazisti il 16 giugno , dopo più di tre mesi di prigione e torture, poco lontano da Lione.  In località “La Rouseille” vicino a Saint  Didier  de Formans,  c’è anche il suo nome nel monumento commemorativo.  Ne erano 29 a subire l’esecuzione ma due sopravvissero fingendosi morti, come a Montalto delle Marche: avevano fretta i Tedeschi in ritirata e non si fermavano a verificare il decesso effettivo.


   I medievisti attuali si sentono un po’ tutti figli di Marc Bloch, come fa intendere Barbero, soprattutto per il suo approccio multidisciplinare allo studio della Storia. Nel testamento lasciò scritto che voleva come epitaffio sulla sua tomba due semplici parole: DILEXIT VERITATEM. Nello stesso dice anche: “ Considero la compiacenza verso la menzogna, qualunque sia il pretesto di cui possa ammantarsi, la peggiore lebbra dell’anima”. Onore a Marc Bloch, ma… c’è sempre un ma.


   Nel periodo fra la prima e la seconda guerra mondiale ci fu nell’ambiente accademico europeo una querelle sul “Capitulare de Villis”, provocata da Alfons Dopsch. Questo studioso, nato prima di Bloch e morto dopo, ha dimostrato molto prima di Giovanni Carnevale che Aachen non può essere l’Aquisgrana di Carlo Magno. I tedeschi cercarono di zittirlo offrendogli una cattedra prestigiosa a Berlino, ma lui rifiutò.  Era austriaco, nato a Lovosice, Lobositz in tedesco, sotto l’impero austro- ungarico, quando non esisteva ancora la Repubblica Ceca. Il suo saggio su “Le basi economiche e sociali della civiltà europea”, pubblicato nel 1918/20, fece scuola sia a Marc Bloch che ad Henry Pirenne; ( “Mahomet et Charlemagne” di quest’ultimo fu pubblicato postumo nel 1937, due anni dopo la sua morte).


   Vengo al succo di quello che volevo dire. Marc Bloch nella sua “revue historique” sminuì quanto detto da Dopsch.  Disse che non cambiava  sostanzialmente la storia del Medioevo se Aquisgrana invece che ad Aachen stava un poco più a sud, ma certamente sempre in Francia, nel”nido dei Franchi”. In parole povere Bloch contraddice platealmente se stesso, anche lui affetto da nazionalismo francese. Nella sua testa mai e poi mai avrebbe potuto pensare ad una Aquisgrana in Italia.


   Chi tesse le lodi di Marc Bloch secondo giustizia dovrebbe farlo anche per Alfons Dopsch, perché anche lui “dilexit veritatem” e senza contraddirsi. Invece viene platealmente ignorato. Per quale peccato? Aver scritto che nell’VIII secolo Aachen non poteva essere Aquisgrana, quasi un secolo fa. Ma in Germania sia prima che dopo Hitler hanno fatto finta di niente. NON DILEXERUNT VERITATEM. Salvo rare eccezioni.


   Mancini Enzo


Macerata  28 luglio 2020