IL DNA: LA CHIAVE DEL MISTERO

LA TIPIZZAZIONE DEL DNA E IL VOSTRO ALBERO GENEALOGICO

Per The Auramala Project l’esame del Dna rappresenta un elemento chiave per la risoluzione del mistero. Voglio offrirvi oggi una breve, e spero anche interessante, panoramica degli elementi di genetica contenuti nel test. Leggete se siete curiosi di scoprire come poter essere coinvolti nella ricerca di persona!

Il DNA mitocondriale è presente in ogni cellula del corpo, resta inalterato di generazione in generazione e si trasmette di madre in figlio, ma non di padre in figlio. Quindi io, le mie sorelle e mio fratello abbiamo tutti l’mtDNA di nostra madre. Ma io e mio fratello non l’abbiamo trasmesso ai nostri figli che riceveranno invece il DNA mitocondriale di mia moglie. Le mie sorelle potranno trasmettere il loro ai loro figli, così che tutti i nipoti che avrò dalle mie sorelle avranno l’mtDNA di nostra madre. Se saranno delle nipoti femmine, lo potranno trasmettere a loro volta, e così via. Perciò, seguendo la linea che va di madre in figlia risalendo fino alla madre di Edoardo II, possiamo isolare la sua molecola di mtDNA che ha ricevuto dalla madre ma che non ha potuto passare ai suoi figli.

mtDNA

La buona notizia è che con una semplice ricerca genealogica chiunque può scoprire se è portatore della stessa molecola di mtDNA di Edoardo II, risalendo ai suoi diretti antenati in linea materna. Una volta determinati i discendenti del re da parte di madre, possiamo confrontare la loro molecola di mtDNA con quella del corpo che si ritiene essere quello di Edoardo II, posto in una tomba nella Cattedrale di Gloucester. Se le due molecole combaciano significa che quello non è il corpo di Edoardo II, a meno che lui fosse stato un bimbo scambiato alla nascita (improbabile data la palese somiglianza con il padre).

Che probabilità c’è che siate voi i portatori della speciale molecola di mtDNA?

Sorprendentemente è piuttosto probabile. In realtà tutti siamo statisticamente discendenti di Edoardo II e di tutti gli altri abitanti dell’Inghilterra in quel periodo storico; ovviamente, essere discendenti in linea femminile diretta è più raro, ma ci saranno comunque più casi di quanti possiate immaginare.

Perché abbiamo bisogno che molte persone partecipino al progetto?

Innanzitutto perché è entusiasmante, e vogliamo condividere con voi questo entusiasmo. In secondo luogo perché i genealogisti sono esseri umani, e possono commettere errori. Potremmo scoprire che non tutte le persone che pensano di essere discendenti in linea femminile della madre di Edoardo II effettivamente lo sono. Se è stato fatto un errore nel determinare la linea diretta femminile in un qualche punto del loro albero genealogico, non avranno lo stesso mtDNA della madre di Edoardo II. Secondo le mie previsioni circa il 5 o il 10 per cento scoprirà di avere le molecole di mtDNA diverso da quello degli altri. Se avessimo dovuto seguire la linea maschile, la percentuale sarebbe stata invece molto più alta, proprio perché, come dicevano i Romani, mater semper certa est, pater umquam (la madre è sempre certa, il padre mai). Il restante 90/95 per cento condividerà un’unica molecola di mtDNA, che sarà quella della madre di Edoardo II, e quindi quella di Edoardo stesso. A quel punto la si confronterà con l’mtDNA estratto dai resti contenuti nella tomba a Gloucester per ottenere un risultato. Quello sarà davvero un gran giorno!

Vogliamo forse profanare tombe?

Tutti noi di The Auramala Project desideriamo precisare che non rientra nei nostri piani il profanare tombe! Anzi, la nostra intenzione è di proporre alle autorità che decideranno se l’ultimo stadio del Progetto potrà avere luogo, un approccio innovativo e non invasivo. Vorremmo utilizzare la tecnologia e i metodi presi in prestito dalla procedura chirurgica non invasiva nota come laparoscopia o intervento “buco della serratura”. Questo permetterebbe di svolgere i controlli necessari causando un danno trascurabile allo stato fisico e sacrale della tomba. Si potrebbero tranquillamente utilizzare le micro fessure che si sono aperte nella tomba nel corso di questi sette secoli per cause naturali (cambiamenti del tasso di umidità, temperatura, pressione barometrica).

La scelta di questa metodologia è per noi rilevante in quanto nasce dal desiderio di riservare alle sacre reliquie il dovuto rispetto. Personalmente, sarei sconvolto al pensiero che la mia tomba venisse profanata in qualche modo nel futuro, e ancora più turbato se fosse uno dei miei discendenti a farlo. La tomba di Re Edoardo II nella Cattedrale di Gloucester, inoltre, è anche uno dei più alti esempi di scultura del XIV secolo in Inghilterra e nessuno è più sensibile di noi al valore della conservazione del patrimonio artistico. Le tombe non sono state costruite per essere aperte, e vorremmo che questa non facesse eccezione.

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Quella volta che in cui Edward ha lasciato a casa le catapulte

Probabilmente la cosa più nota di tutto il regno di Edoardo II è la sua sconfitta da parte degli scozzesi, alla grande battaglia di Bannockburn, nel 1314, che rese la Scozia a tutti gli effetti un paese indipendente per diversi anni. In fatti di guerra, Edward era il contrario di suo padre, Edward I, il cosiddetto ‘martello della Scozia’, che effettivamente sottomise gran parte di quel paese, e anche di suo figlio, Edward III, che avrebbe intrapreso con successo la Guerra dei Cento Anni contro la Francia, portando i suoi eserciti a vittorie leggendarie come le battaglie di Sluys, Crécy e Poitiers. Il nostro Edward non era un grande generale, e a parte qualche battaglia minore, perse quasi sempre. Addirittura, nel 1319 per liberare Berwick-upon-Tweed dagli scozzesi, cinse la città d’assedio – dimenticandosi di portare le macchine d’assedio! Sicuramente, avrebbe preferito mantenere sempre la pace, su questo non ci piove. Più volte rimandò campagne contro la Scozia, e le poche volte che mostrò grandi abilità politiche e diplomatiche per lo più o cercava di aiutare un suo favorito di corte oppure cercava di evitare scontri bellici. Tutto questo contribuì a creare la pessima fama che ha perseguito Edward attraverso i secoli. Nel medioevo, ci si aspettava da un re soprattutto capacità militari, e la sua popolarità sia con i contemporanei che con i posteri dipendeva soprattutto dai suoi successi sul campo di battaglia. Basta pensare a Re Riccardo I, Cuor di Leone. Lasciò suo regno nei guai economici e politici più profondi, ma in quanto grande combattente viene ricordato da tutti. Infatti, c’è un lato positivo di questo aspetto del carattere di Edward: fare la guerra era costosissima, e mentre suo padre gli lascio l’Inghilterra con gravi debiti, Edward alla fine del suo regno lasciò le casse della corona in ottimo stato. Certo, da buon pacifista, la vita da eremita tra le verdi colline dell’Oltrepò Pavese in Italia, come viene descritto nella Lettera Fieschi, gli sarà sicuramente piaciuta…

The Hunt for the King 36) Mapping the Fieschi Power Network

(Click here for an explanation of what ‘benefices’ and ‘prebends’ mean, and how Manuele Fieschi was involved with them)

In this post we begin by publishing the map of Manuele Fieschi’s own benefices (green – the map includes Vercelli, where he later became Bishop, and Milan where he was named papal legate in 1348) and of the benefices he assisted others in obtaining (black). (35) We reiterate that the dioceses in black, where Manuele Fieschi was named executor for the benefices of others, indicate locations where noblemen or men of wealth had directly nominated him to assist them in gaining prebends. The international network of prebends was a lucrative business, with annual incomes in the order of 20 pounds and often much more at stake for each prebend. This means that in these dioceses there were people who had ties with Manuele Fieschi, and trusted him to further their causes.

Manuele Fieschi
Manuele Fieschi’s own benefices (green – the map includes Vercelli, where he later became bishop, and Milan where he was named papal legate in 1348) and the benefices for which he was named executor (black). Approximately half of the dioceses feature multiple nominations, especially Genoa (11 nominations), Lucca (8), Liége (7), Constance, Milan and Nicosea (6 each), Paphos and Piacenza (5 each) Brescia, Cambrai, Cuma, Tortona, Tours (4 each) and many more feature 3 and 2 nominations each.

It is immediately plain that these benefices are not evenly distributed across 14th century Christendom. Indeed, many regions of the map are almost blank (such as Spain, Ireland and Southern Italy) while other specific areas feature clusters, especially taking into account the dioceses containing multiple benefices (northern and central Italy, Cyprus, the Low Countries and England). What determined this distribution? What enabled people in these locations to feel they should entrust Manuele Fieschi in particular with their applications for benefices? While examining the papal letters, we noticed that the same dioceses frequently recurred within the household of Cardinal Luca Fieschi. Therefore, we constructed a similar map showing only the benefices directly held by members of the Cardinal’s household, using only provisions and conferrals of benefices in the papal letters where it is specifically stated that the benefice was given to the individual in so far as he was a member of the cardinal’s household. (36)

Luca Fieschi Familia
Manuele Fiechi’s benefices are once again in green, those of other members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household are in black. Here, too, there were many dicoeses featuring multiple benefices, in particular Genoa (20 benefices), Liége (11), Milan (5), York, Salisbury, Tortona and Piacenza (4), Lincoln, Cambrai, Reggio Emilia and Luni (3).

It is clear that the primary clusters on this map overlap with those on the map of Manuele Fieschi’s benefices and activity as executor. These clusteres are located in northern Italy, central Italy, the southern Low Countries, England, France and – in the case of the first map – Cyprus. Was Manuele Fieschi’s activity as executor and his holding of benefices directly correlated to his relationship with Cardinal Luca Fieschi, and through their family connections with the broader Genoese community? We believe that this must be the case. Let us examine these connections region by region.

England

In addition to the long standing historical ties between the house of Plantagenet and the house of Fieschi (as illustrated in a previous post), Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s first benefice was a canonry of Lichfield, conferred in 1297, followed by a prebend of Winchester worth 40 marks per annum in 1304. (37) That these benefices were kept within the same family over time is further evidenced by the fact that the former was previously held by Cardinal Luca’s brother Brancaleone Fieschi, and the latter by his cousin Leonardo Fieschi. (38) In 1317-1318 Cardinal Luca was a papal legate in England with Cardinal Gaucelme Duèse, nephew of Pope John XXII and head of the papal chancery in that moment.(39) Furthermore, the Republic of Genoa and its most important families had extensive trading interests in England, in particular in port cities like Boston (coinciding with the diocese of Lincoln, where the Fieschi family held benefices), Southampton (coinciding with the diocese of Winchester, where Cardinal Luca Fieschi held a prebend), Kingston-upon-Hull (coinciding with the diocese of York, where Manuele Fieschi and other members of the family held benefices) and many more. (40) Cardinal Luca was related by marriage to virtually all of the important trading families of Genoa, such as the Grimaldi, Spinola, Doria, Boccanegra, de Mari, Malocelli, di Negro and Gentili. (41) Members of several of these families were in the household of Cardinal Luca. (42) The senior members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household all held English benefices in one or more of these English dioceses, including Manuele Fieschi.

Cyprus

At least since 1232, the Republic of Genoa and many important Genoese families had invested in the creation of numerous and propserous trading colonies on the island of Cyprus. (43) As already observed regarding England, on the island of Cyprus there is a direct correlation between the presence of Genoese trading interests and the possession of ecclesiastical benefices by people who nominated Manuele Fieschi as their executor. Indeed, throughout the period, Manuele Fieschi is the person most often nominated as executor for benefices in the entire island. (44)

The southern Low Countries

Historically, the southern Low Countries as frequented by Genoese traders constituted an area “corresponding with the present-day French regions of Picardy and Nord-Pas-deCalais, and the Belgian regions of western and eastern Flanders, of Antwerp and Brabant and the Dutch region of Zeeland: an area that therefore extended from the river Somme to the present-day mouth of the river Meuse (Hollands Diep)”. (45) The major port cities serving this region, Sluis and Bruges, saw the arrival of Genoese merchant galleys from 1277 onwards. The entire region was an industrial powerhouse where imported English wool was transformed into cloth and traded throughout Christendom and beyond, very often with the intermediation and transport of Genoese galleys. (46) The dense cluster of some 23 Fieschi family prebends in precisely this region (especially Liége, Cambrais, Tournai, Arras) cannot be a coincidence, and all the senior members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household are represented, including Manuele Fieschi, Antonio Fieschi, Antonio da Biella, Bernabò Malaspina and many more. Furthermore, three members of Cardinal Luca’s household were from Liége, as detailed in his testament. (47)

There can be no doubt that England and Flanders together represent the overseas ‘strongholds’ of the Fieschi family as an ecclesiastical network, corresponding with the economic interests of their numerous allies and relations within the Republic of Genoa. We can therefore deduce that Cardinal Luca Fieschi, Manuele Fieschi and their family represented an important intermediary for Geneoese business interests within the Catholic church. One of the ‘Prague Letters’ addressed to Cardinal Luca confirms this deduction. In it, the Republic of Genoa request that Cardinal Luca support the efforts of Genoese ambassadors at the papal Curia in negotiations related to commerce (in this case with Egypt). (48)

In the specific case of Brabant, Cardinal Luca Fieschi had close political and personal ties with Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, whose wife was Margaret of Brabant. Cardinal Luca had been one of three cardinal legates accompanying Henry VII during his Italian expedition of 1311 – 1313, participating in the Imperial coronation in 1312. Margaret of Brabant, accompanied the expedition, dying in Genoa in 1311, where she was buried in the same church, San Francesco di Castelletto, as Niccolò Fieschi, father of Cardinal Luca. (49)

Italy

Cardinal Luca’s diplomatic mission as papal legate to Henry VII began with negotiations to end the imperial siege of Brescia in 1311, where he achieved an accord that was considered most satisfactory by the comune. (50) It cannot be a coincidence that in 1317 Cardinal Luca’s cousin Percivalle Fieschi was nominated Bishop of Brescia (Manuele’s first cousin, he accompanied Cardinal Luca on his mission as legate to England in 1317 – 1318, and later became Bishop of Tortona, the diocese in which the Abbey of Sant’Alberto of Butrio is found). The mission continued to Genoa and then central Italy, particularly the region that is now Tuscany, where Cardinal Luca, already in possession of a number of prebends in the diocese of Viterbo, was frequently involved in negotiations with Florence, Pisa, Lucca and other cities of the region. (51) Indeed, Cardinal Luca had received luxurious gifts from the comune of Florence already in 1305, on his way to the conclave that elected pope Clement V, and one of the ‘Prague letters’ addressed to the cardinal confirms his ties with this city were still strong in 1325. (52) Emperor Henry VII also invested Cardinal Luca Fieschi and his brothers with the fief of Pontremoli in 1313, some few kilometres from Mulazzo, in a region controlled by the Malaspina family into which two of his sisters (Alagia and Fiesca) had married. (53) As far as ties with Piacenza, Parma and other cities of what is now Emilia Romagna is concerned, several members of Cardinal Luca’s household were from this region, and the ‘Prague Letters’ addressed to the cardinal reveal close ties in particular with the city of Piacenza. (54) Indeed, Fieschi family links with the area dated back to Obizzo Fieschi, Bishop of Parma from 1194 to 1224, and Sinibaldo Fieschi, later Pope Innocent IV, who was under the tutelage of Obizzo in Parma as a child and later studied law at Bologna. (55) In Cardinal Luca’s day, this bond with Parma city was re-confirmed with the marriage of the cardinal’s niece, Ginetta Fieschi, to Pietro dei Rossi, an influential Guelph family of Parma, and lords also of Pontremoli after Cardinal Luca and his brothers. (56) Other associations between the Fieschi family and cities of northern Italy are too numerous to detail here, but two cities merit special attention. In the case of Vercelli, Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s long-standing chamberlain Antonio da Biella was from this diocese, and the cardinal soon promoted his own physician, Venturino de Garganis, to Canon of Vercelli, where later Manuele Fieschi himself was to become bishop. (57) Due to its wealth and importance and position, Vercelli was a fundamental diocese in relation to Milan, home of the agressive and ambitious Visconti family. In 1331 Isabella Fieschi, Cardinal Luca’s niece, married Luchino Visconti, who later became ruler of the city and its dominions. As we will detail in later posts, Manuele Fieschi was to be named papal legate to Luchino Visconti in 1348, no doubt chosen due to this family tie, and because he was the Bishop of an important nearby diocese. (58)

Hungary and Poland

Though Cardinal Luca Fieschi himself seems to have had no personal ties with Hungary and Poland, the small clusters of benefices for which Manuele Fieschi was named executor in these two countries may be explained by a mission as papal legate of Cardinal Gentile da Montefiore, close associate of Cardinal Luca, created cardinal on the same occasion in 1300 and member of the same pro-Boniface VIII faction. (59) In 1307 he was sent on a papal diplomatic mission to Hungary and Poland. (60) We may speculate that, through this friendship with Cardinal Luca Fieschi, he arranged for a number of benefices in this area to be conferred, which came about with the help of Manuele Fieschi.

France

Although not clustered together in the manner of other geographic areas, there are nevertheless numerous Fieschi benefices scattered throughout France. Fieschi family ties with France dated back at least to the period of Sinibaldo Fieschi’s ‘exile’ at Lyon during the reign of King Louis IX, when – it is surely no coincidence – Manuele Fieschi’s grandfather, Giacomo Fieschi, was named Grand Marshall of France. (61) To this we may add the constant presence of both Cardinal Luca and Manuele Fieschi at the Curia in Avignon, and Cardinal Luca was also canon of Paris. (62) Furthermore, during his mission to England in 1317 – 1318, Cardinal Luca was entrusted by Pope John XXII with gifts of benefices to members of the household of Isabella of France, sister of the King of France, Queen of England and wife of King Edward II. A number of dioceses in France and the Low Countries are specified for these benefices, nearly all of which feature on our maps. (63) We may speculate that it was through these associations that Cardinal Luca secured his network of benefices and prebends for his household and their allies throughout France.

Sweden

The two benefices in Sweden for which Manuele Fieschi was named executor present an outlying curiosity. However, they assist us in confirming the thesis that the benefices featured on our maps are connected, in one way or other, with Cardinal Luca’s own network of contacts. Indeed, during the papacy of Clement V, Luca Fieschi was called upon to examine the appointment of Nils Kettilsson as archbishop of Uppsala. (64) In 1332 and 1333, a notary called Jacopo di Eusebio da Biella accompanied papal legate Pierre Gervais to Sweden and Norway. (65) Perhaps it is no coincidence that Jacopo di Eusebio was from the same city in the diocese of Vercelli, Biella, as Cardinal Luca’s chamberlain Antonio da Biella, and that Jacopo was later to accompany Manuele Fieschi himself on his papal mission to Milan in 1348, where he drew up Manuele’s testament at the monastery of Sant’Ambrogio. (66)

In summary

By contrast, where we have no evidence of close ties with the house of Fieschi or with the Genoese more generically, the map is blank. Therefore, it can be said with a high degree of certainty that this map represents in terms of ecclesiastic benefices the network of power, trade and friendships of the Genoese in general and of the Fieschi family in particular – through Cardinal Luca Fieschi and his extensive household. This confirms that Manuele Fieschi did not act as an individual at the papal court, but rather that his activities tended to embrace and enhance his family and their interests. Is it possible that the Fieschi Letter, even though it does not mention other members of the family, or the family as an entity, is just as closely related to the Fieschi power network as Manuele’s own activities at the Curia? In order to answer this question, we super imposed the itinerary of King Edward II as described in the Fieschi Letter on the two maps above. For now, we will allow readers to consider the possible significance of this for themselves, and we will leave our own thoughts on the matter for our next post.

Manuele Fieschi and Edward II Itinerary
The itinerary of Edward II as described in the Fieschi Letter (red), super-imposed on the map of Manuele Fieschi’s benefices, and the benefices for which he was named executor.
Luca Fieschi Familia and Edward II Itinerary
The itinerary of Edward II as described in the Fieschi Letter (red) super-imposed on the map of benefices held by Cardinal Luca Fieschi and members of his household.

(35) For the locations of Manuele’s own benefices, see notes 1,3,4,5,7,15,19,21,23,24,25,27,28,29. The complete list of papal letters pertaining to his activity as executor for the benefices of others is: Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 1877, 2697, 2698, 2700, 2701, 2712, 9734, 12378, 16242, 19748, 19895, 19896, 20624, 20668, 20669, 20757, 20862, 21219, 21758, 21759, 23478, 23546, 23709, 24157, 24544, 25978, 26203, 26204, 26205, 26206, 26700, 26701, 26790, 26906, 27127, 27334, 27335, 27480, 27481, 27736, 27738, 27763, 28120, 28183, 28238, 28239, 28293, 28856, 28869, 28987, 28988, 29215, 29253, 29255, 29589, 30258, 30259, 30261, 30554, 30565, 30624, 30625, 30734, 30740, 30747, 30857, 30995, 40108, 40123, 40191, 40192, 40219, 40954, 41133, 41140, 41621, 41712, 42182, 42816, 42888, 42889, 43034, 43112, 43115, 43116, 43498, 43575, 43654, 43719, 43903, 43996, 43997, 44105, 44160, 44263, 44596, 44597, 44706, 44744, 44813, 45007, 45127, 46072, 46076, 46589, 46811, 46812, 46971, 46972, 47128, 47596, 47606, 47685, 47750, 47814, 48459, 48462, 48618, 48620, 49084, 49386, 50172, 50404, 51252, 51336, 51713, 51814, 52076, 52214, 52305, 52422, 52432, 52478, 53080, 53450, 53451, 53582, 53789, 53823, 53851, 53894, 54365, 54456, 54494, 54884, 55161, 55769, 55895, 55905, 55907, 56021, 56167, 56586, 56824, 57020, 57674, 57819, 58106, 58258, 58261, 58532, 58533, 58628, 58833, 59296, 59314, 59315, 59317, 59815, 59991, 60643, 60644, 60645, 60646, 60651, 60652, 60672, 60777, 60778, 60994, 61079, 61483, 61586, 61844, 62612, 62801, 63080, 63316, 63769, 64213, 64296, 64321, 64360; and Georges Daumet, Benoit XII (1334-1342); Lettres closes, patentes et curiales se rapportant а la France, Paris, 1899-1922, No. 125, 284, 370, 443, 445, 465, 480, 520, 535, 626, 633, 639, 832, 833, 834, 867, 891, 892, 1138, 2696, 2722, 2849, 2850, 2971, 4143, 4221, 4253, 4289, 5365, 5477, 5604, 5644, 5661, 5790, 6872, 6874, 7483, 7841, 8543, 8609.

(36) The complete list of papal letters pertaining to the benefices of members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household is : Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 1701, 2139, 2140, 2141, 2142, 2143, 2144, 2145, 2146, 2147, 2148, 2149, 2150, 2151, 2152, 2153, 2154, 2155, 2156, 2157, 2158, 2159, 2160, 2161, 2162, 2163, 2164, 2165, 2166, 2167, 2168, 2169, 2170, 2171, 2172, 2173, 2174, 2175, 2176, 2177, 2234, 2575, 2807, 2808, 2810, 3278, 3279, 3280, 3706, 3713, 7212, 7241, 7341, 9398, 9415, 9732, 9734, 9736, 9741, 9753, 9756, 9767, 9768, 9769, 9773, 9775, 11354, 11896, 12379, 12489, 12699, 14517, 14518, 15112, 16819, 16820, 16980, 18055, 19588, 20827, 21059, 21177, 26588, 28693, 30559, 40953, 51336, 51855, 52076, 52314, 57914, 59296, 60994, 61003, 61046, 61698, 63438, 63691, 63769, and Georges Daumet, Benoit XII (1334-1342); Lettres closes, patentes et curiales se rapportant а la France, Paris, 1899-1922, No. 125, 403, 411, 443, 465, 469, 480, 501, 505, 506, 520, 527, 535, 891, 892, 1138, 1159, 2649, 2696, 2722, 2735, 5286, 7579.

(37) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, pages 12-18.

(38) Thérèse Boesplfug, Luca Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 47, Treccani, 1997.

(39) Harry Bresslau, Manuale di diplomatica per la Germania e l’Italia, Rome, 1998, page 232.

(40) Angelo Nicolini, Commercio marittimo genovese in Inghilterra nel Medioevo (1280-1495), in ‘Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria vol. 121, 1’, Genoa 2007 and also Angelo Nicolini, “Merchauntes of Jeane”. Genovesi in Inghilterra nel Medioevo (secc XII-XVI)  in ‘Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria vol. 123, 2’, Genoa 2009.

(41) Natale Battilana, Genealogie delle famiglie nobili di Genova, Genoa, 1825

(42) See papal letters given in note 36 and also Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 100-107

(43) Benjamin Arbel, Traffici marittimi e sviluppo urbano a Cipro (secoli XIII-XVI)” [Maritime Traffic and Urban Development in Cyprus (13th-16th Centuries)], in E.Poleggi (ed.), Città portuali del Mediterraneo (Genoa: SAGEP Editrice, 1989), pp. 89-94. For the presence of Genoese benefice holders in Cyprus at the time of Manuele Fieschi see Wipertus Rudt de Collenberg, Le choix des exйcuteurs dans les bulles de provision au XIVe siиcle (d’aprиs les bulles accordйes а Chypre par les papes d’Avignon) in Mélanges de l’Ecole francaise de Rome. Moyen-Age, Temps modernes, Année 1980, volume 92, pages 393-440.

(44) Wipertus Rudt de Collenberg, Le choix des exйcuteurs dans les bulles de provision au XIVe siиcle (d’aprиs les bulles accordйes а Chypre par les papes d’Avignon) in Mélanges de l’Ecole francaise de Rome. Moyen-Age, Temps modernes, Année 1980, volume 92, pages 393-440.

(45) Angelo Nicolini, Commercio marittimo genovese nei Paesi Bassi Meridionali nel Medioevo in ‘Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria’ vol. 121, 2., Genoa 2007.

(46) Ibidem.

(47) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 101 – 102.

(48) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, letter no. 5.

(49) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, page 15.

(50) Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 4515, 6398 and 22429.

(51) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 57 – 63.

(52) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 53 – 56 and Prague Letter no. 7.

(53) Eliana M. Vecchi, Legami consortili fra i Malaspina e Genova nell’età di Dante, in ‘Memorie dell’Accademia lunigianese di scienze e lettere “G. Capellini” ‘, LXXV (2005), pages 229-252.

(54) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 100 – 107 and letters no. 2, 19, 24.
(55) Gabriella Zanella,
Obizzo Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 47, Treccani, 1997, and Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Sinibaldo Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 62, Treccani, 2004.
(56) Giovanni Nuti,
Carlo Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 47, Treccani, 1997.
(57) Guillaume Mollat, 
Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 7341, 29258.
(58) E. Déprez, J. Glénisson, and G. Mollat, Lettres closes,patentes et curiales se rapportant à la France, Paris 1901-1959, No. 3882, 3883, 3884, and 3888.
(59) Hledìkova Zdenka, 
Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 53 – 56.
(60) Laura Gaffuri,
Gentile da Montefiore in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’ – volume 53, Treccani, 2000.
(61) Daniele Calcagno,
Il patriarca di Antiochia Opizzo Fieschi, diplomatico di spicco per la Santa Sede fra Polonia, Oriente Latino e Italia del XIII secolo, in ‘I Fieschi tra Papato e Impero, Atti del convegno (Lavagna, 18 dicembre 1994), Lavagna 1997, pages 145 – 268.
(62)
Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, pages 12 – 17.
(63) Guillaume Mollat, 
Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 3133, 3134, 3135, 3136, 3137, 3138, 3139, 3140.
(64) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio,
Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, page 14.
(65) Paul Riant,
Expéditions et pèlerinages des Scandinaves en Terre Sainte au temps des croisades, Paris, 1865.
(66) Archivio Capitolare di Vercelli, Atti Privati 1347-1348, extract of the testament of Manuele Fieschi, original parchment.

The Hunt for the King 28) Two professors discuss the transcription of the Fieschi Letter

Elena Corbellini and Stefano Castagneto, together with myself the principle researchers of the historical side of the Auramala Project, are two old friends of mine who, however, had never been in touch with one another over the last three years. I had intentionally maintained a ‘double-blind’ between them in order to have two separate interpretations of the Letter from two experts with different backgrounds, to keep the overall work of the Auramala Project as sharp, critical-minded and objective as possible. The ‘double-blind’ between Elena Corbellini (EC) and Stefano Castagneto (SC) was recently interrupted, first when Stefana Castagneto read the complete analysis of the Fieschi Letter to date and sent me six pages of notes and observations on it, and then by an animated, 90-minute-long phone call between the two. In the next few posts we report the gist, the essential outcome of their conversation (a full trasncription would be dozens of pages long!). This first part regards the transcription of the Fieschi Letter we posted some months ago, and which will soon be updated slightly as a result of this debate. What follows are extracts of Elena Corbellini’s transcription of her conversation with Stefano Castagneto.

Ivan Fowler [Ed.]

1. Doubtful readings

SC – Your analysis is excellent in general, with the descriptions of the codex and the hypotheses. The new transcription which corresponds line for line is very helpful. I had seen a previous one full of mistakes, and with strange numbers inserted…

EC – Thank you. The transcription you had seen was derived from that of Cuttino and Lyman, but with mistakes introduced perhaps by during copying, or during the printing of the article (…), just as those ‘strange numbers’ were actually the notes inserted by the authors… And yet that transcription gets around… The other one used seems to be Germain’s original, but even that contained a few errors; and in both of them I found ‘solutions’ for doubtful readings that were, in my opinion, a little too casual. That is why I created a new transcription, though bearing in mind the previous two, especially where they were in agreement and I had no alternative solution. Let’s talk about your observations and readings that differ from mine [in bold in the text below, Ed.], that you recently posted to Ivan.

l.2 : ad vestram, instead of ad vestri; intimare, instead of intimari. I absolutely agree with both of these. I accepted Germain’s and Cuttino and Lyman’s solutions by distraction (facilitated by the vestri in the line above for the former, and by the frequent use of the passive tense in this expression): real copyist’s mistakes!

l.8: perhaps fuiste (coronatus) [“you were crowned”, Ed.] instead of fuistis, a form already in use in documents of this era. I have some doubts about this: the abbreviation seems to me the same as that for the definite cases of ‘-us’ and ‘-is’. We’ll come back to the following words (in proximiori festo) [“in proximity to the feast”, in other words, the day(s) before the feast, Ed.] later.

l. 10: the ‘o’ in Gornay appears to have a circumflex above it. That would be interesting, but to me it looks more like a flourish of the pen, as other cases of apparent final abbreviations. You, too, hypothesised as much for l.32-33 for Alamania(m) [“Germany”, Ed.] and Lombardia(m) [“Lombardy”, Ed.], but it’s definitely better, as you say, to remove the brackets from the desinences.

At l.12 you suggested to signal the use of notis instead of noctis [“night”, Ed.] in the expression hora quasi noctis [“at the hour almost of night”, in other words at dusk, Ed.] but it doesn’t seem at all strange to me either from the spelling or the phonetic point of view, considering the era the Letter was written. Was there a particular reason?

SC – Yes, in my opinion it shows the influence of the Genoese tongue, rather than the copyist’s neglect. You find the expression Quasi de note [“almost at night”, Ed.] already in 13th century Ligurian documents… just as I believe the expression supra mare [“over the sea”, Ed.] in l.5 also shows the influence of the Genoese tongue. In eastern Liguria, from Chiavari on, we say supra o maa, or similar.

EC–….. And the Fieschi homeland was just inland from Chiavari… But we’re getting distracted with the historical and linguistic analysis of the text. Our historical considerations have already been mostly published [see posts 27, 25, 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, in the sequence ‘The Hunt for the King’, Ed.], while the linguistic analysis will be the subject of a future post. In any case, your suggestions are extremely useful.

SC– And then there is l.28, dato uno floreno [“having given a (or one) floren”, Ed.]: I read it as dato uno florenum, because I see an abbreviation. Therefore, dato uno intended as an adverbial locution, without declension. But I’m not sure.

EC – I interpreted that as a flourish, not an abbreviation, because it seems unlikely that a notary (or a copyist/notary like that of Maguelone) could make a mistake in such a frequent grammatical construction as the absolute ablative. We can mention it in a note.

SC – As with what you wrote for l. 30….. that when considering the possible reading of post tractatus diversos consideratos [“after considering various discussions”, Ed.] which would also make sense, it was better to maintain the formula consideratis omnibus [“all things considered”, Ed.], and read the addition in the interlinear space as an omnibus [“all things”, Ed.] and not as a sibi [“for himself”, Ed.] to be linked with the following recepta licentia [“received licence”, Ed.]

ECl.8 :in proximiori festo. At the beginning and at the end of the notes you recently posted, you devoted a great deal of time to the interpretation of this sintagma, making various observations. I, too, harboured doubts about it, but Germain and Cuttino and Lyman were in agreement on this form, and it seemed possible from the historical and linguistic point of view, with the comparative use of proximus, whose original value of a superlative preposition had long since been lost. And so, Manuele Fieschi was reminding Edward III that he had been crowned soon after his father’s deposition on the feast day proximiori, in other words ‘closest’ or ‘close to’ Candlemas. However, the doubts you expressed brought my own doubts back to mind. Which is only natural in this kind of research, where easy solutions are few and far between.

SC – Reading from the photocopy I had, the in seemed too close to the p/pro-, and so I read it as a single word, perhaps a participle, an impro(p)ente festo/impropenti festo… In proximity to the feast of Candlemas (monday 2 February, 1327).

EC – However, the English sources are clear and in agreement about the date of Edward III’s coronation. And if one magnifies the text using the computer, one can see the ‘x’ clearly attached to the abbreviated ‘pro-‘. Proximiori or proximo, I would say.

SC – Looking at it with that contraption Ivan brought, I read something like that myself…

EC – Contraption? You mean his tablet? I see you’re even less technological than me…

SC – I’m still using a typewriter, but I prefer to write by hand. By the way, did you know that the Genoese were given the right to celebrate the feast of Candlemas already in one of Charlemagne’s capitularies? Pavia 856, if memory serves, and then…

(After a long stream of dates documents and references to studies from the 19th century…)

EC – … And what do you read at the beinning of l.34? Milasci or Milasti? And would you identify it as Melazzo di Acqui or Mulazzo in Lunigiana?

SCMilasci, but even if it was Milasti it would still have become Milazzo or Melazzo in Italian. I would investigate further in the acts of the diocese of Acqui, which are well preserved and easy to consult.

EC – Excluding the identification with “Milazzo” in Sicily, which the early researchers proposed (from Lombardy to Sicily???) there is still the possibility of another location in north-western Italy with this name, that we have not yet discovered. The hypothesis of Mulazzo was first proposed by Ian Mortimer. Within the Auramala Project, it is firmly sustained, as you know well, by Ivan.

SC – I on the other hand would exclude Mulazzo on the basis of the reading and linguistic evolution: an “I” cannot become a “U”. And then, just a month ago, I chanced to read that Muratori [a famous collator of Italian Medieval and Renaissance chronicles, Ed.] corresponded with a Marquis of Mulazzo… if there was something concerning Edward II in the latter’s archives, he must surely have mentioned it. And then there are the wars… Robert of Anjou, the Marquis of Monferrato… [According to the Fieschi Letter, “Milasci” was overrun by war two and a half years after Edward II’s arrival, and this must be taken into consideration in identifying this location, Ed.]

After talking at length about the historical context, the main players in the story, the historical sources form the period and such, we came back to the text of the Fieschi Letter to discuss the corrections present in the text, but that will be the subject of the next post in the series.

As far as the transcription of the Letter is concerned, readers of this blog, experts and non, are more than welcome to comment and inquire. At a later date we will proceed to update the transcription, taking into account all the comments and observations that have been made.

Elena Corbellini.

The Search for Edward II’s Descendants 9) – An Exciting New Contribution from a Reader

Just a few days ago, via our good friend Kathryn Warner, a superb genealogist dealing with the medieval period got in touch with us to share his research on the matrilineal line descending from Eleanor of Castile, carrying the same mitochondrial DNA as King Edward II. His name is Kevin McKenzie, and as well as being a sollicitor, he says “I have been a pretty obsessive genealogist since my early teens!”

Kevin wrote to us with his own original research into the matrilineal line, which, like the research previously provided by Kathryn Warner, brings us to the late 17th century, possibly even the early 18th century, following another line. This is a huge leap forward, and we are extremely grateful to Kevin for sharing this information with us. Family tree researchers out there – please, if any of the women Kevin lists below are in your family trees, get in touch with us! You may carry the mitochondrial DNA of King Edward II!

Kevin writes:

“I was surprised to see from the Auramala Project website (see The Search for Edward II’s Descendants #5) that two of the individuals given with a matrilinear descent from Eleanor (in fact through Joan of Acre), where they are looking for possible living matrilinear descendants, are Philippa Bonville and her sister Margaret Bonville who married Sir William Courtenay of Powderham Castle.

I have information for you regarding Margaret Bonville’s matrilineal line descendants at least as far as the late c17th and I do know that the lady which the matrilinear section of my tree ends with – my ancestress Mary Drake – had a very large number of children.

I also think I can clear up the question of Margaret Bonville’s maternity and whether this was Eleanor’s matrilineal descendant Margaret Grey or instead one “Margaret Merriet”.  Helpfully it seems that Margaret Merriet is a confusion with Sir William Bonville’s grandfather’s wife, Margaret daughter of Sir William d’Aumale, cousin and heir of Sir John Meriet, junior (see extracts from Rootsweb posts as marked in yellow below) – and so the Auramala Project will I am sure be very interested in this – as I can give them an answer to their request for information on this which is a positive one from the matrilineal lines research point of view!

The tree goes as follows and, as you will see, this section of it is entirely matrilinear:

1  Margaret Grey (not Margaret Merriet) = Sir William Bonville, KG (1393 – 1461)

2  Margaret Bonville = Sir William Courtenay of Powderham Castle  (Margaret’s sister Philippa married Sir William Grenville and was thereby the ancestress of Sir Richard Grenville of the Revenge)

3  Joan de Courtenay = William Carew of Mohun Ottery

4  Cecily Carew (sister of Admiral George Carew of the Mary Rose) = Thomas Kirkham

5  Thomasine Kirkham = Thomas Southcote

6  Mary Southcote = Sir William Strode of Newnham Park (d 1637) (a direct descendant of Gregory, son of Thomas Cromwell, and his wife Elizabeth Seymour, sister of Queen Jane)

7  Joan Strode (sister of William Strode MP, one of the famous Five Members) = Sir Francis Drake, 1st Baronet (nephew of Admiral Sir Francis Drake)

8  Mary Drake = Elizeus (or Ellis/Elisha) Crymes of Buckland Monachorum, Devon, MP, Colonel of the Parliamentary  garrison of Plymouth during the Civil War (their son Lewis (or Ludovic) is an ancestor of mine, but not in the seamless matrilinear line).”

Thank you once again Kevin for this extremely valuable information!

Ivan Fowler.

The Hunt for the King 27) The dangerous life of documents at the outbreak of the Hundred Years War

[Here continues Elena Corbellini’s analysis of the Fieschi Letter. In today’s post we have the discussion arising from the analysis of the hand-made corrections we posted last week. Our strong suspicion concerning the involvement of Bishop of Maguelone Arnauld de Verdale finds ever greater confirmation, and we even discover the origin of the word ‘secretary’ – but I think I’ll do a special post on that soon, it’s so curious! Ed.]

C. Considering that, following the perentorious orders of Bishop Arnauld and, later, Gaucelm de Deux, the transcriptions in all of the Chartulary were to be very precise, thorough and well ordered, it is possible in my opinion that the Fieschi Letter as we know it today is an ‘imitative copy’, so to speak, which in other words reproduces the text it was derived from also in its material form, with the corrections and expunctions present in it.

– What might the antigraph [the text copied, Ed.] have been? Not a definitive, final version, but a near-final draft (minuta) containing last-minute corrections and variants.

– We know that drafts of acts were made in large numbers, and that copies were also made of drafts and not just of the definitive versions, to be preserved and used as ‘back-up’ of the authenticated final versions. Above all when there hadn’t been time or the chance to make spare copies of the definitive document. And in any case, authenticated, official documents [then as now, Ed.] were to be kept safe from any risk of damage, during journeys and missions.

– Furthermore, precisely during the papal reign of Benedict XII, there was an increase in the use of ‘near-final’ drafts of the secretae [confidential documents, Ed.], which were transcribed directly into parchment registers when necessary to save time. Often, indeed, documents were sent out very quickly, and there was little time to make extra copies… Drafts were therefore not always eliminated. Therefore, we may suppose that, in those years of extremely intense diplomatic activity [due to the outbreak of the Hundred Years War and the ongoing unease between Emperor and Papacy, Ed.], there was a proliferation not just of unregistered authenticated documents but of drafts and of copies made from drafts, such as, probably, this version of the Fieschi Letter.

– From the papal letters, as well as from other documents, there emerges a situation of considerable agitation and of diplomatic incidents in France, in the years 1338-1339, above all around Avignon. Pope Benedict XII expressed his disappointment about one such unfortunate episode on November 23, 1338. Secret instructions for the two cardinals sent as legates to negotiate with England (Peter, cardinal of Santa Prassede and Bertrand, cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Aquiro) had been leaked to outsiders with grave consequences. The inquest demonstrated that a member of the Curia was to blame for the leak. The Pope therefore decided that letters for legates, or at least the most confidential parts of these letters, from then on would be communicated to no-one outside the circle of his scriptor [scribe, Ed.] and fideles secretarii [faithful secretaries – where ‘secretary’ literally derives from ‘secret’, see note, Ed.] (1)

In a letter of May 1339, edited by Fierens, the Pope ordered Robert de Pomayo, castellan of Beaucaire (and seneschal of the king of France) to free Robert de Licelburs, a messenger of King Edward III of England, who had been returning from the Curia carrying a letter from the Pope when he was waylaid and robbed of his horses and the letter. Robert Swinfen and Egidius de Brabante were prisoners with him. There must have been considerable comings and goings of messengers in the area around Montpellier, as revealed by the many documents of the Chartulary of Maguelone. (2)

– Among the Papal letters, therefore, the letter from Benedict XII to Arnaud de Verdale, legate at the court of the emperor, dated January 23, 1339 (see the transcription and translation) stands out. In it are mentioned two texts marked A and B to be presented to Emperor Ludwig IV. Also mentioned are secret letters written shortly beforehand by Master Arnauld, and examined by the Pope together with his trusted brothers. As we mentioned before, in other documents from the same period there are often cryptic allusions to other letters sent or received, and others that were stolen, or had otherwise disappeared.

With the originals lost, the copies became important – even copies made from drafts…

– If an accessorial copy (made from a draft) was entered into Register A of Maguelone, in whose possession might it have been, if not someone who had used it for a diplomatic mission in those years? Arnaud de Verdale, for his mission to the Imperial court – the definitive, authenticated copy/copies having been delivered to either Edward III, or Ludwig IV, or both…?

Cardinals Peter and Bertrand in during this period seem to have been engaged in negotiations between France and England. In early April, 1339, in a letter in which Arnauld de Verdale is referred to as electus magalonensis, and is therefore already bishop of Maguelone, he receives orders to give King Philip of France information too secret to commit to writing… On April 19, 1339 the Pope received the conditions proffered by Richard de Bury on behalf of King Edward III of England, and found them acceptable and opportune. He exhorted cardinals Peter and Bertrand to work towards a truce and convince the king of France to accept.

– In my opinion the crucial period to confront for any hypotheses must be summer 1338 to summer 1339.

I anxiously await from readers any objections, suggestions and hypotheses to discuss.

………………

(1) Introd. ed. Fierens cit. 1910, p.XIII. A curiosity: secretarius, a term which has had continuations in many languages, including non-romance tongues, occurs for the first time here. Ivan reported to me that he found this fact discussed even earler by Michael Tangl, Die paplischen Register von Benedikt XII, 1898, p.85. It was a delicate diplomatic negotiation, featuring secret information and instructions. This is surely another line of research to follow (has Ian Mortimer written of it?). The Cardinal Bertrand in question was almost certainly Bertrand du Pouget, once right-hand-man of Pope John XXII and for some gossips – including Giovanni Villani and Petrarch – not his nephew but his son. He was famous for the hatred he nurtured towards Dante, and was highly active in northern Italy in the years preceding 1338.

(2) The bishops and the canons of Maguelone were well connected with the Pope, who often had to intervene in order to curb abuses of power and invasions perpetrated by the seneschals of the king of France and by the counts of Provence. There was a kind of Avignon-Montpellier-Maguelone axis. There is no space here to speak of it, but what with the kings of Aragon and Majorca, the House of Anjou, the kings of France, the emissaries of the English, Genoese merchants with their monopolies and privileges and the great families of the Spinola, Doria, Fieschi, …. the situation was extremely complex in the area. To be discussed another time.

The Hunt for the King 26) The hand-made corrections present in the Fieschi Letter

[Today we continue with Elena Corbellini’s exhaustive analysis of the Fieschi Letter. Elena takes a close look at the hand-made corrections in the text, and concludes that the Fieschi Letter as we know it today is most likely the copy of a preparatory draft probably made just before the definitive, official ‘original’ of the Letter was written. In order to keep these concepts clear in our minds, let’s label the three different versions of the Fieschi Letter we now believe existed:

1) Draft (minuta) made as preparation for the writing out of the definitive, official document (in the analysis below this is referred to as a, or antigraph);

2) Definitive, official version of the document, bearing the author’s seal, signum tabellionis or other form of authentification;

3) Copy made from the preparatory draft (this is the document now preserved in the archives of Montpellier, the Fieschi Letter as we know it today, in the analysis below this is referred to as M for Maguelone).

Does this conclusion fit in with our Verdale Hypothesis (see here and here)? While it may seem strange to us today that a draft could have been used for weighty diplomatic purposes, we know for a fact that drafts were widely used in this way at the time, and specifically we know that this was happening at the papal court. As Corbellini explains in the next post in the series (following this post, in which the corrections themselves are analysed) the definitive and official originals of documents were extremely precious, and to be kept safe at all costs. As we shall see, this was an era in which messengers were regularly waylaid and imprisoned, and robbed of all they were carrying, including letters.

This section of the Analysis is quite long, so I have broken it into two parts. What follows is the first part of Elena’s text: Ed.]

A. I believe that, at this point in the analysis of the Fieschi Letter, it is necessary to insert some observations concerning an element that, neglected by Germain in his transcription, has never since been taken into consideration by scholars. If I am not wrong it has been mentioned only (in a note) by Cuttino and Lyman in their transcription (1)

The element in question is the corrections visible in the text of the Letter. In my opinion these, when interpreted and related to relevant data from the examination of the Chartulary, to the historical context (see our next post, coming soon), and to the structural and formal characteristics of the Letter (2) lead to the following hypotheses:

a) The corrections may indicate that the Fieschi Letter is a copy made from a preparatory draft (minuta) of the original.

b) This makes it ever more likely that the draft in question was taken to Maguelone by Bishop Arnaud de Verdale, and copied, by mistake or on purpose, among the papers pertaining to one of his new aquisitions (see here).

c) This, in the light of information concerning the use of drafts of papal letters starting in the year 1338 (see our next post, coming soon) recalls the possibility that the Fieschi Letter was one of the documents mentioned in the complicated and cryptic letter from Pope Benedict XII to Arnaud de Verdale during the latter’s delicate diplomatic mission at the court of Emperor Ludwig IV (see here).

——————

B. In this section I transcribe and put into context the corrections in the text, with references to the lines of the manuscript (corresponding to our transcription of the Fieschi Letter), with photographs as kindly authorized by the Archives Départementales de l’Hérault, Montpellier. I have tried to keep it concise, but this is only possible up to a certain point, as it is important to include every step in the analysis so that other scholars can criticise, make objections, and give suggestions. Readers who find what follows tedious can skip it, and wait for the next post in the series, which will be published soon.

I will use the following abbreviations:

M = Maguelone copy

a = antigraph (the text the Maguelone copy was made from)

CL = Cuttino and Lyman’s transcription.

1. line 7 :(et duxerunt ipsum in castro Chilongurda, et alii fuerunt alibi ad loca diversa et) – ibi – written in the interlinear space, with an insertion mark ( perdidit // r.8: coronam ad requisicionem multorum.)

Correction 1

Observations: the space between the abbreviation et and the following word (perdidit) is much greater than usual. At times in M the conjunction is even tied to the following word. One therefore has the impression that ibi was not forgotten by the scribe, but that space was left in which to insert a correction that was already present in a. This is a crucial moment in the story told by the Letter: the capture of Edward II and of his companions, the dispersion of some of them in various places, the imprisonment of the King in Kenilworth. The insertion of ibi (‘here‘) makes it plain that Kenilworth is the place where the abdication took place, practically immediately, and by force. This correction therefore gives the reader important information.

From the syntax and style point of view, one may note how here begins a series of instances of ibi in the text, outlining in rapid succession the events connected with Edward II’s downfall and the rise of his son…

In a insertion of ibi may have been to correct where the word had simply been forgotten, or the deliberate insertion of a decisive adverb. The latter hypothesis seems the most likely. Therefore, it is not the correction of an error but is a variant.

2. From line 15: ( Videntes dicti milites qui venerant ad interficiendum ipsum quod sic recesserat, line16: dubitantes indignationem regine ymo periculum )  – there follows, struck through once, Regni (or Regine? Regium? [being struck through it is difficult to tell the exact word, Ed.]) substituted after with personarum (deliberarunt istum predictum, end of line 16….)

Correction 2

Observations: If one cannot exclude a mistake by the scribe in M, facilitated by the presence just before of regine (too near, however) or a mistake made in a for the same reason, in this case too one might imagine a variant. Is the reference to danger for the kingdom (regni) or for the people (personarum)…? We are in the most dramatic phase of the escape story: the soldiers sent to kill the ex-king discover that he has fled. Their first thought is of the queen’s (regine) indignation (thereby explicitly implying that they had come to kill Edward II on her orders). Their second though is of the danger that could come of it – but for whom? First was written Regni or Regine (or Regium, according to CL), it was then struck through (the choice of the scribe? Or was it struck through also in a?) and substituted with with personarum. This second term is all inclusive, but perhaps above all it refers to them, the people charged with the ex-king’s murder, who had let their victim get away. Therefore, they make amends as the Letter describes…

3. beginning line18 ( ut cor) pus patris vestri maliciose the word regine is in the interlinear space, with an insertion mark below, but also another marking before regine – lower case and abbreviation after maliciose –er? Maliciositer? (Presentarunt et ut corpus regis dictus porterius in Glocesta(ri) fuit sepultus).

Correction 3

Observations: The would-be assassins trick the queen by presenting her the body and heart of the dead guard in place of the ex-king, to be buried in his stead at Gloucester. This seems to be a case of correcting an omission (or did the scribe re-read it and correct it?) Once again here the importance of the queen is reiterated, and the fact that proof that the assassination had been carried out was supposed to have been presented to her.

4. line 22 (secrete fuit per annum cum dimidio postea audito quod comes Cancii ) (above there is a faint marking – ‘01′, more recently made with pencil, perhaps ) fuerat mortuus – ‘he had died’ – expunction dots beneath – (quia dixerat eum- // line 23: vivere ) fuerat decapitatus – ‘he had been decapitated’ – (ascendit unam navem…)

Correction 4

Observations: the reference is to the execution of the Earl of Kent (comes Cancii), the half-brother of Edward II, executed by Roger Mortimer because he claimed that Edward II was still alive. Indeed, the Earl of Kent was decapitated.

Here one preceding legitimate form (legitimate according to the meaning and the standards of the Latin of the time) is expunged, and in the following line is substituted, following the motivation for the execution (quia dixerat eum vivere… because he said he (Edward II) was alive) with a more precise form. This seems to be a true substitution as variant. I would exclude it being the choice of the scribe who wrote M. The fact that a more generic verb (die) substituted with a more precise verb (decapitated), makes me think that the substitution must have been made in the course of the composition of a by the original author (by choice, therefore, not error).

5. line 31 (secrete tenuit honorifice ultra XV dies. Finaliter post tractatus diversos consideratis) – omnibus – in the interlinear space with insertion mark below – (… or is it sibi?..) – (recepta/ r.32 licencia …).

Correction 5

Observations: The passage refers to Edward II’s sojourn at the papal court at Avignon. Consideratis omnibus (all things considered) is a typical expression in notarial language of the time, which probably came automatically to the author. Strange that the second part of a set-phrase like this should have been forgotten. But it is possible. Unless originally it was not omnibus but sibi, therefore linked to recepta licentia, meaning therefore ‘he received leave (to go) for himself ‘. In that case, however, should it be read post tractatus diversos consideratos, meaning ‘after considering various courses’? Given the writing and the abbreviations, both hypotheses seem possible. In both cases, however, it is plain that a contained corrections, and was probably not easy to read.

6. line 37: (milasci (or milasti) in quo heremitorio stetit per duos annos) continuando – with expunction dots beneath, afterwards substituted with cum dimidio (et quia dicto…)

Correction 6

Observation: The king remains at the sanctuary near Melazzo/Mulazzo for two and a half years. This could be a true reading error of the scribe looking at a, given that it is indeed possible to mistake cumdimidio with continuando, and the latter is by no means a nonsensical reading. On the other hand, there is no reason to exclude that this mistake was not already present in a, and merely reproduced in M by the scribe.

[I wish to add an observation to what Elena Corbellini has written in this last case. The mere fact that the castle/town referred to in the text is spelled ‘milasci’, an orthography that has no corresponding examples in documents of any historical period, and therefore implies a mistake either in a or in M, further confirms that the document the scribe was copying from was itself difficult to read, and may well have contained mistakes. From the observations on this series of corrections, indeed, Elena Corbellini goes on to conclude, in the next post, that the Fieschi Letter we know today was indeed copied from a preparatory draft (minuta) and not a definitive, official original. Ed.]

———————-

(1) Where is Edward II? G. P. Cuttino and Thomas W. Lyman, Speculum Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1978), pp. 522-544

(2) Indications of the addressee, date and place of writing are missing from the Fieschi Letter. I believe that the place of writing is indicated by the fact that venit – meaning ‘he came’ – is used only for Avinionem – Avignon, while movement toward other places is indicated with different verbs such as ivit (‘he went’), intravit (‘he entered’), perresit (‘he proceeded/went on’), ecc, indicating that the document was written in Avignon. Could it have been written by a papal notary of his own accord, with the pope knowing nothing of it? It seems rather unlikely. I suggested some time ago that the formal analysis of the composition of the text, above and beyond the signature, could confirm the profession of the author. This analysis has been performed by Prof. Castagneto, and will be posted shortly on this blog, translated as always by Ivan Fowler.

The Search For Edward II’s Descendents 8) – A Long Distant Relative!

Earlier this year, Kylie Walker got in touch with us via Twitter, as she has traced her direct line to Edward I and Eleanor of Castile! This was very exciting for us, as although she doesn’t follow the female line the whole way, meaning that she doesn’t carry Eleanor’s mitochondrial DNA, the information may point us to further lines of enquiry.

Walker tweet

Kylie’s family tree leads to Eleanor of Castile through Elisabeth Plantagenet, who we wrote about here.

As researcher Ivan Fowler explained to Kylie, we have so far been using the top down (past to present) approach. But as we have been work down the line, we have found there are many daughters of Eleanor’s great granddaughters for whom we don’t have good information through heraldic records, simply because as the family branched out, the younger members of the family, particularly daughters, became less aristocratic. As their “blue blood” was diluted, they became more likely to marry men of wealth rather than nobility, becoming, sadly for us, no longer of interest to heraldry. Due to this, there’s a gulf that begins around the year 1450/1500 and ends around 1800 when public records start becoming reliable even for ordinary folk, but of course by then we have completely lost track of people. It doesn’t help that surnames tend to track the male line, not the female one!

A promising way to bridge this gulf would be to use the bottom up (present to past) approach, but we need people to participate. The top down approach has the advantage of an obvious starting point – Eleanor of Castile – but the bottom up approach could literally begin anywhere! We can’t just start randomly doing people’s genealogy hoping a link to Eleanor will turn up, it would take an eternity. That’s why we need people who have already traced their own genealogy back to that era, and who already know they are connected to Eleanor, even though it may not be along the direct female line, to participate and help out. It will guide our research. So far, Kylie is the first to get in touch with us, but we are hoping others will do likewise, helping us greatly.

After discussing what information we would require, Kylie told us “I’m more than happy for you to publish my line. I’m a novice so there could well be errors so if you are happy to take it warts and all I’m more than happy to contribute…If you find errors I won’t be offended if you let me know. Good luck, I hope this helps or at least brings a little bit of hope to your project.”

Thanks very much to Kylie, and if any readers out there have a family tree that links to Eleanor of Castile, or one that could help trace some of our “missing” daughters, please do get in touch!

Enrica Biasi.

Kylie Lynne Barnard + Brendon Michael Walker

Marilyn Gaye Anderson + Peter Ross Barnard

– – Henry Keith Eldridge Anderson + Marjorie Hannah Thatcher (Henry was adopted by maternal grandparents)

– – – Henry Spencer Eldridge + Chrisabel Anderson

– – – – James Eldridge + Alice E Thomas

– – – – – James Eldridge + Philadelphia Burgess

– – – – – – James Eldridge + Ruth Taylor

– – – – – – – William Eldridge + Sarah Potter

– – – – – – – – James Eldridge + Elizabeth Jones

– – – – – – – – – Mary Weaver Hales + James Eldridge

– – – – – – – – – – John Weaver Hales + Jone Hales

– – – – – – – – – – – Edward 2nd Baron of Woodchurch Hales + Anne Wotton

– – – – – – – – – – – – John Hales + Christian Cromer

– – – – – – – – – – – – – Martha Carew+ Edward Hales

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sir Matthew Carew + Alice Rivers

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sir Wymond, Knight of Antony Cornwall, Carew + Martha, Lady of Howe, Norfolk, Denny

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sir John of Antony, Sherriff of Cornwall, Carew + Thomasine De Holland

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alexander Carew + Elizabeth Isabel Hatch

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Joanne Jane Courtenay + Nicholas Baron of Mohun Ottery Carew

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sir Hugh Courtenay + Philippa Archdekne

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Edward Courtenay + Emeline Dawnay

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Margaret De Bohun+ Hugh De Courtenay

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Elizabeth Plantagenet + Humphrey De Bohun

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Edward I Longshanks de Plantagenet, King of England + Eleanor Castile

The Hunt for the King 24) The Analysis of the Fieschi Letter continues…

Today we continue with Elena Corbellini’s diplomatic analysis of the Fieschi Letter, picking up where we left off, looking at the extrinsic characteristics of the document. Here, Elena analyses the handwriting of the letter, and compares it with those of the surrounding documents in the chartulary of Maguelone, to further investigate the possibility that it might be a forgery.

The Analysis Continues

2. Analysis of the document

2.1. Extrinsic characteristics

(We have already spoken of the material characteristics and of the markings and marginalia, numeration and revision markings).

The document occupies one page only (86r), for a length of 39 lines. Incipit: In nomine Domini amen. Ea que audivi… Explicit: …Devotus servitor vester.

-The handwriting

“Chancery ductus, commonly used by 14th century notaries: orderly and elegant handwriting, quite clear and easy to read, once the eye has become accustomed”. (SC=Stefano Castagneto).

Chancery ductus handwriting
Chancery ductus handwriting

As can be seen from the photographs, the handwriting is not really so easy to read… for those who are not expert in Paleography and Diplomatics like Prof. Castagneto.

Specifically, it is the so-called ‘notarial cursive’, with alphabetical structures firmly established and recurring by approximately the end of the 13th century. Among the most visible characteristic features we may note the ‘trunk-like’ form of the last downstroke in h, m and n, where these are the final letters of a word, and the system of scribal abbreviations which is still quite articulated and complex.

the 'trunk-like' form of the last downstroke in h, m and n, where these are the final letters of a word: here the word is 'amen'.
the ‘trunk-like’ form of the last downstroke in h, m and n, where these are the final letters of a word: here the word is ‘amen’.

According to some scholars, this style of writing may have been adapted in some places for use in chartularies, in the sense of an ‘aesthetic fine-tuning’ (‘chartulary hand’) making the handwriting even more stylized – and thus making falsification easier to achieve.

[From the non-expert point of view, what all this means is that the Fieschi Letter, like all the other documents in Register A, is written in a type of handwriting that was so stylized, so widely used and with such uniformness, that it was relatively easy to forge. By comparison, would-be forgers have a much tougher task today, faced with the incredible variety and relatively idiosyncratic nature of handwriting that now exists. I.F.]

In any case, my modest paleographic analysis of the document, and the comparison between the graphic rendering of certain structures in the Letter and in surrounding documents in Register A, confirms the impression that these documents were written not only using the same type of handwriting, but by the same notary/scribe, and that it cannot be a forgery.

Below I report some examples, with photographs, of how the handwriting of the Fieschi Letter is the same as that of the documents before and after it in Register A, followed by some observations of Prof. Castagneto which I feel are important.

a) The light-brown ink is of the same density, with obvious variations over the course of this document, as in the others.

b) The handwriting is of the same dimensions, moderate both in terms of light and shade effects and of the ascenders and descenders.

c) There is the same general look of strong fluidity in the writing, which leads also to some alterations in the shapes of letters. For example:

– the uncial d is executed in one stroke, with the ascender which loops anti-clockwise and is at times used to link with following vowels (especially e, and o) within words, but also with the following word in the case of the preposition ad;

the uncial d is executed in one stroke, with the ascender which loops anti-clockwise
‘d’

– the lower case f and s are practically identical, thinning as the descend below the base-line. When s is the final letter of a word it is executed in a single stroke, bearing a resemblance to the number 6, with the tendency for the ascender to loop in on itself;

The lower case f and s are practically identical. This word is 'confessione'.
The lower case f and s are practically identical. This word is ‘confessione’.

– the letter g most often executed in three, and no longer four, strokes, which has therefore lost its angular appearance;

– the double form of u/v… etc. Such oscillations in forms used might be explained if the scribe was influenced by the texts he was copying.

d) The same abbreviation signs are used, and executed in the same way, for example:

the horizontal line, of notable size, seems to be executed without raising the pen following the last letter of the abbreviated word, and doubles back in a downward arc above the letters it refers to;

Abbreviations: the horizontal line, of notable size, seems to be executed without raising the pen following the last letter of the abbreviated word, and doubles back in a downward arc above the letters it refers to
Abbreviations: the horizontal line, of notable size, seems to be executed without raising the pen following the last letter of the abbreviated word, and doubles back in a downward arc above the letters it refers to

– the markings for –us and –(q)ue at the end of words are executed in one stroke in a shape that recalls a number 3, descending below the base-line;

– the shorthand signs for et and cum/con present a rounded, trunk-like form (above all the latter) which sometimes conjoins with the following word.

e) Adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions are abbreviated in the same way.

Concerning abbreviations, Prof. Castagneto makes an observation that is useful in narrowing down the historical period in which the scribe/notary may have copied the letter into Register A. He notes that:

Towards the end of the first line, we find vri = vestri, and at the fifth word of the third line vre = vestre. In the early years of the 14th century the abbreviation vr was used; in the middle of the 14th century vri: the two forms mentioned above are therefore datable to the 1340s or 1350s (approximately). The same is true for the vestro in the tenth line, sixth word.” (SC)

Abbreviations: Towards the end of the first line, we find vri = vestri.
Abbreviations: Towards the end of the first line, we find vri = vestri.

– Furthermore, Prof. Castagneto suggested an extremely important element, which I would say is almost decisive, for the comparison between the Fieschi Letter and the other documents in Register A:

The initial I of the text is almost a signum tabellionis, almost corresponding to the seal/monogram that distinguished notaries from one another.” (SC)

It is, indeed, a highly characterised, almost illuminated initial, covering three lines of writing in height (four or more witht he flourish), with a decorative motif inside the body of the letter and flourishes at either end. The comparison with the same initial in other documents of Register A confirms that it is the initial used by the same notary.

The initial 'I' of the Fieschi Letter (left), two others from the same volume of the chartulary, followed by an initial 'I' from a different volume, in the hand of a different scribe.
The initial ‘I’ of the Fieschi Letter (left), two others from the same volume of the chartulary, followed by an initial ‘I’ from a different volume, in the hand of a different scribe.

………………..

What follows is that which we can now state concerning the Fieschi Letter.

– It is not a subsequent forgery, a ‘diplomatic hoax’. Though forgers may have been very talented in their misdeeds, in the light of our analysis it would have taken a genius to forge this document.

– It was not ‘inserted’ by chance into this chartulary, if anything it was inserted into the papers coming from Corconne, and then copied, though exactly how and by whom is unknown at present.

– Given the type of abbreviations used, this document may be a transcription made in the years of Arnaud de Verdale’s reign as bishop (1339-1352), not necessarily in 1368 as many scholars suppose. In fact, 1368 is the date of Gaucelm di Deaux’s letter (cit.), in which, however, the bishop says he had completed the act of registration (fecit de verbo ad verbum diligenter et fideliter regstrari) of the various texts. Therefore, it alludes to the final ordering into registers and perhaps other transcriptions. The year 1368 is not a starting date, but the end date in the long process of creating the chartulary.

– In order to draw up further hypotheses it is first necessary to establish what kind of copy it is, whether a copy made from the original or from a copy of the original, or even made before the original [from a draft, I.F.].

Only the analysis of the document, together with verifiable historical information, can be of assistance. The analysis of the manuscript, that is, and not of the few transcriptions that have been made of it, which present divergences, and above all notable ‘lapses’, starting with that of Germain.

For this reason, before proceeding with the analysis of the intrinsic characteristics of the document, I have produced a reliable and faithful transcription, which integrates and corrects those used so far, with observations and suggestions, as precious as always, from Prof. Castagneto.

I would like to point out that, by choice of Ivan who is ‘orchestrating’ our research, Prof. Castagneto and I have always worked separately, in a ‘double blind’. We have never even met.

Introduction to the hunt for the king – 1) International Europe

Before launching into the story of our research into the Fieschi Letter and the ‘afterlife’ of Edward II, three blog posts are necessary to set the scene for readers who don’t have an academic background in medieval history (but they should be food for thought for those who do, anyway).  This first one is about medieval Europe as an interactive, international place, and the role of the church in this, both for good and for bad. The second will be about the nemesis of the church, the Holy Roman Empire. The third will be about how charismatic leaders from what is now Italy influenced England at he highest level during the middle ages.

So let’s start out with a general observation about medieval Western Europe: it was a VERY international place. People travelled, interacted over enormous distances and, rather like the famous butterfly effect in the mathematical theory of chaos, a small action on one side of the continent could have huge ramifications on the other side. I sometimes get the impression that people think of English history during the medieval period as being a very long chess match with France, and other European countries were a long way off and didn’t really influence English history that much until the Renaissance and the Reformation. But this was simply not the case. During the so-called Dark Ages and right through to the Renaissance, all corners of Europe influenced one another.

Medieval trade routes, with Genoese shipping lanes in red
Medieval trade routes, with Genoese shipping lanes in red

In spite of never-ending, all-pervasive internal conflicts, there was one factor of towering importance in making Western Europe – including England – a surprisingly ‘globalized’ place: the church. This is an incredibly simplified statement, but we could to say that the church was a great binding force, holding medieval Europe together. One of the ways it did this was by providing people everywhere with a set of shared experiences. What do I  mean by this?  My aunt recently gave me a story book to read to my two little sons, an American classic, ‘The Little Train That Could’. As we unwrapped it, she said something very insightful. “When I moved from Australia to California, I sometimes heard people mention ‘The Little Engine that Could, and everybody would nod and understand, but I didn’t know what they meant. Then I had children, and somebody gave us this book. I realised that ‘The Little Train that Could’ was like a by-word for determination and generosity. It’s good to have read these books, that everybody else in a country has read, just like Shakespeare, you know? If you’ve read it, when people refer to it you understand what they mean.”

Well, in medieval times everybody, in every single tiny village or large city of Western Europe, had common points of reference, as though they had all read the same books or watched the same films. These points of reference were supplied by the church. Everybody heard the Latin mass on Sundays, and heard the stories of the Bible, interpreted in more or less the same way throughout Christendom. If they were literate, people everywhere also studied a small number of ‘core’ texts that were considered universal must-reads for good Christians, by authors  like Boethius and Saint Augustine. Together with the Bible, these texts were the ‘Shakespeare’s plays’ of the Middle Ages. It is true that every corner of Europe saw uncountable, ancient regional beliefs and customs overlaid onto this Christian framework, but people everywhere  could nevertheless tap into a single set of unifying religious experiences to help them relate to one another.

This had many repercussions. For example, the fact that the church chose to continue using Latin as its lingua franca meant that this language continued to be a vibrant, functional, and above all evolving means of communication for the entire continent. Today we tend to think of Latin as a dead language, that cannot change and evolve because it is no longer in use. Medieval Latin was anything but set in stone. This fact is going to come decisively into play when we look at the Fieschi Letter as an artifact, and stop looking at it as a disembodied text, as too many historians have done till now.

An emblemic map of pilgrim routes in globalized, medieval Europe. The Via Francigena is highlighted.
An emblemic map of pilgrim routes in globalized, medieval Europe. The Via Francigena is highlighted.

Religion also created a system of international travel of a scope that we find difficult to imagine today: the pilgrim roads. The Way of St James of Compostela is back in vogue today, but it was just one of many pilgrim routes criss-crossing the continent in ancient times. A large proportion of the population, from every walk of life and every region, would go on a pilgrimage at least once in their life. Englishmen might stop at Canterbury, or they might go as far as Compostela, or Rome, or Jerusalem. There were countless other shrines that attracted pilgrims too, such as the Shrine of the Three Kings (yes, ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are…’), in the Basilica of Saint Eustorgio in Milan for about five centuries, and then transported to Cologne in 1164 by… But I’ll get to that in the next post, about the nemesis of the church! Anyway, one of these pilgrim routes was vital to the story of Edward II’s ‘afterlife’.  This is the Via Francigena, which stretches from Canterbury, down through France and Italy to Rome, and continues to Jerusalem as an optional extra. In later posts we’ll explore the full significance of this road to a certain royal pilgrim in disguise…

Blake's illustration of the fiery and humiliating punishment Dante created for the Simoniacs, including Pope Boniface VIII, whom he hated. Boniface VIII is just one of the many ecclesiastical players in our story, as future posts will reveal
Blake’s illustration of the fiery and humiliating punishment Dante created for the Simoniacs, including Pope Boniface VIII, whom he hated. Boniface VIII is just one of the many ecclesiastical players in our story, as future posts will reveal

Now, the church was not necessarily a positive factor in medieval life. In fact, it was notoriously rife with corruption and nepotism, and this aspect, too, is going to play a very important role in our research into the Fieschi Letter. And the church was not without opposition. Such a powerful, omnipresent institution was clearly going to make enemies for itself, and the first and foremost of these was the Holy Roman Empire. But that is the subject of the next post.