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Conclusions: Relational Analysis

Relational Analysis 1: the Bishops

By and large, the relational network map is not an easy item to draw conclusions from. Part of this is due to the relatively small quantity of data used to generate it, but it is also because very little is known about many of the minor actors, even in such a well-studied region. However, when the factor of time is added, a pattern does start to emerge.

For almost the entire twelfth century, Laon was ruled by three long-lived bishops, Barthélemy de Jur from 1121 to 1150, Gautier de Mortagne from 1153 to 1174, and Roger de Rosoy from 1175 to 1207. Each of these bishops features prominently in the network map as the center of a sub-network, Barthélemy for #64, Gautier for #18, and Roger for #67. After Roger, however, there is an eleven year break in which the two intervening bishops of Laon, Renaud de Surdelle (r.1207-1210) and Robert de Châtillon (r. 1210-1215), do not feature prominently, before the trend is resumed with Anselm de Mauny (#40, r. 1218-1238).

This gap might simply be explained as short-reigning bishops not having the time to develop the necessary networks of influence, but this explanation does not hold water. As we saw in the relational analysis, in the Foigny charter the support of the episcopate is sought due to its proximity to the abbey, rather than because of a preexisting connection. Moreover, in the intervening period from the death of Roger in 1207 to the election of Anselm in 1218, the network map does show the prominence of another bishop: Albéric de Humbert, the Archbishop of Reims, who rather conveniently ruled from 1207 to 1218.

The see of Reims holds metropolitan jurisdiction over Laon and is also the most immediate archiepiscopal seat to Foigny. Reversion to Reims for support during a period of uncertainty over the position of the Laon episcopate would therefore be expected. Besides the two short-lived bishops, another event of the 1210s could engender such caution. The decade saw a protracted dispute between Laon and Reims over tithing, with Laon resisting a greater imposition on its resources. The shift in the Foigny cartulary from Laon to Reims can thus be attributed to significant uncertainty as to the strength of the Laon episcopate during the period in question.

Relational Analysis 2: the Canons

A second shift in power follows shortly after the shift to Reims. Anselm of Mauny is the last bishop of Laon to appear in an important role in the Foigny network. Starting in the 1220s and becoming fully realized after Anselm’s death in 1238, the primary source of ecclesiastical support at Laon is the college of canons. The first prominent canon is Jean de Busancy (#57) who appears in the Foigny cartulary from 1216 to 1228. After Anselm’s death, Jean is followed by Clement de St-Germain (#11) who appears from 1240-1244 and William de Antogniaco (#48) who appears in 1240 only. In addition, the largest of the sub-networks, which centers on an anonymous group of Laon canons (#4), appears from 1224 to 1278.

The shift from the episcopate to the canons is temporally coincident with several events in the history of the cathedral chapter of Laon. First, there were two disputes between the chapter and Anselm, first in 1221 and then again from 1230 to 1238. At the same time, the period saw the final decline of Laon’s cathedral school, with which many canons had been associated. This decline was at least partially due to the increase in absenteeism and the holding of multiple benefices among the canons. Not only was Laon becoming an important stop on the ecclesiastical career ladder – several thirteenth and fourteenth century popes were members of the cathedral chapter – but many canons also received papal dispensation to study in Paris, causing a “brain drain.” The death of the cathedral school’s last great exegete and member of the chapter, Adam de Corlandon, in November of 1232, is usually seen as the final nail in the coffin.

In addition to the changes in the college of canons, the political situation around Laon had also undergone substantial change in the century or so since Foigny’s founding. Barthélemy de Jur’s efforts to pacify the local nobility had, on the whole, been successful, and at the same time royal and ecclesiastical authority carried more weight in the region. While instances of baronial high-handedness still occurred (the lords of Coucy being particularly troublesome), the thirteenth century was one of relative tranquility for the region. It might therefore be assumed that the need for the high ecclesiastical authority of the bishop was somewhat lessened.

Thus, for the period in question we have a twofold shift: the cathedral chapter has moved from a more academic mindset to a professional and career oriented mode, and, at the same time, the need for the guarantee of episcopal authority has become less necessary. It is this change we see manifested in the Foigny cartulary.

Conclusions: Relational Analysis