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A legal judgment

Translated letter: 

This notice of judgment records the case which arose between countess Ermessenda and count Hugo of Empuries namely in the 23rd year of the reign of Robert, after the death of the renowned count lord Raymond.  For said countess was the guardian of her son count Berengar who was still a minor after the death of his father.  For which reason said Hugo asked her to give him back the allod which is called Ullastret, which she held by a charter of sale which Hugo had made to the lord count Raymond and by legal determinations and bonds of sacraments after this Hugo transferred said allod with all its appurtenances and adjacencies into the power of the lord count Raymond.  For this petitioner asserted that he had made this charter of sale in his minority for which Ermessenda in the place of her said son, in the presence of count Bernard of Besalù and Oliban bishop of Osona, and many other people, nobles as well as others, wished to give surety to Hugo and wished to bond with him legally, so that whatever the law disposed, she would be prepared to respond and render in judgment to him all things which were legally judged ought not be in the right of said Berengar but of Hugo.  But he refused to accept the surety as a legal bond, saying he would make war through his knight with another knight of lady Ermessenda so that with both fighting there would be one victor who would establish whose right prevailed.  Since said Ermessenda did not wish to accept this because Gothic law does not order business to be determined by battle, said Hugo, without any authority of Gothic law violently invaded what Ermessenda possessed with her son thorugh the charter of sale and through other legal determinations and bonds of sacraments which Hugo had made with count Raymond when he was 24 years old.  Since Ermessenda truly acknowledged that she and her son were unjustly expelled from said possession, in the month of August of the abovewritten year, she legally petitioned said count Hugo in the presence of said count Bernard and bishop Oliban and judge William of Girona and Guifré of Osona and Bonfilio of Barcelona, nobles residing [there] Mir of Ostoles, Amato viscount of Girona, Gaucefred Bernard and his brother Raymond, Audegar of Mulinello, Raymond of Púbol, Gaucefred Vital, Gerald of Caprara, Seniofred Guitard, Arnust of Bigrio, Silvio with his father Lobet, Gifred of Mulinello, Gondebald of Bisorens, William of St. Stephen, Bernard Amato deacon, William, deacon from Castro Olone, Bernard Soniofred, Gadal Donnutio deacon, Raymond Sancio, Seniofred Lardal and Seniofred Macoto, Bernard Ruviro, Ermengald Bernard and many other whose names it would be long to list, who were on the side of count Bernard and of Hugo, clerics as well as laymen.  Count Hugo chose as his defender/advocate in writing for this petition  Berengar son of Eldemar of Finestres to answer in his place.  To this countess Ermessenda said and acted thus saying:  I hear count Hugo was summoned because he invaded your possession and took it from your right; I know that he [Raymond?] did not invade since this possession within the boundaries of the county of Empúries  and the power which kings had there formerly, this count Hugo had there.  The judges, investigating the proof which each part offered, with the truth of the words determined before, found that from the day on which the allod came into the power of count Raymond, that count Raymond held it wholly without any impediment however it was fixed in said document of sale, and every toll and rent and all power that the king or count before him had there, that count Raymond had and held and possessed in said allod of Ullastret with all its appurtenances and adjacencies until the day he died.  Similarly said countess with her son, after the death of said count, held the prescribed allod with all its appurtenances and adjacencies and the power which the king or a count had before her, she held and possessed  with her son until before the judgment, with them absent, count Hugo unjustly invaded this possession and malevolently took said allod from her rule with everything in it.  The judges, however, when the case of such truth appeared, with the lawbooks of Gothic law open, judged that this possession with all its appurtenances and adjacencies should revert to the power of said count Berengar and his said mother and they should recover every power that they had there before, and count Hugo, if he had received anything in judgment, ought to lose it.  When this had been decided by the judges, count Bernard not wanting to obey the judgment persevered a long time in contempt as though he thought the case was not heard, having it confirmed by said judges by swearing the judgment on the altar of St. Genesius of Auriol since he was the surety on the part of Hugo, that Hugo was under judgment however those judges legally judged.  The judges having given the oath, Berengar son of Eldemar, advocate of Hugo was questioned by the judges whether he would accept witnesses whom the countess offered legally.   But he did not wish to accept them, and offering foolish and superfluous excuses, withdrew from the judgment without advice of the judges.  After this the judges received these witnesses according to the order of law, namely Gaucefred and Bernard Ruviro and Seniofred Guitard and Gerald brother of Dalmauy, Audegar of Molinellis and Seniofred Lardal, saying:  We witnesses swear by God creator of all things and by the altar and sacrament of St. John that was set in the church of St. Mary Virgin which is the see of Girona, that we know, seeing it, that said count Raymond held and possessed that allod of Ullastret with all its appurtenances and adjacencies, with all tolls and offerings which came from it in any way until he died, we saw that he had and possessed such power there as any man living has in his own things; [power of] judgment and administration clearly there, and what cases arose from pleas, count Raymond had his part in them and had it until he died.  Similarly after his death we saw that countess Ermessenda and her son Berengar had and possessed said allod of Ullastret with all its appurtenances and adjacencies and we saw they had every abovementioned power until the day that count Hugo invaded these and took them away from their power and right.  When the oath was taken by witnesses, the said judges consigned said allod into the power of countess Ermessenda and her son count Berengar, saying:  We the named judges William, Guifred, and Bonofilio, by all the authorities of law which pertain to this case, consign and hand over into the power and right of countess Ermessenda and her said son Berengar, the said allod of Ullastret with all its appurtenances and adjacencies and whatever Hugo took from said allod audaciously invaded, we consign the whole to you Ermessenda countess and your son count Berengar and we return and transfer from the power of the invader into your domain to be held perennially and possessed in peace.  Therefore, that this judgment remain undisturbed, we fortified it step by step with legal sentences so that it would be clear to all that count Hugo should not have usurped before the judgment what he usurped from the power of the possessors.  First we judged that the charter of sale which count Hugo asserted he had made in his minority ought to have been proved whether that was the thing by which they held what was invaded, then we judge that if anyone for this charter of sale demonstrated that Raymond had acted violently or anything else according to the law which is contained in the book 5, title 45, chapter 6 ought to demonstrate since it says:  If the guilt of any person has not been established during his lifetime, it is undoubtedly monstrous to accuse him of crime after his death. Where anyone, hereafter attempts to commit such acts, in order to defraud the heir of a person who is dead, he shall be restrained by the following law, to wit: that if any person shall accuse one who is dead of having been guilty of violence toward himself, or of having fraudulently deprived him of his property, or of having destroyed it, or of having owed him money, or of having perpetrated any unlawful act, as provided for in a former law, no credit shall attach to his assertions, unless he shall be able to indubitably establish their truth by competent written or oral evidence (Bk V, Title VI, Law VI). But since count Hugo did not see that, he made the invasion of prescribed things.  And the law which is contained in book 5, entitled, “Nothing says it” chapter 20: If anyone should sell or give to any person any property which is in litigation, before the claim of his adversary to said property shall have been judicially determined, or should permit any one to make use of said property, so that the possessor may be deprived of its control, without an order of court, he in whose possession the property formerly was shall have it at once restored to him by the judge, and the adverse party shall not be permitted to claim it again, even if his title to the same is found to be good (Bk V, Title IV, Law XX).   But since Hugo is accustomed to say that Peter, his judge handed over to him the said things to be occupied, we know that said Hugo  first commanded that judge and disposing handed over what was to be occupied and to be recovered in his power and because he did so, he will be  judged the invador, since he invaded the thing before he won.  And the law which is contained in book 8, title 1, chapter 5, says among other things:  And if, without waiting for a trial, such a person should seize said property while in the possession of another, or which is known to belong to someone else; everything that he seized or removed, whether it consists of real estate or personal property, he shall restore twofold to him whose rights have been invaded; and he shall be compelled to give to the complainant, the profits accruing each year, while said property was in his possession; and which he shall solemnly declare under oath that he has collected (Bk VIII, Title I, Law V). And another law which is contined in this book and title, chapter 7, says:  No one shall molest the house of a person who is absent, or while he is on a public expedition. Moreover, if anyone should seize property which he could have obtained by a decree of court, while the other party to the suit was absent, he shall restore said property twofold. If, however, he should seize anything which he could not legally obtain, he shall restore threefold the value of the same (Bk VIII, Title I, Law VII).

This was enacted on the 7th kalends of September in the 23rd year of the reign of king Robert in France.

+Gaucefred Vitali.  +Bernard Ruviro. +Soniofred Gitard. +Soniofred Lardal, we are the said witnesses of the possesion and confirm our testimony by oath.  +Gaucefred Bernard.  +Raymond Oliba.  +Raymond of Púbol.  +Arnust of Bigurio.  Silvio, son of Lobet.  +Lobet.  +William of St. Stephen.  +Bernard of Soniofred.  +Raymond Sancio.  Mir of Fabricata.  Amado viscount.  Wadalasar deacon (sign of his hand).  William deacon.  Bernard deacon.  I William, judge of this edict corroborate by touch with the need of eyes and impression by sign.  +Guifré deacon and judge under (sign of the hand).  Arbert (sign of the hand).  Falcucio deacon teacher of the little ones.  Sign of Pons, surname Bonofilio cleric and judge of Barcelona.

Sign + of Pons, surname Bonofilio, cleric and judge I who wrote this and signed on the day and year above (sign of his hand).

Original letter: 

<H>ec noticia iuditii indicat causam que orta est inter Ermesendem comitissam et Hugonem comitem Impuritanensem anno uidelicet .xxiii. regni Roberti, post discessum domini Raimundi incliti comiti. Tenebat enim supradicta comitissa tutelam filii sui Berengarii comitis qui post finem patris remansit in minoribus annis. Propterea Hugo iam dictus requisiuit eam ut reddidisset illi alode quod dicitur Ulastred, quod ipsa tenebat per cartam uenditionis quam Hugo iste fecerat domino Raimundo comiti et per diffiniciones legales et per sacramentorum colligationes postquam iste Hugo transfuderat iam dictum alode cum omnibus suis pertinentiis et adiacentiis in potestate domini Raimundi comitis. Nam iste petitor asserebat se fecisse hanc cartam uendicionis in minoribus annis pro quo Ermessendis uice filii sui iam dicti, in presentia Bernardi comitis Bisullunensis et Olibani Ausonensis episcopi aliorumque multorum tam nobilium quam ceterorum uoluit fideiussorem dare Hugoni et uoluit se conligare cum illo legaliter, ut quemadmodum lex ordinasset, parata fuisset illi respondere et in iudicio reddere illi omnia que legaliter iudicata fuissent non debere esse iuris Berengarii prefati sed Hugonis. At ille renuit recipere fideiussorem se alium legalem conligacionem, dicens facere bellum per militem suum cum altero milite domine Hermesendis ut utrisque decertantibus unus uictor effectus patuisset cuius iuris debebat esse quod requirebat. Cumque hoc noluisset recipere iam dicta Ermesendis eo quod lex gotica non iubet ut per pugnam discutiantur negocia, Ugoni prefatus sine ulla auctoritate legis gotice uiolenter inuasit omne quod Ermesendis possidebat cum filio suo per cartam uendicionis et per alias legales definitiones seu sacramentorum colligationes que Ugo fecerat transactis etatis sue .xiiii. annis Raimundo comiti. Dumque Ermesendis ueraciter cognouisset se et filium suum expulsos esse iniuste a possessione supradicta, suprascripto anno mense augusto petiuit legaliter Ugonem iam dictum comitem in presentia Bernardi suprascripti comitis et Olibani episcopi iudiceque Guillemi Gerundensis et Gifredi Ausonensis et Bonifilii Barchinonensis residentibus nobilibus Mirono Ostalensi, Amato uececomiti Gerundensi, Gaucefredo Bernardo et Raimundo fratre eius, Audegario de Mulinello, Raimundo de Pubalo, Gaucefredo Uitale, Geraldo Caprariensi, Seniofredo Guitardo, Arnusto de Bigurio, Siluio cum patre suo Lobeto, Gifredo de Mulinello, Gondebaudo Bisorensi, Guilielmo de Sancto Stephano, Bernardo Amato leuita, Guilielmo leuita de Castro Olone, Bernardo Soniofredo, Gadallo Donnutio leuita, Raimundo Sancio, Seniofredo Lardale et Seniofredo Macoto, Bernardo Ruuiro, Ermengaudo Bernardo aliisque multis quorum nomina longum est texere, qui erant ex parte Bernardi comitis et Ugonis, tam clerici quam laici. Ad hanc quoque peticionem Ugo comes scriptis elegit assertorem suum Berengarium filium Eldemari de Fenestris ut uice sua ipse responderet. Ad hec quoque Ermessendis comitissa dicebat, sicuti et fecit dicens: Audio Ugonem comitem appellari eo quod ipse inuasit posessionem uestram et abstulit eam a uestro iure; scio quia non inuasit quoniam ista possessio et infra terminos comitatus Empuritanensis et potestatem quam reges ibi pridem habuerunt, iste Ugo comes ibi habebat. Discucientibus hoc iudicibus probationem quam utraque pars proferebat, discusa prius ueritate uerborum, inuenerunt quod a die qua ipsum alode uenit in potestate Raimundi comitis, ipse comes Raimudus sine ullo impedimento integriter tenuit eum quemadmodum terminatum est in supradicta scriptura uenditionis, et omnem censum atque redibitionem omnemque potestatem quam ibi aut rex aut c***omes ante eum habuit, ipse comes Raimundu habuit et tenuit atque possedit in iam dicto alode Ulastredo cum omnibus illius pertinentiis et adiacentiis usque in diem quo mortuus fuit. Similiterque iam dicta comitissa cum filio suo post discessum iam dicti comitis tenuit prescriptum alode cum omnibus suis pertinentiis et adiacentiis et potestatem quam ibi aut rex aut comes ante eam habuit ipse (sic) tenuit cum filio suo et possedit, quousque ante iudicium, absentibus ipsis, Ugo comes iniuste inuasit possessionem hanc et maliuole et a dominio eius abstulit prescriptum alode cum omnibus rebus ibi repositis. Iudices autem cum illic patuit causa tante ueritatis, apertis codicibus legum gotorum, iudicauerunt quia hec possessio cum omnibus suis pertinentiis et adiacentiis reuerti debebat in potestate Berengarii comitis predicti et matris sue iamdicte et omnem potestatem quam ante ibi habuerunt recuperare debebant, et Ugo comes, si aliquid periuditium potuisset recipere, exinde perdere debebat. Cumque hoc iudicatum fuisset a iudicibus, Bernardus comes nolens obedire huic iudicio tamdiu perseuerauit in ipsa contemptione quousque excogitauit rem inauditam, faciens confirmari a iudicibus supradictis iureiurando super altare Sancti Genesii de Orreolis hoc iudicium quoniam ipse fideiussor erat ex parte Ugonis, ut ipse Ugo talis extitisset in iuditio quemadmodum illi iudices legaliter iudicassent. Dato sacramento a iudicibus, Berengarius Eldemari filius assertor Ugonis interrogatus fuit a iudicibus ut recepisset testes quos comitissa proferebat legaliter. At ille noluit recipere eos, et proferens inanes et superfluas excusationes, absque consilio iudicum abstraxit se a iuditio. Post hec iudices secundum legis ordinem receperunt hos testes, Ga<u>cefredum uidelicet et Bernardum Ruuirum et Seniofredum Guitardum et Geraldum fratrem Dalmatii, Audegarium de Molinellis et Seniofredum Lardalem, ita dicentes: Iuramus nos testes per Deum factorem omnium rerum et per altare et sacramentum Sancti Iohannis quod fundatum est in ecclesia Beate Marie uirginis que sedes Gerunde est, quia nos uidendo scimus quod Raimundus comes supradictus tenuit et possedit ipsum alode de Ulastredo cum omnibus suis pertinentiis et adiacentiis, cum omnibus censibus et oblationibus que exinde ullo modo exiebant quousque mortuus fuit, potestatem talem ibi illi  uidimus habere et possidere qualem aliquis homo uiuens in suis rebus propriis habet; iudicem et saionem ibi eum uidius habere, et si que res ex placitis exiebant, comes Raimundus suam partem exinde habebat et habuit quousque obiit. Similiter post decessum eius uidimus Ermesendem comitissam et filium suum Berengarium habere et possidere supradictum alode de Ulastredo cum omnibus suis pertinentiis et adiacentiis et omnem supradictam potestatem uidimus eos ibi habere et possidere usque in diem quo Ugo comes inuasit hec omnia et abstulit a potestate et iure illorum. Dato autem hoc sacramento a testibus, iudices suprascripti consignauerunt supradictum alode in potestate Ermesendis comitisse et filii sui Berengarii comitis, ita dicentes: Nos creati iudices Gillelmus, Guifredus atque Bonus Filius, per omnes auctoritates legum que ad hanc rem pertinent consignamus et contradimus in potestate atque iure Ermessendis comitisse supradictique filii sui Berengarii supradictum alode de Ulastreto cum omnibus suis pertinentiis et adiacentiis et quicquid Ugo ex predicto alode presumpciosus inuasit et abstulit, totum tibi Ermesendi comitisse et filio tuo Berengario comiti consignamus et de potestate inuasoris in uestro dominio reducimus et transfundimus perhenniter habendum et quiete possidendum. Igitur, ut hoc iuditium maneat inconuulsum, gradatim sententiis legum eum muniuimus et ut cunctis perpateat quod Ugo comes ante iuditium nec debuerat usurpare quod usurpauit a potestate posessorum. Primo iudicauimus ut cartam uendicionis quam Ugo comes asserebat fecisse in minoribus annis ante debuerat comprobari utrum ita esset quam res que per ipsam tenebantur inuase fuissent, dehinc iudicamus ut si aliquis pro hac carta uenditionis uiolentum aud pro aliqua re alia esse sibi Raimundum comitem astruxisset secundum legem que continetur libro .v. titulo .vl. capite .vi. debuerat astruere, quia ita dicit: Si uiuentis cuiuslibet manifesta culpa non apparet, nefas esse nec dubitandum est ut eum quisque post obitum mansisse si reum accuset, ne igitur in fraude heredis defuncti quicumque post hec talia conetur presumere huius legis sanctione redargui se nouerit, scilicet ut si quis quemlibet defunctum uiolentiis aut peruasorem sue rei siue directorem seu debitorem fuisse astruxerit, eumque quidquid illi certum secundum superiorem ordinem dixerit perpetrasse nec aliter eius assercioni credatur nec per qualemcumque scripturam aut testificationem legitimam id uerum esse indubitanter edoceat. Sed quia Ugo comes non expectauit idcirco inuasionem de prescriptis rebus fecit.  Et lex qui continetur in libro .v. titulo “Nil ita dicit” capitulo .xx.: Si quis rem que est per iudicium repetenda priusquam aduersarium legaliter idest iudicialiter superet ita uendidit uel donauit alicui aut forsan tradidit occupandam ut absque audientia iudicis priuetur dominium possessoris, ipse qui possidet per executionem iudicis rem que occupata fuerat statim recipiat, nec de eius postmodum repeticione contempdat (sic) eciam si causa sit bona petentis. Sed quia Ugo solet dicere quod Petrus, suus iudex illi tradidit suprascriptas res occupandas, scimus  quod iam dictus Ugo illi iudici primo mandauit atque deliberando tradidit eas ad occupandum et in suo dominio recuperandum, et pro eo quod ita fecit, sicut inuasor iudicabitur, quia rem antequam uinceret inuadi fecit. Et lex que continetur libro .viii. titulo .I. capitulo .v. ita dicit inter alia: Quia si nec expectata discussione id quod ab alio possidetur aut iuris alterius esse dignoscitur inuaserit, omne quod abstulit uel presumptuosus inuasit tam in mancipiis quam in ceteris rebus duplum ei restituat de cuius iure uisus est abstulisse, uel singulorum annorum fruges quas inde fideliter collegisse iurauerit petitori compellatur exsoluere. Et altera lex que continetur hoc libro et titulo, capitulo .vii. dicit ita: Nullus domum inquietet absentis nec in expeditione publica constituti, et si quid per iuditium recipere potuisset absente eo que querat conuenturus inuaserit, reddat in duplum, si uero illus inuaserit, quod per nullum iudicium illi debebatur, reddat in triplum, hoc quod in aliis capitulis legum que ad hanc rem pertinent inuenietur.

Actum est hoc iuditium .vii. kalendas septembris anno .xxiii. regni Roberti regis in Francia.

+Gaucefredus Uitalis. +Bernardus Ruuirus. +Soniofredus Gitardus. +Soniofredus Lardal, nos testes supradicte possessionis sumus et iurando testimonium nostrum confirmamus. +Gaucefredus Bernardus. +Raimundus Oliba. +Raimundus de Pubalo. +Arnustus de Bigurio. Siluius, Lobeti filius. +Lobetus. +Guilielmus de Sancto Stephano. +Bernardus Soniofredus. +Raimundus Sancius. Mironus de Fabricata. Amado uicecomes. Wadalasare leuita. (s. man.) Uillelmus leuita. Bernardus leuita. Ego Guilielmus iudex huius edictionis tactu necessitate oculorum signoque impressionis corroboro. +Guifredus leuita qui et iudex sub (s. man).  Arbertus (s. man.).  Falcucius leuita doctor paruulorum (s. man.)  S. Poncii cognomento Bonus Filius clericus et iudex Barchinonensis.

Sig+num Poncius cognomento Bonus Filius, clericus et iudex qui hec scripsi et sss die et anno quo supra (s. man.).

Historical context: 

While not technically a letter, this is the record of the case brought by the countess against count Hugo of Empuries over possession of the allod of Ullastret which Hugo had sold to the late count Raymond and the judgment in her favor.  Hugo seems to have claimed that the land was taken from him when he was a minor.  He wished to have the case decided by judicial combat, but the countess refused, saying that was not acceptable in Gothic law, so Hugo invaded the land.  The brief statement of the countess is confusing as it stands; I assume that Hugo accused her husband of invasion.  The translations of the citations of Visigothic law in the document were taken from The Visigothic Code:  (Forum judicum), ed. S. P. Scott, The Library of Iberian Resources Online.


Printed source: 

Cartoral, dit de Carlemany, del bisbe de Girona (S.IX-XIV), ed. Josep Maria Marquès (Barcelona:  Fundació Noguera, 1993), 2 v.,  1.171-76, #77.  


1018, August 26