Galen Broeker and the Problem of Cunhlat: Is Peter Bartholomew from the Livradois?

Door to St Martin de Cunhlat

I left Auvergne long enough ago that I am now in the reflecting and annotating phase when it comes to those pictures (all of the pictures are finally on my computer; my output should increase).  I have all kinds of ideas how the various sites/sights and texts that I’ve seen could work in my dissertation, I have come up with a couple of article ideas, I’ve started laying out an outline for a chapter of the dissertation—all very, very profitable.

Cunlhat (pronounced koon-yacht by one of the archivists) was one of the places I was incredibly excited to visit.  I had remembered the Peter Bartholomew, finder of the Holy Lance and general millenarian prophet of the First Crusade, was the servant of William Peyre of Cunlhat, and thus from the Auvergne.  This was a massively understudied connection, I was going to make vast changes to the discipline, etc. etc.  I may still, and Cunlhat was lovely; before we get to my dilemma and my appeal to our readership, lets look at what I found.

First of all, Cunlhat is in the middle of nowhere, that nowhere being the national forest of Livradois-Forez, up in the Massif Central, on a long series of small roads over tall, misty, forested mountains.  Coming in over the city from the outside on one of the many, many cold and rainy days I experienced, it looks something like this:

The church inside the town is one of the few easily visible medieval vestiges of the tiny town, and the only one listed in the guidebook I had handy.  I figured that I would be able to go to town at a reasonable hour, take some pictures of the church, and be done.  What I had not counted on was how incredibly secularized France has become, to the point of many, many churches not being in operation anymore, and random individuals in the community being the keeper of the keys.  Here’s the church:

I tried the door, which, despite being in horrible shape, was solidly locked.  Not being one to give up easily, I went to the mayor’s office across the street and bothered the nice lady who was at work.  She discovered she didn’t have any keys to the church, looked up the phone number of the lady in town who did, and I tried calling her.  No response.  I tried again.  No response.

So, I did not get into the church, but thankfully the internet (and Flickr) came through for me, via a Google Image search for “St Martin de Cunlhat”:

The capitals make me thing that I need to go back, after arranging for the thing to be open.

The departmental archives of Puy-de-Dome have a small file on St. Martin de Cunlhat, but it is uncatalogued; I looked at the first volume of some 28ish files, presumably the earliest, and discovered that it was a late medieval book discovered by the church priest in a castle library sometime later.

It was a lovely book, beautifully written, but not particularly helpful.

So here is the problem.  This all seems very functional, I think there’s a lot I can do with the region and bringing Cunlhat in touch with local religious foundations, talking about the relationship between churches and lords throughout the Livradois-Forez, etc… Except I’m not completely convinced that Peter Bartholomew is the servant of William Peyre of Cunlhat.  It seems to be a construct of Jonathan Riley-Smith, and I’m not usually one for disagreeing without more study with great scholars, so here are the the footnotes.

In his book The First Crusaders: 1095-1131 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997), he lists the primary sources for William Peyre of Cunhlat as “RA 71, 105; WT 358” (p. 226).  In The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), he writes in a footnote “For William Peyre of Cunhlat, see also Raymond of Aguilers, p. 105; William of Tyre, p. 295; Riley-Smith, ‘The motives’, p. 732.” (p. 180, fn 39).  In that article, “The motives of the earliest crusaders and the settlement of Latin Palestine” (The English Historical Review, Oct. 1983, p. 721-736), he writes “William Peyre, lord of Cunlhat, had been the employer of Peter Bartholomew, the visionary and discoverer of the relic of the Holy Lance, and had been a knight of Peter of Narbonne, one of Raymond’s clerics who had been appointed the first Latin bishop of Albara in Syria. In 1103 he was still at Raymond’s side and was one of the count’s constables.” (p. 732).  The footnote attached is: “1. Raymond of Aguilers, Liber, pp. 71, 105 ; Devic and Vaissete, Histoire generale de Languedoc, v. 781; Roziere, Cartulatre, p. 182 (Rohricht, Regesta, nos. 38, 48); J. Richard, ‘Le chartrier de Ste.-Marie-Latine et l’etablissement de Raymond de St.-Gilles a Mont-Pelerin’, Melanges Louis Halpen (Paris, 1951), p. 610. See J. Richard, Le comte de Tripoli sous la dynastie toulousane (1102—1187) (Paris, 1945), p. 49. » (Ibid., fn 1)  I don’t have the Jean Richard on me in France, but I was able to check the almost all the rest (except the HGL, which I could not find for some reason).  What I discovered was that we have a clear record of a William Peter being Peter Bartholomew’s lord in Raymond of Aguilers, a William son of Peter of Cunhlat being given the garrison of Albara when Peter of Narbonne rejoined the army and acquitting himself well, a record in William of Tyre of it being William of Cunhlat who was the man in charge of Albara, and a William Peter who worked his way up the charter ranks under Raymond of Saint-Gilles.  All of this seems to fit together nicely, but…

And this is the big but, and I’d love someone out there in the internet world to help throw me a bone.  Is it enough? Am I missing a key piece of evidence that fits it all together?  All footnote trains I’ve seen on this topic lead back to Riley-Smith, and if I’m going to make this a big part of my dissertation, I’d like someone knowledgeable out there to hold my hand (metaphorically) and tell me it is ok and historically defensible.  It seems to fit together in a neat package if you want to put it that way (and I very, very much do), but not to be a definite truth.

Heading to England tomorrow, but will hopefully be able to post another blog entry soon.  Sorry for the slacking off on the updates, lots of pictures to go through—at present, 12500ish and counting.

Thomas Lecaque

Thomas Lecaque

Thomas W. Lecaque (History) is a PhD student in Medieval Europe. His research interests include the Crusades and Crusader States, Occitanian literature, music and history, the cult of saints, the Peace of God, vernacular literature, and Latin-Greek-Syriac Christian relations. His current research focuses on the Toulousain experience in the First and Second Crusades and the socioreligious background to the founding of the County of Tripoli.

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