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The House of Trencavel: A Charter of Homage and Fealty, 1110

The coat of arms of the House of Trencavel Bernard Atton IV, Viscount of Carcassonne, renders homage to Leo, Abbot of Lagrasse in 1110 for some of his possessions (he held many others including all the main ones from the King of Aragon)

The monks at Lagrasse, as at many other abbeys, were expert forgers; so we cannot be sure that this document is genuine. It could easily have been fabricated in order to establish a later Abbot's "historic" rights.


In the name of the Lord, I, Bernard Atton, Viscount of Carcassonne, in the presence of my sons, Roger and Trencavel, and of Peter Roger of Barbazan, and William Hugo, and Raymond Mantellini, and Peter de Vietry, nobles, and of many other honourable men, who have come to the monastery of St. Mary of Grasse, to the honour of the festival of the august St. Mary: since Lord Leo, abbot of the said monastery, has asked me, in the presence of all those above mentioned, to acknowledge to him the fealty and homage for the castles, manors, and places which the patrons, my ancestors, held from him and his predecessors and from the said monastery as a fief, and which I ought to hold as they held, I have made to the Lord Abbot Leo acknowledgement and homage as I ought to do.



Bernard Atton or Bernard Aton or Bernard Ato. Bernard IV.

St Mary of Grasse = the Abbey at Lagrasse.

One gets the impression that this charter (if it is genuine) must have been obtained under duress.

Therefore, let all present and to come know that I the said Bernard Atton, Lord and Viscount of Carcassonne, acknowledge verily to thee My Lord Leo, by the grace of God, Abbot of St. Mary of Grasse, and to thy successors that I hold and ought to hold as a fief in Carcassonne the following: that is to say, the castles of Confoles, of Leocque, of Capendes (which is otherwise known as St. Martin of Sussagues); and the manors of Mairac, of Albars and of Musso; also, in the valley of Aquitaine, Rieux, Traverina, Hérault, Archas, Servians, Villatiitoes, Tansiraus, Presler, Cornelles.



Moreover, I acknowledge that I hold from thee and from the said monastery as a fief the castle of Termes in Narbonne; and in Minerve the castle of Ventaion, and the manors of Cassanolles, and of Ferral and Aiohars; and in Le Rogés, the little village of Longville; for each and all of which I make homage and fealty with hands and with mouth to thee my said lord abbot Leo and to thy successors, and I swear upon these four gospels of God that I will always be a faithful vassal to thee and to thy successors and to St. Mary of Grasse in all things in which a vassal is required to be faithful to his lord, and I will defend thee, my lord, and all thy successors, and the said monastery and the monks present and to come and the castles and manors and all your men and their possessions against all malefactors and invaders, at my request and that of my successors at my own cost; and I will give to thee power over all the castles and manors above described, in peace and in war, whenever they shall be claimed by thee or by thy successors.



Termes was later besieged in 1210 during the Cathar Wars (or Albigensian Crusade)

Minerve was later besieged in 1210 during the Cathar Wars (or Albigensian Crusade)

"I make homage and fealty with hands and with mouth": The ceremony involved the viscount kneeling and placing his hands together as in prayer (this is where the modern Christian prayer pose comes from). The Viscount and Abbot would also kiss each other on the mouth.

Moreover I acknowledge that, as a recognition of the above fiefs, I and my successors ought to come to the said monastery, at our own expense, as often as a new abbot shall have been made, and there do homage and return to him the power over all the fiefs described above.



And when the abbot shall mount his horse I and my heirs, viscounts of Carcassonne, and our successors ought to hold the stirrup for the honour of the dominion of St. Mary of Grasse; and to him and all who come with him, to as many as two hundred beasts, we should make the abbot's purveyance in the borough of St. Michael of Carcassonne, the first time he enters Carcassonne, with the best fish and meat and with eggs and cheese, honourably according to his will, and pay the expense of shoeing of the horses, and for straw and fodder as the season shall require.


    Carcassonne was the Trencavel's capital

And if I or my sons or their successors do not observe to thee or to thy successors each and all the things declared above, and should come against these things, we wish that all the aforesaid fiefs should by that very fact be handed over to thee and to the said monastery of St. Mary of Grasse and to thy successors.



I, therefore, the aforesaid Lord Leo, by the grace of God abbot of St. Mary of Grasse, receive the homage and fealty for all the fiefs of castles and manors and places which are described above: in the way and with the agreements and understandings written above; and likewise I concede to thee and thine heirs and thy successors, the viscounts of Carcassonne, all the castles and manors and places aforesaid, as a fief, along with this present charter, divided through the alphabet. And I promise to thee and thy heirs and successors, viscounts of Carcassonne, under the religion of my order, that I will be good and faithful lord concerning all those things described above.


    The form is much the same as any act of homage and fealty of the period. It was not unusual for senior clergymen to accept homage just like any temporal lord.

Moreover, I, the aforesaid viscount, acknowledge that the little villages of Cannetis, Maironis, Villamagna, Aiglino, Villadasas, Villafrancos, Vitladenz, Villaudriz, St. Genese, Conguste and Mata, with the farm-house of Mathus and the chateaux of Villalauro and Claromont, with the little villages of St. Stephen of Surlac, and of Upper and Lower Agrifolio, ought to belong to the said monastery, and whoever holds anything there holds from the same monastery, as we have seen and have heard read in the privileges and charters of the monastery, and as was there written.

    Presumably, these places had been claimed at some time in the past by the Trencavels.

Made in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1110, in the reign of Louis.


king Louis VI of France (Louis the Fat).

A curious vestige of the Carolingian age was that legal acts here (and in Aragon) were still dated by reference to the reigns of French Kings as the successors of the Frankish kings.

And I, the monk John, have written this charter at the command of the said Lord Bernard Atton, Viscount of Carcassonne and of his sons, on the day and year given above, in the presence and witness of all those named above.


Seal of
Bernard Atton, Viscount of Carcassonne
Seal of
Raymond Mantellini
Seal of
Peter Roger of Barbazon
Seal of
son of the said Viscount of Carcassonne
Seal of
Peter de Vitry
Seal of Trencavel,
son of the said Viscount of Carcassonne
Seal of William Hugo
Seal of
Lord Abbot Leo, who has accepted this acknowledgement of the homage of the said viscount


From Teulet: Layetters du Tresor des Chartres No. 39, Vol 1., p. 36, translated by E.P. Cheyney in University of Pennsylvania Translations and Reprints, (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1898), Vol 4:, no, 3, pp. 18-20




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Arms of the Trencavels.
Charter of homage and fealty, Bernard Atton