An Empire of Memory
eleventh century, the monastery of Saint-Sauveur in
    Charroux developed its own tradition about how it came to posses a fragment of
    the True Cross. Ademar of Chabannes recorded that Charlemagne first received
    this relic from the patriarch of Jerusalem before passing it on to the abbey.
    Charroux’s own earliest version of its foundation was called the Privilegium and
    was likely composed c.1045.69 Ruling the kingdom of the Franks and possessing
    Roman imperial authority, Charlemagne was praised so highly throughout the
    world that he was called ‘the great’. While traveling to Spain to battle the Saracens
    with Count Roger of Limoges, Charles met a lone British pilgrim, who had brought
    back a piece of the True Cross from his recent trip to Jerusalem. The pilgrim gave
    Charlemagne the relic on the condition that he would build a church suitable to
    house it. Charles awoke the next morning to find that God apparently favored
    Charles’s plan because the woods around his camp had been miraculously cleared
    during the night. Roger (with his wife Eufrasia) then built the new monastery of
    Saint-Sauveur on the miraculous site and Charlemagne confirmed its liberty. Later
    that year, the patriarch of Jerusalem and king of the Persians both sent envoys to
    Charles with numerous (primarily christological) relics, which were, again, passed
    to Roger of Limoges who, in turn, passed them to Charroux. The Privilegium closes
    with Pope Leo III dedicating Charroux’s church and high altar.70
    In some ways, this elaborate account of Charroux’s foundation functions simi-
    larly to the claims of either Aniane or Saint-Riquier; as a justification of Charroux’s
    66 Michael McCormick, Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce, A.D.
    300–900 (Cambridge, 2001), 290–318.
    67 Caroli Magni Diplomata, ed. Mühlbacher, i, no. 228. Although Mühlbacher believed this
    diploma to have been forged, see now the comments in The Cartulary of Flavigny, 717–1113. ed.
    Constance Brittain Bouchard (Cambridge, Mass., 1991), no. 13.
    68 Angilbert, De ecclesia Centulensis libellus, MGH SS 15: 174–6; Chronicon Moissiacense, MGH SS
    1: 309; and Ardo, Vita sancti Benedicti Anianensis, MGH SS 15: 206 n. 1. On the importance of the
    cross generally to the Carolingians, see Celia Chazelle, The Crucified God in the Carolingian Era:
    Theology and Art of Christ’s Passion (Cambridge, 2001).
    69 Ademar, Chronicon, ed. Landes and Pon, 161. The 11th-cent. Miracula sancti Genulphi episcopi,
    MGH SS 15: 1206 tells a similar story but omits the patriarch. The title of the Charroux text comes
    from the editor of the abbey’s cartulary, D. P. de Monsabert. On the dating of the Privilegium, see
    L.-A. Vigneras, ‘L’Abbaye de Charroux et la légende du pèlerinage de Charlemagne’, Romanic Review,
    32 (1941), 126; and Remensnyder, Remembering, 312. For more on Charroux, see Ch. 2 below.
    70 Liber de Const. 1–6.
    28
    The Franks Remember Empire
    relics as well as its privileged place in God’s affections. Yet, even though the
    Privilegium is a foundation narrative for Charroux, it also fundamentally commem-
    orates the ‘moment when the [True Cross] became paired with the king’. Charle-
    magne and the relic reinforce one another’s power.71 An early twelfth-century vita
    of St William of Gellone made this slippage between relic and ruler quite clear. In
    the Vita, the patriarch of Jerusalem sent legates bearing gold and relics to honor
    Charlemagne’s new imperial dignity. Charles then passed the relics on to William
    for his new monastery, with the emperor saying:
    ‘these [relics] will always be true and most certain symbols, an eternal memorial, a
    means of frequently recalling [my] affection [for you]. For without doubt, as often as
    you gaze upon . . . or touch . . . these holy objects, you will not be able to forget your
    lord Charles.’72
    The relic has become a memorial not only of Christ and his Passion, but of Charle-
    magne

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