The Medieval Review 11.12.01

Mayer, Hans Eberhard and Jean Richard. Die Urkunden der lateinischen Könige von Jerusalem. Monumenta Germaniae Historica - Diplomata Regum Latinorum Hierosolymitanorum. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2010. Pp. xxviii, 1812 in 4 volumes. 340 EUR. ISBN 978-3-7752-2100-9. . .

Reviewed by:

Deborah Gerish
Emporia State University

Professor Mayer has spent a lifetime editing royal charters from the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the long-awaited fruits of his labor will benefit all scholars of Outremer, crusading, the military orders, and diplomatic history. He has produced a carefully edited and highly detailed four-volume collection of these documents and their provenance. Mayer provides detailed diplomatic analyses, helpful indices, and a lengthy bibliography so that others can examine the charters' content with a wide range of tools. He has, in short, provided a versatile research tool that scholars can use for decades to comeoverarching interpretations of content could have shortened the working life of these volumes. Readers familiar with the kingdom's history and/or medieval chancery practices will find the volumes highly useful; this is not, however, a text for beginners or casual readers.

Mayer has arranged his materials carefully, from the documents to the extensive apparatus. Volume I includes a lengthy Introduction and royal documents issued from 1099 to 1163, the regnal years from Godfrey of Bouillon to Baldwin III. Charters from kings, queens, and regents continue in volumes II (1138 to 1205, from Amalric to Aimery of Lusignan) and III (1211 to 1291, from John of Brienne to Henry II of Cyprus). Volume III also contains coronation oaths, modern forgeries, and documents issued by people acting on behalf of the crown without officially bearing the title of regent. Lastly, Volume IV provides valuable registers and indices: an index for the Introduction; an extensive bibliography of secondary literature; registers of recipients, witnesses, places, terms, and topics named within the charters; and a concordance comparing Mayer's document numbers with Röhricht's numbers from the Regesta regni hierosolymitani (1893 and 1904). The Quellenregister, or recipient index, will prove especially convenient for many scholars, for it is organized by recipient and cross-references the lands affected in these charters. For collectives such as military orders, religious institutions, and Italian city-states, Mayer gives extensive information on the location of extant documents.

Mayer's Introduction requires its own index because it goes into great detail on every aspect of the document collection. Subsections explore the state of research on royal charters from Jerusalem; issuers and recipients; the corpus of royal charters as a whole; surviving records of the charters; the royal chancery and other scriptoria; non- chancellor dictators and writers; diplomatic forms in the documents; external attributes of originals including their physical appearance; internal characteristics such as variations of diplomatic formulas, witness lists, and ceremonial developments; means of authentication through ribbons and seals. These parts of the Introduction draw on Mayer's considerable expertise regarding diplomatic practices and his meticulous research on the royal chancery of Jerusalem for Die Kanzlei der Lateinischen Könige von Jerusalem (1996), which scholars of the royal charters will also want to consult. Curiously, the section on the king and the lords of Outremer takes up fewer than five pages, perhaps because Mayer did not want to revisit older controversies about the relationship between crown and lords. He limits his remarks here, as elsewhere in this work, to diplomatic practices. Another section explores aspects of the charters' contents, which Mayer organizes into gifts, confirmations, exchanges, restitutions, enfeoffments, settlements, court judgments, and privileges for the maritime cities of Italy. The Introduction closes with discussions of excluded charters and editorial principles.

Mayer presents the 836 documents in the main series by issuer. Kings, queens, and regents for royal minors receive their own sections, which begin with a summary of the issuer's titles and dates for major events such as coronation, marriage, and death. Understandably, Mayer has generally included only material pertaining to issuers' careers as rulers of Jerusalem, but he does supply helpful references in the section openings (except for the Hohenstaufen rulers, on whom a vast literature exists). Each charter has a summary, a discussion of its textual and chancery history, and whenever possible an authoritative Latin text, in keeping with the editorial principles of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica.

Several factors make it difficult to evaluate a broad-ranging and complex research tool like this one. First, the documents themselves resist organization: as Mayer notes, the royal chancery in Jerusalem could not compare to sister organizations in Europe, especially England, for sophisticated documentary procedures. Chancery personnel in Outremer developed ad hoc practices for many years, just like the Latin settlers did overall. Mayer remarks on individual trees among these documents because the forest resists description. A similar difficulty emerges for the issuers of these charters: editorial rules become harder to establish with such a small collection of individuals. Readers unfamiliar with the Kingdom of Jerusalem will want to consult a good history to understand why Mayer chose to include Maria Comnena's charters after she was no longer queen, or why Guy of Lusignan's section includes documents issued as count and king but not as regent for his stepson King Baldwin V. Mayer's editorial choices for these volumes had to account for idiosyncratic royal successions in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, then the changeable fate of royal documents after 1291, so it is no wonder that he focused on small details.

Despite these complications, I can easily label Mayer's work a classic, in two senses. His training in paleography and diplomatics is no longer common; few graduate programs require or even offer intensive coursework in these areas, at least in the United States. (Readers interested in advanced techniques can watch Mayer work in the Introduction). Whether as a cause or a consequence of less training, medievalists have moved away from diplomatics in response to new lines of research: studies of spirituality, gender constructions, and cross- cultural interaction do not have to incorporate charters, where the political or institutional project would be hamstrung without such documents. For these reasons, Mayer's bibliography emphasizes older issues in the history of Outremeranother mark of a classic. He cites research on kings and lords, military arrangements, political structures, church history, and related topics in the eastern Mediterranean between 1095 and 1291. Given historiographical trends within crusades studies, most of these studies date from the 1970s to the 1990s, and even so the bibliography runs to about 75 pages. Readers will therefore find this section of the work useful, but only up to a point; they should consult additional resources for more recent publications in the field. Those new to diplomatics can find online guides at Medieval ORB and through library research guides. A final suggestion to readers: survey volumes I and IV carefully before turning to the documents, as it would be easy to miss essential information.

Given the scope and high quality of these volumes, it becomes obvious why the publisher referred to this work as Mayer's magnum opus. He has largely succeeded at providing a complete research tool, since no single work could include a comprehensive bibliography of every crusades publication. And Mayer has updated and expanded Röhricht's registers with the touch of a master diplomatist, providing authoritative versions of the charters for a new century of crusades research.