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les Enluminures

[Register of Toll Charges for Tarascon, Lo registre del peage de Tarascon]

In Provençal with some Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern France, Provence (Tarascon-sur-Rhône), c. 1385-1400

TM 275

16 ff., complete (collation i-ii8), written in a rounded gothic bookhand, in brown ink on up to 25 long lines (justification 115 x 80 mm.), alternating red and blue painted initials throughout, parti-colored initials in blue and red (ff. 1, 1v), space left empty above beginning of text, likely for a rubric, drawing or miniature, never executed (fol. 1), some marginal notes in a later hand in French (ff. 1v, 5v, 8, 8v, 11v, 14v, 15v).  Bound  in a contemporary thick reversed calf binding over wooden boards, sewn on three thongs, back sewn on three raised thongs, original brass catch plate on lower board showing gothic letters ( front catch plate and clasp missing), remnants of pastedowns since removed with traces of faded ink, shelf-mark label pasted on inner side of upper board in lower left-hand corner: “518,” original stitching visible, the word “Pancarte” copied in ink on the upper board (Covers of binding worn and stained, but manuscript preserved in its original condition; some browning to parchment, never hindering legibility). Dimensions 190 x 135 mm.
Earliest known copy of the toll registers for Tarascon in southern France in an original binding and written in Provençal, which in itself renders the manuscript extremely scarce. Of immeasurable importance for the history of local taxation and commerce and for philological and linguistic studies, the present manuscript—a working copy for daily use—differs, sometimes substantially, from the edited, and later, record of the text.


1. Linguistic features and subject matter all suggest Tarascon-sur-Rhône (Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône) and its immediate surroundings as a likely place of origin for this manuscript. The core of the codex is written in Provençal dialect:  a thorough linguistic analysis of the text should yield instructive elements of dating. The manuscript must have subsequently circulated amongst francophone circles, as there are later marginal annotations (late 16th or 17th century?) that designate in French certain points of the Occitan text, and a note, partially erased but that reads: “Memoyre de descendre (?) le livre pour m’aider au St-Esperit” (f. 16v). The word “Pancarte” on the cover of the upper board appears to have been inscribed at a later date (on this word see below).
The manuscript most certainly dates after 1325, as this date is cited relating to an incident that occurred on the 9 October 1325:  “Nota que l’an mil .ccc. xxv. et lo .ix. jour del mes d’octubre passet per dessus lo rose [Rhône] un navech cargat de senders et li fon demandat lo peage lo qual respondet que non devie ren per so car non era trobat al registre que degessa…” (ff. 12v-13) [Note that the year 1325, and the day 9 October a ship [a boat] passed on the Rhône river carrying ashes and it was asked for the due toll but the boat [or rather its boatman] answered that he owed nothing because nothing was stipulated in the register…].  The gothic church of Saint Martha, still standing in Tarascon, is mentioned with reference to pilgrims that are exempt of toll when coming to Saint Martha during the three days that precede the Feast of Saint Martha (f. 10). The Church of Saint Martha was erected c. 1330. Thus a date in the latter half of the 14th century seems plausible for the transcription of this copy of the codex.  The present manuscript was copied during the reign of a male king, with frequent references to the “rey” all in the male form.  It should be noted that the reign of Joan I of Naples, Countess of Provence, covered the years 1343-1382 and the following monarch was Louis Ist followed closely by Louis II of Anjou (1377-1417). Had the manuscript been composed mid-century the text would likely have referred to a “reya” or “relha.” Thus the last quarter of the fourteenth century appears to be a plausible date for this manuscript. Monetary values quoted in the text might also yield dating information.
There are two proper names that are quoted a number of times, that of “Ma dama Elis.” (f. 2: “La part de ma dama elis es .i. d. per cascun muy petit”; f. 4: “E la part dels gentils homes .iii. d. so es assaber .ii. d. als gentils homes de la montason et .d. a ma dama elis.”) and “Johan Alba” (ff. 7v, 10v, 11, 14, 14v etc.). In the case of the former “Ma dama Elis”, it is known that women perceived the benefice of tithes and various tolls: in the fourteenth century, a certain “Dame Gualbos de Tarascon” perceived part of the tolls levied on salt, just like the present “Ma dama Elis” (see Hebert, 1979, p. 142). The latter “Johan Alba” was a member of the influential Alba family of ancient lineage whose very rich members included Saura and Gileta Alba (see Hebert, 1979, p. 142 and note 31, p. 152). Both “Ma dama Elis” and “Johan Alba” are quoted as beneficiaries when it is specified how the earnings resulting from the various tolls levied are to be split between the king (rey), the barons or noblemen “gentils homes” and either “Ma dama Elis” and “Johan Alba.” 
2. Private Collection, France.


ff. 1-1v, Gospel extract, in Latin, according to Saint John [John 1: 1-6], rubric, Inicium sancti evangelii secundum Iohannem; incipit, “In principio erat verbum et verbum erat apud deum…”;
ff. 1v-7, Toll charges relating to the transportation of salt, rubric, Sec si lo registre del peage de tarascon. Et premierament se tracta de la sal lo peage et la division daquel entre lo rey et los gentils hommes; incipit, “Lo muey petit de la mesura de tharascon montant de qualque luoc que vengua d’aval en montant…”; a marginal note in French reads: “Jaspreeest designé la portion du roy sur le peage et la portion des gentilhomes” (f. 1v); another note in French reads: “L’estimasion [sic] de l’argent pour le peage du sel” (f. 5v) [Bondurand, 1891, pp. 19-21: “C’est le tariff détaillé du péage du sel”; we give the page references in Bondurand for indicative purposes, knowing that at times the texts differ or present very different wording];
ff. 7-12v, Toll charges relating to the transportation of different merchandises and goods, rubric, Sec si lo peage de las mercandisas; incipit, “Carga de draps d’avingno la qua les de nou draps la carga….” [Bondurand, 1891, pp. 5-19];
ff. 12v-13, Exemptions from toll charges, rubric, Segon si las causas que son francas et non pagan point de peage; incipit, “L’aur et l’argent monedat verdet mersaria galas regalicia…” [Bondurand, 1891, pp. 16-18];
ff. 13-13v, Monetary considerations and conversions, rubric, Segon si la declaracion de las monedas; incipit, “Totas las monedas qui si levan als peages sobredits sia al peage de l’aygua et del portal de tarascon de sant gabriel de lobieras es a moneda de tornes…” [this portion of text not in Bondurand, 1891];
ff. 13v-15v, More toll charges and tariffs for merchandises and goods that transit the toll-gate of Tarascon, rubric, La forma et la manera del peage del portal de tarascon; incipit, “Carga de draps de franca de narbona…” [Bondurand, 1891, pp. 23-25];
ff. 15v-16, Toll point of Saint-Gabriel, with exemption for the inhabitants of the cities of Tarascon and Arles, rubric, Lo peage de sant Gabriel dont la gent d’arle et de tarascon son francs; incipit, “Carga d’oli de canebe, d’anhinas de pel de cabrit…”; explicit, “[…] lo florin de florencia val de la dicha moneda .xii. s[olidi]. viii. d[enarii]” [Bondurand, 1891, p. 26];
The present codex contains the set tariffs and toll charges applicable to all raw material, merchandises, goods, and persons that transited through three toll points (modern toll booths) in Tarascon-sur-Rhône and its immediate surroundings (toll points of Tarascon on the “Rose” [the river Rhône in Provençal]), the “Portal de Tarascon” (one of the city-gates) and the suburb of Saint-Gabriel.  The French and Provençal word for toll is “péage” from the Latin “pediaticum” meaning the “right to set foot [in a given place].”  It is a feudal tax levied in exchange of the right to circulate, to use a road, a river, a bridge, a city-gate etc.
Here are listed in great detail the occupations and credentials of commuters and travelers (the residents of Tarascon (“home de tharascon”), those of the facing town of Beaucaire, the Spaniards, the English, the Germans, the Lombards, the pilgrims (“romieu”), the indentured Saracen: “Et aussi un sarrazin esclau o esclaua o mastina paga cascun .ii. s. vi. d.” (f. 9)), the minters (“maistres de moneda”), etc.  Also supplied are the names of the goods they hauled (note the importance of salt and the considerable tolls levied on that essential good), the goods submitted to toll, those exempted, as well as the toll revenue perceived by the beneficiaries per unit of weight of a good or merchandise.  Once levied, a portion of the toll was destined to the king, and another portion was distributed to the “gentils homes” or local barons, as well as to certain members of influent families.
The register is written in the vernacular, here in Provençal, with a rich vocabulary pertaining to commerce, weights and measures, woven textiles, botany, produce, livestock and economy at large (with fiscal, monetary and trade terminology).
Traveling and engaging in commerce in the Middle Ages and Early Modern times could prove to be…taxing!  In addition to the numerous tithes and taxations, the roads and rivers of Europe were lined with toll booths (or toll points) and customs checkpoints, and there have been studies on the high number of toll stops on rivers such as the Rhône, the Garonne, and the Seine.  Initially a regal prerogative, which eventually enriched also local noblemen and religious houses, toll booths perceived fixed toll charges (péages or leydes) set in advance and that varied according to persons and merchandises, calculated according to all sorts of criteria, that varied for persons according to their occupation and residency, and for goods, depending on the amount, the place of provenance, the place of retail etc.
A later hand has inscribed on the upper cover of the manuscript the word “Pancarte.” This word well defines the nature of the text. A “pancarte” is defined by Marion as a posted sign or a register in which the contributor can find the toll charges due according to the goods or the people passing a given toll point (“Pancarte: Affiche mise ou devant etre mise dans les bureaux où se payaient des droits, particulièrement des droits de douane, des péages, pour faire connaitre au public ce qu’il avait a acquitter…Le mot de pancarte était devenu souvent synonyme de tarif”; see M. Marion, Dictionnaire des institutions de la France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1923, repr. 1979, p. 416).  In its extended sense, “pancarte” can mean simply “tariff,” and this is what the present manuscript contains, the tariffs and conditions applicable to persons and merchandises that pass the toll points of Tarascon, the “Portal de Tarascon” and Saint-Gabriel on the outskirts of Tarascon.    
The text of the “Registre del peage de Tarascon” was published in 1891 by E. Bondurand (see Literature below).  However, Bondurand did not have access to the present manuscript and based his critical edition on a text contained in the Livre rouge preserved in the Archives municipales in Tarascon, série AA 9, ff. 3-15.  Copied in the fifteenth century, this Livre rouge is in fact a sort of cartulary, containing a number of charters and including copies of the Coutumes and Privilèges, as well as an imperfect (and later) copy of the “Registre del peage de Tarascon” (see E. Bondurand, 1891 and also P. Meyer, 1864, p. 255; see also P. Meyer, “Le ‘Livre rouge’ de Tarascon,” in Bulletin historique et philologique, 1983, p. 503).  Bondurand comments on the archaic nature of a number of words and expressions and suggests the original text was likely composed in the thirteenth or fourteenth century because of these archaisms (Bondurand, 1891, p. 3). A comparison of our manuscript and the edited text by Bondurand shows that both sources are far from identical, the present manuscript being more complete and differing considerably from the formulations in the Livre rouge version.  Perhaps the present manuscript is the archetype “original” that Bondurand surmised once existed. A Latin version of the “Registre del peage de Tarascon” was published by L. Delisle et alia, in the appendix to the preface of the Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Saint-Victor de Marseille… (Paris, 1857), pp. LXXXI et sq.
This codex offers truly interesting research perspectives, be it for its linguistic and philological value, or as a source for the history of commerce, of taxation, or simply as insight into the daily activity and animation of a thriving Provençal town in the fourteenth century.


Bautier, R. “La circulation fluviale dans la France médiévale,” in Recherches sur l’économie de la France médiévale. Les voies fluviales–La draperie. Actes du 112e Congrès national des Sociétés savantes (Lyon, 1987), in Sur l’histoire économique dans la France médiévale. La route. Le fleuve. La foire, 1991.
Bondurand, Edouard. Les péages de Tarascon. Texte provençal, Nimes, 1891.
Derycke, Pierre-Henri. Le péage urbain: histoire, analyse, politiques, Paris, 1997.
Hebert, M. Tarascon au XIVe siècle. Hisoire d’une communauté urbaine provençale, Aix-en-Provence, 1979.
Hoquet, J.-C. Le sel et le pouvoir. De l’an mil à la Révolution, Paris, 1984.
Honnorat, S.-J. Dictionnaire Provençal-Francais ou Dictionnaire de la langue d’oc ancienne et moderne, Geneva, 1971 [Slatkine Reprints].
Meyer, P. Inventaire sommaire des archives communales antérieures à 1790: Ville de Tarascon, Paris, 1864.
Reynaud, F. Les péages sur la navigation du Rhône en Provence, Thesis of the Ecole des chartes, 1872.
Roussiaud, J. Le Rhône au Moyen Age. Histoires et représentations d’un fleuve européen, Aubier, 2007.
Vignal, R. Histoire de Tarascon-sur-Rhône, Marseille, 1979.

Online resources

Archives municipales [Tarascon]