Most Undeservedly Overlooked Person in the Database Competition: Scrot

Posted: Dec. 15, 2014, 2:14 p.m. by Edward Roberts

by Edward Roberts

My choice for this competition is a certain ScrotHe first appears as a witness of a charter in 772 (Freising no. 50), but really comes into his own in 776 (Freising no. 72), at which point he unfortunately dies. Scrot, apparently ill, made a grant of property to the church of Freising on his deathbed, and his grieving father Toto enacted and confirmed the donation in this charter. Toto stressed his fondness for Scrot by asserting that he had loved him ‘as if he were my only son’ (quasi unicum). But Scrot did in fact have numerous brothers; in fact they all consented to this gift. One wonders what the brothers made of their father’s declaration that Scrot seemed to be the only one of them worthy of paternal affection. Indeed, one brother, Wago, also gave property to Freising on the same day – though, tellingly, not in memory of Scrot, but for his own salvation.

A year later, Scrot makes a slightly unexpected return in the Freising cartulary (in no. 86), in a charter which reveals that the various arrangements made by Toto, his other sons, and the bishop of Freising had completely fallen apart. In fact, things were so bad that Tassilo III, duke of the Bavarians had to step in and sort them all out. Another one of the brothers had taken for himself some of the land which had been promised by Toto to Freising for Scrot’s soul. Toto, for his own part, seems to have reneged on his promise for Scrot because his wife apparently had also died, and Toto remarried. Presumably the brothers were unhappy at the prospect of further heirs to share in the family’s fortune. So, in order to prevent things from getting out of hand, Tassilo, his ‘senate’ (senatus), the bishop of Salzburg and a few judges all turned up in Freising to finally put an end to the family’s quarrelling. Tassilo ordered the original grant for Scrot be maintained with some minor adjustments and demanded that everyone stop fighting and play nicely.

So, my nomination for ‘most undeservedly overlooked person’ is Scrot, not only because he has a wonderfully unfortunate name by our standards, but also because his posthumous career gives us an intriguing (yet rather tragic) glimpse of Bavarian family politics in the decade before the Carolingian conquest.