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I.: THE GERMANS AND THE EMPIRE TO 1073 - Oliver J. Thatcher, A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age 
A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905).
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THE GERMANS AND THE EMPIRE TO 1073
The documents in this section are intended to illustrate the history of the Germans from the period before the migrations to the beginning of the struggle between the empire and the papacy, 1073. The historical development of this period resulted in the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, as the form of government for western Europe. The civilization of the Middle Age was in the main the result of the union of Roman and German elements. This union was brought about by the invasion of the Roman empire by the tribes of German blood that lay along and back of the frontier of the empire. It is important, therefore, to understand the character of the German race and institutions, which are illustrated by nos. 1 to 4. The leaders and organizers of the Germans after the settlement were the Franks, who under the Merovingian and Carolingian lines of rulers united the German tribes and bound them together in one great state. This movement is shown in nos. 5 to 14. In this development the life of Karl the Great (nos. 7 to 14) is of especial importance, because of the permanent result of much of his work, particularly his organization of the government (nos. 7 to 9), and his founding of the empire by the union of Italy and Germany (nos. 8, 13, and 14). The dissolution of his vast empire, resulting in the formation of France as a separate state, and in the appearance of the feudal states, is shown in nos. 15 to 22. In the rest of the documents the history of Germany and Italy, the real members of the empire, is followed. Of this the important features are: the continued connection of Germany with Italy (nos. 23 and 29), resulting in the restoration of the empire by Otto I; the feudal organization of Germany (nos. 24, 25, and 27); and the increase of the German territory toward the east (nos. 26, 28, 32). This brings the history down to the accession of Henry IV, with whom begins the long conflict between the empire and papacy which is treated in section III.
Selections from the Germania of Tacitus,ca. 100 ad
The Germania of the Roman historian Tacitus (54-119 ad) is a treatise on the manners, customs, and institutions of the Germans of his time. It is one of the most valuable sources of knowledge of the condition of the Germans before the migrations. These sources are mainly of two kinds: the accounts of contemporary writers, chiefly Roman authors; and the documentary sources of the period of the tribal kingdoms, particularly the tribal laws, such as the laws of the Salic Franks (see no. 4), Burgundians, Anglo-Saxons, etc. It will be evident to the student that the sources of both kinds fall short of realizing the needs of historical trustworthiness: the first kind, because the Roman authors were describing institutions and customs which they knew only superficially or from a prejudiced point of view; the second, because the laws and documents of the tribal period reflect a stage of development which had changed considerably from the primitive stage. Conclusions in regard to the conditions of the Germans in the early period are based on the careful criticism of each single document and on a comparison of each with all the others. Some indication of this method is suggested in the notes to nos. 1 and 4. Even at best the results are subject to uncertainty. The Germania of Tacitus is the clearest and most complete of the sources of the first type, but it is not free from obscurity. Since there are numerous editions of it, we have not thought it necessary to refer to any particular one.
5. The land [inhabited by the Germans] varies somewhat in character from one part to another, but in general it is covered with forests and swamps, and is more rainy on the side toward Gaul and bleaker toward Noricum and Pannonia. It is moderately fertile, but not suited to the growing of fruit trees; it supports great numbers of cattle, of small size, however.
6. Iron is not abundant, as appears from the character of the weapons of the inhabitants; for they rarely use swords or the larger spears; instead they carry darts with small, narrow heads, which they call frameæ. But these are so sharp and so easily handled that they are used in fighting equally well at a distance and at close quarters. . . . The number of warriors is definitely fixed, one hundred coming from each district, and the warriors are known by that name [i.e., hundred]; so that what was originally a number has come to be a name and a title.1
7. Kings are chosen for their noble birth;2 military leaders for their valor. But the authority of the king is not absolute, and the war-leaders command rather by example than by orders, winning the respect and the obedience of their troops by being always in the front of the battle. . . . These troops are not made up of bodies of men chosen indiscriminately, but are arranged by families and kindreds, which is an added incentive for bravery in battle. So, also, the cries of the women and the wailing of children, who are taken along to battle, encourage the men to resistance.
8. It is said that on more than one occasion broken and fleeing ranks have been turned back to the fight by the prayers of the women, who fear captivity above everything else. . . . They believe that women are specially gifted by the gods, and do not disdain to take council with them and heed their advice.
11. [In the assemblies of the tribe,] minor affairs are discussed by the chiefs, but the whole tribe decides questions of general importance. These things, however, are generally first discussed by the chiefs before being referred to the tribe. They meet, except in the case of a sudden emergency, at certain fixed times, at the new or the full moon, for they regard these as auspicious days for undertakings. They reckon the time by nights, instead of by days, as we do. . . . One evil result arising from their liberty is the fact that they never all come together at the time set, but consume two or three days in assembling. When the assembly is ready, they sit down, all under arms. Silence is proclaimed by the priest, who has here the authority to enforce it. The king or the leader speaks first, and then others in order, as age, or rank, or reputation in war, or eloquence may give them the right. The speakers depend rather upon persuasion than upon commands. If the speech is displeasing to the multitude, they reject it with murmurs; if it is pleasing, they applaud by clashing their weapons together, which is the kind of applause most highly esteemed.3
12. Criminals are also tried at these assemblies, and the sentence of death may be decreed. They have different kinds of punishments for different crimes; traitors and deserters are hanged on trees, cowards and base criminals are sunk in the swamps or bogs, under wicker hurdles. . . . There are penalties also for the lighter crimes, for which the offenders are fined in horses or cattle. Part of the fine goes to the king or the state, and part to the person injured or to his relatives. In this assembly they also choose leaders to administer the law in the districts and villages of the tribe, each of them being assigned a hundred companions from the tribe to act as counsellors and supporters.4
13. They go armed all the time, but no one is permitted to wear arms until he has satisfied the tribe of his fitness to do so. Then, at the general assembly, the youth is given a shield and a sword by his chief or his father or one of his relatives. This is the token of manhood, as the receiving of the toga is with us. Youths are sometimes given the position of chiefs because of their noble rank or the merits of their ancestors; they are attached to more mature and experienced chiefs, and think it no shame to be ranked as companions. The companions have different ranks in the company, according to the opinion of the chief; there is a great rivalry among the companions for first place with the chief, as there is among the chiefs for the possession of the largest and bravest band of followers. It is a source of dignity and of power to be surrounded by a large body of young warriors, who sustain the rank of the chief in peace and defend him in war. The fame of such a chief and his band is not confined to their own tribe, but is known among foreign peoples; they are sought out and honored with gifts in order to secure their alliance, for the reputation of such a band may decide a whole war.
14. In battle it is shameful for the chief to allow any one of his followers to excel him in courage, and for the followers not to equal their chief in deeds of valor. But the greatest shame of all, and one that renders a man forever infamous, is to return alive from the fight in which his chief has fallen. It is a sacred obligation of the followers to defend and protect their chief and add to his fame by their bravery, for the chief fights for victory and the companions for the chief. If their own tribe is at peace, young noble chiefs take part in the wars of other tribes, because they despise the peaceful life. Moreover, glory is to be gained only among perils, and a chief can maintain a band only by war, for the companions expect to receive their war-horse and arms from the leader, . . . and the means of liberality are best obtained from the booty of war.5
16. The Germans do not dwell in cities, and do not build their houses close together. They dwell apart and separate, where a spring or patch of level ground or a grove may attract them. Their villages are not built compactly, as ours are, but each house is surrounded by a clear space.
21. It is a matter of duty with them to take up the enmities of their parents or kinsmen, as well as the friendships, but these feuds are not irreconcilable; the slaying of a man may be atoned for by the payment of a fixed number of cattle, and the kindred of the slain man all share in the price of atonement. This practice of compounding manslaughter is of advantage to the public weal, for such feuds may become very dangerous among a free people.6
26. The arable lands, according to the number of cultivators, are occupied in turn by all the members of the community, and are divided among them according to the quality [of the lands].7 The extent of the land gives ample opportunity for division; the arable fields are changed every year, and there is plenty of land left over.8
The following section is condensed from chapters 27 to 46.
27-46.9 Such is the account I have received of the origin and the customs of the Germans as a whole; we must now undertake a discussion of the separate tribes. The divine Julius [Cæsar] says in his book that the Gauls had once been a more powerful and prosperous people than the Germans. So it is not impossible that they may have at some time even invaded Germany. For the Helvetians once dwelt in Germany between the Hercynian forest and the Rhine and Main rivers, while the Boii inhabited lands still farther within Germany, as is shown by the name Boihaem [Bohemia] which still clings to their former place, now inhabited by another people. The Treveri and the Nervii lay claim to German origin, as if to repudiate connection with the indolent Gauls. The inhabitants of the Rhine bank, the Vangiones, Treboci, and Nemetes, are undoubtedly of German blood; and the Ubii also, although they have become a Roman colony and have taken the name of Agrippenses from their founder. Of all the tribes along the lower Rhine the chief are the Batavi, who dwell mainly on an island in the mouth of the Rhine. They were a portion of the Chatti, but left their homes as the result of a domestic quarrel and entered the Roman empire. They still retain, however, their old honor and dignity as allies, not being subject to taxation or to any public duties except that of war. Beyond the Agri Decumates are the Chatti, whose territory borders on the Hercynian forest. Next to the Chatti, descending the Rhine, are the Usipii and Tencteri; their neighbors, it is said, were formerly the Bructeri, who have been driven out and their place taken by the Angrivarii and Chamavi. Back of the Angrivarii and the Chamavi [to the south] are the Dulgubnii and Chasuarii; in front [to the north] are the Frisii, who are divided into two parts, the greater and lesser Frisii. They dwell along the shores of the ocean north of the Rhine. Next are the Chauci, and on the boundaries of the Chauci and the Chatti [to the east], the Cherusci. The Cimbri dwell in the same region, on the shores of the ocean.
We come next to the Suebi. They are not a single tribe, as the Chauci or Tencteri, for example; they include a great many tribes, each one with its own name, but all called in common Suebi. The Semnones claim to be the most ancient and the noblest of the Suebi. They inhabit a hundred districts and consider themselves, because of their number, the most important tribe of the Suebi. On the other hand, the Lombards are known for the small number of their members, but they are secure from conquest by their more powerful neighbors by reason of their courage and their experience in war. Then come the Reudigni, Aviones, Angli, Warini, Eudoses, Suardones, and Nuitones. Then, following along the Danube, the Hermunduri; then the Naristi, Marcomanni, and Quadi. The Marcomanni drove the Boii out of their land, which they now inhabit. Back of these tribes lie the Marsigni, Cotini, Osi, and Buri. The Marsigni and the Buri have the same language and worship as the Suebi; but the fact that the Cotini speak a Gallic language and the Osi a Pannonian would indicate that they are not German tribes. A continuous mountain range divides Suebia in this region; beyond it lie many races, of whom the greatest is that of the Lugii, a name applied to several tribes, the Harii, Helveconæ, Manimi, Elisii, Nahanarvali. Beyond the Lugii are the Gutones. The tribes of the Suiones inhabit a land situated in the midst of the ocean [Scandinavia], and are famous for their fleets. Beyond the Suiones is that dreary ocean which is believed to encircle the whole world. On the right [east] shore of the Suebian Sea [the Baltic] dwell the Aestii, a people that have the same customs and manners as the Suebi, but speak a language more like that of the inhabitants of Britain. The land of the Suiones is continued by that of the Sithones. This is the end of Suebia. I am uncertain whether to assign the Peucini, Veneti, and Fenni to the German or Sarmatian race, although the Peucini, called by some Bastarnæ, have the same language, worship, and sort of houses as the Germans.
Procopius, Vandal War. (Greek.)
This and the following number are taken from the writings of Procopius, a Roman official and historian who lived about 500 to 560 ad, and had a personal share in the wars of Justinian against the East Goths and Vandals. The earlier parts of his histories are drawn largely from tradition.
I, 2. During the reign of Honorius [395-423] in the west the barbarians began to overrun the empire. . . . The invaders were mainly of the Gothic race, the greatest and most important tribes being the East Goths, the Vandals, the West Goths, and the Gepidæ. . . . These tribes have different names, but in all other respects they resemble one another very closely; they all have light complexions, yellow hair, large bodies, and handsome faces; they obey the same laws and have the same religion, the Arian; and they all speak the same language, Gothic. I am of the opinion, therefore, that they were originally one people and have separated into tribes under different leaders. They formerly dwelt beyond the Danube; then the Gepidæ occupied the land about Sirmium on both sides of that river, where they still dwell.
The first to move were the West Goths. This tribe entered into an alliance with the Romans, but later, since such an alliance could not be permanent, they revolted under Alaric. Starting from Thrace, they made a raid through all of Europe, attacking both emperors.
[Alaric sacks Rome.] Soon after, Alaric died, and the West Goths, under Athaulf, passed on into Gaul.
3. Under the pressure of famine, the Vandals, who formerly dwelt on the shores of the Mæotic Gulf [Sea of Azof], moved on toward the Rhine, attacking the Franks. With them went the Alani. . . . [Crossing the Rhine into Gaul] they proceeded down into Spain, the most western province of the Roman empire, and settled there under their king, Godegisel, Honorius having made an agreement with him by which the Vandals were to be allowed to settle in Spain on condition that they should not plunder the land.
At that time the greatest Roman generals were Boniface and Aëtius, who were political rivals. . . . Boniface sent secretly to Spain and made an agreement with Gunderich and Geiserich, the sons and successors of Godegisel, whereby they were to bring the Vandals into Africa, and the three were to divide the rule of Africa among themselves, mutually supporting one another in case of attacks from outside. Accordingly the Vandals crossed the strait at Gades and entered Africa, while the West Goths moved forward from Gaul into Spain after them. [Gunderich dies, leaving Geiserich sole ruler of the Vandals; Geiserich quarrels with Boniface and drives him out of Africa, ruling the whole territory with his Vandals.]
5. Geiserich now got together a large fleet and attacked Italy, capturing Rome and the palace of the emperor. The usurper Maximus was slain by the populace and his body torn to pieces. Geiserich took back to Carthage Eudoxia, the empress, and her two daughters, Eudocia and Placidia, carrying off also an immense booty in gold and silver. The imperial palace was plundered of all its treasures, as was also the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, including a large part of the roof, which was made of bronze, heavily plated with gold. . . .
Procopius, Gothic War. (Greek.)
I, 1. While Zeno [474-491] was emperor in Byzantium, the west was ruled by Augustus, whom the Romans called Augustulus, because of his youth. The actual government was in the hands of his father Orestes, a most able man. Some time before this, as a result of the reverses which they had suffered at the hands of Attila and Alaric, the Romans had taken the Sciri, Alani, and other German tribes into the empire as allies. The renown of Roman arms had long since vanished, and the barbarians were coming into Italy in ever-increasing numbers, where they were actual masters under the false name of allies (federati). They continually seized more and more power, until finally they demanded a third of all the lands of Italy. When Orestes refused to grant this they slew him. Then one of the imperial officers, Odovaker, also a barbarian, promised to secure this for them if they would recognize him as ruler. In spite of the power which he thus acquired, Odovaker did not attack the emperor [Romulus Augustulus], but only forced him to retire to private life. He then gave the barbarians the third of the lands which they had demanded, thus binding them more closely to him, and ruled over Italy unopposed for ten years.
About this time the East Goths, who had been allowed to settle in Thrace, rose against the emperor under their king, Theoderich. He had been brought up at Byzantium, where he had been given the rank of a patrician, and had even held the title of consul. The emperor Zeno, a master in diplomacy, persuaded Theoderich to invade Italy and attack Odovaker, with the chance of winning the whole west for himself and the East Goths. . . . Theoderich seized on this opportunity eagerly, and the whole tribe set out for Italy, taking along with them in wagons their women and children and all their movables. . . . Odovaker hastened with an army to oppose this invasion, but was defeated in several battles, and finally shut up in Ravenna. . . . After the siege had lasted for about three years both parties were willing to come to terms, the Goths being weary of the long siege and the soldiers of Odovaker being on the verge of starvation. So, through the efforts of the bishop of Ravenna, a treaty was made according to which Theoderich and Odovaker were to rule the city jointly. This treaty was kept for a short time, but finally Theoderich treacherously seized Odovaker at a banquet to which he had invited him, and had him put to death. He then won over to him all his enemies, and from that time on ruled over Goths and Italians unopposed. Theoderich never assumed the name or dignity of emperor, being content to be known as king, as the barbarians call their rulers. In fact, however, the subjects bore the same relation to him as to an emperor. He dispensed justice with a strong hand, and rigidly enforced the law and kept peace. In his time the land was protected from the attacks of neighboring barbarians, and his might and his wisdom were famous far and wide. He allowed his subjects neither to suffer nor to commit wrongs; his own followers were given only the lands which Odovaker had taken for his supporters. Thus Theoderich, although he bore the title of a tyrant, was in fact a righteous emperor. . . . He loved the Goths and the Italians equally, recognizing no difference between them, contrary as this may seem to human nature. . . . After a reign of thirty-seven years, he died lamented by all his people.
The Salic Law.
In the period before the migrations, each of the German tribes had its primitive code of laws. This law was not put in writing, but was held in memory; it was not based on abstract reasons of right and justice, but grew up out of practice and custom. The migrations and the development of tribal kingdoms on Roman soil brought about important changes in the public and private life of the Germans, partly the result of changed conditions, partly the direct influence of Roman manners and institutions. One result was that the old unwritten customary laws were codified and published in written form. These codes, called the Leges Barbarorum, or laws of the barbarians, form an important historical source, for of course they reflect the new conditions in which the Germans found themselves after their settlement. Some of them show the influence of Roman law and institutions in a marked degree; others are more purely Germanic. They were in most cases written in Latin, although the Angles and Saxons in England published their early codes in Old English or Anglo-Saxon. One of the oldest and at the same time one of the most purely German in character is the law of the Salic Franks, called in Latin, Lex Salica; it was probably written about the year 500, in the reign of Chlodovech (481-511). In the most authentic form it contains sixty-five chapters, or “titles,” most of which are composed of several sections. The title usually has a heading, as: XVII. De vulneribus (Concerning wounds).
The parts translated are intended to illustrate: (1) the character of the tribal laws in general, and (2) certain important institutions and customs of the Franks. Certain features of the Salic law are common to nearly all of the German laws; these are suggested here for the convenience of the reader.
1. The code contains mainly private law. Most of the law is taken up with a scale of fines and compensations for injury, damage, and theft, as in the case of injuries, titles XVII and XXII. This is characteristic of most of the German codes; they are concerned with private and not with public or administrative law.
2. The law makes minute specification of injuries. Note that the different injuries are carefully described and particular fines given for each, as in titles XVII and XXIX. This feature is found in most of the codes and is characteristic of a primitive stage of legal conception and a barbarous state of society. The important function of primitive law is the settlement of differences between individuals to prevent personal reprisals, so the various injuries that are apt to occur are specified and provided with special fines.
3. A large part of the procedure takes place out of court, and is conducted by the individuals concerned. So in title I, 3, the plaintiff summons the defendant in person; in title L, 2, the creditor tries to collect the amount fixed by the court; in title XLVII the whole process of tracing and recovering stolen property, except the last stage, is conducted out of court. This also is a common feature of Germanic law; the objection, common among uncivilized peoples, to the state’s interference with private affairs of the individual operates here to restrict the function of the law to the simple decision of the case.
4. All the German laws provide for the payment of the wergeld. The origin of this is doubtless to be found in the underlying conception of primitive law referred to in paragraph 2. The purpose being to put an end to private revenge, which would mean continual private war, the law prescribes the amount to be paid to the kindred of the slain man, and they must on receipt of that give up the blood-feud. (See no. 1, ch. 21, and note.) In many of the codes different values are assigned to different classes of people, as here in title XLI.
The public institutions of the Franks are referred to in the law only incidentally, the law being concerned, as has been said, mainly with private matters, and taking for granted a knowledge of public law. Following is a brief statement of the form of government, administration of justice, etc. The state ruled by the king of the Salic Franks was composed of several small tribes, originally independent (see no. 1, notes 1 and 9), but now incorporated into a single state. The kingdom was divided into counties, some of which correspond to the former independent tribes, and some to old Roman political divisions. The county was governed by a representative of the king, an official who is called in the Salic law by the German title grafio (modern German “Graf”), and in later documents by the Latin title comes (count). The judicial system was based on the division of the county known as the hundred (see no. 1, note 1), the assembly of the freemen of the hundred being the regular public court. It was presided over by the “hundred-man,” in the Salic law called either centenarius, which means simply hundred-man, or thunginus, a word of uncertain meaning. The function of the grafio, the representative of the king in the county, was mainly executive; he was appealed to only when every other means of forcing the delinquent to obey the law or the decision of the court had failed, but he has no part in the trial of cases. See title L, 3, for an instance of the function of the grafio.
1. If anyone is summoned to the court and does not come, he shall pay 600 denarii, which make 15 solidi.2
3. When anyone summons another to court, he shall go with witnesses to the house of that person, and if he is not present the summoner shall serve notice on his wife or his family that he is legally summoned.
1. If anyone is convicted of trying to kill another, even though he fails, he shall pay 2,500 denarii, which make 63 (62½) solidi.
2. If anyone is convicted of shooting a poisoned arrow at another, even though he misses him, he shall pay 2,500 denarii, which make 63 solidi.
3. If anyone wounds another in the head, so that the brain appears and the three bones which lie above the brain are uncovered, he shall pay 1,200 denarii, which make 30 solidi.
4. If anyone wounds another between the ribs or in the abdomen, so that the wound can be seen and extends to the vitals, he shall pay 1,200 denarii, which make 30 solidi, besides 5 solidi for the healing.
5. If anyone wounds another so that the blood falls to the ground, he shall pay 600 denarii, which make 15 solidi.
6. If a freeman strikes another freeman with a club, so that the blood does not flow, he shall pay 120 denarii, which make 3 solidi, for each blow, up to three.
7. If the blood does flow, he shall pay as much for each blow as if he had wounded him with a sword.
8. If anyone strikes another with the closed fist, he shall pay 360 denarii, which make 9 solidi; that is, 3 solidi for each blow up to three.
9. If anyone is convicted of trying to rob another on the highroad, even though he fails, he shall pay 2,500 denarii, which make 63 solidi.
1. If anyone destroys the hand or the foot of another, or cuts out his eye, or cuts off his nose, he shall pay 4,000 denarii, which make 100 solidi.
2. If the injured hand hangs loose and useless, he shall pay 2,500 denarii, which make 63 (62½) solidi.
3. If anyone cuts off the thumb or the great toe of another, he shall pay 2,000 denarii, which make 50 solidi.
4. If the thumb or the toe hangs useless, he shall pay 1,200 denarii, which make 30 solidi.
5. If he cuts off the second finger, by which the bowstring is drawn, he shall pay 1,400 denarii, which make 35 solidi.
6. If he cuts off the rest of the fingers (that is, the other three) at one blow, he shall pay 50 solidi.
7. If he cuts off two of them, he shall pay 35 solidi.
8. If he cuts off one of them, he shall pay 30 solidi.
1. If anyone is convicted of killing a free Frank or a barbarian living by the Salic law, he shall pay 8,000 denarii, which make 200 solidi.
2. If he has put the body in a well, or under water, or has covered it with branches or other things for the purpose of hiding it, he shall pay 24,000 denarii, which make 600 solidi.2
3. If anyone kills a man in the king’s trust, or a free woman, he shall pay 24,000 denarii, which make 600 solidi.
4. If he kills a Roman who was a table-companion of the king, he shall pay 12,000 denarii, which make 300 solidi.
6. If the slain man was a Roman landowner, and not a table-companion of the king, he who slew him shall pay 4,000 denarii, which make 100 solidi.
7. If anyone kills a Roman tributarius, he shall pay 63 solidi.
The Man who Removes from One Village to Another.1
1. If anyone desires to enter a village, with the consent of one or more of the inhabitants of that village, and a single one objects, he shall not be allowed to settle there.
3. But if anyone settles in another village and remains there twelve months without any one of the inhabitants objecting, he shall be allowed to remain in peace like his neighbors.
The Tracing of Stolen Goods.
If one has recognized a slave, or a horse, or an ox, or anything of his own in the possession of another, he is to “send him to the third hand.”1 And he in whose hands the thing was recognized is to swear [to his own innocence]; and if both parties [i.e., the rightful owner and the man in whose possession it was found] dwell on this side of the Loire and the Carbonaria,2 a term of forty days shall be set within which all are to be summoned who have had any part in the affair, who have sold or exchanged or perhaps given in payment the article. That is, each one is to summon the man from whom he got it. And if anyone of these has been summoned and legal hindrance has not kept him away, and he does not come within the appointed term, then the one who had dealings with this delinquent is to bring three witnesses to the fact that he had summoned him and three more to the fact that he had obtained the property from him legally and in good faith; if he does this he is clear of suspicion of theft. But he who would not come and against whom the witnesses have borne testimony, shall be held to be the thief of the man who recognized his own, and he [the thief] shall return the price to the man who dealt with him and shall pay the lawful compensation to the man who recognized his own.3 All these things are to be done in that court to which he is answerable in whose hands the stolen thing was first recognized and with whom the process started. But if he in whose hands it was recognized dwells beyond the Loire or the Carbonaria the time allowed shall be eighty days.
The Given Pledge.
1. If a free man or a letus1 has given pledge [that is, made a solemn promise at the court] to another, then he to whom the pledge was given shall go to the house of the other within forty nights,2 or whatever period was set, with witnesses or with such as can estimate the price.3 And if the delinquent will not redeem the pledge given, he shall be held liable for 15 solidi above the amount for which he had given pledge.
2. If still he will not pay, the complainant shall summon him to the mallus, and thus he shall proceed to have him constrained by law: “I ask thee, thunginus, to constrain by law this my debtor who has given me a pledge and is in my debt.” And he shall state how much the debt is. Then the thunginus shall say: “I constrain this man by law, in accordance with the Salic law.” Then he to whom the pledge was given shall give notice that the delinquent can neither pay nor give pledge of payment to any other until he has fulfilled what he promised him [the creditor]. And straightway on that day before the sun sets he shall go with witnesses to the house of the debtor and ask him to pay the debt. If he will not, let the sun set upon him.4 Then when the sun has set, 120 denarii, which make 3 solidi, are added to the amount owed. And this thing is to be done three times in three weeks, and if on the third summons he will not pay all this, then 360 denarii, which make 9 solidi, are to be added to the debt, that is, 3 solidi for every summons and setting of the sun.
The next two sections are now generally regarded as a later addition—i.e., the first two are supposed to belong to an early period, while the last two belong to the period when the grafio, the royal representative, had acquired executive functions within the county. If this is so, then sections 3 and 4 have replaced certain older sections which must have completed the process described in sections 1 and 2; there must have been a further stage in which the delinquent was finally forced to pay, perhaps the process described in title LVI, by which a delinquent can be outlawed if he is still contumacious.
3. If anyone refuses to redeem his promise within the lawful term, then he to whom he gave the pledge shall go to the grafio of the county within which the debtor lives, and shall lay hold on the staff and say: “Grafio, this man has given pledge to me and I have given lawful notice of his indebtedness and have sued him before the mallus in accordance with the Salic law. I pledge myself and my fortune that you may safely and lawfully lay hands on his property.” And he declares for what cause and to what amount the pledge had been given. Then the grafio shall take with him seven suitable rachinburgii,5 and go to the house of him who gave the pledge and say: “You, who are here present, pay this man of your own free will that for which you gave him pledge. Choose two men, whomsoever you will, who together with these rachinburgii shall assess from your goods the amount you ought to pay. And so shall you make good what you owe according to legal value.” But if he, being present, will not heed, or if he is absent, then the rachinburgii shall take from his goods a value equal to the amount which he owes, and of that amount two parts shall go to him who brought suit, and the third part the grafio shall take for himself as fredus,6 if the fredus for this case has not already been paid.
4. If the grafio has been appealed to and legal hindrance or his master’s [the king’s] business has not detained him, and he neither goes himself nor sends a representative, he shall be punished with death or he may redeem himself with his possessions.
Property that has been Loaned.
If one has loaned anything of his goods to another, and that person will not restore it to him, he shall sue for it in this way: He shall go with witnesses to the house of him to whom he loaned his property and serve this notice on him: “Since you will not restore to me my goods which I have loaned to you, you may keep them until the following night, in accordance with the Salic law.”1 And if still he will not restore them, let the sun set on him.2 If he still will not restore them, the owner is to give him a space of seven nights, and at the end of these seven nights he shall serve notice as before that he may keep them till the following night, in accordance with the Salic law. If then he will not restore them, at the end of another seven nights he is to go with witnesses again and ask him to pay what he owes. If he will not pay, let the sun set on him. But when the sun has set on him three times, for each time 120 denarii (which make 3 solidi) are to be added to the original amount of the debt. And if still he will neither pay nor give pledge of payment, he is to be held liable to him who loaned him the goods for 600 denarii (which make 15 solidi) above the original debt and above the 9 solidi which accrued through the three summons.
The Slain Grafio.
1. If anyone kills a grafio1 he shall pay 24,000 denarii, which make 600 solidi.
2. If anyone kills a sacebaro,2 or an obgrafio who is a king’s slave, he shall pay 12,000 denarii, which make 300 solidi.
He who refuses to come to Court.
If anyone refuses to come to court or to do what the rachinburgii have commanded, that is, to give pledge for payment, or for the ordeal, or for anything which the law requires, then the complainant is to summon him to the presence of the king. And twelve witnesses, being sworn in turn by threes, shall say: [the first three] that they were present when the rachinburgius condemned him to undergo ordeal or to give pledge for payment, and that he had not obeyed. The second three are to swear that they were present on the day when the rachinburgii [again] condemned him to clear himself by ordeal or by paying the fine; that is, that, forty nights from the first day, the sun set on him in the mallberg1 again, and that he would in no way obey the law. Then the complainant is to summon him before the king, in fourteen nights [after the last mallus], and three witnesses are to swear that they were present when he summoned him and the sun set on him. If he will not come, then these nine witnesses, having sworn, are to say what we have said above. Likewise, if he will not come [to the king’s court] on that day, let the sun set on him, and there shall be three witnesses who were present when the sun set.2 If the complainant has done all these things, and he who was summoned refuses to come to any court, the king shall put him outside of his protection [i.e., outlaw him]. Then the criminal and all his goods are liable. And whoever shall feed him or give him hospitality, even if it be his own wife, shall be held liable for 600 denarii, which make 15 solidi, until he shall have paid all that has been imposed on him.
Selections from the History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours.
By the end of the fifth century, the Roman government in the west had practically come to an end and most of the territory was occupied by German tribes. The confederated tribes living along the middle and lower Rhine began to be called Franks about 200 ad For the next two centuries, the Roman garrisons had great difficulty in keeping them out of northern Gaul. With the weakening and final withdrawal of these garrisons in the beginning of the fifth century, the Franks spread over northern Gaul and by about 450 had occupied the land as far south as the river Somme. Under Chlodovech the confederated tribes, which still had their own kings, were united under his single rule, and the other inhabitants of Gaul—Romans, Alamanni, West Goths, and Burgundians—were absorbed or reduced to dependence. The work of Chlodovech was carried on by his sons and grandsons with the conquest of the Burgundians, Thuringians, Bavarians, etc. Then came the civil wars among the descendants of Chlodovech which prevented further advance until the rise of the house of Karl the Great.
There are few documents or chronicles for the history of the Franks during the fifth to the seventh centuries. The only connected account is that of Gregory, bishop of Tours from 573 to 594. His position made him one of the most influential men of his time and he was well acquainted with the contemporary events which he narrates. The earlier part of his work is, of course, less reliable, because he depended upon tradition.
II, 9. It is not known who was the first king of the Franks. . . . We read in the lists of consuls that Theodomer, king of the Franks, son of a certain Richemer, and his mother Ascyla were slain by the sword. They say also that afterward Chlogio, a brave and illustrious man of that race, was king of the Franks and had his seat at Dispargum, on the boundary of the Thuringians. In the region [about Tours], as far south as the Loire, dwelt the Romans; beyond the Loire the Goths held sway, while the Burgundians, who followed the heresy of Arius, dwelt across the Rhône, on which is situated the city of Lyon. Chlogio sent spies to the city of Cambrai1 to spy out the situation and report to him. Then he seized the city and dwelt there a short time, occupying the land as far as the Somme. Some assert that king Merovech, whose son was Childerich,2 belonged to the line of Chlogio. . . .
27. After the death of Childerich his son Chlodovech ruled in his stead . In the fifth year of his reign, Syagrius, son of Ægidius, was ruling in Soissons as king of the Romans,3 where the said Ægidius had held sway. Now Chlodovech and his relative Ragnachar advanced against Syagrius and challenged him to battle; and the latter eagerly accepted the challenge. But in the course of the conflict Syagrius, seeing that his army was defeated, turned and fled from the field, seeking safety with king Alaric at Toulouse.4 Then Chlodovech sent to Alaric, ordering him to surrender Syagrius, on pain of being himself attacked; and Alaric, fearing to incur the wrath of the Franks, as is the habit of the Goths, gave over Syagrius bound to the messengers of Chlodovech. Then Chlodovech had him thrown into prison, and, after seizing his kingdom, had him secretly slain. . . .
28. Now Gundevech, of the line of the persecuting king, Athanaric, was king of the Burgundians.5 He had four sons, Gundobad, Godegisel, Chilperic, and Godomar. Gundobad slew his brother Chilperic, and drowned Chilperic’s wife by tying a stone about her neck and throwing her into the water. He also condemned Chilperic’s two daughters to exile; of these the older was Chrona, who became a nun, and the younger was Chlothilde. . . . Chlodovech sent an embassy to Gundobad demanding the hand of Chlothilde in marriage, and Gundobad, fearing to refuse him, surrendered her to the messengers of Chlodovech, who bore her straightway to the king. . . .
30. The queen [Chlothilde] continually urged Chlodovech to abandon his idols and accept the true God. She was not successful, however, until finally, when he was waging war on the Alamanni,6 he was compelled by necessity to accept that which he had formerly refused. For in the course of the battle, when the two armies were engaged in fierce struggle, it happened that the army of Chlodovech was on the verge of utter rout, and seeing this the king raised his eyes to heaven, and cried: “Jesus Christ, thou whom Chlothilde doth call the son of the living God, who dost comfort those in travail and give victory to those that believe in thee, I now devoutly beseech thy aid, and I promise if thou dost give me victory over these mine enemies and if I find thou hast the power which thy believers say thou hast shown, that I will believe in thee and be baptized in thy name. For I have called on my own gods and they have failed to help me; therefore I believe they have no power, since they do not come to the aid of their worshippers. I call now upon thee; I desire to believe in thee, that I be not destroyed by mine enemies.” And as soon as he had cried thus, the Alamanni turned and fled. And when they saw that their king was slain they surrendered to Chlodovech, saying: “Let not thy people perish further, we beseech thee, for we are thine.”
31. . . . Then the king demanded that he should be the first to be baptized by the bishop. So the new Constantine advanced to the font, to be cleansed from the old leprosy of his sin, and from the sordid stains of his past life, in the water of baptism. As he approached the font, the saint of God addressed him in these fitting words: “Bow thy head, Sigambrian;7 adore what thou hast burned, burn what thou hast adored.” . . . Then the king having professed his belief in omnipotent God the Trinity, was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and was anointed with the holy oil with the sign of the cross of Christ. And more than 3,000 of his army were baptized also. . . .
32. The brothers Gundobad and Godegisel were at this time ruling the land about the Rhône and the Saône and the province of Marseilles. They, as well as their people, were Arian. And when war was on the point of breaking out between them, Godegisel, who had heard of the conquests of Chlodovech, sent to him secretly, saying: “If you will give me aid in overthrowing my brother, so that I may kill him in battle or drive him from the kingdom, I will pay you such yearly tribute as you shall demand.” Chlodovech accepted the conditions gladly and promised to send aid to Godegisel whenever he should require it. At the time appointed, Chlodovech advanced with his army against Gundobad. When Gundobad, ignorant of the treachery of Godegisel, learned of the approach of Chlodovech, he sent to his brother, saying: “Come to my aid, for the Franks are coming against me to seize my kingdom. Let us unite to withstand this enemy, lest if we remain divided, each of us should suffer the fate of the other nations.” And Godegisel replied that he would bring his army to the aid of his brother. Thus the three armies advancing at the same time, came together at Dijon, and Godegisel and Chlodovech joined forces and defeated Gundobad. Gundobad, seeing the treachery of his brother, which he had not before suspected, turned and fled along the bank of the Rhône until he came to Avignon. . . .
35. Now when Alaric, king of the Goths, saw that Chlodovech was conquering many nations, he sent to him and said: “If it please my brother, let us unite our interests under the protection of God.” And Chlodovech, agreeing, came to him, and they met on an island in the Loire, near the town of Amboise in the vicinity of Tours. There they held a conference, and ate and drank together, and separated in peace, having exchanged vows of friendship. But already many of the Gauls [under Alaric] were greatly desirous of being under Frankish rule.
37. Then Chlodovech said to his followers: “It causes me great grief that these Arians8 should hold a part of Gaul. Let us go with the aid of God and reduce them to subjection.” And since this was pleasing to all his followers, he advanced with his army toward Poitiers. . . . And Chlodovech came up with Alaric, king of the Goths, at Vouillé, about ten miles from Poitiers. . . . There the Goths fled, according to their custom, and Chlodovech gained a great victory with the aid of God. And Chloderic, the son of Sigibert the Lame, aided him in this battle.
40. Now while Chlodovech was staying at Paris, he sent secretly to the son of Sigibert, saying: “Behold now your father is old and lame. If he should die his kingdom would come to you and my friendship with it.” So the son of Sigibert, impelled by his cupidity, planned to slay his father. And when Sigibert set out from Cologne and crossed the Rhine to go through the Buchonian forest [in Hesse, near Fulda], his son had him slain by assassins while he was sleeping in his tent, in order that he might gain the kingdom for himself. But by the judgment of God he fell into the pit which he had digged for his father. He sent messengers to Chlodovech to announce the death of his father and to say: “My father is dead, and I have his treasures, and the kingdom as well. Now send messengers to me, that I may send to you whatever you would like from his hoard.” Chlodovech replied: “I thank you for your kindness, and beg you merely to show my messengers all your possessions, after which you may keep them yourself.” And when the messengers of Chlodovech came, the son of Sigibert showed them the treasures which his father had collected. And while they were looking at the various things, he said: “My father used to keep his gold coins in this little chest.” And they said: “Put your hand down to the bottom, that you may show us everything.” But when he stooped to do this, one of the messengers struck him on the head with his battle-axe, and thus he met the fate which he had visited upon his father. Now when Chlodovech heard that both Sigibert and his son were slain, he came to that place and called the people together and said to them: “Hear what has happened. While I was sailing on the Scheldt river, Chloderic, son of Sigibert, my relative, attacked his father, pretending that I had wished him to slay him. And so when his father fled through the Buchonian forest, the assassins of Chloderic set upon him and slew him. But while Chloderic was opening his father’s treasure chest, some man unknown to me struck him down. I am in no way guilty of these things, for I could not shed the blood of my relatives, which is very wrong. But since these things have happened, if it seems best to you, I advise you to unite with me and come under my protection.” And those who heard him applauded his speech, and, raising him on a shield, made him king over them. Thus Chlodovech gained the kingdom of Sigibert and his treasures and won over his subjects to his own rule. For God daily overwhelmed his enemies and increased his kingdom because he walked uprightly before him and did that which was pleasing in his sight.
41. Then Chlodovech turned against Chararic. For when he was waging war against Syagrius, this Chararic, although Chlodovech had asked him for aid, had kept out of the struggle and had given him no help, waiting to see the issue, that he might then make friends with the victor. On this account, Chlodovech was angry with him and attacked him. When he had succeeded in seizing Chararic and his son by treachery, he caused their heads to be shaved and ordered Chararic to be ordained a priest and his son a deacon. It is said that when Chararic was lamenting his humiliation, his son replied: “These twigs were cut from a green tree, which is not all dead; they will come out again rapidly when they begin to grow. Would that he who did this thing might as quickly perish.” But when it was reported to Chlodovech that they planned to let their hair grow again and slay him, he ordered their heads to be cut off, and thus by their death acquired their realm and treasures and subjects.
42. . . . Then Chlodovech made war upon his relative, Ragnachar [king of the region about Cambrai]. And when Ragnachar saw that his army was defeated, he attempted to flee, but his own men seized him and his brother Richar and brought them bound before Chlodovech. Then Chlodovech said: “Why have you disgraced our family, by allowing yourself to be taken? It would have been better for you to have been slain.” And raising his battle-axe he slew him. Then turning to the brother of Ragnachar, he said: “If you had aided your brother he would not have been taken;” and he slew him with the axe also. . . . Thus by their death Chlodovech took the kingdom and treasures. And many other kings and relatives of his, who he feared might take his kingdom from him, were slain, and his kingdom was extended over all Gaul.9 . . .
43. And after this he died at Paris and was buried in the basilica of the holy saints which he and his queen, Chlothilde, had built. He passed away in the fifth year after the battle of Vouillé, and all the days of his reign were thirty years.
III, 1. Now Chlodovech being dead, his four sons, Theodoric, Chlodomer, Childebert, and Chlothar, received his kingdom and divided it equally.10 . . .
[Chlodomer was slain in an attack on the Burgundians, and his mother, Chlothilde, took his sons, Theodoald, Gunther, and Chlodoald, under her protection.]
18. But while Chlothar was staying at Paris, Childebert, perceiving that his mother Chlothilde loved the sons of Chlodomer greatly, was stirred with envy and with the fear that they might be restored to the kingdom of their dead father by aid of the queen-mother. So he sent secretly to his brother, king Chlothar, saying: “Our mother is keeping the sons of our dead brother Chlodomer, and intends to restore them to his kingdom; come now to Paris and advise with me as to what shall be done; whether their hair shall be cut off and they shall thus be made like the common people, or whether we shall slay them and divide the kingdom of our brother between us.” Chlothar was delighted with these words and hastened to Paris. Now Childebert had caused the rumor to be spread among the people that the two kings were coming together to consider the establishing of the children on the throne of their father. And after they had met they sent word to the queen, who was dwelling in the same city, saying: “Send the children to us that we may place them on the throne.” And she, rejoicing and thinking no evil, sent them the children. . . . But when the children had left her they were immediately seized and separated from their servants and imprisoned by themselves. Then Childebert and Chlothar sent a certain Arcadius, their messenger, to the queen with a pair of shears and a naked sword. And when he came he showed both to the queen and said: “Your sons wish to know your will in regard to the boys; whether they should be shorn of their locks and live, or be slain.” The queen, terrified and distracted at the message and especially at the sight of the shears and the sword, said in the bitterness of her heart and not knowing what she was saying: “If they are not to reign, I would rather see them dead than shorn of their locks.” . . . And when the messenger brought back this reply, Chlothar immediately seized the oldest boy by the arm and throwing him on the floor slew him with his dagger. But when he shrieked, his young brother threw himself at the feet of Childebert and clinging to his knees cried: “Save me, dearest uncle, that I be not slain like my brother.” And Childebert, the tears raining down his face, said to his brother: “Brother, I pray you grant me the life of the boy; I will give you anything you ask in exchange for his life, only do not slay him.” But Chlothar, reviling him, said: “Cast him from you, or you shall die for him. You are the instigator of this business, and do you so soon repent?” At this Childebert cast the boy from him, and Chlothar thrust the dagger into his side and slew him as he had slain his brother. . . . Of the boys one was ten and the other seven years old. But the third boy, Chlodoald, escaped by the aid of certain powerful persons; rejecting a worldly kingdom, he turned to God, and became a priest, cutting off his hair with his own hands. And Childebert and Chlothar divided the kingdom of Chlodomer between them.
[After the death of his brothers, Chlothar united the whole Frankish kingdom under his single rule (558-61). He left four sons, Charibert, Gunthram, Chilperic, and Sigbert, who divided the kingdom among themselves.]
IV, 27. Now when Sigbert saw that his brothers had taken wives of lowly rank, he sent an embassy to Spain and sought the hand of Brunhilda, daughter of king Athanagild [king of the West Goths]. . . .
28. When Chilperic heard of this, although he already had several wives, he sought the hand of Galeswintha, sister of Brunhilda, promising that he would leave his other wives, if he should be given a wife of royal rank. Athanagild, believing the promise of Chilperic, sent him his daughter Galeswintha with rich gifts, as he had already sent Brunhilda. And when she came to king Chilperic, he received her with great honor and was married to her; and he loved her greatly, for she brought rich treasures with her. But great strife was caused by the love of Chilperic for Fredegonda, with whom he had formerly lived. Galeswintha complained to the king of the indignity offered to her and said that she had no honor in his house, and she begged him to keep the treasures which she had brought with her and let her depart alone to her own land. But the king attempted to placate her with soft and deceitful words. Finally he ordered her to be slain by a servant, and she was found dead in her bed. . . . And Chilperic, having mourned her death, after a few days married Fredegonda.11
The Coronation of Pippin, 751.
One of the most important results of the civil wars and weakening of the monarchy in the later Merovingian period was the rise to power of the mayor of the palace. The mayor of the palace was originally the chief servant of the king’s household. As the king used his private servants in the administration of public affairs the chief servant became eventually the chief public official. In the eastern Frankish kingdom (Austrasia) this office, like many other offices in this period, had become hereditary in the hands of one of the great families. The last stage of the civil war (see no. 5, note 11) was fought out really between the mayors of the palaces of Austrasia and Neustria, and resulted in the permanent triumph of the Austrasian house. The actual power and the wise administration of the mayors of this house were in striking contrast to the weakness and the inefficiency of the last Merovingian kings, and this was the chief reason for the change in succession related in this passage. The appeal to the pope and his favorable report on the contemplated change, and the later attack upon the Lombards by Pippin at the pope’s instance, are the first steps in the formation of a connection between the kings of the Franks and the popes.
Anno 749. Burchard, bishop of Würzburg, and Fulrad, priest and chaplain, were sent [by Pippin] to pope Zacharias to ask his advice in regard to the kings who were then ruling in France, who had the title of king but no real royal authority. The pope replied by these ambassadors that it would be better that he who actually had the power should be called king.
750 . In this year Pippin was named king of the Franks with the sanction of the pope, and in the city of Soissons he was anointed with the holy oil by the hands of Boniface, archbishop and martyr of blessed memory, and was raised to the throne after the custom of the Franks. But Childerich, who had the name of king, was shorn of his locks and sent into a monastery.
753. . . . In this year pope Stephen came to Pippin at Kiersy, to urge him to defend the Roman church from the attacks of the Lombards.1
754. And after pope Stephen had received a promise from king Pippin that he would defend the Roman church, he anointed the king and his two sons, Karl and Karlmann, with the holy oil. And the pope remained that winter in France.
Einhard’s Life of Karl the Great.
Einhard, who lived about 770 to 840, was a scholar, and a member of the court and the circle of Karl the Great. His biography of Karl is the most reliable and intimate account of the life and the character of the emperor that we possess.
3. After ruling as king of the Franks for fifteen years, Pippin died at Paris, leaving two sons to succeed him, Karl and Karlmann. . . . Karlmann, however, died after two years of joint rule, and Karl became king of all the Franks.
5. The first of his wars was that against the duke of Aquitaine,1 which was begun but not completed by his father. Karl had asked his brother to aid him in this undertaking, but Karlmann had failed to send the help which he had promised. Karl, however, undertook the war alone and carried it through successfully. Hunold, who had tried to recover the duchy of Aquitaine after the death of Waifer, was driven out of the province and forced to take refuge in Gascony. But Karl advanced across the Garonne, threatening Lupus, the duke of Gascony, with war unless he should surrender the fugitive. Thereupon Lupus not only gave up Hunold, but acknowledged the authority of Karl over his own duchy as well.
6. After the pacification of Aquitaine and the death of his brother, Karl made war on the Lombards in response to the prayer of Adrian, bishop of Rome. His father Pippin had also attacked the Lombards in the time of king Aistulf, at the request of pope Stephen, . . . but had been content with besieging Aistulf in Ticino and securing pledges that he would restore the places which he had taken and would never renew his attack upon Rome. Karl went further: he overthrew Desiderius, king of the Lombards, and drove his son Adalgisus out of Italy; restored to the Romans their possessions; defeated a new rising under Radegaisus, duke of Friuli; and subjugated all of Italy, making his son Pippin king.2
7. Then Karl returned to the attack which he had been making upon the Saxons3 and which had been interrupted by the Lombard invasion. This was the longest and most severe of all his wars, for the Saxons, being barbarians and pagans like most of the tribes in Germany, were bound by the laws neither of humanity nor of religion. For a long time there had been continual disturbances along the border, since there was no natural barrier marking the boundary between the two races, except in a few places where there were heavier forests or mountains. So the Franks and the Saxons were accustomed to make almost daily raids on the territory of each other, burning, devastating, and slaying. Finally the Franks determined to put an end to this condition of affairs by conquering the Saxons. In this way that war was begun which was waged continually for thirty-three years, and which was characterized by the most violent animosity on both sides, although the Saxons suffered the greater damage. The final conquest of the Saxons would have been accomplished sooner but for their treachery. It is hard to tell how often they broke faith; surrendering to the king and accepting his terms, giving hostages and promising to accept the Christian faith and abandon their idols, and then breaking out into revolt again. This happened in almost every year of that war, but the determination of the king could not be overcome by the difficulties of the undertaking nor by the treachery of the Saxons. He never allowed a revolt to go unpunished, but immediately led or sent an army into their territory to avenge it. Finally after all the warriors had been overthrown or forced to surrender to the king, he transplanted some ten thousand men with their wives and children, from their home on the Elbe, to Gaul and Germany, distributing them through these provinces. Thus they were brought to accept the terms of the king, agreeing to abandon their pagan faith and accept Christianity, and to be united to the Franks; and this war which had dragged on through so many years was brought to an end.
9. While this long war was going on, the king also made an expedition into Spain, leaving garrisons behind to hold the Saxons in check. Crossing the Pyrenees with a large army he conquered all the cities and fortresses in the region and returned safely with his whole army, except for those that were slain by the treachery of the Basques. For when the army was coming back through the passes of the Pyrenees, strung out in a long line of march because of the narrowness of the defiles, the Basques made a sudden attack upon the rear-guard, which was protecting the wagons and baggage of the army. The place was well suited to an ambuscade, being thickly wooded and very steep; the Basques suddenly rushed down from the heights where they had been hiding and fell upon the rear-guard and destroyed it to the last man, seizing the baggage and escaping under cover of the approaching night. . . . In this attack were slain Eggihard, the king’s seneschal, Anselm, count of the palace, and Hrotland, the warden of the marches of Brittany, along with many others. Up to the present time this attack has not been avenged, for the enemy dispersed so quickly that it was impossible to find them or to discover who were guilty.4
10. Karl also conquered the Bretons, a people dwelling in the remote western part of Gaul, along the shores of the ocean. . . . Then he again invaded Italy, this time marching through Rome to Capua, a city of Campania, and forcing the submission of Aragaisus, duke of Beneventum.
11. His next expedition was against Bavaria, which was soon reduced to subjection. This war was caused by the insubordination of duke Tassilo, whose wife, a daughter of Desiderius, urged him on to avenge the overthrow of her father. Tassilo made an alliance with the Huns, his neighbors, and prepared to attack the king. Karl, incensed at such presumption, immediately led an army in person to Bavaria, encamping on the river Lech, which separates Alamannia and Bavaria. Before invading the province he sent an embassy to the duke, who, seeing the hopelessness of attempting to oppose the king, immediately made his submission, offering hostages (among them his son Theodo) and swearing never again to revolt. Thus this war, which in the beginning threatened to be a serious affair, was brought to a rapid and successful conclusion.5 But the king later summoned Tassilo to his presence and kept him a prisoner, not permitting him to return to his duchy; and from that time on the province was not ruled by a duke, but was divided into counties over which Karl placed counts of his own choosing.
12. This rebellion having been put down, the king next made an attack upon a tribe of the Slavs, whom we call the Wiltzi, in their own tongue, Welatabi. . . . The cause of this war was the attacks which the Welatabi were making upon the Abodriti, who were formerly allies of the Franks, and their refusal to desist from these attacks at the command of the king. There is a great gulf [Baltic Sea] extending east from the western ocean [Atlantic], whose length is unknown, but whose width nowhere exceeds one hundred miles, and is in many places narrower. Many tribes dwell along its shores: on the northern shore and in the islands, the Danes and the Swedes, whom we call Northmen; on the southern shore, the Slavs and the Aisti, and other tribes, among whom are these Welatabi. These latter were defeated in a single campaign and have never dared to revolt again.
13. The greatest of all the wars of Karl except the Saxon war, was that against the Avars and the Huns. . . . The king himself led one expedition against them into Pannonia, where they dwelt, but intrusted the later ones to his son Pippin and to the dukes and counts of the neighboring regions. The war lasted for eight years, and the bloody character of it is shown by the fact that to-day Pannonia is uninhabited and the site of the Khan’s palace is a desert, containing no trace of former human habitation. The whole nobility of the Huns was destroyed in the course of this war, and all the treasure of the Avars carried away by the Franks.6 . . .
14. . . . His last war was waged against the Danes or Northmen. Beginning with small piratical raids, they had grown so bold that they attacked the shores of Gaul and Germany with large fleets, and their king, Godfrid, planned the conquest of Germany itself. He already claimed the Frisians and Saxons as his subjects, and had subjected the Abodriti and made them tributary. He even boasted that he would shortly proceed to Aachen and attack Karl himself. And indeed there was real danger that he might undertake this, but he was slain by one of his own followers and the danger passed.
15. These are the wars waged by this mighty king during the forty-seven years of his reign. Through his conquests the kingdom of the Franks as he had received it from his father Pippin was almost doubled in area. When he came to the throne it included only a part of Gaul and of Germany; in Gaul, that part bounded by the ocean [Atlantic], the Rhine, the Loire, and the Balearic Sea [Mediterranean]; in Germany, that part bounded by the Rhine, the Danube, the land of the Saxons, and the Saale, . . . with the overlordship of Bavaria and Alamannia. Karl added by his wars Aquitaine and Gascony; the Pyrenees and the land south to the Ebro; . . . all of Italy as far south as lower Calabria; . . . Saxony, which forms a considerable part of Germany; . . . Pannonia and Dacia; Istria, Liburnia, and Dalmatia, except the maritime cities which were allied with the emperor of Constantinople; and, finally, all the barbarous tribes inhabiting Germany, between the Rhine, the Danube, the Vistula, and the ocean [Baltic], . . . of whom the most important are the Welatabi, the Sorabi, the Abodriti, and the Bohemians.
16. The glory of his reign was also greatly enhanced by his alliances and friendships with foreign kings and peoples. Thus Aldefonso, king of Gallicia and Asturia,7 was his ally, and spoke of himself by letters and ambassadors as the man of Karl. The kings of the Scots also were wont to address him as master, calling themselves his subjects and servants, of which expressions there are evidences in letters still existing which they have written to him. He was also in close relations with Aaron [Haroun-al-Raschid],8 king of the Persians, who ruled almost all of the east outside of India, and who always expressed the greatest friendship and admiration for Karl. On one occasion, when Karl sent an embassy with gifts for the holy sepulchre of our Lord and Saviour, he not only permitted them to fulfil their mission, but even made a present of that holy spot to Karl, to rule as his own. And when the embassy of Karl returned, it was accompanied by ambassadors from Aaron, bearing presents of fine robes, spices, and other eastern treasures. A few years before he sent to Karl at his request an elephant which was the only one he at that time possessed. The emperors of Constantinople, Nicephorus, Michael, and Leo, were his friends and allies and sent many embassies to him. Even when they suspected him of desiring to seize their empire, because he took the title of emperor, they nevertheless entered into alliance with him, to avoid a rupture.
25. He was very eloquent and could express himself clearly on any subject. He spoke foreign languages besides his own tongue, and was so proficient in Latin that he used it as easily as his own language. Greek he could understand better than he could speak. . . . He was devoted to the study of the liberal arts and was a munificent patron of learned men. Grammar he learned from Peter, an aged deacon of Pisa; in the other studies his chief instructor was Alcuin, a Saxon from England, also a deacon, and the most learned man of his time. With him he studied rhetoric, dialectic, and especially astronomy. . . . He tried also to learn to write, keeping tablets under the pillow of his couch to practise on in his leisure hours. But he never succeeded very well, because he began too late in life.9
28. His last visit to Rome was made because the Romans had attacked and injured pope Leo, tearing out his eyes and tongue, and had thus forced the pope to call on the king for aid. And having come to Rome to restore the church which had greatly suffered during the strife, he remained there all winter. It was during this time that he received the title of emperor and Augustus, to which he was at first so averse, that he was wont to say that he would never have entered the church on that day, although it was a great feast day [Christmas], if he had foreseen the plan of the pope. But his great patience and magnanimity finally overcame the envy and hatred of the Roman emperors [of the east], who were indignant at his receiving the title. This he did by sending them frequent embassies and addressing them in his letters as brothers.10
29. After he became emperor he undertook a revision of the laws of his empire, which were very defective, for the Franks had two laws [Salic and Ripuarian] differing in many points from one another. But he was never able to do more than to complete the various laws with a few additional sections and cause all the unwritten laws to be put into writing. He also wrote down for preservation the ancient German songs, in which the wars and adventures of old heroes are celebrated. He began also to make a grammar of his native tongue. . . .
30. . . . While he was spending the winter in Aachen, he was taken with a severe fever, which the Greeks call pleurisy, and died there on Tuesday, the fifth of the Kalends of February [January 28], in the seventy-second year of his age and the forty-seventh of his reign.
31. On the same day his body was prepared for burial and borne to the church of the Virgin Mary, which he had founded, in the midst of the lamentation of all his people, and there laid to rest. Over his tomb was erected an arch, covered with gold, and having his image and this inscription on it: “Under this tomb lies the body of Karl, the great and orthodox emperor, who greatly increased the kingdom of the Franks and ruled gloriously for forty-seven years. He died when over seventy years of age, in the year of our Lord 814, the 7th indiction, on the fifth of the Kalends of February.”
The Imperial Coronation of Karl the Great, 800.
Since 476 there had been no emperor in the west, and the emperor at Constantinople had lost control of that part of the Roman empire. The west, however, still regarded itself as a part of the one great empire. The coronation of Karl the Great in 800 is the famous translatio imperii, the transfer of the empire, by which according to the papal theory the crown of the Roman empire was taken by the pope from the emperors at Constantinople, and conferred upon the king of the Franks. From this point of view it was the final act in the rebellion of the popes from the control of the emperors of the east. From the point of view of Frankish history, it was the culmination of the connection between the popes and the king of the Franks begun with the coronation of Pippin (see no. 6 and note).
After this, on Christmas day, all gathered together in the aforesaid church of St. Peter and the venerable pope crowned Karl with his own hands with a magnificent crown. Then all the Romans, inspired by God and by St. Peter, keeper of the keys of heaven, and recognizing the value of Karl’s protection and the love which he bore the holy Roman church and the pope, shouted in a loud voice: “Long life and victory to Karl, the pious Augustus crowned of God, the great and peace-bringing emperor.” The people, calling on the names of all the saints, shouted this three times, before the holy confession of St. Peter, and thus he was made emperor of the Romans by all. Then the pope anointed Karl and his son with the holy oil.
General Capitulary about the Missi, 802.
The attempts of Karl to create a permanent central government are reflected in the great amount of legislation which has come down to us from his reign. This legislation is mainly in the form of capitularies, i.e., edicts or instructions, covering a wide range of subjects and interests. The general capitulary of the year 802, a portion of which is translated here, was issued by Karl after his imperial coronation and his return from Italy. It embodied a great number of instructions to his officials and subjects in regard to their relation to him in his new capacity as emperor. The publication and the enforcement of these instructions were intrusted to the missi, who appear now for the first time as regular officials of the empire. These officials were chosen from the counsellors, officials, and great men of the court, both ecclesiastic and secular, and were assigned to definite districts, two missi to each district. The districts were large administrative divisions of the empire including many counties (the regular divisions), and the two missi were to travel through the district assigned to them, looking into the general condition of the people, the administration of local officials, the condition of the royal lands, etc. They held four public courts a year in their district, at which they heard complaints, tried cases, etc. They had authority to control the regular officials and to depose them if necessary. They were supposed to report to the emperor the condition of the empire and to refer to him such cases as they were not able to decide. By means of these officials Karl kept in closer touch with, and maintained a firmer hold upon, the various parts of his empire than was possible merely by his own oversight over the counts, and at the same time avoided the other danger of creating independent rulers in the large districts, by changing the missi every year.
1. Concerning the representatives sent out by the emperor. The most serene and Christian emperor, Karl, chose certain of the ablest and wisest men among his nobles, archbishops, bishops, abbots, and pious laymen, and sent them out through his realm, and through these, his representatives, he gave his people rules to guide them in living justly. He ordered these men to investigate and to report to him any inequality or injustice that might appear in the law as then constituted, that he might undertake its correction. He ordered that no one should dare to change the prescribed law by any trickery or fraud, or to pervert the course of justice for his own ends, as many were wont to do, or to deal unjustly with the churches of God, with the poor or the widows and orphans, or with any Christian man. But he commanded all men to live righteously according to the precepts of God, and to remain each in his own station and calling; the regular clergy to observe the rules of monastic life without thought of gain, nuns to keep diligent watch over their lives, laymen to keep the law justly without fraud, and all, finally, to live together in perfect peace and charity. And he ordered his missi, as they desired to win the favor of Almighty God and keep the faith which they had promised him, to inquire diligently into every case where any man complained that he had been dealt with unjustly by anyone, and in the fear of God to render justice to all, to the holy churches of God, to the poor, to widows and orphans, and to the whole people. And if any case arises which they can not correct and bring to justice with the aid of the local counts, they are to make a clear report of it to the emperor. They are not to be hindered in the doing of justice by the flattery or bribery of anyone, by their partiality for their own friends, or by the fear of powerful men.
2. The oath of fidelity to the emperor. He has also commanded that every man in his kingdom, clergyman or layman, who has already taken the oath of fidelity to him as king, shall now renew it to him as emperor; and that all persons over twelve years of age who have not yet taken the oath shall do so now. The nature and extent of the promise should be made known to all, for it includes not only, as some think, a promise of fidelity to the emperor for this life, and an engagement not to bring any enemy into the kingdom nor to take part in or conceal any infidelity to him, but includes all the following:
3. First, that each one shall strive with all his mind and strength on his own account to serve God according to the commandments and according to his own promise, for the emperor is not able to give the necessary care and oversight to all his people.
4. Second, that no one shall ever wrongfully claim, take, or conceal anything that belongs to the emperor, such as lands or slaves, by perjury or fraud, or through partiality or bribery; and that no one shall take or conceal fugitive serfs from the royal lands, by perjury or fraud. . . .
5. That no one shall do any violence or harm to the holy churches of God, to widows and orphans, or to strangers; for the emperor, after God and his saints, is constituted their special protector. . . .
Selections from the Monk of St. Gall.
The following documents, nos. 10-12, are intended to illustrate the interest and activity of Karl in the revival of learning in his realm. See also no. 7, Einhard’s Life of Karl, ch. 25. The disappearance of classical culture in the west through the disorders incident upon the decline of the Roman empire, the migrations, and the civil wars of the Merovingian period, was shown not only in the general ignorance among the common people, but also in the decline of learning and culture in the church. The selection from the Monk of St. Gall throws light upon the palace school of Karl and his court, the other numbers illustrate the interest of Karl in the education of the clergy and the reformation of the church services. The Monk of St. Gall is the unknown author of a chronicle account of the life and times of Karl, written in the latter part of the ninth century. It contains many tales and stories which are popular and in part legendary, showing how the figure of Karl was being magnified in the imagination of posterity.
I, 2. When Albinus (Alcuin), who was an Englishman, learned of the great favor with which Karl received wise men, he took ship and came over to him. This man was the most learned of all men of recent times in the holy writ, being the pupil of the learned priest Beda, who was the greatest commentator on the scriptures since St. Gregory [I]. Karl kept him at his side continually until his death, save for occasions when the emperor was at war. The emperor was always desirous of being known as the pupil of Alcuin. He also gave him the monastery of Tours to serve as a source of revenue during his own absence and as a place where Alcuin might live and instruct the scholars who sought him. His teaching bore such fruit among the Gauls and Franks that they approached the ancient Romans and Athenians in learning.
3. Now when the most victorious Karl after a long absence returned to Gaul he ordered the boys whom he had intrusted to Clement to come to him and show him their letters and verses. And the youths of lowly birth showed him writings adorned with all the graces of learning, beyond what had been expected, but the youths of noble rank presented trivial and worthless specimens. Then the wise Karl, imitating the justice of the eternal judge, separated the youths into two divisions and placed those who had done well on his right hand and addressed them thus: “Receive my thanks, children, for you have been zealous in obeying my orders and in improving yourselves. Strive now to perfect yourselves, and I will give you the best bishoprics and monasteries, and will ever hold you in my favor.” Then turning a severe countenance upon those on his left hand, and striking terror into their hearts with his piercing eye, he hurled these ironical words at them in a voice of thunder: “You nobles, you sons of prominent men, you delicate and handsome youths! Relying on your birth and wealth, and caring nothing for our commands or for your own improvement, you have neglected the study of letters, and have indulged yourselves in pleasures and idleness and empty games.” Then, lifting up his august head and raising his unconquered right hand to heaven, he thundered forth at them with his usual oath: “By the King of heaven, I care little for your noble birth and your beauty, though others may admire you for them; know this, that unless you straightway make up for your former negligence by earnest study, you need never expect any favor from the hand of Karl.”
28. Such peace as the mighty emperor Karl was able to secure, he was not content to spend in idleness, but devoted it to the service of God. Thus he undertook to build, in Germany, a church after his own plan, which should surpass the ancient buildings of the Romans. . . . The oversight he intrusted to a certain abbot, not knowing his cunning. But whenever the emperor was absent, the abbot would allow some of the laborers to purchase their release for money, but those who were unable to pay for this, or who were not permitted to leave by their masters, he oppressed with continual tasks, as the Egyptians once oppressed the people of God, so that they had scarcely any rest. By this means he gathered together an immense treasure of gold and silver and silken hangings. . . . Suddenly he was informed that his house was on fire. Hastening home he broke through the flames into the chamber where he kept the chests of gold. Seizing two of these, one on each shoulder (for he was not satisfied with saving just one), he tried to escape by the door. But a great beam, burned in two by the fire, fell upon him and killed him, his body being destroyed by terrestrial flames, but his soul despatched to that fire which was not kindled by mortal hands [the flames of hell]. Thus the judgment of God watched over the interests of Karl, whenever the cares of the empire prevented him from looking after them himself.
II, 1. Adalbert told me about the defenses of the Huns [Avars]. “The land of the Huns,” he said, “was surrounded with nine rings. . . . The distance from the first to the second ring was as far as from Zürich to Constance; the outer ring was composed of oak, beech, and pine trees, and was twenty feet across and twenty feet high, the space in between the trees being filled with stones and clay, and the outer surface covered with thick sod. . . . Within these [the first and second] rings the villages were so arranged that the voice of a man could be heard from one to another. . . . The distance from the second to the third ring was ten German miles, which equal forty Italian miles, and so on to the ninth, although, of course, each succeeding ring was narrower [contained less land] than the one preceding it. The fortifications and dwellings within each ring were so situated that a signal from a horn could be heard from any one of them. In this defense the riches of the west had been gathered together for more than two hundred years . . . but the victorious Karl was able in eight years so completely to conquer the Huns, that not a trace of them is left.”
9. Aaron [Haroun] recognized by this incident the might of Karl, and spoke [to Karl’s ambassadors] these words of praise: “Now I understand, how true are the things which I have heard about my brother Karl; how he is accustomed by his ceaseless efforts and unwearied striving to make everything under the sun serve as a means of discipline for his body and his mind. What can I send back that will be worthy of him who has so honored me? If I should give him the land of Abraham which was given to Joshua, he would not be able to defend it, because of its distance from him; or if he determined in his magnanimity to defend it, I fear that the neighboring provinces would revolt in his absence from the Frankish rule. Nevertheless I will try to equal him in generosity by this means: I will give him authority over that land, and I will act as his representative in it; he may send ambassadors to me when it pleases him or is convenient for him, and he will find that I am the most faithful defender of the incomes of that land.”1
Letter of Karl the Great to Baugulf, Abbot of Fulda, 787.
Karl, by the grace of God king of the Franks and the Lombards and patricius of the Romans, sends loving greeting in the name of omnipotent God to abbot Baugulf, and to the household of monks committed to his charge. Know that we, with the advice of our faithful subjects, have regarded it as important that in the bishoprics and monasteries of our realm those who show themselves apt in learning should devote themselves to study, in addition to their regular duties as monks. For as the observance of monastic rules promotes good morals and character, so also the practice of teaching and learning develops a pure and agreeable style. Let those who seek to please God by living uprightly, seek to please Him also by speaking correctly. For it is written: “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” [Matt. 12:37]. For although well-doing is more important than knowledge, nevertheless knowledge must precede action. . . . We have been led to write of this, because we have frequently received letters from monks in which they make known to us what they are praying for, and in these letters we have recognized correct sentiments, but an uncouth style and language. The sentiments inspired in them by their devotion to us they could not express correctly, because they had neglected the study of language. Therefore we have begun to fear lest, just as the monks appear to have lost the art of writing, so also they may have lost the ability to understand the Holy Scriptures; and we all know that, though mistakes in words are dangerous, mistakes in understanding are still more so. Therefore we urge you to be diligent in the pursuit of learning, and to strive with humble and devout minds to understand more fully the mysteries of the Holy Scriptures. For it is well known that the sacred writings contain many rhetorical figures, the spiritual meaning of which will be readily apprehended only by those who have been instructed in the study of letters. And let those men be chosen for this work who are able and willing to learn and who have the desire to teach others. And let this be done in the spirit in which we have recommended it. For we desire that you, as becomes your station, shall be both devout and learned, both chaste in life and correct in speech. Thus when anyone shall be moved by your reputation for devotion and holiness, and shall desire to see you, he may be both edified by your appearance and instructed by your learning, which shall appear in your reading and singing; and so he may go away rejoicing and giving thanks to God. Do not fail to send copies of this letter to all your suffragans and fellow-bishops and all the monasteries, if you desire our favor.
Letter of Karl the Great in Regard to the two Books of Sermons Prepared by Paul the Deacon,ca. 790.
Karl, by the aid of God king of the Franks and Lombards and patricius of the Romans, to the clergy of his realm. . . . Now since we are very desirous that the condition of our churches should constantly improve, we are endeavoring by diligent study to restore the knowledge of letters which has been almost lost through the negligence of our ancestors, and by our example we are encouraging those who are able to do so to engage in the study of the liberal arts. In this undertaking we have already, with the aid of God, corrected all the books of the Old and New Testament, whose texts had been corrupted through the ignorance of copyists. Moreover, inspired by the example of our father, Pippin, of blessed memory, who introduced the Roman chants into the churches of his realm, we are now trying to supply the churches with good reading lessons. Finally, since we have found that many of the lessons to be read in the nightly service have been badly compiled and that the texts of these readings are full of mistakes, and the names of their authors omitted, and since we could not bear to listen to such gross errors in the sacred lessons, we have diligently studied how the character of these readings might be improved. Accordingly we have commanded Paul the Deacon,1 our beloved subject, to undertake this work; that is, to go through the writings of the fathers carefully, and to make selections of the most helpful things from them and put them together into a book, as one gathers occasional flowers from a broad meadow to make a bouquet. And he, wishing to obey us, has read through the treatises and sermons of the various catholic fathers and has picked out the best things. These selections he has copied clearly without mistakes and has arranged in two volumes, providing readings suitable for every feast day throughout the whole year. We have tested the texts of all these readings by our own knowledge, and now authorize these volumes and commend them to all of you to be read in the churches of Christ.
Recognition of Karl by the Emperors at Constantinople, 812.
The following passages throw light upon the statement of Einhard (no. 7, ch. 28) in regard to the relation of Karl with the eastern emperors after his imperial coronation. We know from other sources that Karl wished to acquire the title of emperor and that he had already entered into negotiations with the empress Irene looking to a peaceful acquisition of it, before the pope gave him the crown. He was apparently not satisfied with his position until he obtained recognition from the emperors in the east, whom he still regarded as the legal successors of the Roman emperors.
The emperor, Nicephorus, after winning many notable victories in Mœsia, fell in battle against the Bulgarians, and his son-in-law Michael was made emperor. He received the ambassadors in Constantinople whom Karl had sent to Nicephorus and dismissed them, sending back to Karl with them his own ambassadors, Michael, a bishop, and Arsaphius and Theognostus, commanders of the imperial body-guard, to confirm the treaty which had been proposed in the time of Nicephorus. They came to the emperor at Aachen and received a copy of the treaty from him in the church of Aachen. In their address to him on this occasion, which they delivered in Greek, they called him emperor and basileus. They then proceeded to Rome on their way back, and received a copy of the treaty from the pope in the church of St. Peter, the apostle.
Letter of Karl to Emperor Michael I, 813.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Karl, by the grace of God emperor and Augustus, king of the Franks and the Lombards, to his dear and honorable brother, Michael, glorious emperor and Augustus, eternal greeting in our Lord Jesus Christ. We bless and praise our Lord Jesus Christ with all our heart and strength for the ineffable gift of his kindness, with which he has enriched us. For he has deigned in our day to establish that peace between the east and the west, which we have long sought for and have always desired, and, in answer to the daily prayers which we have offered to him, has unified the holy immaculate catholic church throughout the whole world and given it peace. We speak of this peace as if it had been already brought about, for we have done our part, and we are sure you are willing to do yours. We put our trust in God who has ordained that this matter, the making of peace between us, should be carried out; for he is faithful and true, giving his aid to all who are engaged in good works, and he will bring to perfection this work which we have begun. Desiring now to bring about this consummation, we have sent you our legates, Amalhar, venerable bishop of Trier, and Peter, abbot of the monastery of Nonantula, to receive from the holy altar by your hands a copy of the treaty of peace, bearing the signatures of your priests, patriarchs, and nobles, just as your legates, Michael, venerable metropolitan, and Arsaphius and Theognostus, commanders of the royal body-guard, received the copy from us, with our signature and the signatures of our priests and nobles. . . .
Letter to Ludwig the Pious Concerning the Appearance of a Comet, 837.
The dissolution of the empire of Karl the Great began in the reign of his son and successor, Ludwig, with the disintegration of the public service and the attacks of Northmen and Slavs on the frontier. The invasions of the Northmen are mentioned by Einhard as occurring in the last days of Karl (no. 7, chapter 14). In the reigns of Ludwig and his successors the invaders continually ravaged the shores of Gaul and northern Germany and added materially to the distress of the period. This letter refers in its last part to one of these raids, but it is interesting chiefly as an illustration of the mental attitude of the men of its age.
It is believed by almost all the ancient authorities that the appearance of new and unknown heavenly bodies portends to wretched mortals direful and disastrous events, rather than pleasant and propitious ones. The sacred scriptures alone tell of the propitious appearance of a new star; that is, that star which the wise men of the Chaldæans are said to have seen when, conjecturing from its most brilliant light the recent birth of the eternal king, they brought with veneration gifts worthy the acceptance of so great a lord. But the appearance of this star which has lately arisen is reported by all who have seen it to be terrible and malignant. And indeed I believe it presages evils which we have deserved, and foretells a coming destruction of which we are worthy. For what difference does it make whether this coming danger is foretold to the human race by man or angel or star? The important thing is to understand that this appearance of a new body in the heavens is not without significance, but that it is meant to forewarn mortals that they may avert the future evil by repentance and prayers. Thus by the preaching of the prophet Jonah the destruction of the city, which had been threatened by him, was deferred because the inhabitants turned from their iniquities and evil lives. . . . So we trust that merciful God will turn this threatened evil from us also, if we like them repent with our whole hearts. Would that the destruction which the fleet of the Northmen is said to have inflicted upon this realm recently might be regarded as the sufficient occasion for the appearance of this comet, but I fear that it is rather some new distress still to come that is foretold by this terrible omen.
The Strassburg Oaths, 842.
The occasion of these oaths was the alliance between the two brothers, Ludwig the German and Charles the Bald, against their brother Lothar. Lothar had been defeated at the battle of Fontenay, 841, by his brothers, who then made this league. The oaths are given in this form by Nithard, the historian of the later Carolingians, who was the son of Angilbert and Bertha, the daughter of Karl the Great. The lingua romana and the lingua teudisca are the vulgar languages respectively of the followers of Charles the Bald and Ludwig the German, that is, of the inhabitants of France and of Germany. The appearance of a Latin dialect as the language of the inhabitants of the western kingdom indicates that the Roman elements had after all survived in Gaul and were absorbing the German elements; the formation of two languages mutually exclusive in the two portions of the empire suggests a fairly advanced stage of differentiation between the German and the French parts. But the chief interest of this document is in the field of language study. The lingua romana shows an early stage in the development of French from Latin, while the lingua teudisca is one of the earliest forms of Old High German. The lingua romana shows the process by which the French language grew out of Latin; note that inflectional endings have largely disappeared, and case is shown by the use of prepositions, and that phonetic changes (changes of vowels and consonants) have also taken place. Some of the words are good Latin, others are very nearly modern French, and still others stand midway between Latin and French. Most of the words in the lingua teudisca can be identified with modern German words. Note that each leader took the oath in the language of the followers of the other, in order that his brother’s followers might understand him. So Ludwig the German speaks in the lingua romana and Charles the Bald in the lingua teudisca.
So Ludwig and Charles came together at Argentaria, which is called Strassburg in the common tongue, and there took the oaths which are given below, Ludwig speaking in the lingua romana and Charles in the lingua teudisca. . . . Ludwig, being the elder, took the oath first, as follows:
Pro deo amur et pro christian poblo et nostro commun salvament, d’ist di in avant, in quant deus savir et podir me dunat, si salvaraeio cist meon fradre Karlo et in aiudha et in cadhuna cosa, si cum om per dreit son fradra salvar dist, in o quid il mi altresi fazet, et ab Ludher nul plaid numquam prindrai, qui meon vol cist meon fradre Karle in damno sit.
When Ludwig had finished, Charles took the oath in the lingua teudisca:
In godes minna ind in thes christânes folches ind unsêr bêdhero gehaltnissî, fon thesemo dage frammordes, sô fram sô mir got geuuiczi indi mahd furgibit, sô haldih thesan minan bruodher, sôso man mit rehtu sînan bruodher scal, in thiu thaz er mig sô sama duo, indi mit Ludheren in nohheiniu thing ne gegango, the mînan uuilon imo ce scadhen uuerdhên.
Literal translation of the lingua romana, the lingua teudisca being the same with the names changed:
“By God’s love and by this Christian people and our common salvation, from this day forth, as far as God gives me to know and to have power, I will so aid this my brother Charles in each and every thing as a man ought to aid his brother, in so far as he shall do the same for me; and I will never have any dealings with Lothar that may by my wish injure this my brother Charles.”
And this is the oath which the followers of each took in their own tongues:
Si Lodhuuigs sagrament, que son fradre Karlo iurat, conservat, et Karlus meos sendra de suo part non los tanit, si io returnar non l’int pois: ne io ne neuls, cui eo returnar int pois, in nulla aiudha contra Lodhuuuig nun li iv er.
Oba Karl then eid, then er sînemo bruodher Ludhuuuîge gesuor, geleistit, indi Ludhuuuîg mîn hêrro then er imo gesuor forbrihchit, ob ih inan es iruuenden ne mag: noh ih noh thero nohhein, then ih es iruuenden mag, uuidhar Karle imo ce follusti ne uuirdhit.
Literal translation of the lingua romana, the same as the other with names changed:
“If Ludwig keeps the oath which he swore to his brother Charles, and Charles, my lord, on his part does not keep it, if I cannot prevent it, then neither I nor anyone whom I can prevent shall ever defend him against Ludwig.”
The Treaty of Verdun, 843.
The treaty of Verdun is the division of the empire among the three sons of Ludwig the Pious, Lothar, Ludwig the German, and Charles the Bald. It recognized the failure of the attempt of Karl to weld western Europe and the German tribes into one state and marks the beginning of the states of Germany and France. The student should follow on a map the line described in the treaty. The long narrow strip which composed the northern portion of the kingdom of Lothar had no elements of cohesion, geographically, racially, or politically. So it became the debatable land over which the two neighboring states of Germany and France have ever since fought. The fate of this middle territory may be glanced at in anticipation: The extreme northern portion came to the empire in 870 and formed the duchy of Lotharingia, but it fell apart into little feudal territories practically independent of the empire and finally became separate as the Netherlands; the central portion also broke up into small territories, part of which remained in the empire, as the Palatinate of the Rhine, and the great Rhine bishoprics; part, like Elsass and Lorraine, vacillated between France and Germany; the southern portion became the kingdoms of upper and lower Burgundy, then the united kingdom of Burgundy or Arles, and then after the acquisition of that kingdom by the empire, broke up into small territories, part going to Germany, part to France, and part becoming independent.
Charles met his brothers at Verdun and there the portions of the empire were assigned. Ludwig received all beyond the Rhine, including also Speier, Worms, and Mainz on this side of the Rhine; Lothar received the land bounded [by that of Ludwig on the west, and] by a line following along the lower Rhine, the Scheldt, and the Meuse, then through Cambrai, Hainault, Lomme, including the counties east of the Meuse, to where the Saône flows into the Rhône, then along the Rhône to the sea, including the counties on both sides of the Rhône; the rest as far as Spain, went to Charles.
Anno 842 (843). The three brothers divided the kingdom of the Franks among themselves; to Charles fell the western portion from the British ocean to the Meuse; to Ludwig, the eastern portion, that is, Germany as far west as the Rhine, including certain cities and their counties east of the Rhine to furnish him with wine; to Lothar, who, as the oldest, bore the title of emperor, the part in between, which still bears the name of Lotharingia, and all of Provence and the land of Italy with the city of Rome.
The Treaty of Meersen, 870.
The northern portion of the kingdom of Lothar was divided on his death (855) between two of his sons, Lothar and Charles, the other, Louis, taking Italy. Charles died in 863 and Lothar in 869; thereupon their uncles, Charles the Bald and Ludwig the German, divided that territory between them by the treaty of Meersen, the preliminaries of which are given here. See a map for the line of the division.
In the year of the incarnation of our Lord 870, the third indiction, the day before the nones of March [March 6], in the 32d year of the reign of the glorious king Charles [the Bald], in the palace of the king at Aachen, this agreement was made between him and his brother Ludwig.
Count Ingelram, for king Charles.
I promise for my lord that my lord, king Charles, will permit his brother, king Ludwig, to have such portion of the kingdom of Lothar as they two or their representatives may decide upon as just and equitable. Charles will never molest him in his possession of that portion or of the kingdom which he held before, if Ludwig on his side will keep the same faith and fidelity toward him, which I have promised for my lord.
Count Leutfrid, for king Ludwig.
I promise for my lord that my lord, king Ludwig, will permit his brother, king Charles, to have such portion of the kingdom of Lothar as they two or their representatives may decide upon as just and equitable. Ludwig will never molest him in his possession of that portion or of the kingdom which he held before, if Charles on his side will keep the same faith and fidelity toward him, which I have promised for my lord.
Invasions of Northmen at the End of the Ninth Century.
See introductory note to no. 15 for the nature of these invasions. The chronicle accounts in this and the next document illustrate very well the necessity which lay upon the local officials of defending the country against invaders. The particular feature of the events narrated here is the participation of the ecclesiastical lords, archbishops and bishops, in these warlike enterprises. This was due to the fact that the ecclesiastical lords were great landholders and exercised all the functions of secular officials.
Ad annum 883. The Northmen, ascending the Rhine, plundered and burnt many villages. Liutbert, archbishop of Mainz, with a small band of troops, attacked them and, after killing many of them, recovered much of the booty which they had taken. Cologne [which had been burnt by the Northmen, 881] was rebuilt, except its churches and monasteries, and its walls with their gates and towers were restored.
Ad annum 885. The Northmen entered the territory about Liège, collected all kinds of provisions, and prepared to spend the winter there. But Liutbert, archbishop of Mainz, and count Heimrih, with others, fell upon them suddenly, killed many of them, and drove the others into a small stronghold. They then seized the provisions which the Northmen had collected. The Northmen, after enduring a long siege, during which they suffered from hunger, finally fled from the stronghold by night.
Invasion of the Hungarians,ca. 950.
Michael, bishop of Regensburg, after governing his diocese well for some years, gathered his troops and joined the other Bavarian nobles in resisting an invasion of the Hungarians. In the battle which followed, our troops were defeated. One of the bishop’s ears was cut off, and after receiving many other wounds he was left for dead on the field. One of his personal enemies had fallen at his side, and, by feigning death when the Hungarians searched the battle-field, he escaped with his life. When he saw that he was alone with the bishop whom he hated, he seized a lance and tried to kill him. But the bishop, having recovered consciousness, was able to defend himself, and, after a fierce struggle with his enemy, succeeded in striking him down. After a long and perilous journey the bishop found his way back to Regensburg, greatly to the joy of his flock. All his clergy welcomed him as a bold warrior, his flock honored and cherished him as an excellent pastor, and his wounds and maiming redounded to his honor.
Dissolution of the Empire.
The empire divided in 843 was for a brief period reunited under Karl the Fat from 884-887. But the failure of Karl either to enforce his authority in the empire or to protect its boundaries led to his deposition and to the definite division of the empire into small kingdoms under local rulers. Arnulf, an illegitimate son of Karlmann, the brother of Karl the Fat, became king of Germany; in France, as early as 879, Provence or lower Burgundy had elected a local count, Boso, as king; in 888, after the deposition of Karl the Fat, most of the French nobles elected Odo, duke of Francia, who belonged to the family of the counts of Paris, as their king, while upper Burgundy chose its own ruler in count Rudolf, and Aquitaine still held out under its duke for the young Charles the Simple, grandson of Charles the Bald. In Italy Charles the Bald, Ludwig, and Karl the Fat had attempted in vain to assert the authority of the emperor there, and Italy went its own way and became the field of battle between rival claimants for the crown, both of them local Italian nobles. Thus by 888 there were, including Aquitaine, six separate kingdoms, Germany, Italy, France, Aquitaine, Provence, and Burgundy.
Anno 879. Boso, on hearing of the death of Louis [the Stammerer], set out from Provence and undertook to seize the whole of Burgundy. And after he had won over several bishops to his cause by threats and persuasion, he proceeded to Lyon and there was anointed king over the Burgundian realm by Aurelian, the metropolitan of Lyon, and the other bishops. He ignored the young sons of Louis, treating them as illegitimate because their mother had been disgraced and put away at the order of Charles [the Bald]. But these youths, Louis and Carlman, were raised to the throne by abbot Hugo and the other nobles, and warred against Boso all their lives. Not only they but also the other kings of the Franks hated him for his usurpation, and made their dukes and vassals promise that they would try to overthrow and slay him.
Anno 887. In this year there died at Orleans abbot Hugo, who had held and ruled manfully the duchy [of Robert the Strong, i.e., Francia], and the duchy was given by the emperor to Robert’s son, Odo, who had been up to that time count of Paris, and who, together with Gozlinus, bishop of Paris, had protected that city with all his might against the terrible onslaughts of the Northmen. . . .
In the month of November on St. Martin’s day [November 11, 887], Karl [the Fat] came to Tribur and held a general diet. Now when the nobles of the kingdom saw that the emperor was failing not only in bodily strength, but in mind also, they joined in a conspiracy with Arnulf, son of Karlmann, to raise him to the throne, and they fell away from the emperor to Arnulf in such numbers that after three days scarcely anyone was left to do the emperor even the services demanded by common humanity. . . . King Arnulf, however, gave Karl certain imperial lands in Alamannia for his sustenance, and then, after he had settled affairs in Franconia, he himself returned to Bavaria.
Anno 888. After the death of Karl the kingdoms which had obeyed his rule fell apart and obeyed no longer their natural lord [i.e., Arnulf], but each elected a king from among its own inhabitants. This was the cause of many wars, not because there were no longer any princes among the Franks fitted by birth, courage, and wisdom to rule, but because of the equality of those very traits among so many princes, since no one of them so excelled the others that they would be willing to obey him. For there were still many princes able to hold together the Frankish empire, if they had not been fated to oppose one another instead of uniting.
In Italy one portion of the people made Berengar, son of Everhard, markgraf of Friuli, king, while another portion chose as king Guido, son of Lambert, duke of Spoleto. Out of this division came so great a strife and so much bloodshed that, as our Lord said, the kingdom, divided against itself, was almost brought to desolation [Matt. 12:25]. Finally Guido was victorious and Berengar was driven from the kingdom. . . .
Then the people of Gaul came together, and with the consent of Arnulf, chose duke Odo, son of Robert, a mighty man, to be their king. . . . He ruled manfully and defended the kingdom against the continual attacks of the Northmen.
About the same time, Rudolf, son of Conrad, the nephew of abbot Hugo, seized that part of Provence between the Jura and the Pennine Alps [Upper Burgundy], and in the presence of the nobles and bishops, crowned himself king. . . . But when Arnulf heard of this he advanced against Rudolf, who betook himself to the most inaccessible heights and held out there. All his life Arnulf, with his son Zwentibold, made war on Rudolf, but could not overcome him, because he held out in places where only the chamois could go and where the troops of the invaders could not reach him.
The Coronation of Arnulf, 896.
Arnulf regarded himself as the successor to Karl the Great and attempted to exercise some real authority over the whole empire. This appears in his relations to Odo of France, to the kings of the Burgundies, and to the claimants in Italy. The expedition which he undertook to Italy in order to end the disorders there resulted in his receiving the imperial crown.
Anno 896. A second time Arnulf went down into Italy and came to Rome, and with the consent of the pope stormed the city. This was an unheard-of thing, not having happened since Brenno and the Gauls captured Rome many years before the birth of Christ.1 The mother of Lambert, whom he had left to defend the city, fled with her troops. Arnulf was received into the city with the greatest reverence by pope Formosus and was crowned emperor by him before the altar of St. Peter. But as he returned from Rome he was seized with an illness that troubled him for a long time.
Rise of the Tribal Duchies in Germany,ca. 900.
In the beginning of the tenth century we find Germany divided into five great duchies, Lotharingia, Franconia, Saxony, Bavaria, and Suabia. The boundaries of the last four corresponded pretty closely to the boundaries of old German tribes: Franks, Saxons, Bavarians, and Alamanni. The attempt of Karl to weld the various German tribes into one state was successful during his reign, but that period was too brief to extinguish the tribal feeling, and his weak successors, occupied with schemes of selfish aggrandizement, abandoned his larger policy. During the later Carolingian period the impotence of the central government put the burden of ruling upon the local officials, who under the weak rule of Ludwig the Child usurped the title of duke in each of the large divisions. This usurpation was successful largely because the people in each duchy regarded their new duke as the representative of tribal unity. In Saxony and Bavaria the counts of the marks took the position of leaders of the nobles and people of the whole provinces against the invasions of Slavs and Hungarians, and were rewarded by the fidelity and allegiance of the duchy. In Franconia and Suabia the same position was won by local officials, but in these cases it was as the result of struggles between rival families for supreme position in the duchy. The references in documents to these events are very meager, but it will be observed that dukes of Saxony, Bavaria, Franconia, Suabia are mentioned in these passages.
The last of the Carolingian emperors of the East Franks was Ludwig [the Child], son of Arnulf. . . . This Ludwig married Liudgard, sister of Bruno and the great duke Otto, and soon after died. These men, Bruno and Otto, were the sons of Liudolf. . . . Bruno ruled the duchy of all Saxony, but perished with his army in resisting an incursion of the Danes, thus leaving the duchy to his younger and far abler brother Otto. Ludwig the Child left no son, and all the people of Franconia and Saxony tried to give Otto the crown. But he refused to undertake the burden of ruling, on the ground that he was too old, and by his advice Conrad, duke of Franconia, was anointed king.
Anno 911. Burchart, count and prince of the Alamanni, was unjustly slain by the judgment of Anselm, and his sons Burchart and Udalrich were driven out and his possessions and fiefs divided among his enemies. . . .
Anno 913. In this year Conrad the king attacked the king of Lotharingia. A conflict arose between Conrad and Erchanger [a count palatine in Suabia]. The Hungarians break into Alamannia; on their return Arnulf [duke of Bavaria] and Erchanger, with Berthold and Udalrich, attack and defeat the Hungarians. In this year peace is made between the king and Erchanger, and the king marries the sister of Erchanger.
Anno 914. Conrad again comes into Alamannia. Erchanger attacks bishop Salomon and captures him. In the same year Erchanger is captured by the king and exiled. Immediately the young Burchart [son of Burchart] rebels against the king and devastates his own fatherland.
Anno 915. . . . Erchanger returns from exile and attacks Burchart and Berthold and conquers them at Wallwis, and is made duke of the Alamanni [duke of Suabia].
Henry I and the Saxon Cities, 919-36.
Henry, duke of Saxony, king of the Germans, 919-936, was the first king of the Saxon house. He was also the first king of the Germans to accept the feudal state and to attempt to build up a government on that basis. He did not revive the imperial claims on Italy, but devoted himself to strengthening his own authority in Saxony, to defending the frontiers of the kingdom, and to creating a German state. This selection is from the history of the Saxons written by Widukind, a monk in the monastery of New Corvey, who wrote in the latter part of the tenth century. The passage illustrates the relations of the Germans to the Slavs on the east and the origin of the Saxon cities. The Slavs had moved as far west as the Elbe, occupying the lands left vacant by the Germans after the migrations. Much of this territory was gradually recovered by the Germans from the time of Henry. Here we see the capture of the city of Brandenburg and the reduction of Bohemia. Following the conquest came the establishment of the marks and the colonization and Germanizing of the land.
It lies beyond my power to relate in detail how king Henry, after he had made a nine years’ truce with the Hungarians, undertook to develop the defenses of his own land [Saxony] and to subdue the barbarians; and yet this must not be passed over in silence. From the free peasants subject to military service he chose one out of every nine, and ordered these selected persons to move into the fortified places and build dwellings for the others. One-third of all the produce was to be stored up in these fortified places, and the other peasants were to sow and reap and gather the crops and take them there. The king also commanded all courts and meetings and celebrations to be held in these places, that during a time of peace the inhabitants might accustom themselves to meeting together in them, as he wished them to do in case of an invasion. The work on these strongholds was pushed night and day. Outside of these fortified places there were no walled towns. While the inhabitants of his new cities were being trained in this way, the king suddenly fell upon the Heveldi [the Slavs who dwell on the Havel], defeated them in several engagements, and finally captured the city of Brandenburg. This was in the dead of winter, the besieging army encamping on the ice and storming the city after the garrison had been exhausted by hunger and cold. Having thus won with the capture of Brandenburg the whole territory of the Heveldi, he proceeded against Dalamantia, which his father had attacked on a former occasion, and then besieged Jahna and took it after twenty days. . . . Then he made an attack in force upon Prague, the fortress of the Bohemians, and reduced the king of Bohemia to subjection.
The Election of Otto I, 936.
This passage is also taken from Widukind. It shows the ceremony of election and coronation in the tenth century. Note the steps in the process: (1) designation by his father, at which time the son was probably accepted by an assembly of the nobles; (2) election by the general assembly after the death of the father; the general assembly at this period probably consisted only of nobles and high ecclesiastics; (3) elevation to the throne by the feudal nobles, a survival of the ancient ceremony of raising the king on the shield by the warriors of the tribe; (4) presentation to the people by the bishops, and acceptance; (5) solemn coronation and anointing by the archbishops.
1. After Henry, the father of his country and the greatest and best of kings, had died, all the people of the Franks and the Saxons chose for their king his son Otto, whom Henry had already designated as his successor, and they sent out notices of the coronation, which was to take place at Aachen. . . . And when all were assembled there, the dukes and the commanders of the soldiers and other military leaders raised Otto upon the throne, which was erected in the portico adjoining the church of Karl the Great, and giving him their hands and promising him their fidelity and aid against all his enemies, they made him king according to their custom. Meanwhile the archbishop of Mainz and the clergy and people awaited him within the church. And when he approached the archbishop met him, . . . and went with him to the centre of the church; . . . then turning to the people . . . he said: “I bring you Otto, chosen by God, designated by our lord Henry, and now made king by all the princes; if this choice pleases you, raise your right hands.” At this, the whole people raised their right hands to heaven and hailed the new ruler with a mighty shout. Then the archbishop advanced with the king, who was clothed with a short tunic after the Frankish custom, to the altar, on which lay the royal insignia, the sword and belt, the cloak and armlets, the staff with the sceptre and diadem. The primate at this time was Hildibert, a Frank by birth and a monk by training. He had been brought up and educated at the monastery of Fulda, and finally was made archbishop of Mainz. . . . Now when there had arisen a dispute as to who should consecrate the king (for the honor was claimed by the archbishops both of Trier and of Cologne, the former because his see was the oldest and had been founded, as it were, by St. Peter, and the latter because Aachen was in his diocese),1 the difficulty was settled by both of them yielding with all good will to Hildibert.
The archbishop, going up to the altar, took up the sword and belt and, turning to the king, said: “Receive this sword with which you shall cast out all the enemies of Christ, both pagans and wicked Christians, and receive with it the authority and power given to you by God to rule over all the Franks for the security of all Christian people.” Then taking up the cloak and armlets he put them on the king and said: “The borders of this cloak trailing on the ground shall remind you that you are to be zealous in the faith and to keep peace.” Finally, taking up the sceptre and staff, he said: “By these symbols you shall correct your subjects with fatherly discipline and foster the servants of God and the widows and orphans. May the oil of mercy never be lacking to your head, that you may be crowned here and in the future life with an eternal reward.” Then the archbishops Hildibert of Mainz and Wicfrid of Cologne anointed him with the sacred oil and crowned him with the golden crown, and now that the whole coronation ceremony was completed they led him to the throne, which he ascended. The throne was built between two marble columns of great beauty and was so placed that he could see all and be seen by all.
2. Then after the Te Deum and the mass, the king descended from his throne and proceeded to the palace, where he sat down with his bishops and people at a marble table which was adorned with royal lavishness; and the dukes served him. Gilbert, duke of Lotharingia, who held the office by right, superintended the preparations [i.e., acted as chamberlain], Eberhard, duke of Franconia, presided over the arrangements for the king’s table [acted as seneschal], Herman, duke of Suabia, acted as cupbearer, Arnulf, duke of Bavaria, commanded the knights and chose the place of encampment [acted as marshal].2 Siegfrid, chief of the Saxons, second only to the king, and son-in-law of the former king, ruled Saxony for Otto, providing against attacks of the enemy and caring for the young Henry, Otto’s brother.
Otto I and the Hungarians.
The Hungarians appear on the borders of the empire about the end of the ninth century. From that time they are a continual source of trouble to the kings of Germany. Arnulf had made an alliance with them against the Slavs; the reigns of Ludwig the Child and Conrad I had suffered from their attacks, and Henry I had succeeded in forcing them to make a truce. Otto then defeated them in the battle of the Lechfeld (955), which is narrated here, after which they settled in the region where they are found to-day.
44. While Otto was in Saxony, ambassadors of the Hungarians came to him, under the pretext of the old alliance and friendship, but in reality, it was supposed, in order to discover the outcome of the civil war in which Otto had been engaged. After he had entertained them and sent them away with gifts, he received a message from his brother, the duke of Bavaria, saying: “Lo, the Hungarians are overrunning your land, and are preparing to make war upon you.” As soon as the king heard this, he immediately marched against this enemy, taking with him only a few Saxons, since the rest were occupied at that time with a conflict against the Slavs. He pitched his camp in the territory of the city of Augsburg and was joined there by the army of the Franconians and Bavarians and by duke Conrad with a large following of knights. Conrad’s arrival so encouraged the warriors that they wished to attack the enemy immediately. Conrad was by nature very bold, and at the same time very wise in council, two things which are not usually found in the same man. He was irresistible in war, whether on foot or on horseback; and was dear to his friends in peace as well as in war. It now became apparent through the skirmishes of the advance posts that the two armies were not far apart. A fast was proclaimed in the camp, and all were commanded to be ready for battle on the next morning. At the first gleam of dawn they all arose, made peace with one another, and promised to aid first their own leaders and then each other. Then they marched out of the camp with standards raised, some eight legions in all. The army was led by a steep and difficult way in order to avoid the darts of the enemy, which they use with great effect if they can find any bushes to hide behind. The first, second, and third lines were composed of Bavarians led by the officers of duke Henry, who himself was lying sick some distance from the field of battle—a sickness from which he died not long after. The fourth legion was composed of Franconians, under the command of duke Conrad. The king commanded the fifth line. This was called the royal legion and was made up of selected warriors, brave youths, who guarded the standard of the angel, the emblem of victory. The sixth and seventh lines were composed of Suabians, commanded by duke Burchard, who had married the daughter of the brother of Otto [Hedwig, daughter of Henry]. The eighth was made up of a thousand chosen warriors of the Bohemians, whose equipment was better than their fortune; here was the baggage and the impedimenta, because the rear was thought to be the safest place. But it did not prove to be so in the outcome, for the Hungarians crossed the Lech unexpectedly, and turned the flank of the army and fell upon the rear line, first with darts and then at close quarters. Many were slain or captured, the whole of the baggage seized, and the line put to rout. In like manner the Hungarians fell upon the seventh and sixth lines, slew a great many and put the rest to flight. But when the king perceived that there was a conflict going on in front and that the lines behind him were also being attacked, he sent duke Conrad with the fourth line against those in the rear. Conrad freed the captives, recovered the booty, and drove off the enemy. Then he returned to the king, victorious, having defeated with youthful and untried warriors an enemy that had put to flight experienced and renowned soldiers.
46. . . . When the king saw that the whole brunt of the attack was now in front . . . he seized his shield and lance, and rode out against the enemy at the head of his followers. The braver warriors among the enemy withstood the attack at first, but when they saw that their companions had fled, they were overcome with dismay and were slain. Some of the enemy sought refuge in near-by villages, their horses being worn out; these were surrounded and burnt to death within the walls. Others swam the river, but were drowned by the caving in of the bank as they attempted to climb out on the other side. The strongholds were taken and the captives released on the day of the battle; during the next two days the remnants of the enemy were captured in the neighboring towns, so that scarcely any escaped. Never was so bloody a victory gained over so savage a people.
The Imperial Coronation of Otto I, 962.
The coronation of Otto is regarded as the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. From the time of the coronation of Arnulf (896) (see no. 23) to Otto’s first expedition, 951, the German kings had been too much occupied at home to interfere in Italy. During these years Italy had been the scene of a long struggle for the crown, in which the papacy had taken part as a secular power. The result was feudal anarchy in Italy and the degradation of the papacy. The desire to restore order in Italy, to revive the old imperial claims, and to reform the papacy, led Otto to accept the invitation of the pope and to make a second expedition which ended in the coronation. Otto thus revived the Carolingian policy which had been handed on by Arnulf. The union of Germany and Italy to form the mediæval empire was made certain by this coronation. The kings of Germany were pledged to the maintenance of their authority in Italy, a policy which caused them to waste in Italy the strength and the opportunity which they should have used to build up a German state.
Anno 962. King Otto celebrated Christmas at Pavia in this year , and went thence to Rome, where he was made emperor by pope John XII with the acclamation of all the Roman people and clergy. The pope entertained him with great cordiality and promised never to be untrue to him all the days of his life. But this promise had a very different outcome from what was anticipated by them.
(Otto leaves Rome to attack Berengar, who claimed to be king of Italy, and his sons Adalbert and Guido.)
963. . . . In the meantime pope John, forgetting his promise, fell away from the emperor and joined the party of Berengar, and allowed Adalbert to enter Rome. When Otto heard of this he abandoned the siege [of San Leo] and hastened with his army to Rome. But pope John and Adalbert, fearing to await his arrival, seized most of the treasures of St. Peter and sought safety in flight. Now the Romans were divided in sympathy, part favoring the emperor because of the oppressions of the pope, and part favoring the papal cause; nevertheless, they received him in the city with the proper respect, and gave hostages for their complete obedience to his commands. The emperor having entered Rome, called together there a large number of bishops and held a synod; it was decided at this synod that he should send an embassy after the pope to recall him to the apostolic seat. But when John refused to come, the Roman people unanimously elected the papal secretary Leo [VIII] to fill his place.
The Acquisition of Burgundy by the Empire, 1018-1032.
Thietmar of Merseburg.
The kingdom of Burgundy or Arles was formed by the union of the two small kingdoms of Provence and Upper Burgundy, the beginning of which is told in Regino (see no. 22). The result of the acquisition of Burgundy was not to increase the territory of Germany, but to add another kingdom to the empire, which now included Germany, Italy, and Burgundy.
VIII, 5. Now I shall break off the relation of these negotiations in order to tell of the good fortune which lately befell our emperor, Henry [II]. For his mother’s brother, Rudolf, king of Burgundy, had promised him his crown and sceptre in the presence and with the consent of his wife and his step-sons and all his nobles, and now this promise was repeated with an oath. This happened at Mainz in the same year [February, 1018].
Wipo, Life of Conrad II.
8. Rudolf, king of Burgundy, in his old age ruled his realm in a careless fashion and thereby aroused great dissatisfaction among his nobles. So he invited his sister’s son, the emperor Henry II, to come to him, and he designated him as his successor and caused all the nobles of his realm to swear fealty to him. . . . Now after the death of Henry , king Rudolf wished to withdraw his promise, but Conrad [II], desiring to increase rather than to diminish the empire and to reap the fruits of his predecessor’s efforts, seized Basel in order to force Rudolf to keep his promise. But queen Gisela, the daughter of Rudolf’s sister, brought about reconciliation between them.
29. In the year of our Lord 1032, Rudolf, king of Burgundy, died, and count Odo of Champagne, his sister’s son, invaded the kingdom and had already seized many castles and towns, partly by treachery and partly by force. . . . In this way he gained a large part of Burgundy, although the kingdom had been promised under oath a long time before by Rudolf to Conrad and his son, king Henry. But while Odo was doing this in Burgundy, emperor Conrad was engaged in a campaign against the Slavs. . . .
30. In the year of our Lord 1033, emperor Conrad, with his son, king Henry, celebrated Christmas at Strassburg. From there he invaded Burgundy by way of Solothurn, and at the monastery of Peterlingen on the day of the purification of the Virgin Mary [February 2] he was elected king of Burgundy by the higher and lower nobility, and was crowned on the same day.
Henry III and the Eastern Frontier, 1040 to 1043.
The expansion of Germany to the east was slow and unstable. Poles, Bohemians, and Hungarians refused to remain tributary, but took every opportunity to rebel against the Germans. We give a few passages from Lambert’s Annals to show that Henry III was aware of the policy bequeathed him by his predecessors, although he was not very successful in his efforts to carry it into effect.
Anno 1040. King Henry [III] led an army into Bohemia, but suffered heavy losses. Among others, count Werner and the standard bearer of the monastery of Fulda were slain.
Peter, king of Hungary, was expelled by his people. He fled to Henry and asked his aid.
1041. King Henry entered Bohemia a second time and compelled their duke, Bretislaw, to surrender. He made his territory tributary to Henry.
Ouban, who had usurped the crown of Hungary, invaded Bavaria and Carinthia (Kaernthen) and took much booty. But the Bavarians united all their forces, followed them, retook the booty, killed a great many of them, and put the rest to flight.
1042. King Henry made his first campaign against Hungary, and put Ouban to flight. He went into Hungary as far as the Raab river, took three great fortresses, and received the oath of fidelity from the inhabitants of the land.
1043. The king celebrated Christmas at Goslar, where the duke of Bohemia came to see him. He was kindly received by the king, honorably entertained for some time, and at length sent away in peace. Ambassadors came to him there from many peoples, and among them those of the Rusci, who went away sad because Henry refused to marry the daughter of their king. Ambassadors also came from the king of Hungary and humbly sued for peace. But they did not obtain it, because king Peter, who had been deposed and driven out by Ouban, was there and was begging for the help of Henry against Ouban.
[1 ] In the tribal laws and other documents of the tribal period a district called the “hundred” actually appears as the division of the county (see no. 4, introductory note). Tacitus uses the term here as a division of the tribe, but the original tribe in several instances appears as a county of the larger tribal kingdom, among the Franks and Anglo-Saxons, at least. The origin of the hundred as a territorial district suggested in this passage by Tacitus is probably the correct one: the whole tribe was divided for military purposes into companies of about one hundred men; then when the tribe settled on the land which had been conquered, the lands were distributed to the hundreds, and the districts thus formed came to bear that name.
[2 ] The existence of a noble class, i.e., a number of families having higher social rank and special consideration and privileges, is vouched for by all the sources. The origin of the class and the extent of the privileges which they enjoyed in this primitive time are uncertain. The king was chosen usually from one noble family, but not by strict heredity.
[3 ] The general assembly was composed of all the freemen of the tribe. All public business, that is, affairs in which the whole tribe was concerned, was conducted here, including the making of war and peace, the election of the king and chief officials, etc. It would appear from what Tacitus says that the assembly had jurisdiction in the graver offenses and in cases of appeal from the hundred-court.
[4 ] These leaders were probably the officials who presided over the hundred-court, the assembly of the freemen of the hundred, which was the regular court of justice. We find such an official mentioned in several of the tribal laws; in the Salic and the Alamannian law he is called the “centenarius,” and in the Anglo-Saxon laws the “hundredes-ealdor.” The hundred companions of the official mentioned by Tacitus were probably the whole body of the freemen of the hundred. They attended the hundred-court and had a share in rendering the decision.
[5 ] The chief with his band of followers is found in many primitive warlike societies. The various traditions of the German tribes are full of references to this institution. Famous warriors would gather about them a band of young men eager for reputation and experience. These bands would form the elite of the army when the whole tribe went to war, but would also conduct warlike enterprises on their own account. The viking raids of the Northmen were instances of this practice. It not infrequently happened that the success of private bands would lead the whole tribe to follow and settle on the land which they had begun to conquer, as in the traditional account of the conquest of Britain by the Angles and Saxons.
[6 ] The obligation of following up the blood-feud is a common feature of primitive society. It forms the basis of many of the popular tales and traditions of the German people. The law attempted to make the kindred of the slain man give up the feud in return for the payment of a fixed sum by the slayer of his kin, but the attempt was not always successful. The sum paid is known as the wergeld and is mentioned in all the tribal laws (see no. 4, title XLI and note).
[7 ] The form of land-holding among the early Germans has been the subject of much study and investigation. Chapters 16 and 26 of Tacitus have been discussed and commented on at great length by many scholars and no absolute agreement has been reached in regard to the interpretation of them. The above translation is as literal and untechnical as we could make it, but it is not free from objection. It would seem to mean that the land of the tribe was held by small groups or communities dwelling in little farming villages and cultivating the land assigned them. The land in the time of Tacitus was probably owned in common by the community and apportioned equally among the householders for the purpose of cultivation, and then redistributed at regular periods, once a year according to Tacitus.
[8 ] In order to understand the conditions of German life as described by Tacitus, the student would do well to pick out, bring together, and classify all that he says in different places about the important features of their life: (1) the king, his election, powers, etc.; (2) the assemblies, their composition, procedure, authority; (3) the officials; (4) manners and customs.
[9 ] The chapters devoted to the enumeration and description of the separate tribes have been summarized, the purpose being to show the location and the names of the tribes in the time of Tacitus; the student should compare these with the situation as shown by a map of Europe at the time of the migrations. Note that very few of these names appear at the time of the migrations; this is because most of the tribes had lost their identity before that time, being united into larger groups, or absorbed by other peoples, as by the Huns, Romans, etc. Of the tribes mentioned before the Suebi, most were later united into the confederations of the Franks, Alamanni, and Saxons; thus the Chatti, Chamavi, Chasuarii, etc., are found among the Franks; the Tencteri, Usipii among the Alamanni; the Chauci, Cherusci, Angrivarii among the Saxons. The Frisii remained in the same region and were finally added to the Frankish kingdom by Karl Martel; their name still exists in the Friesland of modern Holland. The Ubii were settled by M. Agrippa on land near Cologne, the Roman town Colonia Agrippina. The Agri Decumates or “tithe lands” were the territory contained within the triangle formed by the upper Rhine, the upper Danube, and a line of fortifications, called the Limes. This advanced frontier was established by Trajan (98-117). The territory received its name from the fact that the colonists who settled there paid a tithe or tenth of the produce to the state as rent. Under the name Suebi, Tacitus classes a great many tribes, some of whom are not even of German race. The real nature of the Suevic Confederation is a matter of great uncertainty. Some of the tribes mentioned by Tacitus under this head appear later; the Semnones are conjectured to be the tribe later known as the Suevi, who joined the Vandals in their raid and remained in northern Spain until conquered by the West Goths; the Lombards remained a separate tribe and moved south into Pannonia and then into Italy; a portion of the Angli joined the Saxons in their invasion of England; the rest were apparently united with the Warini in the Thuringian kingdom, the principal tribe of which was the Hermunduri; the Marcomanni and the Quadi, perhaps with some other tribes, composed the later Bavarians; the Lugii, or Lygians, are mentioned by later Roman writers as among the Germans who threatened the Danube frontier, but the name disappeared after that; the Gutones are the Goths; the Suiones and Sithones are Scandinavian Germans; the Peucini are the same as the Bastarnæ, who were given lands on the Danube by Emperor Probus (276-282); the Veneti are the Wends, a Slavic tribe; the Fenni, the modern Finns.
[1 ] This title illustrates what is said in the introduction about the process out of court. The person who has a cause for legal action against another, goes himself to the house of his antagonist and summons him before witnesses. The law steps in, however, and forces the one who is summoned to come to court under penalty. See also title LVI.
[2 ] The monetary system of the Salic law was taken from the Romans. The basis was the gold solidus of Constantine, 1/72 of a pound of gold. The small coin was the silver denarius, forty of which made a solidus. This system was adopted as a monetary reform by Chlodovech, and the statement of the sum in terms of both coins is probably due to the newness of the system at the time of the appearance of the law.
[1 ] The fine for slaying a man is the wergeld referred to in the introduction. It was paid to the kin of the slain man by the slayer or his kin. The wergeld has different values for different classes; note the classes in the Salic law, particularly the position of the persons in the royal service, the importance of which must have been of comparatively recent origin, and the position of the Roman population. The freeman of the Frankish tribe has a wergeld of 200 solidi, the free woman three times that, 600 solidi; the Roman possessor, or free landowner, 100 solidi; the Roman tributarius, who cultivated the land of another at a fixed rent, and was regarded as less than a freeman, 62½ solidi. If the freeman was in the king’s trust, that is, in the service of the king and probably bound to him by a special oath (these men are also called antrustiones; see nos. 180 and 189), his wergeld was three times that of the ordinary freeman, 600 solidi; that of the Roman who was a table-companion of the king, a relation similar to that of the man in the king’s trust, was also tripled, 300 solidi.
[2 ] The fact of concealment is the distinguishing mark between murder and manslaughter.
[1 ] This title throws some light on the original character of the village community. The village was in origin probably a group of kindred, and new-comers were admitted only by the consent of all the householders. Moreover, as much of the land was still held in common by the village—the wood, pasture, and meadow—the admission of a new member concerned all the householders.
[1 ] The expression mittat eum in tertia manu has been interpreted in various ways; it means apparently either that the possessor is to place the article in question in the hands of a third disinterested party who is to hold it until the case has been tried, or that he is to refer the claimant to the “third party”; that is, the man from whom he obtained it.
[2 ] A much-discussed phrase, which has been used to show that the Salic law belongs to a period after the Frankish control had extended beyond the Loire. The word in the text (ligere) has also been taken to mean the river Leye, but this is not generally accepted. The Carbonaria (German, Kohlenwald) was a large forest in what is now Belgium.
[3 ] The form of statement is rather confusing, but the process is fairly clear. The burden of proof lies on the man in whose possession the stolen article is found, and he must clear himself by producing the man from whom he got it. This shifts the responsibility to the latter, who in turn must produce the man from whom he obtained it, and so on back until the person is reached who obtained the article illegally, and so is not likely to obey the summons to appear in court. Then the last man in the chain before the thief proves his innocence of bad faith by showing that he bought the article publicly and so obtained it in good faith, and that he had served notice on the delinquent in the present process. Inasmuch as legal sales were held publicly before witnesses, it is fairly certain in this way that the guilt will be located. The man in whose possession it was found then restores the article to its owner, and receives back the price he paid for it from the man from whom he got it; and this repayment is repeated in each case until the thief is reached; the man who dealt with him has a legal action for recovery of the price against the thief, while the owner has also an action for the recovery of damages.
[1 ] The term letus is used of a class of population whose position was between that of the free man and that of the slave; a similar class is found among nearly all the Germanic tribes. They were perhaps descendants of conquered peoples that had been incorporated into the tribe; they did not own land, but cultivated the land of others on terms of a fixed rental in produce and services. Thus while not free, their position was above that of the slaves, since they might acquire possessions and profits above the rent paid, while the earnings of the slave belonged in theory entirely to the master.
[2 ] The regular interval between the meetings of the hundred-court or mallus.
[3 ] The use of appraisers, referred to here and elsewhere, indicates that fines and debts were paid regularly in kind, and that money was still an unfamiliar convenience.
[4 ] That is, the delinquent is to be given the full legal day, and when that has passed with the setting of the sun, the penalty is incurred. It is interesting to notice the same feature in the law of the XII Tables, which was apparently merely the primitive tribal law of the early Romans reduced to written form. There, in the first table, the description of a public court process ends with the sentence: “Sol occasus suprema tempestas esto”—sunset is to be the latest hour [of the legal day].
[5 ]Rachinburgii is the name generally used in the law for the board of judges, seven in number, who are chosen at every hundred-court to render the judgment (see title LVI). Here, however, the term is used for appraisers who apparently are not connected with the rachinburgii of the hundred-court.
[6 ] The fredus is that portion of the fine which goes to the state, apparently as compensation for executing the sentence. It furnished a part at once of the royal revenues and of the salary of the grafio, since half went to him and half to the royal treasury.
[1 ] This is to give the man legal and public notice and to allow him a full day’s time in which to obey. The guilt is incurred, therefore, at sunset of the following day.
[2 ] See title L, note 4.
[1 ] For the position of the grafio, see introduction. His wergeld is seen to be the same as that of the freeman in the king’s service, and may indeed be regarded as a special instance of the general case of a man employed in the royal service.
[2 ] The sacebaro and the obgrafio are apparently subordinate officials of the grafio. They were probably not infrequently unfree persons, as they are here.
[1 ]Mallberg or malloberg is the place where the mallus or public court is held, and is here used as equivalent to the court.
[2 ] The process described from the end of the first sentence to this point is supposed to have taken place before the summons to the king’s court mentioned in that first sentence; this is shown by the statement that there are to be twelve witnesses at the king’s court, these twelve witnesses appearing in the passage as follows: three each for the two public trials in the mallus, three for the summons to the king’s court fourteen days after the second trial, and three for the first session of the king’s court; these delays having been granted and the delinquent not appearing at the second session of the royal court, he is there finally outlawed.
[1 ] Chlogio died in 457. The advance of the Franks to the Somme was made easy by the depopulation of the land through two centuries of border raids and by the withdrawal of the garrisons.
[2 ] The tomb of Childerich, father of Chlodovech, was discovered at Tournai in 1653. In it were found along with the body, coins, a seal, remnants of a purple mantle, covered with the famous golden bees which Napoleon appropriated and wore, etc.
[3 ] Ægidius and Syagrius, whom Gregory calls kings of the Romans, were probably Roman military commanders who still held out in Gaul in the name of the emperor. Syagrius held the territory between the Somme and the Loire.
[4 ] Alaric II, king of the West Goths, 485-507. At this time the strength of the West Gothic kingdom was apparently in southern Gaul with the capital at Toulouse. After the defeat of Alaric and the acquisition by the Franks of most of the land north of the Pyrenees, the kingdom of the West Goths was practically confined to Spain.
[5 ] The Burgundians were an East German people related to the Goths. They had moved south and west from near the Vistula and had settled on the Main and Rhine about Worms somewhere about 400. At the time of the invasion of Attila they fought with the Romans against him and suffered severely. They were then allowed by the Romans to settle just within the boundaries of the empire in modern Savoy. From here they later overran and occupied the valleys of the Rhône and Saône. Like all the German tribes except the Franks, the Burgundians had been converted to the Arian form of Christianity, which was regarded by the west as a heresy. Owing to the efforts of the popes and the catholic clergy some of the Burgundians had been converted to the orthodox faith, among them the princess Chlothilde, the wife of Chlodovech. Chlodovech’s conversion to Catholic Christianity was of great assistance to him in his conquest of the heretical German kingdoms, since the sympathies of the Roman population were with him.
[6 ] The Alamanni were a confederation of tribes who had occupied the Agri Decumates (see no. 1, Tacitus, note 9) during the century 300-400, and had then spread over the Rhine into the territory of modern Elsass.
[7 ] Sigambrian—the Sigambri or Sycambri were one of the early tribes that made up the Frankish confederation. It is used here as synonymous with Frank.
[8 ] The hostility between the West Goths and the conquered Roman provincials, among whom they settled, was kept alive by religious differences. The dissatisfaction of the Roman population and their leaning to the Franks after the conversion of this tribe were of great aid to Chlodovech in his wars with the West Goths and Burgundians. The same religious differences explain also to some extent the failure of the East Goths and the Vandals to build permanent states in the territory which they occupied. On the other hand, the West Goths in Spain did later become Roman Catholics and enjoyed a longer existence.
[9 ] Chlodovech was originally king of only one of the numerous tribes of the Frankish confederation, but was the natural leader in war of the whole body. We have three kings mentioned by name by Gregory, Sigebert, Chararic, and Ragnachar, but he speaks also of “many other kings and relatives of Chlodovech.” The result of these assassinations was the union of all the Franks under the rule of the house of Chlodovech.
[10 ] The division of the kingdom of Chlodovech among his sons was fatal to the peace of the land and to the development of a permanent government. The strife broke out almost immediately, as appears from the account in ch. 18, and was continued in the later generations, among the sons and grandsons of Chlothar.
[11 ] The murder of Galeswintha was the immediate occasion for the outbreak of the long civil war between the two queens, Fredegonda and Brunhilda, and their husbands and descendants. The incidents need not be followed; the war involved numerous murders and assassinations and resulted in the weakening of the monarchy, the rise of the mayors of the palace, and the independence of the outlying portions of the empire, such as Aquitaine, Bavaria, Alamannia, etc., under native rulers.
[1 ] For the papal account of this, see no. 44.
[1 ] In the late Merovingian period the outlying parts of the kingdom had become practically independent under native rulers, called dukes. One of the first things undertaken by the rulers of the new line was the reduction of these great provinces to subjection as a necessary step in the restoration of the central authority. Much was accomplished in this direction by the mayors, Pippin the Younger (688-714) and Karl Martel (714-741), who attacked the Frisians, the dukes of Aquitaine, Bavaria, and Alamannia. But the work had to be done over and over, and indeed was never permanently accomplished. In Aquitaine Pippin the Short, king from 751 to 768, had several conflicts with the dukes of Aquitaine, Hunold and his son Waifer. This is the struggle which Karl brought to an end as here related.
[2 ] Pippin had begun his war upon the Lombards for the purpose of freeing the papal domains from their attacks. The Lombards had conceived the ambitious plan of possessing all Italy, and under their kings Liutprand, Aistulf, and Desiderius had begun to carry it out by attacking the exarchate of Ravenna and the lands held by the pope. Pippin had forced Aistulf to give up his conquests (chiefly the exarchate) and had given that territory to the pope (see no. 45). Karl was called into Italy to defend the pope against a new attack by Desiderius, and put a definite end to this danger by conquering the Lombard kingdom and adding it to his own rule. This is a further stage in the connection between the popes and the emperor, between Germany and Italy.
[3 ] The war against the Saxons and their conquest practically completed the unification of the German tribes on the continent, there remaining outside of the empire of Karl only the Scandinavian peoples in the north and the Angles and Saxons in England. By the conquest of the Saxons a vigorous race of pure German blood was added to the empire; their addition tended to increase the differences between the German and the Gallic portions of the empire, which was the natural basis of the division between France and Germany. The Saxons in the tenth and eleventh centuries were perhaps the chief race of the German kingdom, furnishing the rulers from the accession of Henry I in 919 to the death of Henry II in 1024. Karl’s insistence upon the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity is in line with the policy of his predecessors to Christianize all the Germans.
[4 ] The chief interest of this passage lies in the fact that it is the historical basis of the great French epic, the Chanson de Roland. Einhard mentions the death of three men in this attack as of special note; one of them was Hrotland, count of the mark of Brittany, the Roland of the poem.
[5 ] The overthrow of Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, is a part of the policy of Karl to reduce the great duchies to control. In order to keep these outlying provinces in subjection and to govern them efficiently Karl divided them into counties over which he placed officials dependent directly upon himself and not upon a duke. This policy was carried out in Alamannia, Aquitaine, and Saxony as well, the purpose being to prevent the formation of independent power in the large divisions of the empire. It was successful under Karl, but later the civil wars among his descendants gave opportunity for the rise of similar great rulers in the same provinces (see nos. 24 and 25).
[6 ] The Avars had come into Europe in the middle of the sixth century, along the Danube. After the Lombards moved into Italy the Avars occupied the whole Danube valley from Vienna to the mouth of the river. The kingdom of the Khan of the Avars probably included the remnants of the Hunnish empire and of the German tribes that had been subject to the Huns.
[7 ] The kingdom of Gallicia and Asturia was one of the small Christian states in Spain composed of the former inhabitants that had retreated in large numbers to the mountains in the north and west at the time of the Mohammedan invasion (711-720). From these regions they later slowly won back the land from the Mohammedans.
[8 ] Haroun-al-Raschid was Caliph of the Mohammedan world from 786-809, with his capital at Bagdad. His caliphate is the golden age of the Mohammedans reflected in the “Arabian Nights.” The connection of Karl with Haroun and especially the negotiations mentioned here in regard to Jerusalem gave rise to the later legends concerning the crusades of Karl.
[9 ] The reign of Karl is sometimes spoken of as the Carolingian Renaissance, because of the revived interest in letters and learning that took its impulse from the court of Karl. Here was the famous “palace school” that included such persons as Alcuin, Angilbert, Einhard, Peter of Pisa, Paul the Lombard, etc. The results of the movement were seen in the writings of the time: Einhard’s Annals and Vita; the History of the Lombards, by Paul; the poems and letters of Angilbert, etc.; in the formation of the monastery and cathedral schools, and the better learning of the monks and clergy; in the attempts of Karl to revise the texts of the Scriptures and to make new text-books; and in the theological discussions of the ninth century. Evidences of this movement are seen also in some of the letters of Karl that are translated below.
[10 ] See the note on the coronation of Karl, no. 8. The statement of Einhard that Karl was displeased at this action of the pope has caused considerable discussion; the reason probably was that he was unwilling to arouse the ill-will of the eastern emperors, who would undoubtedly regard the assumption of the imperial crown by Karl as an infringement of their authority and position. See also nos. 13 and 14.
[1 ] Notice the popular or legendary character of these stories. They are just such tales as would grow up among the people around a figure like that of Karl. Compare the stories of the conquest of the Avars and the embassy to Haroun in Einhard (no. 7, chs. 13 and 16), with the same stories here. The circumstantial details are in all probability added by popular tradition.
[1 ] Paul the Deacon was a Lombard scholar and clergyman who after the fall of the Lombard kingdom was invited to the court of Karl and became one of his circle. Paul is the author of the only detailed history of the Lombards.
[1 ] Not true; see no. 2, for the sack of Rome by Alaric, 410, and by Geiseric, 455.
[1 ] In the time of Leo IX (1048-1054) this quarrel was settled in favor of the archbishop of Cologne because Aachen was in his diocese.
[2 ] The famous banquet of Otto has been made much of by many authors to show the power of Otto over the great dukes. It is doubtful, however, if much importance should be attached to this. The great offices of the court in Germany were ceremonial and titular, and since they did not become important departments of the public service, as they did in France and England, they were allowed to remain in the hands of the great dukes. The serving of the dukes at the banquet cannot be made to prove their subservience to Otto; Otto’s method of controlling the dukes was to put his own relatives in those positions. The four offices of the seneschal, cupbearer, chamberlain, and marshal are the court positions of the later secular electoral princes (see no. 160), the count palatine of the Rhine, the king of Bohemia, the elector of Saxony, and the margrave of Brandenburg. These princes on the breaking up of the tribal duchies succeeded to the position of first rank among the nobles, which had been held by the tribal dukes.