A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance

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World History

22.

A Letter of Charlemagne to Abbot Fulrad

Source—Text in Monumenta Germaniœ Historica, Leges (Boretius ed.), Vol. I., No. 75, p. 168.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Charles, most serene, august, crowned of God, great pacific Emperor, who, by God’s mercy, is King of the Franks and Lombards, to Abbot Fulrad.

The troops to be brought: their equipment

Let it be known to you that we have determined to hold our general assembly1 this year in the eastern part of Saxony, on the River Bode, at the place which is known as Strassfurt.2 Therefore, we enjoin that you come to this meeting-place, with all your men well armed and equipped, on the fifteenth day before the Kalends of July, that is, seven days before the festival of St. John the Baptist.1 Come, therefore, so prepared with your men to the aforesaid place that you may be able to go thence well equipped in any direction in which our command shall direct; that is, with arms and accoutrements also, and other provisions for war in the way of food and clothing. Each horseman will be expected to have a shield, a lance, a sword, a dagger, a bow, and quivers with arrows; and in your carts shall be implements of various kinds, that is, axes, planes, augers, boards, spades, iron shovels, and other utensils which are necessary in an army. In the wagons also should be supplies of food for three months, dating from the time of the assembly, together with arms and clothing for six months. And furthermore we command that you see to it that you proceed peacefully to the aforesaid place, through whatever part of our realm your journey shall be made; that is, that you presume to take nothing except fodder, wood, and water. And let the followers of each one of your vassals march along with the carts and horsemen, and let the leader always be with them until they reach the aforesaid place, so that the absence of a lord may not give to his men an opportunity to do evil.

Gifts for the Emperor

Send your gifts,2 which you ought to present to us at our assembly in the middle of the month of May, to the place where we then shall be. If it happens that your journey shall be such that on your march you are able in person to present these gifts of yours to us, we shall be greatly pleased. Be careful to show no negligence in the future if you care to have our favor.

1 Beginning with the reign of Charlemagne there were really two assemblies each year—one in the spring, the other in the autumn; but the one in the spring, the so-called "May-field," was much the more important. All the nobles and higher clergy attended, and if a campaign was in prospect all who owed military service would be called upon to bring with them their portion of the war-host, with specified supplies. Charlemagne proposed all measures, the higher magnates discussed them with him, and the lower ones gave a perfunctory sanction to acts already determined upon. The meeting place was changed from year to year, being rotated irregularly among the royal residences, as Aix-la-Chapelle, Paderborn, Ingelheim, and Thionville; occasionally they were held, as in this instance, in places otherwise almost unknown.

2 Strassfurt was some distance south of Magdeburg.

1 The date of the festival of St. John the Baptist was June 22.

2 From earliest Germanic times we catch glimpses of this practice of requiring gifts from a king’s subjects. By Charlemagne’s day it had crystallized into an established custom and was a very important source of revenue, though other sources had been opened up which were quite unknown to the German sovereigns of three or four hundred years before. Ordinarily these gifts, in money, jewels, or provisions, were presented to the sovereign each year at the May assembly.

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Chicago: "A Letter of Charlemagne to Abbot Fulrad," A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance in A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance, ed. Frederic Austin Ogg (1878-1951) (New York: American Book Company, 1908), 141–144. Original Sources, accessed September 20, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYYNUKEM1LXIDS2.

MLA: . "A Letter of Charlemagne to Abbot Fulrad." A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance, in A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance, edited by Frederic Austin Ogg (1878-1951), New York, American Book Company, 1908, pp. 141–144. Original Sources. 20 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYYNUKEM1LXIDS2.

Harvard: , 'A Letter of Charlemagne to Abbot Fulrad' in A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance. cited in 1908, A Source Book of Mediaeval History: Documents Illustrative of European Life and Institutions from the Germanic Invasions to the Renaissance, ed. , American Book Company, New York, pp.141–144. Original Sources, retrieved 20 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYYNUKEM1LXIDS2.