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Texts From the Carolingian Times

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Famed -and less famed- texts of the Carolingian era, like the Einhard's Life of Charlemagne, for example, or texts taken by the rulers or the private persons, allow, through the anecdotes or their details, to a better sense of the great traits of the times. The biographies, or even the annals, allow too to some views of the litterary styles of the epoch. As the most famed of those texts are copyrighted in some way, their reference, on this page, mostly will send the user to another site, where they are to be found in the English language. We give too, by the end of this page, some useful data about the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), this basic source to the Carolingian studies

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Einhard's 'Life of Charlemagne'
The 'Annales regni francorum' (741-829)
The Annals of Fulda (768-801)
The 'De Carolo Magno' (or 'Gesta Caroli Magni') by the monk of St. Gall
The 'Life and Deeds of Emperor Louis the Pious' and the 'History of the Dissensions Between the Sons of Louis the Pious'
The Life of St. Willibrord
The Life of St. Boniface
The Life of S. Liutberga
The Life of St. Anskar
Two Chancellery Charters
Texts of the Daily Life
A Tale of A Pilgrimage
The Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH)

arrow back The Einhard's 'Life of Charlemagne'
This first text is the famous biography of Charlemagne by Einhard. Einhard was raised at the Palatine School and was placed by Charlemagne in charge of the construction of the cathedral at Aachen and of the palaces at Aachen and Ingelheim. Under Lewis the Pious, he eventually retired on his domains at Mühlheim, on the river Main, which name he turned into Seligenstadt. He eventually founded an abbey there. It's on his domains that Einhard wrote the 'Vita Caroli Magni' between 829 and 836. Except some polemical points of view, this text is a fine view of Charlemagne's life, filled with anecdotes and hues allowing to reach well the atmosphere of this epoch. The text is to be found at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall. Follow 'Carolingians', left, in 'Selected Sources Sections', then 'Charlemagne', 'Personality'

arrow back The 'De Carolo Magno' (or 'Gesta Caroli Magni') by the monk of St. Gall
This second work is a biography too of Charlemagne. It seems that its author, the 'monk of St. Gall', be Notker the Stammerer. Notker, born in a noble family in the vicinity of the famous monastery of St. Gall, was raised there, as the became a monk and teached in turn in the school of the abbey. The text was written later in the 9th century -about 883-884- than Einhard's Life of Charlemagne. The 'De Carolo Magno' is dedicated to the emperor Charles, son of Lewis, that is, likely, the emperor Charles the Fat. This text is interesting too due to the wealth of details it provides about the epoch. It's longer than Einhard's text but worth reading. however. The text is to be found at the
Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall. Follow 'Carolingians', left, in 'Selected Sources Sections', then 'Charlemagne', 'Personality'

arrow back The 'Life and Deeds of Emperor Louis the Pious' and the 'History of the Dissensions Between the Sons of Louis the Pious'
The 'Life and Deeds of Emperor Louis the Pious,' by Thegan and the 'History of the Dissensions Between the Sons of Louis the Pious,' by Nithard, are available in French, in a translation by Guizot, the main minister to French king Louis-Philippe circa 1830, at the French-speaking site
"L'antiquité grecque et latine du moyen âge", by Philippe Remacle; fine data are found about the reign of Louis the Pious and the struggles which weakened the heritage of Charlemagne; on that same site, one may further see Angilbert's 'Poem About The Fight of Fontenay', in which he mourns that fratricide fight where so much Frankish warriors died

arrow back The 'Annales regni francorum' (741-829)
The 'Annales regni Francorum inde a. 741 usque ad 829, qui dicuntur Annales Laurissenses maiores et Einhardi', or the 'Annales Regni Francorum', or 'Royal Annals,' are displaying for each year of the period, a important text as they are generally considered like the main reference for the Charlemagne's era. That text is a abstract, translated from the Latin text which is available, in an electronic format, on the site of the 'Monumenta Historiae Germanica (MGH)'. to the text

arrow back The Annals of Fulda (768-801)
The Annals of Fulda are one of the most important source for the history of the Carolingian times, running 714-901. Like any annals, they do display, year after year, the events which occurred. At the difference of simplier annals still, they are relatively elaborated, as far as they are concerned, and the Latin they use is relatively complicated too. The following text is an abstract of those annals, running from the beginning of the reign of Charlemagne to the sacre, as this is a translation of the annals' text in Latin which is available, in an electronic format, on the site of the 'Monumenta Historiae Germanica (MGH)'. to the text. Another, late passage, where Francia orientalis is seen turning its interest towards the Slavic borders, is available in French (with the original in Latin) at the the French-speaking site "L'antiquité grecque et latine du moyen âge", by Philippe Remacle. to the text

arrow back The Life of St. Willibrord by Alcuin
Dating back to earlier times -it's about St. Willibrord who brought the Gospel to the Frisians at the time of Pippin II and Charles the Hammer- this 'Life of St. Willibrord' was written by Alcuin c. 796. It was written to be read at the public worship. Alcuin wrote it at the request of Beornrade, Abbott of Echternach and Archbishop of Sens. Alcuin himself had an interest into this work as he was a relative to Willibrord, and the legal owner of the monastery of St Andrew, found on a headland overlooking the mouth of the Humber, in Northumbria, England, which had been founded by Wilgils, Willibrord's father. The text is to be found at the
Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall. Follow 'Saints' Lifes', left, then 'VI: Western Europe: Original Lives', 'Carolingian Era (9th-10th Centuries)'

arrow back The Life of St. Boniface by Willibald

St. Boniface is the famous 'Apostle of Germany', the one who brought the Gospel to the people of the present Germany. This work was written between 754 and 768, by Willibald, a priest (not the bishop of Eichstatt), who was likely a missionary of English origin, residing in the bishopric of Mainz. The work is dedicated to Megingoz, bishop of Wurzburg as, generally, it had been asked to the successor of Boniface at Mainz, Lull, by the saint's friends in Britain, France, and Germany. It's Lull who chose Willibald. As a simple priest, Willibald never met Boniface. His story builds upon what he collected from his disciples. The text is to be found at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall. Follow 'Saints' Lifes', left, then 'VI: Western Europe: Original Lives', 'Carolingian Era (9th-10th Centuries)'

arrow back The Life of S. Liutberga

The life of St. Liutberga was written c. 870 by a monk of Halberstadt who knew her well close to her death about 866-876. This text is a fine view, full of intimacy, and centered on a feminine condition, of the Carolingian times. The text is to be found at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall. Follow 'Saints' Lifes', left, then 'VI: Western Europe: Original Lives', 'Carolingian Era (9th-10th Centuries)'

arrow back The Life of St. Anskar

This text is about St. Anskar, the Apostle of the North, who was the first to convert the Danes and the Suedes. Anskar came from New Corbey. It's a very interesting breakaway about the northern parts of the Empire during the first half of the 9th century and a fine view about the missionnary work North. The life of Anskar was written by Rimbert, his disciple and successor in the archbishopric of Bremen. Corbie, in the bishopric of Amiens, current northern France, was one of the most flourishing monastic scools by the early 9th century A.D. It also yielded numerous famed scholars like Pascasius Radbert. It also trained several missionaries who went to evangelize in Denmark, Sweden and other places. St. Anskar founded Corwei (or Corvey) by 822 in Saxony which was termed the 'New Corbie' and was for the area what Corbie had been for the Frankish kingdom. Anskar (or Anscaire, Anscarius), with his brethren Aubertus were chosen by 826 to escort back to Denmark king Herold which had taken refuge at the court of Louis the Pious and converted to Christianity. As their journey was thwarted, both monks stopped in Frisia where they founded a school and made numerous conversions. From there, Anskar passed in Sweden with Vitmarus, a other monk of Corbie as they thus began the first missionaries to work in the country. Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims, took part in the endeavour as he evangelized, as far as he is concerned, in Denmark. He then had one of his relatives, Gausbert, consecrated priest and he associated him with Anskar who meanwhile had become Archbishop of Hamburg. Missions to northern countries kept on through the monks of the New Corbie, like Nithard, a martyr in Sweden, Adalgarius, Archbishop of Breme, Hoger, Archbishop of Hamburg. Witmar was bishop of the Swedes as Gislemar of the Danes. Helocon and Ailbolde evangelized the Northmen. The text is to be found at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall. Follow 'Saints' Lifes', left, then 'VI: Western Europe: Original Lives', 'Carolingian Era (9th-10th Centuries)'

arrow back Two Chancellery Charters

The charters which originated in the royal or imperial chancellery, were officializing the gifts of lands or resources, or the grants of immunity to churches or abbeys or such, as they are colorful documents. Here are two examples of them (translated from the Latin text on the electronic site of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica). to the texts

arrow back Texts of the Daily Life

The inventaries of domains or other texts concerning the royal domains are providing fine insights about the daily life of the men of those times. to the texts

arrow back A Tale of A Pilgrimage

Future bishop Willibald untertook, when young, a long travel to, and in the Holy Land by the 720's A.D. There is no other tale of pilgrimage for the Carolingian era before the one by Bertrand, a monk, by about 865 A.D. (the text of which is not available from us for now). The tale, the Hodoepericon of St. Willibald, was written between 761 and 786 by Huneberc, a Anglo-Saxon nun in the monastery of Heidenheim, on the Continent. That text is interesting for the description made of locations and also of the ways people were journeying at the time. The end of the text, which has Willibald becoming a aide to St. Boniface, is joining back to other texts. Willibald, together with his brother Winnibald and his sister Walpurga, were the main contributors to the christianization of Franconia, a woodened territory at the confines between Frankish dominions and those of Bavaria, with such cities founded like Heidenheim or Eichstätt. The text is taken from C. H. Talbot, The Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany, Being the Lives of SS. Willibrord, Boniface, Leoba and Lebuin together with the Hodoepericon of St. Willibald and a selection from the correspondence of St. Boniface, (London and New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954) and to be found at the Internet Medieval Source Book

arrow back The Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH)

The Monumenta Germaniae Historica (frequently abbreviated MGH) is decidedly the main source for Carolingian studies, as it's a series of edited and published documents for the study of Germany -broadly conceived- between the end of the Roman Empire and 1500 A.D. The bulk of that work was performed in the 19th century, since about 1826, as the endeavour was, at that time -like the case in other European countries about the same time, earlier or later- a mix of professional scholarship and nationalism. Georg Heinrich Pertz, editor from 1826 until 1874, was succeeded by Georg Waitz. Most of the source pertaining to the Carolingian history are to be found in those volumes, which are gathering such documents like annals, lifes, letters, authors, and chancellery documents, laws, and charters. All those sources are accessible in their original language only -Latin namely for the Carolingian era- with the scholarly apparatus mostly in Latin only too. The MGH now turned digital, with their site at http://www.mgh.de/. Most of the documents are accessible under an image format, as a completely digitalized, html version is to come -with some parts now in beta- as it will be completed by 2010. The electronic edition is taking back the usual form of the MGH, with those five sections of'Scriptores', 'Leges', 'Diplomata', 'Epistolae', and 'Antiquitates'. All the materials are copyright protected, as the MGH site is in German only

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, http://schoolsempire.6te.net. Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 12/28/2010. contact us at geguicha@outlook.com