Frederick I Barbarossa:
Grant of Two Fairs at Duisburg, 1173
Frederick granted two fairs at Duisburg for merchants coming by sea, reserving the
fairs at Aachen for land traffic. Further arrangements for coins of small denomination,
based on the coinage system of Cologne, were made. The Rhine was one of the chief highways
of commerce throughout the Middle Ages.
Frederick, by the grace of God, Emperor Augustus of the Romans.
We make known to the faithful of our empire that, on the petition of our beloved Count
Philip of Flanders, we have decreed four fairs for the merchants of Flanders. Two of these
are to be held for merchants by land at stated times at Aachen, and two for merchants by
sea at Duisburg. The beginning of one fair will be on the feast of St. Bartholomew at
Duisburg and it will last for fourteen days; the beginning of another will be on Mid-Lent
Sunday and will last through the whole of Lent. The beginning of one fair at Aachen will
be on Quadragesima Sunday and it will last for fourteen days, the other will begin on the
feast of St. Michael and will last for the same length of time. When each fortnight is
over the men of Flanders and other merchants shall afterwards remain quietly for another
fourteen days, refraining from selling any of their cloth, but at the end of that time
they may sell freely, paying such toll at Duisburg as they are accustomed to pay at
Cologne, and they shall pay the toll by weight. In order that there might be greater
convenience for the merchants we have ordered new money to be struck in denarii at
Duisburg and in obols at Aachen, a mark of which will equal one denarius of the money of
Cologne. And the Count of Flanders has ordered those coins to be accepted throughout all
Whatever merchants, whether Flemish or foreign, pledge their goods to any one, let them
do it in the presence of a judge and assessors who can produce evidence of the pledging
afterwards; and on the testimony of the judge and assessors the merchants so doing will
receive the goods pledged; but if he has not had the testimony of the judge and assessors
about the goods pledged he, from whom the goods are demanded, shall purge himself with an
oath that he is not the debtor. A merchant of any country, who cannot regain goods pledged
on the testimony of a judge and assessors, shall demand and seek justice from the judge
and assessors of that place which his debtor inhabits, and then the debtor shall be sent
with him to the judge and assessors who were present at the pledging, and in their
presence he should show the debtor to be guilty. If he does not obtain the justice he
seeks, a pledge may be taken from the merchants of that place where justice was denied him
until justice be done. Let him not molest the merchants of another place for this cause.
If any one have followed a merchant from the greater to the lesser place alleging some
evil to have been done, if he wish to lodge a complaint, let him return with that merchant
to the place where the wrong was done and let him obtain justice before a judge. But,
before he returns, let him who is seeking justice give a pledge to the merchant that he
does not wish to prosecute his case in the greater place. If he does not accompany but
deserts the merchant, let him make satisfaction in reconciliation according to the pledge
he has made. But if he has not made such a pledge he shall not annoy the merchant, but
shall depart in peace.
If any merchant feel that he has been wronged, contrary to justice, he may have
permission to appeal from the smaller to the greater place from which the lesser takes its
laws. Let no one provoke a Flemish merchant to a duel, but if any one has anything to say
against him, let him take his oath. Merchants shall have the right to ascend or go down
the Rhine under our protection for their persons and goods, and on other waters in other
parts of our empire. If anyone presumes to use force against them or to injure them, he
will be deprived of our favor forever. In order that these rules may be safe and secure we
have ordered our seal with that of Count Philip of Flanders to be put to this charter.
Done in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1173, at Fulda, on the twenty-ninth of
From: J. Menadier, ed., Die Aachener Münzen, (Berlin: W. Pormetter, 1913), p.
60, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Hebert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval
Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York:
Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 122-124.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998