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Medieval Sourcebook:
Grant of Freedom to a Betrothed Serf, 1059

Another example of the conditional type of freedom sometimes granted from a religious motive is afforded by this excerpt. The juridical rights of full citizenship often associated with freedmen on monastic and royal domains accompanied this grant.

Scripture teaches that we should redeem our sins by charity: as was spoken by Tobias,"Alms shall be a great confidence before God," etc. And the Saviour in the Gospel:"Give alms and all things are clean unto you." Wherefore I, Frederick, by the grace of God, Duke of Lothier, in love of God and Christ, have given to the altar of the holy confessor, Saint Trond, among other things, a certain female serf, Imma by name, betrothed to a certain Azelino of Stayen, at the request of Adelard the abbot, so that her freedom might bring liberty to my soul in the presence of God. But the condition for this transfer is this: that both she and her posterity, every year, shall pay one denarius to the altar of the holy confessor. They need not seek permission to marry. When summoned they shall plead only before the abbot, except when as claimants they accuse someone. And on their death they shall pay twelve denarii. They shall be protected and defended by the same church. For the rest they shall live as free persons without calumny. And lest in the course of time this should be denied I have caused this charter to be written for them and the names of suitable witnesses who were present to be applied to it.

Witnesses, etc.


From: C. Piot, ed., Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Saint-Trond, (Brussels: Academie Royale de Belgique, 1870), pp. 18-19, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 297.

This text is part of the Internet Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998
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