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Frederick I Barbarossa:
Grant of Two Fairs at Aachen, 1166

In the name of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, Frederick, by favor of divine clemency, Emperor Augustus of the Romans.

Since the royal palace of Aachen excels all provinces and cities in dignity and honor, both for the praise given there to the body of the most blessed Emperor Charlemagne, which that city alone is known to have, and because it is a royal seat at which the Emperors of the Romans were first crowned, it is fitting and reasonable that we, following the example of the holy lord Charlemagne and of other predecessors of ours, should fortify that same place, which is a pillar of support to the empire, with lavish gifts of liberty and privileges, as if with walls and towers. We have therefore decreed that there should be held twice a year the solemn and universal fairs of Aachen. And this we have done on the advice of the merchants. Moreover, we have preserved the rights of neighboring cities, so that these fairs may not only not be a hindrance to their fairs but may rather increase their profits. And so, on the advice of our nobles, we have given, out of respect for the most holy lord, the Emperor Charlemagne, this liberty to all merchants-that they may be quit and free of all toll throughout the year at these fairs in this royal place, and they may buy and sell goods freely just as they wish.

No merchant, nor any other person, may take a merchant to court for the payment of any debt during these fairs, nor take him there for any business that was conducted before the fairs began; but if anything be done amiss during the fairs, let it be made good according to justice during the fairs. Moreover, the first fair shall begin on Quadragesima Sunday, which is six weeks before Easter, and it shall last for fifteen days. The second fair shall begin eight days before the feast of St. Michael and shall continue for eight days after that feast. And all people coming to, staying at, or going from the fairs shall have peace for their persons and goods. And lest the frequent changing of coins, which are sometimes light and sometimes heavy, should redound to the hurt of so glorious a place at any time in the future, on the advice of our court, we have ordered money to be struck there of the same purity, weight, and form, and in the same quantity, and to be kept to the same standard. Twenty-four solidi shall be struck from a mark, always having the value of twelve solidi of Cologne, so that twelve Cologne solidi may always be made from twenty-four of these solidi, just as twenty-four solidi may always be struck from twelve solidi of Cologne. The form of the coins will be such that on one side will be the image of St. Charles the Great and his superscription, and on the obverse our own image with the superscription of our own name.

And a certain abuse has prevailed for a long time in the courts of Aachen so that if he, who was impleaded for calumny or for any other thing, could not offer satisfaction by compensation for his offense, except he flee from the country at once, he incurred the full penalty of composition; therefore, we, condemning this bad law forever, have decreed that any one may offer in this our royal town of Aachen, for any cause for which he has been impleaded, compensation by whatever small thing he is able to take off with his hands while standing upright, without bending his body, such thing as a cloak, tunic, hat, shirt, or other garment. And because the taking and exchanging of money, other than the money of Aachen, has been condemned by an unjust law, we have decreed to the contrary, that all money shall be current in our city according to its quality, and it shall be accepted by everyone according to what it has been declared to be worth. Moreover, we grant and confirm to the merchants of that city that they may have a mint and a house for exchanging their silver and money whenever they decide to go away on business. Whoever out of boldness decides to oppose our decree, or by temerity to break it, shall be in our mercy and will pay a hundred pounds of gold to our court. And in order that all the things we have decreed may be accepted as genuine and be faithfully observed we have ordered this charter to be written and to be sealed by the impression of our seal.


From: J. Menadier, ed., Die Aachener Münzen, (Berlin: W. Pormetter, 1913), p. 58, 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. 120-122.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

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

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998
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