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Demarcation of the See of Bremen & Grant of Tithes, 788

Charlemagne's civilizing mission in Germany, though crude in its method, was nevertheless effective. He established among the Saxons various dioceses of which Bremen was one. The idea of private property supplanted the idea of communal lands; colonization was encouraged through the work of coloni, as is illustrated below by the grant of holdings and coloni for the construction of a church at Bremen. Cattle-breeding and fishing were the chief industries of Saxony.

In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Charles, by the grace of God, King.... We have conquered in war the indomitable Saxons, who were known by our progenitors for their obstinacy and infidelity to God, and they have long been a thorn in our side. Ascribing victory not to ourselves but to the grace of God, we have brought them to baptism, granted them their former freedom, and released them from all taxes to us, and, for the love of Him who gave us the victory, we have devoutly recommended them to Him as tributaries and taxpayers; so that they who have submitted to our yoke, having been conquered by our weapons and by our faith, will pay to Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and to His priests, one tenth of their flocks, fruits, crops, and products, as a lawful obligation to Him.

Further, we have divided all their lands into provinces according to the ancient Roman custom; we have determined the boundaries of those provinces; and we have distributed them among the bishops. The northern part, which is very rich by reason of the great plenty of fish there, and which is a very suitable place for the breeding of cattle, we have, as a demonstration of our gratitude, given to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. And we have decided to create a see there and build a church to him in Wigmodien, at a place called Bremen on the banks of the river Weser. We have, furthermore, granted to this diocese, ten districts, which we have reduced to two only, setting aside their former names and now calling them Wigmodien and Largoe. And for the construction of that church we have ordered seventy holdings with their coloni to be given to the church, and at the same time we have ordered the inhabitants of the district to pay their tithes to the church. According to the command of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Adrian, and of Lullo, Bishop of Mainz, and on the advice of all the other bishops then present, we have committed the church of Bremen into the keeping of Willehad, a man of good conduct, and on July 13th (A.D. 781) we caused him to be consecrated as first bishop of that see.... Wherefore, because Almighty God opened the gates of faith to the Frisians at the same time, we have granted that that part of Frisia which is adjacent to the see of Bremen shall belong to that diocese forever.... (Boundaries described.) Witnesses, etc.


J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1884), Vol. CXLVI, pp. 467-470; 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), pp. 312-313.

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

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. 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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