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Medieval Sourcebook:
Carolingian Capitularies on Serfs & Coloni, 803-821

Charlemagne's legislation shows on the one hand protection of the serf both in status and place of residence, and on the other a spirit of independence which manifested itself in many parts of France, Germany, and Italy in the eighth and ninth centuries.

Capitulary given at Diedenhofen (Thionville), c. 803-813.

4. That fiscalini or coloni or serfs dwelling on the domain of another, on being required by their former lord, shall not be given to him except for the former place; where it was first seen that they had lived, thither they shall be returned, and diligent inquiry shall be made concerning their status and the status of their relations.

Capitulary at Diedenhofen (Thionville), 821.

1. If a crowd of serfs assembles and disobediently does violence to any one, i.e., homicide, arson, or destruction of anything, let the lords whose negligence permits this be compelled to pay our ban for it, i.e., sixty solidi, since they are not willing to restrain them from daring to do such things.

7. As for the conspiracies of serfs concocted in Flanders, Brabant, and other maritime places, we wish it to be made known to the lords of those serfs by our missi, that they should restrain them from presuming to make more plans of such a nature. And if the lords themselves of these serfs know that the serfs of any one have presumed to conspire in this way, after our order has been made known to them, the lords themselves ought to pay our ban, i.e., sixty solidi.



From: A. Boretius, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historiae, Legum, (Hanover, 1883), Sectio II, Tome I, p. 143; J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1862), Vol. XCVII, pp. 443-445; 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. 273-274

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.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998