Capitularia: Edition of the Frankish Capitularies

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  • Karl Ubl


The project is preparing a new edition of the Frankish capitularies, a pivotal corpus of legal sources from the European Middle Ages. Their history of transmission is rather unique due to the ways their dissemination took place: mostly they were transmitted within collections carried out by attendants of assemblies where these texts were promulgated, or based on copies sent to bishops and other office bearers, creating quite a variety of different versions of the text that once originated. Today there are more than 300 extant witnesses. The website presents diplomatic transcriptions of the various collections as well as manuscript descriptions and further resources. A critical edition including a commentary and translation into German will appear in print. The project is funded by the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts, and is being prepared in close collaboration with the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) and the Cologne Center for eHumanities (CCeH).

The decrees of the Frankish rulers are known as capitularies because of their subdivision into chapters (lat. capitula). They are amongst the most important sources for the history of the Frankish kingdoms that covered large parts of Western and Central Europe from the 6th-9th century. They are instructions similar to laws, ordinances or provisions, regulating political, military, ecclesiastical, social, economic and cultural matters.

Capitularies shed light on Frankish rulers’s attempts to govern their extensive realm. Specifically they provide information about their efforts to reform church, society and empire, about mechanisms for dealing with political crises, and about rulers interacting with their officials.