Document C: Abbey of Xanten Records (Original) 845

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Document C: Abbey of Xanten Records (Original)


Twice in the canton of Worms there was an earthquake; the first in the night following Palm Sunday, the second in the holy night of Christ's resurrection. In the same year the heathen broke in upon the Christians at many points, but more than twelve thousand of then were killed by the Frisians. Another party of invaders devastated Gaul; of these more than six hundred men perished. Yet owing to his indolence, Charles [the Bald, the rule of France] agreed to give them many thousands of pounds of gold and silver if they would leave Gaul, and this they did. Nevertheless the cloisters of the most of the saints were destroyed, and many of the Christians were lead away captive.


According to their custom the Northmen plundered eastern and western Frisia and burned down the town of Dordrecht, with two other villages, before the eyes of Lothair [The Emperor], who was then in the castle of Nimwegen, but could not punish the crime. The Northmen, with their boast filled with immense booty, including both men and goods, returned to their own country. At this same time, as no one can mention or hear without great sadness, the mother of all the churches, the basilica of the apostle Peter, was taken and plundered by the Moors, or Saracens, who had already occupied the region of Beneventum. The Saracens, moreover, slaughtered all the Christians whom they found outside the walls of Rome, either within or without this church. They also carried men and women away prisoners. They tore down, among many others, the altar of the blessed Peter, and their crimes from day to day bring sorrow to Christians. Pope Sergius departed life this year.


After the death of Sergius no mention of the apostolic see has come in any way to our ears.


On the fourth of February, towards evening, it lightened and there was thunder heard. The heathen, as was their custom, inflicted injury on the Christians.


While King Louis [Ludwig, the King of Germany] was ill his army of Bavaria took its way against the Bohemians. Many of these were killed and the remainder withdrew, much humiliated, into their own country. The heathen from the North wrought havoc in Christendom as usual and grew greater in strength, but it is revolting to say more of this matter.


On January 1st of that season, in the octave of the Lord, towards evening, a great deal of thunder was heard and a mighty flash of lightening seen; and an overflow of water afflicted the human race during this winter. In the following summer an all to great heat of the sun burned the earth. Leo, pope of the apostolic see, an extraordinary man, built a fortification round the church of St. Peter. The Moors, however, devastated here and there the coast towns in Italy…


The steel of the heathen glistened; excessive heat; a famine followed. There was not enough fodder for the animals…..


A great famine in Saxony so that many were forced to live on horse meat

Source: Robinson, J.H. (Ed.). (1904). Readings in European History: Vol. I. Boston: Ginn and co., pages 158-161. Reprinted in Bernard, L. and Hodges, T.B. (Eds.). (1958). Readings in European History. New York: Macmillan. Downloaded from: Fordham Medieval Sourcebook:

Document D: Medieval Economic Laws, (Original)
Acts of the Synod of Pippin, c. 750.

C.5. And concerning money, we decree that in weighing there shall not be more than twenty-two solidi in one pound, and of these twenty-two solidi the moneyer shall receive one solidus and shall return the rest to the owner.

Capitulary of Frankfort on the Legality of Coinage, 794.

C.5. Know well our edict about the denarii, that in all places, in all states, and in all markets, the new denarii shall pass and be received by all. But if they have the nomisma of our name and are of pure silver and of full weight, and if any one refuse them in any place in negotiating a purchase or a sale, if he be a free man, he shall make amends to the king with fifteen solidi. But if he be servile, and if it be his olwn business, let him lose that business, or be stripped and publicly beaten in the presence of the people. However, if he do it by order of his master, then the master shall pay fifteen solidi, if it be proved against him.

Capitulary of Aix-la-Chapelle on the Value of Commodities, 797.

C.11. Be it noted how much the solidi of the Saxons ought to be worth; that is, a yearling ox of either sex, just as it is sent to the byre in autumn, one solidus; likewise in the spring, when it leaves the byre, one solidus; and from that time, as its age increases, so will it increase in price. Let those near to us give forty bushels of corn and twenty of rye for one solidus, but in the north thirty bushels of oats and fifteen of rye for one solidus. But for one solidus let those near to us give one and a half sigla of honey; but in the north let them give two sigla of honey for one solidus. Also they shall give as much good barley as rye for one solidus. Twelve denarii of silver shall make a solidus. And they are to estimate all other things according to that scale.

Capitulary of Diedenhofen Concerning False Money, 805.

C.18. Because in many places false money is made, contrary to justice and against our edicts, we command that money be made in no other place than our palace, except we command otherwise. But those denarii which are now current shall be accepted if they are of proper weight and of good metal.

Capitulary of Aix-la-Chapelle Concerning Adulterers of Money, 817.

C.19. Concerning false money, we have ordered that he who has been proved to have struck it shall have his hand cut off. And he who does not obey this, if he be free, shall pay sixty solidi; if he be serf, let him have sixty lashes.

Source: From: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1862), Vols. XCVI, p. 1518, XCVII, pp. 194, 202, 287, 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. 131-132. Downloaded from the Fordham Medieval Sourebook:

Document E: Journey to Chartres, 10th Century (Original)

While engaged in the study of the liberal arts, I wanted very much to learn logic through the works of Hippocrates. One day a horseman from Chartres came to Rheims and we began to talk. He told me that Heribrand, a clerk of Chartres, had sent him here to bring a message to a monk named Richer. When I heard my friend Heribrand's name, I told the messenger that I was Richer. He gave me the letter which I opened with some excitement. This was it! An invitation from Heribrand to come to Chartres and study the Aphorisms of Hippocrates with him. My joy faded somewhat because my own abbot gave me nothing more for the journey than one saddle-horse and a young lad to help with the trip. Without money or even a change of clothes, I decided to go anyway.

    After setting out from Rheims with the messenger and the lad, I soon arrived at Orbais, well-known for its hospitality. The abbot cared for our needs and on the next day we set out for Meaux. But having entered the shadows of a dark forest, problems overtook us. We made a wrong turn at some crossroad, then wandered miles out of our way. Soon my abbot's generous gift of a saddle-horse, which had seemed as powerful as [Alexander the Great's own steed] Bucephalus, began to lag behind like a lazy ass. It was getting toward evening and the sky had clouded up. Just as the rain began to fall, as luck would have it, our Bucephalus sank to the ground some six miles from our destination and died. If lightening had struck him, he could not have been more dead! How serious our situation was, and how nervous we became, can only be appreciated by those who have also suffered hardships on the road.

    The lad, now without a horse and unaccustomed to the difficulties of a journey, collapsed on the ground in despair. Our baggage sat there in a pile without any way to carry it further. Sheets of rain poured down on us. Clouds surrounded us. The setting sun brought darkness. Unsure of what to do, I turned to prayer and God did not ignore us: I had an answer. I left the boy with the baggage, told him what he should answer to any one who might come by, and warned him not to fall asleep. Then I set out with the messenger for Meaux. We reached the bridge before the town but could barely see it in the rainy night. I became even more anxious because the bridge had so many holes and large gaps in it that the citizens of Meaux could hardly cross it in the daytime, much less in the dark - and in a storm! The messenger, an experienced traveler, went to find a boat for us to cross in. Not finding one, we faced the difficult path over the bridge. As we went, the messenger put his shield over the smaller holes for the horses. He used planks for the larger gaps. At times he would be bending over, now standing up, now running here and there in order to keep the horses calm and safe. Slowly, he managed to get me and the horses across safely.

    Well into the night, I finally arrived at the church of St Pharo. The brothers were preparing the love-drink. On this particular day, they were just finishing a special reading and feast. They received me as a brother and invited me to their table. After a fine meal, I sent the messenger of Chartres back with the horses to get the lad we left behind. Skillfully, the messenger crossed the bridge a second time, but he took a long time to find the boy. He wandered about and shouted for him. After finding him, he returned to the city but was afraid to try his luck on the bridge again. They sought shelter in a peasant's hut. The peasant let them sleep there but gave them no food even though the lad had gone the whole day without eating.

    What a sleepless night I had waiting for them! If you have ever stayed up the whole might waiting for someone dear to you, then you know what torture I went through that night. But at first light they arrived, famished. The brothers gave them something to eat and took care of the horses. Since the boy had no horse, I left him with the abbot and headed for Chartres at a fast pace with the messenger. Having reached our destination, I sent the horses back to Meaux so that the boy could follow. Only after he arrived at Chartres could I rest easy.

    Then I diligently began the study of the Aphorisms with Hippocrates with Heribrand, a highly cultured and scholarly man. I learned the ordinary symptoms of diseases and picked up a surface knowledge of ailments. This was not enough to satisfy my desires. I begged him to continue to guide my studies on a deeper level, for he was an expert in his art and in pharmaceutics, botany and surgery.
Source: Richer of Rheims. Histoire de France, ed. by Robert Latouche (Paris, 1964), vol. 2,  225-230. Translation by Michael Markowski. Downloaded from: Fordham Medieval Sourebook:

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