The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4


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The Franks

Conversion of Chlodovech

496 A. D.

20. The Queen, however, did not cease to pray that he might learn to know the true God and abandon his idols. But in no way should he be persuaded to accept the faith, until he undertook a war against the Alemanni, in which he was forced of necessity to confess what he had formerly denied. Now it happened that the two armies fell upon one another fiercely and the army of Chlodovech began to break up and be overcome, and seeing this, Chlodovech raised his eyes to heaven and stricken to the heart and moved to tears, cried: "Jesus Christ, who catholics declare art the Son of the living God, and who dost deign to aid those in trouble and give victory to those who trust in Thee, I devotedly beseech Thine aid, and I promise that if Thou wilt give me victory over these foes, and I shall prove that might which those baptized in Thy name say they have proved of Thee, I, will believe on Thee and will be baptized. For I have called on my gods but they have been far from me; wherefore I believe that those who do not aid their servants, have no power. Now I call upon Thee, I desire to believe in Thee that I may be saved from my foes." And while he was saying this, the Alemanni gave way and began to break into flight, and when they saw their king was slain they yielded to Chlodovech, saying: "Let not thy people punish further, we beseech thee, for we are thine."And he stopped the battle and restrained his soldiers, and returned in peace, and related to the queen, how he had been able to gain the victory by calling on the name of Christ. This happened in the fifteenth year of his reign.

22. Then the queen secretly sent to St. Remigius, bishop of Rheims, and besought him to instill into the king the word of salvation: so the priest came and began to suggest to him secretly he ought to accept the true God, maker of heaven and earth, and abandon the idols which were not able to help him or any one else, and the king said: "I heed you gladly, most holy father, but there is one difficulty, that the people who follow are not willing to desert their gods: but I will go and speak to them according to your word. But when he appeared before them, even before he spoke, inspired by the favor of God, they all shouted together: "We abjure the mortal gods, Oh pious king, and we are ready to follow the God whom Remigius preaches." This was told to the priest, who was filled with great joy, and ordered the baptismal font to be prepared. The streets were shaded with pictured trophies, the churches were adorned with gleaming hangings, the baptistry was set in order, incense was strewn, candles fragrant with odor were burning, and the whole building of the baptistry was filled with divine odor, and the Lord bestowed so much of his grace upon all who were present, that they thought themselves surrounded by the odor of paradise. The king demanded that he should be baptized by the bishop. The new Constantine proceeded to the font, to wash away the disease of the old leprosy and the sordid stains of his old life in the new water, and when he was come up from baptism, the saint of God spoke to him with eloquent words: "Bend thy neck in humility, Licumbrian; worship what thou hast burned, burn what thou hast worshiped," ....And now after the king had made confession of the omnipotent God in the Trinity, he was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and was anointed with holy ointment in the sign of the cross of Christ, and of his army more than three thousand were baptized.—Gregory of Tours.

The Donation of Pippin


While the aforesaid most benign. Pippin, king of the Franks, in the course of his siege of Pavia, was pressing on the city, then the most wicked Aistulf, king of the Lombards, in order that Pippin mightrelease him, promised with every assurance that he would give back the cities which he had refused to return in accordance with the agreement of the treaty. And then, when the former treaty which had been made between them during the past eighth indiction, was confirmed, Aistulf restored the aforesaid cities, adding also a fortress called Comacchio. Of all the cities thus received, Pippin made a gift in writing to St. Peter and to the holy Roman church, and to all the popes of the apostolic see forever; which is kept even to this day in the archives of our holy church.

The most Christian king of the Franks himself sent his counselor, the venerable abbot and presbyter Fulrad, to take over these cities, and having brought this to completion, his excellency returned with his army to France with good fortune.

The aforenamed venerable abbot and presbyter Fulrad, going with the emissaries of the aforesaid Aistulf into the region of Ravenna and proceeding through all of the cities, both of Petapolis and Emilia, took possession of them, and taking hostages from each city and bearing away with him their chief men, together with the keys of the gates of the cities, he betook himself to Rome…. And depositing these keys, both of the city of Ravenna and of the various cities in the exarchate of Ravenna, together with the above mentioned grant of the Cities made by his king in the Confession of St. Peter, he transferred them to this apostle of God and to his vicar, the most holy pope, and to all the popes his successors, to be held and disposed of forever, namely: Ravenna, Rimini, Pesaro, Conca, Fano, Cesena, Sinigaglia, Iesi, Forlimpopoli, Forli with the fortress of Sussibio, Montefeltro, Acerreagio, Monte di Lucano, Serra, the fortress of St. Marinus Bobbio, Urbino, Cagli, Luciolo, Gubbio or Comacchio; and also the city of Narni, which had been taken from the duchy of Spoleto and added to the Roman territory some years before.—Vita Stephani.

Donation of Karl the Great


But on the fourth day, the aforesaid named pope, proceeding with his chief men, both clerical and secular, to the church of St. Peter the apostle, and meeting there with the king for the purpose of conferring with him, earnestly besought and admonished and exhorted him with fatherly love to carry out in full that promise which his father Pippinof blessed memory, the former king, and the most excellent Charles himself, with his brother Carloman, and all the chief men of the Franks had made to St. Peter and to his vicar, the lord pope Stephen II., of blessed memory, when he went to France; namely, that certain cities and territories of that province of Italy should be granted and given over to St. Peter and to all his vicars to be held by them forever. And when he had caused this promise, which was made in France at the place called Crecy, to be read over to him, all that it contained was satisfactory to him and to his chief men. And of his own desire, with a good and willing mind, the aforesaid most excellent and truly most Christian Charles, king of the Franks, commanded that a second grant of this gift be drawn up by Etherius, a monk, and his most learned chaplain and notary; in which he granted to St. Peter those cities and territories and promised that they should be handed over to the aforesaid pope according to the description of the boundaries, just as is known to be contained in this donation; namely, from Luni, with the island of Corsica, thence to Suriano, thence to Apennines, that is, to Berceto, thence to Panna, thence to Reggio: and from thence to Mantua and Montelise, and likewise the whole exarchate of Ravenna, as it existed of old, and the provinces of Venice and Istua. When this donation was drawn up the most Christian king of the Franks himself signed it and caused all the bishops, abbots, dukes and counts to put their signatures to it; then the king himself and his chief men, first laying the gift on the altar of St. Peter and then within his holy Confession, made it over to St. Peter and his most holy vicar, Pope Hadrian, binding themselves under terrible oath to observe everything contained in that grant. Then causing the same Etherius to draw up a copy of this donation, the most Christian king of the Franks himself, with his own hands, placed it within upon the body of St. Peter under the gospels which are kissed there, for the most absolute security and for the eternal remembrance of his name, and the name of the Frankish kingdom. His excellency also took away with him other copies of the same grant which were made in the office of the secretary of this our holy Roman church.—Vita Hadriani.

Coronation of Karl The Great

800 A. D.

After this when the birthday of our Lord, Jesus Christ, wascome, all were gathered together in the aforesaid church of St. Peter the apostle, and then the kindly and venerable pope crowned him with the precious crown with his own hands. Then all the loyal Romans, for the Church and its vicar, all lifting up their voices in answer to the command of God and St. Peter, the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, shouted together: "To the most pious Charles Augustus, crowned of God, the mighty and peace-giving emperor, life and victory." And calling upon many saints before the Confession of St. Peter the apostle, this was said three times, and he was made emperor of the Romans by all. Then the most holy bishop and pope anointed Charles and his most excellent son the king, with the holy oil, on the very day of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Palace School of Karl The Great

1. After the omnipotent disposer of kings and ordainer of kingdoms and times had broken in pieces the feet of iron and clay in that marvelous image, in the person of the Romans, he raised up the golden head of that second no less wonderful image through the illustrious Charles, in the person of the Franks. Now, when he began to rule alone in the western world, and the pursuit of letters was almost entirely forgotten everywhere, it happened that there came to the shores of Gaul with British merchants two men of Ireland, learned beyond compare both in secular studies and in the holy Scriptures. Now, although these men displayed nothing for sale, they were wont to call out daily to the crowds who came to buy: "If anyone is eager for knowledge, let him come to us and get it, for we have it here for sale." They professed to have it to sell, because they saw that the people were buying not free things, but things with a price; that they might induce them to purchase wisdom as they purchased other things, and that they might by such proclamation excite their wonder and astonishment, as events proved. Finally, after this had been proclaimed by them for some time, it came, through those who marveled or who judged the men insane, to the ears of King Charles, always a lover of learning and most desirous of it. So when he had summoned them to his presence he asked them if they truly had wisdom with them, as he had heard by report. They replied, "We have it indeed, and are ready to give it to those seeking it worthily in the name of God." ’And when he had inquired, what they asked for it, they said:


"Only suitable places, and open minds, and that without which the mission cannot be carried on: namely, food and wherewith we may be clothed." Now, when Charles heard this, he was filled with great joy but at first for a little time he kept them with himself. But later when he was forced to go on his warring expeditions, he commanded one of them, Clement by name, to remain in Gaul, and sent to him their youths of most noble, and of middle, and of lowest ranks; and that they might have necessary provision, he ordered that they be furnished with food, and that suitable dwelling be provided for their habitation. The other he sent to Italy and appointed to him the monastery of St. Augustine near Ticino, that those who wished might be able to meet there with him to be taught.

2. Now Alquin, of the people of the English, having heard how graciously Charles, the most pious of kings, received men of learning, came across the sea to him. This man was skilled in all the knowlege of the Scriptures beyond all men of recent times, having been a disciple of the most learned Bede, the greatest writer since St. Gregory. This Alquin, Charles kept with him constantly till the end of his life, save when he was occupied with violent wars, so much so that he (Charles) desired to be called the pupil, and the other the master. He gave him also the abbey of St. Martin near Tours, that he might rest there when Charles was absent, and might teach those who sought him there. The teaching of this man brought forth such fruit, that the Gauls or Franks of that time were equal to the ancient Romans and Athenians.

3. Now after the most victorious Charles had returned to Gaul after a long time, he commanded those youths whom he had sent to Clement to come to him and show him their letters and their poems. And the youths of middle and lowest ranks displayed their work decorated with the marks of learning beyond all expectation, but the not youths showed themselves indifferent in their great folly. Then the most learned Charles, imitating the justice of the Eternal Judge, addressed the well-doers, separated on his right hand, in these words: "Many thanks to you, sons, since you have been zealous to follow as far as possible my command and your own advantage. Now, therefore, strive to attain perfection, and I will give you great bishoprics and monasteries, and you will always be honorable in my eyes." Then turning with great reproach to those on his left, and striking terror to their hearts with his angry glance, in irony he hurled these terrible words at them, thundering rather than speaking: "You noble youth you sons of princes, you delicate and dainty children, trusting in yourbirth and riches, and ignoring my command and your own glory in the study of letters, you have indulged yourselves in luxury, in sport and idleness, and vane pursuits." And when he had said this, raising his august head and his unconquered right hand to heaven, he thundered at them his accustomed oath: "By the King of Heaven, I do not hold of great account your nobility and your beauty, though others may marvel at, you. And know this for certain, unless you quickly make up for your former negligence by vigilant study, you will never get anything good at the hand of Charles."

4. He took from the aforesaid poor youths one who was an excellent composer and copyist into his chapel (Capelle), by which name the kings were accustomed to call their holy places, because of the cloak (coppa) of St. Martin, which they bore with them in war for the protection of their own forces and the destruction of the enemy.

Treaty of Verdun

843 A. D.

Charles proceeded nearly to Verdun to meet his brothers in conference; by the distribution of the portions there Louis obtained all east of the Rhine, and west of the Rhine the cities of Speier, Worms and Mainz, and their districts; Lothar, the country between the Rhine and a line drawn from the mouth of the Scheldt south through Cambria and Hainault, to where the Saône joins the Rhone, and along the Rhone to the sea, with the counties lying on both sides; the rest of the country clear to Spain they gave to Charles; then when the oaths were taken they departed each his own way.



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Chicago: "The Franks," The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4 in The Library of Original Sources, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: University Research Extension Co., 1907), 203–209. Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2023,

MLA: . "The Franks." The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4, in The Library of Original Sources, edited by Oliver J. Thatcher, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, University Research Extension Co., 1907, pp. 203–209. Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: , 'The Franks' in The Library of Original Sources, Vol 4. cited in 1907, The Library of Original Sources, ed. , University Research Extension Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pp.203–209. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2023, from