Dagobert, King of the Franks:
Grant of a Fair at St. Denis, 629
The Fair of St. Denis is reputed to be one of the oldest fairs in Western Europe.
According to this document, which some suspect to be a forgery, it was established under
the patronage of the monks of St. Denis by King Dagobert.
Dagobert, King of the Franks, knight, to Leudo, Wulfion, Raucon, my counts, and to all
my servants, bailiffs, judges, and other ministers of state, greeting.
In your solicitude and prudence be it known to you that we have decreed and established
in honor of our glorious lord and patron, Denis, a fair for gathering together once
annually at the mass which falls on the ninth of October, all the merchants dwelling in
our kingdom and those coming from beyond the seas. This gathering will be on the road
which goes to the city of Paris in the place called St. Martin's Hill. And you, our
officials for this market, and all the citizens of our kingdom, shall know of this market,
and especially those who come from beyond the sea to the port of Rouen and to the port of
Vic to buy wine, honey, and madder. For two years no toll shall be levied. Afterwards, for
each measure of honey they shall pay two solidi to the brothers of St. Denis; similarly
for each measure of madder they shall pay two solidi. The Saxons and their servants and
the citizens of Rouen and pagans from other lands shall pay as toll on their ships twelve
denarii for each measure, and they shall pay wheel tax and passage forever, according to
ancient custom. Also we have ordained that the fair shall last for four weeks, and the
merchants of Lombardy, Spain, Provence, and other countries shall be able to go there. And
we wish and firmly command that no merchant dare to transact business in the neighborhood
of Paris except in the fair we have established in honor of St. Denis. If any one should
do so let him pay a fine to us and to the house of St. Denis. We straightly order and
expressly command you and all our servants and ministers and all your successors, present
and future, that the house of St. Denis never suffer hindrance on account of its fair, on
our part or on yours; and it or its servants shall forever have, by this our indulgence
and authority, within the city of Paris and at the markets in the country, and shall be
able to exact at the fair from all merchandise, tolls, customs, portage, pontage, mooring
tolls, wheel taxes, road tolls, tolls on travelers, laudaticum, charges on beasts of
burden, gifts, each and all of them, whatever they are, from our exchequer and from the
public fisc. And in order that this order of ours may be more strictly observed both now
and in the future in that place, we have ordered this charter to be sealed
below with our seal and we have signed it with our hand. I, Dagobert, the King, have
signed this. Dado obtained it. Given at Compiegne on the thirty-first of July in the
second year of the reign of
King Dagobert, fortunately in the name of God, Amen.
From: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1850), Vol. LXXX,
p. 510, 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. 114-115.
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© Paul Halsall, September 1998