Charles the Bald:
A Renewal of the Privileges of a Monastery, 874
The revival of the regime of private property in Europe in turn gave rise to an
increase of Church property, which, though protected, as in the following charter, was
subject to confiscation by the Carolingians and powerful lords. The particular rights
granted are specifically enumerated below.
In the name of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, Charles, by the grace of God,
King. If we have granted the requests devoutly raised to us by our faithful servants,
doubtless in so doing we have exercised a royal and ancient custom. Therefore be it known
to all our faithful, and to the faithful of Holy Church, present and future, that the
venerable abbot Hilduin, our most faithful servant and worthy clerk, abbot of the
monastery of Sithiu (St. Omer), situated in the district of Terouenne, built in honor of
St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, where the bodies of the holy confessors Omer and Bertin
are known to be buried, has brought to our attention that in the time of Abbot Hugh, his
predecessor, we gave authority to that monastery, placing it and all things pertaining to
it under our protection, care and immunity. We also placed under our protection all its
cells, villas, and other possessions within the counties, territories, and jurisdiction of
our kingdom. And neither we nor our successors would divide them or turn those properties
to any other uses, and the monastery would give purveyance to no man. The abbot now seeks
a renewal of our authority and the naming of each privilege. We therefore, for the love
and reverence we have for those saints, have ordered a renewal of our authority over that
place, and, at the same time, confirmation of those privileges by this our charter. And we
have ordered these royal letters to be written to warn our successors to permit those
things we formerly granted to that monastery to remain secure, to make no division of the
cells or property or other possessions of the monastery, or to permit such division to be
made, or to permit the turning of those possessions to other uses. We further decree by
our letters that no public official or person with judicial authority shall at any time
dare to go into the churches, fields, places, or possessions of that monastery, neither
those possessed in our time, nor those which holy piety shall add in the future, either
for hearing cases according to judicial custom, for taking taxes, for exercising
authority, for preparing lodging, for taking food by purveyance, for the taking of
pledges, for distraining free or servile men of that monastery, or for requiring other
services. Let no judge presume to exact the things mentioned within the monastery itself.
The abbot and his successors shall possess in peace, under our protection, the property of
the monastery just as we decreed in the charter to Abbot Hugh. We grant also to that
monastery that it shall have for all time a market, to be held on Fridays, and whatever
profit there is from that market shall be for the shrine of Saints Omer and Bertin. Once a
year the abbot shall give a feast to the brethren. And let the brethren who serve God
there as His servants pray perpetually for us, the queen, our children, and the stability
of our kingdom....
B. E. C. Guerard, ed., Collection de Documents inédits sur l'Histoire de France,
(Paris, 1840), Book II, p.119; 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. 329-330.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998