To its defenders, it stirs nostalgic longing for a time when doing Christian things required far fewer daily negotiations with non-Christians. Rather, they sought and secured refuge within the Roman Empire from the Huns. Violence occurred later, when the Goths revolted in response to exploitation they experienced in their refugee settlements. The Saracens. A triumphant sentiment, but it had a note of anxiety. But over the course of the fifth century, that pump lost its prime and its parts stopped functioning. Goods ceased to move. The economies of western Europe became markedly local.
Christianity stepped in to fill the gap, the unifying force in a Europe that lacked any other center. For a while it was able to unite different regions into a coherent theological world—a world where God ruled over all, and the heavens were crowded with saints. But could that unity hold? Even as western Europeans believed they were simply speaking local dialects of Latin, vernacular languages—Spanish, German, French, Italian—were taking shape.
Many Christians knew only an oral version of their faith, since they and everyone else they knew were illiterate. What was to stop someone from preaching—whether through ignorance or malice—an unrecognizable version of Christianity? Regional expressions of the church were one thing. Mutually incomprehensible and contradictory versions were another. It meant uniformity of control over a Christian empire.
Or did it? But in matters unrelated to church governance and practice, Charlemagne consulted with the leading figures of each region, typically allowing local law to carry the day.
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This was diplomatically prudent, but also contained clever politics. In allowing local law to hold sway in matters unrelated to church practice, Charlemagne set up Christian law as the only law actually uniting all the different subjects of his empire. In such a diverse empire, it was essential that people not merely obey the laws, but also understand them. How did Charlemagne do this? To them fell the responsibility of ensuring that Christian texts were copied correctly so that less literate clerics could recite them without error.
People responded. Particularly in Germany, local towns competed with each other to show their assent to the requirements of correctio. Charlemagne could not foresee that his attempts to unite a fractured society would have such far-reaching impact. Though his dynasty petered out, his idea that church and state belonged naturally together—and that together they would hold back the barbarians from the gates—lasted long after Leo set the crown on his head that fateful Christmas Day. It lasted through long lines of popes and Holy Roman Emperors outmaneuvering each other.
It lasted through a Reformation in which reformers found their own ways to make governments Christian, even while protesting against the wreck they thought Catholicism had made of medieval government. And if it is no longer, should we praise or lament? Boniface anoints Pepin the Short, son of Charles Martel, as a divinely sanctioned king.
In time, his empire grows to embrace modern France, Germany, central and eastern Europe, and much of Italy. A series of converting his territories to promotes learning in what reforming popes follows. His heirs begin fighting gian Renaissance. This leads to Byzantine emperor in Latin texts, and develops a the Great Schism between Constantinople.
His ered by Carolingians and war. It flourishes place of reform, focused on and in Jerusalem, killemerges, seeking to recunder the reign of his son restoring obedience to the ing many of the inhabitants. The Song of Roland paints 6th-c. Rule of St. Benedict and with Christianity.
But in fact learning, statecraft, church growth, and culture-making flourished throughout the period. Historians have identified no fewer than four Renaissances in this period each shown in bold , starting with one inspired by Charlemagne. Findreasons other than becoming the church extravagant, ing priests, and education is and supported by English offered in languages other nobles who want indethan Latin. His later astronomy. These are rediscovery of some classicontinued by his disciple cal Greek and Roman texts Roger Bacon.
Constantinople and end Byzantine civilization. He will initiate a new style of painting. The latter aids in trade and navigation. You will see paintings of Charlemagne looking regal, with an ornate crown on his head. Or you may see warrior Charlemagne, wielding a massive sword. The pictures you never see, though—but ones that would better reflect the importance that Charlemagne. In the world we know, the value of education is seldom debated. Nearly 85 percent of Americans over 25 have graduated from high school, and a quarter have college degrees.
But a century ago the numbers were reversed; less than one out of ten people graduated from high school. It should be no surprise, then, that in the early Middle Ages, education was even less widespread. To be sure, certain people—typically males—received a rudimentary education. In the seventh and eighth centuries, the sons of European kings and nobles were often given training. But it was usually not in the rhetoric, philosophy, and grammar that Tertullian or Augustine would have known—rather, it was in the skills needed for warfare.
Priests and monks were given a different form of basic instruction so that they could read their prayer books, learn doctrine, and recite Mass. This education was sometimes spotty and not always successful, however. Beyond the changes in the political landscape. John the Evangelist—from the Ebbo Gospels, c. Listening to the spirit St. John the Evangelist is pictured in the Ebbo Gospels, one of many illuminated manuscripts created during the Carolingian Renaissance.
At its core was a series of educational reforms that would influence continental Europe and Christendom for centuries. It may be an overstatement to say that Charlemagne was illiterate, but even his doting biographer Einhard — admitted that the king had only limited ability to read and write. Charlemagne often kept writing tablets close at hand so that he could practice tracing letters, but, said Einhard, he never made much progress, because he began too late in life.
Histories and treatises had to be read to him, presumably because he could not read them himself. But while the king could not read or write well, he greatly valued intellectual activities. But he also listened to secular stories and classical literature, both of which would be important in the Carolingian Renaissance to come. According to Einhard, Charlemagne became proficient in many of the liberal arts—rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, and astronomy in particular.
Moreover, he valued the study of languages he did not know, especially Latin and Greek. The image Einhard sought to portray was one of a thoroughly educated monarch, in the tradition of Roman emperors. But even if the king was not quite as skilled as his biographer indicated, that does not mean that the biography has no value. To the contrary, the fact that Einhard took such great pains to portray Charlemagne as an intellectual shows how important education had become in the opening days of the ninth century, or at least how important it was for a ruler to be known as an intellectual, especially for political reasons.
A Frankish king from northern Europe who seemingly wore the mantle of centuries of classical education—this went a long way toward establishing his legitimacy as the head of the Holy Roman Empire. There is little doubt that Charlemagne had a great love of learning, but he also insisted that the value. He began with his own children. Like many medieval rulers, Charlemagne made sure that his children learned the skills needed to solidify their places in society.
The boys were taught to ride and fight; the girls learned how to manage a household of the high-born. But to this king, these skills were not sufficient. He believed that his children should also be educated in the liberal arts the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. To achieve this worthy goal, Charlemagne called upon his old friend Alcuin — Born on the eastern coast of Northumbria now northern England and southeastern Scotland , Alcuin see p.
On one such journey, in , Alcuin met the ambitious young Frankish king, who asked the Northumbrian to be his tutor in rhetoric and astronomy. Once there, though, he proved influential and eventually adopted the land of the Franks as his home. Indeed, the Northumbrian schoolmaster was a remarkable scholar. Beyond his skills in the liberal arts, Alcuin wrote Bible commentaries, theological works, and biographies of Christian saints. When Charlemagne decided that his kingdom needed an official version of the Bible, he called on Alcuin to supervise its production.
Who better than Alcuin, then, to be the head of a palace school, where the sons and daughters of Charlemagne and other nobles would be taught not only the skills needed for being leaders, but also the liberal arts? Lessons were laid out, court libraries were established, and the model for training young nobles that would continue for decades, if not centuries, was begun. The educational reforms of the Carolingian Renaissance were under way.
Ten years after this first edict, Charlemagne expanded his vision for an educated kingdom by ordering priests and monks to provide for the education of children in their districts, and not just those who were headed for the priesthood or monastic life. So monasteries and churches began basic educational programs in the regions where they were located, providing a level of learning to boys and sometimes girls at no charge.
While these village schools certainly cannot be compared to widespread public education such as we know today, it was a step in that direction. Education was slowly becoming available to a wider audience than just the elite. It was no easy task to turn monasteries into intellectual hubs. Libraries needed to be created with books collected from around the western world, the curriculum had to be set, and teachers needed to be employed. Discipline was notoriously harsh. According to one medieval text, a group of unruly students at one monastic school, knowing that they were destined to receive a.
Although one could argue that the intellectual explosion of the Carolingian Renaissance began with the education of the king himself and his family, it did not end there. In Charlemagne issued an edict that bishops and abbots the heads of monasteries should begin educating young boys in reading and writing, the Bible, theology, and grammar.
The purpose was primarily to educate these lads for service to the monastery. In the same way that the monasteries of Ireland had been islands of scholarly activity that kept classical knowledge alive when continental Europe was in decline, Charlemagne wanted Frankish monasteries to be centers of educa-. Gates of learning Left: The abbey at Lorsch whose gate is seen here was a center of intellectual revival. One remarkable thing about Carolingian schools was that, even though they were attached to monasteries and parishes, their curricula were not restricted to Christian topics.
Certainly the Bible and the early church fathers were taught, but so was the pagan philosopher Plato. Students studied the lives of the saints, but also Germanic legends. In these new Carolingian libraries, one could find not only religious texts, but legal writing, travelogues, and language books as well. So early on, other teachers were called in to continue the reforms. Foremost among these were Irish monks. Monastic communities such as Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, and Kildare had long been the intellectual and spiritual centers of Ireland, their abbots and abbesses rivaling or exceeding Irish bishops in power and learning.
Many Irish monks were known for their intellects. They would listen to readings from the fathers of the church at their mealtimes and then retire to cells to make copies not just of Christian texts, but also of Irish law and pagan Celtic legends. They created beautiful illustrated Gospels such as the Book of Kells. They developed a revolutionary new devotional practice of private confession and penance, based on the teachings of John Cassian, which would one day have an impact on all of Europe. And perhaps most important, they were involved in missionary work to Caledonia Scotland , Britannia England , and the European continent.
Matthew was given to the monastery of St. Riquier by Charlemagne himself. These Irish monks and theologians were precisely the ones Charlemagne needed to carry on the educational reforms begun under Alcuin. Perhaps the most famous of these Irish transplants was the Neoplatonist philosopher Johannes Scotus Eriugena see p. He was a remarkable scholar, though a controversial one, whose writings on predestination and on creation would one day be condemned by the Catholic Church. While the Carolingian Renaissance showed diverse and multifaceted intellectual creativity, it had unifying themes in its educational reforms—threads running through nearly every innovation.
First, the value of the written word. It is hard for us to imagine how valuable books were in the early Middle Ages. For one thing, without mass production of books available, they could be rare and extremely expensive. Owning a set of books showed that you were part of an elite class. It was not very important whether you could. Alcuin of York Imagine if you can: aworldwithoutcapitallettersorspaces. Perhaps you owe the fact that you can read this article today to Alcuin of York. Alcuin reformed education at court and established a palace library.
He also tutored Charlemagne and was the head of the palace school at Aachen. To that end, Alcuin worked to revise and standardize the Bible. In he became the abbot of St. Under his supervision, several pandects complete editions of the Bible were produced at the abbey, written in newly developed Carolingian minuscule script, much easier to read and write than older ones. For the first time, both capital letters and spaces between words were standard features of writing!
His incorporation of logic into the study and writing of theology paved the way for later thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas. He also influenced the later church by revising the liturgy and standardizing the text of the Latin Bible. It became the medium by which the institutions of Carolingian society could be standardized and maintained. Ways of living the religious life, secular laws, morality—all were committed to the written word not only for posterity, but for management of daily life.
Second, the spread of literacy. We have long known that literacy was not uncommon among medieval clergy and monks. Indeed, that very literacy helped make these groups among the elite of society. They had the mystifying ability to make sense out of scratchings and dots on a page, marks whose meanings were lost on the average person. In the Carolingian period, though, literacy moved out of the monasteries and sanctuaries and into the towns. Lay literacy, though rare compared to modern standards, became relatively widespread among the nobility, and to a lesser degree, even among commoners and women, two groups that had sometimes been kept uneducated in the early Middle Ages.
Third, standardized learning. Charlemagne made sure that education in his kingdom had a high degree of uniformity.
His palace schools followed a relatively uniform curriculum, which was taught using a standardized form of Latin. Priests and monks teaching in villages did not have as comprehensive a curriculum to follow, but they were ordered to give their students accepted lessons in Christian theology and morality. Carolingian minuscule was used to produce religious texts that could be read in personal devotion or in public worship. But just as important, it was also used in copies of the classical texts that were resurfacing on the European continent. Finally, a merging of the religious and the secular.
The Carolingian period was a fertile time for religious scholarship. People copied and widely studied the writings of the early church fathers. Authors penned commentaries on the Bible, some of which would influence Christian thought well into the High Middle Ages. Other thinkers took copies of biblical and other religious texts and inserted thoughtful comments called glosses into the margins or between the lines of text, words that could became as influential as the original manuscripts.
Alcuin of York — Alcuin presents to Rabanus Maurus to Saint Martin. They did not hesitate to examine the works of Greek and Roman philosophers or the legends of Germanic heroes—and then to teach them alongside lessons from the Bible and Christian theology. In this, they laid the groundwork for heady, controversial intellectual movements that would dominate Europe in the following millennium. How long did the Carolingian Renaissance, with its signature educational reforms, actually last? In truth, though, much of the advancement under Charlemagne stalled a generation later when his empire was divided among his grandsons.
But for a brief, shining moment in medieval Europe, a semiliterate king of the Franks inaugurated a period of intellectual fervor. Its influence would be felt years later in the thinking of Scholasticism, years later among the intellectuals of the Renaissance, and even in the musings of Christian intellectuals in the twenty-first century. That is the Charlemagne whose picture should show up in a Google search. CH Garry J. We know very little about Johannes Scottus Eriugena c. Charles soon made Eriugena the head of the palace school, a position recently held by Alcuin of York.
There was a notable intellectual continuity between the two men and their circles of colleagues; like Alcuin before him, Eriugena was thoroughgoing in his application of logic and philosophy to Christian theology. As he made their work accessible to the intellectuals of his day, Eriugena came to hold some controversial views, such as the belief that sin and hell were not real because nothing evil could come from God.
But he was nonetheless influential in the development of medieval theology and philosophy. His writings and translations were copied and widely distributed during and after his lifetime. P: What is a word? A: The traitor who betrays what is in your mind. P: What gives birth to a word? A: The tongue. P: What is the tongue? A: A whip that beats the air. P: What is the air? A: The guard of life. P: What is life? A: The joy of the happy, the sadness of the wretched, the expectation of death.
P: What is death? A: An inevitable event, an uncertain journey, the tears of the living, the confirmation of a will, a robber who steals humankind. Facing uncharted territory, they mapped new terrain in their search for intimacy with God. We call them Pioneers of the Spirit. Each biographical profile in this series weaves together excerpts from personal writings, dramatic artwork, expert commentary, and compelling narration focused on the relevance of each pioneer to contemporary times.
Each program is 24 minutes. PDF discussion guides can be downloaded for free at www. The leaders profiled here profoundly influenced the shape of Christianity in the British Isles and beyond. You will be enlightened and inspired as you explore the stories of these venerable figures from church history. Each program is 25 minutes. Over 1, miles away, a succession of emperors and one empress who saw themselves as rightfully leading the Roman Empire ruled from Constantinople.
The east-west relationship had not been smooth since Constantine set up his imperial capital at Constantinople, not Rome, in the third century. East and west had different languages, cultures, and theological outlooks. In the volcano on the Aegean island of Thera erupted. In reality, the controversy emerged more gradually. But controversy dogged the practice. In the s and s, Germanos, the patriarch of Constantinople, chastised two clergymen for teaching against images and removing them from their churches.
By the s antiimage sentiments were widespread in the east—even in Constantinople. But the anti-image position was never adopted in Rome. But another side of the debate soon emerged. Iconodules or iconophiles, from the Greek words for honoring or loving images, asserted that icons were not idols but significant testimonies to the Incarnation: since Christ was God-made-man, he was image-able.
The debate was not academic. If you bowed before an image in worship, would you find someone coming from the emperor to arrest you? And would you incur the wrath of God either for venerating an idol on the one hand or for refusing to honor holy pictures on the other? Following the death of Constantine V came a period of relative peace. His iconoclastic son Leo IV married an iconodule, Irene, and allowed exiled iconodule monks to return and others to keep their icons. Irene soon called the Second Council of Nicaea to address the image controversy.
Following custom, notes and decrees from the council were translated from Greek into Latin and sent to the west, where Charlemagne read them. But the Latin translation failed to convey the Greek distinction. Religious images, or icons, played a significant part in Christian life from at least the third century, and the practice of venerating them i. Veneration may have developed in part as a response to the incursion of Islam. But they knew that the pope himself had sent legates and a letter of support to Nicaea.
The Carlovingian Coins or The Daughters of Charlemagne, a Tale of the Ninth Century
It would not be consulted again until Calvin wrote his Institutes more than years later. The Franks did not dare to contradict the pope directly. They nonetheless condemned the decisions in a council of their own, the Council of Frankfurt Through all this Charlemagne and his advisors asserted the superiority of what was at this point still merely the Frankish kingdom over the Byzantine east. The Opus Caroli Regis explicitly asserted that Franks took a middle way between iconoclasm and idolatry. It presented them not only as theologically orthodox rulers but also as the most qualified ones.
Rome too would soon find it politically advantageous to switch gears. Despite the fact that his delegates had participated in the synod that deposed Ignatius, the pope declared Ignatius the rightful patriarch. Charlemagne was not alive to see it. But by laying the groundwork for a self-confident Western Christendom, he had paved the way.
How they feasted and fasted Everyday life in the eighth and ninth centuries Jennifer Woodruff Tait. Beautiful ladies doing embroidery, strong knights jousting, troubadours serenading their lovers, castles hung with tapestries. That is the Middle Ages in our heads.
All of that would come later. The first serious castles were built, not just as his empire was crumbling, but because it was crumbling: people needed strong places to defend themselves against attacking armies. And the whole feudal system of knights and allegiances, troubadours and ladies, would not arise for centuries. Most information traveled at the speed of feet. All but about 10 percent of the people lived in small villages, growing and hunting their own food. Surrounded by large forests full of wild animals, few traveled far. Beeswax candles and oil lamps were expensive; people went to bed when the sun went down.
Charlemagne kept a lamp and wax tablet by his bed to learn to write, supposedly in part so he could record his dreams. Houses were small 80— square feet , drafty, and leaky. Frequently a house had only one room with a fire in the middle, which often threatend to get out of control and burn the house down. Benches, stools, tables, and beds were common furniture. A bottle of holy water under the bed kept the devil away, and only babies had their own cradles; everyone else shared a bed. Chairs were a bigger extravagance.
The very wealthy might have chairs with arms and dressers with drawers. But extra clothes to put in those drawers were few. Laws did not limit rich clothing to the aristocracy as they did later , but people could only. The necessities of life Right: These 9th-c.
Below: A goose-seller deals with a customer. Most people ate off of dishes made of wood; only nobles had glass. Men practiced skilled trades, such as blacksmithing and goldsmithing, but only women made clothes. The average woman had a spindle in her hands all the time, even while making dinner. Nobles wore silk and brocade, and long woolen cloaks over everything.
For a time short cloaks came into fashion. When I go off to empty my bowels, I catch cold because my backside is frozen. Rye, wheat, barley, and oats were used for bread, which people consumed avidly, and for ale, which they also consumed avidly. Common people ate meat, but how much they ate depended on how good they were at hunting and catching. And famine was common. The fact that kings sometimes struck several types simultaneously clouds the question still further.
Likewise, the interpretation of symbolic types does not afford an exact chronology, since the few iconographical types used in Carolingian issues are so general in meaning as to defy ascription to any specific event. Finally, because more exact dating is impossible on other grounds, metrological evidence can be applied only to the whole span of the reign of any given ruler; the evidence does not warrant attributing various issues to particular years within any reign on metrological arguments.
The only exceptions to this rule are the issues of Charlemagne and of Charles the Bald , both of whom instituted monetary reforms so thorough that the coinage of each is divided into two discrete series, clearly distinguished by style. The only evidence sufficient to date Carolingian issues, therefore, is not the internal evidence of the coins, but the external proof of documents and political history.
Even this evidence is so fragmentary and, in some cases, ambiguous as to prevent exact attributions and dating. Numismatists have tended to assume, for example, that a ruler struck coins in his own name only after the death of his predecessor. Likewise, Louis II probably began his series in , when he became King of the Lombards , and Louis the Stammerer may have begun his in , when he became King of Aquitaine.
The complexity of these circumstances thwarts virtually any effort to date coin finds or coins within a reasonable period. A deposit containing coins issued by Lothaire I and by Charles the Bald, for example, need not have been buried between , when Lothaire became sole ruler and Charles entered into the West Frankish kingdom on the death of Louis the Pious, and , when Lothaire abdicated and died.
Rather, the date of deposit could be pushed back eleven years, to the time of Charles's first proclamation as King. Likewise, a find containing coins of Louis the Pious and Lothaire I could have been made at any time in the thirty-eight years between when Lothaire was proclaimed Co-Emperor, and , instead of in the fifteen years between and In some instances, therefore, the tolerance of dating suggested by the dates of royal accessions and of the deaths of rulers is widened so far as to be useless in any effort to establish an exact numismatic chronology.
Official documents provide more exact dates for some critical events in Carolingian monetary history. Decrees of the Synod of Frankfurt and a letter of Alcuin written two years later refer to Charlemagne's "new mintage," and thus set the date of his monetary reform a short time before An edict of Lothaire I issued in refers to coinage which Lothaire had newly instituted and implies gradual demonetization in favor of that mintage. One may hypothesize that Lothaire referred to his only major departure from the predominant types of Louis the Pious, a type which achieved great frequency not only in the issues of Lothaire, but also in the early issues of Charles the Bald and Pippin I or Pippin II of Aquitaine : namely, an obverse type consisting of the name and title of the ruler circumscriptional about a cross, and a reverse type of the name of the mint city circumscriptional about a temple.
Since this design is rare in the series of Louis the Pious, and common in those of his sons, 9 it must have been instituted late in Louis' reign, and it could well be the type mentioned in Lothaire's edict of He commanded, "ut in denariis novae nostrae monetae ex una parte nomen nostrum habeatur in gyro et in medio nostri nominis monogramma, ex altera vero parte nomen civitatis et in medio crux habeatur.
For ninth-century authors, the king had two nomina, his own e. There are three other fixed dates in Carolingian history. The earliest is the date of the Ilanz II find — , which contains one coin from Charlemagne's second period and nearly one hundred from his first. Next, documentary evidence places the striking of gold "medallions," or "solidi," by Louis the Pious and Lothaire I in Documentary and numismatic evidence combined, therefore, yield eight precise dates, in addition to regnal years, toward which a chronology of Carolingian numismatics must be oriented.
The historian can set Charlemagne's coinage reform ca. A few of Charlemagne's coins which bear the imperial title can be assigned more precisely to the period ca. Finally, he can divide the mintage of Charles the Bald into two periods, the first, between and , when coins bearing various types and inscriptions were issued, and the second, between and , when the GRATIA D—I REX type predominated. But these fixed points in numismatic history do not lead toward further exactitude in dating, and they leave totally unclarified many critical questions of chronology and attribution.
There are, however, some very grave difficulties concerning even some of these issues, and there are other issues which cannot be attributed with any certainty as to ruler or year. Two major factors gave rise to these problems: the continuation and the immobilization of types. The first term implies the use of identical types only by a succession of synonymous rulers, while the second refers to the continual striking of particular types, no matter what the names of the rulers.
On present evidence, the issues of Charles the Fat are, however, purely matters of hypothesis; it is supposed that, as King of the East Franks, King of the West Franks, and Emperor, he must have struck coins. There is no concrete evidence to substantiate or to refute this hypothesis. As we shall indicate below, the evidence of coin finds permits a tentative division of gome of the ambiguous series between Charles the Bald and Charles the Simple; but it does not clarify the question of Charles the Fat's mintage.
The second complicating element, the immobilization of types, hinders any precise classification of the two most numerous Carolingian series.
But there is nothing to distinguish one issue from another. Likewise, the XPISTIANA RELIGIO series in the name of Louis the Pious, which we have already mentioned, poses the most serious problems of attribution; for although it is the most prolific of the Carolingian series, and although it held an important place in Carolingian monetary history for nearly a century, its various issues cannot, with rare exceptions, be classified according to time or place of mintage.
In time, even the conflation of Christiana Religio issues in the name of Louis the Pious may be separated into its components, and the history of the type and its relation to the rest of the Carolingian series made clear. This clarification will most likely be achieved through painstaking study of die-relationships and the establishment of dielinks and epigraphical similarities, especially as they appear in the closed contexts of individual coin finds. Indeed, Dr. For the present, we may summarize what we know about the history of the Christiana Religio series.
Charlemagne instituted it after his imperial coronation as the reverse type of an extraordinary series of denarii bearing his portrait on the obverse. This series alone bears no city name; and only on portrait obverses of Christiana Religio types do cryptic letters appear beneath the portrait bust cat. Some scholars have maintained that these letters indicate specific mints—that C denotes Cologne , V, Venice , M, Milan , and F, Florence—but such suggestions do not take into account the possibility that the letters could indicate regnal years, the initial letter of a moneyer's name, or a number of things other than the name of the mint city which in any case should hardly have been designated on the obverse.
We do not know where or when these pieces were struck; but their affinities with the other issues we have mentioned indicate that they were part of an unusual imperia lseries, and their differences indicate that Charlemagne intende dfor them to be attributed to no specific mint. Strangely, Louis the Pious did not retain the Christiana Religio type in his portrait series; the next ruler who linked it with his portrait was Lothaire I, and the evidence of coin finds may indicate that he restored it to the imperial portrait series even in the lifetime of Louis the Pious.
Louis retained all the other iconographical reverse types struck under his father. The ship, which Charlemagne struck on his portrait series at Dorestadt, likewise appears on Louis' portrait series at Dorestadt cat. The temple appears only on one of Louis' portrait issues, and that bears the name of Milan instead of the Christiana Religio inscription. Lothaire I, however, restored the type to his portrait series cat.
Though he did not adopt the Christiana Religio type in his portrait series, Louis the Pious did issue the type in great volume, struck to a standard obverse showing a central cross surrounded by his name and the imperial title; Lothaire continued to issue coins of this design in his own name simultaneously with the Christiana Religio portrait series. Some Christiana Religio issues of Louis the Pious even lack the temple altogether cat. The symbolic character of the type had entirely changed in the decade or so after Charlemagne's death, and, for our purposes, two aspects of this change are most important: the de-imperialization of the Christiana Religio reverse, and the adoption of the temple type in normal mint issues.
Because the type was adopted by Lothaire's younger brothers, Pippin I of Aquitaine and Charles the Bald, and issued in their royal series and in the series of later kings as well, and because the temple did appear in the issues of known mints, we can have some clear picture of the geographical areas where the temple type appeared, where it was predominant, and finally, by referring to coin finds, when it was most prevalent.
The following list summarizes our information on the geographical distribution of the temple type, giving under the name of each ruler the mints known to have issued that type, the reference number in the catalogue, and finds in which the coins occurred. Louis the Pious. Milan , , No find. Lothaire I. Cologne , — Huy, , Emmen , Ballon, Pilligerheck. Trier, Emmen , Pilligerheck. Verdun, , Emmen , Groningen, Pilligerheck. Aquitaine , Charles the Bald Auxerre, , Bourges , Laon , Paris , Oudwoude , Zelzate, Pilligerheck, Wagenbogen, Loppersum. Rheims, Neuvi-au-Houlme, Kimswerd-Pingjum I?
Lothaire II Aachen, Louis III? Charles the Simple. Milan , , , No find. Pavia , Louis IV, the Child. Mainz, — Lothaire of France. Bourges , — Keary has traced the morphology of this type into the later feudal period, and the interested reader is referred to his essay for information about the later history of the type. From the list just given, three things relevant to the history of the Christiana Religio type may be deduced. First, the fact that, except in a few instances, successive rulers did not continue striking the temple type in their mint cities, indicates that the type was simply not standard long enough to experience continuity of that sort.
The type seems to have enjoyed a brief vogue. The second observation is that the vogue reached its height in the time of Lothaire I and Charles the Bald, that is, ca. Martin of Tours, Bordeaux did issue the temple type, but the greater number of mints issuing it lay in the area bounded by the Rhine and by an imaginary line drawn from Mainz to Rheims and thence to Quentovic. The importance of these two observations for our understanding of the Christiana Religio series is underscored by the third: namely, that the period in which the temple type enjoyed its greatest vogue in these cities is the same period in which, on the evidence of coin deposits, the Christiana Religio series achieved its greatest volume of production.
The two series alike tend to be absent from deposits laid down in the 's, such as "Frisia," Cosne, and Auzeville, but they become predominant in deposits of the period —, such as Ide, Pilligerheck, and Wagenbogen. Finds buried after , such as Courbanton II, Courbanton III, Glizy, and Cuerdale characteristically lack Christiana Religio types entirely, and contain very few, if any, coins of the temple type with a city's name. The evidence of coin finds, therefore, shows that the history of the Christiana Religio type is in some measure also the history of the other temple type issues; once the Christiana Religio type had been de-imperialized, and the temple type had entered the normal series, perhaps, as we have suggested above, in , the Christiana Religio and the normal types flourished together, in the same areas and at the same time, and together they lost their predominant position about the time of Charles the Bald's monetary reform of Under these circumstances, one could well expect to find stylistic and epigraphical similarities between coins of the series of identifiable mints and those of the Christiana Religio series, and thus identify some, and perhaps many, Christiana Religio mint cities.
Indeed, most of the progress made toward identifying them has been made by this comparative method. In this way, Dr. Some of these correspond with markings on the coins of Lothaire I and of Charles the Bald; one dot beneath the temple Louis, cat. In themselves, these correlations are merely interesting evidence that Louis's sons used his types and perhaps his dies. But we are able to suggest on the basis of the same markings on other temple type issues that two of these markings indicate known mints: three dots horizontally arranged beneath the temple occur on the Huy issues of Lothaire I cat.
Aside from these markings, which occur on the Christiana Religio series both of Louis the Pious and of his sons, there are other markings in Louis's Christiana Religio series paralleled in other series of his sons which may indicate the mint of Louis's issues: for example, the cross beneath the temple cat.
These remarks have been intended to summarize our present knowledge about the Christiana Religio series, and to suggest some lines of enquiry which future investigations may follow. For the present, the discussion above merely illustrates the problems of attribution which encumber the study of Carolingian numismatics.
And we may for the present conclude that the difficulties of attribution produced by the continuation and immobilization of types are beyond clarification by the historical evidence reviewed above. Such precision as is possible must come from purely numismatic evidence—from coin finds, and from the coins themselves. Since Carolingian coin finds cannot be dated precisely, their chief value in establishing a chronological sequence of mintage is as evidence of the synchronism of types in circulation; for they indicate which types were in currency on the specific occasions when the deposits were buried.
They do not indicate, however, when those occasions were, or whether the various issues which they contain entered circulation at the same time or over a space of many years. Still, because of what is known from documentary evidence, finds can be dated approximately according as they consist entirely or predominately of coins from Charlemagne's first or second period, of coinage of Louis the Pious and his sons, or of the GRATIA D—I REX type. But the limits of this method of classification are narrow; for example, a find which consists largely of GRATIA D—I REX pieces can only be dated "after " in the absence of more restrictive evidence, and a deposit containing only issues of Louis the Pious can only be dated to the reign of Louis the Pious, or a little later, proof only that coins of that Emperor circulated in his own day.
The largely homogenous character of Carolingian finds, however, allows of two presuppositions in attributing their contents to rulers and to times. First, one may suppose that the bulk of coins in any normal find were struck within a short time—between five and fifteen years—immediately before deposit. And secondly, one may assume the likelihood that a find will not contain issues of two rulers, not in immediate sequence, from the same mints and lack entirely issues of intermediate rulers from those mints. The application of these principles to finds from the earlier Carolingian period is not so critical as their application to the later, where attributions are most difficult.
Among the early finds, Krinkberg is particularly important as it proves the circulation of an issue of Louis the Pious parallel in style to the pre-reform issue of Charlemagne side by Side with that primitive issue; as already observed, Ilanz II assists in dating Charlemagne's monetary reform.
Finds from the time of Louis the Pious and the period just after his death are valuable chiefly because of the attributions to Charles the Bald which they make possible. From later finds, one would expect some clarification of the confused GRATIA D—I REX series, and of the late issues in the name of the Emperor, or of the Emperors, Charles; but such clarification as the find evidence affords is circumstantial and far from satisfactory.
Only with regard to finds from the period after , where continuity and immobilization of types obscure attributions, do these general principles become relevant. By applying them, one can arbitrarily distinguish some finds from this period as being later than others. And third, that "Charles" finds which contain coins of later rulers, e. The deposit of Rennes, which would otherwise fall in the second class, can be dated ca. These issues are identical in type, style, fabric, and weight.
And even under our first principle—that the bulk of the coins in a find may be assumed to have been struck within about fifteen years of deposit—there is an open possibility that the "Charles" pieces in the third group were struck, not by Charles the Simple, but by Charles the Fat. One may, therefore, tentatively attribute the finds to the reigns of particular rulers, but the attribution of the coins which those deposits contained remains, on the whole, a matter of conjecture.
Only the types which occur in the group under the first corollary above can be attributed with a fair degree of certainty to a particular ruler. Yet, in the last analysis, there is no absolute evidence that they were not struck by Charles the Fat or by Charles the Simple and deposited in either of their reigns. Finally, the deposits adduce no grounds for separating the series of Pippin I and Louis II from those of their sons and namesakes.
No argument can proceed from synchronism of currency to synchronism of issue without external evidence, either documentary or numismatic; for this reason, the evidence of coin finds is inconclusive for purposes of attribution. Many issues can be attributed to specific rulers on the bases of type or weight. For these classifications e. Coin finds, then, furnish grounds only for the most tentative attribution where more certain evidence does not already exist; they cannot clarify absolutely the confused series of the late ninth and early tenth centuries.
It might be expected that one could, by close study of coin types, place the greater part of Carolingian issues within a precise historical context, just as students of classical antiquity have been able to date exactly some issues and whole series by the portraits, allegorical scenes, or symbols stamped on the coins. But for the student of Carolingian numismatics, the interpretation of types is methodologically impracticable in dating particular coins or even in establishing when a series was begun and when it was discontinued.
There are three principal reasons for this difficulty. The confusion of types used by the several Charles's and Louis's, which we have mentioned above, and its corollary, the immobilization of types, constitute the first barrier to setting ninth and tenth century issues in an historical sequence. For neither the types nor the weight of the coins nor their fabric distinguish the identical types which were struck, on the evidence of coin finds, by two or more rulers over a period of fifty to sixty years.
The second reason is the essentially aniconigraphical nature of Carolingian types. Unlike classical issues, Carolingian coins do not bear allegorical representations designed to commemorate particular events. The usual types are circumscriptional inscriptions—the name and title of the ruler on the obverse and the name of the mint city on the reverse—about a cross, a monogram, or, more rarely, a temple. They are, so to speak, historically anonymous, for they belong to no precisely definable historical circumstances.
The representational types which are preserved are simple designs, e. Clearly, they were unusual issues, since they are too few to constitute a close chronological sequence, but, and this is the third reason for our difficulty, their symbolism is too general to permit explicit dating. Coin types, on the whole, do not provide any evidence for establishing a chronology of Carolingian mintage; dissociated from particular events, their only value is in their abstract symbolic content.
The meaning of many representational types is readily apparent. For example, the portrait busts which appear on the coins of Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, and Lothaire I, as Emperors, the reverse type of the ship, stamped on denarii which Louis the Pious struck at Dorestadt, and that of the city gate, which appears on issues of Charlemagne , Louis the Pious, and Charles the Bald before his imperial accession, were all patterned on Roman imperial prototypes. They betray the effort of the Frankish rulers to establish as a political myth a direct line of legitimate government running from themselves back to the Caesars.
The monogram of the name of the reigning king was guarantee that the coin which bore it was an official issue of the proper weight and metallic content. It attested to the authenticity of the coin, just as the same monogram on royal seals attested to the authenticity of written documents. As the Synod of Frankfurt declared against the Byzantine iconodules, "Hoc [i.
Hoc est signum nostri imperatoris, non conpaginatio colorum, quod ad proelium nostrae sequuntur cohorts. Any characteristic functions of earthly government, including mintage, was an exercise of the king's role as the "minister of God;" and it consequently fell within the dimension of the sacred. Two iconographical types in the Carolingian series have aroused particularly great scholarly interest; and, as there is no general agreement concerning their symbohc meaning, a review of pertinent evidence may be in order.
The second and later type is the reverse of the extremely rare gold "medallion," or "solidus," of Louis the Pious. Some authors have held that the temple represented particular churches. Prou, for example, maintained that it was St. Peter's in Rome , and that Charlemagne commissioned the design to commemorate the scene of his imperial coronation. Baldwin Smith, following the argument which Gaehde had already formulated and which he later set forth in a still-unpublished essay, 61 stated the thesis that the temple depicted was the chapel of Charlemagne's palace at Aachen.
Bandmann writes of the temple as symbolizing the Heavenly Jerusalem; 63 Gattens has described the temple as representing the ancient Church; 64 and Schramm and Fallon hold that it stands for the whole Christian Church. Any hypothesis that the temple type represents a specific church building must founder on the lack of positive evidence.
There are no documents which explicitly identify the temple as St. Peter's, St. Martin's, or St. Mary's in Aachen. If Charlemagne had intended to represent a definite church, he surely would have followed usual practice, having the name of the church or at least the name of its city inscribed about it. It is true that, in his biography of Charlemagne, Einhard connected the Emperor's zeal for the Christiana Religio with the basilica in Aachen. Einhard writes, "Religionem christianam qua ab infantia fuerat [Charlemagne] imbutus , sanctissme et cum summa pietate coluit , ac propter hoc plurimae pulchritudinis basilicam Aquisgrani exstruxit auroque et argento et luminaribus atque ex aere solido cancellis et ianuis adornavit.
Author:Daniel De Leon
Rather, the patristic writings which molded the thoughts and even the works of ninth-century authors consistently identify Christiana Religio with the universal Church or with the moral life which the Church enjoined. The works of Lactantius, 68 St. Augustine, 69 and Gregory the Great, 70 to mention only three of the authorities to whom ninth-century thinkers looked for guidance, accord in holding that the Christiana Religio was the faith and discipline which united all true believers and made them the temple of God. Following them, the Synod of Aachen referred to the Church as the Christian religion when it wrote that taking its example from the ancient tradition of the Fathers, Christiana religio was building churches, erecting altars which it anointed with oil, and receiving the sacrifices of the Faithful.
A fragmentary letter which Pope Nicholas I sent to the Emperor Louis II toward the middle of the ninth century illustrates this symbolic relationship, recalling incidentally the example of Charlemagne, the inaugurator of the XPISTIANA RELIGIO type: " Christianae religioni nihil officit, immo proficit, si caritate magistra divino intuitu cum exteris quibusque pro retnediis et securitate Christianorum placitum inieritis, cum constet non ob aliud id fieri, nisi ut fera saevicia eorum, quae in fideles unanimiter exardescit, aliquo modo refrenetur.
Nam cum Salomonem cum alienigenis ad sanctam gloriam multiplicandam et ad templum Domino facilius construendum amiciciae foedera habuisse dominica sciamus referente istoria, quid mirum si pius imperator ad gloriam Dei et ad securitatem sanctae eclesiae, quae vere divinum est templum, cum exteris gentibus placitum confirmet, maxime cum piae memoriae Karolus [i.
But since the institution of this type cannot be dated more precisely than —, the period when Charlemagne was Emperor, the coin does not appreciably add to the body of knowledge concerning political or economic developments in that period. The piece is still a critical historical document without a date.
By way of contrast, the strong probability with which the MVNVS DIVINUM "medallion" can be dated and the interpretation of its symbolic type which that dating makes possible sharply illustrates political events and ideology in the reign of Louis the Pious. Since these conclusions were first published, Mr. Grierson has advanced an alternative dating for the two pieces. Grierson maintains that there were, in fact, three issues: an early issue of solidi in the Munus Divinum type by Louis the Pious on the occasion of his imperial coronation in , and subsequent issues of heavier medallions by Louis, in the same type, and by Lothaire I, in the Vita et Victoria type, on Lothaire's proclamation as co-emperor in His reasons for discounting the date of for the two joint issues are 1 that it is "plus logique" to identify the legend Munus Divinum with the wreath than with the central cross, since there is no connection between the cross and inscriptions in ordinary Carolingian issues, 2 that, once the association between cross and legend is removed, no reason exists for connecting the issue with the events of , and 3 that, if this is so, the relation of the issues to the two coronations is apparent, the wreath being a symbol of the imperial office.
Grierson points out that the word munus occurs in contexts other than the records of the Synod of Paris , and that, in such instances, it often refers to the royal or imperial office, which, he argues, was conventionally represented by a wreath. Finally, he maintains that the Munus Divinum issue of Coenwulf of Mercia was an imitation of the issue of Louis the Pious, and that, since Coenwulf died in , the Carolingian prototype of his coin must obviously have been minted before that year.
The judgment of this distinguished numismatist commands respect, but we would venture to suggest the plausibility of another point of view,. As to terminology, the question is not properly whether the word munus occurs in other contexts, but in what contexts and with what meaning the highly specific term munus divinum occurs.
The distinction between "office" and "Divine Office," apparent as it is, is all the more important since the term Munus Divinum is never applied to the imperial office and only once to the royal office, and then under the most unusual circumstances. The argument that, in usual reverse types, the inscription refers to the mint city, or to some element other than the central cross, carries little conviction, since the Munus Divinum series is unlike ordinary issues in every way, and equally since there are in fact numerous reverse types in the Carolingian series, such as the Christiana Religio- temple type and the issues depicting city gates surrounded by the name of the mint city, in which the inscription identifies the central element in the design.
Finally, the late imperial coins on which the issue was patterned serve as precedent for applying the term Munus Divinum to the cross; for the terms Salus Mundi and Salus Reipublicae on those issues indisputably refer to the central crosses and not to the intervening wreaths. Thus, there is considerable reason for identifying the legend with the cross and consequently with the business before the Synod of Paris.
The evidence of Coenwulf's imitation as a check on the dating is difficult to interpret, since one could maintain on the same evidence that Coenwulf's issue was the prototype and Louis's the imitation. Grierson is entirely right in maintaining that the unique heavier Munus Divinum piece no. The original Vita et Victoria striking seems to have been closer to the heavier Munus Divinum issue, since, on the Berlin imitation, the head faces left. Although other heads in Carolingian portrait coins face left e. The purpose of striking some heavier pieces thus distinguished from the ordinary portrait series may have in fact not been purely ceremonial, as our terming them "medallions" implies, but whether it was to create a new denomination superior to the solidus can not be presently determined.
Grierson's position that the pieces in question appeared in two issues, the lighter in and the heavier in , must be considered a highly educated hypothesis pending its substantiation with historical evidence. The extraordinary character of the Munus Divinum and Vita et Victoria issues seem to argue for simultaneous striking, and the burden of evidence, historical, philological, liturgical, and even circumstantial, suggests that they were minted in Such consensus of evidence is, however, unique in the Carolingian series. The proper interpretation of the Munus Divinum and the Vita et Victoria types depends upon their dating.
Enquiries into the symbolism of Carolingian iconographical types are themselves severely restricted by the relatively small number of such types and by their very general symbolic content; and the results of such studies are correspondingly limited by the inability to relate iconographical types to specific historical contexts. Like coin finds and the interpretation of types, numismatic metrology leaves the question of attribution unresolved.
If one accepts the tentative attributions suggested by find evidence and by typology, however, one can deduce from metrology much concerning the general monetary policies of the Carolingian rulers; but it must always be acknowledged that such deductions are only as secure as the attributions. The point of departure for any study of Carolingian metrology must be the monetary reform of Charlemagne.
Despite disagreement about its date, scholars agree that the monetary reform of Charlemagne was one of the major turning-points in mediaeval economic history; for the new weight standards introduced then were the basis of numismatic metrology well into the later Middle Ages, in Scandinavia as well as in the lands which the great Charles once ruled.
There is, however, no scholarly agreement on the circumstances which prompted the reform or on the nature of the reform itself. Among the probable goals which Charlemagne designed his new currency to serve may have been greater ease and elegance in reckoning, a purpose no doubt favored by the calculatores whom the King took with him from Rome to Francia in Unfortunately, these can perhaps never be fully known or appreciated; even the precise year of the reform is in doubt.
Dopsch suggested that the effort was meant to restore confidence in official coinage, which he believed had been undermined in some way by the earlier Merovingian gold issues. That confidence in a gold currency should have been weak and easily transferred to silver is not very likely, and there is no evidence either in archaeological or in literary remains that commercial contact between the Carolingians and Islam was so steady and considerable as to produce the change Bolin describes. By the same token, one cannot at present determine whether the precursor of the Caroline pound was the Islamic silver pound, as Bolin and others have proposed, 80 or an indigenous Germanic standard.
Grierson has probably come very close to the true historical cause of the reform by referring to the rupture between Charlemagne and Offa in Until that time, Offa and the Carolingians struck upon the same weight standard, and there is some evidence that coins of Offa and Pippin circulated together on the Continent. There can be no question, therefore, that the reform did not occur before , and the historical evidence that was the actual year of the reform is most compelling. Among the motives which must have prompted Charlemagne's reform may be listed imperial aspirations, which would naturally have promoted a standard and distinctive coinage for all the lands governed by the aspirant; but the raising of the monetary standard above the Anglo-Saxon, the adoption of aniconographical types, unlike the Anglo-Saxon, and the commercial breach with Offa, all occurring simultaneously suggest very strongly that primary among the historical goals of the reform was the establishment of the monetary integrity of the Frankish realm.
In fact, no Anglo-Saxon coins—virtually no foreign coins of any kind — occur in ninth-century finds unearthed in the former bounds of the Empire. Their estimates of his new monetary pound have ranged from Blancard to Prou ; LeBlanc, the initiator of the enquiry, proposed Insufficient evidence has brought most of these estimates to the level of hypothesis, for most of them have been deduced from the weights of a few coins of quite different provenances and even of different rulers.
A decade ago, Professor Naster drew attention to this faulty methodology by attempting to assess the weight of the monetary pound from the weights of pieces which occurred in the finds of Zelzate and Muizon-lez-Malines, a technique which brought his work both authority and exactitude. The starting point for all work in Carolingian numismatic metrology must be the contemporary literary remains. The few relevant sources state explicitly and concisely that there were two denominations of measure, the denarius and the solidus, that the solidus was equivalent to twelve denarii, and that the pound consisted of two hundred-forty denarii.
Beyond this, the sources admit of ambiguity. Moreover, this reckoning is explicitly substantiated by a decree of Charlemagne issued before his reform, while he was still striking on the monetary system of his father.
- The Carlovingian Coins / Or The Daughters of Charlemagne. A Tale of the Ninth Century.
- Michael Wood: Charlemagne - Why Study Him? | The Making of Charlemagne's Europe;
- Pure Passion.
Finally, values are prescribed in terms of denarii and solidi, sometimes, as in the Polyptychon of Irminon, in terms both of denarii and of solidi, even though the solidus was not actually struck by Carolingians. The Munus Divinum issue of Louis the Pious may be an exception. Numismatists have not yet attempted to clarify these ambiguities, and the divergent estimates of the weight of the Carolingian pound derive in part from such fundamental obscurities as these. The sources themselves suggest the required clarification; for, referring to solidi and denarii jointly, they indicate that the denarius, like the solidus, was an abstract standard of value, and, in fact, that there were two kinds of denarii, the denarius which served as a money of account, and that which served as a struck coin.
When values and weights were expressed in terms of denarii, therefore, the assessors referred, not to the struck denarius, the weight of which was too variable to be meaningful in such a context, but to the abstract, standard denarius-weight. This point is important in determining the weight of the Caroline pound, for it indicates that one must search, not for one figure, as scholars have hitherto done, but for two: the standard pound applied in mintage and the pound upon which payments were reckoned by tally.
These pounds may be termed the bullion, or mint pound, and the account pound. The fluctuations in the weight frequencies of the coinage struck by Louis the Pious and his successors indicated the variability of the account pound; but the relatively narrow scope of those fluctuations and the consistent fineness of silver content reveal the persistance of the same mint pound throughout the ninth century.
If the supposition of a mint denarius, distinct from the actual coin, solves the last two of the three ambiguities mentioned above, the supposition of a mint pound likewise clarifies the first ambiguity observed, the allegation of twenty-two solidi to the pound by one document and that of twenty solidi to the pound by other sources. In his edict, Pippin commanded that twenty-two solidi be struck from every pound of metal, and that two of these should be disposed of, one going to the moneyer and the other to "the lord. The pound of twenty-two solidi therefore corresponds with the mint pound, and the remaining twenty solidi composed the account pound of denarii.
With these fundamental distinctions and proportions in mind, it is possible to supply other data relating to Charlemagne's monetary pound. The principal evidence is the body of surviving coins, and we must now turn to a survey of these remains. Since a preliminary statement of these conclusions was published, Dr. Suchodolski has pubhshed yet another effort to ascertain the weight of the monetary pound Charlemagne instituted about ; 87 and his essay requires an elaboration of our earlier comments.
It is indeed a hopeful sign that gifted scholars in eastern Europe have increasingly turned their attention to problems concerning their western colleagues; we can only hope that western scholars will encourage such interest when it appears and even, if posssible, return the compliment. Suchodolski's essay claims merit on two counts: first, it confirms, by a new method, the conclusions suggested by Professor Naster and later, with some variation, by me about the weight of Charlemagne's pound; and, second, it publishes in the West the method Dr.
Suchodolski employed, current among numismatists in Poland but hitherto neglected by western scholars in general and perhaps even unknown to most of them. Of these, the second is by far the more important. His conclusions that the standard weight of the denarius of Charlemagne's reform was about 1. Since Dr. Suchodolski has promised a further study of the problem, we may defer fuller comment on this aspect of his work pending the appearance of his more mature conclusions. The strength of the essay under review lies in two aspects of its methodology: the use of three frequency tables for the same body of coins and the determination by formula of a precise modal weight.
By describing three charts, one on the scale of 0. For greater precision in ascertaining the modal weights, Dr. Suchodolski introduced the formula devised and first used by his compatriot, Zabinski:. The contribution Dr. Suchodolski has made is in his emphasis on methodological precision and in his suggestion that the metrologies of different series issued by the same ruler might profitably be isolated from each other.
Following his suggestion, we have dressed the following frequency charts for ninth-century series which survive in bulk large enough to be statistically instructive. Two charts, those for Charles the Simple Gratia series and an Emperor Charles Imperator Augustus series , are suggestive, but not conculsive, because the number of available specimen coins is but marginally representative. Three large series have not entered these computations because of their peculiar difficulties of attribution: the Christiana Religio series in the name of Louis the Pious, the Dorestatus-Moneta- Temple type in the name of Lothaire I, and the Gratia-Dei-Rex issue in the name of Charles, to the last of which we have devoted a separate chart.
From these charts, the lines of historical development and the mathematical flexibility of the account pound indicated in our earlier remarks become eminently apparent. The reader will have noticed that the issues of Lothaire I and the temple-type of Charles the Bald, which one has good reason to suppose were struck late in the reign of their father or in the troubled years just after his death see above, p. Louis the Pious had, in his issues with the linear reverse, raised somewhat his father's limit, and the decrease in weight shown in his portrait series, in the linear reverse series of Lothaire I, and in the other issues of Lothaire I and of the temple-types of Charles the Bald can only be taken as reflecting the great adversities which darkened the last years of Louis's reign.
The increase in weight by Odo, and the standards previously kept by Louis II and his sons, Carloman and Louis III , must be judged in connection with the standard of about 1. They indicate the revival of trade and the re-establishment of civil order which Charles the Bald did achieve despite Varangian attacks, invasions by his brother, Louis the German, and the aggrandizement of an ambitious nobility.
In this context, the break in the pattern of stability intruded by the apparent reduction of the standard by the "Emperor Charles" might well be taken as evidence that Charles the Fat was the author of the series in that style, for his reign was more troubled than Charles the Bald's, and his power less firmly established in the lands where these issues were struck.
Moreover, Charles the Bald was emperor for only one year, and spent most of that time in Italy ; Charles the Fat held the imperial title for six years, and spent much time in the lands represented by the "coins in the name of an Emperor Charles. At any rate, the standard of 1. As we have seen, Charlemagne's earliest coins were struck to a standard of about 1. The upper limit achieved by applying the formula of reckoning modal weights 1. Assuming that the original denominations continued to be struck under Louis the Pious and Odo, denarii at 1.
Adding the weight of 2 sohdi 24 denarii to account for costs and profits of mintage, one establishes The following table shows the range of variation in the weights of the account pounds, modal weights of denarii as deduced by the formula Dr. Suchodolski transmits , ounces, and solidi, together with the weights in silver supposedly taken for costs and profits of mintage and the corresponding percentages.
Though the number of ounces in the Carolingian pound has been disputed e. In surveying these figures, or indeed any aspects of Carolingian metrology, one must remember that mediaeval methods of computation were not so accurate as are modem scales and formulas. The differences in modal weights which our frequency charts show for individual issues are not on the whole matters of great concern.
Charlemagne's moneyers would quite possibly have been unaware of the fact if particular issues had varied, on the scale of difference in our charts, by 0. But the greatest variation—0. Only with these limitations in mind can we describe the fluctuations in the account pound from the time Charlemagne instituted his reforms until the disorders of the early tenth century threatened to overturn the Carolingian monetary system and the dynasty together, fluctuations which reflect as exactly as the words of chroniclers the variable fortunes of the later Carolingians. One form of evidence remains to be mentioned: the extant monetary weights.
Five such pieces are known. The lightest of them 35 gr. Quentin early in the twentieth century. Three others, weighing The interpretation of this evidence is extremely problematical, due both to the physical deterioration which the weights have suffered, and to the fluctuations in the account pound which we have described. Indeed, we must conclude with Hilligar that any correlation of these pieces within a precise metrological system is impossible. Charlemagne's mint pound ca. In another place, we have discussed the historical evidence which we think indicates that the fluctuations in the weight of the account pound during the ninth century and at the beginning of the tenth were prompted by the immediate policies, or by the financial needs of the Frankish kings, and not by variations in the value of precious metals on the world market.
In view of the grave civil disorders and natural disasters of the ninth century, the stability maintained by the Carolingian monetary system is astounding. One would have been perfectly warranted in assuming, as some have done, that amidst such circumstances, the currency must have been devalued and debased, and that inflation must have been pronounced. To be sure, there were variations within that metrological system; but the system itself remained unchanged, and coins of nearly pure silver and good weight continued to be struck during the whole period, evidence that Charlemagne had indeed established at least in coinage that unity of the Frankish people toward which he strove.
From the numismatic remains of the Carolingian era, some positive information concerning monetary history can be deduced and especially concerning numismatic metrology. Deductions from numismatic evidence alone, however, are only as certain as are the dating and attribution of that evidence; and the whole body of written and archaeological materials available for ascribing ninth and tenth century numismatic remains to particular years and rulers is so slight that, in many instances, it leads only to general—or even to hypothetical—conclusions.
Among the major achievements of the Carolingian Renaissance, should surely be numbered the monetary system instituted by Charlemagne and continued by his successors; for, together with contemporary accomplishments in law, theology, belles-lettres, and the plastic arts, it enhanced the lustre of the Frankish state. Coins are as much monuments of this cultural revival as are illuminated manuscripts, the hymns of Theodulf, the compilation of Pseudo-Isidore, or the discourses of Alcuin and Rhabanus Maurus.
And yet, they are monuments only: historians "wait for light but behold obscurity. Arrangement of the Catalogue. The catalogue combines the arrangement according to rulers, which was adopted by Gariel, and that according to topography, which Prou employed; the principal classification is that of the ruler, the secondary, that of the mint city.
In attributions, our rule has been to confess doubt when it persists despite earnest efforts to clarify it; for we judge that it would only provoke misunderstandings among non-specialists—and, indeed, that it would render no service to specialists—if we advanced as fact attributions which rest on hypothesis or on sheer conjecture, however learned.
Cross references have been used when particular issues could have been struck by either of two rulers, or by both. When there are several types struck by the same ruler in one mint city, an attempt has been made to set the issues in chronological order, according to the data analysed in the introduction. Denarii precede oboli. Within each entry, the following order has been used: types, references to Prou, Gariel, and the British Museum Sylloge of Carolingian Coins, citations of sales catalogues, exemplars arranged according to collection as described on pp.
Berlin : 1. Plate I. Finds: Ilanz II, 1. Rev :. Two dots at the left end of the bar. Find: Imphy. Bordeaux, RBN , p. Find: Trier. As foregoing, with reading Obolus. Trier: Inv. Paris : 1. The Hague : , var. Plate I ; Berlin : 1. Meyer Coll. The last three entries refer to the same piece. S in a circlet of dots. One dot at each end of the bar. Berlin : 0. Find: Rheims. As part of the pattern, the letters C, A, R, T. Variety of foregoing. Letters on rev. Dots in field. Plate I ; ANS: 1.
Globule in a circlet of dots. Paris : 0. Gariel Coll. Plate I ; Thompson 1. Jaarboek voor Munt- en Penningkunde, , p. The Hague : Inv. The Hague : 0. The Hague : 1. Plate I ; Copenhagen : K. A modern die of the obv. Grierson, ANSCent. A small cross at the head of the larger, and three dots at its foot. Plate I ; Munich: lost, no weight recorded. Berlin Plate II. In the pattern, the symbols EAC. This is a precedent which would be embraced by France almost down to the present day. When Clovis died in , Gaul was the scene of numerous civil wars. The cause of these civil wars was the Frankish law of inheritance.
The law was as follows: if a man with four sons died, his land was divided into four equal parts. Each son would be given land for use only. No one could be said to have owned the land as private property. In other words the law specified use and not ownership or possession. This same law was applied to royal power. The Frankish kingdom was regarded as a larger state which could be divided for purposes of administration.
Such a scheme was fertile ground for conflict. An amazing or brilliant ruler is often followed by a ruler of lesser quality. After Clovis, there was no successor equal to his power or to his influence. By , the Merovingian dynasty established by Clovis, rapidly declined. Finances were out of control, the land was continually divided, and political control was turned over to local administrative officials, the Mayors of the Palace.
By the end of the 7th century, the Mayors had been established on hereditary lines. The Carolingians inherited land that retained some of the attributes of Roman administration, specifically laws and systems of taxation. Charlemagne The Frankish Mayors of the Palace represented a new aristocracy -- the class of warriors. This class attained its wealth solely from land. Frankish culture was not urban and as a result in the early Middle Ages we see a general decline of urban life not to be revived into well after the 12th century.
He came to the throne of the Frankish kingdom in and ruled until His reign spans more than 40 years and it was during this time that a new civilization -- a European civilization -- came into existence. If anything characterizes Charlemagne's rule it was stability. His reign was based on harmony which developed between three elements: the Roman past, the Germanic way of life, and Christianity.
Charlemagne devoted his entire reign to blending these three elements into one kingdom and by doing this, he secured a foundation upon which European society would develop. Frankish society was entirely rural and was composed of three classes or orders: 1 the peasants - those who work, 2 the nobility - those who fight, and, 3 the clergy - those who pray see Lecture In general, life was brutal and harsh for the early medieval peasant.
Even in the wealthiest parts of Europe, the story is one of poverty and hardship. Their diet was poor and many peasants died undernourished. Most were illiterate although a few were devout Christians. The majority could not understand Latin, the language of the Church. The nobility were better off. Their diet, although they had more food, was still not very nutritional. They lived in larger houses than the peasants but their castles were often just as cold as the peasant's small hut.
Furthermore, most of nobility were illiterate and crude. They spent most of their time fighting. Their religious beliefs were, for the most part, similar to those of the peasants. At the upper level were the clergy. They were the most educated and perhaps the only people to truly understand Christianity since they were the only people who had access to the Bible. It was the clergy who held a monopoly on knowledge, religious beliefs and religious practice. When Charlemagne took the throne in , he immediately implemented two policies.
The first policy was one of expansion. Charlemagne's goal was to unite all Germanic people into one kingdom. The second policy was religious in that Charlemagne wanted to convert all of the Frankish kingdom, and those lands he conquered, to Christianity. As a result, Charlemagne's reign was marked by almost continual warfare. Because Charlemagne's armies were always fighting, he began to give his warriors land so they could support and equip themselves. With this in mind, Charlemagne was able to secure an army of warriors who were deeply devoted and loyal to him.
By the year , the Frankish kingdom included all of modern France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, almost all of Germany and large areas of Italy and Spain. It seemed clear that Charlemagne was yet another Constantine, perhaps even another Augustus Caesar. On Christmas Day Charlemagne attended mass at St. When he finished his prayers, Pope Leo prostrated himself before Charlemagne and then placed a crown upon his head. Pope Leo then said "life and victory to Charles Augustus, crowned by God, the great and peaceful emperor of the Romans.
Charlemagne became the first emperor in the west since the last Roman emperor was deposed in Charlemagne's biographer, Einhard c. Had Charlemagne known what was to happen on that Christmas day, he never would have attended the mass. The bottom line is this -- Charlemagne had no intention of being absorbed into the Roman Church. It was Leo's desire to assert papal supremacy over a unified Christendom and he did this by coronating Charlemagne. By gaining the imperial title, Charlemagne received no new lands.
He never intended to make Rome the center of his empire. In fact, from Christmas Day to his death in , Charlemagne never returned to Rome. Instead, Charlemagne returned to France as emperor and began a most effective system of rule. He divided his kingdom into several hundred counties or administrative units. Along the borders of the kingdom, Charlemagne appointed military governors.
To insure that this system worked effectively, Charlemagne sent out messengers missi domini , one from the church and one lay person, to check on local affairs and report directly to him. Charlemagne also traveled freely throughout his kingdom in order to make direct contact with his people.
This was in accordance with the German tradition of maintaining loyalty. He could also supervise his always troublesome nobility and maintain the loyalty of his subjects. There was no fixed capital but Charlemagne spent most of his time at Aachen. In terms of commerce, Charlemagne standardized the minting of coins based on the silver standard.
This also actively encouraged trade, especially in the North Sea. The Franks manufactured swords, pottery and glassware in northern France which they exported to England, Scandinavia and the Lowlands. He also initiated trade between the Franks and the Muslims and made commercial pacts with the merchants of Venice who traded with both Byzantium and Islam. The most durable and significant of all Charlemagne's efforts was the revival of learning in his kingdom. This was especially so among the clergy, many of whom were barely literate.