Testament of Charlemagne

The Testament of Charlemagne was documented and witnessed in 811, the 43rd year of his reign. Charlemagne had intended to make a last will and testament in order to share his wealth with his daughters and the children of his concubines (his sons mostly inheriting parts of his kingdom). Unfortunately, it was begun too late and was not finished before his death in 814. Nevertheless, three years prior, he made a division of his possessions, ratified in the presence of the faithful who were called upon as witnesses. The text of this testament is quoted from Einhard[1] and can be found in the Internet History Sourcebooks.[2]

Of interest is the list of bishops, abbots and counts called upon to witness this historical event.[3] They include the following:




Most of these witnesses are well known, while others remain to be identified. This list provides valuable insight into the inner circle of the palace.

The division of his stores of gold, silver, precious stones and royal ornaments was into three lots. Two of these lots were further divided into twenty-one parts, to be distributed to the recognized metropolitan cities, with each archbishopric receiving alms. These included: Rome, Ravenna, Milan, Friuli, Grado, Cologne, Mayence, Salzburg, Treves, Sens, Besançon, Lyons, Rouen, Rheims, Arles, Vienne, Moutiers-en-Tarantaise, Embrun, Bordeaux, Tours, and Bourges.

The third lot was to be further divided into four parts. The first of these parts was apportioned to the twenty-one cities above. The second part was assigned to his sons and daughters, and to the sons and daughters of his sons, in equal portions. The third lot was allocated to the poor, and the fourth, to the men and maid servants on duty in the palace. Further designations for books and three silver tables were also made.

Of course, the division of the empire among his sons is well documented.


Turner, Samuel Epes (Translator), Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1880, reprinted by the University of Michigan Press in 1960 with a copyrighted forward by Sidney Painter

Thorpe, Lewis G. M., Two Lives of Charlemagne, Penguin, 1969


  1. Turner, Samuel Epes (Translator) (1960). Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  2. "Internet History Source".
  3. Thorpe, Lewis G. M. (1969). Two Lives of Charlemagne. Penguin. p. 90.
  4. Bury, J. B. (Editor) (1922). The Cambridge Medieval History: Volume III, Germany and the Western Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 4.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/23/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.