The Capitulary of Le Mans (Capitulum in pago Cenomannico datum)

Translation by Charles West

Edition: Benedict Levita I, 303 (; cf. Boretius and Krause, eds., Capitularia regum Francorum I (MGH, Hannover, 1883), no. 31, pp. 81-2

Previous (partial) English translation: Adrian Verhulst, The Carolingian Economy (Cambridge, 2002), p. 48.

From the capitularies of Lord Charles. How manual labour and dues or tribute and other servitia are demanded or performed according to facti or mansi or quarti.

On account of the serious complaint which reached us when we were in the region of Le Mans, about* men of the church or fisc, who were not allocated into daywork**, it seemed to us [best] to make a decree with the advice of our faithful followers [fideles]. Whichever of these men holds a quarter holding [factus], let him plough for his lord with his animals in the demesne field with his plough for a full day, and after that, let no manual service be required from him by his lord for that week. And who does not have enough animals to be able to carry this out in one day, let him carry out the aforementioned work in two days. And who has only four weak animals so that he is not able to plough on his own, let him associate himself with others, and then plough for one day in the lord’s field, and afterwards let him carry out manual work for one day in that week. And who is not able to do any of these things nor has any animals, let him work with his hands for his lord for three days from morning to dusk, and let his lord not request any more from him.

For these things were done in diverse ways: the whole week was being worked by some, half the week by others, and two days by others. Therefore we decreed this, that neither should the familia remove itself from these works, nor should more be required from them by the lords. And who has less than a quarter of good land, let him carry out work according to the measure of his land. We ordered Adelard the count of our palace to instruct this on our behalf to their satisfaction and that of our other faithful men, and publicly to declare it.


Ex capitulis domni Karoli. Qualiter ex factis aut mansis vel quartis manopera et census ac tributa atque reliqua servitia exigantur vel agantur.

Pro nimia reclamatione quae ad nos venit de* hominibus ecclesiasticis seu fiscalinis qui non erant adiurnati** quando in Cenomannico pago fuimus, visum est nobis una cum consultu fidelium nostrorum statuere, ut, quicumque de praedictis hominibus quartam facti tenet, cum suis animalibus seniori suo pleniter unum diem cum suo aratro in campo dominico aret, et postea nullum servitium ei manuale in ipsa ebdomada a seniore suo requiratur. Et qui tanta animalia non habet, ut in uno die hoc explere valeat, perficiat praedictum opus in duobus diebus. Et qui solummodo ita invalida, ut per se non possit arare, quattuor animalia habet, cum eis sociatis sibi aliis aret uno die in campo senioris et uno die postmodum in ipsa ebdomadas opera manuum faciat. Et qui nihil ex his facere potest neque animalia habet, per tres dies seniori suo a mane usque ad vesperam operetur et senior suus ei amplius non requirat.

Diversis namque modis haec agebantur. A quibusdam tota ebdomada operabatur, a quibusdam dimidia et a quibusdam duo dies. Idcirco haec statuimus, ut ne familia se a praedictis operibus subtrahere possit neque a senioribus amplius eis requiratur. Et qui minus quartae optimae de terra habet, secundum aestimationem sui telluris opera faciat. Haec ab Adalardo comite palatii nostri ad eorum satisfactionem una cum aliis fidelibus nostris praecipio nostra vice et publice adnuntiari iussimus.


* usually understood as ‘from’: but in 9th-century texts, reclamatio… de normally means ‘complaint concerning’, as opposed to reclamatio + genitive, ‘complaint of’.
** usually understood as ‘had not been summoned’. However, all instances of this meaning of adiurnare (cf. modern English ‘adjourn’) are 13th-century, not early medieval. I have therefore followed Dietrich Hägermann’s interpretation (‘noch nicht zum Tagesdienst eingeteilt’) : see his ‘Wandel in Technik und Gesellschaft: Neuansatz und Verlust, Angleichung und Transformation im Übergang von der Spätantike zum frühen Mittelalter’, in Hägermann, Haubrichs and Jarnut, eds., Akkülturation: Probleme einer germanischer-romanischen Kultursynthese (Berlin, 2004).