Codex Epistolaris Carolinus

BookCodex Epistolaris Carolinus

Codex Epistolaris Carolinus

Letters from the popes to the Frankish rulers, 739-791

Translated Texts for Historians, 77


May 1st, 2021





The Codex epistolaris Carolinus preserves ninety-nine letters, dated between 739  and 791 and sent by the popes to the Frankish king Charlemagne and his predecessors. The compilation was commissioned by Charlemagne in 791, but the sole surviving medieval manuscript of the letters was made at Cologne in the later ninth century and is now in Vienna (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Cod. 449). The headings or lemmata provided for each letter by the Frankish compilers in 791 and faithfully preserved in the codex, add a distinctive Frankish commentary on events in Rome and Italy in the second half of the eighth century. This book not only provides the first full English translation of the letters and lemmata in the Codex epistolaris Carolinus but also re-creates the original Carolingian order of presentation of the letters according to the manuscript. A substantial introduction discusses the historical significance of the collection, the compilation and contexts of the Vienna manuscript, especially the significance of the lemmata, the peculiarities of the Latin of the papal letters and the biblical citations, and the historical context of the letters themselves. The lemmata and letter translations are augmented with introductions to each letter and a comprehensive historical commentary and glossary.

'This volume will be welcomed equally by established scholars and should ensure that this valuable resource appears even more in future research.'
Geoffrey D. Dunn, Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association

‘The volume under review presents excellent translations accompanied by helpful notes, a substantial introduction… and an Index that is full enough to be really valuable. Given its core text and all these resources and tools, this book will be immensely useful for years to come.’
Thomas F. X. Noble, The Medieval Review

Author Information

Rosamond McKitterick is Professor Emerita of Medieval History, University of Cambridge. Her most recent book is Rome and the Invention of the Papacy: The Liber Pontificalis (Cambridge 2020). Dorine van Espelo is Policy Advisor, Province of Gelderland, The Netherlands. She is co-editor of Religious Franks. Religion and Power in the Frankish Kingdoms: Studies in Honour of Mayke de Jong (Manchester 2016). Richard Pollard is Professor in the Department of History, Université du Québec à Montréal. He is the editor of Imagining the Medieval Afterlife (Cambridge 2020). Richard Price is Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity, Heythrop College and Honorary Research Fellow, Royal Holloway, University of London. His many previous publications include The Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553 (Liverpool 2009), The Acts of the Lateran Synod of 649 (with P. Booth & C. Cubitt, Liverpool 2014), The Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea (Liverpool 2018), The Council of Ephesus of 431 (with T. Graumann, Liverpool 2020) and Canons of the Quinisext Council (691/2) (Liverpool 2020).

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
I The Codex epistolaris Carolinus
Rosamond McKitterick, and Dorine van Espelo
II The Codex epistolaris Carolinus: compilation and contexts
Dorine van Espelo
 1. The late eighth-century context of the compilation
 2. Letters and letter collections
 3. The Preface
 4. The mechanics of sending and receiving letters: the papal legates
 5. The manuscript: Codex Vindobonensis 449: dating, provenance, codicological and palaeographical features
 6. The 791 exemplar and the Cologne copy
 7. The lemmata
 8. The allusions and comparisons with Old Testament model
III The Latin of the papal letters
Richard Matthew Pollard and Richard Price
1. The language and style of the Codex epistolaris Carolinus, and their affinities with other papal documents
Richard Matthew Pollard
2. The biblical citations
Richard Matthew Pollard
3. Latin grammar in the Codex epistolaris Carolinus
Richard Price
IV The Franks, Italy and the popes, 739-791
Rosamond McKitterick
1. Introduction
2. Competing political interests in Italy, 739-791
3. The Codex Carolinus and the Liber Pontificalis
Note on the dating of the letters
Translated by Richard Matthew Pollard (Preface and letters 1-11)
and Richard Price (letters 12-99)
Commentary and historical notes by Rosamond McKitterick
Appendix. People mentioned in the letters
Concordance: The Codex epistolaris Carolinus in ÖNB 449 and the MGH edition of Gundlach
Glossary of technical terms in the translation