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In: Wergild, Compensation and Penance
In: A Companion to Gregory of Tours


Owing to the continuing predominance of Latin as an administrative language, texts relating to manorial administration were only rarely written in the vernacular in the earlier Middle Ages. Starting from this observation, this chapter investigates two short vernacular registers from tenth-century Saxony. The first text, from the polyptych of the monastery of Werden in the Ruhr area, refers to monastic property located some distance away in the present-day Netherlands. The use of the vernacular is explained through the observation that the list contains a number of Old Dutch place-names which could not easily be translated into Latin, while the area concerned was also characterized by a distinct Frankish legal tradition. The second example, very different in character, is preserved in a tenth-century manuscript from the women’s convent of Essen. While the manuscript mainly contains homilies of Gregory the Great with some vernacular glosses, at its very end, a short Latin manorial register was added, as well as an Old Saxon homily for All Saints and an Old Saxon manorial register. Because this vernacular register refers to the delivery of barley and several other products from nine of the monastery’s manors on feast days, it is usually associated with the monastery’s brewery. As this study demonstrates, the vernacular register presupposes the tenth-century division of monastic property between the abbess and the convent, while reference to the feast days of the monastery’s patrons, among whom were included Sts Cosmas and Damian, is to be linked to the celebration of All Saints’ Day on 1 November. The manuscript should thus be attributed to Essen’s female provost, who read passages from Latin homilies and commented upon them in the vernacular, while her economic responsibilities led her to prepare a vernacular register in order to communicate with the lay officials of the monastery’s manors on feast days. The paper concludes with some general observations on the kinds of situations that stimulated communication in the vernacular and on the critical importance of taking each instance of vernacular writing on its own terms.

In: The Languages of Early Medieval Charters
The Monetary Logic of Early Medieval Conflict Resolution
Volume Editors: , , and
This volume offers the first comprehensive account of the monetary logic that guided the payment of wergild and blood money in early medieval conflict resolution. In the early middle ages, wergild played multiple roles: it was used to measure a person’s status, to prevent and end conflicts, and to negotiate between an individual and the agents of statehood. This collection of interlocking essays by historians, philologists and jurists represents a major contribution to the study of law and society in Western Europe during the early Middle Ages.

Contributors are Lukas Bothe, Warren Brown, Stefan Esders, Wolfgang Haubrichs, Paul Hyams, Tom Lambert, Ralph W. Mathisen, Rob Meens, Han Nijdam, Lisi Oliver, Harald Siems, Karl Ubl, and Helle Vogt.

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