Charlemagne: Capitulary for Saxony 775-790 - Essay Example

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Center for discussion in this paper is the Capitulary for Saxony 775-590 as an ecclesiastical and civil ordinance written by Charlemagne for the people of Saxony after he conquered them.  The Saxons were people of northern Europe, primarily associated with the early tribes of Germany…
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Charlemagne: Capitulary for Saxony 775-790
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Download file to see previous pages This paper illustrates that the Saxons were a very stubborn people who did not easily accept new traditions or rational thinking. Charlemagne was not a particularly religious man. It has never been supported through evidence that he was working under Pope Adrian I. While it is true that most of Charlemagne’s crusades were aimed at penalizing the Saxons for their annual practices of raiding and destroying the monasteries along the Rhine, where the clergy was killed, and their prisoners sacrificed to the pagan gods of that region, it became increasingly clear that his overall goal was to conquer, establish and expand his empire throughout Europe. In retaliation for their annual raids, he ordered the massacre of 4,500 Saxon prisoners; known as the Massacre of Verden. This document was written by Charlemagne as an attempt to force the Saxons to become subdued and civilized, while under the guise of complying with the beliefs of Christianity regarding the sanctity of the church. Though it appeared he was in support of Rome, he was actually trying to put a stop to the pagan and uncivilized Saxons from raiding the Christian establishments in Europe. It was a known fact that at this time in history the only people who were civilized were the ones under the direction of the Church. He was actually attempting to conquer these people in order to expand his empire. This document was most likely begun as a civil ordinance in 775 but was added to as needed until 790; when the Saxon people were no longer violating the Church’s interests in Europe. It was believed at that time that the only way peace would prevail was if the Saxons were also forced to convert to Christianity. After Charlemagne conquered the Saxons in 776, he divided them into missionary parishes, appointing a Frankish bishop to oversee them. Eventually peace and order prevailed, and the parishes became established dioceses. In lines 1-10 of the Capitulary, it establishes the Church and its laws as the new laws of the land, with every infraction punishable by death. This sent a strong message to the uncivilized Saxons that he was clearly supportive of the vast domain of the early Church, which also meant he had more widespread support than just his kingdom. However, lines 11-14 establish civil laws that provide security for the upper class in that rape and murder were to also be punished by death; with the exception of the perpetrator revealing his crime to the Church and receiving punishment. At that time in history, punishment for crimes usually involved long prison sentences as well as public humiliation and financial remuneration. Most prisoners didn’t live through their sentences; those that did were helpless and often physically and mentally ill. For sure, no one in his right mind would admit a crime to the Church to be subjected to such punishment. Often people wanting to create problems for each other perjured information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those they had a vendetta against. This document more than likely served as a charter of sorts for these newly established dioceses. It contains accountability and consequences for civil and social disobedience. It established a civil, as well as religious code of behavior which was set to guide the actions of the newly conquered Saxons. It provided protection and provision for the church and its servants, as well as took a stand against the uncivilized practices of paganism.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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