The Edict of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...
of Chlothar II, the Merovingian king of the Franks, promulgated October 18 614 (or perhaps 615), is one of the most important royal instruments of the Merovingian period in Frankish history and a hallmark in the history of the development of the Frankish monarchy. It is the last of the Merovingian capitularia
A capitulary was a series of legislative or administrative acts emanating from the Frankish court of the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, especially that of the first emperor, Charlemagne...
, a series of legal ordinances governing church and realm.
The Edict was decreed hard on the heels of the canons promulgated at the Fifth Synod of Paris, to which it should be compared. Chlothar had recently assumed the full kingship of the Franks, in 613, when he deposed his cousin Sigebert II
Sigebert II was king of Burgundy and Austrasia . Bastard son of Theuderic II, he succeeded his father in 613; but the mayor of the palace of Austrasia, Warnachar, feared that at his young age he would fall under the influence of his great-grandmother Brunhilda.Brunhilda had brought him before a...
, king of Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...
, and his regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...
, his great-grandmother Brunhilda. The Edict has been commonly seen as a series of concessions to the Austrasian nobility, which had sided with him against Brunhilda. In Der Staat des hohen Mittelalters
, Heinrich Mitteis even compared the Edict to the English Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...
, a view not popular among modern scholars. More popular now is the belief that it was primarily aimed at correcting abuses which had entered the judicial system during the civil wars which had dominated the kingdom since the beginning of the feud of Brunhilda with Chlothar's mother, Fredegund
Fredegund was the Queen consort of Chilperic I, the Merovingian Frankish king of Soissons.All her wealth and power came to her through her association with Chilperic...
(568). It cannot be known how much of the Edict's language and ideas stem from the king and his officers and courtiers and how much from the nobles. Some of its clauses were designed to amend decisions of the prelates at the synod that had just finished sitting. The bishops insisted upon freedom in the choice of bishops, but Chlothar modified the council's decisions by insisting that only the bishops he wanted, or those sent from amongst suitable priests at court, should be ordained.
The Edict throughout attempts to establish order by standardising orderly appointments to offices, both ecclesiastic and secular, and by asserting the responsibilities of all—the magnates, bishops, and the king—to secure the happiness and peace of the realm: the felicitas regni
and pax et disciplina in regno
. Among the true concessions granted by the Edict were the ban on Jews in royal offices, leaving all such appointments to the Frankish nobility, the granting of the right to bishops of deposing poor judges (if the king was unable at the time), and certain tax cuts and exemptions. Despite the exclusion of Jews from high office, their right to bring legal actions against Christians was preserved. Similarly, the right of a woman not to be married against her will was affirmed.
The most famous of the twenty seven clauses of the Edict is almost certainly number twelve, in which Chlothar says in part that nullus iudex de aliis provinciis aut regionibus in alia loca ordinetur
, meaning that judges should be appointed only within their own regions. It has been interpreted as a concession, granting the magnates more control over appointments and the king less ability to influence, and conversely as a piece of anti-corruption legislation, intended to ease the penalisation of corrupt officers.
The Edict of Paris remained in force during the reign of his successor, Dagobert.
- Wallace-Hadrill, J. M.
John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...
(1962) The Long-haired Kings. London.
- Wilson, Emily. "The Rise of the Carolingians or the Decline of the Merovingians?" Access History, 2(1), 5–21.
- Murray, Alexander Callander (1994). "Immunity, Nobility, and the Edict of Paris," Speculum
Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies is a quarterly academic journal published by the Medieval Academy of America. It was established in 1926. The journal's primary focus is on the time period from 500-1500 in Western Europe, but also on related subjects such as Byzantine, Hebrew, Arabic, and...
, 69(1), 18–39.