The OATHS OF STRASBOURG (Latin : Sacramenta Argentariae; French : Les
Serments de Strasbourg; German : Die Straßburger Eide) were mutual
pledges of allegiance between
Louis the German (†876), ruler of East
Francia , and his half-brother
Charles the Bald
* 1 Historical context * 2 Sources and contents * 3 Historical and linguistic significance * 4 Text * 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References * 8 External links * 9 Further reading
The several pledges were spoken at a strategic meeting on 12 February
The historical nature of the meeting is made more remarkable by the additional, separate pledges that were scripted for the monarchs' armies – in their respective vernaculars – to the effect that, for each "soldier": should their own lord-king unilaterally break the oath just pledged (to the other king), then, each "soldier of the oath" promises not to help his master against the abused other monarch.
SOURCES AND CONTENTS
Parchment containing the beginning of the Oaths in Gallo-Romance.
The sole source for the text of the oaths is Nithard 's Historiae or De dissensionibus filiorum Ludovici pii (On the Dissensions of the Sons of Louis the Pious), where it is found in Chapter V of Book III. Nithard's work is preserved in a manuscript from the 10th or 11th century (Cod. Lat. 9768 in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris) and the text of the oaths is on folios 12v-13r-13v. (A later, 14th-century manuscript is a copy of Cod. Lat. 9768 and therefore of no independent value as a source.)
Both kings first made the same preamble speech, which was a detailed complaint against Lothair. Each king then swore his individual oath in front of their assembled armies, not in Latin nor in his own language, but in the vernacular of the other's kingdom. Finally, the armies swore separate pledges in their respective languages.
One version of the pledges was written in the Rhine Franconian
Old High German
HISTORICAL AND LINGUISTIC SIGNIFICANCE
The text is significant to both linguists and historians.
Linguistically, the text is the first document known to be written in
However, others of late have come to favour a different hypothesis:
that the Frankish Kingdom comprised several regna (loosely translated
as kingdoms) that since ancient times had maintained different customs
and dialects. Supporting this theory they note that both Charlemagne
Louis the Pious
The transcriptions are edited, with abbreviations written out and some punctuation and word boundaries inserted.
The image to the right is a scan of the original text. In the transcription below, two asterisks mark the beginning and end of the text visible in this scan.
ORIGINAL TEXT MODERN FRENCH/ GERMAN TRANSLATION ENGLISH TRANSLATION
Ergo xvi kal. marcii Lodhuvicus et Karolus in civitate que olim Argentaria vocabatur, nunc autem Strazburg vulgo dicitur, convenerunt et sacramenta que subter notata sunt, Lodhuvicus romana, Karolus vero teudisca lingua, juraverunt. Ac sic, ante sacramentum circumfusam plebem, alter teudisca, alter romana lingua, alloquuti sunt. Lodhuvicus autem, quia major natu, prior exorsus sic coepit:
“Quotiens Lodharius me et hunc fratrum meum, post obitum patris nostri, insectando usque ad internecionem delere conatus sit nostis. Cum autem nec fraternitas nec christianitas nec quodlibet ingenium, salva justicia, ut pax inter nos esset, adjuvare posset, tandem coacti rem ad juditium omnipotentis Dei detulimus, ut suo nutu quid cuique deberetur contenti essemus.
“In quo nos, sicut nostis, per misericordiam Dei victores extitimus, is autem victus una cum suis quo valuit secessit. Hinc vero, fraterno amore correpti nec non et super populum christianum conpassi, persequi atque delere illos noluimus, sed hactenus, sicut et antea, ut saltem deinde cuique sua justicia cederetur mandavimus.
“At ille post haec non contentus judicio divino, sed hostili manu iterum et me et hunc fratrem meum persequi non cessat, insuper et populum nostrum incendiis, rapinis cedibusque devastat. Quamobrem nunc, necessitate coacti, convenimus et, quoniam vos de nostra stabili fide ac firma fraternitate dubitare credimus, hoc sacramentum inter nos in conspectu vestro jurare decrevimus.
“Non qualibet iniqua cupiditate illecti hoc agimus, sed ut certiores, si Deus nobis vestro adjutorio quietem dederit, de communi profectu simus. Si autem, quod absit, sacramentum quod fratri meo juravero violare praesumpsero, a subditione mea necnon et a juramento quod mihi jurastis *unumquemque vestrum absolvo”
Cumque Karolus haec eadem verba romana lingua perorasset, Lodhuvicus, quoniam major natu erat, prior haec deinde se servaturum testatus est:
So, Louis and Charles met on the 16th day before the calends of March (14 February) in the town that used to be called Argentaria but which is now commonly known as Strasbourg, and they swore the oaths given below, Louis in Romance and Charles in German. But before swearing the oaths, they made speeches in German and Romance. Louis, being the elder, began as follows:
“Let it be known how many times Lothair has — since our father died — attempted to destroy me and this brother of mine, committing massacres in his pursuit of us. But since neither brotherhood nor Christianity nor any natural inclination, save justice, has been able to bring peace between us, we have been forced to take the matter to the judgement of almighty God, so that we may accept whatever His will is.
“The result was, as you all know, that by the Grace of God we came out as victors, and that he, defeated, went back to his people where he was stronger. But then, motivated by brotherly love and compassion for Christendom, we decided not to pursue and destroy them; instead, until now, we have asked him at least to submit to justice as in the past.
“But he, despite this, not content with God's judgement, does not cease to come after me and this brother of mine with his armies. Moreover, he is devastating our people by burning, pillaging and murdering. That is why we now, driven by necessity, are having