Capitulary of Quierzy

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The Capitulary of Quierzy (pronounced Kiersy), was a capitulary of the emperor Charles II, comprising a series of measures for safeguarding the administration of his realm during his second Italian expedition, as well as directions for his son Louis the Stammerer, who was entrusted with the government during his father's absence. It was more widely important in that it was the basis on which the major vassals of the kingdom of France such as the Counts of Flanders, were enabled to become more independent.

It was promulgated on June 14, 877 at Quierzy-sur-Oise in France (département of Aisne), the site of a Carolingian royal palatium, before a great concourse of lords. In this document Charles takes elaborate precautions against Louis, whom he had every reason to distrust. He forbids him to sojourn in certain palaces and in certain forests, and compels him to swear not to despoil his stepmother Richilde of her allodial lands and benefices.

At the same time Charles refuses to allow Louis to nominate to the countships left vacant in the emperor's absence. In principle the Jionores (benefices) and the office of a deceased count must be given to his son, who would be placed provisionally in possession by Louis; the definitive investiture, however, could be conferred only by Charles.

The capitulary thus served as a guarantee to the aristocracy that the general usage would be followed in the existing circumstances, and also as a means of reassuring the counts who had accompanied the emperor into Italy as to the fate of their benefices. It cannot, however, be regarded as introducing a new principle, and the old opinion that the capitulary of Quierzy was a legislative text establishing the hereditary system of fiefs has been proved to be untenable. Whether it introduced a new principle or restated an old principle, the principle itself (the hereditary nature of fiefs) remains.

A former capitulary of Charles the Bald was promulgated at Quierzy on February 14, 857, and aimed especially at the repression of brigandage.

See E Bourgeois, Le Capitulaire de Kiersy-sur-Oise (Paris, 1885), and L'Assemblée de Quierzy sur-Oise in Études d'histoire du moyen âge, dédiées à Gabriel Monod (Paris, 1896).

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.