Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae

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Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae (Latin "Ordinances concerning Saxony") was a legal code issued by Charlemagne and promulgated amongst the Saxons during the Saxon Wars in 785 AD. The laws of the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae prescribe death for various Saxon infringements, including refusing to convert from their native Germanic paganism to Christianity, and fines for actions deemed lesser violations. Despite the laws, some Saxons continued to reject Charlemagne's rule and attempts at Christianization, with some continuing to rebel even after Charlemagne's death (such as the Stellinga uprising).

Many of the laws of Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae are focused on the Christianization of the pagan Saxons, including a sentence of death for Saxons who refuse to convert to Christianity:

8. If any one of the race of the Saxons hereafter concealed among them shall have wished to hide himself unbaptized, and shall have scorned to come to baptism and shall have wished to remain a pagan, let him be punished by death.[1]

Scholar Pierre Riché refers to the code as a "terror capitulary" and notes that the Massacre of Verden, in which Charlemagne ordered 4,500 imprisoned Saxons massacred in 782, may be seen as a preface to the legal code.[2]


  1. ^ Munro (2004:2).
  2. ^ Riché (1993:105).