Codex Epistolaris Carolinus

Cod. Vindob. 449, Jur. Can 83 - Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)

Facsimile edition
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Extent / Format

200 pages / N/A

9th century

Short description

The relationship between church and state is one of the defining features of medieval Europe and touched every aspect of life from peasants and priests to kings and popes. Charlemagne commissioned a collection of letters concerning the subject and had them bound into a codex. The resulting manuscript is an invaluable source for researchers of political and church history, and just another cultural legacy of the Emperor Charlemagne.

Facsimile editions available


Church and State in the Middle Ages

"Habent sua data libelli" – this saying from Terentianus Maurus copy can only be cited in a few proud manuscripts, such the Codex Epistolaris Carolinus. The collection of these letters was arranged by order of Charlemagne and accordingly, a statement of introduction followed in 791. This existing copy is no longer the original codex, but rather a later and singular remaining specimen found after a book inventory submission, however without chronological order of the various sections. It contains the most important state and church political documents for the history of the relationship between the Frankish Empire and the Papacy, and this relationship plays a central role during the second half of the 8th century due to the ever-changing circumstances surrounding the Pope and King. This alone shows the enormous historical worth of this manuscript, which comes from Cologne under the possession of Archbishop Willibert (870-889) and was written by 4 scribes in a more or less continuous Carolingian miniscule.

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