Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 3a.36-40
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[3a.36] IN THE NAME OF THE HOLY AND INDIVIDUAL TRINITY. L.,1 king.

[3a.37] The excellence of the French kingdom and mildness demand that we should leave to posterity some proofs of our piety. The clemency of princes never flowers more than in the protection of subjects and the continuous defense of paupers by granting subsidies of temporal life to the soldiers of Christ and by conserving these grants.

[3a.38] We have established under the protection of royal highness the church founded at Chartres,2 endowed from the estates of kings, abounding in all necessities; we exempt all the villages and men appended to that church from debt to the royal treasury and endow it with the immunity of full liberty. No viscount or reeve or any of their henchmen may exact land taxes from them; he may neither extort nor enact toll and team, nor any type of service from them. No one may force them into service or into the army, unless perchance a common peril threaten the country. They shall only serve the canons of that church. They shall pay debts only to the canons, under whose leadership they shall be called out to the army or to do other business of the kingdom. Soldiers coming and going on maneuvers,3 if they have to pass through their villages, shall take nothing there by violence, neither horse fodder nor even lodging, unless there were hotels in them in which the soldiers could purchase their needs. Our huntsmen, if perchance they would pass through these villages, or our hawkers or other officials of our court shall take only contributions established long ago, exacting nothing more they shall consume there for only one night and leave without vexation of the peasants. Indeed the villagers shall enjoy perpetual peace, immune from all others, nor shall they suffer any molestation or vexation from any mortals. The aforesaid villages and men shall be subject to the judgment of no prince, nor shall they answer summons to any legal case or plea for any business, but they shall respond only to the canons as their lords in all legal matters; these only shall be their judges, advocates and protectors concerning all legal matters. These are the insignia of our piety, those things which have been granted to it by our excellence, the aforesaid church of Chartres shall quietly possess for eternity.

[3a.39] But if any succeeding king should wish to rescind the liberty once granted to the aforesaid church, let him feel the anger of the eternal Judge, nor shall he merit the company of the saints, unless he first fully repair the damage to the violated liberty. But if anyone else lay violent hands on the aforesaid, let him be subject to the judgment of royal severity and either pay one hundred silver marks or let him serve bound as a slave the aforesaid church for ever.4

[3a.40] Because every age, from adolescence on, is prone to malice5 and few love justice, in order that the power to harm might be withdrawn from the wicked and in order that the ability to possess quietly should be granted to this church, we have sealed with our ring this charter containing the insignia of our piety and we have withdrawn all opportunity for harming from the sons of diffidence. May the King of kings keep, pacify, extend and better promote our kingdom.


1 Louis VII, king of France (1137-1180).

2 See EUGENE DE LEPINOIS and LUCIEN MERLOT edd. Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres 3 vols. (Chartres 1863) for possible actual parallels to this fictive charter.

3 The actual phrase used here (ad nundinas militares) might also refer to tournaments, or simply to a market or fair.

4 For other instances of enslavement, see above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 2.13, 3a.35.

5 cf. Gen. 8.21. This biblical phrase also appears above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 2.12 and below, 3b.59.

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
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