Carolingian legislative documents, the capitularies were an important tool of government and administration for all Carolingian kings, especially Charlemagne. The capitularies covered a wide range of topics, from economics and estate management to religious and political reforms. The term comes from contemporary usage, which refers to this kind of document as a capitulare or in the plural capitularia, because the documents were organized into short sections or chapters (in Latin, capitula). The capitularies demonstrate the growing importance of writing and the written word for Charlemagne and all Carolingians; even though the documents did not replace the word of the king as the rule or law, they did make known the king's word. The capitularies were sent to the special agents of the king called missi dominici, or messengers of the lord king, who were charged with circulating them throughout the realm (unless the capitularies contained specific instructions for the missi).
   The earliest of the capitularies were issued by Carloman and Pippin the Short in the 740s, 750s, and 760s, but they were used to a much greater degree under Charlemagne. Indeed, Charlemagne issued a large number of capitularies as part of his broader reform of the Carolingian church and state. Some of the most famous and important Carolingian capitularies were issued by Charlemagne. The Capitulary of Herstal (779) aimed at general reform of society, and the programmatic Admonitio Generalis (789) announced the religious goals and ideals of the Frankish king and laid the foundation for the Carolingian Renaissance by mandating teaching and the establishment of schools. Charlemagne also issued a capitulary shortly after his coronation as emperor of the Romans in 800, restating the goals he pursued throughout his reign, as well as capitularies that addressed images, monastic life, and the law. Either Charlemagne issued the Capitulare de Villis, which regulated management of the royal estates. Charlemagne's successors Louis the Pious and Charles the Bald continued to issue capitularies throughout their reigns, but the documents were not used in other parts of the divided empire. The last capitulary was issued in 877.
   See also
 ♦ Loyn, Henry R., and John Percival. The Reign of Charlemagne: Documents on Carolingian Government and Administration. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1975.
 ♦ McKitterick, Rosamond. The Carolingians and the Written Word. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
 ♦ Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe. Trans. Michael Idomir Allen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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