The Carolingian Empire

By Heinrich Fichtenau; Peter Munz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
NOBLES AND OFFICIALS

God was looked upon as the true governor of the whole creation. He had, however, delegated one part of His power over human affairs to an earthly ruler. In the same manner the earthly ruler did not always exercise personally the powers thus granted to him. He too was able to delegate powers and appoint 'faithful servants' and administrators to take charge of part of his office. Originally, the term imperium simply meant the king's power of 'ban'. It signified his right to command and to prohibit under pain and punishment. In time of war the power of 'ban' was manifest in the hari bannus, in the king's right to levy and lead the host; in times of peace, it was seen as the power to administer justice which, like the hari bannus, was a means for re-establishing and preserving the peace. If one considers the vast extension of the Frankish dominions, it must be clear that the king could not carry out either his military or his judicial duties without delegating them to a large number of men trained in the use of arms and in the administration of the law. Such men were supposed to carry out their duties in the spirit of the ruler and of his divine Lord. The count's power of bannus was derived from that of the king. The count was the king's lieutenant in administrative districts, small enough to be supervised by one single man.

It is likely that the word greve -- in modern German, 'Graf', or count -- itself denoted the bearer of the royal power to command.1 The power delegated to the count was, however, only a part of the royal power, and the king was always entitled to interfere directly in the sphere of the count's authority. God too had not forgone His right to supervise kings, even though He had appointed them to be His lieutenants. When they were

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1
H. Brunner and C. v. Schwerin, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, München-Leipzig, 1928, ii, p. 219.

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The Carolingian Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Abbreviations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Translator's Introduction ix
  • Chapter I - Introduction 1
  • Chapter II - Charles the Great 25
  • Chapter III - The Imperial Title 47
  • Chapter IV - The Court Scholars 79
  • Chapter V - Nobles and Officials 104
  • Chapter VI - The Poor 144
  • Chapter VII - The Last Years of Charles the Great 177
  • Index 189
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