Annals of St. Bertin

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Since the 19th century, research has referred to a historical work as the Annals of St. Bertin ( Annales Bertiniani ), which was created in the 9th century in western France as a continuation of the so-called Carolingian Reichsannalen . The report covers the period between 741 and 882; the annals are considered the most important source for the time of the West Frankish rulers Karl the Kahlen , Ludwig the Stammler , Ludwig III. and Karlmann .


The naming of the annals after the Abbey of Saint-Bertin goes back to the oldest surviving manuscript, which dates from the 10th or 11th century. A copy from Reims is perhaps even older , although it is only known from a late 17th-century copy.

Three parts can be distinguished. The first covers the reporting period between 741 and 835. The representation of the years up to 829 is essentially a copy of the Reichsannalen with some additions; only from 830 onwards does the author report independently. The Archkaplan Fulko, abbot of the monastery of Saint-Hilaire-de-Poitiers , was probably the initiator of this part.

The second part reports on the events between 835 and 861. It was written by Prudentius, one originating from the Iberian Peninsula clergyman who under Louis the Pious chaplain was and the mid-forties of the 9th century to the bishop of Troyes was charged. Because of his position, Prudentius had a good knowledge of what was going on at the royal court and therefore offers insightful insights into the politics of that time.

This second part is particularly significant as it describes the first mention of the conquests of the Scandinavian Varangians , also known as Rus (Old Norse for rowers ), in northern Russia, from which the kingdom of the Kievan Rus would later emerge. The annals describe a questioning of a delegation of the Rus carried out at Ingelheim am Rhein by Emperor Ludwig in 839; A year earlier, the delegation had been a guest at the Eastern Roman court in Byzantium and had then decided to take the way home across the Baltic Sea to be safe from the frequent raids by the Magyars in the steppes of the Eastern European Plain , which they did from Ludwig required a permit to cross the Franconian Empire. When asked by the emperor, the Rus declared that their tribe originally came from Sweden and had settled in northern Russia under the leadership of a chacanus (the Latin name for chagan ) chosen from among their number . The Rus may have got to know the title of chagan through the mediation of the Avars, who were in constant conflict with the Franks as well as with the East during their expansion in Eastern and Southeastern Europe; the name was used for several centuries in the name of the Rus-Chaganat (from which the current name Russia was derived), as was the prince's title Knaz , which, derived from the Germanic kuningaz for "king", had existed well into modern times .

The third part covers the years between 861 and 882. Its author is the Archbishop Hinkmar von Reims . After the death of Charles the Bald (877) at the latest, Hinkmar was the leading political figure in western France and had extensive information on the political events of his time. This makes his detailed reports an excellent source. However, it should not be overlooked that the presentation is strongly influenced by Hinkmar's personal judgments.

The Annales Vedastini follow the Annals of St. Bertin (until 900).



  • Annales Bertiniani / year books of St. Bertin (sources on the Carolingian history of the empire, part 2). Edit again v. Reinhold Rau (Freiherr vom Stein Memorial Edition 6), Darmstadt 1969, pp. 11–287 (Latin / German, from 830).
  • The Annals of St-Bertin (Ninth-Century Histories, Vol. 1). Edited by Janet Nelson. Manchester-New York 1991.


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