This book presents a rough translation of the Annals of Fulda (AF). By the ninth century annals were one of the major vehicles for historical writing within the Frankish empire. The AF are the principal narrative source written from a perspective east of the Rhine for the period in which the Carolingian Empire gave way to a number of successor kingdoms, including the one which was to become Germany. AF offer the major narrative account of the east Frankish kingdom from the death of Louis the Pious down to the end of the ninth century. The surviving manuscripts are only an echo of what must once have been a much more extensive transmission, to judge by the use made of AF by a number of later annalists and compilers. The brief description of the manuscript tradition must be amplified by looking at the content of the annals. For the years 714 to 830 the work is undoubtedly a compilation which draws on earlier annals, in particular on the Royal Frankish Annals and the Lorsch Frankish Chronicle, with occasional use of other smaller sets of annals and saints' lives. The account of the origins of AF was heavily criticised by Siegmund Hellmann in a number of articles written some fifteen years after the appearance of Friedrich Kurze's edition in 1891.
The AnnalsofFulda and their
By the ninth century annals were one of
the major vehicles for historical writing within the Frankish empire. 1 The earliest annals were
probably no more than brief marginal notes on the tables used for
calculating the date of Easter, but it was soon discovered that an account
of events organised year by year could be not simply an
Pursuing enemies to death in France between the ninth and the eleventh centuries
The AnnalsofFulda , trans. T. Reuter
(Manchester, 1992), p. 19. This battle rates one sentence in the
Annals of St Bertin and eight words in Nithard, though
the latter had earlier noted that Adalbert had a mortal hatred for
Louis: Nithard, Histoire des fils de Louis le Pieux , ed. Ph.
Lauer (Paris, 1926), pp. 58, 66
's story of Æthelræd I's (and, in Asser's view, his brother Alfred's) victory over the Danish Great Army at Ashdown in 871 in the Vita Alfredi ; the Ludwigslied 's tale of how Louis II beat the Vikings at Saucourt in 881 and the AnnalsofFulda 's account of Arnulf I's defeat of the Vikings at the Dyle in 891.
On the other hand, kings who successfully – and in entirely conventional fashion – ensured the departure of a Viking host could be pilloried as ineffectual cowards if the sources were hostile to them
Notker, Gesta Karoli Magni 2,18, ed. Haefele, pp. 88–9; E. J. Goldberg, Struggle for empire. Kingship and conflict under Louis the German, 817–876 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), p. 196.
Annales Fuldenses 875 and 877, ed. F. Kurze, MGH, SRG (Hanover: Hahn, 1891), pp. 85 and 90 (my translation), compare The AnnalsofFulda , trans. T
) under Hilduin’s supervision, roughly until the death of Louis the Pious in 840. Thereafter, during the ensuing three or four decades, there were independent continuations of those annals in the western, middle and eastern Frankish kingdoms. From the 840s until the late 880s, the so-called AnnalsofFulda were produced in the orbit of the archbishop of Mainz; the so-called Annals of Xanten were written for much of that period at, perhaps, Ghent, then Cologne by the one-time court librarian, Gerward; and the Annals of St-Bertin were written by Bishop Prudentius at
The perception of religious motives of warfare against non-Christian enemies in ninth-century chronicles
AnnalsofFulda, the three brothers even deliberately began the battle (of Fontenay) in order to seek God's judgement therein.
Certainly, this fratricidal war was a particularly delicate affair that had to be specifically legitimised. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that a justification of the just party was effected by all religious arguments that were possible, although it was clearly not a fight for one's faith.
When, some thirty years later, Charles the Bald attacked the realm of his nephew
harmful impact upon growing crops, houses, animals and people consistently feature in medieval annals and chronicles. A typical example is the following entry in the AnnalsofFulda where we learn that in 872:
Omne tempus aestivum grandinibus variisque tempestatibus pernoxium extitit; nam grando plurima loca frugibus devastavit; horrenda etiam tonitrua et fulmina pene cotidie mortalibus interitum minabantur, quorum ictibus praevalidis homines et iumenta in diversis locis exanimata et in cinerem redacta narrantur
to check the power of the monarchy, whereas Tellenbach interpreted it as just another military coup of a type common in the world of Frankish politics. This debate was possible because the major surviving narrative sources – two separate continuations of the AnnalsofFulda – took opposing views of the events. 33 What is significant to appreciate for the modern student is that aspects of the Sonderweg conditioned how Schlesinger chose to interpret the evidence and to which of the sources he gave more weight. 34 Perhaps a more obvious turning point is the