This translation has its origins in a meeting with Jinty Nelson at a conference at Leeds in 1978; at that time she had already completed a draft of her translation of the Annals of St-Bertin, and we both felt that it would be desirable to produce translations of the two works at the same time, though in the end it has proved impracticable to publish both in a single volume. We embarked on the joint project with enthusiasm, but inevitably we have taken far longer over it than the year or two which we initially envisaged. Over the years we have exchanged and criticised each other’s translations and commentaries, and I owe a great deal to her friendship and support and to her guidance on ninth-century matters. The errors in this translation and commentary are not hers; but a lot else is. In particular I have drawn on her translation of the Annals of St-Bertin both for information and as a model of how to organise this book. As by the time I had finished the translation I had ceased for the time being to teach in an English-speaking environment it has not had the baptism of fire in practical use which hers has had, and although I trust there are no horrible blunders in it, some infelicities and obscurities may still remain which using the text to teach from might have revealed.
I have also profited from discussions with a number of friends and colleagues in Germany and Britain over the last ten years – Gerd Althoff, Eckhard Freise, Johannes Fried, Wilfried Hartmann, Rudolf Schieffer, Martina Stratmann, Chris Wickham and Ian Wood – all of whom have given me the benefit of their expertise and insights. Franz Fuchs gave me valuable information about the manuscript transmission when I was writing the introduction and has helped me to clarify in my own mind some of the complex issues involved. Again, the errors and omissions which remain are mine, not theirs; but I am grateful for their help.
I hope that this translation, together with Jinty Nelson’s translation of the Annals of St-Bertin, will help to show students and their teachers that the history of the Frankish kingdoms after the death of Charles the Great in 814 and the division of the Frankish empire in 843 is interesting in its own right and is not simply a story of chaos and decay. The world east of the Rhine is a strange one to most Anglo-Saxon medievalists, who have on the whole preferred to study the history of the Romance-speaking countries if they have crossed the Channel at all, and it is time that it became more familiar.
Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Munich December 1991