Medieval Writing
Paleography Exercises
Annals of Lorsch Abbey, from 791 (Vatican Library, Palat. 966, f.31v). All images from Ehrle and Libaert 1932, Plate 28.
This page is from a late 8th century annal of Lorsch Abbey, in a codex which also includes a history of the Franks. The page shown covers the years 708 through 724, in the later days of the Merovingian dynasty. The listing is something of a necrology of the leaders of Europe, a list of battles, and some commentary on the weather and crop productivity. As is usual in annals, events are simply listed in the most terse manner possible, a source of great aggravation to later historians. The script is described as a Germanic minuscule. There are a couple of additions to the annals in a smaller and rather compressed Merovingian minuscule. There is a much later annotation at the top of the page.
The time scale covered here represents the waning of Merovingian power, when the lineage of officals known as the Mayors of the Palace, or Major Domus, were setting themselves up take over the whole show, forming what was to become the Carolingian dynasty. The whole saga is a little difficult to follow as it seems that every second upper class Frank was named some variant of Charles, Pippin or Dagobert. It was also the time of the Muslim conquest of Spain, when Saracens actually crossed the Pyrenees into Aquitaine.
The abbey of Lorsch, where the document was produced, has its own particular interest. Although only a gatehouse, the nave of the church and a tithe barn remain as a result of destruction at the Reformation, it represents a monastic site which was not heavily rebuilt since Carolingian times and has great archaelogical potential for investigation of a complete monastic complex of that early time. It is now a World Heritage site.
Images of and information about the abbey ruins can been found on the web at the Lorsch Abbey site, or on the World Heritage pages, Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch.

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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 23/4/2005.