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Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae

Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae (Latin, variously translated as 'Ordinances concerning Saxony' or the 'Saxon Capitularies')[1] was a legal code issued by Charlemagne and promulgated amongst the Saxons during the Saxon Wars. Traditionally dated to Charlemagne's 782 campaign, and occasionally to 785, the much later date of 795 is also considered possible.[2] Despite the laws, some Saxons continued to reject Charlemagne's rule and attempts at Christianization, with some continuing to rebel even after Charlemagne's death (such as the Stellinga uprising).

Many of the laws of Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae are focused on the Christianization of the pagan Saxons, including a sentence of death for Saxons who refuse to be baptised:

8. If any one of the race of the Saxons hereafter concealed among them shall have wished to hide himself unbaptized, and shall have scorned to come to baptism and shall have wished to remain a pagan, let him be punished by death.[3]

Scholar Pierre Riché refers to the code as a "terror capitulary" and notes that the Massacre of Verden, in which Charlemagne ordered 4,500 imprisoned Saxons massacred in 782, may be seen as a preface to the legal code.[4]


  1. ^ For example, Pierre Riché (1993:105) renders the Latin as 'Ordinances concerning Saxony', whereas Ingrid Rembold translates the phrase as 'Saxon Capitularies' (Rembold 2018: 25)
  2. ^ Hen (2006).
  3. ^ Munro (2004:2).
  4. ^ Riché (1993:105).


  • Hen, Yitzhak (2006). Charlemagne’s Jihad (Thesis). Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. 
  • Munro, Dana Carleton (2004). Selections from the Laws of Charles the Great. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4179-6511-3. 
  • Riché, Pierre (1993). The Carolingians. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-1342-3. 
  • Rembold, Ingrid (2018). Conquest and Christianization. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-1342-3.