Publication by the research centre sheds new light on old written sources

24.8.2023: The Kaiserpfalz research centre of the city of Ingelheim has published the third volume in its academic series: ‘Schriftquellen zur Pfalz Ingelheim. Latin texts from the Carolingian period collected, translated and annotated’ is the title of the book published by Michael Imhof Verlag. It presents the written sources on the history of the Palatinate of Ingelheim from the years 774-909 in a compact and clear manner. Hartmut Geissler, board member of the Ingelheim Historical Society, has painstakingly translated the Latin texts over many years.

It has been almost half a century since a comparable work was published: In 1974, the historian Hans Schmitz published ‘Pfalz und Fiskus Ingelheim’, a standard work for the study of early medieval Ingelheim. However, much has naturally happened since then, and in the light of the latest research, many things are judged differently in medieval studies than they were back then. For example, Hartmut Geissler was able to show that it was not Charlemagne who was in Ingelheim in 807, as had long been assumed, but his son Charlemagne the Younger. Only a few years ago, charcoal analyses from the foundations of the hall church provided scientific proof that it did not date back to the Ottonian period, but could have been built between 1027 and 1154.
It was therefore time to revise Hans Schmitz’s collection of sources and make it accessible to a wider audience on the basis of current knowledge. Volume 3.1 of the series ‘Archaeology and Building Research of the Palatinate of Ingelheim am Rhein’ also opens a series of studies that will also be devoted to the written sources of the 10th-12th centuries in the coming years.

From Charlemagne to Louis the Child
The present volume is divided into three chronological sections: it contains the sources for Charlemagne, Louis the Pious and finally the later Carolingians (Lothar I, Louis II the German, Arnolf of Carinthia and Louis IV the Child). This period saw the birth of the Ingelheim Palatinate, which was founded around the year 800. The construction of this architecturally unique complex quickly moved the previously rather modest ‘Ingilinhaim’ to the centre of European power politics. The place quickly became one of the most important centres for kings and emperors. In the 9th century, the Palatinate is mentioned several times in the sources as a place of residence for Frankish rulers.

The oldest known written source that mentions a place called Ingelheim dates back to September 774. King Charles, who was later elevated to emperor by the Pope and eventually became ‘the Great’, had just returned to the Rhine after conquering the Lombard kingdom in northern Italy when he had to deal with attacks by Saxon warriors in what is now Hesse. ‘And when he had come to the place called Ingelheim, he sent four bands to Saxony: three began a battle and were victorious with God’s help …’ it says in the Annales regni Francorum, the so-called Imperial Annals. With these words begins the history of the Carolingians in Ingelheim and at the same time the story told in this book.

Imperial assemblies, wars and imperial state receptions
The collection of sources focuses on official documents. Their concluding formulae, the so-called eschatologues, often contain valuable references to places, persons present or specific events of the time. The texts thus provide fascinating insights into Palatinate history and political life in the 8th and 9th centuries with its imperial assemblies, the numerous domestic and foreign policy conflicts or the receptions of imperial legations from the Byzantine Empire. Many of these documents are illustrated in the volume as high-quality photo reproductions.

In addition, the book also offers excerpts from narrative texts, for example by Charlemagne’s famous biographer Einhard, the poet Ermoldus Nigellus, who left behind a lively and colourful description of the Palatinate, or the unknown historian who, in the absence of a surviving name, is known to scholars only as the ‘Saxon poet’, Poeta Saxo. In order to enable non-historians to better understand the significance of the documents, chronicles and poems in the context of the early Middle Ages, the translated passages are categorised historically and commented on. In many cases, other sources not related to Ingelheim are also consulted. This is particularly helpful when the traditions and their interpretation are disputed in research – which is indeed often the case.

Archaeology has considerably expanded and clarified the picture of the Merovingian and Carolingian periods in Ingelheim. The results of the intensive excavations in Nieder-Ingelheim since the mid-1990s have been incorporated into the publication in the form of two contributions by Holger Grewe, head of the Kaiserpfalz Research Centre: ‘The development of Ingelheim up to the middle of the 8th century based on the findings from terraced cemeteries, settlements and St. Remigius Church’ and ‘The palace in construction phase 1: Monumental stone architecture, antique forms and the use of spolia’. The volume is rounded off by fundamental and methodological comments on Palatine research, contributed by Caspar Ehlers from the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in Frankfurt.


Wissenschaftlichen Reihe „Archäologie und Bauforschung der Pfalz Ingelheim am Rhein“, Band 3.1:

Schriftquellen zur Pfalz Ingelheim.
Lateinische Texte der karolingischen Epoche gesammelt, übersetzt und kommentiert von Hartmut Geißler.

Mit archäologischen und mediävistischen Kommentaren von Holger Grewe und Caspar Ehlers.

Caspar Ehlers, Holger Grewe, Katarzyna Ibragimow-Schönfelder (Hrsg.)
Hardcover, 21 x 29,7 cm
144 Seiten, 34 Abbildungen
29,95 €
ISBN 978-3-7319-1274-3

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