Canon law and historiography as ways of disseminating Eastern Church norms in the Franconian Empire: Collectio Vetus Gallica and Liber Historiae Francorum

Hubert Mordek first evaluated, indexed and edited the oldest collection of church law in the Franconian Empire, the Collectio Vetus Gallica. Since then, it has been evaluated above all as a testimony to "church law and reform" in the Merovingian and early Carolingian realms. The project ties into this research, but for the first time takes a closer look at the accompanying texts, which until now have received less attention. These texts were edited together with the collection in the northern French, or rather Neustrian, Convent Corbie in the second quarter of the 8th century, i.e. in the politically important period of transition from the Merovingian to the Carolingian kingship. The monastery then conveyed them to large parts of the Franconian empire, not as individual pieces, but in an extensive ensemble of texts relevant to parenetic and canon law.

One of the most important pieces of this tradition in terms of (church) law history is the protocol of a synod that took place in 721 under the direction of Pope Gregory II, who was of Greek origin. For the first time in the Latin church, this synod accepted spiritual relationships as an obstacle to marriage, a law that was long since standardized in the Eastern Church. With the Liber Historiae Francorum (726/727), which emerged only a few years later in the northern French-Neustrian center of the Franconian Empire, there exists an astonishingly early historiographical testimony to the knowledge of this obstacle to marriage. The temporal and spatial proximity of this text to the Roman synod and its Frankish tradition have not been discussed either from the canonical or the historiographical perspective. The project will address questions related to these topics from three complementary perspectives:

1. Ms. Helena Geitz M.A. examines the tradition, content and reception of the Parenetic and canonical texts handed down in the context of the Vetus Gallica in her doctoral thesis. She will make a first critical edition for some of these texts, including the special version of the Roman Synodal Protocol of 721 and the somewhat older Capitular Pope Gregory II for Bavaria.

2. As a postdoc-researcher, Dr. Roland Zingg examines the context, prerequisites and reception of the historiographical narrative on spiritual relationships as an obstacle to marriage. He will investigate the tradition and editing of the Liber Historiae Francorum.

3. From a Byzantine perspective, Wolfram Brandes will take a look at possible ways of mediation and reception of this obstacle to marriage in the Franconian realm before the Synod of 721.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ludger Körntgen

Prof. Dr. Wolfram Brandes


Helena Geitz M.A.

Dr. Roland Zingg

Prof. Dr. Wolfram Brandes

B. Cultural Contacts and Cultural Transfer