Saturday, November 17, 2007

Edict of Pistres
The Edict of Pistres or Edictum Pistensis is often held up as one of the few examples, if not the sole example, of good government from Charles the Bald, the man who can be called first king of France. The edict was promulgated, as its name suggests, at Pistres (modern Pîtres, in Eure) on July 25, 864.
At a time when Vikings more than annually ravaged not only the European coast, but much of the interior (especially in France) as well, a king was most valued who could defeat them in the field and prevent their attacks in the future. The primary, and most long-lasting, effect of the Edict was therefore to protect the cities and countryside from Viking raids. Charles did this by creating a large force of cavalry upon which he could call as needed. He ordered all men who had horses or could afford horses to serve in the army as cavalrymen. This was one of the beginnings of the French chivalry so famous for the next seven centuries. The intention of Charles was to have a mobile force with which to descend upon the raiders before they could up and leave with their booty.
To prevent the Vikings from even attaining a great booty, Charles also declared that fortified bridges should be built at all towns on rivers. This was to prevent the dreaded longships from sailing into the interior. The first bridge built was at Pistres itself, across the Seine. At Paris, bridges were built on both sides of the Île de la Cité. Those bridges would save the city in the siege of 885–886. Charles also prohibited all trade in weapons with the Vikings, in order to prevent them from establishing bases in Gaul.
Asides from its auspicious military reforms, the Edict had political and economic consequences. King Pepin II of Aquitaine, against whom Charles had been fighting for decades, had been captured in 864 and was formally deposed at Pistres. Economically, besides the prohibitions on commerce with the enemy, Charles tightened his control of the mints and limited them in number to ten. Charles also made an attempt to control the building of private castles, but this failed and even minor lords constructed fortresses of their own on local hilltops to defend themselves and their underlings from the constant threat of Scandinavian invasion.

See also

List of treaties

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