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E06133: Seventeen authentic Merovingian royal diplomas survive from before 700 which record the gifts, confirmations and favourable rulings of Frankish kings for the monastery dedicated to *Dionysius (bishop and martyr of Paris, S00349) outside Paris (Saint-Denis), housing the relics of the saint alongside those of his companions Eleutherius and Rusticus. Written in Latin in Gaul, 584/625-694.

online resource
posted on 2018-08-18, 00:00 authored by bsavill
MGH, DD Mer. (excerpts)

22. Chlothar II confirms to Saint-Denis gifts in the will of the merchant Iohannes and his family (584/628, Étrépagny)
1. Ch]l[otharius rex F]ranc(orum) [viris in]l(lustre)bus Chr[o]deg[a]r[io
2. ]e sana [m]ente per basilicebus de suis propriis facultatebus [per] testamenti pagenam voluerit legaliter delegari, per n[ost]ris auctore[tate]bus testamentum
3. n]oster [Do]do abba de basileca s(an)c(t)i domni D[io]ninsio martheris, peculiares patroni nostri, testamenti pagenam a Iohanne quondam neguciante filius [Hi]d[ ]l[
4. aleq]uid d[e] suis facultatebus ad basileca ipsius s(an)c(t)i Dioninsio vel relequa loca s(an)c(t)a infra oppedum Parisiorum civetatis [...]

'Chlothar, king of the Franks, to his noble men Chrodegar... [further names, and part of the preamble to the charter are missing, losing the sense of what follows]... should wish to grant by law, with a sound mind, to churches from his own property by charter... [another lacuna]... our Dodo, abbot of the basilica of the holy lord Dionysius, martyr, our personal patron, a deed of Iohannes, a late merchant, son... [another lacuna]... something from his property to the basilica of this Saint Dionysius and the place of his holy relics, within the stronghold of the city of the Paris...'

28. Chlothar II confirms to Saint-Denis the gift of the vir inluster Dagobert within Paris (625, Étrépagny)
1. Chlothacha]rius rex Francorum [viris inlustrebus].
2. ampl]iatis titolis Ch(rist)o auspece credemus pertenere, si ea que cognoverimus partebus s(an)c(t)i domni Dioninsis peculiares patroni nostri
3. ] generaliter confirmamus adque stabeli dignetate durare iobemus. Ideo vir venerabelis pater noster Dodo abb(a) epistolam donaciones
4. relegen]dam, in qua tenetur insertum area, quod est infra murus Parisius civ[i]tatis, quem ex successionem genetore suo Baddone quondam
5. ad basileca s(an)]c(t)i domini Dioninsis martheris, ubi Dodo abb(a) deservire vedetur, nuscetur contulisse [...]

'Chlothar, king of the Franks, to his noble men... [parts of the preamble to the charter are missing, losing the sense of what follows]... we believe, with Christ's guidance, to retain with confirmatory deeds, if those things which we recognise as the portion of the holy lord Dionysius, our personal patron... [another lacuna]... we generally confirm and order to remain in steadfast dignity. For that reason, that venerable man, our father Abbot Dodo, a deed of gift [i.e. of Dagobert, named later in the charter]... [another lacuna]... concerning a plot of land, which is within the walls of the city of Paris inherited from his father, the late Baddo, known to have been granted to the basilica of the holy lord Dionysius, martyr, where Abbot Dodo is seen to serve...'

41. Dagobert I confirms the villa Ursines to Saint-Denis (632/3)
1. Dagobercthu[s r[ex] Francor(um) viris inlustribus Uuandel[bertho] du[ci], Gaganrico dom(estico) et omnibus agentibu[s praes]entib[u]s et futuris. [Optabilem esse oportet de transitoria promerere aeterna vel de caduca
2. substantia] erog[andum] l[o]crari [g]audia [s]emp[te]rna. Igetur n[os re ipsa consideran]tis [pro]ut [in aetern]um vel [a]lequantolum meremaur iustorum esse [consortes, vill]a cognomenante Iticina, setam in pago [Parisia]co, qui fuit Landeric[o et] Gan[g]nerico germanis et ad dicionebu[s
3. ... eam cum omni integritate vel meritum] ad beselaca d[o]mni Diunensi m[art]heris, pec[oli]aris p[a]tro[ni] nostri, ubi ipse p[ra]ec[iosus] d[omnus] in corpore req[u]iesc[er]e vede[tur] [...]
5. [...] pr[o regni stabel]etate vel r[em]ed[i]um animae nostra[e [...] pro intercesione antedicti domni Dyonisii martyris [...]

'Dagobert, king of the Franks, to his noble men Wandelbert, dux, Gaganric, domesticus, and all agentes, present and future. It ought to be desirable to acquire eternal things from those that are transitory, and to earn eternal delights through the distribution of one's worldly substance. Therefore we, thinking over this matter so that we might deserve to be among the small number of the just in eternity [have confirmed] the villa, known as Iticina, situated in the region of Paris, which was [granted] by the brothers Landeric and Gangeric into the authority... [part of the text is missing]... in its entirety and with all its value to the basilica of the lord Dionysius, martyr, our personal patron, where that precious lord is seen to rest in body... for the security of our realm and the remedy of our soul... for the intercession of the aforesaid lord Dionysius, martyr...'

72. Clovis II confirms a gift of King Dagobert I in Crouey-en-Thelle to Saint-Denis (639/42)
The manuscript of this diploma is highly damaged and no longer retains any reference to Dionysius.

74. Clovis II takes the abbot of Saint-Denis into his protection (639/50)
The manuscript of this diploma is similarly highly damaged and too fragmentary to be sensibly translated. Its first partially surviving line mentions '[of] the lord Dionysius, our personal patron' (domni Dioninsis p]eculi[ar]is [p]atroni n(ostr)i).

85. Clovis II confirms to Saint-Denis the privilege granted by Bishop Landeric of Paris on his request (654, Clichy)
1. Chlodouius rex Franc(orum) v. inl.
2. Oportit climenciae princepali inter [ci]teras peticiones illud, quae pro salute adscribetur vel pro timore divini nomenis postolatur, placabeli audito suscipere et ad effectum perducere, ut fiat in mercide coniunccio, dum pro quiet(e) servorum D(e)i vel congruencia locis venerabilebus inpertitur peticio. Igetur dum et omnipotens Pater, 'qui dixit de tenebris
3. lumen splendiscere', per incarnacionis mistirium unigeniti fili sui d(om)ni e n(ostr)i Ie(su)m Chr(ist)i vel inlustracionem Sp(iritu)s S(an)c(t)i inluxit in corda s(an)c(t)orum chr(ist)i[a]norum, pro cuius amore et desiderio inter citerus gloriosos triumphos marterum beatus Dionisius, Leutherius et Rustecus meruerunt palmam victuriae et coronam percipere gloriosam, ubi per multa tempora in eorum basileca, in qua requiescer[e vide]ntur,
4. non minema miracola Chr(istu)s per ipsos videtur operare, in quo eciam loco genetores nostri domnus Dagobercthus et domna Nanthechildis videntur requiescere, ut per intercessionem s(an)c(t)orum illorum in caelesti regno cum omnebus s(an)c(t)i[s] mereant particepari et vitam aeternam percipere, et quia ab ipsis principebus vel a citeris priscis regebus vel aeciam a Deo timentebus chr(ist)ianis hominebus ipse s(an)c(t)us locus
5. in rebus propter amorem D(e)i et vita aet[er]na videtur esse ditatus , et nostra integra devocio et peticio fuit, ut apostol(icus) vir Landericus Parisiaci aecl(esiae) ep(iscopu)s privilegio ad ipsum s(an)c(tu)m locum, abb(at)i vel fratrebus ibidem consistentebus facere vel confirmare pro quiite futura deberit , quo facilius congregacioni ipsi licerit pro [s]tabiletate regni n(ostr)i ad limena martirum [i]psorum iugeter exora[re] [...]

'Clovis, king of the Franks, to his noble men. It befits princely clemency to give a kindly hearing to (amongst others) those petitions which are drawn up for the purpose of salvation, or sought out of fear of the divine name, and to bring them to effect: so let there be a bestowal of riches, when the petition is granted for the peace or harmony of the servants of God in venerable places. For also the Almighty Father, 'who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness' through the mystery of the incarnation of his only-born son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, illuminated the hearts of the Christian saints, for the love and desire of Whom, amongst others, the glorious triumphs of the blessed martyrs Dionysius, Eleutherius and Rusticus merited them to take up the palm of victory and glorious crown; and for a long time in their basilica, in which they are seen to rest, Christ has been seen to work through them not a few miracles, and in that place also our parents, the lord Dagobert and lady Nanthild are seen to rest, so that through the intercession of those saints they shall earn their place in the celestial kingdom with all the saints, and partake in the eternal life. And so that holy place is seen to have been enriched with properties for the love of God and of the eternal life by those princes, and other former kings, and also by God-fearing Christians; and it has been our full devotion and petition, that the apostolic man Landeric, bishop of the church of Paris, might make and confirm a privilege to that holy place, for the abbot and the brothers residing there, by which the congregation might be allowed more easily to pray continually at the threshold of those martyrs for the security of our kingdom...'

88. A royal placitum (deed recording a dispute settlement) (of Chlothar III?), whereby a villa is divided between the church of Rouen and Saint-Denis (657/79)
The manuscript survives only fragmentarily. The monastery is only briefly described as the 'basilica of lord Dionysius' (basileca dom(n)i Dioninse).

93. A placitum of Chlothar III, whereby part of the villa of Thorigné is judged to belong to Saint-Denis (659/60)
The monastery is briefly described as 'the monastery of our personal patron, the lord Dionysius' (monasthirii pecul(iaris) patroni n(ostr)i dom(n)i Dioninse).

94. A placitum of Chlothar III, in favour of Saint-Denis concerning properties in Rennais and Vimeu (660/73)
The monastery is briefly described as the 'monastery... of the basilica of our lord Dionysius' (monasthirio [ ] ba[si]l(eci) n(ostr)i [domni Dioninsi).

95. A placitum of Chlothar III, in favour of Saint-Denis against the bishop of Le Mans (660/73)
The monastery is briefly described as 'the monastery of the lord Dionysius' (monasthirii dom(n)i Dioninse), and later, simply 'the holy lord Dionysius' (s(an)c[t]i dom(n)i Dioninse).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Dionysius/Denis, bishop and martyr of Paris : S00349

Saint Name in Source

Dioninsius, Diunensis, Dioninsis, Dionisius,

Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document Documentary texts - Charter or diploma Late antique original manuscripts - Papyrus sheet Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment sheet


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms Gaul and Frankish kingdoms Gaul and Frankish kingdoms Gaul and Frankish kingdoms Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Étrépagny Clichy Compiègne Luzarches Nogent-sur-Marne

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Étrépagny Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré Clichy Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré Compiègne Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré Luzarches Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré Nogent-sur-Marne Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of an individual

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Unspecified miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Merchants and artisans Ecclesiastics - bishops Women Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified


According to the judgement of their most recent editor, 54 authentic or substantially authentic royal diplomas/charters survive from Merovingian Gaul which are dated or datable to the period up to AD 700. Of these, 34 appear to relate directly to the cult of saints, and are included in our database. All but one, possibly two (E06133, E06141), of the charters included here date from the 7th century, mostly its final quarter. Although a number of these diplomas have come down to us only in later cartulary copies, a remarkably large proportion (21 of our 34) survive as single-sheet, original manuscripts, the great majority of which come from the monastery of Saint-Denis. Due to the nature of western archival survivals, all these documents concern either land, legal immunities, or rights to tolls, and are preserved exclusively through interested religious institutions. For a hint, however, of the kind of Merovingian documents we may have lost, the scribal templates found in the Formulary of Marculf are suggestive (see e.g. E06231, E06233). All the diplomas included here from Saint-Denis survive as original manuscripts: uniquely, ten of these (nos. 22-95, from 584/625-660/73) are papyri. All are preserved at the Archives nationales, Paris.


While the titles attributed here to 'the holy lord' Dionysius ('our personal patron') and his basilica/monastery ('where that precious lord himself rests in body') are no doubt highly formulaic, they remain valuable for our sense of how this explicitly royal saint might have been habitually referred to in 'official' contemporary protocol, and perhaps also liturgically. Much is made of the presence of Dionysius' bodily relics at the site, and the absence of such references in surviving diplomas of royal patronage for other Franco-Gallic religious beneficiaries (with the exception of an obscure hint of some apostolic relics at Stavelot-Malmedy: E06226) suggests the particular significance of this for its donors and patrons. Clovis II's diploma of 654 (no. 85) provides perhaps the most substantial evidence among these 17 documents for Saint-Denis as an active cult site, describing the miracles purportedly worked at the shrine; the ad sanctos burial there of King Dagobert I (ob. 639) and Queen Nanthild (ob. 642); the donations made by numerous 'God-fearing Christians,' not only kings (cf. nos. 22 and 28); and the presence also of the bodies of Dionysius' companions Eleutherius and Rusticus, who together with the titular saint were believed to work as intercessors.


Edition: Kölzer, T., Die Urkunden der Merowinger, 2 vols. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Diplomata; Hannover, 2001). Further reading: Brühl, C., Studien zu den merowingischen Königsurkunden, ed. T. Kölzer (Cologne, 2001). Kölzer, T., Merowingerstudien, 2 vols (Hannover, 1998-1999).

Continued Description

r>123. Theuderic III frees Saint-Denis from tolls and other fiscal obligations (670/90)Theudericus rex Franc(orum) v(iris) inl(ustre)bus omnebus agentebus tam presentebus quam et futures. Decet regale climenciae ea q(uae) pro profectum aeclisiar(um) p(er)tenit libent(er) prestare et effectui in D(e)i nom(ene) mancipare. Ideo cognuscat magnetudo seo utilitas vestra, quod nus ad monasterio peculiar(is) patroni no(str)i dom(n)i Dioninsiae, ubi ipse preciosus in corpore requiiscit, ubi venerabilis vir Chardericus abba custus precesse a viditur, tale beneficium vise fuim(us) concessiss(e) de [...]'Theuderic, king of the Franks, to his noble men, and all agentes, present as well as future. It befits royal clemency to freely provide those things which pertain to the profit of churches, and to put them into effect in God's name. Therefore let your greatness and utility recognise that we have been seen to have granted to the monastery of our personal patron, the lord Dionysius, where his precious self lies in body, and where the venerable man Abbot Charderic is seen to preside as custodian, a beneficium of such a kind, concerning...'131. Theuderic III grants the villa Lagny-le-Sec to Saint-Denis, with immunity (690, Compiègne)Theudericus rex Franc(orum) v. inl. Dum et nobis divina pietas ad legitema etate fecit pervenire et in solium rigni parentum nostrorum sucedire, oportit nobis et condecit pro salute anime nostre cogitare dibiamus. Ideoque vestra cognuscat industria, quod nos pro salute anime nostre una cum consilio ponteficum vel obtimatum nostrorum villa noncopanti Latiniaco [...] nos ipsa villa de fisco nostro ad suggestion(em) precelse regine nostre Chrodochilde seo et inl(ustri) viro Berchario maiorem domos nostri ad monasthirio s(an)c(t)i dom(n)i Dionisiae, ubi ipsi preciosus in corpore requescit et venerabilis vir Chaeno abba cum norma plurema monachorum ad laudis Chr(ist)i canendas in ordine s(an)c(t)o ibidem adunata preesse viditur, pro remedium anime nostri [...]'Theuderic, king of the Franks, to his noble men. When divine piety brought us to legal age, and to succeed to the throne of the kingdom of our parents, it was proper and becoming that we gave thought to the salvation of our soul. Therefore, let your diligence recognise that we, for the salvation of our soul, at one with our council of bishops and nobles, [have granted] the villa which is called Latiniacum... from our fisc, upon the intervention of our outstanding queen Chrodochild and the noble man Bercharius, mayor of our palace, to the monastery of the holy lord Dionysius, where his precious self rests in body, and the venerable man Abbot Chaino, who is seen to preside over that same place with a norma of many monks, chanting praises of Christ, together as one in holy order, for the remedy of our soul...'136. A placitum of Clovis III, in favour of Saint-Denis concerning the property of Noisy-sur-Oise (692/3, Luzarches)The monastery is briefly described as 'the basilica of our personal patron, the lord Dionysius' (basilica peculiaris patroni nostri dom(n)i Dionisii).137. A placitum of Clovis III, in favour of Saint-Denis (693, Nogent-sur-Marne)Chlodouius rex Franc(orum) v(iris) inl(ustrebus). Venientis agentis basil(eci) dom(n)i Dionisii, ubi ipsi preciosus domnus in corpure requiiscit et vener(abelis) vir Chaino abba preeesse a viditur, Nouiento in pal(acio) nostro nobis suggesserunt [...]'Clovis, king of the Franks, to his noble men. Agentes came from the basilica of the lord Dionysius, where that precious lord himself rests in body, and the venerable man Abbot Chaino is seen to preside, and they claimed to us in our palace of Nogent that...'138. Clovis III guarantees Saint-Denis an annuity of 100 solidi from the fiscal income of Marseille (693, Nogent-sur-Marne)Chlodoueus rex Franc(orum) v(iris) inl(ustrebus). Dum ante hus annus proavus noster Dagobercthus condam rex solidus cento eximtis de Massilia civetati, sicut ad cellario fisci potuerant esse exactati, ad basileca peculiaris patroni nostri dom(n)i Dionisii, ubi ipsi preciosus in corpure requiiscit et vener(abelis) vir Chaino abba preesse viditur, p(er) sua precepcion(e) concessissit et parens nost(er) Sygebercthus seo et habuncoli nostri Chlotharius et Chyldericus eciam et genetur nost(er) Theudericus condam rigis p(er) eorum precepcionis hoc ibidem dinuo concesserunt vel confirmaverunt [...] Ideo p(er) presenti urdenacione vobis omnino iobemmus adque sup(er) omnia demandamus [...]'Clovis, king of the Franks, to his noble men. Since, years before, our ancestor Dagobert, the late king, granted, through his order, one hundred solidi from the city of Marseilles, as exacted by the cellarius of our fisc, to the basilica of our personal patron the lord Dionysius, where his precious self rests in body and the venerable man Abbot Chaino is seen to preside; and our kinsmen Sigebert and our uncles Chlothar and Childeric, and also our father Theuderic, the late king, through their order confirmed this or granted it anew... Therefore, through this present ordinance we order you in every way, and demand over all things, that...'142. Childebert III grants the villa of Nassigny in Berry to Saint-Denis (694, Compiègne)Childeberthus rex Franc(orum) v(iris) inl(ustrebus). Creatur omnium D(eu)s delectatur oblacion(e) fedilium, licet ipsi cunct(is) domenatur, sed vult, ut quod dedit in om(em) potestatem eius c[limencia dibeat custodire, p]recipui a saecoli divetis, ut quant(um) amplius vidintur possedire, tantum magis oportit inpendire. Idioq(ue) cognuscat magnitudo seu hutilitas vestra, quod nos villa noncopanti Napsiniaco in pago Bitorico [...] ad basilica pecoliaris patroni no(str)i dom(n)i Dionisii, ubi ipsi praeciosus dom(nu)s in corpure requiescit vel ubi venerabelis vir Chaino abba preesse veditur, plina et integra gracia pro mercidis no(str)i augimentum visi fuimus concessiss(e) et congregacio ibid(em) consistencium [...]'Childebert, king of the Franks, to his noble men. Although God, the creator of everything and Lord of all, loves the gifts of the faithful, He wishes that what His clemency has given to each power ought to be properly maintained, especially by the rich men of this world, so that however much more they seem to possess, the more they ought to give. Therefore, let your magnitude and humility recognise that we have been seen to grant the villa known as Nassigny, in the country of Berry, to the basilica of our personal patron, the lord Dionysius, where the precious lord himself rests in body, and where the venerable man Abbot Chaino is seen to preside, and to the congregation residing there, with full and complete thanks for the increase of our riches...'143. A placitum of Clovis III, in favour of Saint-Denis concerning part of a property in Hosdinium (694, Compiègne)The monastery is briefly described as 'the basilica of of the lord Dionysius, where his precious self rests in body' (basileca dom(n)i Diunense, ubi ipsi ipse preciosus in corpore requiiscit).Text: Kölzer 2001. Translation: B. Savill.

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