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Savigny Verlagsgesellschaft

Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Germanistische Abteilung

Ed. by Oestmann, Peter / Rückert, Joachim / Haferkamp, Hans-Peter

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Volume 133, Issue 1


I. Inquisitio as a Tool of Royal Governance under the Carolingian and Ottonian Kings

David S. Bachrach
Published Online: 2016-10-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.7767/zrgga-2016-0103


The inquest (Latin inquisitio) was an important administrative tool in the hands of government officials of the later Roman empire and of the Regnum Francorum. Imperial and royal officials used inquests to safeguard the fisc, and also to assure accurate tax assessments. Scholars long have recognized that the inquest also served similar roles in the hands of government officials in the Carolingian empire during the reigns of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. By contrast, most specialists in the history of the east Frankish kingdom and of its German successor under the Ottonian dynasty have argued that the lands east of the Rhine lacked the sophisticated administrative institutions that were characteristic Carolingian government in the first half of the ninth century. This study offers a corrective to the traditional view that both the eastern Carolingians and the Ottonians presided over administratively backward realms. It was rather the case that the eastern Carolingian rulers and their Ottonian successors used inquisitiones to safeguard the royal fisc from misuse, neglect, and theft. In addition, these rulers used inquests to maintain control over the assets of ecclesiastical institution.

Keywords: Inquest; inquisitio; government; royal authority; continuity; Ottonian; Carolingian; administration; royal fisc

About the article

Published Online: 2016-10-31

Published in Print: 2016-10-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Germanistische Abteilung, Volume 133, Issue 1, Pages 1–80, ISSN (Online) 2304-4861, ISSN (Print) 0323-4045, DOI: https://doi.org/10.7767/zrgga-2016-0103.

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© 2016 by Böhlau Verlag GmbH & Co.KG.

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