Featured post

Gender in the Merovingian World

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Marchfield: A query

Do any of you know if there is any link between the Frankish military assembly of 1 March, the 'Marchfield' (GT Histories, II.27: campus martius) and the Roman campus martius?  One is a place, the other a date, but both are 'the field of Mars', both military assemblies (of sorts).  Just coincidence?  All help gratefully received.


  1. I had always assumed so and think I read it somewhere long ago (Ganshof?). By coincidence when I was in Nottingham last week I was approached by an archaeologist who wondered if Markfield in Leicestershire might have been a Mercian site of similar assemblies.

  2. I also read it somewhere long ago, probably not Ganshof but I'm sorry to say I can't tell you where, just that it's not discussed in any of the books I have to hand. A bit of very careful Google-work however brought this to light via Regesta Imperii's OPAC, where I probably should have just started:
    Matthias Springer, "Jährliche Wiederkehr oder ganz anderes: Märzfeld oder Marsfeld?" in Rhythmus und Saisonalität. Kongreßakten des 5. Symposions des Mediävistenverbandes in Göttingen 1993, edd. Peter Dilg, Gundolf Keil and Dietz-Rüdiger Moser (Sigmaringen 1995), pp. 297-324, which looks as if it would hopefully collect the evidence. Non vidi and so forth but possibly of use?

  3. Do you really think Gregory meant a time? I think it reads more like a place. I would guess GT used a literary topos to mean 'that place where soldiers meet'...he probably read that somewhere (in Sulpicius, maybe?). The Continuator of Fredegar does see it as a time, and he refers to Campo Madio, that was formerly Martio (c. 48)...the Vita Remigii goes all the way to explain that the Field was called of Mars because of the god, just like the third day of the week, implying that the intended reader would not have a clue what it could be...I wonder if there is more to it than just the confusion of Mars = War and Mars = March by the Continuator...Are there more reliable reference to a Marchfield in Carolingian material?

    Cheers from Toronto

  4. That 1 March was (or could be) a regular assembly seems to me to be proven by the fact that all of Childebert II's edicts are dated 1 March - as are all 8th-century Lombard edicts as it happens. I don't see any reason to mistrust the Continuator on the move from March to May. As to Gregory, it could be either. Bachrach showed that army-mustering and campaigns could and did take place at all times of year but that does not, contrary to what he thought, demonstrate that an assembly on 1 March was not a regular feature of Frankish political life.

    Of course, this confusion of time and place for the military gathering comes down to us in the name of the late, great Curtis Mayfield...

  5. This is Léon Levillain's take on the question in the Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes (1948):

  6. It's quite interesting. I've been reading Fredegar again, and I noticed that the idea of the Marchfield is usually connected to Pippin. If I am not wrong, when the continuator deals with him, he reports annual war seasons, victories and coming back home at the end. The Marchfield is usually in this context...Childebert's edits need, on the other hand, to be explained...but I think there should be a way to understand them together with Liutprand's legislative production at the same time of the year...As I remember from the Lombard laws, they imply a meeting, but of administrative personnel ('all the judges' or something like that). There is probably a way to explain the three evidences (the early Merovingian, the Late Merovingian/Carolingian and the Lombard)...



Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.