Guide to Basic Queries

The Charlemagne’s Europe database employs filters (or facets) which enable users to browse for charters matching specified criteria. This introductory guide will provide a few examples to show you how to obtain and modify search results.

a. Charters
b. Agents
c. Places

The database has three basic browsing options – charters, agents and places.

a. Charters

When you first click through to the charter browsing option, you’ll be presented with an unfiltered list – i.e. every charter in the database.

The various filters that you can apply are found in the left-hand column. These filters can be combined to produce very broad or very specific results. Clicking on a filter expands it to show a box which you can scroll through to view the various options within that filter. Each item has a count telling you how many charters contain that item. Some of these filters are ‘flat’ lists (such as transmission, authenticity, or features), while others include hierarchies: for example, the place name filter allows you to view charters relating to locations in a modern country (e.g. Germany), or if you wanted to be more specific, a state or sub-region within that country (e.g. North Rhine-Westphalia; Bavaria), or if you wanted to be even more specific, a particular village, town or city within that state (e.g. Regensburg).

The ‘add all’ button allows you to select one of the parent categories, or you can click the name itself to see more specific options. If we look at all charters associated with places in Bavaria, we get an initial list:


This can then be narrowed down even further. The counts within each filter will now be updated to reflect the browsing criteria already selected. You can add as many filters as you want. So, for instance, you could restrict your search to charters involving someone who is described as a bishop (from the attribute/relationship type filter, under ‘ecclesiastical offices & ranks’). You could see all charters including an inheritance of property (under transaction/event type). Applying each of these filters will produce a more refined list of results:

Now let’s have a look at one of these charters to briefly explain the main charter view. FRE 72 (Freising) offers a good overview of the sorts of information you can encounter:

The left-hand about column includes bibliographic information about the printed edition(s) and any works that were consulted when the charter was entered in the database, as well as information on transmission, authenticity, the dating system used in the charter, features such as references to legal texts or specified penalty clauses, and any other notes about the document. The main business box includes transactions directly enacted in the document, while the also mentioned box shows secondary transactions which the charter refers to. Sometimes (though not in the above example) a further box of miscellaneous events will be shown, which includes other happenings of interest such as relic translations, foundations of churches, conquests, and so forth. Clicking on any of these transactions or events will allow you to see a more detailed view:

Returning to the main charter view, in the right-hand column, the first box contains the charter’s associated agents. These are all the individuals and groups who have some kind of role in the transactions or events, or in the production of the document itself. Below these are the agent attributes and relationships. This is a list of all the titles, offices and relationships mentioned explicitly in the charter. Clicking the attribute or relationship will provide further details.

Finally, at the bottom, there is the places box. Places mentioned in the charter with an arrow icon next to them are geo-located, which means they will appear on maps; however, territories, natural landmarks, and medieval places with unknown modern locations will not show up. Some charters will also contain a box of any details of place relationships given in a charter (e.g. ‘Wissembourg is in Speyer (territory)’). As with transactions/events, agents, and attributes/relationships, you can click on a place to explore it further.

If the name of an agent or place has an asterisk (*) next to it, this means simply that we have entered the name as it appeared in the original document, and have made no attempt to standardise it according to any medieval or modern convention (e.g. ‘Louis’ instead of ‘Hludowicus’ or ‘Wissembourg’ instead of ‘Wizenburg’). Where possible, we have standardised such names.

Now, return to the original list of results (by pressing ‘back’ in your web browser). You can remove a particular filter by clicking it at the top of the screen, or you can start again with the ‘clear all filters’ button. You might want to change the geographic scope of your search by getting rid of the Bavaria filter and choosing, say, France. Multiple options can be applied from a single filter type, so you could also choose France and Germany. Note, however, that this will not provide a list of all documents with associated places in France or Germany, but rather all documents with associated places in France and Germany:

Note also that if you then added the facet female person (under ‘agent type’), this would give you a list of charters which include both a female actor and someone who is described as a bishop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the charter includes a female bishop (of whom, incidentally, there are none in the Carolingian period):

That type of query would best be performed in the agent browsing option.

b. Agents

Under the agent browser, you could select the agent type ‘female person’, and then view the various agent roles or attribute/relationship types contained in the database. For example, you could find all females who were acting as granters of property (in the agent role facet, under ‘agent roles responsible for flows of possession’) in charters:

Click on an agent (such as Ansa, a Lombard queen) to bring up the agent display view:

The agent view is similar to the charter view, separating out an agent’s activities and characteristics in different boxes. In transactions, we see all of Ansa’s roles in the charters she appears in. If Ansa had been involved in the making of a charter (e.g. a scribe or witness), this would be displayed under document production. Other activities shows all the miscellaneous events in which she was involved. Under her list of attributes and relationships, you can click the charter count next to each item to show you each charter in which that attribute or relationship is given (note that the link there will take you to the charter itself, where you can then find a link to the desired attribute/relationship detail). And the places box provides a list of all the places in which Ansa was active (along with a map of those which are locatable).

Note also that Ansa has something under the 'About' column called a 'Nomen et Gens ID'. Some agents will have this ID, but many will not. This is simply a cross-reference with the Nomen et Gens project undertaken at the Universität Tübingen, indicating that the agent has been catalogued in that database. In the future, more interaction between Charlemagne's Europe and Nomen et Gens may be possible.

For more information on and definitions of agent roles and transaction types, see here.

c. Places

The place browser works in precisely the same way as the charter and agent browsers. The initial browsing page displays every locatable property on a map:

This browser also offers a search box, so that you can enter any place name (in medieval or modern form) to quickly find a particular place or territory. You should enter complete words, but the system will treat hyphens as spaces, so ‘Saint Denis’ and ‘Saint-Denis’ will produce the same results. Note that the search box will search a number of different fields, so may yield some slightly unexpected results. For example, searching for ‘Saint-Denis’ (for the monastery of Saint-Denis in Paris) returns a number of items which include the term ‘Saint-Denis’ in any associated notes:

Applying a search term works just like any other filter, and can be removed by clicking it at the top of the screen. Do that to reset the filters. Then, under place descriptor, type in ‘civitas’ and add the filter. This will display every place in the database described as a civitas:

Clicking on any of these results will take you to the place display. Here is Mainz:

This page will show you all the charters and agents associated with Mainz, as well as any place relationships in which it is mentioned. As usual, these links may all be followed to further explore what Mainz’s role is in each case.