Edict of Pistres

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The Edict of Pistres or Edictum Pistense was a capitulary promulgated, as its name suggests, at Pistres (modern Pîtres, in Eure) on 25 July 864. It is often cited by historians as one of the rare examples of successful government action on the part of Charles the Bald, King of West Francia.

At the time Vikings more than annually ravaged not only the Frankish coastlands but, with the aid of Europe's numerous navigable rivers, much of the interior also. A king was most valued who could defeat them in the field and prevent their attacks in the future. The purpose and primary effect of the Edict was long thought to be the protection of the cities and countryside from Viking raids.

Charles created 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. Simon Coupland believes that only two bridge, at Pont-de-l'Arche (near Pistres) on the Seine and at Les Ponts-de-Cé on the Loire, were ever fortified, though a few others that had fallen into...
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