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OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




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Charlemagne's Royal Estates

at Asnapio and Treola in
9th Century France


In a winter in the early 800s CE Charles the Great better known to us as Charlemagne commanded his stewards to inventory two royal estates. The larger of the two was called Asnapio and was located near modern Villanueve d 'Ascq in northeastern France. The smaller was Treola and it location is unknown today.

The detailed inventory they gathered previews an enterprise so successful that it was the model for Charlemagne's Capitulare de Villis a document that spelled out what a royal estate should provide.

Asnapio an estate that was home to more than 100 people centered on a "great house" or mansio surrounded by smaller dwellings. Every royal estate took pride in being self-sustaining and typically included a number of smaller manors or and farmsteads near the mansio. Such a royal estate would include workshops barns granaries dairies breweries ovens fields gardens vineyards and orchards. The complete inventory (in Latin) of Asnapio is preserved in the Monumenta Germanie Historica (Legum) Vol 1:178-179 and is fascinating reading.

Asnapio also provided mounts for Charlemagne's cavalry which explains why the inventory lists more than 60 horses. Other livestock included 100 cattle nearly 300 hogs nearly 500 sheep more than 60 goats and poultry that included chickens geese and peacocks.

An example of a Romanesque house with balconiesCharlemagne’s steward wrote

We found at the imperial estate of Asnapio a royal house well-built of stone three rooms. Balconies surround the whole house [similar to the house at right]. [There are] eleven apartments for women; below one cellar; two porticos. Seventeen other houses within the court are made of wood with all rooms and other additions well constructed. [There is] one stable one kitchen one mill one granary [and] three barns.

The courtyard is strongly defended by a hedge with a stone gateway and above is a balcony from which distributions can be made. Similarly another courtyard enclosed by a hedge is carefully laid out and planted with various kinds of trees.

Food for man and beast was important and the stewards reported supplies of barley oats spelt wheat peas beans and rye. Some of this grain was stored; some planted.  

The smaller manors of Grisio and Repperimus also part of Asnapio were likewise inventoried. At Repperiminus

Medieval French house with overhanging half-timber solar

...we found in that lodging a royal house with stone exterior and well-built wooden interior two rooms two solaria [perhaps similar to this at left]. Of other wooden cottages within the courtyard 8 had attached overhanging rooms and one well-built stable. [There is] a kitchen and bakery in one holding and three granaries without grain. The courtyard is surrounded by a hedge well defended above by thorns with a wooden gate. A little court is likewise encircled by a hedge.


The inventory  lists the plants found in two of the gardens of Asnapio:

Modern name - Name in the inventory

Agrimony - Acrimonia Leeks - Porrum


Beets - Betas Lily - Lilium Apples - Pomarios
Betony - Vittonican Lovage - Libesticum Cherries - Cerisarios
Cabbage - Caules Mallow - Malvas Hazelnuts - Avelanarios
Calendula - Solsequia Marshmallow - Mismalvas

Juniper - Savinam

Catnip - Neptam Onions - Cepas Medlars - Mispilarios
Celery - Apium Parsley - Petresilum Mulberries - Morarios
Chervil - Cerfolium Rue - Rutam Peaches - Persicarios
Chives - Brittolos Sage - Salviam Pears - Pirarios
Clary Sage - Sclareiam Savory - Satureiam Plums - Prunarios
Coriander - Coliandrum Scallions - Scalonias Quinces - Cotoniarios
Costmary - Costum Tansy - Tanazitam Walnuts - Nucarios
Garlic - Alia Wild Mint - Mentastrum  
Kohlrabi - Ravacaules Southernwood - Abrotanum  


Romanesque house with overhanging second story


Treola was a much smaller estate. The surveyors wrote that they found

...a cottage very well built of stone: two rooms with two fireplaces, a porch, a cellar, a wine-press; three living-quarters built of wood, for men; a gallery with a women's work room; three other wooden buildings; a barn and two hay-lofts; a court enclosed by a wall with a stone built gateway.


In the garden, the orchards, and the vineyards, the people
of Treola were growing:

Modern name - Name in the inventory

Agrimony - Acrimonia Hemp - Canabis Apples - Pomarios
Beets -Betas Mallow - Malvas Cherries - Cerisarios
Betony - Vittonican Marshmallow - Mismalvas Grapes - vitis
Cabbage - Caules Onions - Cepas Hazelnuts - Avelanarios
Calendula - Solsequia Savine - juniperus Medlars - Mispilarios
Catnip - Neptam Leeks - Porrum Mulberries - Morarios
Celery - Apium Lily - Lilium Peaches - Persicarios
Chervil - Cerfolium Lovage - Libesticum Pears - Pirarios
Chives - Brittolos Savory - Satureiam Plums - Prunarios
Clary Sage - Sclareiam  Shallot Quinces - Cotoniarios
Coriander - Coliandrum Tansy - Tanazitam Walnuts - Nucarios
Costmary - Costum Wild Mint - Mentastrum  
Garlic - Alia Southernwood - Abrotanum  





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