Below you can find a selection of major primary sources for c. 900-1050 which are widely available in translation. The bibliography here is alphabetised – you can find a regionally-arranged bibliography here.
Adalbert of Magdeburg, Continuation of the Chronicle of Regino
Adalbert’s continuation of the chronicle of Regino of Prüm is a key account of the rise of the Ottonian dynasty to power in tenth-century Germany.
English: Simon MacLean, History and Politics in Late Carolingian and Ottonian Europe (2009)
German: R. Rau, Quellen zur karolingischen Reichsgeschichte III (1960).
Adalbero of Laon, Poem to King Robert
Adalbero, Bishop of Laon, was an important political and ecclesiastical figure in tenth- and eleventh-century; his poem is a dialogue dedicated to King Robert the Pious which discusses contemporary monastic and episcopal reform movements.
French: Claude Carozzi, Poème au Roi Robert (1972).
Adam of Bremen, History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen
Adam was master of schools at the German cathedral of Bremen. The archdiocese to which he belonged, the so-called ‘double archbishopric’ of Hamburg-Bremen, had been controversial since its (alleged) creation in the 830s. Between 1073 and 1076, Adam composed his Deeds of the Bishops, which provides valuable records of the history of early medieval Scandinavia viewed through the perspective of the eleventh-century archbishopric.
English: Francis J. Tschan, History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen, by Adam of Bremen (1959).
Adhemar of Chabannes, Chronicle
A monk writing in the first third of the eleventh century, Adhemar produced a wide variety of texts ranging across different genres and is particularly famous for his liturgical texts, his use of musical notation, and his famous forgery promoting the idea that St Martial of Limoges was one of the original apostles of Christ. One of his major works was a Chronicle of Frankish history from the origins of the Merovingian dynasty down to 1028, which provides his own take on the history of the early Capetian dynasty.
French: Yves Chauvin and Georges Pon, Adhemar of Chabannes, Chronique (2003).
Ælfric Bata, Colloquies
This early eleventh century text shows us what life was like inside a monastery, articulated through imaginary conversations between a teacher and students, on subjects such as drinking, using money, theft, and writing.
English: Scott Gwara and David W. Porter, Anglo-Saxon Conversations: the Colloquies of Ælfric Bata (1997).
A Latin translation and adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, written 978–988 by the lay noble Aethelweard and dedicated to his relative Mathilda of Essen.
English: Alistair Campbell, The Chronicle of Aethelweard (1962).
Aimoin of Fleury, Life of Abbo, Abbot of Fleury
Aimoin provides a biography of his abbot, Abbo, describing his involvement in political and ecclesiastic affairs in the West Frankish kingdom and his mediation between Robert II and the Pope over Robert’s marriage disputes.
French: Robert-Henri Bautier and Gillette Labory, Vie d’Abbon, abbé de Fleury (2004).
Alpert of Metz, On the Variety of our Times
A well-connected cleric in Metz writing in the 1020s, Alpert offers his view of Ottonian Germany with a particular focus on events in Lotharingia. His text is especially interested in the causes and course of different conflicts and where authority lay within the political hierarchy.
English: David S. Bachrach, Warfare and Politics in Medieval Germany ca. 1000. On the Variety of Our Times by Alpert of Metz (2012).
Andrew of Fleury, Miracles of St Benedict
Andrew provides an important source documenting the Peace of God movement and Catalonian politics in the late tenth- and early eleventh-century.
French: Robert-Henri Bautier and Gillette Labory, Miracula S. Benedicti (1969).
Annales Cambriae/The Annals of Wales
A collection of inter-related chronicles written in Latin and connected to St Davids, Wales, which record events in Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, England and Scotland.
English: David N. Dumville, ‘Annales Cambriae, A.D. 682-954: Texts A-C in Parallel (2002) (English).
The Annals of Tigernach
Written in a mixture of Old Irish, Middle Irish and Latin, this text is of particular importance for its coverage of the years 973–1003 and 1018 onwards for Irish history.
English: Gearóid Mac Niocaill,, available via CELT (Corpus of Electronic Texts).
The Annals of Ulster
Covering the period 431 to A.D. 1540, the entries in this collection of annals were collated in the fifteenth century, but are of significant value to historians of early medieval Ireland. The annals for our period are predominantly written in Old Irish, with some Latin entries.
English: Sean Mac Airt and Gearóid Mac Niocaill, The Annals of Ulster (to A.D. 1131), Part I: Text and Translation (1983). The edition has been digitised and is open access, available via CELT (Corpus of Electronic Texts).
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The most important single source for Anglo-Saxon history, which is in fact a series of chronicles, of varying independence and overlapping. Invaluable for different regional perspectives of history in England, Scotland and Wales.
English: Michael Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (1996); Dorothy Whitelock, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Revised Translation (1961); also in her English Historical Documents 500–c. 1042 (1979).
Armes Prydein Vawr/The Great Prophecy of Britain
This tenth-century Welsh heroic poem describes an imagined future in which Brittonic peoples ally with Scots, Irish, and vikings together to expel the Anglo-Saxons from Britain. It is thought to have been written in response to the encroaching ambitions and predatory interests of the English kings of Wessex.
English: Rachel Bromwich, Armes Prydein: The Prophecy of Britain, ed. Ivor Williams, From the Book of Taliesin (1972); Michael Livingston, The Battle of Brunanburh: A Casebook (2011).
An Old English medical text probably compiled in the late ninth century. Organised in two books, the text moves from head to foot first through external illnesses and then through internal ailments.
English: Thomas O. Cockayne, Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England, 3 vols. (1864–6), reprinted with a new introduction by C. Singer (1965). Note that the translation is not particularly accurate, but is included here as a rare example of a translated medical text from the period.
Bernard of Angers, The Book of Sainte Foy
The miracle stories surrounding Sainte Foy provide a comprehensive picture of a saint’s cult in this period.
English: Pamela Sheingorn, The Book of Sainte Foy (1995).
Burchard of Worms, Decretum
One of the most important canon law collections of the eleventh century, Burchard compiled twenty books of canon law in collaboration with Bishop Walter of Speyer during the reign of Emperor Henry II.
English: Book XIX in John Shinners, Medieval Popular Religion, 1000-1500: A Reader (2008), pp. 450-6.
Italian: Book XIX in G. Picasso, G. Piana, G. Motta, A pane e acqua. Peccati e penitenze nel Medioevo: Il penitenziale di Burcardo di Worms (1986), pp. 57-172.
Dudo of St Quentin, History of the Normans
Dudo’s famous history of the dukes of Normandy provides us with one of our most valuable sources for the Normans in the tenth and early eleventh century, incorporating his own first-hand knowledge of the Norman court.
English: Eric Christiansen, Dudo of St Quentin: History of the Normans (Woodbridge, 1998).
Encomium Emmae Reginae/ The Encomium of Queen Emma
Written by an anonymous monk of Saint Bertin, this remarkable text is written to praise Queen Emma, a Norman first married to the Anglo-Saxon King Aethelred II and then to the Danish King Cnut, who conquered England. It is valuable not only for a highly-coloured view of the Danish conquest, but also for the chaotic politics of England following Cnut’s death, and as a rare example of the perspective of female rule.
English: Alistair Campbell, Encomium Emmae Reginae, with a supplementary introduction by Simon Keynes (1998).
Flodoard of Reims, Annals
Flodoard chronicles the years 919 to 966, focusing on his own church in Reims, thus providing us with one of our only contemporary sources for West Frankish history in this period. He also includes some events taking place in the neighbouring regions of Lotharingia, the German Empire and England.
English: Steven Fanning and Bernard Bachrach, The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 919-966 (2004)
French: F. Guizot, R. Fougères, Flodoard. Chroniques féodales 918-978 (2002).
Fulbert of Chartres, Letters and Poems
A student of Gerbert of Aurillac and bishop of Chartres, Fulbert has provided us with a collection of letters and poems discussing liturgical and political issues in early eleventh-century France.
English: Frederick Behrends, The Letters and Poems of Fulbert of Chartres (1976).
Gerbert of Aurillac/Sylvester II, Letters
The correspondence written and collected by the famous scholar and churchman Gerbert – later Pope Sylvester II – provides us with a fascinating view into the ins and outs of the political and intellectual world of the late tenth century, recording events across Italy, Germany, France and England.
English: Harriet Pratt Lattin, The Letters of Gerbert with his Papal Privileges as Sylvester II (1961).
French: P. Riché and J.-P. Callu, Gerbert d’Aurillac, Correspondance (1993).
Hartvic, Life of King Stephen of Hungary
This biography of the Hungarian saint-king Stephen, (b. 975, r. 997–1038) was the third written but became the ‘official’ version after its commission by King Coloman. Stephen brought missionaries to his kingdom and was in contact with Ottonian luminaries of the era, including Bruno of Querfurt and Odilo of Cluny. Bishop Hartvic’s twelfth-century work provides a window onto Hungarian national history and a perspective of the Ottonian and Salian empires from outside their boundaries.
English: Nora Berend in Thomas Head, Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology (2000). Sections are available online here.
Helgaud de Fleury, Life of Robert the Pious
Helgaud’s Life of Robert sits within the trend to describe lay elite men and women as saints around the turn of the millennium; his work documents Robert’s life, focusing particularly on his prayer, good deeds, and explaining Robert’s numerous marriages and divorces.
French: Robert-Henri Bautier and Gillete Labory, Vie de Robert le Pieux (1965).
Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, Deeds of Otto
A poetic account of the reign of Otto I, chronicling the period from his birth down to Otto’s imperial coronation in 962. Hrotsvitha provides us with an important account of this period, with particularly detailed information on the various members of Otto’s family.
English: B. Hill, Medieval Monarchy in Action (1972), pp. 118-137.
German: Helena Homeyer, Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim (1973).
Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, The Establishment of the Convent of Gandersheim
An account of the origins of the Ottonian convent at Gandersheim, where Hrotsvitha herself was a canoness. This work is one of our best sources for the earliest generations of the Ottonian family, charting their involvement in setting up Gandersheim at the same time that they were rising to royal power in Saxony.
English: Thomas Head, Medieval Hagiography: an Anthology (2000).
German: Helena Homeyer, Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim (1973).
Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, Legends and Plays
Hrotsvitha’s wide range of saint’s lives and plays imitating the comedies of Terence are some of the most celebrated literary works of the tenth century.
English: Larissa Bonfante, Robert Chipok, The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim (2013); M. Gonsalva Wiegand, The Non-Dramatic Works of Hrotsvitha: Text, Translation, and Commentary (1937)
German: Helena Homeyer, Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim (1973).
Ibn Fadlan, Journal
In the middle of the tenth century Ibn Fadlan, a Muslim traveller born in Iraq, formed part of a delegation sent by the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the Volga Bulgars. Ibn Fadlan kept a record of his travels, of particular interest for its account of a ship burial conducted by vikings on the Volga.
English: Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone, Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North (London, 2012). The passage concerning the Vikings in the Rus’ can be found online: James E. Montgomery, ‘Ibn Faḍlān and the Rūsiyyah’, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 3 (2000), pp. 1–25.
Ibn Hayyān, al-Muqtabis
Ibn Hayyān’s history of Andalusia is a vital source for the history of Córdoba, written by an important member of the court of the ruler al-Mansūr. Ibn Hayyān wrote in the middle eleventh century and his work only partly survives, but is nevertheless a vitally important source.
Spanish: M. Jesús Viguera and Federico Corriente, Cronica del Califa ‘Abdarraḥmān III an-Nāṣir entre los años 912 y 942 (al-Muqtabis V) (1981).
John of St Arnulf in Metz, The Life of John of Gorze
A hagiography of John, monk and abbot of Gorze, this text provides us with an account of John’s mission to Al-Andalus as an ambassador for Otto I, thus offering unique insights into the contact between the Ottonian court and the Islamic rulers of Iberia in the tenth century.
French: Michel Parisse, La vie de Jean, abbé de Gorze (1999).
German: Peter Christian Jacobsen, Die Geschichte vom Leben des Johannes, Abt des Klosters Gorze (2016).
The Life of Burchard, Bishop of Worms
Written soon after Burchard’s death in 1025, this hagiography presents the life of Burchard, Bishop of Worms, the author of one of the most important canon law collections in eleventh-century Germany. Alongside a depiction of Burchard’s works and miracles, his Life describes Burchard’s involvement in Ottonian politics, and particularly his conflict with Duke Otto of Carinthia, the grandfather of Emperor Conrad II.
English: W. L. North, available online on the Internet History Sourcebooks Project here.
German: K. Börschinger, Wormatia sacra. Beiträge zur Geschichte des ehemaligen Bistums Worms (1925).
The Life of Edward the Confessor
A Life of King Edward the Confessor, the last Anglo-Saxon king to rule England before the Norman Conquest. Written at the behest of his wife Edith Godwineson, the source is of immense value in revealing the highs and lows of aristocratic politics in the eleventh century.
English: Frank Barlow, The Life of King Edward who Rests at Westminster, 2nd ed. (1992).
The Lives of Queen Mathilda
Two hagiographical lives of Queen Mathilda, which offer valuable information on the Ottonian family and ideas of queenship in tenth-century Germany.
English: Sean Gilsdorf, Queenship and Sanctity (2004).
German: Ph. Jaffé, W. Wattenbach, Das Leben der Königin Mathilde (1891).
Liudprand of Cremona, Book of Retribution, Embassy to Constantinople, Concerning King Otto
A colourful figure, Liudprand’s texts reveal to us much about the Bishop of Cremona’s views of diplomacy, Byzantium, and contemporary politics. While his reliability is very much a topic of debate, his works are of vital importance to both the history of tenth-century Italy and to the Ottonian royal court.
English: Paolo Squatriti, The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona (2007).
German: Albert Bauer and Reinhold Rau, Liudprands Werke, in Rudolf Buchner et al., Quellen zur Geschichte der sächsischen Kaiserzeit (1992).
Odilo of Cluny, Epitaph of Adelheid
Structured as an epitaph, designed to console others after a death, this text by Abbot Odilo of Cluny provides us with a stylised account of one of the most powerful women in tenth-century Europe, Empress Adelheid.
English: Sean Gilsdorf, Queenship and Sanctity (2004).
German: H. Hüffer, W. Wattenbach, Das Leben der Kaiserin Adalheid von Odilo von Cluny (1939).
Odo of Cluny, Life of St Gerald of Aurillac
This mid-tenth-century biography takes as its subject a late-ninth-century layman who was secretly tonsured and later became a saint. It is of particular interest because of Gerald’s status as a count: laymen were seldom written about; far from being a cloistered ascetic, Gerald’s biography is full of interactions with political elites.
English: Gerard Sitwell, O.S.B, in Thomas F. X. Noble and Thomas Head, Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (1995).
Odorannus of Sens, Works
The author of texts ranging from monastic origin stories to historical chronicles; from sermons to collections of canon law; and from discussions of musical theory to epitaphs, Odorannus offers us an insight into his intellectual world and concerns as a mid-eleventh-century monk in France.
French: Robert-Henri Bautier and Monique Gilles, Odorannus of Sens, Opera Omnia (1972).
The Quedlinburg Annals
Written at the important Ottonian monastery of Quedlinburg in the early eleventh century, this text is more properly a chronicle of history from creation down to the time of its composition. It acts as a particularly important source for the tenth century German Empire, being used by Thietmar of Merseburg as well as several later German annals.
German: E. Winkelmann, Die Jahrbücher von Quedlinburg (1941).
Rather of Verona, Works
Rather’s collection of letters, sermons and treatises illustrate his struggles to navigate the political stage of tenth-century Italy in the service of the German emperor.
English: P. Reid, The Complete Works of Rather of Verona, (1991).
Regino of Prüm, Chronicle
One of the most influential sources of the history of the later Carolingian empire, Regino’s Chronicle looks back at Carolingian politics after the collapse of the empire in 888. Regino not only gives us a detailed account of late ninth-century history, he also provides insights into the rise of the new post-888 kingdoms led by rulers who were no longer Carolingians but instead – as he memorably put it – chosen ‘from their own guts’.
English: Simon MacLean, History and Politics in Late Carolingian and Ottonian Europe: The Chronicle of Regino of Prüm and Adalbert of Magdeburg (2oo9).
German: R. Rau, Quellen zur karolingischen Reichsgeschichte III (1960).
Regino of Prüm, Two Books of Ecclesiastical Discipline
In addition to his Chronicle, Regino also composed a book on ecclesiastical discipline, which would have been used to correct behaviours and practices within different churches. Parts of this work were later included in Burchard of Worms’ Decretum in the early eleventh century.
English: Sarah Hamilton has provided a new translation of Regino’s guide to episcopal visitations on this website.
See also R. Somerville, B. Brasington, Prefaces to Canon Law Books in Latin Christianity. Selected Translations, 500-1245 (1998), pp. 92-9 (partial translation).
German: H. Wasserschleben, Reginonis abbatis Prumiensis Lbiri duo de synodalibus causis et disciplinis ecclesiasticis, (1840).
Richer of Rheims, Histories
Though based on the writings of Flodoard of Rheims, Richer’s account provides much new material. While trust in Richer’s historical accuracy is relatively low, his anecdotes and narratives are valuable for their perspective and uses of the past in the 990s.
English: Justin Lake, Richer of Saint-Rémi (2011).
French: R. Latouche, Richer, Histoire de France (1937).
German: K. v. D. Osten-Sacken, W. Wattenbach, Richers vier Bücher Geschichte (1941).
Rudolf Glaber, Five Books of Histories
Sometimes dismissed by earlier historians as unreliable, Rudolf’s study of history from 900 to 1044 has more recently been recognised for its value as a source of contemporary history explicitly focusing on the period around the year 1000.
English: John France, Rodulfus Glaber, Opera (1989).
French: M. Arnoux, Radulfus: Histoires (1996).
Italian: A. Fontana, Rodolfo il Glabro. Storie del mille (2001).
Spanish: J. Torres Prieto, Raúl Glaber. Historias del primer milenio (2004).
Ruotger, Life of St Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne
This hagiography of Bruno, brother of Otto I and archbishop of Cologne, gives us a striking insight into the life of a man who was at once an archbishop and a duke. As such, it has been a fundamental source in discussions of the Ottonian Reichskirchensystem.
German: H. Kallfelz, Lebensbeschreibungen einiger Bischöfe des 10. -12. Jahrhunderts (1973), pp. 179-261.
Skaldic poetry almost all survives in later Icelandic sagas, but is thought to be reliable because its metre is so complex that scholars believe it could not be misremembered or garbled. During the reign of King Cnut over England, Denmark and Norway, his court became the focal point for the Danish king’s court skaldic composition and patronage in the North Atlantic.
Access to a number of translated skaldic verses is available here, via the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages project. To read translations, click on the ‘edition’ tab on the right hand side of the page and if available is will appear alongside the original Norse.
These texts were all written in the twelfth century in Scandinavia, and have a complex inter-relationship. They are however, some of the only written sources for early medieval Scandinavia, and as such are of great importance.
Ágrip af Nóregskonungasogum/A Twelfth-Century Synoptic History of the Kings of Norway.
Translation: Michael J. Driscoll, available as a PDF
A History of Norway and the Passion and Miracles of the Blessed Óláfr
Translation: Devra Kunin and Carl Phelpstead, available as a PDF
Theodoricus Monachus: Historia de antiquitate regum Norwagiensium. An Account of the Ancient History of the Norwegian Kings
Translation: David McDougall and Ian McDougall, available as a PDF
Thietmar of Merseburg, Chronicle
Thietmar’s chronicle, covering the period from 908–1018, provides readers with one of the most important sources for East Frankish history in the early eleventh century. He also offers views of the kingdoms to the east and Scandinavia. As a Saxon nobleman and Bishop of Merseburg from 1009, Thietmar was well-connected and his information is considered invaluable.
English: David Warner, Ottonian Germany (2001)
German: Werner Trillmich Thietmar von Merseburg. Chronik. (1957).
Widukind of Corvey, Deeds of the Saxons
Written in three books, this history of the Saxons by the learned Corvey monk Widukind takes its readers through Saxon history from the distant past to Widukind’s own time in the middle third of the tenth century, but focuses particularly on the reigns of Henry I and Otto I.
English: Bernard Bachrach and David Bachrach, Widukind of Corvey: Deeds of the Saxons, (2014).
German: Ekkehart Rotter and Bernd Schneidmüller, Die Sachsengeschichte (1981).
Wipo, Deeds of Conrad II
This biography of the Emperor Conrad II was written by the priest and royal chaplain Wipo, who was present at Conrad’s coronation and followed him on campaign. Wipo had significant access to his subject, and his account of the rise of the new Salian dynasty is at once learned and informative.
English: Theodor E. Mommsen and Karl F. Morrison, Imperial Lives and Letters of the Eleventh Century (1962)
German: Werner Trillmich and Rudolf Buchner, Quellen des 9. und 11. Jahrhunderts zur Geschichte der hamburgischen Kirche und des Reiches (2000).
Wulfstan of York, Selected Writings
Wulfstan served as bishop of London, bishop of Worcester and bishop of York during his impressive career. A key figure at the courts of both Æthelred the Unready and Cnut, his work includes sermons, homilies, and law-codes, in Old English and Latin.
English: in Andrew Rabin, The Political Writings of Wulfstan of York (2014).
A translation of his most famous work, The Sermon of the Wolf to the English, can be downloaded online here.
Readers and Collections of Translated Sources
Alan O. Anderson, Early sources of Scottish history, A.D. 500 to 1286 (1922), available online here.
F. L. Attenborough, The Laws of the Earliest English Kings (1922; reprinted 2006).
Simon Barton and Richard Fletcher, The World of El Cid: Chronicles of the Spanish Reconquest (2000).
S. A. J. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry (1982).Thomas Owen Clancy, The Triumph Tree: Scotland’s Earliest Poetry, 550–1350, (1998).
Olivia Remie Constable, Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources (1997).
Monique Goullet, Michel Parisse and Anne Wagner, Source Hagiographiques de l’histoire de Gorze Xe siècle: Vie de Saint Chrodegang, Panegyrique et Miracles de Saint Gorgon, (2010).
Cédric Griaud et Benoît-Michel Tock, Rois, reines et évêques. L’Allemagne aux Xe et XIe siècles. Recueil de textes traduits (2009).
Elisabeth van Houts, The Normans in Europe (2000).
Theodor Mommsen and Karl F. Morrison, Imperial Lives and Letters of the Eleventh Century (2000).
Edmond Pognon, L’an mille. Oeuvres de Liutprand, Raoul Glaber, Adémar de Chabannes, Adalberon [et] Helgaud (1947).
A. J. Robertson, The Laws of the Kings of England from Edmund to Henry I, (1925; reprinted in 2000).
A. J. Robertson, Anglo-Saxon Charters (1956).
I. S. Robinson, Eleventh-Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (2008).
Angus Somerville and R. Andrew McDonald, The Viking Age: a reader (2010)
Dorothy Whitelock, English Historical Documents c. 500-1042 (1955; reprinted 1996).