Capitularies, certain laws enacted under the Frankish kings, and so named from the circumstance of their being divided into capi-tula, or chapters. They were issued by Childe-bert, Clothaire, Carloman, and Pepin, but still more extensively by Charlemagne, whose object appears to have been to harmonize, explain, or amend the existing feudal codes, and effect to some degree a uniformity of law in his dominions. These enactments were both civil and ecclesiastical; according to Savigny, the latter were of force throughout the three kingdoms subject to the race of Charlemagne, but the former were valid only within the state in which they originated. The capitularies were promulgated in the public assemblies, composed in Charlemagne's day of the sovereign and chief clerical and lay dignitaries, though in earlier times all those capable of bearing arms seem to have taken part in them. The laws were inscribed among the royal archives in the Latin tongue, and published to the people in the vernacular. Their execution was intrusted to the bishops, the courts, and the officers called missi regii, who were sent under the French kings of the first and second race to administer justice in the provinces.
The earliest enactment coming under the name of capitulary was made by Childebert in 554, and the latest by Charles the Simple, who died in 929. The first collection of the capitularies was begun in 827 by Ansegisus, abbot of Fontenelle, and continued by Benedict the Deacon, of Mentz. It was approved by various kings and councils, and had the force of law. Additions were subsequently made to this collection, and the first complete edition was published by Vitus Amerpachius at Ingolstadt in 1545, under the title of Pracipum Constitutiones Caroli Magni de Rebus ecclesiasticis et cimlibus. The best edition is that of Baluze, entitled Capitularia Begum Francorum, etc. (2 vols, fol., Paris, 1677; new eds., Venice, 1771, and Paris, 1780).