THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ANTRUSTION, the name of the members of the bodyguard or military household of the Merovingian kings. The word, of which the formation has been variously explained, is derived from the O.H.Germ. trost, comfort, aid, fidelity, trust, through the latinized form trustis. Our information about the antrustions is derived from one of the formulae of Marculfus (i. 18, ed. Zeumer, p. 55) and from various provisions of the Salic law (see du Cange, Glossarium, s. “trustis”). Any one desiring to enter the body of Antrustions had to present himself armed at the royal palace, and there, with his hands in those of the king, take a special oath or trustis and fidelitas, in addition to the oath of fidelity sworn by every subject at the king’s accession. This done, he was considered to be in truste dominica and bound to the discharge of all the services this involved. In return for these, the antrustion enjoyed certain valuable advantages, as being specially entitled to the royal assistance and protection; his wergeld is three times that of an ordinary Frank; the slayer of a Frank paid compensation of 200 solidi, that of an antrustion had to find 600. The antrustion was always of Frankish descent, and only in certain exceptional cases were Gallo-Romans admitted into the king’s bodyguard. These Gallo-Romans then took the name of convivae regis, and the wergeld of 300 solidi was three times that of a homo romanus. The antrustions, belonging as they did to one body, had strictly defined duties towards one another; thus one antrustion was forbidden to bear witness against another under penalty of 15 solidi compensation.

The antrustions seem to have played an important part at the time of Clovis. It was they, apparently, who formed the army which conquered the land, an army composed chiefly of Franks, and of a few Gallo-Romans who had taken the side of Clovis. After the conquest, the role of the antrustions became less important. For each of their expeditions, the kings raised an army of citizens in which the Gallo-Romans mingled more and more with the Franks; they only kept one small permanent body which acted as their bodyguard (trustis dominica), some members of which were from time to time told off for other tasks, such as that of forming garrisons in the frontier towns. The institution seems to have disappeared during the anarchy with which the 8th century opened. It has wrongly been held to be the origin of vassalage. Only the king had antrustions; every lord could have vassals. The antrustions were a military institution; vassalage was a social institution, the origins of which are very complex.

All historians of Merovingian institutions and law have treated of the antrustions, and each one has his different system. The principal authorities are:—Waitz, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, 3rd ed. vol. ii. pp. 335 et seq.; Brunner, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, vol. ii. p. 97 et seq.; Fustel de Coulanges, La Monarchie franque, p. 80 et seq.; Maxirne Deloche, La Trustis et Vantrustion royal sous les deux premieres races (Paris, 1873), collecting and discussing the principal texts; Guilhermoz, Les Origines de la noblesse (Paris, 1902), suggesting a system which is new in part.

(C. Pf.)
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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