Military Camps

Long Camp and May Camp

The Carolingian Army’s Camps

Municipalities of Corridonia and Morrovalle, Province of Macerata, Le Marche.

We will recall that the Italian word campo and the Latin word campus mean farm field as well as military camp. What the Carolingians used to call Campum Longum, or “Long Camp,” was the permanent military camp that was located on top of a hill, close to the palace. This place goes by the same name today. There was, at the least, a second long camp for controlling the southern border, which was a few miles from the town of Ascoli Piceno. On the other hand, Campus Maius, or “May Camp,” was a temporary camp. Its name indicates the time of year when the army gathered together for the yearly military campaign, as soon as the grass sprouted up, providing forage. Between the Adriatic seashore and the capital city, close to the palace and Palatine chapel, under the Campum Longum hill, a plain stretches out that is still called today Campo Maggio, or “May Camp”. Indeed, one can find a sign in Morrovalle that says Campomaggio, and on the hill is another sign that says Via Burella di Campolungo. The reader will recall that the adolescent Charlemagne met with Pope Stephanus II at Campum Longum. Here is Campum Longum.

Angilbert mentions the campum in his description of boar hunting, which Giovanni Carnevale describes as follows:

“The entire valley would become mobilized for wild boar hunting. As soon as the morning sun lit up the mountains (Sibillini), Charlemagne’s children would get out of the royal bedroom (Verse 156) while a group of nobles, gathered together from every part of the area, would wait for them outside of the door. The author finally has Charlemagne appear in Verse 168, where he immediately sends him to go and pray in the nearby chapel. When the king comes out of the chapel in Verse 170, there is a great racket from barking dogs and a crowd of people. Responding to the military trumpets, the gates of New Rome open up and the young people race, along the valley towards the sea (Verse 181). Meanwhile, after coming out of her apartments, the “very beautiful” Queen Liutgarde gets up on a horse. The poet describes her headgear, precious clothes, jewelry, and her retinue of nobles in great detail. The children, with their big cortege, wait for her at the exit gate: Pepin, Charlemagne’s son, and Rhotrud lead the cortege, then finally there is Bertha. Also leaving the saintly palace (sacrata Palatia) are Gisele, Rhodaïde, and Theodrade, who is astride a white horse, decked out like a queen and surrounded by excited young girls. Hildrud brings up the rear of the royal cortege and is followed by New Rome senators. They all head towards the seashore, and at a certain point, the army also joins the cortege. (etc. etc.)

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