• fr
  • en
AGS Records Management

Why did the battle of Fréteval play a pivotal role in the history of archives?

Although it is a battle of no military interest, the battle of Fréteval remains a key moment in archival history.

Posted in: Corporate News
Published Date: 03 May 2024

Battle of Fréteval archival history

Who said battles were pointless? The battle of Fréteval, in France, remains a seminal moment in the history of archives. We look back at the consequences of this famous encounter.

At the beginning of the 11th century, the French King Philip Augustus embarked on a campaign to capture Normandy from the English Plantagenet kings. On 5 July 1194, with Richard the Lionheart hot on his heels, Philip was forced to abandon his siege of the fortress of Vendôme. The two sides would clash soon after at Fréteval, a nearby fortress owned by the Count of Blois, a vassal to the French King.

During the battle, Philip Augustus lost his treasure, his seals and his archives. As was customary for the aristocracy at the time, these precious documents always accompanied the king on his travels, so little concern was shown for their proper preservation.


The birth of the Trésor des Chartes

According to the legend which was recounted in chronicles for three centuries, Philip Augustus learned his lesson and decided to stop travelling with his official documents. In 1231, he set up a repository for his archives in Paris, becoming the founder of the Treasury of Charters.

The charters were later housed in the Sainte-Chapelle, above the sacristy and the Treasury of Relics. The Treasury of Charters formed the foundation of the archives of the French kingdom and were nationalised during the French Revolution.

While Fréteval was a battle with few military consequences, it is regarded as a fundamental moment in archival history.

Do you need a Treasury of Charters for your business? We can help! Contact us to talk to an expert.