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In 842, Louis the German (of the eastern Franks) and his younger brother, Charles the Bald (of the western Franks) performed the Strasbourg oaths of loyalty to one another—each in the vernacular associated with the other and his followers. In the language-based disciplines of French and German, these oaths stand at the beginning of a history that has obscured the multilingual situation from which it emerged. This essay revisits that prehistory, uncovering biases in current terminology and offering alternatives. The essay concludes with a discussion of early modern reception, suggesting a different narrative for the history of monolingualism.