The Medieval Review 11.05.22

Huygens, R.B.C. Herimannvs Abbas: Liber de Restavratione Ecclesie Sancti Martini Tornacensis. Corpvs Christianorvm: Continuatio Mediaeualis. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2010. Pp. 233. 125 EUR ISBN 978-2-503-53347-6. .

Reviewed by:

Scott G. Bruce
University of Colorado at Boulder

R. B. C. Huygens is one of the most prolific and well respected editors of medieval Latin texts of the past generation. Over the last half century, he has provided scholars with critical editions of dozens of works representing a myriad of genres, primarily but not exclusively from the twelfth century. Many medieval historians are indebted to him in some way, those of the crusades profoundly so. Huygens's name dominates the catalogue of the Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis series published by Brill (hereafter CCCM), his primary venue of publication since the mid-1980s, to which he has contributed almost a dozen volumes. He tends to favor lesser known texts, like the Apologia de barbis of Burchardus, Abbot of Bellevaux (CCCM 62), as well as narratives related to the crusades, such as Guibert of Nogent's Dei gesta per Francos (CCCM 127), and the two short chronicles that provide accounts of the fall of Acre in 1291 (CCCM 202). To my mind, however, his most valuable contribution to medieval studies broadly conceived is an incisive little handbook called Ars Edendi: A Practical Introduction to Editing Medieval Latin Texts (Turnhout, 2000). Every medievalist should read it, even if you never intend to edit a Latin text. Its combination of insight and anecdote, couched in the author's suffer- no-fools tone, makes it both instructive and enjoyable to read.

Huygens's most recent publication is a superb edition of Herman of Tournai's Liber de restauratione ecclesie sancti Martini Tornacensis (Book Concerning the Restoration of the Church of Saint Martin of Tournai). [1] Herman became the third abbot of St. Martin of Tournai in 1127 and held the office for ten years. He claimed to have relinquished his abbacy due to illness, but this was in all likelihood a face-saving shorthand for some contention that he wished to conceal from posterity. In any case, Herman acted as an advocate for his local church for the remainder of his life, traveling to Rome in the early 1140s at the behest of the canons of the cathedral of Tournai to petition the pope for the partition of the episcopal sees of Tournai and Noyon, which would allow the canons to elect their own bishop. It was to pass the time while awaiting the pope's judgment on this issue that Heriman composed his Liber de restauratione. A few years later, in 1147, the aging prelate departed on the Second Crusade, where he is reported to have disappeared, like so many others, while crossing Anatolia. Whether he suffered martyrdom or endured captivity, no one can say. [2]

Herman's Liber de restauratione is difficult to characterize in terms of its genre. It is best described as an eclectic and idiosyncratic collection of historical anecdotes and miracle stories, the content of which adheres closely to the author's locale--northern Europe generally, the city of Tournai specifically--but does not follow any clear principles of chronological organization. There are, however, some significant thematic threads braided through the work, such as the traditions surrounding the rebuilding of the long abandoned church of St. Martin on the southern outskirts of Tournai, which is foretold through the dreams and prophetic utterances of local people; the subsequent revitalization of the monastic community, including their adoption of Cluniac customs and their acquisition of relics; the contentious relationship between the monks of St. Martin and the cathedral canons of Tournai; and the activities of local counts, especially their dispensation of justice and their participation in the First Crusade.

This edition holds to the very high standards of the CCCM series. Huygens's introduction to the Liber de restauratione provides some very brief background to the life of Herman before turning to a discussion of the manuscripts and the principles of the edition itself. While Huygens claims that Herman's Latin is by and large correct according to early twelfth-century usage, he also takes care to note many examples of the author's distinctive modes of expression. Appended to the edition are four indices, including biblical and non- biblical citations and allusions and a general index of names, places and Latin texts cited directly in the work. This ancillary material is all very useful, but there were several terms in the Liber de restauratione on which I felt that Huygens could have elaborated further in his introduction or in his notes. First, Herman used the term phitonicus (= pythonicus, one imbued with the spirit of prophecy in the manner of Pythia or the oracle of Apollo at Delphi) to describe a helpful deaf-mute diviner, who endorsed the teaching of Herman's mentor Odo of Tournai at the expense of his rival Rainbert of Lille (37). While Huygens noted the biblical allusion in this passage, I would have appreciated some comment on Herman's use of this term, both due to its relative rarity and because its use is clearly at odds with the injunction in Leviticus 20.27 (vir sive mulier in quibus pythonicus vel divinationis fuerit spiritus morte moriantur), as Herman himself indicated with some embarrassment at the conclusion of the anecdote (Hec dixerim non quo phitonicos consulendos vel eis contra preceptum divinum arbitrer esse credendum, etc.). Second, the vocabulary used by Herman to described the abbey of St. Martin's would have also been worth some remark. In a short space of a few pages, the monastic community and the structure that housed it are characterized variously as ecclesiola (45), ecclesia (46), coenobium (47), and monasterium (47). It would be useful to know how Herman may have understood the distinctions between these terms or whether they were in fact indistinguishable in meaning to medieval readers. [3] Lastly, at two points in the narrative, angry individuals make the same exasperated utterance, rendered as Eya (48) and Eia (60). This interjection has a long pedigree in Latin literature, dating back to Plautus (Mostellaria 3.1.71) and Vergil (Aeneid 9.38). [4] Are we hearing in these passages resonances of literary Rome or an actual echo of medieval speech?

Historians of the twelfth century will welcome this excellent edition. Those unfamiliar with the wealth of information in Herman's text will be richer for the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Liber de restauratione edited by the deft hand of a truly exceptional scholar of medieval Latin.



1. Huygens's edition supersedes the one prepared by Georg Waitz and published in the Monumenta Germaniae Historia series (MGH) in 1883. The new CCCM edition has made use of manuscripts unknown to Waitz and has changed very slightly the enumeration of the chapter divisions presented in the MGH edition. There is an English translation based on Waitz's edition by Lynn H. Nelson, Herman of Tournai, The Restoration of the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tournai (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996), which presents the entirety of Herman's text but includes only a short summary of the lengthy, near contemporary continuation of the narrative by an anonymous monk of his community. Huygens's edition incorporates this continuation into the Liber de restauratione (146-190).

2. The anonymous continuator of the Liber de restauratione is our source for this: "Domnus etiam Herimannus, quondam abbas noster, cum eisdem principibus gloriosum domini Iesu Christi Sepulchrum invisere multo ardore sitiens, anno dominice incarnationis, ni fallor, MCXLVIII Ierosolimam religioso cum apparatu ire perrexit. In itinere quid egerit, actum quid de eo sit, nil certi habemus: alii enim pro Christi nomine et proximi dilectione martirizatum, alii captivum abductum referunt (189).

3. There is a useful discussion of these semantic ambiguities in Giles Constable, The Reformation of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, 1996), p. 9.

4. See Charleston Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford, 1900), p. 634, s.v. "eia," for further examples. Herman's use of this word corresponds with the second meaning listed in Lewis and Short: "[An expression o]f impatient exhortation."