John Ott

title.none: Van Mingroot, Les Chartes de Comtes du Cambresis (John Ott)

identifier.other: baj9928.0812.003 08.12.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: John Ott, Potland State University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Van Mingroot, Erik. Les Chartes de Gerard I, Libert et Gerard II, Eveques de Cambrai et D'Arras, Comtes du Cambresis. Medieavalia Lovaniensia, XXXV. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2005. Pp. xxxvi, 382. ISBN: $85.00 90-5867-395-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.12.03

Van Mingroot, Erik. Les Chartes de Gerard I, Libert et Gerard II, Eveques de Cambrai et D'Arras, Comtes du Cambresis. Medieavalia Lovaniensia, XXXV. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2005. Pp. xxxvi, 382. ISBN: $85.00 90-5867-395-2.

Reviewed by:

John Ott
Potland State University

With his new edition and annotation of the charters of bishops Gerard I, Lietbert, and Gerard II down to 1092/1093, Erik Van Mingroot has brought forth the first fruits of an academic life's work on the charters, chancery, and personnel of the dual bishopric of Arras- Cambrai in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. As the author points out in his foreword, an edition of the episcopal charters of Arras- Cambrai has been a desideratum for over a century, and an explicit interest of the Commission royale d'histoire de Belgique since the 1960s. In France, the move to produce scholarly editions of episcopal acta was given a push in 1987 by the formation of a groupe de recherche consecrated to inventorying and publishing surviving original charters from before 1121 archived in northern France. Based at the Université de Nancy II, the Atelier de recherche sur les textes médiévaux (ARTEM) assumed the leading role in this endeavor. [1] With respect to episcopal charters, the results produced in the ensuing decades have been somewhat fitful, particularly compared to the steady stream of editions of English episcopal acta. For the archdiocese of Reims, which included Arras-Cambrai, Michel-Benoît Tock and Annie Dufour-Malbezin produced high-quality new editions and studies of the episcopal charters and chanceries of Arras and Laon, respectively. [2] Many more finished editions and catalogues of episcopal acta remain yet unpublished and difficult (or impossible) to access. Marie- Josè phe Gut-Bondil's 1955 study of charters for the bishops of Châlons (origins to 1201); Patrick Demouy's for the archbishops of Reims (957- 1139); Simone Lecoanet's for Amiens (origins to early thirteenth century); and Alexis Rinckenbach's for Noyon (1148-1221) fall into this category. Still other projected editions of episcopal acta have been assigned or are in progress, but have yet to appear, including the documents of the bishops of Noyon-Tournai (before 1148), Beauvais, Soissons, and Thérouanne.

This track record makes the appearance of Van Mingroot's volume, the first of three envisaged encompassing episcopal charters to 1130, all the more welcome. [3] Cambrai boasts one of the richest surviving collections of episcopal acta for northwestern Europe: 86 of 293 known charters from northern France dating to the eleventh century are from its chancery. [4] This output is consistent with the cathedral chapter's reknown as an historical archive and producer of episcopal gesta during the eleventh century. Future studies that take into account historiographical mentalities and endeavors at Cambrai will henceforward need to read closely contemporary local charters, which not only draw on the language of the gesta but frequently historicize the actions (and so identities) of their episcopal issuers (see, e.g., pp. 90, 100, 118, 130-31, etc.) in the context of those sources. The three larger-than-life bishops covered here--Gerard I (1012-1051), the sainted Lietbert (1051-1076), and Gerard II (1076- 1092)--left behind sixty-five charters and twenty-six additional "semi-diplomatic" documents such as letters and mandements. Van Mingroot furnishes full editions only of the former, but supplies annotated commentaries on the latter in an appendix.

As we might expect, the production of charters at Cambrai expanded during the eleventh century from a slender handful (4) under Gerard I, to a steady stream under Lietbert, who reorganized the chancery in 1057 (20, averaging less than one per year). Diplomatic production then achieved a robust flow from the chancery of Gerard II (41 charters in sixteen years). [5] Several charters and episcopal seals are helpfully illustrated here by the inclusion of ten black-and-white plates. The charters reveal the bishops in action in their doubled diocese. A variety of practices and trends emerge. The episcopal chancery's practices and office-holders were highly stable from the 1050s forward. The bishops enacted their charters surrounded by a relatively close group of cathedral canons, typically their archdeacons (from three to seven), a few chaplains, and miscellaneous scribes. Charters issed in synod attended by larger groups of churchmen and laymen only became common under Gerard II (nos. 3.23, 3.29, 3.30). Dating clauses and styles reflect Cambrai's sometimes thorny position betwixt the German reich (of which its bishops were vassals), the French crown, and the county of Flanders. We also see the bishops' personal ideologies emerge in the charters' preambles; Lietbert, for example, frequently evoked his role in the material and spiritual rebuilding of places by drawing from the deep well of biblical metaphor and example (e.g., nos. 2.01-02, 2.04-05); Gerard II did not.

As to the edition itself, it is, in a word, scrupulous. Drawing on fifty years' experience with the diplomatic materials of Cambrai, Van Mingroot has produced an exhaustive apparatus. In addition to traditional indications of the charter's status as original or copy, existing editions or registers, and secondary source commentaries, Van Mingroot furnishes notes on the dating and historical authenticity of each document. These notes, in microscopic font, are further larded with secondary references to current debates or disputes, and often run several pages long (e.g., no. 3.16, pp. 232-35). After presenting the edition of the charter, variants are listed and additional footnotes to the commentary supplied. It is therefore not unusual that the commentaries on individual acta run five or more pages. Embedded throughout the text are relevant observations about the function and organization of the episcopal chancery, the personnel of the cathedral chapter, diocesan religious institutions, and local aristocratic dynasties (e.g., the castellans of Douai, at p. 191 n. 2; the archdeacon Mazelin de Mainvault, p. 261 n. 1; the Lesquielles family, at p. 297 n. 1). Indeed, Van Mingroot's work is a prosopographical gold mine and brings to print important findings from his unpublished doctoral thesis on the chancery of the Cambrai cathedral chapter. [6]

One of the more important contributions of the critical apparatus to ongoing historiographical debates appears in the appendix, in which Van Mingroot presents and dates the letters and notices of Bishop Gerard I inserted into the Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium (0.01-0.11, pp. 318-44). These letters treat issues of diocesan jurisdiction and politics, pastoral issues, and, most significantly for many modern historians, the diffusion of the Peace and Truce of God in northern France (principally nos. 0.05, 0.09, 0.11, pp. 323-36, 332-36, 338-44). Moreover, the letters bear directly on the dating of the first three books of the Gesta episcoporum, a major appraisal of which Van Mingroot himself undertook some years ago, and which has been addressed anew in a recent article by Theo Riches. [7] The dating of the Gesta is implicitly linked to its authorship- -certainly two, perhaps three, scribes worked on its first three books--its audience, and its intended uses. Van Mingroot stands by his earlier ordering and dating of the Gesta's composition here and defends it convincingly against critiques raised by, most prominently, Dominique Barthélemy (pp. 324-26) and David C. Van Meter (pp. 341-42). (He also promises a forthcoming work on the identity of its author.) The question of authorship must nevertheless remain for the time being unresolved in light of both Riches' recent article and the promised work of the author himself.

Most importantly for an edition of texts, there is the question of its operability and user-friendliness. Happily, errors and typos are rare given the work's technical precision and depth. A few do crop up: the name of historian Robert Coolidge is accidentally supplied for Robert Somerville (p. 146); the localization of charter 2.09 is omitted (p. 112) from the document heading, and in a 1091 charter (3.35, p. 297) "[Widrici ar]chidiaconi" is intercalated in a damaged section of an original charter for what should have been "[Frederici ar]chidiaconi," Widric's successor in that dignity in 1087 (see p. 239). More seriously, users of this first volume of Cambrésien charters have to make do without an index, at least for now. While the author does classify the documents and organize them according to their contents (pp. 29-39)--helpful if one knows in advance what one is looking for-- at present researchers seeking references to particular individuals, places, phrases, and so on will have no choice but to plow through the collection charter by charter. This is a potentially exhausting mountain to climb, and, given that we must wait a while yet for the remaining pledged volumes to be published, somewhat deflating.

Nevertheless, for its sheer breadth and depth of coverage of the region's political and ecclesiastical history, its minute discussion and dating of the charters, its rigorous technical proficiency, and its rich prosopographical content, Van Mingroot's Les chartes in unquestionably worth the long wait. Researchers owe Van Mingroot a debt of thanks for his lifetime of labor. It is to be hoped the ensuing volumes attain the stellar quality of the first.


1. The ARTEM website may be accessed at http://www.univ- Its catalogue of episcopal acts was annexed to work in progress to bring to publication all original private charters prior to 1121, work which got underway in 1966 and concluded this year. See, for overviews of the various efforts to catalogue and publish episcopal charters in Cambrai and throughout France, and preliminary findings, Van Mingroot, ed., Les chartes, viii-x; Michel Parisse, "La recherche française sur les actes des évêques. Les travaux d'un groupe de recherche," in Die Diplomatik der Bischofsurkunde vor 1250/La diplomatique épiscopale avant 1250. Referate zum VIII. Internationalen Kongress fr Diplomatik, Innsbruck, 27. September-3. Oktober 1993, ed. Christoph Haidacher and Werner Kfler (Innsbruck: Tiroler Landesarchiv, 1995), 203-7; and the articles in À propos des actes d'évêques. Hommage à Lucie Fossier, ed. Michel Parisse (Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 1991), especially those of Ghislain Brunel and Michè le Courtois.

2. Benoît-Michel Tock, Les chartes des évêques d'Arras (1093- 1203), Collection de documents inédits sur l'histoire de France 20 (Paris: C.T.H.S., 1991); idem, Une chancellerie épiscopale au XIIe siè cle. Le cas d'Arras, Publications de l'Institut d'Études Médiévales. Textes, Études, Congrè s 12 (Louvain-la-Neuve: Université Catholique de Louvain, 1991); Annie Dufour-Malbezin, Actes des évêques de Laon des origines à 1151, Documents, études et répertoires publiés par l'Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes 65 (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2001). Outside of northern France, the results have been meager apart from the edition of Jean Becquet, Actes des évêques de Limoges des origines à 1197, Documents, études et répertoires publiés par l'Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes 56 (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 1999), and the soundings in departmental archives of Michè le Courtois and Marie-José Gasse-Grandjean, e.g., La diplomatique française du haut Moyen Age: Inventaire des chartes originales antérieures à 1121 conservées en France, 2 vols. (Turnholt: Brepols, 2001), and of Michel Parisse.

3. Volumes consecrated to the years 1093-1113 and 1116-1130 are projected to follow, along with a fourth volume of indices and other critical apparatus (p. x).

4. Ghislain Brunel, "Chartes et chancelleries épiscopales du Nord de la France au XIe siè cle," in À propos des actes d'évêques, 227- 44, at p. 228.

5. Given Gerard's troubled early years both at home and with Rome (1076-1078), he only regularly began issuing charters in 1079; his rate of production from 1079-1092 was better than three per year.

6. De bisschoppelijke kanselarij te Kamerijk, 1057-1130, 4 volumes (Thè se de doctorat, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1969).

7. "Kritisch onderzoek omtrent de datering van de Gesta Episcoporum Cameracensium," Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire 53:2 (1975): 281-332; Theo Riches, "Episcopal Historiography as Archive. Some Reflections on the Autograph of the Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium (MS Den Haag KB 75 F 15)," Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 10 (2007): 7-46, esp. at pp. 17-23. While Riches' dating of Gerard's letters and historical sections of the Gesta largely accords with that of Van Mingroot (pp. 18-20), he re-opens the question of authorship based on a close study of the autograph ms.