contributor.author: E. Rozanne Elder, Western Michigan University

title.none: Nelson, trans., Herman of Tournai's Restoration

identifier.other: baj9928.9612.003 96.12.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: E. Rozanne Elder, Western Michigan University, elder@wmich.edu

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1996

identifier.citation: Lynn H. Nelson, intro. and trans. The Restoration of the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tournai. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996. Pp. xxv, 248. $34.951995. ISBN: ISBN Cloth 0-8132-0850-5 Paper 0-8132-0851-3.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 96.12.03

Lynn H. Nelson, intro. and trans. The Restoration of the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tournai. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996. Pp. xxv, 248. $34.951995. ISBN: ISBN Cloth 0-8132-0850-5 Paper 0-8132-0851-3.

Reviewed by:

E. Rozanne Elder, Western Michigan University
elder@wmich.edu

This very readable translation of Herimanni liber de restauracione monasterii Sancti Martini Tornacensis is based on the 1883 edition of Georg Waitz in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores volume 14, 274-317, and supplemented with passages contained not in the Waitz edition but in a sixteenth-century manuscript, British Library ms Harleian 4441, ff. 447-486.

St Martin's Abbey, at the time Herman wrote one of three monasteries following the customs of Cluny, was founded in 1092 at Tournai on the site of "an undistinguished church that had been built in honor of St. Martin on a slight hill outside the south gate of the city. According to tradition [Herman tells us], it had been a monastery in ancient times but, along with many other churches of Gaul, it had been devastated by pagans" during the Viking invasions of the late ninth century and "crumbled away into nothingness." (Ch. 5). In his account, Herman, the son of the abbey's prior and himself prior, abbot, and finally emissary of St Martin's, provides a window on the Flemish and Norman world of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries.

Through Herman's eyes, readers observe both major events and personal activities during the first fifty years of the abbey's refounded existence, 1092-1142, the year when Herman found himself idle at Rome, stalled in his mission to plead Tournai's case with Innocent II. The famines that swept Flanders in 1095 and again in 1125-26, volleys in the Investiture Conflict, the murder of Charles the Good and ensuing civil war, the Norman conquest of England with hints of the civil war that was to follow the death of Henry I are intermingled with accounts of the monks' dealings with bishops, cathedral canons, landed gentry and other religious houses. The economic needs and obligations of a rapidly growing abbey, the political manoeuvering of ecclesiastics and nobility, the generosity and pettiness of laity and churchmen alike all pass in review. The complexity of the web of relationships that bound religious houses across lines of province (Reims), observance (Benedictine, eventually Cluniac) or gender become manifest.

In a detached but careful manner, Herman traces the story of his own family. Raised in the monastery after his parents, Ralph and Mainsendis, separated to enter monastic life in 1095, taking their four sons with them as Mainsendis herself had been taken by her father into a monastery early in life, Herman had a personal stake in the abbey's welfare. The depth and the awareness of the monetary value of such piety as his parents', offer valuable insights to historians used to more theological descriptions of monastic life.

Appendices on how to read between Herman's prose, on the new learning of the early twelfth century, on claustral and cathedral education, on familial loyalty and devotion, and on Herman's own family tree flesh out the chronological narrative, and a chart of persons and events helps readers keep the not always sequentially presented events in order.

The book would be useful in undergraduate and beginning graduate classes. The translation reads very well; the translator's comments are both pertinent and illuminating. Two small things would have improved the volume: the identification of scriptural phrases and an index of persons. Despite a good discussion in Appendix One on the value of recognizing the overtones inherent in Herman's opening citation of Psalm 137:1, the translator inexplicably chose not to note scriptural phrases scattered throughout the work.