Monastic Cartulary for the Norman Priory of Perrières dependent on the mother Abbey of Marmoutier, which controlled an extensive estate. Richard of Courcy, who fought with William the Conqueror, was the main benefactor of this Priory. Copied over three centuries, beginning c. 1100, and including a “redditus,” the Cartulary preserves a largely unpublished record of the monastery’s history over four centuries. Presenting a new way of organizing and thinking about a monastery’s past and its possessions, such Cartularies are of utmost interest to the historian.
1.Copied and compiled for use in the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières, in Normandy (Calvados, parish of Sées, canton Morteaux-Couliboeuf). Edified on the pre-existing church of Saint-Vigor, the Priory of Perrières was “founded” or rather further endowed by the Norman Baron Richard de Courcy in the 1070s, and soon after granted in 1076 to Marmoutier, Abbey of Saint-Martin, near Tours which enjoyed a vast monastic estate (see Hippeau, 1883, p. 218; recorded in Cottineau, II, under “Perrières”). First founded in the fourth century by Saint Martin of Tours, and refounded again in 982, Marmoutier has been coined the “Cluny of the West” (P. Francastel), heading an impressive network of dependent priories such as Saint-Vigor de Perrières. Simple or obedientiary priories are dependencies of abbeys. Their superior, who is subject to the abbot in everything, is called a simple or obedientiary prior who represented locally the abbot of the mother Abbey, here Marmoutier. For a study and recension of Marmoutier’s possessions and dependent priories in O. Gantier, 1963-1965; she publishes an impressive map with all the dependent priories at the beginning of the 13th century. On Marmoutier and its cartularies, see D. Barthélemy, “Les cartulaires de Marmoutier,” in O. Guyotjeannin, ed. Les cartulaires..., Paris, 1993, pp. 247-259. Amongst the 151 dependent priories that were under Marmoutier administration, only 9 were in Normandy. On the Priory of Perrières and its ties to the benefactors from the Courcy family, see Champy, 2007, in particular pp. 11-12: “Perrières va devenir le monastère des Courcy, celui qu’il vont soutenir, génération après génération, celui qui sera aussi le témoin attentif de l’évolution de leur famille et de ses problèmes…” (Champy, 2007, p. 11).
Many of the conventual buildings of the Priory of Perrières, dating from the late 11th through the 15th centuries, still exist (the enclosure, the church, the tithe barn, the dovecote, and the mill), and in 1928 and again in 1947, it received classification as a “Monument historique.”
2. Previously in a private collection, at least by 1870 (Collection Boismorand, in Poitiers), as stated by H. Stein, Bibliographie génerale des cartulaires français, Paris, 1907, no. 3018. It was quoted in an inventory copied in 1710 (hence pre-revolutionary), the inventory now found in the Archives départementales de l’Orne, série H 2006: “Un livre ou registre couvert de basane avec une chaîne de fer attachée à la couverture contenant 60 feuillets, le tout de parchemin, dont il y en a quelques-uns non écrits, dans lequel il y a plusieurs chartes ou donations faites au prieuré de Perrières” [A book or register covered in overturned calf with a metal chain attached to the cover, containing 60 leaves, all on parchment, with some leaves left blank, in which are consigned charters and grants made to the Priory of Perrières] (see Duval, 1894, pp. 21-22). This means the binding was taken off after 1710, perhaps when the cartulary was removed from the Priory. The last monks are known to have left the Priory of Perrières in 1723, leaving only a chaplain (see Musset, 1960, p. 8). The cartulary must have been removed from the Priory between 1710 and 1870.
3. Joined: a loose note on paper in brown ink, copied by a 19th c. hand, that reads: “M[onsieu]r. N’estois que je suis accoustumée de lire en mon abbaye de semblable livres que celuy que vous m’avez envoié concernant le prieuré que vous avez de St Vigor de Perieres...,” signed “Vostre tres humble et tres acquis serviteur Berard.”
ff. 1-2, [15th c. hand] Act passed before the vicount of Falaise (town in Calvados, Normandy, just south of Caen), by which Geoffroy de la Motte-Fouquet, knight, recognizes having received from the Abbey of Marmoutier and the Priory of Perrières in perpetual grant the hermitage of “Sapient,” including tithes, usages, and all rights of justice, for the annual rent of 10 livres tournois, dated 1304, incipit, “Universis presentes literis inspecturis et etiam audituris vicecomes de fal[esiae] salutem...”;
The first two leaves of the Cartulary were copied in the fifteenth century, probably when the previously copied elements were brought together and bound. Given the foliation that begins on Roman numeral II, it appears that there is wanting a leaf numbered Roman numeral I. But this could also simply be a bifolium or a flyleaf that preceded the ternion (ff. 1-6), lost when the binding was removed. The original 1304 charter is found in the Archives départementales de l’Orne, Série H 2038 (Duval, Inventaire sommaire des archives départementales antérieures à 1790: Orne, série H, 1894, p. 29).
ff. 2v-6v, blank;
f. 7, [first quarter of the 12th c.], Notification pertaining to the grant made by Richard de Courcy–founder of the Priory of St-Vigor de Perrières–to Barthelemy, abbot of Marmoutier (1064-1084), with the consent of Richard de Courcy’s wife Gandelmodis and his sons Robert and Guillaume, of land in Bernières (terram unius carruce apud villam bernerias) and of the tithes for two mills, one in Bernières (dept. Calvados), the other in Jort (dept. Calvados), dated 1076, incipit, “Nosse debebitis si qui eritis posteri nostri maioris scilicet huius habitatores monasterii sancti martini ricardus de curceio...”; explicit, “[...] galterio de rupibus, odone fratre rambaldi mauricio nepote maricii”;
Richard de Courcy (died 1098) was a Norman Baron, lord of Courcy, near Falaise in Normandy. He accompanied William the Conqueror as a soldier in the invasion of England in 1066 and was present at the battle of Hastings. Richard de Courcy was later granted land in Somerset and Oxfordshire (see P. Champy, 2007, p. 10; see also on the Courcy family, La Chesnaye-Desbois, Dictionnaire de la noblesse, t. VI, Paris, 1865, col. 331-332). According to J. M. Bouvris, the original 11th century charter is found in the Archives de l’Orne, under the shelfmark H 2007 (Duval, 1894, pp. 22: “Charte-notice de la donation faite par Richard de Courcy, en 1076, à l’abbaye de Marmoutiers”; Bouvris, 1981, p. 88; copy of this charter also found in Paris, BnF, lat. 5441 (2), p. 87).
ff. 7v-9, [first quarter of the 12th c.], Charter by which Robert de Courcy confirms his father’s grant of the Church of Saint-Vigor de Perrières with its rights and obligations to the Abbey of Marmoutier represented by the abbot William, dated 1109, incipit, “In nomine sanctum martini, patris et filii et spiritus sanctus. Ego robertus de curcei considerans elemosinam patris mei scilicet quod pro anima sua et uxoris sue matris mee gandelmodis...et beato martino maioris monasterii et monachis eius....”; explicit, “[...] huius convenentia testes sunt willelmus de franeio, rainmundus unfredus de logiis et plures alii”;
Robert de Courcy was the son of Richard de Courcy, companion of William the Conqueror. This confirmation of the grant of the Church of Saint-Vigor de Perrières to Marmoutier issued in 1076 by Richard de Courcy is followed by an agreement (convenientia) to have 13 monks from Marmoutier sent to Perrières to implement the use of the abbey in its newly dependant priory (“secundum consuetudinem cellarum maioris monasterii” (f. 8v).
ff. 9-10, [first quarter of the 12th c.], Charter by which Richard de Courcy grants the Church of Saint-Vigor de Perrières its rights, land-claims and tithes to the Abbey of Marmoutier, whose abbot was Barthelemy, datable 1071-1079 or 1071-1076, incipit, “Quisquis fidelium ardore succensus ad implende preceptionis evangelice...”; explicit, “[...] libras decem coactus exsolvat. S[ignum] willelmi regis S[ignum] maltidis regine... S[ignum] galterii giphardi. Et multi alii” (charter published in Bates, 1998, pp. 630-631; see Bouvris, 1981, pp. 87-88);
William I of England (William the Conqueror, 1028-1087) assents to and attests the grants to the abbey of Marmoutier by Richard de Courcy of the Church of Saint-Vigor near the river Dives (at Perrières), namely, everything appertaining to the said Church within Richard’s lordship or held for him by others in the parish of the same Church, the priest and others (see Bates, Acta of William I, 1998, pp. 629-631, no. 198). This charter is considered the foundation charter of the priory, given the importance of the subscribers, none other than the king of England and his queen Matilda. The original charter is kept in the Archives de l’Orne (Alencon), under the shelfmark H 2007, with the following endorsment: “Donum Richardi de ecclesia Sancti Vigoris apud Petrarias est.” (see Duval, 1894, p. 22). Bates as editor of the Acta of William I lists five other later 18-19th copies, including BnF, fr. 5441 (2), pp. 85-86, which we have seen. The editor however did not know of the present cartulary. Still according to Bates (1998), the original charter is said to be the work of a Marmoutier scribe. Bates notes that the practice of placing the witnesses in a column (as reproduced here in our cartulary, f. 10) is typical of documents produced at Marmoutier.
ff. 10v-14v, [multiple hands, second half of the 12th c.-first half of the 13th c.] Charters and notifications concerning Perrières, mostly benefactions and patronage of the Courcy family, incipit, “Hoc sciatis quod reonodus filius huberti dedit sancto martino et monachis....”; explicit, “[...] crevit ecclesiam de une agripenno terre huius rei fuere testes [...]” (text interrupted);
ff. 15-15v, blank;
ff. 16-16v, [15th c. hand] [Droit de l’eau (heading added in a later 18th hand], Rental registry for the “Terre au Breul” owed to the Priory of Saint-Vigor, incipit, “Une piece de terre en pre ainssin qu’elle se poursuit....; Item pour .iiii. pieces de terre deux en la vaye de sacy...”; “Item .vi. d[eniers] pour une piece de terre qu’elle est assise au long du chemin...”; f. 16v, heading, Terres au Breul, incipit, “Troys pieces de terre en la paroisse de perrieres...”; explicit, “[...] es coustez sur les prez du breul”;
ff. 17-20v, [multiple hands, second half of the 12th c.; first quarter of the 13th c.], Grants and donations made to the monks of Marmoutier settled in the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières, incipit, “Hoc sciant posteri nostri quod ricardus de [glatavilla] (?)...dedit sancto martino et monachis de petriis...”; f. 19v, Act by which John, bishop of Sées (Jean Ier de Neuville, 1124-1143) grants the benefits of a number of churches of the town of Bellesme (dept. Orne), including the church of Saint-Sauveur de Bellesme, to the Abbey of Marmoutier, charter dated 1127, incipit, “Iohannes dei gratia sagiensis episcopus [Bishop of Sées] odoni eadem gratia maioris monasterii...” (the original of this particular charter is found in the Archives départementales de l’Orne, H 2007; see Duval, 1894, p. 22); f. 20v, Charter by which Robert de Vieuxpont (“Roberto de vetero ponte”) grants benefits to the Abbey of Marmoutier, charter datable before 1079 (based on the fact that John Archbishop of Rouen, who also subscribes, dies in 1079); the charter is in fact a variant of the charter found on ff. 9-10 “Quisquis fidelium aredore succensus...” (see above, ff. 9-10), with very close formulation to the “foundation charter” of the Priory of Perrières, also subscribed by William the Conqueror and Queen Matilda. This charter is not recorded in the Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum (Acta of William I), as edited by Bates, 1998.
ff. 21-21v, [15th c. hand], Grants to the monks of Marmoutier settled in the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières by Renaud de Fresnay, incipit, “Hoc sciant posteri nostri quod Rainaldus et filius suis concesserunt sancto martino et monachis petrariis...”; “Hoc sciant posteritati quod Reignaldus de Fraisneio et filius suis...”;
ff. 22-22v, blank;
ff. 23-40v, [dated 1282] Revenue Registry of the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières, incipit, “Anno domini Mo. CCo. LXXXo. Secundo. Hii sunt redditus prioratus de petrariis in festo omnium sanctorum...” The text contains a number of marginal, some interlinear notes and addenda (13th and 14th c. hands); f. 30v, a later charter, dated 1293;
This portion of the cartulary does not contain charters as such, but rather a most interesting register called “reditus,” the term used within the economic and financial administration of the monastic estate to designate the revenues owed and generated by the priories, to be paid to the mother Abbey Marmoutier. The elaborate network of well-chosen and often rich priories constituted a direct source of income for Marmoutier, which was carefully consigned in the “reditus” of each priory. This one offers at a glance the careful consignment of all sums owed for the year 1282, organized topographically since the Priory had land claims that went beyond the Church proper. O. Gantier has studied the “reditus” registers, when they exist, as they are quite rarily preserved: “A l’abbé revenait le soin de disposer des revenus, englobés sous le terme général reditus et ceci pour tous les prieurés. Grâce à ce texte, nous savons que les prieurés fournissaient des ressources à l’abbaye-mère, en nature et en argent” (Gantier, 1964, p. 65)
f. 41, Later dated charters, respectively 1294 and 1307;
f. 41v, blank;
ff. 42-53v, [dated 1328] Revenue Registry of the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières, incipit, “Census de petrariis de anno domini M. CCCo XX VIII”
ff. 54, [15th c. hand] Copy of charter “Nosse debebitis si qui eritis...” (see above, f. 7, for the early 12th c. copy of this charter) [also found in Paris, BnF, lat. 5441 (2), p. 87];
ff. 54v-56, [dated 1488] Revenue Registry for the land of Tostes (dept. Calvados, Normandy) with heading, in French, Tostes passé par chappittre le segond jour de may l’an mil quatre cents quatre vings et huyt;
ff. 56v-61, blank;
f. 61v, Added inscription, or extract from a notarial document, dated 1469, copied on the last leaf of the cartulary, in which the Lieutenant of the bailliage de Caen and the Vicount of Falaise receive the order to “serve” the king of France, presented by Pierre Chausse, Prior of Saint-Vigor de Perrières.
This manuscript is a fine and rare example of a medieva Cartulary, copied and assembled over four centuries, from the 12th to the 15th centuries, for use in the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières, in Normandy. The Priory was founded by Richard de Courcy from a pre-existing church placed under the patronage of Saint-Vigor (see Provenance, above). The present manuscript is a “cartulaire de prieuré” (or Priory Cartulary), in which priors consigned copies of the charters that directly concerned the lands and people relating to a given priory, over long periods of time. The originals of the charters were usually kept in the mother Abbey, in this case Marmoutier although we know that some priories had archival holdings and might have administered their originals. Barthélemy discusses the rarity of these Priory Cartularies (cf. D. Barthélemy, in Guyotjeannin (ed.), 1993, p. 259). The priories depended heavily on grants and donations from local barons, such as the Courcy family, who like many local Normandy Barons founded or “re-founded” religious foundations on their lands. The benefactions received by lay people supplied the income on which the Priory of Perrières, and on a larger scale Marmoutier, depended for its survival. The Cartulary provided the evidence for the monastic estate and was the memory of a given foundation, both legally and symbolically.
The charters, notifications and land deeds copied in this Cartulary were evidently copied from original charters. Bound Cartularies are precious because more often than not the originals have disappeared. In the case of the present Cartulary for Perrières, a search in public institutions such as the Archives nationales and the Archives départementales (depts. Orne and Calvados) has produced disappointing results: apart from a few original charters effectively found in Archives de l’Orne, série H 2007 (see Duval, 1894, p. 22; see also Bouvris, 1981, p. 87-89), we have not uncovered any of the other of the originals. Close comparison (by means of an edition) of the present Cartulary with institutional French holdings (especially the Archives départementales de l’Orne, série H 2005-2038) will most certainly yield interesting conclusions, and allow to better determine if there are (or not) existing originals for most of the copied charters.
A few items from the present cartulary were copied by Roger Gaignières (1644-1715) in the seventeenth century as found in Paris, BnF, MS lat. 5441 (2), pp. 85-97, but certainly not the entire Cartulary and it appears quite evident that Gaignières did not work from the present codex. Gaignières begins his excerpts with “Quisquis fidelium ardore succensus ad implende preceptionis...” [pp. 85-86], found on ff. 9-10 in the present original cartulary. Gaignières then proceeds to copy the charter beginning “Nosse debebitis si qui eritis...” ending with the comment “Notice écrite du temps” [p. 87], found in our cartulary on f. 7. Gaignières further gives a copy of a number of charters, which he seems to be copying from the originals since he provides the Latin text and drawings of some of the seals that are attached to the originals (Paris, BnF, MS lat. 5441 (2), pp. 88-97). Some notes clearly state that he is copying the originals, those that were still kept in the Abbey of Marmoutier: “Sans datte, le sceau est en poudre” [without date, the seal is reduced to dust] (p. 89); “Scellé en c[ire] bl. sur lacs de parchemin” (p. 90). The charters copied by Gaignières date from the twelfth century to 1557 [Henri III]. In sum, Gaignières seems to be copying a number of charters, directly from the originals of which some are now in the Archives départementales de l’Orne (série H 2005-2038).
Monastic Cartularies (preserving copies of charters and title deeds in codex form for individual foundations) are of utmost interest to the historian, often overlooked or misunderstood. When they were first put together in the eleventh through the thirteenth centuries, they represented somewhat of a novelty insofar as they amounted to a new way of organizing and thinking about both a monastery’s past and its possessions. There were essentially no French Cartularies before the year 1000. In Burgundy, the monks of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif of Sens seem to have created their initial Cartularies during the opening decades of the eleventh century. The first big wave came a century later, during the 1120s, when a number of older monasteries organized the documents in their archives and copied them into a single codex. In sum, the creation of a Cartulary was an attempt to organize and rationalize what a monastery (or here a Priory) owned. The question of why medieval monks would create a Cartulary still remains open. What purpose did they expect these volumes to serve? Were they: a mere transcription of all archival holdings? a handy tool to be used as legal proof? a symbolic significance for the living monks? C. Bouchard speaks of a Cartulary’s purpose as being more “commemorative” that “combative”: “Just as in high medieval art a donor, the monastery’s patron saint, and the magi, would all join together in adoration of the Christ child, an event that was considered to be happening now as well as in A.D. 1, so five centuries of gifts and privileges would bind together a monastery’s friends in the eternal present” (Bouchard, 2002, p. 31).
The great age for Cartularies is not surprisingly the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the period which saw the development of canon law and theology, leading the monks to work out exactly what their foundation owned, and defending their land and rights. The present example dates from this period and extends well into the fifteenth century. A Cartulary was an internal reference book, one that is usually well-thumbed and contains numerous marginalia in hand-writings that span centuries. Cartulary scribes copied very consciously and carefully the charters that detailed how the monastery acquired its now timeless possessions. However, one might note that dates are often omitted, perhaps considered irrelevant once the charter had made its way into the Cartulary. This is the case here, where very few dates are retained, whereas the originals were almost certainly dated: “Thus the ordering of the material into a cartulary codex deliberately took the charters out of time” (Bouchard, 2002, p. 30-31). It seems clear however that monasteries and priories that had a Cartulary were less worried about their originals, and the Cartularies were often chained in place to avoid theft, taking on what Bouchard has coined an “iconic quality” (Bouchard, 2002, p. 32). The present Cartulary apparently once had a chain, as stated in the eighteenth-century inventory detailed above in “Provenance,” before the archives of Perrières were in part dispersed (AD de l’Orne, H 2007). A very good definition and overview of what constitutes a cartulary is provided by M. Parisse, in Guyotjeannin et al. ed. 1993, pp. 503-511; see also C. B. Bouchard, 2002, pp. 22-32.
Cartularies are rare on the market. Whereas consultation of the Schoenberg Database yields 178 cartularies sold over two centuries, these include monastic Cartularies, as well as civic Cartularies (manorial or municipal), that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries. The last English manorial Cartulary to appear at auction dated only from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, and it sold for 32,000 GBP in 1996 (Sotheby’s, London). However, French monastic Cartularies of a type similar to the present example are virtually non-existent in the trade and sparsely represented on the Database; no early French monastic cartularies have appeared at auction in the last century. The closest example, from the Collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps (in which there were a number of Cartularies), is the thirteenth-century Cartulary of the Abbaye-aux-Bois, now Chicago, Newberry Library, Case MS 20.1 acquired in 1938. We have found no comparables at auction for the present manuscript, which witnesses the earliest period of monastic Cartulary formation and comes from an important monastic priory.
Statistique de l’arrondissement de Falaise, 1826-1829, II, pp. 455-456.
Beaunier, C. Abbayes et prieurés de l’ancienne France : province ecclésiastique de Rouen, 1914, p. 228.
Champy, P. Les Courcy: mille ans d’histoire d’une famille normande, Paris, 2007.
Cottineau, L.-H. Répertoire topo-bibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, Mâcon, 1937-1938, tome II.
Gantier, O. “Recherches sur les possessions et les prieurés de l’abbaye de Marmoutier du Xe au XIIIe siècle,” in Revue Mabillon, 53 (1963), pp. 93-110; pp. 161-167; 54 (1964), pp. 15-24; pp. 56-67; pp. 125-135; 55 (1965), pp. 32-44; pp. 65-79.
Caumont, A. de. Statistique monumentale du Calvados, 1846-1867, II, pp. 326-327.
Hippeau, A. Dictionnaire topographique du Calvados, 1883, p. 218.
Martène, Dom. Histoire de l’abbaye de Marmoutier, 1874-1875, vol. I, p. 426.
Musset, L. “Le prieuré de Perrières,” in Art de Basse Normandie, 1960, pp. 7-11.
Musset, L. “Le prieuré de Perrières,” in Normandie romane, 1967, I, p. 38.
Bates, D. ed. Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum: the Acta of William I (1066-1087), Oxford, 1998.
Bouvris, J.-M. “Une notice originale inédite du XIe siècle du prieuré de Perrières, dépendance de l’abbaye de Marmoutier, à l’ancien diocèse de Sées,” in Bulletin de la Société historique et archéologique de l’Orne, t. 99, no. 4, 1981, pp. 87-102.
Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum bibliothecae regiae. Pars tertia. Tomus quartus, Paris, 1744, pp. 118-119 [Paris, BnF, lat. 5441 (2), pp. 85-97].
Duval, L. Inventaire sommaire des archives départementales antérieures à 1790: Orne, série H, 1894, II, pp. xxv-xxxi and pp. 21-29, especially H 2005 (pp. 21-22), H 2007 (p. 22), H 2038 (p. 29).
Stein, H. Bibliographie générale des cartulaires français, Paris, 1907, this cartulary quoted, no. 3018.
Bouchard, C. B. “Monastic Cartularies: Organizing Eternity,” in Charters, Cartularies and Archives…ed. Kosto and Winroth, 2002, pp. 22-32 (partially online).
Guyotjeannin, O., L. Morelle, M. Parisse (ed.). Les cartulaires : actes de la table ronde organisée par l’Ecole nationale des chartes, Paris, 1993.
Kosto, A. J. and A. Winroth (ed.). Charters, Cartularies and Archives: The Preservation and Transmission of Documents in the Medieval West, Toronto, Pontifical Institute, 2002.
On the Priory of Saint-Vigor de Perrières:
On Monastic Cartularies: