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The Catholic Historical Review 88.2 (2002) 331-332

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Book Review

The Cartulary of St-Marcel-lès-Chalon, 779-1126

The Cartulary of St-Marcel-lès-Chalon, 779-1126. Edited by Constance Brittain Bouchard. [Medieval Academy Books, No. 102.] (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Medieval Academy of America. 1998. Pp. x, 179. $24.00.)

Created in the early twelfth century, the cartulary of St-Marcel-lès-Chalon, which was founded in the Saône Valley about sixty kilometers north of Mâcon in c. 584 and re-founded as a dependent priory of Cluny in c. 990, includes 122 charters, the originals of which have all perished except for a 779 charter of Charlemagne's (no. 3). During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, charters from the cartulary were copied individually or in small sets into various collections; two copies of the cartulary were also made, one including all but one of the charters in the early twelfth-century manuscript. Besides Charlemagne's charter and a forged charter of King Guntram dated 584, the cartulary contains six charters from the ninth century (two of them forgeries), twelve from the tenth, seventy-six from the eleventh, and twenty-six from the twelfth century down to 1126.

Although an edition of the Cartulary of St-Marcel-lès-Chalon was published in 1896, the great value of Constance Brittain Bouchard's new edition of the same text is evident and not simply because the previous Canat de Chizy edition is now difficult to obtain (Cartulaire du prieuré de Saint-Marcel-les-Chalon, edited by Marcel and Paul Canat de Chizy [Chalon-sur-Saône], 1894). Instead of normalizing the text of the cartulary, as the previous editors did, Bouchard now publishes an accurate transcription of the early twelfth-century manuscript of the cartulary (BnF MS nouv. acqu. Lat. 496; previously MS nouv. acq. Lat 1676); she provides a valuable index of persons and places, a chronological index of the charters, a list of the known provosts and priors of St-Marcel from 779 to 1126, a map of the region around Chalon that shows more than thirty places mentioned in the cartulary, and a short, useful bibliography. The editor's introduction [End Page 331] treats the history of the community of St-Marcel, the manuscript of the cartulary and the copies mentioned above, the 1896 edition of the cartulary, and the present edition. The introduction also discusses St-Marcel's property and the terms on which it was held, the measurements of land used in St- Marcel charters, and the types of transactions that the charters in the cartulary record. For each charter in the cartulary, the editor provides a brief English summary and also lists the manuscripts in which the charter is found, as well as previous editions of it. Annotations to the charters generally concern persons and places mentioned in these texts.

As the editor notes, the charters of St-Marcel provide significant evidence about the history of this priory from the late tenth to the early twelfth century, its relations with its lay patrons, and the socio-economic history of the region in the vicinity of Chalons, where the monastery held its property. The study of these texts also illuminates a wide range of topics relating to eleventh- and early twelfth-century monasticism. For making this important text available to readers in such a fine edition, Professor Bouchard deserves great praise and gratitude.


Stephen D. White
Emory University



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