English Preface Polyptique Montierender

English Translation of Preface Polyptique Montierender


  • The editor of the Polyptique chose to restart the footnumbering with 1 on each page; thus, footnotes in the French original have been rendered in (1) in the text.
  • Where the translation has been tentative, (?) is used to indicate so.
  • Where the translation is alarmingly free or context-specific, the original has been provided in parenthesis, e.g. the French manses has been rendered as "manors"—arguably a translation choice that bears discussion.

Free Translation

Section I

The abbey of Montierender, in the village of the same name (Haute-Marne), was founded by St Berchaire. According to the diploma of Childeric II, that founding took place in the year 662, IV non Julii (?), in the third year of Childeric (1)1.

The polyptique of the abbey of Montierender contains the enumeration of the manors (fr: manses) of that abbey and of their revenue during Carolingian times.

The text published here is found at the end of the Cartulaire de Montierender, in the Archives of the Haute-Marne (2)2. The redaction and the style of the Polyptique of Montierender, the oath (fr: serment) which is ofund at the end of several articles or meeting minutes (fr: procesverbaux), and finally the documents that have brought us closer to this text prove that the polyptique | (Page ii) | belongs approximately to the height (fr: integralement) of the Carolingian epoch (1)3.

This origin bestows upon our text a great authority, when one considers that Charlemagne and his successors demanded of the abbeys to update their polyptique. (2)4 This was an offical and authentic deed (fr: etat) of the goods and the rights of the abbey, solemnly made right (fr: dresse solennellement), contradictatorily, by the interested parties, obligatory for all, and for necessity, made with faith in justice. Each article of the polyptique represents the protocols of an enquiry, and the veracity of the declarations were confirmed by the oath of the men of the soil which it describes. The polyptiques became thus the the authentice titles of proprietorship with unimpeachable authority. Therein lies the importance of the document we publish. The Polyptique of Montierender completes the appendix of the Polyptique of Irminon and the Appendix of the Polyptique of Saint Remy of Reims. (3)5
| (Page iii) | We now provide a succinct analysis of the Polyptique of Montierender.

Section II

The document lists the principal properties attached to the centers or main places (fr: chef-lieux). Not counting the seat of the abbey, seventy localityies, main places more or less scattered, are designated in the Polyptique of Montierender. These well represent approximately the core endowment (fr: dotation primitive) of the abbey. They are situation for the most part in the region well-known (fr: illustre) from the apostolic travels (fr: courses) and the miracles of St Berchaire, on the banks of the Marne, of the Blaise and the Voire in the tribal territories (fr: pagus) of the Pertens, Dervens, Barrins and the Breonens.

One has to note however, that during the time of the redaction of the Polyptique, the goods from the inheritance of St Berchaire had almost completely disappeared. Berchaire through his testament (1)6, date August 30th 664, disposed in favor of Montierender of large domains located in the department of Vienne. Almost all of the centers of properties designated in the Polyptique subsis- | (page IV) | ted up to modern times (i.e. 19th century), but their influence (fr: rayon, the radius) changed: of new goods, steming from donations, or the title acquired at expense (fr: onereux), they developed successively the primary economic endowment (fr dotation). Altogether, the abbey of Montierender owned during the Middle Age 62 priories, 6 funded chapels, 9 parochial churches or annexes (1)7, and those possessions found themselves within the jurisdiction (fr les finages) of more than 90 villages, and the abbey had seignoral rights over twenty two of these villages.

Section III

The immobile part of the fortune of the abbey of Montierender constituted three distinct elements: the domaine (mansus indominicatus), the cens (mansus censualis), and the precaire (precaria prestaria). Consequently, it is necessary to divide tripartite the allodial domains owned by Montierender.
The domain encompassed the independent seigneurial part and was owned and exploited directly by the abbey herself, that is to say by coloni (fr colons) under the direction of an officer of the abbey called the ministeriel (ministerialis).
| (page v) |
The cens consisted of a part of dependents and of tenents. The holdings (fr bien-fonds) who paid the tax (fr cens) were held and cultivated by person of a more or less free condition, at the charge of a payment (fr cens) and of certain corporal services of profit to the abbey, which had the right of proprietorship over the whole.
The precaire was made up of the parts condede as benefits to the vassals. It consisted of holdings which, after having been donated to the abbey, had been taken back by the donors for the duration of their life, and equally for the life of one or more of their successors, at the charge of paying an annual payment (fr cens) to the abbey.

Section IV


The seigneurial domain consisted of 37 churches which brought in (fr rapportant) 6 l. (livres?) 14 s. (sous?); 33 seigneurial manors (1)8, which needed (fr exigeaient) annually 4,725 modiums of seed; of forests that could graze 8,650 pigs; of vines which produced 365 modium of wine per yer (fr annee commune); of meadows (fr pres) which made 595 wagons of hay; of 12 mills, | (page vi) | of which three produced 230 modiums of wheat flour (lat annona) and 23 modiums of bracio (1)9, nine of these miles are given (fr donnes) in two or three parts; breweries (fr brasseries), in six of which they produce 500 modiums of oats (fr avoine) and twenty eight modiums of corn for brewing beer (lat bracio); woods which produce 92 modiums of oats (fr avoine); and finally 535 chicken all your round.


The cens, or the part of the revenues attributable to the cens, comprised 811 manors (fr manses) of different sizes, but all tributaries. These manses divide up as follows: 723 manses (fr ingenuiles) (210), of which 643 were (lat vestiti) (311), and 79.5 (lat absi) (412); ten manses (fr serviles), (513); 68 (lat hospitia) (614); | page (vii) | 10 manselli (lat manselli) (115 ). Each tributairy manse paid numberous dues which one can classify into dues in kind, dues in person and in services. Into the first category one must put the tenth and the eleventh garb (?) (fr gerbe) of essarts; there are dues in living (fr betail) (often several manses give limbs or legs (lat armos) of a pig), fowl (fr volaille) (the number of chickens ist less then four per manse, and the number of eggs i five times that great), wine, flour, bread, oats (fr avoine), malt, (fr houblon), (fr foin), fire wood, (fr bardeaux, lat scindule), or (fr planchettes de chene) which serve to cover (fr les toits) or to (fr revetir) the walks, scissors (fr echalas, lat pascelli) or (fr paisceaux) for the vine, hatchets or other utensils, torches for the watch (fr guet) of the night, etc. There are dues in terms of days of handiwork for the laborers, for making the (fr pres) and the vines, for the (fr moissons), for the (fr charrois); for the flailing of grain, for the (fr entretien) of shirts and pants, for (fr tondre) the hay and for (fr elaguer) the trees; be it for the watch (fr le guet) of the night or | page (viii) | or the guarding of the houses, of the (fr moissons), of the (fr vendages) and the (fr granges) when the (fr recoltes) are brought in, (116) etc, there are the rights and taxes for the service of war ….
Many (fr deces) dues in (gr Naturalien) were replaced by an annual payment (fr abonnemnet) which was paid in silver, just as (fr ainsi) the dues which were called (lat cavalitium) or the (fr chevauchee) ( (fr prestation) in oats for the horses of the seigneurial manses of the abbey) were replaced by a payment (fr abonnement) which produced every year the considerable sum of 40 l(ivres) 14 s(ous) of Carolingian money.
The different dues which the tributary manses were subjected to have been interpreted by Ducange in his Glossarium and by Guerard in his Prolegomena for the Polyptique de l'abbe Irminon, we omit the explications that mean (fr apprendraient) nothing to the readers who are interested in the Polyptique of Montierender.
Accordingly we call attention to the due called (lat Ambascatio Ambasciacum Ambasciaticum). That word, which was not encountered by Ducange and which one finds frequently (fr tres-souvent) in the Polyptique of Montierender, designates the obligation to go on business or to conduct the businesses for the service of the seigneurial manse or for the officers of the monestary. (117) When a due is called Caplim, this designates, according to Mr Guerard, the (fr elagage) of the (fr haies) and the trees; but our text contains Caplim Noctibus XV (No XXXVI), and if the word noctibus was not introduced through distraction it should modify the interpretation of Caplim.


The (fr precaires), aftger the total revenue at the end of the Polyptique, encompasses two churches, 61 manses, 7 manses inhabited and cultivated by hotes; 3,560 days of workable land; another 148 days constitute the (fr accints) of the manses; three mills, where one produced 60 modium of grain; 2 livres of silver, 2 sous and 9 denars; 395 serfs; 130 wagons (fr defoin) another 40 days of (fr pre); 9 wagons of fire wood; 600 (fr bardeaux); 6 fresinges (2)18; two lambs; nine chicken.

Section V

We believe one can evaluate, approximately, the immobile fortune of the abbey of Montierender during Carolingian times. For | page x | this, one has to redo into current values the monies and the measures used of the time of Charlemagne and his first successors. Part (fr or) of that work was made by M Guerard in a knowledgable study entitled, Apercu of the statistic of Palaiseau at the end of the reign of Charlemagne. In that study, which is the commentary of one of the articles of the Polyptique of the abt Irminon, M Guerard establishes the quantity of fields (fr champs), vines, meadows (fr pres), woods, which the abbey of St Germain des Pres possessed at Palaiseau, as well as the revenue of these lands, and also the value of the diverse dues paid to the abbey.
We believe that the principles established by M Guerard are applicable to the interpretation of the Polyptique of Montierender, given an analog redaction of it with the Polyptique of Irmion, which appeared also during the Carolingian epoche. That intersting work remains to be done; we hope that an erudite and patient pen will surely writethat page of the history of the abbey of Montierender during the 9th century.

The author (fr nous) became acquainted with the principal centers of property of Montierender through publishing the (fr pouillie) of that abbey, and that document completes and clarifies the polyptique. Multiple | page (xi) | copies of the (fr pouillie) exist; we are in the possession of two, whose writing is of the 17th century; a third, of the 18th century, is found at the beginning of the Cartulaire de Montierender (1)19. That which the author published and which can offer us the most garanties, was prepared in the month of March 1593, and is found, at that dated, among the capitulary acts of the abbey (2)20. We add to the text of the pouillie the ancient revenue of the priors and of the curates (fr cures), charges made and deductions according to a State (fr: estate) of benefits, written at the commencement of the 17th century (3)21. At the end of that piece, a religious wrorte in the 18th century: "During the times when this memoire was prepared, all the curates (fr cures) mentioned (fr susdites) have often augmented their revenues, sometimes by the creation of congruent portions and through other arrangement favorable to the Messieurs curates." Finally, an December 11th, 1779, dom Dumay, the archivist of the abbey, attached the following note: "To serve in the history of our abbey. It would be desirable to verify whether one had not let prescribe the nomination of curates mentioned here. D.L.D." | page (xii) |

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