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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  April 2001

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION April 2001

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Subject:

Polyptique?

From:

Christopher Crockett <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 5 Apr 2001 14:49:17 MST

Content-Type:

text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Patrick Nugent <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>How is the French term "polyptique" usually rendered in English? I'm
reading Poly & Bournazel's _La mutation_, in which they refer to this as 
a kind of historical source (Carolingian era & succeeding century
or two). 

>I've never encountered the term before and don't find it in my French
dictionaries.

Dear Patrick,

i've only used one or two of them and don't pretend to know much.

>It seems pretty clear that this source is a kind of land-record

yes.

>--a collection of charters, perhaps?-- 

no, not a cartulary.

>not an altarpiece (as a diptych or triptych).  

nope, not that either.

>These "polyptyques" catalogue the tenants of an honor, enumerate the members
of the family, described the amount of land they worked, and enumerated the
rents and services due to the lord.

yes. exactly that.  

the one that i've used a bit --and probably the most famous one extant (for
France, at least), is the 9th c. one done to catalogue the *vast* estates of
St-Germain-des-Pres, originally published by August Longnon at the beginning
of the last century of the last millennium:

_Polyptique [i.e. Polyptyque] de l'Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, réd. au
temps de l'abbé Irminon et publ. par Auguste Longnon. 
[reprint: Genève : Mégariotis, 1978]

[i see from the LoC catalogue that there has apparently been a new 
edition of it: _Das Polyptychon von Saint-Germain-des-Prés / unter Mitwirkung
von Konrad Elmshäuser und Andreas Hedwig; herausgegeben von Dieter Hägermann.
Studienausg. Liber de donnibus et redditibus.  
Köln: Böhlau, 1993.  --certainly worth a look for the added information 
on the genre surely to be found in the introduction, i'd think.]

one of the things which amazed me from my quick glance at the Longnon edition
is the wealth of detail --down to, not just the numbers, but the *names* of
the peasants belonging to St. Germain as part of his land.  something that
*very* rarely occurs in charters from the 11th-13th c., in my experience.

there may be a charter or two --certainly a reference to the source of 
the gift of land-- but the purpose seems to have been simply to catalogue
*completely* all the property belonging --and rights due-- to the saint 
(and the monks who served him, there in the meadows outside of Paris).

>she, unhelpfully, renders the word as "polyptyque" as if it were 
ordinary English.

as far as i know there ain't no english equivilent --a look at duCange will
probably run down the earliest instances of its latin usage (and serve as a
sort of catalogue of the ones which were known in his time, which is probably
most of the surviving french ones.)

it seems to me --just off the top of my head-- that William the Bastard's
"Doomesday Book" was the direct descendant of the carolingian form.  but
historians who actually make use of this sort of source would probably make
some kind of significant distinction between the two.

if you would like more you might float your question over on the medieval
history list (mediev-l out of the U. Kansas); there are quite a few serious
historical types over there who could give you the straight dope better than
i.

and, of course Otfried's suggestion of the little manual in Brepols' Tyologie
des Sources du Moyen Age series would make a good start (though i've sometimes
found those things to be a bit fluffier than they should be).

in short, not having the forsite to invent Classical Greek, we English
speakers are stuck with using the watered-down French.

best from here,

christopher





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