medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

> On Jul 31, 2009, at 7:42 AM, Nancy Spies wrote:

>> True, true, but I am rather thinking that a church inventory might be more
likely to include a small knife.  Why, by the way, would  they have needed

From: Andrew Larsen <[log in to unmask]>

>Trimming candles seems like a good guess to me. It might also be used for
trimming writing quills, trimming parchment, as a paring knife in the kitchen,
or just as a general utility knife.

funnily enough, another use for a knife in an ecclesiastical context
would/might be as part of the ceremony solemnizing the transfer of property. 

quite a few charters from the 11th-12th century Chartrain (and, i assume,
elsewhere) end with a clause noting that the gift which the charter
commemorates was placed on the recipient church's alter "per cutellum."

i have always taken this to mean that both the charter and a knife were placed
on the altar, symbolizing the transfer of the gift itself.

in one of the early volumes of the Memoires de la société archéologique de
l'Eure-et-Loir Lucien Merlet, the great Chartrain archivist, published a
lithograph of such a charter, with a knife attached on a cue of parchment (as
though it were a seal, in this period before seals became commonplace).

sometimes the gift is made "per baculum" --which appears to have been some
sort of "baton" symbolic of property ownership.

at least that's what i've always assumed was the case --and would welcome any


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