Charter Establishing the Abbey of St. Martin of Laon in 1124AD

Megan Keyser Educational Studies
Halle Martin History

Michael Holstead Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities

Presentation Time: April 28, 1:30pm – 2:00pm

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In the Vitae Norberti, the hagiographic accounts of the life of Norbert of Xanten, it is described that Norbert is granted authority over the canons of the Abbey of Saint Martin in 1124 AD. Having established the first Norbertine community at Premontre a mere three years prior, the canons of Saint Martin were among the first religious brethren to be introduced to Norbert’s recently established tradition. Through research into historical trends of Ecclesiastical Latin grammar and wording, we were able to produce the first full translation of this charter nearly 900 years after it was written. The source was authored by Bishop Bartholomew of Laon, who was one of the most inspirational figures in Norbert’s lifetime and had pushed Norbert to expand his order beyond Premontre into Laon. Norbert and the canons were described to have been hesitant to associate with each other, as Norbert’s strong convictions about poverty and celibacy clashed with the practices of the Laon canons. When evaluating our translation in combination with the accounts of Norbert’s life, we found that the charter parallels the hagiographies in striking ways, such as the provisional clause for misconduct within the abbey. We are excited to share this original translation alongside the history of the charter within European scholarship.

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