Guimon T. V. Documental Writing in a 13th-century Flemish Abbey (a review of two Pavel Gabdrakhmanov’s books) (.pdf)


The article presents the review of two books by Pavel Gabdrakhmanov (published in 2012 and 2016), both dedicated to the detailed analysis of record keeping in St. Peter’s Abbey in Ghent in the 1230s. Each of the books is dedicated to one document: a parchment roll in one case, and a parchment codex in another. Those texts are two types of registers of altar’s tributaries, that is, a special category of the abbey’s dependants paying an annual tribute to the abbot. The roll is a register of charters confirming the status of altar’s tributaries, and the codex is an inventory of their lineages (the status being inherited through the female line). Gabdrakhmanov studies in detail the form of those two documents, the practices of their compilation and updating, and the principles of organizing the information in them. He compares the two registers with other documents of the abbey, primarily with the charters confirming tributaries’ status, and this comparison gives him a possibility to clarify (or, on the contrary, to problematize) the construction of the two texts. The author raises the question of the purpose of those documents and concludes that it is impossible to answer to it in any simple way. The documents could be intended to be used as a form of financial records, as judicial documents, for liturgical commemoration, or otherwise. Gabdrakkmanov’s books are brilliant examples of the interest to medieval documents as a phenomenon of culture, as well as to the practices of documental writing, which is characteristic to many domains of recent medieval studies. Both books are accompanied by valuable appendices, including the first publication of the inventory of St. Peter’s Abbey’s altar tributaries with a detailed commentary.


Key words: Middle Ages, Flanders, document, record keeping, source studies, history of writing, altar’s tributaries.


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