School of Historical Studies

Carolingian Polyptyques



Introduction: The polyptyque of the abbey of Montiérender was compiled between 832 and 845, listing some thirty villas around 150km east of Paris, on the borders of Champagne and Burgundy, near St. Dizier. Almost half of those thirty villas are divided between demesne holdings and the lands of dependant cultivators.

One of the peculiarities of Montiérender is the twelve manors at the end of the polyptyque held as precaria from the abbey. These could also be called 'pioneer farms' due to their activity in land reclamation from the Argonne Forest, having only tens of hectares of arable demesne land, few dependant mansi, but many unfree landless people. These examples of demesne-centred 'pioneer farms' demonstrate the evolution from such holdings to a more classic bipartite structure, which can be followed in the extension of the demesne's arable land and the growing number of dependant mansi and newly reclaimed small dependant farms (hospicia). Such demesne-centred farms were often used for the stock breeding of pigs, and all in all the abbey of Montiérender had holdings of around 9000 pigs, three times more than St-Germain-des-Prés.

Manuscript: The extant manuscript can be found in Archives départementales de la Haute-Marne, série H, non coté (Stein, n° 2543), folio 120.

Edition: Claus-Dieter Droste, ed. Das Polyptichon von Montierender (Trier 1988) pp. 20-46.

Translation: Dr. James Palmer


UPDATED:January 2008
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