Book Series Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, vol. 5

Charters and the Use of the Written Word in Medieval Society

Karl Heidecker (ed)

  • Pages: xii + 254 p.
  • Size:165 x 245 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2000

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-50771-2
  • Hardback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53938-6
  • E-book
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The essays in this collection examine the development of writing in medieval society, focusing on qualitative developments.


"Anyone infected with the love of charters and the regular penmanship of medieval writing is going to be interested in this book and its learned studies for their own sake." (D. Crouch in English Historical Review, vol.117, n°471, April 2002, p.453)

"Insgesamt gewährt der Band interessante und vielfältige Einblicke, die unser Wissen sowohl über die Urkunden jenseits diplomatischer Fragen als auch über die Schriflichkeit bereichern." (H.-W. Goetz in Das Mittelalter, 6.1 (2001).

"Insgesamt ein gut gelungener, hochinformativer Band." (E. Goez in Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters, Bd. 59/2, 2003, p.643-644)

"(...) the valuable and solid scholarship manifested throughout, and the excellent production by the editors of the Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy." (R. Wright, in: The Medieval Review, 02.11.03)


This volume contains the proceedings of two gatherings held in 1999: a symposium on medieval literacy, Charters: the Development of Writing in Medieval Society held on 29 April 1999 in Utrecht, and three consecutive sessions on Charters and the Use of the Written Word during the International Medieval Congress at Leeds on 12 July 1999. The subject of these gatherings was the development of writing in medieval society. There have been periods of growth and of decrease in the quantity of writing produced in the medieval centuries. The present volume is concerned rather with qualitative developments. Which developments can be distinguished in the roles played by writing in medieval societies? In which fields was writing used, and by whom? Why did these changes take place? When attempting to answer these questions, the scholar confronts basic questions about the sources at ones disposal. Why were documents written? Why were they preserved and in what form? As a consequence, the contributions are clearly source-oriented. Charters, the sources to which most attention is devoted, have been continuously present throughout the Middle Ages. Moreover, they had an impact on most layers of society. The auxiliary science of diplomatics has helped scholars understand many historical problems; in this volume it is applied to the study of writing and the uses of writing. 

The contributions to the volume are: 
M. Mersiowsky; Towards a reappraisal of Carolingian charters
P. Depreux; The development of charters confirming exchange by the royal administration (eighth-tenth centuries)
G. Declercq; Originals and cartularies: the organisation of archival memory (ninth-eleventh centuries)
L. Morelle; The metamorphosis of three monastic charter collections in the eleventh century (Saint-Amand, Saint-Riquier, Montier-en-Der)
A. Hecht; Between memoria, historiography and pragmatic literacy: Bavarian Traditionsbücher in the twelfth