The Cartulary of Prémontré

medieval text

Detail from the Cartulary of Prémontré, circa 1240 (Image provided)


Author (Has Faculty Page)

Additional Authors and Editors

Heather Wacha, Ed.


Journal/Publication and Year

University of Toronto Press (2023)


The Cartulary of Prémontré offers a full critical edition, consisting of a transcription of the cartulary’s 509 charters together with historical notes and apparatus. The thirteenth-century cartulary of the abbey of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Prémontré is one of the few manuscripts to survive from this monastery. Offering a window into daily life in medieval France and to contemporary documentary practices, the cartulary of Prémontré is a rich source for the socio-economic and religious history of the Picardy and Champagne regions during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The charters contained in the cartulary illuminate how this major northern French abbey functioned as a mother house for the Premonstratensian Order, and how it interacted with people – both elite and non-elite as well as secular and ecclesiastical. It also reveals the complexities of cartulary production within a larger institutional and archival context. In an introductory essay, Heather Wacha and Yvonne Seale consider not only the history of the manuscript and of the abbey of Prémontré, but also the cartulary’s materiality, its place within the broader field of cartulary studies, and what it shows us about women’s roles in contemporary society. In doing so, this volume offers new connections between the field of cartulary studies and feminist studies.

Primary research questions:

1. What social, economic, and religious role did the abbey of Prémontré play in its region? 
2. How was a complicated manuscript like this researched and compiled in the thirteenth century? 
3. What should be the best practice for document editors/translators in accurately framing the texts they're working with?

What is already known?

This is the first edition of the cartulary of Prémontré, even though in its heyday, the abbey was the motherhouse of an international monastic order with houses that stretched from Ireland to Jerusalem, Norway to Spain. Many other editions of other monastic cartularies exist in an editing tradition that stretches back to the 19th century, but this is a first for Prémontré and the Premonstratensian Order.

What the edited collection adds to the topic:

The edition brings to wider scholarly attention an important documentary source for the social and economic history of the Picardy region of northern France, which in the 12th/13th centuries was one of the wealthiest and most urbanised parts of western Europe. The edition is pioneering in bringing an intersectional/feminist lens to the work of document editing.


Research for this project was partially supported through the Computational Analysis Cluster award to SUNY Geneseo from the State University of New York (SUNY) Expanded Investment and Performance Fund, and an Incentive Grant from the Faculty Research Subcommittee of the Geneseo Foundation Research Council.



Yvonne Seale and Heather Wacha, The Cartulary of Prémontré. Medieval Academy Books, no. 118. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2023).