A Brief History of the

Abbey of St. Lomer in Blois1



Because it appears that two surviving documents from the abbey of St. Lomer may provide unusually precise and reliable corroborative evidence for establishing an absolute chronology —indeed, to the very day— of both the beginning (25 April, 1138) and end (25 May, 1186) of the earliest building campaign of this important "Transitional/Early Gothic"2 building, a careful examination of the history of the institution and its surviving document base is perhaps even more warranted than usual.

The local tradition in the 17th century (in part reinforced by since-lost documents) held that Lomer, a 6th century native of the Drouais, probably from the farmstead of Neuville-la-Mare, which later documents tell us belonged to the saint's abbey at Blois and was the site of a chapel dedicated to him where, even in the mid-17th, century, the saint's day (19 January) was celebrated by a procession to the chapel from all the local parishes.3 He became a monk of one of the most important monastic houses of the period, St. Mesmin of Micy (near Orléans4) before retreating to the woods of the northern Perche and founding there a monastery, dedicated to St. Martin, at "Corbion" most likely the modern Moutiers-au-Perche.5

1 ©Christopher Crockett, 2014. This document in WORD format is here. The present cursory summary of the history of St. Lomer is primarily based on the extensive 1924 monograph by the erudite local historian, Dr. Frédéric Lesueur ("L'Église et l'Abbaye bénédictine de Saint-Lomer de Blois," Mémoires de la société des sciences et lettres de Loir-et-Cher, XXV, 1924, pp. 59-162) who, in turn, relied heavily on the excellent and detailed 17th century history of the abbey by the Maurist historian, Dom Noël Mars (as in note 3 below), and also made use of an extensive (6 folio volumes!), still-unpublished manuscript cartulary. Wherever possible, all Lesueur's sources have been independently checked and, in the main, this process has shown his meticulous narrative to be well founded; indeed, he appears to have been one of the most reliable local historians working in early 20th century France. I am indebted to Professor Sarah Blick for reading an early draft of this essay and offering many helpful suggested improvements. Needless to say, all remaining errors and mare's nests are my own.

2 Of course, "Gothic," an early modern construct of the 16th and 17th centuries, was never used in the Middle Ages to characterize the architectural (or figural) style which is now so familiar that we "know it when we see it." However, defining exactly what constitutes a "Gothic" building in the second third of the 12th century —when confronted with an actual exemplar rather than in the abstract— is not an easy task. Indeed, it might be argued that the imposition of the constraints of the construct prevents us from understanding the true nature of some of these "transitional" buildings (and the very use of such a term begs the basic question of the reality of the construct). With its mixture of "Romanesque" and "Gothic" elements, St. Lomer's is one of the best tests of the use and validity of these constructs. The question is an important one because we often find in the literature that the demands of adhering to the construct may distort the interpretation of both a monument itself and even the document base connected to it. (On this phenomenon, see Elizabeth A. R. Brown, "The Tyranny of a Construct: Feudalism and Historians of Medieval Europe," The American Historical Review, LXXIX, 1974, pp. 1063-1088.)

3 Dom Noël Mars, Histoire du royal monastère de Sainct-Lomer de Blois, de l'ordre de sainct Benoist, recueillie fidellement des vieilles chartes du mesme monastère et divisée en quatre parties, par dom Noël Mars... 1646, manuscrit de la Bibliothèque publique de Blois, publié textuellement... avec notes, additions et tables, par A[lexandre] Dupré,... (Blois: Marchand, 1869), Section I, p. 55: "Pour le lieu de la naissance…c'est chose certaine, selon la tradition que ce fut à Neusville-la-Mare…" [sic for Neufville? -i.e., a half-crossed, interior "s"?]. This "tradition" does not appear in the sources published in either Mabillon's ASOSB or the AASS. Cf. Merlet, Dictionnaire topographique d'Eure-et-Loir, p. 131: "Neuville-la-Marre, village, cm de Gironville [cm de Châteauneuf], Nova-Villa (polypt. D'Irminon, p. 133)," four leagues from Chartres"; and GC VIII, c. 1352: Neuville-Lama, "ab urbe Carnotensi quatuor milliaribus Gallicis dissitam, quo in loco exstat oratorium ipsi sacrum."

4 See Dom Mars' typically well-reasoned "Digression Apologétique pour preuver que saint Lomer a esté religieux de Saint-Mesmin," in his Histoire… (as in note 3), pp. 57-60.

5 Acta Sanctorum (Antwerp, 1643), XIX, (2 January), pp. 225ff. On the history of the abbey of Corbion, see GC, VIII, cc. 1350-4 (i.e., within the text devoted to the abbey of St. Lomer of Blois), locating this place in the "vicus dictus Corbon, non longe a Moritania, Mortagne, in pago Perticensi versus Carnutum" (c. 1350, n. a). On the complex early history of the Pagus Corbonesus/Curbionensis, see Auguste Longnon, ed., Polyptyque de l'abbaye de Saint-Germain des Prés….(Paris: Champion, 1886-1895), II, p. 162, nn. 1-2. Alexandre Dupré noted, in his edition of Dom Mars (p. 64, n. 2), that precisely locating this "Corbon" is not an easy task and favored "le nom significatif de Moustier-Saint-Lomer….con de Remalard, (Orne, arr Mortagne)…" This view was shared by Ferdinand Lot and Louis Halphen (Le régne de Charles le Chauve… Paris: Champion, 1909, p. 46, n. 6), following Lot's edition of an 843 charter of Charles the Bald ("Mélanges carolingiens, IX," in Le Moyen âge, XII, 1908, p. 261-274, at p. 268). More recently —and definitively— Georges Tessier revisited the problem and also decided that "La tradition plaide en faveur de Moutiers-au-Perche, anciennement Saint-Lomer-le-Moutier, où les moines de Saint-Lomer de Blois avaient un prieuré…" (Recueil des actes de Charles II le Chauve…. Paris: Impr. Nationale, 1943-1955, I, p. 18, n. 1).










Lomer died on a visit to Chartres around 590, and was buried in the Benedictine abbey of St. Martin-au-Val, on the outskirts of the city.6 Shortly thereafter (as the tradition had it), two monks from Corbion came to Chartres, wormed their way into the trust of the monks of St. Martin's and were eventually able to steal the saint's body, taking it back to the monastery he had founded in the Perche.7

Around 873 or 874, monks from Corbion, fleeing Norse invaders with their saint's relics, came first to Le Mans,8 and then to Blois,9 where they were given asylum, most likely in the church (or chapel) of Saint Calais, within the castrum which dominated the town.10 At a date which cannot be precisely determined —most likely in the late 10th century— the monks of St. Lomer moved from the church of St. Calais in the castrum to a site below it, quite near the river —i.e., to the church of Saint Lubin, (described as being sub mœnibus Blesis castri11), which they took over and occupied until their precious relics were translated to a newly constructed building immediately to the east, in 1186 (see below12). According to Dom Mars (and his sources), during the course of the 11th century the monks apparently received many gifts of property, suggesting that they were active and important in the region.13 When the relics were transferred from the castrum, this earlier church of Saint Lubin apparently became that of St. Lomer; apparently it occupied the site of the western-most bays of the nave of the present church.14

6 Mabillion's best guess for the date of his death was "c. 590" (ASOSB, sæc. 1, Venice 1733 ed., p. 326, note a). The Benedictine abbey of St. Martin ("St.-Martin-au-Val," now the parish church of St. Brice) occupied the site of the oldest Christian cemetery of Chartres and was the necropolis for many of the early bishops, including St. Lubin. After the Norse depredations of the 10th century it was served by secular canons, then became a priory of Marmoutier in 1128 (see Yves Delaporte, "Chartres," in Alfred Baudrillart, et al., eds., Dictionaire d'histoire et géographie écclesiastique, VIII [Paris: 1952], cc. 544-574, at c. 560). Architecturally, it is the largest and most significant surviving 11th century building in the diocese of Chartres.
7 Mabillon records -"Ex vetustis Legendariis & Breviariis Mss."- that the relics were translated from Chartres on a 23 October, "circa 591" (ASOSB, sæc. 1, Venice 1733 ed., p. 317-327, at p. 327). The account of the saint's life by Dom Mars (as in note 3) clearly contains several interpolations (presumably based on the unpublished cartulary), most evidently those which connect property owned by the saint in the diocese of Chartres and the Blesois (e.g., Chapter I, Section XII, p. 373); it also recounts the circumstances of his death (I, XII, pp. 373-4) and his first translation back to Corbion (II, II, pp. 374-5). Unfortunately, the theft of Lomer's relics does not fall within the 800-1100 range of Patrick Geary's "Handlist of Relic Thefts" (Furta Sacra… Princeton, 1990, pp. 149ff.), though it probably does correspond to the pattern which is illuminated there.

8 The account by Dom Mars (as in note 3, I, X, p. 377) includes at least one miracle associated with the relics of the saint during his stay in Le Mans, suggesting that they may have been there for some period of time.
9 Dom Mars (as in note 3), I, XI-XIII, pp. 377-80.
10 This reconstruction of events in part reflects the text of a forged 924 royal charter (discussed in note 12 below). The question of the fabrication of this document aside, it seems clear that the monks must have resided somewhere in Blois from the third quarter of the 9th century until their translation to the church of St. Lubin, perhaps in the early years of the 11th century (which is Jean Dufour's conjecture of the date of the forgery —see below). The palace chapel (oratorio sancti Carelesi) seems as likely a place as any, and inserting it in a charter which fabricated the history of the abbey would, presumably, have been consistent with —and, indeed, may reflect— that history as it was understood by those living at the time of the forgery's creation, three generations or more after the purported events recorded therein.
11 Cf. Lesueur 1925, p. 10: "Il est vraisemblable qu'elle se trouvait sensiblement au même endroit que l'église Saint-Lomer….l'église Saint-Lubin occupait sans doute l'emplacement de là nef de l'église actuelle. Nous verrons, en effet, qu'en 1186 on transporta les reliques de la vieille église dans la nouvelle. La 'vieille église' existait donc encore à cette date et par suite devait occuper l'emplacement des parties qui n'avaient pas encore été reconstruites, c'est-à-dire des premières travées de la nef." For a sketch of the importance and dissemination of the cult of St. Lubin, an important 6th century bishop of Chartres, in the diocese, see François-Jules Doublet de Boisthibault, "Le tombeau de Saint-Lubin, évêque de Chartres (544-556)," Revue Archéologique, XV, 1858-59, pp. 35-39; Lucien Merlet, "Notice sur l'église Saint-Lubin de Châteaudun," Mémoires de la société archéologique de d'Eure-et-Loir, IV, 1867, pp. 180-189; Jan van der Meulen, Notre-Dame de Chartres: I, Die vorromanische Ostanlage (Berlin: Mann, 1975), pp. 65-82.
12 The date of 924 for this translation, commonly found in the secondary literature on the abbey, is based on a supposed charter of King Radulph purporting to document the monks' move from the castrum to the church of St. Lubin in the settlement below (most conveniently published as "Charta fundationis abbatiae S. Launomari Blesensis…Ex chart. S. Launomari" in GC, VIII, instr. c. 412, i.e., after the 17th c. cartulary of Saint-Lomer, Arch. dép. de Loir-et-Cher, 11 H. 128, p. 5; the "original" is lost). Though Joseph Depoin doubted this charter's authenticity ("Études préparatoires à l'histoire des familles palatines," Revue des Études historiques, 1908, p. 578), as had others, it was, rather stubbornly, accepted as genuine by the usually meticulous and cautious Dr. Lesueur. However, based on the application of multiple criteria, Jean Dufour has since convincingly declared it to be an "Acte Faux" (Recueil des actes de Robert Ier et de Raoul, rois de France: 922-936 [Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1978], no. 31, pp. 113-116, characterizing Lesueur's arguments for its legitimacy as "désespérés"). Dufour suggests, rather obliquely, that the forgery probably dates from the early to mid-11th c., perhaps created to bolster a claim that the Count of Blois was the chief patron of the newly-displaced abbey —though he implies that it is at least as likely that it was the Viscount of Blois who was in fact the primary agent of the monks' translation to the new site, citing (p. 115) a charter of 902 in the Arch. départ. Loir-et-Cher, 11 H 128, p. 1, published by R.-H. Bautier (Recueil des actes d'Eudes, roi de France, Paris, 1967, n° 40, 2°, p. 166). Be that as it may, at some point in the late 10th or very early 11th c. it seems likely that the monks of St. Lomer did, indeed, leave the chapel of St. Carilif in the upper castrum and relocate to the church of St. Lubin, nearer the river, approximately on the site of the western parts of the present building. Dufour's implication (pp. 114-115) that the forged charter of King Radulph dates from the early 11th c. suggests that the memory of the viscount's role in the abbey's history had, by that time, faded —or perhaps been suppressed— while the (supposed) tradition of the count's role in the translation of the abbey had not only replaced it, but had been well established for some generations by the time of the 1138 commemoration of Count Theobald IV's sponsorship of the new building campaign and, indeed, may partly explain his patronage. In any case, from the time of its concoction, this forgery was fully accepted as genuine by later generations and was not only used to reconstruct the history of the abbey, but also for such purposes as the general confirmation of its property by Pascal II in 1107 (cf. note 20 below). Indeed, Dom Mars believed that "l'abbaye a été fondée par Raoul" (according to his letter to Dom Anselme Le Michel, 26 January, 1645, published in Delisle's review of Dupré's edition of Mars, BEC, XXXI, 1870, pp. 103-110, at p. 107).
(GC VIII, Instr., c. 412: Charta fundationis abbatiae S. Launomari Blesensis…Ex chart. S. Launomari). "…ego Rodulphus…penuria & longa fatigione monachorum, qui de loco in locum fugati indecenter morantur in castello Blesensi sursum in ecclesia sancti Carilephi in loco non apto neque congruo ordini monastico, do & concedo preibus amici mei Theobaldi inclyti comitis palatii victus sancto Launomaro & monachis ejus, ecclesiam sancti Leobini constructam sub moenibus Blesis castri & fiscum contiguum ipsi ecclesiae, ad construendam abbatiam… together with all that pertains to it which the count has ab antecessoribus meis jure hereditario…."
The general confirmation charter of Charles the Bald for Corbion, transcribed by Dom Mars after a sealed "original" (Dupré ed., pp. 87-9), supposedly "remédier la destruction des titres de cet établissement provoquée par les incursions des Normands," which included property in the Ile-de-France, Neustria, Acquitaine, etc., based in part on the type of sealing method still visible on the "original" which Dom Mars "had before his eyes," was adjudged an "acte faux" by Georges Tessier (Rec. actes Charles le Chauve, II, no 484, pp. 608-11), and a post 9th century fabrication from "une époque relativement récente," i.e., perhaps of the late 11th or 12th century. In any case, this fabrication suggests that the monks of St. Lomer were not without considerable resources at the time of its creation —i.e., the property to which they laid claim mentioned in this fabrication may have been somewhat in play.
13 Lesueur, p. 10, citing Mars, pp. 129, 139. Note that the 17th century manuscript cartulary from this major house (Archives départementales de Loir-et-Cher, 11 H. 128, containing more than 500 documents from 902-1771; cf. Stein, Bibliographie des cartulaires, nos 503 and 503bis) has apparently been neither published nor used in any systematic subsequent study.
14 Regardless of whether or not the 924 charter is legitimate, the fact is that, at some point, the monks of St. Lomer probably did indeed leave the church of St. Carilif in the castrum and bring their relics to a site nearer the river (i.e., first the site of St. Lubin). According to a charter of 1186, these relics were transferred "de veteri in novam …ecclesiam" at that time (see n. 23 below). Note that the "orientation" of St. Lubin (as well as that of most of the other churches of Blois) was determined by its relationship to the Loire; thus, the choir/apse of the present St. Lomer is oriented toward the northeast. For the sake of simplicity, we shall assume here that its orientation is toward the east. [Was there a chapel of Sts. Carilif or Lubin in the new St. Lomer's? AASS on Carilif and Lubin??]






















Over a century later we have a laconic mention in a chronicle (from outside the region) of a fire in the monastery of St. Lomer in 1114, but it lacks details concerning the extent of any damage to either the abbey church or its conventual buildings and it is not known what, if any, reconstruction work might have taken place following this fire.15 In any event, as far as can be determined, the monks of St. Lomer were at that time occupying the former church of St. Lubin (see above) in the bas ville, which may well have been in the space of the present western bays of the nave (i.e., the post-1186 building campaign of the present building).
However, it seems that a 9th-10th century manuscript from the abbey16 contains a 12th century interpolation which reliably tells us, in an unusually precise fashion, that construction on a new church began on 25 April in 1138, under the patronage of Count Theobald of Blois17:

UT UERO IN DU[IBUS?] INTERUS[?] || Anno . Mo.Co.XXXoVIIIo. ab incarnatione domine. indictione I. epactis || existentibus; .VII. in mense Aprili*.XXaVa. die mensis. [in margin: *eodem die luna existente XIIa.] id est .VII. Kalendas Maii || quo scilicet die celebratur festum sancti Marci euuangelistæ ; cepta est fundari || æcclesia sancti launomari blesis . comite theobaldo tocius franciæ reg-||num post regem ; ordinante ; & communi tocius eclesiæ utilitati feliciter || [there follow two lines in the earlier hand of the Bede text and, on line below those, inserted in the same 12th century hand and red ink(?) as the rest of the interpolation:] consulente ;18

Despite its extraordinarily precise yet somewhat enigmatic nature, this date has been generally accepted as the terminus post quem for the beginning of the earliest construction campaign of the eastern part of the building.19 Apparently no other documentrary evidence survives which specifically concerns this 1138 campaign, though there may well be some charters in the massive unpublished cartulary which might shed some ancillary light on its financing; however, from both this text and a charter of 1186 (see below) it would seem that the count played a major role in the construction of the new building. In addition to whatever resources might have come from that source, those of the abbey itself were, of course, not inconsiderable.20
In this context, for example, a charter of 1155 from St. Sulpice-sur-Risle (Orne), near L'Aigle in Normandy,21one of the oldest and most significant priories of the abbey, records in extraordinary length and detail no less than two dozen gifts of property to that priory, old and new, confirmed by Richer, Lord of L'Aigle. It is clear that his confirmation of gifts made by his predecessors and their fideles (including at least a few which were then in dispute, post multum temporis contradicentes), as well as a considerable number of new gifts made by Richer himself (or, at least, in his own time, meo tempore), must have represented a significant increase in the priory's income, a very substantial part of which was quite likely destined for the mother house, which was then in the middle of an extensive building campaign.22 No doubt further analysis of the unpublished charters in the abbey's cartulary would serve to clarify its fiscal condition during this critical period of the construction of its new home.








15 In typically meticulous fashion, Dr. Lesueur (p. 11, n. 1) quotes the Chronicon Sancti Maxentii Pictavensis from the original manuscript (B.n., ms. lat. 4802, fol. 205 v°, col. 1): Anno M.C.XIIII Cenobium sancti Launomari Blesi Castro igne consumptum est, and, noting that the previous publications of this passage (Philippe Labbé, Nova bibliotheca manuscript. librorum, II, p. 218 and GC VIII, cc. 1052A and 1154E; PL???), had misread the date as "1014," and that it was misread yet again -this time as "1204"- by both 17th century Blesois historians (Mars, op. cit., p. 165 and Bernier, p. 40), even though they refer to the Labbé publication. Difficult as it is to make sense of these two, different misreadings of the date, it would seem that we must assume that, in view of his otherwise meticulous scholarship, Lesueur's transcription of the manuscript is accurate. The characterization of the monk's location in the Blesi castro in this "foreign" chronicle cannot be taken too literally, since it might simply refer to the castrum of Blois generically, rather than specifically to the count's fortified area above the town; likewise, the "cenobium" which was "consumptum" might refer to the conventual buildings of the monks as easily as to the fabric of the ecclesia which they then occupied. In any event, there is certainly no part of the existing church which might be datable to this period, and the 1186 charter (see below) specifically tells us that the saint's relics were transferred "…de veteri in novam …ecclesiam", implying that if there had been any damage to the church in 1114 it was either minor or had been repaired by that latter date. All of this suggests that the 1114 fire affected the site of the former church of St. Carilif in the bas ville, which was then occupied by the monks of St. Lomer.
16 As noted in 1924 by Lesueur (p. 17, n. 2.), B.n., ms. lat. 7297 contains (on fol.1r, http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/) a perhaps late 13th century ex-libris: Iste liber est ecclesie sancti Launomari. This line is followed by "mccxxxiiii," perhaps in the same hand; next to this are two later shelf marks, "1451" (in the same ink which crossed out the first "x" above and refers to its place in the Depuy collection), and "5364". Apparently the last detailed description of its content (and that used on the gallica.bnf.fr site) is to be found in Guillaume de Villefroy's 1744 Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Regiæ (pars tertia, IV, p. 337, ms. vii mccxcvii): "1° Venerabilis Bede, Presbyter, liber de temporum ratione. 2° Fratris Hezelelonis sententia de Nativitatis, Dominicæque passionis Concordia. 3° anicii Manlii Serverini Boëii, de musica libri quinque. 4° Epocha fundationis ecclesiæ sancti Launomari apud Blesas, an. scilicet 1138", adding "Is codex, si paucissima excepteris, decimo sæculo exartus videtur." Clearly the "paucissima excepteris" in question was part "4o", since it is indeed written in a script contemporary with the event it describes.
17 Noting that it is in added red ink, Lesueur's edition of this interpolation (p. 11) contains a few variants from the original. The interpolation is consistent in its paleography with the 1138 date, and appears at the end of the text of the Boethius De Musica, on the bottom of the last leaf of the codex (f.102v): http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9072594n/f110.zoom. However, with its precise and extraordinarily detailed and redundant dating, it would seem that it might not simply be, for instance, a copy of an inscription, or a "first draft" of one yet to be executed, but rather that its purpose was somehow connected with the primary (and first) work in the manuscript, Bede's De Temporum Ratione; in any event, it is clear that it was placed where it is in the codex because that was the only blank space available for those few lines to be inserted -the somewhat cramped text of the curious De Nativitatis & Passionis Dominae Concordia having taken up the blank quarter folio (54v) at the end of the Bede. It is not at all clear how it happened that this one line 12th c. interpolation, concerned as it is with the beginning of construction on the church at that time, was inserted into this 9th-10th century literary/scientific manuscript —however, it is more likely that it relates to the Bede treatise rather than to that of Boethius. Might it have been some kind of "exercise" involving describing the date of the 1138 event in the fullest and most precise way possible, according to the parameters explicated in the Bede? Or perhaps there might have been some sort of "astrological" purpose to its content well —i.e., an attempt to define as precisely as possible the date of the "birth" of the abbey building, in order to determine its future life. Was the insertion of eodem [Lesueur reads "eadem"] die luna existente XIIa (via a marginal note) significant? Was it just a transcription error, the "dropping" of a line during the transcription from a wax tablet to the parchment? This may well be true, since the insertion is in the identical hand —and apparently even the same ink— as the rest of the text. Alternatively, if the "exercise" explanation is true, then the die luna may have been added as an additional dating parameter which the monk/reader/scribe had as a (soon) afterthought.
(References to ms. 7297 in the annual Scriptorium index only seem to relate to the De Musica: [1970 A] B 413; [1974] B 370; [1982] B 363; [1988 p. 233 [Bower.])
For a very brief description of this manuscript's copy of the Bede treatise and its place among the many exemplars of this popular work, see Bedae Opera de temporibus, ed. Charles W. Jones. Cambridge: The Mediaeval Academy of America, 1943. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015066446363; I have not seen the recent translation, De temporibus. Bede, The Reckoning of Time, translated, with introduction, notes and commentary by Faith Wallis (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999.
(Note that the short "sententia de Nativitatis, Dominicæque passionis concordia" of "Fratris Hezelelonis" at the end of the Bede —probably in the same hand, though in a different ink— has, apparently, never been published, at least under that title and author.)
[according to http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/phase/phases1101.html there was a full moon on 26 April, at 20:54 p.m. (UT = GMT); and http://www.rodurago.net/en/index.php?month=4&year=1138&geodata=48.52%2C2.20%2C1&site=details&link=calendar says that there was a partial eclipse of the moon (in Paris) at 22:55 on 26 May, 1138]
The phrase "comite Theobaldo totius Franciæ regnum post regem ordinante, & communi totius eclesiæ utilitati feliciter consulente" is rather curious. Louis VI died on 1 August of the previous year (1137) —by which time the future Louis VII had been a consecrated and generally recognized co-king and heir for nearly seven years and the sometimes stormy relationship between the Capetians and their occassionally unruly Thibaudian vassals had cooled considereably from that in the previous decades. So the idea that this phrase might be suggestive that the "palatine" count Theobald might have made an attempt to become king can only be entertained by a close look at the precise situation in place in late April of 1138.
(For this manuscript, see further http://archivesetmanuscrits.bnf.fr/ead.html?id=FRBNFEAD000066496; mentioned briefly by Delisle, Cab. Mss. in his list of mss. from St. Lomer II, p. 406: "Mss. lat. 6810, 7297, 8312 et 10700. Il y a un manuscrit de Saint-Lomer, à Wolfenbüttel (Voy. le Solin de Mommsen [= C. Iulii Solini Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium Gaius Iulius Solinus, Theodor Mommsen Nicolai, 1864], p. LXXXII; [SIC, 1894 ed., XXIII {probably just a typo, but perhaps an error in the first ed., corrected in the second?} > Wolfenbüttel?? = Leiden. Vossianus Q. 87: Saec. IX…ex bibliotheca aliqua Aurelianensis ad Petavium -no mention of Blois; the justification for Delisle's attribution is not clear.]
Other hits (from this source?) to be checked: Rev. Bened. 1935, 158 [=?André van de Vyver, "Les oeuvres inédites d'Abbon de Fleury," R.B., XLVII, pp. 125-169]; Rigault, n° 1334; [Gallica X; wikipedia.fr. X]; coll. Dupuy, n° 1451; [the later cote found on f.1r of the manuscript; hist. "coll. Dupuy?"]; Bischoff, Mittelalterliche Studien. Ausgewählte Aufsätze zur Schriftkunde und zur Literaturgeschichte Bd. 3 (Stuttgart 1981), 142.
18 Curiously, the meticulous Maurist historian of St. Lomer, Dom Mars, who knew the documents of his abbey very well and makes several extraoridinarily perceptive comments about the dating of the architecture of his abbey, does not mention this important text in his 1646 manuscript; but it did come to the attention of Jean Mabillon (no doubt through one of the Maurist monks of Blois in his own time), who first published it —in full— in 1739, as an inscriptio ad calcem….ex veteris codicis bibliothecæ regiæ…5346 [sic, for 5364, one of the cotes found on f. 1r of the ms.], in his Ann. benedict., VI, lib. LXXVII, ann. 1138, xl, pp. 312-13. Frédéric Lesueur published it again in 1923, in a transcription which is essentially correct (excepting its modern punctuation) and agrees with that of Mabillon's, save for replacement of the quite legible cepta est fundari ecclesia in the manuscript with his 1739 edition's cœpta est ædificari ecclesia (the reading is clear in http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b9072594n/f110.zoom). Presumably this was because he wished to clarify that fundari was not literally true in the sense of "founded," while ædificari was somewhat clearer in its meaning.
19 Without specifically citing Lesueur, the 1138 and 1186 dates were both accepted as respective termini for the building's construction by Marcel Aubert ("Les plus anciennes croisées d'ogives: leur rôle dans la construction," Bull. Mon., XCIII, 1934, pp. 5-67; 137-237, at p. nnn. [Offprint: Paris: Picard, 1934, p. 119]); while Jean Bony only mentions the first date (French Gothic Architecture of the 12th and 13th Centuries [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983], p. 56). For him, Blois is "a building which in its lower story is still half-Romanesque….Begun in 1138…was built very slowly in several campaigns and completed only in 1186" (p. 163). However, he is for some reason reluctant to see anything significant being built in most logical decade of the 1140s: "At the level of the ambulatory and chapels the construction appears to date mostly from the 1150s and early 1160s" (p. 473, n. 8). Of course, Bony is writing a survey (based primarily on the previous work of others), not a monograph on St. Lomer.
20 See for example the 1107 confirmative bull of Pascal II listing all of the abbey's holdings (largely based on the forged charter of King Raoul), transcribed by Mars, p. 146-7 (but, curiously, not published in GC, VIII —did Dom Verninac have reason to doubt the charter's authenticity?), and edited by Johannes Ramackers, Papsturkunden in Frankreich. VI. Orléanais (Abhl. Akad. Wissensch. Göttingen. Phil.-hist. Kl., 3. Folge, Nr. 41, Berlin: Weidmann, 1958), no. 20, pp. 72-73.
21 The charter was transcribed in its entireity by Dom Mars (who calls this priory "St. Sulpice de l'Aigle"), pp. 351-6, after the original, which was then in the archives of St. Lomer (now Arch. Dép. Loir-et-Cher, 11 H 27); and was also published by Dom René Porcher, "Histoire de l'abbaye de Pontlevoy," Revue de Loir-et-Cher, 15° année (avril 1902[3?]), col. 52ff., at P.j., col. 161. A prospective new edition of it was announced by Jean-Michel Bouvris ("Les plus anciennes chartes du prieuré de Saint-Sulpice près de l'Aigle, dépendance normande de l'abbaye Saint-Laumer de Blois, XIe-XIIe siècles," Annales de Normandie, XXXI, 1981, pp. 327-330, at p. 330, n. 1), to appear in the Bulletin de la Société historique et archéologique de l'Orne, but apparently has not yet been published (as of 2013). For an analysis of this "great charter" from the Norman point of view, see Daniel Power, The Norman Frontier in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 219-220 and 225.
22 The charter was drawn up by Richer's chapelain and publice Aquilae (presumably today's St. Sulpice-sur-Risle), but the acts recorded in it were done in aula abbate Blesensi Gauffredo, in the presence of Johanne priore Blesensi and Fulcone, sacrista S. Launomari, suggesting that, whatever Lord Richer's own motivations for his concessions might have been, they certainly coincided with the intentions of Abbot Godfrey (II, c. 1151-c. 1156: GC, VIII, col. 1357), who had presumably traveled all the way to l'Aigle with his prior and sacristan to hold court, with Richer and his entourage of homines in attendance (why would the copy in the abbey's cartulary note that the charter was "published" at L'Aigle, if the acts recorded in it had not taken place there?). This charter also records what appears to be the "entry gifts" of several new monks of St. Lomer, presumably done in the time of Richer, which suggests that the events recorded in his charter might have had as much to do with whatever was happening at L'Aigle as at Blois. Either way, of course, the mother house would have profited from the confirmations recorded, much to the benefit of her building fund.





















































The End of the Early Gothic Campaign (>1186)

On the 25th of May, 1186 Count Theobald V of Blois (1151-1191) issued a formal charter confirming certain gifts and rights held by the abbey, which also records (in its preamble) that a solemn ceremony was held during which the relics of St. Lomer and others were translated from the old church (i.e., the original church of St. Lubin, taken over by the monks of St. Lomer after their move from the chapel of St. Carilif in the castrum) into the new one -de veteri in novam transferremus ecclesiam- i.e., to the present choir, transept and first western bay of the nave [plan], which we may presume were completed by that time. Lesueur and others have taken this document as proof of a definite terminus ante quem for the completion of the 12th century construction campaign, at least of the abbey church.

Taken together, the single line interpolated in B.n. ms. Latin 7297 tells us that this campaign began in 1138 and, according to the count's charter, it was completed by 1186. If accepted, these two make St. Lomer an unusually well documented building.

In 1791, the revolutionary government in Blois suppressed the parish church of St. Nicolas, which was then demolished; St. Lomer (renamed St. Nicholas) was declared to be the church of the parish and it has remained such ever since. The cathedral for the newly established late 17th century diocese of Blois was purpose-built on another site.