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Medieval Sourcebook: Abbot Suger: ON WHAT WAS DONE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION __________________________________________________________ Historical Introduction was born in 1081 of a very minor knightly family. He was dedicated to the abbey of St. Denis at the age of nine or ten and came to see himself as its adopted child. Appointed abbot in 1122, he held that position until his death in 1155. His office was a highly prestigious one. The abbey had been founded in the seventh century by the Frankish king Dagobert in honor of Denis, the patron saint of France, and his legendary companions Rusticus and Eleutherius. By Suger's time it had long been the royal abbey of France. Kings were educated and buried there. In Suger's time, the French monarchy was slowly but surely on the way up. The king was gradually gaining power over his unruly nobles and would eventually use that power to win a major role in European affairs. Most of that development was still in the future, but by 1137 the pendulum was already beginning to swing. As royal abbey, St. Denis was a symbol of royal power, and what was done to it redounded to the glory of both the monarch and France. Thus its renovation was a political as well as an architectural and religious event. Suger was in a position to recognize this fact. His status as abbot made him one of the most powerful men in France. He was actively engaged in French political life and virtually ran the kingdom while King Louis VI was away on crusade. A fervent patriot, Suger never hesitated to identify the best interests of king, France, Church, abbey and God. The old abbey church of St. Denis had been completed in 775. By 1137 it was dilapidated and probably would have been viewed with extreme suspicion by a modern building inspector. Thus Suger decided improvement was in order and in that year he began work on the west end of the church, building a new facade with two towers and three doors. In 1140 he moved from the west end clear to the other end of the church and started to build a new choir. It was completed in 1144. The result was a major event in the history of architecture. Gothic was born. The influence of the abbey church on French architecture was undoubtedly furthered by its role as political symbol. When the new choir was consecrated in 1144, five French archbishops and thirteen bishops took part in the ceremony, an impressive tribute to Suger and his king. It was the French archbishops and

1 This begins the commentary and translation by Dr. David Burr. Only the portions by Dr. Burr are found 1Suger

in the On-Line Medieval Sourcebook at this time. (Aug. 2000) All footnotes have been added by L.A. Harkey.

page 2 bishops who would assume initiative in the future development of Gothic architecture. For Suger, of course, the primary significance of his church was neither political nor architectural but religious, insofar as he could separate the three. His main goal was to honor God and St. Denis. The latter deserves some attention. According to legend, he entered Gaul as a missionary in A.D. 250 and was executed in Paris eight years later. It was not all that easy. The Romans unsuccessfully tried roasting him on a gridiron, throwing him to the beasts, and baking him in an oven before they hit upon the idea of beheading him. That worked, but not immediately, for the decapitated saint picked up his head and walked two miles to the future site of the abbey before giving up the ghost. However wonderful his legend may seem, medieval historians made it even better by confusing him with two other figures of the same name. "Denis" is the French version of the Latin "Dionysius," the name Suger actually used. We encounter another Dionysius in Acts 17:34, converted during Paul's brief missionary visit to Athens. Five centuries later, in the late fifth or early sixth century, an anonymous Syrian theologian fascinated by the religious symbolism of light wrote a series of treatises which were attributed to the Dionysius of Acts 17:34. Eventually all the elements were combined and, according the legend, Dionysius was converted by Paul, became bishop of Athens, wrote the treatises, and eventually missionized France where he was martyred. The identification is more important than one might at first imagine. The figure of St. Denis united the various aspects of the church in a peculiar way. As patron saint of France, his interests were tied to those of France in a twofold sense. His glorification was hers in a very direct way because he symbolized France. It was also hers more indirectly because, like other saints, Denis would not neglect to reward a favor, and thus one could expect him to intervene for king and country more enthusiastically if his church was generously endowed. Denis also united the religious and architectural aspects of the new church. It is hardly a coincidence that both the pseudo-Dionysian treatises and nascent Gothic architecture are interested in light. As we shall see, Suger himself was fascinated by the religious implications of light and built accordingly. __________________________________________________________ The Book of Suger Abbot of St. Denis on What Was Done During his Administration is one of two works by Suger concerning the abbey church of St. Denis. It was probably begun shortly after the consecration of the choir in 1144 and finished no earlier than the end of 1148. All of the work that has survived is reproduced here. [Prologue]

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In the twenty-third year of our administration, on a certain day when we sat in general chapter conferring with our brethren about common and private matters, these same dear brothers and sons began to beg me vigorously and in love that I should not remain silent about the fruit of our past labors but rather with pen and ink should preserve for future memory the additions which the munificence of almighty God bestowed upon this church during the time of our leadership in the acquisition of new things, the recovery of lost ones, the multiplication of refurbished possessions, the construction of buildings, and the accumulation of gold, silver, precious gems and quality textiles. From this one thing they promised us two in return: Through this memorial we should earn the prayers of succeeding brothers for the salvation of our soul; and through this example we should arouse in them a zealous commitment to the proper maintenance of God's church. We therefore, devoutly assenting to their devout and reasonable requests, without hungering for empty glory or demanding the reward of human praise or impermanent earthly reward, lest after our passing the revenues of the church should be diminished by someone's fraud, lest the abundant additions conferred upon the church by God's munificence during the time of our administration should be quietly lost by unworthy successors, we thought it proper and useful to inform present and future readers of the increase in revenues, construction of buildings and multiplication of treasures in the church of the most blessed martyrs Denis, Rusticus and Eleutherius, a church that tenderly fostered us from mother's breast to old age. 2But we have also judged it appropriate and helpful to let present and future men understand the increase in revenues obtained first in this town, principal seat of the abbey, and in its neighborhood. I. Saint-Denis and its neighborhood An office of this town, commonly called "the toll and exchange," reported 60 sous3 each week. But Oursel, a Jew of Montmorency, kept 10 sous as a mortgage payment, along with the village called Montlignon, for 24 marks of

begins the portion translated by L.A. Harkey using Suger. OEuvres. Tome I, a Latin/French facing page edition by Françoise Gasparri. Series: Les Classiques de L'Histoire de France au Moyen Age. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1996). However, to match certain existing translations, the Lecoy [A. Lecoy de La Marche, OEuvres complètes de Suger, (Paris, 1867)] numbering of chapters has been used. 3 Medieval money, as used in France consisted of the denier, sous, livre or pound, and mark. 12 deniers made one sous, 20 sous made 1 pound and a mark was usually 2/3 of a pound or a specific weight of precious metal, about 8 ounces.

2 This

page 4 silver and, so it is said, for other considerable sums. We, however, recovered the village worth 20 pounds or more, and those 10 sous at great expense: namely, 3,000 sous paid to Mathieu de Montmorency who had wanted to occupy it in the name of this Jew and we had given to the wife of that Jew 10 pounds and 10 muids4 of wheat. We improved the village office by 10 more sous without increased extortion. It is evident that the 10 sous from the Jew and the 10 sous recently added, made an additional 20 sous each week of the year, which makes 52 pounds and 20 provided by the village [of Montlignon]. The taxes of that village, valued at 12 pounds at the octave of Saint-Denis [9-16 October], are now worth 20 or more, an increase of 8 pounds, and another 8 pounds provided by another house which we have established in the shambles by the purchase of another given to the usage of the butchers, 8 pounds which have been assigned to the support of the sick brothers; this made 90 pounds. From the tolls, they made 20 pounds, when they had taken in more than 40. We, however, have often taken in 70 from them, or even more, we have been able to collect it more easily each year as we declare anathema on theft and thieves. From the Lendit5 that lord Louis, the father, had given to Saint-Denis, we took in 300 sous in full peace and tranquility, 35 from the tax on the tools of the bread-makers in the Panetière that we had allocated to the pittance6 for the brothers on the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul [June 29]; 10 sous from my nephew Gérard, 5 for his house and 5 sous for the toll for madder [red dye]. The areas of the house of Guillaume de Cornillon that I had bought for 80 pounds bring us a rent of 15 sous for three houses, the two others were still vacant. In the vacant yard of the brothers, new inhabitants pay 70 sous in annual rent. Outside of the town, in an area which had never had inhabitants but was used by the bailiffs in return for maintenance at their own expense, as well as another contiguous area, newly regulated, thanks to the installations of 80 inhabitants or more, [there was] an increase of 20 pounds per year. Besides, near this same place, namely at Saint-Lucien, because our church had an urgent need, we had planted and cultivated at great cost a vineyard of about 80 arpents7, so they say, to which we have assigned for the great profit of the church these muid is a unit of dry measure equivalent to an English "hogshead," about 63 gallons. 5 The "Lendit" was a particular market fair held in the village of Saint-Denis from the second Wednesday of June until the eve of the Feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24). 6 In a monastic environment, a pittance is a small supplement to their usual food allowance, given to them in remembrance of the donor or to honor a particular holy being, ostensibly so that they will have extra stamina for the extra prayers. 7 Archaic measure of land, about one acre.


page 5 same 20 pounds so that it will be well used: arrangements well considered, because too often in many places, and even at Lagny, because of the lack of wine, the cross, the chalices and the vestments are pawned. The income from the mills of this town raised to such a point that their production, normally in the past, of 5 mines8 of wheat each day for the refectory of the brothers, has been brought today to 8, furnished regularly each day. This increase, calculated precisely for each week, comes to 39 and one-half muids. Respecting the increase in money which results, it is figured at 146 pounds and 10 sous. We purchased for 1000 sous a house situated near the gate of Paris towards SaintMerry because, participating often in the affairs of the realm, we have considered that this would be a more suitable lodging for us and our horses, also for our successors. The gate of Paris, from a usual income in the past of 12 pounds, we now receive 50: here the increase is 38 pounds. II. Le Tremblay The count of Dammartin oppressed this village with numerous demands for service, namely extracting feudal dues, wheat in the amount of 5 muids which had been given to him to keep the peace; he got in the habit of levying these feudal dues at will, taking like a battering-ram and exercising the right to housing many times per year at the expense of the peasants. For all these reasons we concluded with the count an accord reserving to ourselves the whole village, in peace, without imposition or custom, for 10 pounds paid annually [to him] from our funds on the octave of Saint-Denis and for his homage [to us]. We have, moreover, willingly restored this village and have had built, at its entrance, a courtyard with a new grange; in this will be contained the common field and the produce from four charrues9 and in another, situated in the village, the tithes from the land, in the one as in the other, the straw is reserved for our use. When in the past we only managed at great trouble, indeed hardly ever, to obtain from this village 90 muids of grain, we have succeeded in the remarkable achievement of receiving from our mayor 190 [muids] without counting the seed or feed for the oxen or cattle, the cattle themselves and all the equipment for the fields; in exchange for which the peasants possess the revenue from the oven. As for us, we keep our taxes, tribute, death-duties, fines, and the tolls as we wish: here the revenue in grains is augmented by 90 muids. We have built a wall around the old courtyard and have erected in this place a fortified house "mine" is an old French measure of grain, the modern equivalent is unknown to this translator. 9 A charrue is a plow or, as in this case, a measure of land, based upon how much can be plowed by one plow in a season.


page 6 adjoining the church. Thanks to these fortifications our successors will be able, if they please, to defend themselves and their goods against all enemies. III. The recovery of the abbey of Argenteuil When I was young and studious, I looked through the old charters of our possessions in the archives and as I studied the lists of privileges, because of dishonest activities by numerous swindlers, often the document of the foundation of the monastery of Argenteuil by Hermenric and Numma his wife fell into my hands: it is written there that from the time of king Pepin the abbey belonged to Saint-Denis; but as the result of a deplorable custom it was alienated in the time of Charlemagne, his son. That emperor had, in effect, obtained it from the abbot and the brothers in order to establish, as abbess of the nuns, one of his daughters, who had refused an earthly marriage on the condition that upon her death the abbey would return to our church. But, because of the troubles in the realm owing to the quarrels of the sons of his son, namely Louis the Pious, until which time it [the women's monastery] had survived, this contract was not able to be enforced. But our predecessors, who had quite often studied the question, had not made much progress; that is why, in council with our brothers, we have sent to Rome our messengers with the ancient charters of foundation and donation, and the privileges confirmed by Pope Honoris, of happy memory, asking him to inquire into our rights and recover it canonically. A man of good council and a guardian of justice, he restored to us this place with its dependencies, so much for good law as because of the scandal that was offered by the nuns by their improper lives, in order that the religious state could be reformed there. Moreover, king Louis, son of Philip, our very dear lord and friend, confirmed this restitution and, by the authority of royal majesty, assured the church, by his order, all the royal rights that he possessed there. Anyone who wishes to better understand the manner of this restitution can find it in greater detail in the charters of the king and the papal privileges. Those who examine these affairs with competence are able to measure the importance of the increase brought by this abbey and its dependencies, which are Trappes, Élancourt, Chavenay, Bourdonné, Chérisy, the territory of Montmélian, of Bondy, of Montereau near Melun and other properties. The ancient taxes of Argenteuil, which did not belong to the abbey, grew 20 pounds; because formerly it only brought in 20 pounds and now it brings us 40. As for cereals, [it brought in] formerly 6 muids, today 15. IV. The Vexin

page 7 The celebrated county of Vexin, situated between the Oise and the Epte, is, according to the privileges of the church, a personal fief of the abbey of SaintDenis. When the king France Louis, son of Philip, went in haste to oppose the invasion of the Holy Roman Emperor into the realm of France, he recognized in fact before the whole chapter of Saint-Denis that he held [the Vexin] of them and if he had not been king, he would have made homage, with the title of standard bearer. We applied ourselves, with the aide of God, to improve this domain thanks to the following acquisitions: we had obtained from the same king Louis the church of Cergy and freedom of the court. At the dedication of the church we had received besides from his son Louis the administration of the roads in this village and all the revenues except from wine and grains, with royal generosity, for the good of his soul, the protection of his person and of the realm. He offered also very piously to the holy martyrs his goods at Cormeilles and Osny and all that he possessed at Trappes, except for the right to lodging. As for us, for all these acquisitions and for many others, we had made proof before all of continual attention and tireless supervision, curbing the greed of the mayors and the bailiffs, repelling the deplorable goings-on of the dishonest avoués.10 Because we had, at the start, spent a lot because of the expense of military aide, we have also promoted, with the aid of God, the cultivation of land and of vineyards to the point where, in the times of our predecessors, our brothers had been contented to realize five sous each day for the kitchen, they receive, unfailingly, thanks to this over-abundant increase, five more each day and fourteen entirely for the fifth day of the week and on Saturday, for their pittance.11 Moreover the surplus from this increase usually surpassed by far 100 muids of grain. We had decided to allocate it, after Easter, for our needs, to the churches, the poor or to all other uses, because, during the last months of the year, often the rise in the price of wheat caused hardship for less prosperous communities.12 The increase in money came to 114 pounds, 12 sous per year. V. Cormeilles-en-Paris

medieval avoué was a laymen who acted as a representative and/or advocate for a ecclesiastic institution, most often, though not always, a monastery where the monastics had little to do with the outside world, and therefore needed someone to tend to their business for them. 11 Thursdays to honor St. Denis, and Saturdays to honor the Virgin Mary. 12 The medieval year usually ended in the spring, at various dates or feasts according to the custom of the region. In the Île-de-Paris, which included SaintDenis, the year began at Easter. This meant that the end of the year was in latewinter/early-spring, the period when winter supplies may have run out and before new crops could be expected to be ready.

10 A

page 8 At Cormeilles, in the region of Paris, the increase in the taxes is 8 pounds; in the past we had 12 pounds from there, today 20. We received ten or twelve muids of grains, now eighteen. At Sannois a 4 pounds increase from new taxes, and 100 sous from old ones. At Franconville, 40 sous from new gains, and 40 from the old, besides the fief. The tithes from our fief, that come from Payen de Gisors, we have given to the churchwardens for the love of God, except for the tithes from our enclosure that we kept. VI. Montigny-les-Cormeilles At Montigny, 50 sous from new sources, and 70 from old ones. VII. Cergy At Cergy, 40 sous in taxes on wood and the homage of the knight Thibaud de Puiseux and 40 donkey loads. VIII. Louveciennes At Louveciennes, we have had the custom, like our predecessors, of leasing our taxes on grains and wine for 15 pounds per year; after some litigation concerning the ancient estates, thanks to which, after having allowed the peasants cultivating the vines to confiscate the revenues from the viticulture, we have acquired around 100 muids of wine without counting the annual monetary tax and the tax on grain. IX. Vernouillet Concerning Vernouillet, which had been mortgaged for 40 years, we realized 10 pounds from it after redeeming it, at a time when previously we could not make more than 60 sous from it. The income we possessed in this place we had allocated wholly to the sick brothers. X. Vaucresson At Vaucresson, we had founded a village and built a church and a house and put the uncultivated land under the plow. Those who took the trouble to construct this village know better what the income from it should be, since already one finds about 60 inhabitants there and many others are willing to come if provided for there. This place was, in effect, like a cave of thieves, spread over more than two miles of wilderness, entirely unproductive for our

page 9 church, convenient for thieves and their accomplices because of the proximity of the woods. That is why we decided that certain of our brothers will serve God there so "that where once lived dragons, a garden will flourish with reeds and rushes" [Isai., 30:7]. The possessions of Saint-Denis which include Le Mesnil-Saint-Denis, Dampierre and other villages situated in the valley of the castle called Chevreuse, were a long time subject to three feudal dues, namely, to the lord of the castle of Chevreuse, to the lord of the castle of Néauphle and to Simon de Viltain, whose greed had almost complete ruined them; not without great cost were we able to liberate the villages from these kinds of oppressions, only ceding to the lords that which belongs by right to their avourie. Moreover, we have recovered the right to hunt in the forest of Iveline, within the boundaries of the land that they had for a longtime usurped from Saint-Denis. And so that posterity will remember this, we went there one entire week in company with our proven friends and our men, namely Amaury de Montfort, count of Évreux, Simon de Néauphle, Évrard de Villepreaux and many others. Living in tents, each day of that week we had taken to Saint-Denis a large number of deer, not for vain satisfaction but in order to establish the rights of the church; and we had them distributed to our sick brothers, and to the inhabitants of the hostel and also to the knights of the valley so that the deed was not forgotten. We gave to the lord of Chevreuse, as to our vassal, besides the ancient fief, namely the avouerie of our land and half of the forest, 100 sous per year from ourselves so that he would not reimpose his feudal dues or other oppressions. This 100 sous we are able to collect on this same land, at will, without contest. Thus, in fear that the fruit of our labor would be reduced to nothing by forgetfulness, we have taken care to commit also to writing the increases that with the aide of God we were able to achieve in Beauce. First the estate of Saint-Denis called Guillerval, near Saclas, given to SaintDenis by king Dagobert in his charter, had long since, and maybe has always been, in such a state of disorder that in all the village there was not a house where even the abbot could rest his head, nor grange, nor demesne lands. They paid 25 small measures a year, which did not exceed 4 of our muids, for the taxes of the cultivated lands, with modest taxes for their houses. Determined to raise it in value for the love of our lords the holy martyrs, we therefore bought for the church some land, about three charrues, situated in this domain, which for forty years or more had been the object of a relentless battle between Jean of Étampes, son of Payen, a noble and energetic man, and another man, a knight of Pithiviers. We paid both of them an enormous sum and, so that neither of the two has what the other claimed, we reserved this land and imposed a limit to their fighting, thanks to relatives and friends, namely Baudoin of Corbeil and many others and confirmed this by charter. Thus on this new land, in the center

page 10 of the village, in an agreeable location, near lively springs and rapid streams, we, at great cost, had the usual courtyard encircled with walls and built a strong and defensible house in the courtyard, with granges and all necessary things. And in order to remedy the dryness of the plateaus of Beauce, we had it almost encircled by a pond, full of many kinds of fish. We had designated two charrues of this same land, one from old land, the other from newly cleared land; and from bringing in so little income, we increased to the point that it brought in almost 50 muids of grain annually and more. For, while giving back to the peasants the minimal rents they paid there, we had reserved for ourselves the champart13 of all the land, except for the charrue of the fief of the mayor. In exchange, he undertook to quiet the murmurs of the peasants and any opposition to the change in customs. XI. Monnerville Next, and near this last one finds another village of Saint-Denis, called Monnerville, which had become the most miserable of all, reduced to beggary by the oppression of the castle of Méréville, comparable to the pillage of the Sarrasins; the lord of that castle abused his right of lodging in this village, [taking it] as many times as he wanted and with all those that he pleased to bring; he swallowed up all the goods of the peasants, seized the customary right of the tax on wheat at harvest time, took his allowance of wood two or three times a year using the village wagons; collected in advance, under the pretext of custom, all sorts of insupportable taxes on pigs, lambs, geese, chickens. As this village, suffering a long time under such oppression, was almost abandoned, we decided to resist with audacity and relieve the holy heritage, through steadfastness, of such harassment. When we began proceedings against him, he justified these customs by the hereditary right that came to him from his father, from his grandfather and from his great-grandfather; but with the aide of God, the counsel of our men and of our friends, the business was brought to the conclusion that Hugues, lord of the castle, with the consent of his wife and his sons, and with the agreement of the lord king Louis from whom he claimed to hold it, abandoned completely and for all time all of these customs to SaintDenis, his crimes were recognized, abandoned, and forgiven, and taking oath with his own hand renounced it, as one can read fully in the charter of the lord king Louis. As for us, in order to keep his homage for our church, we conceded to him 2 muids of grain, by the measure of Étampes, one of wheat, the other of champart is a form of share-cropping. Arable land is provided to the farmers in return for a portion of the crop or, sometimes, a money payment representing that share.

13 The

page 11 oats, in our court by the hands of a monk or by our bailiff. Thanks to which, relieved of this torture, this domain which previously was worth hardly 10 or 15 pounds to us, habitually brought us each year, via our agents, 100 muids of grain, by the measure of Étampes, which often was worth 100 pounds depending on the price of grain. In the same way we undertook to re-establish the property called Rouvray, crushed by the tyranny exercised there by the army of the castle of Puiset. When one day, after the destruction of the castle, Hugues, lord of Puiset, proposed to us that we cultivate, he and I, the fallow land left deserted by the reduction of the fortress and then divide the crops, we refused this proposition in spite of the opinion of some who commended it as advantageous. And this that we did not wish to do with him, we undertook to realize on our own, to the advantage of the abbey. We did not wish to admit as an associate in the restoration of this land one who, in the role of destroyer, very cruelly tried us, as had his ancestors. By the same customs that we have enumerated for Monnerville, namely the feudal dues on grains, pigs, eggs, lambs, geese, chickens, and timber, he had extorted these from this land, following the habits of his ancestors, and in doing this he rendered it barren, as totally useless for us as for him. We, therefore, considering the unhappiness of this land and the harm to our church, built on this sterile land a walled court and raised a tower above the gate in order to repulse robbers. We appropriated 3 charrues there [for this]. We had re-established the village called Villaines, we re-organized the disordered land, restoring it to the point where, from a usual income of hardly 20 pounds in the past, it now gave us 100 pounds per year, and more often 120. As for us, crediting justly the holy martyrs for such benefits, we assigned with a sealed charter 80 pounds of the fruit of our labor for the construction of their church until the work was finished. We equally relieved this land of a bad custom of the vicomte of Étampes, called "palagium."14 XII. Toury Toury, this famous domain of Saint-Denis, first among many others and a particular and special seat of Saint-Denis, which offered to pilgrims and to merchants, indeed to all travelers, streets full of provisions, to tired men rest and tranquility, was so oppressed by the insupportable skirmishes of the lords of the castle of Puiset that when I was sent there, still young, in the time of our predecessor, the abbot Adam, of happy memory, as the administrator of this land with the office of provost, it languished, already almost abandoned by the peasants, entirely given up to the greed of the men of Puiset, "given as prey to

14 Palagium

is a charge for mooring a ship at the docks.

page 12 the Ethiopians." (Psalms 73:14) Even the house belonging to Saint-Denis was not able sometimes to prevent the lord himself from ravishing it, by the hands of his accomplices, and carrying off in sacrilege all that they found there, from disturbing the neighboring villages by frequent demands for lodging, from compelling the peasants to transport by forced labor the feudal dues on grain to the castle, first for himself, then for his seneschal, then for his provost. Those who resided there could hardly live under the weight of such criminal oppression. Residing in this place for almost two years, I was overwhelmed by these evils and by others, by a sorrowful compassion for human suffering and by the harm to our church. Not only ourselves, but also all the churches possessing land in this region were equally oppressed. This is why we agreed amongst ourselves and decided through careful deliberation on all to be done in order to shake off the insupportable yoke and tyranny of this pernicious castle. As a result, thanks to our efforts, the venerable bishop of Chartres, Yves, the chapter of Notre Dame, the abbey of Saint-Père, the church of Saint-Jean-enVallée, the bishop of Orléans, the church of Saint-Aignan, the abbot of SaintBenoit, the archbishop of Sens, each for his part and we for ours, we took ourselves to the presence of the glorious king Louis and exposed to him in tears the devastation of the churches, the deplorable situation of the poor and orphans, the loss by the churches of the alms assigned by his predecessors and by himself. As he was a man of very noble spirit, full of piety, illustrious defender of churches, he promised to aid us and confirmed by oath that he would not allow the churches or the goods of the churches to be destroyed by this rogue in any way henceforth. One can find described more fully in the history of this king, at the cost of what efforts, what expense, with what authority this remarkable work was accomplished. Thus, once the castle of Puiset was destroyed almost to its foundations in punishment for its sins, the land of the saints, ours as much as the others, recovered their liberty first, what was laid waste in war, flourished in peace, sterile from neglect, it became fertile with cultivation. As upon the death of our predecessor, abbot Adam of happy memory, I was elevated to the seat of this holy administration, although humble and not present, I did not forget the earlier energy and labor since I had for a long time administered this property, I prepared myself to improve it with all the more ardor. In the courtyard, that I had strengthened with palisades and fences, I had constructed a castle well fortified with walls and erected over the principal gate a defensive tower. I established there well-appointed houses for defense. I preserved the liberty of the whole village intact and even that of the whole region. Thus, one day when I was hastening towards Orleans with a armed troop to join the king , and I was apprised that the lord of Puiset had returned to his evil practices, I had cause for holding him captive in disgrace and sending him, chained and dishonored, to

page 13 Saint-Denis. As the goods of the churches should grow and prosper during peace and by the good government of prelates, we have granted to the peasants who lived there the fields of our domain, retaining the tithes; we put in writing the list of these rents in order that they not be forgotten. In order to give an estimate of the increase that this property owes to our labor, we took in 80 pounds per year from the district which was not even worth 20 before. Moreover, the daily practice of our customs, immensely improved, is able to account for the increase in goods very easily . Indeed, the ancient avourie of this land belonged since ancient times to La Ferté-Baudouin who for a long time cruelly oppressed it and there was not any way to bring about a remedy; but it happened that this avouerie fell in inheritance to a young woman, the daughter of the daughter of Adam of Pithiviers. At this news, with the counsel of our friends, we searched for a husband to our liking, at great expense. In order to put and end to the troubles in this land and to prevent it from being exposed to the habitual brutalities of the men of this region, we arranged to give this young woman along with the avouerie to a young man of our house. We gave 100 pounds in the deniers of Saint-Denis to the spouse as well as to the mother and father of the young woman, with the approbation of the lord king Louis to whom the avouerie belonged in fief, on the condition that for this money and for more, namely 30 pounds that the king received, they and their successors would make homage to us and our successors, for the service and the justice when we demand it of them, and if they default on this, we can withhold all the fief of the avouerie, fully as if we held it ourselves, with their consent and with that of their relatives and with the approval of the lord king Louis, until they give us satisfaction. Respecting the fiefs that we bought with our own funds, in order to provide two months guard each year in that castle of Toury, we will take care to enumerate [them] later. XIII. Poinville Similarly, we bought the village of Poinville that Geoffroy le Roux held from his relative Bérard d'Essenville, so that this same Bérard held it in fief as our man. XIV. Fains-en-Dunois and Vergonville Also, another possession called Fains, with Vergonville and other dependant villages, we bought very expensively, for nearly 150 marks of silver from Galeran de Breteuil, his wife Judith and her son Évrard, the brave man who died in the crusade for Jerusalem­bought or restored, because, it seems this

page 14 holding was attached to Saint-Denis in ancient times as a gift from Hubert de Saint-Gaury; we assigned it to the alms-house of Saint-Denis, hoping that from the mercy of God that these alms given to the poor would obtain for us from omnipotent God in his mercy the grace of a divine reward, because it is said that "as water extinguishes fire so alms extinguish sin " [Sirach, 3:33]. And so that it serves more surely and for all time to the needs of the poor, we have had it confirmed in writing by king Louis and entered in the public archives. XV. Beaune-la-Rolande Certainly, one of the finest possessions of Saint-Denis is Beaune-la-Rolande in the region of Gatines, four leagues in extent, very rich in grain and wine, and astonishingly able to produce all sorts of fruits, which would abound with riches, on the condition of not being troubled by the bailiffs of the lord king or by our own. However, left uncultivated through the desertion of the inhabitants because of the negligence of the administrators, it had fallen into such poverty that having responsibility for providing shoes for this church it was entirely incapable of assuming this expense. Thus, finding itself in the hands of the abbot because of an unpaid debt, he rented it in totality to the bailiffs of this land for 30 pounds a year. Having found it, at the beginning of our abbacy, destroyed and almost abandoned, we exposed this great injury suffered by the church to our dear lord the king of France, Louis, whose nobility we strive to serve as much from zeal as from loyalty. He freed, moreover, this land from intolerable and almost ruinous customs, namely three claims to lodging each year, one collected from the peasants, sufficient for him and for his administrators, two from the revenues belonging to Saint-Denis, a affliction which almost entirely consumes the land. But, as he was exceptionally generous, distressed by so much harm to the church and the misery of the poor, grateful for our love and our service, he freed in perpetuity the right to this contribution to the church and ourselves. As for that which was collected from the peasants, it was fixed at 8 pounds per year in writing by the king's majesty. Happy with this generosity, we took back for ourselves the lands usurped and alienated as much by the mayor as by others; we had the vineyard situated at Saint-Loup put to the plow after twenty years and replanted with vines; we restored the other vines near Beaune which had been almost destroyed, others we bought from one of our vassals for 20 pounds, money of Orleans; we repopulated the villages almost entirely deserted from the plundering. XVI. The tithe of Barville Among others we had recovered for the work of the church, as best we

page 15 could, even if we had made some loss, a tithe at Barville, that certain knights had held for a hundred years, they said, for a tax of 2 sous and which provided us with 20 or 30 muids of wheat each year. As the pitiful buildings of the domain there were fallen into complete ruin, first above all we instigated the construction of the pleasant and fortified buildings which are found there now. I had decided to install myself in this house in order to precisely determine our rights, when providentially I was absent, it collapsed so miserably that it completely destroyed the very bed in which I would have slept if I had been there, as well as breaking the floor-boards of the first floor and the bins in the cellar and the barrels of wine; after such ruin all swore that divine providence had spared me. We had established there a wonderful grange and two pools which should for a long time, if they are well maintained, furnish fish in abundance to those who come there. Of how much this land had been improved with the aide of God and from such misery was it relieved, one has the certain proof here since, from an annual revenue of 30 pounds, we now often collect more than 200. XVII. The town of Essonnes, which is now combined with Corbeil The town of Saint-Denis on the river of Essonnes, had been given to the holy martyrs by the previous generosity of the kings, as it is said in their old charters; but the cruelty of a certain tyrant transferred it to the castle of Corbeil, succeeding by that in depriving the holy martyrs of their earthly heritage, as well as [depriving] himself of his heavenly heritage. XVIII. The monastery built at the place called "Les Champs" After many years, about two centuries or more, when the mother-church of Essonnes, which is in the parish of Corbeil, survived alone as a monument in this place, the bishops of Paris, jealous as well of the old liberties of Saint-Denis, took it and in order to assure this usurpation, they gave it to the abbey of Cluny and to members of that congregation, namely to Saint-Martin-des-Champs and the church of Gournay. But the tyrants of the castle of Corbeil, hardened in their wickedness, so miserably oppressed all to the point of leaving nothing but a barren land, and, with sacrilegious audacity, they used for their own profit the goods as if they were theirs legally. There remained, however, a chapel, in honor, they said, of the blessed Mary, the smallest I have ever seen, half ruined and situated in a place called "Champs," and in which is an old altar, upon which, because it was abandoned, grows grass upon which the sheep and goats often graze. In this place, according to numerous witnesses, often on Saturdays, as if to indicate the

page 16 sanctity of the place, candles are seen burning there. Inspired by this manifestation, the sick of the neighborhood and later even many foreigners hastened there in the hope of regaining their health and they were cured. As providentially many people came there from near and far, our venerable brothers, men of happy memory, prior Hervé and Eudes de Tourcy, were sent there in order to serve our Lord and his blessed Mother and busied themselves with adapting and developing this small church for the divine service. Very soon, in a short time, so great a number of miracles were produced there to the admiration of all that it was venerated by all, proclaimed by all, and many endowed it. A multitude of the sick, those who were troubled by foul spirits, the blind, the crippled and the paralyzed had flocked there. Innumerable miracles through the intervention of the blessed Mother of God made this place celebrated; we will go on in these pages to present two of these which we know directly or by rumor. XIX. The miracle of the mute There was a noble woman, a widow of many years, the mother of the venerable abbot of Corbie, Robert, a monk of our abbey, who had the habit of frequently visiting the holy places for the good of her soul; one day, she went there with a girl already twelve years old, who had never spoken. One Saturday evening she spent the night in this little church with this mute girl, praying to God for her and her own. When the monks began the Te Deum laudamus there appeared, they say, to the young girl carried away in ecstasy, a queen of glory, beautiful like the moon, brilliant like the sun, dressed in a royal robe, crowned with gold and precious stones, who walked before her, going from the left corner of the altar to the right. As she called her by name (she was called Lancen), the young girl with a clear voice and assured tongue responded "Lady;" this was heard by the woman and many others. And since then she knows how and is able to speak as if she had spoken her whole life. The witnesses of this astonishing miracle praised it highly and repeated the news in many neighboring regions and we who had known the mute for five years and have known her to speak for five more since, we rightly ought to praise and love this holy place. XX. The woman with dropsy A second miracle seems to us worthy of telling, as we have promised. A woman with dropsy, swollen like a pregnant woman, cried loudly with sadness as if insane, because of the intolerable watery humors, was carried by the hands of friends to holy Mary at the place aforesaid. As, for many days, she took

page 17 refuge before the holy altar, she drove away many of the visitors by the stench emitted by her rotting flesh. There was no hope of a cure and already the swelling and the sores appearing on her face almost left her deformed; many people, healthy and sick, complained, demanding that she be expelled from the little church. But our brothers, venerable men, preferred to show pity in supporting her disagreeable presence, rather than sending her away without pity. But one Sunday night, because it is at this time above all that the hand of God intervenes, the woman with dropsy fell asleep, which she did not usually do, when suddenly the glorious sovereign Virgin Mary invisibly drained the humors from the body of the woman, who became slim and healthy. One saw, and the witnesses, such as our brothers and many others saw it, such a quantity of humors and mucus pouring out upon the floor that it was necessary to remove it immediately with cups, buckets and pots. The witnesses were so dumbfounded by this magnificent thing that they gave thanks with all the more fervor to omnipotent God and his Mother. They sang the Te Deum laudamus in tears and they beseeched God to continue, as he had begun, to glorify his mother in this place. This is why, ordered by the divine will, for the love of the Mother of God, to honor and exalt this place, remarkable by these signs and by others, miraculous and prodigious, we undertook constructions in this field. In order that a community of brothers could serve God there, we established twelve brothers with their prior and built a cloister, a refectory, a dormitory and other usual buildings. We had given the church, as is usual, ornaments, sacerdotal vestments, tapestries and copes. We had transported from the mother church in this place two books, the ancient daily office and the gradual of the emperor Charles [Charlemagne]. We had put together a suitable Bible of three volumes. No less worried about the provisions for the brothers, we allocated [to them] two charrues of the land which we owned near this place. We had a vineyard sufficient for a great abbey planted and had acquired by diverse means a great number of vines at a good price for them; after this we constructed for this same place, without excessive cost, in all propriety, four presses, each with the capacity of nearly 80 muids of wine, furnishing this in such abundance that they received amply from 250 to 300 muids of wine. On our own nearby domains we had sufficient meadows enclosed, and we had suitable gardens prepared to receive the planting of legumes. Saint-Denis, however, possessed another [piece of land], neglected already for a long time and abandoned, without the least cultivation, which produced, thanks to some foreign farmers from neighboring villages, a muid or less of

page 18 cereals and two or three setiers15 of nuts; we allotted to them there three charrues for the new courtyard and a new grange. We had put there sheep and cows with the necessary food thanks to the abundance of pasture and efficient use of the land. We engaged them for our own goods on another possession of Saint-Denis situated near Brunoy from which they often took in 10 muids of cereals, almost 10 of wine and fodder for the animals. We had given them this that we had recovered from a mill lost almost 60 years ago, on the condition that they pay, on the day after the feast of Saint Denis, 20 sous to the refectory of the monastery. They received besides, from this same village, between the taxes and the feudal dues, 100 sous. At Corbeil, in their neighborhood, they collected 17 pounds in taxes alone, without counting the other revenues from sales, fairs, and other customs as well as the mill, the oven, eight muids of oats with some chickens and the whole prebend16 of Saint-Spire. XXI. Mareuil-les-Meaux In the region of Meaux, the village called Mareuil suffered serious damages from the right of voirie17 possessed by Ansoud de Cornillon almost up to the houses themselves. Neither the peasants nor the others dared to leave the village without risk, without being robbed by the bailiffs of Ansoud exercising the right of voirie on numerous pretexts, without being arrested, [they] were conducted to his court and fined for the cattle that had gone out from the village. This is why we had given to Ansoud 1000 sous for the peace of the village, so that he would leave to us the right of voirie when he left for the expedition to Jerusalem, and in order that this right remains henceforth with Saint-Denis we have had it confirmed by the hand of the bishop of Meaux, Manassès, and his church, as well as by the seal of count Thibaud with the consent of his wife and his son. For he, so he confessed, held it unjustly. Desiring as well to make known to our successors the terms of a certain exchange, for the case may be one day where, with the aide of God, it could be better exploited, we have taken the care to put it in writing. At the time when the noble realm of France became a monarchy, the church of Saint-Denis abounded, thanks to the generosity of the kings, in great and many possessions everywhere the royal power reached, in all the tetrarchy of the realm, namely in setier is an obsolete unit of measure equalling 150-300 liters of grain (dry) or 8 pints of liquid . 16 A prebend is money allocated to support a cleric, a salary in effect. 17 "Voirie" or "overseer"was a form of authority or governance over a district. The person holding this office was usually under someone else's authority, very similar to a bailiff.

15 A

page 19 Italy, in Lorraine, in France and in Aquitaine. However, this, that unity kept intact, the division between the sons began to corrupt and diminish. This is why Saint-Denis abandoned Arlange, Ebersing, Salonnes and many other possessions, and lost also domains situated in the region of Metz, namely the castle of Guemines, Blidestroff and Chochelingen. In order to recover them we had very often solicited the judgement of the Pope, as well in reason of the injustice of those who seized these possessions as for the damage to themselves because they died in a very bad state, without confession. As redemption, the place called La Celle was given to Saint-Denis, freely, with its dependencies enumerated in the charters of the emperor Louis and we have placed there certain of our brothers in order to serve God, in the hope of an increase and of ultimate recuperation. XXII. Chaumont-en-Vexin We have worked also to obtain the church of Saint-Pierre situated near the castle of Chaumont, as well as the prebends themselves at the death of the canons, for the abbey, thanks to the liberality of the archbishop of Rouen, Hugues, and of the lord king of France Louis. We have established with honor twelve brothers with a thirteenth, the prior, in order to exalt this church and promote the divine religion, and we arranged thanks to God that this church was consecrated and that the cemetery situated in front was blessed by that venerable archbishop. This new church, attached as a noble member to the head, the church of Saint-Denis, will be also useful and propitious to our successors who make their way to the Vexin in Normandy as to those who remain in the region for the conservation of other possessions. Also are we so much more determined, in all justice, to enrich such of our acquired goods and to care for them like a new plant. We have confirmed to our brothers who serve God in this place, because they lack vines, the annual gift of 20 muids of wine from the tithes given to us by the king Louis at Cergy and half of the tithes that we have acquired at Ableiges. XXIII. Berneval In the holding called Berneval, on the coast of the Norman sea, I had also received from my predecessor my first appointment as provost. From the time of the very valiant king Henry, when I had been still quite young, I had freed it at great trouble and with the help of numerous lawsuits from the oppression of

page 20 royal officers called graffios.18 At the beginning of our government we had apportioned to the domains of the abbey the parish churches that the priest Roger and his brother Geoffroy had claimed by hereditary title and we have assigned them forever, with their revenues, to the treasury in order to renovate and augment the decoration of the church. And because there was available no revenue, or almost, for this usage, we have added to it another village recently constructed in the same region, called Carrières; this last pays four marks and the churches seven pounds, unless one can make it better. The other customary revenues of the aforesaid domain of Berneval, from taxes or other, we have made them grow to almost fifteen pounds, which we believe is an increase. From the time of our predecessor of happy memory we have contributed to uproot the custom called locally aquaria19 from the hand of our provost who had kept it and we have allotted it, for the celebration of the anniversary of the very pious king Dagobert, to the pittance of the brothers. Besides, the villages of Morgny, Lilly, et Fleury which generally returned only seven or ten pounds, we have succeeded by this in collecting from them at least 25; the same for Chateau-sur-Epte.

20 XXIV.

Concerning the Decoration of the Church

Having thus assigned these increases in the revenue, we turned back to the memorable construction of buildings, so that through this activity thanks might be given to almighty God by us and our successors, and enthusiasm for its continuation and, if necessary, for its completion should be fired by good example. For neither poverty nor opposition by any power is to be feared if one securely makes use of one's own resources through love for the holy martyrs. Therefore, by divine inspiration, the first work we did on the church was as follows. Because the walls were old and threatened to weaken in some places, having summoned the best painters we could find from various places, we devoutly had the walls repaired and worthily painted with gold and costly colors. I carried this task out all the more gladly because, even when I was a student, I had wanted to do so if ever I had the opportunity. XXV. Concerning the First Addition to the Church Even while this was being carried out at great expense, however, because graffio is an officer like a sheriff who possesses the authority to administer justice and sometimes acts as a lower-level noble. 19 Aquaria was the local term for fishing rights. 20 Resumption of translation by Dr. David Burr.

18 The

page 21 of the inadequacy we often felt on special days such as the feast of the blessed Denis, the fair, and many other times, when the narrowness of the place forced women to run to the altar on the heads of men as on a pavement with great anguish and confusion; for this reason, moved by divine inspiration and encouraged by the council of wise men as well as the prayers of many monks, in order to avoid the displeasure of the holy martyrs I undertook to enlarge and amplify the noble monastic church consecrated by the divine hand, devoutly praying both in our chapter and in church that he who is beginning and end, alpha and omega, should join a good end with a good beginning by way of a sound middle, and that he might not exclude from the building of the temple a bloody man21 who wholeheartedly desired this more than the treasures of Constantinople. Thus we began with the former main entrance, dismantling a certain addition said to have been built by Charlemagne on a very worthy occasion, because his father, the Emperor Pepin, had ordered that he be buried outside that entrance, face down, for the sins of his father Charles Martel. As is obvious, we exerted ourselves, vehemently enlarging the body of the church, tripling the entrance and doors, and erecting tall, worthy towers. XXVI. Concerning the Dedication We managed to have the chapel of St. Romanus dedicated to the service of God and his holy angels by that venerable man Archbishop Hugh of Rouen and by many other bishops. Those who serve God there as if, even as they sacrifice, they dwell at least partly in heaven, know how secluded, hallowed and convenient for the celebration of divine rites this place is. At the same dedication ceremony, two chapels in the lower nave of the church - one for St. Hippolytus and his companions on one side and one for St. Nicholas on the other - were dedicated by those venerable men Manassas, Bishop of Meaux, and Peter, Bishop of Senlis. The single glorious procession of these three men went out through the door of Saint Eustace; then passed in front of the main doors with a throng of singing clergy and a crowd of rejoicing laymen, the bishops walking in front and carrying out the holy consecration; then, thirdly, they entered through the single door of the cemetery which had been transferred from the old building to the new. And when this festive work had been completed to the honor of almighty God and we, a bit tired, were preparing to officiate in the upper part, they revived us, very graciously encouraging us not to be depressed by consideration of the labor and funding problems that lay before us. allusion to King David [II Kings 16:7-8] who was not allowed the privilege of building a temple, comparing himself to David, but hoping that he would be allowed to build.

21 An

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XXVII. Concerning the Cast and Gilded Doors Having summoned bronze casters and chosen sculptors, we erected the main doors, on which are represented the passion and resurrection or ascension of Christ, with great expense and heavy outlay for their gilding as befits such a noble portico. We also set up new ones on the right, and old ones on the left beneath the mosaic which, contrary to modern custom, we had placed in the tympanum. We also arranged to have the towers and upper crenelations of the front altered with an eye to beauty and, should circumstances require, to utility. We also ordered that, lest it be forgotten, the year of the consecration should be inscribed in copper-gilt letters in this way: For the glory of the church which nurtured and raised him, Suger strove for the glory of the church, Sharing with you what is yours, oh martyr Denis. He prays that by your prayers he should become a sharer in Paradise. The year when it was consecrated was the one thousand, one hundred and fortieth year of the Word. Furthermore, the verses on the doors are these: All you who seek to honor these doors, Marvel not at the gold and expense but at the craftsmanship of the work. The noble work is bright, but, being nobly bright, the work Should brighten the minds, allowing them to travel through the lights To the true light, where Christ is the true door. The golden door defines how it is imminent in these things. The dull mind rises to the truth through material things, And is resurrected from its former submersion when the light is seen. And on the lintel was written, Receive, stern Judge, the prayers of your Suger, Let me be mercifully numbered among your sheep. XXVIII. Concerning the Enlargement of the Upper Choir In the same year, cheered by so holy and auspicious a work, we hurried to begin on the upper part of the chamber of divine atonement, in which the

page 23 perpetual and frequent victim of our redemption should be sacrificed in secret without disturbance by the crowds. And as can be found in the treatise on the consecration of this upper part, we, along with our brothers and fellow servants, were mercifully enabled to bring such a glorious and famous work to a favorable conclusion, God having aided us and given success to us and our endeavors. We were all the more indebted to God and the holy martyrs inasmuch as he, by long postponement, had reserved the task for our age and labor. "For who am I, and what is my father's house" [I Kings 18:18] that I should have presumed to begin or hoped to complete such a noble, pleasing edifice unless, relying upon the aid of divine mercy and of the holy martyrs, I applied myself completely, mind and body, to the enterprise? Yet he who gave the will also provided the power, and because the good work was present in the will, it came to perfection with God's help. That the divine hand which accomplished such things protected this glorious work is shown by the fact that it allowed the entire magnificent edifice, from the crypt below to the summit of the vaults above, varied by the division of numerous arches and columns, and even the roof, to be completed in three years and three months. Thus the inscription of the earlier consecration, with only one word added, would include the year of completion of this building: The year when it was consecrated was the one thousand, one hundred, forty and fourth year of the Word. To these verses of the inscription we decided to add the following: When the new rear part is joined to that in front, The church shines, brightened in its middle. For bright is that which is brightly coupled with the bright And which the new light pervades, Bright is the noble work Enlarged in our time I, who was Suger, having been leader While it was accomplished. Eager, therefore, to follow up on my successes, since I desired nothing under heaven except to pursue the honor of mother church - which had suckled the babe with maternal affection, supported the stumbling youth, powerfully strengthened the mature man, and solemnly placed him among the leaders of church and kingdom - we applied ourselves to completion of the work and plunged into the task of raising the transept wings of the church to correspond with the earlier and later parts which would be joined together by them. XXIX. Concerning the Continuation of Both Works

page 24 This being done, when, through the persuasion of certain people, we had applied our effort to work on a front tower (the other already having been completed), the divine will, we believe, drew us away to another project: We would endeavor to renovate the middle part of the church, which they call the nave, conforming and equalizing it with the two remodeled parts. Nevertheless, we would save as much as possible of the old walls, on which, according to the testimony of ancient writers, the high priest Lord Jesus Christ had placed his hand. We sought to safeguard both reverence for the ancient consecration and a harmonious coherence with the modern work according to the pattern already established. The main reason for this change of schedule was that if, in our time or that of our successors, work on the nave of the church proceeded only intermittently when the towers allowed it, then the nave as planned would be completed only much later or, if any misfortune should occur, never at all. For those in charge would have been troubled by no difficulty that did not result in a long delay in joining the old and new parts. But since a beginning has now been made with the extension of the aisles, the whole thing will be finished by us or by those whom God may elect, He Himself helping. For remembrance of the past is foresight of the future. Moreover, the most generous lord, who among other, greater things has provided the makers of our marvelous windows with opulent sapphire and ready cash of around seven hundred pounds or more, will not allow the project to remain incomplete through lack of funds. He is, indeed, "the beginning and the end" [Rev. 21:6]. XXX. Concerning the Ornaments of the Church Lest forgetfulness, the rival of truth, should slip in and snatch away a good example for future behavior, we have thought it worthwhile to provide a description of the ornaments with which the hand of God has adorned the church, his chosen bride. We confess our lord the thrice-blessed Denis to be so generous and benevolent that, as we believe, he has intervened for us before God so strongly and so often, obtaining so many and so great benefits, that we could have done a hundred times more than we actually did for his church if human weakness, shifting circumstances and changing customs had not prevented it. Nevertheless, what we, by the gift of God, have collected for him is hereby listed. XXXI. Concerning the Golden Altar Frontal in the Upper Choir Into this panel, which stands before his most sacred body, we estimate that we have put around forty-two marks of gold, a rich abundance of precious

page 25 gems - hyacinths, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and topazes - and a variety of pearls, more than we ever hoped to find. You would see kings, princes and many outstanding men, imitating us, remove the rings from their fingers and order that the gold, gems and precious pearls of the rings be set in the panel. In the same way archbishops and bishops, depositing the rings of their investiture there for safekeeping, devoutly offered them up to God and his saints. Such a large crowd of gem-dealers flowed in upon us from various kingdoms and nations that we sought to buy no more than they hastened to sell, money being provided by all. The verses on this panel are as follows: Great Denis, open the doors of Paradise, And protect Suger through your holy defenses. May you, who have built a new chamber for yourself through us, Cause us to be received in the chamber of heaven And to be satiated at the heavenly table Instead of the present one. That which is signified pleases more than that which signifies. Because it was proper for us to place the most sacred bodies of our lords in the upper vault as nobly as possible, and one of the side-panels of their most holy sarcophagus had been torn off on some unknown occasion, we put aside fifteen marks of gold and took pains to have the rear side and the whole outside container, above and below, gilded with about forty ounces. Moreover, we had the receptacles which contain the holy bodies covered with copper-gilt panels and polished stone attached over the stone vaults, with continuous gates which would keep unruly crowds at a distance yet allow distinguished persons to view these receptacles with great devotion and a flood of tears. Here are the verses on these sacred tombs: Where the heavenly host stands guard, The people beseech and bemoan the ashes of the saints, While the clergy sing in ten-voiced harmony. The prayers of the pious are directed to their spirits And if they are acceptable to them their sins are forgiven. The bodies of the saints are entombed here in peace. May they carry off after them us who beseech them with many prayers. This place is an admirable asylum for those who come. Here is safe flight for the accused, The avenger is subjected to him. XXXII. Concerning the Golden Cross

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Had we been able, we would have insisted that the sacred, life-giving cross, healing banner of our savior's eternal victory, of which the apostle says, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of Christ" [Gal. 6:14], be adorned all the more gloriously inasmuch as it is "the sign of the Son of Man who will appear in the heavens" [Matt. 24:30] at the end, not only to men but to angels, and we would have greeted it perpetually as did the apostle Andrew: "Hail, cross, dedicated to Christ's body and adorned with his members like pearls." Nevertheless, since we could not do as we wished, we wished to do as well as we could and, God providing, we worked to fulfill our plans. Thus, searching all about (personally and through our agents) for a large supply of precious pearls and gems, preparing as costly a supply of gold and gems as we could find for such ornamentation, we called together the most experienced artisans from various places. Working cautiously and accurately, they were to exalt the venerable cross on its reverse side by the addition of these wondrous gems, while on the front, in sight of the sacrificing priest, they would display the sacred image of our lord and savior in remembrance of his suffering and as still suffering on the cross. Of course the blessed Denis had lain in that same spot for five hundred years and more, from Dagobert's time to our own. We do not wish to pass in silence over one humorous yet noble miracle which the Lord displayed to us in this connection. Just when I was in need of gems and unable to purchase enough (for rarity makes them more expensive), monks from three abbeys belonging to two different orders - that is, from Cîteaux, from another abbey of the same order, and from Fontevrault - entered our little room adjoining the church and offered for sale a greater supply of gems than we would have hoped to find in ten years. They had obtained them as alms from Count Theobold, who had received them through his brother King Stephen of England from the treasury of his uncle the late King Henry. Theobold had stored them up throughout his life in marvelous vessels. We, however, freed from the burden of searching for gems, thanked God and paid four hundred pounds for the whole collection, although they were worth a good deal more. In order to perfect such a holy ornament, we added, not only these, but a great number of other expensive gems. If memory serves us correctly, we recall having applied around eighty marks of refined gold. Through the work of several Lotharingian goldsmiths - sometimes five, sometimes seven - we were able to have completed, in barely two years, the pedestal adorned with the four evangelists, the pillar upon which the sacred image stands, the story of the savior with testimonies of allegories from the Old Testament indicated on it, and the capital above which renders wondrously the death of our Lord. Hastening to exalt the decoration of such a fine and holy instrument, the

page 27 mercy of our savior brought us Pope Eugenius to celebrate holy Easter as is the custom with popes visiting Gaul, honoring the sacred apostolate of blessed Denis just as we had seen his predecessors Calixtus and Innocent do before him. He solemnly consecrated the crucifix on that day. From the title "Of the True Cross, which exceeds Each and Every Pearl," he assigned to it a portion from his own chapel. Publicly, in the presence of all, by the sword of the blessed Peter and the sword of the Holy Spirit, he anathematized whoever should steal anything from this place or recklessly raise his hand against it; and we had this anathema inscribed at the foot of the cross. We hastened to decorate the main altar of the blessed Denis, which had only a beautiful and sumptuous frontal panel from the time of Charles the Bald, the third emperor; for at this very altar we had been dedicated to the monastic life. We had it entirely covered, adding gold panels on each side. And a fourth, even more precious one, so that the whole altar would appear to be gold all the way around. On the sides we placed two candlesticks of King Louis, the son of Philip, so that they would not be stolen on some occasion. We added hyacinths, emeralds, and various other precious gems, ordering a diligent search for others which could be added. These are the verses on the panels: On the right side, The Abbot Suger put up these altar panels In addition to the one already given by King Charles. Make the unworthy worthy by your forgiveness, Virgin Mary. Let the fountain of mercy wash away the sins of king and abbot. On the left side, If an impious man should plunder this excellent altar, Let him perish along with Judas, equally damned. The rear panel, a product of marvelous workmanship and lavish expenditure - for the barbarian artists were more lavish than our own - we exalted with a relief that was marvelous in both form and material so that certain people might say, "The workmanship surpassed the material." Much of what we had acquired and an even greater number of previously-owned ornaments which we were afraid of losing - for example, a gold chalice with a mutilated foot and several other things - we had fastened there. And since the variety of materials - the gold, gems and pearls - cannot be understood easily through visual examination bereft of verbal description, we crowned this work, which discloses its meaning only to the literate and shines with the radiance of delightful allegories, with a written explanation. So that these allegories might be clearly understood, we affixed verses explaining them.

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Crying out with a loud voice the people shout "Hosanna" to Christ. The true victim given in the meal bears all. He who saves all on the cross hastens to bear the cross. The flesh of Christ seals the promise to Abraham's offspring. Melchizadech makes an offering because Abraham defeats the enemy. They who seek Christ with the cross bear a cluster of grapes on a staff. When, out of affection for the Church, we contemplate these new and old ornaments, seeing that admirable cross of St. Eloi, the lesser crosses, and that incomparable ornament commonly called "the crest" all placed on the golden altar, I say, sighing right down to my heart, "Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the jaspar, the chrysolite and the onyx, and the beryl, the sapphire and the carbuncle, and the emerald" [Ez. 28:13]. Those familiar with the properties of gems note to their astonishment that no type except the carbuncle is lacking here, but rather all abound in great number. Thus sometimes when, because of my delight in the beauty of the house of God, the multicolor loveliness of the gems has called me away from external cares, and worthy meditation, transporting me from material to immaterial things, has persuaded me to examine the diversity of holy virtues, then I seem to see myself existing on some level, as it were, beyond our earthly one, neither completely in the slime of earth nor completely in the purity of heaven. By the gift of God I can be transported in an anagogical manner from this inferior level to that superior one. I used to confer with Jerusalemites, and I was eager to learn from those who had seen the treasures of Constantinople and decorations of Hagia Sophia whether these here were worth anything in comparison. When some considered these here to be greater, it seemed to us that, through fear of the Franks, those marvelous objects of which we had once heard had been prudently put away lest by the impetuous greed of a few stupid people the friendship nurtured between Greek and Latin should suddenly change to sedition and warfare; for cunning is a preeminently Greek characteristic. Thus it may be that there is more displayed here, where it is safe, than there, where it is unsafe because of disorders. From many trustworthy men, and from Archbishop Hugh of Laon, we have heard wonderful and nearly incredible reports concerning the superior ornamentation of Hagia Sophia and other churches. If these reports are true - or more precisely, because we believe their testimony is indeed true - then such inestimable and incomparable treasures should be set out for the judgment of many people. "Let every man abound in his own sense" [Rom. 14:5]. To me, I confess, it always has seemed right that the most expensive things should be used above all for the administration of the holy eucharist. If golden

page 29 vessels, vials and mortars were used to collect "the blood of goats or calves or the red heifer, how much more" should gold vases, precious stones and whatever is most valuable among created things be set out with continual reverence and full devotion "to receive the blood of Jesus Christ" [Heb. 9:13f.]. Certainly neither we nor our possessions are fit to perform this function. Even if by a new creation our substance should be changed into that of the holy cherubim and seraphim it would still offer an insufficient and unworthy service for so great and ineffable a victim. Nevertheless, we have such a great propitiation for our sins. To be sure, those who criticize us argue that holy mind, pure heart and faithful intention should suffice for this task. These are, we agree, the things that matter most; yet we profess that we should also serve God with the external ornaments of sacred vessels, in all internal purity and in all external nobility, and nowhere is this to be done as much as in the service of the holy sacrifice. For it is incumbent upon us in every case to serve our redeemer in the most fitting way for in all things, without exception, he has not refused to provide for us, has united our nature with his in a single, admirable individual, and "setting us on his right hand" he has promised "that we will truly possess his kingdom" [Matt. 25:33f.] He is our lord who "lives and reigns forever" [Tobit 9:11; Rev. 1:18, etc.]. XXXIII. Because of our reverence for sacred relics, we also took up the task of renovating the altar which, according to the testimony of the ancients, was called "the Holy One" (For so King Louis, son of Philip, who was brought up here, had heard it called by the older people of the place from his early childhood, as he used to say.) It was apparently the worse for wear due to age, lack of faithful care, and frequent movement in order to decorate it, since it is arranged differently for different feasts, the more distinguished ones receiving more distinguished decoration. The holy porphyry stone on top of the altar, appropriate both qualitatively by its color and quantitatively by its size, was set in a hollow frame of wood covered with gold. This frame was very damaged by the passage of time. The front part of the frame was believed to contain, through cunning workmanship, an arm of St. James the Apostle, and a document inside said as much through an opening of the clearest crystal. Another document within announced that in the right-hand part was hidden an arm of the protomartyr Stephen, while the lefthand part contained an arm of St. Vincent the Levite and Martyr. For some time desiring to be fortified with the protection of such great and holy relics, I had longed ardently to see them and kiss them if I had not feared to displease God.

page 30 Therefore, taking courage from my devotion and believing in the truth of the ancient testimony, we chose a date and selected the manner in which the holy relics were to be examined. The date was that of the martyrdom of our lords the blessed martyrs, the eighth day before the ides of October [Oct. 9]. Archbishops and bishops of various provinces were there. They had come eagerly to bring devout prayers for this solemn celebration, as if paying their debt to the apostolate of Gaul. The archbishops of Lyons, Reims, Tours and Rouen were there, as were the bishops of Soissons, Beauvais, Senlis, Meaux, Rennes, St. Malo and Vannes. There were also a large number of abbots, monks and clerics as well as an uncountable crowd of laity, male and female. On this solemn day, therefore, after the office of terce had been sung and the huge procession was assembled in view of all, then, trusting in the truth of the matter as if we had seen it all ourselves (though we were dependent on the mere testimony and inscription of our forefathers), we gathered the archbishops, bishops, abbots and other high-ranking officials to bring out the altar, explaining that we wanted to open it and look at the treasure of holy relics contained therein. Some of our intimates cautiously suggested that it might have been better for our reputation and that of the church as well if we had chosen to investigate the truth of the inscriptions in private. Fired by my own faith, I replied that, if the inscriptions were true, I would rather have it discovered publicly than check it secretly and invite the skepticism of those who had not been present. Thus we brought the aforesaid altar into our midst and summoned goldsmiths, who carefully opened the little compartments containing the holy arms, upon which sat the little crystals with their inscriptions. God granting, just as we had hoped, with all looking on, we found everything there. We also discovered the reason why the relics had been deposited there. The Emperor Charles III, who lies gloriously interred beneath this altar, arranged by imperial edict that they be removed from the imperial repository and placed with him for the protection of his soul and body. We also found there evidence, sealed with his ring, which pleased us very much. He would not have ordered that seven lamps in silver vessels (since gone to pieces and remade by us) should burn incessantly, day and night, with perpetual fire before that altar called "the Holy One" unless he placed the highest hopes for his body and soul in the presence of these holy relics. He confirmed with his gold seal that his property Reuil, along with its dependencies, should be used to cover the cost of these relics, the celebration of the anniversary of his death, and a feast for his people on this occasion. That is also why, in nearly sixty different celebrations, six great and worthy wax candles, the likes of which are rarely or never placed in the church, are lit around this altar. It is also why this altar is adorned with noble ornaments as often as is that of the blessed Denis.

page 31 We also erected the cross, admirable for its size, which is placed between the altar and Charles' tomb. According to tradition the most noble necklace of Queen Nanthilda, wife of King Dagobert, founder of the church, was affixed to the middle of this cross, while another (smaller but unequaled according to the testimony of the most experienced artisans) was affixed to the forehead of St. Denis. The latter was done mainly through reverence for the iron collar of St. Denis, which, having enclosed the neck of the blessed Denis in the prison of Glaucin, has deserved worship and veneration from us and from all. Moreover, in the same part of the church, the venerable abbot of Corbie, Robert of blessed memory, professed and raised from childhood in this church, whom we, God granting, proposed as abbot of the monastery at Corbie, had a beautifully gilded silver panel set up in recognition of his profession and in gratitude for the many benefits bestowed by the church. XXXIV. Also, sympathizing with the discomfort of those brethren who constantly participated in the services and whose health was undermined by the coldness of the marble and copper, we altered the choir to its present form and enlarged it to accord with the increase in size which, with God's help, our community had enjoyed. As for the ancient pulpit, which was admirable for the delicate and in our times irreplaceable sculpture of its ivory tablets and which surpassed human evaluation in its representation of ancient subjects, we had it repaired after we had recovered the panels which had been moldering all too long in and under the repository of the money chests. Once we had restored the copper animals on the right side to prevent so much admirable material from perishing, we had the pulpit set up in such a way as to read the holy gospels in a higher place. In the early days of our tenure as abbot we had removed a certain obstruction which divided the church with a dark wall, so that the beauty of the church would not be obscured by such barriers. We also restored the noble throne of the glorious King Dagobert, on which, as tradition relates, the Frankish kings sat to receive the homage of their nobles after they had assumed power. We did so in recognition of its exalted function and because of the value of the work itself. We also had the eagle in the middle of the choir regilded, for it had been rubbed bare of gold by the frequent touch of admirers. We also had painted, by the hands of many masters sought out in various nations, a splendid variety of new windows below and above, from the first in the chevet representing the tree of Jesse to the one over the principal door of the entrance. One of these, urging us onward from the material to the immaterial, shows the apostle Paul turning a mill and the prophets carrying

page 32 sacks to the mill. The accompanying verse says, By working the mill, Paul, you take the flour from the bran. You make known the inner meaning of Moses' law. From so many grains is made the true bread without bran, The perpetual food of men and angels. In the same window, where the veil is removed from Moses' face, it says, What Moses veils, the doctrine of Christ unveils. Those who despoil Moses bare the Law. In the same window, under the ark of the covenant, From the ark of the covenant is established the altar of Christ. There, by a greater covenant, life wishes to die. Also in the same window, where the lion and lamb unseal the book, He who is the great God, lion and lamb, unseals the book. The lamb or lion becomes flesh joined to God. In another window, where the pharaoh's daughter finds Moses in the basket, Moses in the basket is that child Whom the church, the royal maiden, nurses with holy mind. In the same window, where the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Just as the bush is seen to burn yet is not consumed, So he who is full of the divine fire burns yet is not consumed. Also in the same window, where the pharaoh and his horsemen are submerged in the sea, What baptism does to the good, A like form but an unlike cause does to the pharaoh's army. Also in the same window, where Moses raises the bronze serpent, Just as the bronze serpent slays all serpents,

page 33 So Christ raised on the cross slays his enemies. In the same window, where Moses receives the Law on the mountain, The law having been given to Moses, The grace of Christ comes to its aid. Grace gives life, the letter kills. Since their marvelous workmanship and the cost of the sapphire and painted glass makes these windows very valuable, we appointed a master craftsman for their protection and maintenance, just as we also appointed a skilled goldsmith for the gold and silver ornaments. These would receive their allowances and whatever was apportioned to them in addition, such as coins from the altar and flour from the common storehouse of the brethren, and they were never to neglect their duties. We also had seven candlesticks of enameled and excellently gilded metalwork made, since the ones made by the emperor Charles for the blessed Denis seemed to be ruined by age.

page 34 XXXIVA. Moreover, with the devotion due to the blessed Denis, we acquired vessels of gold and precious stones for the service of the Lord's table, in addition to the ones already donated for this purpose by kings of the Franks and those devoted to the church. To be specific, we ordered a big gold chalice containing one hundred forty ounces of gold and decorated with precious gems (hyacinths and topazes) as a substitute for another which had been pawned during the time of our predecessor. We also offered to the blessed Denis, along with some flowers from the empress' crown, another very precious vessel of praise, carved in the form of a boat, which King Louis, son of Philip, had left in pawn for nearly ten years. When it was offered for our inspection, we had purchased it with the king's permission for sixty marks of silver. This vessel, marvelous for both the quality and the quantity of its precious stones, was decorated with verroterie cloisonni work by St. Eloi and is considered by all goldsmiths to be very precious. __________________________________________________________ David Burr [[email protected]]. See his home page. He indicated that the translations are available for educational use. He intends to expand the number of translations, so keep a note of his home page. Paul Halsall Jan 1996 [updated 11/23/96]



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