FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en Sciences humaines et sociales

Cœnobia Turonenses : St Martin's communities in Tours, their practices and networks from late Antiquity until the 13th century – COENOTUR


Coenobia Turonenses: st Martin's communities in Tours, practices and networks from late Antiquity until 12th century.

Main issues and general objectives

This project deals with relationships between religious communities in Tours which kept saint Martin's inheritance (ie Marmoutier, which he founded,and St Martin which gathered around his tomb), their links and competition as well as their networks. It will also deal with their relationships with other communities in Tours and the surroundings on various aspects: institutional, social, religious, topographical and architectural. These communities provide a unique opportunity to study from late Antiquity to Middle Ages the transformations of western monasticism and their consequences on a local urban and suburban society.

Methods will combine historical work such as editing and translating medieval latin sources and digital humanities to produce data bases and GIS,

This programme will produce several editions of narrative written sources and papers as well as a final publication at the end of it. Digitalisation of a large number of manuscripts produeced or used in Touraine will allow the reconstruction of a virtual library accessible by researchers and general public. Architectural transformation of the main churches at Marmoutier will be reconstructed via a video and liturgical pieces sung locally will be recorded.

This programme is the first stage of a long term research dealing with written sources produced in Tours, particularly by Marmoutier and St Martin's communities, which are very numerous, notably in the 11th and 12th centuries.
It is based on a log term cooperation between Tours and Hamburg universities and the Institute of Research and History of texts (IRHT). It also takes advantage on several complementary projects, both in France and Germany.

We shall produce papers and books, both printed and on line, and on line data bases and GIS.

This project focuses on the relationship between the two communities claiming the heritage of St Martin: Marmoutier, the community he himself founded, and St Martin’s which grew around his tomb – a relationship poised between synergy and competition – and on the networks associated with the two communities. The project plans to study the links of these communities (their status could fluctuate between that of a community of canons and a monastery) with one another, with their own dependent communities (St Julian, Cormery, St Cosme and Beaumont) and with the archbishop and the cathedral chapter (St Maurice’s). The links studied will be not only institutional but also those arising from the social, religious and cultural sphere, the topography and the architecture. The communities of Tours allow us a unique opportunity to observe the transformations of western monasticism from Late Antiquity to the Central Middle Ages and their impact at the level of a polycentric microcosm.
The research programme is composed of three interconnected lines, which all require the use of a multiplicity of sources and methods of analysis. In the first instance (1), the study of the relations between St Martin’s and Marmoutier, which requires a critical re-examination of the whole body of written material from the Early Middle Ages and of the production of the Tours scriptoria will enable us to reconstruct the separate institutional structure of these two communities during the 10th c. Both created networks of connections with other communities (institutional or based on amicitia). We will study (2) a variety of examples of these connections, notably in terms of architecture, liturgy and diplomacy in order better to understand the social, cultural and liturgical impact of their choices on cenobitic life. Differences between the two communities crystallised around the practices of monastic life, especially during the monastic reform of the 10th c. and the Gregorian Reform of the 11th-12th c. In this context, Marmoutier came to be seen as the Cluny of Western France (3). The study of the monastic buildings provides an opportunity to re-examine the monastic practices of the great Tours community, and the discourse of excellence that the monks of Marmoutier put forward. That is why the project proposes to make an examination of the monastic establishment of Marmoutier in its own right.
The project will eventually include several on-line databases and GIS as well as the publication of articles, a critical edition with translation of the narrative sources and a one-volume synthesis, the latter two co-edited. The digitisation of numerous manuscripts will enable the creation of a virtual library of the Tours repositories to be made accessible to scholars and the public. A video will show the architectural evolution of the abbey church at Marmoutier between the 10th and the 12th c., and a CD will be produced to disseminate the liturgical works sung in the monastery at the time.

Project coordinator

Madame Elisabeth Lorans (Université de Tours)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Université de Tours
Université d'Orléans - EA POLEN
TELEMMe Université Aix-Marseille - UMR TELEMME 7303
Sorbonne Université
IRHT Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes
Universität Hamburg

Help of the ANR 277,848 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2019 - 36 Months

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