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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

An authentic Merovingian royal diploma records the gift of the forest of Cormeilles by Childebert III, king of the Franks, to the women's monastery at Argenteuil (northern Gaul) dedicated to *Mary (mother of Christ, S00033), the Apostles *Peter (S00036) and *Paul (S00008) and other *unnamed saints (S00518). Written in Latin, probably at Compiègne (northern Gaul), 697.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Documentary texts - Donation document

Documentary texts - Charter or diploma

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment sheet

MGH DD Mer. 150 (excerpt)

Childeberthus rex Franc(orum) v(iris) inl(ustrebus). Se oportuna beneficia ad loca s(an)c(t)orum, quod pro iuvameni servorum vel ancillarum D(e)i pertinit, libenti hanimo prestam(us), et hoc nobis ad aeterna retribucione pertenire confidemus. Ideoque cognuscat magnetudo seu hutiletas vestra, q(uo)d nus silva nostra, qui vogatur Corni[oletum] , sup(er) fluvium Sequena in pago Parisiaco [...] ad monasthirio s(an)c(t)i Mariae, s(an)c(t)i Petri et Pauli vel citerorum s(an)c(t)orum, que est constructus in villa Argentoialo, ubi pre[es]t inl(ustri)s D(e)o sacrata Leudesinda abb(atis)s(a), pro mercidem nostri augimentum vel pro consolacione ancillarum D(e)i inibi referenti plena et integra gracia visi fuaemus concessisse [...] D[a]t(um) quod ficit min[sis] Abrilis diaes tres, an(no) tercio rign(i) n[ostri], Compendio, in D(e)i f[eliciter].

'Childebert, king of the Franks, to his noble men. If, with a free heart, we furnish the places of the saints with appropriate gifts, aiding the servants or handmaidens of God, we are sure that this pertains to our eternal reward. Therefore let your magnitude and humility recognise that we have been seen to grant fully and completely our forest, which is called Cormeilles, on the river Seine in the country of Paris ... to the monastery of Saint Mary, Saint Peter, Paul and other saints, which is constructed in the
villa of Argenteuil, where the illustrious Abbess Leudesind, dedicated to God, presides ... Given on the third day of the month of April, in the third year of our reign, happily in God's name at Compiègne.'

Text: Kölzer 2002, 376-8. Translation: B. Savill.

Cult Places

Cult building - monastic

Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Monarchs and their family


According to the judgement of their most recent editor, 54 authentic or substantially authentic royal diplomas/charters survive from Merovingian Gaul which are dated or datable to the period up to ad 700. Of these, 34 appear to relate directly to the cult of saints, and are included in our database. All but one, possibly two (E06133, E06141), of the charters included here date from the 7th century, mostly its final quarter. Although a number of these diplomas have come down to us only in later cartulary copies, a remarkably large proportion (21 of our 34) survive as single-sheet, original manuscripts, the great majority of which come from the monastery of Saint-Denis. Due to the nature of western archival survivals, all these documents concern either land, legal immunities, or rights to tolls, and are preserved exclusively through interested religious institutions. For a hint, however, of the kind of Merovingian documents we may have lost, the scribal templates found in the Formulary of Marculf are suggestive (see e.g. E06231, E06233).

This Argenteuil diploma survives as an original parchment manuscript, now Paris, BnF Ms Lat. 9007 n. 1 (see 'Images').


This diploma and several others seem to suggest a pattern by which prominent 7th century Franco-Gallic women's monasteries tended to be dedicated to Mary.


Kölzer, T.,
Die Urkunden der Merowinger, 2 vols. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Diplomata; Hannover, 2001).

Further reading:
Brühl, C., Studien zu den merowingischen Königsurkunden, ed. T. Kölzer (Cologne, 2001).

Kölzer, T.,
Merowingerstudien, 2 vols (Hannover, 1998-1999).


Paris, BnF, Lat. 9007, n. 1 (source:

Record Created By

Benjamin Savill

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00008Paul, the ApostlePaulusCertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristMariaCertain
S00036Peter, the ApostlePetrusCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Benjamin Savill, Cult of Saints, E06224 -