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Abbey of Stavelot:
Corvée of Labor, 1126

The usual meaning of a corvée was forced labor over and above the usual services required of a serf. In this case it took the form of carting lime or wood to a monastery, under the supervision of a steward or bailiff. Its commutation was not desired by the abbot.

In the name of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity. Cuonon, by the grace of God, Abbot of Stavelot. Just as it is right to keep alive those things which have been well and truly decreed to be inviolate and holy, so there is no question at all that those things which have been corrupted by perversion ought to be returned to their proper use. Therefore, let it be known to your posterity that we have discovered a certain corrupt and altogether reprehensible use, or rather abuse, which we on the advice of our monastery and of our faithful people have corrected by this present charter. For since it was the ancient custom that all, who have a rural possession within the boundaries of the villa of Stavelot, should bring lime three times a year to the monastery, negligent officials, having accepted money for the cartage, worked two evils, i.e., they oppressed the people by this exaction and they neglected both the walls of our buildings and the crumbling walls of the inner cloister. And so we, resisting this two-fold evil, have decreed, and by this present charter have confirmed our decree, that, for the future, serfs will bring lime or stone for burning to our monastery, and if they are not commanded to transport the lime, they need not pay any commutation or redemption at all, except that if there be an abundance of lime, they may pay for one cartload of lime six loads of timber for building purposes or two for fuel. Moreover, they will go three times a year, first in the month of May, then between the feast of St. John and that of St. Peter, at the end of the month of June, and thirdly between the feast of St. Remaclus and that of St. Remigius. Let them bring this lime or stone prepared for burning from our manors, that is Louveigné, or Xhoris, or Filot, or Ozo.

Done at Stavelot in the year of the Incarnation 1126, Lothar being King of the Romans, Alberon Bishop of Liège, and Cuonon Abbot of Stavelot.


Jos. Halkin and C. G. Roland, eds., Recueil des Chartes de l=Abbaye de Stavelot-Malmedy, (Brussels: Academie Royale de Belgique, 1909), p. 292; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 365-366.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998


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