Cambrai BM 256 (246), made perhaps in the early 14th c., opens with the abridged version of the Bible en françois attributed to Roger d’Argenteuil, with the rest of the volume made up of sermons. We know that before the Revolution it was in the possession of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Sépulcre in Cambrai – a note at the top of fol. 1r says as much. But it wasn’t originally made for the monks.

Part of map of Cambrai in 1710, with the Church of Saint-Georges at the centre.

One medieval owner was rather insistent that this book belonged to him. On the front paste-down, he wrote: ‘Iste liber pertinet iohanni demonte’ (This book belongs to Johannes de Monte). On f. 42v he gave a bit more information: ‘Iste liber pertinet Iohanni demon (?) si quis inueniet pro amore dei sibi reddet ad sanctum georgium’ (This book belongs to Johannes de Monte. If anyone finds it, by God’s grace may it be returned to Saint-Georges). A similar note, minus the mention of Saint-Georges can be found in the margins of f. 45r.

It seems plausible that ‘Saint-Georges’ refers to the medieval parish of that name in Cambrai itself. Cambrai had a St George connection from as early as the early 6th c., when Clovis, founder of the Merovingians, established a monastery nearby dedicated to the saint. But it wasn’t until the 11th c. that Cambrai’s church of St George was built (Leduc 2001). Though the building no longer exists, the long Rue de Saint-Georges leads us to where it once stood.

I haven’t found any trace of Johannes de Monte (of Mons?). Might he have been the parish priest of Saint-Georges? His choice of sermons and the Bible en françois as reading material would certainly seem appropriate if so. He was, at any rate, very attached to his book!

 

Bibliography

Leduc, Christophe (2001). ‘Géographie paroissiale en milieu urbain: L’exemple cambrésien à l’époque moderne’, Revue du Nord 340.2, 359-79