All posts by Dominique Stutzmann

Job: Research Fellow position for the HORAE project / Ingénieur de recherche pour le projet HORAE

Job description / Fiche de poste (pdf) :


I got a job for you… (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Dép. MSS, Rothschild 2535 (24 b)

English version: Research Fellow / Ingénieur de recherche
    Position focus
    Required Education, Skills and Experience
    About the project HORAE
    Host institution
    How to Apply

Version française: Ingénieur de recherche en analyse de sources
    Le projet HORAE
    Institution d’accueil


Research Fellow / Ingénieur de recherche en analyse de sources

Institution: Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes

Location: Paris, France

Application Due: 31 Oct. 2017

Type: Full Time

Duration: 1 year, renewable until 3 years

Starting Date: between January 1, 2018 and April 1, 2018


The Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (CNRS) invites applications for a Research Fellow (“Ingénieur(e) de recherché en analyse de sources”) for the project “HORAE – Hours, Analysis, Editions” (ANR-17-CE38-0008), under the supervision of Mr. Dominique Stutzmann, Principal Investigator.

Continue reading Job: Research Fellow position for the HORAE project / Ingénieur de recherche pour le projet HORAE

Saint-Omer in the registers of the French royal chancery (99.6% precision!)

As some of the readers will know, I am particularly interested in the city of Saint-Omer in Northern France. This is a good reason to test and search for the first time unknown occurrences of this city, its city officials and chapter officials in the registers of the French royal chancery.

As a matter of fact, the results are quite impressive…

Registrum factum in viagio sancti Audomari (Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ 88)


In total, 173 occurrences are found for “audomarum” OR “audomari” or “audomaro” and 73 occurrences for “saint omer”. I noticed bypassing that “osmer” is also present in the registers, but not in our index (generally silently regularized to “omer”).
Continue reading Saint-Omer in the registers of the French royal chancery (99.6% precision!)

“disant ses heures” : from HIMANIS to HORAE

We are delighted to announce that the French research agency is funding the HORAE project (ANR-17-CE38-0008). HIMANIS also highlights why it is important with one example:

Disant ses heures… (Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ44, fol. 98r)

un certain lieu ou il estoit alé disant ses heures

(translation: a place where he went saying his Hours; image Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ44, fol. 98r)

In another example, the book of hours of a Jehannette, daughter of Jehan Petit is central to the plot, since it is the cause of the crime! Used to force a date with the young Jehannette, it created a fight between the father and the daughter’s friend…

Thomas, par esbatement print les heures de ladite Jehannette qui estoient sur une fenestre dudit hostel en la presence de ladite Jehannette et de son consentement les emporta et dist a ycelle Jehannette qu’elle les alast querir a vespres en l’eglise, laquelle lui respondi que si feroit elle. Et tantost aprés, ledit Jehan Petit ala aprés ledit Thomas ou cymetiere de ladite eglise ou il estoit et de felon courage lui dist qu’il lui rendist ses heures, ou si non qu’il l’en poursuiroit et que faulsement et mauvaisement il les lui avoit emblees.

qu’il lui rendist ses heures (Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ 162)

At the core of the late medieval society…

HORAE (Hours – Recognition, Analysis, Editions) is a cross-disciplinary research project studying religious practices and experiences in the late Middle Ages through the books of hours, the absolute medieval best seller. In a public-private partnership, it gathers three partners in the Humanities and Computer Science: the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (IRHT, UPR 841), the private company TEKLIA and the Laboratoire des Sciences du Numérique de Nantes (LS2N, UMR6004). Books of hours forms, with more than 5000 preserved manuscripts, a vast and crucial ensemble to understand the medieval mindset. Yet, their textual content is very scarcely studied, although the massive production of such a large number of manuscripts is a pivotal cultural and industrial phenomenon to the profound changes in the medieval religious life. Not only a proto-industrial book production arises and the economics of demand shifts to the economics of offer, but also the awakening of the individual and the internalization of faith take places in an increasingly church controlled world. Books of hours are at the same time deluxe objects, implying social staging, and intimate objects, with devotional, memorial and eschatological challenges.

HORAE combines the research and expertise of all three partners in artificial intelligence applied to Computer Vision and image analysis, in Natural Language Processing (NLP), and in book history and religious practices. The research project aims at creating an integrated chain from image treatment to producing new knowledge by placing the end user at the center of the developments, by managing formats, interoperability and long term preservation, but also ergonomics and data visualization.The aims encompass: (1) re-using the many digitized manuscripts, which are online but underused resources; (2) new open source software for Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR); (3) tools for segmentation and plagiarism detection, adapted to the transcription of medieval manuscripts produced by the machine in order to identify the texts in the books of hours; (4) identifying and editing unpublished texts; (5) visualization of manuscript clusters, which share the same textual characteristics in the order of the different parts (Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis, votive offices, suffrages, prayers), but also in the order of textual units to identify the liturgical use; (6) studying the diffusion and circulation of devotional and liturgical texts at the end of the Middle Ages in order to better understand the cultures and faith in the 13th c.-16th c.

With its aims and methods, HORAE profoundly changes the ways of doing research in auxiliary sciences and tackles the challenges of big data. Books of hours have been too scarcely studied until new because they are too numerous, too complex and their text is very repetitive: now, their very number, repetitions and complexities make possible for this project to develop new and efficient technologies and methodologies and gain new knowledge on the Middle Ages.



99 pilgrimages / 99 “pelerinage(s)”: accuracy and historical research

Good news! We travelled across the registers, looking for pilgrimages… A search for pilgrimages in the registers of the French royal chancery is a fantastic example of what HIMANIS is bringing to the historians and interested citizens.

Search for “pelerinage” or “pelerinages” with a confidence level as low as 0 gives 54 matches with an average confidence of 46.6. This means 54 registers and 96 pages corresponding to the search, and 99 spotted occurrences. We searched in French only and, here, the results are amazingly accurate: All spotted occurrences are correct! And they even include an occurrence in a black-and-white register, scanned from the microfilm… A very good information for further research.

The table below shows the list of occurrences with direct links. Of course, there are some artefacts and in one occurrence, we see a bizarre result: in which there are two (red) boxes around the word, which is “pelerignage” but has also been indexed as “pelerinage”. In this case, I have to confess that I have clicked on “correct” to confirm the reading, before realizing that it was, technically speaking, not a correct match 😉
Continue reading 99 pilgrimages / 99 “pelerinage(s)”: accuracy and historical research

Accessing the full text of the Trésor des Chartes’ registers! (beta version)

HIMANIS project

Looking for the word “abbatisse” in plain text of the Tresor des Chartes’ registers

The HIMANIS project is funded by the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change” (JPI-CH) of the European Union. The partners are developing cost-effective solutions for querying large sets of handwritten document images. It gathers Computer Science, Humanities and Cultural Heritage institutions in order to produce technology to generate new, research-based knowledge from historical manuscripts. As a challenging and particularly interesting case study, the large collection of the Trésor des Chartes’ registers produced by the French royal chancery (Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ35 – JJ211).  The expected outcomes of this project are:

  1. a new indexing/searching technology for historical manuscripts
  2. a new paradigm to study our historical heritage, as conveyed by manuscripts, by using full text search technology.
  3. a new vision of the raise of nation states in Europe via a new study of the corpus under this paradigm.

Now we are proud to announce that we reach the two first goals of our project!  You can search the plain text in the Trésor des Chartes’ registers and provide feedback: It is ready to be used and tested by all interested users worldwide!

You can search the plain text in the Trésor des Chartes’ registers and provide feedback!

How to search?

Query settings

Home page of the HIMANIS indexing and search engine
  • A query box is provided to type the queries
    • The search engine is case insensitive (“Paris” and “paris” retrieve the same results). The search engine allows for “AND”, “OR” and “EXPRESSION” queries (see below).
    • Abbreviations are not queried as they appear in the images; instead the corresponding expanded forms are used. For example, use “paris” to find “Paris”, “par.”, “par^s”, “Pars.”, etc.
    • Query text must be diacritcs-folded (e.g., “sebastien”, rather than “Sébastien”).
  • A confidence box and slider are provided to express a confidence threshold which determines the desired precision-recall tradeoff. The default is 50%. A higher value results in higher precision (little or none wrong spots) and lower recall (some, or many existing instances of the query may not be retrieved); a lower value results in lower precision (some, or many wrong spots) and higher recall (all or most the existing instances can be retrieved).
  • A ‘Max. results’ box is provided to express the maximum number of spots to be retrived and shown. For example, if this number is set to 20 and the confidence is set to 40%, the system shows at most 20 spots with confidence higher than 40%; and if no (or 0) confidence is set, the system retrieves at most 20 spots with the highest confidence.

    Query settings


The search engine allows compound queries (boolean AND, OR, NOT) and “sequences”. For compound queries, the results are computed at Page level, and the number of matches is the total number of word occurrences matching the query.

  • Relations are interpreted at the full page-image level.
  • The operators are: AND: “&&” (or just blank space), OR: “||”, NOT: “-” (before the words which have to be negated). Parenthesis “(“, “)”, can be used for grouping
  • For “Sequence”, the number of match is computed at Page level and one match corresponds to the complete expression.
  • A query can be a sequence of words, expressed using the symbols “[” and “]”. Sequences are not exact strings; they allow (a few) extra words to appear among the stated words. Examples: “[ludovico francorum]” (where “francorum” is an expanded abbreviastion) would retrieve pages with strings such as “ludovico franc.”, “Ludovico rege franc.”, “ludovico dei gra. francorum”, etc. In the current system version, sequences can not be mixed with boolean operators.

Queries: NOT

“france – flandres”: pages with at least one instance of “france” but with no instance of “flandres”

Queries: mixed AND/OR/NOT with parentheses

“paris && (france || flandres)”: pages with at least one instance of “paris” AND at least one instance of either “france” OR “flandres”, or both

Navigation through the results

The current presentation of results is bound by the hierarchy of the collection and we know that it is not always easy to flip through the results. We ask for your patience and your help!

We ask for your patience and your help!

It is possible to:

  1. browse all registers
  2. browse all pages in one register
  3. see the list of registers with the number of matching pages (not the number of matches in the volume)
  4. see the list of pages with the number of matches

Queries are interpreted, and results are shown, hierarchically. For example, assume a collection is composed of many Volumes and each Volume of many Pages. Then, if the query is issued at the top collection level, the system first shows the Volumes where the query may appear with confidence above the threshold specified. Then if the same query is issued for a specific Volume, the system shows all the Pages where the query may appear with a confidence above the threshold. Finally if it is issued for a specific Page, the system shows locations where the words involved in the query may appear. In the PRHLT interface, default levels of the hierarchy are called: “Home”, “Collection”, “Chapter” and “Page”.

The navigation from one page goes either to the previous or the next one in the same volume, or back to a higher level (volume or corpus). There is no possibility to jump directly to the next match.

To go back to the superior level, please navigate with the breadcrumb.

Number of volumes with at least one match (and average confidence)
List of volumes with at least one match and number of pages with at least one match
List of pages in the volume and number of matches on the page
Matches on the page
  1. Miniatures. At each level of the hierarchy (except at the lowest one, the page level), the system shows the elements of this level by means of miniature images, with some information associated; namely,
    1. an identifier of the element,
    2. a bar representing the confidence of the system that the query appears somewhere in this element
    3. the number of elements in the lower level where the query may appear with a confidence above the threshold specified.
  2. By hovering the mouse over the confidence bar, the actual confidence value is shown.
  3. Pan and Zoom: When a (part of a) page image is shown, it can be explored by moving the mouse while holding its right button. In addition, the mouse wheel can be used to zoom in and out.
  4. If a word appears more than once in a text line, only the instance with greatest confidence is shown.
  5. The approximate locations of spotted queries in each page are marked with rectangles (called “bounding boxes”) surrounding the corresponding words. The color of a rectangle expresses the degree of confidence the system has in the corresponding spot. Exact confidence values can be seen by hovering the mouse over the rectangles.

Your feedback is needed!


On the spotted words

When you see the results of a query a “word level”, you can click on the word and you are asked if the word is correctly spotted. Please help us and say “correct” or “incorrect”.

Giving feedback on spotted words

If you see a missed word

In the example below, the word “pedagiis” has been correctly spotted on the lower right part of the image.

Correct and missed matches on one page

If you double-click on the image, you can add the word to our index!

Inserting the correct transcription for a word

Hints for the Chancery collection

  • Click on the Chancery miniature with no query to see the 147 Volumes indexed, each showing the number of images it contains (ranging from less then 100 to more than 1000).
  • Queries can be formulated at any level: full Collection (Chancery), specific Chapter (Volume JJ…), or individual Page.
  • Remember to use the Confidence and/or Max.results levers depending on the precision-recall tradeoff you wish to achieve.
  • The number of the “page” indicated is the number of the file.
  • There are 147 volumes; 32 additionnal volumes are being digitized by the French National Archive

In the near future…

This is a presentation of the Beta Version. In a near future, you will be able to scroll through the results and provide feedback directly on a hit list of the results.

You will be able to get the correct foliation of each image and retrieve metadata from the inventories and text editions.

IRHT’s interface proposal to access the Chancery corpus: aligning and merging early modern inventories (tables of contents), 20th c. inventories and indexes, partial editions, and the result of automated indexing performed in the HIMANIS project

A glimpse at the coverage of extant inventories

Last week, I was in Graz, talking about “Automated indexing of medieval manuscripts: the HIMANIS research project and the registers of the French royal chancery” at a Lunchtime Lecture of the Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung at the University of Graz.

For this lecture, I prepared a small slide which I had ever wanted to do: just give an idea of the coverage of the inventories at a glimpse. Well, it is easy and difficult at the same time.

The Virtual Reference Room of the National Archive indicates many inventories for the fonds JJ. Not fewer than 42!

But, if you simplify a bit, then, you have the systematic printed inventories from JJ 37 to JJ 79 (1300-1350), then you have handwritten unpublished inventories for the years 1350-1364 (JJ 80 to JJ 95), and, besides some particular text editions, esp. regarding the Poitou region, some geographic inventories for JJ 35 to JJ 266, covering the provinces of Gascogne, Blésois, Orléanais, Chartrain, Languedoc and Rouergue.
In the map above, there are of course some catches: I’ve avoided the question of the exact limits of the older provinces by using a map with actual departements. But I hope this gives a good idea of how much we have to discover in the Chancery registers 😀

On the usefullness of Scholarly Digital Editions

During a workshop at the University of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines on digital text editions, we had the pleasure to make a provocative pun. Scholarly Digital Editions, a concept largely defined by our friends James Cummings and Franz Fischer (cf. their “Criteria for Reviewing Scholarly Digital Editions” online : and Elena Pierazzo (cf. her book DIgital Scholarly Editing: Theories, Models, Methods, available on HAL-SHS), are not only thought for the Humanists, but also for the machines. Indeed the better the edition is, the better it is to teach computer to read reading skills on medieval documents to beginners, i.e. Computers. We demonstrated that and how electronic editions can have a second life as a teacher for Artificial Intelligences, far from their original intent. In fact, our “ground-truth” is mostly based on the electronic edition by Ecole de Chartes of chancery documents published by Paul Guerin more than a hundred years ago: but to be good teachers, they need to be enhanced and upgraded to a more elaborate scholarly level.

Of course, this is not all. They also serve, along with indexes and inventories, to measure the accuracy and recall, and we all have to think about what it means to index (and not to edit) for the remnant parts and what conclusions we can draw from uncertain questions. That was the rest of our talk 😉

Old and new tools for retrieving information in a massive textual corpus

Seeking information in the registers of the French royal chancery was never an easy task. During the conference Administrer par l’écrit au Moyen Âge held at the IRHT in Paris on June 1st, 2016, our colleague Olivier Canteaut pointed out during our joint paper, it also applied to medieval researchers. Indeed, even in the Middle Ages, reading registers cover to cover was not excluded for retrieving a particular document because tables of contents and rubrics were more than often not sufficient to find the information that was needed. And to avoid such a tedious task, the king was sometimes gathering living witnesses of his predecessor’s act rather than searching for a copy in his registers! Still today, making research in those registers is daunting, especially for the time period following the reign of Jean II (1350-1364) where modern inventories are either partial or difficult to access.

A list is provided in the Virtual Inventory Room of the French National Archive [direct link to JJ inventories]

Screenshot of the list of inventories to access the JJ series in the French National Archive
Screenshot of the list of inventories to access the JJ series in the French National Archive


Therefore, as the main technological challenge of the HIMANIS project is to develop effective new tools for retrieving information in a massive document corpus like the chancery registers, how about merging ancient and new technologies?

Auto-indexation of the chancery register will provide keyword spotting across all the documents kept in the chancery registers. Combining this with all the existing materials (converted to electronic format), we aim at allowing simultaneous browsing between the auto-indexed digital images, document level segmentation, existing inventories, edited documents and indexed places names and persons.

IRHT's interface proposal to access the Chancery corpus: aligning and merging early modern inventories (tables of contents), 20th c. inventories and indexes, partial editions, and the result of automated indexing performed in the HIMANIS project
IRHT’s interface proposal to access the Chancery corpus: aligning and merging early modern inventories (tables of contents), 20th c. inventories and indexes, partial editions, and the result of automated indexing performed in the HIMANIS project


Text-Image Alignment: from alignment to enhancement

The first batch of our ground-truth and images has been processed. That are 489 pages, 7100 lines, 132’700 words! All on HD images provided by the French National Archive and based on the text edition by Paul Guérin. We now are able to see the text on the image :
Aligned text and image at word level on Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ 35, fol. 18v

From then on, we are now working on
1) the validation/correction of the alignment or segmentation… and here we have to acknowledge that our “ground-truth” was far from being 100% accurate (some links to images were wrong, some text paragraphs were omitted by Paul Guérin, and all sorts of funny discoveries)
2) the enhancement of the text edition, esp. by enriching it with the abbreviations as to create better models and a better ground-truth. For that, we have played with a little tool, which indicates which abbrevations are possible for a given word :

Web interface to select which abbreviations are present in a given word

Named entities and ground-truth: progress report

The research project started on November 1st, 2015. We are now describing the first steps undertaken during the first 3 months of the HIMANIS project are the following: the partners created the CHANCERY corpus (Archives nationales, JJ 35 to JJ 91) and associated the ground-truth with the images. They also acquired the necessary linguistic resources and formatted them in order to apply them to the automated indexing. At the same time, they created a dictionary of named entities with a dual objective: on the one hand, allow for a better indexing, and, on the other hand, provide a tool for accuracy measure. This dictionary is mainly based on the diverse regional systematic surveys : Gascogne; Languedoc and Rouergue; Berry, Blésois, Chartrain, Orléanais, Touraine.
While working on these resources, we are moving from a linear and self-contained work and go to a direct index to spot on which page of which register, one can find a specific named entity.

The ground-truth is drawn from the large collection of Paul Guérin, Recueil des documents concernant le Poitou contenus dans les registres de la Chancellerie de France, 12 vol.

as it has been digitally edited by Ecole nationale des chartes:

In parallel, they started the automated segmentation per line and words of their systems as well as the automated indexing, either based on first optical models or based on text-image alignment.

A great start


Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ 35, fol. 5r (en ligne sur le site des Archives nationales). Reproduction by permission (see conditions on the website:

This week, we had our kick-off meeting! It is a great fun to gather all the partners from the Netherlands, Spain and France.

This is the occasion to give some specific information about our corpus, aka “the Chancery corpus” or short “Chancery”. It already encompasses the high resolution digitized images of the registers from the French royal chancery, covering the period from 1211 to 1363, with the shelfmarks Paris, Archives nationales, JJ 7 to JJ 91. The full inventory is online : and a fair part of this collection is already freely available to the public on the website of the French National Archive with more detailled descriptions for each volume from JJ 7 to JJ 56 (see

For our team, the core corpus only covers the period 1302-1363 with the registers stricto sensu, but wouldn’t it be a pity to let the first part of the digitized material without indexation?

We are very happy to thank the French National Archive for its very generous and ongoing support. Not only they provide us with full resolution images for our scientific research, but they keep digitizing. In two years from now, the HIMANIS team and the Archives nationales will be glad to let everyone search directly in the text of this wonderful resource!

As for now, how should we start? Is there a better way than quoting the first charter of the first volume (JJ 35, fol. 5r), the reform order of 1303, whose preamble is all about starting a new way of life?

Nos, Philippus Dei gratia Francorum rex, pro reformatione regni nostri, quod retroactis temporibus gravatum extitit adversitatibus temporum et guerrarum ac pluribus aliis contrariosis eventibus, deliberatione provida fecimus aliquas ordinationes et statuta utilia et salubria pro gubernatione ac bono statu regni predicti, pro pace etiam ac transquillitate subjectorum nostrorum, sicut inferius continetur…