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: http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/web/guest/mentions-legales)

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 : http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/chan/chan/fonds/EGF/SA/SAPDF/egfn_j.pdf 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 http://www.culture.gouv.fr/documentation/archim/tresor-chartes.html).

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…



Manuscripts are among the most important witnesses to our European shared cultural heritage. In recent years, large quantities of historical handwritten documents are being scanned and made available through web portals. Yet, the wealth of information conveyed by the text captured in these images remains largely inaccessible. General users and researchers more and more expect to query handwritten resources in plain text like printed books, but current handwritten text recognition technology is still far from offering sufficiently accurate transcripts on historical documents. This situation raises the need of searching approaches specifically designed for text images. HIMANIS aims at developing cost-effective solutions for querying large sets of handwritten document images. To this end, innovative keyword spotting, indexing and search methods will be developed, tested, adapted and/or scaled up to meet the real world conditions required. HIMANIS associate Computer Science (A2iA, UPVLC and RUG), Humanities (IRHT) and Cultural Heritage (The European Library, the Archives Nationales of France and Bibliothque Nationale de France) institutions and produce technology to generate new, research-based knowledge from historical manuscripts. As a challenging and particularly interesting case study, the large collection of registers produced by the French royal chancery (14th-15th c.) will be used as a test bed. This will allow sustainable use and management of this important cultural resource. Implementing user feedback will also increase our understanding of the meanings that it holds for people and how they perceive, use and interpret it, thereby meeting societal challenges in promoting its use and re-use. The expected outcomes of this project are: a) a new indexing/searching technology for historical manuscripts, brought to the market by A2iA; b) a new paradigm to study our historical heritage, as conveyed by manuscripts, by using full text search technology. c) a new vision of the raise of nation states in Europe via a new study of the corpus under this paradigm.