The Royal Highness / L’altesse royale / regalis celsitudo : une thématique de préambule pour mesurer l’utilité d’HIMANIS

Il y a quelques années, deux de mes amis ont publié une somme magistrale sur les préambules des rois de France, étudiant la production des actes royaux et ses acteurs au regard des actions juridiques et des thématiques et du style rhétorique des préambules : Barret, Sébastien, et Benoît Grévin. Regalis excellentia :  les préambules des actes des rois de France au XIVe siècle, 1300-1380. Paris: École des chartes, 2014 (Mémoires et documents de l’École des chartes, 98), ci-après abrégé « Barret-Grévin ».

La finesse de ce travail, sa complétude et son existence même, preuve que les méthodes les plus austères de l’érudition ouvrent des vues riches et chatoyantes sur les pratiques intellectuelles et l’histoire culturelle.

Pour ce billet, c’est principalement la partie documentaire de l’ouvrage qui sera utilisée, afin de mesurer l’utilité des recherches et développements faits dans le projet HIMANIS, même si je tenterai, in fine, quelques remarques sur les préambules eux-mêmes.

Méthodologie : performance, précision, rappel et résultats

Après l’énorme travail d’indexation automatique, il faut évaluer la performance de l’indexation.

Continue reading The Royal Highness / L’altesse royale / regalis celsitudo : une thématique de préambule pour mesurer l’utilité d’HIMANIS

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.



Language for acts registration at the French Royal Chancery: a fresh look at the data


The simple query of part of the protocol formula [ dei gratia francorum ] in the HIMANIS search engine return results that confirm what we already know about language used by the French Royal Chancery for recording acts.

Some warning.

  1. The complete formula ([name of the king] dei gratia Francorum rex…) is often skip and replace by “[name of the king] etc.”
  2. As the search engine is not yet lemmatized, distinction is made between “gratia” and “gracia”. To have more precise results, one can add the results of a second query [ dei gracia francorum ]
  3. Some noise might also be introduced by the vidimus copy of an act within an act.

Nevertheless, as from the first register (JJ35) the French Royal Chancery used both Latin and French and that one prevailed over the other at different periods, all major transitions are outlined by this query.

Serge Lusignan, in his 2004 book La langue des rois au Moyen Âge, point out how langage used evolved. From his observations, we can explain the major breaks-up in the following graph that we made from our query (number of query results are in red in the graph; in blue are the total number of acts for each register):

  1. JJ35-49: French is seldom used as language of registration by Philippe IV (5%)
  2. French is a little more used by Philippe IV two elder sons: JJ50-52 Louis X (19%) ; JJ53-60: Philippe V (10%).
  3. JJ53-65A: The French conquest begins slowly under his younger son, Charles IV (11% at the beginning; 26% at the end).
  4. JJ65B-79: Major break-up appears during the reign of Philippe VI. No reason is known, but in October 1330 French overthrow Latin for around 80% of act are registered in French from this date.
  5. JJ80-95: When Jean II become king (JJ80), Latin regain his place (2% of French only) until his capture. During the Regency of the Dolphin Charles (JJ84-95), French progressively take back his ground: from 32 % in 1358 it reaches 75% by the end of 1360. Back from his captivity, Latin is back again, but not with the past glory (21% French).
  6. JJ96-117: When Charles V becomes king in 1364 what today could be named a “Language policy” is put in place. From now, language is determined by the nature of the act recorded: French for remission; Latin for ennoblement, legitimation, Amortization and almost everything Church related. As Remission count for 62% of the registered act during his reign, French became predominant from now on.