Hériman of Tournai

Hériman of Tournai, Herman of Tournai or Herman of Laon (French Hériman, Latin Herimannus; 1095–1147), the third abbot of Saint Martin of Tournai, was a chronicler of his abbey and, in many anecdotal accounts connected with the abbey, a social historian of the world seen from its perspective. Forced from his abbacy in 1136 by a contingent within the monastic community that asserted he had been lax in his enforcement of the Benedictine rule, he had the leisure while at Rome to write his book, Restauratio sancti Martini Tornacensis, written in Latin about fifty years after a local plague of 1090. He was a pupil of Odoardus, later Bishop of Cambrai, whose example as a teacher he delineates at the start of his work, and who was the driving force behind the refounding of a neglected and undistinguished church dedicated to St Martin of Tours near Tournai. Hériman's Restauratio has been edited and translated for the first time into English by Lynn Harry Nelson, who provided extended explanatory notes.[1]

Following his expulsion from Tournai, Hériman spent some time at Laon, where he joined the circle of Bishop Bartholomew de Jur. Bartholomew sent Hériman into Spain to recover the body of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, which had been promised for Laon by Alfonso, king of Aragon, Bartholomew's kinsman. Though the relics were not forthcoming, Hériman had the opportunity to copy some Spanish Marian works by Ildefonsus of Toledo to which he added an account of Bartholomew's building programme at Laon, and his own miracle book, De miraculis beatae Mariae Laudunensis, "of the miracles of Saint Mary of Laon". The work linked a revival in the spiritual life of Laon under its bishop Bartholomew to the particular local interventions of the Virgin Mary, whose relics were toured in central France and England to raise money for the rebuilding of Laon Cathedral, recently laid waste by fire.[2] He wrote the account in the 1140s,[3] pseudepigraphically, as if by a canon of the cathedral: in his address to Bartholomew he asserts, "I was reluctant to put my small name beneath them, so I have washed these miracles by a pretext under the name of the canons of the church."[4]


  1. ^ Lynn Harry Nelson, ed., tr. (Herman of Tournai), The restoration of the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tournai (series: Medieval Texts in Translation) Catholic University of America Press Washington DC, 1996.
  2. ^ Simon Yarrow, Saints and their Communities: miracle stories in twelfth century England, "Hermann of Tournai and the relic tours" 2006:75–99.
  3. ^ G. Niemayer, ""Die Miracula S. Mariae Laudunensis des Abtes Hermann von Tournai", Deutsches Archiv für geschichte 27 (1971:125-74) offers a full account of Herman's life, his authorship and the date, according to Yarrow (76 note 64).
  4. ^ Quoted in Yarrow 2006:76.