The founding of St Mary's Chapel in Hondschoote

Hondschoote, Walter (Gauthier) de. Vellum document. "Fundatio capellanie etc. an[no] 1209".

Hondschoote, September 1209.

Folio (ca. 310 x 205 cm with 2 cm plica). Latin manuscript on vellum. First two words written in red ink, remainder in brown ink. Lacks seal.


Very early, exceedingly rare archival document relating to the foundation of the "capella sancte marie" (St. Mary’s Chapel) in the parish of Hondschoote, on the duties and rights of the "capellanus", the link with the local parish church, etc. Incipit: "Ego Walterus de hondescote notum esse volo tam presentibus quam futuris presentera paginam inspecturis [...]". Witnesses include "Marcus abbas sancti Winnoci de bergis" [= St. Winoc, Bergues], "Walterus ... decanus sancte Walburgis" (St. Walburga, Veurne/Furnes), and "Henricus abbas sancti Nicholai de furnis [= St. Nicholas, Veurne/Furnes]".

Written only three years after Walter de Hondschoote, together with Herbert de Wulfenghem, had led the insurgent Blavotins ("Blue-feet") against Mathilde de Portugal, countess of Flanders, and the nobility. The rebels even besieged Bergues but were defeated in a battle remembered as the "lundi rouge" ("Bloody Monday") of 1206. It appears that Walter was not severely punished for his role but soon returned to grace.

Hondschoote in the département Nord lies 20 kilometres south-east of Dunkirk, on the Flanders border. It remains known for the battle of Hondschoote in 1793, when the French army defeated the Anglo-Hanoverian troops of the Duke of York.

Legibly written in a scribal hand. A central fold, minor soiling, but generally in good condition.

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