The things I discover while searching for images to support this blog’s posts are often close to being the best excuse for doing the blog in the first place (although the other night I was congratulated on it by David Ganz, which was a little unsteadying). Nonetheless, look. You may just have heard of an initiative called ARTEM, which was a project at Nancy in France to collect and digitize all the original charters preserved in France from before 1121. And this has done grand service by allowing really close palæographical analysis of a large base of charters, pointing out various tricky things about scribes, and compiling huge databases of words and vocabulary that allow some really clever things to be done about testing dubious documents for plausibility, and also studying the development of the language (if you can stop that becoming a circular enterprise, anyway).
But they also made images of all these documents, you see, and it seems that some if not all, and several others, have now made it to the web, by means of a separate initiative of the Ministère de Culture called ARCHIM, ARCHives Nationales, IMages de documents. Now it’s not massively searchable, I have to admit, but, folks, there is magic and gold in there for a diplomatist. If you go in via the guided search form, each field has a link to a list of the available options (this, unlike the access method, is very good practice). And if you for example choose date, you can see that there are twelve seventh-century documents in there, of which several turn out to be papyrus. And it’s not just documents: here, for example, for the enthusiasts of the late Carolingians among us, is a fragmentary seal of King Louis IV of the Western Franks (937-54):
And here is dear Charles the Simple again, confirming an immunity to the canons of Paris:
It’s a pity one has to dig so hard, but there is gold in there all right. I have as usual added it to the sidebar.