Limburg Charters

Project description

The objective of this project is to digitise and create access to 442 original Limburg deeds from before 1301 and to perform research into medieval written documents from Limburg. The Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg in Maastricht arranged for scans of the originals to be digitised and made available online. A number of metadata will be added, such as the date, archive storage location and a brief summary of the content of the deed. The main archive collections are on the Norbertinesse convent of Sint-Gerlach in Houthem, the Deanery (Proosdij) of Meerssen, the noble abbey of Thorn, the Premonstratensian convent of Keizersbos te Neer, the Saint-Elisabeth convent in Nunhem, a number of Maastricht convents and the chapters of the Basilica of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouw) and the Basilica of Saint Servatius (Sint-Servaas).


Deeds tend to be the only resource available for researching the history of this period. For that reason, they are also referred to as backbone resources. Using these sources is marred by a few problems, such as the medieval script, the use of Latin, chronologically divergent practices, the difficulty of identifying persons and places, and last but not least, what is referred to as ‘discrimen veri ac falsi’, i.e. checking whether a deed is genuine or fake. Diplomatic research is able to distinguish fake deeds from real ones and to uncover forgers. The critical scientific edition therefore forms a second phase before the material can be made accessible. The first edition project, commenced in 2017, is a publication of 29 deeds from the convent of St-Gerlach in Houthem.

Picture: Maastricht, RHCL, access no. 14.D035, archive of the Saint-Elisabethsdal convent in Nunhem, inv. no. 210, reg. no. 18. See edition by Van Synghel,


For research into medieval written texts, deeds recently issued by the municipal council of Maastricht form the starting point. It is investigated whether in the thirteenth century, the city was consistent with global same developments towards administrative writing centres and  producing written records. Since the city’s administrative structure was set up for two  was ruled by two masters (with the Duke of Brabant and the Bishop of Liege as sovereign rulers) as well as the presence of two chapters from the ninth and eleventh century, the reconstruction of how written records were produced in Maastricht and the surrounding regions forms a complex undertaking. Auxiliary sciences such as palaeography, diplomatic, sigillography and chronology are indispensable for this research.