Corbie, Abbey of
CORBIE, ABBEY OF
Also known as Corbeia, often confused with the daughter abbey Corbeia nova (Korvey, Saxony), abbey in northern France near Amiens. Founded by St. bathildis, widow of Chlothar II, it was set up under the Benedictine Rule by monks from luxeuil, which had been founded by the Irish monk St. columban. It reached its greatest fame in the 8th and 9th centuries and declined in the 16th. Taken over by maurists in 1618, it was suppressed in 1790 after an existence of more than 1,100 years.
The abbey was renowned chiefly for its scriptorium, library, and school. Its scriptorium contributed much to the movement away from the crabbed Merovingian hands into a clear and simple Carolingian script. In fact, it produced the first truly Carolingian writing during the abbacy of Maurdramnus (772–780). This shows traces of its Irish-Luxeuil background in its Insular y and perhaps in the heavy knobs in front of f and s. Among other Corbie types of writing was that called ab from the shapes of these letters.
Particularly prominent in the 9th century were Abbots adalard, who founded Korvey, and wala. Their pupil paschasius radbertus was a leading theologian. On request he wrote a commentary on St. Matthew's Gospel for the school. His disciple ratramnus became famous chiefly by opposing Radbertus's views on the Eucharist (see eucharistic controversies). ansgar went to Scandinavia as a missionary. Indications are that from the 8th century, Corbie was much concerned with the seven liberal arts and caused the spread of various works, e.g., on surveying for the teaching of geometry. Possibly Corbie served as a bridge between antiquity and the modern world by preserving some of the classics.
The important library was transferred by the Maurists to saint-germain-des-prÉs in 1624. After 1790 about 20 valuable MSS came into the hands of the Russian ambassador and are now in Leningrad. The rest are chiefly in the collections of Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, and the Amiens city library.
Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 1:868–870. h. peltier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 13:809–824. l. v. delisle, Le Cabinet des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, 3 v. (Paris 1868–81) 2:104–141. Catalogue général des manuscrits des Bibliothèques publiques de France, Départements, ed. u. l. l. robert, v.19, e. coyecque, Amiens (Paris 1893). p. lauer, "La Réforme carolingienne de l'écriture latine et l'école calligraphique de Corbie," Mémoires présentés par divers savants à l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 13 (1924) 417–440. o. a. d. rozhdestvenskaia, Histoire de l'atelier graphique de Corbie de 651 à 830 reflétée dans les Corbeienses Leninopolitani (Leningrad 1934). l. w. jones, "Scriptorium at Corbie," Speculum. A Journal of Mediaeval Studies 22 (1947) 191–204, 375–394. b. l. ullman, "Geometry in the mediaeval Quadrivium," in Studi in onore di Tammaro de Marinis (Rome 1964).
[b. l. ullman]