The church of St-Vanne first functioned as the episcopal seat for the bishops of Verdun; then, after the fifth century, as the sometime funereal church for the local bishops. Described as a basilica (meaning presumably a magna ecclesia) until the middle of the tenth century, the church was refounded as a monastery in 951. The monastery of St-Vanne was established by Bishop Berengar of Verdun in order to provide a refuge for local men who sought to renounce the world; the abbey was thus intended to stem the flow of prospective monks from the environs of Verdun. The foundation was deliberately intended to be dependent primarily on the patronage of the local diocesan: this aspect of the monastery’s constitution emerges clearly from the imperial and papal documents which confirmed Bishop Berengar’s foundation charter. However, by the last quarter of the eleventh century the abbey of St-Vanne had become estranged from the bishop of Verdun. The contemporary conflict of Church and State known as the Investiture Contest accentuated the hostility between monastery and bishop to the extent that the greater part of the monks, who were supporters of Pope Gregory VII, were forced into exile from St-Vanne in 1085 by Bishop Theoderic of Verdun, a partisan of King Henry IV of Germany. This breach may be seen as the culmination of a process whereby the abbey sought to win its autonomy from the almost proprietary domination of the local bishop. Hostility between bishop and abbey derived impetus from three different elements: the relationship between St-Vanne and the comital house of Verdun, a family with a traditional hostility to the bishops of Verdun and which became ardent supporters of the reform papacy in the third quarter of the eleventh century; the regional policy of the Salians in Lotharingia, who sought to augment the power of the imperial episcopate in that duchy at the expense of noble lordships; and the growing importance of St-Vanne as a centre of monastic reform in the abbatiate of Richard (1004-46), a phenomenon conducive to the growing self-confidence and independence of the abbey. The first church in Verdun, dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul, was founded by Bishop Sanctinus of Meaux – later bishop of Verdun – on the site of the first Christian preaching in that city. There is some confusion in the sources concerning the foundation date of this church, which would later become the abbey of St-Vanne. The priest and canon Berthar of St-Vanne composed his Deeds of the Bishops of Verdun in 916/17 and included mutually exclusive accounts of the life of Sanctinus (he seems to have been unaware of this problem). According to the

then bishop of Meaux, who had stopped in Verdun while travelling to Rome in order to give an account of the martyrdom of St Denis to Pope Clement. This legend, which made Sanctinus into a disciple of Denis – the later patron of Paris – would place the construction of the church of St Peter, the first church in Verdun, at the end of the first century.1 However, Berthar also asserted that Sanctinus, as bishop of Verdun, took part in the synod of Cologne in 346, where the archbishop of Cologne was deposed. As there is other evidence that Sanctinus figured among the clerics present at Cologne in 346, a fourth-century date for the foundation of the church of St Peter at Verdun can safely be assumed.2