The history begins in France, with the patronage of King Louis VI the Fat, the canons regular built c. 1113 the monastery of St.-Victor in Paris. St. Bernard of Clairvaux helped to shape the rule by which the monks lived, and Bernard, Becket, and Abelard were, at various times, guests of the monastery with great intellectual influence.
The Victorines were a small order, but the monastery had many students, and in the XIII Century, it became a college within the University of Paris. In the following century, the monastery began to decline, and in the XV Century, the monks joined the Brethern of the Common Life, founded in Holland.
According to legend, Victor was a soldier in the Roman army at Marseilles when he was hailed before the prefects, Asterius and Eutychius, who sent him to Emperor Maximian for his exhortations to Christians to be firm in their faith in the face of an impending visit by the Emperor.
He was dragged through the streets, racked, imprisoned (he converted three guards, Alexander, Felician, and Longinus while in prison). He was again tortured after the guards were beheaded when it was discovered he had converted them to Christianity.
When he refused to offer incense to Jupiter, he was crushed in a millstone and beheaded. His tomb became one of the most popular pilgrimage centers in Gaul. His feast day is July 21st.
The abbey had a rich library open to the public. In the consulting room the manuscripts were chained. But there were other properties: liturgical manuscripts were kept for the choir, some others near the refectory, for reading aloud in the infirmary to the sick and dying, and others consisting of double reserves by the librarian (armarius). Part of the library consisted of a group of books (minores) the canons or students could borrow over long periods (concessi).
The teaching of the abbey activity favoured the development of library funds. Richly endowed, the abbey would be filled by purchases or copies from elsewhere: the scriptorium seems not to have been well developed. Endowments also enriched the collection. In addition, the documents found upon the death of a Victorin (sermons, for example) were compiled and stored in the library.
From this order of St.-Victor in 1246 Wolfaard van Maelstede founded the nunnery “Jerusalem” in Biezelinge in the south-west region of Holland (Zeeland) on four parcels of land. A lot of royalty contributed to the nunnery with gifts and legations. a few of them are known: the catholic king Willem II, Floris the Guardian, Floris V, Jan I, countess Aleida, count Willem III, the duke Aelbrecht and emperor Karel V. But the most important guardians remained the lords of Maelstede.