Scholars of medieval power structures, feudal relations, monarchy, and ritual
performance have long recognized that the early twelfth century was ground zero
in the cultural, social, and political transformation of France from a weak and
fragmented kingdom to one centralized under the leadership of a purposeful
ruler. This book considers the role played by the crusaders in the development
of the French monarchy. While the First Crusade was launched in 1095 ,the first
French monarch did not join the movement until 1146, when Louis VII led the
ill-fated Second Crusade. The failure of the French kings to join the crusading
movement created a ‘crisis of crusading’ that the French royal court confronted
in a variety of media, including texts, artwork, architecture, and rituals. The
book finds that in a short span of time, members of the court fused the emerging
crusade ideas with ancient notions of sacral kingship and nobility to fashion
new, highly selective and flexible images of French history that exploited the
unknown future of crusading to negotiate a space into which the self-fashioning
of French kingship could insinuate itself. By the middle of the twelfth century,
these negotiated images were being widely disseminated to a popular audience
through various channels, thus contributing to the rise of the ‘crusading king’
as an idea ruler-type from the early thirteenth century onwards.
just behind the altar, would have provided a moving backdrop for those who filled the church to witness the King’s reception of the pilgrim’s purse and the oriflamme . Had Louis been as successful as hoped, the Crusading Window would have served as a constant reminder of the tripartite link among the Capetians, Saint-Denis, and crusade.
Of all Saint-Denis’s programmes, the historiographical one was the most definitive shaper of the image and practice of French kingship in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and Suger planned to use Louis
even there it was routinely challenged.
The seemingly miraculous survival (and slow but steady growth) of French royal institutions during Capetian rule has long captivated the interest of historians, who have sought in various ways to understand the mechanisms of transformation in this crucial period. 4 It is precisely because of the contested nature of early French kingship that it is worth revisiting this issue. In the particular context of the crusades, the tenuous nature of early French kingship required a close relationship with a
-changing political world. One should not have to struggle too much with this paradox. Modern political candidates regularly employ the same sort of intellectual flexibility in pursuit of their electoral goals.
Above all else, Suger was a great negotiator of the contested space between an ideal vision of kingship and the realities of politics in the twelfth century. He was a practical thinker who promoted the King as a great leader and warrior not because, as some have suggested, he anticipated a modern vision of hierarchically ordered kingship, but
origins of Louis’s crusading piety in deeper convictions than a simple desire to be a good Christian or to follow family precedent. The King’s relentless support of the crusade bespeaks a broader and deeper connection between kingship and crusade. It is the principal objective of this book to consider the origin and development of this idea in France.
This book is about the relationship between the crusading movement and the twelfth-century French kings. It is not, however, a history about what the French kings did
reminded of his ancestors’ service to the Church. At some point he would have been asked to formalize his acceptance of the obligation to the Church by promising to uphold the core values of French kings: preserving the peace of the Church and his subjects, preventing injustice, and showing mercy. Whatever the specific oath that Philip made, it undoubtedly encompassed some variation of these three precepts, which had defined French kingship since the time of the Carolingians. 6
While Louis VII had fended off the
infamous crusader to a more prominent position in the church choir, ostensibly so that he was more visible to visiting pilgrims. 51 Based on this, it would seem that crusading prowess had an enduring power to shape the long-term memory of one’s reputation. Indeed, in some cases it was the defining element.
The transformative impact of crusading prestige introduced a serious potential challenge to the prevailing conceptions of kingship by significantly broadening the field of those who could participate at the highest levels in what had been a
Few aspects of the reign and personality of Richard II have attracted as much attention as the related questions of his views on the rights and duties of kingship and the effect that these views had on his conduct of government. The range of opinion among historians on the issue remains unusually wide, from those who maintain that Richard was animated by a clear and consistent set of absolutist principles that anticipated the Divine Right theories of the Renaissance monarchies, to those who insist upon the unremarkably traditional nature of his thinking, his