Constructing kingship

The capetian monarchs of France and the early Crusades

Author: James Naus

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.

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‘A book that will be of use to students of kingship, holy war, and the cultural tumult of the central Middle Ages.'
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Medieval Review

‘Constructing Kingship is a valuable book which engages seriously with a theme, the impact of the crusades on royal action and ideology, which has been, as Naus points out (pp. 6-7), overlooked for far too long. Its central thesis is a stimulating argument which will hopefully inspire further research on this topic, and throughout the book Naus highlights many fascinating links between the crusades and the Capetian monarchy which are rarely considered together. The highlight of the book is undoubtedly the third chapter's marvellous textual analysis of Suger's Gesta Ludovici Grossi, which sheds important new light on one of 12th-century France's most important narrative sources.'
Mr Niall Ó Súilleabháin , Trinity College Dublin
Reviews in History
September 2016

‘Naus has put his stamp on this most critical topic, and his book will now serve as a starting point for discussion of it.'
Jay Rubenstein, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
H-France Review Vol. 17, No. 34
February 2017

‘Overall, one will find this book an intelligently well written study, which is to serve as basis/groundwork for further research on this subject.
Boris Gübele, Göttingen
Historischen Zeitschrift Heft 309/1

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