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would have to fill this role as well. This is not a concept that the Capetians would have to invent. Christianity had long since been an important aspect of identity, but the crusades would again be a critical defining feature in the twelfth-century. The First Crusade was largely a French campaign. In addition, significant participation in the Second and Third Crusades solidified the image of the ‘French’ as being the new ‘chosen people.’59 The Capetians were aided a great deal in defining French identity by the pro-royal propaganda that continued to flow from the monks at Saint-Denis. The connection to Saint-Denis and the issues of identity and ethnicity were part of the propaganda effort of the twelfth-century as well. In addition, there was always a perceived association with Saint-Denis. In fact, the propaganda effort here does not come directly from the royal family. The monks at Saint-Denis were at the center of this propaganda and ideology.
Much of the effort actually predates Philip’s concerns in the later part of the twelfthcentury and in fact goes back to the work of Suger and Philip’s father and grandfather, Kings Louis VII and Louis VI. Suger’s influence on the image of kingship has already been analyzed and discussed in chapter 3. However, there is much more to his work on ethnic and religious stereotypes. The period of the crusades is critical here as well, especially the time around the Second Crusade when the perceived ‘differences’ between ‘French’ and ‘German’ became more visible.
In Suger’s work, the sense of unity of the ‘French’ is in opposition to an outside group; a threatening force.60 In particular, Suger’s description of Louis VI’s stand Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Exchange 950-1350, (Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 254.
Florin Curta, "Furor Teutonicus: a note on ethnicism and ethnic stereotypes in Suger's Vita Ludovici Grossi," The Haskins Society Journal 16 (2005), in print.
against the German Emperor Henry V in 1124 is a defining moment.61 The Emperor Henry V in coordination with the English King had planned an attack on the city of Reims.62 Louis’s bold stance against the emperor was an important victory for the French King and for the Church, since Suger viewed Henry as an enemy of the Church more than an enemy of the regnum Francia.
In Suger’s description, the Germans are presented as barbaric, brutal, and out of control. There are twenty-six negative remarks about various ethnic groups, including Germans and Normans.63 In fact, from the Capetian and French perspective, the German emperors were viewed as usurpers, ruling lands that had once belonged to Charlemagne and lands that rightly belonged to the current French kings. Geoffroy Villehardouin in his chronicle and history of the Fourth Crusade written shortly after the campaign ended uses the term Franks to distinguish between French and German crusaders and the Italians of Venice. However, in separate references to his own people, he uses the term ‘French.’64 There certainly existed stereotypes concerning Western Christian knights during the time of the crusades. In the late eleventh-century, Anna Comena, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius wrote of the Western Christians as a society obsessed with war and physical violence. She described Robert Guiscard, the Norman conqueror of Southern Italy, as a man who “had a heart full of passion and anger and among his The Deeds of Louis the Fat, trans. Richard Cuismano and John Moorhead, (Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1992), pp. 46-54.
Spiegel, ‘Defense of the Realm,” p. 119.
Curta, Furor Teutonicus.
Joinville and Villehardouin, Chronicles of the Crusades, trans. M.R.B. Shaw, (London, Penguin Books, 1963).
enemies he expected that either he would drive through his opponent with his spear or himself be destroyed.” Anna held a similar view of western crusaders who visited the Byzantine court during the First Crusade. In her eyes, they were ‘blood thirsty and warlike’ men. She viewed the ‘Franks’ (Westerners) as barbarians unable to control their temper and passions. In addition, a Muslim Emir observed during the same period that “among the Franks, no quality is more highly esteemed in a man than military prowess.”65 This is not entirely an exaggeration on the part of Muslim and Byzantine authors.
Clearly based on the sources, especially the vernacular tradition, military prowess was an important characteristic. The ideal knight and king was good in battle. No one fit this characteristic better than Charlemagne. The descriptions of Charlemagne usually include his victories on the battlefield – both as an individual and as a commander of large armies in the field. In fact, military prowess represented the most admired attribute of the Charlemagne legend. His army’s victories are a direct reflection of him.
Participation in the crusades during the thirteenth-century did not wane in Capetian France or among the Capetian monarchy. Louis IX (r. 1126-1270) led the Seventh Crusade after the Muslims forces re-captured Jerusalem in 1244. The campaign ended in failure as Louis’s army was defeated and captured in Egypt in 1250. Later, while leading another crusade in 1270, Louis would die en route to Tunis in North Africa. Louis’s crusading exploits cannot be considered a military success, however, the symbolic importance of the crusading king in the thirteenth-century is clear in the contemporary Taken from Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 89-90.
descriptions of Louis and his popularity. Jean of Joinville described Louis in a similar manner that chroniclers and historians described Charlemagne. He was a man of faith, a crusader, and an ideal king.
The representation of Charlemagne in the twelfth-century consistently portrayed him as a crusader and ideal king – the former being a crucial component of the latter.
The thirteenth-century sources that attempted to tell the history of the French kings adapted this representation. Charlemagne continued to be viewed as not only a former king, but also a crusader. The descriptions of Charlemagne in the histories are very similar to that of Philip II and Louis IX and in some cases are coming from the same authors and sources.
The compilations and histories produced during the thirteenth-century reflect the important role the image of Charlemagne played in the history of the representation of the great French kings and the state. There is a clear tendency among chroniclers and poets to use Charlemagne for a number of different issues. This process continued for the entirety of the thirteenth-century.
Anthony Smith describes the adoption of Charlemagne and the Carolingian past as a ‘dynastic mythomoteur.’ The emphasis here again is on an identity perceived or created though opposition to another ‘group.’ The Crusades are the most critical aspect of this ideology. Crusade historians have long since cited the importance of defining the ‘other’ in crusade ideology. “The Capetians indeed took over the special aura of Charlemagne’s heritage and projected back a specifically ‘French’ leadership role onto his campaigns against the Saracens.”66 The connection to the Carolingians, to Anthony Smith, Ethnic Origins of Nations, (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1987), pp. 158-159.
Charlemagne, and the crusades became important ethnic markers for the Capetians in the late twelfth- and thirteenth-centuries. These were the critical components of the Capetian and the newly evolving ‘French’ identity.
The ‘crown jewel’ of the medieval French historiographic tradition is the Grandes Chroniques de France. The Grandes Chroniques was basically a vernacular history produced by the chroniclers of Saint-Denis. They were commissioned during the reign of King Louis IX and completed the work between the 1270s and the early part of the fourteenth-century.67 The Grandes Chroniques is not the work of a single author, but rather a combination and compilation of a series of works. The first part, complete in 1274, includes previous sources such as Aimoin of Fleury’s Historia Francorum, the Liber Historiae, Chronographia, the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle, and Vita Karoli among others.68 The author and translator of the first part, which covers French history up to Philip II Augustus and the part that is the focus of this research, is known only as Primat.
Other than his name, virtually nothing is known of the author. The work is a combination of a Latin-Dionysian compilation along with new information from various other vernacular prose histories.69 The Grandes Chroniques follows in the newly developing vernacular tradition begun in France around the year 1200. Spiegel contends that the monks of Saint-Denis Anne Hedeman, The Royal Image: Illustrations of the Grandes Chroniques de France, 1274-1422, (Los Angeles: Oxford: University of California Press, 1991), pp. 1-3.
Gabrielle Spiegel, The Chronicle Tradition of Saint-Denis, (Brookline: Leyden: Classical Folia, 1978), p.
Hedeman, The Royal Image, p. 1.
wished to present the Grandes Chroniques in a format more readily available to a lay audience.70 However, it becomes quite clear from the manuscript tradition that a royal audience was also the target.
The Grandes Chroniques are, if nothing, a manifestation or result of Capetian ideology begun during the reign of Philip II.71 The royal court and the chroniclers at Saint-Denis enhanced and added to the ideas first put forward by the poets and chroniclers of Philip’s reign. The likes of Giles of Paris, William of Breton, Rigord, as well as others helped form the bedrock of thirteenth-century Capetian ideology and theories of kingship. The Grandes Chroniques were also the continuation of themes started by Suger at Saint-Denis. The chronicle tradition of Saint-Denis and the biography of Louis VI emphasized royal ideology and the connections to Saint-Denis. Philip’s royal archives took the first step in the creation of an ‘official’ version of history. In many respects, the Grandes Chroniques is the end product of this process.
It is with the reign of Louis IX that the ideals of true Christian kingship (rex christianissimus) previously expressed through the image and representation of Charlemagne comes to fruition for the Capetian line.72 Louis’s personality, service to the Church, and dedication to crusading would eventually earn him canonization and a place in the pantheon of medieval ‘king saints.’73 Gabrielle Spiegel, The Chronicle Tradition of Saint-Denis, p. 72.
Bernard Guenée, Histoire et culture historique dans l’occident médiéval (Paris, 1980), pp. 1-44.
Hedeman, The Royal Image, p. 3.
Jacques Le Goff, “Saint Louis et la parole royale,” in Le prince et son historien; la vie de Saint Louis de Joinville, (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1997), pp. 7-21. Also see Jean Richard, “Joinville à la croisade,” in Le prince et son historien, pp. 22-31.
There were other vernacular prose histories that may have influenced the Grandes Chroniques. In particular, the Anonymous of Chantilly (1210-1230), the chronique des rois de France (prior to 1223), and the earliest example, the Old-French Johannes translation of the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle. The Turpin is a clear example of how significant the impact twelfth-century epic had on the historiographic tradition of the thirteenth-century.74 Of course, the Turpin is not the only Latin source to be translated into the vernacular. This would be major development of the period. However, Spiegel argues that; “these early thirteenth-century translations formed a critical stage in the development of vernacular historiography in France and served as important intermediaries between the Latin chronicles of the twelfth century and the Grandes Chroniques of the thirteenth.”75 The society of the thirteenth-century continued to produce epic and romance literature that was often interpreted by contemporaries as historical. Although significantly impacted by the epic and romance literary traditions, the Grandes Chroniques is not as much about individual heroism as much as it is about the “history of larger social collectives.”76 There is clearly a different goal with the production of the Grandes Chroniques.77 It is intended to chronicle the history of France, or at least the history of the royalty of France in a kind of ‘national’ framework. The Grandes Benoit Lacroix, L’Historien au Moyen Age, (Paris, 1971), pp. 218-220.
Spiegel, Chronicle Tradition, p. 75.
Spiegel, “Medieval Canon Formation,” p. 641.
Michael Zink, The Invention of Literary Subjectivity, trans. David Sices, (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), p. 11.
Chroniques are often interpreted as the culmination of royal propagandists to present and proclaim the power of the crown and its enduring righteousness by divine appointment.78 Medieval historiography in France was going through a number of changes in the thirteenth century. Because often so little was known about the past, it was fairly easy to manipulate. History could be used to legitimize political policies, such as implementing forms of taxation or taking lands from nobles. On the other hand, it could be used as a ‘vehicle of change.’ “All that was needed was to recreate it in the image of the present, and then claim its authority for the legitimization of contemporary practices.”79 This is clearly the case with the representation of Charlemagne. Whether he is a crusader, a blood relative who legitimizes monarchical claims, an ideal monarch dispensing justice, or a tyrannical feudal lord who breaks custom, he is the historical justification for ‘present’ policies. This methodology was primarily the instrument of pro-royalist writers and chroniclers. However, there are some instances of anti-royalist and specifically antiCapetian translators who use this same methodology to demonstrate, among other things, the illegitimacy of Capetian rulers.80 The image and representation of Charlemagne continued to be an important model for later monarchs in the thirteenth-century. However, with the production of the Grandes Chroniques, the focus shifted to his place in the history of the French monarchy, the history of Christendom, and the history of the French State. According to Spiegel, Spiegel, “Medieval Canon Formation,” p. 649.