«CHARLEMAGNE: THE MAKING OF AN IMAGE, 1100-1300 By JACE ANDREW STUCKEY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN ...»
Spiegel, “Political Utility in Medieval Historiography,” p. 316.
Spiegel argues in “Pseudo-Turpin, the crisis of the aristocracy and the beginnings of vernacular historiography n France,” Journal of Medieval History, 12 (1986), 207-223, that the early Old French translations of the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle were made for Flemish lords who sought to demonstrate the illegitimacy of Philip II and the Capetians in general by disconnecting them from Charlemagne and the Carolingians. This was discussed briefly in chapter 3.
“the Grandes Chroniques de France condensed the genealogical and dynastic memory of France into a simple edifice that inaugurated a new understanding of French history as the history of the trois races of kings – Merovingians, Carolingians and Capetians.”81 Although there are clear changes in the style, format, and consumption of the idealized representations from the past, the image of Charlemagne is fairly consistent throughout the various sources. However, the description of Charlemagne and the history of his exploits does change in some important subtle ways. The changes are due primarily to variations in genre and focus. There are rarely any vivid descriptions of battle scenes as you see in Roland, Aspremont, and Turpin. The author(s) has a different perspective and goal with the Grandes Chroniques. The concern is with the much broader theme of French royal history. It contains a number of different sources and stories without putting too much stress on any one. In some places, the translation is only a synopsis of the original story. The sources used for the section on Charlemagne are the Royal Frankish Annals, Einhard’s The Life of Charlemagne, The Journey of Charlemagne, and the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle.82 Books one and two in the section on Charlemagne (volume 3) are based primarily on the work Einhard. It is a fairly straightforward description of day to day life, a chronicle of Charlemagne’s victories, travels, and accomplishments. There is a strong sense of nationality present throughout the work that is typically absent from earlier works. Charlemagne and his men are clearly ‘French.’ Terms such as France and Francois are used throughout the work to refer to Charlemagne and his Carolingian Spiegel, “Medieval Canon Formation,” p. 638.
A Thirteenth-Century Life of Charlemagne, trans. Robert Levine, (New York & London, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1991), p. ix.
contemporaries. Charlemagne is described as a ‘kind and merciful,’ ruler who has great concern for women, children and poor of his kingdom. However, he is also a man to be feared. Ultimately, Charlemagne is described as an example for Christian kings and princes.
Si est profitable chose de retenir par escriture les victories et les faiz de di grant princes pour ce que ses noms et sa renommée ne soit mise en obli, si que li roi et prince crestien prengnent exemple à ses faiz et à sa conversation.
(It is profitable to write down the victories and deeds of the great prince, in order that his name and reputation not be forgotten, and that Christian kings and princes may use his deeds and words as an example.)83 In addition, he worked to convert non-Christians to the true faith and gave generously to the Church.
En si trés grant amor et en si trés grant reverence ot li empereres saint Eglise, que touz jors la maintint et honora en toutes manieres, et aorna les eglises de vaissiaus d’or et d’argent, de pierres precieuses et de dras de soie.
(The Emperor honored and loved the holy Church and he supported and honored it in all ways, and he decorated the many churches with vessels of gold and silver, and with precious stones and silk.)84 The didactic nature of the text is immediately clear in this section. Charlemagne is presented as the ideal king. He fights fiercely and courageously. He wins battles against the Lombards and Saxons and he is crowned ‘Emperor’ and called ‘Augustus.’85 From the perspective of the historian, the first two books of the section are also the most Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, ed. Jules Viard, (Paris, Librairie Ancienne Edouard Champion, 1923), pp. 4-5, (all translations from the Grandes Chroniques are mine).
Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, pp. 118-119.
Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, p. 93.
‘historically’ accurate. By this, I mean that most of the events described here actually happened as opposed to the legendary exploits that come out of other sources. In creating ‘royal history,’ Primat combined both legendary and historical events concerning Charlemagne’s life.
Book three of this section chronicles Charlemagne’s legendary trip to Constantinople and Jerusalem. There are strong parallels with the Crusades throughout this section. The representation of Charlemagne is that of a crusader much the same way it is in Roland and the Turpin-Chronicle. His dedication to the service of the Church is apparent throughout. Charlemagne is described as ‘charitable’ – he builds churches and abbeys and he has great love for pilgrims.
Si fiers et si puissanz, com vous avez oi, estoit li empereres En acroistre son roiaume et en plessier et sozmetre ses anemis, Et assiduement ententis àguerroier en toutes les parties du monde En un meesme tens, si ne demoroit-il pas pour ce que li ne fust Curieus des ovres de misericorde, car il edifia eglises et abbaies En divers lieus, àl’onor de Dieu et au profit de s’ame.
(As eager and effective as the Emperor was at expanding his kingdom, and defeating his enemies, and as tirelessly as he fought all over the world, he nevertheless was able to pursue works of charity, as he built various churches and abbeys in numerous places in order to honor God and for the profit of his soul.)86 There is a clear indication that Primat was concerned with representing the king and Charlemagne as a kind of servant to the Church. In fact, this characteristic is emphasized as much, if not more, than any other.
The parallels with the First Crusade are clear in this section as well. The chronological bracket that should include the actual First Crusade occurs in Book Four, Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, pp. 142-143.
but does not contain a very detailed description. It is possible that Primat was attempting to fill this gap with a description of Charlemagne’s campaign and establish a precedent for French participation and leadership in the crusades.87 Charlemagne himself describes the crusade as being part of a Christian knight’s duty.88 Much of what Primat describes is reminiscent of the rhetoric and propaganda that existed during the First Crusade. Primat chronicles an eyewitness account of the poor treatment of Christians and the violation of the Holy Sepulchre by the Infidels.
En Costantinoble s’enfui; à Constantin l’empereor et à son fil Leon, à plors et à lermes, lor conta la grant dolor et la grant persecution qui en la terre d’outre mer estoit avenue, coment li felon Sarrazin avoient la cité prise, le saint sepulchre ordoié et violéet les autres sains lieus de la cité, les citez et les chastiaus du roisume de Jerusalem prises, les chans gastez, le pople occis en partie et en partie mené en chaitivoisons, et tant avoient fait de hontes à Nostre Seigneur dit de persecutions à son pople que il n’estoit cuers de bon crestien qui n’en deust estre dolenz et corrociez.
(In Constantinople, he told the Emperor Constantine and his son Leo, of the great suffering and persecution that took place in the land beyond the sea. He said the evil Saracens took the city and violated the Holy Sepulchre and many other holy places in the city. He tells how they captured cities and castles in the kingdom of Jerusalem, ravaging the countryside, and killing many people and enslaving others.
They leveled great abuse on Our Lord, and persecuted his people to the point that no good Christian did not have a heart full of grief and anger.)89 He then describes the Emperor in the East actually requesting help from Charlemagne.
The Emperor Constantine has a vision that directed him to inform Charlemagne (Emperor of the Romans) of the terrible events in Jerusalem.90 Four emissaries are sent to request the aid of Charlemagne. Primat emphasizes that Charlemagne’s reputation for great Robert Levine, trans., A Thirteenth-Century Life of Charlemagne, (New York & London, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1991), pp. x-xi.
Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, p. 169.
Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, pp. 161-162.
Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, pp. 162-163.
deeds had spread throughout the East. The emissaries write to Charlemagne describing the events in Jerusalem and requesting that he ‘perform his Christian duty.’91 Charlemagne responds by ordering that everyone fights the Saracen enemy (75).
Tantost fist crier par tout le roiaume de France que tuit cil qui armes porroient porter, et viell et jone, s’apareillasent d’aler ovec lui es parties d’Orient contre les Sarrazins.
Charlemagne’s army travels to Constantinople where they combine forces with the Eastern Emperor’s army and march to Jerusalem where they rout the Muslim army successfully liberating the holy city (76). The events concerning the trip to Constantinople and the Holy Land are similar to the Descriptio. The theme is very serious rather than the comical tone that exists in the Pilgrimage of Charlemagne (Voyage de Charlemagne).
The focus on Charlemagne’s ‘imagined’ crusading exploits is also probably a reflection of King Louis IX’s own obsession with crusading. Louis IX, like Philip, continued the Capetian concern with their connection to Charlemagne and the Carolingian past.93 The concept of ‘crusade’ dominated Louis’s entire reign. However, Louis’s first crusade venture 1248-1254 ultimately failed. According to William Jordan, this failure shaped the remainder of his reign. All of his domestic and foreign policies, such as bringing peace to the Christian West, subjugating his own barons, and significant Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, p. 164.
Les Grandes Chroniques de France, vol. 3, Viard, p. 169.
Jacques Le Goff, Saint Louis, (Paris, Gallimard, 1996), pp. 405-431.
acts of devotion were designed to make him worthy for success in a future crusade.94 Ironically, he would eventually die while on Crusade in North Africa in 1270. However, Louis’s important policies do extend beyond crusading and into internal politics as well.
Louis, like Philip II, sought to solidify the image of Capetian kingship as well.
Unfortunately for Louis, the strongest symbol of Capetian legitimacy and ‘holiness’ would come with his death. With his death and quick canonization, he became an important model. In many ways, Louis became the new Charlemagne. For example, in 1350, King John II (John the Good) was crowned with Louis’s crown rather than that of Charlemagne.95 Anne Hedeman argues that “almost from the moment of his death, Louis IX became a model for royal behavior against whom subsequent kings were measured and often found wanting.”96 Just as previous kings had had trouble measuring up to the legendary image of Charlemagne, the French kings of the late thirteenth and fourteenthcenturies had similar difficulties living up to the image and reputation of ‘Saint Louis.’ However, Louis’s canonization did solidify the argument that the Capetians were part of the rois trés crétiens. Ernst Kantorowicz contends that the … achievements of this royal crusader and saint [are] the high tide of the French cult of kings [and] of the religion of Reims and St. Denis. It was St. Louis, who in every respect enriched that treasure of grace on which all his successors would thrive. It was he whose kingship was elevated to transcendency by the Spiritualists and Symbolists of his age and who, in turn, bestowed the thin and light air of the angelic kingdoms upon his country and assimilated, for the last time, the French chivalry to the militant celestial hosts.97 William Jordan, Louis IX and the Challenge of the Crusade: A Study in Rulership, (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1979).
Hedeman, The Royal Image, p. 68.
Hedeman, The Royal Image, p. 63.
Ernst Kantorowicz, Laudes Regiae: A Study in Liturgical Acclamations and Medieval Ruler Worship, (Berkeley:Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1958), p. 4.
Saint Louis was viewed in every sense as the king who best represented Christ and his kingdom on earth. During the late medieval, early modern and even the modern eras, Louis would often appear in images and paintings alongside Charlemagne as the ideals of kingship and the monarchy.
Books four and five of the Charlemagne section of the Grandes Chroniques are essentially an adaptation of the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle. Primat tells of the conquest of Spanish cities and especially the liberation of Compostella from the Saracens. There is little new in this section as it follows the descriptions and events of the Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle extremely closely. Perhaps the most important element of this section is the physical description of Charlemagne offered by Primat. It is very close to the description contained in the longer versions of the earlier Turpin-Chronicle. In fact, Primat writes that the description comes directly from the Archbishop who was an eyewitness.
…et dit ensi que Karlemaines estoit bruns de cheveleure et vermauz en face, nobles et avenanz de cors, mais fiers estoit en regardeure. En estant avoit viii piez de lone, à la mesure de son pié maismes qui moult estoit granz. Par piz et par espaules estoit trés larges; ventre et rains avoit convenable selonc son cors, gros braz et groses cuisses avoit. Trés aigres et trés sages. De face, avoit paume, de front un pié de lonc. Si ieul resembloient ieuz de lyons, ausi resplendissanz come escharbocles. Li sorcil deseus les ieuz avoient demie paume de lonc.