The wilted lily : representations of the greater Capetian dynasty within the vernacular tradition of Saint-Denis, 1274-1461.
Type of content
Much has been written about representations of kingship and regnal authority in the French vernacular chronicles popularly known as Les grandes chroniques de France, first composed at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Denis in 1274 by the monk Primat. However, historians have ignored the fact that Primat intended his work to be a miroir for the princes—a didactic guidebook from which cadets of the Capetian royal family of France could learn good governance and morality. This study intends to correct this oversight by analysing the ways in which the chroniclers Guillaume de Nangis, Richard Lescot, Pierre d’Orgemont, Jean Juvénal des Ursins, and Jean Chartier constructed moral character arcs for many of the members of the Capetian family in their continuations to Primat’s text. This thesis is organised into case studies that follow the storylines of various cadets from their introduction in the narrative to their departure. Each cadet is analysed in isolation to determine how the continuators portrayed them and what moral themes their depictions supported, if any. Together, these cases prove that the chroniclers carefully crafted their narratives to serve as miroirs, but also that their overarching goals shifted in response to the growing political crises caused by the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and the Armagnac- Burgundian civil war (1405-1435). Where at first the chroniclers of the thirteenth century advocated many forms of Capetian dynasticism—the promotion of dynastic governance—by the fifteenth century, only forms of dynasticism that directly enhanced the authority of the kings of France were promoted by the continuators. The revelation that there is a conscious redirection of the narrative suggests a shifting awareness of the relationship between king and dynasty within late medieval French society. It also suggests that other contemporary chronicles likely functioned as miroirs and may require reassessment to verify whether they, too, reflect this change in perspective.