The Making of Saint Louis

The Making of Saint Louis: Kingship, Sanctity, and Crusade in the Later Middle Ages

M. Cecilia Gaposchkin
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Making of Saint Louis
    Book Description:

    Canonized in 1297 as Saint Louis, King Louis IX of France (r. 1226-1270) was one of the most important kings of medieval history and also one of the foremost saints of the later Middle Ages. As a saint, Louis became the centerpiece of an ideological program that buttressed the ongoing political consolidation of France and underscored Capetian claims of sacred kingship.

    M. Cecilia Gaposchkin reconstructs and analyzes the process that led to the monarch's canonization and the consolidation and spread of his cult. Differing political and religious ideals produced competing images of the sanctity of Louis in late-thirteenth and early fourteenth-century France. Drawing on hagiography, sermons, and liturgical evidence-the latter a rich but little-explored historical source-Gaposchkin shows how various groups (including Dominicans, Cistercians, and Franciscans) and individuals (such as Philip the Fair and Joinville) used commemoration of the saint-king to sanctify their own politics and notions of identity and religious virtue. Louis' cult was disseminated to a wider, nonelite public through sermons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and then revived by the Bourbon kings in the seventeenth century.

    In deepening our knowledge of this royal saint, this elegantly written book opens the curtain on the religious sensibilities and secular politics of a transitional period in European history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6016-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Maps, Diagram, and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xx)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    On August 11, 1297, at the papal palace in Orvieto, Pope Boniface VIII canonized Louis IX of France as a confessor of the church. This finished a week of elaborate papal ceremonial celebrating Louis’ inscription in the catalogue of saints. In a sermon preached on the same day he issued the bull of canonization, the pope took as his theme the opening antiphon for the Christmas office, Rex pacificus magnificatus est—the pacific king is exalted. The language drew on passages from the Old Testament praising Solomon, but here the pacific king referred directly to Christ.¹ Boniface thus made implicit...

  8. 1 The Making of a Saint, 1270–1297
    (pp. 21-47)

    There may very well have been a sense of inevitability to Louis’ canonization. Even in his lifetime, Louis IX had been considered an exemplary Christian and a saintly man. Writing before 1259, the gossipy English Benedictine Matthew Paris spoke with admiration of Louis as pius rex and rex magnanimus, calling him the pinnacle of kings.¹ The Dominican Stephen (Étienne) Bourbon (d. 1261) used Louis as a model of virtue in his exempla collection and praised him for taking up the cross.² Salimbene of Adam, recalling events he witnessed in 1248, called Louis sanctus, although certainly not in any technical or...

  9. 2 The Canonization of 1297
    (pp. 48-66)

    Pope Boniface VIII (r. 1294–1303) canonized King Louis IX of France on August 11, 1297. The canonization occurred as part of the rapprochement effected at the end of the first phase of the conflict waged between Boniface and Louis’ grandson, Philip IV “the Fair” (r. 1285–1314), which had begun the previous year. It has generally been understood as a concession by Boniface to Philip, who had long desired official endorsement of Louis’ sanctity and hence the special virtue of the French monarchy.¹ In the bull of canonization, Boniface emphasized Louis’ good kingship as an element of his sanctity:...

  10. 3 Constructing the Cult: Bones, Altars, and Liturgical Offices
    (pp. 67-92)

    In the bull of August 11, 1297, pronouncing Louis a saint of the church, Boniface VIII enjoined that Louis’ feast day be “devoutly and solemnly” celebrated “in a fitting manner” by “churches of all cities and dioceses” on the day following the feast of Saint Bartholomew, that is, on August 25, Louis’ dies natalis.¹ Responding to the papal mandate, religious orders and individual ecclesiastical houses formally instituted the feast. The feast was probably adopted in Paris in 1298.² The general chapter of the Cistercian order in the same year decreed a feast of two masses and twelve lections to be...

  11. Excursus: A Short Primer on the Structure of the Liturgical Office
    (pp. 93-99)

    The genre of the rhymed office was a product of the high and late Middle Ages.¹ Liturgical offices belong to the liturgical genre popular in the late Middle Ages of rhymed chant bearing poetically and metrically composed texts. They are best considered here as musical poetry and were generally intended for celebration by a choir of monks, canons, or friars (depending on the house). The term “office” is used to designate the entire round of noneucharistic prayer prescribed by the rule of St. Benedict and centered on the complete weekly recitation of all 150 psalms undertaken by monks, nuns, canons,...

  12. 4 Royal Sanctity and Sacral Kingship
    (pp. 100-124)

    The liturgical books of the Ste.-Chapelle and the breviaries associated with members of the royal family included the liturgical office Ludovicus decus regnantium for Louis’ feast day.¹ Ludovicus decus emphasized, above all, themes of royalty, Christic kingship, and sanctity specific to kings, rooted in the language of the Psalms and exalting sacral kingship. The office articulated the fundamental claims of Capetian ideology around 1300: Louis had been chosen by God; he ruled with justice and mercy; he was necessarily humble; and he was the successor to Old Testament kings and rulers, in particular David and Solomon. At the heart of...

  13. 5 The Monastic Louis: Cistercians and Dionysians
    (pp. 125-153)

    Although the central and guiding impetus for Louis’ cult was the crown, veneration spread beyond Paris, and he was incorporated into the Sanctorale of monastic and secular churches in France. This may have involved merely his addition to the calendar, the celebration of a memoria, or the recital at matins of proper lections drawn from the liturgical vita for Louis in conjunction with the Common for Confessors. But Louis himself had been deeply devoted to aspects of the monastic lifestyle and was a patron of monastic institutions, and certain houses made special cultic arrangements in his honor following his canonization....

  14. 6 The Franciscans’ Saint Louis and the Specter of Saint Francis
    (pp. 154-180)

    The reign of Louis IX coincided with the establishment and institutionalization of the Franciscan order in Paris, and his death and canonization with a period of the order’s internal fracture and debate. The history of the Franciscan order in the thirteenth century was, between the death of Saint Francis (1226) and the death of Saint Louis (1270), the story of the evolving self-definition of its root values and essential mission.¹ Over the course of the thirteenth century, with the support of the papacy, the Franciscans were transformed from the itinerant group of penitent preachers into a firmly institutionalized religious order....

  15. 7 Joinville
    (pp. 181-196)

    The best known of the texts written to celebrate Louis’ sanctity is Jean de Joinville’s vie (which is what he himself calls it at §19, the vie nostre saint roy Looÿs).¹ Jean was the seigneur of Joinville, a lordship in Champagne, which during Louis’ life was not yet under the direct suzerainty of the French crown (though it would be during Philip IV’s reign). Born around 1225, Joinville was educated at the court of Thibaut of Champagne and inherited both the lordship of Joinville and the title of seneschal of Champagne at his father’s death in 1239.² He was part...

  16. 8 Private Devotion, Saintly Lineage, and Dynastic Sanctity
    (pp. 197-239)

    Though Joinville may have marshaled Saint Louis to his criticism of Philip the Fair, Louis’ canonization gave Philip and his successors a preeminent symbol of Capetian sacral authority and historical prestige. Scions of Louis were often mindful of their descent from the saint-king and exhibited particular devotion to him. Louis X (d. 1316) owned four cahiers of Saint Louis. Mahaut of Artois (d. 1329) purchased an “Hours of Saint Louis.” When Charles V (d. 1380), during the first century of Valois rule, established the royal library in 1371, his collection included seven copies of either Louis’ vita, vita et miracula,...

  17. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 240-244)

    Louis IX was the last king to be canonized in the Middle Ages. (King Ferdinand of Castile [d. 1272] was canonized in 1671—but that belongs to a different age.) In part, this was because the historical conditions that could make a saint-king were shifting, as the new monarchies of Europe emerged and papal universalism gave up ground to national churches. Almost a century and half after Louis’ canonization, in 1438, the prelates and nobility of France gathered at Bourges, at the behest of King Charles VII, a descendant and devotee of Saint Louis. France was embroiled in the Hundred...

  18. Appendix 1 Sources for the Liturgical Tradition
    (pp. 245-249)
  19. Appendix 2 Liturgical Offices for Saint Louis of France
    (pp. 250-283)
  20. Appendix 3 Sermons in Honor of Saint Louis (IX)
    (pp. 284-289)
  21. Appendix 4 Sermons Misidentified as in Honor of Louis IX in Schneyer’s Repertorium
    (pp. 290-292)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-316)
  23. Index
    (pp. 317-331)