Gabrielle M. Spiegel, “The cult of St.Dennis and Capctian Kingship” The past as Text. The theory and Practice of Medieval Histiography. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
In the excerpt, The Past as Text, Gabrielle M Spiegel explores medieval history while applying the concept of postmodernism. Spiegel allows the reader to make an assessment while applying critical and theoretical assessments of postmodernism. Similarly, Spiegel would like the reader to know that the texts are artifice and are mostly determined by historical occurrences that would be difficult to dig for the modern eye to capture.
She begins her quest with a theoretical basis for the study and exploration of modern historiography with the emphasis that medieval history is a function of literary, social and political constructions. In the end, she advices that historians must be aware of discursive nature and literary modes as well as ideological premises in the pursuit of truth. Her argument stems from the school thought that premises on “social logic of the text” which bases on social significances of historical events, patterns and eventual production.
In the article, “The Cult of St. Dennis, and the Capetian Kingship, Gabrielle explores the connection of Saint Dennis and the French monarchy. She refers to Saint Dennis as the principle protector of the French realm under intense pressure. In the essay, she argues that the connection between the French monarchy and Saint Dennis, is much more than personalities like Suger and the rest, it is about expansion, style and culture (Gabrielle, 142).
Perhaps some of the most important elements include the curative powers of Saint Dennis. In 1191, Louise fell ill while King Philip was away. Queen Adele took the relics of Saint Dennis to the palace. It is written in chronicles of history that the young lad was cured from the experience. The same happened in 1244 in the second chronicle in 1321. The young king was sick and no one was able to heal him. Eudes Clement, the about of St. Dennis was ordered to take the body of the Saint to the King and the King was healed. Similarly, the stories of abbots such as Suger that were influential in transforming the manner in which the state was managed further advance the special palace of St. Dennis in the French monarchy (Gabrielle, 151).
Some of the evidence of the connection of the St. Dennis abbey and the French monarchy accrues from 5th century writings that record that Gaul was one of the bishops sent from Rome in the 3rd century to preside over the city of Paris. He became the first bishop and established the abbey of St. Dennis. Some of the oldest evidence of the lives of saints from Dennis include passio sanctorum martymum dionysic episcopii, rusticci et eleutberii. Other sources include the ninth century writings of Hilduin and Hincamar. There are also sources of information on St.Dennis from hagiographical collections or legendries as well as illuminated transcripts (Gabrielle, 139).
The story of the Capetians connects with the history of the French and the cult of saint Dennis. The Capetians controlled from 987. The royalty had limited success except keeping the crown within the family. However, with time, the Capetians expanded their kingdom to include almost all regions of France. The Capetians realized their immense success thanks to the advice of the legendary Suger from saint Dennis. Louis VI was the first loyalty to receive direct help from the services of the About Suger of the great royal abbey of saint Dennis. The statesman as he was often called, labored hard to ensure that the king had an extended sway, systematized the royal administration and the increased the wealth of saint Dennis.
No one can clearly articulate the history of Suger’s family. However, in many instances in this wrings, he suggests that he came from a modest family in the countryside. At a tender age, Suger was given a chance to work at the Abbey of St Dennis while undergoing training. It is at this place that he met the future King Louis IV of France. In the following years, sugar was transferred from one place to another while taking different roles for the state.
Later on, Suger returned to the about of St.Dennis occupying himself in the court with the businesses of the kingdom. In the second decade of his stay at the court, Suger dedicated himself with reorganization of the monarchy and reformation of the management of the state. He was seen with king Louis VII. In the second crusade, he signed up as one of the regiments of the French society. Suger was an important advisor to the king and counselor to both Louis VI and Louis Xii.
In his biography, Suger asserts that the significant of the church for him was neither political nor architectural but solely religious. While the truth of this statement is debatable, it gives us an important detail that would be helpful for historians to look further for his actions. In Suger’s understanding, there was limited differentiation between the three. The main goal of Suger was to honor God and St. Dennis. In some legends, St. Dennis was a martyr that survived torture at the hand of the Romans who planned to burn him. He was also thrown to the beasts but that did not work. Eventually, he was beheaded but he picked up his head and walked for two miles before picking up his ghost. This un-thwarted and determination of St. Dennis is what drove the success of the French Monarchy.
Perhaps another success of Suger as an influential caretaker of the French Monarchy is depicted in the development of the Gothic architecture. The old church of St. Dennis had been completed in 1175. By 1175, the church was old and worn out. Suger decided that improvement of the Church was in order. In the same year, he began the work of reconstruction by building a new façade with two towers and three doors. The house renovation was completed in 1144. The result of the construction was the introduction of the Gothic architecture which was yet another mark of his success. However, the influence of the church was not limited to architecture, it was a political symbol.
The common theme is Suger’s writings are the close connection of St. Dennis to the French monarchy. Suger would have the readers believe that his role was to make sure that the Monarchy honor God. Still, one can read an almost forced account of success and nearness to greatness that Suger writes.
As an abbot Suger is solely responsible for keeping the connection of St Dennis and the French monarchy running. His reorganization of the administrative format of the Church and the monarchy are influential economic achievements. Suger was capable of improving the St. Dennis economy by improving the status of St. Dennis as an important tourist town, he refurbished old buildings, and improved methods of collecting taxes.
In general, in this personal biography, we get to see Suger documenting what he has done for the monarchy and St. Dennis. What we do not get to know is what Suger did not do for St. Dennis.