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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  January 2002

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION January 2002

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Subject:

Saint-Denis

From:

Christopher Crockett <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 18 Jan 2002 09:18:31 MST

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

[log in to unmask] picqued this knit:

[foolishly quoting me:]

>> yes, though it was, far as i know, never one of *the* "Royal Abbeys," which
were a group of "Royal Domain" collegiate churches very directly under the
control of the king, not infrequently with a king's younger son (or brother)
installed as Abbot (i'm thinking esp. of Louis VI's son, Henry "de France" who
was "Abbot of the royal monasteries" [so he styles himself in several
charters] before he Got Religion in the 1140s and converted to Cistercianism
and ended up as Archbishop of Sens, then Reims).


>Well, Christopher, if an abbey church can't be a cathedral 

but, in our own day, as we who have been paying attention to this string have
discovered, the *abbey* church of St. Denis is, indeed, a cathedral.

the *real* question for idly enquiring minds is whether or not it is still a
"basilica," post 1966.

in which case it is all three, at the same time, simultaneously, together.

except, of course, that it is no longer an abbey church.

but, since it was originally *built* as an abbey church, i'd say that it
remains so, _in perpetuum, saeculae saeculorum_, and still deserves that
designation (at least Art Hysterically speaking).

>(except, of course, in England), 

well, goodlord, *any*thing can go on in England.

we start using *that* as a criteria for anything, we'd be in very heavy do-do
indeed, pretty quick.

>how can a "royal abbey" be a "collegiate church".  

'cause, in My Universe, almost all collegial [-ates] churches are abbeys
(though not all abbeys are collegials).

i get this kinky idea from the documents/charters from these institutions
(e.g., St. John's of Chartres) themselves, wherein they almost always use
(hope i'm remembering rightly) the term _monaster*_ to refer to themselves,
*and* they are almost always headed up by an *Abbot* (except in England,
where...).

specifically, in the case in question above, Henry D. France actually styles
himself in one or more of his charters "Abbot of the Royal Monasteries,"
indicating that he held this office in multiple institutions, seems to me.

the King's "rights" over these institutions extended well beyond the
nomination of the Abbot --the prebends of the canons were also in his gift.  

perhaps the most notable example of this is to be found in the career of
Stephen of Garland, who was Louis VI's chancellor (on and off) at the same
time that he was an Archdeacon of the cathedral of Paris, a canon of that of
Orleans, canon of the collegials of Etampes and, i believe, St. Aignan of
Orleans, and Dog Nose what else.  

*all* of which offices were, i assume, more or less within the gift of the
king.

going the other way, when the "reforming" collegial monastery of St. Victor
was founded outside the walls of Paris, the King granted it either a prebend
or the annates of the prebends (i can't recall which) in each and every one of
those "Royal Monasteries."   that gift was, presumably, his to give.

there is another sort of "Royal Abbey," of course, which term applies, i
*believe* to the simple fact that the king had *some* sort of
"proprietary" rights over the place (though whether or not he could exercise
them or not in practice is another question), such as a veto over the choice
of Abbot.

there were quite a few places, far-flung all around [present day] France,
which, from time to time, style themselves as a "royal monastery," most often
when the King happened to be passing through town and was hit up by the
institution for some kind of Royal charter --a general confirmation of the
abbey's property, for example.

in such circumstances both parties got something for the effort: 

--Rex himself got to show the flag and to assert --however thinly-- some vague
"rights" which he may have had (or, wished he had) over the place (at the
least the right to "protect" it, i.e., to Render Justice over disputes
involving the place in his own court); 

--and the abbey got a piece of sheepskin --all covered with fancy (and,
partially, nearly illegible) magic writing on it, decked out with a really
spiffy, very offical-looking (and *BIG*) seal-- spelling out and "confirming"
in some detail all the abbey's property and, by implication, assuring that the
Royal Muscle might be call-uponable to enforce the abbey's rights to that
property.

memory fades [duh], but i'd say that a look through 11-12th cc. royal charters
issued for such purposes would show that in quite a few of them the king
*claims* such a desination (and, presumably, the institution aquiesed in this
vague assertion of Royal influence, if for no other reason than to be able to
lay hands on the charter being issued, which *might* prove to be of use,
sometime in future).

a useful way of thinking about this (i think) is to give up the thoroughly
modern idea of thinking of the "Royal Domain" as some kind of precisely
delimited geographical area and adopt the fertile idea of the very interesting
american scholar, William Mendel Newman, who, in 1937, published what i
believe was a ground-breaking book, _Le domaine royal sous les premiers
Capétiens (987-1180)_ (Paris, 1937).

Newman's bright idea (which might not have been entirely original, perhaps
going back to similar ones held forth and a method used by Fustel de
Coulanges) was that the R.D. shouldn't be defined geographically, but rather
more as a function of the *rights* which the (any given) king was able to
exercise (at any given time), no matter where, geographically, those rights
might be exercisable.

now, it just so happens that *most* of the rights exercised by the early
Capetians, if plotted on a map, fall within the "Ile-de-France" ("Royal
Domain" as the term is commonly understood), i.e., the more or less hour-glass
shaped region extending roughly from, say, Bourges in the South, through
Orleans, Etampes and Paris to, say, Laon.

but, beyond this, the King "held" --or at least could, from time to time
*claim* to hold-- all sorts of "rights," all over everywhere.

thus, in the early 11th c., when the Viscount of Chateaudun is pillaging the
lands of poor St. Mary of Chartres in the Beauce and has built "diabolici
instinctus machinas" (i.e., a "castle") at Gallardon as a stategic operational
base to facilitate such joyful looting activity, Bishop Fulbert writes (in
addition to Odo, Count of Blois/Chartres) to King Robert (and Queen
Constance), asking --and cajoling, with threats of a "work stoppage" at the
cathedral and an appeal to the Emperor-- for help dealing with the
malefactor.

(http://www.ariadne.org/centrechartraine/lords/introgal.html#_ftn10 
--click on the note to get back to the body of the text.)

in his letters the bishop notes that the king had recently destroyed just such
a "castle" at Gallardon (which lies just a few miles NE of Chartres).

now, the question is, was Gallardon --physically clearly located in the very
heart of the County of Chartres-- part of the "Royal Domain" (at this time) or
not?

answer: it certainly was, *if* the King could muster some of his Good Ole Boys
to ride down (or over) there and, by the Rights invested in his strong right
arm, impose his will upon the place.

likewise, when the King exercised considerable clout in the election of one of
Fulbert's immediate sucessors (i forget which one, but the loosing candidate,
Albert, got to be Abbot of Marmoutier as a consolation prize 
--which office itself might have been in the gift of the Count of
Blois/Chartres), **for that period of time** the See of Chartres might be
considered, in part at least, to have been in the "Royal Domain."

in this peirod --and, to a certian extent, well beyond it, perhaps into our
own-- all Politics was Local, and one's "rights" somewhere depended to a very
large extent (if not entirely) upon one's ability to actually *exercise* Power
at a given place and time.

>Shouldn't it be "royal foundation" rather than "royal abbey"?

most (perhaps/probably all) of the "Royal Monasteries" (i.e., the ones where
the king exercised more or less direct control over the choice of
Abbot/canons, etc.) were, indeed Royal Foundations.

(St. Mary's of Etampes, the only one i actually know a bit about, certainly
was, being founded by Robert the Pious --or his wife, i forget which.)

so you can use that term, if you wish, if it's applicable to a particular
place.

i.e., if it is indeed a "royal foundation," the you may call it that, by my
grace.

go crazy and wild, what ever turns you on.

christopher

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