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France in the Making 843–1180$
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Jean Dunbabin

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208464

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208464.001.0001

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Formative trends in twelfth-century political life

Formative trends in twelfth-century political life

(p.256) Chapter 11 Formative trends in twelfth-century political life
France in the Making 843–1180

Jean Dunbabin

Oxford University Press

The appointment of a Benedictine abbot as chief adviser to the king was sufficiently unusual to call to mind Benedict of Aniane's position in the early years of Louis the Pious's reign. Though Benedict's austerity and reforming zeal were missing in Suger, his twelfth-century counterpart, there was perhaps a similar commitment to abstract political principle, to the notion of undivided imperial or royal power. In Suger's case, this power was given sharper focus by its place at the apex of the terrestrial hierarchy; for, as he had learned from the presumed patron of his monastery, Pseudo-Dionysius, this was the proper ordering of earthly political authority. What marked Suger out from other Pseudo-Dionysians was firstly, that he translated his abstractions into concepts directly of these writings, that on the Celestial Hierarchies, provided the abbot both with his theory of the function of ecclesiastical architecture, and with a means of integrating the earthly power structure into that of heaven.

Keywords:   abbot, adviser, king, Benedict of Aniane, Louis the Pious, Suger, Pseudo-Dionysius

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