Title

Remembering and Forgetting Suger at Saint-Denis, 1151-1534: An abbot’s reputation between memory and history

Abstract

A passage from the Grandes Chroniques de France claims that the rebuilding of the nave of Saint-Denis in the 1230s marked the first new construction there since Dagobert built the church in the seventh century. The text’s omission of Abbot Suger’s famous campaigns in the 1130s and 1140s, which the abbot himself did so much to commemorate, provides an opportunity to assess Suger’s reception, to see if and how his hope to be remembered was realized in the centuries after his death. Reviewing the evidence from Saint-Denis’ chronicles and inventories, we find that the years around 1300 marked a turning point in Suger’s posthumous reputation. Some of this is probably the inevitable result of the passage of time, as the living memory of Suger died; it also results from the desire to celebrate the ambitious construction at the abbey in the thirteenth century. The article concludes by comparing the memory of Suger with that of other celebrated patrons, including Bernward of Hildesheim, Louis IX, and Anquetil of Moissac.

Publisher

University of Chicago Press

Publication Date

1-1-2015

Publication Title

Gesta

Department

Art

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1086/681955

Language

English

Format

text

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