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Session of May 13

Informative note of M. Dominique Barthélemy, French correspondent of the Académie : « When the King retires his Crown : a Legend of Bouvines in the time of saint Louis ».

Abstract : In this « note d’information », it will be spoken of my investigation about the « memories » or legends of the battle of Bouvines, from 1214 to 1278. One of these legends, of the most amazing ones, consists in a strong display of humility by the king Phlip Augustus in his relations to his own barons, just before the battle starts, in order to encourage them. Either the king says they may choose a better one, among them, to supply him as a king (according to the so called « ménestrel de Reims », who writes in 1260), or he tells them that they are kings, all of them, while he retires his crown (according to Richer, monk of Senones, who writes at the same time), or he declares they are all better warriors than he is, and then retires his Crown again (Thomas of Pavia, writing in 1278). I shall comment this in two directions. Firts, I intend to replace this legend among the other narratives of Bouvines : they often underline the king’s humility (though before God), and among them, the baronnage takes an increasing place (replacing household knights, and serjeants-at-arms). Second, I argue that this legend of the king retiring his own crown is part of a baronial attempt to face the pressure of saint Louis after 1254 : it gives some importance to « Enguerran de Coucy » that is to a symbol of ill-treated baronnage, and it may well have close relation to the evolution of the ceremony in which the king is crowned : now some peers or barons use to support the crown by hands, as if they had to illustrate the proper words of the King in Richer de Senones (« I cannot bear the crown alone, without your support », he is told to have declared to the barons).

Key words : barons, Bouvines, french crown, coronation, lord of Coucy.

Lectures of M. Jean- Marie Moeglin, French correspondent of the Académie : « La lèse-majesté et le rituel de la corde au cou au Moyen Âge ».


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