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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

c) Political medievalisms 1

2) Using the Middle Ages to seek legitimacy for the restoration monarchy (1814-1830)

Heta Aali

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1In this paper I examine how the Bourbon dynasty used the Middle Ages to legitimize its rule after the restoration of the monarchy in France in 1814. When King Louis XVIII came to France in 1814 his position was not undisputed. Napoleon’s return and the Hundred Days further destabilized the French monarchy. The king and his supporters had to use multiple means to strengthen their position, and history was one significant source of legitimization. Besides the events of the Revolution, the royalists sought legitimation especially from the Middle Ages and from the history of medieval royal saints. Furthermore, early medieval Merovingian king Clovis I (died 511) was a popular character in the 1820s and a point of reference in royal imagery. I particularly focus in this paper on the medieval characters associated with the early nineteenth-century royal women. One such royal woman was Marie Thérèse of France, the Duchess of Angoulême, who was an important person during the Restoration because she was the only surviving child of the guillotined King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Marie Thérèse was an essential link between the Old Régime and the restored monarchy. Therefore it is not surprising that diverse medieval imagery was associated with Marie Thérèse in public discussions until the Revolution of 1830, when the Bourbons were yet again forced into exile. My paper especially analyzes popular treatises that supported the Bourbon monarchy in order to discover how and for what purposes Marie Thérèse was made to resemble medieval saints or even Joan of Arc.


University of Turku

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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