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Charlemagne and France: A Thousand Years of Mythology
     

Charlemagne and France: A Thousand Years of Mythology

by Robert J. Morrissey, Catherine Tihanyi (Translator), Catherine Thanyi (Translator)
 
Although Charlemagne held a strong position in defining France's national identity for more than ten centuries, he was swiftly rejected as a national hero from the 1870s onwards for being too German and has never really regained his rightful place in France's history. This study, now available in English, explores the reasons why Charlemagne was at the heart of French

Overview

Although Charlemagne held a strong position in defining France's national identity for more than ten centuries, he was swiftly rejected as a national hero from the 1870s onwards for being too German and has never really regained his rightful place in France's history. This study, now available in English, explores the reasons why Charlemagne was at the heart of French mythology for so long. Morrissey examines two major stages or 'cycles' in the history of Charlemagne, the first beginning after his death in 814, lasting until the end of the 16th century, and the second involving the remythologising of Charlemagne in the Renaissance and during the Reformation. He assesses Charlemagne's symbolic importance in people's quest to find their roots and define the origins of French identity, and asks what it was about the man that embodied French ideals and aspirations for so many years.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Charlemagne (768-814) was arguably the greatest king in European history. Indeed, it can be said that Charlemagne invented the idea of Europe. As Morrissey, professor of French literature at the University of Chicago, makes clear, the first holy Roman emperor has historically meant different things to different eras-there's "a Charlemagne for every taste"-and the author provides an exhaustively researched account of these various representations and meanings. Charlemagne has always been viewed through a combination of history, myth and poetry (especially the famous epic, The Song of Roland), Morrissey says, yielding so plastic an image that Charlemagne has been used to defend both sides of an argument, as during Revolutionary debates over the clergy. In Part One, Morrissey describes how Charlemagne was "imagined" from the time of his death to the 16th century as "[w]arrior, protector of Christendom, guarantor of justice, defender of the poor, legislator" and "adept statesman." While early historical accounts celebrated Charlemagne as a Christian conqueror, later accounts glorified him as a limited monarch who freely shared power with his people; this image of an anti-absolutist Charlemagne, however, was problematic for the Bourbon monarchs of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the late 19th century, Charlemagne, now viewed as a German, became increasingly irrelevant to French history. Today, with the idea of a unified Europe ascendant, Charlemagne has never been more relevant, claims Morrissey. The author combines history and literature in a provocative study that sheds as much light on the eras he covers as on Charlemagne himself. Illus. not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780268022778
Publisher:
University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date:
02/01/2003
Series:
The Laura Shannon Series in French Medieval Studies
Pages:
456
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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