Publication – Sean L. Field, « Courting Sanctity. Holy Women and the Capetians »

The rise of the Capetian dynasty across the long thirteenth century, which rested in part on the family’s perceived sanctity, is a story most often told through the actions of male figures, from Louis IX’s metamorphosis into « Saint Louis » to Philip IV’s attacks on Pope Boniface VIII. In Courting Sanctity, Sean L. Field argues that, in fact, holy women were central to the Capetian’s self-presentation as being uniquely favored by God. Tracing the shifting relationship between holy women and the French royal court, he shows that the roles and influence of these women were questioned and reshaped under Philip III and increasingly assumed to pose physical, spiritual, and political threats by the time of Philip IV’s death.

Field’s narrative highlights six holy women. The saintly reputations of Isabelle of France and Douceline of Digne helped to crystalize the Capetians’ claims of divine favor by 1260. In the 1270s, the French court faced a crisis that centered on the testimony of Elizabeth of Spalbeek, a visionary holy woman from the Low Countries. After 1300, the arrests and interrogations of Paupertas of Metz, Margueronne of Bellevillette, and Marguerite Porete served to bolster Philip IV’s crusades against the dangers supposedly threatening the kingdom of France. Courting Sanctity thus reassesses key turning points in the ascent of the « most Christian » Capetian court through examinations of the lives and images of the holy women that the court sanctified or defamed.


Sean L. Field is Professor of History at the University of Vermont. He is the author, editor, or translator of nine previous books, including, most recently, Late Medieval Heresy, Visions of Sainthood in Medieval Rome, and The Sanctity of Louis IX.

Table des matières :


List of Maps
List of Abbreviations


Part One: Creation
Prologue: The Rise of Capetian Sanctity and the Reign of Louis IX
1. Isabelle of France: A Holy Woman at the Heart of the Capetian Court
2. Douceline of Digne: Co-mother to the Capetians

Part Two: Interrogation
Prologue: A Crisis in the Reign of Philip III
3. Elizabeth of Spalbeek: A Prince’s Death, a Queen’s Crime, and a King’s Sin
4. Writing Holy Women, 1282–85

Part Three: Destruction
Prologue: The Culminating Reign of Philip IV
5. Paupertas of Metz: Peacemaker, Prophet, or Poisoner?
6. Marguerite Porete and Margueronne of Bellevillette: The Beguine and the Sorceress

Epilogue: Echoes and Afterlives

Informations pratiques :

Sean L. Field, Courting Sanctity. Holy Women and the Capetians, Thaca, Cornell University Press, 2019. 288 p., 3 cartes. ISBN : 9781501736193. Prix : 39,95 $.

Source : Cornell University Press

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