Through an innovative and wide-ranging exploration this book
examines the reality behind the assumption that the idea of a
universal ruler became increasingly irrelevant in late-medieval
Europe. Focusing on France in the century before the outbreak of
the Hundred Years War, it explores attitudes towards the
contemporary institution of the western Empire, its rulers, and its
place in the world. Historians have tended to assume that there was
little place for a universal Empire and its would-be rulers in
late-medieval thought. Pointing to the rapid decline in the
fortunes of the Empire after the death of the Emperor Frederick II,
the rediscovery of Aristotle’s Politics by western
Europeans, and the growing confidence – and burgeoning
bureaucracy – of the kings of France and England, it is often
argued that the claims to universal domination of men like the
Emperor Henry VII, or indeed of popes like Boniface VIII, were
becoming increasingly anachronistic, not to say a little
ridiculous. Perceptions of the Empire undoubtedly changed in this
period. Yet, whether it was in the cloisters of Saint-Denis, the
pamphlets of Pierre Dubois, or even the thought of Charles
d’Anjou, the first Angevin king of Sicily, this book argues
that the Empire and its ruler still had an important, indeed
unique, role to play in a properly ordered Christian society.
Chris Jones grew up in the Middle East before reading history at
Durham. He now lives in New Zealand where he holds a lectureship in
History at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
"This book is extremely well researched. Although aspects of this topic have had a voluminous historiography, Jones bases his work on a significant use of archival documents."
(D. Nicholas, in The Medieval Review, 08 June 2008)
"Specialists in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century France will find this book valuable because of Jones's detailed discussions of the authorship and manuscript traditions of numerous chronicles and treatises written in the northern French milieu from the 1240s to 1340s. Within this context, his work on the Grandes Chroniques de France is especially impressive."
(Jonathan R. Lyon, in H-German, H-net Reviews, April 2008)