Book Series Cursor Mundi, vol. 1

Eclipse of Empire?

Perceptions of the Western Empire and its Rulers in Late-Medieval France

Chris Jones

  • Pages: 415 p.
  • Size:160 x 240 mm
  • Illustrations:4 b/w, 4 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2007

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-52478-8
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56045-8
  • E-book
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"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)


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.