Book Series Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, vol. 35

Liturgy and Sequences of the Sainte-Chapelle

Music, Relics, and Sacral Kingship in Thirteenth-Century France

Yossi Maurey

  • Pages: 252 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:4 col., 27 tables b/w., 21 Musical Examples
  • Language(s):English, Latin
  • Publication Year:2022

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59105-6
  • Hardback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59106-3
  • E-book
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How music and liturgy naturalized the notion of sacral kingship at the Sainte-Chapelle in 13th-century Paris.


“Maurey set out to demonstrate music’s role “in reflecting and shaping the sacral dimensions of the Sainte-Chapelle” and to offer “a model for considering new kinds of sources for the study of medieval history” (18). In the process, he also widens our understanding of how the Sainte-Chapelle liturgies were formed and disseminated. His work will no doubt be mined by scholars in multiple fields for years to come.” (Tova Leigh-Choate, in The Medieval Review, 22.11.02)

“Auf acht Appendizes in sehr übersichtlichem Layout, tabellarisch für die Quellen und in fortlaufendem Text für die Editionen und Übersetzungen, folgen eine Bibliografie und ein neunseitiger Index, insgesamt ein sehr gelungenes Werk mit viel neuerforschtem Material.” (Kristin Hoefener, in Francia-Recensio, 4, 2022)

“By tackling a manageable number of liturgically delimited sequences Maurey has succeeded in providing an excellent introduction and fascinating insight into a musical genre which, for all its undoubted aesthetic appeal, is by no means easy to take the full measure of. In so doing he has shown just how persuasive a tool in prosecuting political objectives could be the artistic fusion of liturgy and music.” (Robert Curry, in Parergon, 40/1, 2023, p. 270)


The book revolves around some of the most important relics of Christendom — chief among them the Crown of Thorns — and the ways in which they became, effectively, personal objects of devotion, notwithstanding their ostensibly universal appeal. It was France that laid claim to the Passion and other relics in the middle of the thirteenth century in a campaign that involved the construction of a new magnificent chapel — the Sainte-Chapelle — designed specifically to display the relics, and the composition of new liturgies to celebrate and focus attention on them. As inert objects, relics could not accomplish much without being ‘activated’ one way or the other, whether in prose, poetry, paintings, statues, or in music. It is these modes of activation that endowed the substance of relics with identity and meaning that made them so powerful and effective. The liturgies studied in this book were some of the most critical mechanisms of activation; they enabled the power of the Sainte-Chapelle relics, articulated the nature of that power, and proclaimed it far and wide. Nowhere is this more evident than in the sequences memorializing these relics, which were chiefly cultivated and championed at the Sainte-Chapelle. This book examines these sequences, and the ways in which they give prominence to the underlying agenda of the French monarchy by promoting and naturalizing the notion of sacral kingship, rooted in biblical kingship.


List of Illustrations, Acknowledgements, List of Manuscript Sigla, Abbreviations, A Note on the Transcriptions and Translations


Part I. The Crown of Thorns

  • Historia susceptionis coronae spinae
  • The Liturgy for the Crown of Thorns
  • Sequences for 11 August and its Octave
  • Epilogue: Dyadema salutare – A Dominican Addition and its Import
  • Conclusions
Part II. The Reception of Relics

  • Relics in Motion
  • The Liturgy for the Reception of the Relics
  • Sequences for 30 September and its Octave
  • Conclusions

  1. The Main Sources for the Sainte-Chapelle Liturgy
  2. Manuscript Sources of the Crown Mass Propers
  3. Manuscript Sources of the Crown Sequences
  4. Manuscript Sources of the Relics Sequences
  5. Synopsis of the Crown Sequences
  6. Synopsis of the Relics Sequences
  7. The Historia Susceptionis Coronae Spineae: Text and Translation
  8. Lessons for the Reception of Relics