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Article

Anne-Françoise Leurquin

Manual for religious and moral instruction commissioned by Philip III, King of France (reg 1270–85), from his confessor, the Dominican Frère Laurent. The work was finished in 1279–80 and was a literary success. Over 100 manuscript copies have survived, with printed editions appearing in the 15th century, and translations were made into English, Castilian, Catalan, Italian, Dutch and Occitan.

Although the presentation copy is lost, 7 manuscripts have a complete cycle of 15 full-page images and another 20 have selected images. The scenes include representations of the Ten Commandments, the Credo, the Pater noster, the Apocalyptic beast, the Last Judgement and personifications of the virtues and vices paired with moralizing scenes taken mainly from the Old Testament. The images, like the text, are extremely didactic. Nearly all the fully illuminated manuscripts were made for the royal entourage at the turn of the 14th century, often by exceptional artists. Two books were made for the royal family in ...

Article

Peter Kidson

(b c. 1081; d Saint-Denis, 1151).

French ecclesiastic, patron, and writer. He was born of an obscure and perhaps humble family, and at the age of ten he was presented as an oblate to Saint-Denis Abbey, around which his entire life and career revolved. As his competence and flair for business were recognized he was promoted secretary to the abbot, provost of outlying properties, and envoy to the papal court. In 1122 he became abbot. While in statu pupillari he formed a lifelong friendship with the future King Louis VI of France (reg 1108–37). During the Second Crusade he was Regent in the King’s absence.

As a man of affairs and adviser to kings, Suger was not fundamentally different from other eminent 12th-century ecclesiastics, but under his abbacy the administration of the resources of Saint-Denis was completely overhauled, monastic life in some sense ‘reformed’, and the abbey church itself partially rebuilt and refurbished. It is the fact that he wrote about the building operations that makes Suger a subject of interest to art historians. Contemporary accounts of medieval buildings are rare, and sufficient in themselves to make the buildings historically interesting, but Suger’s texts are exceptionally important because the west portals of Saint-Denis had perhaps the earliest ...