Nathaniel Lane Taylor

title.none: Jackson, ed., Ordines Coronationis Franciae (Taylor)

identifier.other: baj9928.0102.013 01.02.13

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Nathaniel Lane Taylor , University of Kentucky,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Jackson, Richard, ed. Ordines Coronationis Franciae: Texts and Ordines for the Coronation of Frankish and French Kings and Queens in the Middle Ages, Vol. II. The Middle Ages Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Pp. xii, 435. $69.95. ISBN: 0-812-23542-8.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.02.13

Jackson, Richard, ed. Ordines Coronationis Franciae: Texts and Ordines for the Coronation of Frankish and French Kings and Queens in the Middle Ages, Vol. II. The Middle Ages Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Pp. xii, 435. $69.95. ISBN: 0-812-23542-8.

Reviewed by:

Nathaniel Lane Taylor
University of Kentucky

This is the long-awaited conclusion to Richard Jackson's two- volume collection of coronation texts from Pippin to Charles VIII. The first volume, which appeared in 1995, was reviewed for TMR by Eric Palazzo in September 1997. It contained texts through 1200 (Jackson's numbers 1 to 19), ending with the 'ordo of 1200'. The second volume adds six more ordines, spanning from 1200 to 1484. Two of these last six, however, are Latin ordines also represented by translations, edited separately (as nos. 20B-C and 22B-C), and dating into the sixteenth century, giving a total of eight distinct texts in the second volume. The latest text chronologically is Jean du Tillet's translation (before 1566) of a thirteenth-century ordo, also lengthily profiled by Elizabeth A. R. Brown ("Franks, Burgundians & Aquitanians" and the Royal Coronation Ceremony in France [Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 82.7, Philadelphia, 1992]).

The second volume also contains additional elements serving the collection as a whole. There are thirty-three plates of manuscript leaves, and one printed page, from ca. 800 to the seventeenth century. The black-and-white plates are of sufficient quality to serve as specimens of the form, size and hand of the manuscripts sampled, though it should have been possible to print better plates of the miniatures (even only one or two). There is a general index, which, in addition to its coverage of proper names, also allows one to follow a small number of subject entries through the collection ('anointing', 'miniatures', 'musical notation', 'peers of France'). The index of the (Latin) formulas forms the heart of the apparatus, allowing thorough cross-checking of individual elements through much of the whole edition. This can fruitfully be used with the separate synoptic table of formulas in ordines 22 - 25, which shows the complex legacy of the 'Last Capetian ordo' (1250/70) through the coronations of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The geographic index of manuscripts is useful because it is only there (and not in the individual ordo entries) that one can spot manuscripts which contain witnesses of more than one ordo. What is lacking there (and in the individual editions) is a brief statement of the other contents of the cited manuscripts. A sentence noting the other contents of each MS could better help us visualize the context of the retention and redaction of the ordines, beyond the specific cases showcased by Jackson (and by Brown).

The second volume is uniform with the first in the meticulous care Jackson devotes to study and comparison of the manuscripts. As with traditional critical textual editions, the establishment of an authentic text is of paramount importance, and the stemmatization of the extant and inferred manuscripts is clearly fundamental to this work. For the later ordines, stemmata can be reconstructed with more certainty than had been the case in the first volume; the confidence with which Jackson is able to place lost manuscripts is inspiring. The second volume also benefits from the additional time Jackson has been able to spend in company with these texts. There are various corrections or modifications of judgments made in his earlier Viator article on the manuscripts of the ordines (1992); and in addition there is the decision to edit French translations of Latin ordines as separate texts in their own right. Thus the synoptic table of ordines presented at the beginning of volume one is no longer followed to the letter, and users will simply refer to the corrected table in volume 2.

The disparity between the two volumes--the first having nineteen texts in 300 pages; the second having only eight in over 400 pages--reflects a major conceptual distinction in the ordines, their historical value, and, to an extent, the way in which they are presented. Jackson sees the last text in the first volume (the 'ordo of 1200') as transitional, representing continuity with earlier forms, but also serving as an important model for the later medieval ordines centered on Reims. The first volume's texts all partake of a Carolingian tradition, based on ritual and textual elements borrowed at different times from abroad: the anointing ritual itself, possibly (and passionately argued by Michael Enright to be) from Ireland, and the textual basis of the 'Ratold ordo' with its vestigial references to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The second volume shows the evolution of the form in the better localized historical contexts of the French monarchy from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. Here at last are the texts which form the core underlying Jackson's own study of the coronation ritual, Vive le Roi! (Chapel Hill, 1984).

While the 'ordo of Reims', which begins the second volume, cannot be precisely dated, it came of age with Saint Louis, influencing the 'ordo of 1250' and the 'Last Capetian ordo', both compiled in his reign. Overlying the liturgical formulas (in which there is tremendous continuity through the entire corpus) we find a new layer of stage directions from this time forward. It is the stage directions--the para-liturgical material--which give us what is specifically and creatively French in the ordines. The Holy Ampoule and the Peers of France are just two of the most intriguing sacral and constitutional themes rooted in these texts. A symbolic vocabulary of royal imagery is seen in the making here.

Just as the texts of volume two are far more readable as narratives than in volume one, so are the manuscript histories. For not only in the texts themselves, but in the story of their use, storage and dissemination, we begin to see how knowledge of the coronation ritual extended from clerical to bureaucratic and court circles, and thence to a wider public. Jackson could perhaps have ruminated more on this point with regard to the significance of the ordines translated from Latin to French and copied into registers of the (new) chambre des comptes around 1300. Jackson suggests that it was fiscally prudent that the king's financial advisers understand the ideological imperatives underlying such a lavish expense as a coronation, though there may be other ways to understand the interest of the king's fiscal ministers in ceremonial matters. [1] The latest translated text is the Jean du Tillet translation of the 'Last Capetian ordo', from the reign of Henri II. Here Jackson is disappointing in his reserve, not wishing to duplicate any of E. A. R. Brown's analyses of this ordo and its parent text. As the du Tillet translation and allied recueil illuminate an important moment in the Renaissance reconstruction of French royal ceremony and dynastic historiography, Jackson could have summarized something of the value of du Tillet's work for the later image and self-image of the monarchy.

There is no strictly linear progression of the ordines as manuscripts representing a continuously evolving text (in the cultural and literal senses). Because they were retained as essentially private manuscripts, both the descriptive and prescriptive texts could not be continuously available from one coronation to the next. Jackson has carefully drawn limits around what can be said about individual coronations, and has pointed out how, lacking access to the most recent ordo, a king or his handlers may have had to fall back on earlier texts. This is shown poignantly in the Hundred Years' War, when in 1429 Charles VII had to make do with a thirteenth-century coronation ordo--the known copies of his grandfather's ordo being then in English hands.

Such discontinuities invite one to jump around in the edition to follow the twists of the evolving ritual as well as its texts. But the rewards are rich: to come away with some echo of Jackson's multi-dimensional understanding of these sources and the ceremony which they describe--the classic expression of constructing kingship in the dynasty which excelled at it through the later Middle Ages.

In sum, this is a rich, well-presented and thought-provoking text edition, which will serve as a useful source for further close inquiry into royal ceremonial in France and, by comparison, elsewhere. And even for those whose interests do not lie in questions of the ceremonial expression of power, this edition can be fruitfully examined both as a model for complex text editions and as an inspiration for other American medievalists (and American presses) to undertake such editing projects in their own fields.


[1] Joseph Strayer has noted that "the Chamber's relations with other branches of the government were not always very clear" (The Reign of Philip the Fair [Princeton, 1980], 182).