Suger (French: [syʒɛʁ] ; Latin : Sugerius; c. 1081 – 13 January 1151) was a French abbot, statesman, and historian. He was one of the earliest patrons of Gothic architecture, and is widely credited with popularizing the style.
Suger's family origins are unknown. Several times in his writings he suggests that his was a humble background, though this may just be a topos or convention of autobiographical writing. In 1091, at the age of ten, Suger was given as an oblate to the abbey of St. Denis, where he began his education. He trained at the priory of Saint-Denis de l'Estrée, and there first met the future king Louis VI of France. From 1104 to 1106, Suger attended another school, perhaps that attached to the abbey of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire. In 1106 he became secretary to the abbot of Saint-Denis. In the following year he became provost of Berneval in Normandy, and in 1109 of Toury. In 1118, Louis VI sent Suger to the court of Pope Gelasius II at Maguelonne (at Montpellier, Gulf of Lyon), and he lived from 1121 to 1122 at the court of Gelasius's successor, Calixtus II.
On his return from Maguelonne, Suger became abbot of St-Denis. Until 1127, he occupied himself at court mainly with the temporal affairs of the kingdom, while during the following decade he devoted himself to the reorganization and reform of St-Denis. In 1137, he accompanied the future king, Louis VII, into Aquitaine on the occasion of that prince's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, and during the Second Crusade served as one of the regents of the kingdom (1147–1149). He bitterly opposed the king's divorce, having himself advised the marriage. Although he disapproved of the Second Crusade, he himself, at the time of his death, had started preaching a new crusade.
Suger served as the friend and counsellor both of Louis VI and Louis VII. He urged the king to destroy the feudal bandits, was responsible for the royal tactics in dealing with the communal movements, and endeavoured to regularize the administration of justice. He left his abbey, which possessed considerable property, enriched and embellished by the construction of a new church built in the nascent Gothic style. Suger wrote extensively on the construction of the abbey in Liber de Rebus in Administratione sua Gestis, Libellus Alter de Consecratione Ecclesiae Sancti Dionysii, and Ordinatio. In the 1940s, the prominent art-historian Erwin Panofsky claimed that the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite influenced the architectural style of the abbey of St. Denis, though later scholars have argued against such a simplistic link between philosophy and architectural form.Similarly the assumption by 19th century French authors that Suger was the "designer" of St Denis (and hence the "inventor" of Gothic architecture) has been almost entirely discounted by more recent scholars. Instead he is generally seen as having been a bold and imaginative patron who encouraged the work of an innovative (but now unknown) master mason.
A chalice once owned by Suger is now in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Abbot Suger, friend and confidant of the French Kings Louis VI and Louis VII, decided in about 1137 to rebuild the great Church of Saint-Denis, the burial church of the French monarchs.[ citation needed ]
Suger began with the West front, reconstructing the original Carolingian façade with its single door. He designed the façade of Saint-Denis to be an echo of the Roman Arch of Constantine with its three-part division and three large portals to ease the problem of congestion. The rose window above the West portal is the earliest-known such example, although Romanesque circular windows preceded it in general form.[ citation needed ]
At the completion of the west front in 1140, Abbot Suger moved on to the reconstruction of the eastern end, leaving the Carolingian nave in use. He designed a choir (chancel) that would be suffused with light. [ citation needed ]To achieve his aims, his masons drew on the several new features which evolved or had been introduced to Romanesque architecture, the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, the ambulatory with radiating chapels, the clustered columns supporting ribs springing in different directions and the flying buttresses which enabled the insertion of large clerestory windows.
The new structure was finished and dedicated on 11 June 1144,in the presence of the King. The Abbey of Saint-Denis thus became the prototype for further building in the royal domain of northern France. It is often cited as the first building in the Gothic style. A hundred years later, the old nave of Saint-Denis was rebuilt in the Gothic style, gaining, in its transepts, two spectacular rose windows.
Suger was also a patron of art. Among the liturgical vessels he commissioned are a gilt eagle, the Queen Eleanor vase, the King Roger decanter, a gold chalice and a sardonyx ewer.[ citation needed ]
Suger became the foremost historian of his time. He wrote a panegyric on Louis VI (Vita Ludovici regis), and collaborated in writing the perhaps more impartial history of Louis VII (Historia gloriosi regis Ludovici). In his Liber de rebus in administratione sua gestis, and its supplement Libellus de consecratione ecclesiae S. Dionysii, he treats of the improvements he had made to St Denis, describes the treasure of the church, and gives an account of the rebuilding. Suger's works served to imbue the monks of St Denis with a taste for history and called forth a long series of quasi-official chronicles.
Louis VII, called the Younger or the Young, was King of the Franks from 1137 to 1180. He was the son and successor of King Louis VI, hence his nickname, and married Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe. The marriage temporarily extended the Capetian lands to the Pyrenees, but was annulled in 1152 after no male heir was produced.
Gothic architecture is an architectural style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. It originated in 12th century northern France and England as a development of Norman architecture. Its popularity lasted into the 16th century, before which the style was known as Latin: opus Francigenum, lit. 'French work'; the term Gothic was first applied during the later Renaissance.
The Basilica of Saint-Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance historically and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, shows the first use of all of the elements of Gothic architecture.
Louis VI, called the Fat or the Fighter, was King of France from 1108 to 1137.
Denis was a 3rd-century Christian martyr and saint. According to his hagiographies, he was bishop of Paris in the third century and, together with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, was martyred for his faith by decapitation. Some accounts placed this during Domitian's persecution and identified St Denis of Paris with the Areopagite who was converted by Paul the Apostle and who served as the first bishop of Athens. Assuming Denis's historicity, it is now considered more likely that he suffered under the persecution of the emperor Decius shortly after AD 250. Denis is the most famous cephalophore in Christian legend, with a popular story claiming that the decapitated bishop picked up his head and walked several miles while preaching a sermon on repentance. He is venerated in the Catholic Church as the patron saint of France and Paris and is accounted one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. A chapel was raised at the site of his burial by a local Christian woman; it was later expanded into an abbey and basilica, around which grew up the French city of Saint-Denis, now a suburb of Paris.
Erwin Panofsky was a German-Jewish art historian, whose academic career was pursued mostly in the U.S. after the rise of the Nazi regime.
The Patrologia Latina is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1841 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865. It is also known as the Latin series as it formed one half of Migne's Patrologiae Cursus Completus, the other part being the Patrologia Graeco-Latina of patristic and medieval Greek works with their medieval Latin translations.
Milo II of Montlhéry was lord of Bray and Montlhéry, and viscount of Troyes. He was the son of Milo I the Great and Lithuise, and younger brother of Guy III of Montlhéry.
Eudes of Deuil or Odo, Odon(1110 – April 18, 1162) was a French historian and participant of the Second Crusade (1147–1149).
Philip was a king of France from 1129 to 1131, co-ruling with his father, Louis VI. As he predeceased his father and never reigned as sole king, he is not known by an ordinal or included in the traditional lists of French monarchs.
Saint Fulrad was born in 710 into a wealthy family, and died on July 16, 784 as the Abbot of St. Denis. He was the counselor of both Pippin and Charlemagne. Historians see Fulrad as important due to his significance in the rise of the Frankish Kingdom, and the insight he gives into early Carolingian society. He was noted to have been always on the side on Charlemagne, especially during the attack from the Saxons on Regnum Francorum, and the Royal Mandatum. Other historians have taken a closer look at Fulrad's interactions with the papacy. When Fulrad was the counselor of Pepin he was closely in contact with the papacy to gain approval for Pepin's appoint as King of the Franks. During his time under Charlemagne, he had dealings with the papacy again for different reasons. When he became Abbot of St. Denis, Fulrad's life became important in the lives of distinct historical figures in various ways during his period as St. Denis's abbot during the mid-eighth century. Saint Fulrad's Feast Day is on July 16.
French Gothic architecture is an architectural style which emerged in France in 1140, and was dominant until the mid-16th century. The most notable examples are the great Gothic cathedrals of France, including Notre-Dame Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, and Amiens Cathedral. Its main characteristics were the search for verticality, or height, and the innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttresses and other architectural innovations to distribute the weight of the stone structures to supports on the outside, allowing unprecedented height and volume, The new techniques also permitted the addition of larger windows, including enormous stained glass windows, which filled the cathedrals with light. The French style was widely copied in other parts of northern Europe, particularly Germany and England. It was gradually supplanted as the dominant French style in the mid-16th century by French Renaissance architecture.
Lucienne de Rochefort was the first wife of Louis VI of France. She was married to him before he became king, from 1104 to 1107.
Thomas of Marle, Lord of Coucy and Boves, was born in 1073 to Enguerrand I of Boves, the Lord of Coucy and his wife Adele of Marle. After the death of his father, Enguerrand I, Thomas would become the Lord of Coucy and his family's other holdings. As the best-known of the Lords of Coucy, Thomas of Marle would become infamous for his aggressive and brutal tactics in war and his continued rebellion against the authority of Louis VI.
The Abbey of St Genevieve (Abbaye-Sainte-Geneviève) was a monastery in Paris. Reportedly built by Clovis, King of the Franks in 502, it became a centre of religious scholarship in the Middle Ages. It was suppressed at the time of the French Revolution.
The Cult of Carts is various occasions in western Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, when ordinary lay-people harnessed themselves to carts in the place of oxen in order to transport building materials to cathedral building sites.
Suger's Eagle is an ancient Egyptian porphyry vase mounted in a medieval silver-gilt eagle. It is now displayed along with the French regalia in the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre.
Philip of France was a Capetian prince and archdeacon of Paris.
Gothic cathedrals and churches are religious buildings created in Europe between the mid-12th century and the beginning of the 16th century. The cathedrals are notable particularly for their great height, and their extensive use of stained glass to fill the interiors with light. They were the tallest and largest buildings of their time, and the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture. The appearance of the Gothic Cathedral was not only a revolution in architecture; it also introduced new forms in decoration, sculpture, and art.