November 29 – The coronation of St. Louis IX of France

May 15, 2014

St. Louis being crowned King of France at Reims, November 29, 1228.

St. Louis being crowned King of France at Reims, November 29, 1228.

Traditionally, new sacred music was composed for a coronation. The motet…which was sung for the anointing of Louis IX has come down to us. It was called Gaude, felix Francia…. The boy who was to be anointed and crowned was already on a platform built in front of the chancel, surrounded by the great lords of the realm. He declaimed the solemn oath required: to maintain the Church, do justice to his people, keep the peace. The slender figure knelt, then stretched itself prone before the altar, as the chorus took up the Litany of the Saints….

Then the cathedral was filled with the strains of the Te Deum….


The ceremony began. Louis removed his robe, taking care to leave his shirt open at the throat. Bartholomew de Roye, the Lord Great Chamberlain, drew on his hose. The Duke of Burgundy, a very young man, attached his spurs. Since William of Joinville, the Archbishop of Rheims, had died while with Louis VIII in Avignon, it was the Bishop of Soissons, James of Bazoches, who handed him the sword, now unsheathed, and who would shortly anoint him. The little prince, holding the sword across both palms, solemnly knelt before the altar…. Then he was anointed, just as Saul, David and Solomon were said to have been in the books of Samuel and Kings. The holy oil was touched to his forehead, his shoulders, his arms, his hands, and his breast. Then he was clothed in the tunic and surcoat. The ring was placed on his finger and the scepter in his right hand. The Bishop took the crown and placed it on his head—and at once all the lords present stretched out their hands and symbolically held it in place.

Régine Pernoud, Blanche of Castile, trans. Henry Noel (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1975), 116-7.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 385



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