Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Remi De Reims: Mémoire D'un Saint, Histoire D'une ÉGlise

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Remi De Reims: Mémoire D'un Saint, Histoire D'une ÉGlise

Article excerpt

Medieval

Remi de Reims: Mémoire d'un saint, histoire d'une Église. By Marie-Céline Isaia. [Histoire religieuse de la France, 35.] (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf. 2010. Pp. 919. euro67,00 paperback. ISBN 978-2-204-08745-2.)

This book originated as a French doctoral thesis submitted in 2004. Like most French theses turned into books, it is a weighty tome. In more than 900 dense, although elegantly written, pages, Marie-Céline Isaia documents the history of St. Remi of Reims and his construction as a holy figure from his lifetime up to the reign of the Capetian King Philip I (1060-1108), thereby covering seven centuries and three dynasties (the Merovingian, the Carolingian, and the Capetian) in Francia.

Rather than presenting an overarching argument, the book simply follows a chronological structure. Chapter 1 retraces the life of Remi, emphasizing the senatorial Gallo-Roman nobility to which he was born and his long-time partnership with Clovis, which resulted in the baptism of the Merovingian king in the late-fifth century or early-sixth century (Isaia proposes 507 or 508, instead of an earlier date put forward by other historians), a watershed event that served to shape the cult of Remi in relation to the Frankish kings in the following centuries. Chapter 2 focuses on the Merovingian period and the composition of the first (extant) life of the saint in the middle of the eighth century. Isaia sheds interesting light on the competition between different political lineages, Neustrian as well as Austrasian, in the appropriation of his cult, up to the time when Charles Martel definitively associated the saint with the Pippinid family in the second quarter of the eighth century. The subsquent chapter is devoted primarily to Hincmar's tenure as archbishop of Reims (845-82) and his promotion of the cult of Remi.The national vocation of the saint, whose baptism of the first Frankish king led Hincmar to proclaim him the "apostle of the Franks," signals an important shift in Remi's constitution as a royal patron and protector of the Frankish monarchy, a process that, following various developments discussed in chapter 4, comes to full fruition only in the reign of the first Capetians- in particular, that of Philip I. …

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