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House of Lilies

The Dynasty that Made Medieval France

Justine Firnhaber-Baker

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Allen Lane
02 July 2024
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A sweeping history of the Capetian monarchs

One of the great epics of Europe's history, the story of the rise and rise of the Capetian dynasty dominates the Middle Ages. Starting in the tenth century from an insecure foothold around Paris, the Capetians built a nation that stretched from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and from the Rh ne to the Pyrenees. They founded practices and institutions that endured until the Revolution, transformed Paris from a muddy backwater to a splendid metropole, and popularized the fleur-de-lys, the lily, as the emblem of France. Time and again, their opponents woefully misjudged who they were up against, as through guile, ruthlessness, luck and marriage the Capetians disposed of them all.

This is their story, the story of the most powerful kingdom in Christendom. It is a tale of religious upheaval, heroism, adulterous affairs, holy wars, pogroms and persecution. From Hugh Capet to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Capetians were men and women of vision and ambition, who considered themselves chosen by God to fulfil a great destiny. If they were mistaken in their assumptions and merciless in their methods, in one respect they were right. They did not simply rule France- they created it.

House of Lilies is a highly enjoyable, state-of-the-art account of this extraordinary sequence of events, set against one of the great eras in the history of western Europe, a time of remarkable cultural efflorescence. Justine Firnhaber-Baker brilliantly conveys not only the sheer glamour of the French court, but also the intellectual achievements, the battles and the centrality of religion, as well as the series of catastrophes that led to the dynasty's ultimate demise.
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 40mm
Weight:   723g
ISBN:   9780241552773
ISBN 10:   024155277X
Pages:   448
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Justine Firnhaber-Baker is Professor of History at the University of St Andrews. She is the author of The Jacquerie of 1358 and Violence and the State in Languedoc, 1250-1400.

Reviews for House of Lilies: The Dynasty that Made Medieval France

A mighty, panoramic history… Firnhaber-Baker does a real service for those with an interest in France and England alike by providing a dexterous and engrossing account, a treasury for anyone with an interest in the royal, political and religious worlds of the high medieval period -- David Brooks * Daily Telegraph * Sparkling dynastic history… galloping through 15 reigns to tell the story of French politics, religion and architecture by way of battles, crusades, pogroms, plots and a truly incredible number of grisly executions. The result is a riotous, scintillating book… It is everything good narrative history should be: learned and gloriously entertaining -- Dan Jones * Sunday Times * More than the history of a dynasty, House of Lilies is the engrossing story of the building of France, the greatest political and cultural power of the Middle Ages. The book's protagonists are not only violent, saintly and hapless kings, but also a series of fascinating, clever, and often indestructible queens and consorts. -- Paul Freeman * Yale University * House of Lilies is a delight in every way. Justine Firnhaber-Baker demonstrates her complete mastery of the lives of the Capetians, while also telling a story that pulls you along from beginning to end. The book manages to convey how history ebbs, flows, and thunders, but even more importantly allows the reader to almost feel how events moved across four centuries of medieval Europe. -- Matthew Gabriele * co-author of The Bright Ages * With consummate erudition and narrative artistry, Justine Firnhaber-Baker brings to life the human drama of an extraordinary dynasty. This rich and engaging history recounts the stories of men and women made great by birth, and sometimes by deeds, who created Capetian kingship. House of Lilies recounts the marvellous and the terrible origin story of the French nation, not-to-be-missed for lovers of the medieval, the royal, or the French. -- Sara McDougall * City University of New York *

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