Selected Works of Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Translated with Introduction and Notes by Richard Cusimano and Eric Whitmore
Suger, the twelfth century abbot of Saint-Denis, has not received the respect and attention that he deserves. Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter the Venerable have garnered more attention, and students of medieval history know their names well. In one respect, however, Suger has earned due praise, for his architectural innovations to the church of Saint-Denis made it truly one of the most beautiful churches in Europe.
Students of history and architecture know Suger best for his work on Saint-Denis, the burial site of medieval French kings, queens, and nobility. The abbot enlarged, decorated, improved, and redesigned the building so beautifully that it is safe to say that he became the foremost church architect of twelfth-century France.
The man, however, was so much more than an architect. He served as a counselor and member of the courts of King Louis VI and VII, who sent him across Europe on diplomatic missions. He represented those kings at the papal curia and imperial diets. He was also a close friends and confidante of King Henry I of England, whom he often visited on behalf of French royal interests.
Never shy, Suger seems almost obsessed that his works and deeds not be forgotten. He acquired numerous properties and estates for his abbey, as well as improved the ones it already possessed. He built new buildings, barns, walls for villages, and increased the return of grain from all the abbey's lands. Readers interested in the medieval agricultural system and way of life will also enjoy these texts.
Suger's texts also provide a wealth of information about the events of his era as well as a large amount of biographical material on his accomplishments. This translation of his writings intends to enhance his reputation and make his name better known by students at all levels and among those interested in medieval topics.
"Abbot Suger was one of the most important French figures of the first half of the twelfth century, advising kings and writing their biographies, as well as essentially inventing the Gothic style with his renovations of Saint-Denis. And yet many of his works have lacked good translations into modern English. This volume goes far to repair that lack, with engaging translations of Suger’s descriptions of his church’s rebuilding and consecration, and his unfinished biography of Louis VII. The translators include the continuations that completed the "life" of Louis VII and also give the "life" of Suger himself, written after his death, as well as an introduction and extensive notes and appendices that put everything into context. Richard Cusimano, one of the translators, also helped translate Suger's Deeds of Louis the Fat. That earlier volume and this one should provide students of political and art history an excellent access to the writings of this crucial figure."~Constance Brittain Bouchard, author of Rewriting Saints and Ancestors: Memory and Forgetting in France, 500-1200
"This is an exceptionally welcome, well-done, and accessible translation of the most important of Suger’s works. The choice of the works to be translated is judicious, and the introduction, appendices, and glossaries make the translations even more accessible to students and non-specialist readers. The volume is a wonderful complement to Cusimano and John Moorhead’s earlier, likewise excellent, translation of Suger’s Deeds of Louis the Fat and should go a long way toward providing the recognition he deserves to this visionary, energetic, capable, and highly original prelate. --"~Jeff Rider, translator of Galbert of Bruges’s Murder, Betrayal, and Slaughter of the Glorious Charles, Count of Flanders.
"This is a very readable collection...The editors/translators have helped make this twelfth-century abbot an intriguing figure."~Sixteenth Century Journal
"Has done a great service in providing these texts to general and academic audiences alike. One hopes that the volume might spark an additional look into the work and life of this important twelfth-century abbot."~Fides et Historia
"This book makes for delightful reading for anyone interested in Suger and the early High Middle Ages. For the student, the footnotes and bibliography elevate the text to a scholarly level. This book should be included in collections focused on medieval history, Church history, and art history."~Catholic Library World