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  • Recueil des actes de Philippe Auguste, roi de France: Volume V: Supplément d'actes, actes perdus, additions et corrections aux précédents volumes, and: Volume VI: Lettres mises sous le nom de Philippe Auguste dans les recueils de formulaires d'école
  • William Chester Jordan
Recueil des actes de Philippe Auguste, roi de France: Volume V: Supplément d'actes, actes perdus, additions et corrections aux précédents volumes. Edited by Michel Nortier. (Paris: Boccard. 2004. Pp. ix, 589.)
Volume VI: Lettres mises sous le nom de Philippe Auguste dans les recueils de formulaires d'école. Edited by Michel Nortier. (Paris: Boccard. 2005. Pp. viii, 215.)

The project to publish the acts of King Philip II Augustus of France (1179/1180-1223) was supposed to be completed long ago, but the systematic scrutiny of archival sources has had the good effect of turning up more and more authentic acts and of providing the sorts of information that make it possible to assess the authenticity of many others. Michel Nortier, the editor of these two volumes, believes that the project is now more or less done, except for a projected interpretative volume, which, it is hoped, will have a comprehensive index.

Part one of volume V includes about sixty newly identified acts, as well as others falsely or with insufficient evidence attributed to the king. Part two of this volume describes acts now lost but alluded to in various sources. And part three offers corrections and additions to the previous four volumes. It also has an "annex" on the execution of the king's testament and an appendix on the places where Philip's acts were issued.

Volume six, as its subtitle suggests, excerpts formulaic letters which, from internal evidence, probably were issued by the king but were turned into models for students at the schools, in particular the Universities of Paris and Orléans. Two annexes provide two additional documents from similar sources. And two appendices marshal the evidence that can be garnered on the practices (diplomatics) of the royal chancery. [End Page 302]

The sixty new acts in volume V are a hodge-podge, as might be expected, but there are a number of them that deal with or mention Jews (nos. 1830, 1865, 1875), grants to lepers (nos. 1828, 1838, 1844, 1854), and the extension of the king's protection to vulnerable subjects (nos. 1833, 1835, 1842, 1853). Two false acts are among the most interesting. No. 1834 purports to be Philip's personal letter to the Count of Foix, asking him to join the king's expedition to the Holy Land, the Third Crusade (1190). It was published in French in 1640, although the original version may have been a late sixteenth- or early seventeenth-century Latin forgery that evokes authentic details, like the presence of the count of Foix on the expedition. The tone is one of a kindlier, gentler Philip Augustus than most historians would recognize. He signs off, "Vostre bon et ami PHILIPPE."The other false act, no. 1872, was issued allegedly on July 28, 1214, in camp soon after the Battle of Bouvines, where Philip Augustus routed the German allies of King John of England. The act commends a southern baron, Déodat, described with imaginary titles, like Duke of Narbonne and Prince of Rouergue. He is cited for his bravery and audacity and the conceit of fighting at Bouvines under the alias Tristan! The Pierre Tristan who really did fight in the battle and is mentioned in a well-known contemporary source, was a familiar of Philip Augustus, one of his chamberlains, but the name Tristan and the disguise motif of the great romance that bears his name seem to have tickled the falsifier's fancy and generated the forgery.

Scholars of all types owe a great debt to the efforts of editors of royal, aristocratic, and ecclesiastical acta. These two volumes published by Nortier show that the debt continues to increase.

William Chester Jordan
Princeton University
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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 302-303
Launched on MUSE
2006-09-14
Open Access
No
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