Political Propaganda, Morality, and Passions: Dramatic Expressions of Allegory in La Vie Monseigneur sainct Loÿs par personnaiges by Pierre Gringore, c. 1513
- Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 10, Number 2, Fall 2021
- pp. 265-289
- Additional Information
- Purchase/rental options available:
Commissioned by the Parisian guild of carpenters and masons, Pierre Gringore’s 6,572-line hagiographical mystery play, La Vie Monseigneur sainct Loÿs par personnaiges (Paris, BnF Fr. 17511), celebrates the life and miracles of Saint Louis IX, king of France, as a community-building endeavor. Basing the work on the medieval genre known as the mirror of princes and the classical tradition of parallel lives, Gringore infused the play with historical allusions as a way to promote a glorious image of the current king, Louis XII, as a new Saint Louis. Yet instead of describing Louis XII as a heroic warrior, according to the paradigms of laudatory rhetoric, he fashioned a portrait of a wise, charitable, and pacifist prince, more inclined to use words than force when confronting his enemies. Rather than being a sign of weakness, pacifism here represents the highest moral value, a reflection of the king’s self-control and his steady reliance on the advice of his council, in contrast to his adversaries, whose actions were guided exclusively by unbridled emotional impulses. This essay uses a variety of political, moral, affective, and drama theories to examine Gringore’s adaptation of allegory as a performative strategy, offering new insight into the author’s choice to reshape the medieval mystery play into a historical and political drama while also seeking the charitable king’s financial support.