A Tale of Two Monasteries: Westminster and Saint-Denis in the Thirteenth Century

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9780691139012: A Tale of Two Monasteries: Westminster and Saint-Denis in the Thirteenth Century
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A Tale of Two Monasteries takes an unprecedented look at one of the great rivalries of the Middle Ages and offers it as a revealing lens through which to view the intertwined histories of medieval England and France. This is the first book to systematically compare Westminster Abbey and the abbey of Saint-Denis--two of the most important ecclesiastical institutions of the thirteenth century--and to do so through the lives and competing careers of the two men who ruled them, Richard de Ware of Westminster and Mathieu de Vendôme of Saint-Denis.


Esteemed historian William Jordan weaves a breathtaking narrative of the social, cultural, and political history of the period. It was an age of rebellion and crusades, of artistic and architectural innovation, of unprecedented political reform, and of frustrating international diplomacy--and Richard and Mathieu, in one way or another, played important roles in all these developments. Jordan traces their rise from obscure backgrounds to the highest ranks of political authority, Abbot Richard becoming royal treasurer of England, and Abbot Mathieu twice serving as a regent of France during the crusades. By enabling us to understand the complex relationships the abbots and their rival institutions shared with each other and with the kings and social networks that supported and exploited them, A Tale of Two Monasteries paints a vivid portrait of medieval society and politics, and of the ambitious men who influenced them so profoundly.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Historians talk about comparative history. Professor Jordan has done it: two monasteries, two abbots, two kings, two kingdoms, and the turmoil of the mid-thirteenth century. This is a boundary-crossing study of men, policy, ambition, competition, and their efforts to leave a legacy. Another Jordan triumph."--Joel T. Rosenthal, distinguished professor emeritus, Stony Brook University, State University of New York

"Another classic Jordan book: wholly original in conception, thoroughly grounded in the primary sources, and written in a vigorous, inimitable style. With a keen eye for detail, Jordan has strewn his chapters with perceptive observations about the principal players and their complex relationships. This is a thought-provoking and thoroughly absorbing book. Readers will find a vivid window into the thirteenth century."--Theodore Evergates, author of The Aristocracy in the County of Champagne, 1100-1300

"This is an original and striking book by a leading American medievalist. It will be essential reading for all scholars in the field. Written in a clear and accessible prose, it will also reach a wider public."--David Carpenter, author of The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284

About the Author:

William Chester Jordan is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University. His books include Unceasing Strife, Unending Fear: Jacques de Thérines and the Freedom of the Church in the Age of the Last Capetians (Princeton) and Europe in the High Middle Ages.

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9780691150062: A Tale of Two Monasteries: Westminster and Saint-Denis in the Thirteenth Century

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ISBN 10:  0691150060 ISBN 13:  9780691150062
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2011
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