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Title: The King Cannot Be Everywhere: Royal Governance and Local Society in the Reign of Louis IX
Authors: Collings, Andrew Jeffrey
Advisors: Jordan, William C
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Administration
Louis IX
Subjects: Medieval history
European history
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This project examines royal governance under the “redemptive regime” of King Louis IX of France (r. 1226-1270). In the wake of his failed crusade to Egypt, the penitent king returned to France in 1254 and enacted a broad program of reform intended to attain his own salvation and establish a truly Christian kingdom. In terms of their implications for French history, the most significant of these initiatives were those directed at reforming royal government itself. Legislation and normative decrees articulated principles of governance and justice, while diverse strategies and accountability procedures were employed to ensure that those standards were upheld and enforced by royal officers. By exploring the implementation and ramifications of these policies at the regional and local level, this dissertation seeks to reconstruct the exercise and experience of redemptive governance through the eyes of those most affected by it, while also engaging in broader conversations about medieval state formation, law and justice, and practices of corruption and anticorruption. The focus of the study is the northeastern administrative district (bailliage) of the Vermandois and its governor (bailli) from 1256 to 1260, Mathieu de Beaune. 247 surviving testimonies from a 1261 investigation of Mathieu’s conduct, alongside a host of other archival materials, provide a unique snapshot of royal reform measures on the ground, permitting a close analysis of how Louis’ government actually operated and how it was perceived by contemporaries beyond royal court circles. I explore the complex relationships between central authorities, officers, and local residents: the precarious balance navigated by royal agents as both enforcers and subjects of Louis’ “moral tyranny;” the tensions between traditional practices of patronage and new regulations defining them as corrupt; and the tentacle-like controls Louis had over his government. Given the inherent limitations of medieval supervisory capabilities, Louis’ reforms were surprisingly successful, exerting considerable influence over the behavior and decision-making of royal officers, while limiting the efficacy of developing “gray markets” of corruption. Nevertheless, the anticorruption project had hidden costs, as the practices and ethos of reform could exacerbate administrative stresses and inefficiencies, which hindered the effective functioning of regional government.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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