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Des Vertus et du roi : relectures d'une iconographie du gouvernement : France-Italie, XIIIe-XVIIe siècles

Abstract : My doctoral work in the history of medieval art unfolds from a multistep process. Based on the initial finding pertaining to the pervasive use of an iconography of Virtues in the Middle Ages, something specific emerged: its presence in sites of government, as well as its common association with the powerful, be it in the civic or religious spheres. The powerful encompasses here individuals representing various types of government existing during the medieval era in the western world. These are kings, princes, members of royal families, religious and lay dignitaries, as well as tyrants and, on the other end of the spectrum, representatives of local governments. All these characters are surrounded by imagery, including of Virtues. Virtues are painted on the walls of the physical sites of governance, they are on the pages of manuscripts written for (future) governors, they are incarnated by young girls during large public demonstrations honoring the king.Virtues are also chosen as decoration for the tombs of the kings of France and the princes of the Church, in order to illustrate the Good government held by the deceased. More than ninety such royal and princely tombs showcasing Virtues – mostly cardinals, but not exclusively – are still standing. Many narratives attest to the existence of many more, now destroyed, during the period starting at the end of the 13th century, until the 17th, mostly in France and Italy. As such, over a period of four centuries, an excess of one hundred lay and religious governing individuals were buried in a similar iconographic ensemble, in which Virtues constitute a dominant aspect – as a reminder, the adjective “cardinal” stems from the Latin cardo, the hinge – in the visual vocabulary.Accordingly, this dissertation seeks to demonstrate that the use of Virtues serves the political goal of visual communication set by the sponsor of the art, himself usually in a governing position. I examine the occurrence of Virtues in the specific framework of power, and I demonstrate how Virtues are an integral part of the “vocabulary” of visual discourses of legitimation, self-justification, self-glorification, with the goal of illustrating the reigning Good government. An analysis focused on governing sites allows to establish that the iconographic vocabulary of those in power is shared throughout various European courts, as well as varied types of government, and this, during four centuries.
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Elise-Annunziata Neuilly. Des Vertus et du roi : relectures d'une iconographie du gouvernement : France-Italie, XIIIe-XVIIe siècles. Histoire. Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019UBFCH041⟩. ⟨tel-02888641v2⟩

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