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House of Lilies: The Dynasty That Made Medieval France (Hardcover)

House of Lilies: The Dynasty That Made Medieval France By Justine Firnhaber-Baker Cover Image
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“A joy to read…one of the most entertaining popular history books published in recent years” (Dan Jones, Sunday Times), this is the definitive history of the Capetians, the crusading dynasty that made the French crown the wealthiest and most powerful in medieval Europe and forged France as we know it today 
In House of Lilies, historian Justine Firnhaber-Baker tells the epic story of the Capetian dynasty of medieval France, showing how their ideas about power, religion, and identity continue to shape European society and politics today.

Reigning from 987 to 1328, the Capetians became the most powerful monarchy of the Middle Ages. Consolidating a fragmented realm that eventually stretched from the Rhône to the Pyrenees, they were the first royal house to adopt the fleur-de-lys, displaying this lily emblem to signify their divine favor and legitimate their rule. The Capetians were at the center of some of the most dramatic and far-reaching episodes in European history, including the Crusades, bloody waves of religious persecution, and a series of wars with England. The Capetian age saw the emergence of Gothic architecture, the romantic ideals of chivalry and courtly love, and the Church’s role at the center of daily life.

Evocatively interweaving these pivotal developments with the human stories of the men and women who drove them, House of Lilies is the definitive history of the dynasty that forged France—and Europe—as we know it.

About the Author

Justine Firnhaber-Baker is professor of history at the University of St. Andrews. A former fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a graduate of Harvard University, she is the author of two previous books on the history of medieval France. She lives in Scotland.

Praise For…

“A joy to read from start to finish. This is not only the best history of the Capetian dynasty now available in English, it is also one of the most entertaining popular history books published in recent years.”—Dan Jones, Sunday Times

“A splendid, enthralling book…[Firnhaber-Baker] has a deep understanding of the Middle Ages, an often perplexing era, and thus helps us grasp the wider world of the kingships she so vividly describes.”—Wall Street Journal

House of Lilies is a delight in every way. Justine Firnhaber-Baker demonstrates her complete mastery of the lives of the Capetians, while also telling a story that pulls you along from beginning to end. The book manages to convey how history ebbs, flows, and thunders, but even more importantly allows the reader to almost feel how events moved across four centuries of medieval Europe.”—Matthew Gabriele, coauthor of The Bright Ages

“Crisp, entertaining and direct…a mighty, panoramic history…a dexterous and engrossing account, a treasury for anyone with an interest in the royal, political and religious worlds of the high medieval period.”—Daily Telegraph (five stars)

“Superb… [a] sparkling account.”—BBC History

“The short review is: I would encourage anyone with an interest in the later Middle Ages to pick up a copy of this book. It’s a bright, brilliantly readable narrative with a tight scholarly thesis at its core and more weird and wonderful anecdotes than you can shake a baguette at.”—Dan Jones, History, Etc.

“There is no better guide in English to the politics of royal government.” —Times Literary Supplement

“Engagingly written, very carefully researched, filled with fascinating stories, and populated with deeply odd personalities, this is a persuasive and illuminating study.”—Engelsberg Ideas

“With verve and dexterity, Firnhaber-Baker weaves the story of a family who, from their small power base surrounding Paris, created the most powerful kingdom in medieval Europe: a personal tale of power encompassing royal women as well as men, featuring philandering rulers, flights of crusading fancy, the forging of chivalry, the paranoid persecution of minorities, and the systemic exploitation of peasantry. Her narrative is accessible, fast-moving, and ambitious, covering the transformative half-millennium from the age of Charlemagne to the brink of the Hundred Years War.”—Simon R. Doubleday, author of The Wise King

“Rigorous history and brilliant storytelling. Firnhaber-Baker brings the kings and queens of Capetian France to life with rare verve and intimacy. A dazzling cast of characters finally has the biography it deserves.”—Jay Rubenstein, author of Armies of Heaven

“With consummate erudition and narrative artistry, Firnhaber-Baker brings to life the human drama of an extraordinary dynasty. This rich and engaging history recounts the stories of men and women made great by birth, and sometimes by deeds, who created Capetian kingship. House of Lilies recounts the marvelous and the terrible origin story of the French nation, not to be missed for lovers of the medieval, the royal, or the French.”—Sara McDougall, City University of New York

“More than the history of a dynasty, House of Lilies is the engrossing story of the building of France, the greatest political and cultural power of the Middle Ages. The book’s protagonists are not only violent, saintly, and hapless kings, but also a series of fascinating, clever, and often indestructible queens and consorts.”—Paul Freedman, Yale University

“Wonderful.” —Quillette

Product Details
ISBN: 9781541604759
ISBN-10: 154160475X
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 448
Language: English