Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Enthronement of Jeanne de Bourbon and Charles V of France
  • Creator:
  • Description:

    This illustration depicts a scene in the coronation of the French queen Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of King Charles V and mother to Charles VI. She sits upon a cathedra as members of the laity, on her left, and church leaders, including the bishop of Beauvais, on her right support the crown. While the laity in Charles V’s coronation scenes are largely unidentified, Queen Jeanne’s illustrations highlight an older noblewoman dressed as a widow, identified by scholars as the Countess of Artois, a peeress of the realm. Queen Jeanne holds a verge or rod and a scepter. The scepter is decorated with a human figure riding a bird which in turn is perched on a hand; this motif is identified with the scepter of Dagobert. The verge represents virtue and justice in the accompanying liturgical text known as an ordo. Jeanne wears a red coat, although the bright red color may be a creative addition to the manuscript to liven up the scene. In the illustration and its companion, Charles V and Jeanne are seated in the same positions with a similar draping surrounding the cathedra.

    This illustration from the coronation series appears in a manuscript of the Grandes Chroniques de France. Charles V commissioned this version of the chronicles which copied the images of the king’s and queen’s enthronements from the Coronation Book of Charles V (1365). This original text was innovative because it matched the illustrations of the king and queen’s ordines, displaying them in equivalent sizes and horizontally aligned on the page. While the text of the king’s ordo follows the illustrations, those in the queen’s portions depict more than the text describes. Carra Ferguson O’Meara suggests that the illustrations may in fact more accurately represent the queen’s ordo, and that the text is not a direct source for the ceremony; rather, the text is a conglomeration of previous queens’ ordines pieced together by scribes. Furthermore, O’Meara proposes that the illustrations depict innovations in the queen’s ordo which mirror that of the king’s. It has also been noted that Jeanne’s ordo was considerably longer than previous ones, including fertility prayers and supplications in support of the queen’s ministry. The ordo describes her as a figure of virtue. The text may not follow the illustrations but more is known about Queen Jeanne’s ordo through those of subsequent queens which incorporated the elements depicted in the illustrations including the robing and anointing. The different emphases in text and illustration introduce a wider consideration of the powers of queenship.

    Jeanne de Bourbon’s queenly role to a large degree is reflected in the dynamics of her representation, elevating her while limiting her power. The Grandes Chroniques manuscript was created after Charles V had implemented legislation, later known as the Salic laws, which defined royal succession as male and the queen regent’s role as the guardian of her children. (Jeanne was as yet childless, but she would give birth to 9 children, dying as the result of the ninth pregnancy.) While the illustrations certainly elevate the image of the queen including her anointment in a religious ceremony, they also clearly define the limits of the queen’s position with regard to the king. The Celestial Balm was a fairly recent addition to the king’s ordo. Anointing the queen with a different oil, an oil blessed by the archbishop, served to religiously and ceremonially subordinate the queen. Claire Richter Sherman notes that the Salic laws were a post facto implementation of a practice that had started before Charles V’s reign. Strong ruling queen regents, like Jeanne de Bourgogne (d. 1348), were viewed by contemporaries as diminishing the power of the king. Charles V, the third king in the Valois succession to the throne, sought to strengthen his position and that of his heir by elevating his anointing and prohibiting women from assuming rulership. The laws and illustrations of the manuscript both convey these ideas along with the queen’s public duties and sacred ministry. Recent scholarship has drawn attention to queenship’s significance in the definition of royal power.

  • Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Rights: Public domain
  • Subject (See Also): Coronations Jeanne de Bourbon, Queen-Consort of Charles V, King of France Politics Queens Queenship
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 14
  • Date: 1375- 1380
  • Related Work: See the digitized manuscript of the Grandes chroniques de France: http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84472995.r=grandes+chroniques+de+france+.langEN.
    See the digitized manuscript of the Coronation Book of Charles V: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Cotton_MS_tiberius_b_viii.
  • Current Location: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS fr. 2813, fol. 439v.
  • Original Location: Paris
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital Images; Manuscript Illuminations
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Vellum (parchment); Paint
  • Donor: Layman; Charles V, King of France
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): 33/22 (size of page)/
  • Inscription: "Comment Charles, ainsné filz du roy Jehan qui trespassa en Angleterre, fu sacré et enoint a roy de France en l’eglise de Reims, et aussi la royne, sa femme." (Translation: How Charles, eldest son of King John who died in England, was consecrated and anointed king of France in the church at Rheims, and also the queen, his wife.) This introductory text appears in red above the illuminations of Charles V and Jeanne de Bourbon.
  • Related Resources: Hedeman, Anne D. "Five Copies in Context: The Coronation of Charles V in His Grandes Chroniques de France." Coronations: Medieval and Early Modern Monarchic Ritual. Edited by János M. Bak. University of California Press, 1990. Pages 72-84;
    Jackson, Richard A., ed. Ordines Coronationis Franciae: Texts and Ordines for the Coronation of Frankish and French Kings and Queens in the Middle Ages. Volume II. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000;
    O’Meara, Carra Ferguson. Monarchy and Consent: The Coronation Book of Charles V of France: British Library MS Cotton Tiberius B. VIII. Harvey Miller Publishers, 2001. Pages 153-179;
    Quentel-Touche, C. “Charles V's Visual Definition of the Queen's Virtues.” Virtue Ethics for Women 1250-1500. Springer, 2011. Pages 53-80;
    Sherman, Claire Richter. Imaging Aristotle: Verbal and Visual Representation in Fourteenth-Century France. University of California Press, 1995. Pages 99-101;
    Sherman, C. R., “The Queen in Charles V’s ‘Coronation Book’: Jeanne de Bourbon and the ‘Ordo ad reginam benedicendam”’, Viator 8 (1977): 255–98.