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Abbot Suger

Suger (c. 1081 - January 31, 1151), French ecclesiastic, statesman and historian, was born of poor parents either in Flanders, at St Denis near Paris or at Toury in Beauce[?].

About 1091 he entered the abbey of St Denis. Until about 1104 he was educated at the priory of St Denis de l'Estrée, and there first met his pupil King Louis VI. From 1104 to 1106 Suger attended another school, perhaps that attached to the abbey of St Benoît-sur-Loire. In 1106 he became secretary to the abbot of St Denis. In the following year he was made provost of Berneval in Normandy, and in 1109 of Toury. In 1118 he was sent by Louis VI to the court of Pope Gelasius II at Maguelonne[?], and lived from 1121 to 1122 at the court of his successor, Calixtus II.

On his return from Italy Suger was appointed abbot of St Denis. Until 1127 he occupied himself at court mainly with the temporal affairs of the kingdom, while during the following decade he devoted himself to the reorganization. and reform of St Denis. In 1137 he accompanied the future king, Louis VII, into Aquitaine on the occasion of that prince's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, and during the second crusade was one of the regents of the kingdom (1147-1149). He was bitterly opposed to the king's divorce, having himself advised the marriage. Although he disapproved of the second crusade, he himself, at the time of his death, was preaching a new crusade.

Suger was the friend and counsellor both of Louis VI and Louis VII. He urged the king to destroy the feudal bandits, was responsible for the royal tactics in dealing with the communal movements, and endeavoured to regularize the administration of justice. He left his abbey, which possessed considerable property, enriched and embellished by the construction of a new church built in the nascent Gothic style.

Suger was the foremost historian of his time. He was the author of a panegyric on Louis VI (Vita Ludovici regis), and part-author of the perhaps more impartial history of Louis VII (Historia gloriosi regis Ludovici). In his Liber de rebus in administratione sua gestis, and its supplement Libellus de consecratione ecclesiae S. Dionysii, he treats of the improvements he had made to St Denis, describes the treasure of the church, and gives an account of the rebuilding. Suger's works served to imbue the monks of St Denis with a taste for history, and called forth a long series of quasi-official chronicles.

See O Cartellieri, Abt Suger von Saint-Denis (Berlin, 1898); A Luchaire, Louis le Gros (Paris, 1890); FA Gereaise, Histoire de Suger (Paris, 1721).



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