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  • Cited by 6
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2020
Print publication year:
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Book description

Based on narrative, iconographical, and liturgical sources, this is the first systematic study to trace the story of the ritual of royal self-coronations from Ancient Persia to the present. Exposing as myth the idea that Napoleon's act of self-coronation in 1804 was the first extraordinary event to break the secular tradition of kings being crowned by bishops, Jaume Aurell vividly demonstrates that self-coronations were not as transgressive or unconventional as has been imagined. Drawing on numerous examples of royal self-coronations, with a particular focus on European Kings of the Middle Ages, including Frederic II of Germany (1229), Alphonse XI of Castile (1328), Peter IV of Aragon (1332) and Charles III of Navarra (1390), Aurell draws on history, anthropology, ritual studies, liturgy and art history to explore royal self-coronations as privileged sites at which the frontiers and limits between the temporal and spiritual, politics and religion, tradition and innovation are encountered.


‘A deeply researched and penetrating scholarly work addressing an important aspect of medieval political ritual: the array of coronation rites that marked a ruler's ascension to the throne throughout the medieval West, with a particular focus on self-crowning. Broad in its range and conclusions, the manuscript engages the reader with its lively narrative, arguments, and conclusions.'

Gabrielle M. Spiegel - Johns Hopkins University

‘A magisterial book drawing on an impressive array of written sources and material artefacts. It offers an innovative and finely tuned analysis of a curious phenomenon - the self-coronation of kings, raising important questions about the relationship between religion and politics that has defined European history well into the twentieth century.'

Björn Weiler - Aberystwyth University

‘Thoroughly researched and engaging, this erudite book is a major contribution to our knowledge. Addressing a specific aspect of medieval political rituals - the act of self-coronation (not as uncommon as some historians have thought) and coronation rites - Aurell offers an original and much need analysis of these ceremonies over la longue durée. An important book to be read with care and pleasure.'

Teofilo F. Ruiz - UCLA

‘Overall, this wide-ranging, well-founded, and highly readable study by Jaume Aurell … offers a very valuable contribution to medieval ritual studies and rulership research in a comparative perspective.’

Tanja Skambraks Source: Historische Zeitschrift

‘Medieval Self-Coronations is an ambitious project due to the vastness of its geographic-temporal coordinates and its interdisciplinary nature, since it handles anthropological, historical,ritual and liturgical resources, as well as those coming from the history of art … undoubtedly a new key study for international medieval historiography.’

Marta Serrano Coll Source: RESEÑAS

'Aurell offers us a deeply researched, comparative, and chronological survey of the ideas, rituals, imageries, and ideologies around the practices of royal accession through late antiquity and the long Middle Ages. … One of this book’s great strengths is its mastery and synthesis of an extraordinarily large and complex scholarly literature of several centuries.'

M. Cecilia Gaposchkin Source: Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

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