There are several factors to be considered when discussing the consolidation of the powers of the Capetian Kings. This essay seeks to outline and discuss three critical factors that made the Capetian dynasty so powerful. These include; marketing the image of kingship through anointing, agricultural development and the importance of succession. The first of the influential powers, which marked out kings, was their anointment. The Church consecrated the king; the ointment using holy oil, the kings where seen to act as a bridge between God and the people – a king would be the chosen one of God.
This einforced the religious image of the monarchy. The dukes of Francia were undeniably kings, along with all the prestige this brought. The Capetians above all other European monarchs integrated spirituality into their self-image – the kings were marked out to rule. Louis VI and Louis VII made themselves into ‘the most Christian kings’. French kings received noticeably better reviews than other monarchs of their time, adored by their people.
The capetians certainly used their ties to the Church to their advantage.
The kings claimed to possess powers of miracles; the water Robert the Pious (996-1031) had ashed his hands with cured a beggar of his blindness. These type of tales created hysteria, fascination and the kings where seen as cult figures. The kings where becoming more beloved by the common people. To them, the Kings were their only protectors. This religious image proved extremely beneficial. Developments such as these strengthened the position of the king’s.
The second main influence when considering the power of Capetian Kings and definitely a related development throughout this period is the great agricultural production.
The apetian initially controlled only the duchy of France (Paris and Orleans) but owing to a shrewd and persistent policy of annexation their jurisdiction progressively extended to other regions. This, for the first time now could convert the latent fertility of the soils of northern France, and especially in the Ile-de-France, into great wealth. The Ile-de-France was the centre of the kings’ domain, the land was relatively small but of significant importance, with an excellent location – surrounding cultural Paris- the capital of western
Europe- accessible transport links and the University- attracting many students. This gave the king the opportunity to tax this popular area, thus creating revenue. This localized area was the basis to rapid grow and future expansion of agricultural expansion and trade. This was seen to be an economic revolution with the expansion of lands, fairs and markets, tools and mills. With climatic changes and rapid advanced farming techniques saw the demand in economic developments. Its manifestations varied from region to region, and time scales ere widely different, but overall it is clear that by the time of Philip 1’s reign land clearance was increasing, villages and monastric communities expanding, long-distance trade growing as the demand for luxury goods gradually increased, local markets multiplying and coinage circulating widely in much of France’. The demand led to land clearing. ‘The pressure of an expanding population and the stimulus of better agricultural techniques now caused land to be cleared and reclaimed from the forests for farming.
The final factor but just as important as to the consolidation of powers of the Capetians as family and dynasty became so strong is due to succession – particularly fortunate as well as clever. The capetians had the infinite advantage of being a long-lived clan. Aside from Hugh Capet himself – the first of seven Capetian kings to all rule for over twenty- five years a piece- as well as Philip I reigning for almost half a century. This was the beginning of the succession from father to son; ‘the continuation of succession was vitally important which kept a certain loyalty within the family’.
The throne was unlikely to be challenged. They also had the good fortune and shrewd match-making-and-breaking to secure themselves and their male heirs. The royal policy of crowning the son in his Father’s lifetime was carried out extremely smoothly. One place the Capetians certainly did find difficulty in maintaining their position was in the indisputable fact that their house had usurped the throne from existing Carolingians. Without a break in the succession, however, it became increasingly difficult to foresee a return to the old bloodline, especially with some judicious marriages on the part of the capetians.
The old 4 History Of Medieval Europe p189. 5 France In Middle Ages regime confirmed a central fact about the way the capetians saw themselves, the capetians genuinely saw themselves to be legitimate successors to his title, especially as time went on. Survival, despite the precarious situation of the late tenth century, was something, which was becoming more and more certain as the dynasty progressed. The capetians as a family and as a dynasty became so strong due to many factors but land holdings, anointment and succession all demonstrate the crucial role in which they played n the development of their powers and of the dynasty.
All were well thought out and very clever. The increase of agricultural development converted into genuine wealth and prosperity. The shrewd thinking and aggressive tactics of succession securing themselves and their heirs to the throne and the importance of anointment and their connections to the Church had on developing their reputations and popularity. All three factors clearly demonstrate and provide support in the consolidation of the powers of the capetian kings.