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Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

The Parisian Summit, 1377-78

Emperor Charles IV and King Charles V of France

The Czech king and Roman Emperor Charles IV met with the French king Charles V in Paris in 1378. Reconstructing the journey to this meeting with deft narrative talent, František Šmahel traces the king’s progress from Prague to Paris, piecing together a modern chronicle from contemporary French scholarship and medieval literature. The result is an appealing account of medieval life, everyday intellectualism, grand European politics of the time, and even medieval cuisine.
Šmahel sets the stage by presenting details of the life of Charles IV, including his early days in Paris and the political and international goals of his father, John of Bohemia. The author then presents a transcription of richly illustrated French chronicles of the historic meeting and offers an analysis of the importance of the conclave of the two most powerful European rulers of the time. Finally, Šmahel considers, in individual studies, the practical organization of medieval festivities, including their logistics, transportation, culinary details, court manners, relationships, and symbols.
With techniques borrowed from the fields of archaeology and microhistory as well as cultural anthropology and iconography, The Parisian Summit, 1377–78 is a highly readable account of medieval lives and times that will appeal to historians as well as nonacademic audiences.

680 pages | 150 color plates | 9 x 11 | © 2014

History: European History


“In November 1377, Emperor Charles IV journeyed to France to visit his nephew, King Charles V. Ostensibly, the summit had three aims: to view holy relics, participate in a pilgrimage, and speak with the French monarch. In this magnificently illustrated and documented work, the meeting and its resultant declaration of imperial support for France against England are in some ways the least important topics covered. The prologue of the book covers almost 170 pages of text, providing details of the childhoods of both men, their first meeting in 1356, and the difficulties Charles V experienced in establishing his reign. An edition of the passage describing the summit from the Grandes Chroniques de France follows, to which Šmahel appends an analysis in a brief epilogue. The remainder of the work takes the form of ‘excursuses’ or short sections investigating the historiography of the Grandes Chroniques, their illustrations, and topics of social and cultural import such as court etiquette, processions, horses, clothing, palaces, meals, and gifts. . . . A work that will introduce many readers to the extensive research of Czech scholars. . . . Highly recommended.”

L. C. Attreed, College of the Holy Cross | Choice

“A masterpiece, filled with shrewd insight and the deft finesse of one of the most accomplished medievalists of recent times. This lavishly illustrated book proposes to follow the actors of the great 1378 summit. The journey itself, the summit at Paris, and the various events elsewhere in French territory are a rich examination of cultural history wherein little is omitted and the detail is often impressive. Drawing upon the disciplines of archaeology, microhistory, iconography, cultural anthropology, the history of mentalities, and material culture, Šmahel has succeeded on a grand scale in achieving a readable and authoritative picture of an event which must be numbered among the triumphs of the reign of Emperor Charles IV. The Parisian Summit is a vivid and compelling portrait of courtly life and affairs of both the French and Luxembourg Houses. The analysis penetrates the sometimes obfuscating portraits of the larger pictures of life in the Middle Ages. In so doing, the reader encounters a useful modern chronicle of an altogether amazing medieval journey which features the intricacies of French culture and politics. The book deserves to be widely read.”

Thomas A. Fudge, University of New England, Australia | Medieval Review

Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition
Prologue: The Luxemburgs and France 1322-1377
The Childhood Years of the Two Charleses
Metz 1356: The First Meeting of the Two Charleses
Dauphin Charles 1357-1354: Basking in Glory and Eclipsed
France during the Reign of Charles V the Wise
European Dimensions of Charles IV’s Reign
An Introductory Word to Readers
List of Abbreviations
Family Tree of the Valois Dynasty
Luxemburg Dynasty
Bibliography of sources and secondary literature
List of figures
List of miniatures

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