Early 12th-century France was a violent and militaristic society dominated by the values of an aggressive class of warriors - a culture divided into those who worked, those who prayed, and those who bore arms. A civilization of extraordinary richness and sophistication emerged, and perhaps no contemporary account describes this development more vividly than Abbot Suger's "The Deeds of Louis the Fat". A text frequently cited in textbooks and monographs, this book presents the first English translation of the deeds of a major figure in French history, King Louis the Fat (1108-1137). Perhaps one of the most important narratives written in the 12th century, this document describes the almost gargantuan task Louis VI faced in bringing order and justice to his principality and kingdom. In some respects, Louis's life was one of fierce action, sustained by the primitive, larger-than-life values of the heroes of "The Song of Roland". Yet the career of Louis, as Suger describes it, also reveals successful attempts by the King to regain for the monarchy authority that had been diminished in previous generations.
Suger's account also demonstrates the progress Louis made in guiding France towards the dominant role it ultimately played in western European affairs by the end of the 12th century. The translators present an accurate rendition of the "Deeds" in contemporary English, accompanied by an introduction that describes the major points in the life of Suger and discusses this work in the context of 11th- and 12th-century historiography. This volume, then, is a key text in European history, and the commentary that accompanies the translation should make its contents more accessible to students or any reader interested in the Middle Ages.