Death and the crown

Ritual and politics in France before the Revolution

By Anne Byrne

Death and the crown


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6076-8
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: January 2022
  • BIC Category: History, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Europe / France, French Revolution, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Humanities / European history, Modern History
  • Series: Studies in Modern French and Francophone History


Looking at royal ritual in pre-revolutionary France, Death and the crown examines the deathbed and funeral of Louis XV in 1774, the lit de justice of November 1774 and the coronation of Louis XVI, including the ceremony of the royal healing touch for scrofula. It reviews the state of the field in ritual studies and appraises the situation of the monarchy in the 1770s, including the recall of the parlements and the many ways people engaged with royal ritual. It answers questions such as whether Louis XV died in fear of damnation, why Marie Antoinette was not crowned in 1775 and why Louis XVI's coronation was not held in Paris. This lively, accessible text is a useful tool for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching which will also be of interest to specialists on this under-researched period.


'This is one of the most important books to be published on the twilight of the ancien régime in several decades. In this meticulously researched and splendidly written study Anne Byrne presents us with the most scholarly account to date of the turbulent accession to the throne of Louis XVI in 1774. It will be invaluable and essential reading for scholars and students of eighteenth-century France alike.'
Ambrogio Caiani, Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, University of Kent


Introduction: ceremony in history
1 The deathbed ceremonies of Louis XV, May 1774
2 The funeral of Louis XV, July 1774
3 The lit de justice of November 1774
4 'Le roi se fait sacré': preparing the coronation, 1774-75
5 'Vive le roi!': the coronation of Louis XVI, 11 June 1775
6 'Le roi te touche': the coronation and the king's healing touch


Anne Byrne is a former British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, now Honorary Research Fellow, at Birkbeck, University of London

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