Abbot Suger (c.1081-1151) was a pivotal figure in the France of his day. Active in both religious and political affairs, he has numerous claims, in a variety of fields, on the modern reader. He was abbot (from 1122) of one of Europe's most important monasteries, at a time when Gregorian reform and the new monasticism were having an immense impact on the medieval church.
He was also a politician and diplomat of international importance, in the service of both Louis VI and his son Louis VII, for whom he acted as Regent during the king's absence on the Second Crusade. Lindy Grant's comprehensive study of this multifaceted figure is a major event. Derived from a fresh reading of the primary sources, it is the first full biography of Suger in English. It provides a much-needed corrective to many of the current ideas about him. Based on the fragmented modern literature (itself usually written from an art-historical angle), these have tended to set Suger in artificial isolation, and as a result to exaggerate both his role as a doer and his originality as a thinker. While saluting his energy in all these many fields, Lindy Grant - by seeing him whole, and setting him firmly in the full historical context of the twelfth century - shows how far he was in fact a man of his times rather than a man ahead of them. In doing so, she presents a uniquely vivid picture of the interaction of church and state in Capetian France.