Power, piety and legacy : the patronage of bishop Louis d'Amboise in fifteenth-century Languedoc
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Louis d'Amboise was bishop of Albi, in south-west France, from 1474 until his death in Lyon in 1503. During his episcopacy he commissioned a significant number of works for his cathedral and associated buildings, several of which survive. Existing scholarship on the subject of the bishop's patronage has thus far focused on the iconography of the programmes he commissioned, interpreting it uncritically as proof of the prelate's piety. Furthermore, French scholars have sought to establish the chronology of the individual works and programmes, and to identify the painters, architects and sculptors responsible for creating them. None has interrogated in depth the role of the patron, his motivations, or how this busy bishop, frequently absent from his diocese, would manage such extensive projects. Those scholars who have examined the bishop's art patronage have regarded him as the primary agent, a restrictive view that I challenge. The main works Louis d'Amboise commissioned for Albi cathedral startle the modern viewer with their scale, grandeur and magnificence. Modern scholars have, however, paid little or no attention to a seemingly unmissable feature of these programmes - the explosion of heraldic imagery, dominated by the d'Amboise coat of arms applied to every conceivable surface and in a variety of media. I looked at these devices on their various supports and in different locations holistically in order to ascertain patterns and global meanings, and to place them within a wider context. This thesis re-examines the monuments and programmes Louis d'Amboise commissioned through the theoretical lens of social hierarchies, drawing upon the methodologies of social historians and theorists Sherry Lindquist and Jacqueline Jung. I argue that the bishop's membership of an illustrious noble family shaped the patronage attributed to him, and I examine how his personal network of fixers and influencers contributed to the creation of these works. Through examination and analysis of the monuments and surviving documentary evidence, my research revealed a far more intricate picture of episcopal patronage than the academy had hitherto supplied.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2026-11-24
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 24th November 2026
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