By Robert Michulec

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In France, Louis XIV had just embarked upon the long years of his personal reign following the death of Cardinal Mazarin. In England, the printed pamphlet appeared in London just months after the king, Charles I, fled his unruly capital and raised the royal standard in Nottingham. The fact that the myths of France and England’s divine origins reappeared at two crucial moments of the mid-seventeenth century demands careful consideration. 50 Orest Ranum, for example, explains: [Medieval] monks provided the ceremonials of political cultures as well as the sense of the past which lay at their heart, no matter how slight or how powerful the secular authority.

27 Thus, the same apostles could represent the founders of unbroken ecclesiastical traditions for érudits on both sides of the confessional divide. 28 A similar bipartite thesis later emerged in John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments (1559, 1563, 1570 and 1583), which I will return to later. In the case of Catholic France, Gallican historians often veered into the traditionally defined area of Protestant negativist historiography. These historians, particularly those with parlementaire inclinations, emphasized the pristine original condition of things and viewed change as a process of corruption: Gallicanism viewed the conversion of Constantine and the summoning of the first ecumenical councils by him and his successors as the embodiment of the proper relationship between Church and State outlined in the New Testament.

82 Thus, the conciliar movement demonstrates how easily legends that originated in monastic contexts could be applied to issues of wider national significance. 83 3. Apostolic Origins Thus far, I have neglected perhaps the most important elements of these legends – kings Arthur and Dagobert. Their role in medieval apostolic historiography, and their subsequent replacement by kings Lucius and Clovis during the sixteenth century, perfectly illustrates the changing perceptions of the apostolic past during the early modern period.

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