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By Anne Walters Robertson. Pp. xix + 565. 20 plates + 20 musical examples. (Oxford Monographs on Music.) Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. ISBN 0 19 8315254 1. 65[pounds sterling].
The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis, situated, some might say symbolically, just to the north of Paris, lies at the very heart of the French nation. Its long and eventful history has been shaped over the centuries by its association with royalty. Queens were crowned here, monarchs made it their final resting-place. Its origins go back to the building by St Genevieve, in c.475, of a basilica over the tomb of the Roman missionary Dionysius, first Bishop of Paris, beheaded in c. 250 together with two of his companions, the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius--a St Denis not to be equated with Denis the Areopagite, as was attempted by Abbot Hilduin in the ninth century, and by others after him, in their desire to add lustre to their Abbey's history.
The first clergy to serve the basilica were not monks, but members of the secular clergy. Two centuries were to pass before the domus basilicae was transformed into a monasterium. This was achieved by St Bathildis, the wife of Clovis II …