Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



This thesis provides a cultural and historical context for Simone Martini’s painting, St. Louis of Toulouse Crowning Robert of Naples, a landmark of Early Renaissance Sienese art. It offers a detailed analysis of the painting’s style, themes, and unusual iconography based on an examination of the political and religious climate of early fourteenth-century Angevin Naples. In particular, it investigates the motives of Robert of Naples, the probable patron, in commissioning the work. While ostensibly intended to commemorate his brother Louis of Toulouse on the occasion of his sanctification in 1317, the painting nevertheless served Robert’s own political agenda: the validation of his much disputed claim to the Neapolitan throne. This goal was accomplished through a complex iconological program which emphasized the King’s exalted lineage, in particular his dynastic connections to Hungarian and French royal saints. The painting exploited the belief in beata stirps, inherited sanctity, to imply that Robert was not only the legitimate ruler but that, having inherited his ancestors’ virtues, also an enlightened one. The thesis also analyzes the way in which Louis of Toulouse is represented, both in the main panel and in the five predella scenes. The altarpiece presents Louis primarily in his role as Bishop of Toulouse, diminishing the importance of his true Franciscan vocation. The insistence on Louis’ humility and obedience to papal authority, rather than his poverty, reflects the bitter debate raging between Spiritual and Conventual Franciscans at the time the painting was created. Cognizant of the necessity to preserve good relations with the Pope, a committed Conventual, Robert downplayed his brother’s Spiritual sympathies. Thus, the painting is more a portrait, both literally and figuratively, of Robert of Naples than of Louis of Toulouse. Robert has cleverly “adjusted” his brother’s image in accordance with his own political exigencies. The painting therefore becomes both a monument to Angevin power and prestige, and an affirmation of his right to rule.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Zucker, Mark J.