Images of Medieval Art and Architecture
The Treasure of Saint Denis
Cross of Philippe-Auguste

Adapted from Félebien, Plate 1 Item A

Click here for a screen sized version of this object.



Gold cross entirely covered with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, paved with many oriental pearls. in which is encased a piece of the True Cross about the length of a foot. This precious relic was given to the Abbey of Saint-Denis by Philippe-Auguste, who had received it as a present from Baudouin, the emperor of Constantinople .It was estimated as costing (over?) four hundred pounds that was a great sum at that time.

Félebien, page 536, Translated by Jane Vadnal.

History of its Donation

During his lifetime, he [King Philippe-Auguste] always had a particular devotion to St. Denis and much affection for that Abbey [Saint-Denis]. Similarly, he wished that it would maintain the signs of this after his demise. In his will, dated the September of 1222, he left to the Abbey of Saint-Denis all of his jewels and his gold crosses to be sold and the proceeds to be used to maintain the earthly needs of twenty religious [monks] which he wanted to add to the community. Louis VIII, the son and successor of Philippe, repurchased all the jewels,. And Guillaume of Nangis reported that the price amounted to twelve thousand pound. Including a gold cross that was retained by the Abbey and which was estimated to be worth four hundred pounds. Undoubtedly, this present was so considerable that it places Philippe-Auguste among the principal benefactors of the Abbey of Saint-Denis, where, every year, a service is celebrated with the same formality , as the one for Charles the Bald, who is regarded as the principal benefactor of the monastery after King.

Félebien, pages 222-3. Translated by Jane Vadnal.
History after French Revolution



Return to






Created by J Vadnal, July, 1998