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Summary

The Voyages pittoresques et romantiques, published between 1820 and 1878, contain nearly 3,000 lithographic plates which present a variety of material relicts, mainly those of medieval art and architecture. Thus, they are a fundamental and exceptionally rich source for the history of both the visual representation and interpretation of the Middle Ages in Nineteenth-Century France. They allow exploring three central aspects of a genuine national historisation of the medieval patrimoine: The Voyages can exemplify how the archaic and medieval past has been deliberately revaluated as the origin of the modern nation in post-revolutionary France. They demonstrate the extent to which the material relicts of the past have been explored in the frame of a national historical narrative which itself was designed as a comprehensive histoire de la civilisation. Finally, and particularly, the Voyages provide us with an understanding of the media which served to perform and which at the same time represented this very conceptualisation of the historical material. Guided by important aesthetic principles of Romanticism like the Picturesque or the subjectivity of visual perception, images rose to the leading medium through which history was interpreted and imaginations of the Middle Ages were communicated.