Based upon a 'performative' interpretation of royal charters, The Politics of Memory and Identity offers a new and surprising narrative of West Frankish history from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the demise of the Carolingian dynasty in 987. The key is a carefully contextualised analysis of the circumstances in which kings issued charters and an alert examination of the charters' verbal and visual semiotics. For which monasteries and cathedrals did kings issue diplomas and under what conditions? Who were the patrons who interceded for the recipients of diplomas and what titles were they given? Which kings were named as predecessors and which were omitted? Such clues allow us to recover the meaning of events whose significance was concealed by chroniclers, and to find unsuspected continuities in 150 years of West Frankish politics. They allow us to see a ruthless exercise of power in the use of forgeries and a commitment to political reform in the reform of monasteries. They reveal the long shadow cast by the reign of Charles the Bald in West Frankish history and the importance of a handful of monasteries as 'sites of memory'. Above all, an intertextual reading of diplomas shows that political leaders in the kingdom made decisions based on policy, where the policy was articulated in terms of lessons drawn from their understanding of the past, and diplomas were the records that conveyed the lessons.