Although scholars have explored the colonialist nature of archaeology and the importance of antiquity in the legitimation of modern empires, accounts of French-occupied North Africa have largely overlooked the place of medievalism in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century French colonial project. Illustrating the strategic importance of references to the crusader-king Louis IX, whose short stay in Tunisia culminated in his death in 1270, this article explores a dynamic ensemble of commemorative structures and spaces built by France and the Catholic Church on the Byrsa Hill, Carthage’s ancient acropolis. It considers a Gothic Revival chapel (1841), a scholasticate and antiquities museum (1879), an eclectic cathedral (1894), and an archaeological garden (1950–56) before concluding with a brief account of the site’s postcolonial development and current state. The conversion of the Byrsa by Catholic officials demonstrates the multifaceted nature of colonial mythologizing and architecture, where both antiquity and medievalism played critical sociopolitical roles.

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