Ancient history

The man

(Poissy, 1214 - Tunis, 1270.) King of France ( 1226-1270). Son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile. His reign was one of the most prestigious in our history, to the point that the 13th century was called the "century of Saint Louis".
King at the age of twelve, after the sudden death of Louis VIII, he strongly under the influence of her mother who exercised the regency during her minority until 1235. Energetic and authoritarian, Blanche de Castille was immediately put to the test by a series of aristocratic revolts inspired essentially by Pierre* Mauclerc, with the support of King Henry III of England. But she overcomes it. After having been forced to sign a first truce in 1231, Mauclerc had to submit in 1235 and, the same year, Henri III also accepted a new suspension of arms valid for five years. For his part, Count Raymond VII* of Toulouse, champion of Languedoc independence, had to sign in April 1229 the Treaty of Paris which ensured the extermination of the Albigensian heresy in Languedoc, provided for the marriage of his only daughter Jeanne with Alphonse de Poitiers, brother of the king, and confirms the annexation to the royal domain of the seneschalses of Nîmes-Beaucaire and Béziers-Carcassonne.
Thus, when the "lease" of Blanche of Castile ends in right, she leaves to her son a pacified kingdom. The great vassals, so threatening eight years ago, are reduced to obedience.

In addition to the seneschalses of Beaucaire and Carcassonne, the royal domain was increased by four fiefs, purchased from the Count of Champagne. The King of England is struggling to recover from two unfortunate campaigns. Finally, the marriage, in 1234, of the young king with Marguerite, daughter of the count of Provence Raymond Bérenger IV, vassal of the empire, extended the influence of the dynasty in the Rhone valley. Although her regency officially ended in 1235, Blanche de Castille, a somewhat abusive mother, nevertheless remained all-powerful at Court until her death. Out of filial pity, Louis IX will remain in a state of perpetual minority.

Literature, sculpture and miniature left portraits of Saint Louis halfway between traditional idealization and nascent realism. Two of these documents are particularly instructive:the History of Saint Louis de Joinville, written for the purpose of edification for his successors, but which has left us a human and living portrait of the sovereign, and the testimonies collected in view of his canonization by Guillaume de Saint-Pathus, confessor of Queen Marguerite.

Through these testimonies, the personality of Saint Louis appears full of contrasts. He is a king-knight, tall, thin, blond, to whom his grandmother Isabelle transmitted the renowned beauty of the princes of the house of Hainaut. But he is in failing health, further aggravated by ascetic practices. Not only does he lead a very frugal life, but he daily imposes the most austere abstinence and mortifications on himself (he wears a hair shirt).
His extreme piety, which is above all the desire to conform his actions to the teachings of God, religion and the Church, goes far beyond simple religious practices. His moral and religious concerns are intense. He meditates frequently on Christian doctrine and finds in the Dominicans and Franciscans directors of conscience attuned to his religious sensibility.

Thirsting for charity, he attached great importance to works of mercy, having food distributed to the sick, beggars, lepers, multiplying the hospital foundations in Paris and the surrounding area (Filles-Dieu for prostitutes, Quinze-Vingts for the blind, the hospitals of Pontoise, Vernon, Compiègne for the sick).
But he is not content to do good.
In an ascetic spirit of 'humility, he prefers, among the good works, the most repugnant, and obliges himself to wash and kiss the "gritty and horrible" feet of the dirtiest beggars whom he invites daily to his table.
These practices are not always understood by his subjects. Many will criticize him for being "the king of the monks and even a plaything in their hands.
In fact, his natural goodness, which contrasts with the indifference he shows towards his children and wife, past the first years of their marriage, is not accompanied by weakness.
his mother, his father and his grandfather Philippe Auguste. Likewise, if he is peace-loving, he is determined to “stab the sword in the belly” of the die-hard enemies of religion:infidels and Jews. Finally, if he shows himself to be the loving son of the Holy Church, he is no less very concerned about the royal prerogative in the face of the clergy and the papacy. (But he never wrote the so-called Pragmatic Sanction of 1269, fabricated from scratch in the fifteenth century with a view to giving that of Charles VII a venerable precedent.) He ultimately sought to be a Christian prince realizing the ideal defined by the Mirrors for princes, a genre very fashionable in the Carolingian era - Charlemagne was one of its models - and which was reborn in a more "moralizing" form in the 13th century.

Previous Post
Next Post