Louis IX (France)

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Saint Ludwig in a miniature made around 1235.
(New York, Pierpont Morgan Library)

Louis IX of France (born April 25, 1214 in Poissy , probably at Poissy Castle , † August 25, 1270 in Carthage ) was King of France from the Capetian dynasty from 1226 to 1270 . Alternatively he is called Louis the Saint or in France Saint-Louis . Arab-Muslim chroniclers simply called him Raydāfrans .

St. Louis is one of the most important European monarchs of the Middle Ages. His rule was remembered in France as a golden age (le siècle d'or de Saint-Louis) in which the country reached an economic as well as political climax. He was the leader of two crusades and has been since the death of the Roman-German Emperor Friedrich. II was regarded as primus inter pares among the European rulers , whose moral integrity made him an arbiter of their disputes.

Ludwig's actions as a person and a king were committed to a deep Christian piety (amour de Dieu) . In medieval lists of kings he was also called " Prud'homme ", alluding to his lifestyle, which corresponded to the so-called prud'homie , which was a mixture of moderation, reason, bravery and knightly courtesy. Occasionally criticized by contemporaries as a "monk king", he gained the reputation of holiness during his lifetime, which was recognized by the Catholic Church with his canonization in 1297. Since then, Ludwig has been regarded as the ideal type of Christian ruler. The day of his death, August 25th, is also his day of remembrance.


Family and childhood

The birth of St. Ludwig. Illustration from the Grandes Chroniques de France , 14th century.

Ludwig was a son of King Louis VIII of the Lion († 1226) and his wife Blanka of Castile († 1252). His older brother Philipp died surprisingly in 1219, which made Ludwig the designated heir to the throne. His younger siblings were Robert von Artois (1216–1250), Johann Tristan (1219–1232), Alfons von Poitiers (1220–1271), Philipp Dagobert (1222–1232), Isabella von Longchamp (1224–1270) and Karl von Anjou (1227-1285).

Ludwig was born in the year of the Battle of Bouvines , in which his grandfather Philip II. August defeated an Anglo-Guelph army and established the rise of the French kingship to the dominant power of Western Europe. Ludwig's father was involved as a prince himself in the fight against the Plantagenets and temporarily occupied most of England . In Asia at the same time Genghis Khan began the conquest of the Mongols , which soon spread to China and Europe. From 1217 to 1221 French knights led a crusade against Egypt under the leadership of the papal legate Pelagius , which failed after the capture of the port city of Damiette . However, under the impression of a generally increasing economic prosperity in the West, the knighthood's enthusiasm for crusades continued to decline. Prosperity had also taken hold of the Roman Church, which became increasingly entangled in secular power struggles. This development gave rise to the poverty movement initiated by Dominic and Francis of Assisi , which called on Christianity for a spiritual renewal. Also at this time the so-called Albigensian Crusade took place in the south of France , the aim of which was to combat the Cathar sect and its supporters , which were classified as heretical . After initial successes, the crusaders came on the defensive after the death of their leader Simon IV. De Montfort . In 1226 Ludwig's father led a crusade to the south himself, which marked the beginning of the subjugation of this region to the French crown. On this crusade, his father died on November 8, 1226 in Montpensier after suffering from dysentery .


The mother's reign

Blanche of Castile in a miniature made around 1235. (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library)

Louis was anointed and crowned king on November 29, 1226 in Reims by the Bishop of Soissons , Jacques de Bazoches . A traditional consecration by the Archbishop of Reims had to be dispensed with, as this church office had been vacant four months earlier since the death of Archbishop Guillaume de Joinville . The new king was only twelve years old, which led the kingdom into a critical situation. Because the feudal nobility of France had lost a lot of power under the rule of Ludwig's grandfather and father, which is why a broad opposition of the vassals against the crown had already formed under his father. On the question of guardianship and regency for the young king, this opposition tried to strengthen their interests and positions vis-à-vis the crown by contesting the legality of the takeover of government by Ludwig's mother, as a woman and also a foreigner.

The main heads of the opposition were Peter Mauclerc , Hugo X. von Lusignan and Count Theobald IV. Von Champagne , who demonstratively stayed away from the coronation of Ludwig and thus began their revolt openly. Queen Blanche, however, resolutely tackled the overthrow of the barons and found support, especially in the clergy and the papal legate Romano Frangipani. At first it made allies by releasing Count Ferrand of Flanders, who had been imprisoned since Bouvines, and reinstating him in his fiefdom. She eliminated another potential factor of unrest in the person of Philipp Hurepel , a half-brother of King Louis VIII and the candidate of the barons for the reign, who, however, did not have particularly pronounced ambition. Blanche pacified him by making it easier for him to succeed his father-in-law, who died in royal custody, in the county of Boulogne . Blanche was able to achieve a significant success against the barons in a negotiation with them at Curçay (January 1227) by being able to persuade Count Theobald of Champagne to change sides through skillful negotiation. The party of the barons was weakened so severely that in March 1227 in Vendôme they felt compelled to submit to the regent.

The fight was to continue, however, after Peter Mauclerc had attempted in the autumn of 1227 to usurp the person of the king in Montlhéry . Only a timely relief from the regent could keep him from doing so. The military actions of the barons shifted to Champagne , whose count proved to be the strongest supporter of the royal cause. They also managed to pull Philipp Hurepel into their camp. Nevertheless, the fight tended increasingly in favor of the crown, especially after Peter Mauclerc in October 1229 the English King Henry III. had paid homage and invited him to land in France. Mauclerc was guilty of Felonie , whereupon several of his followers, especially Hugo von Lusignan, went over to Ludwig and his mother. In the spring of 1228, Ludwig personally led an army against Bellême Castle and then moved to Champagne, where he successfully supported Count Theobald against his enemies. Ludwig took on the duties of a military leader for the first time, despite his immaturity, because he had received the sword a few days before his coronation in Soissons . In 1230 Ludwig moved to Brittany , where he took several castles. When Clisson surrendered to him , Mauclerc also surrendered, which ended the uprising of the barons. Henry III withdrew to his kingdom without a fight.

The regent was able to assert herself and thus Ludwig preserve his father's inheritance. In addition, with the negotiation of the Treaty of Meaux-Paris in 1229, she also achieved a significant diplomatic success, which formally ended the Albigensian Crusade and sealed the subordination of Languedoc to the sovereignty of the crown. This contract was dynastically secured by the engagement of Prince Alfons to the heiress of the county of Toulouse . Through clever negotiations with Pope Gregory IX. reached the regent in February 1234 the granting of the necessary dispensation in order to be able to marry Ludwig with a fourth cousin, Margaret of Provence . The marriage with the eldest daughter of Count Raimund Berengar V of Provence and Beatrix of Savoy took place on May 27, 1234 in the cathedral Saint-Étienne in Sens .

First years of government

One year after his wedding, Ludwig came of age at the age of twenty-one and officially took over the government. Nevertheless, his mother was to continue to advise him until her death. Among the most important acts of Ludwig during this time are the enfeoffments of his younger brothers with great appanages , which their father had decreed in his will. Robert received the Artois in 1237 , Alfons in 1241 the Poitou and Saintonge , and Charles in 1246 the Anjou and Maine . Formally, this meant the loss of important territories for the crown domain , but it was ensured that important royal prerogatives in these fiefdoms, especially in the judicial and administrative sovereignty , remained.

Anointing and coronation of St. Louis. Miniature from the coronation order of 1250. It is the oldest surviving depiction of the coronation of a French monarch. (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Ms. lat. 1246, fol. 17)

In 1242 Ludwig's kingship was threatened again when King Heinrich III of England. Plantagenet , at the same time the brother-in-law, an attempt was made to recapture the confiscated territories of the Plantagenets (Anjou, Maine, Poitou, Normandy and others) in 1204 . Some French princes tried again to use this offensive to their advantage by entering into an alliance with the English king. In particular, these were Hugo von Lusignan (stepfather of Henry III of England) and Count Raimund VII of Toulouse (cousin of Henry III of England, son-in-law Hugos von Lusignan and father-in-law of Prince Alfons). The conflict was particularly sparked by the enfeoffment of Prince Alfonso with the territories formerly owned by the Plantagenets and still claimed by them. Since the mother of the English king (and wife of Lusignan), Isabella of Angoulême , with the enfeoffment of her second son and brother Henry III. Richard of Cornwall had reckoned, she actively brokered the alliance of the relatives after they failed to come.

In April 1242 Ludwig gathered an army near Chinon , at the head of which he and Alfons marched into the Saintonge, where on May 13th the English king landed at Royan . After initial negotiations between the two monarchs failed on June 16, King Henry declared war on his French brother-in-law three days later. An advance of the English army was prevented by Sire Geoffroy de Rancon , who stopped the English king at his castle of Taillebourg through supposed alliance negotiations. This made it possible for Ludwig to surprise his enemy's army there on July 21st and put them to flight . Another meeting two days later in front of Saintes Ludwig was also able to decide for himself, whereupon the rebellious nobility surrendered to him. Henry III. from England fled, leaving his belongings behind, to Gascony , from where he organized a sea blockade against La Rochelle . But after Emperor Friedrich II refused him an alliance, he gave up the fight and withdrew to England. Both monarchs agreed a five-year armistice, which was first extended by Ludwig's first crusade and then in 1254 for another five years. Overall, the end of the so-called Saintonge War ushered in a 40-year period of peace in France.

The uprising in the south was also quickly put down after the Count of Toulouse laid down his arms in the face of two large royal armies. In the Treaty of Lorris (spring 1243), he and other princes of the south recognized the provisions of Meaux-Paris again and undertook to make further concessions. The last military resistance was broken with the capture of the heretic fortress Montségur (March 1244).

Crusade against Egypt

See main article: Sixth Crusade .
Saint Louis makes a crusade vow on his sickbed. (Depiction from the Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris, 13th century, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College)

During his campaign in the Saintonge, Ludwig suffered malaria for the first time , which attacked him again in 1244. The disease was problematic, even the death of the king was feared. In his pious nature, he vowed to God that if he survived the disease he would wage a crusade. Ludwig had long before had the wish to move to the Holy Land, although criticism of the meaning of such undertakings had already broken out loudly at the time. As early as 1239 he had financially supported the crusade of Count Theobald von Champagne ( crusade of the barons ) and even granted him royal dignity by giving permission to carry the royal lily banner. Despite many difficulties, this crusade produced considerable territorial gains by 1241 from the Ayyubids, who were in the civil war . However, a large part of the acquisitions was lost again in 1244 and the defeat in the Battle of La Forbie put the Crusader states in dire straits. Therefore, Ludwig now considered a train to Outremer to be his most urgent duty.

After his recovery, Ludwig finally started preparations for an armed pilgrimage. In 1245, Pope Innocent IV confirmed his vows, which officially sanctioned the crusade. In order to be able to act as independently as possible, he had Aigues-Mortes expanded into an overseas port, in which he collected the majority of his fleet, which was primarily provided by Genoa and Pisa . His crusader army of around 15,000 men consisted mainly of French knights, only a smaller contingent from England was to join him later. On August 25, 1248, he and his brothers Robert and Karl (Alfons would later follow) set sail from Aigues-Mortes and on September 17 they reached Cyprus , where the army spent the winter. Here, too, Egypt was portrayed as a direct target as the strongest Muslim threat to the Christians outremers.

At the beginning of June 1249 the army landed on the coast of Egypt and took the port city of Damiette after a short battle on the beach . This success motivated Ludwig to advance inland. He did not know that Sultan al-Salih had died in the meantime , since his widow, Schadjar ad-Durr , kept the news of his death a secret. The crusaders' journey to Cairo was only stopped by the city of al-Mansura , where the Damiette crusade had failed nearly thirty years earlier . For Ludwig, this turned out to be a bad omen on February 8, 1250, when his brother Robert allowed himself to be seduced by Artois into an unauthorized advance. Contrary to the orders of Louis Robert led the vanguard of the army independently an attack on the city and ran there in a trap of the elite warriors of the Mamelukes . Robert and almost the entire vanguard were killed in the city.

A few days later a counterattack by the Mameluks was repulsed in front of the city, with Ludwig fighting with a "German sword", but the army was not only so much staffed that a siege of Mansura seemed hopeless. It has also been weakened by a growing plague. After the new Sultan turned down an offer to exchange Damiette for Jerusalem , Ludwig was forced to retreat in order not to be cut off from his base in Damiette. On April 6th, he and his immediate entourage were surprised by the Mameluks at Fariskur and taken prisoner. The crusade failed because Ludwig not only had to pay an enormous ransom (400,000 Besanten) for his release and that of his followers, but also had to evacuate Damiette. During his time as a prisoner, the ruling Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt was defeated by the Mamluk after a bloody palace revolt. After Damiette was handed over to the new rulers on May 6, 1250, they released Ludwig, who immediately went to Acre .

Saint Louis in front of al-Mansura. Miniature from Le livre des faits de Monseigneur Saint Louis , 15th century. (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Contrary to the insistence of his mother, who remained in France as regent, Ludwig decided to stay in the holy land until all other prisoners were ransomed. He also wanted to secure the Christian possessions in Palestine, which had been stripped of any defense by the destruction of the crusader army. In the so-called Kingdom of Jerusalem , Ludwig was immediately recognized as ruler, the rightful King Konrad never appeared here, and his regent Heinrich of Cyprus did not object. Ludwig managed to accelerate the release of the remaining prisoners by threatening the Mameluks to ally themselves with the Ayyubids of Damascus , who had declared war on the Mameluks. He not only got his captured comrades free, but was also given an elephant and a zebra by the Mameluks. Ludwig turned down an invitation from the Sultan of Damascus to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem because - like Richard the Lionheart 60 years earlier - he did not want to see the city without being able to recapture it for Christianity. The Saracen threat to Christians was expected to lessen in the years to come when the Sultan of Damascus reached an armistice with Christians in the face of the new Mongol threat . Ludwig then took care of the expansion of the fortifications of Akkon, Jaffa , Caesarea , Haifa and other castles. In 1252 he settled a dispute about the succession in the Principality of Antioch , entered into diplomatic contacts with the assassins , whereby an attempt at conversion failed because of the "old man from the mountain" , and after the death of King Henry of Cyprus took over the affairs of state for his underage son Hugo II.

In 1253, Ludwig received news of his mother's death. After it became clear that the King of England would not fulfill his crusade vows, he left the Holy Land on April 24, 1254. Although he intended to set foot on French soil directly in Aigues-Mortes, he was able to change his mind to go ashore on July 3 at Hyères in Provence, i.e. on imperial territory. After attending a sermon by the Franciscan spiritualist Hugo von Digne there , he reached his French kingdom a little later near Beaucaire and arrived in Paris on July 17, 1254. His crusade had failed catastrophically. The liberation of Jerusalem had failed, as had a weakening of the Muslim powers. The Christian rulers in Outremer owed their continued survival only to the appearance of the Mongols as a new power factor in the Middle East. Ludwig's capture in Egypt had also triggered the pastoral movement in his homeland .

A document from Louis IX. from January 1252 for the Abbey of Saint-Denis. Paris, Archives nationales, K 31, no.11

Domestic politics

Conception of power

During his reign, Louis IX. the centralization of power to the kingship already begun by his predecessors continued. The main aim was to push back the politically and economically privileged position of the feudal nobility, who had acquired royal privileges in the previous three centuries. Ludwig's predecessor on the throne had already combined administrative powers to their office, but the scope of these reforms was limited to the crown domain due to the weakness of the early Capetian kings . Ludwig's father and grandfather, however, had made the king the largest landowner and thus the economically and militarily strongest lord in the kingdom through the constant expansion of the crown domain. This put the kingship in the position to deprive the remaining feudal nobility of their privileged position and to impose a royal maximum power.

With the return of the Capetian monarchy to the universal conception of rule of the Carolingians (Reditus regni Francorum ad stripem Karoli Magni) , which began since Louis VIII , the claim of the crown to undivided power in the kingdom was justified. In 1256 the lawyer Jean de Blanot wrote down his now famous formula in which he granted the king maximum imperium over all inhabitants of his empire and he alone the power of legislation (jurisdictio generalis) :

Nam rex Franciae in regno suo princeps est, nam in temporalibus superiorem non recognoscit.
(The king of France is emperor in his kingdom, because he does not recognize an overlord in worldly matters.)

This new self-image had shaped the image of the French kings as no other monarchy in Europe. The French kingship began not only internally an important step into modern absolutism , externally it broke away ideologically from the secular sovereignty of the Roman-German emperors.

Justice and Financial Reform

After his return from the Holy Land, Ludwig devoted himself to rebuilding the administrative structures of his court. An important administrative innovation took place in the gradual formation of central authorities such as a court court ( parliament ) , court of auditors ( cour des comptes ) and a council of state (conseil) , which emerged from the royal council (curia regis) . During Ludwig's lifetime, these bodies were of a rather provisional nature and were only to be firmly established under his successors. In the legal field, Ludwig oriented his reforms back to Roman law , which was strongly influenced by the emerging scholasticism of that time. Using Roman law, Ludwig tried to replace old legal norms ( customary law ) and the jurisdiction of the nobility and clergy in favor of a royal jurisdiction (consuetudo generalis) . In several ordinances he strengthened the powers of royal officials (Seneschalle and Baillis) against the feudal aristocracy and weakened its jurisdiction by making the royal courts of appeal accessible to all subjects. The "great ordinance to restore moral order" (ex debito regiae potestatis) issued in December 1254 was Ludwig's most extensive measure; it introduced the legal principle in France, according to which no one may be deprived of his or her rights without trial and judgment. A separation between civil and criminal jurisdiction was also achieved. The bans against gambling (a ban on dice-making), prostitution , blasphemy and usury, which were also issued at the same time, proved to be only partially enforceable, just like the abolition of judicial duels as a judgment of God in 1258.

The establishment of a royal jurisdiction served not only the application of Roman law, but also the written fixation of customary rights in northern France, which was promoted under Ludwig's rule. The most important works were the Coutumes de Beauvaisis des Philippe de Beaumanoir , the Conseil à un ami des Pierre de Fontaines , the Livre de Jostice et de Plet , the Grand Coutumier de la Normandie and the Établissements de Saint Louis . From 1254, the judgments of the royal parliament were systematically collected in a register, the olim .

Ludwig's personal involvement in these reforms was based on the motive to establish kingship as the sole authority of justice and peace in the kingdom. The idealized image of Louis IX handed down by Joinville. as a righteous king (roi justicier) under the oak of Vincennes should go down in the national memory of the French as that of a guardian of law and inner peace. For Montesquieu was Louis IX. the ruler of reason who stood in stark contrast to the tyrant Louis XIV . A concrete example of this claim is the court that the king held over a priest who had killed three thieves, from whom he withdrew the rank of cleric in the judgment. Ludwig intervened here in the jurisdiction of the church, which increasingly had to subordinate itself to the royal one. The trial in 1259 against Enguerrand IV. De Coucy , the three noblemen whom he suspected of having hunted in his woods, left hanging without a trial, was also sensational . The trial was held directly before the king and not before the court of pairs, which the Sire had insisted on in his class. Ludwig thus excluded the barons who had sympathized with the Sire from exerting influence in the decision-making process and thus also asserted his judicial authority against them.

The gros tournois

Ludwig found a further field of domestic political activity in the establishment of a dominance of the crown in finance and economy. As in the jurisdiction, the task here was to push back the privileges of the feudal nobility. For this purpose, Ludwig issued an ordinance in 1263, according to which from now on only the coins minted by the crown are to be recognized as official tender within the crown domain. The same was true in the feudal principalities that did not have their own coin. Furthermore, the forgery of royal coins was added to the list of crimes against majesty. The result of these measures was a gradual reduction in the number of minting masters in France from around 300 during Ludwig's lifetime to no more than 30 by the end of the reign of Philip the Fair . The large silver shilling "Gros tournois" (grosso denarius Turnosus) , which was first struck in Tours in 1266 and which became one of the main currency coins in Northern Europe by the end of the 13th century, was intended to simplify payment transactions . This coinage reintroduced the shilling as a coin in France, which until then had only been used as a unit of account since the Carolingian era. In Germany, this coin was first minted as groschen around 1270 . The gold thaler (Écu d'or) , struck for the first time in centuries, in the same year as the silver shilling , however, should not find widespread use. It rather served political prestige, as France rose to the ranks of economic powers that had a dual currency (including Byzantium, Sicily and the Arab world).

Foreign policy

Ludwig's foreign policy claimed to appear to his neighbors as a peace-loving and peace-making king (rex pacificus) . Ludwig was particularly anxious to bring the relationships and rulership that had been redesigned under his immediate predecessors on a contractual basis.

Compensation with Aragon

The sovereignty of the crown over the south established with the Treaty of Meaux-Paris in 1229 had brought France into direct conflict with the interests of the Crown of Aragon . A first point of contact arose for Ludwig in Provence , which had been ruled for several generations by a branch of the Aragonese royal family. In 1245, Count Raimund Berengar V, the last count of this dynasty, died. Ludwig was married to the count's eldest daughter, but she was not considered her father's heir. Instead, he had appointed his youngest daughter Beatrix as heir, whose guardianship was now claimed by her cousin King James I of Aragon . Ludwig reacted immediately by sending an army under his brother Karl von Anjou to Provence to withdraw this land from the Aragonese grasp. In order to finally secure the French influence on Provence, Ludwig took advantage of the political plight of the Pope, who willingly granted a dispensation that made a marriage between Beatrix and her brother-in-law Karl possible (January 1246). Aragon could not do anything other than accept this loss of influence in Provence.

Provence was only one of the points of conflict between France and Aragon. Because the expansion of power that the French crown was able to achieve as a result of the Albigensian Crusades, happened primarily at the expense of Aragon, since before the Crusades the King of Aragon was the nominal liege lord of larger areas in Languedoc, in particular the possessions of the Trencavel , which were owned by King Louis VIII incorporated into the crown domain and established in Seneschallate. The legal basis for this was once the transfer of the rights of Amalrich von Montfort to the crown, but their validity was highly controversial, as they were based on a papal enfeoffment and not one by King Aragon. He maintained his claim to the disputed areas, whereas the French crown took the view that Aragon had gambled away all rights in the Languedoc after his defeat in the Battle of Muret (1213). This tense situation brought both kingdoms to the brink of war several times under Ludwig's rule. Ludwig, however, wanted France's gain in the disputed areas of Aragon to be recognized and for this he resorted to old Carolingian rights. Since his father, the Capetian dynasty claimed the dynastic and thus also legal succession of the Carolingians , which at the same time was associated with a claim to sovereignty over the areas concerned, but also over the Spanish mark (county of Barcelona). King James I of Aragon got into considerable embarrassment, as the Spanish mark formed the basis of the Kingdom of Aragon, whose sovereignty was now in question. Due to his high level of commitment at sea and his efforts in the fight against the Moors , the King of Aragon could not afford a longer conflict with France, which paved the way for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. With the decisive mediation of Sire Olivier de Termes , the Treaty of Corbeil was concluded on May 11, 1258 , in which King Jacob recognized the new balance of power and renounced old rights in both Languedoc and Provence. In return, Ludwig dropped his claim to the Spanish mark, which ensured the continued sovereignty of Aragon. Furthermore, Ludwig recognized the affiliation of the Roussillon and the Cerdanya to Aragon. Only the ownership of Montpellier should be argued for a long time. Overall, however, a border was created between the two kingdoms that would last for the next four hundred years and was not corrected until the Peace of the Pyrenees of 1659.

With regard to Provence, a special solution was agreed in the Corbeil Treaty. The King of Aragon waived his claims in favor of Ludwig's wife Margarethe and not, for example, her younger sister and heiress Beatrix. In order to have legal recourse against his brother Karl von Anjou, Beatrix's husband, Ludwig had insisted on this measure. Karl von Anjou had already worried Ludwig several times in his selfish striving for power, but by favoring his wife Ludwig was able to curb his brother's ambitions in Provence.

Peace with the Plantagenets

As with Aragon, Ludwig was anxious to find an agreement in the long-running conflict with the Plantagenets. For almost seventy years, the French kingship had been in a military conflict with this English royal family, who had married the county of Anjou around 1035 , over their French possessions, which Henry II. Plantagenet († 1189) had combined. The disputes had reached a decisive phase in 1204 after Ludwig's grandfather Philip II August had declared Johann Ohneland Plantagenet forfeited all of his fiefs in France and had confiscated them in several campaigns. And despite the decisive defeat at Bouvines (1214), the then head of the plantations, King Henry III. of England , unwilling to accept the losses of his family until he tried to recapture them at Taillebourg by Louis IX in 1242. was hit hard again.

The elephant of Louis IX.
From the Chronica majora by Matthew Paris, 13th century.

Despite the soon to expire armistice with Heinrich, the political situation had turned noticeably in Ludwig's favor after Heinrich in England, like his father, was faced with a broad opposition from his barons, who since the approval of the Magna Carta in 1215 have consistently called for an extension of their privileges and privileges entered towards the king. It was precisely these barons who were no longer willing to fight for the private family affairs of their king in France. This will expressed a development that began with the smashing of the Plantagenet Empire ( Angevin Empire ) in 1204: namely the gradual political and cultural dissolution of the French nobility from the homeland of their forefathers and the increasing formation of an island , an English identity. The symbiosis between the two kingdoms that William the Conqueror had created at Hastings in 1066 was about to dissolve. In view of this situation, Heinrich now showed himself ready to recognize the circumstances that had been created. A first approach came during a rather spontaneous visit by Heinrich III. in Paris at Christmas 1254, where on this occasion Ludwig gave the English king the elephants he had brought with him from Palestine. The fact that both kings were related by marriage through their mediating wives made it easier to reach an agreement, which was documented in the Treaty of Paris on May 28, 1258 . King Henry III of England recognized the losses of his family in France in favor of the French crown, in return Louis confirmed the last possession held, which was concentrated on Gascon . Ludwig was even ready to make territorial concessions by giving Heinrich some areas of old Aquitaine anew, especially the Saintonge, which Prince Alfons had to do without. The treaty was also ratified by the English barons and entered into force in Paris on December 4, 1259 with Henry's homage to Ludwig .

The contractual agreement between the two monarchs, however, also contained the seeds of future conflicts, namely the agreed homagium of the English kings as fief-takers of fiefdoms in France to the French king as fiefs - an act of submission to the acceptance of the Plantagenets among the Pairs of France not toned down. King Henry III. Descendants should try in vain to end this feudal relationship, which contributed a not inconsiderable cause to the outbreak of the Hundred Years War . For Ludwig himself, the Treaty of Paris was associated with relatively minor political consequences. In relation to the King of England, he only gave a free hand for a Plantagenet successor in the Kingdom of Sicily against the Hohenstaufen, which, however, failed for the same reason as Henry's offensive engagement in France, namely due to the lack of the necessary support from the English barons.

Relationship to Emperor and Pope

King Louis IX traditionally maintained a good relationship with both the Staufers and the papacy, which, however, turned out to be very problematic during his reign. Emperor Friedrich II. Had been since the pontificate of Pope Gregory IX. in a bitter conflict with the Church, in which Ludwig was largely neutral. At the beginning of his reign he still tended to take a prostaufer position while continuing a common policy against England. Among other things, he gave the emperor support in the fight against the Lombard League in 1238 , and his brother Robert married a daughter of the Duke of Brabant , who was a cousin of the emperor. When the Pope offered Robert the Roman-German crown in 1240, the latter declined the offer, taking into account the family ties to the Hohenstaufen dynasty. The good relations with the Hohenstaufen dynasty did not deteriorate either when Ludwig expanded French influence to include imperial immediate areas, for example through the inheritance of his brother Karl in Provence, as well as through his arbitration judgments in relation to the Flemish inheritance dispute, which had also affected imperial interests. In these cases, Ludwig was ultimately able to benefit from the tacit tolerance of the emperor, who relied on a good relationship with France in the conflict with the Pope.

The coronations of Emperor Friedrich II. (Left) and King Ludwig IX. (right). Depiction from the Psalter of Pierre Lombard, 15th century. (Paris, Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne)

Ludwig only saw the agreement with the emperor questioned when he acted too aggressively towards the clergy, as for example in 1241 when the emperor had several high church dignitaries captured on the way in the sea ​​battle of Giglio were in Rome for the papal election . After a sharply worded reply from Ludwig, the emperor released the dignitaries from France. In the spring of 1244, Ludwig initiated a peace initiative between the emperor and the pope for the first time through the mediating Count of Toulouse, but this did not come to fruition despite their official oath. In December 1244, Pope Innocent IV was taken into exile in Lyon , not least because of his need for protection from the emperor. Even though Lyon belonged to the empire, this city was, due to its border location, within the reach of Ludwig, who thus became the guarantor of the personal protection of the curia. In Lyon, the Pope was able to convene a council that ended in July 1245 with the deposition of the emperor. Emperor Friedrich II then turned to Ludwig directly in September of that year with a request for a personal mediation. He also agreed to recognize Ludwig's judgment as an arbitrator in this matter. In November, Ludwig invited the Pope to a personal meeting in Cluny , but he was unable to get any concessions from him. It was much more likely that Pope Innocent IV succeeded in voting Louis neutral for his cause by granting the church dispensation for the marriage of Charles of Anjou to the heiress of Provence.

Although the Pope had publicly propagated the deposition of Frederick as emperor in France through his prelates before the end of 1244, Ludwig continued to recognize him as such and also refused to support a formal crusade against Frederick. Rather, he concentrated more on his personal concern, a crusade to the holy land. Although this was approved by the council in Lyons, the Pope hindered Ludwig's campaigning for the crusade in Germany, since anti-Staufer forces were to be held there to fight the emperor. In spite of all this, Ludwig took a protective stand in front of the Pope and threatened military intervention when the Emperor planned an attack on Lyon in 1247. Immediately before his departure in June 1248, Ludwig made a personal stop in Lyon to try to mediate, but this failed because of the relentless uncompromisingness of the Pope. After his defeat in Egypt (April 1250), Louis seemed to go back to the position of emperor, because the public majority, both in the West and among the Christians Outremers, blamed the Pope above all for the forces necessary because of his conflict with the emperor for the fight against the infidels held back. According to Matthew Paris, Ludwig had instructed his returning brothers in August 1250 to urge the Pope to conclude peace with the emperor as soon as possible so that he could move up to the Holy Land with a crusade army. Alfons and Karl are said to have threatened with the withdrawal of the French guarantees of protection for Lyon, whereupon the Pope with Henry III. of England is said to have asked for asylum in Bordeaux , albeit unsuccessfully .

The death of Emperor Frederick II in December 1250 ultimately ended the chaotic situation and at the same time also marked a turning point in Ludwig's relationship with the Hohenstaufen. Although he continued to recognize Conrad IV as the rightful king of both the empire and Sicily, Ludwig increasingly approached the papal position. After Konrad's death in 1254 and the following usurpation of the Sicilian throne by Manfred in 1258 , Ludwig finally gave in to the papal insistence on the elimination of the Hohenstaufen and gave his brother Karl von Anjou his consent to a conquest of southern Italy.

The end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and the interregnum that followed marked a turning point in the relationship between France and the empire. Due to the strengthening of the French royal power and the simultaneous decline of the imperial central power, France began increasingly to expand its influence aggressively on the territory of the empire, especially on the old Burgundian and Lorraine region, since the rule of Louis. The French kings appeared energetically above all in Italy, where they used the power struggles between loyal to the emperor (Ghibellines) and papal (Guelph) -minded parties to their own advantage. Ludwig's son Philip the Bold was ultimately to become the first French monarch to run for election as Roman (German) king.

Primus inter pares

Louis enjoyed a reputation beyond the borders of France to be a keeper of peace who accepted the use of armed force, with the exception of the fight against the heathen , only as a means of defense. This reputation raised him among the other rulers of the Christian West, even more than the emperor, to the position of arbitrator, whose arbitration and judgment were sought without loss of face by the contending parties.

In the Flemish succession dispute between the brothers of the House of Dampierre and the House of Avesnes over the inheritance of their mother, Countess Margarethe , Louis made an arbitration award (Dit de Paris) in Paris in 1246 , which awarded the Dampierre the county of Flanders and the Avesnes the county of Hainaut . What was special about it was that Ludwig had intervened in feudal relationships in the empire in the case of Hainaut. The interests of the immediate liege lord of Hainaut, the bishop of Liège , were not taken into account, just as the emperor did not interfere in this matter. During Ludwig's absence in the holy land, the conflict in Flanders was to break out again, not without the help of his brother Karl von Anjou, who hoped for personal gain from it. After his return in 1254, Ludwig brought about an immediate end to the fighting and in 1256 in Péronne (Dit de Péronne) confirmed the decision made in Paris, which led to the final end of the conflict.

In 1257 Ludwig had to settle existing feudal relationships in his own family. In Provence, his brother Karl and his mother-in-law Beatrix of Savoy got into a dispute over the county of Forcalquier , which Ludwig decided in favor of Charles. Here, too, the sovereign rights of the empire over Provence had to be ignored, as at that time, due to the interregnum, it no longer had a representative body.

In 1259 the lord of the Greek Thebes and Athens , Guido I de la Roche , finally appeared at Ludwig's court and asked him for an arbitration award that would end his conflict with the Prince of Achaia . The prince had forced Guido I to recognize him as a liege lord, but the vassals of Guidos did not want to accept this, which is why they sent him to Ludwig. They ignored the fact that only the liege lord of Latin Greece, Emperor Baldwin II of Courtenay , was allowed to judge such a question . King Ludwig decided for the interests of Guidos de la Roche and declared the enforced homage to be invalid. The Chronicle of Morea reports that the rule of Athens was raised to the dignity of a duchy by Ludwig around the year 1260 and that Ludwig thus underlined his equality with the principality of Achaia.

In 1264 even his brother-in-law, King Heinrich III. of England Ludwig for his judgment. In England the king got into an ever deepening dispute with his barons about Simon V de Montfort , who had forced him to recognize the Provisions of Oxford in 1258 , in which the king had to grant the barons a greater share in power . In 1261 King Heinrich, with the backing of the Pope, declared the commission invalid, and the situation came to a head on the verge of civil war. To avoid this, the parties turned to King Louis of France. In the Mise of Amiens , out of collegiality to his brother-in-law, he also declared the commission null and void in the sense of strengthening the Crown of England against its vassals. For Ludwig, the authority of a kingship was the origin of all law, sovereign over his vassals and could not therefore be restricted in his power by the vassals. This specific understanding of rule, however, ran counter to the peculiarities and political self-confidence of the English barons and should therefore not prove to be enforceable. In the years that followed, England fell into a protracted civil war.

A 14th-century copy of the letter from the Armenian nobleman Sempad, addressed to the King of Cyprus and the Lord of Ibelin. Written in Sarmakand, dated February 7, 1248. (Claude Mutafian: Le Royaume Armenien de Cilicie, XIIe-XIVe siècle ; 2002)

The Mongols

During the winter of the Crusader army in Cyprus in 1248, Ludwig received two emissaries from the Great Khan of the Mongols, Gujuk , who promised him a common alliance against the Saracens and a conversion of the Great Khan to Christianity. The Armenian king brother Sempad had already suggested a benevolent approach to Christianity by the great khan during his legation trip to Mongolia in a letter addressed to the king of Cyprus, which Ludwig also got to read. Ludwig then decided to send his own embassy under the Dominican Andreas von Longjumeau to the Altai , who was supposed to seal the alliance with Gujuk. In order to promote his conversion, Ludwig gave him a piece of the “ true cross ” and a red tent chapel as a gift for the Great Khan to take with him on the trip. Longjumeau was to fail, as did the papal envoy Johannes de Plano Carpini a few years earlier , because when he arrived at the Mongolian residence, Gujuk was already dead and the summoned Kuriltai was ruled by his widow Ogul Qaimish . The latter wanted nothing to do with an alliance and in return asked the King of France to submit and pay tribute to the Mongols.

Ludwig received Longjumeau in Caesarea in 1251 and, despite the failure, decided to send a second mission with the Franciscan Wilhelm von Rubruk to the Mongols, because shortly before his departure from Mongolia Longjumeau witnessed the election of the Möngke , who was also considered to be religiously tolerant a relationship to the mythical priest king John was said to be, to the new Great Khan. Rubruk collected extensive information about Mongolian society and culture on his long journey and during his stay in Karakoram , but his mission was a political as well as religious failure, which meant that Ludwig's contacts with the Mongols ended for the time being.

In 1262, however, a large embassy from Ilchan Hulegü , who a few years earlier had destroyed the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad , appeared in Paris with an offer of alliance against the Mameluks. Despite years of negotiations, Ludwig and Hülagü never came to a formal alliance, especially because Hülagü also stuck to the demand for Mongolian sovereignty over the Christians in the holy land.

Byzantium and the Church Union

In the summer of 1269, Ludwig received an embassy in Paris from the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII. Palaiologos . Since the papacy had been vacant since the death of Clement IV in the previous year, the Byzantine first turned to the French king to negotiate with him about an end to the Eastern schism that had lasted for over two hundred years . The emperor promised the recognition of the supremacy of the Roman-Latin Church over the Greek-Orthodox Church . Ludwig immediately declared himself ready to support this request, but referred the emperor in this matter to the College of Cardinals in Rome, as he was not ready to usurp functions of the church and also had no decision-making power in such matters.

The last year of his life was Ludwig IX. As a committed mediator between Rome and Constantinople, he even received a Byzantine embassy on his deathbed in the camp in front of Tunis. Nevertheless, his commitment contributed to the first, albeit short-lived, ecclesiastical union between the Western and Eastern churches, which was concluded at the second council of Lyon in 1274.

Crusade against Tunis and death

Since the failure of his crusade into Egypt, Ludwig was determined to take another campaign against the Gentiles in order to make the previous shame forgotten. After leaving the Holy Land in 1254, he regularly sent money and arms to Acre to maintain a permanent regiment that would form the basis of a new business. The already fluctuating existence of the remaining Christian rulers in the Holy Land was exposed to a serious threat in the sixties of the 13th century after the Mameluke Sultan Baibars I defeated the Mongols at Ain Djalud in 1260 and subjected Syria to his rule. One after the other he conquered Caesarea, Arsuf, Safed, Jaffa and destroyed Antioch in 1268 , only Acre could barely hold out.

Louis the Saint dies on the crusade outside the walls of Tunis. Illustration from the Grandes Chroniques de France by Jean Fouquet , mid-15th century. (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Ludwig now considered a new crusade to be more urgent than ever, although his immediate surroundings clearly criticized and rejected this project. Ludwig disregarded this, made a new crusade vow in 1267 and had it confirmed by the Pope. The transport of the army should again run from Aigues-Mortes across the sea. Ludwig built his own ships for the first time, which is why he is regarded as the founder of the French Navy. Ludwig received a confirmation of participation from the English prince Eduard Plantagenet and from his brother Karl von Anjou. The latter had meanwhile become King of Sicily and was pursuing an aggressive policy of expansion in the eastern Mediterranean that could not have been more contrary to that of his brother. Karl safely concluded treaties with the Mameluks, who for Ludwig were the infidels to be fought against, and while Ludwig supported the church union of the Byzantine emperor, Karl prepared for a war against Byzantium. Ludwig's concern must therefore touch fundamental interests of Karl; it was said that he only took part in his brother's crusade in order to be able to influence the course. Why Ludwig decided to attack the Sultan of Tunis , al-Mustansir , remains controversial to this day. Allegedly, he hoped to be able to accelerate the conversion of the sultan to Christianity, which the latter had diplomatically announced to Ludwig and Karl. In fact, because of his support for Ghibelline opposition activists and his refusal to pay claimed tributes, the Sultan was an enemy of Charles of Anjou. Today, however, the thesis that Ludwig erroneously believed that Tunis was in the immediate vicinity of Cairo, which would have given him a better starting point for an attack on the Mameluks, is excluded today.

Although already marked by age and illness, Ludwig landed with his army on July 18, 1270 at Carthage , which he quickly captured. The sultan refused to renounce his belief and holed up in Tunis. But before a major battle broke out, the crusader army was attacked by the bacterial turmoil. After learning of the death of his son Johann Tristan, the king died of the plague on August 25, 1270 at three o'clock in the afternoon, at the same hour as Christ . According to legend, his last words were: "We will move into Jerusalem."

Louis the saint as a Christian


Louis IX was committed to a deep Christian lifestyle in which, among his predecessors, only King Robert II the Pious should have been equal. Shaped by piety and mercy, he led, as far as a secular ruler was permitted, a life of the strictest asceticism. His everyday life was determined by modesty, austerity, simple clothing and the greatest possible chastity. According to Nangis, Ludwig and his wife allowed each other to have sex only during the “times of embrace” prescribed by the church. He felt great disgust for deadly sins . After Joinville's thoughtless remark that it would be better to commit 30 deadly sins than to kiss a leper, he rebuked him: “Don't you know that there is no leprosy as bad as being in mortal sin? Because a soul in mortal sin is like the devil. ”Ludwig only regarded war as a means of conflict resolution if it complied with the two basic rules of the Christian,“ just war ”: to fight against unbelievers and to fight against fellow believers as a means of defense. Ludwig had commissioned the first translation of the Bible into French around 1230; he himself was an avid reader of the lives of saints, which he translated and read out personally for those who were unfamiliar with Latin. Ludwig was also close to the movement of mendicant orders that had arisen in his time and gave them rich gifts. His alleged wish to join the third order of the Franciscans himself one day is now considered a mere rumor. He founded the Abbey of Royaumont for the Order of the Cistercians and often visited it to attend the readings of Vincent de Beauvais . Ludwig also promoted the spiritual sciences by helping his chaplain Robert von Sorbon to found a theological college at the University of Paris . The resulting Sorbonne University soon attracted the learned authorities of its time (including Bonaventure , Albertus Magnus , Roger Bacon , Thomas Aquinas ).

The Saint Louis Cathedral in Versailles

Despite all the admiration he received from his contemporaries for his pious, godly life, it was precisely this lifestyle that gave rise to criticism, which was also expressed by Ludwig's immediate surroundings. For many, Ludwig's humility often seemed too exaggerated. It distracts him from his duties as a secular ruler. Ludwig met resistance as soon as he tried to impose his religious values ​​on other people or the entire kingdom. It was above all the clergy who prevented Ludwig from taking tougher action against prostitution, knowing that a ban on commercial love could not be socially enforced. In 1270, Ludwig also passed laws for the first time that declared sodomy a crime . Ludwig's own children, Johann Tristan , Peter and Blanche, turned against his will, and according to his ideas, one should be given to the Dominicans , the Franciscans and the Cistercians . But the children did not share the pious way of life of their father and could only escape religious life after fierce resistance and with the objection of the Pope. On the part of the clergy, especially the monks, Ludwig was criticized for his financial policy, as he placed the costs of his crusades primarily on the church. In general, the crusades were also very controversial and lost their ideal reputation among the French knighthood of the 13th century. It was also believed that the king was neglecting the interests of his kingdom for them. This view was also held among the common people. A woman by the name of Sarrete accused the king, who was sitting in court at the foot of the stairs of the Palais de la Cité , of being only a "king of brothers minor and preachers, priests and clerics".

Throughout his life, Ludwig was a great admirer and collector of relics . The importance he attached to them is shown by an episode in 1232, when the treasured relic of a holy nail was lost in the Abbey of Saint-Denis. Ludwig fell into deep sorrow and ordered a nationwide search, which was unsuccessful. As a child, the Franciscans gave him the pillow of St. Francis of Assisi (canonized in 1228). The most important acquisition of Ludwig, however, was the crown of thorns that Christ is said to have worn on the day of his crucifixion. He benefited from the financial needs of the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin II of Courtenay , who was in France in 1239. Ludwig bought the crown of thorns from him, which had once reached Constantinople through Saint Helena , and received it a little later in Villeneuve-l'Archevêque , from where he and his brother Robert carried it to Paris barefoot and in penitent clothing. Ludwig had the Sainte-Chapelle built to store the instruments of Christ's passion , which was inaugurated in 1248. The abbot of Vaux-de-Cernay wrote an officium especially for the crown . With the possession of the crown of thorns, the person of Louis as well as the French kingship in general experienced an increase in his prestige. Archbishop Gautier von Sens believed that France was chosen by Christ as the successor to Greece (Byzantium) to the place of worship of his victorious passion. Pope Innocent IV later certified that Louis had been crowned by Christ with his crown, and described him as an “all Christian king” (“rex christianissimus”) , “image of God” (“imago Dei”) and “protector of the church” ( "Patronus ecclesiae"). In 1241 Ludwig also bought the Holy Sponge (which the Roman soldiers soaked in vinegar and then held to Christ's mouth) and the Holy Lance of Longinus from the Latin Emperor . He also acquired several relics of 24 martyrs of the Legion of Saint Mauritius from the Abbey of Saint-Maurice d'Agaune and had a new church built for them in Senlis .

Heretics, unbelievers and Jews

In his religious zeal, Ludwig saw himself in his capacity as king also as a fighter against the enemies of the faith, by which heretics, unbelievers and Jews were to be understood. He saw the Cathars as the greatest threat, and to fight them he pushed for the establishment of the Inquisition . In relation to unbelievers (Muslims, Mongols), Ludwig regarded conversion as the most appropriate means, in addition to the crusade. During his crusade in Egypt, for example, he ordered in Damiette that the civilian population should be won over to the Christian faith with forced baptisms instead of killing them. However, these measures were just as unsuccessful as the attempts to convert the Mongols through diplomatic channels.

The Israelites are driven out of Hai . Illustration from the Crusader Bible, presumably commissioned by St. Ludwig. (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library)

Ludwig's attitude towards the Jews in his kingdom was almost obsessive. In order to rid them of their supposed erroneous beliefs, he carried out state-organized measures for the first time in the history of France. During his entire reign he issued several ordinances that were specifically directed against the money exchange economy and thus particularly attacked the economic livelihoods of the Jews. Ludwig viewed the Jewish economy as the poison of a scorpion that paralyzed his kingdom. Ideologically began Ludwig combating Jewry on March 3, 1240 with the nation's carried out confiscation of the book Talmud , as an allegedly blasphemous writing that against Jesus and the Virgin Mary blasphemous was. Despite a rhetorical victory by Jewish scholars in a dispute called on March 12, 1240, Ludwig ordered the further burning of the Talmud. Several thousand copies were destroyed in a car dairy in Paris in 1242 . Despite a request from the Pope in 1247 to stop the burnings, the Talmud and its possessions continued to be pursued over the next few years. In 1252 an order was finally issued to ban all Jews from France. The conversion to Christianity should be left to them as the only way to avoid expulsion. A few years later, this decree was supplemented by the possibility of buying oneself free from this exile through a donation to the royal treasure. However, such a measure was first successfully carried out under Ludwig's grandson, Philip the Handsome. Therefore, in 1269 the Jews were obliged to identify themselves by their clothing - in application of a recommendation of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. For men this was a circular disc, the rouelle , which had to be attached to the chest, for women special hood. It should be noted, however, that Ludwig refused to use force to enforce his measures. Than for example in Anjou to pogroms came against the Jews by the local population, Ludwig did condemn those responsible and executed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Ludwig's actions marked the beginning of a public denunciation of the Jews and a state-sponsored anti-Judaism in Europe.

The Saint


Already after Ludwig's death, Pope Gregory X commissioned the royal confessor Geoffroy de Beaulieu to collect evidence that would serve as the basis for a canonization process. In the compiled vita, Beaulieu came to the conclusion that Ludwig should be recognized as a saint. He recognized in the king a new Josiah who had the temple repaired, banished the prostitutes, rediscovered the Book of the Law of Moses ( Deuteronomy ) and thus renewed the covenant with God. He also pointed out that Ludwig, like Josiah once against the Pharaoh at Megiddo , had achieved martyrdom in the fight against the enemies of faith. Independently of this, the Pope charged Cardinal Simon de Brie, who had been Louis' chancellor , with further investigations in France.

After the death of Gregory X, the process was interrupted due to the shortness of the subsequent pontificate. It was only after Simon de Brie was elected Pope himself as Martin IV in 1281 that the decisive breakthrough came. From 1282 to 1283 he had more than three hundred witnesses questioned, including Philip III, Karl von Anjou and Joinville, and researched several miracles caused by the king, sixty of which were put on record. However, the death of Martin IV brought the proceedings to a halt again, but Philip the Handsome managed to get Pope Boniface VIII to resume. With the publication of the bull "Gloria Laus" on August 11, 1297 in Orvieto , Ludwig was canonized. This act represented a diplomatic concession by the Pope to Philip the Fair after the two had fallen out the year before.


Ludwig was venerated as a saint by his contemporaries during his lifetime, which became even more pronounced after his official canonization. He helped the prestige of the Capetian dynasty to gain an additional reputation and he strengthened their legitimation as the successor to the Carolingians . Overall, Ludwig advanced to become a French national saint, to whom only Joan of Arc was equal in importance after him . Particularly strong was Ludwig's admiration among the house of the Bourbons , who referred directly to him and this, among other things, in their naming, the construction of the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles or in the foundations of the Ordre royal et militaire de Saint-Louis and St. . Louis Order expressed. During her reign, several localities in France and its colonies were named after Ludwig, the best known being St. Louis in the US state of Missouri . During the restoration, the guillotination of Louis XVI. 1793 as a reincarnation of the martyrdom of Louis IX. considered.

Today, St. Louis is considered, next to the St. Francis of Assisi and St. Elizabeth of Hungary as patron of the Franciscans. He is also the patron of several cities such as Paris , Poissy , Berlin , Munich and Saarlouis . Together with his cousin, King Ferdinand III. of Castile († 1252, St. 1671), Louis is the last king canonized.


Relics of Saint Louis in San Domenico, Bologna

Immediately after Ludwig's death near Tunis, his brother Karl von Anjou came with Philip III. into a dispute over the place of the burial of the royal body. A compromise was finally reached that the meat would be loosened from the bones by a bath in a wine-vinegar solution and that Karl would receive his brother's organs, while Philip III. to take the bones to France. During the funeral procession through Italy, over the Mont Cenis to Paris, the first three miracles were recorded - however, Ludwig's brother Alfons and his wife as well as the daughter Isabella and her husband Theobald II of Navarre also died on this trip.

After arriving in Paris, the bones were buried on May 22, 1271 in the Abbey of Saint-Denis . On the occasion of Ludwig's elevation to saint, they were solemnly lifted from the grave on August 25, 1298 and from then on placed in a shrine behind the high altar of the abbey. In 1306, with the permission of Pope Clement V and under protest from the monks of Saint-Denis, the skull was transferred to the Sainte-Chapelle and kept in its own shrine next to the crown of thorns. A rib was given to Notre Dame Cathedral . King Philip the Fair gave a reliquary from his grandfather to the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna , while King Haakon V of Norway bought several fingers for a new church in Tysnes . Queen Blanche of Sweden received relics for a church consecrated to St. Birgitta in Vadstena , as did Emperor Charles IV in 1378 for St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague . In 1430, the Bavarian Duke Ludwig VII the Bearded received some relics for his residence in Ingolstadt . During the French Revolution , the Louis shrines in Saint-Denis and Sainte-Chapelle were destroyed and their contents lost, making Notre-Dame the only church that still has a source of relics. In 1926 a piece was awarded to Montreal and after the Second World War the Archbishop of Paris , Maurice Feltin , gave a relic to the Sankt Ludwigs Church in Berlin-Wilmersdorf (consecrated in 1897).

The organs of Ludwig were buried in the cathedral of Monreale by Charles of Anjou in Sicily , who claimed two miracles for the place, but they were not recognized. It is unclear where Ludwig's heart went, as no records have been preserved. The organs stayed in Monreale for several centuries before the last Bourbon king of Sicily, Francis II , flew from Garibaldi's troops in 1860, first taking them with him to Gaeta and Rome and then into his exile in Garatshausen . There Emperor Franz Joseph donated a shrine to the relics, but King Franz bequeathed them to Cardinal Lavigerie in his will . He brought them to Carthage , the place where Ludwig died, where they were given a new repository in the St. Louis Cathedral , consecrated in 1890 . After Tunisia gained independence in 1956, they were transferred to the Sainte-Chapelle.



Louis VII the Younger
Adele of Champagne
Baldwin V of Hainaut
Margaret I of Flanders
Sancho III. of Castile
Blanka of Navarre
(? –1157)
Heinrich II. Plantagenet
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Philip II August
Isabelle of Hainaut
Alfonso VIII of Castile
Eleonore Plantagenet
Louis VIII the Lion
Blanka of Castile
Louis IX the saint


Monument to St. Ludwig and his wife Margarete on Ludwigkirchplatz in Berlin-Wilmersdorf

The children of Louis IX. and Margaret of Provence are:

The Chroniclers and Enseignements

  • Jean de Joinville : noble official at the court of Louis the saint. Reports in detail in Le Livre des saintes paroles et des bons faits de nostre saint roi Louis (now known as Vie de Saint Louis ) about the life of the king. He was the first lay person to write a biography of a saint.
  • Geoffroy de Beaulieu: Dominican and confessor of the king. His Vita et sancta conversatio piae memoriae Ludovici quondam regis Francorum gave the impetus for the canonization of Louis.
  • Guillaume de Chartres: Dominican and chaplain of the king during the crusade to Egypt. Stayed around the court and took part in the crusade against Tunis. Wrote a Libellus about the king and added Beaulieu's work.
  • Guillaume de Saint-Pathus: Franciscan, was the confessor of Queen Margaret and, after her death, that of her daughter Blanche. In his La Vie et les Miracles de Monseigneur Saint Louis he particularly describes Ludwig's everyday life and documents some miracles.
  • Guillaume de Nangis : archivist in Saint-Denis. Wrote a world chronicle (Chronicon) , in which he especially dedicated himself to Louis the Saint (Vita Sancti Ludovici IX) .

Other contemporary chroniclers who reported on Ludwig included Salimbene of Parma , Matthew Paris , Primacy of Saint-Denis and the anonymous Ménestrel of Reims .

Ludwig himself wrote two versions of a prince's mirror , the Enseignements , which he gave his children Philip III. and Isabella left behind. The very intimate language of these texts suggests that Ludwig wrote them down personally, presumably immediately before setting out on his last crusade. In it he admonishes his children to change their life and rule in a godly manner. Philip should win the love of his people in his actions as king, since only this makes a good king. Ludwig would rather have the throne in the hands of a "Scotsman from Scotland" than that Philip ruled the country badly. Addressed to his son, Ludwig also added a moral doctrine of war, in which he regards the war as fundamentally bad, since its victims are above all the poor. Before declaring a war, a king should always seek long and long advice and weigh up whether there are any valid reasons for war. Ludwig recommended modesty to his daughter in clothing and jewelry and exhorted her to obey her husband and parents. Both children, however, he stated as the highest virtue of love and gratitude to God, which should be expressed in a life without sin and which should take precedence over everything else. He emphasized the duties of piety and mercy and recommended regular confession, attendance at mass, prayer and generosity with alms for the poor.

The Enseignements were first published in 1912 by Henri-François Delaborde. Many of the chroniclers mentioned above have incorporated texts from the Enseignements into their works. They were reconstructed from the mostly Latin original texts by David O'Connell. The ensignements of Louis the Saint form the second prince mirror ever written by a king after that of King Stephen I the Saint of Hungary , with whom they are often compared.


  1. Today a suburb of Tunis, cf. Louis IX of France in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints
  2. Raydāfrans is derived from Roi de France. According to Ibn Wāṣil, the “Afrans” were a people of the Franks and the “Rayd” was their king. (Ibn Wāṣil, Mufarrij al-kurūb fī akhbār banī Ayyūb , in: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, ms. Arabe 1703, fol.62v)
  3. This epithet was used, for example, in the chronicle of a minstrel who had served Prince Alfonso of Poitiers. A fragment of this chronicle is contained in the Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de la France (vol. XXIII, p. 146). Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.
  4. ^ Joinville , II, §10; ed. by Ethel Wedgwood (1906)
  5. Joinville , III, §3, ed. by Ethel Wedgwood (1906)
  6. Joinville , III, §4, ed. by Ethel Wedgwood (1906)
  7. ^ M. Boulet-Sautel: Jean de Blanot et la conception du pouvoir royal au temps de Louis IX. (1976)
  8. Pope Honorius III. 1218 forbade the University of Paris to teach Roman law, Pope Gregory IX. however, allowed the University of Orléans in 1235.
  9. Joinville , I, §11, ed. by Ethel Wedgwood (1906) - The oak that can be seen today in Vincennes was only planted in the 20th century, but is still widely believed to be the oak of St. Louis.
  10. Montesquieu: On the Spirit of Laws , XXVIII 38
  11. Joinville , II, §4, ed. by Ethel Wedgwood (1906)
  12. Nangis: Chronicon , pp. 399-401
  13. ^ Parker Library (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), MS 16, fol. 4r
  14. Kenneth Meyer Setton: The Papacy and the Levant, 1204-1571 , In: Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society (1976)
  15. Louis IX. informed the College of Cardinals in the spring of 1270 about the union plans of Emperor Michael VIII. Palaiologos. See the quorum's letter, dated May 15, 1270, to the apostolic legate in France, Raoul de Grosparmy . datum Viterbii idibus Maii , AD MCCLXX, Apostolica Sede vacante, In: Luke Wadding, Annales Minorum , IV (ed.Quaracchi, 1931)
  16. Louis Bréhier: Une Ambassade byzantine au camp de Saint-Louis devant Tunis (août 1270) , In: Mélanges offerts à M. Nicolas Jorga (Paris, 1933)
  17. M. Mollat: Le passage de Saint Louis à Tunis. Sa place dans l'histoire des croisades , in Revue d'histoire économique et sociale (1972)
  18. Joinville , IV, §4, ed. by Ethel Wedgwood (1906)
  19. J. LeGoff: Louis the Saint , Part I, Chapter 4 - Guillaume de Saint-Pathus confirmed this legend in his Vita
  20. Jean-Louis Flandrin: Un temps pour embrasser , 3rd part, chap. 6th
  21. Beaulieu: Vita et sancta conversatio piae memoriae Ludovici quondam regis Francorum , p. 10
  22. Presumably his mother was also the client.
  23. ^ Saint-Pathus: La Vie et les Miracles de Monseigneur Saint Louis
  24. J. LeGoff: Ludwig the Holy , Part III, Chapter 8, p. 719
  25. ^ Saint-Pathus: La Vie et les Miracles de Monseigneur Saint Louis , p. 118
  26. Nangis: pp. 320 to 326
  27. L. Wadding: Annales Minorum (Volume II, 1931)
  28. During the absence of Emperor Baldwin II in France, his barons had already sold the crown of thorns to Venice. In order to avoid diplomatic difficulties with France, Venice recognized a pre-sale right to Louis IX. on. The crown was brought by sea to Venice, where it was opened to the public for viewing for a few days. Then she was brought to France in the countryside under the protection of an escort provided by Emperor Frederick II.
  29. see Robert Branner: St. Louis and the Court Style in Gothic Architecture (Zwemmer, 1986)
  30. ^ L. Aurigemma: Le Signe zodiacal du scorpion dans les traditions occidentales de l'Antiquité gréco-latine à la Renaissance (Paris, 1976)
  31. ^ G. Nahon: Les ordonnances de Saint Louis , p. 23
  32. The official recognition as a martyr was Louis IX. however denied
  33. Le Goff: Ludwig the Holy , Part I, page 272. In 1843, during restoration work in the Sainte-Chapelle, fragments of a heart were found next to the altar. The question of whether it is the heart of Louis IX. is controversial.
  34. ^ Henri-François Delaborde: Le texte primitif des enseignements de Saint Louis à son fils (Paris, 1912)
  35. ^ David O'Connell: The teachings of Saint Louis (Chapel Hill, 1972); French edition Les propos de Saint Louis (1974)


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Louis VIII the lion King of France 1226–1270
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