Thursday, 17 July 2014

Louis VII of France [Louis le Jeune] 

Bernard of Clairvaux Preaching the Second Crusade at Vézelay.

Louis le Jeune [Louis VII of France] has been considered to be a weak and ineffectual king. He was often compared to  Louis the Pious, of some three centureis earlier who had been a failure. He came to the throne as a minor, and his powers and the rule of his kingdom were largely handed over and given into the hands of churchmen [Abbot Suger and Bernard of Clairvaux], the former acting as regent, and the latter preaching the second crusade at Vezelay, a venture which ended in complete fiasco, and one which Louis had personally supported whole-heartedly, but who was later blamed for its failure.

Louis was a child of the church.  He was originally destined to be a cleric and it was only because of the early death of his elder brother, Phillip, that he himself was to become king. Eleanor of Aquitaine who was married to him before Henry II, described him as being more of a monk than a man because of his excessive devotion to the Church and religious zeal.

Louis gave refuge in his kingdom to Pope Alexander III after the latter had fled the invasion of Italy and the papal lands by Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor. Possibly this was a mistake for Louis, for daily he would send letters to Alexander, who would diligently answer them about the moral responsibilities of rule: clearly the real power behind the throne in these times might possibly be considered to be Pope Alexander himself. Becket was also personally granted asylum by Louis after the trial at Northampton, much to the disgust of King Henry II and quite possibly at Pope Alexander's insistence and instigation.

Louis acquired the epithet and title, the "Most Christian King" or Rex Christianissimus at his coronation.

Louis VII's right to succeed to the throne of France was far less in question than Henry II's own claim to the throne of England. Louis held a far higher spritual power, authority and position over and above Henry and the latter's lands and territories in France. Henry was never allowed to forget this. Louis was strictly Henry's feudal overlord. Henry owed Louis loyalty and fealty upon sacred oath, and had to pay homage to Louis. On several occasions Henry was required to renew this homage on several occasions, and he also forced all of his own sons to pay homage to Louis for their lands in France too. In England Henry could behave like an absolute monarch, but in France he was second fiddle, and could not wield his authority as he would like, even if he was both richer and had the stronger military force and far more land than Louis.

Henry's Angevin Empire was largely built on marriage alliances and family connections. He had a far weaker claim to the right to rule over his lands in France than he might have done had he been the rightful king and sovereign over that territory. Henry was at the very most only a Duke over Aquitaine, Normandy, and Britanny, and a Count of Anjou, Maine and Poitiers. Dukes and counts are not crowned and anointed: they do not have the spiritual authority of a king given to them by the Church: they are merely vassals. And indeed the lands dukes and counts held were thus not fully independent of the kingdom of France. In truth later Phillip Augustus was to use his legal and spiritual right completely to revoke the vassaldoms in France of the kings of England. Henry never assumed the title of the King of France as his later descendants were to.


Louis VII de France — Wikipédia
Louis VII of France - Wikipedia

Marcel Pacaut (1964). Louis VII et son royaume. S.E.V. P.E.N.

Stained Glass Window in Canterbury
St Thomas Becket visits Louis VII of France in a dream to tell him to make a pilgrimage to the tomb - his son being ill at the time. (He made the pilgrimage)

Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France. Tome Douzieme.
Historia gloriosi regis Ludovici VII, dans Historiens de France, t. XII, p. 124-

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André Gouron, « L'entourage de Louis VII face aux droits savants : Giraud de Bourges et son ordo », in Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes, no 146-1, 1988, p. 5-29, [lire en ligne].
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Louis VII et Alexandre III (1159-1180)
Marcel Pacaut
Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France Année 1953 Volume 39 Numéro 132 pp. 5-45

L'entourage de Louis VII face aux droits savants : Giraud de Bourges et son ordo
André Gouron
Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes
Year 1988 Volume 146 Issue 146-1 pp. 5-29

Robert Fawtier (1960). The Capetian Kings of France.
Monarchy & Nation
Chapter 8 The Lands of the House of Anjou p. 137-

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The Feudal Monarchy In France And England - Charles Petit-Dutaillis

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Odo of Deuil:
The Crusade of Louis VII

Thomas Becket et la France capétienne 

Reviewed Work: Alexandre III: Étude sur la conception du pouvoir pontifical dans sa pensée et dans son œuvre by Marcel Pacaut
Review by: C. R. Cheney
The English Historical Review
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Histoire de France depuis les origines jusqu'a la révolution Tome III Partie 1 pp. 1-81: Louis VII by Ernest Lavisse Published 1903

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Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France — Wikipédia

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John M. Riddle (2008). A History of the Middle Ages, 300–1500. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 298–. ISBN 978-1-4422-1004-2.

Christopher Harper-Bill; Nicholas Vincent (2007). Henry II: New Interpretations. Jean Dunbabin: Henry II and Louis VII: Boydell Press. pp. 47–. ISBN 978-1-84383-340-6.

Christopher Harper-Bill; Nicholas Vincent (2007). Henry II: New Interpretations. John Gillingham: Doing Homage to the King of France: Boydell Press. pp. 63–. ISBN 978-1-84383-340-6.

Palais De Fontainebleau: 4. Didot. 1840. pp. 11–.

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Marriage as Tactical Response: Henry II and the Royal Wedding of 1160
Lindsay Diggelmann
The English Historical Review
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Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL:

Courtney M. Booker (2012). Past Convictions: The Penance of Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 78–. ISBN 0-8122-0138-8.
Douglas Boyd (2011). April Queen: Eleanor of Aquitaine. History Press Limited. ISBN 978-0-7524-7304-8.

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Stephen Wilson (1985). Saints and Their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History. Spiegel: The Cult of St. Denis and Capetian Kingship. CUP Archive. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-0-521-31181-6
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