Louis The Ninth
Louis IX or Saint Louis was King of France from 1226 till his death in 1270. He belonged to the Capetian line of French monarchs and is considered as the most popular Capetian King. During his reign, Louis struggled to establish his authority against powerful nobles like Peter of Dreux and Hugh X of Lusignan.
He also fought several attempts of English King, Henry III to retake his previous territorial possessions in France. Louis successfully defeated English army in the famous Battle of Taillebourg. However; Louis’ single most important contribution was reformation of judicial system. He established French Royal Justice in which right of appeal was granted. He introduced presumption of innocent in criminal proceedings and also banned ancient practice of trial by ordeal.
He created provosts and bailiffs to ensure correct function of his legal system. Louis was a devout Christian and declared blasphemy, gambling, prostitution and interest-bearing loans punishable offences. He is the only canonized French King.
Early Life: Louis IX was born on April 25, 1214. His father was Prince Louis the Lion (later King Louis VIII) son of Philip II, King of France and his mother Princess Blanche was the daughter of Alfonso VIII, King of Castile. When Louis was nine years old his father took over as King of France. His reign was however; short lived and after only three years Louis VIII died. Louis IX was crowned at the young age of only twelve.
His mother, Blanche of Castile continued to act as a regent till Louis attained maturity. Historians believe that Louis started to rule independently in 1234. His mother had a profound influence on his upbringing and his religious thinking. Even after Louis started to rule independently, his mother exercised considerable influence on him as his advisor.
Reign: Immediately after taking over reins of government, Louis married Margaret, daughter of Raymond VI, Count of Provence. Margaret proved to be an ideal life partner for him and the two lived a happy life together and had eleven children together.
A number of historians believe that the couple’s fondness for each other was severely disliked by Blanche and she tried to keep them apart as much as possible. Louis IX was a God fearing man who believed in dispensing justice to everyone. He made significant reforms to the legal system and made it more fair and modern. Louis quelled revolts by nobles like Hugh of Lusignan and finally fought a decisive battle against English in 1242.
His victory in Battle of Taillebourg made Henry III, King of England return empt handed. After this famous victory, Louis fell terribly ill. He promised himself that if he survived he would lead a crusade to free the Holy land. Upon his recovery, Louis decided to fulfill his promise and led the seventh crusade in 1248. Despite early successes against Egyptian forces, Louis and his army faced defeat while trying to capture Cairo.
Louis was captured by Egyptians and was freed only after paying huge ransom. In 1258, Louis signed a treaty of peace with Henry III. As per the terms of treaty, Louis left Henry continental holdings of Aquitaine and some neighboring territories. Henry III in return acknowledged himself as Louis’ vassal.
Later Life and Death: In 1267, Louis IX decided to proceed on the Eight Crusade to Tunisia. He waited for missionaries like Edward of England and his own brother Charles of Anjou to join him. However, in 1270 when all crusaders had landed in Carthage, disease broke out in camp and thousands died. Louis IX also died of dysentery on August 25, 1270.
He was succeeded by his son Philip III. Louis IX was a great patron of arts and architecture. He was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.