Louis VI


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Related to Louis VI: Louis XVI, Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette

Louis VI

(Louis the Fat), 1081–1137, king of France (1108–37). He succeeded his father, Philip I, with whom he was associated in government from c.1100. He firmly established his authority within the royal domain, suppressing brigandage by robber barons and besieging their castles, and punishing wrongdoers. He continued his father's policy of opposing the English in Normandy and was almost continuously at war with King Henry I (1109–13, 1116–20, 1123–35); he often met with defeat, but his resistance checked a greater English advance. In 1124 he called up forces from far-flung regions of France; with strong support from the nobles he resisted the invasion of Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, who had come to the aid of Henry I. As a part of his plan for strengthening royal authority, Louis favored the church, liberally endowing its enterprises and selecting churchmen—notably the Abbé SugerSuger
, 1081–1151, French cleric and statesman, abbot of Saint-Denis from 1122, minister of kings Louis VI and Louis VII. Born into a peasant family and educated at the abbey of Saint-Denis, Suger was noted for his financial ability and his talent for conciliation.
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—as his ministers; he was vigorous, however, in enforcing his privilege of interference in ecclesiastical affairs. To gain support from the towns, he began to grant them royal charters. He obtained a foothold in Guienne (Aquitaine) by marrying his son Louis (his successor as Louis VII) to the heiress of the duchy, Eleanor of AquitaineEleanor of Aquitaine
, 1122?–1204, queen consort first of Louis VII of France and then of Henry II of England. Daughter and heiress of William X, duke of Aquitaine, she married Louis in 1137 shortly before his accession to the throne.
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. His enforcement of order and justice made Louis popular with the middle classes, the peasantry, and the clergy. Suger's Vie de Louis VI Le Gros (tr. 1964) is the standard monography for the history of Louis's reign.