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Louis,1682–1712, titular duke of Burgundy; grandson of King Louis XIV of France. He became heir to the throne on the death (1711) of his father, Louis the Great Dauphin. François de FénelonFénelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe
, 1651–1715, French theologian and writer, a leader of the quietism heresy, archbishop of Cambrai. As tutor to the duke of Burgundy, he wrote Télémaque
..... Click the link for more information. was his tutor and wrote Télémaque for his use. Louis was the rallying point of the opposition to Louis XIV—reactionary nobles and liberals alike—and miracles were expected of him. When he died suddenly during an epidemic (possibly of scarlet fever), rumors of poisoning circulated. His death is described in a famous passage in the memoirs of the duc de Saint-Simon. He was the father of King Louis XV of France and the brother of King Philip V of Spain.
Kings of France. The most important are the following:
Louis VI the Fat. Born circa 1081; died Aug. 1, 1137, in Paris. Reigned from 1108; member of the Capetian dynasty.
Louis VI laid the foundation for the consolidation of royal power; he fought successfully against the independence of the barons within the royal domain and was able to extend his influence beyond its borders. He destroyed the castles of insubordinate vassals or placed his own garrisons in them. In his policy Louis relied on the cities, to which he granted communal rights, and on the church. A prominent royal adviser was Abbe Suger, who wrote a panegyrical biography of Louis VI.
REFERENCELuchaire, A. Louis VI le Gros … . Paris, 1890.
Louis VII. Born between 1119 and 1121; died Sept. 18, 1180, in Paris. Reigned from 1137; member of the Capetian dynasty.
Louis VII was one of the leaders of the Second Crusade (1147-49). Abbé Suger, the regent in the King’s absence, strengthened the royal authority. In 1152, Louis VII dissolved his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine; this action led to France’s temporary loss of Aquitaine (which was ceded to England in 1154) and laid the foundation for a prolonged war between the French Capetian and English Plantagenet kings over French territory.
REFERENCEPacaut, M. Louis VII et son royaume. Paris, 1964.
Louis VIII. Born Sept. 5, 1187, in Paris; died Nov. 8, 1226, in Montpensier. Reigned from 1223; member of the Capetian dynasty.
Married to the granddaughter of Henry II Plantagenet, Louis VIII laid claim to the English throne. In 1216, Louis was summoned by the English barons, who had raised a revolt against John “Lackland”; but after the latter’s death (in 1216) Louis suffered defeat in a war against Henry III. After becoming king of France, Louis won Poitou, Limousin, Perigord, and certain other French territories back from the English. Continuing the policy of Phillip II Augustus, he granted the cities liberties and privileges. In 1226 he led a campaign against the Albigenses.
REFERENCEPetit-Dutaillis, Ch. Etude sur la vie et le regne de Louis VIII. Paris, 1894.
Louis IX (St. Louis). Born Apr. 25, 1214, in Poissy; died Aug. 25, 1270, in Tunis. Reigned from 1226; member of the Capetian dynasty. Prior to 1236 his mother, Blanche of Castile, was regent.
Louis IX carried out a number of reforms in centralizing state authority. The importance of the seignorial courts was decreased; in Paris a special court chamber was established (later called a parliament). It became the highest appeals court in the country, and important administrative functions were transferred to its jurisdiction. Gold and silver royal coins of full value were minted, and they started to predominate over the numerous types of coins minted by individual feudal lords and cities. Louis’s foreign policy was not very successful. In 1248 he led the Seventh Crusade; in 1250 he was imprisoned by the sultan of Egypt (and later ransomed for an enormous sum of money). In accordance with the Treaty of Paris of 1259 he ceded Guyenne to the English. Louis died from the plague (in Tunis) during the Eighth Crusade, which he had initiated. In 1297 he was canonized.
REFERENCESGarreau, A. Saint Louis et son royaume. Paris .
Buisson, L. Konig Ludwig IX, der Heilige, und das Recht. Freiburg, 1954.
Bloch, M. La France sous les derniers Capetiens, 1223-1328. Paris, 1958.
Labarge, M. W. Saint Louis. Toronto, 1968.
When Louis XI was dauphin he took part in revolts against his father, Charles VII; but when he had ascended the throne, he crushed feudal revolts (by the League of the Public Weal in 1465 and others) as part of a consistent policy of strengthening the royal power, centralization, and the territorial unification of France. In the struggle against the feudal aristocracy, which was resisting centralization, Louis drew support from the cities, as well as from the petty and middle nobility. In 1462 he acquired Roussillon and Cerdagne as the result of a victory (gained by Swiss arms) in the Burgundian Wars of 1474-77 (which ended with the death of Charles the Bold), as well as the duchy of Burgundy and Picardy; in 1481, Anjou, Maine, and Provence were annexed to the royal domain, and the territorial unification of France was basically completed. In establishing a centralized state Louis XI preferred diplomatic negotiations, bribery, and intrigue to open military actions. He gave protection to crafts and facilitated the creation of silk production and the growth of domestic and foreign trade. Louis’s privileges and support were enjoyed primarily by the rich burghers (he attracted many of them into state service as officials and granted them titles of nobility). During the reign of Louis XI the prerequisites for the development of further absolutism were created in France.
REFERENCESCalmette, J. Le Grand Regne de Louis XL [Paris, 1938.]
Gandilhon, R. La Politique economique de Louis XL Rennes, 1940.
Champion, P. Le Roi Louis XL. Paris .
Louis XII. Born June 27, 1462, in Blois; died Jan. 1, 1515, in Paris. Reigned from 1498; member of the Valois dynasty (Orleans branch). During the minority of King Charles VIII, Louis took part in the feudal opposition. The rebels were smashed at the battle of St. Aubin-du-Cormier (1488); Louis was imprisoned but was set free by the king in 1491. When he ascended to the throne, Louis XII succeeded in obtaining permission from the pope to divorce his first wife, and he married the widow of Charles VIII, Anne of Brittany; this action prolonged the personal union between France and Brittany. By his 1499 campaign into Italy, Louis renewed the Italian Wars of 1494-1559. By the end of his life he had lost the lands that he had earlier gained in Italy. Since he needed a strong army, and in order to reinforce his position in France, Louis promulgated a number of reforms to reorganize the army and set the courts in order, as well as reforms of taxation and the monetary system.
Louis XIII. Born Sept. 27, 1601, in Fontainebleau; died May 14, 1643, in St. Germain-en-Laye. Reigned from 1610; member of the Bourbon dynasty. Son of Henry IV and Marie de Medicis (who was regent until 1614).
The beginning of Louis XIII’s reign was marked by disturbances among the feudal aristocracy, who took advantage of the king’s minority. From 1624 to 1642 the de facto ruler of France was Cardinal Richelieu, under whom the further strengthening of French absolutism proceeded.
Louis XIV. Born Sept. 5, 1638, in St. Germain-en-Laye; died Sept. 1, 1715, in Versailles. Reigned from 1643; member of the Bourbon dynasty; son of Louis XIII.
During the reign of Louis XIV his mother, Anne of Austria, was regent until 1651, and the de facto ruler prior to 1661 was Cardinal Mazarin. During this period the Fronde was crushed and the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) and the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) were concluded; these treaties were advantageous to France and created the conditions for strengthening absolutism. The period of Louis XIV’s independent rule (dating from 1661) was the high point in the development of French absolutism. Court flatterers gave Louis XIV the name of “sun king”; legend has ascribed to him the saying: “I am the state.” To add to the grandeur of the royal power Louis strove to utilize science, art, and literature, which flourished during his reign. In the field of economics J. B. Colbert’s policy of mercantilism was carried out during Louis XIV’s reign. Louis waged numerous wars (the War of Devolution of 1667-68, the War of 1672-78 against a coalition headed by Holland, the War of the Spanish Succession of 1701-14, which was unsuccessful for France, and others). In 1679-80, Louis XIV established the “Annexation Offices” to investigate the rights of the French crown to a territory in question. In 1681, Strasbourg was annexed.
Louis entered into a struggle with Pope Innocent XI over the issue of submission to the church; in 1682 he organized an assembly of French clergy, which published the Declaration of the Gallican Clergy. Within the country the Jansenists were persecuted, as well as the Calvinists (the revocation in 1685 of the Edict of Nantes of 1598). Continuous wars, huge expenditures by the royal court, exorbitantly high taxes, and religious intolerance made the reign of Louis XIV particularly difficult for the people. Numerous popular uprisings broke out, especially during the later decades of Louis XIV’s reign. The most important of these was the Camisard Uprising, which began in 1702.
REFERENCESSavin, A. N. Vek Liudovika XIV. Moscow, 1930.
Hautecoeur, L. Louis XIV. [Paris] 1953.
Wolf, J. B. Louis XIV. London, 1968.
After Louis XV reached his majority, the rule of France was in the hands of the duke of Bourbon (in 1723-26) and Louis’s former tutor, Cardinal Fleury (in 1726-43). In 1725, Louis XV married Maria Leszczyriska (the daughter of Stanislas Leszczyriski). In 1743, Louis declared his intention to rule independently. Subsequently an important role in state affairs was played by Louis’s mistresses (the Marquise de Pompadour and the Countess Du Barry). The king’s extravagance led to disorder in the treasury. In 1757 an attempt was made on the life of Louis XV. His reign was marked by the crisis of French absolutism.
Louis XVI. Born Aug. 23, 1754, in Versailles; died Jan. 21, 1793, in Paris. Reigned from 1774 to 1792; member of the Bourbon dynasty.
After ascending the throne during an acute political crisis, Louis XVI attempted to overcome it in 1774 by removing the officials of the former king who were hated by the bourgeoisie (Chancellor R. N. Maupeou and Controller-General of Finances J. M. Terray), as well as by efforts at reform (which were carried out by A. R. Turgot and J. Necker). Resistance from the privileged classes compelled Louis to abandon these reforms and to make Necker resign in 1781. The further growth of the crisis, however, forced Louis to bring Necker back (1788) and to convoke the Estates General in May 1789. Louis attempted to hinder the transformation of the Estates General into a National, and later a Constituent, Assembly; but when the Great French Revolution began (on July 14, 1789), the king was compelled to give formal recognition to the Constituent Assembly and to ratify a number of its decrees; at the same time he was secretly preparing a counterrevolutionary coup.
The uprising of the people of Paris on Oct. 5-6,1789, cut short these plans and compelled Louis XVI to move with his family from Versailles to Paris. Together with Marie Antoinette, Louis strove to bring about armed actions by Austria and Prussia against revolutionary France. In June 1791 he attempted to flee from the country along with his family, but not far from the frontier (at Varennes) he was recognized, held, and returned as a prisoner to Paris. He hypocritically swore an oath to the Constitution of 1791. After the beginning of the war against Austria in 1792, Louis secretly transmitted to the enemy important information concerning France’s armed forces and military plans. The popular uprising of Aug. 10, 1792, drove Louis XVI from the throne, and he and his family were imprisoned in the Temple. He was tried for his counterrevolutionary activities by the Convention (December 1792-January 1793) and, condemned to death by a majority of votes, he was guillotined.
During the reign of his brother Louis XVI, Louis XVIII held the title of count of Provence. In 1791 he fled from France and was considered the head of the French counterrevolutionary emigration. After the execution of Louis XVI (in 1793) he proclaimed his minor nephew to be king (as Louis XVII) and himself as regent; after the death of Louis XVII (in 1795) he proclaimed himself king of France. Louis was supported by the monarchs of Europe and acceded to the throne after the fall of Napoleon I (1814). During the period of the Hundred Days, Louis fled to Belgium in March 1815, and he returned to France in July 1815 along with the troops of foreign states. Because he feared a revolutionary outburst, Louis was compelled at first to conduct a relatively moderate policy, and in 1816 he even dissolved the ultraroyalist Chamber of Deputies (la chambre introuvable). But from 1820 and especially from late 1821, when the ultraroyalists gained the upper hand in the government, Louis made a sharp turn toward open reaction. (The government of J. B. Villele carried out a reactionary policy.)