Louis XI

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Louis XI,

1423–83, king of France (1461–83), son and successor of Charles VII.

Early Life

As dauphin Louis was almost constantly in revolt against his father. He was pardoned after joining (1440) the PragueriePraguerie
, 1440, revolt against King Charles VII of France, so called in allusion to the Hussite uprising in Prague. It was led by several great feudal lords, including the comte de Dunois, who resented the diminution of their influence over the royal government.
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; after conspiring (1446) against Agnès SorelSorel, Agnès
, c.1422–1450, mistress (1444–50) of Charles VII of France. She was the first mistress of a French king to be officially recognized as such. Witty and astute as well as beautiful, she wielded considerable influence over the king and his policies.
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 and Pierre de Brézé, he was exiled to the Dauphiné, which he governed himself. His continued intrigues forced another exile (1456–61), this time to the court of Philip the GoodPhilip the Good,
1396–1467, duke of Burgundy (1419–67); son of Duke John the Fearless. After his father was murdered (1419) at a meeting with the dauphin (later King Charles VII of France), Philip formed an alliance with King Henry V of England.
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 of Burgundy.

Conflict with the Nobility

Louis began his reign by dismissing many of his father's best advisers; but he soon deserted his former allies of the Praguerie and began the task of centralizing all authority in the crown. His measures to curb the power of the great nobles aroused (1465) the League of the Public Weal, headed by Charles the BoldCharles the Bold,
1433–77, last reigning duke of Burgundy (1467–77), son and successor of Philip the Good. As the count of Charolais before his accession, he opposed the growing power of King Louis XI of France by joining (1465) the League of Public Weal.
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, son of Philip the Good; Francis IIFrancis II,
1435–88, duke of Brittany. He succeeded (1458) his uncle Arthur III. In his struggle with the French crown for the independence of his duchy, Francis entered (1465) the League of the Public Weal against King Louis XI and invaded Normandy in 1467.
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, duke of Brittany; Jean, comte du DunoisDunois, Jean, comte de
, c.1403–1468, French general, called the Bastard of Orléans; natural son of Louis, duc d'Orléans. He joined the Armagnacs in the civil war during the reign of King Charles VI and was captured (1418) by the Burgundians (see Armagnacs
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; Antoine de ChabannesChabannes, Antoine de, comte de Dammartin
, 1408?–1488, French soldier in the Hundred Years War. He served with Joan of Arc, distinguishing himself at the siege of Orléans in 1428–29, fought as a captain of écorcheurs,
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; and the dukes of Alençon and Bourbon, under the nominal leadership of the king's brother Charles. The lesser nobility, the bourgeoisie, and the lower classes supported Louis, who also allied with the citizens of Liège, a Burgundian protectorate, against Charles the Bold. Louis successfully defended Paris, but in Oct., 1465, he granted the demands of the rebels in the treaties of Conflans and Saint-Maur-des-Fossés. He soon violated the treaties, taking Normandy from his brother Charles, to whom it had been granted.

In 1467 a new coalition against the king was formed by Charles the Bold, now duke of Burgundy, with Francis II; Charles also obtained the support of King Edward IV of England. When the duke of Brittany invaded Normandy, Louis arranged a truce with him. In 1468, at the expiration of the truce with Brittany, he subdued Normandy and forced Francis II to sign the Peace of Ancenis (1468). Having visited Péronne for an interview with Charles the Bold, Louis was made (1468) prisoner and forced to sign a treaty granting important concessions and compelling him to participate in suppressing the revolt of Liège, which he had helped instigate. After his release Henry involved himself in English affairs against Edward IV (see Roses, Wars of theRoses, Wars of the,
traditional name given to the intermittent struggle (1455–85) for the throne of England between the noble houses of York (whose badge was a white rose) and Lancaster (later associated with the red rose).

About the middle of the 15th cent.
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), aiding the restoration of King Henry VI.

Conflict with the French nobles continued. The death (1472) of Louis's brother Charles removed one opponent, and after a brief campaign Louis signed truces with Francis II and Charles the Bold. Charles renewed his alliance with Edward IV, who had regained the English throne. Louis, however, succeeded in buying off Edward IV when he invaded (1475) France to aid Charles, and in uniting the enemies of Charles the Bold, among whom the Swiss were the strongest. The Swiss victories over Charles and his death (1477) at Nancy enabled Louis to take Burgundy, Picardy, Boulogne, Artois, and Franche-Comté from Charles's daughter, Mary of BurgundyMary of Burgundy,
1457–82, wife of Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The marriage of Mary was a major event in European history, for it established the Hapsburgs in the Low Countries and
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. Mary's husband, Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian IMaximilian I,
1459–1519, Holy Roman emperor and German king (1493–1519), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. As emperor, he aspired to restore forceful imperial leadership and inaugurate much-needed administrative reforms in the increasingly
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), defeated (1479) Louis at Guinegate, but was ultimately forced to concede the Burgundian territories to Louis in the Treaty of Arras (see Arras, Treaty ofArras, Treaty of.
1 Treaty of 1435, between King Charles VII of France and Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. Through it, France and Burgundy became reconciled. Philip deserted his English allies and recognized Charles as king of France.
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). On the extinction of the house of Anjou, Louis acquired Anjou, Maine, Bar, and Provence.

Characteristics of Louis's Reign

A born diplomat, Louis skillfully checked his foreign and domestic enemies and set up an efficient central administration. He used commissions (and the one States-General he convoked) to give his acts the appearance of popular approval. He diminished the prestige of the courts. Despite his revocation (1461) of his father's pragmatic sanctionpragmatic sanction,
decision of state dealing with a matter of great importance to a community or a whole state and having the force of fundamental law. The term originated in Roman law and was used on the continent of Europe until modern times.
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 of Bourges, he intervened freely in church affairs. He imposed heavy taxes, using much of the revenue to purchase support. He also encouraged industry and expanded domestic and foreign trade. Louis preferred men of humble origin, and among his advisers were Olivier Le DaimLe Daim or Le Dain, Olivier
, d. 1484, favorite of King Louis XI of France. His original surname was Necker. Beginning as the king's barber and valet, he gained great influence over Louis and became one of the most
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, Louis Tristan L'Hermite, and Cardinal BalueBalue, Jean
, c.1421–1491, French statesman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. A trusted adviser of the French king Louis XI, he saved Paris for the king during the revolt of the League of the Public Weal (1465).
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, whom he rewarded liberally, though he was niggardly in his own expenses. Fearing assassination, he spent his last years in virtual self-imprisonment near ToursTours
, city (1990 pop. 133,403), capital of Indre-et-Loire dept., W central France, in Touraine, on the Loire River. It is a wine market and a tourist center, with metallurgical, chemical, electrical, clothing, and printing industries.
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. He was succeeded by his son, Charles VIIICharles VIII,
1470–98, king of France (1483–98), son and successor of Louis XI. He first reigned under the regency of his sister Anne de Beaujeu. After his marriage (1491) to Anne of Brittany, he freed himself from the influence of the regency and prepared to conquer
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.

Bibliography

See writings of a contemporary, CominesComines, Philippe de
, c.1447–c.1511, French historian, courtier, and diplomat. In 1472 he left the service of Charles the Bold of Burgundy to enter that of Louis XI of France, who rewarded him richly.
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; biographies by P. H. Champion (tr. 1929, repr. 1970), J. Cleugh (1970), and P. M. Kendall (1971).

Louis XI

1423--83, king of France (1461--83); involved in a struggle with his vassals, esp the duke of Burgundy, in his attempt to unite France under an absolute monarchy
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