1423 - 1483
||Louis XI King Of FRANCE [1, 2] |
||Between 24 and 30 Aug 1483 [1, 2]
||03 Jul 1423
||Bourges [1, 2]
||Dauphin of France 
||Notre-Dame de Clery, Montils 
- Excerpt from Wikipedia:
Louis XI the Prudent (French: Louis XI le Prudent) (July 3, 1423 ? August 30, 1483), also informally nicknamed l'universelle aragne (old French for "universal spider"), or the "Spider King," was King of France (1461?1483). He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the Valois Dynasty, grandson of Charles VI and Isabeau de BaviËre and one of the most successful kings of France in terms of uniting the country. His 22-year reign was marked by political machinations, which earned him his nickname.
His scheming and love for intrigue made him many enemies, in particular those who bore the name "Charles":
Charles VII, his own father,
Charles de Valois, Duc de Berry, his brother, and
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who was to be his greatest foe.
Louis is known to have been shrewd and often vicious. But, in curbing the power of the dukes, he re-established the power of the monarchy, and ensured the survival of the French nation itself. For all his diabolical qualities, he used them to create tremendous good for his country.
He was born at Bourges, Cher in 1423, during the period when the English held northern France. His father Charles the Dauphin (or "crown prince") held only the centre and south. Louis was the grandson of the strong-willed Yolande of Aragon, the princess who was the driving force in saving France from the English. Louis despised his father, regarding him as a weakling. His marriage on June 24, 1436 to Margaret of Scotland, daughter of King James I of Scotland, was forced upon him and did not help their relationship.
In 1440 Louis was part of the uprising known as the Praguerie, which sought to submit Charles and install Louis as Regent. The uprising failed and Louis was forced to submit to the King, who forgave him. Louis continued soldiering. In 1444 he fought the Swiss at the Battle of Brise and was impressed by their military might.
Louis still loathed Charles however and on the 27 September 1446 he was ordered out of court and sent to his own province of DauphinÈ, where he was ordered to establish order. Despite frequent summons by the King, the two would never to meet again. In DauphinÈ, Louis ruled as King in all but name, continuing his intrigues against his father. On February 14, 1451, Louis, 27, married again, without Charles' consent. It was a strategic marriage to the eight-year-old Charlotte of Savoy (1443- December 1, 1483). It would not be consummated until she was fourteen and their children included:
Anne of France, (April, 1461 ? November 14, 1522), who became Duchess of Bourbon,
Jeanne (April 23, 1464 ? February 4, 1505), who became Duchess of Orleans,
Charles VIII of France (June 30, 1470 ? April 8, 1498)
Finally in August 1456, Charles sent an army to DauphinÈ. Louis fled to Burgundy where he was granted refuge by Duke Philip the Good and his son Charles the Bold and settled in the castle of Genappe. King Charles was furious when Philip refused to hand Louis over; he knew the man and warned that the Duke was "giving shelter to a fox who will eat his chickens".
In 1461 Louis learned that his father was dying. He thus hurried to Reims to be crowned in case his brother, Charles, Duke de Berry, beat him to it.
The Entry of Louis XI. into Paris.--Facsimile of a Miniature in the "Chroniques" of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).
Louis as King
Ironically, after being such a thorn in his father's side, Louis pursued many of the same interests as he had done less successfully: submitting the powers of the Dukes and Barons of France. He justified this as sheer Realpolitik: it was now in his best interests, since he was now the king. He suppressed many of his former co-conspirators, who had thought him their friend. He became extremely fiscally prudent, whereas he had previously been lavish and extravagant. He wore rough and simple clothes and mixed with ordinary people and merchants.
A candid account of some of Louis' activities is given by the courtier, Philippe de Commines, in his memoirs of the period.
The Feud with Charles the Bold
Philip the Good was keen to start a Crusade and Louis gave him money in exchange for a number of territories including Picardie and Amiens. But Philip's son, Charles, was angry, feeling that he was being deprived of his inheritance. He joined a rebellion called the League of the Public Weal, led by Louis' brother Charles. Although the rebels were largely unsuccessful in battle, Louis was forced to grant an unfavourable peace as a matter of political expediency.
Upon becoming Duke in 1467, Charles seriously considered having an independent Kingdom of his own. But he had many problems with his territories, especially with the people of Liege who were constantly rising against him. Louis was their ally.
In 1468 Louis and Charles met in Peronne, but in the course of the negotiations they learned that the Liegois had again risen up and killed the Burgundian governor. Charles was furious. Commines and the Duke's other advisors had to calm him down for fear that he might hit the King. Louis was forced into a humiliating treaty, giving up many of the lands he had acquired and witnessing the siege of Liege in which hundreds were massacred.
But once out of Charles' reach, Louis declared the treaty invalid and set about building up his forces. His aim was to destroy Burgundy once and for all. War broke out in 1472, but Charles' siege of Beauvais and other towns were unsuccessful and he finally sued for peace. Commines rallied to the King's side and was made welcome.
Dealings with England
Meanwhile England was going through its own civil conflict known as the Wars of the Roses. Louis had an interest in this conflict since Charles the Bold was allied with the Yorkists who opposed King Henry VI. When the Earl of Warwick fell out with Edward IV, whom he had placed on the throne, Louis granted him refuge in France. He then encouraged Warwick to form an alliance with his bitter enemy, Margaret of Anjou, in order to restore her husband Henry VI to the throne. The plan worked and Edward was forced into exile, but he later returned and Warwick the Kingmaker was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.
Now the undisputed master of England, Edward invaded France in 1475, but Louis was able to negotiate the Treaty of Picquigny by which the English gave up their claim to the French throne once and for all. Louis bragged that although his father had driven the English out by force of arms, he'd driven them out by force of p‚tÈ, venison and good wine.
Settling with Charles the Bold
Louis still had to take care of the Duke of Burgundy and for this he employed the Swiss, whose military might was renown and which he had admired at Brise.
War broke out between Charles and the Swiss, but it was a disastrous campaign for the Duke and he was finally killed at the Battle of Nancy on January 5, 1477.
Louis had won over his sworn enemy. Other lords who still favoured the Feudal system gave in to his authority. Others like Jacques d'Armagnac, Duke of Nemours were executed.
Louis then started developing the Kingdom. He encouraged trade fairs and the building and maintenance of roads. He is seen as one of the first modern Kings of France, taking it out of the Middle Ages.
Louis XI was very superstitious. He surrounded himself with astrologers. Interested in science, he once pardoned a man sentenced to death on condition that he serve as a guinea pig in a gallstone operation.
By war, by cunning and with sheer guile, Louis XI overcame France's feudal lords, and at the time of his death in the chateau at Plessis-lez-Tours, he had united France and laid the foundations of a strong monarchy. He was however a secretive, isolated and reclusive man and few mourned his passing.
Louis XI died in August of 1483 and was interred in the Notre-Dame de ClÈry Basilica  in ClÈry-Sant-AndrÈ in the Arrondissement of OrlÈans. His wife Charlotte died a few months later and is interred with him. Louis XI was succeeded by his son, Charles VIII, who was thirteen, and his eldest daughter Anne of France became Regent.
Walter Scott's posthumous attack on Louis XI
Louis XI's undermining of the Feudal system and of the knightly code of Chivalry rooted in that system earned him the uncompromising posthumous enmity of the Nineteenth Century Romantic writer Sir Walter Scott.
Scott's foreword to the novel "Quentin Durward" constitutes a bitter attack on the French king, three and a half centuries dead at the time of writing (1831). Scott wrote that "(...) Among those who were the first to ridicule and abandon the self-denying principles in which the young knight was instructed, and to which he was so carefully trained up, Louis XI was the chief. That Sovereign was of a character so purely selfish - go guiltless of entertaining any purpose unconnected with his ambition, covetousness and desire of selfish enjoyment - that he seems almost an incarnation of the devil himself, permitted to do his utmost to corrupt our ideas of honour at the very source."
Later in the same essay, Scott compared Louis XI to Goethe's Mephistopheles.
- [S01910] Blood Royal, Issue of the Kings and Queens of Medieval England 1066-1399 by. T. Anna Leese.
- [S03581] Wikipedia Encyclopedia.