Louis VIII of France: Wikis


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Louis VIII the Lion
King of the Franks; Count of Artois
Louis VIII, King of France, in a non-contemporary portrait
Reign 14 July 1223 – 8 November 1226
Coronation 6 August 1223
Predecessor Philip II Augustus
Successor Louis IX
Spouse Blanche of Castile
Louis IX
Robert I, Count of Artois
Alphonse, Count of Toulouse and Poitiers
Saint Isabel of France
Charles I of Sicily
Father Philip II
Mother Isabelle of Hainaut
Born 5 September 1187(1187-09-05)
Paris, France
Died 8 November 1226 (aged 39)
Château Montpensier, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica

Louis VIII the Lion (5 September 1187 – 8 November 1226) reigned as King of France from 1223 to 1226. He was a member of the House of Capet. Louis VIII was born in Paris, France, the son of Philip II Augustus and Isabelle of Hainaut. He was also Count of Artois from 1190, inheriting the county from his mother.


As Prince Louis

On 23 May 1200, at the age of 12, Louis was married to Blanche of Castile, following prolonged negotiations between Philip Augustus and Blanche's uncle John of England (as represented in William Shakespeare's historical play King John).

In 1216, the English barons rebelled in the First Barons' War against the unpopular King John of England (1199–1216) and offered the throne to Prince Louis. Louis and an army landed in England; he was proclaimed King in London in May 1216, although he was not crowned. There was little resistance when the prince entered London. At St Paul's Cathedral, Louis was accepted as ruler with great pomp and celebration in the presence of all of London. Many nobles, as well as King Alexander II of Scotland (1214–49), gathered to give homage. On 14 June 1216, Louis captured Winchester and soon controlled over half of the English kingdom.[1]

After a year and a half of war, King John's death, and his replacement by a regency on behalf of the boy king Henry III (John's son), many of the rebellious barons deserted Louis. When his army was beaten at Lincoln, and his naval forces (led by Eustace the Monk) were defeated off the coast of Sandwich, he was forced to make peace under English terms.

The principal provisions of the Treaty of Lambeth were an amnesty for English rebels, Louis to undertake not to attack England again, and 10,000 marks to be given to Louis. The effect of the treaty was that Louis agreed he had never been the legitimate king of England.

As King Louis VIII

Louis VIII succeeded his father on 14 July 1223; his coronation took place on 6 August of the same year in the cathedral at Reims. As King, he continued to seek revenge on the Angevins and seized Poitou and Saintonge from them. There followed the seizure of Avignon and Languedoc.

Coronation of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile at Reims in 1223; a miniature from the Grandes Chroniques de France, painted in the 1450s, (Bibliothèque nationale)

On 1 November 1223, he issued an ordinance that prohibited his officials from recording debts owed to Jews, thus reversing the policies set by his father Philip II Augustus. Usury (lending money with interest) was illegal for Christians to practice. According to Church law it was seen as a vice in which people profited from others' misfortune (like gambling), and was punishable by excommunication, a severe punishment. However since Jews were not Christian, they could not be excommunicated, and thus fell in to a legal gray area which secular rulers would sometimes exploit by allowing (or requesting) Jews to provide usury services, often for personal gain to the secular ruler, and to the discontent of the Church. Louis VIII's prohibition was one attempt at resolving this legal problem which was a constant source of friction in Church and State courts.

French Monarchy
Direct Capetians
France Ancient.svg
Louis VIII
   Louis IX
   Robert I, Count of Artois
   Alphonse, Count of Poitou and Toulouse
   Saint Isabel of France
   Charles I of Anjou and Sicily

Twenty-six barons accepted, but Theobald IV (1201–53), the powerful Count of Champagne, did not, since he had an agreement with the Jews that guaranteed him extra income through taxation. Theobald IV would become a major opposition force to Capetian dominance, and his hostility was manifest during the reign of Louis VIII. For example, during the siege of Avignon, he performed only the minimum service of 40 days, and left home amid charges of treachery.

In 1225, the council of Bourges excommunicated the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VII, and declared a crusade against the southern barons. Louis happily renewed the conflict in order to enforce his royal rights. Roger Bernard the Great, count of Foix, tried to keep the peace, but the king rejected his embassy and the counts of Foix and Toulouse took up arms against him. The king was largely successful, but he did not complete the work before his death.

While returning to Paris, King Louis VIII became ill with dysentery, and died on 8 November 1226 in the chateau at Montpensier, Auvergne.

The Saint Denis Basilica houses the tomb of Louis VIII. His son, Louis IX (1226–70), succeeded him on the throne.


Marriage and issue

On 23 May 1200, at the age of twelve, Louis married Blanche of Castile (4 March 1188 – 26 November 1252).

  1. Blanche (1205–1206).
  2. Agnes (b. and d. 1207).
  3. Philippe (9 September 1209 – July 1218), married (or only betrothed) in 1217 to Agnes of Donzy.
  4. Alphonse (b. and d. Lorrez-le-Bocage, 23 January 1213).
  5. John (b. and d. Lorrez-le-Bocage, 23 January 1213), twin of Alphonse.
  6. Louis IX (Poissy, 25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270, Tunis), King of France as successor to his father.
  7. Robert (25 September 1216 – 9 February 1250, killed in Battle of Al Mansurah, Egypt)
  8. Philippe (2 January 1218–1220).
  9. John Tristan (21 July 1219–1232), Count of Anjou and Maine.
  10. Alphonse (Poissy, 11 November 1220 – 21 August 1271, Corneto), Count of Poitou and Auvergne, and by marriage, of Toulouse.
  11. Philippe Dagobert (20 February 1222–1232).
  12. Isabelle (14 April 1225 – 23 February 1269).
  13. Charles Etienne (21 March 1226 – 7 January 1285), Count of Anjou and Maine, by marriage Count of Provence and Forcalquier, and King of Sicily.


  1. ^ Alan Harding (1993), England in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 10. According to L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal Louis became "master of the country".
Louis VIII of France
Born: 5 September 1187 Died: 8 November 1226
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Philip II
King of France
14 July 1223 – 8 November 1226
Succeeded by
Louis IX
French royalty
Preceded by
Philip II
as co-King of France
Heir to the Throne
as Heir apparent
5 September 1187 — 14 July 1223
Succeeded by
Louis, Count of Artois
French nobility
Preceded by
Isabelle of Hainaut
Count of Artois
15 March 1190 – 8 November 1226
Succeeded by
Louis IX of France


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