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Louis VII
King of the Franks (more...)
Effigy of Louis VII, denier, Bourges
Junior king
Senior king
25 October 1131 – 1 August 1137
1 August 1137 – 18 September 1180
Coronation 25 October 1131
Predecessor Louis VI
Successor Philip II Augustus
Spouse Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine
Constance of Castile
Adèle of Champagne
Issue
Marie, Countess of Champagne
Alix, Countess of Blois
Margaret, Queen of Hungary
Alys, Countess of the Vexin
Philip II of France
Agnes, Byzantine Empress
Father Louis VI of France
Mother Adélaide of Maurienne
Born 1120
Died September 18, 1180[aged 60]
Saint-Pont, Allier
Burial Saint Denis Basilica

Louis VII, called the Younger or the Young, French: Louis le Jeune (1120 – 18 September 1180), was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI (hence his nickname). He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles (in particular with the Angevin family), and saw the beginning of the long feud between France and England. It also saw the beginning of construction on Notre-Dame de Paris, the founding of the University of Paris and the disastrous Second Crusade.

Contents

Early life

Louis VII was born in 1120, the second son of Louis VI of France and Adelaide of Maurienne. As a younger son, Louis VII had been raised to follow the ecclesiastical path. He unexpectedly became the heir to the throne of France after the accidental death of his older brother, Philip, in 1131. A well-learned and exceptionally devout man, Louis VII was better suited for life as a priest than as a monarch.

In his youth, he spent much time in Saint-Denis, where he built a friendship with the Abbot Suger which was to serve him well in his early years as king.

Early reign

In the same year he was crowned King of France, Louis VII was married on 25 July 1137 to Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, heiress of William X of Aquitaine. The pairing of the monkish Louis VII and the high-spirited Eleanor was doomed to failure; she once reportedly declared that she had thought to marry a King, only to find she'd married a monk. They had only two daughters, Marie and Alix.

In the first part of Louis VII's reign he was vigorous and jealous of his prerogatives, but after his Crusade his piety limited his ability to become an effective statesman. His accession was marked by no disturbances, save the uprisings of the burgesses of Orléans and of Poitiers, who wished to organize communes. But soon he came into violent conflict with Pope Innocent II. The archbishopric of Bourges became vacant, and the King supported as candidate the chancellor Cadurc, against the Pope's nominee Pierre de la Chatre, swearing upon relics that so long as he lived Pierre should never enter Bourges. This brought the interdict upon the King's lands.

Louis VII then became involved in a war with Theobald II of Champagne, by permitting Raoul I of Vermandois and seneschal of France, to repudiate his wife, Theobald II's niece, and to marry Petronilla of Aquitaine, sister of the queen of France. Champagne also sided with the Pope in the dispute over Bourges. The war lasted two years (114244) and ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army. Louis VII was personally involved in the assault and burning of the town of Vitry. More than a thousand people who had sought refuge in the church died in the flames. Overcome with guilt, and humiliated by ecclesiastical contempt, Louis admitted defeat, removing his armies from Champagne and returning them to Theobald, accepting Pierre de la Chatre, and shunning Ralph and Petronilla. Desiring to atone for his sins, he then declared on Christmas Day 1145 at Bourges his intention of going on a crusade. Bernard of Clairvaux assured its popularity by his preaching at Vezelay (Easter 1146).

Géza II of Hungary and Louis VII of France. Image from the hungarian chronicum pictum. XVI century.

Meanwhile in 1144, Geoffrey the Handsome, Count of Anjou, completed his conquest of Normandy. In exchange for being recognised as Duke of Normandy by Louis, Geoffrey surrendered half of the Vexin — a region considered vital to Norman security — to Louis. Considered a clever move by Louis at the time, it would later prove yet another step towards Angevin power.

Raymond of Poitiers welcoming Louis VII in Antioch.

In June 1147 Louis VII and his queen, Eleanor, set out from Metz, Lorraine, on the overland route to Syria. Soon they arrived to the Kingdom of Hungary were they were welcomed by the king Géza II of Hungary, who was already waiting with the german emperor. Due his good relationships with Louis VII, Géza II asked to the french king to be his son Stephen's baptism godfather. After receiving provitions from the hungarian king, the armies continued the march to the East. Just beyond Laodicea the French army was ambushed by Turks. The French were bombarded by arrows and heavy stones, the Turks swarmed down from the mountains and the massacre began. The historian Odo of Deuil reported:

During the fighting the King [Louis] lost his small and famous royal guard, but he remained in good heart and nimbly and courageously scaled the side of the mountain by gripping the tree roots … The enemy climbed after him, hoping to capture him, and the enemy in the distance continued to fire arrows at him. But God willed that his cuirass should protect him from the arrows, and to prevent himself from being captured he defended the crag with his bloody sword, cutting off many heads and hands.

Louis VII and his army finally reached the Holy Land in 1148. His queen Eleanor supported her uncle, Raymond of Antioch, and prevailed upon Louis to help Antioch against Aleppo. But Louis VII's interest lay in Jerusalem, and so he slipped out of Antioch in secret. He united with Conrad III of Germany and King Baldwin III of Jerusalem to lay siege to Damascus; this ended in disaster and the project was abandoned. Louis VII decided to leave the Holy Land, despite the protests of Eleanor, who still wanted to help her doomed uncle Raymond of Antioch. Louis VII and the French army returned home in 1149.

French Monarchy
Direct Capetians
France Ancient.svg
Louis VII
   Mary, Countess of Champagne
   Alix, Countess of Blois
   Marguerite, Queen of Hungary
   Alys, Countess of the Vexin
   Philip II
   Agnes, Empress of Constantinople

A shift in the status quo

The expedition came to a great cost to the royal treasury and military. It also precipitated a conflict with Eleanor, leading to the annulment of their marriage at the council of Beaugency (March 1152). The pretext of kinship was the basis for annulment; in fact, it owed more to the state of hostility between the two, and the decreasing odds that their marriage would produce a male heir to the throne of France. Eleanor subsequently married Henry, Count of Anjou, the future Henry II of England, in the following May, giving him the duchy of Aquitaine, three daughters, and five sons. Louis VII led an ineffective war against Henry for having married without the authorization of his suzerain; the result was a humiliation for the enemies of Henry and Eleanor, who saw their troops routed, their lands ravaged, and their property stolen. Louis reacted by coming down with a fever, and returned to the Ile-de France.

In 1154 Louis VII married Constance of Castile, daughter of Alfonso VII of Castile. She, too, failed to give him a son and heir, bearing only two daughters, Marguerite of France, and Alys.

Louis having produced no sons by 1157, Henry II of England began to believe that he might never do so, and that consequently the succession of France would be left in question. Determined to secure a claim for his family, he sent the Chancellor, Thomas Becket, to press for a marriage between Princess Marguerite and Henry's heir, also called Henry (later Henry the Young King). Louis, surprisingly, agreed to this proposal, and by the Treaty of Gisors (1158) betrothed the young pair, giving as a dowry the Norman Vexin and Gisors.

Louis VII receiving clergymen, from a late medieval manuscript.

Constance died in childbirth on 4 October 1160, and five weeks later Louis VII married Adela of Champagne. Henry II, to counterbalance the advantage this would give the King of France, had the marriage of their children (Henry "the Young King" and Marguerite) celebrated at once. Louis understood the danger of the growing Angevin power; however, through indecision and lack of fiscal and military resources compared to Henry II's, he failed to oppose Angevin hegemony effectively. One of his few successes, in 1159, was his trip to Toulouse to aid Raymond V, Count of Toulouse who had been attacked by Henry II: after he entered into the city with a small escort, claiming to be visiting the Countess his sister, Henry declared that he could not attack the city whilst his liege lord was inside, and went home.

Diplomacy

At the same time the emperor Frederick I (115290) in the east was making good the imperial claims on Arles. When the schism broke out, Louis VII took the part of the Pope Alexander III, the enemy of Frederick I, and after two comical failures of Frederick I to meet Louis VII at Saint Jean de Losne (on 29 August and 22 September 1162), Louis VII definitely gave himself up to the cause of Alexander III, who lived at Sens from 1163 to 1165. Alexander III gave the King, in return for his loyal support, the golden rose.

More importantly for French — and English — history would be his support for Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, whom he tried to reconcile with Henry II. Louis sided with Becket as much to damage Henry as out of piousness — yet even he grew irritated with the stubbornness of the archbishop, asking when Becket refused Henry's conciliations, "Do you wish to be more than a Saint?"

He also supported Henry's rebellious sons, and encouraged Plantagenet disunity by making Henry's sons, rather than Henry himself, the feudal overlords of the Angevin territories in France; but the rivalry amongst Henry's sons and Louis's own indecisiveness broke up the coalition (117374) between them. Finally, in 1177, the Pope intervened to bring the two Kings to terms at Vitry.

In 1165, Louis' third wife bore him a son and heir, Philip II Augustus. Louis had him crowned at Reims in 1179, in the Capetian tradition (Philip would in fact be the last King so crowned). Already stricken with paralysis, King Louis VII himself was not able to be present at the ceremony. He died on September 18, 1180 at the Abbey at Saint-Pont, Allier and is interred in Saint Denis Basilica.

Marriages and Children

Louis married three times. By Eleanor of Aquitaine, he had:

By Constance of Castile:

By Adele of Champagne:

Legacy

The reign of Louis VII was, from the point of view of royal territory and military power a difficult and unfortunate one. Yet the royal authority made progress in the parts of France distant from the royal domains: more direct and more frequent connection was made with distant vassals, a result largely due to the alliance of the clergy with the crown. Louis VII thus reaped the reward for services rendered the church during the least successful portion of his reign. His greater accomplishments lie in the development of agriculture, population, commerce, the building of stone fortresses, as well as an intellectual renaissance. Considering the significant disparity of political leverage and financial resources between Louis VII and his Angevin rival, not to mention Henry II's superior military skills, Louis VII should be credited with preserving the Capetian dynasty.

Fictional portrayals

Louis is a character in Jean Anouilh's play Becket. In the 1964 film adaptation he was portrayed by John Gielgud, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was also portrayed by Charles Kay in the 1978 BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown.

Ancestors

Sources

  • Meade, Marion. Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography. 1977.

References

Louis VII of France
Born: 1120 Died: 18 September 1180
Preceded by
Philip (II)
co-King of France
Under Louis VI

25 October 1131 – 1 August 1137
Succeeded by
Philip II
Preceded by
Louis VI
King of France
With Philip II as co-King
(1 November 1179 – 18 September 1180)

1 August 1137–18 September 1180
Preceded by
Aenor de Châtellerault
Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou by marriage
With Eleanor of Aquitaine

22 July 1137 – 21 March 1152
Succeeded by
Henry II of England
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Louis VII (11201180-09-18) was King of France from 1137 until his death.

Unsourced

  • Now in Ireland, now in England, now in Normandy — he must fly rather than go by horse or ship.
    • On his enemy, King Henry II of England.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Louis VII the Young
King of the Franks
Louis VII the Young of France
Reign As co-King: 25 October 11311 August 1137
As senior King: 1 August 113718 September 1180
Coronation 25 October 1131, Cathedral of Reims
Titles Jure uxoris Duke of Aquitaine (113752)
Born 1120
Died September 18, 1180
Place of death Saint-Pont, Allier
Buried Saint Denis Basilica
Predecessor Louis VI
Successor Philip II Augustus
Consort Eleanor of Aquitaine (11221204)
Constance of Castile (11411160)
Adèle of Champagne (1140–1206)
Offspring Marie, Countess of Champagne (114598)
Alix, Countess of Blois (115197/98)
Marguerite, Queen of Hungary (115897)
Alys, Countess of the Vexin (11601220)
Philip Augustus (1165-1223)
Agnes, Byzantine Empress (11711240)
Royal House House of Capet
Father Louis VI of France (10811137)
Mother Adélaide of Maurienne (1092–1154)

Louis VII, called the Younger or the Young (French: Louis le Jeune; 1120 – 18 September 1180), was King of France from 1137 until his death. He was the son and successor of Louis VI.

Ancestors

Louis VII of France Father:
Louis VI of France
Paternal Grandfather:
Philip I of France
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Henry I of France
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Anne of Kiev
Paternal Grandmother:
Bertha of Holland
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Floris I, Count of Holland
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Gertrude of Saxony
Mother:
Adelaide of Maurienne
Maternal Grandfather:
Humbert II of Savoy
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Amadeus II of Savoy
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Joan of Geneva
Maternal Grandmother:
Gisela of Burgundy
Maternal Great-grandfather:
William I, Count of Burgundy
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Stephanie

Marriages and Children

Louis married three times. By Eleanor of Aquitaine, he had:

  • Marie, married Henry I of Champagne
  • Alix, married Theobald V of Blois

By Constance of Castile:

By Adele of Champagne:


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