Louis IX or Saint Louis was an important King of France in the 13th century. He came from the Capetian Family of France. He is revered in French history as being the most popular Capetian king.
During his reign he established the French Royal Justice that granted the right to appeal. The reformation of the judicial system also included the idea that criminals were presumed innocent until proven guilty. He is the only French King to be canonized by the Catholic Church, hence the name Saint Louis.
King Louis IX was born in 1214 C.E. to Prince Louis the Lion who would later become king of France known as King Louis VIII. His father was the son of King Philip II of France. His mother was Princess Blanche the daughter of Alfonso VIII who was the King of Castile.
At the age of nine years old his father was crowned King of France. The reign of his father was short and King Louis VIII died three years into his reign. King Louis IX was appointed the King of France at a tender age of 12 years old.
King Louis IX’s mother Blanche was very influential while he was growing up and after Louis IX became king. She acted not only as his sole guardian but also as the regent of France until Louis IX became of age to rule.
During his upbringing Blanche formed Louis IX’s ideals about religion which would play out later as king. Historians believe King Louis IX started to rule France independently at the age of 20 years old. Even though he was king, his mother played an important role as an influential advisor.
When Louis IX took control of the government he married the daughter of Raymond VI the Count of Provence. Margaret’s longevity as Louis IX’s wife is remarkable. They stayed happily married for decades and had eleven children.
Their marriage proved to be a thorn in the side of his Blanche. She tried desperately to keep the two individuals apart and continue to push her influence with Louis IX and his advisors.
During his reign as King of France, Louis IX had many problems to deal with from revolts within France and outsiders from England. He fought against noble people such as Hugh of Lusignan as well as King Henry III of England until Louis IX’s forces defeated the king at the Battle of Taillebourg in 1242 C.E. After being victorious in battle against England, Louis IX became ill. While being sick he promised to lead a crusade to free the Holy Land.
In 1248 C.E. when his health returned to normal, Louis IX led the seventh crusade. He was successful at first against the Egyptian army but his soldiers were defeated while trying to enter Cairo.
After the battle Louis IX was captured by the Egyptians and forced to pay a huge tribute and return any lands gained during his campaign for his freedom. He would then continue on his crusade in the kingdoms of Acre, Caesarea, and Jaffe for four more years.
For many years to follow, King Louis IX tried to form alliances with several Muslim factions including the Egyptians, Mongols, and the Ismailian Assassins.
In 1258 C.E. King Louis IX entered into a treaty with Henry III. The treaty gave lands in Aquitaine to Henry III and the King of England then proclaimed himself a vassal of King Louis IX.
His last campaign began in 1267 C.E. with the eighth crusade to Tunisia. Louis IX teamed up with Edward of England and his brother Charles of Anjou. Finally in 1270 C.E. all the armies had landed in Carthage.
Unfortunately, immediately upon their arrival dysentery broke out in camp. King Louis IX succumbed to the disease along with thousands of the crusaders. He died in August of 1270 C.E. He was succeeded by his son Philip III.
King Louis Ix was instrumental in developing a lasting legacy while being King of France. His most noteworthy achievement is the reformation of the France’s laws. He created the French Royal Justice system.
The new system deemed the accused innocent until proven guilty and the right to appeal judgements against them. He also removed the ancient practices of trial by ordeal. The French Royal Justice system included new features such as provosts and bailiffs who were in charge of making sure the legal system functioned correctly.
King Louis IX was an avid supporter of the arts and architecture. He was also a sincere Catholic. He believed gambling, interest bearing loans, blasphemy, and prostitution were punishable by law. He is the only King of France to be canonized by the Church. Pope Boniface VIII made Louis IX a saint in 1297 C.E.
12 years old
The French Royal Justice System
King Edward III of England