Essay: Louis IX

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This is an essay on Louis IX. Louis IX’s ability and flexibility set an example for European kings. Louis promoted peace between rulers, yet was also daring in battle.

Louis IX’s ability and flexibility set an example for European kings. Louis promoted peace between rulers, yet was also daring in battle. He took a personal role in reorganization and managing his administration, and his reputation for even-handed and thoughtful justice was known throughout Europe. Louis’ sincere piety led to his canonization only twenty-seven years after his death while on Crusade. Many other rulers had one or two of these qualities, sometimes in greater measure than Louis IX, but not since the introduction of the feudal system had Europe seen a ruler who was capable of efficiently fulfilling all the necessities of an ideal medieval king.

As a monarch with aspirations to act on the international stage, Louis’s ambitions were of course on a grand scale, and as other Capetian kings had found, very difficult to achieve in practice. However the fact that Louis’s policies were focused around a single international project in the shape of the crusades did have numerous advantages. His central crusading aim was a coalesce theme in his foreign, baronial, administrative and religious policies; and an aim that also offered reconciliation among all of his possible enemies.

Although his early biographers of course certainly stress his personal religiosity in an attempt to hold him up as the saint that he rapidly became, one cannot doubt Louis’s piety. One should however not distrust the sincerity of Louis’s commitment to the church. The stubbornness and single-mindedness with which he set about his crusade – not coming home after the debacle of 1250 as he could easily have done for example – show a sincere personal faith.

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