Achievments of Louis IX Essay

Achievments of Louis IX Essay

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The historian Frederick William Maitland was fond of reminding the scholars of his generation to "think the thoughts of medieval men as they thought them" . To assess the achievements of Louis IX we must try to think his thoughts. We cannot make assessments based on what we perceive to be achievements in this age, as this will invariably lead us to false conclusions. From a detached perspective Louis was a golden king. His administration was second to none. His reputation internationally was unexcelled both in his role as arbiter for other countries, peacemaker in his own and, as William Chester Jordan remarked on his securing of the Languedoc "his rapid assimilation of this region must be accounted as one of the most extraordinary accomplishments in medieval history" . There can be no doubt that if Louis' aim was to be a just and pious ruler and create a harmonious and prosperous France, which would be an example to the rest of the world, his French contemporaries and their forthcoming generations, he seemed to achieve his aim. In the mindset of a medieval man however this was all mere discipline and preparation for the ultimate test of the quality of rulership-the purification of Holy War. To the mind of a medieval ruler, especially one so admired for his piety and called `most Christian', this was the penultimate test and one that Louis failed. One has only to read one of his multitude of worshippers to realise he was a ruler who was hugely respected but does the fact that he failed to achieve his one aim in life taint his other achievements as they were in preparation for something that was ultimately a failure? It seems excessive to dismiss what he worked for so ruthlessly but if we follow Maitland's principle we ...


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...he Holy Land and constantly strive for what was out of reach, but could have channelled those efforts into making Jerusalem in his own kingdom. For Louis IX, the crusades, instead of being a worthy pursuit, became the only barrier to creating a perfectly functioning kingdom at home. Was this why God did not appear to smile on his first crusade...because he saw that Louis' missionary zeal was really needed before his very eyes at home?

*Word Count: 2,298.

Maitland, Frederick William,

Chester Jordan,William, Louis IX and the Challenge of the Crusade.(Princeton,1979) p.219

ibid. (p.182)

Georges Duby, France in the Middle Ages 987-1460 (Oxford, 1991).

Gibbon, The decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Ch.3, Pg.82.

Plato's Republic, Everyman edition, Par.581c.

Joinville. ibid (p.p

See Speigel, "Cult of Saint-Denis" pp.62-65

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