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Pontiff d'Avignon

Ecclesiastical Leader as Opportunistic CEO

(1249- 1334)

Provincial Prelude

Somewhere near the meandering Lot River, overseen by Mont Saint-Cyr lying south of Souillac, which is on the Dordogne River, is the idyllic bucolic Cahors. This is where Jacques D'Euse was born in 1249. In his hometown as a youth he studied under the Dominicans. (Who knows what would happen if these monks would have been Franciscans,...but let one not get ahead of one-selves.)

He then furthered his education at Montpellier with legal and religious disciplines, and improved that with schooling in Paris.

Religious Law Professor

He returned to the south of France with first a teaching position at Toulouse, specializing in canon and civil law and finally came home to Cahors to teach. Charles II of Naples became his benefactor, and helped in 1300 Jacques become Bishop of Frejus, nine years later was elevated to become his Chancellor, and in another year he was made See of Avignon.

Stormy See

It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.


To understand this man, it might help to understand the dynamics of this late 13th Century era. In 1296, the growing battle of Kings versus the Church authority became heated, with Boniface VII's Clericis laicos attempt to stop royal taxation of clergy, and escalated when he demanded a release of a bishop arrested in France. This led to the bull, Ausculta fili which declared papal power was superior to secular, and increased his adamant position to King Philip IV's anti-Papal propaganda. Legally oriented like his Pontiff Jacques D'Euse gave official support to his decrees, and though patriotically French, he showed his independent streak.

Can We be Frank?

In 1303, following Boniface's death just four weeks after fleeing Nogaret and the Colonnas, the French strongly cajoled the College of Cardinals to pick an amiable Bishop of Rome (or wherever). Benedict XI only lived a year, and in this pro-con franco factional environment, the Archbishop of Bordeaux became Clement V. Preferring his southern French homeland (he was from Gascony) over Rome, and to please the Gallic King, he established his throne at Avignon (which though officially not French territory, they had influence there). The confidence in the leadership of the Popes was seriously challenged during these times, while they increased in power.

Tower of Power of Babel

The collision and collusion course were lining up. It really was not safe in Rome while literal battles waged over heading the Holy Roman Empire. While the Italian Renaissance writer Petrarch assayed and essayed in protest against this "Avignon (or Babylonian) Captivity", the French Kings were coveting the accumulated wealth and power of the Knights Templar. Their French Pope complied, and with spurious charges of blasphemy, corruption and immorality they were ordered disbanded. While much of the money and property passed to organizations like the Hospitallers in most areas; in France the King absorbed it. Strong measures by the authorities were used to extract the proper guilty plea, and even Bishop Jacques D'Euse, with his law and business expertise, oversaw fervently in his jurisdiction what legal and financial sanctions could be brought against those in the Order of the Knights of the Temple.

Moving Up

His expertise was not overlooked, and Clement V elevated him to Cardinal-Bishop of Porto two days before the Christmas of 1312. And when Clement V died two years later in April of 1314 there was so much confusion that it was not until almost twenty-eight months passed when the College of Cardinals met divisively in Carpentras. Was it any wonder that the electoral college could not come to any agreement when it was comprised of eight Italians, with the remainder Frenchmen being ten members from Gascony and three from Provence. It was not until Philip V came to power that there was a successful election assisted by this French King's collection of two dozen cardinals in Lyons that easily chose Jacques D'Euse as Head Prelate of the Church on June 26, 1316. He was coronated in Lyons on September 5, and then he moved into the palace in Avignon.

Fleshly Pseudo-Spiritual Chess Game

In that interim period the Pope had been petitioned --by both Frederick of Austria coronated in Bonn on November 25, 1314; and Louis of Bavaria who was made King on September 5 the following year-- to who should be considered King of Germany (and thus the Imperial heir). John wrote both Kings begging them to resolve this political royal altercation. In that second spring that John XXII was in Peter's Chair, he was defied by first Italian Imperial Vicar, Jean de Belmont and then Galeazzo Visconti of Milan who both had been backed by Louis. And in July 1317 Visconti thought his power was what was left of the Roman Empire and then he in turn used it to pick King Robert of Sicily Imperial Vicar for Italy. Five years later Louis of Bavaria gave word to John that he had militarily superseded his old foe, Frederick of Austria, and at this time John sent him a reconcilitory correspondence. The warm fuzzies were not reciprocated by Louis, however, and the Bavarian King continued to promote the excommunicated Galeazzo, as well as the Ghibellines, while this monarch assumed the unsanctioned role of Emperor, and in March of 1322 he additionally appointed another Imperial Vicar of Italy, someone from closer to home, Berthold von Neiffen.

King Breaker

Probably thinking along Jeremiah's lines of "Peace, peace, there is no peace!" John now had to break bad on this Louis, Lou-eye. Just like Innocent III he had to remind that King-making lied in the authority of the Pope, and warned him to reverse decisions made, especially the support of John's enemies, like the already declared heretical, Visconti or face the pain of excommunication.

Look Out for the Bull!

On November 16, 1323, after Louis' several months stalling action to the John's demands to appear in three months to the Papal court in Avignon, Louis in Nuremburg instead countered with charges of John's tolerance of heretics, and a refutation of Papal authority over canonizing German Kings; and furthermore called for a general council to convene to judge this. So by March 23 of the next year, and no repentance on Louis' part, John banished him from the good Grace offered in the Church. Louis, from Sachsenhausen, retaliated with another appeal by way of a general council to consider John an enemy of the Empire and a heretic; and he arrested any of the few of his local cardinals who went along with this Papal Bull.

John now upped the ante on this high stakes game and officially forfeited all Louis' rights to Imperial authority; and ratified the treaty between Duke Leopold of Austria and his patron King Charles I

Rolling Up Those Purple Sleeves...

This Pope was a workaholic. He had to stay deeply involved in European politics from Kings of France, Naples or England. He multiplied Bishops' Sees in Spain as well as France. He helped learning and the arts, being wide read himself, helping students and universities, and built a legal library nearby. He sent missionaries far abroad, even to China.

Critically examining writings, such Petus Olivi, brought his thumbs down, and Meister Eckhardt fared only a little better with help of 14th century white-out. His incorporation of the Corpus Juris Canonici in his publishing of the Clementines. Of his numerous decretals (besides the one mentioned following, was "Extravagantes johannis XX" in Corp. Jur. Can. He wrote a decree against alchemy (that was also another revenue windfall) in 1317, De Crinine Falsi Titulsu VI --I Joannis XXII. (circa annum 1317 Avenioni) :

Alchemies are here prohibited and those who practise them or procure their being done are punished. They must forfeit to the public treasury for the benefit of the poor as much genuine gold and silver as they have manufactured of the false or adulterate metal.
--and even wrote his views on music (that echo mine from American Idol):
These musicians run without pausing, they intoxicate the ear without satisfying it, they dramatize the text with gestures and, instead of promoting devotion, they prevent it by creating a sensuous and innocent atmosphere. Thus it was not without good reason that Boethius said: "A person who is intrinsically sensuous will delight in hearing these indecent melodies, and one who listens to them frequently will be weakened thereby and lose his virility of soul."


Though John spent a lot in his revamping the Papacy, he still left almost a million gold florins for his estate when he died, though not the five times that amount boasted by some.

To the Head Vicar Go the Spoils

Knowing how much of a tightrope it was to exact more money out of the royalty without backlash, especially in France, which prospered him the most, (somewhat to keep Louis of Bavaria at bay whom he excommunicated) John nevertheless also made use of the jus spolii, or right of spoils whereby he got the inheritance of recently dead Bishops' estates. He managed to increase his money from tributary kingdoms, and servita communia; and his annata, a small tax was supplemented by his reserving to himself in 1319 all the convenient vacant benefices. The palace at Avignon housed a big bureaucracy, and expenses were weighty. He started a centralized governmental Juggernaut that his re-structured expanded Curia successors further made it infamous.

Don't Poor-mouth Me

The more we despise poverty the more the world will despise us and the greater need will we suffer. But if we embrace Holy Poverty very closely, the world will come to us and will feed us abundantly.

----Francis of Assisi

In the ninety years since their Assisian founder's death, the Franciscans, who emphasized completely embracing asceticism, divided into two groups, the relatively moderate Conventuals, and the Spirituals (later split into Observant, and Capuchins, united in 1897 by Leo XIII). It was the latter that came into conflict with the ecclesiastical adminstrative marriage with high finances that Jacques, now Pope John XXII had more than enough aptitude. 1 His enemies used the division and controversy to their advantage to regain power. The legal mind went to work to protect the big business end of his hands, and the power of his lands, 1322 he declared the statements of Berenger Talon: that Christ and the disciples owned nothing separate or together, and was backed by William Occam -- null and void. The next year John issued a denunciation that those assertions were heretical. But most strongly worded, was his Bull, Quia Quorundam given in 1324 basically calls the own-nothing extremists out of bounds liars in need of shunning. Part of the treatise defines the "key" of knowledge and power and proper use of loosing and binding, which obviously he thought this too leftward leaning bunch of friars misused. He cites explanations from previous Popes, Gregory, Innocent, Nicholas, and Alexander; and even Saint Augustine. The argument surrounds the issue that though like Jesus and the Disciple it was Scriptural and noble to have no ownership of "temporal civil and worldly lordship" and property individually, but:

...the founder of the Rule prescribes to all the Brothers, that they should in no way receive a penny or money, either directly or by means of a go-between, nor also many other things contained in the said Rule that indeed neither Christ nor the Apostles taught in words nor confirmed by example.

After explaining that Christ and the Twelve came back and carried money, quoting Augustine, "The Lord had a bag keeping safe the offerings of the faithful, and distributed them..." Towards the end of the document things get serious dispersed with 75 cent words, calling it:

...a heresy condemned by the above mentioned constitution (Cum inter), namely that Christ and his apostles had, in the things we read they had, only simple use of fact without any right, from which (if it were true) it would follow that Christ's use was not just, which certainly contains blasphemy, and something inimical to the Catholic faith, since there is no doubt this has proceeded from pertinacious and erroneous animosity: of each and every one who, in word or in writing, personally or through another or others, has presumed (to assert) such things publicly, and also of those who taught them in such matters and caused them to do the foregoing, we therefore declare, with the advice of our brothers the Cardinals, that they have fallen into condemned heresy, and that they must be avoided as heretics. But if anyone henceforth knowingly presumes to defend or approve, in word or in writing, the heresies, or either of them condemned by the constitution Cum inter, with the advice of the same brothers -the Cardinals- we decree that he is to be regarded evidently by all as a heretic. Besides, since, as it is reported, they have tried with mad acts of boldness to attack our constitution above mentioned Ad conditorem canonum, we strictly forbid, with the advice of the same brothers, that anyone should knowingly, in word or in writing, approve or defend anything contrary to the things defined, ordered or done by it. But if anyone presumes to the contrary, let him be regarded by all as contumacious and as a rebel against the Roman Church.

William of Occam refused to appear in Avignon, but Michael of Cesena responded to his summons, but when recalcitrant to John's demands escaped being arrested and jailed.

Suffer Not a Witch

John XXII had this growing fear that witches were casting spells on him, and maybe after his 1326 Decretal Supra illious specula "Magic and the Inquisition 23", they were retaliating against his threat of excommunication with those using images, rings, mirrors, phials or anything for magic purposes of helping them for "depraved lusts" that he knows "allay themselves with death and make a pact with hell." They are offered the chance of renewing their baptismal vows with the Savior, however. This document, typically law conscious, was the first to be this specific on deeds to be charged by the inquisitors. At this time, however, the Pope would need the help of a reluctant Louis to enforce it.

The Anti-Pope

In 1328 Louis of Bavaria, after a year's incursion in Italy and collusion with Italian Ghibellines, who supported the Spiritual Franciscans, had enough of John's contesting supremacy and after a military incursion into Italy, appointed a Spiritual, Pietro Rainalducci of Corbario as the Anti-Pope Nicholas V. Of course John forfeited all Louis' rights to the German Crown, and to all the fiefs below him, like the Duchy of Bavaria. The only successful result of this attempt was that John XXII eventually backed off his claim to Louis' secular authority. Pietro, after Louis increasing unpopularity in Italy, had eventually came to Avignon 1330 to seal his appeals for peace with a Holy Kiss, but was basically under house arrest there for the next three years left of his life. This same year Louis left Lombardy and his attempts to get Michael Cesena, Bonagratia, and William Occam to conspire against John. Louis successfully postponed his possible willingness to abdicate in 1333. The strength of John's Bull, Ne praetereat has mixed views. This divisive incident was prophetic forerunner to more divisive future events to come to world religion and politics.

Another John's Vision

A work started when he was Bishop concerning Beatific Vision came back to haunt him in his Papacy. In this work he explained that the baptized dead will not see God until after the Last Judgment. He was intensely debated by scholars who maintained the standard belief that souls did come into God's presence even before the Resurrection of the Body. Some even called his views heretical. In 1333 after a November inquiry to King Philip on the matter, Pope John XXII had to allow the theologians liberty to dissent since he had not made an official papal decision. In December the theologians in Paris agreed that the souls of the blessed departed will see God right after death, while tactfully pointing out that the Pope only was opinionating, and asked him to come to their side of this issue.

The Commish

In Avignon a commission appointed by John was given the task to sort out this controversy by delving into the Church Father's writings. When the results favored the traditional view, he officially recanted until finally re-asserting his orginial Beatific Vision just before his death (of natural causes) in December of that year, 1334.


His legacy left can not be faulted as one of the soft, lazy popes that followed, he had no qualms at empowering his office any way he could, even though with more calculating than genuflecting.

1 Some consider him John XXI, because the one elected in 1410 who was also called Pope John XXII, yet again some historians call this later one John XXIII, who was put here by the Council trying to resolve which of three Popes would rule during this time called the Great Schism. (If it had not been for this rift, the Eastern Orthodox Church might have been re-emerged with their Western brethren.) This John XXIII after being tried in 1415 had to give the throne up (but unfortunately not before at the Council of Constance condemning religious muckraker, Jan Hus to death, but which had the blessed result of hundreds of years of a Hussite Church in Bohemia.). Finally, in 1958 the Catholic Church had another John, this one the real twenty-third.

Catholic Encyclopedia Online John XXII "Magic and The Inquisition" by Nicole Hirst)
Great Leaders of the Christian Church, ed. John D. Woodbridge; Moody Press: Chicago, 1988.
Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity, ed. Tim Dowley; Eerdman's Publishing: Grand Rapids, 1977.

Officially, the Avignon papacy began in the year 1309.

This didn’t mean much to the city itself at the time. True, there were more clerical visits, but such were commonplace for Avignon. It had been a possession of the Church since 1274 when the French king, Philip III, ceded it to Pope Gregory X.

When Pope Clément V established the Holy See in this non-descript city on the Rhône River in the south of France, Avignon had a population of 5,000. It had been bigger; it had been smaller. It had been partially destroyed in 415 A.D. and totally razed in 737 A.D. It had belonged to the Roman Empire, the Goths, and the German Empire. It had been ruled by the Franks, the Capetians, and the comtes of Provence. It had been Pagan under the Romans, Muslim under the Spanish Arabs, and was now Christian.

Its last period of great prosperity had been in the 1100’s as a "free town". Nominally under the control of the Germanic Empire, the city established itself as a republic governed by its knights and prominent citizens. It was during this time (1185) that the Saint Bénezet Bridge was built across the Rhône.

The bridge put Avignon squarely at the crossroads between Lyon and the sea; trade subsequently flourished. Double ramparts were built around the city to protect the solid mansions of rich merchants. In 1226 the city defied the king of France, Louis VIII, locking the city gates against his forces. The city lost the siege and it lost its independence. Louis had the ramparts pulled down and the moat filled in. Avignon became part of the Comtat Venaissin which later became Church property.

The Comtat Venaissin, an area lying roughly between the Rhône, the Durance and Mont Ventox, covering in great part what is now the Vaucluse, was the ancient country of France. The capital was Carpentras, to the east of Avignon. The area is fertile plains, highly agricultural then as it is now.

Clément V, the first of seven popes to rule from Avignon, was French by birth.

Elected by the Cardinals Council in Lyon in 1305, he spent the years before 1309 as a guest in various cities near Avignon – Carpentras, Caromb, and Malaucène shared the honor. In 1309 he established his residence in the Episcopal Palace in Avignon but continued to divided his time between various cities of southern France. He died in Roquemaure on the other side of the Rhône in 1314.

Clément’s reluctance to establish himself in Rome has been attributed to the unstability of that city. While there was unrest and turmoil in the Vatican City, with invasions by "infidels", sacking, pillage and rape, the principal reason was doubtlessly political rather than a question of security and had more to do with France itself than with current events in Italy.

Clément’s election as Pope in 1305 was brought about, in part, by the influence of Philip IV of France. Known as Philip the Fair, the 11th king of the Capetian Dynasty, he had inherited a mountain of debts from his father, Philip III (the Bold). Searching for additional sources of income, he raided the coffers of the Church by taxing parishes in France and by banning the exportation of funds to Rome. Naturally this caused a rift between Philip the Fair and the then-current pope, Boniface VIII.

In addition to the loss of the French monies, a good part of other revenues that would normally go to the Church were being diverted to the Knights Templar. This order began in 1120 under Pope Honoré II as a religious order with vows of poverty and chastity and was answerable only to the Pope. By 1305 the order had become more mercenary than religious and was very powerful.

In France alone the Templars had roughly 1200 command posts. Their Temple in Paris was the center of their financial operations for all of Western Europe and they were about to establish a new base in the Languedoc region in what is now southwest France. This posed a political threat to Philip.

The time frame is self-evident. Clément was elected Pope in 1305. In 1307 King Philip had all the Templars in France arrested. "Interrogations" went on for several years. In 1312 Pope Clément V issued a decree dissolving the Knights Templar. In 1314, after seven years of imprisonment, Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the Templars, was condemmed to death by burning. Legend has it that at the instant of being consumed by the flames, he swore that the Pope and the King would both die in less than a year's time. Both men died that year, Clément only a month after de Molay. The Templar order is said to exist, albeit clandestine, in modern-day Europe.

Clément’s successor, John XXII, was not appointed immediately.

Pope Clément’s tenure at Avignon was to have been a temporary measure, which may have had a bearing on the reluctance of a new conclave of cardinals meeting in Carpentras to elect another French pope. The session was tumultuous with relatives of the former pope causing great disorder in the city. Finally, after 18 months, the cardinals were locked in the Dominican monastery by the king and, after six months of deliberation, they elected a Pope. He was Jacques Duèse, a 72-year-old cardinal who was not expected to be in office very long. He took the name John XXII.

John XXII, second pope in Avignon, held the office for 18 years (1316 – 1334). During this time he perfected the pontifical tax system and made the Church much richer. Unlike his predecessor, Clément V, he spent those years in Avignon, although having the papacy there was still considered a temporary measure.

The third Avignon pope, Bendict XII (1334-1342), started construction of the Palais des Papes.

Like his predecessor, John XXII, he first tried to return the papacy to Rome. Unable to halt the revolts in the Church states, he finally decided to remain in Avignon. Under his leadership the Episcopal Palace was razed and construction started on the Palace des Papes.

Four more popes resided in Avignon between the years 1342 and 1378. The seventh and last, Gregory XI (1370-1378), actually did succeed in returning the papacy to Rome. He died in the Vatican in March, 1378.

His successor, having serious mental health problems, was instantly regretted by the cardinals who elected him. They quickly elected a second pope and the Great Schism began, a period of 25 years during which there existed two popes, one in Rome and one in Avignon. The title "antipope" refers to the Avignon popes during this era (Clement VII and Benoit XIII). Although Avignon was no longer the papal capital, it remained a possession of the Church until 1792, when it was ceded back to France.

Avignon was the center of the Holy Roman Church for less than 70 years.

Considering that the earliest traces of humans on the Avignon site go back 3,000 years before Jesus Christ, this is a blink in the eye of Time. But these 70 years changed Avignon forever and brought the entire area, the Comtat Venaissin, a cultural richness as well as immense economic advantages.

In prior periods of its history Avignon had been invaded by and then assimilated people from Spain and North Africa, as well as Franks of Germanic descent. Now people from the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin were arriving, bring their cultures with them. The construction surge brought a great influx of workers to Avignon : stonemasons, painters, and tapestry weavers were needed – many came from Italy.1 As stated earlier, Avignon had a population of 5,000 in 1309. During the next 50 years this figure mounted to 40,000, an unprecendented growth for that time.

The Italian banking houses, following the money of the Church, moved their head offices from Rome to Avignon. These gentleman bankers and members of the papal court itself commanded special and luxurious goods. Silk production became an industry in Provence and across the Rhône in what is now Ardèche. Mulberry trees were planted to feed the silkworms. This, again, was an area where the Italians were the leaders. 2

The Popes Palace today is one of the largest medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. It was constructed very quickly (1335 to 1364) and very solidly. Avignon’s city walls, pulled down in 1226, were now replaced, but the Palais depended more on its own defenses than that of the ramparts. Built around a central cloister, it had four wings, each flanked by a high tower.

The original building is known as the Palais Vieux (Old Palace) and under Popes Clement VI, Innocent VI, and Urban V (1342 thru 1370) this was expanded with three new towers, the Court d’Honneur and various attached sections. These additions are known collective as the Palais Neuf (New Palace). Today the total floor surface is 15,000 square meters.

A third major building, known as Le Petit Palace (The Little Palace), was built between 1481 and 1495. It was first the Cardinals palace, later the Archbishops residence. Today it is a museum of medieval art.

Other important buildings were constructed as a result of the Holy See being in Avignon, and nearby towns also benefited. The city of Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, on the opposite bank of the Rhône, has always been considered a suburb of Avignon. It contains the former summer palace of the popes and other related structures. The village of Chateauneuf-du-pape, a bit north on the west bank of the Rhône, also had a residence used by the popes, and a clerical residence was erected in the town of Sorgues.

Avignon has, since the papal days, been a center of culture in the region. The Renaissance, coming as it did in the middle of the papal years, flourished there. Pope Clément VI (1342 – 1352) did much to encourage this. He attracted artists and men of science and of letters. He was responsible for one of the most beautiful parts of the palace, La Chambre du Cerf (The Stag room), his personal study, whose walls are covered with frescoes of staghunting with a richly painted ceiling. It was also Clément VI who dictated the decoration of La Grand Tinel (Grand Dining Room).

Art is still an important element of Avignon culture. The "Petit Palais Museum" contains not only Italian paintings from the 13th to the 15th century but roman and gothic sculpture and paintings from Avignon artists (14th thru 16th centuries). Theatre has been a part of the Avignon scene down through the centuries and the Avignon Summer Festival is renown throughout Europe.

The University of Avignon was established by Pope Boniface VII in 1303. There had been schools of theology, grammatical arts, and medicine from the Early Middle Ages. In 1793 it, like many others, was "supprimée" during French political unrest. Reinstated in 1963, different schools have been established every few years with a new physical plant opened in 1997. Today there are over 7500 students enrolled.

Another interesting aspect of Avignon’s history is that, as a papal city, pardon was granted to any criminals living within its walls. With Avignon a property of the Church until 1792, this meant that for centuries the population of Avignon was regarded as "different" by residents of the surrounding countryside. In effect, it was an outlaw city.

1Matteo Giovannetti painted the decorations in two of the papal chapels : the Chapel of Saint Martial in 1344-1345 and the chapel of Saint Jean in 1347-1348. As well as his work in Avignon, he did other work in the papal summer residence at Villeneuve-lez-Avignon on the other side of the Rhône. In the spring of 1367 he returned to Rome and several months later was at work on the paintings of the Vatican Palace. This was during a period when Urban V tried to return the papacy to Rome. Urban returned to Avignon and died there; there is no further trace of Giovannetti.

2Young women from northern Italy, principally Milanese, continued to migrate to Provence to work in the silk industry until late in the 19th century. My own Italian grandmother had done this work : her expertise was to dip the silkworm cocoons in boiling water to kill the worm before it ate its way out, thus destroying the silk filaments. My village in Provence, just north of Avignon, had a silk mill and pioneered in the construction of cardboard boxes, which were used to transport the silk cocoons between the producer and the mill. The silk mill is no longer in existence but the manufacture of specialized cardboard boxes is still one of the industries of the village.

Part One: Avignon's early history
Part Three: Avignon today

As the poet Jacques Prévert said:

        Louis I
        Louis II
        Louis III
        Louis IV
        Louis V
        Louis VI
        Louis VII
        Louis VIII
        Louis IX
        Louis X (dit le Hutin) (called le Hutin)
        Louis XI
        Louis XII
        Louis XIII
        Louis XIV
        Louis XV
        Louis XVI
        Louis XVII
        Louis XVIII
        et plus personne plus rien...
        qu'est-ce que c'est que ces gens-là
        qui ne sont pas foutus 
        de compter jusqu'à vingt ?
                and nobody any more, nothing...
                who are these guys
                who ain't able
                to count until twenty?

What is remarkable about the French monarchs is that, between 987 and 1848, the same family ruled France. During the French Revolution, Louis XVI was called "Louis Capet" during his trial because Hugues Capet, 800 years before, was his direct ancestor.

No king ever came from another country. Many countries invaded France, but for a short period, and the legitimate king always regained his throne eventually. It may explain many things about France, including its strong feeling of being a nation (as opposed to a race) and its so-called arrogance.

From 987 to 1792, i.e during more than 800 years, the succession rules were strictly followed. Sometimes (but quite rarely) a king died without a legitimate heir, i.e a son, so that a brother, an uncle or a cousin had to become king. In three occasions, three brothers were kings one after the other:

  1. Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV between 1314 and 1328. The fact that during more than three centuries (987 - 1314), every king of France had a son who outlived him and became a king is very important, because it helped them to build a nation. While most of Europe was subject to instability and wars whenever a king died without a heir, in France the legitimacy of the new king was rarely questioned.
  2. François II, Charles IX and Henri III between 1559 and 1589. Note that one of the rare succession crisis in French history occurred when Henri III died without a heir. Henri IV had to fight to take the crown. He was a protestant, and had to become catholic: "Paris is worth a mass", as he allegedly said.
  3. Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X between 1774 and 1830, who ended the Bourbon Dynasty.

Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) was a distant cousin, and his accession to the throne was not legitimate. His father was a "régicide", i.e he had voted for the death penalty when Louis XVI was put to trial in 1793.

Other short facts:

  • Louis XIV was king during 72 years (more than Queen Victoria), and outlived his sons and grand-sons. Louis XV was his great grand son, and he outlived his sons too, so that France had only two kings in 131 years.
  • There is no Louis XVII, because the son of Louis XVI died in a jail during the Revolution. Louis XVIII considered that, according to the succession rules, Louis XVII had been king after Louis XVI died, so he decided he would be #18 and not #17.
  • In the same way, Napoleon III decided that Napoleon I's son had been emperor after his father abdicated in 1815, although the king (Louis XVIII) had regained the throne.
  • Since mauler has used English names in his list of French kings above, here is how English names map to French names:
Henry       -> Henri
Hugh Capet  -> Hugues Capet
John        -> Jean
Merovich    -> Mérovée
Odo         -> Eudes
Philip      -> Philippe

Oh, yeah, there are still pretenders to the throne in France. One of them is Louis XX, a descendent of Louis XIV and the most legitimate of all with regard to succession rules. Another one is the Count of Paris, a descendent of Louis-Philippe. And I'm not speaking about those who claim that Louis XVII, just like Elvis, did not die in jail during the Revolution and had children afterwards...

Thanks LeoDV for a correction about Capet, which was not Hugues Capet's family name because family names did not exist then...

 Saint Louis
(1215 - 1270)

Authority forgets a dying king.
                          -Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Maman's Roi

Blanche of Castile, though half English, was Louis VIII's wife and Queen, and in Poissy on April 25, 1215 she was mother to whom would became Crown Prince, Louis. As fate would have it, the King only lived another eleven years after this blessed event, that gave way to another: the Coronation of thirteen year old Louis IX. Blanche was to now effectively rule as Regent for the next eight years. She would prove to be a strong Queen Mother. Blanche's prolific letter writing to her family helped leave a historical record of these times. She not only instilled in the boy strength of will to rule, but strength of moral character, as he followed her advice to spend much time, unbeknownst to the public, in prayer, fasting, and penance. After all, grandpère was relentless in pursuing those challenging the faith. His mother had pleaded with him:

I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.**

Getting One's Thunder Plundered

The wisest have the most authority. --Plato

Little Louis watched as Mom won her battles gaining Languedoc back from Albigensian Count Raymond VII and Duke of Toulouse***, and obtaining Brittany from Pierre Mauclerc. While victorious over Philip Hurepel in le Ile de France, her efforts came to a draw against England's Henry III, in spite of legate Frangipani's aid. This latter individual, who had personally received Raymond's capitulation at Notre Dame, cajoled Pope Gregory IX to spurn Henry III, and help the French, a feat that he started under Honorius III with Louis VIII. His work led to the Treaty of Paris in April 1229 that united Provençe with the North.

A Marriage, a Kingdom and a Mother in Law

If a child of God marries a child of God he is sure to have some trouble with his father-in-law. --Anonymous

The nineteen year old was given a thirteen year old bride in 1234, the sister of no less than his royal pain and competitor Henry III's wife Eleanor*, Marguerite de Provençe and was given the authority of the Throne, coronated at Reims; though his kibitzer mother-- often by his side-- was still involved with governing until her death in 1253. His wife, of whom it was said Louis truly loved, bore him eleven children and she lived until 1295. Their children:

  1. Blanche (1240-1243)
  2. Isabelle
  3. Louis
  4. Philippe III (1245-1270) King of France m. Isabelle d'Aragon
  5. Jean
  6. Jean Tristan
  7. Pierre
  8. Blanche (1253-1320)
  9. Marguerite
  10. Robert
  11. Agnes

Rebel Alliance

Of all the laws we have to contend with, the most troublesome are usually the in-laws. --Anonymous

Hardly much after the young King had sat on his velvety seat than he had to deal with sedition from Count de la Marche who united treacherously with Uncle-in-Law, Henry III! After Louis put this down at Taillebourg in 1242, he was awarded annexation of Saintonge at the Peace of Bordeaux. He also subdued Raymond VII and Poitou at this time as well.

Protecting the Innocent

Friendship, of itself a holy tie,
Is made more sacred by adversity.
--John Dryden

The European business of who taxes who: secular versus religious, and who was the new Holy Roman Emperor involved Louis as well. He supported Hohenstaufen Frederick II, considered stupor mundi, during his disputes with northern Italian conquests, even after his Council of Lyons' excommunication in 1245. He tried, unsuccessfully of course, to intervene Ironically earlier Louis even did not approve of his brother Robert of Artois, instead of Frederick, receiving the Imperial Crown from Gregory IX back in 1240. This good relationship lasted until Pope Innocent IV received Frances' protection at Lyons (in exile there since late 1244). The concern was the surrounding of Papal States by unfriendly forces as Frederick was King of Sicily. This reversal of allegiance resulted in brother Charles Anjou's marriage to Beatrix of Provençe getting Vatican approval. Then with Louis' (and Blanches') military committed for insurance, Frederick's attempt to capture the displaced Pontiff was dissuaded.

Peace Means War

It is the province of kings to cause war, and of God to end it. -- Cardinal Pole

Louis' contemplations of starting a Crusade were intensified during the juxtaposition of his illness and very disturbing dispatches in 1244 from Jerusalem of its fall to the Turcomans. He swore to take the cross, and he launched his first Crusade, considered the Seventh overall, in 1248. While not able to draft too many from the rest of embroiled Europe, he did gather up men predominantly from France to take up the cross with him, brothers Robert of Artois, Charles of Anjou, and Alphonse of Poitiers. This company included, Duke Hugh of Burgundy, Counts Peter of Brittany and John of Montfort, and the men that were inspired to follow. He had to satisfy as well some hurt feelings from earlier bad blood disputes and assured uniformity of allegiance. This was true of Count Raymond, who died before he could leave after taking the cross. He had a reputation of a valued arbitrator throughout Europe.

The logistics were quite an undertaking. He spent millions of their currency, fortunately for him raised by a happier populace after his settling Franciscan and Domincan claims. It was a good thing for him that he enjoyed a period of prosperity to pay for his projects, and his coffers increased by the continuation of grandfather Philippe II's reforms: getting rid of scattered fuedal fueds, pushing Roman law, finalizing Royal appellate power, srteamlining government and making fairer taxation improvements. He contracted in 1246 in Genoa and Marseille thirty six ships, and for the next two years gathered their materiel for the endeavor in Cyprus. He built a new Royal Port of Aigues-Mortes for their embarkation.

They had planned in advance to taking on Egypt and its wealth first, and then proceeding to the other Old and New Testament lands.

Travel is an experience that enlarges the minds of some people but swells the heads of others. --Anonymous

His army arrived in Limassol, Cyprus in 1248, and not too long afterwards he met what a supposed emissary from the Mongol conqueror's Great Khan. Hearing of the their desire (especially the rumor of Ghengis Khan's Christian conversion) to fight in common with Islam, he sent his accompanying nominally Arabic speaking Dominican Friar Andrew of Longumeau, who had been to Batu, as official diplomatic envoy on an arduous journey far into Asia.

His forces in Cyprus combined there with two hundred English Knights, and they landed at Damietta, which is at the mouth of the Nile, in 1249. Some say he waited too long, not taking advantage of the Sultan's absence, but in defense of Louis, he need all available forces.

Defeat by the Sultaness

A woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty. --Rudyard Kipling

The defense of Egypt was commanded by Shagrat al-Durr, who was the ex-slave from Turkoman, now wife of Salih Ayyub, one of a handful of heroic Moslem women, and acted as Regent while her husband was away attacking Aleppo, Syria and on business in Damascus. She continued this role, after she hid the death of Salih just after he returned, and still remained effectively running the defense as son Turan was officially given the seat of rule.

One's Worst Enemy

It is never wise to slip the hands of discipline. --Lew Wallace

After landing they had confused the Egyptians initially, getting the beach-head, but they were over-confident. Louis did not pursue, as he was aware of the problems of the Fifth Crusade and the yearly Nile flood; and he awaited reinforcements. While mustering, organization and chivalry broke down, and Louis, disappointingly, was helpless to prevent the soldier's ransacking civilians. The bad karma came back upon them and fever and sickness plagued the expeditionary forces.

Pampered Prisoner

Men are respectable only as they respect. --Ralph Emerson

After Alphonse arrived with reinforcements, they moved toward Cairo, their advance stopped at Al-Bahr al-Saghir across from Mansurah. In 1250 Shagrit's forces roundly, soundly defeated the Frank Crusaders at Mansurah, because Robert of Artois had disobeyed Louis' orders to wait before crossing the river, and lost too many men. Surrounded and blockaded at Sharamsah King Louis surrendered. His Arab wardens discerned in him a special integrity and bravery that even caused them to honor him by kneeling in his presence during conversation. The victorious Shagrat was made the first Mamluk Sultan after her generals assassinated Turan soon afterwards, ending the Ayyubid Empire. She arranged for the King's release after a peace was made where they relinquished claim to Damietta, and ransom was paid. The ultimate irony was now already put in motion, catalysis provided by Louis, that these new rulers would eventually take back the Holy Lands, which included the European founded Kingdom of Jerusalem.

While We Were in the Area

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
--Psalm 137:5

Louis, in spite of these traumas, nevertheless took advantage of his proximity to the Holy Lands, and set sail there -- visiting the few permitted sites left. He made it a "working vacation" and supervised the strengthening of what lands were still in Western hands like Acre, Caesarea and Jaffa. In 1252 he made a treaty with Egypt, and by 1254 he had one with Damascus and Aleppo. While in Constantinople he heard of what had happened to Friar Longumeau: that the supposed Christian Khan had died, and the Regent Mother Ogul Gaimish sent him off with disrespectful dispatches for his king as well. Trying again, but careful this time not to push ambassadorship, he dispatched accompanying Franciscan Friar William of Rubruck back to the land of the Tatars.

Back at the Ranch Castle

It sure would be wonderful for mother if she could collect time-and-a-half for overtime --Anonymous
Things were in good hands back home, as La Mère Blanche was taking care of the typical royal business of that time, continuing to get the Church's favor concerning taxation that was for so long leaning toward Italians. But one major incident was stopping the "Hungarian Master" and his anti-clerical mob, Les Patoureaux-- even alleged to be in cahoots with Moslems -- who died losing at Villaneuve; with all the malcontents scattered. Upon Blanche's death, his son took over the regency until his father's return.

Back Home

Better do a good deed near home than go far away to burn incense --Chinese Proverb

At last sailing for home in the spring of 1254, he made the same promise that Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Douglas MacArthur made of returning. He, like so many after defeat in war, was transformed radically. Also, his mother was deceased and not able to give the support she had for so long. He felt sinfully responsible for the failure, and he exchanged his royal finery for plain and simple, even traded sleeping on a feather bed for a thin mattress on wood. Taking the advice to not abdicate and join a monastery, he then turned his Royal Command as the means to doing good work.


A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone. --Martin Luther

He not only wanted to purge himself of inequity, but he strove now to more fervently rid his kingdom of such offenses, as well. His moral rebuilding program began with the December 1254 ordinance that started judicial and administrative reforms, and he continued with prohibitions of gambling, prostitution, blasphemy, usury and heresy. The former workers of the 'world's oldest profession' were relocated in specially built housing (Felles-Dieu) for their rehabilitation. Out of a concern of efficiently enacting his renewal, the central royal government was strengthened. He established the Curia Regis, the Court of the King, and he created 'parliaments' or commissions ('Dit d'Amiens') that were regular judical sessions. His compilation of customs (not code) became his 'Etablissements de St. Louis'.

He took care of, even personally, those that included the lowest in his domain, even bringing in the destitute and hungry to his dining room, washing feet, and caring for lepers. Hundreds were fed every day. He was a powerful patron of the Fine Arts and Higher Learning, having had constructed the breathtakingly beautiful cathedral Saint Chappelle, and helped Robert de Sorbonne found the famous theological College in Paris; but more importantly he founded many hospitals - in Pontoise, Vernon and Compiégne, including the Quinze-Vingt for three hundred blind men.

King Louis IX left a reputation of being a fair and just ruler, and he was considered even by contemporaries as "the most Christian king."

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. -- Romans 12:18

Burying the hatchet with Uncle Henry III, he settled disputes over Limoges, Cahors, and Perigueux at the 1259 Treaty of Paris. Louis, in return, recieved, Normandy, Maine, Anjou, Touraine and Poitou, as well as Suzerainship over a reduced Duchy of Aquitaine. He likewise made deals with Aragon's King James I, giving him Rouissillon and Barcelona for Languedoc and Provençe. Friends again, he arbitrated in Henry III's defense over the grieveances of the English nobles. He did likewise settle the argument between the Avesnes and Dampierre clans' inheritance of Hainault and Flanders counties in 1256.

Louis at first did not agree to the Pope Urban's desire to install his son Charles as King of Sicily (an Apostolic See's Fiefdom), but eventually Charles accepted and led an army, helped by Louis' best soldiers, that defeated the Hohenstaufens represented by Frederick II's son, Manfred in 1266 at the Battle of Benevento. At this same time, the King, after feeling he had accomplished what he needed domestically, now looked again to the Holy Lands, and their liberation. In the spring of 1267 he had a meeting of all the King's men, and he was only able to muster up a force of around ten thousand, but he did get England's Prince Edward to go. He finagled finances by tax schemes, and contracted thirty-nine ships to take them on this Eighth Crusade, and his second and last.

Last Goodbye

Jerusalem! O Jerusalem!

Leaving his son Philippe in charge, he left his special port, Aigues-Mortes in 1270 to meet with the others at most likely Cagliari in Sardinia. Why the target of Tunis was selected probably was due to brother Charles' trouble with Tunis' Emir Muhammad I. Unfortunately, Louis died from typhus on the 25th of August of that same year, and could not go with the others that made it to Acre the next year.

The good King was also an excellent father and he sent a copious letter with written instructions of life for him.****

Louis le Saint

 Saints, to do us good,

Must be in heaven. --Robert Browning

Miracles were supposedly attributed to Louis right after his death and during the trip his heart and body were returned home. Pope Gregory X started the canonization process in 1272 that succeeded in 1297.

Ironically, his fellow crusader and first major biographer, John of Joinville was upset when his King wanted to leave France for another adventure and admitted:

I considered that all those who had advised the king to go on this expedition committed mortal sin. For at that time the state of the country was such that thre was perfect peace throughout the kingdom... while ever since King Louis went away the state of the kingdom has done nothing but go from bad to worse.
But, at the making Louis a saint he gushed:
It has brought great honour to those of the good king's line who are like him in doing well, and equal dishonour to those of his descendants who do not follow him in good works.
Most of us know the most famous of cities named after him in Missouri, and there are several others.



* There was another Eleanor and Henry II from two generations earlier as featured in A Lion in Winter.

** Could be put to the tune of John Lennon's Beatle song, "Run for Your Life."

*** This area was a problem area as merchants and nobles had supported the Cathars (from Latin word meaning Puritans) in these lands, where there was an Albgensian Crusade. Afterwards Tribunals of Inquiry were established to ferret out remaining dissenters. Count Raymond had seen his excommunicated father's body decompose in its coffin, as it was not allowed to be buried. Heretics' homes were torched and became trash piles.

**** Full text of Louis IX's letter from Tunis to his son, Philippe:

1. To his dear first-born son, Philip, greeting, and his father's love.

2. Dear son, since I desire with all my heart that you be well "instructed in all things, it is in my thought to give you some advice this writing. For I have heard you say, several times, that you remember my words better than those of any one else.

3. Therefore, dear son, the first thing I advise is that you fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.

4. You should, with all your strength, shun everything which you believe to be displeasing to Him. And you ought especially to be resolved not to commit mortal sin, no matter what may happen and should permit all your limbs to be hewn off, and suffer every manner of torment , rather than fall knowingly into mortal sin.

5. If our Lord send you any adversity, whether illness or other in good patience, and thank Him for it, thing, you should receive it in good patience and be thankful for it, for you ought to believe that He will cause everything to turn out for your good; and likewise you should think that you have well merited it, and more also, should He will it, because you have loved Him but little, and served Him but little, and have done many things contrary to His will.

6. If our Lord send you any prosperity, either health of body or other thing you ought to thank Him humbly for it, and you ought to be careful that you are not the worse for it, either through pride or anything else, for it is a very great sin to fight against our Lord with His gifts.

7. Dear son, I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession, and that you choose always, as your confessors, men who are upright and sufficiently learned, and who can teach you what you should do and what you should avoid. You should so carry yourself that your confessors and other friends may dare confidently to reprove you and show you your faults.

8. Dear son, I advise you that you listen willingly and devoutly the services of Holy Church, and, when you are in church, avoid to frivolity and trifling, and do not look here and there; but pray to God with lips and heart alike, while entertaining sweet thoughts about Him, and especially at the mass, when the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are consecrated, and for a little time before.

9. Dear son, have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms.

10. Maintain the good customs of your realm, and put down the bad ones. Do not oppress your people and do not burden them with tolls or tailles, except under very great necessity.

11. If you have any unrest of heart, of such a nature that it may be told, tell it to your confessor, or to some upright man who can keep your secret; you will be able to carry more easily the thought of your heart.

12. See to it that those of your household are upright and loyal, and remember the Scripture, which says: "Elige viros timentes Deum in quibus sit justicia et qui oderint avariciam"; that is to say, "Love those who serve God and who render strict justice and hate covetousness"; and you will profit, and will govern your kingdom well.

13. Dear son, see to it that all your associates are upright, whether clerics or laymen, and have frequent good converse with them; and flee the society of the bad. And listen willingly to the word of God, both in open and in secret; and purchase freely prayers and pardons.

14. Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be.

15. Let no one be so bold as to say, in your presence, words which attract and lead to sin, and do not permit words of detraction to be spoken of another behind his back.

!6. Suffer it not that any ill be spoken of God or His saints in your presence, without taking prompt vengeance. But if the offender be a clerk or so great a person that you ought not to try him, report the matter to him who is entitled to judge it.

17. Dear son, give thanks to God often for all the good things He has done for you, so that you may be worthy to receive more, in such a manner that if it please the Lord that you come to the burden and honor of governing the kingdom, you may be worthy to receive the sacred unction wherewith the kings of France are consecrated.

18. Dear son, if you come to the throne, strive to have that which befits a king, that is to say, that in justice and rectitude you hold yourself steadfast and loyal toward your subjects and your vassals, without turning either to the right or to the left, but always straight, whatever may happen. And if a poor man have a quarrel with a rich man, sustain the poor rather than the rich, until the truth is made clear, and when you know the truth, do justice to them.

19. If any one have entered into a suit against you (for any injury or wrong which he may believe that you have done to him), be always for him and against yourself in the presence of your council, without showing that you think much of your case (until the truth be made known concerning it); for those of your council might be backward in speaking against you, and this you should not wish; and command your judges that you be not in any way upheld more than any others, for thus will your councillors judge more boldly according to right and truth.

20. If you have anything belonging to another, either of yourself or through your predecessors, if the matter is certain, give it up without delay, however great it may be, either in land or money or otherwise. If the matter is doubtful, have it inquired into by wise men, promptly and diligently. And if the affair is so obscure that you cannot know the truth, make such a settlement, by the counsel of s of upright men, that your soul, and the soul your predecessors, may be wholly freed from the affair. And even if you hear some one say that your predecessors made restitution, make diligent inquiry to learn if anything remains to be restored; and if you find that such is the case, cause it to be delivered over at once, for the liberation of your soul and the souls of your predecessors.

21. You should seek earnestly how your vassals and your subjects may live in peace and rectitude beneath your sway; likewise, the good towns and the good cities of your kingdom. And preserve them in the estate and the liberty in which your predecessors kept them, redress it, and if there be anything to amend, amend and preserve their favor and their love. For it is by the strength and the riches of your good cities and your good towns that the native and the foreigner, especially your peers and your barons, are deterred from doing ill to you. I will remember that Paris and the good towns of my kingdom aided me against the barons, when I was newly crowned.

22. Honor and love all the people of Holy Church, and be careful that no violence be done to them, and that their gifts and alms, which your predecessors have bestowed upon them, be not taken away or diminished. And I wish here to tell you what is related concerning King Philip, my ancestor, as one of his council, who said he heard it, told it to me. The king, one day, was with his privy council, and he was there who told me these words. And one of the king's councillors said to him how much wrong and loss he suffered from those of Holy Church, in that they took away his rights and lessened the jurisdiction of his court; and they marveled greatly how he endured it. And the good king answered: "I am quite certain that they do me much wrong, but when I consider the goodnesses and kindnesses which God has done me, I had rather that my rights should go, than have a contention or awaken a quarrel with Holy Church." And this I tell to you that you may not lightly believe anything against the people of Holy Church; so love them and honor them and watch over them that they may in peace do the service of our Lord.

23. Moreover, I advise you to love dearly the clergy, and, so far as you are able, do good to them in their necessities, and likewise love those by whom God is most honored and served, and by whom the Faith is preached and exalted.

24. Dear son, I advise that you love and reverence your father and your mother, willingly remember and keep their commandments, and be inclined to believe their good counsels.

25. Love your brothers, and always wish their well-being and their good advancement, and also be to them in the place of a father, to instruct them in all good. But be watchful lest, for the love which you bear to one, you turn aside from right doing, and do to the others that which is not meet.

26. Dear son, I advise you to bestow the benefices of Holy Church which you have to give, upon good persons, of good and clean life, and that you bestow them with the high counsel of upright men. And I am of the opinion that it is preferable to give them to those who hold nothing of Holy Church, rather than to others. For, if you inquire diligently, you will find enough of those who have nothing who will use wisely that entrusted to them.

27. Dear son, I advise you that you try with all your strength to avoid warring against any Christian man, unless he have done you too much ill. And if wrong be done you, try several ways to see if you can find how you can secure your rights, before you make war; and act thus in order to avoid the sins which are committed in warfare.

28. And if it fall out that it is needful that you should make war (either because some one of your vassals has failed to plead his case in your court, or because he has done wrong to some church or to some poor person, or to any other person whatsoever, and is unwilling to make amends out of regard for you, or for any other reasonable cause), whatever the reason for which it is necessary for you to make war, give diligent command that the poor folk who have done no wrong or crime be protected from damage to their vines, either through fire or otherwise, for it were more fitting that you should constrain the wrongdoer by taking his own property (either towns or castles, by force of siege), than that you should devastate the property of poor people. And be careful not to start the war before you have good counsel that the cause is most reasonable, and before you have summoned the offender to make amends, and have waited as long as you should. And if he ask mercy, you ought to pardon him, and accept his amende, so that God may be pleased with you.

29. Dear son, I advise you to appease wars and contentions, whether they be yours or those of your subjects, just as quickly as may be, for it is a thing most pleasing to our Lord. And Monsignore Martin gave us a very great example of this. For, one time, when our Lord made it known to him that he was about to die, he set out to make peace between certain clerks of his archbishopric, and he was of the opinion that in so doing he was giving a good end to life.

30. Seek diligently, most sweet son, to have good baillis and good prevots in your land, and inquire frequently concerning their doings, and how they conduct themselves, and if they administer justice well, and do no wrong to any one, nor anything which they ought not do. Inquire more often concerning those of your household if they be too covetous or too arrogant; for it is natural that the members should seek to imitate their chief; that is, when the master is wise and well-behaved, all those of his household follow his example and prefer it. For however much you ought to hate evil in others, you should have more hatred for the evil which comes from those who derive their power from you, than you bear to the evil of others; and the more ought you to be on your guard and prevent this from happening.

3!. Dear son, I advise you always to be devoted to the Church of Rome, and to the sovereign pontiff, our father, and to bear him the the reverence and honor which you owe to your spiritual father.

32. Dear son, freely give power to persons of good character, who know how to use it well, and strive to have wickednesses expelled from your land, that is to say, nasty oaths, and everything said or done against God or our Lady or the saints. In a wise and proper manner put a stop, in your land, to bodily sins, dicing, taverns, and other sins. Put down heresy so far as you can, and hold in especial abhorrence Jews, and all sorts of people who are hostile to the Faith, so that your land may be well purged of them, in such manner as, by the sage counsel of good people, may appear to you advisable.

33. Further the right with all your strength. Moreover I admonish you you that you strive most earnestly to show your gratitude for the benefits which our Lord has bestowed upon you, and that you may know how to give Him thanks therefore

34. Dear son, take care that the expenses of your household are reasonable and moderate, and that its moneys are justly obtained. And there is one opinion that I deeply wish you to entertain, that is to say, that you keep yourself free from foolish expenses and evil exactions, and that your money should be well expended and well acquired. And this opinion, together with other opinions which are suitable and profitable, I pray that our Lord may teach you.

35. Finally, most sweet son, I conjure and require you that, if it please our Lord that I should die before you, you have my soul succored with masses and orisons, and that you send through the congregations of the Kingdom of France, and demand their prayers for my soul, and that you grant me a special and full part in all the good deeds which you perform.

36. In conclusion, dear son, I give you all the blessings which a good and tender father can give to a son, and I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, by His mercy, by the prayers and merits of His blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of angels and archangels and of all the saints, to guard and protect you from doing anything contrary to His will, and to give you grace to do it always, so that He may be honored and served by you. And this may He do to me as to you, by His great bounty, so that after this mortal life we may be able to be together with Him in the eternal life, and see Him, love Him, and praise Him without end. Amen. And glory, honor, and praise be to Him who is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit; without beginning and without end. Amen.

From "Saint Louis' Advice to His Son", in Medieval Civilization, trans. and eds. Dana Munro and George Clarke.


Sources: (Paul Halsall, January 1996)
The Challenge of the West, ed. Lynn Hunt et al, D.C. Heath: Lexington, MA, 1995.
The Discoverers; A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself, Daniel J. Boorstin; Vintage Books: New York, 1985.

A little known anthem composed in the 1563 revolt of the peasant noding class in an early feudal database in France. Their bloody-handed assault of the haughty editorial class ultimately led to the destruction of Tout (as it was called), but the idealistic thinking of the creators of Tout, though it failed again in its subsequent incarnation, Tout2, has resurfaced in the 21st century on the internet. But enough talk - the song, may it long inspire fear!

Allons enfants de Tout, le jour de gloire est arrivé!
(Arise, children of Everything, the day of glory has at last arrived)
Contre nous de la nodoisie, l'etendard administratif est levé,
(against we, the noding class, the cruel banner of the administration is raised)
cet etendard cruel est levé.
(this cruel banner is raised.)
Entendez vous dans le site les cris de mort des nodes de bonne humeur.
(do you hear the death cries of the nodes in the chatterbox?)
Ces editeurs plein de pouvoir vile,
(these editors, full of their vile power)
Ils viennent jusque nos nodes-maisons,
(they come, right up to our homenodes)
egorger nos nodes de réputation plus hautes, notre XP.
(to slaughter our nodes with the highest reputations and decimate our XP)
Aux liens douces citoyens! Faites vos nodes protestrice!
(To your softlinks, o patriots! Write nodes of protest!)
Nodez, Nodez! Que le sang sarcastique des editeurs abreuve les rues de Tout!
(And node, node! May the sarcastic blood of the editors fill the streets of Everything!)

Fustflum: I'll do no such thing. =)