Louis IX (25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270), commonly known as
Saint Louis, was
King of France
King of France and is a canonized Catholic and
Anglican saint. Louis was crowned in
Reims at the age of 12, following
the death of his father Louis VIII the Lion, although his mother,
Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom until he reached maturity.
During Louis's childhood, Blanche dealt with the opposition of
rebellious vassals and put an end to the
Albigensian Crusade which had
started 20 years earlier.
As an adult, Louis IX faced recurring conflicts with some of the
most-powerful nobles, such as
Hugh X of Lusignan
Hugh X of Lusignan and Peter of Dreux.
Henry III of England
Henry III of England tried to restore his continental
possessions, but was defeated at the battle of Taillebourg. His reign
saw the annexation of several provinces, notably Normandy, Maine and
Louis IX was a reformer and developed French royal justice, in which
the king was the supreme judge to whom anyone could appeal to seek the
amendment of a judgment. He banned trials by ordeal, tried to prevent
the private wars that were plaguing the country and introduced the
presumption of innocence in criminal procedure. To enforce the
application of this new legal system, Louis IX created provosts and
Following a vow he made after a serious illness and confirmed after a
miraculous cure, Louis IX took an active part in the Seventh and
Eighth Crusades. He died from dysentery during the latter crusade, and
was succeeded by his son Philip III.
Louis's actions were inspired by Christian zeal and Catholic devotion.
He decided to severely punish blasphemy, for which he set the
punishment to mutilation of the tongue and lips,gambling,
interest-bearing loans and prostitution. He spent exorbitant sums on
presumed relics of Christ, for which he built the Sainte-Chapelle, and
he expanded the scope of the
Inquisition and ordered the burning of
Talmuds and other Jewish books. He is the only canonized king of
France, and there are consequently many places named after him.
2 Early life
4 Disputation of Paris
5.1 Seventh Crusade
5.2 Four years in Palestine
5.3 Eighth Crusade
6 Patron of arts and arbiter of Europe
7 Religious nature
10 Death and legacy
11 Veneration as a saint
12 Places named after
13 Notable portraits
14 In fiction
16 External links
Much of what is known of Louis's life comes from Jean de Joinville's
famous Life of
Saint Louis. Joinville was a close friend, confidant,
and counsellor to the king, and also participated as a witness in the
papal inquest into Louis' life that ended with his canonisation in
1297 by Pope Boniface VIII.
Two other important biographies were written by the king's confessor,
Geoffrey of Beaulieu, and his chaplain, William of Chartres. While
several individuals wrote biographies in the decades following the
king's death, only Jean of Joinville, Geoffrey of Beaulieu, and
William of Chartres
William of Chartres wrote from personal knowledge of the king, and all
three are biased favorably. The fourth important source of information
is William of Saint-Parthus' biography, which he wrote using the
papal inquest mentioned above.
Louis was born on 25 April 1214 at Poissy, near Paris, the son of
Prince Louis the Lion and Princess Blanche, and baptised in La
Collégiale Notre-Dame church. His grandfather on his father's side
was Philip II, king of France; while his grandfather on his mother's
side was Alfonso VIII, king of Castile. Tutors of Blanche's choosing
taught him most of what a king must know—Latin, public speaking,
writing, military arts, and government. He was 9 years old when his
grandfather Philip II died and his father ascended as Louis VIII. A
member of the House of Capet, Louis was twelve years old when his
father died on 8 November 1226. He was crowned king within the month
Reims cathedral. Because of Louis's youth, his mother ruled France
as regent during his minority.
Louis' mother trained him to be a great leader and a good Christian.
She used to say:
I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child; but I
would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should ever commit
a mortal sin.
His younger brother
Charles I of Sicily
Charles I of Sicily (1227–85) was created count
of Anjou, thus founding the second Angevin dynasty.
No date is given for the beginning of Louis's personal rule. His
contemporaries viewed his reign as co-rule between the king and his
mother, though historians generally view the year 1234 as the year in
which Louis began ruling personally, with his mother assuming a more
advisory role. She continued to have a strong influence on the king
until her death in 1252.
On 27 May 1234, Louis married
Margaret of Provence (1221 – 21
December 1295), whose sister Eleanor later became the wife of Henry
III of England. The new queen's religious zeal made her a well suited
partner for the king. He enjoyed her company, and was pleased to show
her the many public works he was making in Paris, both for its defense
and for its health. They enjoyed riding together, reading, and
listening to music. This attention raised a certain amount of jealousy
in his mother, who tried to keep them apart as much as she could.
Disputation of Paris
Main article: Disputation of Paris
In the 1230s, Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity,
Talmud and pressed 35 charges against it to Pope
Gregory IX by quoting a series of blasphemous passages about Jesus,
Mary or Christianity. There is a Talmudic passage, for example, where
Jesus of Nazareth is sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for
eternity. Donin also selected an injunction of the
Talmud that permits
Jews to kill non-Jews. This led to the Disputation of Paris, which
took place in 1240 at the court of Louis IX, where rabbi Yechiel of
Paris defended the
Talmud against the accusations of Nicholas Donin.
The translation of the
Talmud from Judeo Aramaic to a non-Jewish,
profane language was seen by Jews as a profound violation. The
disputation led to the condemnation of the
Talmud and the burning of
thousands of copies.
When Louis was 15, his mother brought an end to the Albigensian
Crusade in 1229 after signing an agreement with Count Raymond VII,
Count of Toulouse that cleared the latter's father of wrongdoing.
Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse
Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse had been suspected of murdering a
preacher on a mission to convert the Cathars.
Louis went on two crusades, in his mid-30s in 1248 (Seventh Crusade),
and then again in his mid-50s in 1270 (Eighth Crusade).
Engraving representing the departure from
Aigues-Mortes of King Louis
IX for the
Seventh Crusade (by Gustave Doré)
Equestrian statue of King
Saint Louis at the Sacré-Cœur
In 1248 Louis decided that his obligations as a son of the Church
outweighed those of his throne, and he left his kingdom for a
disastrous six-year adventure. Since the base of
Muslim power had
shifted to Egypt, Louis did not even march on the Holy Land; any war
Islam now fit the definition of a Crusade.
Louis and his followers landed in Egypt on 5 June 1249 and began his
first crusade with the rapid capture of the port of Damietta.
This attack caused some disruption in the
Muslim Ayyubid empire,
especially as the current sultan, Al-Malik as-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub,
was on his deathbed. However, the march from
Damietta toward Cairo
Nile River Delta
Nile River Delta went slowly. The rising of the Nile and
the summer heat made it impossible for them to advance and follow up
on their success. During this time, the Ayyubid sultan died, and
the sultan's wife
Shajar al-Durr set in motion a sudden power shift
that would make her Queen and eventually place the Egyptian army of
Mamluks in power. On 6 April 1250 Louis lost his army at the
Battle of Al Mansurah and was captured by the Egyptians. His
release was eventually negotiated in return for a ransom of 400,000
livres tournois (at the time France's annual revenue was only about
1,250,000 livres tournois) and the surrender of the city of
Louis IX was taken prisoner at the Battle of Fariskur, during the
Seventh Crusade (Gustave Doré).
Four years in Palestine
Following his release from Egyptian captivity, Louis spent four years
in the Latin kingdoms of Acre, Caesarea, and Jaffa, using his wealth
to assist the
Crusaders in rebuilding their defences and
conducting diplomacy with the Islamic powers of Syria and Egypt. In
the spring of 1254 he and his army returned to France.
Louis exchanged multiple letters and emissaries with Mongol rulers of
the period. During his first crusade in 1248, Louis was approached by
envoys from Eljigidei, the Mongol military commander stationed in
Armenia and Persia.
Eljigidei suggested that King Louis should
land in Egypt, while
Eljigidei attacked Baghdad, to prevent the
Saracens of Egypt and those of Syria from joining forces. Louis sent
André de Longjumeau, a Dominican priest, as an emissary to the Great
Güyük Khan (r. 1246–48) in Mongolia.
Güyük died before the
emissary arrived at his court, however, and nothing concrete occurred.
Instead his queen and now regent, Oghul Qaimish, politely turned down
the diplomatic offer.
Louis dispatched another envoy to the Mongol court, the Franciscan
William of Rubruck, who went to visit the Great Khan Möngke
(1251–1259) in Mongolia. He spent several years at the Mongol court.
In 1259, Berke, the ruler of the Golden Horde, westernmost part of the
Mongolian Empire, demanded the submission of Louis. On the
contrary, Mongolian Emperors
Möngke and Khubilai's brother, the
Ilkhan Hulegu, sent a letter seeking military assistance from the king
of France, but the letter did not reach France.
Saint Louis: On 25 August 1270,
Saint Louis dies under his
fleurdelisé tent before the city of Tunis. Illuminated by Jean
Grandes Chroniques de France
Grandes Chroniques de France (1455–1460)
In a parliament held at Paris, 24 March 1267, Louis and his three sons
took the cross. On hearing the reports of the missionaries, Louis
resolved to land at Tunis, and he ordered his younger brother, Charles
of Anjou, to join him there. The crusaders, among whom was Prince
Edward of England, landed at
Carthage 17 July 1270, but disease broke
out in the camp. Many died of dysentery, and on 25 August, Louis
Patron of arts and arbiter of Europe
Louis' patronage of the arts drove much innovation in
Gothic art and
architecture, and the style of his court radiated throughout Europe by
both the purchase of art objects from Parisian masters for export, and
by the marriage of the king's daughters and female relatives to
foreign husbands and their subsequent introduction of Parisian models
elsewhere. Louis' personal chapel, the
Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was
copied more than once by his descendants elsewhere. Louis most likely
ordered the production of the Morgan Bible, a masterpiece of medieval
Pope Innocent IV
Pope Innocent IV with Louis IX at Cluny
During the so-called "golden century of
Saint Louis", the kingdom of
France was at its height in Europe, both politically and economically.
Saint Louis was regarded as "primus inter pares", first among equals,
among the kings and rulers of the continent. He commanded the largest
army and ruled the largest and wealthiest kingdom, the European centre
of arts and intellectual thought at the time. The foundations for the
famous college of theology later known as the
Sorbonne were laid in
Paris about the year 1257. The prestige and respect felt in Europe
for King Louis IX were due more to the attraction that his benevolent
personality created rather than to military domination. For his
contemporaries, he was the quintessential example of the Christian
prince and embodied the whole of
Christendom in his person. His
reputation for saintliness and fairness was already well established
while he was alive, and on many occasions he was chosen as an arbiter
in quarrels among the rulers of Europe.
Shortly before 1256, Enguerrand IV, Lord of Coucy, arrested and
without trial hanged three young squires of Laon whom he accused of
poaching in his forest. In 1256 Louis had him arrested and brought to
the Louvre by his sergeants. Enguerrand demanded judgment by his peers
and trial by battle, which the king refused because he thought it
obsolete. Enguerrand was tried, sentenced, and ordered to pay 12,000
livres. Part of the money was to pay for masses in perpetuity for the
men he had hanged.
In 1258, Louis and
James I of Aragon
James I of Aragon signed the Treaty of Corbeil,
under which Louis renounced his feudal overlordship over the County of
Barcelona and Roussillon, which was held by the King of Aragon. James
in turn renounced his feudal overlordship over several counties in
Provence and Languedoc. In 1259 Louis signed
the Treaty of Paris, by which
Henry III of England
Henry III of England was confirmed in
his possession of territories in southwestern
France and Louis
received the provinces of Anjou,
Normandy (Normandie), Poitou, Maine,
Louis IX allowing himself to be whipped as penance
The perception of Louis IX as the exemplary Christian prince was
reinforced by his religious zeal. Louis was a devout Catholic, and he
Sainte-Chapelle ("Holy Chapel"), located within the royal
palace complex (now the Paris Hall of Justice), on the Île de la
Cité in the centre of Paris. The Sainte Chapelle, a perfect example
Rayonnant style of Gothic architecture, was erected as a shrine
for what he believed to be the
Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the
True Cross, supposed precious relics of the Passion of Jesus. Louis
purchased these in 1239–41 from Emperor Baldwin II of the Latin
Empire of Constantinople, for the exorbitant sum of 135,000 livres
(the construction of the chapel, for comparison, cost only 60,000
Louis IX took very seriously his mission as "lieutenant of God on
Earth", with which he had been invested when he was crowned in Reims.
To fulfill this duty, he conducted two crusades, and even though both
ended disastrously, they contributed to his prestige. Everything he
did was for the glory of God and for what he saw as the good of his
people. He protected the poor and was never heard speak ill of anyone.
He excelled in penance and had a great love for the Church. He was
merciful even to rebels. When he was urged to put to death a prince
who had followed his father in rebellion, he refused, saying: "A son
cannot refuse to obey his father."
Hair shirt and scourge of Louis IX. Treasury of Notre-Dame de Paris.
In 1230 the King forbade all forms of usury, defined at the time as
any taking of interest. Where the original Jewish and Lombard
borrowers could not be found, Louis exacted from the lenders a
contribution towards the crusade which Pope Gregory was then trying to
launch. Louis also ordered, at the urging of Pope Gregory IX, the
burning in Paris in 1243 of some 12,000 manuscript copies of the
Talmud and other Jewish books. Eventually, the edict against the
Talmud was overturned by Gregory IX's successor, Innocent IV.
In addition to Louis' legislation against usury, he expanded the scope
Inquisition in France. The area most affected by this expansion
France where the
Cathar heresy had been strongest. The
rate of these confiscations reached its highest levels in the years
before his first crusade, and slowed upon his return to
1254. In 1250, he headed a crusade, but was taken prisoner. During his
captivity, he recited the Divine Office every day. After his release,
he visited the
Holy Land before returning to France. In all these
deeds, Louis IX tried to fulfill the duty of France, which was seen as
"the eldest daughter of the Church" (la fille aînée de l'Église), a
tradition of protector of the Church going back to the
Charlemagne, who had been crowned by the
Pope Leo III in Rome in 800.
Indeed, the official Latin title of the kings of
France was Rex
Francorum, i.e. "king of the Franks" (until Louis' grandfather's
reign, Philip II whose seal reads Rex Franciae, i.e. "king of
France"), and the kings of
France were also known by the title "most
Christian king" (Rex Christianissimus). The relationship between
France and the papacy was at its peak in the 12th and 13th centuries,
and most of the crusades were actually called by the popes from French
soil. Eventually, in 1309,
Pope Clement V
Pope Clement V even left Rome and relocated
to the French city of Avignon, beginning the era known as the Avignon
Papacy (or, more disparagingly, the "Babylonian captivity").
He was renowned for his charity. Beggars were fed from his table, he
ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the
lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded many hospitals
and houses: the House of the
Filles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes; the
Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men (1254), hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon,
St. Louis installed a house of the
Trinitarian Order in his château
of Fontainebleau. He chose Trinitarians as his chaplains, and was
accompanied by them on his crusades. In his spiritual testament he
wrote: "My dearest son, you should permit yourself to be tormented by
every kind of martyrdom before you would allow yourself to commit a
Ancestors of Louis IX of France
16. Louis VI of France
8. Louis VII of France
17. Adelaide of Savoy
4. Philip II of France
18. Theobald II of Champagne
9. Adela of Champagne
19. Matilda of Carinthia
2. Louis VIII of France
20. Baldwin IV of Hainaut
10. Baldwin V of Hainaut
21. Alice of Namur
5. Isabella of Hainaut
22. Thierry, Count of Flanders
11. Margaret I of Flanders
23. Sibylla of Anjou
1. Louis IX of France
24. Alfonso VII of León
12. Sancho III of Castile
25. Berengaria of Barcelona
6. Alfonso VIII of Castile
26. García V of Navarre
13. Blanche of Navarre
27. Margaret of L'Aigle
3. Blanche of Castile
28. Geoffrey V of Anjou
14. Henry II of England
29. Matilda of England
7. Eleanor of England
30. William X of Aquitaine
15. Eleanor of Aquitaine
31. Aenor of Châtellerault
Blanche (12 July/4 December 1240 – 29 April 1243), died in
Isabella (2 March 1241 – 28 January 1271), married Theobald II of
Louis (23 September 1243/24 February 1244 – 11 January/2
February 1260). Betrothed to Berengaria of Castile in Paris on 20
Philip III (1 May 1245 – 5 October 1285), married firstly to
Isabella of Aragon in 1262 and secondly to Maria of Brabant in 1274.
John (1246/1247 – 10 March 1248), died in infancy.
John Tristan (8 April 1250 – 3 August 1270), Count of Valois,
married Yolande II, Countess of Nevers.
Peter (1251 – 6/7 April 1284), Count of Perche and Alençon, married
Joanne of Châtillon.
Blanche (early 1253 – 17 June 1320), married Ferdinand de la
Cerda, Infante of Castile.
Margaret (early 1255 – July 1271), married John I, Duke of
Robert (1256 – 7 February 1317), Count of Clermont, married Beatrice
of Burgundy. The French crown devolved upon his male-line descendant,
Henry IV, when the legitimate male line of Robert's older brother
Philip III died out in 1589.
Agnes (1260 – 19/20 December 1327), married Robert II, Duke of
Louis had his two children that died in infancy to be buried at the
Cistercian abbey of Royaumont; in 1820 they were transferred to
Death and legacy
Saint Louis (end of the 13th century) Basilica of Saint
Dominic, Bologna, Italy
During his second crusade, Louis died at
Tunis on 25 August 1270, in
an epidemic of dysentery that swept through his army. As
Muslim territory, his body was subject to the process known
as mos Teutonicus (a postmortem funerary custom used in medieval
Europe whereby the flesh was boiled from the body, so that the bones
of the deceased could be transported hygienically from distant lands
back home) for its transportation back to France. He was succeeded
by his son, Philip III.
His heart and intestines, however, were conveyed by his younger
brother, Charles I of Naples, for burial in the cathedral of Monreale
near Palermo. His bones were carried in a lengthy processional
across Sicily, Italy, the Alps, and France, until they were interred
in the royal necropolis at Saint-Denis in May 1271. Charles and
Philip later disbursed a number of relics to promote his
Veneration as a saint
Saint Louis, painting by
El Greco c. 1592 – 95
King of France, Confessor
(1214-04-25)25 April 1214
25 August 1270(1270-08-25) (aged 56)
Tunis in what is now Tunisia
Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion
11 July 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII
Depicted as King of France, generally with a crown, holding a sceptre
with a fleur-de-lys on the end, possibly with blue clothing with a
spread of white fleur-de-lys (coat of arms of the French monarchy)
France, French monarchy, Third Order of St. Francis, Archdiocese of
New Orleans, Roman Catholic Diocese of Port-Louis, hairdressers;
Pope Boniface VIII
Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed the canonization of Louis in 1297;
he is the only French king to be declared a saint. Louis IX is
often considered the model of the ideal Christian monarch. The
impact of his canonization was so great that many of his successors
were named Louis.
Named in his honour, the
Sisters of Charity of St. Louis is a Roman
Catholic religious order founded in Vannes, France, in 1803. A
similar order, the Sisters of St Louis, was founded in Juilly in
He is honoured as co-patron of the Third Order of St. Francis, which
claims him as a member of the Order. Even in childhood, his compassion
for the poor and suffering people had been obvious to all who knew him
and when he became king, over a hundred poor people ate in his house
on ordinary days. Often the king served these guests himself. Such
acts of charity, coupled with Louis' devout religious practices, gave
rise to the legend that he joined the Third Order of St. Francis.
Though it is unlikely that Louis did join the order, his life and
actions proclaimed him one of them in spirit.
Places named after
The cities of
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí in Mexico; St. Louis, Missouri; St.
Louis Park, Minnesota; St. Louis, Michigan; San Luis, Arizona; San
Luis, Colorado; Saint-Louis du Sénégal; Saint-Louis in Alsace; as
Lake Saint-Louis in Quebec, the Mission San Luis Rey de
Francia in California and
São Luís, Maranhão
São Luís, Maranhão in Brazil are among
the many places named after the French king and saint.
The Cathedral Saint-Louis in Versailles; the Basilica of St. Louis,
King of France
King of France completed in 1834 and the Cathedral Basilica of St.
Louis completed in 1914, both in St. Louis, Missouri; and the St.
Louis Cathedral, New Orleans were also named for the king. The French
royal Order of
Saint Louis (1693–1790 and 1814–1830), the Île
Saint-Louis as well as a hospital in the 10th arrondissement of Paris
also bear his name. The national church of
France in Rome also carries
his name: San Luigi dei Francesi in Italian or
Saint Louis of France
in English. Also the Cathedral of St Louis in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the
Church of St Louis in Moscow, Russia, and rue
Saint Louis of
Port-Louis, the capital city of Mauritius, as well as its cathedral
are also named after St. Louis, who is the patron saint of the island.
A bas-relief of St. Louis is one of the carved portraits of historic
lawmakers that adorns the chamber of the United States House of
Saint Louis is also portrayed on a frieze depicting a timeline of
important lawgivers throughout world history in the
Courtroom at the
Supreme Court of the United States.
A statue of St. Louis by the sculptor John Donoghue stands on the
roofline of the
New York State Appellate Division
New York State Appellate Division Court at 27 Madison
Avenue in New York City.
Apotheosis of St. Louis
Apotheosis of St. Louis is an equestrian statue of the saint, by
Charles Henry Niehaus, that stands in front of the
Saint Louis Art
Museum in Forest Park.
A heroic portrait by Baron
Charles de Steuben
Charles de Steuben hangs in the Basilica of
the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in
Baltimore. An 1821 gift of King Louis XVIII of France, it depicts St.
Louis burying his plague-stricken troops before the siege of
the beginning of the
Eighth Crusade in 1270.
Davis, William Stearns, "Falaise of the Blessed Voice" aka "The White
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Peter Berling, The Children of the Grail
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of the Earth away when it grazes the Earth. Some people, taken up at
the same time, find the Tomb of
Saint Louis is one of the bits, as
they explore the comet.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Louis IX of France.
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John de Joinville. Memoirs of Louis IX, King of France. Chronicle,
Saint Louis in Medieval History of Navarre
Site about The Saintonge War between Louis IX of
France and Henry III
Account of the first
Saint Louis from the perspective of
A letter from Guy, a knight, concerning the capture of
Damietta on the
Crusade with a speech delivered by
Saint Louis to his men.
Etext full version of the Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville, a
Saint Louis written by one of his knights
"St. Lewis, King of France", Butler's Lives of the Saints
"Man of the Middle Ages,
Saint Louis, King of France", Archdiocese of
St. Louis, MO
Louis IX of France
House of Capet
Born: 25 April 1214 Died: 25 August 1270
King of France
8 November 1226 – 25 August 1270
Heads of state of France
Styled President of the Republic after 1871, except from 1940 to 1944
(Chief of State) and 1944 to 1947 (Chairman of the Provisional
Detailed monarch family tree Simplified monarch family tree
Pepin the Short
Charlemagne (Charles I)
Charles the Fat
House of Capet
House of Capet (987–1328)
House of Valois
House of Valois (1328–1589)
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House of Lancaster (1422–1453)
Henry VI of England
House of Bourbon
House of Bourbon (1589–1792)
First Republic (1792–1804)
First Empire (1804–1815)
Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830)
July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Louis Philippe I
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure
Second Empire (1852–1870)
Government of National Defense (1870–1871)
Third Republic (1871–1940)
Patrice de Mac-Mahon
Jules Armand Dufaure*
Provisional Government (1944–1947)
Charles de Gaulle
Fourth Republic (1947–1958)
Fifth Republic (1958–present)
Charles de Gaulle
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
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denoted by an asterisk*. Millerand held the presidency in an acting
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ISNI: 0000 0001 2142 9736
BNF: cb120344600 (data)