LOUIS VI (1 December 1081 – 1 August 1137), called THE FAT (French : le Gros) or THE FIGHTER (French : le Batailleur), was King of the Franks from 1108 until his death (1137). Chronicles called him "roi de Saint-Denis". Louis VI
Louis was the first member of the
House of Capet
Louis was a warrior king but by his forties his weight had become so
great that it was increasingly difficult for him to lead in the field.
A biography - The Deeds of Louis the Fat, prepared by his loyal
* 1 Early life
* 2 Challenges to royal authority
* 3 Struggles with the robber barons
* 4 War with Henry I over
* 5 Intervention in Flanders
* 6 Invasion of Henry V
* 7 Alliance of the
Louis was born on 1 December 1081 in Paris, the son of Philip I and Bertha of Holland .
Suger tells us: "In his youth, growing courage matured his spirit
with youthful vigour, making him bored with hunting and the boyish
games with which others of his age used to enjoy themselves and forget
the pursuit of arms." And..."How valiant he was in youth, and with
what energy he repelled the king of the English,
Louis married Lucienne de Rochefort , a French crown princess, in 1104, but repudiated her three years later. They had no children.
On 3 August 1115 Louis married
Adelaide of Maurienne , daughter of
Humbert II of Savoy and of
Gisela of Burgundy
Suger became Louis's adviser even before he succeeded his father as
king at the age of 26 on 29 July 1108. Louis's half-brother prevented
him from reaching
CHALLENGES TO ROYAL AUTHORITY
When Louis ascended the throne the
Kingdom of France
The second great challenge facing Louis was to counter the rising power of the Anglo-Normans under their capable new King, Henry I of England .
STRUGGLES WITH THE ROBBER BARONS
From early in his reign (and during his father's reign) Louis faced
the problem of the robber barons who resisted the King's authority and
engaged in brigandry, making the area around
From their castles, such as Le Puiset , Chateaufort , and Montlhery , these barons would charge tolls, waylay merchants and pilgrims, terrorize the peasantry and loot churches and abbeys, the latter deeds drawing the ire of the writers of the day, who were mostly clerics.
In 1108, soon after he ascended the throne, Louis engaged in war with
Crecy , who was plaguing the countryside and had captured
Eudes, Count of Corbeil, and imprisoned him at
In early 1109, Louis besieged his half-brother, Philip, the son of Bertrade de Montfort , who was involved in brigandry and conspiracies against the King, at Mantes-la-Jolie . Philip's plots included the lords of Montfort-l\'Amaury . Amaury III of Montfort held many castles which, when linked together, formed a continuous barrier between Louis and vast swathes of his domains, threatening all communication south of Paris.
In 1108-1109 a seigneur named Aymon Vaire-Vache seized the lordship of Bourbon from his nephew, Archambaud, a minor. Louis demanded the boy be restored to his rights but Aymon refused the summons. Louis raised his army and besieged Aymon at his castle at Germigny-sur-l'Aubois, forcing its surrender and enforcing the rights of Archambaud.
In 1122, Aimeri,
Bishop of Clermont , appealed to Louis after William
VI, Count of Auvergne , had driven him from his episcopal town. When
William refused Louis' summons, Louis raised an army at
Bourges , and
marched into Auvergne, supported by some of his leading vassals, such
Some of the outlaws became notorious for their cruelty, the most notable being Thomas, Lord of Coucy , who was reputed to indulge in torture of his victims, including hanging men by their testicles, cutting out eyes, and chopping off feet. Guibert of Nogent noted of him, "No one can imagine the number of those who perished in his dungeons, from starvation, from torture, from filth."
Another notable brigand was Hugh, Lord of
Le Puiset , who was
ravaging the lands around
Rashly, Louis released Hugh, and while Louis was engaged in war with
Henry I of England
These were just some of the recalcitrant nobles Louis was forced to contend with. There were many more, and Louis was in constant motion against them, leading his army from castle to castle, bringing law and order to his domains. The result was increased recognition of the King's authority and the Crown's ability to impose its will, so that all sectors of French society began to see the King as their protector.
WAR WITH HENRY I OVER GISORS
Motte and castle at Gisors .
After seizing the English Crown,
Henry I of England
This move threatened the Capetian domain and Louis was outraged, demanding Henry, as his vassal , appear before him to account for his actions. The two kings met, in force, in March 1109 at the borders of their respective territories at the bridge of Neauphle on the Epte. Henry refused to relinquish Gisors. Louis challenged the English King to single combat to settle the issue. When Henry refused, war was inevitable, a war which would last, on and off, for twenty years.
The first years of the war went well for Louis until the influential
Theobald II, Count of Champagne
Louis defeated Theobald's coalition but the additional effort meant
he could not defeat the English monarch as well or force him to
abandon Gisors, and in March 1113 Louis was forced to sign a treaty
recognizing Henry I as suzerain of
By 1119, buoyed by several successes and the capture (through treachery) of Les Andelys , Louis felt ready for a final encounter to end the war. In the fierce Battle of Bremule , in August 1119, Louis's troops broke and routed, abandoning the royal banner and sweeping the King along with them in retreat to Les Andelys. A counter-attack through Evreaux to seize Breteuil failed and Louis, health failing, looked for peace.
He appealed to
INTERVENTION IN FLANDERS
Soon a variety of claimants were abroad, including
William of Ypres ,
son of Charles's uncle and popularly thought to be complicit in the
Thierry of Alsace , the son of Gertrude of Flanders, Duchess
of Lorraine , Arnold of
Louis had his own candidate in mind and marched into Flanders with an
army and urged the barons to elect
Louis then moved decisively to secure Flanders, apprehending the
Charles the Good and ousting the rival claimants. On 2
April he took
Louis's final act before leaving for
It was a triumph for Louis and demonstrated how far the Crown had
come under his leadership, but it was a brief triumph. The new young
Louis attempted to intervene again but the moment was gone. The
people of Bruge rejected him and recognized
Thierry of Alsace as their
Count, and he quickly moved to enforce his claim. Louis called a great
assembly at Arras and had Thierry excommunicated but it was a gesture.
Louis abandoned William of Clito, who died during a siege at
INVASION OF HENRY V
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
On 25 November 1120, Louis' fortunes against
Henry I of England
By 1123 Louis was involved with a coalition of Norman and French
seigneurs opposed to Henry. The plan was to drive the English King
Henry V had married the
Thus in 1124, Henry V assembled an army to march on
Henry V died a year after the aborted campaign.
ALLIANCE OF THE ANGLO-NORMANS AND ANJOU
In 1128 Henry I married his sole surviving legitimate child, the
dowager Empress Matilda, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of
As Louis VI approached his end, there seemed to be reasons for
Henry I of England
Louis had also made great strides in exercising his royal authority over his barons, and even Theobald II had finally rallied to the Capetian cause.
Finally, on 9 April 1137, a dying William X, Duke of Aquitaine
appointed Louis VI guardian of his fifteen-year-old daughter and
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Louis died of dysentry 7 days later, on 1 August 1137. Despite his
achievements, it would be the growing power of the soon to be Angevin
Empire that would come to overshadow his successor, its seeds sown in
the marriage between the
Louis VI was interred in the Basilica of St
MARRIAGES AND CHILDREN
Epitaph of Louis VI, after 1137, Eglise Abbatiale de Saint Denis , today at Cluny Museum .
He married in 1115: 2) Adélaide de Maurienne (1092–1154)
* Their children:
* Philip (29 August 1116 – 13 October 1131), King of France
(1129–31), not to be confused with his brother of the same name; he
died as a result of a fall from a horse.
* Louis VII (1120 – 18 September 1180), King of France.
* Henry (1121 – 13 November 1175),
Archbishop of Reims .
* Hugues (ca 1122 – died young).
* Robert (ca 1123 – 11 October 1188), count of Dreux .
* Peter (September 1126 – 10 April 1183), married Elizabeth,
Lady of Courtenay .
* Constance (ca 1128 – 16 August 1176), married first Eustace IV ,
count of Boulogne , and then
Raymond V of Toulouse .
* Philip (c.1132 -1160),
With Marie de Breuillet, daughter of Renaud de Breuillet de Dourdan, Louis VI was the father of a daughter:
* Isabelle (ca 1105 – before 1175), married (ca. 1119) Guillaume I of Chaumont in 1117.
ANCESTORS OF LOUIS VI OF FRANCE
16. Hugh Capet
19. Adelaide of
10. Yaroslav I of Kiev
5. Anne of Kiev
22. Olof Skötkonung of Sweden
1. LOUIS VI OF FRANCE
13. Othelendis of Saxony
29. Hildegard of Stade
31. Gerberga of Henneburg
* ^ Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages 1993, p 410. * ^ "Government, law and society", R. van Caenegem , The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought C.350-c.1450, ed. J. H. Burns, (Cambridge University Press, 1988), 188. * ^ "The Kingdom of the Frank to 1108", Constance Brittain Bouchard, The New Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. 4, Part II, ed. David Luscombe, Jonathan Riley-Smith, (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 126. "Probably in 1072, Philip married Bertha, daughter of the late count of Holland, Florent I, and stepdaughter of Robert of Frisia, count of Flanders. For some years Philip and Bertha were troubled by their failure to have a son. The birth of the future Louis VI in 1081 was striking enough for a miracle story to grow up around the event ." * ^ Abbot Suger: Life of King Louis the Fat, Chapter 1. * ^ A B "The Historia Iherosolimitana of Robert the Monk and the Coronation of Louis VI", James Naus, Writing the Early Crusades: Text, Transmission and Memory, ed. Marcus Bull, Damien Kempf, (Boydell Press, 2014), 112. * ^ A B C "France: Louis VI and Louis VII (1108-1180)", Louis Halphen, The Cambridge Medieval History: Contest of Empire and Papacy, Volume V, ed. J.R. Tanner, C.W. Previte-Orton, and Z.N. Brooke. The Macmillan Company, 1926. p. 596. * ^ A B The Cambridge Medieval History Volume V, p598 * ^ The Cambridge Medieval History, p594 * ^ The Cambridge Medieval History Volume V, p594 * ^ The Cambridge Medieval History Volume V, p595 * ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N The Cambridge Medieval History Volume V p601 * ^ A B C D E F The Cambridge Medieval History Volume V, p599 * ^ A B C The Cambridge Medieval History Volume V, p604 * ^ Encyclopædia Britannica * ^ A B Robert Fawtier, The Capetian Kings of France, transl. Lionel Butler and R.J. Adam, (Macmillan, 1989), 21. * ^ A B Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: kings of France, 987-1328, 132. * ^ Gislebertus of Mons, Chronicle of Hainaut, transl. Laura Napran, (The Boydell Press, 2005), 68 n288. * ^ Fourteen Charters of Robert I of Dreux (1152–1188), Andrew W. Lewis , "Traditio", Vol. 41 (1985), 145. * ^ Ann Marie Rasmussen, Mothers and Daughters in Medieval German Literature, (Syracuse University Press, 1997), 9. * ^ Isabella of Angouleme: John's Jezebel, Nicholas Vincent, King John: New Interpretations, ed. S. D. Church, (The Boydell Press, 1999), 202. * ^ The Career of Philip the Cleric, younger Brother of Louis VII: Apropos of an Unpublished Charter, Andrew W. Lewis , "Traditio", Vol. 50, (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 111,113,116. * ^ (FR) Jean Dufour, "Un Faux de Louis VI Relatif a Liancourt (Oise)", Bibliotheque de L'Ecole des Chartes Revue D'Erudition, January–June 1986: 46. * ^ Robert Fawtier, The Capetian Kings of France:Monarchy and Nation 987-1328, transl. Lionel Butler and R.J. Adam, (Macmillan Education Ltd, 1989), 19.
* Suger , Abbot of Saint Denis. The Deeds of Louis the Fat. Translated with introduction and notes by Richard Cusimano and John Moorhead. Washington, DC : Catholic University of America Press,1992. (ISBN 0-8132-0758-4 ) * Suger, Abbot of Saint Denis. The Deeds of Louis the Fat. Translated by Jean Dunbabin (this version is free, but has no annotations)
Louis VI of
Preceded by Philip I KING OF THE FRANKS 1108 – 1137 with Philip as junior king (1129 – 1131) Louis VII as junior king (1131 – 1137) Succeeded by Louis VII
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