LOUIS VI (1 December 1081 – 1 August 1137), called THE FAT (French : _le Gros_), 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 to make a lasting
contribution to the centralizing institutions of royal power, He
spent almost all of his twenty-nine-year reign fighting either the
"robber barons " who plagued
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 Gisors * 5 Intervention in Flanders * 6 Invasion of Henry V * 7 Alliance of the Anglo-Normans and Anjou * 8 Final years * 9 Marriages and children * 10 Ancestry * 11 Notes * 12 References
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, William Rufus , when he attacked Louis' inherited kingdom."
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 , and niece of Pope Callixtus II . They had eight children. Adelaide was one of the most politically active of all France's medieval queens. Her name appears on 45 royal charters from the reign of Louis VI. During her time as queen (1115-1137), royal charters were dated with both her regnal year and that of the king.
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
Rheims , and so
Daimbert, Archbishop of Sens ,
crowned him in the cathedral of
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 Hugh of Crecy , who was plaguing the countryside and had captured Eudes, Count of Corbeil, and imprisoned him at La Ferte-Alais . Louis besieged that fortress to free Eudes.
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
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 and Theobald, Hugh raised another band of brigands and began ravaging the country again. When Louis returned his attention to Hugh, he found Le Puiset rebuilt and Hugh receiving aid from Theobald. Hugh held out against the King until Theobald abandoned him. Once again Louis razed Le Puiset and Hugh, who had sworn never to return to his brigandage, rebuilt the castle and resumed terrorizing his neighbours. At the third attempt, Louis finally defeated Hugh and stripped him of his possessions for the last time. Hugh later died on an expiatory pilgrimage to the Holy Land .
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 deprived his
Robert Curthose , of the
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 , switched to Henry's side. By early 1112 Theobald had succeeded in bringing together a coalition of barons with grievances against Louis: Lancelin of Bulles, Ralph of Beaugency, Milo of Bray-sur-Seine, Hugh of Crecy, Guy of Rochfort, Hugh of Le Puiset and Hugh, Count of Troyes .
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
William Clito , son of Robert
Curthose , who had been disinherited of
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
William Clito fared badly, relying on heavy handed feudal ways
not suited to the more socially advanced and mercantile Flemings.
William's knights ran amok and the
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 Alost on 27 July 1128, and after the whole country finally submitted to Thierry, Louis was obliged to confirm his claim.
INVASION OF HENRY V
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor , with Ruthard, Archbishop of Mainz . Paint on vellum. Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
On 25 November 1120, Louis' fortunes against
Henry I of England were
raised when Henry's heir, William Adelin, drunkenly perished aboard
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
Empress Matilda , the English King's daughter
and the future mother of
Henry II of England , 9 years earlier, in
hopes of creating an Anglo-German empire, though the couple remained
childless. Like Louis, Henry V had designs on the
Thus in 1124, Henry V assembled an army to march on
Rheims . It
never arrived. In testament to how far Louis had risen as national
protector, all of
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 Anjou . This was a very dangerous alliance for Louis and would prove so during the reign of his successor, Louis VII of France .
As Louis VI approached his end, there seemed to be reasons for optimism. Henry I of England had died on 1 December 1135 and Stephen of Blois had seized the English crown, reneging on the oath he had sworn to Henry I to support Matilda. Stephen was thus in no position to bring the combined Anglo-Norman might against the French crown.
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 . Eleanor was suddenly the most
eligible heiress in Europe, and Louis wasted no time in marrying her
to his own heir, the future Louis VII, at the Cathedral of
Bordeaux on 25 July 1137. At a stroke Louis had added
one of the most powerful duchies in
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 Empress Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet and realised through their son, Henry II of England .
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 (_ca_ 1132/33 -1161),
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 Anjou
10. Yaroslav I 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. * ^ 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. * ^ (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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Pepin the Short
* Hugh Capet * Robert II * Henry I * Philip I * Louis VI * Louis VII * Philip II * Louis VIII * Louis IX * Philip III * Philip IV * Louis X * John I * Philip V * Charles IV
* Philip VI * John II * Charles V * Charles VI * _ Henry VI of England _ * Charles VII * Louis XI * Charles VIII * Louis XII * Francis I * Henry II * Francis II * Charles IX * Henry III
* Henry IV * Louis XIII * Louis XIV * Louis XV * Louis XVI * _Louis XVII _
BONAPARTE (1ST EMPIRE )
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* Louis XVIII * Charles X * _Louis XIX _ * _Henry V _
ORLéANS (JULY MONARCHY )
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Debatable or disputed rulers are in _italics_
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