Louis XI

“Discuss some of the significant aspects of the reign of Louis XI.”

Louis XI reigned from 1461 to 1483 as King of France, succeeding his father King Charles VII. As battles were won by Charles VII, Loui grew up aware of the continued weakening of the French nation. He, therefore, despised his father and regarded him as a weakling. At 13, Loui was married to Margret of Scotland who was only 11. Louis looked much more mature than his bride, who was said to resemble a beautiful doll, and was treated like one by her in-laws. After the marriage, Margret continued her schooling and Loui went on a tour with his father to loyal areas of their kingdom. Wikipedia states that 

“Even at this time, Charles was taken aback by the intelligence and temper of his son.”

In 1440, Loui (16 years) participated in an uprising known as the Praguerie, which sought to kill Charles and crown Louis as the regent of France. However, the uprising failed and Louis was forced to submit to the king, who luckily forgave his son. But, four years later, Louis still argued with his father and:

“his objectionable scheming which included disrespectful behavior directed against his father’s beloved mistress Agnes Sorel, caused him to be ordered out of court on September 27, 1446 and send on his out province of Dauphine”. -Wikipedia 

Meanwhile, the beautiful and cultured Margaret was popular at the court of France, but her marriage to Louis was not a happy one and she died childless at the age of 20 in 1445. On February 14, 1451, Louis (who had been widowed for 6 years) made a marriage to the 8 year old Charlotte of Savoy, without Charles’ consent.

“This marriage would have long ranging effects on foreign policy as the beginning of French involvement in the affairs of the Italian peninsula”. -Wikipedia 

In 1461, Louis learned that his father was dying and he hurried to Reims to be crowned in case his brother (also named Charles) would try to do the same. Louis XI became King of France on July 25, 1461.

Louis pursued many of the same goals that his father had (despite their disagreements) such as limiting the powers of the dukes and barons of France, with consistently greater success. Among other initiatives, Louis instituted reforms to make the tax system more efficient. He also appointed to government service many men of no rank, but who had shown promising talent. One, if not the most significant contribution of Louis XI to the modern state of France was his development of the royal postal roads system. This system relays instant service to the king that is operated on all the high roads of France. It is spread across the whole of France and has gained the king the nickname “Universal Spider”. Instead of wearing the newest and most expensive clothing, Louis stuck to what the common fold wore and would hang around ordinary people and merchants. He developed his kingdom by the building and maintenance of roads and encouraging trade fairs. Some say Louis XI perfected the outline of the modern French Government, which would last until the French Revolution. Louis XI was very superstitious but was still very interested in science and he once pardoned a man who was sentenced to death only because the man had chosen to be a human guinea pig for the sake of science. In the August of 1483, Louis XI died, with his wife, Charlotte, dying a few months later. Louis was succeeded by his son Charles VIII who was only 13 and his eldest daughter, Anne of France, became a regent in memory of her father.

Western Civ 170

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