Louis VI of France

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Louis VI the Fat
Sceau de Louis VI.jpg
Seal of Louis VI of France
King of the Franks
Reign 29 July 1108 – 1 August 1137
Coronation 3 August 1108 in Orléans Cathedral
Predecessor Philip I
Successor Louis VII
Spouse Lucienne de Rochefort
Adélaide de Maurienne
Issue
Philip, King of the Franks
Louis VII, King of the Franks
Henry, Archbishop of Reims
Robert, Count of Dreux
Constance, Countess of Toulouse
Philip, Archdeacon of Paris
Peter, Lord of Courtenay
House House of Capet
Father Philip I, King of the Franks
Mother Bertha of Holland
Born (1081-12-01)1 December 1081
Paris, France
Died 1 August 1137(1137-08-01) (aged 55)
Béthisy-Saint-Pierre, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica, Paris, France
Religion Roman Catholicism

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".

Life[edit]

Louis VI

Louis was born in Paris, the son of Philip I and his first wife, Bertha of Holland. The first member of the House of Capet to make a lasting contribution to the centralizing institutions of royal power,[1] Almost all of his twenty-nine-year reign was spent fighting either the "robber barons" who plagued Paris or the Norman kings of England for their continental possession of Normandy. Nonetheless, Louis VI managed to reinforce his power considerably and became one of the first strong kings of France since the division of the Carolingian Empire. The biography of Louis prepared by his loyal advisor Abbot Suger of Saint Denis offers a fully developed portrayal of his character, in contrast to what little is known about most of his predecessors.

The crowning of Louis VI in Orléans.

In his youth, Louis fought the Duke of Normandy, Robert Curthose, and the lords of the royal demesne, the Île de France. Suger became his adviser already before Louis became king. He succeeded his father at the age of 27 upon the death of the old King Philip on 29 July 1108. Louis's half-brother prevented him from reaching Rheims, and so he was crowned on 3 August in the cathedral of Orléans by Daimbert, Archbishop of Sens. Ralph the Green, archbishop of Rheims, sent envoys to challenge the validity of the coronation and anointing, but to no avail.

On Palm Sunday 1115, Louis was present in Amiens to support the bishop and inhabitants of the city in their conflict with Enguerrand I of Coucy, one of his vassals, who refused to recognise the granting of a charter of communal privileges. Louis came with an army to help the citizens besiege Castillon (the fortress dominating the city, from which Enguerrand was making punitive expeditions). At the siege, the king took an arrow to his hauberk, but the castle, considered impregnable, fell after two years.

Just before his death in 1137, William X, Duke of Aquitaine, appointed Louis guardian of his daughter and future successor, Eleanor, and expressed his wish for her to marry Louis's son. The prospect of adding the Aquitaine to his son's domains made him so elated that he could hardly speak.[2]

Louis VI died on 1 August 1137 at the castle of Béthisy-Saint-Pierre, near Senlis and Compiègne, of dysentery. He was interred in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Louis VII, called "the Younger", who had originally wanted to be a monk.

Marriages and children[edit]

Epitaph of Louis VI, after 1137, Eglise Abbatiale de Saint Denis, today at Cluny Museum.

He married in 1104: 1) Lucienne de Rochefort — the marriage was annulled on 23 May 1107 at the Council of Troyes by Pope Paschal II.[3]

He married in 1115: 2) Adélaide de Maurienne (1092–1154)[4]

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.

Ancestry[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages 1993, p 410.
  2. ^ Weir, Alison (1999). Eleanor of Aquitaine, a Life. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 22. ISBN 0-345-40540-4. 
  3. ^ Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: kings of France, 987-1328, (Hambledon Continuum, 2007), 132.
  4. ^ Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: kings of France, 987-1328, 132.

References[edit]

  • 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 France
Born: 1 December 1081 Died: 1 August 1137
Regnal titles
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