T. F. (Thomas Frederick) Tout.

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in Poitou, Saintonge, and Guienne at once doubled the
domain of the crown, and made the young Louis immediate
lord of most of the great barons between the Loire and the
Pyrenees, But so long as the interests and feelings of south
and north were so absolutely different, it was no great gain
to a king, who had only just secured the overthrow of the
feudal castles of the Seine and Oise, to begin in his old age
a similar but more hopeless struggle on the Charente and the

While Philip i. kept both Rome and Cluny in check, his
son became the stalwart champion of the rights of the Church.
It was his friendship for the Church that con- Louis vi.
quered the Isle de France and made it possible and the
for Suger to serve two such different masters as
Louis vi. and St. Bernard. Louis vi. restored the strong
alliance with the Papacy that prepared the way for the time
when the French king could boast that he was ' the eldest son
of the Church.' He ardently supported Innocent n. against
Anacletus, welcomed Innocent to his dominions, and attended
the Council of Sens in 1131. Nevertheless he did not
scruple to show priests and monks that he meant to be
master in his own kingdom, making bishops as well as barons
respect the royal justice, and never relaxing his rights over
ecclesiastical appointments. Even when Suger was chosen
abbot by the over-zealous monks of Saint-Denis, who had
neglected to wait for the King's authorisation to elect, Louis,
though he confirmed the election, put in prison the monks
who brought him the news of their brethren's unconstitutional
haste. Louis quarrelled with leading bishops like Ivo of
Chartres and Henry of Sens. Indignation at Louis' treatment
of his bishops drew Bernard from his retreat to denounce a

282 European History, 9 1 8- 1 273

king who ' persecuted not so much bishops, as the zeal for
justice, and the habit of religion which he finds in them.'
But these examples of friction were exceptional. If the clergy
would but accept his authority, they could have no better
friend than Louis vi. And besides his alliance with the
Church, Louis vi. drifted gradually into an alliance with the
lesser people, which reminds us of the constant champion-
ship by the Norman kings of England of the popular
as against the feudal party. The better peace that now
prevailed throughout France made town life, trade and com-
merce, possible on a larger scale than in the rough times
The of absolute feudal anarchy. The communal

communal movement was now beginning in northern
France, and though the king was far from
being, as the older historians make him, the ' enfranchiser
of the communes,' he was at least not fiercely hostile to the
less revolutionary sides of the new movement. 1 He issued
a large number of charters to towns and villages under
ecclesiastical control, which, though meant to help the
Church, also tended to help forward the municipal move-
ment Even more than this, his zeal to uphold sound justice
was an incalculable boon to his people. The simple peasants
saw in the good king a wonder-worker and a thaumaturgist,
and were ready to give almost divine honours to the prince
whom they celebrated as ' the Justiciar.'

Ill health and anxiety wore out the health and spirits of
Louis. His last days were full of trouble. He desired to
retire to the home of his youth clad in the Benedictine garb,
but he was too ill to be able to realise his wish. He died at
Paris almost in the odour of sanctity, lamenting with his
last breath that it was not the lot of man to combine the
energy of youth with the experience of age.

Louis VIL, surnamed the Young, the eldest of the five sons
that Adelaide of Maurienne bore to her husband, had already,

1 See on this subject Luchaire's Lts Communes /ranfaises <J Mpoqiu des
Capeliens directs.

Beginnings of the Capetian Greatness 283

when a child nine years old, been crowned at Reims by
Innocent n. He was still in his new Aquitanian domains
when his father's death gave him the exclusive character of
rule over France. Suger and the other ministers of L " 18 VII
the old king did their best to carry on still further the policy
which had so much improved the position of the French
monarchy. But Louis vn. was very unworthy to continue the
work of his strong and vigorous father. He is praised by the
chroniclers for his honesty, simplicity, and benevolence. He
was a fair soldier, but his love of peace made him reluctant
to assume the sword, and his weakness and indecision of
character often led him into deceit and double-dealing. The
chief positive trait in his disposition was a rigid and monastic
piety, which kept his private life pure, but led to scruples of
conscience and hesitation in conduct that not a little unfitted
him for the rude tasks of kingship. The feudal party soon
realised his weakness, and Suger found that the work of Louis
the Fat had to be done over again. If the petty lords of the
Isle de France were still kept in check, the independent great
vassals soon began to enlarge their pretensions. It was a
time of feudal reaction all over Europe. The weak Stephen
had succeeded Henry i., ' the lion of righteousness,' in
England. Conrad in., the slave of the Church, had re-
placed the capable but limited Lothair of Supplinburg. Under
Louis vii. the same tendencies manifested themselves in
France. It speaks well for Louis vi. and Suger that it was a
period of stagnation rather than of positive reaction in the
fortunes of the French monarchy.

The first ten years of Louis vn.'s reign were filled with
petty and purposeless wars. In his zeal to assert the rights
of his wife, Louis spent much time south of _

. The first ten

the Loire to the neglect of his more immediate yea rs of

interests in northern France. Besides useful but Louis VIL


not very fruitful efforts to carry out in Eleanor's

domains the policy of his father in the Isle de France, Louis

led, in 1 141, an expedition against the Count of Toulouse,

284 European History \ 918-1273

Alphonse Jordan, who had refused the homage claimed from
him to the Duke of Aquitaine. The city of Toulouse offered
him a vigorous and successful resistance, and the first direct
action of a descendant of Hugh Capet in Languedoc did not
increase the prestige of the royal power. Nor were affairs in
the north much more favourable. All his monastic virtues did
not prevent him quarrelling with Innocent n., who had con-
secrated Peter de la Chatre to the archbishopric of Bourges
despite the strenuous efforts of the king to prevent his
election (1141). As Louis would not yield, Innocent excom-
municated him, declaring that he was a child who had to be
taught the lesson of not resisting the authority of the Church.
Bernard re-echoed the thunders of the Pope, though Suger
remained true to his master. Graver danger set in when
Theobald of Champagne, who up to this point had remained
on good terms with Louis, took up the cause of Peter de la
Chatre, and gave him a refuge within his dominions. Louis
indignantly went to war against Theobald and invaded Cham-
pagne. In the course of the campaign that ensued the king
captured Vitry by assault. In the midst of the tumult the
church, packed with fugitive townspeople, was set on fire, and
more than a thousand men, women, and children were believed
to have perished in the flames. Louis, terribly shocked at the
sacrilege and slaughter, soon sought peace both with the
Church and with Theobald, and allowed Peter de la Chatre to
take possession of his see. Vitry was restored to Theobald,
and Celestine n., who had now succeeded the truculent
Innocent, made no difficulty in absolving Louis (1144). But
the massacre at Vitry still weighed on the king's conscience,
and led him to seek expiation by taking the crusader's vow.
In 1147 Louis and Eleanor set out for the Second Crusade.
The disasters and miseries of that fatal expedition have
The Second ^ een a ^ rea dy chronicled [see pages 191-193]. In
cmsade, "So, Louis came back humiliated and defeated.
1147-1150. During his absence the aged Suger had striven
with all his might to uphold the royal authority, though he

Beginnings of the Capetian Greatness 285

had disapproved of the king's crusading project, and never
ceased to urge upon him the necessity of a speedy return.
His fears were more than justified, for all the spirits of dis-
order took advantage of Louis' absence to disturb the realm.
It was proposed to depose Louis in favour of his brother
Robert, Count of Dreux. The return of the discredited king
was quickly followed by the death of Suger (1152). With
him expired the last hope of carrying on the work of national
development at which he had so long laboured. To the first
great error of the Crusade Louis now added his second mis-
take of repudiating his wife. In both cases the king put his
personal feeling above the interest of his house and realm.
As his absence on crusade led to a new wave of feudal anarchy,
so his divorce helped on the growth of the great Angevin
power, which was, for the rest of his life, to put an insurmount-
able obstacle in the way of the development of the French

The relations between Louis and Eleanor had long been
strained. After many years of barrenness, the two children
which, as it was believed, came to the pair as the Divorce of
result of the prayers of St. Bernard, were both girls, Louis vn.

,.,,,., and Eleanor

and Louis ardently desired a son and successor. O f Aquitaine,
There was, moreover, a strange contrast of char- "5 2 -
acter between the weak, pious, and shifty king and the fierce,
imperious, and ambitious queen. New grounds of dispute
arose during the Crusade, when Eleanor strove to divert the
French host from their projected march to Jerusalem in order
that its presence might support her uncle Raymond of Antioch
in his schemes for the aggrandisement of his principality.
The relations of husband and wife became so bad that Suger
wrote imploring the king to conceal his anger against the
queen. After their return to France nothing but the influ-
ence of Suger prevented a breach. Soon after his death, the
question of divorce was formally raised. St. Bernard, still
omnipotent over Louis' mind, approved the step. In March
church council held at Beaugency annulled the marriage

286 European History, 918-1273

on the ground of consanguinity. Eleanor withdrew to her
own dominions, which were now again separated from the
French crown. Anxious to do all in her power to spite her
former husband, she offered herself in marriage to young
Henry of Anjou. At Whitsuntide their marriage at Poitiers
exposed the French monarchy to the gravest danger. So

The rite of ^ on S as ^ e cn ^ e ^ ^ e ^ s were ne ^ by separate and
the House rival houses it was not impossible for the crown
ois ' to hold its own against them, but an aggregation
of several great fiefs into the same hands might easily set up a
rival power whose forces could overbalance the scanty strength
of the king. The union of Chartres, Blois, and Champagne
under Theobald the Great had been the gravest obstacle to
the plans of Louis vi. The establishment of Theobald's
younger brother in Boulogne, Normandy, and England would
have been even more dangerous but for the incompetence of
Stephen. Side by side with the union of several fiefs under the
house of Blois, was the union of Anjou, Maine, and Normandy,
brought about by the policy of Henry I. in marrying his
daughter, the Empress Matilda, to Geoffrey, the son of Fulk
of Anjou. These two amalgamations neutralised each
other, when the accession of Stephen to England and Nor-
mandy brought the old interests of Blois and Anjou into
fierce antagonism, and for a time neither side won a pre-
ponderating position over the other. Though Matilda the
Empress failed to conquer England, her husband established
himself in Normandy, and in 1144 received from Louis vn.
the formal investiture of the duchy. In 1149 Geoffrey and
The growth Matilda handed over their Norman claims to their
of Anjou. son Henry, now sixteen years old. In September
1151 the death of Geoffrey made Henry Fitz-Empress (so the
young prince was commonly described) sole lord of Normandy,
Anjou, Maine, and Touraine. Anjou now rapidly prevailed
over Blois. Young as he was, Henry had already a character
and a policy. After his marriage with Eleanor he had
a position in France far stronger than that of King Louis

Beginnings of the Capetian Greatness 287

himself; from the Somme to the Pyrenees, from the Bay
of Biscay to the mountains of Auvergne, Henry and Eleanor
ruled directly or indirectly over the fairest half The Empire
of France. Two years later, the death of Stephen of Henry n.
made Henry King of England. In 1158 Henry added
to his possession the county of Nantes and re-enforced
the old Norman claims of overlordship over Duke Conan of
Brittany. Later he secured the hand of Constance, Conan's
daughter and heiress, for his second son Geoffrey, who in 1 1 7 1
peacefully succeeded his father-in-law as Duke of Brittany.
Henry was equally successful in realising the many pretensions
of Eleanor over the lands of south-western France. In 1158
Eleanor's claims to overlordship over the county of Toulouse
led Henry to lead an expedition against Count Raymond v.,
who had succeeded his father Alphonse in 1148, and by his
marriage with Constance, sister of Louis vn., and widow of
Eustace of Boulogne, King Stephen's son, had united himself
against the Angevin with the houses of France and Blois. The
personal intervention of King Louis saved Raymond from abso-
lute submission, though the peace transferred Cahors and the
Quercy from Toulouse to the duchy of Aquitaine. In 1173
Henry accomplished his purpose. Henceforth the county of
Toulouse, with its dependencies the Rouergue and the Albi-
geois, became, by Raymond's submission, recognised depend-
encies of Aquitaine. With equal energy Henry pressed his
. claims to overlordship over Berri, where his aggressions were
particularly unwelcome by reason of the large strip of royal
domain which ran from Bourges southward. Henry also
revived successfully the old Aquitanian claim to the overlord-
ship of Auvergne, while his alliance with the rising house
of Maurienne, now Counts of Savoy, gave him some com-
mand of the upper Rhone valley and the chief passes over
the Alps. The extraordinary ability of Henry made his com-
manding position the more formidable. He was no mere
feudal chief like the Counts of Blois, but a statesman capable
of building up a mighty empire,

288 European History, 918-1273

After the consolidation of the Angevin Empire, Louis had

to watch narrowly the actions of a vassal more powerful

than himself. Before long war became almost

Rivalry of . ,

Louis vii. chronic between him and Henry. It was not
and that constant efforts were not made to secure peace

Henry II. . ... ,_. .,,.,,

and alliance. Henry married his eldest son to
Louis' daughter, Margaret, receiving as her marriage portion
the long-coveted possession of the Vexin. In 1162 Louis vii.
and Henry again made common cause in favour of Alex-
ander in. against the Antipope [see page 257]. During
his exile in France Alexander frequented the dominions of
Henry as much as he did those of Louis. It was in Henry's
town of Tours that the council assembled that excommuni-
cated the Antipope. Henry seemed too strong to make direct
resistance of much avail.

Before long Henry 11. fell into his quarrel with Archbishop
Thomas of Canterbury, which gave Louis an opportunity of
adding to his rival's difficulties, by giving as much support as
he could to his enemies. After Thomas's death Louis found
an even better way of effecting this purpose by forcing Henry
to divide his dominions among his sons, and then fomenting
the discord that soon burst out between Henry and his wife
and children. In 1170 the young Henry, Louis' son-in-law,
was crowned joint king with his father, after the French fashion.
Geoffrey was already Duke of Brittany, and in 1172 Richard,
the third son, was enthroned Duke of Aquitaine, and be-
trothed to Alice, Louis vn.'s younger daughter. Louis soon
persuaded the vain and weak Henry in. so he was often styled
to make common cause with him against his father. In
The War of "73 a well-devised conspiracy burst forth against
1173 and 1174. t h e p 0wer O f Henry n. The feudal party in
England and Normandy, the King of Scots, and Henry's
discontented vassals in Britain, made common cause with
Louis vii. and the younger King Henry against the arch-
enemy of the Capetian house. The vassals of France, who
feared Henry more than Louis, joined the confederacy.

Beginnings of the Capetian Greatness 289

and at their head were Geoffrey of Brittany and Richard
of Aquitaine, and even Queen Eleanor herself. Among
Louis' greater vassals Philip of Alsace (son of Thierry of
Alsace), Count of Flanders, entered into the league. So
did the sons of Theobald the Great Henry the Liberal, Count
of Champagne, and Theobald v., the Good, Count of Blois,
both married to Louis vn.'s daughters. The representative
of the younger bianch of Blois, the Count of Flanders'
brother, who ruled Boulogne as the husband of King
Stephen's daughter Mary, also took up the hereditary policy
of his house. The good luck and the genius of Henry pre-
vailed over Louis and his associates, and in 1174 peace
was patched up on conditions that left matters much as
they had been before the war. Eleanor of Aquitaine, cap-
tured as she was endeavouring to escape to her divorced
husband's court, was the chief sufferer. She was immured in
a prison, from which she hardly escaped during the rest of
Henry ii.'s life.

In the last seven years of his life Louis vn. made no
sensible advance against Henry n., but though beaten in the
field, he had broken up the unity of the Angevin Progress
power, and could still count upon the support of ofthe

r Monarchy

the sons of his enemy. His reign ended as under
ingloriously as it had begun. Nevertheless, the Louis vn -
constant interest of the king in the policy of the remotest
parts of the monarchy was a step forward in the royal opera-
tions. The intervention of Louis in Toulouse, in Auvergne,
in Burgundy, though not always successful, marked an
advance over the incuriousness and indifference of his father's
reign in matters not directly concerning the domain. He
even looked beyond his kingdom into the Arelate, where
Barbarossa's coronation in 1178 was a source of inquietude
to him. Moreover, Louis vn.'s constant friendship for the
Church stood him in good stead in his dealings with his
remoter vassals. His pilgrimages to distant shrines, to St.
James of Compostella, to the Grande Chartreuse, and to the


290 European Histoiy, 918-1273

new shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, spread his fame.
The younger monastic orders, especially the Cistercians and
the Carthusians, were his enthusiastic friends, and the
unostentatious and timid support of a crowd of bishops
and abbots gave Louis vn.'s reign its peculiar position in
history. The chronicler tells us how, in Louis vn.'s days,
war was rare, and the realm ruled peacefully and strenuously ;
many new towns established, and ancient ones increased ;
many forests were cut down ; and divers orders of religion
marvellously multiplied in various parts of the land.

Louis vii. was thrice married. His first two wives brought
him daughters only. Eleanor of Aquitaine's children, Mary
and Alice, became the wives of the two brothers,
ageTand Henry of Champagne and Theobald of Blois.
death of Constance of Castile, Louis' second wife, was the
mother of Margaret, afterwards wife of the young
king, Henry in., and of another Alice, long betrothed to his
brother, Richard of Aquitaine. Fourteen days after Constance's
death, Louis vn. married his third wife, Alice or Adela of
Champagne, sister of his sons-in-law, Henry the Liberal
and Theobald the Good. For five years they had no
children, and Louis, fearing the division of his kingdom
between his daughters, longed earnestly for a son. He
visited Citeaux, and threw himself on his knees before the
General Chapter that was in session, and only rose when he
had been assured that God would soon answer his prayers.
In August 1165 the long-wished-for son was born at Paris,
amidst heartfelt rejoicings, and was christened Philip, but soon
became known by the surnames 'Godgiven' and 'Augustus.'
When Philip was only fourteen years old, Louis vn. was
stricken with paralysis. On All Saints' Day 1179, ne was
crowned joint-king at Reims by his mother's brother, Arch-
bishop William of Blois. In September 1180 the old king
died, and Philip Augustus became sole King of France.

In the first ten years of the reign of Philip n., the fierce
factions that had raged round the death-bed of Ixniis vn.

Beginnings of the Capetian Greatness 291

were continued. The chief influences to which the boy-king
was exposed were those of Philip of Flanders, and of the
house of Blois. Philip of Alsace had shown more than the
usual energy and skill of a feudal prince in his administra-
tion of Flanders. He is celebrated in Flemish history as
the founder of ports and cities, the granter of charters of
liberties, the maker of canals, the cultivator of sandy heaths
and barren marshes, the strong administrator, the vigilant
upholder of law, the friend and patron of poets and
romancers. He also laboriously built up a great family
connection, from which he hoped to establish a power such
as might rival the aggregated fiefs of Blois or The early
Anjou, and might well have anticipated the later year . s of
unions of the Netherlands under the Bavarian and Augustus,
Burgundian houses. Himself lord of Flanders and Il8 - Il8 9-
Artois, Philip became, by his marriage with Isabella of Ver-
mandois, the descendant of Hugh the Great the Crusader,
Count of Amiens and Vermandois. His nephew Baldwin
was Count of Hainault. His brother Matthew and his niece
Ida were in succession Count and Countess of Boulogne.
Moreover, Philip was the most trusted counsellor of the old
age of Louis VIL, and the godfather of Philip Augustus. Just
before Louis' death his influence was confirmed by the
marriage of his niece, Isabella of Hainault, to the young king.
Being childless, he promised that after his death Artois should
go to his niece and her husband.

The house of Blois had hoped much from the accession
of a king whose mother was a Champenoise. But Philip
of Flanders chased Adela of Champagne from the court,
and showed a fierce hostility to her brothers. Theobald of
Blois and Henry of Champagne were forced to make alliance
with their old enemy, Henry of Anjou. William of Reims, dis-
gusted that the Archbishop of Sens was called upon to crown
the new queen, strove to act once again the part played
by Thomas of Canterbury when the younger Henry was
crowned by Roger of York. War seemed imminent between

292 European History, 918-1273

the two Philips, and a strong coalition that included the houses
of Blois and Anjou, and a vast swarm of smaller feudatories,
who rejoiced that the reign of a boy of fifteen bade fair to
give them a chance of striking an effective blow against the
power of their suzerain. But Philip of Flanders pressed his
advantages too far. A natural reaction from the overbearing
Count of Flanders soon drove King Philip towards his mother
and her family. Henry of Anjou's mediation patched up
peace between Philip n. and his mother's kinsfolk, and
enabled him to shake off his dependence on Philip of

Peace did not last very long. For a short time Henry n.
was on good terms with the French king, and strove to per-
suade him to associate himself with the declining fortunes of
Henry the Lion, and swell the coalition against Frederick
Barbarossa. But Philip n. gave the deposed Saxon no
effective help, and before long the old relations were restored.
In 1183 Philip was again backing up the rebellious sons of
Henry n. against their father, though the sudden death of
Henry, the young king, quickly brought this struggle to an end.
In the next year, 1184, Philip went to war against Philip of
Flanders, who on the death of his wife, Isabella of Vermandois,
in 1183, had kept possession of her lands, which Philip n. had
declared forfeited. So fierce a struggle seemed imminent that
the Count of Flanders was glad to get the support of the house
of Blois, which had now again drifted into opposition to the
king. At the same time he called in the Emperor as a counter-

Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Frederick) ToutThe empire and the papacy, 918-1273 → online text (page 24 of 45)