Front Matter Gauls Defeat Romans Vercingetorix Saints of France Attila, Scourge of God Story of Clovis Sons of Clovis Mayors of the Palace Charles the Hammer Pepin the Short Charlemagne in Lombardy Defeat at Roncesvalles Emperor of the West Louis the Pious War of Three Brothers Louis the Stammerer Paris defies the Sea Kings Rollo the Viking Hugh Capet Becomes King Bishop Betrays the Duke Robert the Pious The Peace of God Harold Visits Duke William William Sails to England The Battle of Hastings Peter the Hermit First War of the Cross Louis the Fat and Laon King Fights his Vassal Second War of the Cross French Queen of England How Normandy Was Lost Albigenses War Battle of Bouvines Story of Hugh de La Marche Reign of St. Louis St. Louis's last Crusade Peter the Barber Knights vs. Weavers Pope vs. Philip the Fair Sons of Philip the Fair Philip VI vs. Flanders Battle and Plague King vs. Charles the Bad The Jacquerie Stephen Marcel Betrays Paris Charles V and du Guesclin Du Guesclin Fights for France The Madness of Charles VI The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans End of Hundred Years' War King vs. Charles the Bold Troubles of Duchess Mary Charles the Affable Knight Without Reproach Battle of the Spurs Francis I, Gentleman King King Taken Prisoner Duke of Guise Defends Metz Calais Returns to France The Riot of Amboise Huguenot and Catholic St. Bartholomew Massacre War of the Three Henries The Protestant King Edict of Nantes Reign of Favorites Taking of La Rochelle Power of the Cardinal-King Reign of Louis XIV The Man in the Iron Mask The Height of Power Edict of Nantes Revoked War of Spanish Succession

History of France - H. E. Marshall

The King's Last Voyage
Louis IX (the Saint) [1226-1270]

While Louis stayed in Palestine, his mother, Queen Blanche, ruled France wisely and well. But at length she died. The news was brought to King Louis at Jaffa. Then, filled with great grief at the loss of so good and wise a mother, he set sail once more and landed in France amid the rejoicing of the people.

But Louis himself felt no joy at seeing his own land again. He brought back with him a heavy heart and a sad and smileless face. For he was unable to forget the failure of his Crusade. He could not forget that he had been made prisoner by the Saracens, and through it he felt that shame had been brought on the whole Christian world.

Yet for sixteen years he gave himself up to ruling his country, and no one guessed that he still kept in his heart a deep desire to free the holy places.

During these years Louis did much for his people, Private war was almost put an end to by the Quarantaine of the King. This word comes from quarante, meaning forty. By it barons were forbidden to go to war with one another until forty days after their quarrel. During that time their anger cooled, and very often they did not fight at all. It is said that Philip Augustus first made this law, but Louis forced the barons to keep it. Besides this, the barons learned that if they took their disputes to the King justice would be done. So often instead of fighting they settled their quarrels by law.

Many a time in summer Louis sat under a great oak tree in the forest of Vincennes. Here the people came to him without any hindrance. One after another they would tell their wrongs and Louis would listen patiently and give judgment. There are many stories told of his wisdom and kindness. Daily the love of the people toward their King grew greater. There was justice at home, there was peace abroad such as had never been before.

Soon, however, all the joy was darkened, for the King let it be known at length that he had made up his mind to go upon another Crusade. But the world had grown weary of Crusades, and no one wished him to go. The people of France, the great lords and nobles, even the Pope, tried to persuade Louis to give it up. But he would listen to none, and with a small army he set out.

This time he did not go even so far as Egypt, but sailed across the Mediterranean to Tunis. From the beginning everything was mismanaged. Louis was a great and good man, but he had never been a great general. Now, even before he started, he was ill and quite unable to command. A month after he landed he lay dying of plague beneath the walls of Tunis. Feeling that death was near he called his eldest son Philip and charged him to rule his people wisely and well. Then having received the Sacrament he begged to be laid upon a bed of ashes. There he lay softly repeating now and again words of Scripture. Once he sighed "Jerusalem! Jerusalem!" At length he crossed his hands upon his breast and murmuring, "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit," he lay at rest.

Louis was not a great general. He was perhaps not even a brilliant statesman. But France never had a more truly good King. No King ever did more to make France great and happy. Yet his religion made him cruel to the Jews and to the "heretics." It made him leave his country, his duty, and the real good he was doing, and go to fight for an imaginary good far from his own land, thereby bringing on his people much sorrow and trouble. But that was the fault of the times in which he lived. We cannot judge him as we would judge a King to-day, and we must remember Louis as one of the great good men of the world. His people sorrowed for him so deeply and held his memory so dear that some years after his death he was made a saint, and he is known to all the world as St. Louis.