University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group > Documenting a Child's Rule: Louis IX of France and the Vision for his Kingship, 1226-1235

Documenting a Child's Rule: Louis IX of France and the Vision for his Kingship, 1226-1235

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Louis IX (1226-1270), more commonly known as ‘Saint Louis’, is one of the most renowned medieval rulers of France. Much of what we know about his life, reign and experiences of rulership centres either on the years after 1244, when the king swore the crusader’s vow at Maubisson, or on the process and impact of the king’s canonisation following his death in 1270. Yet, long before Louis was either crusader or saint – when he was, as yet, unknown for his piety or legal reforms – he was a child king under the guardianship of his mother, Queen Blanche of Castile. Over three hundred surviving charters date from between Louis’s succession as a twelve-year-old boy in 1226 and his twenty-first birthday in 1235, many still unpublished. They can provide important insights into a period when Louis was learning to be king and coming into his full adult power. In this talk I will show how these documents illuminate important details regarding Louis’s early kingship, complementing what we already know of his later reign and challenging prevailing assumptions about a boy king’s rule. Rather than being a time of confusion and crisis, documents from the initial months of Louis’s reign show a methodical and coherent vision for the boy’s kingship, warning against accepting the simplistic equation of a child king with political disorder. In the years between 1226 and 1235, Louis, under his mother’s care, received a formative education in developing networks of patronage, rewarding loyal service, promoting dynastic memory, and the importance of the royal family; themes which continued to be important throughout the king’s life.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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