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The history of France throughout the reigns of Louis VI (1108-1137) and Louis VII (1137-1180) is completely dominated by two apparently contradictory factors. We see on the one hand the persistent extension of the Anglo-Norman domain, which, from the day that it passed into the hands of the Counts of Anjou, gradually increased until it included more than half of France; while on the other hand it is obvious that the king’s power was daily becoming more firmly established, daily gaining as much in strength as it lost in extent through the growing predominance of Normandy and Anjou. Philip I’s two immediate successors concentrated nearly all their energies, though not with equal zeal, upon a twofold task: to oppose the English monarch’s invasion of the kingdom, and to recover authority over all the territory that was normally subject to the Crown.

The most urgent matter was to secure obedience from the barons of the royal domain, whose turbulence and insubordination threatened to make the sovereign’s authority of no effect, even in the Isle de France. This was the task to which Louis VI especially applied himself. Even in his father’s lifetime, as we have seen, he had attacked the problem with energy.

No work could have better suited this vigorous soldier-king, in whom courage was carried to the point of temerity. In person he was tall and strong, with a tendency to corpulence that earned him the nickname of “le Gros”, and, to his great sorrow, began to unfit him for the rough profession of arms when he was no more than forty years of age. A large eater, and a lover of freedom and gaiety, he was at the same time honest and upright, cheery and easy of approach; and his contemporaries charge him with but one serious failing, that of cupidity. All are agreed in praising the rare energy and valor of which the record of his actions is sufficient evidence.

Of the first years of his reign, indeed, hardly one passed that did not see him actively employed in fighting and chastising his turbulent vassals. The massive castles by means of which they dominated the highways had become mere dens of brigands, and the terror that they inspired is described in vivid terms by the chroniclers of the day. A traveler from Paris to Orleans, for instance, was threatened at every step by some fresh danger. Whether he were minded to follow the highroad, or to avoid it in the hope of escaping “the ravening wolves”, the lord of some castle would be lying in wait to fall upon him and rob him. The owners of the fortresses of Montlhéry, Chateaufort, La Ferté-Alais, and Le Puiset were masters of this part of the country, and had reduced it to such a “chaos of confusion”, says one of the chroniclers, “that it was unsafe to venture upon the road without either obtaining their consent or securing a considerable escort”. If a man were bound for Melun he found his way barred by the fortress of Corbeil; if for Mantes, Dreux, or Chartres, he was forced to reckon at least with the castles of Chevreuse, Epernon, Rochefort, Gometz, Montfort-l’Amauri, Montchauvet, Houdan, and Maule.

Everywhere the barons, safeguarded by their fortresses, perpetrated the same excesses: these usually consisted, not only in robbing merchants and pilgrims, but also in fleecing the peasants, in seizing their wine, corn, and cattle, and in pillaging the property of the neighboring churches and abbeys, invading the abbeys themselves, and making imperious demands for food and shelter for all their suite. It was these last misdoings that drew down upon them, not unnaturally, the worst imprecations of the writers of their day, who were nearly all clerics. There were certain barons who went even further than the rest, and took pleasure in posing as veritable dilettanti, so to speak, in the arts of brigandage and cruelty. The most famous example of this type was the son of Enguerrand of Coucy, that Thomas of Marie of whom a contemporary chronicler, Guibert, Abbot of the neighboring monastery of Nogent, has given us an imperishable portrait.

After a youth spent in debauchery, and in robbing unfortunate pilgrims bound for the Holy Land, Thomas had come to take a positive delight in murder. His cruelty, says the worthy Guibert of Nogent, “so far exceeded previous experience that men who were notoriously cruel killed cattle, apparently, with more regret than he showed in slaying men”. He slaughtered without cause for the sheer pleasure of it; and he exhibited great ingenuity in devising horrible deaths for his victims. Sometimes, it was said, he would hang a man by his thumbs or some other part of the body, and shower blows upon him till he died. Guibert of Nogent declares that he was present one day when Thomas of Marie had the eyes of ten of his victims torn out, with the result that they immediately expired. On another occasion he asked a peasant who had angered him why he did not walk faster, and on the man answering that he was unable to do so—“Wait a moment”, cried Thomas; “I’ll make you bestir yourself!”, and leaping from his horse he drew his sword and cut off both the peasant’s feet at a single blow. The poor wretch died; and Guibert, who tells the story, adds: “No one can imagine the number of those who perished in his dungeons, from starvation, from torture, from filth”.

Fortunately, not all the petty barons by whom the king was confronted were fashioned after this pattern; but the evil was deeply rooted everywhere, and it was necessary for Louis VI to complete without delay the purge which he had begun even in his father’s lifetime. The two seigneurs who gave him the most trouble were this very Thomas of Marie whom we have just described, and Hugh, lord of Le Puiset. The latter, though not so perverted as Thomas, was the terror of the country round Chartres, which he ravaged, pillaged, and devastated with fire, without intermission and without mercy. In March 1111, when Louis VI was holding his court at Melun, the charges brought against this brigand were particularly vehement and urgent. To the complaints of Theobald, Count of Chartres, were added those of the Archbishop of Sens, the Bishops of Chartres and Orleans, the abbots of such monasteries as were especially open to attack, and many canons and priests, all of whom besought the king to rid them of this “rapacious wolf”, to “tear from the monster’s jaws” their property, the fertile fields of Beauce that he “was devouring”. On being summoned to the king’s presence to answer for his depredations, Hugh, not unnaturally, evaded the summons. He was promptly declared to have forfeited his fief by this refusal to appear, and Louis VI, after calling upon the rebel to surrender, gathered an army and, supported by the Count of Chartres, laid siege to the castle of Le Puiset. It was only after a fierce struggle that he succeeded in reducing it. Hugh was taken prisoner, and the castle was burnt and razed to the ground.

But Hugh was one of those men whom misfortunes only exasperate. No sooner had the king, in 1112, been rash enough to release him than, with renewed ferocity, he returned to his evil courses, “as a dog that has been chained up too long”, says Suger, “will bite and tear everything that comes his way”. The king was engaged in a war with Henry of England and Theobald of Chartres; and Hugh, taking advantage of his embarrassment, raised a band of marauders and proceeded to ravage the country. Pillage, robbery under arms, imprisonments, were resumed with fresh energy; and one day, when the king arrived in haste to put a bridle on the robber’s daring, he found that the castle of Le Puiset had arisen from its ruins. Hugh, who on this occasion had the help of the Count of Chartres, held his own against his sovereign, who was repeatedly repelled, and only overcame the terrible baron after the Count of Chartres had withdrawn from the struggle. Hugh was despoiled of all he possessed and his castle was again destroyed, the walls razed, the moats filled up, the soil leveled. This was trouble thrown away, however; for hardly was the king's back turned before the demolished fortress rose again as though by magic. Hugh, who was pledged to return to the place no more, promptly entrenched himself within its walls, and continued, as before, to terrorize his neighbors. This time the victory remained with Louis VI, who besieged Le Puiset in 1118 and finally stripped the baron of his possessions. Before surrendering, however, Hugh had at least the pleasure of killing, with his own hand and lance, the king’s seneschal and faithful friend, Anseau of Garlande. He was destined soon afterwards to lose his own life in an expiatory pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

These episodes in Louis VI’s conflict with one of the most unruly barons in his domain are an indication of the difficulties he had to overcome. Against Thomas of Marie he was obliged to organize a regular holy war. In the town of Laon, at this time, the fury of the populace had broken loose and the most dreadful excesses were being committed. Bishop Gaudri and his followers, who had tricked the townsfolk and had suppressed their commune with the king’s consent, had been murdered in a riot, the prelate's body covered with wounds and mutilated, the houses of the nobles and clergy sacked, and the churches and episcopal palace set on fire. This was in April 1112. The townspeople, fearing the consequences of the king's anger, appealed to Thomas of Marie, who eagerly granted them his protection and enrolled them in his band of robbers. He removed from his path by murder Gautier, the Archdeacon of Laon, and took possession of two properties belonging to the abbey of Saint-Jean-de-Laon, Crecy-sur-Serre and Nouvion-l’Abbesse. Here he took shelter behind massive walls and strong towers, whence he only emerged to fall upon his prey. The dignitaries of the Church were roused; and in December 1114, at a council held at Beauvais under the presidency of Cono, Cardinal-bishop of Palestrina and legate of the Holy See, Thomas was excommunicated, placed under the ban of Christendom, and pronounced unworthy henceforward to bear a sword. The king was implored to lose no time in suppressing the insane audacity of this protector of Bishop Gaudri’s murderers, this rifler of churches and pilgrims. Thomas was pursued by the reiterated anathemas of prelates in council and synod, and of every parish priest; he soon found himself held at bay by the popular levies, whom the summons of the clergy had gathered in large numbers to fight in the pious cause under the king’s banner. The fortresses of Crecy and Nouvion fell in turn into Louis VI’s hands, and were utterly demolished (1115). Thomas was surrounded in his castle of Marie, and was forced to beg for absolution from the Church and for mercy from the king.

Louis, who at the time had a good deal of other business on his hands, was imprudent enough to pardon him, and was hardly out of sight before the robber’s acts of violence began again. For fifteen long years he was able to indulge in these practices to his heart’s content, while no one, not even the king, dared to oppose him. In the meantime, on the death of his father Enguerrand in 1116, Thomas had become lord of Coucy and Boves, and seemed able to defy all attacks; until, in 1130, Louis VI was driven by the constant complaints of the clergy and the urgent entreaty of Ralph, Count of Vermandois, to organize an expedition against him. It was only by a stroke of good fortune that the king was enabled to end the matter quickly. Thomas, being taken by surprise before Coucy and mortally wounded, fell into Louis’ hands, and died at last, to the great relief of the whole district. To the very end he obstinately refused, in spite of his sufferings and the threats and entreaties of others, to order the merchants whom he had robbed and imprisoned to be set at liberty.

With opponents such as this, as may easily be imagined, Louis VI found that the task to which he had resolved to devote himself, of bringing peace into the royal domain, was an arduous undertaking, and one that required persistent effort on his part. Even in 1108, immediately on his accession to the throne, he was involved in war with Hugh of Crecy, who, not content with ravaging the country, had crowned his offences by capturing Eudes, Count of Corbeil, and imprisoning him in the dungeons of La Ferté-Alais. To set him free it was necessary to besiege that fortress, which only surrendered to the king after a long struggle, full of vicissitudes.

A few months later, in the spring of 1109, Louis VI was again in the field. This time he was besieging Mantes, which he recovered after a strenuous fight from his half-brother Philip, the son of Bertrada of Montfort. This count, like the barons of less distinguished descent, spent his time in the sordid plundering of the churches and peasants of the neighborhood. Moreover, he formed dangerous conspiracies against the Crown.

Hardly was this danger averted before an equally serious one arose: the lords of Montfort-l’Amauri were threatening to cut off all the king’s communications with the country south of Paris. Amauri of Montfort, who was already in possession of the castles of Montfort, Montchauvet, Houdan, and Epernon, had married his daughter to Louis VI’s recent opponent, Hugh of Crecy, and was willing to help his son-in-law in the conquest of the castle of Montlhéry and its dependencies, notably the castle of Arpajon. All these fortresses, combined with Hugh’s other castles of Crecy-en-Brie, Chateaufort, and Gometz, and those of Amauri’s brother Guy of Rochefort at Rochefort-en-Iveline, Chevreuse, and Brethencourt, would, if linked to one another, have interposed a continuous barrier between the king and a considerable portion of his domain. Louis VI, however, hastened to forestall his enemies, and, before Hugh of Crecy could interfere, seized Arpajon and handed over Montlhéry to Milo of Bray, Viscount of Troyes, who claimed it on the ground of hereditary right. This occurred at the end of the year 1109. In the meantime Hugh of Crecy was forced to fly precipitately. This turbulent vassal, who was nearly as redoubtable as Hugh of Le Puiset or Thomas of Marie, and like them had earned a sinister reputation for robbery and murder (this “of the devil”, as a contemporary chronicler calls him), was destined to be a source of trouble to the king for many years after this. In 1112 he was one of the most ardent supporters of Hugh of Le Puiset and Theobald, Count of Blois, in their rebellion, and he was the life and soul of the league that was formed at that time against the king by a handful of petty barons: Lancelin of Bulles, lord of Dammartin, Paien of Montjay, Ralph of Beaugency, Guy of Rochefort, and Milo of Bray-sur-Seine, the very man whom Louis VI had weakly allowed to take possession of Montlhéry. In 1118 Hugh of Crecy put the finishing touch to his misdeeds by treacherously seizing this Milo (who was his cousin-german), keeping him in chains in a dungeon at Chateaufort, and finally strangling him and throwing his remains to the winds. This was more than could be borne. Hugh was excommunicated and left without a friend, his castle at Gometz was seized by the king, and he himself threatened with the severest penalties. Seeing that his only safety lay in penitence, he implored the king's pardon, which he only secured at the price of losing all his estates and assuming the monastic habit. In this garb he was left for the rest of his days to meditate on the difference between massacring a few common peasants and murdering a baron.


It was thus, by means of a ceaseless struggle, of which the episodes recorded are merely a few examples, that Louis VI gradually achieved the establishment of the royal authority within the limits of his domain.

But Louis and his counselors were becoming more and more alive to the fact that it was the king’s duty to see that peace and justice were respected throughout the length and breadth of his kingdom; and that by appearing everywhere, even in the most distant fiefs, as the protector of the oppressed and the defender of law and right he would revive the monarchical tradition, and would become really king of all France. A letter addressed to him in 1114 by Ivo, Bishop of Chartres, reminded him that “it behoved the King’s Majesty to prevent the violation of the covenant of peace, for which he had pledged himself, under Divine inspiration, to enforce respect in his kingdom”; and Suger repeatedly insisted that the sovereign was bound by his office to “curb the audacity of the tyrants” who robbed and oppressed the people, destroyed churches, and disquieted the whole country.

Louis VI did all he could to fulfill this obligation. Vassals, who for long years had never thought of their sovereign except to take arms against him, he unhesitatingly summoned to appear before his tribunal; nor, if any of them refused to obey, did the king fail to raise an army and set out upon a costly and fatiguing expedition, with a view to teaching the rebel a proper respect for law and order, and obedience to the royal will. One day he was on the point of starting upon one of these petty campaigns when he was reminded, not only that there were many diffi­culties in his way, but that he might even find it impossible to reduce a castle that had the reputation of being impregnable. With great spirit Louis answered indignantly: “We decided, in a council held at Laon, to make this expedition, and there is nothing in the world that could make us change the decision to which we then came. What a disgrace it would be for the majesty of the Crown if we were to hold back for fear of a bandit!” This answer shows us the whole man.

A few examples of Louis’ intervention will reveal, not only the high ideal that he had of his office, but also the increasing confidence with which the oppressed, in every part of France, turned to him as to their recognized protector. At the very beginning of his reign, in 1108 or 1109, a seigneur named Aymon Vaire-Vache unblushingly seized the lord­ship of Bourbon, although its rightful inheritor was his nephew Archambaud, at that time a minor. The king was informed of the matter and was implored to maintain the boy’s rights. As Aymon refused to appear before the royal tribunal to explain his conduct, Louis VI promptly crossed Berry with his troops, besieged the rebel in his castle of Germigny-sur-l’Aubois, forced him to surrender at discretion, and took him back to Paris, where he was condemned to restore all the property that he had unlawfully seized. This rapid success was bewildering. “Kings have long arms!” exclaimed Suger on this occasion, turning to account a line of Ovid.

Perhaps even more characteristic was his behavior in 1122, when Aimeri, Bishop of Clermont, on being driven out of his episcopal town by William VI, the Count of Auvergne, appealed to the king. Louis, without a moment’s hesitation, set off to punish the delinquent, after in vain summoning him, both by word of mouth and by sealed letters, to appear before the royal Court. Mustering at Bourges a large army which included some of his most important vassals, such as the Counts of Anjou, Brittany, and Nevers, the king marched rapidly into Auvergne, seized as he passed the fortress of Pont-du-Chateau on the Allier, and fell upon Clermont, which Count William and his men abandoned in disorder. They had to submit to the triumphant return of the king's protégé, the bishop.

Four years later the Count of Auvergne thought the moment had come to take his revenge. But Louis VI was able to show that his will must be obeyed. He entered upon a new campaign with undiminished energy, though the summer heat was overpowering and his stoutness increasing so much that, young as he was, the active life of a soldier became more difficult for him every day. He advanced swiftly to Montferrand, which he burnt, seized Clermont for the second time, and, leaving the country settled and at peace, haled the rebel before the royal Court at Orleans to render account for his latest misdeeds.

In the following year there occurred a still more serious episode. On 2 March 1127, the Count of Flanders, Charles the Good, was assassinated in the church of St Donatian at Bruges while actually engaged in his devotions. The story of this grievous scandal spread like wildfire through the kingdom, and even to England; the news was known in London in less than forty-eight hours. Louis VI instantly set out for Arras, and arrived there less than a week after the murder. Here he remained, holding himself in readiness for any emergency. The crime demanded an exemplary punishment, and the Flemings had turned to the king for help as promptly as he had hurried to their aid. The question was complicated, however, by difficulties in the matter of the succession. The Count of Flanders had left no direct heir, and while the country was in a state of hopeless confusion and the Flemings were occupied in dealing with the murderers, a variety of claimants sprang up on all sides and fell upon the quarry. William of Ypres, who was a natural son of the murdered man’s uncle and was popularly accused of complicity with the murderers, succeeded in the course of a few days in taking forcible possession of some of the strongest fortresses in Flanders. Other claimants were Thierry of Alsace, son of Gertrude, Countess of Holland, who based his pretensions on the fact that Robert the Frisian, Count of Flanders (ob. 1093), was his maternal grandfather; Arnold of Denmark, nephew of Charles the Good, who seized Saint-Omer; Baldwin IV, Count of Hainault, who, though his only claim was through his great-grand­father Baldwin VI of Flanders (ob. 1070), proceeded to occupy Oudenarde; and several others, notably Godfrey the Bearded, Duke of Brabant, who, profiting by the prevailing confusion, suddenly discovered claims of his own, and hastened to vindicate them by force of arms.

The king determined to assert himself. While occupied in concentrating his troops at Arras he sent an urgent summons to the Flemings, bidding them elect a new count in his presence without delay. Louis had a candidate of his own, William Clito the son of Robert Curthose, who had been disinherited by his uncle Henry I of England, and has been justly called “a perpetual pretender to the duchy of Normandy”. His right was certainly no better than that of Baldwin of Hainault, seeing that his only connection with the House of Flanders was through his maternal great-grandfather, Baldwin of Lille, Count of Flanders (ob. 1067), father-in-law to William the Conqueror. But he was the king’s candidate, and on 23 March 1127 the Flemish delegates hastened to elect him as their suzerain in the presence of Louis VI at Arras. The election was at once confirmed by Ghent, Bruges, Lille, and Saint-Omer; and the king, accompanied by the new count, whom he was fully determined to keep in a state of strict pupillage, advanced rapidly into the heart of Flanders, announcing in a circular letter his intention of making an example of the murderers and restoring order to the country. By 2 April he was at Ghent; on 5 April he reached Bruges, where the murderers were blockaded in the tower of St Donatian and forced to surrender: a few days later, on 26 April, he took Ypres, captured William of Ypres, confiscated his property, and dispatched him to a dungeon at Lille; on the following day he reduced Aire, Cassel, and all the towns in which William of Ypres had obtained recognition; and finally, on 6 May, he was able to set out on his return journey to France by way of Arras. But first, he saw the murderers executed—hurled, under his eyes, from the top of the tower in which they had taken refuge. He had, it seemed, imposed the suzerain of his choice upon the whole of Flanders.

That a king of France should be in a position to act with so much daring and resolution shows plainly how much ground the Crown had recovered. His success, it is true, was short-lived; but this was the fault of the young count, whose blundering stupidity compromised the whole situation as soon as his royal protector left him to himself. In a country where the bourgeois were predominant, where commercial and industrial interests prevailed, and where social development was far more advanced than in that of its neighbors, William Clito imagined that he could ignore the people and rely on the nobles alone. The barons and knights thought that the moment had come for them to take their revenge, and a period of feudal reaction followed. Almost immediately riots broke out in the towns; the evicted claimants plucked up courage; Ghent and Bruges opened their gates to Thierry of Alsace; Saint-Omer recalled Arnold of Denmark, who was secretly supported by the King of England. Disorder once more reigned supreme.

Louis VI tried to intervene, thinking he could take a high tone with the rebels. “I desire you”, he wrote to the people of Bruges on 10 April 1128, “to send eight notables to me at Arras on Palm Sunday (15 April); I will summon as many from each of the towns of Flanders, in order to inquire, in their presence and in that of all my barons, into the reasons of your disagreement and of your conflict with your Count William, and I shall make it my business forthwith to establish peace between you and him. If there be any man among you who dares not come to me, I will give him a safe-conduct, both for coming and for going”. But this time his authoritative tone made no impression on the men of Bruges, whose answer was a haughty and violent indictment of the King of France. They accused him of selling their country for a thousand marks, denied him all right of interference in the election of their suzerain, and condemned in very energetic language the treacherous treatment they had received from William Clito. They, moreover, had settled the question for themselves. They announced without further ado that in place of William Clito, who had played them false and had been expelled by them, they would recognize no suzerain in future but Thierry of Alsace, “who had a stronger hereditary right to be their count, was a wise and loyal man, and had been raised to power in accordance with the custom of the country. To him who so admirably adhered to the manners and customs of his predecessors they had pledged their faith and homage”. This was a direct declaration of war.

Louis VI, who was at the moment engrossed in other difficulties, doubtless understood that the game was lost. The rapid successes of Thierry of Alsace, who made his entry into Lille on 11 April 1128, left no room for hope. He contented himself with convening a great assembly at Arras, in which Thierry was excommunicated, and with making a demonstration before the walls of Lille. Then, having satisfied his conscience, he abandoned William Clito to his unhappy fate (May 1128). William’s death at the siege of Alost (27 July 1128) hastened the end. The whole country submitted to Thierry, and Louis VI was obliged to ratify the accomplished fact by giving investiture to the conqueror. This time the king had overrated his powers; the hour had not yet come for great conquests and the subjection of the great fiefs. It was the head of the Anglo-Norman monarchy who was to be the chief instrument in proving this fact to Louis.


Louis VI and the Anglo-Norman kingdom 


Ever since the middle of the eleventh century the kings of France had been making ceaseless efforts to arrest the dangerous and ever-increasing expansion of the Norman dominion. Philip I, as we have seen, was as eager as his father Henry to seize every possible chance of embarrassing this formidable vassal and supporting his enemies. But the King of France had a redoubtable foe to deal with. The Conqueror’s third son, Henry Beauclerc, was not the man to be intimidated by the Capetian. Having deprived his brother Robert Curthose of his duchy of Normandy and sent him into captivity, declaring, not without reason, that he was incapable of maintaining order and peace in his dominion (1106), Henry I hastened to take possession of the castle of Gisors. This fortress on the right bank of the Epte formed, it is true, an integral part of the Norman Vexin, but such was the strategic importance of its position commanding the road from Rouen to Paris, that when Henry I did homage for Normandy to the King of France they made a special agreement on the subject. Both were pledged never to occupy the place in person, but either to leave it in the hands of a neutral castellan, at that time Paien of Neauphle, or else to demolish it.

Louis VI lost no time in protesting. He called upon his vassal to observe the conventions of the treaty, and summoned him to account for his conduct in the presence of his suzerain, whom he was to meet on the frontier of their respective dominions, at the bridge of Neauphle on the Epte. Both kings came there in force. Henry refused to submit to the demands of the King of France, whereupon the latter naively, if courageously, offered, if need were, to prove his right by meeting the King of England in single combat. To the bearers of this strange message Henry replied: “When the King of France attacks me I shall know how to defend myself!” This incident happened about March 1109.

This meant war—a war that was destined to drag on for twenty years, interrupted from time to time by a truce or a sham peace which enabled each of the two foes to keep his eye upon the other while awaiting a propitious moment to renew the attack. The tactics of the King of France, in his efforts to arrest the growth of the power of Normandy, were simple. They consisted in allying himself with the Count of Anjou, and favoring the Angevin intrigues in Maine, with a view to keeping the Norman from that province, and finally himself attacking him at his most vulnerable point, the Vexin, in order to free the royal domain from the perpetual menace that threatened it if Gisors remained in the hands of the English king. As for Henry, his policy was to secure freedom of action by seizing every possible chance of creating difficulties for the King of France in his own dominions; and, while seeking to be on good terms with the Count of Anjou, to lend his support to Theobald, Count of Blois and Chartres, who was to wage perpetual war against Louis, harassing his army in the rear as his Norman foes slowly advanced.

In 1109, at the beginning of hostilities, the alliance between Henry of England and Theobald of Blois was not yet concluded, and at one time it almost seemed as though Louis VI were about to triumph. He crossed the Epte, repulsed Henry’s troops, and pursued his victorious way through part of the Norman Vexin. But in 1111 everything was changed. Theobald, who in 1109 had figured in Louis VI’s army, suddenly changed sides, and by the spring of the following year had succeeded in bringing together a formidable coalition against the King of France. This coalition was composed, as we have already seen, of Henry of England and a host of petty barons: Lancelin of Bulles, lord of Dammartin, Paien of Montjay, Ralph of Beaugency, Milo of Bray-sur-Seine, Hugh of Crecy, Guy of Rochefort, and Hugh of Le Puiset himself, not to speak of Hugh, Count of Troyes. This time Louis was forced to yield. He succeeded, it is true, in overcoming the coalition of French barons and in repulsing Theobald; but he found it impossible to defeat the English monarch. Not only was there now no question of obliging him to abandon Gisors, but a treaty was signed before the walls of that fortress at the end of March 1113, by which Louis agreed, perforce, to recognize Henry I as suzerain of Brittany as well as of Maine, which in 1110 had come by marriage into the hands of the Count of Anjou.

Three years were hardly gone before war broke out again (April 1116), a war of constant skirmishes on the confines of the Norman and the French Vexin, in which each king captured in turn the strongholds of his rival. Louis VI, encouraged by several successes, of which the most brilliant was the surprise and capture of Les Andelys, early in 1119, by means of treachery within the walls, thought the hour had come for a decisive engagement. He suddenly offered battle to Henry I in the plain of Brémule, not far from Noyon-sur-Andelle. The result was disaster. The troops of the King of France were seized with panic when confronted by the large and well-disciplined army that the English king had at his disposal, and took to flight, carrying Louis with them in their stampede.

He fled precipitately to Les Andelys, where he succeeded in finding a refuge, but only after wandering alone in the forest of Musegros; his war-horse and banner he left in the hands of the enemy (20 August 1119). In his rage and humiliation he vainly tried, a month later, to avenge himself by attacking the district of Evreux; but, though he captured and burnt Ivry, he failed before Breteuil, which was the object of the expedition. In the meantime his son-in-law William of Chaumont was being equally unsuccessful at the siege of Tillières, where he fell into the hands of the enemy. Louis was again forced to beat a retreat, and such was his fury that he was on the point of burning Chartres, to vent his wrath at the expense of Count Theobald.

And now his failing health, and his weariness of this long struggle that had brought him only mortification, prompted Louis to negotiate for peace. He appealed to the supreme arbitrator, Pope Calixtus II, on the occasion of a council held by the latter at Rheims on 20 and 21 October 1119. The Norman monk, Ordericus Vitalis, has given us in his chronicle, if not the exact words, at least the substance of the speech delivered on this occasion by the “strongly-built, pale, corpulent, eloquent” king, whom he seems himself to have seen and heard. The speech was a veritable indictment, a denunciation of Henry I’s conduct from first to last. Nothing was overlooked, from the iniquitous imprisonment of Robert Curthose to the arrest of Robert, lord of Bellême, who had been sent on a mission to Henry by the King of France in 1112. “The King of England, who was long my ally, has been guilty of constant acts of aggression and violence at my expense, and at that of my subjects; he took forcible possession of Normandy, which forms part of my kingdom; he has treated Robert, Duke of Normandy, shamefully, in defiance of law and justice. Ignoring the fact that Robert was my vassal and his own brother and lord, he subjected him to all manner of vexations, and finally imprisoned him. Even now he has him fast in his dungeons. And here before you stands the son of this unhappy duke, William (Clito), who has come hither with me, having been driven into exile and disinherited by the King of England! By the mouths of bishops and counts and many others, I have called upon him to restore to me the duke whom he holds imprisoned; but I have obtained no satisfaction. Robert of Bellême, my ambassador, whom I sent to signify my will to him, was arrested by his orders in his palace. He loaded him with chains, and has kept him to this day in a cruel prison”. Finally, Henry was also accused of inciting to rebellion that Count of Blois, Theobald, whose shameful excesses had disturbed the whole kingdom. The Pope promised to intervene. But this ex parte statement of Louis VI, who had omitted to say that he himself, in 1107, had connived at the spoliation of Robert Curthose, was met by Henry I with another that was no less biassed, and was moreover supported by various gifts on the occasion of an interview that he had with Calixtus II at Gisors in the following November.  Henry agreed, however, to enter into negotiations with the King of France, and in 1120 peace was concluded on these terms: the two adversaries were to restore their respective conquests, and Louis VI was to receive homage for the duchy of Normandy from William Aetheling, only legitimate son of Henry I and heir apparent to the throne of England. In the matter of Gisors Louis was obliged to yield. This was a decided set-back.

On both sides underhand hostilities continued. On 25 November 1120, Louis VI’s hopes were revived by the unexpected death of William Aetheling in the White Ship; and in 1123 a coalition of Norman and French seigneurs was formed with the object of expelling the King of England from the duchy of Normandy and replacing him by William Clito. Henry I stoutly held his own against this coalition, while at his instigation his son-in-law, the Emperor Henry V, made ready to fall upon Rheims in order to hamper Louis VI’s actions (August 1124). The latter, however, succeeded in diverting the storm. With the most remarkable eagerness and unanimity the entire country rose at the king’s appeal, and rallied round him to repel the national danger. Thereupon Henry V, daunted by finding a whole nation in arms, beat a hasty retreat. But Louis could not recover the upper hand in Normandy. Henry I triumphed over all his enemies, and contributed by his manoeuvres and aggressions towards the frustration of the French policy in Flanders. He even went so far as to ally himself with the Count of Anjou by marrying (1127 or 1128) his widowed daughter Matilda, the sole survivor of his legitimate children, to Geoffrey the Fair, heir to the fiefs of Anjou and Maine. This marriage was a terrible menace to hang over the head of the French king, and it was not long before Louis VII felt its fatal effects.


The early years of Louis VII


And yet, as the time drew near for Louis VI to die, it seemed that the French monarchy was in a good position. Henry I of England had died on 1 December 1135, and Stephen of Blois, who obtained the English crown, was fully occupied at home with difficulties that quite prevented him from meditating any kind of intervention on the Continent. Count Theobald, who, since the death of his uncle Hugh I of Champagne in 1125, had been lord over all the territory of the ancient House of Blois —namely Champagne, Blois, and Chartres—had at last laid down his arms and rallied to the Capetian cause. And finally, an unexpected windfall had just placed the whole duchy of Aquitaine in the hands of the future king. Duke William X, who had died on 9 April 1137, during a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James of Compostella, had upon his death-bed confided to Louis VI the care of marrying his daughter and heiress Eleanor; and Louis had promptly taken steps to get his son accepted as her husband. The future Louis VII was occupied in taking possession of Aquitaine when the death of his father on 1 August 1137 placed him on the throne of France.

During the first few years of his reign the new king, who thus became his own master at the age of sixteen or seventeen, displayed more activity than discretion. It is possible that the suggestions of his young queen, Eleanor, on whom he lavished, says one of the chroniclers, “an extravagant love”, may sometimes have misdirected his energies; and the counsels of the discreet but somewhat ingenuous Suger were inadequate to counteract this influence. Without disturbing himself in the least, or putting the smallest obstacle in the way, Louis allowed the Count of Anjou to increase his territory so rapidly that his power was every day a greater menace, and in the meantime threw himself heart and soul into rash undertakings which, being ill-organized and ill-executed, brought him nothing but mortification.

Not content with the acquisition of Aquitaine, which he had already found sufficiently hard to control, he bethought him soon afterwards, in 1141, of insisting upon the rights to the county of Toulouse that his predecessors in the duchy had several times claimed. Accordingly he organized an expedition against Count Alphonse-Jourdain. Towards the end of June a considerable army marched rapidly upon Toulouse under the king’s leadership; but after a few weeks he was obliged to retrace his steps without having gained any advantage.

It was not long before the young king was concerned with more serious affairs. For more than two years he squandered the strength of the monarchy in a twofold and sterile struggle against the Papacy on the one hand and Count Theobald of Champagne on the other. On the death of the Archbishop of Bourges in 1141 two candidates were put forward to succeed him: Cadurc, the king’s Chancellor, and Peter of La Châtre, a near relative of the Chancellor of the Roman Church. The one was the king’s candidate, the other the Pope’s. The second was elected, in spite of the fact that Louis forbade the clergy to choose him. Louis in a fury swore upon the sacred relics that, as long as he lived, Peter should not enter Bourges. The sovereign pontiff, Innocent II, calmly retorted by consecrating Peter with his own hands at Rome, and, since Bourges still remained closed to him, by laying an interdict on every town, village, or castle that should shelter the king. “The King of France is a child”, the Pope is declared to have said, “and must be educated, and prevented from acquiring bad habits”. In the meantime Count Theobald had added fuel to the fire by taking part openly against his sovereign and receiving Peter of La Chatre in his domain. This was enough to exasperate Louis VII, who already had a subject of complaint against this vassal, in that he had twice refused his feudal contingent—in 1138, on the occasion of an expedition against the rebels of Poitou, and more recently when Louis had inarched against Toulouse.

A fresh incident occurred to aggravate the dissension and hasten the rupture. Ralph, Count of Vermandois and Seneschal of France, having repudiated his first wife, Theobald’s niece, in order to marry Queen Eleanor’s sister Alice (also called Petronilla) of Aquitaine, three bishops of the royal domain consented to dissolve the first marriage on grounds of consanguinity, and to bless the second. It was not long before protests were raised; and, at a council held under the presidency of a papal legate at Lagny-sur-Marne, the three accommodating prelates were excommunicated, their decision reversed, the second marriage annulled, and the territory of the Count of Vermandois laid under an interdict. In itself the incident was commonplace, and the history of the times records a score of similar episodes. But the young king, stimulated by Queen Eleanor, took the matter as a personal insult. Here again he was confronted with Count Theobald. The council that had annulled the marriage of Ralph and Petronilla was held at Lagny-sur-Marne, on the territory of the Count of Champagne, who openly took the part of his niece, Ralph’s repudiated wife. This was enough to make the irascible King of France hold Theobald responsible for the whole affair. With an outburst of fury that took his enemy by surprise, Louis VII descended on Champagne, attacked Vitry-sur-Marne, captured it, and left it in flames. Hundreds of the inhabitants—thirteen hundred, it is said—perished in the burning church. Theobald, whose turbulent habits and baneful energy had gradually given place of late years to a spirit of devotion and a zeal for good works, assumed a pathetic attitude that earned him the ridicule even of his own subjects. “Why”, they asked, “has not Count Theobald spent his time and his money in more useful ways? He has what he deserves: for knights he has monks; for bowmen, lay brethren. He sees now how little such as these can avail to serve him!” The clergy of Champagne, who had suffered cruelly from the royal invasion, were at a loss to determine what to do.

But Louis VII, no doubt, was equally embarrassed. His victory brought him no practical advantage; it merely increased the unpopularity of his cause. He was only too thankful, in the summer of 1143, to accept terms that pledged him to evacuate Champagne on condition that Theobald—through the good offices of Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux —should secure the removal of the ban that had been laid upon the Count of Vermandois and the queen’s sister.

It was not long before Louis perceived that the venerable Abbot of Clairvaux, who had conducted all the negotiations, had taken unworthy advantage of his inexperience. Hardly had he restored his conquests to Theobald before Ralph and Petronilla, who refused to be separated, were excommunicated for the second time. The young king’s wrath was boundless, and he swore to be revenged upon Count Theobald. Bernard of Clairvaux only incensed him the more by affecting airs of innocence. What, asked the abbot, had he and Theobald done to deserve the king's reproaches? Was it their fault if Ralph had behaved in such a way as to merit excommunication? Had not Count Theobald done his utmost, had he not even done violence to his conscience, to secure Ralph’s absolution on the first occasion in the face of a thousand difficulties? And what could he do against this fresh excommunication?

The war was resumed. Louis VII again occupied a portion of Champagne, and refused to allow the appointment of bishops to vacant sees. Theobald’s attempt at retaliation was to form a feudal league; he allied himself with the Counts of Flanders and Soissons. Every day the conflict became more bitter, without any advantage accruing to either party. Suger and St Bernard were in favor of peace, and perhaps also the immediate circle of the new Pope, Celestine II, who had just (26 September 1143) succeeded Innocent II, but it was not without difficulty that they prevailed over the obstinacy of the young king. After stubbornly seeking for months to wreak his vengeance upon Theobald, he was forced to yield at all points: to evacuate Champagne entirely and unconditionally, to abandon Ralph of Vermandois to his fate, and to recognize Peter of La Châtre as Archbishop of Bourges. This was indeed a triumph for the Papacy.

It was fully time for Louis to pull himself together and turn his attention towards the west. For, while he was thus exhausting his strength in fruitless efforts, the Count of Anjou and Maine, Geoffrey the Fair, was taking advantage of every opportunity to extend his dominions. While his wife Matilda in England was carrying on a ceaseless struggle with its king, Stephen of Blois, in defence of the rights that she had inherited from her father Henry I, Geoffrey descended upon Normandy and conquered it by slow degrees. In the course of the successive campaigns in which he engaged almost yearly between 1136 and 1144 he won nearly the entire province. There remained at last only Rouen; and on 23 April 1144 that town also yielded. Louis had no choice but to accept the accomplished fact, and to recognize his powerful vassal as the possessor of the conquered duchy. He had the acuteness, however, to prevail upon Geoffrey, in exchange for this concession, to evacuate Gisors, the strategical importance of which we have already seen. This was, at all events, some compensation.

Louis VII on crusade

It may be thought that by this time the king would have learnt wisdom and, profiting by the experience of these early years, would take up the reins of government with a firm hand. But hardly was his desperate struggle with the Church at an end, before he became possessed by a spirit of mystic piety which prompted him to desert his kingdom and go forth to fight the infidels in a distant land.

The news of the capture of Edessa by the Atabeg Zangi of Mosul on 25 December 1144 had recently filled the whole of western Christendom with consternation. On Christmas Day 1145, when Louis was with his court at Bourges for the ceremony of wearing his crown—a solemnity that was customary at the great festivals—he suddenly informed the barons of his intention to take the Cross, and exhorted them to follow his example. This suggestion they received with so little enthusiasm that it was found necessary to postpone the final decision to another court to be held at Vézelay the following Easter. The pious Suger himself advised the king against this enterprise; and St Bernard, on being entreated to use his influence for the furtherance of the Crusade, dared not take upon himself so serious a responsibility, and therefore referred the question to the Pope. We have seen in an earlier chapter how the latter decided to espouse the cause, and how St Bernard, in accordance with the Pontiff’s urgent desire, preached the Crusade with enthusiasm and became its life and soul. He it was whose eloquence, at the assembly at Vézelay on 31 March 1146, succeeded in rousing a fresh outburst of zeal for the holy war; it was he who kindled the ardor of the Germans and overcame the resistance of King Conrad III, and who was responsible for the organization of the expedition, for all the preparations and arrangements. When Louis VII’s army set out on 11 June 1147, success appeared certain. We know how these hopes were frustrated: by the discord that so soon broke out between French and Germans, and weakened their attack upon the common enemy; by the disasters that overtook both armies, the Germans at Dorylaeum and the French near Laodicea; and finally by the deplorable repulse of the crusaders before Damascus in July 1148, after which the greater number of them gave up the struggle.

Louis VII, however, was quite content to linger in the Holy Land, visiting the sacred places and forgetting his own kingdom while he devoted himself overseas to pious works. The Abbot of St Denis, Suger, who had carried on his shoulders nearly the whole weight of the regency since the day of the king's departure, urged him to return. Hitherto the abbot had succeeded admirably in keeping order in the kingdom; but the king’s brother Robert of Dreux had lately returned, and the malcontents had begun to gather round him. There was even some talk among them of deposing Louis and making Robert their king. Happily Suger contrived to frustrate these intrigues, and, when at last, at the beginning of November 1149, Louis made up his mind to return to his kingdom after an absence of nearly two years and a half, he found the country at peace.

Louis VII at last realized where the true interests of the monarchy lay. During the early years of his reign he had allowed the whole of Normandy to be appropriated by the Count of Anjou, Geoffrey the Fair; and the energetic campaigns conducted by Geoffrey’s wife Matilda and their son Henry Plantagenet—afterwards Henry II—plainly showed whither the dangerous ambitions of the House of Anjou were likely to lead. The security of the Crown imperatively demanded that the king should employ every possible means, if indeed it were not already too late, to undermine this formidable power, which was infinitely more menacing than the Anglo-Norman power had ever been in the days of Henry I of France.


Eleanor’s divorce and remarriage


It was an incident of minor importance, the siege of Montreuil-Bellay by Geoffrey the Fair, that supplied the pretext for a rupture. Gerald, the lord of this little Angevin fortress, had placed himself at the head of a strong coalition formed against his suzerain, Count Geoffrey, who had retaliated by laying siege to the rebel’s stronghold. But Gerald was the king’s protégé and his seneschal in Poitou; Louis therefore made his cause his own, and called upon Geoffrey the Fair to raise the siege (1150). Suger, who was in this, it must be owned, more remarkable for uprightness than for political insight, succeeded for a time in warding off the storm; but on 13 January 1151 he died, and since Gerald still held out stubbornly against Geoffrey the Fair, and Geoffrey continuously refused, not unnaturally, to comply with the royal command, hostilities broke out.

Louis had already decided upon a line of conduct. His policy consisting in putting forward Eustace of Boulogne, the son of King Stephen of England, as a rival to the Count of Anjou and his son Henry Plantagenet, to whom Geoffrey had transferred the duchy of Normandy at the beginning of 1150. Acting in concert, Louis and Eustace made a sudden descent upon Caux in May or June, 1151, and repulsed Henry at Arques; then, in July, they advanced as far as Séez, which they burnt. In the following month, when Louis was preparing to invade the duchy of Normandy anew at the head of a still stronger army, a sudden attack of fever obliged him to suspend operations. Geoffrey the Fair and his son were only too glad to seize this opportunity of coming to terms; and towards the end of August a treaty was signed in Paris by which they surrendered to the king, not now Gisors alone, but the whole of the Norman Vexin.

Unfortunately Louis then made an irreparable blunder. His love for his wife Eleanor, which had been so ardent during the first years of their marriage, had gradually cooled; while the queen, for her part, having grown more and more indifferent to Louis, had been led into frailties, or at least into follies, that were by no means pleasing to her husband. This state of things had at last resulted in an open rupture between them, and Louis, to whom personal feelings were of more importance than reasons of State, prevailed upon a council held at Beaugency on 21 March 1152 to dissolve the marriage on grounds of consanguinity. Barely two months later (May 1152) Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, who, on the sudden death of his father Geoffrey the Fair on 7 September 1151, had succeeded to the county of Anjou. Since, naturally, the daughter of Duke William X took her dowry with her to her second husband, this marriage not only meant a loss to the monarchy of the whole duchy of Aquitaine, but also a new and formidable acquisition of territory for its rival.

Too late, Louis recognized the mistake that he had made. He hastened to take up arms once more, and, as Henry was preparing to cross the Channel and fight King Stephen for the English crown, he again invaded Normandy. With his army marched, not only Eustace of Boulogne but also Count Robert of Perche, Henry the Liberal, Count of Champagne, and even the Count of Anjou’s own brother Geoffrey, who was to oppose Henry Plantagenet on many more occasions than this. Had the attack been conducted with vigour it might have proved disastrous for the young Count of Anjou. It was, however, conducted timidly and half-heartedly: Louis contented himself with besieging a few places on the frontier, of which Neufmarché was the only one he captured. He retreated hastily to the shelter of his own castle-walls as soon as Henry showed signs of retaliating. Moreover, when Henry, whose affairs demanded his presence in England, proposed a truce at the end of August 1152, Louis—with almost incredible weakness—instantly agreed to the suggestion.

For eight months he remained inactive. At a time when an energetic attack on Normandy might perhaps have been fatal to Henry’s success in England, and might even have undermined his position on the Continent, Louis abstained from action. At last he decided to cross the Norman frontier, to besiege Vernon and make a demonstration before Verneuil. He even succeeded, after two sieges, in entering Vernon (August or September 1153); but he was content to do no more, while Henry calmly pursued his advantages in England. By the time the latter returned to Normandy in April 1154, his recognition by Stephen of Blois as the heir to the English throne had been brought about by the death of Eustace of Boulogne; and Louis VII in alarm hastened to sign a treaty of peace (August 1154). This peace really amounted to a capitulation on his part. By it he engaged, in return for an indemnity of 2000 silver marks, to restore the two fortresses that were all he had succeeded in capturing, Vernon and Neufmarché, and to relinquish the title of Duke of Aquitaine, which he had hitherto continued to use. On 25 October following Stephen of Blois died, and a few weeks later (19 December 1154) Henry was crowned at Westminster without any attempt on the part of Louis to hamper the movements of his formidable enemy.

At an age when most men are in the full exercise of their powers Louis VII, whose blundering impetuosity had once been so much to be deplored, seemed suddenly to have become irresolute and almost sluggish. Those who were much with him at this time lay stress on his simplicity, his gentleness, his placability, and his piety. A certain monk of Vézelay frankly declares that the king always inclined to compromise, that he loved quiet and detested conflict. Another writer recalls having seen him in the midst of a procession, modestly mingling with the crowd of clergy. Upright and loyal himself, he had confidence in the honesty of others. He was in the habit of walking alone amid his subjects, and it is even told of him that one day he lay down in a forest and slept profoundly with only two knights to guard him. When someone expressed surprise, the king answered: “I can sleep alone in perfect safety, because no man wishes me ill”. He carried this confiding spirit into all his dealings, without any regard for the subtleties of the statesman. A contemporary chronicler, Gervase of Canterbury, tells us that he was “a very Christian king, but somewhat simple-minded”. “A very pious man” is the description of another writer, “a friend to the clergy, a devout servant of God, one who was deceived by many and himself deceived none”.

To the end of his reign his policy towards Henry II consisted in perpetual retreat. Any attempt at resistance on the part of the King of France invariably ended in a treaty that gave fresh advantages to his opponent.

Hardly had Henry II established his authority in England before he undertook the task of extending his dominions in every direction on the Continent. In the north it was the Norman Vexin that he desired to recapture from the King of France; in the west it was Brittany that he aspired to make his own; in the south it was the county of Toulouse that he demanded as a dependency of Aquitaine. This gigantic programme he promptly set to work to carry out.

In 1156, amid the domestic dissensions that had harassed Brittany from time immemorial, the county of Nantes had submitted to Geoffrey of Anjou, Henry Plantagenet’s brother. When Geoffrey died on 26 July 1158, Henry claimed the succession to the county, and, as he was quite prepared to support his claim by force of arms, his authority was recognized at Nantes. Not only did Louis VII abstain from opposing him, but he even went so far, it seems, as to smooth his enemy's path by authorizing him to enter Brittany with the title of Seneschal of France, which must doubtless have given an air of legality to the King of England’s act of usurpation.

The two kings at this time were firm friends. They met near Gisors on 31 August 1158, when Louis VII unhesitatingly agreed to betroth his third daughter, Margaret, an infant six months old, to the King of England’s eldest son, Henry, whose age was then three years, and pledged himself to give the bride for marriage-portion the whole of the Norman Vexin. This dowry, till the children were of marriageable age, was to be left in charge of the Templars. The “good and gentle” king had no suspicions; he welcomed his rival to Paris as though he were his best friend, and allowed him to take away the little princess. So delighted was he with his new friendship that he even made a pilgrimage across Normandy to Mont-Saint-Michel, accepting the attentions and marks of affection that Henry lavished upon him during the journey without for a moment doubting their sincerity. He was entirely absorbed in pious thoughts. The pilgrimage to Mont-Saint-Michel failing to satisfy his devotion, he planned a great crusade against the Moors of Spain. He made sure that his dear friend Henry would accompany him.

The latter, however, was of a more practical nature, and, having gathered a considerable army and formed a sound coalition, was preparing to enforce his rights over Toulouse at the expense of Count Raymond V. Recalled thus roughly to the world of reality, Louis VII at last awoke and attempted to negotiate. Henry humored him, and conferences were held at Tours (March 1159) and Heudicourt (6-8 June 1159). But the King of England had already resolved upon his course of action. At the end of June his army set out towards Languedoc, occupied a portion of that province, and proceeded rapidly in the direction of Toulouse. The town would doubtless have fallen if Louis VII, who had followed his rival with a few troops, had not decided, after fresh delays and renewed attempts at negotiation, to entrench himself within the walls (September 1159). Henry dared not take so serious a step as to besiege his suzerain the King of France; and as Louis, who was delighted at the success of a manoeuvre that called for no effort, resolutely remained in Toulouse, the King of England contented himself for the moment with establishing his troops firmly in Cahors. He then hastened back to Normandy.

It was not long before Louis learnt the reasons for this rapid retreat. Henry had gained the adherence of Theobald of Blois, Seneschal of France, and had proceeded without delay to attack the Beauvaisis in person. Louis had barely time to hasten thither; and when he found that the Count of Evreux had also deserted him, and had handed over to the King of England the castles of Montfort-l’Amauri, Rochefort, and Epernon, he was only too glad to obtain a truce (December 1159). This truce was followed, in May 1160, by a treaty of peace. The King of France, while confirming the former agreement with regard to the Norman Vexin, confined himself to stipulating, on behalf of the Count of Toulouse, for a year’s truce. Henry II, whatever befell, was to keep the fortresses he had captured in Languedoc until the expiration of the truce.

The treaty was hardly signed before the English king, without a word of warning, celebrated the marriage of his son Henry to Margaret, the little princess whom Louis had so confidingly entrusted to his care (2 November 1160). The young husband was only five-and-a-half years old, and the bride was certainly not yet three! But the King of England was impatient to lay his hand upon the dowry, the Norman Vexin, which he succeeded in obtaining from the Templars in whose charge it had been placed. Once more the simple-minded Louis perceived that he had been outwitted; once more he hankered after revenge. He arranged with Theobald, Count of Blois, that Chaumont-sur-Loire should be made the centre for an attack on Touraine; but in December 1160 the King of England took possession of the place. In the following spring, after allowing his adversary ample time to fortify himself in Gisors and to garrison all the frontier fortresses, Louis made a show of preparing to recover the Vexin at the point of the sword; but after a few skirmishes he consented to a new truce. In September 1162—yielding as usual to the force of circumstances—he agreed to sign a treaty of peace which was an open confession of weakness.


Louis VII protects Becket 


It was at this juncture that the case of Thomas Becket came into prominence. We have seen in an earlier chapter how the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the end of the year 1164, fled from England, where his position was imperiled, and took refuge in France. Louis VII, who was delighted to revenge himself upon his enemy without having recourse to arms, and was also, no doubt, honestly distressed by the misfortunes of the prelate, had declared openly for him at the very beginning. He gave his protection to the exile in spite of the protests of the English king, who declared that the treaty of 1162 contained a clause to the effect that neither of the monarchs should receive in his dominions any rebellious subject of the other. When Henry, in one of his letters of protest, referred to Becket as the “ex-Archbishop of Canterbury”, the King of France exclaimed: “What! Ex-Archbishop? Why, the King of England has no more right than I to depose even the humblest of his clergy!” Yet for two years the matter dragged on, while every day the discussion grew less amicable, and a fresh rupture more inevitable. War broke out in June 1167; but again nothing was effected on either side save a few skirmishes on the frontier. When each had burnt a village or two and a few castles, the two kings were ready to come to terms. Henry could employ his time more profitably than in continuing so fruitless a struggle, and Louis was even less disposed than usual to take advantage of his enemy’s many difficulties and to conduct the war with spirit. In August they agreed to lay down their arms until Easter 1168. On the renewal of hostilities Louis acted with his habitual irresolution and weakness, chiefly confining himself to supporting the rebellions in Aquitaine and Brittany against Henry. The month of August saw fresh negotiations, which led to new truces and new ruptures. Finally, on 6 January 1169, the two kings again met at Montmirail, near the frontier of Maine, to arrange a peace, and at the same time to come to some conclusion on the question of Thomas Becket, which was still unsettled. Louis VII, true to his character, was content to receive purely nominal satisfaction, such as the homage of the younger Henry for Normandy, Brittany, Maine, and Anjou, and that of the English king’s second son, Richard, for the county of Poitou. As for the questions that had caused the war, they were not considered. The Vexin, which Henry had so unceremoniously annexed, remained in his possession; his rights over Brittany, which he had conquered, received formal recognition; even Thomas Becket was almost sacrificed as well. It was not till many months had passed, and many conferences had been held, that an apparent reconciliation was effected between him and Henry.

Shortly after the tragic end of the Archbishop of Canterbury on 29 December 1170, the opportunity came at last to Louis VII for a striking act of vengeance. Henry II, who pursued his policy of invasion untiringly, had succeeded in securing the homage of the Count of Toulouse (January 1173), and his power on the Continent seemed to be more firmly established than ever, when suddenly his sons broke out into rebellion. We have already seen how his son Henry, whose disaffection against his father had been carefully nourished by the King of France, had (8 March 1173) suddenly fled to the French court, where his two brothers Richard and Geoffrey soon joined him, at the instigation of Queen Eleanor. At last Louis seemed determined to take a firm line; strong in the support of a powerful faction, which included the Counts of Flanders, Champagne, Boulogne, Blois, Sancerre, Dreux, and others, he at last showed a warlike spirit. When the envoys of King Henry—Rotrou, Archbishop of Rouen, and Arnulf, Bishop of Lisieux— came to negotiate with Louis, he turned upon them with bitter complaints of his adversary’s encroachments. “Why”, he asked, “has the King of England, in spite of his solemn pledge, kept Margaret’s dowry, Gisors and the Vexin? Why does he seek to incite against their rightful sovereign the people of France, from the mountains of Auvergne to the Rhone? Why did he receive the liege homage of the Count of Toulouse? Tell your master that I swear I will never make peace with him without the express consent of his wife and sons!” Not only was Henry the Younger received at the court of France with every sign of favor, but Louis VII affected to regard him as the true King of England. He had a royal seal made for him, and took a solemn pledge to help him in the winning of the crown. Henry the Younger received the homage of a great number of barons, who had followed him in his rebellion.

There can be no doubt that a prompt and energetic attack would have placed Henry II in a peculiarly dangerous position. But Louis was no more capable than on previous occasions of acting swiftly and striking with a firm hand. While Henry the Younger, in concert with the Counts of Flanders and Boulogne, invaded the country round Bray, to the north of the Seine, the King of France lingered over the siege of Verneuil; and when, on 9 August, Henry II’s army drew near, he immediately decamped and began to parley with the enemy. In the following year he made a final effort against Rouen; but again, on the approach of the King of England, he beat a shameful retreat, burnt his engines of war himself (14 August 1174), entered into negotiations, and finally deserted the cause of the rebels, whom he forced to implore pardon of the King of England at Montlouis (30 September 1174).

Thus Louis VII, with his customary indolence, let slip this unexpected opportunity of driving the English monarch into important concessions. He allowed Henry II to reduce at his leisure his English and continental subjects, who had risen at the call of his rebellious sons, and to enlarge his dominions still further at the expense of the French monarchy by the acquisition of the county of La Marche (1177). There was even a time, shortly before his death, when Louis seemed to cherish the illusion that he had transformed Henry II into a faithful friend of the Capetian monarchy.

Yet, feeble as this “good” king appeared in his struggle with the enterprising and active English sovereign, so strong was the force of circumstances that, in spite of everything, he left the French monarchy more firmly established than he found it—left it with its prestige definitely restored, and its position in Europe such that it was thenceforward a power to be reckoned with.

And first, within the limits of his own kingdom we find that Louis VII pursued, not unsuccessfully, the work of pacification and concentration that his father had begun with so much energy. In the preamble to one of his charters we read that “it is the office of the Crown to crush those who evade justice, and to support the obedient and submissive and secure to them their rights”. Louis VII indeed was as ready as Louis VI to face hardships, and at times to embark upon long expeditions at the call of the oppressed, in order to make the royal tribunal respected throughout the country and thereby secure recognition of the king’s supremacy. In 1153, for instance, when Hervé of Donzy complained that his father Geoffrey of Donzy was trying to deprive him unjustly of the fief of Gien, Louis proceeded thither without delay, captured the town, and forced the unnatural father to respect the laws of feudal heredity. A few years later the king responded to an appeal from Dreu of Mouchy, whom Nevelon of Pierrefonds had driven out of Mouchy. Louis mustered some troops and obliged the offender by force of arms to show a proper regard for justice. On two occasions, in 1163 and 1169, the canons of Clermont and of Brioude appealed to the king as their natural protector to save them from the violence of the Counts of Auvergne and their agents; and Louis unhesitatingly plunged into the mountains of central France to inflict exemplary punishment upon the delinquents, whom he even kept for some time imprisoned. In 1166 the Count of Châlon, too, who had dared to lay his hand on the property of the great monastery of Cluny, felt the weight of the king’s displeasure. The count, though repeatedly summoned to answer for his misdeeds, refused to appear; whereupon Louis marched into his territory, took forcible possession of it, and confiscated it. In 1173 it was the turn of the Viscount of Polignac, whom the royal troops pursued, captured, and imprisoned, for molesting the canons of Le Puy.

As time went on the royal court of justice became able to take a more commanding tone, and to insist that the great vassals of the Crown should obey its summons. The Count of Nevers, the persecutor of the monks of Vézelay, for instance, was forced in 1166 after many evasions to appear before the king’s tribunal in Paris and to abjure his turbulent ways. Louis VII’s words to the injured monks at the beginning of this long affair were significant: “I have sent my messengers to summon the count. As to what he will answer or what he will do I know nothing as yet; but you may rest assured that if he held as much land as the King of England in our kingdom I should not allow his violence to go unpunished”. It is also noticeable that as a rule this determined language took effect, and that the nobles brought an ever-increasing number of cases to be tried before the king’s tribunal. Thus in 1153 the Bishop of Langres and the Duke of Burgundy travelled as far as Moret to lay their differences before Louis.

From all quarters of France, even the most distant, appeals were addressed to the king. In 1163 the inhabitants of Toulouse, whom he had recently defended against Henry II, wrote to express their devotion and to beg for further support: “Very dear lord, do not take it amiss that we write to you so often. After God, we appeal to you as to our good master, our protector, our liberator. Upon your power, next to the divine power, we fix all our hopes”. A certain lord of Uzès wrote to him to complain of the illegal dues levied by the Count of Melgueil, and to beg for the king’s intervention. Again, in 1173 Ermengarde, Viscountess of Narbonne, entreated him in the most urgent terms to hasten to the rescue of Languedoc, which was threatened by Henry Plantagenet. “We are profoundly distressed, my fellow-countrymen and I”, she wrote, “to see this country of ours—owing to your absence, not to say your fault—in danger of being subjected to the authority of a foreigner who has not the smallest right to rule over us. Do not be angry, dear lord, at the boldness of my words; it is because I am a vassal, especially devoted to your crown, that it grieves me to see the lightest slur cast on your dignity. It is not merely the loss of Toulouse that we are threatened with, but that of our whole country from the Garonne to the Rhone, which our enemies are confident of conquering. I feel that they are even now making all the speed they can, so that, when they have subjected the members, they may the more easily overcome the head. I entreat you of your valor to intervene, and appear among us with a strong army. The audacity of your foes must be punished, and the hopes of your friends fulfilled”.

Beyond the frontiers of the kingdom, too, the prestige of the King of France was steadily growing. From the kingdom of Arles came numerous promises of fealty, if in return the king would grant his intervention. Raynald of Bâgé, lord of La Bresse, cried urgently for his help: “Come into this country, where your presence is as necessary to the churches as it is to me. Do not fear the expense; I will repay you all that you spend; I will do homage to you for all my castles, which are subject to no suzerain; in a word, all that I possess shall be at your disposal”. In Dauphiné, when Louis VII's sister Constance was married to the Dauphin of Viennois, it was considered a matter for rejoicing that the French influence had gained ground in that direction.

Thus it is not surprising to find Louis VII in 1162 playing his accustomed part of arbitrator in the great papal schism between Alexander III and Victor IV, the candidate of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. To tell the truth the king’s rôle was not always very brilliant, nor did it reflect much credit on his perspicacity. In August and September 1162 Frederick, with the connivance of the Count of Champagne, entangled him in a web of mystification which at one time nearly had disastrous consequences. It will be well to relate the circumstances, as we may gain from them some idea of the weaving and unraveling of intrigues that went on round this good king, Louis VII.

When Hadrian IV died in 1159 two Popes had been elected at the same time: Cardinal Roland under the name of Alexander III, and Cardinal Octavian under that of Victor IV. Alexander III, who was elected by a majority of the cardinals, represented the party that was opposed to the absolute power of the Emperor, the party of Italian independence. Between him and Frederick Barbarossa there was no possibility of agreement, whereas naturally an alliance existed between the Emperor and Victor IV. Alexander III, who had obtained recognition both from Louis VII and from the King of England immediately after his election, took refuge in France. But, whether because he had not held the balance sufficiently equal between Louis and his rival, or because the King of France was reckoning on the advantage over Henry II that an understanding with the Emperor might secure for him, the end of the year 1161 saw the opening of negotiations between Frederick and Louis. The question of the schism was naturally placed first on the programme.

Now, at the court of France there existed a Germanophil party headed by Louis VII’s own brother-in-law Henry the Liberal, Count of Champagne. He it was whom the king chose to be the principal negotiator; and moreover Louis made the further blunder of giving a prominent part in the affair to the Bishop of Orleans, Manasse, who from the first had shown decided hostility towards Alexander III. So successfully did these two, Henry of Champagne and Manasse, conduct the affair in the direction of their wishes, that Louis found himself involuntarily and almost unconsciously led into far closer relations with Frederick than he had desired. The bishop, writing in his sovereign’s name to convey final instructions to the Count of Champagne, abused Louis’ confidence so far as to insert, on his own initiative, a phrase that gave the count full authority to make pledges for the King of France. Count Henry lost no time in coming to terms. It was agreed that the two monarchs should meet on a bridge that crossed the Saone at Saint-Jean-de-Losne on 29 August 1162; that each of them should bring his Pope with him; and that, then and there, a mixed commission of arbitrators should be chosen from the clergy and laymen of the two parties to adjudicate between the two Pontiffs. Both sovereigns were pledged to abide by this judgment; and in the case of Louis refusing to acquiesce in these arrangements, or to accept the decision of the arbitrators, Count Henry took a solemn oath to abjure his fealty to the King of France and to give his allegiance to the Emperor.

In the meantime Louis, who was still ignorant of the engagements entered into by the Count of Champagne, had made every effort to persuade Alexander III to be present at the projected meeting. At an interview between them at Souvigny in August 1162, the king had in vain urged the Pope to yield in this matter, expressing surprise, with more or less sincerity, “that since the Pontiff was conscious of the justice of his claim he should miss this opportunity of upholding it by a public statement of his case”. Alexander was immovable. He agreed to send four cardinals as delegates, but would do no more; he refused to accompany the King of France. The latter, chagrined, reached Dijon on 28 August, and found there the Count of Champagne, who revealed to him all the clauses of the treaty and placed him—should Alexander persist in his refusal—in this dilemma: he must either recognize Victor IV as Pope, or he must lose the province of Champagne to the Emperor. “What!” exclaimed the king, “you presumed to take it upon yourself to make such an engagement for me without my knowledge, without consulting me!” Henry quoted the letter that he had received from Manasse, giving him full powers. The King of France perceived that he had been tricked. It was too late for him to retire; but what could be hoped from negotiations that were founded on misunderstandings such as these?

On 29 August the Emperor Frederick came at dawn of day from Dole, accompanied by his Pope, to the bridge of Saint-Jean-de-Losne. Finding no one there he went away, leaving only a few members of his suite upon the spot. A little later Louis VII arrived in his turn from Dijon, and begged Frederick’s representatives to consent to a delay, since it was only on the previous day that he had heard the terms of the convention. At the same time he promised to secure the presence of Pope Alexander. On the following morning the Count of Champagne, who played a dubious part throughout the affair, came to Louis to remind him that, should he reject the terms of the treaty, he—Count Henry—was pledged by them to transfer his allegiance to the Emperor. “However”, added this sanctimonious individual, “I have prevailed on the Emperor to grant a delay of three weeks, on condition of your promising to be present, with Alexander, at another meeting at the end of that time, and to accept on that occasion the arbitrators’ judgment between him and his rival. You must bind yourself by securities, in case you fail to abide by their award, to give yourself up as a prisoner into the Emperor’s hands at Besançon”. Louis again naively accepted the terms, and gave as his hostages the Duke of Burgundy and the Counts of Flanders and Nevers.

He hoped to persuade Alexander to accompany him; and indeed a good deal of anxiety was felt at this time by the adherents of the Pontiff. But a fresh comedy was about to be enacted. Frederick’s army, being short of provisions, had gradually broken up and disappeared; and at this moment the King of England, who feared nothing so much as an alliance between Louis VII and the Emperor, responded to an appeal from Alexander III by arriving on the scene in full force. Frederick had but one desire—to withdraw, but to put a good face upon it. On the morning of the appointed day, 22 September, Louis again repaired to Saint-Jean-de-Losne, where he found no one but Rainald of Dassel, the Chancellor of the Empire, who feigned ignorance. Never, he declared, could it have entered his sovereign’s head to submit the decision on the pontifical election to a commission drawn from France as well as from the Empire, seeing that none but the Emperor and the bishops of his dominions were qualified to give judgment in such a case. Louis then turned to the Count of Champagne, who was standing beside him, and begged him to repeat the clauses of the convention, “Well, you see!” exclaimed the king when this had been done, “the Emperor, who should be here, has not appeared, and his representatives have just changed the terms of the treaty in your very presence! You are witness to it”.—“That is true”, answered the count.—“I am freed, then, from all my engagements, am I not?”— “Certainly you are free”, replied Henry. Then the king turned to the barons and prelates of his suite. “You have all heard and seen”, he said, “that I have done everything in my power. Am I still bound by the convention?”—“No”, answered they all, “you have redeemed your word”. Then, wheeling his horse, Louis galloped away upon the road to Dijon, turning a deaf ear to the Emperor’s representatives, who tried to detain him.

Such was the end of the tragi-comic adventure into which Louis had so imprudently allowed himself to be drawn. It put an end for ever to any inclination on his part to come to an understanding with the supporters of Victor IV, and it was on the morrow of the meeting at Saint-Jean-de-Losne that he appeared before the world as the protector of the true Pope. Alexander III was lodged in the royal town of Sens; his protector Louis VII carried on a regular and constant correspondence with him; and his close alliance with the Capetian monarchy during the crisis that followed his election contributed not a little to increase the prestige of that monarchy, and to give it the position in Europe that was established so firmly in the days of Philip Augustus.

Not only did Louis VI and Louis VII succeed in extending their supremacy, but they contrived to place the government of their constantly increasing kingdom upon a firm basis. They strengthened their authority by perfecting the machinery of the administration, and by replacing the useless and dangerous feudal element at the court by men whom they could trust, men of humble origin, who were well under control and of tried wisdom.

At the accession of Louis VI all the administrative authority of the monarchy was in the hands of the high officials of the Crown. The men who held the great offices were all, or nearly all, chosen from among the barons, and had but one idea—to obtain a monopoly of important posts for their own families, and thus to secure, at the expense of the sovereign, a position of supreme authority in the kingdom.

At the time with which we are concerned, an ambitious family, to whom no act of effrontery seemed amiss, the family of Garlande, had marked down as their own the chief offices at the court. Of these the post of seneschal was undoubtedly the most important. For the holder of this office was not only in command of the royal troops, but also exercised authority over a large part of the king's officials, was the chief administrator of the royal demesne, and, finally, played a considerable part in the dispensing of justice. It has been said, with perfect truth, that his position at this time was that of a "deputy king." This was the office to which the Garlandes first laid siege. In Philip I's reign two of them, Paien of Garlande and after him his brother Anseau, had already succeeded in securing it temporarily (1101, 1104) in despite of the lords of Rochefort-en-Iveline, who were themselves trying to acquire it for their own family. By 1107 the post of seneschal was again held by Anseau of Garlande, who succeeded in keeping it until the day of his glorious death in the king's service at the siege of Le Puiset (1118).

But before that day came two of his brothers, Gilbert and Stephen, had cast covetous eyes on other great offices. In 1106 Stephen, who was a clerk in holy orders, obtained the position of chancellor; in 1112 Gilbert secured for himself the post of chief butler; and on the death of Anseau it was yet another of the Garlande brothers, William, who succeeded to the seneschalship. It seemed that the ambition of this family now knew no bounds. When the seneschal, William, died in 1120, his brother Stephen, although in orders and already chancellor, acquired the seneschalship for himself rather than allow it to be lost to the family.

Rarely has a man been known to abuse his position with such unconcern. It seemed indeed as though the State held nothing that did not exist solely for the enrichment and promotion of this scandalous priest, who deemed it quite natural that the functions of the king's Grand Chaplain and of the supreme head of the army should be united in his person. In his clerical capacity he laid his hands on all the ecclesiastical benefices of which the king could easily dispose. We find him figuring simultaneously as Canon of Etampes, Archdeacon of Paris, Dean of the Abbey of St Genevieve at Paris, Dean of St Samson and of St Avitus at Orleans; and one chronicler—rather a slanderous one, it is true—Guibert of Nogent, declares that when in 1112 Stephen wished to add to all these benefices the deanery of the cathedral church of Orleans, a bishopric was hastily bestowed upon the existing dean in order that this desire might be complied with. On two occasions about this time he even intrigued to add to his acquisitions the bishopric of Beauvais or that of Paris; but this was too much, and the king was obliged to submit when Pope Paschal II formally prohibited the appointment.

This did not prevent Stephen of Garlande from attaining to a degree of power that excited jealousy on every hand. The clergy raised a chorus of protest against their unworthy brother, whom Ivo, the austere Bishop of Chartres, described—probably with a certain amount of exaggeration—as ''an illiterate gambler and libertine", and St Bernard denounced as a living scandal in the Church. "Who, without surprise and horror," he cried indignantly, "can see this man serving both God and Mammon— at one moment clad in armour at the head of armed troops, and at the next robed in alb and stole, chanting the gospel in a church?."

It was, however, not so much the unedifying character of his life as his abuse of power that at last made him unendurable. "The kingdom of France," says a contemporary chronicler, "was entirely at his mercy, and he seemed not so much to serve the king as to govern him". The day came at length when Louis VI awoke to the danger. Urged by his wife, Adelaide of Maurienne, whom Stephen very foolishly had treated with disrespect, the king resolved to shake off the yoke with a determined hand. Stephen, who showed an increasing tendency to regard the seneschalship as his own property, was suddenly deprived of office and driven from the court, together with his brother Gilbert. His fall (1127) was as dramatic as his rise. He did not yield without a struggle; and for three years (1128-1130) stoutly fought his master. "Remember your past power", wrote one of Stephen's friends to him at this time, "remember your riches, and what is still more important, the skill with which you handled the affairs of this world. Of the great officers of state (palatini) you were the first; the whole kingdom of France was at the disposal of your caprice. Like Solomon you desired to undertake great enterprises, to raise towers, to build superb palaces, to plant vineyards, to gather round you an immense household of male and female serfs. You demanded gold and silver in heaps; in a word, you had your fill of every delight that is possible to humanity. But pause a moment, and consider the instability of earthly things. This king, whose affection seemed to you the strongest support you could have, at whose side you constantly lived in virtue of your office and the friendship he bore you, this king now pursues you with his enmity; you are now forced to defray the expenses of the war with the money you amassed in time of peace, and to keep a watch over your personal safety night and day, lest the threats of your enemies should be fulfilled" . At last, however, Stephen was obliged to yield and humble himself and give up the seneschalship; and indeed he could think himself fortunate in that he recovered not his influence—for that was gone for ever—but at least his title of chancellor.

The lesson was a costly one for the Crown, but it was not forgotten. There were thenceforward no more omnipotent officials before whom the king himself was obliged to bow. Louis VI left the office of seneschal vacant for four years, and when at last he filled it gave the appointment to Count Ralph of Vermandois, a kinsman of his own, on whose fidelity he could rely; and when Ralph died Louis VII left the office vacant for two years before giving it to the Count of Blois. These men, it is true, were important personages, and capable of commanding an army with brilliant success; but it has been pointed out that, since the new sene-schals lived on their own lands at a distance from the court, they were as a rule no longer dangerous. They could no longer domineer at court, and their functions tended to become merely honorary.

Louis VI and Louis VII followed the same tactics with regard to the other great officers of state: sometimes leaving their posts vacant, as in the case of the chancellorship, to which, in Louis VIFs time, no one was appointed for seven years (1172-1179); sometimes contriving to reduce their powers to privileges of a purely honorary kind. There was an increasing tendency to put all the work into the hands of docile subordinates, who could be easily dismissed. And sometimes auxiliaries, who had no official connexion with the government, would be called upon to lend their aid, men chosen from the clerical rather than the baronial world or bourgeois who understood the conduct of business affairs.

Of these confidential advisers of the Crown in the twelfth century some are known to us—as for instance Brother Thierry Galeran, of the Order of the Temple, who from 1132 was for thirty years or so one of the most active agents of the King of France; and Bouchard le Veautre, and Cadurc, and above all the famous Abbot of St Denis, Suger. Of this last, who was a true statesman, we have already had occasion to speak. For his able government as regent during Louis VIFs absence on the Second Crusade he well deserved the title that his contemporaries gave him, the Father of his Country.

This is not the place to give a biography of this eminent monk, who, though of obscure and humble origin, succeeded by sheer strength of intellect, combined with remarkable tenacity and an orderly, well-balanced mind such as was rarely met with in his day, in winning his way everywhere without ever resorting to intrigue. Little by little we see his influence replacing that of Stephen of Garlande with Louis VI, who called him "his intimate and his faithful counsellor". From the year 1130 onwards he was always at the king's side, and always ready with a wealth of wise and moderate advice. We find him again with Louis VII, constantly striving —sometimes to excess, as we have seen—to avoid contention and maintain peace at any price. As regent, during the Second Crusade Suger, he showed especial ability in the administration of the royal revenue, and was most skilful in his avoidance of all kinds of friction. "There is nothing more dangerous", he said, "than to change the personnel of government without due thought. Those who are discharged carry off with them as much as they can, and those who take their place are so fearful of receiving the same treatment as their predecessors that they proceed, without loss of time, to steal a fortune". His policy, in a word, was above all a policy of tact. It had a firm basis of strength, but its aim was to avoid all direct opposition and to evade obstacles rather than contend with them. He was a man of affairs, whose ambition was to govern the State with the same honesty and scrupulousness that he showed in the government of his abbey. And in this respect he is one of the most characteristic representatives of that newclassof officialsto whom Louis VII, more and more as time passed, sought to confide the care of the adminis-