Louis IX of France

King of France from 1226 to 1270

Louis IX (or Louis the Saint) (April 25 1214August 25 1270) was king of France from 1226. A biography of him was written by one of his barons, Jean de Joinville. Louis was canonized in 1297.



Jean de Joinville Livre des saintes paroles et des bons faiz nostre roy saint Looys


English quotations and page-numbers are taken from Margaret R. B. Shaw (trans.) Chronicles of the Crusades (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1963] 1973).

  • Je ameroie mieus que uns Escoz venist d'Escosse et gouvernast le peuple du royaume bien et loyaument, que que tu le gouvernasses mal apertement.
    • I would rather have a Scot come from Scotland to govern the people of this kingdom well and justly than that you should govern them ill in the sight of all the world.
    • Page 167. [1]
    • Speaking to his eldest son, Louis.
  • On se doit assemer en robes et en armes en tel manière que li preudome de cest siècle ne dient que on en face trop, ne les joenes gens de cest siècle ne dient que on en face peu.
    • Our clothing and our armour ought to be of such a kind that men of mature experience will not say that we have spent too much on them, nor younger men say we have spent too little.
    • Page 171. [2]
  • A justices tenir et à droitures soies loiaus et roides à tes sougiez, sans tourner à destre ne à senestre, mais adès à droit, et soustien la querelle dou povre jeusques à tant que la verités soit desclairie.
    • In order to deal justly and equitably with your subjects, be straightforward and firm, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, but always following what is just, and upholding the cause of the poor till the truth be made clear.
    • Page 348. [3]
    • To his successor Philippe.

Quotes about Louis IX

  • Up to his time the Capetian house had been prosaic and matter-of-fact. He will glorify that house and give it spiritual grandeur. Though none of his successors will equal him, the spiritual elevation of his life and work will leave an aureole about the family of the Capetians. Most of the other royal or imperial houses of Europe had eagles, lions, leopards, or some sort of carnivorous animal as their emblem, while the house of France had chosen three modest flowers. Saint Louis was the justification of the lilies.
  • In internal affairs also, the reign of Saint Louis was one of justice and not of weakness. He was a just judge, but he knew very well how to send even barons to the gallows. Order is heaven's first law, and Louis sought law and order.
  • If the figure of Saint Louis was so soon to be idealized in story and legend, it is not only because the king was good, just and charitable; it is because, as his chronicler Joinville says, under his rule through righteous administration France had become more prosperous and the way of life easier and more humane. He will bequeath to the Capetian monarchy and to France enduring renown.
  • The voice of history renders a more honourable testimony, that he united the virtues of a king, an hero, and a man; that his martial spirit was tempered by the love of private and public justice; and that Louis was the father of his people, the friend of his neighbours, and the terror of the infidels. Superstition alone, in all the extent of her baleful influence, corrupted his understanding and his heart; his devotion stooped to admire and imitate the begging friars of Francis and Dominic; he pursued with blind and cruel zeal the enemies of the faith; and the best of kings twice descended from his throne to seek the adventures of a spiritual knight-errant.
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