The Timeless Wisdom Of Louis IX

Perhaps the most sincere and guileless of medieval chroniclers was France’s Jean de Joinville, the Seneschal of Champagne. He lived from 1224 to 1317, reaching a maturity of worldly experience shared by none of his contemporaries except fellow historian Geoffrey de Villehardouin.

Joinville was the counsellor and confidant to King Louis IX (later the canonized St. Louis), and accompanied him on the Seventh Crusade. He wrote, in 1309 at the age of eighty-five, a work called the Histoire de St. Louis (Life of St. Louis); it is more of a personal testament than a biography, for it describes Joinville’s experiences at the right-hand of his beloved king.

Louis IX was France’s most pious monarch; he took seriously his responsibility as servant of national unity, and as a protector of the poor against the depredations of the powerful. He subjected himself to nutritional austerities as acts of faith; and he made it a point of principle to feed the poor, wash the feet of paupers, and lacerate his flesh in penitentiary flagellations.

Without question, his canonization twenty-seven years after his death was eminently deserved. Joinville’s Life of St. Louis is, among other things, a treasure-trove of Louis’s worldly wisdom. It is an intimate and vivid portrait of a man Joinville had come to love for his virtue, wisdom, and innate sense of justice.


A scene from the Crusades

In numerous anecdotes, he conveys his master’s ability to render equity, or deliver sound counsel, on nearly any occasion. After reading the entire account carefully, I have tried to state in my own words the most radiant bezels of wisdom from Joinville’s book, together with an illustrative quotation from the original source. These are displayed below. The complete text of the Life of St. Louis can be found in Joinville and Villehardouin: Chronicles of the Crusades (M. Shaw, ed., New York: Penguin Books, 1983). The quotations that follow below are taken from this translation of Joinville.

1. Govern justly and speak the truth.

“For 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.” This upright king loved truth so well that…he would never consent to lie to the Saracens [i.e., Muslims] with regard to any covenant he made with them.

2. Do not drink to excess.

He used to add water to his wine, but did so reasonably, according as the strength of the wine allowed it…[He warned me] that if I did not learn to mix my wine with water…gout and stomach troubles would take hold of me, and I would never be in good health.

3. Do not disgrace yourself.

“You should avoid deliberately saying or doing anything which, if it became generally known, you would be ashamed to acknowledge by saying ‘I did this,’ or ‘I did that.’”

4. Be mindful of your words.

He also told me not to contradict or call into question anything said in my presence—unless silence would imply approval of something wrong, or damaging to myself, because harsh words often lead to quarreling, which has ended in the deaths of countless numbers of men.

5. Do not be too flamboyant in dress or habit. No one respects a coxcomb.

He often said that people ought to clothe and arm themselves in such a way that men of riper age would never say they had spent too much on dress, or young men say that they had spent too little.

6. Do not let your soul become corrupted by vice.

“So I beg you,” he added, “as earnestly as I can, for the love of God, and for the love of me, to train your heart to prefer any evil that can happen to the body, whether it be leprosy or any other disease, rather than let mortal sin take possession of your soul.”

7. Humble yourself by frequent acts of kindness and charity. They have a redemptive power.

“Your Majesty,” I exclaimed, what a terrible idea! I will never wash the feet of such low fellows.” “Really,” said he, “that is a very wrong thing to say; for you should never scorn to do what our Lord Himself did as an example for us. So I beg you [he said], for the love of God and for the love of me, to accustom yourself to washing the feet of the poor.”

8. When at dinner or revelry, speak only about pleasant subjects.

It happened one day that this worthy priest was sitting beside me at dinner, and we were talking to each other rather quietly. The king reproved us and said: “Speak up, or your companions may think you are speaking ill of them. If at table you talk of things that may give us pleasure, say them aloud, else be silent.”

9. Be careful with your money.

“Wise men,” said the king, “deal with their possessions as executors ought to do. Now the first thing a good executor does is to settle all debts incurred by the deceased and restore any property belonging to others, and only then is he free to apply what money remains to charitable purposes.”

10. Take action quickly to implement justice.

With all this there were so many criminals and thieves in Paris and the adjoining country that the whole land was full of them. The king…soon made himself familiar with the truth. In consequence he forbade the selling of the office of provost [who was often underpaid and corrupt] in Paris, and arranged for a good and generous salary to be given to those who should hold it in the future. He also abolished all taxes and levies that imposed unnecessary hardship on his people, and caused inquiry to be made throughout his kingdom to find men who would administer justice well and strictly, and not spare the rich any more than the poor.

11. Sympathize with those less fortunate than you.

Let your heart be tender and full of pity towards the poor, the unhappy, and the afflicted; and comfort and help them to the utmost of your power.

12. Manage wisely those you are tasked to serve.

Maintain the good customs of your realm and abolish the bad ones. Do not be greedy in your demands on your people, or impose heavy taxes on them except in a case of emergency.

13. Speak to someone when you are burdened with a problem.

If anything lies heavy on your heart, speak of it to your confessor or to some wise and discerning man who has not too glib a tongue. In this way your troubles will be easier to bear.

14. Surround yourself with worthy and capable people.

Take care to have around you people, whether clerics or laymen, who are wise, upright, and loyal, and free from covetousness. Talk with them often, but shun and fly from association with the wicked.

15. Take caution with backbiters and calumny.

Let no one be so bold as to say in your presence anything that may entice and move men to sin, nor do anything so presumptuous as to speak evil of another behind his back in order to belittle him. Nor must you allow anything in disparagement of God and His saints to be said before you.

16. Value justice over all.

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. If anyone brings suit before you, make full inquiry until you know the truth; for then your counsellors, having the facts before them, will be able to give sentence more confidently, whether for or against you.

17. Restore stolen property to its owner.

If through your own act, or the act of your predecessors, you hold anything which should belong to another, and his right to it is proved beyond question, restore it to him without delay. If on the other hand there is some doubt about the matter, have it investigated, promptly and thoroughly, by wise and knowledgeable men.

18. Do not allow quarrels and disputes to fester.

In the case of wars and dissensions arising among your subjects, make peace between the disputants as soon as ever you can.


Louis IX holds court

It might be said that there is nothing new or earth-shaking in these morsels; this is so, but true wisdom is seldom accompanied by fireworks. Nothing is less glamorous that the truth. Nevertheless, Louis was like all of us a product of his age, and we cannot follow him in everything. Some of his precepts have not aged well, and place him squarely in the Age of Faith, as when he advises a knight as follows:

But a layman, whenever he hears the Christian religions abused, should not attempt to defend its tenets, except with his sword, and that he should thrust into the scoundrel’s belly, as far as it will enter.


Map showing the various Crusades

Yet if perspective is the first lesson of history, we must rank the Life of St. Louis as one of its greatest first-hand accounts. Here is revealed the mood of an age like no dry official chronicle ever could. We share in the wisdom and goodness of a pious king; we grip the pommels of our swords with conviction and intensity as we sit, with composed countenance and respectful homage, at the feet of Louis during one of his speeches; and we share with our seneschal Joinville his heartache in leaving his family to follow his king on the Seventh Crusade. He relates with unabashed honesty:

I left Joinville [my home] immediately after—never to enter my castle again until my return from overseas—on foot, with my legs bare, and in my shirt. Thus attired I went to Blécourt and Saint-Urbain, and to other places where there are holy relics. And all the way to Blécourt and Saint-Urbain I never once let my eyes turn back towards Joinville, for fear my heart might be filled with longing at the sight of my lovely castle and the two children I had left behind.

Because Joinville was not a professional historian, his work is free of the ornament and affectation that a more educated writer might feel obliged to display. This gives his work a freshness and warmth that no other medieval work can approach, with the possible exception of the letters of Abelard and Heloise.

Louis died in 1270 on the Eighth Crusade in Tunis. After his death, papal officials made an inquest into his life and works, and he was canonized in 1297. Joinville wrote his history in 1309, at the advanced age of eighty-five; yet time had neither dimmed his memory nor obscured his judgment. We feel the living, breathing presence of real characters here, not the wooden caricatures of musty chronicles.

When Louis’s body was prepared for burial, it was discovered that his back was scarred by flagellations, performed in secret by himself as acts of ritual penitence. His faithful servant, Joinville, eventually built for him an altar “to the honor of God and in his own honor, and there masses shall be sung in reverent memory of him forever.” He remains for many the most just and wise of all of France’s medieval kings.

No more saintly hands ever grasped a scepter, or graced a throne.

Read More: How To Forgive Your Family

60 thoughts on “The Timeless Wisdom Of Louis IX”

  1. “Progress” is a funny thing when we can look hundreds of years into history and see people in some ways more advanced than ourselves. What arrogance to think our progress makes us better and completely wiser.

    1. Fr. Robert Barron once remarked that Western progress had been almost entirely material. In matters of the human spirit – art, music, literature, morals, religion – Western man has regressed to an embarrassingly puerile state, and the men of any other age, almost, would be ashamed to own us as their descendants. What good is an iphone, a computer, a jet engine, if the man using it is an hollow man?

        1. How could I not? You wrote it, you speak of just governance and virtue, and of a saint of the Church. It’s always a good morning, if I get to read such an article of yours with a bit of coffee.

        2. Thank you, brother. I have not had such a moving experience in a long time, as I had after reading Joinville. Highly recommended. What ruler today would debate theology and moral philosophy with his ministers?
          The book has an innocence and emotive power that is hard to describe. You really get the sense that the Age of Faith had a depth and security that our technological age, for all its achievements, can’t really match.
          I really wonder sometimes.

        3. I know just what you mean. The idea of Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel sitting around a table and genuinely discussing virtue and their moral duty? Being prepared to die, rather than dishonor themselves? It is to laugh! For modern man, there is nothing true, there is only what is expedient. It is sometimes expedient to appear to care about morals, and it is also expedient for morals, therefore, to be flexible and undemanding. World leaders have photo-ops where they utter the expected platitudes and then proceed to lead completely venal, self-serving lives (often at the expense of the rights, aspirations and even bank accounts of other men).
          For men in a sane society, truth trumps expediency (even if all men falter from time to time). I forget which of the English Martyrs it was, but after he was hauled before the Queen’s minister for the crime of being a Catholic priest, he was told that since there was no hard evidence of his priesthood, a simple “not guilty” plea would procure his instant release. He replied that this might scandalize some of the Catholics to whom he ministered, so he entered a guilty plea and was marched to Tyburn. He was hung, drawn and quartered. Actually, he deserves to have his name remembered, so I will look it up…
          St. John Southworth.
          That is what it looks like when a man loves truth more than expedience; it would have been so easy to enter the “not guilty” plea, and justify it to one’s self and to his fellows – they would have understood; surely saving one’s own neck is a natural impulse. But Truth, honor, death rather than Mortal Sin, these were more important to him.
          In contrast to St. John Southworth, here are our brave, world leaders, marching “with the people” in Paris for Charlie Hebdo. Yes, that’s them, safely sequestered on a blockaded side street, formed in a “v” so that they appear to be part of a large crowd for the cameras on the ground. Kings of old rode into battle with their men; our rulers can’t walk down the street with us! The very people who created the problem, can barely be bothered even to pretend to care about it. But how expedient it is for them, to look like they care about it!
          May St. Louis and St. John Southwell, and all the saintly monarchs and nobles pray for us, that our generation may deserve to be ruled by their class of men. And in order to do our part in deserving this, let us read of their deeds and words, and try to imitate them as far as we can. As a recent convert to Catholicism, there are still many Western saints and writings from after the year 1054, of which I have yet to learn. This is the second time I’ve heard you speak of Joinville, so I think I’ll have to read him. Is there an edition you recommend?

        4. Men who value truth enough to suffer pain and death deserve our praise and respect. To seek truth is to aquire many enemies, who may try to halt the spread of truth.

        1. I would value medicine as useful for decreasing the fatalities from illness, and improving the overall life expectancy in a country.

        2. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
          – Mathew 16:26
          Technology too often seems to provide us with gizmos. Opposite that, technology has also advanced medicine; eased human suffering; increased the production of food and made for better shelter. It is in abundance that we become materialistic.

        3. I once read those words daubed on the wall of a prison cell. It was in Fort George in Grenada, shortly after the US invasion, not far from the torture chamber used by the regime’s secret police.

      1. I’m surprised you spoke good of Father Barron, Cui. Barron is one of the most liberal priests I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing-and he talks about hell as if it is an empty place, and that there is a chance that all human beings can be saved.
        Labeling Francis as the Obama of the also Church but then using the wisdom of one of its priests is a tad ironic, don’t you think?

        1. Not really, no. I cite him here, because I once heard an interview with him where he talked about Aristotle’s four causes, and how our age has made rapid progress in examining the material, formal and efficient causes of things, while it has regressed to disavow all knowledge (and even interest) in the final cause of things. I thought that, on this point, he was spot-on.
          You have to understand about me, that I am a recent convert to the Catholic Faith. I am a monk, tonsured in the Orthodox Church but now received into the Catholic Church, with years of Patristics and Church history behind me; I was converted by reading the Greek Fathers and the Greek and Latin recensions of the Ecumenical Synods, and by a study of the Council of Florence – so, I was not an uninformed or uneducated convert. But, while I knew there were problems in modern Catholicism, it took me a while to catch on to the full extent of the crisis. While I was being slow on the uptake, I occasionally listened to Fr. Robert Barron – and watched him get progressively more “speculative.” I finally quit listening to him when I heard his lecture on the interpretation of Vatican II. The Neocatholics always feel like they need to find something nice to say about it.
          Still, I would not say that he is one of the most liberal priests, but that, by the standards of the “conciliar” church, he is (sadly) one of the more conservative – center-right, which is an odd enough duck these days. Yes, I’ve heard him resort to some of the more capitulating “explaining-aways” of hard truths. But I’ve also heard him stick to his guns on some hard truths. He is that strange mix of liberal heresies and traditional affirmations, that defines so many of the Neocatholics. To some extent, I cut them some slack, realizing that these are souls who want to be faithful to the Church, but have not yet seen the “alternative magisterium” for what it is. May our Lord have mercy on them, and us. Probably Fr. Barron is a better man than I am, and is trying to stay honest, even if I do think he is wrong on many points.

        2. A lot of the stuff Liberals attach to Vatican II is complete horse dung. Watch the videos about Vatican II on either the Churchmilitant.TV or RealCatholic.TV channels on Youtube. They were not the liberalizing councils people pretend them to be outside of the West. In places like Philippines, for example, I was still exposed to a rather traditional Catholic culture. We even had an aunt who combed books from cover to cover, perusing it for anything that might contradict the Faith. All Vatican II did was weaken the ultramontanist party within the Church, which, quite frankly, was all talk and no show.
          The ultramontanists claim that Catholicism in the 1800’s was strong and proud, yet studying the history of the Church during that time, never had I seen a greater avalanche of disappointments. Latin America’s Catholics, instead of uniting and providing a counterbalance to the growing power of Protestant America and Modernist Britain, instead lapsed into self-aggrandizing and divisive politics, served with an additional platter of warfare. Spanish Catholics became lax and apathetic, French Catholics stood aside while the government continued to weaken the Church’s rights, Austria’s Emperor continued to bicker with the Pope and the Italians instead of working to build a united front and unite Germany under Catholicism, while instead trying to claim lands in Italy they had no right to. German Catholics worked lock-stock-and barrel for the Lutheran Prussians, and the Italian Catholics had no problems robbing the Pope of his political freedom; they even built a huge palace for the new King of Italy right next to the Vatican as an insult to the Pope.
          And the Popes of those days ranged from political idiots to complete authoritarians, claiming infallibility in a way that reeks of self-aggrandizement. They are correct in claiming that the Pope’s preaching on spiritual affairs is supreme, but Pope Pius IX claimed infallibility in such a way that convinced non-Catholic rulers like Bismarck and the Tzar that the Catholics are ruled by a complete lunatic. In fact, Pius IX himself helped fan the revolutions of the 1840’s when he threatened to excommunicate the Austrian Emperor for bringing troops near Italy, but then he doesn’t ride the wave when the Italians ask him to join in a war to free Venice from Austrian domination.
          His successor, Pope Leo XIII, had beautiful insights on how the battle between Capitalism and Communism is a phantom war, but yet refused to intervene on behalf of Alfred Dreyfus, showing the Catholic Church to be arrogantly bigoted towards outsiders even when the proof was clear that Dreyfus was set up. The religious leaders at the time were almost socially blind: they complained about women being forced to work, while not even looking at the cause as to why: industrial families had such poor wages that women had no choice but to work. Religious leaders complained about women wearing pants to work, but then forgot the reason why they did: wearing a dress in a factory often gets you killed when it gets stuck in a machine.
          The dreary conditions of industrial workers would have been something a Pope with extreme awareness would’ve tackled, but aside from Rerum Novarum, the Popes and their brother bishops did little to denounce the sordid conditions industrial workers were stuck in, which meant that these suffering folk turned to Communism and Anarchism, or in Germany’s case, towards Bismarck’s government, because these were the movements that offered a reprieve from such horrid treatment. The Socialists promised vengeance, while Bismarck’s government promised welfare. Hence why people during those days began to think of themselves less as Catholics, and more as Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen, Austrians, etc., because later governments reformed and provided welfare, while the Church was too busy preaching about hating free speech and not associating with nonbelievers. Hence why when World War I erupted, the Catholics ignored the Pope again, this time, during the time when he was actually right: the people of Europe were committing cultural suicide. But the Catholics of that time were so used to the Pope and the Churches making extreme statements of power that they ignored the Church, and went on their way massacring each other, for the Kaiser, for the Republic, or for the English Crown.
          The way I see it, aside from English Catholics like John Henry Newman and GK Chesterton, and American Catholics like James Gibbons, the Church became more obsessed with prudishness and arrogance, instead of logical debate and engaging with those outside the Church, something which the Renaissance and Medieval Catholics, who were no stranger to setting Popes and bishops straight when they erred, would’ve laughed at them for.
          While Medieval and Renaissance Catholics openly tolerated and even cohabitated with nonbelievers, exchanging religious debate with Jews and Protestants, but in most times, living in peace, ultramontanists don’t even see nonbelievers as equal to them in terms of being human. They rejected the notion of free speech, and put forth the notion that religious leaders like the Pope are to be obeyed without question, something which even the Medievals would’ve found surprisingly tyrannical, given that the Renaissance and Medieval crowd had no problems setting the Pope right when he over-extended his influence. It was almost just as bad as with the Russian Church, where they stressed unerring obedience to the Churchmen and to the Czar, because disobeying them was disobeying God-even when the Russian Empire was mired in a losing war it was never going to win.
          Hence the necessity of Vatican II: a Council that relaxed the extreme attitudes of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century crowd and opened up the Church back to the same logical ground that it was in the years before ultramontanism became a fad. Yes, there are those who abused it. Yes, there are feminist and leftist infiltrators in the Church. But the Church always had Judases amongst her midst, and as I have proven, the 1800s Catholics and early 1900s Catholics were no different: the 1800’s Catholics had no compunction about weakening the Church, especially since its leaders did little to help the working classes abused by the industrial monopolizers, while 1900s Catholics would rather die for the State than for the Church, even when the Church tries to tell them not to. To me, the abuses of the Vatican II crowd are pathetically weak compared to the abuses of the previous centuries. The ultramontanist crowd was authoritarian and arrogant to the extreme-it would only follow that a natural blowback would occur. Now the pendulum is swinging back to the ultramontanist side, and I hope they make good use of their coming years of power once Francis is gone. If they don’t, we’ll just see-saw the other way, and this whole tragedy, which has plagued the Church since Protestantism and the French Revolution will continue to haunt us all.
          None of this, of course, changes anything about Church Dogma: they’re all still true, but the way we use these truths in our lives is what matters to every Catholic. We used to have a golden age, with the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Jesuits bringing the Faith to thousands in Asia and millions in America. But those who would either use the faith to completely dominate the minds, lives, and free wills of other Catholics, or use them for political gain like the modern leftists, are some of the most horrendous enemies of the faith, even just as bad as the French Revolutionaries or the Communists, because unlike those two, these enemies rot the Church from inside. An enemy at the gates, we can deal with rather well. An enemy inside the gates is what we should be on the lookout for, whether they be neo-con, ultramontanist, or leftist-socialist.

      2. You might be interested to know that that is almost exactly what was said by Sayyid Qutb about American culture. Yes, the man himself, who pretty much created the ideology behind the Muslim Brotherhood.
        He concluded that the USA has a culture that directs almost the entire intellectual capacity of its populace at the creation of material prosperity. Making the USA best in the world at that, but worst at everything else. And he concluded this already in the 50s, a time which many of the more societally inclined Manospherians regard as the high point of Western civilization.

  2. Be mindful of your words.
    Just like what his descendant Louis XIV (as different as he was), wrote in his own memoirs. The most timeless of all truths.

    1. Louis XIV was a Bourbon. Louis IX was Capetian. The family lines may exist between the two dynasties, but they’re very thin.

  3. He also expelled the Jews from France. His examples was later followed in England and Spain. Jews were literally forced into money lending due to limitations on permitted professions, and legislation against Jews owning land.
    He is indirectly responsible for the money corruption we see today.

    1. LOL Jews were forced into money-lending.
      Money-lending has been taboo for Christians since the time of Christ. Because of this Jews have for centuries been the assimilated-foreign tribe among Christians who will do the money-lending for them. This situation had peaks and troughs. Today is a peak–the Jew is obscenely over-represented in world banking.
      Jews are a traveling tribe, for all European history living as either symbiotic partners or as parasites in European nations. The Talmud makes it clear that white (goy) people are inferior to Jews and Jews should have 0 problem taking financial advantage of whites.
      You’re welcome.

      1. I’m not a fan of the way they conduct their banking businesses but the role of these Europeans monarchs has to be acknowledged too. The jews special function was also the result of Christian rules against money lending.
        You only catch a parasite if you do x and y, if you know what I mean.

        1. Don’t charge interest to your own kind, loan at interest to outsiders.
          Deuteronomy 23:19-20:
          “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.”
          Proverbs 22:7:
          “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.”

        2. The way it works though… You lend your given-factual name to the treasury and they lend you back a fictional surname, which you then can use within the foreign realm of commercial banking.
          The whole birthright for a pot of porridge comes to mind.

  4. Excellent article, Quintus; I always look forward to reading yours, especially, when they will come out.
    While history is not devoid of the examples of bad kings, what I find remarkable, is that there are so many good, Catholic kings – even some saints – while there are so few excellent heads of humanist and/or Democratic states. Also, vice is endemic to man and no natin has ever been free of them, but no Christian/Western states have fallen into such vices and such spiritual and aesthetic mediocrity, as those ruled Democratically. Something about a Christian monarchy tends the flame of man’s spirit – there is a father at the head of the nation, who views it as a duty and a mark of pride, to see that his people receive good governance and provision, and prosper. And the nation has its morale, because even if the King is not a saint, what he stands for is noble and a mediocre king does less damage than a mediocre legislature/electorate. Western man is demoralized at present, in part because Democracy foments mediocrity and effeminization. It is hard for a man to feel pride, or investment, in such a society; excellence not only has no place to rise – it is often nipped in the bud.
    I very much value the wisdom in placing certain limitations upon state power – yes, even the royal power – and view this as a sane part of Catholic monarchies before the “Divine Right of Kings” came to be so (wrongly) emphasized during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Anglo-Saxon culture did a good job of maintaining this sense of checked power for a good while, even in their humanism, but now even the Anglophone nations, last of the great democracies, are showing the signs of their internal decay. So, while I reject the “Divine Right” of a King to rule absolutely – the law comes from God and the natural aim of government, including monarchy, is the right governance of the people (not the naked will of the king) – I hope to see a return to a balanced, Christian monarchy explicitly dedicated to upholding the Natural and Divine Laws. May God strike our hearts with contrition and penance, and make us fit again to form an healthy state governed by sound principles and saintly men.
    Three other, saintly monarchs: St. Ferdinand (King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon), St. Wenceslaus (Duke of Bohemia, posthumously granted the title of King by Emperor Otto I), and St. Stephen, first King of Hungary. There are many more, of course, but I’ve always liked these three.

    1. The Venetians did well as a Republic for rather long. And to say that these Kings ruled like Absolute Monarchs are rather exaggerated. Most of these kings left their lords, towns, villages, and cities a great berth and let them act as much as they wanted to within reason. Even strong kings like Philip IV the Fair had to buttress royal power by rallying support by EXTENDING the rights of the lower classes by giving them a voice in the Estates General.

      1. Absolutely; the Catholic tradition on kingship is far from Divine Right. This idea was thrown around during the Protestant Reformation, when “might makes right” seemed like the most convenient argument for proving why the whole nation should convert to whatever religion the king commanded. Sadly, many Catholic regents also pressed this concept into service for unworthy ends. But prior to this, Catholic kings had often been limited, and confessed the limits upon their power, which justice required. The Rite for the coronation of the English kings, written by St. Dunstan, reminded the king of his duties, and clearly viewed the monarchy as a contractual bond with the people, where the king who didn’t do his duty could hardly be considered a king at all.

        1. And let’s not forget the early Middle Ages, where Kings were elected by nobles to their posts of power, and their power only lasts as long as they protect the rights and privileges of those who voted them into power. From the Kings of Aragon and France to the Holy Roman Emperor, they all had to be voted in by the nobles who protected the lands. Later, when Kings tried to bypass the nobles, they tried to have a contract with the people instead, when kings like Saint Louis IX of France and Isabella & Ferdinand of Spain supported the townspeople in their battles with the nobility. The monarchy was a service; either to the nobles who elected the monarch, or the populace whom they supported against the nobles.

  5. Picked this up in a second hand bookstore some years ago but never got round to reading it.

  6. The ‘other’ Island in the Seine is the Ile De St. Louis in Paris. There is a large Church in his honor on the island about an 8 minute walk from Notre Dame de Paris. There are some excellent stained glass windows of St. Louis and his parents and its altars and side altars were largely unmolested after Vatican II (at least as of 2001) Although more people know of the Sun King, or Louis XVI for having lost his head – the greatest King France ever had was Louis IX.
    But one of the reasons he is not as well known now is that he committed the only sin left in the modern Churches – being anti Judaic. It is the same reason Pope Pius V, although he organized the fleet that destroyed the Ottoman navy at Lepanto – (that was the minor miracle – the big miracle was getting enough Europeans to fund and undertake the naval operation) – was that he too was anti-Judaic.

    1. Being anti-Judaic isn’t as much a sin as it used to be. A growing number of Palestinian Catholics and even Pope Francis’ cold reception of the Israeli Prime Minister shows that churches are reverting back to natural anti-semitism. The only Churches which will never desert the Jews are moderate Catholics and hardcore evangelicals.

      1. I’m sure there is a deeper game being played behind the scenes, but it is welcoming to hear someone not praising such a psychopath.

    2. “In his attitude toward the Jews, Louis (IX) differed from his predecessors and successors solely in that he placed the interests of the Church before his personal concerns and those of the kingdom in general. This was especially evident in the material assistance he granted to converts: expenses on their behalf often exceeded the income derived from the Jews of France. On other occasions, when this income could not be used for this purpose because the king considered that it was defiled by the sin of usury, he tried to restore the money to the victims of usury or their heirs.”

  7. Great article, if only France and Europe in general had leaders today with such principles.

  8. If Return of Kings is to mean something of substance, examples such as these must be part of the discourse.

  9. Louis was a fantastic ruler on domestic fronts, but boy was his crusade a complete failure. It didn’t have the success story of 1 or 6, and it didn’t have the brutal see-saw of 3. He also tried to ban prostitution, which naturally, blew up in his face. The women complained of too many courtiers and sexual pressure on them, so he had no choice but to restore it.

  10. Be mindful of your words.
    He also told me not to contradict or call into question anything said in my presence—unless silence would imply approval of something wrong, or damaging to myself, because harsh words often lead to quarreling, which has ended in the deaths of countless numbers of

    Charlie Hebdo would have done well to heed this advice.

    1. I believe that magazine knew perfectly well the effect its campaign was having, as it proves they are far from repentant (they have changed nothing of their editorial line). Had the magazine know its “words” would lead to the deaths of men, they would have not “minded their words” and would have kept on imperturbable on their purpose (and I believe their real purpose had nothing to do with “creating funny stories”, even if that is their official stance). Now, if this atttitude of them is bravery, foolhardy or evil (maybe a combination of the 3?), that is debatable.

      1. They should have drawn the appropriate conclusion from the earlier attack on their office….

    2. What you say is true in a limited sense, but it is a harsh world now, and harsh words flow freely as part of public discourse. Charlie Hebdo cannot be held to the standards of a 1000 year old saint/monarch, as even the wisdom of elders has its expiration date. Louis also would have had a very vicious attitude towards Muslims (quote 18). Though the merits of controversial satire in modern society are certainly debatable, it is nevertheless enshrined in the constitution. An agreed-upon evolution of the monarch era. Butthurt murder and terrorism belongs to a more savage era.

      1. This “saint’s” standards were pretty low. But any fool can follow the advice of watching what you say about homicidal maniacs. And let’s not forget that this saint was advocating stabbing people who disagreed with him about Christianity. If Hebdo was going to run his mouth he should have made sure he was armed.

        1. Now that seems like some modern common sense to me: unless it was a case of taking the higher moral ground and not wanting to meet violence with violence. But I wouldn’t take those sort of risks personally. Someone below asked were they brave, stupid or what, and you would have to wonder.

        2. KRS-One says the best way to stop the violence is to take a baseball bat to the head of anyone who’s violent. Shortly afterwards the violence will stop.

    3. No Englishbob. What he is saying is simply to be tactful, in human to human communication. I dont think his comment would apply to satirical magazines. There was plenty of satire in medieval France. For example the court Jester could make all kinds of jokes about the King (even insult him), and he wouldnt be killed for this.
      I think the point is that…In a discussion/communication, do not try to contradict someone even if he is dead wrong, because the damage to the person’s self-esteem (and potential reaction) would be more stupid than just shutting up and having a good result (no pain on each side).

  11. “Do not allow quarrels and disputes to fester.” If Louis IX was the ruler of France today, he would not have allowed a magazine to insult a quarrelsome minority in his kingdom over and over. He would have tried to make peace between the radical magazine and the offended minority to prevent the escalation.

    1. Muslims are too easily offended. Charlie Hebdo routinely mocks everyone in French society and most people take it for what it is: harmless and irrelevant.
      Muslims need to accept that they live in a secular society or if they don’t like it, they can leave. The door is over there.

      1. Oh, the door over there? Well, too bad. They dont seem to be leaving, even thought you are showing them the door politely. So allow quarrels and disputes to fester instead, huh?

    2. How do you know that? The likelihood is that he would have annihilated the moors in his kingdom. He was captured in Egypt during the 7th crusade, after all.

      1. Because you have to apply the wisdom of old times to new times with common sense. While back in the day, the ruler of France going in a crusade was nothing unusual, in today times it doesnt seem like that would be wise. Indeed, the context is different now and if Louis IX lived today, you can be sure he would not do a lot of things that made perfect sense in his original times. But things like “Do not allow quarrels and disputes to fester” sounds like a perfectly fine advice for today’s rulers.

        1. I agree that not allowing quarrels and disputes to fester is an ideal state, but here is where it becomes interesting (IMO): applying the wisdom of old times to new times just doesn’t seem to work. Take a phrase from Christianity ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’… almost everyone worldwide knows that phrase and concept. But it is only a tiny minority that can actually apply it. I could pick a load of other ancient quotes that people know, but when it comes down to it, they just can’t live up to them.
          None of the historic religious societies seem to be able to follow the true essence of their tenets, so we see all the quarrels fester, and see all sorts of bad behaviour. It also may not always be reasonable to expect today’s rulers to abide by certain codes of behaviours (even though they have lots of responsibilities) when the people they serve in society are often degenerate trash. We’re all in the cess pit together, and there are few mouths that butter wouldn’t melt in [though there may well be some extremely sociopathic rulers pulling the strings unknown to us].
          The human mind and society has become so complex (with smartphones, big&small screen entertainment, music, pornography, reliance upon technology, etc, etc) that it seems that people really struggle to know right from wrong anymore. Many saints, prophets and gods have stated that there’s an expiration date on what they taught. It could be argued that even Louis wasn’t truly following Christianity 800 years ago, as he was engaging in Crusades. So it seems that things continually decline, and even were in ‘the good ol’ days’. Then again, as a monarch and ruler, Louis also had the responsibility to protect his nation, which would have involved engaging in wars, and he may have been following heaven’s will.
          Sense doesn’t even seem to be common nowadays, but hopefully people can remember that ‘what goes around comes around’ – the schoolyard wisdom that still seems to be the best I’ve ever heard. I’ve definitely paid in roundabout ways for my bad behaviour.

  12. Thank you, Quintus!
    Your articles keep me coming back to ROK. You have helped me a lot through your articles and book. The life of a jacked, plate spinner, millionaire playboy never seemed to me as good as portrayed. You showed me other kind of men. Real men. Men that strived for Virtue and for Truth.
    Changed the way I view many things. Changed many of my plans for the future. Hope someday, help me God, I can join the ranks of men like the ones you write about.

  13. This reminded me of Marcus Aurelius’s book.
    I liked the idea of giving and it’s redemptive power. People now talk about that in the laws of attraction.

  14. Saint Louis’ points are very insightful. Moderation and humility are not in vogue in today’s society, which is a shame. Upon further review, Louis’ words were a revision of Christ’s words and the beatitudes.

  15. “Take care to have around you people, whether clerics or laymen, who are
    wise, upright, and loyal, and free from covetousness. Talk with them
    often, but shun and fly from association with the wicked.”
    *free from covetousness”
    This would preclude fornicators, adulterers, the effeminate (aka those who masturbate), those who practice “game”, viewers of pornography, etc.
    “shun and fly from association with the wicked”
    It is wonderful to look upon men like King St Louis as an inspiration, but I pray that this will lead men to conversion, repentance and the practice of the Catholic faith. There are several aspects of the man-o-sphere that are incompatible with that faith or Louis IX.

  16. Truly he represents the quintessential “Christian French Monarch”, this is how he is viewed in France. To me, he represents well this medieval French people who at this time were very very pious, to levels most modern people cannot comprehend. These are people who believed in a literal hell, feared and respected God, which made them do completely irrational acts such as selling their entire property and wealth, to go on errands like the crusades, with no tangible prospect of ROE (return on investment). Or wash lepers’ feet, not have much sex outside marriage, etc.
    To most modern people, Louis IX was a Christian fool.
    But at the same time…You cant help but admire the fact that he was obviously 100% certain of himself and the path he was on (the Path of Christ). And an incredible asceticism and self discipline.
    This unshakeable faith in life, which is absent in atheism, is always so impressive for us modern Western non-believers.
    Even amongst modern Christians, its often not there, at least not in the medieval sense of the term.
    Make no mistake: Faith is the key to Louis IX’s character and virtues.
    Without this faith, you cannot be such a man.
    As such I think its a mistake to put down his crusading and his views on blasphemers. They are logical with his personality. He could not think any other way, nor would someone who had this kind of faith.

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