Thursday, 5 January 2017

French King, Louis X

Louis X (4 October 1289 – 5 June 1316), called the Quarreler, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn (French: le Hutin), was a monarch of the House of Capet who ruled as King of Navarre (as Louis I Basque: Luis I.a Nafarroakoa) and Count of Champagne from 1305 and as King of France from 1314 until his death. Louis was the eldest son of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. His short reign as king of France was marked by the hostility of the nobility against fiscal and centralization reforms initiated by Enguerrand de Marigny, the Grand Chamberlain of France, under the reign of his father. Louis' uncle—Charles of Valois, leader of the feudalist party—managed to convince the king to execute Enguerrand de Marigny.
Louis X being crowned with his second wife, Clementia of Hungary

Louis allowed serfs to buy their freedom (which was the first step towards the abolition of serfdom), abolished slavery, and readmitted French Jews into the kingdom. In 1305, Louis had married Margaret of Burgundy, with whom he had Joan II of Navarre. Margaret was later convicted of adultery and died in prison, possibly murdered by strangulation. In 1315, Louis married Clementia of Hungary, who gave birth to John I of France a few months after the king's death. John's untimely death led to a disputed succession.

In practical terms, Louis X effectively abolished slavery within the Kingdom of France in 1315. Louis continued to require revenues, however, and alighted on a reform of French serfdom as a way of achieving this. Arguing that all men are born free, Louis declared in 1315 that French serfs would therefore be freed, although each serf would have to purchase his freedom. A body of commissioners was established to undertake the reform, establishing the peculium, or value, of each serf. For serfs owned directly by the King, all of the peculium would be received by the Crown – for serfs owned by subjects of the King, the amount would be divided between the Crown and the owner.

In the event, not all serfs were prepared to pay in this fashion and in due course Louis declared that the goods of these serfs would be seized anyway, with the proceeds going to pay for the war in Flanders. Louis was also responsible for a key shift in policy towards the Jews. In 1306, his father, Philip IV, had expelled the Jewish minority from across France, a "shattering" event for most of these communities. Louis began to reconsider this policy, motivated by the additional revenues that might be forthcoming to the Crown if the Jews were allowed to return. Accordingly, Louis issued a charter in 1315, readmitting the Jews subject to various conditions.

The Jews would only be admitted back into France for twelve years, after which the agreement might be terminated; Jews were to wear an armband at all times; Jews could only live in those areas where there had been Jewish communities previously; Jews were initially to be forbidden from usury. This was the first time that French Jews had been covered by such a charter, and Louis was careful to justify his decision with reference to the policies of his ancestor Saint Louis IX, the position of Pope Clement V and an argument that the people of France had demanded a return of the Jews. The result was a much weakened Jewish community that depended directly upon the King for their right of abode and protection.
Louis X receiving a diploma from the Jews, whom he readmitted to France under strict terms. 

Louis was a keen player of jeu de paume, or real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis out of doors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris "around the end of the 13th century."

In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe. In June 1316 at Vincennes, following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning. Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis is history's first tennis player known by name. He and his second wife Clementia are interred in Saint Denis Basilica.

Louis' second wife Clementia was pregnant at the time of his death, leaving the succession in doubt. A son would have primacy over Louis' daughter, Joan. A daughter, however, would have a weaker claim to the throne, and would need to compete with Joan's own claims – although suspicions hung over Joan's parentage following the scandal in 1314. As a result, Louis' brother Philip was appointed regent for the five months remaining until the birth of his brother's child. The baby, who turned out to be male, lived only five days, until 20 November 1316—an extremely short reign for Louis's posthumous son, John I. Louis' brother Philip then succeeded in pressing his claims to the crowns of France and Navarre.

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