1902 Encyclopedia > Louis VII of France

Louis VII
(commonly known as: Louis the Younger)

King of France

LOUIS VII., Le Jeune and Le Pieux, son of Louis VI., was born in 1120, and was associated with his father on the death of his elder brother Philip in 1131, being crowned at Bheims on October 25 by Pope Innocent II. He succeeded to the undivided sovereignty in 1137, the news of his father's death reaching him as he was engaged at Poitiers in the festivities connected with his unlucky marriage to Eleanor of Aquitania. In 1141 he made an unsuccessful attempt to assert his rights as duke of Aquitania over the countship of Toulouse, and in 1142 he fell into a vehement quarrel with Pope Innocent II., who had presumed too much on the piety of the well brought-up young prince by appointing a nephew of his own to the archbishopric of Bourges. In the course of the contest Louis, who had been excommunicated, pursued the new archbishop into the territory of the count of Champagne, and stormed Vitry, in the sack of which the cathedral was burned, causing the death of three hundred persons who had taken refuge within its walls (1143). Louis, horror-struck, made peace with the pope and his secular adversary, but found that nothing less than a pilgrimage to the Holy Land would suffice to expiate his offence. The capture of Edessa and the massacre of the Christians in 1144 led to the preaching of the second crusade by St Bernard, and in 1147 the king, leaving the regency in the hands of the Abbe Suger and Raoul, count of Vermandois, set out for the East, accompanied by his queen, a large company of nobles, and twenty-four thousand men. The disastrous results of the expedition, personal, domestic, and public, have already been recorded in the article FRANCE (vol. ix. p. 540), where also his long struggle with Henry II. of England, which terminated only in 1178, is briefly described.. In 1178 he made a pilgrimage to the tomb of St Thomas of Canterbury on behalf of his eldest son Philip Augustus, then dangerously ill, and in the following year he associated him with himself in the sovereignty. Louis died on September 18, 1180.

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