Louis VII of France

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Louis VII (called the Younger or the Young) (French: Louis le Jeune) (1120 – 18 September 1180) was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI (hence his nickname). He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was part of the genetic ascendancy of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles (in particular with the Angevin family), and saw the beginning of the long feud between France and England. It also saw the beginning of construction on Notre-Dame de Paris, the founding of the University of Paris and the disastrous Second Crusade.

Contents

Early life

Louis VII was born in 1120, the second son of Louis VI of France and Adelaide of Maurienne. As a younger son, Louis VII had been raised to follow the ecclesiastical path. He unexpectedly became the heir to the throne of France after the accidental death of his older brother, Philip, in 1131. A well-learned and exceptionally devout man, Louis VII was better suited for life as a priest than as a monarch.

In his youth, he spent much time in Saint-Denis, where he built a friendship with the Abbot Suger which was to serve him well in his early years as king.

Early reign

In the same year he was crowned King of France, Louis VII was married on 25 July 1137 to Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, heiress of William X of Aquitaine. The pairing of the monkish Louis VII and the high-spirited Eleanor was doomed to failure; she once reportedly declared that she had thought to marry a King, only to find she'd married a monk. They had only two daughters, Marie and Alix.

In the first part of Louis VII's reign he was vigorous and jealous of his prerogatives, but after his Crusade his piety limited his ability to become an effective statesman. His accession was marked by no disturbances, save the uprisings of the burgesses of Orléans and of Poitiers, who wished to organize communes. But soon he came into violent conflict with Pope Innocent II. The archbishopric of Bourges became vacant, and the King supported as candidate the chancellor Cadurc, against the Pope's nominee Pierre de la Chatre, swearing upon relics that so long as he lived Pierre should never enter Bourges. This brought the interdict upon the King's lands.

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