Louis XII of France

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Louis XII (27 June 1462 – 1 January 1515), called "the Father of the People" (French: Le Père du Peuple), was king of France and the sole monarch from the Valois-Orléans branch of the House of Valois. He reigned from 1498 to 1515 and pursued a very active foreign policy.


Early life

Louis was born on 27 June 1462, in the Château de Blois, Blois, Touraine (in the contemporary Loir-et-Cher département). The son of Charles, duc d'Orléans and Marie of Cleves, he succeeded his father as Duke of Orléans in the year 1465.

In the 1480s Louis was involved in the so-called Mad War against royal authority. Allied with Francis II, Duke of Brittany he confronted the royal army at the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, but was comprehensively defeated and captured. Pardoned three years later, Louis joined his cousin King Charles VIII, in campaigns in Italy.

All four of Charles VIII's children died in infancy. The French interpretation of the Salic Law permitted claims to the French throne only by male agnatic descendants of French kings. This made Louis, the great-grandson of King Charles V, the most senior claimant as heir of Charles VIII. Louis thus succeeded to the throne on the king's death.

Domestic and foreign policies

Although he came late (and unexpectedly) to power, Louis acted with vigour, reforming the French legal system, reducing taxes and improving government, much like his contemporary Henry VII did in England. He was also skilled in managing his nobility, including the powerful Bourbon faction, which greatly contributed to the stability of French government. In the Ordinance of Blois of 1499 and the Ordinance of Lyon of 1510, he extended the powers of royal judges and made efforts to curb corruption in the law. Highly complex French customary law was to be codified and ratified by royal proclamation.

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