When Louis VIII (great-grandson of Louis VI) died
in 1226, royal lands included a well-disciplined and
well-administered royal principality, together with
the duchy of Normandy, the counties of Maine and
Anjou and most of Poitou.
 The king’s suzerainty – what was the king’s
 The king and the French church
 Consolidation of power
Reminder of historical debate . . . Was the Capetian
revival an inevitable development?
See maps pages 163, 175 & 352 of text book
The early Capetian monarchs (Hugh Capet and his
descendants) laid the foundations of ‘theoretical’
power of the later Capetian kings (Louis VI, Louis
VII, Philip II ‘ Augustus’ & Louis VIII).
Also….. See notes for Louis VI and the revival of
Capetian power in the 12th century….
Chroniclers descriptions
 Stephen of Paris described Louis VII as
«pious» and «a man of religion whose faith
shone out from him»
 Odo of Deuil said of Louis « A just man with
simple tastes but with a high view of
 Walter Map (English writer) « a lover of
justice» (Compare to Henry I of England,
described as a «lion of justice»)
Historians less enthusiastic than Louis’
«a colourless nonentity». . .
Key advisors - under the heavy influence first
of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Abbot Suger of Saint
Denis and then Bernard of Clairvaux
Committed a dangerous political error in
allowing the formation of hte Angevin Empire.
Pacaut and Sassier
Louis VII was respected for his upright
character and piety
He became more resolute in the second part of
his reign . . . a time when he successfully
consolidated his domain (demesne)
Louis was the second son of Louis VI. What
made him heir to the throne?
Why is this potentially significant?
Weaknesses as a ruler?
Easily influenced and capable of both deeds of
impetuous rashness and of periods of lassitude
and indecisive activity (EVIDENCE)
Civil War in England . . .
Domestic hostilities between Stephen and
Geoffrey the Fair of Anjou and his wife the
Empress Matilda (daughter of Henry I of
England and mother of Henry II) over the title
to the kingdom of England and duchy of
Normandy made Louis in a strong position at
the time.
Marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, heiress to the
duchy in 1137.
Quickening of in the economic life became
widespread in the second half of the 11th century and
the whole of the 12th century.
Coinage was circulating widely in much of France.
Urban communities were becoming increasingly
important in the 12th century.
Trade in salt and wine was increasing and the
marchands de l’eau did well under royal protection.
From 1180 (reign of Philip II ‘Augustus’) the growth of
Paris could be demonstrated by paved streets, a larger
area surrounded by newly built walls (1189-90), the
construction of the Louvre castle and the emergence of
the university of Paris from the schools.(See details in
Monarchies booklet)
1138 Poitou Rebellion
Theobald of Blois-Champagne refused to give
Louis VII aid to crush the rebellion – mounting
hostility between them
Rift widened by marital problems of Raoul*,
count of Vermandois, Louis’ seneschal.
1142-3 - parts of Champagne burned and
ravaged with extreme ferocity (William of
Culminated in the burning of the church at
Virty, with 1,500 people caught in the flames.
Whilst disputes with Theobald continued with
Bernard of Clairvaux and Suger acting as
peace-makers Geoffrey the Fair had overrun
Louis negotiated with Geoffrey – how?
Louis moved away from Eleanor of Aquitaine’s
influence and came under that of Bernard of
Clairvaux and Abbot Suger
Historial debate – historians (Pacaut and
Sassier) saw the break as coming after Louis’
crusade – an attempt by the king to regain his
lost reputation after the burning of Vitry.
Petit-Dutaillis has suggested the burning of
Vitry was a shock which transformed the king.
Regain his reputation after the burning at Vitry
Zeal for the Christian faith (Odo of Deuil) and
longing to save the Holy Places
Political humiliations at home needed
redeeming (Louis VII was the first king
invovled directly in a crusade)
Western army needed to relieve the kingdom
of Jerusalem. 1144 fall of Edessa. Melisende,
queen regent of Jerusalem, wrote to Pope
Eugenius III asking for help.
Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second
Crusade with dramatic success.
The Emperor Conrad II joined the western
Abbot Suger
 Louis’ brother, Robert of Dreux, had returned
from the East and was plotting with a group of
dissident nobles to take over the throne.
 Suger called an assembly of the French nobility
1149 (Soissons) and reminded them of their
duty to the absent king.
 Threat of rebellion died down.
Costs of the crusade
Easter 1149 Suger called on Louis to return to
1151 – Suger retired to Saint-Denis and died
Suger had been a valued administrator and
loyal counsellor to Louis VII (and to Louis VI).
Build-up of Angevin power in Normandy –
why was this a problem?
What did Louis do?
Put forward Eustace, Stephen’s son against
Henry (son of Geoffrey the Fair and Matilda)
who had been given the duchy of Normandy,
and waged war.
1151 peace was made with Geoffrey and
Henry. Louis gained the Norman Vexin
including Gisors.
Rift between Louis VII and his wife Eleanor of
1152 the council of Beaugency declared the
marriage null and void on grounds of
A few months later Henry Plantagenet (now
count of Anjou on death of his father Geoffrey
the Fair in 1151) married Eleanor.
When Henry became king of England he was
also the greatest landholder in France. His
lands overshadowed those of his suzerain the
French king – eclipsed him.
Henry paid homage to Louis for his French
lands in 1156. Why?
Capetians must have felt the Plantegenet threat
Did Henry have designs on the French crown?
Louis (until the birth of Philip in 1165) had no
male heirs…. Why was this a problem?
Henry carried out acts of homage to Louis VII
and Philip for Normandy in 1169 and 1183.
Most of them were performed on the borders.
What was the function of such homage?
Who gained from these acts of homage?
Henry’s sons and their homage to the Capetians:
 Henry the Young king in 1160
 Richard in 1188 and 1189
 Arthur of Brittany in 1199
 John in 1200
Why were these acts of homage (collectively)
How and why did Henry’s sons use these acts of
How did they help the Capetians in the revival of
royal power vis-a-vis the Angevin Empire?
First phase – effective in military terms
After the accession of Henry II to the throne of
England (with his vast dominions in France)
War and negotiation - why negotiation?
Influence of the Cistercians (order of monks)
and other ecclesiastics
The Capetians were known as «most Christian
Late 1150s Plantegent power continued to
expand – Louis at his weakest
Death of Henry’s brother Geoffrey (Lord of
Nantes). Henry claimed overlordship of
Brittany and overran it. Louis put up no
1159 Henry tried to take Toulouse – Louis took
firm action….
Betrothal of Henry’s son and heir, the young
Henry to Louis’s daughter Margaret
1162 Henry celebrated the marriage of the young
couple and seized the Norman Vexin, Margaret’s
dowry, for himself.
Resulted in open rupture with Louis
1160s Louis began to build up supporters against his
rival, Henry II of England
Marriage to Adela of Champagne – a male heir
Alliance of Louis with Henry of count of Champagne
Dukes of Burgundy favourably inclined towards Louis
Louis also had a following of nobles in the Languedoc.
Gradual acknowledgement of king’s role as
suzerain – obligations
Military service (more common in later 11th
century and continued revival in 12th)
Leading lay and ecclesiastical magnates began
to sit with the king and make judgements as
peers of the realm.
The princes began to attend royal councils
more frequently during 12th century (numbers
were limited) 1111, 1124 (military
gathering)1128 1130 (under Louis VI).
1146 major council (under Louis VII)
Princes and great nobles appeared far more frequently at
1152 at Beaugency when Louis VII divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine
1155 at Soissons
1173 at Paris
1178 at Reims for the coronation of the young Philip Augustus
Princes who attended and endorsed royal decisions were
described in royal charters as ‘barones’
Royal counsellors drawn from the nobility rather than
the royal household began to appear (compare to
developments in English government under Henry I)
1159 Papal Schism
1164 – ecclesiastical refugee in France – Archbishop
Thomas Becket of England
Louis VII an ally of the church – his opposition to
Henry II was given a moral dimension
1170 murder of Becket Henry blamed by all Christendom
Louis gained great general approval (he had protected the
1170-1180 - Last decade of Louis VII’s reign – much
strengthened moral position
Louis’ opposition to Henry and his sons became more
effective, even though the royal principality was
overshadowed by the Planteganet lands.
What was Louis’ role in the rebellion of
the Young king and his brothers in 11734?
Did Louis campaign against Henry?
1174 – Peace – what was Louis’s role
after Henry’s victory in 1174?
More peaceful
1179 – great assembly of lay and ecclesiastical
magnates in Paris – his son Philip was elected,
anointed and crowned as his successor.
1180 - Louis VII, the old king, died having just
managed to control Angevin power.
Duchy of Normandy, development and relations
with, and effects on, France.
Rivalries – dukes of Normandy as kings of England
and the kings of France.
French royal power under the Capetian dynasty:
Louis VI (1108-37); Louis VII (1137-80) and Philip II
‘Augustus’ (1180-1223).
Comparison of royal government: England and France.
‘Assess the successes and failures of Louis VII, King
of France, from 1137-1180 (Nov 2011).’

Louis VII - IB DP History Medieval Option