King Of France Louis IX.and a saint of the Roman Catholic church, born at Poissy, April 25, 1215, died near Tunis, Africa, Aug. 25, 1270. He was the son of Louis VIII. and his queen Blanche of Castile. His mother was distinguished alike for virtue, intellect, and energy; and on the death of her husband in 1226, when her son was 11 years old, she assumed the regency of the kingdom, and, in spite of the most formidable opposition on the part of the great nobles, governed France with vigor and prudence, and educated her son in the strictest principles of Christian piety. Louis, at the age of 19, was married for political reasons to Marguerite, daughter of Raymond Be-renger, count of Provence, a girl of 12 years; but the queen mother kept the young couple separate till the king was 25. In 1241 the count do la Marche, a powerful vassal of the crown, broke into rebellion, and was assisted by Henry III. of England, who landed with a considerable force at the mouth of the Gironde. Louis marched against the rebels and their English allies, and defeated them at Saintes, which put an end to the war. He treated the vanquished rebels with such clemency and magnanimity that he won their hearts, and had no trouble with his vassals during the rest of his reign.
He removed one great cause of the disturbances which had hitherto afflicted the kingdom, and strengthened the national feeling, by enacting that no noble of France should thereafter hold a divided allegiance, many of the nobles until then holding fiefs of both the French and English kings, and adhering to each in turn as suited their views or interests. He enacted also an ordinance called quaran-taine le roi, which forbade the private redress of injuries for 40 days after they had been committed, and directed that during that interval justice should be administered only by the royal authorities. In 1244 news reached Europe of the conquest of Jerusalem by the Kharesmians, of the treacherous massacre of the Christian inhabitants, and of the defeat and slaughter of the knights templars and hospitallers, after a gallant struggle near Gaza. These tidings greatly excited Christendom; the seventh crusade was proclaimed at the council of Lyons in 1245, Louis having vowed to take the cross during an illness of which he nearly died.
After extensive preparations, he appointed his mother regent, and embarked in August, 1248, from Aigues-Mortes, a port which he had founded on the Mediterranean, for Cyprus, the appointed place of rendezvous for his forces, composed of both French and English. Thence in June, 1249, he sailed to invade Egypt, at that time the most powerful of the Mohammedan states, whose conquest was considered a necessary preliminary to that of the Holy Land. His fleet of 1,800 vessels carried 3,000 knights and a great army of common soldiers. He landed near Damietta, and, the Egyptian sultan being at the point of death and the kingdom in confusion, no serious opposition was made at the outset; and Damietta, which was then populous and strongly fortified, surrendered without resistance. Louis lingered here for five months, waiting the arrival of a part of his fleet which had been forced by a tempest to take refuge in a Syrian port, and the favorable moment for advance was lost; and when in November the army began to move toward Cairo, its march was impeded by the inundation. The Egyptians rallied in great force, and after a hard-won victory at Mansoora, in which the king's brother and many other knights were slain, Louis was compelled to retreat toward Damietta, where he had left a strong garrison.
His army suffered from pestilence and want of supplies, and being continually harassed by the Egyptians, the king and his forces, about 30,000 in number, surrendered at discretion, April 5, 1250. The Egyptians treated them barbarously, and demanded a ransom of 500,000 livres. Louis replied that he would pay that sum for the liberation of his soldiers, but that a king of France could not be valued for money. He offered Damietta in exchange for himself, and he and the remnant of his followers were liberated on the surrender of that city and the payment of 400,000 livres. He set sail for Acre in Syria, where he remained nearly four years, negotiating with the Mohammedans and vainly waiting for reenforcements from France. A large amount of treasure sent to him by the queen mother was lost at sea, and she herself died in 1252. The king at length, in the spring of 1254, sailed from Palestine with about 500 followers, and reached France after a stormy voyage of ten weeks. After his return he occupied himself actively in the reform of his kingdom, and displayed high qualities as a legislator.
He enacted many just and important laws, and greatly mitigated the harshness of the criminal jurisprudence of France. So scrupulous was his conscience even in affairs of state, that by a treaty concluded with Henry III. of England at Abbeville in 1259 he restored to that monarch, against the urgent remonstrances of his ministers and councillors, several conquests of his predecessors to which he thought he had not inherited a just title. In 12G1 he refused the crown of Naples and Sicily, offered to him by Pope Urban IV.; but when the same offer was subsequently made to his brother Charles of Anjou, he suffered that prince to accept it, and furnished him with men and money for the conquest of Naples in 1265. Three years later he began to prepare for a new crusade, and on July 1, 1270, embarked with 60,000 men for Tunis. On landing he formed a camp amid the ruins of Carthage, where he waited in expectation of forming an alliance with the sultan of Tunis, who, it had been rumored, was disposed to embrace Christianity. A pestilence soon broke out among the French, and Louis, whose health had long been feeble, was seized with the disease and died after a fortnight's illness, having before seen one of his sons expire.
His other son and successor, Philip III., who was also at the point of death, recovered and saved the remains of the army. Among the important acts of Louis IX. is the pragmatic sanction, issued in 1269, forbidding the levying of moneys for the court of Rome without royal consent. - See Joinville's His-toire de St. Louis, edited by Natalie de Wailly (Paris, 1873), and Guizot, Histoire de quatres grands Chretiens francais (2 vols., Paris, 1873).