King Of France Louis XL, the sixth of the house of Valois, and son of Charles VII. by Marie of Anjou, born in Bourges, July 3, 1423, died at Plessis-les-Tours, Aug. 30, 1483. He gave early evidence of a passionate temper and a cruel disposition. In 1436 he married Margaret of Scotland. In 1440 he took part in the aristocratic rebellion known as la Pra-guerie, although he was far from being partial to the nobility. The plans of the insurgents were foiled, and Louis, becoming reconciled to his father, received the province of Dauphiny as his apanage. He participated in several military expeditions, and in 1444 was sent by his father at the head of the " great companies " or escorcheurs to aid the emperor Frederick against the Swiss, whom he defeated near Basel, but to whom nevertheless, through policy, he granted favorable terms of peace. On the death of his wife (1445), his hostility to his father's mistress, Agnes Sorel, caused great trouble at court; he is said to have slapped her in the face, and was afterward charged with poisoning her. In 1446 the disagreement between him and the king caused Louis to retire to Dauphiny, which he governed as an independent principality, evincing uncommon administrative talents.

In 1451 he married, notwithstanding his father's opposition, Charlotte, daughter of the duke of Savoy. The quarrel between the king and his son, embittered by interested courtiers, came to such a pitch that in 1456 Charles VII. marched against the dauphin at the head of a strong army. The latter es-caped to Burgundy, where he was welcomed by his uncle Philip the Good, who treated him with the utmost generosity. From his cousin Charles, count of Charolais, afterward Charles the Bold, he received equal kindness. Although repeatedly summoned to return to France, Louis refused to obey. He was called to the throne upon his father's death, July 22, 1461. Thenceforth he bent all his energies to the destruction of the aristocracy whom he had once supported against his father, and ultimately to that of the very princes of Burgundy by whom he had been protected. As early as 1465 a coalition of princes, called the league of the public good, among whom were his former friend the count of Charolais, the dukes of Brittany and Bourbon, and the celebrated Dunois, was formed against him, with his own brother, the duke of Berry, at their head.

Louis fought a drawn battle with them at Montlhery; but fearing the consequences of a protracted contest, he offered them advantageous terms, giving Normandy to his brother, the cities along the Somme to Burgundy, and offices and pensions to others. The following year, however, he succeeded in rescuing his provinces from the grasp of his antagonists. In 1467 a new league was formed, headed by Charles the Bold, who had become duke of Burgundy. In the hope of conciliating Charles, the king paid him a visit at Peronne, while his own emissaries were inciting the citizens of Liege to rebellion against the duke. He thus placed himself in the power of this fierce prince, who, enraged at the news he received from Flanders, kept the king in confinement for three days, and consented to spare his life only on the most disadvantageous terms. Louis released the duke from all allegiance, gave the county of Champagne to his brother, and was obliged to assist Charles in taking and punishing the very city which he had encouraged to revolt. His only consolation in this circumstance was the vengeance he took upon Cardinal Balue, who had betrayed him; he caused him to be confined for about 11 years in an iron cage. The subsequent policy of Louis was more successful.

The treaty of Peronne was declared null and void by an assembly of notables at Tours in 1470, upon which a new revolt broke out; but this was frustrated chiefly by the death of the king's brother, which occurred so opportunely in 1472 that Louis was suspected of having got rid of him by poisoning. Charles the Bold, presenting himself as the avenger of the young prince, invaded the northern provinces of France, but was checked by the heroism of the inhabitants of Beauvais. Upon the death of Charles (1477), Louis at once seized the duchy of Burgundy proper, Franche-Comte, Artois, and the cities along the Somme. Maximilian of Austria, the husband of Charles's daughter Mary, made war upon Louis for the recovery of these possessions. Gaining an indecisive victory at Gui-negate (1479), he had finally to yield to the superiority of the king, who by the treaty of Arras (1482) preserved his conquests, partly unconditionally, partly as the dower of young Margaret of Austria, the daughter of Maximilian and Mary, to whom he betrothed his son. Meanwhile he had triumphed over nearly all his other enemies.

He had retaken Perpignan from John II. of Aragon, thus preparing the ultimate annexation of Roussillon and Cerdagne to France; and he had in 1475 concluded with Edward IV. of England the treaty of Peequi-gny. But above all he had crushed the most troublesome feudal houses; the count of Ar-magnac fell in 1473, treacherously murdered; the duke of Alencon was in 1474 thrown into prison, where he died; the great constable Louis de Luxembourg, count of St. Pol, delivered up to Louis by the duke of Burgundy himself, was beheaded in 1475; and finally in 1477 Jacques d'Armagnac, duke of Nemours, met the same fate, after being previously subjected to confinement in an iron cage. By treaties and inheritance Louis secured the rich patrimony of the house of Anjou, including the provinces of Anjou, Maine, and Provence, besides its claims to the crown of the Two Sicilies. He had thus considerably enlarged the royal domain, and prepared the way for the territorial unity of France. More than any of his predecessors, he strengthened royal authority and made his government respected at home; he had a standing army more numerous than any before in existence, and greatly improved the fortified towns.

He tried to give regularity to the civil administration, and in order to secure the punctual transmission of orders to all parts of his kingdom, he established in 1464 a permanent service of despatch carriers, which was the foundation of the postal system of France. He improved the administration of justice, especially by creating three new parliaments, those of Grenoble (1453), Bordeaux (1462), and Dijon (1477). He increased public taxes, but part of the revenue was expended in a way to benefit the nation itself; he gave particular attention to improving public roads and canals; fostered the commercial marine; opened new markets for commerce; brought skilful workmen from Greece and Italy, and encouraged manufactures and mining, He favored the great invention of the 15th century by establishing printing offices at Lyons, Angers, Poitiers, Caen, etc.; and contributed to the diffusion of learning by the establishment of universities at Valence, Bourges, Caen, and Besancon. But notwithstanding the services thus rendered to France, and his comparatively mild treatment of the middle classes, he never gained popularity; his craftiness, his perfidious and cruel temper, and his total want of royal dignity, inspired the whole nation with feelings of fear and disgust, amounting to unmitigated hatred.

He spent his later years at the castle of Plessis-les-Tours, under the absolute control of his physician Cottier; and shortly before his death he summoned St. Francis of Paula to come to him and intercede for the prolongation of his life. He is said to be at least partly the author of the Cent nouvelles nouvelles, a collection of novels mostly borrowed from Boccaccio, and , of the Rosier des guerres. The Memoires of Comines give the full history of this extraordinary prince. He has also been well described in Barante's Histoire des dues de Bourgogne; while Sir Walter Scott in his "Quentin bur-ward," and Victor Hugo in his Notre Lame de Paris, have portrayed him at two different periods of his life.