Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Louis the Ninth
King from 1226-1270
After the time of Barbarossa and Richard Ceur de Lion lived another great Crusading
king. This was a grandson of Philip II, named Louis IX, who became sovereign of France
in 1226. He was then only eleven years old, so for some years his mother ruled the
A few years after he had begun to reign Louis decided to make his brother Alphonse the
governor of a certain part of France. The nobles of the region refused to have Alphonse
as governor and invited Henry III of England to help them in a revolt.
Henry crossed to France with an army to support the rebellious nobles. He was duke of
Aquitaine and Gascony; so that although he was the king in England he had to do homage
to the king of France for his possessions in that country, and fight for him if called upon
to do so.
Louis gathered an army and hastened to meet the English troops. He drove Henry from
place to place, until at last he forced him to make terms of peace. The rebellious nobles
who had invited the English king to France soon after swore allegiance to Louis and
afterwards he had little trouble in his kingdom.
Once Louis was dangerously ill and his life was despaired of. Finally he was believed to
be dying and his wife and chief officials gathered round his bed to await the end.
Suddenly he roused himself and said in a feeble voice, "The cross! The cross!"
They laid the cross upon his heart and he clasped it fervently. For a while he slumbered.
When he awoke he appeared much better. In a day or two he was entirely well. He then
made a solemn vow that in thankfulness for his restoration he would go on a Crusade to
the Holy Land.
Louis lived at a time when everybody was full of the Crusading spirit. A few years before
he was born even the children in France and Germany started out upon a Crusade of their
own. It is called in history the "Children's Crusade." Several thousand left their homes
and marched toward the Mediterranean. They thought that God would open a pathway to
the Holy Land for them through its waters. A number of them died of cold and hunger
when trying to cross the Alps. Some reached Rome, and when the Pope saw them he told
them to return home and not think of going on a Crusade until they were grown up.
It is easy to understand how in such an age people flocked to Louis' banner when he
asked for volunteers to go with him on another Crusade.