louis-ix-and-the-catholic-crusades.jpg   Louis IX (1214-1270), was a French king known for his piety and judicial reforms. He led two of the Crusades to the Holy Land and was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297. Louis IX belonged to the Capetian family of French kings.

Louis was born in Poissy, France. He was the son of King Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile. Louis IX came to the throne at the age of 12. His mother ruled wisely on his behalf until he turned 21. As king, Louis established a code of conduct among his officials and expanded the role of the royal court in administering justice. But like other rulers of his day, he also persecuted Jews and people considered heretics by the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless even many of Louis’s enemies considered him a just ruler and bore him no ill will.

Louis led the Seventh Crusade, which lasted from 1248 to 1254. In 1250, Muslim forces in Egypt took him and most of his army prisoner. The Muslims released Louis and his troops later that year, after he agreed to give up a captured city and pay a ransom. Louis led the Eighth Crusade in 1270, but died that year in northern Africa of natural causes.

by Sue Helder Goliber, Ph.D., Mount St. Mary’s College

(I took a photo of this painting in the church of Les Invalides in Paris).