Original Electronic Text at the Electronic Text Center of the University of Virginia Library.


   page 25 IN the name of Almighty God, having heretofore written part of the good words and teachings of Saint Louis, our King, we will next begin upon his deeds, in the name of God and of himself.

   He was born, as I have heard him say, on the day of Saint Mark the Evangelist, after Easter. On that day, in many places they carry the Cross in procession, and in France it is called " Black Cross Day," and this was, as it were, a foreshadowing of the great host of people who died on those two crusades: to wit, on the Egyptian crusade, and on that other, where he died at Carthage; for very great sorrowing there was in this world, and very great rejoicing there is in Heaven over those, who on those two pilgrimages died true crusaders. Page 26

   He was crowned on the first Sunday in Advent. The mass for that Sunday begins: " To Thee have I lifted up my soul" and what follows after. In God he trusted firmly till his death; for at the point of death, with his last words he called on God and His Saints, especially upon my lord Saint James and my lady Saint Geneviève.

   Great need had he in childhood that God should guard him; as by the good teachings of his mother, who taught him to love and believe in God, and set men of religion about him. Child as he was, she used to make him repeat his Hours and hear the lessons on Feast-days, and often told him as he recorded later, that she were rather he were dead than that he should commit a deadly sin.

   Great need had he in his youth of God's aid; for his mother was from Spain, and had neither kindred nor friends in all the realm of France; and the barons of France, seeing the King but a child, and his mother a foreign woman, made the Count of Boulogne the King's uncle their leader, and looked upon him as actually their liege lord.

   After the King was crowned, there were some of the barons who requested the Queen to grant them Page 27 certain large territories; and because she would do none of it, they gathered themselves together, all the barons, at Corbeuil. And the holy King told me, that he and his mother, who were at Montl'hery, durst not return to Paris until the men of Paris came under arms to fetch them. And he told me, how, all the way from Montl'hery to Paris, the road was thronged with people, armed and unarmed, all loudly praying Christ to give him health and long life, and to defend and keep him from his enemies.

   At this parliament of the barons at Corbeuil, so it is said, those of them that were present decided, that the good knight Count Peter of Brittany should rebel against the King, and further, that when the king should summon them to march against the Count, they should attend in person and each bring only two knights with him; and this to see whether the Count of Brittany would be able to crush the Queen, she being but a foreign woman, as you have heard. And many people say, that the Count would have crushed the Queen and King too, if God had not come to the King's aid in this strait. But by God's grace, Count Tibald of Champagne, (the same who later Page 28 became King of Navarre) came to serve the King with three hundred knights, and by his aid, the Count of Brittany was brought to the King's mercy, so that, to make peace, he was obliged to relinquish to the King the county of Anjou (so it is said), and the county of Le Perche.

   Now I must leave my subject for a while, in order to rehearse certain matters that you shall now learn. We will say therefor, that the good Count, Henry the Generous (of Champagne) had two sons by the Countess Mary, sister to the King of France and to Richard of England, of whom the eldest was named Henry, and the younger Tibald. This elder one, Henry, took the cross and went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, what time King Philip and King Richard besieged Acre and took it. So soon as Acre was taken, King Philip returned to France, for which he was much blamed; but King Richard stayed in the Holy Land, and did many great deeds, so that the Saracens feared him mightily: for it is written in the book of the Holy Land that when the Saracen children cried, the women would scold them, saying: " Hush! King Richard is coming! " to quiet them. And when the horses of Page 29 the Saracens or Bedouins shied at a bush, their riders would say: " Do you fancy that it is King Richard? "

   This King Richard used his influence to give to Count Henry of Champagne, who had remained with him, the Queen of Jerusalem, who was direct heir to the kingdom. By the said Queen, Count Henry had two daughters, of whom the first was Queen of Cyprus, and the other was given to Lord Erard of Brienne, from whom has sprung a great lineage, as may be seen in France and Champagne. It is not of Lord Erard of Brienne's wife that I wish to speak now, but about the Queen of Cyprus.

   After the King had crushed Count Peter of Brittany, all the barons of France were so stirred up against Count Tibald of Champagne, that they resolved to send for the Queen of Cyprus, she being daughter to the eldest son of the house of Champagne, in order to disinherit Count Tibal, he being son to the second son.

   Some amongst them intervened to make peace between Count Peter and the said Count Tibald and the upshot of the negotiations was, that Count Tibald promised to take Count Peter's daughter Page 30 to wife. A day was fixed for the Count of Champagne to espouse the damsel; and they were to bring her for the wedding to a certain abbey at Prémoutré which is close to Chateau Thierry, and is called, I believe, Val Secret. The barons of France, who were nearly all of kin to Count Peter, took much trouble in escorting the damsel to Val Secret for the wedding, and sent word to the Count of Champagne who was at Chateau Thierry. But whilst the Count of Champagne was on his way to get married, there came to him my lord Geoffrey de la Chapelle from the King with a letter of credentials, and said as follows: "Sir Count, the King has heard, that you have covenanted with Count Peter of Brittany to take his daughter in marriage. Wherefor the King sends you word, that, unless you wish to lose whatever possessions you have in the realm of France, you will not do this thing; for you know that the Count of Brittany has used the King worse than any man alive." And the Count of Champagne, by the advice of those that were with him, turned back again to Chateau Thierry.

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    Louis was crowned a month after his accession by the Bishop of Soissons (the see of Rheims being vacant). His mother had the sole wardship of him, which roused the jealousy of the principal barons. Peter Mauclerc (Count of Brittany) and Hugh le Brun (Count of La Marche) were obliged to submit, after Tibald of Champagne had deserted them. When they marched the next year into Champagne to revenge themselves on Tibald, Matthew Paris says that their pretext was that Tibald had been guilty of high treason in being Queen Blanche's paramour, and conspiring with her to poison her husband, Louis VIII. (He certainly seems to have quarrelled with Louis VIII, for he left him and went home without leave just before Louis' death, during his crusade against the Albigenses.) Joinville gives no hint of this. Throughout his book he avoids scandal, and in any case could hardly have mentioned this in a book intended for the great-grandson of both Queen Blanche and Count Tibald.

   Tibald IV was a posthumous child, and during the regency of his mother, Countess Blanche, the above-mentioned Erard of Brienne claimed the county in right of his wife Philippa, and waged war on Champagne, aided and abetted by Simon de Joinville, the father of the author. Tibald succeeded to the kingdom of Navarre on the death of his mother's brother, Sancho VI.


   page 32 WHEN Count Peter and the barons of France, who were waiting for him at Val Secret, heard what had happened, they were all as it were beside themselves at the slight he had put upon them; and now they sent for the Queen of Cyprus; and so soon as ever she was come, they agreed with common accord to muster all the men-at-arms they could, and to march into Brie and Champagne from the French side; and the Duke of Burgundy, who had Count Robert of Dreux' daughter to wife, was to enter the county of Champagne on the Burgundian side, and take the city of Troyes if possible.

   The Duke summoned as many men as he could muster, and the barons likewise. The barons came through, burning and destroying on one side, the Duke on another, and the King of France on Page 33 another, seeking to come to battle with them. The Count of Champagne finding himself thus beset, began himself to fire his own towns before the approach of the barons, so that they might not find supplies in them. Amongst the other towns which the Count of Champagne burnt were Epernay, and Vertus, and Sézanne.

   The burghers of Troyes, seeing themselves abandoned by their own lord, sent to Simon, lord of Joinville, (the father of the present lord) to come to their rescue. He, having summoned all his men-at-arms, set out from Joinville at nightfall, so soon as ever the tidings reached him, and came to Troyes before daybreak; and so the barons were disappointed in their hopes of taking Troyes, and passed by that city, and went and camped in the open, close to where the Duke of Burgundy lay.

   The King of France, learning that they were there, marched straight to the place to give battle to them; and the barons sent to him begging that he would withdraw his person, and they would go and do battle with the Count of Champagne and the Duke of Lorraine and all the rest of his men, with three hundred knights less than the Count or Page 34 the Duke should have. And the King sent them word, that he would never fight against his own liegemen save in person. And they came again to him, and said: that they would willingly incline the Queen of Cyprus to peace, if so he pleased. And the King sent them word that he would hear of no peace, neither suffer the Count of Champagne to hear of any, until they should have evacuated the county of Champagne. And they did withdraw in so far as to leave Ylles where they were, and go and camp below Juylli; and the King lodged at Ylles whence he had driven them. And when they knew that the King was gone thither, they went and camped at Chaorse, and durst not abide the King's coming, but went and camped at Langres, which belonged to the Count of Nevers, who was of their party.

   Thus the King accorded the Count of Champagne with the Queen of Cyprus, and peace was made after this wise: that the said Count gave to the Queen land worth about two thousand pounds a year, besides forty thousand pounds that the King paid for the Count of Champagne. And the Count sold to the King, in exchange for the forty thousand Page 35 pounds, the fiefs hereafter named: to wit, the fief of the county of Blois, the fief of the county of Chartres, the fief of the county of Sancerre, the fief of the vicounty of Chateaudun. There were people, indeed, who said that the King only held these aforesaid fiefs in pawn; but there is no truth in it, for I asked our holy King Louis about it whilst we were over seas.

   The land which Count Tibald gave to the Queen of Cyprus is held by the present Count of Brienne and the Count of Joigny, because the Count of Brienne's grandmother was daughter to the Queen of Cyprus and wife to the great Count Walter of Brienne.

   That you may know, how the Lord of Champagne came by those fiefs that he sold to the King, I must tell you, that the great Count Tibald, who sleeps at Lagny, had three sons: the first was named Henry; the second Tibald; the third Stephen. This same Henry was Count of Champagne and Brie, and was called, " Henry the Generous"; and rightly was he so called, for he was generous both towards God and the world: generous towards God, as appears by the church of Page 36 Saint Stephen of Troyes and by the other churches which he founded in Champagne; generous towards the world, as appeared in the case of Artauld of Nogent and on many other occasions which I would relate to you, if I were not afraid of hindering the course of my story.

   Artauld of Nogent was the burgher whom the King most trusted, and he was so rich, that he built the castle of Nogent l'Artauld with his own money. Now it chanced that Count Henry came down out of his hall at Troyes to go and hear mass at Saint Stephen on the day of Pentecost; and at the foot of the steps there knelt a poor knight, who thus accosted him: " Sir, I beseech you for the love of God, to give me out of your wealth the wherewithal to marry my two daughters whom you see here." Artauld, who was walking behind him, said to the poor knight, " Sir Knight, it is not courteous in you to beg from my lord; for he has given away so much, that he has nothing left to give." The generous Count turned round to Artauld, and said to him: "Sir Villein, you speak untruly when you say, that I have nothing left to give, why, I have you yourself! Here, take Page 37 him, Sir Knight! for I give him to you, and will warrant him to you." The knight was in no wise abashed, but took him by the cape, and told him: That he would not let him go until he had come to terms with him; and before he could get away, Artauld had made fine with him for five hundred pounds.

   Count Henry's second brother was named Tibald, and was Count of Blois; his third brother, named Stephen, was Count of Sancerre; and these two brothers held all their heritage with the two counties and their appurtenances in fee of Count Henry; and afterwards they held them of Count Henry's heirs who held Champagne, until the time when Count Tibald sold them to the King of France, as I told you above.


    page 38 LET US return to our story, and say as follows: that after these events, the King held a great court at Saumur in Anjou. I was there, and can bear you witness that it was the finest that ever I saw. For there ate at the King's table, beside him, the Count of Poitiers, whom he had newly knighted on a Saint John's Day; and next him sat Count John of Dreux, whom likewise he had newly knighted. Next to the Count of Dreux, sat the Count of La Marche, and next him, the good Count Peter of Brittany; and in front of the King's table, in a line with the Count of Dreux, sat my lord the King of Navarre, in a coat and mantle of samite, richly adorned with belt and clasp and circlet of gold; and I carved before him. Before the King, his brother the Count of Artois was trencher bearer, Lord Humbert of Beaujeu, (who afterwards became Constable of France), and my Lord Enguerrand of Coucy, and my Lord Archibald of Bourbon. Forming a bodyguard behind these three barons were a good thirty of their knights, in coats of cloth of silk, and behind the knights a great crowd of serjeants clad in taffety stamped with the Count of Poitier's arms. The King had donned a coat of sky-blue satin, and a surcoat and mantle of scarlet satin lined with ermine, and on his head a cotton bonnet, which became him very ill, he being in those days a young man.

   The King held this feast in the halls of Saumur, which were built, they say, by the great King Henry of England, to hold his great feasts. The halls are built after the fashion of the cloisters of the White Monks; but I trow there are no others so large by far. I will tell you, why: for along the wall of the cloister where the King was dining, and he was surrounded by knights and serjeants who took up a great deal of room, there was a table at which were seated thirty other persons, bishops and Page 40 archbishops; and again, beyond the bishops and at the same table, was seated Blanche the Queen Mother, at the opposite end of the cloister to where the King sat. The Count of Boulogne, (who afterwards was King of Portugal) waited on the Queen, together with the good Count of St. Pol, and a German lad, eighteen years of age, who was said to be the son of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia. It was said of him, that Queen Blanche used to kiss his forehead out of piety, because she heard that his mother had often kissed him there. At the end of the cloister, on the other side, were the kitchens, the butteries, the pantries, and the storerooms; and from this cloister they set bread and wine and meat before the King and Queen. And in all the other wings, and in the centre plot there feasted a vast number of knights, more than I can tell. Many people say, that they never saw before at any feast so many surcoats and other garments of cloth-of-gold as were there; and that there must have been full three thousand knights in the place.

   After this feast, the King brought the Count of Poitiers to Poitiers, that he might take seizin of his fiefs, but when the King was come to Poitiers, he Page 41 would gladly have been back again in Paris; for he found that the Count of La Marche, who had eaten at his table on Saint John's day, had got together a number of men-at-arms at Lusignan by Poitiers. The King remained at Poitiers close on a fortnight, not daring to depart until he should be reconciled with the Count of La Marche. I know not how it came about, but I several times saw the Count of La Marche on his way from Lusignan to confer with the King at Poitiers; and he always brought with him his wife, the Queen of England, who was mother to the English king. And many people said, that the peace which the King and the Count of Poitiers made with the Count of La Marche was an unsound one.

   No long while after the King had got back from Poitiers, the King of England came into Gascony to make war on the King of France. Our holy King, with as many men as he could raise, rode forth to give him battle. Thither came the King of England and the Count of La Marche to do battle before a castle called Taillebourg, which lies on a dangerous river named the Charente, where there is no crossing save by a very narrow Page 42 stone bridge. No sooner had the King reached Taillebourg, and the armies were face to face, than our men, (who had the castle on their side,) pushed on at great cost, and crossed over most hazardously by means of boats and the bridge, and rushed upon the English; and there began a general hand-to-hand engagement stiffly contested. The King perceiving this adventured himself into the thick of it along with the rest, for the English had four men for every one that the King had after he had crossed. Howsoever it so happened by God's will, that when the English saw the King cross over, they lost heart, and retired into the city of Saintes; and some of our men entered the city mixed up with them, and were taken prisoners.

   Those of our people who were captured at Saintes related, that they heard a great quarrel arise between the King of England and the Count of La Marche, the King of England saying: That the Count of La Marche had sent for him to come over, and had assured him, that he would find plenty of support in France. That very evening, the King of England left Saintes, and drew off into Gascony. Page 43

   The Count of La Marche, seeing that there was no help for it, yielded himself prisoner to the King, together with his wife and children; and so, when peace came to be made, the King got a great slice of the Count's lands; but I do not know how much, for I was not present at this affair, not having yet donned a hauberk; but I heard say, that, besides the land, the King carried off ten thousand pounds parisis that he had in his coffers, and every year as much again.

   Whilst we were at Poitiers, I saw a knight, named Lord Geoffrey of Rançon, who, by reason, it was said, of a great outrage that the Count of La Marche had done him, had sworn by the holy relics, that he would never have his hair clipped in the fashion of knights, but would wear it long and parted as women do, until such time as he should see himself avenged on the Count, by his own hand, or by another. And when Lord Geoffrey saw the Count, his wife and his children, kneeling before the King, and suing for pardon, he there and then bade them bring him a stool, and had his long locks shorn off in the presence of the King and the Count of La Marche and the company. Page 44

   Out of this campaign against the King of England and against the barons, the King made many handsome presents, as I learnt from people who had come from it. And for no gifts nor expenses that he was put to in this campaign, nor in any others on either side of the water, did the King ever request nor take from his barons, nor from his knights, nor from his liegemen, nor from his good towns any aids that could be complained of. And no wonder, for he acted by the advice of his good mother who was with him, whose precepts he carried out, and those that were handed on to him by the wise men of his father's and grandfather's times.


   St. Louis' three brothers were

   (1) Robert, whom he knighted in 1238, giving him the province of Artois, and Matilda of Brabant as wife.

   (2) Alphonso, whom he knighted this year (1241), giving him Auvergne and Poitou and the lands belonging to the Albigenses, with Joanna, daughter of the Count of Toulouse, as wife.

   (3) Charles, made knight and Count of Anjou and Maine in 1246. The year before he had married Beatrix of Provence, younger sister to Queen Margaret of France and to Eleonor, Queen to Henry III of England.

    See the tables at the end.


   Page 347 AFTER the King returned from over-seas, he behaved himself so devoutly, that thenceforth he never wore neither beaver, nor squirrel's fur, nor scarlet, nor gilded stirrups and spurs; his garments were of hair-cloth, or of dark-blue woollen. The trimmings of his coverlets and robes were of hares' feet or lamb's wool.

   When the rich men's minstrels came to his house after dinner, and brought their viols, he would wait to hear grace until the minstrel had ended his lay; then he would rise, and before him stood the priests who said his grace. When we were in private, he would sit at the foot of his bed; and when the preachers or friars who were there put

Page 348

him in mind of some good book, to which he liked to listen, he would say to them, "You shall not read to me; for after meals there is no book so good as a 'quolibet,' and that means ' let each say what he pleases."

   When any rich men dined with him they found him very good company.

   I will tell you about his wisdom. On various occasions he showed himself to be the wisest man in his Council; as for instance when, apart from his Council and on the spur of the moment, he replied to a petition from all the prelates of the kingdom of France. It was as follows:

   Bishop Guy of Auxerre addressed him for them all: " Sir " said he " these archbishops and bishops here present, have charged me to tell you that Christendom is falling to pieces and melting away in your hands, and will fall away still further, unless you study to remedy It; inasmuch as no one, nowadays, has any dread of excommunication. Wherefor we desire you, Sir, to order your serjeants and bailiffs to use compulsion on such as have been excommunicated a year and a day, that they may give satisfaction to the Church." And Page 349 the King, without taking counsel at all, made answer, that he would willingly order his bailiffs and serjeants to use compulsion on those that were excommunicated as they demanded; but that he must be allowed to have cognisance whether the sentence were legal or no.

   They consulted together and replied to the King; that they would not give him cognisance of what pertained to religion; and the King in his turn replied; that he would never give them cognisance of what pertained to him; nor would he ever order his serjeants to force those who were excommunicated to procure absolution whether right or wrong. "For if I did so, I should be flying in the face of God and of justice; and I will give you this as an instance: The bishops of Brittany kept the Count of Brittany no less than seven years under sentence of excommunication, and in the end the Court of Rome absolved him. Now, if I had put compulsion on him after the first year, I should have done so wrongly."

   It happened after our return from over-seas, that the monks of St. Urban elected two abbots. Bishop Peter of Châlons God rest his soul! turned them Page 350 both out, and consecrated as abbot my Lord John of Mymery, and gave him the crozier. I would not acknowledge him, because he had wronged Abbot Geoffrey, who had appealed against him and gone to Rome. I kept the abbey in my own hands until the said Geoffrey carried off the crozier, and the bishop's man lost it. While the dispute was going on, the bishop had excommunicated me. In consequence of this, there was a great fuss made, in a parliament held at Paris, about me and Bishop Peter, and Countess Margaret of Flanders, and the Archbishop of Rheims to whom she gave the lie.

   At the next parliament, all the prelates begged the King that he would come and speak with them alone. On his return from talking with the bishops, he came to us who were awaiting him in the Chamber of Pleas, and told us laughing how the bishops had baited him. It began with the Archbishop of Rheims saying to the King, "Sir, what are you going to do about thewardship of St. Rémy of Rheims, of which you are robbing me? I would not have such a sin as yours on my conscience for the kingdom of France." " By the holy relics of this place," said the King, "you would, though, for Page 351 Compiegne, such is your greed. So some one is perjured!,"

   "The Bishop of Chartres," said the King, "desired me to restore him on credit what I held of his; and I told him that I should not do so until my castle were paid for. And I told him that he was my sworn liegeman, and that he was behaving neither well nor loyally towards me, in trying to rob me of my heritage."

   "The Bishop of Châlons said to me," said the King, " 'What are you going to do about the Lord of Joinville, who is robbing that poor monk of the abbey of St. Urban's?' Sir Bishop," quoth the King, " you have settled amongst your own selves that no excommunicated person shall be heard in a lay court. Now I have seen in letters sealed with thirty-two seals, that you are excommunicated; so I shall not hear you until you be absolved."

   I tell you these things to show you how by his own unaided wits he despatched whatever business he had to do.

   Abbot Geoffrey of St. Urban's, though I had done his business for him, rendered me evil for good after Page 352 wards, and appealed against me. He gave our holy King to understand that he was in his ward.

   I begged the King to have the truth declared, whether the wardship were his or mine. " Sir," said the Abbot, "you shall never do that, please God rather admit us to a formal suit between us and the Lord of Joinville; seeing that we, to whom the property belongs, would rather have our abbey in your ward than in his."

   Then said the King to me: " Is it true what they say, that the wardship of the abbey is mine " Certainly not, Sir," said I, " on the contrary, it is mine. "

   Then the King said to them, " The property is very possibly yours; but with the wardship of your abbey you have nothing to do; so, by your leave, it must needs belong, according to what you say and to what the Seneschal says, either to me or to him. Neither will anything you say ever dissuade me from having the truth declared. For if I were to involve him in a formal suit, I should be acting disloyally towards him, who is my liegeman, by putting his rights to a trial when he offers to have them plainly declared." Page 353

   He caused the truth to be declared, and when it was declared, he delivered me the wardship of the abbey, and gave me his letters.

   It came about, through the exertions of the holy King, that the King of England, with his wife and children, came to France to treat of the peace between him and them. His Council was strongly opposed to the said peace, and addressed him thus: " Sir, we are greatly astonished at your purpose, that you intend to give the King of England so large a portion of your territory, which you and your forbears have conquered from him and by their own fault. It appears to us, that if you believe yourself to have no right to it, you are making but poor restitution to the King of England, unless you give him back the whole of what you and your forbears have conquered; whereas if you think that you have a right to it, it seems to us, that whatever you give him is so much lost."

   To this the holy King replied as follows. " Sirs, I am quite sure that the King of England's forbears rightly and justly lost the conquered lands that I hold, and what I give him, I give him not because I am in any wise beholden to him nor to his heirs, Page 354 but to put bonds of love betwixt my children and his who are first cousins. And methinks that what I give him is well spent; for whereas he was not my liege-man, now he comes into homage to me."

   Indeed, he was the man of all the world who worked hardest for peace among his subjects, particularly among the rich men on his borders, and the princes of the realm; as for instance, between the Count of Châlons (the Lord of Joinville's uncle) and his son the Count of Burgundy, between whom there was great strife, when we returned from overseas. And to make peace between father and son he sent some of his Council into Burgundy at his own expense, and through his exertions peace was made between them.

   Again, there was great strife between King Tibald II of Champagne, and Count John of Châlons, and his son the Count of Burgundy, over the abbey of Luxeuil; to pacify which my Lord the King sent thither Lord Gervaise Desoraines, who at that time was Chief Cook of France, and by his exertions he made peace. After the King had pacified this war, a fresh war Page 355 sprang up, between Count Tibald of Bar, and Count Henry of Luxemburg, who had his sister to wife; and it fell out that they fought with each other below Pigney, and Count Tibald of Bar took Count Henry of Luxemburg prisoner, and also captured the castle of Liney, which belonged to the Count of Luxemburg by right of his wife. To end this war the King despatched my Lord Peter the Chamberlain, the man of all the world whom he most trusted all at the King's expense; and finally the King succeeded in pacifying them.

   As for these foreigners whose quarrels the King had settled, some of his Council told him that he would have done better to have let them go on fighting, for, that if he let them thoroughly ruin themselves, they would not be so ready to turn against himself as if they were wealthy. To this the King replied, that they argued ill: For if the neighbouring princes became aware that I encouraged their quarrelling, they might lay their heads together and say, "The King out of his malice encourages our fighting"; and so it would come to pass that out of the hatred they would conceive against me, they would turn on me; and Page 356emakers."

   The result was, that the Burgundians and the Lorrainers whom he had pacified, loved and obeyed him so well that I have seen them come to the King's court to plead in their private quarrels before him, at Rheims, at Paris, and at Orleans.


   Page 357 THE King loved God and His sweet Mother so well that if anybody within his reach used any foul language or lewd oath about God or His Mother, the King caused them to be very severely punished. For this I saw him cause a goldsmith at Cesarea to be put on a ladder in his shirt and breeches, with the entrails of a pig hung round his neck, right up to his ears. I heard say, after I returned from over-seas that he had a burgher of Paris seared through the nose and lips for the same offence, but I did not see it. And the holy King said, " I would gladly be branded with a hot iron, on condition that all lewd oaths were done away with out of my kingdom."

   I was about twenty-two years in his company; and never heard him swear by God, nor by His Mother nor by His Saints; but whenever he wanted 357 Page 358 to affirm anything, he used to say, " Truly it was thus," or " Truly it shall be thus."

   Never did I hear him name the devil, unless it were in some book where the name came in, or in the life of the Saints of whom the book was speaking. And a great disgrace it is to the realm of France, and to the King who allows it, that a man can hardly open his lips without saying " Deuce take it!" and a great abuse it is of language to devote to the devil a man or woman who was given to God at baptism. In the household of Joinville, whoever uses such an expression, pays for it with a buffet or a slap, and such bad language has been almost entirely put down.

   Before he went to bed, he used to send for his children, and would tell them stories of the deeds of good kings and emperors; and he used to tell them that they must take example by people such as these. He would tell them too, about the deeds of wicked rich men, who by their lechery and their rapine and their avarice, had lost their kingdoms. "And these things," he used to say, " I tell you as a warning to avoid them, lest you incur the anger of God." Page 359

   He had them taught the Hours of Our Lady, and caused the Hours for the Day to be repeated to them, in order to give them the habit of hearing their Hours when they should come into their estates.

   The King was so liberal an almsgiver, that wherever he went throughout his kingdom, he made gifts to poor churches, to lazar-houses, to alms houses, to asylums, and to poor gentlemen and gentlewomen.

   From his childhood up, he was compassionate towards the poor and the suffering; and it was the custom that, wherever he went, six score poor should always be replenished in his house with bread and wine, and meat or fish every day. In Lent and Advent, the number was increased, and many a time the King would wait on them, and place their meat before them, and would carve their meat before them, and with his own hand would give them money when they went away.

   Likewise on the high vigils of solemn feasts, he would serve the poor with all these things, before he either ate or drank.

   Besides all this, he had every day old broken-down men to dine and sup with him, and had them Page 360 served with the same food that he himself was eating. And when they had feasted, they took away with them a certain sum of silver.

   Over and above all these things, the King used every day to give large and liberal alms to poor men of religion, to poor asylums, to the sick poor, and all sorts of poor colleges, to poor gentlemen and married women and spinsters, to fallen women, to poor widows, and to women in child-bed, and to such poor as by reason of old age or sickness were unable to labour or pursue their trade in number past all telling. So that we may say that he was herein more fortunate than Titus, Emperor of Rome, of whom old writers tell us, that he was passing sorrowful and downcast, because of one day in which he had conferred no benefit.

   He asked me whether I washed the feet of the poor on Shrove Thursday; and I replied No, that I thought it unseemly. And he told me that I ought not to contemn it, for God had done it. "For you would find it very hard to do what the King of England does, who washes the feet of lepers and kisses them."

   When any of the benefices of Holy Church Page 361 escheated to the King, before bestowing it, he would first take counsel with good persons of religion and others; and after consultation he would bestow the benefices in good faith, honourably and according to God. Nor would he give any benefice to any cleric, unless he resigned all the other Church benefices that he might hold.

   In all the towns of his realm where he had never been before, he would seek out the Preachers and Grey Friars, if there were any, and desire their prayers.

   From the very first, when he came into his kingdom and to years of discretion, he began building monasteries and various religious houses, amongst which the Abbey of Royaumont bears the palm for eminence and renown.

   He founded the Abbey of St. Anthony near Paris; and the Abbey of St. Matthew of Rouen, into which he put women of the order of Preaching Friars; and that of Longchamp for women of the Minorite order; and endowed them highly. He allowed his mother to found the Abbey of Liz by Melun-sur-Seine, and that of Pontoise, which is called Maubuisson.

   He founded several almshouses: the Almshouse Page 362 of Paris, that of Pontoise, and that of Compiegne and of Vernon, and endowed them highly; besides the Grey Friars Nunnery of St. Cloud, which his sister, my Lady Isabel, founded by his leave.

   Also he founded the Blind Asylum near Paris to receive the blind of the city of Paris, and had a chapel built for them to hear divine service. And the good King built the Charterhouse outside Paris, and assigned sufficient revenues to the monks who dwelt there for the service of Our Lord. Shortly afterwards he had another house built outside Paris, which was called the House of the Daughters of God, and caused a great number of women to be boarded there, who by reason of poverty had fallen into the sin of wantonness, and granted them four hundred pounds' worth of revenue to support them. Also in many places of his kingdom he founded houses of female Begouins, and gave them revenues to live upon, and gave orders to admit such as gave promise of a chaste life.

   Some of his kindred used to grumble at his liberal almsgiving, and because he spent so much on this kind of thing; but he used to say: " I would much rather be extravagant in alms, for the love of Page 363 God, than in the pomp and vainglories of this world."

   Yet, though the King spent so much in charity, his daily household expenses were none the less very great. He lived in a free and open-handed style at the parliaments and assemblies of barons and knights; and the hospitality at his Court was so courteous, generous, and plentiful that nothing like it had been known for a long time past at the courts of his predecessors.

   The King loved all people who devoted themselves to the service of God and wore the religious habit, and all such as came to him were secure of a livelihood. He made provision for the Brethren of Carmel, and bought them a site on the banks of the Seine in the direction of Charenton; and he built a house for them, and bought them vestments and chalices and all the things needful for performing divine service.

   Next, he provided for the Austin Friars, and bought them a grange belonging to a burgher of Paris, with all its appurtenances, outside the gate of Montmartre, and had it turned into a monastery for them. Page 364

   He provided for the Brethren of the Bag, and granted them a site on the Seine, over against St. Germain des Prés, where they took up their quarters; but they did not stay long there, for they were soon suppressed.

   When the Brethren of the Bag were provided for, another sort of Brotherhood sprang up, called the " Order of White Mantles," and demanded that the King should help them to settle in Paris; and to harbour them he bought them a house and several old sites round about, close to the old Temple Gate at Paris, not far from the Weavers' quarter. These White Monks were put down by the Council of Lyons, that Gregory X held.

   Again there came a new sort of Friars, who entitled themselves " Brethren of the Holy Cross," and wore the cross on their breasts; and they begged the King to help them. The King did so readily, and lodged them in a street called Temple Crossing, which nowadays is called the street of the Holy Cross.

   Thus did the good King fence about the city of Paris with men of religion.

About the print version
The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville: A New English Version
Ethel Wedgwood
E.P. Dutton and Co.
New York

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The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville
Wedgwood, Ethel
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