Louis VI, king of France

Louis VI (Louis the Fat), 1081–1137, king of France (1108–37). He succeeded his father, Philip I, with whom he was associated in government from c.1100. He firmly established his authority within the royal domain, suppressing brigandage by robber barons and besieging their castles, and punishing wrongdoers. He continued his father's policy of opposing the English in Normandy and was almost continuously at war with King Henry I (1109–13, 1116–20, 1123–35); he often met with defeat, but his resistance checked a greater English advance. In 1124 he called up forces from far-flung regions of France; with strong support from the nobles he resisted the invasion of Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, who had come to the aid of Henry I. As a part of his plan for strengthening royal authority, Louis favored the church, liberally endowing its enterprises and selecting churchmen—notably the Abbé Suger—as his ministers; he was vigorous, however, in enforcing his privilege of interference in ecclesiastical affairs. To gain support from the towns, he began to grant them royal charters. He obtained a foothold in Guienne (Aquitaine) by marrying his son Louis (his successor as Louis VII) to the heiress of the duchy, Eleanor of Aquitaine. His enforcement of order and justice made Louis popular with the middle classes, the peasantry, and the clergy. Suger's Vie de Louis VI Le Gros (tr. 1964) is the standard monography for the history of Louis's reign.

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