Louis X of France

Louis the Quarreler

A contemporary picture from the Généalogie des rois de France'
King of France
Reign 29 November 1314 – 5 June 1316
Coronation 24 August 1315 (Reims)
Predecessor Philip IV
Successor John I
King of Navarre; Count of Champagne
Reign 4 April 1305 – 5 June 1316
Coronation 1 October 1307 (Pamplona)
Predecessor Joan I and Philip I
Successor John I
Born 4 October 1289
Paris, France
Died 5 June 1316 (aged 26)
Vincennes, Val-de-Marne, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica
Spouse Margaret of Burgundy
Clementia of Hungary
Issue Joan II of Navarre
John I of France
House Capet
Father Philip IV of France
Mother Joan I of Navarre
Religion Roman Catholicism
French Monarchy
Direct Capetians
Hugh Capet
Robert II
Henry I
Philip I
Louis VI
Louis VII
Philip II
Louis VIII
Louis IX
Philip III
Philip IV
Louis X
John I
Philip V
Charles IV

Louis X (4 October 1289 – 5 June 1316), called the Quarreler, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn (French: le Hutin), was a monarch of the House of Capet who ruled as King of Navarre (as Louis I Basque: Luis I.a Nafarroakoa) and Count of Champagne from 1305 and as King of France from 1314 until his death.

Louis was the eldest son of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. His short reign as king of France was marked by the hostility of the nobility against fiscal and centralization reforms initiated by Enguerrand de Marigny, the Grand Chamberlain of France, under the reign of his father. Louis' uncle—Charles of Valois, leader of the feudalist party—managed to convince the king to execute Enguerrand de Marigny.

Louis allowed serfs to buy their freedom (which was the first step towards the abolition of serfdom), abolished slavery, and readmitted French Jews into the kingdom.

In 1305, Louis had married Margaret of Burgundy, with whom he had Joan II of Navarre. Margaret was later convicted of adultery and died in prison, possibly murdered by strangulation. In 1315, Louis married Clementia of Hungary, who gave birth to John I of France a few months after the king's death. John's untimely death led to a disputed succession.

Personality, marriage and coronation

Louis being crowned with his second wife, Clementia of Hungary.

Louis was born in Paris, the eldest son of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre.[1] He inherited the kingdom of Navarre on the death of his mother, on 4 April 1305, later being crowned 6 June 1313.[2] On 21 September 1305, at age 16, he married Margaret of Burgundy and they had a daughter, Joan. Louis was known as "the Quarreler" as the result of the tensions prevailing throughout his reigns.[3]

Both Louis and Margaret became involved in the Tour de Nesle affair towards the end of Philip's reign. In 1314, Margaret, Blanche and Joan—the latter two being the wives of Louis' brothers Charles and Philip, respectively—were arrested on charges of infidelity.[4] Margaret and Blanche were both tried before the French parliament later that year and found guilty. Their alleged lovers were executed, and the women had their hair shorn and were sentenced to life imprisonment.[4] Philip stood by his wife Joan, who was ultimately found innocent and released. Margaret would be imprisoned at Chateau Gaillard, where she died.[4]

On the death of his father in 1314, Louis became King of France. Margaret of Burgundy died on 14 August 1315 and Louis remarried five days later, on 19 August to Clementia of Hungary, the daughter of Charles Martel of Anjou and the niece of Louis' own uncle and close advisor, Charles of Valois. Louis and Clementia were crowned at Reims on 24 August 1315.

Domestic policy

Coat of arms

Louis was king of Navarre for eleven years and king of France for less than two years. His reign was dominated by continual feuding with the noble factions within the kingdom, and major reforms designed to increase royal revenues, such as the freeing of the French serfs and the readmittance of the Jews.

In 1315, Louis X published a decree proclaiming that "France signifies freedom" and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed. This prompted subsequent governments to circumscribe slavery in the overseas colonies.[5] His Ordonnances des Roi de France, V, p.1311 declared that "as soon as a slave breathes the air of France, he breathes freedom"[6]

Regional leagues

By the end of Philip IV's reign opposition to the fiscal reforms was growing. With Philip's death and the accession of Louis, this opposition rapidly developed in more open revolt, some authors citing Louis' relative youth as one of the reasons behind the timing of the rebellions.[7] Leagues of regional nobles began to form around the country, demanding changes.[8] Charles of Valois took advantage of this movement to turn against his old enemy, Philip IV's former minister and chamberlain Enguerrand de Marigny and convinced Louis to bring corruption charges against him. When these failed, Charles then convinced Louis to bring sorcery charges against him instead, which proved more effective and led to de Marigny's execution at Vincennes in April 1315.[9] Other former ministers were similarly prosecuted.[10] This, combined with the halting of Philip's reforms, the issuing of numerous charters of rights[11] and a reversion to more traditional rule, largely assuaged the regional leagues.[12]

Readmittance of the Jews and reform of serfdom

Louis receiving a diploma from the Jews, whom he readmitted to France under strict terms. Painting made in 14th century.

In practical terms, Louis X effectively abolished slavery within the Kingdom of France in 1315. Louis continued to require revenues, however, and alighted on a reform of French serfdom as a way of achieving this. Arguing that all men are born free, Louis declared in 1315 that French serfs would therefore be freed, although each serf would have to purchase his freedom.[13] A body of commissioners was established to undertake the reform, establishing the peculium, or value, of each serf.[14] For serfs owned directly by the King, all of the peculium would be received by the Crown – for serfs owned by subjects of the King, the amount would be divided between the Crown and the owner.[15] In the event, not all serfs were prepared to pay in this fashion and in due course Louis declared that the goods of these serfs would be seized anyway, with the proceeds going to pay for the war in Flanders.[16]

Louis was also responsible for a key shift in policy towards the Jews. In 1306, his father, Philip IV, had expelled the Jewish minority from across France, a "shattering" event for most of these communities.[17] Louis began to reconsider this policy, motivated by the additional revenues that might be forthcoming to the Crown if the Jews were allowed to return.[18] Accordingly, Louis issued a charter in 1315, readmitting the Jews subject to various conditions. The Jews would only be admitted back into France for twelve years, after which the agreement might be terminated; Jews were to wear an armband at all times; Jews could only live in those areas where there had been Jewish communities previously; Jews were initially to be forbidden from usury.[19] This was the first time that French Jews had been covered by such a charter, and Louis was careful to justify his decision with reference to the policies of his ancestor Saint Louis IX, the position of Pope Clement V and an argument that the people of France had demanded a return of the Jews.[20] The result was a much weakened Jewish community that depended directly upon the King for their right of abode and protection.[21]

The challenge of Flanders

Louis campaigning in Flanders, where he sought a military solution to the ongoing problem of the "immensely wealthy", quasi-autonomous province of France. Painting circa 15th century.

Louis X continued the effort of his predecessor to achieve a military solution to the vexing problem of Flanders. The Count of Flanders ruled an "immensely wealthy state"[22] which enjoyed a largely autonomous existence on the margins of the French realm; French kings claimed to exercise suzerainty over Flanders, but heretofore with little success.[23] Philip IV had attempted to assert royal overlordship, but his army, led by Robert II of Artois, had been defeated at Courtrai in 1302;[24] despite a later French victory at the Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle the relationship remained testy and unsettled.

Louis mobilised an army along the Flemish border, but the French position rapidly become strained by the demands of maintaining a wartime footing. Louis had prohibited exports of grain and other material to Flanders in 1315. This proved challenging to enforce, and the king had to pressure officers of the Church in the borderlands,[25] as well as Edward II of England, to support his effort to prevent Spanish merchant vessels from trading with the embargoed Flemish.[26] An unintended result of the embargo was the rise of smuggling activities that reduced the advantage (and consequently the amount) of trading in compliance with royal restrictions in the border region. Louis was also forced to directly requisition food for his forces, resulting in a series of complaints from local lords and the Church.[27]

Death and legacy

Louis was a keen player of jeu de paume, or real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis out of doors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris "around the end of the 13th century".[28] In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe.[29] In June 1316 at Vincennes, following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning.[30] Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis is history's first tennis player known by name.[31] He and his second wife Clementia are interred in Saint Denis Basilica.

Louis' second wife Clementia was pregnant at the time of his death, leaving the succession in doubt. A son would have primacy over Louis' daughter, Joan.[32] A daughter, however, would have a weaker claim to the throne, and would need to compete with Joan's own claims – although suspicions hung over Joan's parentage following the scandal in 1314.[33] As a result, Louis' brother Philip was appointed regent for the five months remaining until the birth of his brother's child. The baby, who turned out to be male, lived only five days, until 20 November 1316—an extremely short reign for Louis's posthumous son, John I. Louis' brother Philip then succeeded in pressing his claims to the crowns of France and Navarre.

In fiction

Louis is a major character in Les Rois maudits (The Accursed Kings), a series of French historical novels by Maurice Druon. He was portrayed by Georges Ser in the 1972 French miniseries adaptation of the series, and by Guillaume Depardieu in the 2005 adaptation.[34][35]



  1. Baynes, p.18.
  2. The Low Countries and the Disputed Imperial Election of 1314, Henry S. Lucas, Speculum,Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jan., 1946), 79.
  3. Konta, p.521.
  4. 1 2 3 Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France 987-1328, (Hambledon Continuum, 2007), 277.
  5. Christopher L. Miller, The French Atlantic triangle: literature and culture of the slave trade, p.20.
  6. Ordonnances des Roi de France, V, p.1311, as quoted in Travers Twist. "The Extraterritoriality of Public Ships of War in Foreign Waters", The Law Magazine and Review: A Quarterly Review of Jurisprudence, Volume 1, No. 219, Saunders and Benning (February 1876)
  7. Sellery, p.292.
  8. Wagner, p.203.
  9. Lea, p.451.
  10. Emmerson and Clayton-Emmerson, p.528.
  11. Emmerson and Clayton-Emmerson, p.528.
  12. Wagner, p.203.
  13. Bishop, p.296.
  14. Stephen, p.377.
  15. Stephen, p.377.
  16. Jeudwine, p.18.
  17. Chazan, p.79.
  18. Chazan, p.79.
  19. Chazan, pp79-80.
  20. Chazan, p.79.
  21. Chazan, p.79.
  22. Holmes, p.16.
  23. Holmes, p.16.
  24. Holmes, p.16.
  25. Jordan, pp151-2.
  26. Kulsrud, p.212.
  27. Jordan, pp.169–170.
  28. Newman, p.163.
  29. Newman, p.163.
  30. Gillmeister, pp. 17–21.
  31. Gillmeister, pp.17–21.
  32. Rose, p.89.
  33. Wagner, p.250.
  34. "Official website: Les Rois maudits (2005 miniseries)" (in French). 2005. Archived from the original on 15 August 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  35. "Les Rois maudits: Casting de la saison 1" (in French). AlloCiné. 2005. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2015.


Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Louis X of France.
Louis X of France (Louis I of Navarre)
Born: October 1289 Died: 5 June 1316
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Philip IV
King of France
29 November 1314 – 5 June 1316
Title next held by
John I
Preceded by
Joan I and Philip I
King of Navarre
Count of Champagne

4 April 1305 – 5 June 1316
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