Louis VI, King of France

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Reigned from 1108 to 1137; b. 1081. The son of philip i and Bertha of Frisia, Louis studied at the abbey school of saint-denis, where he became acquainted with suger, the future abbot of Saint-Denis, who became Louis's biographer and chief adviser. His marriage to Lucienne de Rochefort ended in annulment in 1107. In 1115 Louis married Adelaide of Maurienne, who bore him several children, including his successor, Louis VII. Although Louis came to the throne at a time when disputes over elections and investitures remained unsettled, overall, he enacted favorable policies toward ecclesiastical institutions. As he extended royal authority beyond the Ilede-France, he intervened evenhandedly to settle quarrels between ecclesiastics and lay lords. When necessary, he disciplined clerics who had ignored the law, and he punished lay officials who had committed offenses against the church as well. In 1110 Waldric, bishop of Laon, implicated in the murder of Gerard of Quierzy, was tried before the king and exiled. In 1113 Louis forced Arnaud, abbot of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif to return the lands he had unlawfully taken from a royal vassal. In 1122, when William VI, count of Auvergne expelled Amaury, bishop of Clermont, from his bishopric, Louis and his army drove the count from Clermont. Both a benefactor and reformer of monastic houses, Louis favored established Benedictine monasteries such as Saint-Denis and founded the Benedictine convent at Montmartre. He also provided for the establishment of saint-victor, which became the center of several Augustinian houses, and gave land to the Premonstratensian abbey at Dilo. Louis's relationship with the papacy remained generally harmonious, especially when the papacy needed an ally against the emperor. Louis allowed Gelasius II to remain in exile at Cluny until the end of his life. In the papal schism of 1130 Louis sided with Innocent II, who had the support of bernard of clairvaux and the Cistercians. Innocent II crowned the future Louis VII, and with Louis's support returned to the papal see in Rome. Upon his death, Louis's body was interred at St. Denis.

Bibliography: suger, The Deeds of Louis the Fat, ed. and tr. r. c. cusimano and j. moorhead (Washington, DC 1992). r. fawtier, The Capetian Kings of France, tr. l. butler and r. j. adam (New York 1960). e. hallam, Capetian France (London 1980).

[p. d. watkins]