05 June, 2015

5 June 1316: Death of Louis X of France

699 years ago today, Edward II's brother-in-law Louis X, king of France and Navarre, count of Champagne, died at Bois de Vincennes.  He was only twenty-six, born on 4 October 1289.  The cause of his death at such a young age is unknown, but has been variously suggested as a sudden illness or infection (probably the likeliest explanation), overheating while playing jeu de paume, an early form of tennis, drinking chilled wine after overheating while playing jeu de paume, or even poison.  He had been king of France for a little over eighteen months, since the death of his father Philip IV on 29 November 1314 - Philip told Louis on his deathbed 'I love you above all others'* - and Louis I, king of Navarre and count of Champagne since the death of his mother Joan I in April 1305, when he was fifteen.

Louis's nickname was le Hutin, which translates as 'the Quarrelsome', the 'Headstrong' or 'the Stubborn'.  He was the eldest son and probably the eldest child of King Philip IV of France and Queen Joan I of Navarre, born when Philip was twenty-one and Joan sixteen, and was about six years older than his sister Isabella, queen of England, who was probably born in late 1295.  His other two siblings who survived childhood were Philip V, king of France and Navarre and count of Poitiers, born in about 1291, and Charles IV, king of France and Navarre and count of La Marche, born on 18 June 1294; three other siblings, Marguerite, Blanche and Robert, died young.  In September 1305, shortly before he turned sixteen, Louis married Marguerite of Burgundy, who was probably born in 1290 and thus was slightly younger than he.  She was the daughter of Duke Robert II of Burgundy and Agnes of France, the youngest child of King/Saint Louis IX, and was thus Louis's first cousin once removed (Louis IX was Marguerite of Burgundy's grandfather and Louis X's great-grandfather).  Louis and Marguerite had only one child, Jeanne or Joan of Navarre, born on 28 January 1312.  Marguerite sent her usher Jeannot de Samoys to England to inform Edward II and Isabella of France, then in York with the newly returned Piers Gaveston, of the birth, and Edward rewarded Jeannot for bringing them the news on 5 March 1312.**

In March/April 1314, while Queen Isabella was visiting Paris and possibly, or possibly not, on her information, Marguerite of Burgundy was arrested on suspicion of committing adultery, and imprisoned at Château-Gaillard in Normandy.  (I'll look at the adultery scandal of Philip IV's daughters-in-law in greater detail in a future post.)  At his accession as king of France at the end of November 1314, Louis X was still married to the imprisoned Marguerite, but she died, rather conveniently, on 14 August 1315, either murdered or (more likely) as a result of poor treatment during her captivity and consequent illness.  Five days later on 19 August 1315, Louis X married his third cousin Clemence of Hungary or Clemence of Anjou as she is sometimes called, granddaughter of Charles 'the Lame', king of Naples, Sicily and Albania and of Rudolf I, king of Germany, and daughter of Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary.  On 24 August 1315, Louis and Clemence were crowned king and queen of France at Rheims.

When Louis X died on 5 June 1316, Queen Clemence was about four months pregnant.  If she gave birth to a boy, he would immediately become king of France.  Meanwhile, Louis was buried at Saint-Denis - the great necropolis of the kings of France - two days after death, and another funeral was held somewhat later when his brother Philip, count of Poitiers, returned to Paris from Lyons (where he was trying to force the cardinals to elect a new pope, the office having been vacant since the death of Clement V on 20 April 1314).  On 15 November 1316, Queen Clemence gave birth to Louis's posthumous son, King John I of France, but sadly the baby king died when he was only five days old.  A succession crisis thus arose: next in line was John I's older half-sister, Louis X and Marguerite of Burgundy's four-year-old daughter Joan of Navarre.  Few people in France, however, wished Joan to be their queen, other than her maternal grandmother Agnes, dowager duchess of Burgundy and Philip IV's aunt (one of Louis IX's three surviving children), and her uncle Duke Eudo or Odo V of Burgundy, who pressed her rights.  As Marguerite had committed adultery, Joan's paternity was under some doubt, though Louis X had accepted her as his daughter.  In the end, Joan was deprived of France and Navarre, her uncle Philip of Poitiers becoming king of both, and her uncle Eudo IV married Philip V's eldest daughter Joan of France.  Joan of Navarre later married her cousin Philip of Evreux, son of Philip IV's half-brother Louis, count of Evreux.

Philip V died at the beginning of 1322, aged thirty, and was succeeded by his and Louis X's brother Charles IV.  When Charles died on 1 February 1328 at the age of thirty-five, he also left his widow Joan of Evreux (his first cousin and sister of Philip of Evreux) pregnant, and she gave birth exactly two months later to his posthumous daughter Blanche, later duchess of Orleans.  As none of the three brothers left surviving sons, the throne of France passed to their first cousin Philip of Valois, son of Philip IV's brother Charles, count of Valois and the first Valois king of France.  Philip of Valois had no claim to the kingdom of Navarre, as he was not a descendant of Joan I, and thus Louis X and Marguerite of Burgundy's sixteen-year-old daughter acceded as Queen Joan II of Navarre.  She and Philip of Evreux were the parents of the notorious Charles 'the Bad', king of Navarre and count of Evreux, born in 1332, Louis X's grandson.  Louis X also left an illegitimate daughter, Eudeline, abbess of the Franciscan house of Saint-Marcel near Paris between 1334 and 1339.

* Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France 987-1328 (London: Continuum, 2007), p. 278.

** Elizabeth A. R. Brown, 'The King’s Conundrum: Endowing Queens and Loyal Servants, Ensuring Salvation, and Protecting the Patrimony in Fourteenth-Century France', in Medieval Futures: Attitudes to the Future in the Middle Ages, ed. J. A. Burrow and Ian P. Wei (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2000), p. 134 note 45.


Anonymous said...

Great post ... glad that Joan II finally got her throne back! Hope these recent posts mean that your eye is completely healed


Kathryn Warner said...

Hi Esther, thanks! It's miles better, though there's still a big scar which is making my vision very blurred, and I'm taking cortisone drops for it.

Anerje said...

Really enjoyed this post. It struck me that all Isabella's brothers died relatively young and she lived to a good age, considering the times.

Sami Parkkonen said...

Hope your eye is getting better. Good one this again, thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this factual account of events. Poor Jeanne was sidelined somewhat, was she not? Though as rightly noted she did get the throne of Navarre eventually.

I know you are not enamoured of Maurice Druon's "The Accursed Kings" though I did read those books (except the last one which hadn't been written then) verily decades ago and did enjoy them (sorry!!!) They, as you are well aware, touched on the events of Louis le Hutin's reign and death among other occurrences during the reigns of the last Capetian monarchs. Though my understanding is that they were based to some extent on a ballad about "Artois" (M Druon's favourite character) so that would tell one that to some extent they were based on legend rather than hard fact.

Allow me to join my wishes to those hoping your eye is getting better.

Patricia O

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje, Sami and Patricia!

Yes, Isabella's brothers died at 26, 30 (or so) and 34, while she lived to be over 60. Quite interesting.

I've actually been re-reading Druon's books since they've been reissued, and I don't mind them so much apart from the Isabella one, which I truly loathe. :) I have the series on DVD, both the 1970s version and the 2005 remake.

chris y said...

Interesting that Joan of Navarre's claim was even considered. It makes Edward III's claim 40 years later look legally stronger than I'd realised, although of course it was still politically absurd.

Kathryn Warner said...

Chris, a parlement was held in Paris to debate the issue, and Joan's uncle Odo (and I presume her grandmother Agnes) pressed her claims. Philip of Poitiers, supported by his uncle Charles of Valois and his mother-in-law Mahaut of Artois, won the day, though.

Unknown said...

Not one for historical facts, until I hit my 50's. The upside of so many years of ignorance, is I have many years ahead of me with interesting reading and watching.