Louis XI (1423 – 1483)
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Portrait of Louis XI. © Photo12
Louis XI at the foot of St. Francis of Paola
Louis XI at the foot of St. Francis of Paola. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / René-Gabriel Ojéda
"I am France". With these words, Louis XI, who had finally succeeded his father Charles VII at the age of thirty-eight, entered Paris after his coronation in Reims, on 13 August 1461. It was his way of announcing a new type of French sovereign, borrowing from national feeling. The man who had conspired against his father while still very young, was quick to dismiss his advisers and limit the powers of the nobility. The latter, dissatisfied, led an open war against him from 1465, joining together in the League of Public Good under the leadership of Charles de Berry - his young brother, - the Duke of Bourgogne Philip the Fair and his son Charles the Bold and François II of Brittany. But, having decided to consolidate a kingdom ruined by the Hundred Years War, Louis XI expressed the desires of a people who had known the powerlessness of the great nations against the English.
Nicknamed the "universal spider" for his sense of strategy, he spun his web against feudalism. He thus prevented Charles the Bold from conquering Alsace and Lorraine, which would have allowed him to reunite Flanders and Burgundy. Louis XI also consolidated the French monarchy by removing the Anglo-Burgundy threat. Through the Treaty of Picquigny, Edward IV of England renounced the French throne. At the moment of his death, on 30 August 1483, Louis XI was able to say to the Dauphin "We have not lost any Crown lands, but we have increased and added to them". He had in fact extended the kingdom of France to Roussillon, the Duchy of Burgundy, Picardy, Anjou, Maine and Provence.