Alternate History

Louis XI of France (The Kalmar Union)

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Louis XI
Louis XI
King of France
Reign 24th May, 1328 - 15th May, 1359
Predecessor Louis X
Successor Hugh II
Spouse Marie of Bordeaux

Isabella of Castile
Catherine of Milan
Catherine of Vienne

Issue Jeanne

Hugh II
John II

House Capet-Orleanais
Father Louis X
Born 23rd August, 1301
Paris, France
Died 15th May, 1359
Paris, France

Louis XI was the only son of the perennially gloomy Louis X. His reign is mostly remembered for a brief 'glorious summer' in the 1330-40s following military victory over Anglia which proved one of the highlights of medieval France.

Seeking to undo centuries of French military humiliation Louis allied with John I of Bohemia and together the two kings defeated Henry I in the Liege War of 1333-34. After the fall of Mons in April 1334 Henry was forced to pay Louis homage for Artesië, Flanders and Hainault. While Louis received little in the way of concrete receipts for this act it did resurrect nominal French control over a considerable part of Northern Francia. It also at least promised Henry could be induced into further military action in Louis' behalf. The political crisis into which Anglia would subsequently fall into meant this was never put to the test.

This period produced a flowering of courtly life, powered in part by Louis' own curiosity and learning. Great artworks were commissioned for restored palaces and churches whilst Louis himself indulged in endless tournaments with rich rewards for its combatants. The famous royal reliquary and library at Evry would be founded in 1337.

When Henry I reasserted his political power it meant a return to war for France and Luxembourg. However this campaign was utterly disastrous and at the Battle of Monthermé in April 1346 John I was killed and Louis captured. Taken to Norwich castle he lingered for 3 years in captivity while the French diplomats frantically attempted to stump up the vast ransom Anglia now demanded. Eventually a colossal sum of 2 million crowns was settled on, alongside France effectively ceding all Anglian territory in perpetuity. Of course by this point the Black Death had begun its murderous course through Europe and no state, not even relatively wealthy France could possibly hope to raise such a sum. Eventually a yearly premium was settled on and in addition Louis' widowed daughter Jeanne would be married to the new Anglian king, Henry II. Both terms would be a lingering source of intense humiliation.

The Black Death ruined France's economy killing roughly half of its population. A quickly pieced together writ to hold peasant wages at pre-plague levels quickly unravelled and Louis was burdened by revolts, peasant and noble, that he struggled to contain. The 'golden summer' had come to a shuddering halt.

The search for a male heir occupied much of the remainder of Louis' life. His first and second wives had produced no male heirs and after Jeanne gave birth to a boy (Prince Christopher of Ghent) it looked as though Anglia could inherit France too. His marriage to Isabella of Castile was annulled after she was charged with adultery whilst a third wife, Catherine of Milan, died during birth of another girl.

The exhaustive marriage policies eventually paid off; in 1356 Catherine of Vienne gave birth to a son, Hugh, and the following year John followed. Both would be king in turn however France would endure almost twenty years of unpopular government during their minorities, disrupting France's growth and stability.

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