St. Louis IX’s reasons for staying four years in the Holy Land

May 29, 2014

Statue of Louis IX de France (Saint Louis), sculpted by James Pradier, in Aigues-Mortes

Statue of Louis IX de France (Saint Louis), sculpted by James Pradier, in Aigues-Mortes

The following Sunday we all came back again before the king; and when the king saw we were all assembled, he made the sign of the cross upon his mouth (invoking thereby, as I think, the aid of the Holy Spirit, for my lady mother once told me that every time I wished to say aught, I should invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit, and make the holy sign upon my mouth). And the words which the king spoke were these: “Lords, I greatly thank those who have advised me to return to France, and I thank also those who have advised me to remain here. But I think that if I remain, there will be no danger of loss to my realm; for my lady the queen has people enough to defend it; and I consider also that the barons of this land tell me that if I depart hence, the kingdom of Jerusalem is lost, for none will dare to remain after I have left. I have therefore decided that I will by no means abandon the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I came hither to guard and reconquer. So my conclusion is, that for the present, I remain here. And I say to you all, you men of note that are here, as also to such other knights as may wish to remain with me, that you come and speak to me boldly; and I will give you so much that the fault will not be mine, but yours, if you be not willing to remain.” Many that heard these words were filled with amazement, and many there were that wept.

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Geoffroy de Villehardouin and Jean de Joinville, Memoirs of the Crusades, trans. Sir Frank Marzials (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.), 243-4.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 389

 

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