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Medieval Sourcebook:
Abbot Suger: Life of King Louis the Fat

Suger was the abbot of the royal monastery of St. Denis near Paris from 1122 until his death in 1151. He served as adviser and confidant to the French kings Louis VI and Louis VII, and wrote The Deeds of King Louis the Fat to celebrate the accomplishments of the former.  Abbot Suger is also credited with introducing the architectural style known as “Gothic” (emphasis on stained glass windows, arched vaults, and flying buttresses) with the building of the Abbey Church of St. Denis (1137-1144), about which he wrote in his tracts Liber de Rebus in Administratione sua Gestis and Libellus Alter de Consecratione Ecclesiae Sancti Dionysii

The subject of The Life of King Louis the Fat  was Louis VI, the first important Capetian king of France, who reigned from 1108 to 1137.  Louis's main achievement was to consolidate royal power within the Ile-de-France by suppressing the castellans who dominated the royal domain lands. (The term "castellan" refers to a noble who possessed one or more castles.) Louis's success owed much to an alliance he forged between the French monarch and the great Churchmen (bishops and abbots) and the leading townsmen of northern France.  Suspicious of the power of his barons, Louis used clergy and burghers rather than great nobles as royal administrators. His efforts to establish peace and maintain order facilitated the development of agriculture, trade and intellectual activity in the Ile-de-France. Under his rule, Paris began its expansion which would make it by 1200 the greatest Christian city north of the Alps. The following excerpts describe Louis's military actions against the "robber barons" of the Ile-de-France and the King of England Henry I (r.1100-1135).

Chapter 1 


How valiant he was in youth, and with what energy he repelled the king of the English, William Rufus, when he attacked Louis' inherited kingdom.

The glorious and famous king of the French Louis, son of the magnificent king Philip, in the first flower of his youth, barely then twelve or thirteen years ole, was elegant and handsome, and had achieved such progress, by praiseworthy development both of his character and of his fine body that he gave promise of a swift and honourable enlargement of his future kingdom and encouraged warm hopes that he would defend the churches and the poor. This highborn youth, in accordance with the ancient custom of Charlemagne and other great kings, attested by imperial charters, attached himself to the saintly martyrs and their servants at St. Denis, as if from a naturally sweet disposition. He prolonged this friendship with their church formed in his boyhood throughout his whole life, displaying great liberality and reverence; so much so that, at the end of his life, he placed his hope in them second only to God, and gave himself up to them, body and soul, with devotion and deliberation, so that, had it been possible, he would have become a monk there. 

In his youth, growing courage matured his spirit with youthful vigour, making him bored with hunting and the boyish games with which others of his age used to enjoy themselves and forget the pursuit of arms. And when he was troubled by the attacks of many great men of the kingdom and of the outstanding and magnanimous king of the English William, son of the even more magnanimous king William the conqueror of the English, his stout heart exalted at the chance to prove himself, his courage smiled at the test, he banished inertia, opened the gates to prudence, put an end to leisure, increased his concern. William king of the English was skilled in military arts, avid for praise and eager for fame. After his elder brother Robert was disinherited, he was fortunate to succeed his father William; then, after Robert's departure for Jerusalem, he obtained the duchy of Normandy. there he put so much pressure on the Norman frontiers of the French kingdom that wherever he could he forced the renowned young prince to fight. 

While they fought, similarities and dissimilarities between them came to light. They were alike in that neither would yield; they were dissimilar in that one was a mature man, the other a youth; one rich, prodigal with the treasures of England, a brilliant recruiter and paymaster of soldiers; the other lacking in money, sparing in expending the treasures of his inherited kingdom, only brought an army together by energetic hard work, yet resisted boldly. you might have seen that young man dashing across the frontiers, now into Berry, now into the Auvergne, now into Burgundy, with a handful of men, and returning just as quickly to the Vexin, if he judged it necessary, to confront with his three or five hundred men King William with his thousand; and the vicissitudes of war being uncertain, sometimes he yielded, sometimes he put his enemy to flight. 

In these encounters many captives were taken on both sides; the famous youth and his men captured among many others, the count Simon, the noble baron William de l'Aigle, an equally illustrious figure in England and in Normandy, Pagan of Gisors, for whose benefit the castle of Gisors was fortified for the first time; and on the other side, the king of England captured the bold and noble count Matthew of Beaumont, the illustrious and renowned baron Simon de Montfort, and Lord Pagan of Montjay. But while anxiety about hiring soldiers ensured the swift redemption of those from England, the rigours of a very long captivity emaciated the Frenchmen. They could not by any means escape from their chains until they took homage of the English king, joined his service, and promised on oath to attack and disturb their own king and his kingdom.  


Chapter II 

How he restrained Bouchard de Montmorency, a noble man, and all his followers from attacking St. Denis. 

The famous young man Louis grew up to be cheerful, agreeable and kind, to the point that some people though him simple. As a distinguished and courageous defender of his father's kingdom, he provided for the needs of churches, and - a thing which went right against recent custom - worked for the peace of monks, labourers and the poor.

 Then there arose disputes over certain customs between Adam, the venerable abbot of St. Denis, and Burchard, the noble lord of Montmorency. The argument reached such a pitch of anger that, throwing off homage, the two one-time allies fought it out with sword and fire. When this reached the ears of the Lord Louis, moved by sharp indignation, without delay he forced Burchard to appear before his father to submit to judgement. When Bouchard had lost his case, he would not accept the judgement. He was not held in captivity - that is not the French custom; but after his departure he quickly found out what unpleasantness and misfortune the disobedience of subjects earns from the royal majesty. The famous youth brought up an army against him and his confederates - for Burchard had been joined by the valiant and belligerent Mathew, count of Beaumont and Drogo de Mouchy. Louis ravaged Bouchard's lands, he threw down the fortified places, ruined the outer defences, though not the keep of the castle, and gave everything over the fire, famine and the sword. Inside the castle, they tried to put up effective resistance. So with the French and Flemish solders brought by his uncle Robert, Louis besieged it. By these and other blows he subjected the humiliated Bouchard to his will and pleasure, and having obtained satisfaction he put an end to the quarrel that had caused the trouble.

 Then he attacked Drogo de Mouchy to avenge this and other unprovoked attacks, especially those on the church of Beauvais. Louis met him, surrounded by a great force of archers and crossbowmen, only a short distance from his castle, so that his flight should be shorter if he was beaten. Louis rushed against hi, prevented him from returning to the castle by forced of arms, and then dashed into the midst of the enemy and though the gate. Great champion and distinguished swordsman that he was, in the castle he was frequently struck and frequently struck others; yet he would neither withdraw nor permit himself to be repulsed until he had totally captured and reduced to cinders the whole castle up to the turret. Such was the ardour of the prince that he took no pains to get away from the fire even when it became dangerous to him and his army and made him very hoarse. And thus, having humbled his enemy to the arm of God in whose name he fought, he subjugated him as if were a sick man, and subdued him to his will.


Chapter XIX 

How he captured Hugh and ruined the castle of Le Puiset  

As the pleasant fruit of a prolific tree recovers its sweet-smelling savour either by the transplantation of a twig or by the grafting of a branch, so the sucker of iniquity and wickedness which ought to be rooted out passes by many wicked men to twine itself round one man, in the same way as a snake among the eels torments men with its native poison as bitter as absinthe. Like these was Hugh de Puiset, a wicked man rich only in his own and his ancestors' tyranny, when he succeeded his uncle Guy in the honour of Le Puiset, his own father having with astonishing conceit taken arms in the first Jerusalem journey. His father's son, Hugh took after him in all wickedness, but 'those whom his father chastised with whips, he chastised with scorpions.' (II Chronicles, 10, v.11). 

Swollen with pride because he had oppressed most cruelly the poor, the churches and the monasteries and yet been unpunished, he reached the point where 'the evil-doers have fallen; they have been driven forth and cannot stand.' (Psalm XXV,13 ). Since he could not prevail against the King of kings, nor against the king of the French, he attacked the countess of Chartres and her son Thibaud, a handsome young man and skilled in arms. He ravaged their land as far as Chartres, pillaging and burning it. The noble countess and her son sometimes attempted revenge as best they could, though belatedly and inadequately; but they never or almost never got within eight or ten miles of Le Puiset. Such was Hugh's insolence, such the force of his imperious pride that many served him although few loved him. But if many defended him, more hoped for his destruction; for he was more feared than loved. 

When count Thibaud realised that he was achieving little against Hugh on his own, but might achieve much with the king, he hastened to Louis with his most noble mother, who had always served the king faithfully, to try to move him with their prayers, claiming that they had deserved his assistance through many services, and recounting the crimes of Hugh, his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather. 'O king, remember, as royal majesty should, the shameful affront Hugh inflicted upon your father Philip when, in breach of his homage, he wickedly repulsed him from Le Puiset while Philip was attempting to punish his many crimes. Proud of his wicked relations, by criminal conspiracy he drove the king's army back to Orleans, captured the count of Nevers, Lancelin of Beaugency and about a hundred knights, and even in an unprecedented move dishonoured several bishops by keeping them in chains.'  

Thibaud then added a lengthy explanation of how and why the castle had come to be built fairly recently by the venerable queen Constance in the middle of land dedicated to the saints, to protect it, and how afterwards Hugh's family had seized it all and left the king with nothing but injuries. But now, since the sizeable armies of Chartres, Blois and Chateaudun on which he customarily relied not only would not help him but even would fight against him, it would be easy for the king, if he wished, to ruin the castle, disinherit Hugh and avenge his father's injuries. If he did not wish to punish Hugh, either for his own or for his faithful servants' injuries, he ought either to accept the gift for the oppression of churches and the depredations of the poor, the widows and the orphans which Hugh inflicted on the land of the saints and its inhabitants, or he ought to prevent them from occurring. The king was so moved by these and similar complaints that he named a day to take counsel on the affair. I went to Melun, along with many archbishops, bishops, clerks and monks, whose lands had been ravaged by Hugh, more rapacious than a wolf. They cried out and fell at Louis' still unwilling feet, begging him to put an end to the brigand Hugh's limitless rapacity; to seize back from the dragon's maw their prebends established by the munificence of kings in the fertile lands of Beauce for the support of God's servants; to attempt to liberate the lands of the priests which even under the cruel domination of the Pharaohs had been unique in their freedom; they begged that as God's vicar, bearing in his person God's life-giving image, the king should restore the church's goods to liberty.

 He received their petition with good grace and in no way took it lightly. Then the prelates, the archbishop of Sens, the bishop of Orleans, and the venerable Ivo, bishop of Chartres, who had been imprisoned by force and held captive for many days in that castle, went home; and the king, with the consent of my predecessor abbot Adam of blessed memory, sent me to Toury, a rich and well-provisioned though unfortified vill in Beauce, belonging to St. Denis, of which I was in charge. He ordered that, while he summoned Hugh to answer these charges, I should provision the town, then attempt to gather as large a force as possible from his men and ours to prevent Hugh from burning it; then the king would fortify it and, like his father, attack the castle from there.  

With God's help I was able to fill it quite quickly with a force of knights and foot-soldiers. After Hugh had absented himself from the trial and been condemned by default, the king came to me at Toury with a great army to claim from Hugh the castle he had forfeited. When Hugh refused to leave it, the king without delay hastened to attack the castle, using both his knights and his footsoldiers. You might have seen a host of catapults, bows, shields and swords; it was war. And you might have admired the rain of arrows from one side then the other; the sparks which shot out from the helmets under pressure of repeated blows; the amazing suddenness with which shields were broken or holed. As the enemy were pushed through the castle gate, from the inside, high up on the ramparts, a remarkable shower fell on our men, terrifying and almost intolerable to the bravest of men. Hugh's forces began the counter-attack by pulling down beams and throwing stakes, but they could not complete it. The royal soldiers on the other hand fought with the greatest bravery and strength of body and mind; even when their shields were broken they took cover behind planks, doors or any wooden objects they could find, as they pressed against the gate. I organised carts piled high with dry wood mixed with grease, a very inflammable mixture; for the enemy were excommunicated and all given over to the devil. Our men dragged the carts to the gate both to light an inextinguishable fire and to protect themselves behind the piles of wood.  

While they were dangerously attempting some of them to light the fire, others to extinguish it, Count Thibaud at the head of a large army of knights and foot-soldiers assaulted the castle on the other side, that is the side near Chartres. Remembering his injuries he hastened to penetrate it and encouraged his men to climb up the steep slope of the rampart, but he then grieved to see them coming, or rather falling, down even faster; those whom he had forced to creep upwards cautiously and on their stomachs he saw being thrown over on their backs and pushed down carelessly, as he tried to find out whether they had died under the weight of stones thrown after them. The knights who were riding round the keep on their swiftest horses came inopportunely on those who had crawled up the palisade on their hands, struck them, cut off their heads and flung them down from the top of the ditch.  

With broken hands and paralysed knees they had almost halted the assault, when the strong, rather the omnipotent, hand of God intervened to ensure that this great and just vengeance should all be ascribed to him. Since the parish militias of the country were there, God excited the courage of a certain bald priest and made it possible for him, contrary to human opinion, to achieve what the armed count and his men had found impossible. Covering himself with the cheapest of planks and bareheaded, he climbed rapidly upward, came to the palisade and, hiding under the overhang which was well suited to it, he gradually pulled the palisade apart. Pleased that he was working undisturbed, he made a signal to the hesitant and those standing idle in the fields that they should help him. Seeing an unarmed priest bravely throwing down the palisade, the armed men rushed in, applied to it their axes and any iron implements they could find, cut it down and completely broke it. Then, as a miraculous sign of divine judgement, as if they had brought down the walls of a second Jericho, as soon as they had broken down the barriers, the armies of the king and the count entered. Thus a good many of the enemy, unable to avoid hostile attacks on either side, were captured as they rushed hither and thither, and were seriously wounded.  

The rest, including Hugh himself, seeing that the interior of the castle and its surrounding wall could not offer safety, withdrew into the wooden tower that crowned the motte. Almost immediately, terrified by the menacing spears of the pursuing army, Hugh surrendered and was imprisoned in his own home with his men and, wretched in his chains, he recognised how much pride goes before a fall. When the victorious king had led off the noble captives as fit booty for the royal majesty, he ordered that all the castle's furniture and its riches should be publicly sold and the castle itself consumed by fire. The burning of the keep was delayed for several days because count Thibaud, forgetful of the great good fortune which he could never have achieved on his own, was plotting to extend his boundaries by erecting a castle at a place called Allaines within the lordship of Le Puiset which had been held in fief of the king. When the king formally refused to allow this, the count offered to provide proof by his procurator in that part, Andrew of Baudement; the king said he had never agreed to anything of the sort, but offered reason and judicial combat in the person of his steward Anselm, wherever the champions thought safe. Since they were both valiant men they often asked that a court be convened for this battle; but they never obtained one. 

When the castle had been ruined and Hugh shut up in the keep of Chateau-Landon, Count Thibaud, strengthened by the assistance of his uncle Henry the English king, started a war against King Louis with his allies, disturbed the land, seduced the king's barons with promises and gifts, and detestably plotted what evil he could against the state. But the king, an excellent knight, took frequent revenge on him and harassed his lands supported by many other barons, especially his uncle Robert, count of Flanders, a remarkable man, famous among Christians and Saracens for his skill in arms since the first Jerusalem journey.  

One day, as the king was leading an expedition against the count, he saw him in the city of Meaux. In fury Louis attacked him and his men, fearlessly he followed the fugitive across the bridge and with count Robert and the other great men of the kingdom he threw them at sword point into the waves. When they themselves fell in you would have seen this unencumbered hero moving his arms like Hector's, launching gigantic attacks on the trembling bridge, pressing forward to the perilous entrance in order to occupy the city despite its numerous defenders; and not even the great river Marne would have prevented him from doing so, if the gate across the river had not been locked.  

He enhanced his reputation for valour with an equally brilliant exploit when, leading his army out of Lagny, he met Thibaud's troops in the beautiful plain of meadows beside Pomponne; he attacked them and put them to flight at once under the pressure of his repeated blows. Fearing the narrow entrance of a nearby bridge, some of them, thinking only to save their lives, were not afraid to throw themselves into the water at grave risk of death; others, treading each other under foot in their efforts to get to the bridge, threw off their arms and, more hostile to each other than were their enemies, all tried to go across at once, though only one man at a time could make the journey. And while their tumultuous push plunged them in confusion, the more they hurried the more they were held up, and so it came about that 'the first was last and the last became first.' But as the approach to the bridge was surrounded by a ditch, it offered them some shelter, because the king's knights could only follow them one by one, and even that could not be achieved without great loss since, although many pressed in, only a few could reach the bridge. Whichever way they entered, they were as often as not upset by the milling crowd of both armies, fell on their knees in spite of themselves, and as they hastily got up, pushed others down. The king in hot pursuit with his own men, brought about great carnage; those he struck he demolished he flung into the river Marne, either by sword blow or by a push from his powerful horse. Those who had no arms floated on account of their lightness; but those who were mailed were instantly dragged down by their own weight. Before their third immersion they were saved by their own companions, though after the shame of rebaptism, if one can talk like this. 

By these and other injuries the king exhausted the count; he devastated all his lands, both in Brie and in Chartres, making no distinction between the times when the count was present and those when he was absent. Because the count was apprehensive over the fewness and lack of energy of his men, he tried to draw the king's men away from him, bribing them with gifts and promises and holding out the hope that, before he made peace with Louis, he would obtain satisfaction on their behalf for various grievances. 

Among those he attached to himself were Lancelin of Bulles, lord of Dammartin, and Pagan of Montjay, whose lands, situated at a fork in the road, offered a secure access for the harassment of Paris. For the same reason he seduced Raoul of Beaugency, whose wife, the daughter of Hugh the Great, was the king's first cousin. Preferring expediency to honour and tormented by great anxiety, - need makes the old wife trot, as the proverb runs - Thibaud joined his noble sister in incestuous marriage with Milo de Montlhéry, to whom the king returned the castle as we have previously said.  

This done, he interrupted the lines of communication and restored in the very heart of France the old endless sequence of storms and wars. With Milo he gained his relation Hugh of Crécy, lord of Chateaufort, and Guy of Rochefort, thus exposing the country of Paris and Etampes to the ravages of war, had the knights not prevented it. While access across the Seine to Paris and Senlis lay open to count Thibaud with the men of Brie and to his uncle Hugh with the men of Troyes, Milo had access from this side of the river; thus the inhabitants lost the chance of helping each other. The same was true for the men of Orleans, whom those of Chartres, Chateaudun and Brie kept at a distance with the help of Raoul of Beaugency and with no opposition. The king nevertheless often put them on their backs, although the wealth of England and Normandy was poured forth unsparingly against him. For the famous King Henry attacked Louis' lands with all his strength and all his effort. But he was no more beaten down than if 'all the rivers together threatened to take their waters from the sea,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, V, 366-337.)


Chapter XX 

How Hugh was set free. 

Meanwhile there occurred the death of Odo, count of Corbeil, a man yet not a man for he was not rational but brutal. He was the son of Bouchard, that most arrogant of counts, tumultuous leader of brigands, of such amazing pretentions that he aspired to the throne. One day, as he took up arms against the king, he refused to accept his sword from the man holding it out to him, and said insolently to his wife who was standing by him. 'Noble countess, confer this splendid sword on your noble count with joy, for he who receives it from you as a count will today return it to you as a king.' But by God's will it came about quite differently; for at the end of the day he was neither what he had been nor what he wished to be. Struck that very day by the lance of count Stephen, who was fighting on the king's side, he strengthened that peace of the kingdom by his death, and took himself and his war to the lowest pit of hell where he fights to eternity. 

After the death of his son count Odo, count Thibaud, his mother, Milo, Hugh and their allies did what they could be gifts and promises to obtain his castle, in order to disembowel the king. On the other hand the king and his men, rebutting their claims, sweated with great ardour to obtain it for themselves. But it was quite impossible to do this without consulting Hugh, because he was Odo's nephew.  

A day and place - Moissy, a domain of the bishop of Paris, of evident ill-omen - were appointed to settle the affair. When we met together, Hugh's decision was in part against us, and in part in our favour, for since we could not have what we wanted, we wanted what we could have. He renounced his claim to the castle of Corbeil, to which he had boasted of being the heir; he also swore to desist from all harassments, taxes and vexatious charges on all churches and monasteries; then after hostages had been given to guarantee these arrangements and after he had sworn he would never fortify Le Puiset without the king's consent, deceived by his treachery not his cunning, we went home.  


Chapter XXI 

Of the attack on Toury and the restoration of Le Puiset. 

Very soon Hugh treated his still recent oath as a trifle, a fluid thing without shape. Exasperated by his long captivity, like a dog too long chained up who, once released, lets loose the fury conceived but contained during the long period of its imprisonment and, freed from chains, bits and tears everything to pieces, so Hugh liquified his long frozen malice, stirred it up, put it to work, and pushed it towards deception. In alliance with the enemies of the realm, Thibaud, the count palatine, and Henry, the great king of the English, when he had heard the king Louis had set out for Flanders on affairs of state, he collected together as many knights and foot-soldiers as he could, determined to take back his castle of Le Puiset, and hastened either to destroy or to subdue the country around about.  

One Saturday, as he was passing the ruins of his castle on which the king had given permission for a public market, he undertook on oath - a singular deception - and in a very loud voice to guarantee it security; at the same time he suddenly threw into prison those among them whom he had learned to be the richest. Then gnashing his teeth like a wild beast and cutting to bits anything that came in his way, he hastened with count Thibaud to destroy totally Toury, a fortified vill belonging to St. Denis. The day before he had met me, and with his adroitness in trickery and evil had begged and obtained from me a promise that I would go that very day to intercede with the king on his behalf. He calculated that in my absence he could enter the vill with ease, or should it resist him, destroy it utterly. 

But the tenants of God and of St. Denis entered the fortification and, protected by divine help and by the strength of the defences, resisted with strength and courage. Meanwhile I came to Corbeil, where I met the king, who had already learned the truth from Normandy; he quickly asked me who I had come, laughed at my simplicity, with great indignation explained Hugh's deception, and sent me back at once to help the vill. 

While he collected an army on the road to Étampes, I went back by the straightest and shortest road to Toury, with my eyes fixed on the place from a distance, looking for the one indication that the place had not yet been captured, the three-storied tower of the fort which dominated the whole plain; for if it had been captured the enemy would at once have set fire to the tower. But because the enemy was occupying the neighbourhood, ravaging and devastating everywhere, I could not, either by gifts or by promises, persuade anyone I met to come with me. 

But the fewer in number the safer. As the sun was setting the enemy, wearied by having attacked our men unsuccessfully all day, relaxed a little. Seeing our opportunity, we pretended to be of their number and in great danger we rushed through the middle of the vill; we gave a signal to our men on the ramparts, they opened the gate, and with God's help we rushed in at top speed. Rejoicing in my presence they mocked the enemy's rest, wounded them with scornful insults and, despite my reluctance - indeed my prohibition - called them back to a second assault. But the divine hand protected the defenders and the defence as well in my presence as it had done in my absence. Of our small army only a few perished of wounds, while many of their large numbers shared that fate; many of these were taken away in litters, but others were buried under a very thin covering of earth where they made meals for wolves the next day and the day after.  

The enemy had not yet got back to Le Puiset after their expulsion when William of Garlande and some of the most resolute and best armed of the king's household hastened to help the vill, hoping to find the enemy in that neighbourhood so that they could demonstrate the courage of the king's militia. The lord king at once joined them at dawn. When he heard that they had received hospitality in the burg, he prepared to take revenge on his enemies with joy and happiness, because it had fallen to him to avenge by sudden slaughter and unexpected punishment the injury which had been unexpectedly inflicted. But the enemy, hearing of his advance, were astonished that he had discovered a plot so well hidden, had put off his journey to Flanders and had not so much come as flown to help. Not daring to do more, they pressed on with the restoration of the castle. But the king collected what army he could from the neighbourhood, for he was much strained by war in many places. Then on Tuesday morning he led forth his troops, planned the battle lines, nominated the chiefs, set the archers and slingers in their places and, step by step, approached the unfinished castle. Because he had heard Count Thibaud boasting that he would fight the king in the plain, with his customary bravery he got off his horse, ordered that the horses be removed and, as one armed man among many others, he inspired to courage those who had dismounted with him, calling on them not to flinch, but to fight with the greatest fortitude. Seeing him coming so bravely, the enemy were frightened, and became too nervous to leave the castle outworks. They chose timidly but cautiously to arrange their troops behind the ancient ditch of the destroyed castle and there they waited, calculating that when the king's army tried to go down into the ditch and resist from there, the well-organised battle lines would lose their order and in confusion they would waver - which is very largely what happened.   In the first charge of the battle, the king's knights drove the enemy as if defeated from the ditch with great elan and slaughter, then broke their lines and pursued them pell-mell. Meanwhile Raoul of Beaugency, a man of great wisdom and valour, fearing in advance that this would happen, had hidden his troops in a part of the castle where they were concealed by the shelter of a tall church and some houses nearby. When he was his allies fleeing through the gate, he unleashed his fresh troops on the weary royal knights and did much damage. They fled in a bunch on foot, impeded by the weight of their mail and armour, hardly able to resist the well-organised line of mounted warriors. After innumerable blows and much fighting on either side, they got back with the king on foot over the ditch they had seized, and belatedly realised the superiority of wisdom over rashness; for if they had awaited their enemies in due order in the plain, they would totally have subdued them to their will.  

But bewildered by the confusion of their lines, they could not find their own horses nor decide what to do. The king mounted a borrowed horse and, resisting stoutly, loudly called his men back to him, appealing to the bolder ones by name not to flee. Penned in by the enemy's wings on either side, he wielded his sword, protected those he could, pursued the fugitives and, an outstanding knight he fought brilliantly in a knight's, not a king's, capacity, although it was not entirely fitting to the royal majesty. But he could not alone, with a tired horse, prevent the collapse of his army, until his squire appeared with his own charger. Swiftly mounting it and carrying his standard before him, he charged the enemy with a few men, with marvellous courage he rescued many of his own men from captivity, caught some of the enemy in the violence of his charge and, to prevent further damage to his army, he put the enemy to flight as if the sea of Cadiz had dashed itself against the pillar of Hercules, or as if they had been kept at their distance by the great Ocean itself.

Before they got back to Le Puiset, they met an army of five hundred or more Norman knights who, had they had earlier while our army was in trouble, would have been to inflict graver losses on us. The king's army dispersed all around, some to Orleans, some to Étampes, some to Pithiviers; the king, exhausted, betook himself to Toury. 'The bull, chased from the herd in his first fight, sharpens his horns on the tree-trunks,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, II, 601, 603) and, collecting his strength in his might chest, 'Heedless of his great wound, he goes forth' (ibid, I, 212) against the enemy across the iron barriers. So the king rallied his army, stiffened its courage, revived its boldness, argued that its defeat had been owed to folly not imprudence, pointed out that any army inevitably meets with such setbacks on occasion, and tried both by flattery and by threats to make them fight even more ferociously and boldly, should opportunity present itself, in order to avenge their injury. Meanwhile both Normans and French devoted themselves to repairing the castle; there were with count Thibaud and the Normans Milo de Montlhéry, Hugh de Crecy and his brother Guy, count of Rochefort, in all thirteen thousand men, who threatened Toury with a siege. But the king fearlessly attempted to harass them night and day, preventing them from going any distance to seek food.  

After a week of continuous labour the castle was rebuilt, and some of the Normans then left, but Count Thibaud remained with a large army. The king gathered his forces, ordered the siege engines to be moved, and came back to Le Puiset in strength. When he met the enemy he ground them to powder. Taking his revenge by fighting them up to the gate, he shut them into the castle and posted soldiers to prevent them for escaping. A stone's throw away there was an abandoned motte which had belonged to his ancestors; this he occupied and erected another castle on it with much labour and pain. For although the prefabricated frame of beams offered some defence, our men had to put up with the dangerous onslaughts of the slingers, the catapulters and the archers; all the worse because those who tormented them, safe behind their castle walls, threw their weapons out without any fear of reprisal for the misery they were inflicting. In their thirst for victory a dangerous conflict blew up between those within and those without. Those of the king's knights who had been wounded, remembering their injuries, strove to to inflict similar suffering, and would not hold back from this until they had fortified the castle almost built by magic with a large garrison and many weapons, convinced as they were that, as soon as the king had gone, they would have to defend themselves with the utmost courage against the assaults of their neighbours or perish wretchedly by the cruel swords of their enemies. 

So the king returned to Toury and rallied his forces; then, boldly risking danger, he brought food to provision the army on the motte across the enemy lines, sometimes secretly with just a few men, sometimes openly with a force. Then the men of Le Puiset, who were so near that they could put intolerable pressure on the garrison, threatened a siege. So the king raised camp, occupied Janville about a mile from Le Puiset, and surrounded the central square with a stockade of stakes and osiers. While his army established their tents outside, Count Palatine Thibaud at the head of any army of the best men he could find from his on and the Norman troops, rushed to attack them, hoping to catch them unawares and not yet defended, then to repel and prostrate them. 

The king went forth to meet them in his armour; each side fought with equal violence, heedless of lances and swords, caring more for victory than for survival, more about triumph than about death. There you would have seen an admirable feat of valour: the count's army, about three times larger than the king's, forced the king's soldiers into the vill; then the king with a few men, Raoul, the most noble count of Vermandois, his cousin, Dreu de Mouchy and one or two others, scorning to retreat timidly and remembering his customary valour, chose to withstand the heaviest charges of the armed enemy and their countless blows rather than be compelled to return into the vill, thus insulting his own courage and the royal majesty. 

Count Thibaud, thinking himself already the victor, was rashly attempting to pull down the count of Vermandois' tents when, with great speed, that count rushed up, declared that up till now the men of Brie had never dared to act with such presumption against those of Vermandois, charged him and with great effort repaid him for the injury he had suffered by repulsing him very vigorously. The king's knights, inspired by his valour and his cries, fell on them; thirsting for their blood they attacked them, cut them down, put them to shame and pushed them back by force to through the gate of Le Puiset, even if it sullied their dignity. Many were captured, more slain. The outcome of battle is always doubtful. Those who had earlier thought themselves the victors were filled with filled with shame at their defeat, grieved for the captives, and lamented their dead.  

While the king in his turn prevailed against them, the count slipped downwards from the top of fortune's wheel and lost strength. For he and his men had suffered long trials and intolerable, exhausting depression, while each day the king's strength and that of his supporters increased as the kingdom's barons grew indignant against the count and came to help. So Thibaud used an old would as an excuse to retire from the fray, and sent messengers and intermediaries to the king to beg humbly that he would allow him to retreat in safety to Chartres. In his kindness and more than human mercy, the king agreed to this request, although many counselled that he should not let his enemy, trapped by lack of provisions, go free, nor risk further repetition of his injuries. Both Hugh and the castle of Le Puiset were left to the king's discretion. Then the count withdrew to Chartres, deprived of his vain hope, and brought to a wretched conclusion the enterprise he had begun so happily. The king not only disinherited Hugh du Puiset, but also ordered that the walls of his castle be pulled down, its ditches filled in and the whole place flattened as if accursed.  


Chapter XXII 

Of Hugh's renewed treason. 

Much later in different circumstances, after he had been received back into the king's favour by offering many hostages and oaths, Hugh resumed the path of deception. 'Pupil of Scylla, he excelled his master in crime,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 326.) Again he was besieged by the king, disinherited again; yet though he pierced the king's steward Anselm of Garlande, a valiant baron, with his own lance, this was not enough to make him forget his innate and habitual treason, until he took the road to Jerusalem. This did what it has done to many wicked men: it cured his enflamed evil of all its poison by taking his life. 



Chapter XXIV 

How the king destroyed Thomas of Marle's castles. 

Thomas de Marle, the most abandoned of men, ravaged the country of Laon, Rheims and Amiens while King Louis was occupied with the wars described above and many others. The devil prospered his enterprises because the prosperity of fools usually leads them to perdition. So he devastated and devoured like a furious wolf, massacring and destroying everything; he did not spare the clergy out of fear of excommunication nor the people out of any humanity. He even siezed from the nunnery of St. John at Laon two excellent vills, and fortified with fine ramparts and high towers the two well-defended castles of Crecy and Nouvion, as if they were his own, transforming them into a dragon's lair and a robbers' cave, in order to expose almost the whole of that land pitylessly to rapine and arson.  

Worn out by his intolerable vexations, the French church held a general synod at Beauvais, to promulgate there a preliminary sentence and condemnation against the enemies of Christ's true bride. But Conan, bishop of Palestrina, venerable legate of the holy Roman church, deeply grieved by the innumerable complaints of the churches and the vexation of the poor and orphans, struck at Thomas's tyranny with the sword of St. Peter, cut him down with a general anathema, deprived him in his absence of his belt of knighthood, and in conformity with the judgement of all stripped him of all honours as an infamous criminal, enemy to the name of Christian. Yielding to the prayers and plaints of this great council, the king forthwith gathered an army against Thomas. Accompanied by his clergy to whom he was always most humbly attached, he turned towards the very heavily fortified castle of Crécy, and unexpectedly seized it by the great strength of his armed forces, or rather through diving aid; then he assaulted the strong keep as if it were a peasant's hovel, confounded the criminals; piously massacred the impious and mercilessly beheaded those who had showed no mercy. Your could have seen the castle consumed as if by hell fire, and would have understood the meaning of the words: 'The whole world shall fight with him against men who have no feelings,' (Wisdom of Solomon, V, 21). 

The victorious king was promptly following up his success by marching on the castle of Nouvions, when a messenger reported thus to him: 'Be it known to your serenity, my lord king, that in that wicked castle there live the wickedest of men; only hell is fit for them. I speak of those who, when you ordered the commune to be suppressed, burned not only the city of Laon but also the noble church of the Virgin with many other churches, martyred almost all the nobles of the city to punish them for having faithfully supported and assisted their lord the bishop, and most cruelly slew bishop Gaudry himself, the venerable defender of the church, not fearing to set their hands against the lord's anointed; they then exposed him naked to the birds and beasts in the square, having cut off the finger that bore the episcopal ring; finally, at the persuasion of that most wicked Thomas, they attempted to occupy your keep to disinherit you.'  

Doubly furious, the king then set out against that wicked castle, and broke down those sacrilegious places worthy of all the pains of hell; in pardoning the innocent and severely punishing the guilty, this one man avenged the wrongs of many. Thirsting for justice, he condemned all the detestable murderers he found to be hanged on the gibbet and then their bodies exposed to the rapacity of kites, crows and vultures, a demonstration of the just deserts of those who did not fear to set their hands against the anointed of the lord.  

When the adulterine [unauthorized] castles had been destroyed and the vills returned to the nuns of St. John, he returned to Amiens and besieged the keep of a certain tyrant Adam of that city, who had destroyed churches and the whole neighbourhood. After a tight siege lasting nearly two years, he forced the defenders to surrender, took it by assault and totally destroyed it; and by razing it he reestablished a most welcome peace in the country, fulfilling his duty as king, who 'beareth not the sword in vain' (Romans 13, 4). Then he abolished in perpetuity the lordship of that infamous Thomas and his heirs over that city.  


Chapter XXXI 

[note: I have moved this chapter forward since Suger had separated the two chapters on Thomas of Marle]

How he made an end of Thomas de Marle.  

On another occasion he wreaked a similar vengeance, equally pleasing to God and equally renowned, on Thomas de Marle, a pernicious man who persecuted the church without respect for God or man. By the strength of his arm Louis snuffed him out like a smouldering brand.  

Moved by the complaints and lamentations of the churches, he came to Laon to take revenge. At the instigation of the bishops and magnates, and especially on the advice of the most noble count of Vermandois, Raoul, who was the most powerful man in that area after the king, it was decided that he should lead the army against Thomas at Coucy. As he was hurrying towards the castle, those who had been sent ahead to find a suitable means of access reported that it was completely impregnable and inaccessible. Although he was pressed by many people to change his plan in the light of what he had heard, the king scorned to do so, saying with spirit: 'This strategy was laid down at Laon. I shall not change what was decided there, either for life or for death. The magnificence of the royal majesty will justly be cheapened if we are mocked for having fled through fear of a wicked man.'  

He spoke, and despite his corpulence, set off with astonishing enthusiasm on precipitous roads obstructed by woods, cutting his way through with his army until he arrived close to the castle. At that moment Count Raoul, who was scouting on the other side of the castle, was told that ambushes had been prepared for the army, and the catastrophe was imminent for them. At once Raoul armed himself, and set out along a secret path in that direction with a few companions; he sent some of his men on ahead, then seeing that Thomas had already been struck and fallen, he spurred on his horse, charged him and boldly struck him with the sword, inflicting a mortal wound. If he had not been restrained, he would have repeated it. Captured and bleeding to death, Thomas was brought before King Louis and taken on his orders to Laon, with the approval of almost everyone, both his men and ours.  

The following day his lands in the plain were confiscated and his palisades broken down, but Louis spared the land because he held its lord. The king then went back to Laon. But neither his wounds not imprisonment nor threats nor prayers could induce that abandoned man to give back the merchants whom he held in prison, and whom he had deprived them of all their possessions in shocking violation of his duties on the highway. When with the royal permission he summoned his wife, he seemed more grieved by being compelled to release the merchants than to lose his life. As the appalling pain of his wounds brought him to death's door, he was implored by many people to confess and take the last rites, but would scarcely consent. When the priest had brought the body of the Lord into the chamber where the wretched man lay, it seemed as if even the Lord Jesus could not bear to enter the miserable shell of that insufficiently penitent man, for as soon as the wicked man raised his neck, he let it fall back broken, and breathed out his hideous spirit without having taken the Eucharist. The king disdained to proceed further against a dead man or a dead man's lands, so he extorted from Thomas's wife and children freedom for the merchants and the greater part of his treasure; then, having restored peace to the churches by the death of the tyrant, he returned victorious to Paris.  


Chapter XXVI 

Of the resumption of war with Henry of England. 

Unbridled arrogance is worse than pride; for if pride will not break a superior, arrogance will not brook and equal. As the poet said, 'Caesar could not bear to be second, Pompey to be equal first,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 125-6). And because 'all power is intolerant of sharing' (ibid, I, 93-4), Louis, king of the French, who enjoyed preeminence over Henry, king of intolerant of Normandy, always treated him as if he were his vassal. But the nobility of his kingdom and his great wealth made his inferiority unbearable to the king of the English. So he relied on his nephew Thibaud, Count Palatine, and on many of Louis rivals to disturb the kingdom and harem the king, in order to detract from his lordship.  

So mutual malice revived the evil wars of earlier times. Because Normandy was Chartres lay side by side, the king of England and Count Thibaud united in attacking the nearest frontier of the kingdom, while they sent Stephen, count of Mortain, Thibaud's brother and Henry's nephew, to Brie with an army, to prevent the king from suddenly occupying that land in the count's absence. Louis spared neither the Normans nor the men of Chartres nor those of Brie. Encircled as he was by his enemies and forced by the spread of his lands to turn his attention first against one, then against the other, he nevertheless in his frequent skirmishes demonstrated all the vigour of royal majesty.  

But through the noble foresight of the English kings and the dukes of Normandy, the Norman frontier had an exceptional line of defence made up of newly built castles and of unfordable rivers. When Louis, who knew this well, decided to penetrate Normandy, he approached the frontier with a handful of troops, intending to proceed very secretly. He cautiously sent ahead spies clad as travellers, wearing mail under their cloaks and with their swords at their sides, who went down the public road to the ancient town called Gasny, which could offer the French free and easy access to Normandy. The river Epte flowed around it, making it safe in the middle, but preventing a crossing for a great distance either above or below. Suddenly the spies flung off their cloaks and drew their swords. The inhabitants saw them, rushed to arms and fought them fiercely; but the spies resisted and with the utmost courage repelled them. Then, as they were beginning to tire, the king suddenly rushed dangerously down the mountain side, provided him men with most opportune help and, not without loss to himself, occupied the town's central square and the church with its fortified tower.  

When he discovered that the English king was close by with a large army, as his wont, Louis summoned his barons and called on them to follow him. There hastened to him the young, elegant and aimiable count of Flanders Baldwin, a true knight, Fulk, count of Anjou, and many other magnates of the kingdom. They broke the Norman defence line and then, while some fortified the town, others pillaged and burned the land enriched by a long peace, devastating and reducing to confusion the area roundabout, an almost unprecedented occurrence when the English king was there.  

Meanwhile Henry very hastily set about building, encouraged the workmen, and erected a castle on the hill closest to that in which the French king had left a garrison before he departed. Henry intended that, from his new castle, with his large force of knights and using his crossbowmen and archers, he would cut off his enemy's food supplies, distress them through their want of necessities, and bar them from his land. But the king of France played tit for tat, and returned the blow at once, like a dice player. He collected an army and suddenly came back at dawn to attack vigorously the new castle which men called Malassis. With great effort, after many heavy blows had been given and received - for in this kind of market, it is that kind of tax one pays - he forced its surrender, tore it to pieces and utterly destroyed it, and to the glory of the kingdom and the shame of its enemies he valiantly put an end to all machinations against him.  ...

Once King Louis had forced Normandy to be silent in his presence, he ravaged it as relentlessly with small forces as he had with large. He had become used to vexing the king and his men for so long that he despised them as so many men of straw. Then suddenly one day King Henry, having discovered the French king's improvident audacity, collected a large army and secretly approached him with his battle lines drawn. he lit fires to shock Louis, had his armed knights dismount in order that they might fight more bravely as foot-soldiers, and endeavoured prudently to take all sensible precautions for war.  

Louis and his men did not deign to make any preparations for battle. He simply flew at the enemy with great courage but little sense. The men of the Vexin were in the van under Bouchard of Montmorency and Guy of Clermont, and they very energetically cut the first Norman line to pieces, made them flee the battle-field, and bravely repulsed the first line of horsemen, sending them reeling back against the armed foot-soldiers. But the French who were meant to follow them were in confusion, and pressing against extremely well organised and regulated lines, as happens in such circumstances, they could not make their charge effective, and yielded. The king, amazed at his army's failure, behaved as was usual in adversity; using only his constancy to defend himself and his own men, he retired as honourably as he could to Andelys, though with great loss to his scattered army. For some time he was cut to the quick by the unfortunate outcome of his own thoughtlessness. Then, to prevent his enemies from alleging insultingly that he no longer dared to go into Normandy, and rendered more than usually courageous by adversity, and more steadfast, as is the way with men like him, he recalled his army, summoned the absent, invited the barons of his kingdom, and informed King Henry that on a certain day he would invade his land and fight a famous battle with him. He hastened to carry out his promise, as if performing a vow made under oath. So he flung himself into Normandy at the head of a marvellous army, and ravaged it, taking by assault after a sharp skirmish the well-fortified castle of Ivry, which he burned down, and then went on to Breteuil. Although he remained for some time in that country, he did not see the English king or meet with anyone on whom he could take sufficient revenge for the injury he had suffered. So he returned to Chartres to fall on Count Thibaud, and began a savage attack on the city with the intention of burning it down; but he was interrupted by a delegation of clergy and citizens, bearing before them the shift of the blessed Virgin, who begged him very devotedly, as the principal defender of their church, to spare it through love of her, and not to avenge on his own people a wrong which had been inflicted by others. In the face of their supplications the king bowed his royal majesty, and to prevent the destruction by fire of the city and the noble church of Notre Dame, he ordered Charles, count of Flanders, to recall the army and to spare the city out of love and fear for the church. When they returned to their own land they continued to repay their momentary misfortune with a long, continuous and very harsh revenge.  


Chapter XXVIII 

With what valour he repelled the Emperor Henry V's [King of Germany] attempted invasion of the kingdom.  

To return to my aim of honouring the king in my history, the Emperor Henry [Henry V of Germany] long nourished a grievance against King Louis because it was in his kingdom, at the council of Rheims, that Pope Calixtus had excommunicated him. So before Pope Calixtus's death, he collected together an army from wherever he could of Lotharingians, Germans, Bavarians, Swabians, and even Saxons although he was facing attacks from them, and pretended to send them in the other direction. But with the counsel of King Henry of England, whose daughter was his queen, and who had taken the offensive against Louis, he planned to launch an unexpected coup against Rheims and either destroy it as the lord pope had done on him at the session of the council. 

When the plan was revealed to King Louis by his intimate friends, bravely and boldly he summoned a levy for which he did not wait, then he called up his nobles and explained to them the state of affairs. Since he recognised, both because he had often been told and because he had experienced it, that St. Denis was the special patron and after God the singular protector of the kingdom, he hastened to his church to implore him from the bottom of his heart, with prayers and gifts, that he would defend the kingdom, safeguard his person and repel the enemy in his customary fashion. Then since the French have the special privilege that, when their kingdom is invaded from without, they may place the saint's and defender's relics, with those of his companions, on the altar to defend them, this was done in the king's presence with solemnity and devotion. Then the king took from the altar the banner belonging to the county of the Vexin, which he held in fief of the church, and in accordance with his vow received it as if from his lord. At the head of a handful of men to protect him, he flew off against the enemy, calling on the whole of France to follow him in strength. The unusual audacity of the enemy evoked indignation and inspired in the French their usual bravery; moving everywhere it called forth knightly levies, and produced men and forces mindful of their past courage and their past victories. 

From all sides we met together in strength at Rheims. So large a force of knights and foot-soldiers turned up that they seemed to cover the surface of the earth like locusts, engulfing not only the river banks but also the mountains and the plains. The king waited for a whole week for the German incursion, and after the magnates had debated the affair, this was proposed: 'Let us boldly cross to them, lest they should return unpunished from their arrogant act of presumption against France, the mistress of the lands. Their wilfulness should meet with its deserts not in our land but in theirs, which belongs to the French. Thus we would publicly return to them the evil that they plotted to inflict secretly on us.'  

But others, with the gravity born of experience, persuaded them to wait longer for the enemy. When they had crossed the frontier, they could be intercepted, cut off from flight, thrown down, vanquished and slain without mercy like Saracens, their barbarous bodies left unburied, exposed to their eternal shame for the wolves and crows; such slaughter and cruelty would be justified by the need to defend the country. 

Inside the palace the magnates of the realm were organising the battle lines in the king's presence and deciding which forces should be joined together to help which. They made one cops from the men of Rheims and Chalons, comprising more than sixty thousand knights and foot-soldiers; the men of Laon and Soisson, equally numerous, formed a second; those of Orleans, Étampes and Paris, with the large force from St. Denis, devoted to the crown, formed the third. In hope of help from his protector, the king joined this one, explaining: 'I shall fight both safely and bravely in this corps because, in addition to the help of our saintly lords, these are my fellow countrymen among whom I grew up well known to them; as long as I live they will help me, and if I die they will keep my body and carry it home.'  

Although he was engaged with his uncle the English king in making was on Louis, the count palatine Thibaud with his noble uncle Hugh, count of Troyes, answered the call of France and made up a forth corps, while the fifth, composed of the duke of Burgundy and the count of Nevers, took the vanguard. Raoul, noble count of Vermandois, the king's cousin, outstanding both in his birth and in his chivalry, was sent to hold the right wing, with a large force from St. Quentin and the whole neighbourhood, helmeted and armed with mail. The king approved the decision that the men of Ponthieu, Amiens and Beauvais should hold the left wing. The most noble count of Flanders with ten thousand men eager for battle -- he would have tripled his army had he known in time -- was designated to the rearguard. These barons all came from lands bordering on the king's. But William, duke of Aquitaine, the noble count of Brittany, and the bellicose count Fulk of Anjou rivalled them in zeal to punish harshly the affront France had suffered, thought the length of their journey and the shortness of the time available prevented them from having collected large forces. It was also decided that, wherever the army engaged in battle, provided the ground was suitable, wagons and carts carrying water and wine for the weary or wounded should be placed in a circle, like a castle, so that those whose wounds obliged them to withdraw from the battle could recover their strength by drinking and by applying bandages, that they might return to the fray with renewed force.  

The emperor heard the news of the preparations for this great and terrifying expedition and of the service of so great an army of strong men. Using feint and dissimulation to hide the real reason for it, he fled secretly, and slunk off in the other direction, preferring to put up with the ignominy of retreat rather than expose his empire and his person, already in danger of ruin, to the harshest reprisals of the French. When the French heard this, only the prayer of the archbishops and religious could with difficulty prevent them from devastating his kingdom and oppressing its poor inhabitants.  

Having gained such a great and famous victory, as great or greater than if they had triumphed in the field, the French went home. The joyful and grateful king came most humbly to his protectors, the saintly martyrs, and gave great thanks to them after God, and restored to them with devotion his father's crown which he had unjustly retained -- for by right all crowns of dead kings belong to them. He most willingly returned the external Lendit fair held in the square -- the one within the burg already belonged to the saints -- and solemnly granted, confirmed by royal precept, the whole vicaria between the limits marked by the crosses and the marble columns which were set up to resist the enemy like the pillars of Hercules. Throughout the whole time in which the army was called up for war, the sacred and venerable silver caskets in which lay the relics of the saints remained on the main altar; night and day the brothers celebrated a continuous office in their honour, and crowds of devout people and pious women came to pray for assistance for the army. The king in person carried on his own shoulders his lords and patrons, and in tears like a dutiful some he put them back in their usual place; then he rewarded them for the benefits he had received on this and other occasions, with gifts of land and other comforts. 

But the German emperor was humbled by this episode and lost strength from day to day, then died before the year was out, thus proving the truth of the ancient saw: anyone, either noble or commoner, who disturbs the peace of the kingdom or the church, and causes by his claims the relics to be placed on the altar, will not survive more than a year but die either forthwith or before the year is out.  

The English king had been an accomplice of the German, making war against Louis with Count Thibaud, and conspiring to ravage or to occupy the frontier bordering his lands while the king was absent. But he was repelled by one single baron, Amaury de Montfort, a man with an indefatigable appetite for was, supported by the army of the Vexin; so having gained little or nothing, Henry withdrew, his hopes frustrated.  

Neither in this modern age or in antiquity has France ever accomplished a more distinguished exploit or more gloriously demonstrated its power than when, joining all the forces of its members together, at one and the same moment she triumphed over the German emperor and, in Louis's absence, the English king. After this, the pride of his enemies was snuffed out, 'the land was silent in his sight' (Maccabees I, 1, 3), and those of his opponents whom he could reach returned to their homes in grace, having given him their hands in friendship. 'Who denies his just demands yields everything to the man with his arms held at the ready,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 3418-9).  




This translation © Jean Dunbabin, St. Anne's College, Oxford OX2 6HS, England, from whom all necessary permissions to reproduce must be sought.

The text here was online at Cornell University, but was removed. IMS contacted Dr. Dunbabin, who agreed to allow the translation to stay on the Internet at IMS.

Please note, however, that the text here is without annotation or interpetation. Dr. Dunbabin asked that we indicated there is a newer translation available:

Suger, Abbot of Saint Denis, 1081-1151. The Deeds of Louis the Fat. Translated with introduction and notes by Richard Cusimano and John Moorhead. Washington, DC : Catholic University of America Press,c1992.

Also useful might be:

Suger, Abbot of Saint Denis, 1081-1151. La geste de Louis VI, et autres ouvres. presentation, Michel Bur.  Paris : Impr. nationale, c1994.

Suger, Abbot of Saint Denis, 1081-1151. Oeuvres. texte etablie, traduit et commente par Francoise Gasparri. Paris : Les Belles lettres, 1996-

Suger, Abbot of Saint Denis, 1081-1151. Oeuvres completes.  Hrsg. von A. Lecoy de La Marche. Hildesheim; New York : G. Olms, 1979.
Suger's text in Latin -a reprint of the 1867 ed. published for the Societe de l'histoire de France by Jules Renouard, Paris.

Readers wanting more information on the period might consult:

Dunbabin, Jean. France in the Making, 843-1180 Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, c1985.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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Paul Halsall, October 1999