Louis X (October 4, 1289 – June 5, 1316), called the Quarrelsome, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn, was King of France from 1314 to 1316 and King of Navarre as Louis I from 1305 until his death in 1316.
His short reign in France was marked by tensions with the nobility, due to fiscal and centralization reforms initiated by Enguerrand de Marigny, the Grand Chamberlain of France, under the reign of his father. Louis’ uncle—Charles of Valois, leader of the feudalist party—managed to convince the king to execute Enguerrand de Marigny.
Louis was born in Paris, the eldest son of Philippe IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. He inherited the kingdom of Navarre on the death of his mother, on April 4, 1305, later being crowned October 1, 1307. On September 21, 1305, at age 15, he married Margaret of Burgundy and they had a daughter, Joan. Louis was known as “the Quarreler” as the result of the tensions prevailing throughout his reigns.
In 1305, Louis married Margaret of Burgundy. Margaret was a member of the ducal House of Burgundy, a branch of the Capetian dynasty. She was the second daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy (1248–1306) and Agnes of France (1260–1327), the youngest daughter of Louis IX of France and Margaret of Provence.
Louis and Margaret had a daughter, who became Queen Joan II of Navarre.
Both Louis and Margaret became involved in the Tour de Nesle affair towards the end of the reign of Philippe IV. In 1314, Margaret, along with Blanche of Burgundy the wife of the future King Charles IV the Fair, was the daughter of Count Otto IV of Burgundy and Countess Mahaut of Artois, and Joan II, Countess of Burgundy, the eldest daughter and heiress of Count Otto IV of Burgundy and Mahaut, Countess of Artoi, (sister of the aforementioned Blanche of Burgundy) — the wife of the future King Philippe V, — were arrested on charges of infidelity.
Margaret and Blanche were both tried before the French parliament later that year and found guilty. Their alleged lovers were executed, and the women had their hair shorn and were sentenced to life imprisonment. Philippe stood by his wife Joan, who was ultimately found innocent and released. Margaret was later convicted of adultery, was imprisoned in Château Gaillard, and although technically became Queen Consort of France and Navarre, she was eventually strangled to death.
Blanche was imprisoned and not released even after also becoming queen, when her husband became King Charles IV. Blanche was released and her marriage was annulled when she was moved to the coast of Normandy. The date and place of her death are unknown; the mere fact that she died was simply mentioned on the occasion of her husband’s third marriage in April 1326.
On the death of his father, King Philippe IV, in 1314, Louis became King of France. Margaret of Burgundy, the imprisoned Queen of France died on August 14, 1315 and Louis remarried five days later, on August 19, to Clementia of Hungary, the daughter of Charles Martel of Anjou and the niece of Louis’ own uncle and close advisor, Charles of Valois. Charles Martel was married to Clemence of Austria, a daughter of King Rudolph I of Germany and Gertrude of Hohenberg. She was a member of the House of Habsburg. Both of her parents died during her early childhood, and Mary of Hungary, Clementia’s grandmother, raised her. The family claimed Hungary through Mary, and so although Clementia was born and grew up in Naples, she was considered a Hungarian princess.
Louis X and Clementia were crowned at Reims in August 1315.
Marriage and issue
Clementia gave birth to the future Jean I of France five months after the king’s death. The infant Jean’s death a few days later led to a disputed succession. With an unknown woman, Louis had a daughter, Eudeline, who joined the Order of St. Claire and became the abbess of the Franciscan nuns of Paris, 1334-1339.
Louis X was king of Navarre for eleven years and King of France for less than two years. He abolished slavery, but his reign was dominated by continual feuding with the noble factions within the kingdom, and major reforms designed to increase royal revenues, such as the freeing of the French serfs and the readmittance of the Jews.
By the end of Philippe IV’s reign opposition to the fiscal reforms was growing. With Philippe’s death and the accession of Louis, this opposition rapidly developed in more open revolt, some authors citing Louis’ relative youth as one of the reasons behind the timing of the rebellions. Leagues of regional nobles began to form around the country, demanding changes. Charles of Valois, the king’s uncle, took advantage of this movement to turn against his old enemy, Philippe IV’s former minister and chamberlain Enguerrand de Marigny, and convinced Louis to bring corruption charges against him.
When these failed, Charles then convinced Louis to bring sorcery charges against him instead, which proved more effective and led to de Marigny’s execution at Vincennes in April 1315. Other former ministers were similarly prosecuted. This, combined with the halting of Philippe IV’s reforms, the issuing of numerous charters of rights and a reversion to more traditional rule, largely assuaged the regional leagues.
Abolition of slavery and serfdom
In 1315, Louis X issued an edict effectively abolishing slavery within the Kingdom of France, having proclaimed that “France signifies freedom”, that “as soon as a slave breathes the air of France, he breathes freedom” and therefore that any slave setting foot on French soil should be freed. This prompted subsequent governments to circumscribe slavery in the overseas colonies.
Readmittance of Jews
Louis was also responsible for a key shift in policy towards the Jews. In 1306, his father, Philippe IV, had expelled the Jewish minority from across France, a “shattering” event for most of these communities. Louis began to reconsider this policy, motivated by the additional revenues that might be forthcoming to the Crown if the Jews were allowed to return. Accordingly, Louis issued a charter in 1315, readmitting the Jews subject to various conditions.
The Jews would only be admitted back into France for twelve years, after which the agreement might be terminated; Jews were to wear an armband at all times; Jews could only live in those areas where there had been Jewish communities previously; Jews were initially to be forbidden from usury. This was the first time that French Jews had been covered by such a charter, and Louis was careful to justify his decision with reference to the policies of his ancestor Saint Louis IX, the position of Pope Clement V and an argument that the people of France had demanded a return of the Jews. The result was a much weakened Jewish community that depended directly upon the King for their right of abode and protection.
Death and legacy
Louis was a keen player of jeu de paume, or real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis outdoors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris “around the end of the 13th century”. In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe.
In June 1316 at Vincennes, following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there were also suspicions of poisoning. Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis is history’s first tennis player known by name. He and his second wife Clementia are interred in Saint Denis Basilica.
Louis’ second wife Clementia was pregnant at the time of his death, leaving the succession in doubt. A son would have primacy over Louis’ daughter, Joan. A daughter, however, would have a weaker claim to the throne, and would need to compete with Joan’s own claims – although suspicions hung over Joan’s parentage following the scandal in 1314. As a result, Louis’ brother Philippe was appointed regent for the five months remaining until the birth of his brother’s child, Jean I, who lived only five days. Philip then succeeded in pressing his claims to the crowns of France and Navarre.
All de jure monarchs of Navarre from 1328 onwards were descended from Louis through his daughter, Joan, including Jeanne d’Albret, the mother of Henri IV of France, and therefore the entire royal House of Bourbon.