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Etiam reges, Even Kings

Author(s): Jordan, William Chester

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Abstract: “He could not believe that the army had been brought so far, through so many dangers, only to fail at the last.” With these few words Joseph Strayer grasped the essence of Louis IX's feelings during the critical phase of the king's first crusade and the French defeat in Egypt in the spring of the year 1250. The king's captivity at the hands of his Muslim adversaries followed soon after the French disaster. My aim in this paper is to suggest and explore some consequences of Louis's experiences in this period, an undertaking that is, I think, historically significant inasmuch as many people over the centuries have idealized the king's rule as the purest form of Christian governance. In large part my story is a tale of what might have been if the king had accomplished the three central goals he set for himself after 1250: his own purification, his kingdom's purification, and the assurance that this purified realm would perdure beyond his lifetime. In an essay of the present length I cannot be comprehensive or even review the considerable recent scholarship on the king's reign and the periods immediately before and after that are relevant to my aims, a daunting task that Sean Field and Cecilia Gaposchkin have made an excellent, if, by their own acknowledgment, partial attempt at accomplishing,2 but I do hope to show that there is much still to be learned from pursuing research on the effects of the defeat in Egypt; much to be learned, that is to say, both about the underlying motivations of the king's modes of governance and about his vision of the kingdom's future if these modes of governance were adopted and rigorously pursued by his successors.
Publication Date: Jul-2015
Citation: Jordan, William Chester. "Etiam reges, Even Kings." Speculum 90, no. 3 (2015): 613-634. doi:10.1017/S0038713415000822.
DOI: doi:10.1017/S0038713415000822
ISSN: 0038-7134
EISSN: 2040-8072
Pages: 613 - 634
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Speculum
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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