Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Saint Louis

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Saint Louis

Article excerpt

SAINT LOUIS by Jacques Le Goff translated by Gareth Evan Gollrad University of Notre Dame, 1016pages, $75

Louis IX had one goal: to be a perfect Christian king. Judging from his press, even in this critical age, he appears to have achieved it. Historical revisionism has left the reputation of the saint king untarnished. And that is because he really was a man of extraordinary piety. He believed diat the crown of France was given to him by God, who would hold him accountable for it. Le Goff 's history of Louis, originally published in 1996 and now translated into English, is probably the most complete available.

It begins with a straightforward biography based on an expert knowledge of the primary sources. Louis began his reign with a crusade. His expedition to Egypt and the Holy Land was one of the largest ever, although it failed to win any permanent conquests. After returning to France, Louis kept the plight of Jerusalem always firmly in mind, planning one day to rescue it from Muslim control. …

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