CHAPTER X
High Gothic Art in France

And even as the scribe that hath made his book illumineth it with gold and blue, so did the said King illumine his realm with the fair abbeys," wrote John, Lord of Joinville, about St. Louis as a patron of the arts (Book 2, ch. CXLVI). The reign of King Louis IX (1226-1270, canonized in 1297) coincides with the mature Gothic style in art. Louis IX owed the strength of his realm and the peace and the resources which enabled him to patronize the arts to the skillful politics of his grandfather, Philip Augustus. The wars between Philip Augustus and King John of England ended in 1204 with Philip's victory, and ten years later a French-Hohenstaufen coalition defeated the English-Welf alliance at the battle of Bouvines (1214), assuring French political, economic, and cultural dominance on the Continent.

Under St. Louis's successors, Philip III the Bold (1270-1285) and Philip IV the Fair (1285‐ 1314), France became an absolute monarchy. The crown passed to Philip's son and then from brother to brother in turn, each of whom died after a short reign without an heir— Louis X (1314-1316), Philip V (1316-1322), and Charles IV (1322-1328). In 1328, Philip of Valois, a cousin, ascended the throne, ending 340 years of Capetian rule and establishing the House of Valois. During this time the French kings established a strong centralized government with a staff of civil servants dependent on royal favor, and from their court in Paris they defended their realm with professional mercenary troops hired with the income they received from their towns.

The crusading spirit remained strong throughout the thirteenth century. The Fourth Crusade (1201) proved profitable when Venetian merchants and French knights turned the campaign into raids against Christian cities. In 1204 these Western hoodlums sacked and looted Byzantium itself. They installed one of their number as emperor and ruled the city until driven out by the Paleologues in 1261. When in 1244 Jerusalem fell again, this time to the Turks, St. Louis sailed from Aigues Mortes to Egypt on a Crusade. Near Cairo the king was taken prisoner, ransomed, and after fortifying a few ports in the Holy Land, returned to France in 1254. In 1270 St. Louis took up the cross again, and for the last time the Western Crusaders sailed for the Holy Land. This time they landed in Tunis, where the king died and his army abandoned the campaign.

For all their bellicose claims, Christians and Muslims maintained relatively good relations most of the time. This association of Western Europeans with the Byzantine and Muslim East had a profound impact on Europe. Scholars gained access to Eastern and Classical science: astronomy, astrology, mathematics (including Arabic numerals and the concept of zero), and the rudiments of biology and medicine; also, they could study the work of ancient Greek and Arabic philosophers in the universities. The Crusaders perfected military

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