Saturday, 4 April 2009

Chapter 2


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 thought him simple.[1] As a distinguished and courageous defender of his father’s kingdom, he provided for the needs of churches and a thing that went right against recent custom worked for the peace of monks, labourers and the poor.[2]

Then, disputes arose over certain customs between Adam[3], the venerable abbot of St. Denis and Bouchard, the noble lord of Montmorency.[4] The argument reached such intensity of ill feeling that, throwing off homage[5] the two one-time allies fought it out with sword and fire. When this reached the ears of the Lord Louis, moved by righteous anger, without delay he forced Bouchard to appear before his father at the castle of Poissy[6] to submit to judgement. When Bouchard 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 Bouchard had been joined by the valiant and belligerent Matthew, count of Beaumont and Dreux de Mouchy-le-Châtel.[7] Louis ravaged Bouchard’s lands. He demolished the fortified places, destroyed 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 actions, 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.[8]

Then he attacked Dreux de Mouchy to avenge this and other uncalled-for 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 him, prevented him from returning to the castle by force of arms, and then dashed into the midst of the enemy and through the gate. Great champion and distinguished swordsman that he was, in the castle he was frequently attacked and frequently attacked others. However, he would neither withdraw nor permit himself to be driven back until he had captured and completely reduced to cinders the whole castle up to the turret. Such was the passion 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 conquered him as if he were a sick man and subdued him to his will.[9]

[1] Suger used the adjective ‘simplex’ (simple) in reference to Louis. Ibid, Mirot, L., (ed.), La Chronique de Morigny (1095-1152), p. 11 called him ‘homo simplicis naturae’ (a man of simple disposition); Ivo of Chartres used a similar phrase in one of his letters and Walter Map said that both Louis and his son Louis were men of ‘simpleness of speech’. Suger used the same word about Hugh de Clermont (chapter 3) and Odo de Corbeil (chapter 15). I suppose that today we would say that ‘Louis was ‘up-front’.

[2] The next eleven chapters of Suger’s text deal with Louis’ deeds while he was still ‘king-designate’ in the years before the death of his father in 1108.

[3] Montmorency is a few miles north of St-Denis and about seven miles north of Paris. It is of some significance that Louis’ first expedition outside the Vexin was undertaken against an enemy of Suger’s predecessor as abbot. It probably occurred in 1101: ibid, Luchaire, Louis VI le Gros, Annales de son vie et de son règne, n° 16. Adam was abbot from 1099 to 1122.

[4] Count Bouchard (Burchard) IV of Montmorency was born in 1077 and died on 9th January 1132. He married Agnes de Beaumont. He was lord of Marly, Feuillade, Epinay, Saint-Brice and Hérouville

[5] The lords of Montmorency were vassals of the abbey of St-Denis.

[6] Poissy is eighteen miles west of Paris.

[7] Dreux [Drogo] III de Mouchy was born about 1080 and died in 1153. He married Edith de Warenne about 1109. Mouchy-le-Châtel is about fifteen miles north of Beaumont in the French Vexin and forty miles north of Paris. The campaign against Dreux is examined in ibid, Luchaire, Louis VI le Gros, Annales de son vie et de son règne, n° 18.

[8] Orderic Vitalis contradicts Suger at this point arguing that Louis was obliged to retire after a fruitless assault on the castle. The siege is recalled in a charter of Louis VI, of which the substance was passed in to a diploma of Philip Augustus of 1183-1184.

[9] It is almost certain that the campaign against Montmorency took place in 1101 because Robert of Flanders did not return from Jerusalem until the end of 1100.

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