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King Louis XIII of France

Updated on June 13, 2013
Louis le Just
Louis le Just | Source

Louis XIII was born Louis le Just or Louis the Just on 27 September 107 in Fontainebleau, France. He ruled France from 1610 to 1643 and had worked closely with his chief minister the Cardinal De Richelieu that made France rose to become a leading European power even in his short reign. He died on 14 May 1643 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

As the eldest son of King Henry IV, he was heir to the throne after his father was assassinated in May 1610. The queen mother—Marie de Médicis acted as regent for four years until Louis came of age in 1614; but continue to govern for another three years imposing her authority acting in behalf of the king. As part of the political allegiance she created, she allied France with Spain and to seal the deal, arranged the marriage of King Louis XIII with Anne of Austria, daughter of King Philip III of Spain. By 1617, the king was fed up with his mother’s domineering presence in court and ordered her exile in Blois, it was the start of his true reign. While on exile, his mother tried to raise two rebellions but failed. Though there were attempts on reconciliation, the relationship between son and mother were never really mended and it was something obligatory, a civil duty they have to do not just to save face but to maintain amicable relationship for both their benefit and the family’s.

One of the first decrees that Louis made was to appoint the ambitious Charles d’Albert de Luynes in office. His ambition reflects in his work and he becomes a very influential presence in court and in many political decision of King Louis. By the time of Luynes’ death, Louis was alone to face brewing rebellion in the south of France. The Huguenot rebellion which erupted in spring of 1622 ended with a truce which could not have gone any better for Louis.

Although King Louis showed courage and valor in the battle field, his physical wellbeing took a toll in his efficacy as a king in handling affairs of the state. His chronic illness coupled with his mental instability, would often undermine his capacity to concentrate or make sound judgment, thus Richelieu quickly rose to power in government and effectively consolidate royal authority in France and break the hegemony of the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs. But the influence of Richelieu in court did not sit well with the king’s mother. Soon, Marie de Mèdicis began to mingle with political affairs again and antagonize the policies being proposed by Richelieu that allies France with Protestant states. During the historical period known as the Days of the Dupes, Marie de Mèdicis ordered his son to dismiss Richelieu from his post but the king was a firm believer of his minister and with much regret, decided to stand by his man rather than his mother. Mortified by the king’s decision, Marie de Mèdicis initiated another rebellion with Louis’ brother. It left King Louis with no choice but to again send his mother and brother to exile. After learning his lesson, Louis adopted a merciless method in disciplining and dealing with dissident nobles to discourage and suppress other nobles in harboring the same intents.

By May 1635 France declared war on Spain and a year later, Spanish forces were already advancing in Paris. Richelieu had the city evacuated but King Louis overruled him in a surprising display of boldness. The king rallied his troops and defended the city that drove back the invaders. In September 1638, Anne of Austria, Louis’ wife gave birth to a son—the future Louis XIV. After many victories in war, in 14 May 1643, Louis succumbs to tuberculosis just five months after the death of his minister, Richelieu.


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