Saint Louis IX of France Pays Restitution for the Corruption and Misdeeds of His Agents and Judges

June 18, 2020

Louis IX distinguished himself by his liberality towards churches and monasteries; but that which must particularly have drawn upon him the blessings of his people, was the care he took to repair all injustice committed in the administration of government. The holy monarch knew, that if kings are the images of God upon earth, they are never so truly so as when justice is seated beside them on the throne.

Painting of St. Louis by Georges Rouget

Restitution-offices, established by his orders in the royal domains, were charged with the repairing of all wrongs that might have been committed by the agents or farmers of the king. In most of the great cities it was the duty of two commissaries, one an ecclesiastic, the other a layman, to hear and decide upon complaints made against his ministers and officers; a noble exercise of the supreme authority, which rather employs itself in seeking out the unfortunate to assist them, than the guilty to punish them! Which watches for the murmurs of the poor, encourages the weak, and submits itself to the tribunal of the laws! It was not sufficient for Louis to have established regulations for the administration of justice—their execution excited his most anxious solicitude. Preachers announced the intentions of the king in all the churches, and as if he thought himself responsible to God for all judgments pronounced in his name, the monarch secretly sent holy ecclesiastics and good monks to make fresh observations, and learn from faithful reporters, if the judges whom he believed to be worthy men, were not themselves corrupt. The historian pauses complacently over this touching picture; so noble an example presented to the kings of the earth. . . .

Joseph François Michaud, History of the Crusades, trans. W. Robson (London: George Routledge and Co., 1852), 2:364.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 731

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