Paul Westley Bush (Bachelor of Arts in History Oklahoma State University Stillwater, Oklahoma 2007)
Oklahoma State University: Master of Arts, May (2008)
When Louis VI ascended to the throne in 1108 AD, he faced substantial challenges as the fifth monarch of the Capetian dynasty; he confronted the problem of stopping the general decline of the monarchy and achieved this in a way that reasserted the foundations of the crown as the sole dominant figure in the royal domain and a respected lord throughout the kingdom. For centuries, his predecessors struggled to retain the royal rights that had been slipping away since the death of Charlemagne. Louis VI’s own father was unable to maintain basic control in the territory traditionally managed by the crown, the royal domain. Unlike previous works on the advancement of royal authority that limit the achievements of Louis VI merely to the elimination of the insubordinate nobles, this thesis examines further the relationship between the king and the local royal officials and the impact of the Church on this relationship. To overcome the problems threatening the very existence of the monarchy, Louis VI consolidated the authority of the crown within the royal domain by reducing the threat of local lords hostile to the crown and denying the attempts of royal officials to engineer a resurgence in the usurpation of royal rights on the local level. This process of consolidation of local authority occurring throughout the course of the reign contributed to the state-building process of the French kingdom by tying local government to the central administration.
The king relied on his connection with the French clergy, first to eliminate the presence of insubordinate vassals, and second to prevent the exploitation by royal officials. Where his father, Philip I, had failed, Louis VI successfully established an effective cooperation with the French Church and the papacy. Presenting donations to various abbeys and priories and founding new abbeys and chapels were both products of his efforts to restore the damaged relationship between the Church and the monarchy. By repairing this relationship, he was able to maintain the Church’s assistance in government administration and secure its approval in his conduct towards local lords. As part of the process of reconciliation, Louis VI exerted himself in defending monasteries against the aggression of the lower nobility, who had repeatedly harassed the clergy without penalty during the previous reign.