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REGENCY OF BLANCHE OF CASTILE
PHILIP II. AUGUSTUS died 1223. During his wise reign the
crowned lands were greatly increased in extent, the
capital was surrounded with new ramparts,—fragments
of which still exist,—the Louvre (loo'vr') was begun,
and work on the cathedral Notre Dame (started under
Louis VII, 1163), was concluded.
 We are told that the king, standing at his palace
window, was one day so offended by the stench arising
from the muddy streets that he decreed that they should
henceforth be paved. Philip Augustus also built the
public markets, and founded the French University, a
continuation of the Paris schools made famous by
Although a good king, Philip Augustus proved a
faithless husband, for he divorced one wife merely for
the pleasure of marrying another, a high-handed
proceeding for which he was duly punished by being
excommunicated. Then, having been forced to take back
the discarded wife, he proved so unkind to her that she
cannot have regretted him greatly when he died.
Philip's son, Louis VIII., called the Lion, or the Fat,
had a brief reign of three years, during which he had
to fight the English, and to carry on the war against
the Albigenses. He, too, won some territory, so that
when he died, all of the lands which the English had
once owned in France, they had nothing left but the
province of Guienne (gee-ĕn'; see second map on page
Early in life Louis VIII. had married Blanche of
Castile, an unusually intelligent and capable woman.
She gave him several children, and when he died she
became regent in fact, though not in title, for her
eleven-year-old son Louis IX. The wise queen brought up
this prince with the untmost care, and as she was a
firm and pious woman, she made a very good man of him.
We are informed that she taught him to be charitable,
and was in the habit of saying, "Know, my son, though I
am devoted to you, and feel all a mother's love for
you, I should
 prefer to see you dead rather than have you become
guilty of any mortal sin."
Besides being good, Blanche was brave; it was said that
she had the courage of a man in a woman's heart. The
nobles, thinking it a fine chance to rebel, with a
child king and a foreign woman at the head of affairs,
soon banded together. But Blanche acted with such
decision and skill that she managed to detach the Count
of Champagne (shăm-pān') from their ranks, and, having
secured him as an ally, got the better of the rest of
her foes, with whom she made a treaty.
It was at this time that the war of the Albigenses,
begun so long before, was brought to an end, and in
this same treaty it was settled that the main part of
southern France—now known as the Languedoc
belong to the king, the remainder
coming to the royal house a little later by the
marriage of one of the king's brothers with the
noblewoman whose dowry it formed. The name of Languedoc
(language of oc) is due to the fact that the people in
southern France then used the word oc for "yes."
Those in northern France used oil (o-eel'), in the
inhabitants of Germany ja (ya), and those of
Italy si (sē). So, in talking of the various nations in those
days, it was customary to speak of the people of si,
and of those of ja, instead of Italians and Germans.
Before ending her regency, Blanche also arranged an
advantageous marriage for her son with Margaret of
Province, heiress of that province, and thus secured
for the crown another great increase of territory.
The personal rule of Louis IX. begins in 1236, when he
came of age, but throughout his life he often
con-  sulted his mother, and was always much influenced by
her advice. Young as he was, Louis proved a very able
king; and although he was noted for his gentleness and
piety, he was not lacking in spirit or decision; for
when the Emperor of Germany once tried to take
advantage of him, he announced very plainly that France
was not so weak but that it could resent an insult!
The noblemen having again rebelled,—being upheld this
time by the English,—Louis IX. met them in battle
(Taillebourg, 1242) and, although the enemy were twenty
against one, succeeded in winning a brilliant victory.
Then, the Englishmen having retreated, the rebellious
Frenchmen fell at the king's feet, humbly begging his
pardon, which was immediately granted.