THE SALIC LAW
 PHILIP IV. left three sons, Louis, Philip, and Charles,
who each in turn became king.
Louis X., the new king, was named the Quarrelsome, and
though he was twenty-five
years old he was neither willing nor able to reign. He
left the care of his realm to
his uncle, Charles of Valois, while he idled his time
playing games or taking part in tournaments.
Charles was an ambitious prince, and the first use he
made of his power was to take
vengeance on Marigni, a minister of Philip IV., who was
sometimes called "the other
king," and who had always stood in Charles's way.
One day, when the young king had forsaken his games and
was present at a meeting of
his council, he asked how, during his father's reign, a
certain large sum of money
had been spent.
"Sire," answered Charles de Valois, "it is for Marigni
to render an account. It was
he who had charge of everything."
"I am quite ready," said Marigni.
"This moment then," cried Prince Charles.
"Most willingly, my lord; I gave a portion to you," said Marigni.
"You lie!" shouted Charles.
"Nay, you!" retorted the minister.
Charles, in spite of the presence of the king, was in
such a rage that he drew his
sword, and Marigni would have
 unsheathed his, had
not other members of the
But Marigni, by his rash words, had sealed his fate.
Charles de Valois could not
rest until his enemy was punished.
The minister was seized, condemned to death without a
fair trial, and hanged on a
scaffold which he had himself erected. Marigni walked
bravely to the place of
execution, saying to the people who looked on, "Good
folk, pray for me."
King Louis had tried in vain to have the fallen
minister's sentence changed into
banishment; but the nobles, led by Charles de Valois,
paid no heed to the king's
wish. Again and again they wrested from the feeble
hands of their king privileges
and powers which Philip had denied them. At length even
Louis x. grew alarmed. He
would soon, he felt, be a king only in name.
Yet, in spite of the king's weakness, we find that in
1815 he ordered that all the
slaves in the land should be set free on paying a
certain sum of money. It was not
so much to free the slaves as to procure money that
Louis did this, yet it was a
great and just act. The slaves, however, had not much
money, and what they had they
had earned with such difficulty that, rather than part
with it, they were willing to
Louis then made a law compelling every slave to buy his
freedom, and in this way the
money he needed flowed into his treasury. But though
the slaves were now free men,
the nobles did not cease to oppress them, and it was
many long years before they
were treated otherwise than as slaves.
War with Flanders had again broken out, and Louis, now
having money for a campaign,
set out with an army and reached Lys. Here, however, he
found that heavy rains had
made the roads almost impassable. Food for the army
also began to run short, so
without more ado Louis
 returned to France, "not
without much inconvenience and
During the last two years of Louis's reign the people
of France suffered much from
famine and poverty. But the king, caring little for
their suffering, played tennis,
and forgot all about his starving subjects.
One day as he played Louis became so hot that he
slipped away to a cold cellar and
"drank wine without stint." This was the cause of the
illness from which he died.
Louis, although he had no son to succeed to the throne,
left behind him a daughter,
named Jeanne. But the king's brother, Philip, paying no
heed to the claims of his
niece, hastened to Rheims, and was crowned King of
When he returned to Paris the new king, Philip V.,
called the Long, summoned the
lords and citizens, and declared to them that no woman
could succeed to the French
The lawyers thought that they would strengthen the
king's words if they could find
in their ancient law books that women had never been
allowed to rule in France. So
they searched the old law books, and among those
belonging to the Salian Franks,
from which tribe Clovis, their first king, had sprung,
they found what they wished.
For in these ancient books they read that "no part or
heritage of Salic land can
fall to a woman." As a queen must be able to own land,
it was plainly impossible for
a woman to reign in France. Thus strangely the new law
which Philip the Long made to
keep his niece Jeanne from seizing the crown was
confirmed by the ancient law books.
From that time the law forbidding women to rule in
France was known as the Salic Law.
In 1822 Philip died, and his younger brother Charles
IV., called the Fair, became king.
Philip the Long's children were all girls. It may be
that if he had known that he
would have no son to follow him he would have been less
quick to declare that no woman
 could rule in France, and the lawyers might
never have looked for the
old Salian law books. Be that as it may Philip had
prevented any of his four
daughters from ever becoming Queen of France.
Charles the Fair was the last of the Capetian kings,
for he left no son to carry on
"And thus, in less than thirteen years, perished all
the noble and fair lineage of
the Fair king, whereat all marvelled much; but God
knoweth the cause thereof, not me."
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