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The Spider King: Louis XI of France

Though ill-famed, even in his own day, Louis XI was also described as “the wisest and most dexterous” of medieval rulers. By J.H.M. Salmon.

In October 1461, the debilitated but still living remains of Francois Villon, thief and poet, were hoisted from the “noisome pit” in which he had been immured at Meung-sur-Loire. His unexpected release allowed him to bequeath the bitter-sweet memories of the life and society he had known with his last poetical Testament. The occasion of his liberty was the joyous passage through Meung of the new King, Louis XI, whose reign was to change the France in which Villon had pursued his rogue’s career out of all recognition. In Michelet’s words, Louis was “possessed with the demon of the future”.

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