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Louis XI: The Universal Spider Paperback – October 28, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Phoenix Press
  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (October 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842124110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842124116
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,319,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Murray Kendall, PhD, LHD, is a former Regents Professor at Ohio University, and a former Visiting Professor at the University of Kansas.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
This biography is both well written and leaves you with a clear sense of the subject's personality.
K. Maxwell
As usual, put together with a lot of effort by an author who is famous and in my mind an excellent presenter of the 15th century era's politics and personalities.
butch
The bad image bequeathed to posterity of Louis XI came from the many toes he stepped on to accomplish his good works.
B. Snow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on June 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In LOUIS XI THE UNIVERSAL SPIDER, biographer-historian Paul Murray Kendall says the Burgundian chronicler Molinet called Louis "the universal spider" and the sobriquet unfortunately stuck. He says Louis was further demonized by 19th Century historians and writers who failed to do their homework. Louis XI was not so much spider as he was diplomat and peace-maker in an age when men looked suspiciously on such behaviour, and combat was viewed as the honorable and noble approach to settling disputes. Louis used his head and the end result was to bring the feudal era in France to a close and help usher in the modern world.
Louis reckoned the ceaseless bickering and fighting of the nobles was destructive to the health of the countryside and the people of France. The common people of the towns and villages agreed with Louis as did the merchants and tradesmen. Louis is not remembered for winning any great battles. The major reason Louis was so successful in defeating his enemies was owing to his understanding of finance. He understood that those who fight must finance their wars and without funds, their access to armaments and mercenaries evaporates. The clever king also understood that when the countryside is destroyed an army that crawls on its belly cannot fight.
Charles VII was the father of Louis XI, that same Dauphin whom Joan the Maid of Orleans managed to have crowned. The ungrateful Charles VII did nothing to save Joan once she had been captured by the English and the Duke of Burgundy, but the six-year old boy who became Louis XI never forgot the saint and he held a lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary after his encounter with her. When Louis was most pressed he prayed to the Virgin, and his monument to her at Clery still exists.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific and highly readable biography of a fascinating and enigmatic ruler, set in a period of great political upheaval. Anyone interested in the details of "why" and "how" things happened - not merely "what" happened - will find this book immensely interesting.
Kendall's style is gripping, but he tends to be a partisan for his subject. At times, his bias becomes a little annoying, particularly where more than one "spin" could be put on a certain course of action. The reader must be careful to make his own judgements in many places.
That said, Kendall provides a wealth of quotes from contemporary sources, and his scholarship is unquestionable. This is a great book, covering a time and place that is too little addressed in most popular histories.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Paul Murray Kendall's "Louis XI" illuminates a seldom studied area of world history. France of the fifteenth century was a fragmented collection of duchies and fiefdoms ruled over by independent nobles. Although they were technically vassals to the French King, in reality they often ignored the King and ruled their lands pretty much as they pleased.
During his reign from 1461 until his death in 1483, Louis XI used his wits and artful negotiation to beat the militarily stronger Duke of Burgundy and the other nobles of his kingdom while at the same time fending off foreign foes, Britain and Austria.
Louis XI was a king who travelled around his kingdom on a regular basis to learn what was happening in the towns and provinces of France. He also developed a network of communications to stay in touch with even the farthest reaches of his kingdom. This network of communications earned him the nickname "the Univesal Spider."
Kendall's book brings Louis XI to life in a very exciting narrative. The book gathers and holds the reader's attention until the very end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By IVAN JIMENEZ CORREAL on May 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Louis XI is to be considered among the greatest kings of France, if not the greatest at all, because he set up the national French monarchy which was to last until Louis XVI. He created a powerful kingdom by subduing step by step the once unrulable feudal lords. And this he did mainly by the use of his cunning sagacious diplomacy rather than by the use of weapons. The "Universal Spider" actually employed the strategy of the spider, patience, diplomacy, cold blood, shrewdness and a calculating mind to win the realm from the clutches of the nobles and bound it forever to the Crown. When he succeeded to the throne in 1461 after the death of his father Charles VII, he found France in a state of turmoil. The proud and petulant lords of the Houses of Bourbon, Anjou, Armagnac, Brittany and, above all, the mighty Duke of Burgundy (whose posessions gathered not only the County and Duchy of Burgundy, but also Picardy, Artois, Flanders, Holland, Zealand, Brabant and Luxembourg) had joined in a so-called "League of the Public Weal" to overthrow him and regain their declining privileges. Before his dead, in 1483, he had crushed the nobility, their lands reverted to the Crown; he had got rid of the always threatening Charles the Rash, duke of Burgundy, and swallowed the whole Burgundian territories of France, and had avoided cunningly a second English invasion of France. By 1483 the king of France was the most powerful monarch in Europe and the richest. It was all possible due to the genius of Louis de Valois. The statesmanship of the "Universal Spider" made it possible. This books shows how, and it provides not only an accurate and very amusing lesson of the History of France, but also a valuable lesson in politics. Looks like very often the pen is mightier than the sword.
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