Front Page Titles (by Subject) 39.: Louis XI - Judgments on History and Historians
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39.: Louis XI - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Although only two battles, those at Montlhéry and Guinegate, were fought under his command, his courage was more than hussar’s courage and analogous to the courage of Cardinal Richelieu. (After all, he could have become a Carthusian.) The psychic tensions which he endured in his reign do add up to a sort of greatness.
The France of later times fully sanctioned his kind of ambition and theoretically shares the blame for what he did, although his vulgar ways must be utterly repugnant to the national sentiment. At the very least, he was better than his adversaries; only there is something highly reprehensible in the way in which he handles them (from St. Pol on).
Through his extremely prosaic character he easily gives the impression of having foreseen and desired more than actually was the case.
He is deserving of the profoundest pity when, in front of his son at Amboise in 1482, he has to make the traitors and semi-traitors believe that they will all keep their jobs in case of his death.
The firmness of what he established is shown in the relatively easy suppression of the guerre folle. The general premise is already royalty and its power which soon becomes taken for granted.
It soon looks as though Louis of Orleans would have been glad to break away from a false position through his imprisonment. The way in which he governed as King Louis XII almost makes one think that he wanted to atone for something.
And so that all this might happen, Louis XI had to die at Plessis as his own prisoner.
He dominates French history not through splendor, but merely through what he has been to it.