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Into Your Enemy’s Stomach

Alexander Murray: Louis IX

8 April 2010
Saint Louis 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Gareth EvanGollrad.
Notre Dame, 947 pp., £61.95, February 2009, 978 0 268 03381 1
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... Can a political leader be a saint? Private morality can’t be the sole criterion. Politicians have to make decisions in a cruel and perplexing world, and some consequences of even the best decisions will be morally repugnant. The question is inveterate. Our medieval forebears answered it by simply declaring some people to be ‘saints’. An early medieval king remembered as a saint was nearly always one who had either opted out of active kingship to lead a private life of exemplary piety while others did the dirty work, or one who had been killed in a Christian cause ...

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