December 19th, 2013 Headsman
On this date in 1475, the Louis de Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol was beheaded.
The French King Louis XI “had need of a head such as his” because of Louis de Luxembourg’s part in the pompously self-styled League of the Public Weal. The “public weal” in question comprised civil war on behalf of feudal prerogatives that had slipped from aristocratic hands during the Hundred Years’ War.
Louis de Luxembourg’s allegiance with Charles the Bold netted him, during the League’s successes, the title of Constable of France and the hand of the queen’s sister as inducements from Louis XI.
But Saint-Pol was not the type to stay bought.
Treacherously maneuvering between the Burgundian party, the royals, and the English (Luxembourg’s uncle sold Joan of Arc to the English, so they went way back) Louis eventually managed to irritate them all. He ultimately hatched a plan to assassinate Louis XI himself and fracture the French realm among a variety of great lords.
The English and French kings having acquainted each other with the comte’s underhanded schemes on their respective sides of the channel, Saint-Pol was obliged to seek Charles the Bold’s protection — but the latter had himself contracted with the French crown to hand him over if captured, and duly forwarded the traitor to the Bastille. (There’s more about Saint-Pol’s prosecution in this volume.)
Louis did his sovereign one last little injury on his way off this mortal coil: sixty additional sous were required by the executioner of Paris “for having the old sword done up, which was damaged, and had become notched whilst carrying out the sentence of justice upon Messire Louis de Luxembourg.”
Also on this date
- 1694: James Whitney, highwayman
- 1684: Jane Voss, narrow escapee
- 1932: Yoon Bong-Gil, nationalist assassin
- 1909: Valgrand in place of Fantomas
- 1862: An unknown Confederate deserter
- 1922: Seven Republican guerrillas in the Curragh of Kildare
- 1948: Amir Sjarifuddin