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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Louis XI.

  • [King of France; born at Bourges, 1423; became king, 1461; crushed the league of disaffected nobles by concessions he never intended to execute; seized Burgundy on the death of Charles the Bold, and became involved in a long war with Austria; died 1483.]
  • Divide et impera (Divide in order to rule).

  • The principle upon which he broke down the power of his great vassals. When feeble, he could accommodate himself to circumstances, make treaties acceptable to his enemies, and yield them rights and privileges, in order to set them against one another; but, their union once broken, he retook all he had surrendered, and failed to perform all that he had promised.
  • Goethe, in his versions of proverbs (“Sprüchwörtlich”), illustrates two theories of government:—
  • “Entzwei und gebiete! Tüchtig Wort;
  • Verein’ und leite! Besserer Hort.”
  • (Divide and rule, the politician cries;
  • Unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.)
  • Coke lays down the maxim of Louis, “as a rule for lords and commons to have good success in Parliament.”—Institutes, IV. 35.
  • Qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare.

  • This is another of the king’s maxims, which, like the previous one, is always quoted in Latin, and which means that he who cannot dissimulate is unfit to reign.—DE THOU: Hist. Univ., III. 293. It was all the Latin that he thought the dauphin, afterwards Charles VIII., needed to learn.
  • Frederick William I., father of Frederick the Great, who called his son “a fiddler and a poet, who will spoil all my labors,” said, “My son shall not learn Latin; and more than that, I will not suffer anybody even to mention such a thing to me.”—MACAULAY: Frederick the Great. Napoleon’s theory was hardly more liberal: “A little Latin and mathematics is enough” (Un peu de latin et de mathématique, cela suffit).