Medieval historians composing biographies of kings often have no recourse but to rely on hagiography when other sources about their subjects are lacking. Given this constraint, the most successful medieval biographies tend to concentrate on matters of rulership rather than personality. Yet, two recent books—Gaposchkin's The Making of Saint Louis and Le Goff's Saint Louis—reverse this trend, illuminating Louis IX of France as man and saint but not fully as king. A careful look at the scholarship, as well as the available primary sources, about Louis underscores the need for more study of his kingship and provides a test case for the benefits and limits of medieval biography.

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