Books: And to Hell with Burgundy

LOUIS XI, THE UNIVERSAL SPIDER by Paul Murray Kendall. 464 pages. Norton. $10.

In 1429, when Louis was five years old, the fortunes of his father King Charles VII fell so low that a cordwainer refused to sell him a pair of shoes on credit. The English were besieging Orleans. French nobles in Brittany, Armagnac and Foix had made a separate peace with the invader. The proud Duke of Burgundy, in league with England, gazed hungrily from his own secure domains toward the wreckage of his brother's holdings. The Valois kingdom of France seemed...

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