Jean of Chatillon’s letter is longer than either Philip’s or Gregory’s due to the length of the narration and the subscription at the end. What is most significant about Jean’s letter is that the reasons for sanctity which he lays out are much different than those in Philip’s letter. Jean bases Louis IX’s sanctity on, or at least emphasizes, his crusading. This emphasis is demonstrated as Jean refers to Louis as a ‘defender’ and he implies that Louis is the protector of the Christians of France. Jean’s letter also includes the first reference that is made to Louis being a martyr due to his crusades, as he states:
‘It is known that Louis, faithful in the struggle of this kind of persecution, following the path of the true Sun, finally set in the southern lands as though as the midday fervent love. Hence it can be easily believed that though the sword of the persecutor did not take his holy life, he has not lost the martyr’s crown.’
There has been much historiographical debate surrounding Louis’ martyrdom because he neither died in battle nor died within reach of the Holy Land. However, Jean attempts to solidify his martyrdom in acknowledging that he did not die by the ‘sword of the persecutor,’ but still retains a place in martyrdom through his devotion and crusade. This claim about Louis’ martyrdom is, however, mirrored in other letters sent to the curia by religious orders in northern France in the same year. In his letter Jean also deviates from earlier claims in that he does not highlight Louis’ just kingship. Instead, he equates Louis’ crusade with the ‘path of the true sun.’ This is an allusion to Pope Innocent III’s papal doctrine of the moon and the sun, the moon and sun being references to those things in the temporal and religious spheres. In the second half of the narration, Jean follows the previous guidelines of what is needed to prove an individual worthy of sainthood in the eyes of the papacy and speaks to the miracles performed after the death of Louis IX. The reference to miracles in the letter is significant to the canonization of Louis IX because it means that these miracle stories are backed by both the Order of Preachers and the Dominican Chapter in France. This backing provides the allusion that the petition for Louis’ sainthood is backed by popular sentiment present in religious orders throughout France.
Unlike the previous letters, Jean of Chatillon writes his petition in a separate portion of his letter; thus, adhering more strictly to the guidelines of ars dictaminis. Jean asks in the petition for the cardinals to consider the claims he outlines in the letter and, if they find them worthy, to advocate for the canonization of Louis IX with Pope Gregory X. Within his petition, Jean includes many biblical references in speaking about Louis IX. In referencing the books of Luke, Matt and Mark, Jean attempts to fully equate Louis with what is considered the most pious and holy, demonstrating yet again that the purpose of his letter is to advocate for the canonization of a king.
The last element of Jean of Chatillon’s letter that is distinctly different from previous letters is his inclusion of a longer and more complex subscription. The subscription, according to the guidelines of ars dictaminis was intended to close the letter and provide well wishes to the recipient. One of the significant aspects of the subscription in Jean’s letter is the presence of multiple seals; those of the priors mentioned in the salutation of the letter, the provincial prior, and the diffinitors. Jean also provides the names of all of the priors who supported the claims in the letter and the canonization. Jean’s inclusion of all of these elements in the subscription, especially the multiple seals, is intended to further persuade the Roman Church that not only was Louis IX worthy of sanctity, but his canonization was fully supported by members of the church.
Medieval letters are a necessary source for the study of history. The same can be said for the letter collection surrounding the canonization of Louis IX, even though it includes gaps in the knowledge surrounding the motivations behind the individual letters. While it is also unknown whether they were presented orally and even whether they were a deciding factor in Louis’ canonization, they are still significant to the study of the process of canonization in the thirteenth century. While other primary sources, such as papal bulls and hagiographies, are more predominantly used in the study of sanctity, the letters of relating to Louis IX demonstrate the process of canonization, the context surrounding it, and the impact of popular support on the decisions of the curia. Without these letters, Louis IX may never have been canonized as a saint. This collection of letters provided the necessary impetus to formalize Louis’ sainthood because of the contents and the political and religious positions of the authors, resulting in the canonization of Louis IX, the last sainted king.