Crusading kings such as Louis IX of France and Richard I of England exert a unique hold on our historical imagination. For this reason, it can be easy to forget that European rulers were not always eager participants in holy war. The First Crusade was launched in 1095, and yet the first monarch did not join the movement until 1146, when the French king Louis VII took the cross to lead the Second Crusade. One contemporary went so far as to compare the crusades to 'Creation and man's redemption on the cross', so what impact did fifty years of non-participation have on the image and practice of European kingship and the parameters of cultural development? This book considers this question by examining the challenge to political authority that confronted the French kings and their family members as a direct result of their failure to join the early crusades, and their less-than-impressive involvement in later ones.