Breaking News
More () »

So, how did St. Louis get its name anyways?

You may have heard about the group trying to change the City of St. Louis' name. But do you know why St. Louis has its name in the first place?

ST. LOUIS — Statues are coming down across the country as the history of the figures depicted in those monuments come under increased scrutiny. The City of St. Louis has not been absent from that conversation.

A Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park was taken down this past week, with the park saying in part, "It symbolizes a historical disregard for indigenous peoples and cultures and destruction of their communities."

But one group of people is fighting an even bigger battle. They want the statue of King Louis IX on Art Hill taken down. But that's not all. They want the entire City of St. Louis to be renamed.

READ MORE: A call to remove the Saint Louis statue in Forest Park

We'll get to why that is in a bit. But first, how did St. Louis even become "St. Louis"?

In 1764, after receiving a land grant from the King of France, Pierre Laclede Liguest and his 13-year-old scout, Auguste Chouteau, selected the current site of St. Louis as a fur trading post.

Both of them were French and settled on the name of one of the most famous Frenchmen of all time as the name of their new settlement: Saint Louis.

Now, about the actual Saint Louis.

King Louis IX was born on April 24, 1214 and was the king of France from 1226 to 1270.

Credit: Getty Images
Vintage engraving from 1856 of Saint Louis administering Justice. Louis IX (25 April 1214 to 25 August 1270), commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He went on two crusades, in his mid-30s in 1248 (Seventh Crusade) and then again in his mid-50s in 1270 (Eighth Crusade).

During his reign, Louis IX led the seventh crusade and became one of the most popular kings in French history. He also championed many peaceful and administrative reforms across Europe, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica and was beloved by the people of France.

Upon his death, Louis IX became the only king of France to ever be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

Credit: Getty Images
Vintage woodcut showing Saint Louis arriving in Carthage on Crusade

At the time of Laclede and Chouteau's arrival in the settlement that would become St. Louis, King Louis IX was as notable a figure in French culture as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln are in American culture, Saint Louis University medieval history professor Thomas Madden told St. Louis Public Radio in 2014.

For a longer and more detailed biography on King Louis IX, click here.

Now, to the controversy.

Activists say King Louis IX doesn't fall in line with modern values and that he was specifically problematic when it comes to his views on Jewish and Muslim religions.

"To many people of Jewish heritage, he is known as someone who persecuted the Jewish people of France, confiscated and burned the Talmud, and 665 years before Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany he required Jewish people to wear an identification badge in public," architectural historian Michael Allen with Washington University said.

There's currently a petition to get the statue of Louis IX taken down, and plans for a grassroots movement to change the city's name in the future.

For more on the group's reasoning behind their push to rename St. Louis and remove the King Louis IX statue, you can read our full previous story.

Related Stories

RELATED: A call to remove the Saint Louis statue in Forest Park

RELATED: Here's why Columbus and Confederate statues went up in the first place

RELATED: 'That was named after somebody who enslaved my ancestors' | Group petitions to change name of Dorsett Road in St. Louis County

RELATED: St. Louis divided on removal of Columbus statue from Tower Grove Park

RELATED: Christopher Columbus statue removed from St. Louis park

RELATED: 'We don’t remove history': Thomas Jefferson statue to stay at Mizzou after petition calls for its removal

RELATED: Historical figures reassessed around globe after George Floyd's death

Before You Leave, Check This Out