Louis II, duke of Bourbon, was the leader of the Mahdia Crusade (1390) to North Africa.
Louis was the son of Peter I, duke of Bourbon, whom he succeeded in 1356, and a brother-in-law of King Charles V of France, who was married to his sister Jeanne. After the king’s death (1380), Louis became the favorite counselor of his nephew Charles VI. In 1387 Louis was made universal heir to his aunt Marie, titular Latin empress of Constantinople and widow of Robert of Taranto, prince of Achaia. From this time Louis cherished dreams of becoming prince of Achaia and king of Cyprus and of going to Jerusalem.
When the Genoese asked for French help against the pirates of Tunisia at the end of 1389, Louis was chosen to lead the crusade. The French forces departed from Marseilles and joined the foreign troops at Genoa. The fleet, under the command of a Genoese admiral, set sail at the beginning of July 1390 and stopped at the little island of Conigliera in order to refresh the troops and to decide on the plan of operations. The Genoese imposed their choice of objective: the city of Mahdia (mod. al-Mahdiya, Tunisia). The landing took place at the end of July on the isthmus between the town and the mainland.
Although the crusaders occupied a good position to blockade the city, they were not suitably equipped to besiege such a well-fortified place. A war of skirmishes, glorified by the Latin chroniclers, followed. After a failed assault, the Genoese and Tunisians negotiated a ten-year truce, which was accepted by Louis, despite the fact that the crusaders’ aim had been to make conquests. The siege had lasted for two months. On the return journey, the Genoese used the crusade army to secure several places in Sardinia and Italy, arguing that pirates were victualing there. Louis was unwilling to land at Genoa, and returned home via Marseilles.