Charles, Duke of Brittany

Last updated

Blessed Charles of Blois-Châtillon
CarlosIdebritania.jpg
Duke of Brittany
Reign30 April 1341 29 September 1364
Predecessor John III
Successor John IV
Bornc. 1319
Blois (France)
Died29 September 1364 (aged 44–45)
Auray
Spouse Joan, Duchess of Brittany
Issue John I, Count of Penthièvre
Marie, Duchess of Anjou
Margaret, Countess of Angoulême
House House of Blois-Châtillon
Father Guy I, Count of Blois
Mother Margaret of Valois
Charles de Châtillon
Duke of Brittany
Patron of Europe
Died Auray
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
Beatified 1904 by Pope Pius X
Feast 29 September (General Roman Calendar)
Patronage -Army soldiers
-Agricultural workers

Charles of Blois-Châtillon (1319 29 September 1364), nicknamed "the Saint", was the legalist Duke of Brittany from 1341 until his death, via his marriage to Joan, Duchess of Brittany and Countess of Penthièvre, holding the title against the claims of John of Montfort. The cause of his possible canonization was the subject of a good deal of political maneuvering on the part of his cousin, Charles V of France, who endorsed it, and his rival, Montfort, who opposed it. The cause fell dormant after Pope Gregory XI left Avignon in 1376, but was revived in 1894. Charles of Blois was beatified in 1904.

Contents

Biography

Charles was born in Blois, the son of Guy de Châtillon, count of Blois, by Margaret of Valois, a sister of King Philip VI of France. A devout ascetic from an early age, he showed interest in religious books but was forbidden from reading them by his father, as they did not seem appropriate to his position as a knight. [1] As he grew older, Charles took piety to the extreme of mortifying his own flesh. [2] It is said that he placed pebbles in his shoes, slept on straw instead of a bed, confessed every night in fear of sleeping in a state of sin, and wore a cilice under his armor in battle. He was nevertheless an accomplished military leader, who inspired loyalty by his religious fervour. [1]

On 4 June 1337 in Paris, he married Joan the Lame, heiress and niece of John III, Duke of Brittany. [3] [1] Together, Charles and his wife, Joan of Penthièvre, fought the House of Montfort in the Breton War of Succession (1341–1364), with the support of the crown of France. [1] Despite his piety, Charles did not hesitate in ordering the massacre of 1,400 civilians after the siege of Quimper. [4] After initial successes, Charles was taken prisoner by the English in 1347. [1] His official captor was Thomas Dagworth. [5]

He stayed nine years as prisoner in the Kingdom of England. During that time, he used to visit English graveyards, where he prayed and recited Psalm 130, much to the chagrin of his own squire. When Charles asked the squire to take part in the prayer, the younger man refused, saying that the men who were buried at the English graveyards had killed his parents and friends and burned their houses. [1]

Charles was released against a ransom of about half a million écus in 1356. [6] Upon returning to France, he decided to travel barefoot in winter from La Roche-Derrien to Tréguier Cathedral out of devotion to Saint Ivo of Kermartin. When the common people heard of his plan, they placed straw and blankets on the street, but Charles promptly took another way. His feet became so sore that he could not walk for 15 weeks. [1] He then resumed the war against the Montforts. [6] Charles was eventually killed in combat during the Battle of Auray in 1364, which with the second treaty of Guerande in 1381 determined the end of the Breton War of Succession as a victory for the Montforts. [6]

Family

By his marriage to Joan the Lame, Countess of Penthièvre, he had five children:

According to Froissart's Chronicles, Charles also had an illegitimate child, John of Blois, who died in the Battle of Auray. However, considering Charles' extreme piety, historian Johan Huizinga regarded it unlikely that Charles actually had a child born outside marriage and that Jean Froissart was probably mistaken in identifying John as Charles' son. [2]

Veneration

Charles was buried at Guingamp, where the Franciscans actively promoted his unapproved cult as saint and martyr. Such variety of ex votos bedecked his tomb, that in 1368 Duke John IV of Brittany persuaded Pope Urban V to issue a bull directing the Breton bishops to stop this. [9] But the bishops failed to enforce it.

Nonetheless, his family successfully lobbied for his canonization as a Saint of the Roman Catholic church for his devotion to religion. [2] Bending to pressure from Charles V of France, Pope Urban authorized a commission to study the matter. Urban died December 1370 to be succeeded by Pope Gregory XI. The commission held its first meeting in Angers in September 1371, and forwarded its report to Avignon the following January. Gregory appointed three cardinals to review the matter. The Pope returned to Italy in September 1376, arriving in Rome in November 1377; he died the following March. Gregory was succeeded in Avignon by Clement VII, but the documents were probably in Rome with Pope Urban VI. [10] There appears to be no record of further activity regarding Charles' cause for canonization at this time. In 1454, Charles' grandson urged his relatives to continue to advocate for his recognition.

The process was re-opened in 1894, and on 14 December 1904, Charles de Châtillon was beatified as Blessed Charles of Blois. His feast Day is 30 September.

See also

Related Research Articles

Duchy of Brittany Medieval duchy in northwestern France

The Duchy of Brittany was a medieval feudal state that existed between approximately 939 and 1547. Its territory covered the northwestern peninsula of Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the English Channel to the north. It was also less definitively bordered by the Loire River to the south, and Normandy, and other French provinces, to the east. The Duchy was established after the expulsion of Viking armies from the region around 939. The Duchy, in the 10th and 11th centuries, was politically unstable, with the dukes holding only limited power outside their own personal lands. The Duchy had mixed relationships with the neighbouring Duchy of Normandy, sometimes allying itself with Normandy, and at other times, such as the Breton-Norman War, entering into open conflict.

Battle of Auray 1364 decisive battle during the War of the Breton Succession

The Battle of Auray took place on 29 September 1364 at the French town of Auray. This battle was the decisive confrontation of the Breton War of Succession, a part of the Hundred Years' War.

John III, Duke of Brittany

John III the Good was Duke of Brittany, from 1312 to his death and 5th Earl of Richmond from 1334 to his death. He was the son of Duke Arthur II of Brittany and Mary of Limoges, his first wife. John was strongly opposed to his father's second marriage to Yolande of Dreux, Queen of Scotland and attempted to contest its legality.

Joan, Duchess of Brittany Duchess regnant of Brittany during the War of the Breton Succession

Joan of Penthièvre or Joan the Lame reigned as Duchess of Brittany together with her husband, Charles of Blois, between 1341 and 1364. Her ducal claims were contested by the House of Montfort, which prevailed only after an extensive civil war, the War of the Breton Succession. After the war, Joan remained titular Duchess of Brittany to her death. She was Countess of Penthièvre in her own right throughout her life.

War of the Breton Succession War of succession within Brittany from 1341 to 1365; part of the Hundred Years War

The War of the Breton Succession was a conflict between the Counts of Blois and the Montforts of Brittany for control of the Sovereign Duchy of Brittany, then a fief of the Kingdom of France. It was fought between 1341 and 12 April 1365. It is also known as the War of the Two Jeannes due to the involvement of two queens of that name.

John of Montfort Duke of Brittany

John of Montfort, sometimes known as John IV of Brittany, and 6th Earl of Richmond from 1341 to his death. He was the son of Arthur II, Duke of Brittany and his second wife, Yolande de Dreux. He contested the inheritance of the Duchy of Brittany by his niece, Joan of Penthièvre, which led to the War of the Breton Succession, which in turn evolved into being part of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. John's patron in his quest was King Edward III of England. He died in 1345, 19 years before the end of the war, and the victory of his son John IV over Joan of Penthièvre and her husband, Charles of Blois.

John IV, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

John IV the Conqueror KG, was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort from 1345 until his death and 7th Earl of Richmond from 1372 until his death.

John V, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

John V, sometimes numbered as VI, bynamed John the Wise, was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort from 1399 to his death. His rule coincided with the height of the Hundred Years' War between England and France. John's reversals in that conflict, as well as in other internal struggles in France, served to strengthen his duchy and to maintain its independence.

Joanna of Flanders Duchess consort of Brittany

Joanna of Flanders was Duchess of Brittany by her marriage to John of Montfort. Much of her life was taken up in defence of the rights of her husband and, later, son to the dukedom, which was challenged by the House of Blois during the War of the Breton Succession. Known for her fiery personality, Joanna led the Montfortist cause after her husband had been captured, and began the fight-back, showing considerable skill as a military leader.

Counts and dukes of Penthièvre

In the 11th and 12th centuries the Countship of Penthièvre in Brittany belonged to a branch of the sovereign House of Brittany. It initially belonged to the House of Rennes. Alan III, Duke of Brittany, gave it to his brother Eudes in 1035, and his descendants formed a cadet branch of the ducal house.

Montfort of Brittany

The House of Montfort was a Breton-French noble family, which reigned in the Duchy of Brittany from 1365 to 1514. It was a cadet branch of the House of Dreux; it was thus ultimately part of the Capetian dynasty. It should not be confused with the older House of Montfort which ruled as Counts of Montfort-l'Amaury.

House of Dreux

The House of Dreux was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. It was founded by Robert I, Count of Dreux, a son of Louis VI of France, who was given the County of Dreux as his appanage.

Hundred Years War, 1369–1389 Second phase of the Hundred Years War

The Caroline War was the second phase of the Hundred Years' War between France and England, following the Edwardian War. It was so-named after Charles V of France, who resumed the war nine years after the Treaty of Brétigny. The Kingdom of France dominated this phase of the war.

Michael Christopher Emlyn Jones is a British historian.

The Battle of Champtoceaux, often called the Battle of l'Humeau, was the opening action of the 23-year-long War of the Breton Succession, a dynastic conflict in Brittany which became inevitably embroiled in the Hundred Years War between England and France. This battle should have decided the war at a stroke, as John of Montfort, the leader of one faction, was made prisoner. However his wife, Joanna of Flanders, and young son John escaped imprisonment. Their escape and continued support from his ally, England, allowed continued resistance to flourish and eventually turn the tide.

House of Châtillon

The House of Châtillon was a notable French family, with origins in the 9th century. The name comes from that of Châtillon-sur-Marne in Champagne, where members of the family were tenants in a castle belonging to the Counts of Champagne. Gaucher V of Châtillon was lord of Châtillon from 1290 until 1303, when he became count of Porcien; the title was sold to Louis of Valois, Duke of Orléans in 1400. Other branches of the family were in Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise, in Blois, and in Penthièvre.

The first treaty of Guérande, signed April 12, 1365 ended the Breton War of Succession.

French–Breton War

The French–Breton War lasted from 1487 to 1491. The cause of this war was the approaching death of the Breton Duke Francis II of Brittany, who had no clear successor. If not resolved, this meant a resumption of issues from a previous War of the Breton Succession (1341–1364), which had rival claimants allying with England or France, resulting in an ambiguous peace treaty that failed to prevent future succession disputes.

Harvey VII of Léon was a Breton lord, son of Harvey VI, Lord of Léon and his wife Joanna of Montmorency. He succeeded his father as Lord of Léon in 1337. He was also Lord of Noyon-sur-Andelle. The Lords of Léon were a junior branch of the Viscounts of Léon which was founded by Harvey I, second son of Guihomar IV, Viscount of Léon. Harvey VII won fame during the War of the Breton Succession.

John I, Count of Penthièvre (b. 1345, d. 1404)

John I, was Count of Penthièvre and Viscount of Limoges from 1364 to 1404, and the Penthièvre claimant to the Duchy of Brittany.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Huizinga (2016), p. 289.
  2. 1 2 3 Huizinga (2016), p. 290.
  3. Prestwich 1993, p. 174.
  4. Sumption 1999, p. 434.
  5. Jones 1988, p. 265.
  6. 1 2 3 Autrand 2000, p. 441.
  7. Hereford Brooke George, Genealogical Tables Illustrative of Modern History, (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1875), table XXVI
  8. Bruel 1905, p. 198.
  9. Jones 2000, p. 221.
  10. Jones 2000, p. 228.

Sources


Charles, Duke of Brittany
Born: 1319 Died: 1364
Regnal titles
Preceded by Duke of Brittany jure uxoris
1341–1364
With: Joan
disputed by John of Montfort and John IV
Succeeded by
Preceded byas sole countess Count of Penthièvre jure uxoris
1337–1364
With: Joan
Succeeded byas sole countess