| King of France |
|Reign||21 October 1422 – 22 July 1461|
|Coronation||17 July 1429|
|Born||22 February 1403|
|Died||22 July 1461 58) (aged|
|Burial||7 August 1461|
|Father||Charles VI of France|
|Mother||Isabeau of Bavaria|
Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461), called the Victorious (French : le Victorieux) or the Well-Served (le Bien-Servi), was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461.
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, Charles VII inherited the throne of France under desperate circumstances. Forces of the Kingdom of England and the Duke of Burgundy occupied Guyenne and northern France, including Paris, the most populous city, and Reims, the city in which French kings were traditionally crowned. In addition, his father Charles VI had disinherited him in 1420 and recognized Henry V of England and his heirs as the legitimate successors to the French crown instead. At the same time, a civil war raged in France between the Armagnacs (supporters of the House of Valois) and the Burgundian party (supporters of the House of Valois-Burgundy allied to the English).
With his court removed to Bourges, south of the Loire River, Charles was disparagingly called the "King of Bourges", because the area around this city was one of the few remaining regions left to him. However, his political and military position improved dramatically with the emergence of Joan of Arc as a spiritual leader in France. Joan of Arc and other charismatic figures led French troops to lift the siege of Orléans, as well as other strategic cities on the Loire river, and to crush the English at the battle of Patay. With the local English troops dispersed, the people of Reims switched allegiance and opened their gates, which enabled the coronation of Charles VII in 1429 at Reims Cathedral. A few years later he ended the English-Burgundian alliance by signing the Treaty of Arras with Burgundy in 1435, followed by the recovery of Paris in 1436 and the steady reconquest of Normandy in the 1440s using a newly organized professional army and advanced siege cannons. Following the battle of Castillon in 1453, the French expelled the English from all their continental possessions except for the Pale of Calais.
The last years of Charles VII were marked by conflicts with his turbulent son, the future Louis XI of France.
Born at the Hôtel Saint-Pol , the royal residence in Paris, Charles was given the title of Count of Ponthieu six months after his birth in 1403.He was the eleventh child and fifth son of Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria. His four elder brothers, Charles (1386), Charles (1392–1401), Louis (1397–1415) and John (1398–1417) had each held the title of Dauphin of France as heirs apparent to the French throne in turn. All died childless, leaving Charles with a rich inheritance of titles.
Almost immediately after becoming dauphin, Charles had to face threats to his inheritance, and he was forced to flee from Paris on 29 May 1418 after the partisans of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, had entered the city the previous night.By 1419, Charles had established his own court in Bourges and a Parlement in Poitiers. On 11 July of that same year, Charles and John the Fearless attempted a reconciliation on a small bridge near Pouilly-le-Fort, not far from Melun where Charles was staying. They signed the Treaty of Pouilly-le-Fort in which they would share authority of the government, assist each other and not to form any treaties without the others consent. Charles and John also decided that a further meeting should take place the following 10 September. On that date, they met on the bridge at Montereau. The Duke assumed that the meeting would be entirely peaceful and diplomatic, thus he brought only a small escort with him. The Dauphin's men reacted to the Duke's arrival by attacking and killing him. Charles' level of involvement has remained uncertain to this day. Although he claimed to have been unaware of his men's intentions, this was considered unlikely by those who heard of the murder. The assassination marked the end of any attempt of a reconciliation between the two factions Armagnacs and Burgundians, thus playing into the hands of Henry V of England. Charles was later required by a treaty with Philip the Good, the son of John the Fearless, to pay penance for the murder, which he never did.
At the death of his father, Charles VI, the succession was cast into doubt. The Treaty of Troyes, signed by Charles VI on 21 May 1420, mandated that the throne pass to the infant King Henry VI of England, the son of the recently deceased Henry V and Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI; however, Frenchmen loyal to the king of France regarded the treaty as invalid on grounds of coercion and Charles VI's diminished mental capacity. For those who did not recognize the treaty and believed the Dauphin Charles to be of legitimate birth, he was considered to be the rightful heir to the throne. For those who did not recognize his legitimacy, the rightful heir was recognized as Charles, Duke of Orléans, cousin of the Dauphin, who was in English captivity. Only the supporters of Henry VI and the Dauphin Charles were able to enlist sufficient military force to press effectively for their candidates. The English, already in control of northern France, were able to enforce the claim of their king in the regions of France that they occupied. Northern France, including Paris, was thus ruled by an English regent, Henry V's brother, John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, based in Normandy (see Dual monarchy of England and France).
In his adolescent years, Charles was noted for his bravery and flamboyant style of leadership. At one point after becoming Dauphin, he led an army against the English dressed in the red, white, and blue that represented his family;[ citation needed ] his heraldic device was a mailed fist clutching a naked sword. However, in July 1421, upon learning that Henry V was preparing from Mantes to attack with a much larger army, he withdrew from the siege of Chartres in order to avoid defeat. He then went south of the Loire River under the protection of Yolande of Aragon, known as "Queen of the Four Kingdoms" and, on 22 April 1422, married her daughter, Marie of Anjou, to whom he had been engaged since December 1413 in a ceremony at the Louvre Palace.
Charles, unsurprisingly, claimed the title King of France for himself, but he failed to make any attempts to expel the English from northern France out of indecision and a sense of hopelessness [ citation needed ] Instead, he remained south of the Loire River, where he was still able to exert power, and maintained an itinerant court in the Loire Valley at castles such as Chinon. He was still customarily known as "Dauphin," or derisively as "King of Bourges," after the town where he generally lived. Periodically, he considered flight to the Iberian Peninsula, which would have allowed the English to advance their occupation of France.
Political conditions in France took a decisive turn in the year 1429 just as the prospects for the Dauphin began to look hopeless. The town of Orléans had been under siege since October 1428. The English regent, the Duke of Bedford (the uncle of Henry VI), was advancing into the Duchy of Bar, ruled by Charles's brother-in-law, René. The French lords and soldiers loyal to Charles were becoming increasingly desperate. Then in the little village of Domrémy, on the border of Lorraine and Champagne, a teenage girl named Joan of Arc (French : Jeanne d'Arc), demanded that the garrison commander at Vaucouleurs, Robert de Baudricourt, collect the soldiers and resources necessary to bring her to the Dauphin at Chinon, stating that visions of angels and saints had given her a divine mission. Granted an escort of five veteran soldiers and a letter of referral to Charles by Lord Baudricourt, Joan rode to see Charles at Chinon. She arrived on 23 February 1429.
What followed would become famous. When Joan appeared at Chinon, Charles wanted to test her claim to be able to recognise him despite never having seen him, and so he disguised himself as one of his courtiers. He stood in their midst when Joan entered the chamber in which the court was assembled. Joan identified Charles immediately. She bowed low to him and embraced his knees, declaring "God give you a happy life, sweet King!" Despite attempts to claim that another man was in fact the king, Charles was eventually forced to admit that he was indeed such. Thereafter Joan referred to him as "Dauphin" or "Noble Dauphin" until he was crowned in Reims four months later. After a private conversation between the two (Charles later stated that Joan knew secrets about him that he had voiced only in silent prayer to God), Charles became inspired and filled with confidence.
After her encounter with Charles in March 1429, Joan of Arc set out to lead the French forces at Orléans. She was aided by skilled commanders such as Étienne de Vignolles, known as La Hire, and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles. They compelled the English to lift the siege on 8 May 1429, thus turning the tide of the war. The French won the Battle of Patay on 18 June, at which the English field army lost about half its troops. After pushing further into English and Burgundian-controlled territory, Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France in Reims Cathedral on 17 July 1429.
Joan was later captured by Burgundian troops under John of Luxembourg at the siege of Compiègne on 24 May 1430.The Burgundians handed her over to their English allies. Tried for heresy by a court composed of pro-English clergy such as Pierre Cauchon, who had long served the English occupation government, she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431.
Nearly as important as Joan of Arc in the cause of Charles was the support of the powerful and wealthy family of his wife Marie d'Anjou, particularly his mother-in-law, Queen Yolande of Aragon. But whatever affection he may have had for his wife, or whatever gratitude he may have felt for the support of her family, the great love of Charles VII's life was his mistress, Agnès Sorel.
Charles VII and Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, then signed the 1435 Treaty of Arras, by which the Burgundian faction rejected their English alliance and became reconciled with Charles VII, just as things were going badly for their English allies. With this accomplishment, Charles attained the essential goal of ensuring that no Prince of the Blood recognised Henry VI as King of France.
Over the following two decades, the French recaptured Paris from the English and eventually recovered all of France with the exception of the northern port of Calais.
Charles' later years were marked by hostile relations with his heir, Louis, who demanded real power to accompany his position as the Dauphin. Charles consistently refused him. Accordingly, Louis stirred up dissent and fomented plots in attempts to destabilise his father's reign. He quarrelled with his father's mistress, Agnès Sorel, and on one occasion drove her with a bared sword into Charles' bed, according to one source. Eventually, in 1446, after Charles' last son, also named Charles, was born, the king banished the Dauphin to the Dauphiny. The two never met again. Louis thereafter refused the king's demands to return to court, and he eventually fled to the protection of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in 1456.
In 1458, Charles became ill. A sore on his leg (an early symptom, perhaps, of diabetes or another condition) refused to heal, and the infection in it caused a serious fever. The king summoned Louis to him from his exile in Burgundy, but the Dauphin refused to come. He employed astrologers to foretell the exact hour of his father's death. The king lingered on for the next two and a half years, increasingly ill, but unwilling to die. During this time he also had to deal with the case of his rebellious vassal John V of Armagnac.
Finally, however, there came a point in July 1461 when the king's physicians concluded that Charles would not live past August. Ill and weary, the king became delirious, convinced that he was surrounded by traitors loyal only to his son. Under the pressure of sickness and fever, he went mad. By now another infection in his jaw had caused an abscess in his mouth. The swelling caused by this became so large that, for the last week of his life, Charles was unable to swallow food or water. Although he asked the Dauphin to come to his deathbed, Louis refused, instead waiting at Avesnes, in Burgundy, for his father to die. At Mehun-sur-Yèvre, attended by his younger son, Charles, and aware of his elder son's final betrayal, the King starved to death. He died on 22 July 1461, and was buried, at his request, beside his parents in Saint-Denis.
Although Charles VII's legacy is far overshadowed by the deeds and eventual martyrdom of Joan of Arc and his early reign was at times marked by indecisiveness and inaction, he was responsible for successes unprecedented in the history of the Kingdom of France.[ citation needed ] He succeeded in what four generations of his predecessors (namely his father Charles VI, his grandfather Charles V, his great-grandfather John II and great-great grandfather Philip VI) failed to do — the expulsion of the English and the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War.[ citation needed ]
He had created France's first standing army since Roman times. In The Prince , Niccolò Machiavelli asserts that if his son Louis XI had continued this policy, then the French would have become invincible.[ citation needed ]
Charles VII secured himself against papal power by the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. He also established the University of Poitiers in 1432, and his policies brought some economic prosperity to his subjects.[ citation needed ]
Charles married his second cousin Marie of Anjou on 18 December 1422.They were both great-grandchildren of King John II of France and his first wife Bonne of Bohemia through the male line. They had fourteen children:
|Louis||3 July 1423||30 August 1483||King of France. Married firstly Margaret of Scotland, no issue. Married secondly Charlotte of Savoy, had issue.|
|John||19 September 1426||Lived for a few hours.|
|Radegonde||after 29 August 1428||19 March 1444||Betrothed to Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, on 22 July 1430.|
|Catherine||after 29 August 1428||13 September 1446||Married Charles the Bold.|
|James||1432||2 March 1437||Died aged five.|
|Yolande||23 September 1434||23/29 August 1478||Married Amadeus IX, Duke of Savoy, had issue.|
|Joan||4 May 1435||4 May 1482||Married John II, Duke of Bourbon, no issue.|
|Philip||4 February 1436||11 June 1436||Died in infancy.|
|Margaret||May 1437||24 July 1438||Died aged one.|
|Joanna||7 September 1438||26 December 1446||Twin of Marie, died aged eight.|
|Marie||7 September 1438||14 February 1439||Twin of Joanna, died in infancy.|
|Magdalena||1 December 1443||21 January 1495||Married Gaston of Foix, Prince of Viana.|
|Charles||12 December 1446||24 May 1472||Died without legitimate issue.|
|Ancestors of Charles VII of France|
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" or "Maid of Lorraine", is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in the Vosges of northeast France. Joan said that she received visions of the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The as-yet-unanointed King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief army. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's consecration at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory at Castillon in 1453.
The siege of Orléans was the watershed of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. It was the French royal army's first major military victory to follow the crushing defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and also the first while Joan of Arc was with the army. The siege took place at the pinnacle of English power during the later stages of the war. The city held strategic and symbolic significance to both sides of the conflict. The consensus among contemporaries was that the English regent, John of Lancaster, would have succeeded in realizing his brother the English king Henry V's dream of conquering all of France if Orléans fell. For half a year the English and their French allies appeared to be winning, but the siege collapsed nine days after Joan's arrival.
The House of Valois was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet to the French throne, and were the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589. Junior members of the family founded cadet branches in Orléans, Anjou, Burgundy, and Alençon.
Louis XI, called "Louis the Prudent", was King of France from 1461 to 1483. He succeeded his father, Charles VII.
Charles VI, called the Beloved and later the Mad, was King of France from 1380 until his death in 1422. He is known for his mental illness and psychotic episodes which plagued him throughout his life. Charles's reign would see his army crushed at the Battle of Agincourt, leading to the signing of the Treaty of Troyes, which made his future son-in-law Henry V of England his regent and heir to the throne of France. However, Henry would die shortly before Charles, which gave the House of Valois the chance to continue the fight against the English, leading to their eventual victory and the end of the Hundred Years' War in 1453.
The Treaty of Troyes was an agreement that King Henry V of England and his heirs would inherit the French throne upon the death of King Charles VI of France. It was formally signed in the French city of Troyes on 21 May 1420 in the aftermath of Henry's successful military campaign in France. It forms a part of the backdrop of the latter phase of the Hundred Years' War finally won by the French at the Battle of Castillon in 1453, and in which various English kings tried to establish their claims to the French throne.
Pierre Cauchon was Bishop of Beauvais from 1420 to 1432. A strong partisan of English interests in France during the latter years of the Hundred Years' War, his role in arranging the execution of Joan of Arc led most subsequent observers to condemn his extension of secular politics into an ecclesiastical trial. The Catholic Church overturned his verdict in 1456 and he was excommunicated posthumously in 1457.
Philip the Good was Duke of Burgundy from 1419 until his death. He was a member of a cadet line of the Valois dynasty, to which all 15th-century kings of France belonged. During his reign, the Burgundian State reached the apex of its prosperity and prestige, and became a leading centre of the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Guillaume Du Fay, and the capture of Joan of Arc and turning her over to the English, who tried and executed her. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty's powerbase. Additionally, as ruler of Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, Artois, Hainaut, Holland, Luxembourg, Zeeland, Friesland and Namur, he played an important role in the history of the Low Countries.
Yolande of Aragon was Duchess of Anjou and Countess of Provence by marriage, who acted as regent of Provence during the minority of her son. She was a daughter of John I of Aragon and his wife Yolande of Bar. Yolande played a crucial role in the struggles between France and England, influencing events such as the financing of Joan of Arc's army in 1429 that helped tip the balance in favour of the French. She was also known as Yolanda de Aragón and Violant d'Aragó. Tradition holds that she commissioned the famous Rohan Hours.
The Armagnac faction was prominent in French politics and warfare during the Hundred Years' War. It was allied with the supporters of Charles, Duke of Orléans against John the Fearless after Charles' father Louis of Orléans was killed on a Paris street on the orders of the Duke of Burgundy on 23 November 1407.
John II of Alençon was a French nobleman. He succeeded his father as Duke of Alençon and Count of Perche as a minor in 1415, after the latter's death at the Battle of Agincourt. He is best known as a general in the Last Phase of the Hundred Years' War and for his role as a comrade-in-arms of Joan of Arc.
The Burgundian party was a political allegiance against France that formed during the latter half of the Hundred Years' War. The term "Burgundians" refers to the supporters of the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, that formed after the assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans. Their opposition to the Armagnac party, the supporters of Charles, Duke of Orléans, led to a civil war in the early 15th Century, itself part of the larger Hundred Years' War.
The siege of Compiègne (1430) was conducted by Duke Philip III of Burgundy after the town of Compiègne had refused to transfer allegiance to him under the terms of a treaty with Charles VII. The siege is perhaps best known for Joan of Arc's capture by Burgundian troops while accompanying an Armagnac force during a skirmish outside the town on 23 May 1430. Although this was otherwise a minor siege, both politically and militarily, and ultimately ended in a defeat for the Burgundians, the capture of Joan of Arc was an important event of the Hundred Years' War.
The Lancastrian War was the third and final phase of the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War. It lasted from 1415, when King Henry V of England invaded Normandy, to 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. It followed a long period of peace from the end of the Caroline War in 1389. The phase was named after the House of Lancaster, the ruling house of the Kingdom of England, to which Henry V belonged.
The House of Valois-Burgundy, or the Younger House of Burgundy, was a noble French family deriving from the royal House of Valois. It is distinct from the Capetian House of Burgundy, descendants of King Robert II of France, though both houses stem from the Capetian dynasty. They ruled the Duchy of Burgundy from 1363 to 1482 and later came to rule vast lands including Artois, Flanders, Luxembourg, Hainault, the county palatine of Burgundy (Franche-Comté), and other lands through marriage, forming what is now known as the Burgundian State.
The Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War was a conflict between two cadet branches of the French royal family — the House of Orléans and the House of Burgundy from 1407 to 1435. It began during a lull in the Hundred Years' War against the English and overlapped with the Western Schism of the papacy.
John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, was assassinated on the bridge at Montereau on 10 September 1419 during a parley with the French dauphin, by Tanneguy du Chastel and Jean Louvet, the dauphin's close counsellors.
The dual monarchy of England and France existed during the latter phase of the Hundred Years' War when Charles VII of France and Henry VI of England disputed the succession to the throne of France. It commenced on 21 October 1422 upon the death of King Charles VI of France, who had signed the Treaty of Troyes which gave the French crown to his son-in-law Henry V of England and Henry's heirs. It excluded King Charles's son, the Dauphin Charles, who by right of primogeniture was the heir to the Kingdom of France. Although the Treaty was ratified by the Estates-General of France, the act was a contravention of the French law of succession which decreed that the French crown could not be alienated. Henry VI, son of Henry V, became king of both England and France and was recognized only by the English and Burgundians until 1435 as King Henry II of France. He was crowned King of France on 16 December 1431.
After the lifting of the Siege of Orléans and the decisive French victory at the Battle of Patay, the Anglo-Burgundian threat was ended. Joan of Arc convinced the Dauphin Charles to go to be crowned at Reims. The march though the heart of territory controlled by the hostile Burgundians was successful and would give the throne of the French monarchy to Charles VII, who had been ousted therefrom by the Treaty of Troyes.
The Burgundian State is a concept coined by historians to describe the vast complex of territories that is also referred to as Valois Burgundy.
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