Charles VII of France

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Charles VII the Victorious
Charles VII by Jean Fouquet 1445 1450.jpg
Portrait  [ fr ] by Jean Fouquet, tempera on wood, Louvre Museum, Paris, c. 1445–1450
King of France
Reign21 October 1422 – 22 July 1461
Coronation 17 July 1429
Predecessor Charles VI
Successor Louis XI
Born22 February 1403
Paris, France
Died22 July 1461(1461-07-22) (aged 58)
Mehun-sur-Yèvre, France
Burial
Spouse
Marie of Anjou (m. 1422)
Issue
Detail
Louis XI of France
Radegonde of Valois
Yolande, Duchess of Savoy
Magdalena, Princess of Viana
Charles, Duke of Berry
Joan, Duchess of Bourbon
Catherine of Valois
Marie de Valois (illegitimate)
Charlotte de Brézé (illegitimate)
House Valois
Father Charles VI of France
Mother Isabeau of Bavaria
Religion Roman Catholic

Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461), called the Victorious (French : le Victorieux) [1] or the Well-Served (French : le Bien-Servi), was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Contents

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 Duchy of Burgundy occupied Guyenne and northern France, including Paris, the most populous city, and Reims, the city in which the 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).

Hundred Years War Series of conflicts and wars between England and France during the 14th and 15th-century

The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the French House of Valois, over the right to rule the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe. The war marked both the height of chivalry and its subsequent decline, and the development of strong national identities in both countries.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Duchy of Burgundy historic principality

The Duchy of Burgundy emerged in the 9th century as one of the successors of the ancient Kingdom of the Burgundians, which after its conquest in 532 had formed a constituent part of the Frankish Empire. Upon the 9th-century partitions, the French remnants of the Burgundian kingdom were reduced to a ducal rank by King Robert II of France in 1004. Robert II's son and heir, King Henry I of France, inherited the duchy but ceded it to his younger brother Robert in 1032. Other portions had passed to the Imperial Kingdom of Arles and the County of Burgundy (Franche-Comté).

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. This long-awaited event boosted French morale as hostilities with England resumed. Following the battle of Castillon in 1453, the French expelled the English from all their continental possessions except for the Pale of Calais.

Bourges Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Bourges is a city in central France on the Yèvre river. It is the capital of the department of Cher, and also was the capital of the former province of Berry.

Loire Longest river in France

The Loire is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of 1,012 kilometres (629 mi), it drains an area of 117,054 km2 (45,195 sq mi), or more than a fifth of France's land area, while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône.

Joan of Arc 15th-century French folk heroine and Roman Catholic saint

Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in northeast France. Joan claimed to have 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 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.

The last years of Charles VII were marked by conflicts with his turbulent son, the future Louis XI of France.

Louis XI of France King of France

Louis XI, called "Louis the Prudent", was King of France from 1461 to 1483. He succeeded his father Charles VII.

Biography

Early life

French Monarchy
Capetian Dynasty
(House of Valois)
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Ancien).svg
Philip VI
Children
John II
Philip, Duke of Orléans
John II
Children
Charles V
Louis I of Anjou
John, Duke of Berry
Philip the Bold
Charles V
Children
Charles VI
Louis, Duke of Orléans
Charles VI
Children
Isabella of Valois
Michelle of Valois
Catherine of Valois
Charles VII
Charles VII
Children
Louis XI
Charles, Duke of Berry
Louis XI
Children
Charles VIII
Charles VIII

Born at the Hôtel Saint-Pol , the royal residence in Paris, Charles was given the title of comte de Ponthieu at his birth in 1403. He was the eleventh child and fifth son of Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria. [1] 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 (heir to the French Throne) in turn. [1] All died childless, leaving Charles with a rich inheritance of titles. [1]

The hôtel Saint-Pol was a royal residence begun in 1361 by Charles V of France on the ruins of a building constructed by Louis IX. It was used by Charles V and Charles VI. Located to the southwest of the quartier de l'Arsenal in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, the residence's grounds stretched from the quai des Célestins to the rue Saint-Antoine, and from the rue Saint-Paul to the rue du Petit-Musc.

The County of Ponthieu, centered on the mouth of the Somme, became a member of the Norman group of vassal states when Count Guy submitted to William of Normandy after the battle of Mortemer. It eventually formed part of the dowry of Eleanor of Castile and passed to the English crown. Much fought-over in the Hundred Years' War, it eventually passed to the French royal domain, and the title Count of Ponthieu became a courtesy title for the royal family.

Charles VI of France 14th/15th-century French king

Charles VI, called the Beloved and the Mad, was King of France for 42 years from 1380, until his death.

Dauphin

Almost immediately after his accession to the title of 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. [2] By 1419, Charles had established his own court in Bourges and a Parlement in Poitiers. [2] On 11 July of that same year, Charles and John the Fearless attempted a reconciliation by signing, on a small bridge near Pouilly-le-Fort, not far from Melun where Charles was staying, the Treaty of Pouilly-le-Fort known also under name of Paix du Ponceau (ponceau from French pont, "bridge", is a small one-span bridge thrown over a stream). [3] They also decided that a further meeting should take place the following 10 September. On that date, they met on the bridge at Montereau. [4] 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. [1] 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.

John the Fearless Duke of Burgundy

John the Fearless was Duke of Burgundy as John I from 1404 until his death. A scion of the royal house of France, he played an important role in French affairs during the early 15th century, in particular the struggles to rule the country for the mentally ill King Charles VI and the Hundred Years' War with England. His rash, unscrupulous, and violent political dealings contributed to the eruption of the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War in France, and culminated in his assassination in 1419.

Duke of Burgundy was a title used by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, from its establishmemt in 843 to its annexation by France in 1477, and later by Habsburg sovereigns of the Burgundian Low Countries (1478-1556).

Parlement Ancien Régime justice court

A parlement, in the Ancien Régime of France, was a provincial appellate court. In 1789, France had 13 parlements, the most important of which was the Parlement of Paris. While the English word parliament derives from this French term, parlements were not legislative bodies. They consisted of a dozen or more appellate judges, or about 1,100 judges nationwide. They were the court of final appeal of the judicial system, and typically wielded much power over a wide range of subject matter, particularly taxation. Laws and edicts issued by the Crown were not official in their respective jurisdictions until the parlements gave their assent by publishing them. The members were aristocrats called nobles of the gown who had bought or inherited their offices, and were independent of the King.

Treaty of Troyes (21 May 1420)

At the death of his father, Charles VI, the succession was cast into doubt. The Treaty of Troyes, signed by Charles VI in 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).

King of Bourges

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. [5] 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, [6] 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 [7] [ 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.

Maid of Orléans

1429
Territories controlled by Henry VI of England
Territories controlled by the Duke of Burgundy
Territories controlled by Charles
Main battles
English raid of 1415
Joan of Arc's route to Reims in 1429 Treaty of Troyes.svg
1429
  Territories controlled by Henry VI of England
  Territories controlled by the Duke of Burgundy
  Territories controlled by Charles
  Main battles
  English raid of 1415
  Joan of Arc's route to Reims in 1429
Joan of Arc at the coronation of Charles VII with her white flag Beside the altar stood Joan, her whit standard in her hand.jpg
Joan of Arc at the coronation of Charles VII with her white flag

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, [8] 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. [8]

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. [9] 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, [10] she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431.

French victory

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. [11]

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.

Close of reign

Charles VII the Victorious by Antoine-Louis Barye, held in The Walters Art Museum Antoine-Louis Barye - Charles VII, the Victorious - Walters 27164 - Profile.jpg
Charles VII the Victorious by Antoine-Louis Barye, held in The Walters Art Museum

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.

Legacy

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. 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.

He had created France's first standing army since Roman times. In The Prince , Niccolo Machiavelli asserts that if his son Louis XI had continued this policy, then the French would have become invincible.

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.

Family

Children

Charles married his second cousin Marie of Anjou on 18 December 1422. [12] 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:

NameBirthDeathNotes
Louis 3 July 142330 August 1483 King of France. Married firstly Margaret of Scotland, no issue. Married secondly Charlotte of Savoy, had issue.
John19 September 1426Lived for a few hours.
Radegonde after 29 August 142819 March 1444Betrothed to Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, on 22 July 1430.
Catherine after 29 August 142813 September 1446Married Charles the Bold, no issue.
James14322 March 1437Died aged five.
Yolande 23 September 143423/29 August 1478Married Amadeus IX, Duke of Savoy, had issue.
Joan 4 May 14354 May 1482Married John II, Duke of Bourbon, no issue.
Philip4 February 143611 June 1436Died in infancy.
MargaretMay 143724 July 1438Died aged one.
Joanna7 September 143826 December 1446Twin of Marie, died aged eight.
Marie7 September 143814 February 1439Twin of Joanna, died in infancy.
Isabella1441Died young.
Magdalena 1 December 144321 January 1495Married Gaston of Foix, Prince of Viana, had issue.
Charles 12 December 144624 May 1472Died without legitimate issue.

Mistresses

Ancestors

In the arts

Charles VII depicted by Jean Fouquet as one of the three Magi. L Adoration des Mages.jpg
Charles VII depicted by Jean Fouquet as one of the three Magi.

Sources

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Wagner 2006, p. 89.
  2. 1 2 Richard Vaughan, John the Fearless: The Growth of Burgundian Power, Vol. 2, (Boydell Press, 2005), 263.
  3. J. C. L. Sismonde de Sismondi, Histoire des Français, Volume XII, Paris, 1828, p. 574 (French)
  4. Richard Vaughan, John the Fearless: The Growth of Burgundian Power, 274.
  5. J. C. L. Sismonde de Sismondi, Histoire des Français, Volume XII, Paris, 1828, pp.611–312 (French)
  6. Taylor, Larissa Juliet (2009). The Virgin Warrior: The Life and Death of Joan of Arc. Yale University Press. p. 230.
  7. Schlesinger, Arthur M. (1985). Joan of Arc. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers. pp. 17–18. ISBN   978-0877545569.
  8. 1 2 Vale 1974, p.  46.
  9. Pernoud & Clin 1999, p. 88.
  10. Pernoud & Clin 1999, pp. 103–137, 209.
  11. Brady, Thomas A. (1994). Handbook of European History 1400–1600. 2. Leiden: E. J. Brill. p. 373.
  12. Ashdown-Hill 2016, p. xxiv.
  13. Peter Rolf Monks, The Brussels Horloge de Sapience: Iconography and Text of Brussels, (Brill, 1990), 10.
  14. Vale 1974, p.  92.
  15. Kathleen Wellman, Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France, (Yale University Press, 2013), 191.
  16. Peter Rolf Monks, The Brussels Horloge de Sapience: Iconography and Text of Brussels, 11.

Further reading

Charles VII of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 22 February 1403 Died: 22 July 1461
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles VI
King of France
disputed with Henry VI of England, 1422–29

21 October 1422 – 22 July 1461
Succeeded by
Louis XI
Preceded by
John of Valois
Dauphin of Viennois
5 April 1417 – 3 July 1423
Duke of Touraine
Count of Poitou

1417 – 21 October 1422
Vacant
Merged in the crown
Duke of Berry
1417 – 21 October 1422
Vacant
Merged in the crown
Title next held by
Charles II
Count of Ponthieu
1417 – 21 October 1422
Vacant
Merged in the crown
Title next held by
Charles II