1403 - 1461 (58 years)
||Charles VII the Victorus de Valois |
||King of France |
||22 Feb 1403
||21 Jul 1461
||9 Aug 1461
||Saint Denis Basilica, Paris, France
- (Research):Charles VII (22 February 1403 \endash 22 July 1461), called the Victorious (French: le Victorieux) or the Well-Served (French: le Bien-Servi), was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose servants ruled much of France from Paris.
He was a member of the House of Valois, the son of Charles VI, whose succession to the throne was left questionable by the English occupation of northern France. He was, however, famously crowned in Reims in 1429 through the endeavours of Joan of Arc to free France from the English. His later reign was marked by struggles with his son, the eventual Louis XI.
Born in Paris, Charles was the fifth son of Charles VI of France and Isabella of Bavaria-Ingolstadt. His four elder brothers \emdash Charles (1386), Charles (1392\endash 1401), Louis (1397\endash 1415) and John (1398\endash 1417) \emdash had each held the title of Dauphin of France, heir to the French throne, in turn; each had died childless, leaving Charles with a rich inheritance of titles, and little else besides.
Almost immediately after his accession to the title of Dauphin, Charles was forced to face the threat to his inheritance, being forced to flee Paris in May 1418 after the soldiers of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy attempted to capture the city. In the following year, Charles attempted to make a reconciliation between himself and the Duke, meeting him and swearing peace on a bridge at Pouilly, near Melun, in July 1419. This proving insufficient, the two met again on 10 September 1419, on the bridge at Montereau. The Duke, despite previous history, proved over-trusting in his young cousin, assuming the meeting to be entirely peaceful and diplomatic, and bringing with him only a small escort; the Dauphin's men reacted to the Duke's arrival, however, by setting upon him and killing him. Charles's level of involvement remained questionable ever afterwards: although he claimed to have been unaware of his men's intentions, it was considered unlikely by those who heard of the murder, and furthered the feud between the family of Charles VI and the Dukes of Burgundy. Charles himself was later required by treaty with Philip the Good, John's son, to pay penance for the murder, but he never did so; nonetheless, it is claimed, the event left him with a lifelong phobia of bridges.
In his adolescent years, Charles was noted for his bravery and 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 France; his heraldic device was a mailed fist clutching a naked sword. However, two events in 1421 broke his confidence: he was forced, to his great shame, to withdraw from battle against Henry V of England; and his parents then repudiated him as the legitimate heir to the throne, claiming that he was the product of one of his mother's affairs (for which she was notorious). Humiliated, and in fear of his life, the Dauphin had fled to the protection of Yolande of Aragon, the so-called Queen of the Four Kingdoms, in southern France, where he was protected by the forceful and proud Queen Yolande, who married him to her daughter, Marie.
On the death of Charles's insane father, Charles VI, the succession was cast into doubt: if the Dauphin was legitimate, then he was the rightful heir to the throne, but if not, the heir was the Duke of Orleans, in English captivity; in addition to which, the Treaty of Troyes, signed by Charles VI in 1421, ordered that the throne pass to Henry VI of England, the son of the recently deceased Henry V by Catherine of Valois, daughter of Charles VI. None of the three candidates had an unquestionable claim to the throne; the English, however, being already in control of northern France, including Paris, were able to enforce their King's claim in those parts of France they occupied. Northern France was thus ruled by an English regent to Henry VI based in Normandy.
Charles, unsurprisingly, refused to allow his nephew to succeed rather than himself, and claimed the title King of France for himself; however, by indecision and a sense of hopelessness, he failed to make any attempts to throw the English out. Instead, he remained in southern France, where he was still able to exert some small amount of power, maintaining an itinerant court in the Loire Valley at castles such as Chinon, being customarily known as "Dauphin" still, or derisively as "King of Bourges" (Bourges being the region where he generally lived), periodically considering flight to the Iberian Peninsula, and allowing the English to advance in power.
The Maid of Orleans
In 1429, however, came a change. Orleans had been under siege since October 1428; the English regent, the Duke of Bedford (uncle of Henry VI) was advancing into the Duchy of Bar, ruled by Charles's brother-in-law, Rene; the French lords and soldiers loyal to Charles were becoming increasingly desperate; and in the little village of Domremy, on the border between Lorraine and Champagne, a teenage girl named Jeanne d'Arc ("Joan of Arc"), believing she had been given a divine mission by God, demanded of the Duke of Lorraine the soldiers and resources necessary to bring her to Chinon, and the Dauphin. Granted an escort of five veteran soldiers and a letter of referral to Charles by the governor of Vaucouleurs, Robert Baudricourt, Jeanne rode to Chinon, where Charles was in residence, arriving there on 10 March.
What followed would later pass into legend. When Jeanne arrived at Chinon, Charles\emdash testing Jeanne's claim to recognize him despite having never seen him\emdash disguised himself as one of his courtiers, and stood in their midst when Jeanne (who was herself dressed in men's clothing) entered the chamber. Jeanne, immediately identifying him, 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 Jeanne referred to him as "Dauphin" or "Gentle Dauphin" until he was crowned in Reims four months later. After a private conversation between the two (during which, Charles later stated, "Joan the Maid of Lorraine"\emdash so-called because she united France under one King\emdash revealed herself to know secrets about himself that he had voiced only in silent prayer to God, Charles became inspired, and filled with confidence. Thereafter he became secure in his intention to claim his inheritance by traveling to Reims.
One of the important factors that aided in the ultimate success of Charles VII was the support from the powerful and wealthy family of his wife Marie d'Anjou (1404\endash 63), particularly his mother-in-law the Queen Yolande of Aragon. Despite whatever affection he had for his wife, the great love of Charles VII's life was his mistress, Agnès Sorel.
After the French won the Battle of Patay, Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France on July 17, 1429, in Reims Cathedral. Over the following two decades, King Charles VII recaptured Paris from the English and eventually recovered all of France with the exception of the northern port of Calais.
Close of reign
Charles's later years were marked by increasing hostility between himself and his heir, Louis. Louis demanded real power to accompany his position as the Dauphin; Charles refused. Accordingly, Louis stirred dissent and made plots in attempts to destabilise his father, and quarrelled with his father's mistress, Agnès Sorel, on one occasion driving her with a bared sword into Charles's bed, according to one source. Eventually, in 1446, after Charles's final 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 that he return to court, eventually fleeing 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 syphilis) refused to heal, and the infection in it caused a serious fever. The King summoned his son, the Dauphin, to him from his exile in Burgundy; the Dauphin refused, and 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.
Finally, however, there came a point in the July of 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, the King went mad. By now another infection in his jaw had caused a tumour or abscess in his mouth; the swelling of this became so large that, for the last week of his life, Charles could swallow no food or water. Although he asked the Dauphin to come to his deathbed, Louis refused, instead waiting for his father to die at Avesnes, in Burgundy. Thus, at Mehun-sur-Yèvre, attended by his younger son, Charles, and aware of his 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 St Denis.
Although Charles VII's legacy is far overshadowed by the deeds and eventual martyrdom of Joan of Arc, he himself was also responsible for successes unprecedented in the history of the Kingdom of France. When he died, France was for the first time since the Carolingian Emperors united under one ruler, and possessed its first standing army, which in time would yield the powerful gendarme cavalry companies, notable in the wars of the sixteenth century; he had also established the University of Poitiers in 1432, and his policies had brought some economic prosperity to his subjects. His rule as a monarch had at times been marked by indecisiveness and inaction, and his ending years marked by hostility between himself and his son; nonetheless, it is to his credit that he left his kingdom in condition better than he had found it in.
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. Their children include:
Louis XI, King of France (1423\endash 83)
John of France (1424-25)
Radegonde de France (1428\endash 44)
Catherine (1428-1446), married Charles de Charolais, future Charles le Téméraire, Duke of Burgundy, in 1440
Jacques de France (1432-1437)
Yolande de France (1434\endash 78), married the future Amadeus IX, Duke of Savoy in 1452. Upon his death in 1472, she became regent of Savoy.
Joan (1435\endash 82), married the future John II, Duke of Bourbon in 1452
Margaret of France (1437\endash 38)
Mary of France (7 September 1438 \endash 14 February 1439)
Jeanne (7 September 1438 \endash 26 December 1446)
Magdalena of Valois (1443\endash 86), married Gaston de Foix, prince de Viane, in 1462
Charles, Duc de Berry (1446\endash 72)
Odette de Champdivers \emdash formerly mistress to Charles VII's uncle Louis of Valois, Duke of Orleans and his father Charles VI of France.
||Glenn Cook Family
||18 Jun 2015 |
||Mary d'Anjou, b. 1404, d. 1463 (Age 59 years) |
||18 Dec 1422
| ||1. Louis XI of France de Valois, King of France, b. 3 Jul 1423, Bourges, France , d. 30 Aug 1483 (Age 60 years)|
| ||2. Catherine de Valois de France, d. Yes, date unknown|
| ||3. Yolande de France, b. 1436, d. 1478 (Age 42 years)|
| ||4. Madeleine de France, b. 1443, d. 1486 (Age 43 years)|
| ||5. Jeanne de France, d. 4 May 1482|
||30 Nov 2006 |
- [S36] Directory of Royal Genealogical Data, Brian Tompsett, Dept of Computer Science, University of Hull, England([email protected]), (This work is Copyright b 1994-2002 Brian C Tompsett).