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Portrait of Charles VII, King of France

CHARLES VII (1403-1461), King of France

CHARLES VII, King of France, fifth son of Charles VI and Isabeau of Bavaria, was born in Paris on the 22nd of February 1403. The count of Ponthieu, as he was called in his boyhood, was betrothed in 1413 to Mary of Anjou, daughter of Louis II, Duke of Anjou and king of Sicily, and spent the next two years at the Angevin court.

He received the duchy of Touraine in 1416, and in the next year the death of his brother John made him dauphin of France. He became lieutenant-general of the kingdom in 1417, and made active efforts to combat the complaisance of his mother. He assumed the title of regent in December 1418, but his authority in northern France was paralysed in 1419 by the murder of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, in his presence at Montereau. Although the deed was not apparently premeditated, as the English and Burgundians declared, it ruined Charles's cause for the time. He was disinherited by the treaty of Troyes in 1420, and at the time of his father's death in 1422 had retired to Mehun-sur-Yevre, near Bourges, which had been the nominal seat of government since 1418.

He was recognized as king in Touraine, Berry and Poitou, in Languedoc and other provinces of southern France; but the English power in the north was presently increased by the provinces of Champagne and Maine, as the result of the victories of Crevant (1423) and Verneuil (1424). The Armagnac administrators who had been driven out of Paris by the Duke of Bedford gathered round the young king, nicknamed the "king of Bourges," but he was weak in body and mind, and was under the domination of Jean Louvet and Tanguy du Chastel, the instigators of the murder of John the Fearless, and other discredited partisans. The power of these favourites was shaken by the influence of the queen's mother, Yolande of Aragon, Duchess of Anjou. She sought the alliance of John V, Duke of Brittany, who, however, vacillated throughout his life between the English and French alliance, concerned chiefly to maintain the independence of his duchy. His brother, Arthur of Brittany, Earl of Richmond (Comte de Richemont), was reconciled with the king, and became constable in 1425, with the avowed intention of making peace between Charles VII and the Duke of Burgundy. Richemont caused the assassination of Charles's favourites Pierre de Giac and Le Camus de Beaulieu, and imposed one of his own choosing, Georges de la Tremoille, an adventurer who rapidly usurped the constable's power. For five years (1427-1432) a private war between these two exhausted the Armagnac forces, and central France returned to anarchy.

Meanwhile Bedford had established settled government throughout the north of France, and in 1428 he advanced to the siege of Orleans. For the movement which was to lead to the deliverance of France from the English invaders, see Joan Of Arc. The siege of Orleans was raised by her efforts on the 8th of May 1429, and two months later Charles VII was crowned at Reims. Charles's intimate counsellors, La Tremoille and Regnault de Chartres, Archbishop of Reims, saw their profits menaced by the triumphs of Joan of Arc, and accordingly the court put every difficulty in the way of her military career, and received the news of her capture before Compiegne (1430) with indifference. No measures were taken for her deliverance or her ransom, and Normandy and the Isle of France remained in English hands. Fifteen years of anarchy and civil war intervened before peace was restored. Bands of armed men fighting for their own hand traversed the country, and in the ten years between 1434 and 1444 the provinces were terrorized by these ecorcheurs, who, with the decline of discipline in the English army, were also recruited from the ranks of the invaders.

The Duke of Bedford died in 1435, and in the same year Philip the Good of Burgundy concluded a treaty with Charles VII at Arras, after fruitless negotiations for an English treaty. From this time Charles's policy was strengthened. La Tremoille had been assassinated in 1433 by the constable's orders, with the connivance of Yolande of Aragon. For his former favourites were substituted energetic advisers, his brother-in-law Charles of Anjou, Dunois (the famous bastard of Orleans), Pierre de Breze, Richemont and others. Richemont entered Paris on the 13th of April 1436, and in the next five years the finance of the country was re-established on a settled basis. Charles himself commanded the troops who captured Pontoise in 1441, and in the next year he made a successful expedition in the south.

Meanwhile the princes of the blood and the great nobles resented the ascendancy of councillors and soldiers drawn from the smaller nobility and the bourgeoisie. They made a formidable league against the crown in 1440 which included Charles, Duke of Bourbon, John II, Duke of Alençon, John IV of Armagnac, and the dauphin, afterwards Louis XI. The revolt broke out in Poitou in 1440 and was known as the Praguerie. Charles VII repressed the rising, and showed great skill with the rebel nobles, finally buying them over individually by considerable concessions. In 1444 a truce was concluded with England at Tours, and Charles proceeded to organize a regular army. The central authority was gradually made effective, and a definite system of payment, by removing the original cause of brigandage, and the establishment of a strict discipline learnt perhaps from the English troops, gradually stamped out the most serious of the many evils under which the country had suffered.

Pierre Bessonneau, and the brothers Gaspard and Jean Bureau created a considerable force of artillery. Domestic troubles in their own country weakened the English in France. The conquest of Normandy was completed by the battle of Formigny (15th of April 1450). Guienne was conquered in 1451 by Duncis, but not subdued, and another expedition was necessary in 1453, when Talbot was defeated and slain at Castillon. Meanwhile in 1450 Charles VII had resolved on the rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, thus rendering a tardy recognition of her services. This was granted in 1456 by the Holy See. The only foothold retained by the English on French ground was Calais. In its earlier stages the deliverance of France from the English had been the work of the people themselves. The change which made Charles take an active part in public affairs is said to have been largely due to the influence of Agnes Sorel, who became his mistress in 1444 and died in 1450. She was the first to play a public and political role as mistress of a king of France, and may be said to have established a tradition. Pierre de Breze, who had had a large share in the repression of the Praguerie, obtained through her a dominating influence over the king, and he inspired the monarch himself and the whole administration with new vigour.

Charles and Rene of Anjou retired from court, and the greater part of the members of the king's council were drawn from the bourgeois classes. The most famous of all these was Jacques Coeur. It was by the zeal of these councillors that Charles obtained the surname of "The Well-Served." Charles VII continued his father's general policy in church matters. He desired to lessen the power of the Holy See in France and to preserve as far as possible the liberties of the Gallican church. With the council of Constance (1414-1418) the great schism was practically healed. Charles, while careful to protest against its renewal, supported the anti-papal contentions of the French members of the council of Basel (1431-1449), and in 1438 he promulgated the Pragmatic Sanction at Bourges, by which the patronage of ecclesiastical benefices was removed from the Holy See, while certain interventions of the royal power were admitted. Bishops and abbots were to be elected, in accordance with ancient custom, by their clergy.

After the English had evacuated French territory Charles still had to cope with feudal revolt, and with the hostility of the dauphin, who was in open revolt in 1446, and for the next ten years ruled like an independent sovereign in Dauphine. He took refuge in 1457 with Charles's most formidable enemy, Philip of Burgundy. Charles VII nevertheless found means to prevent Philip from attaining his ambitions in Lorraine and in Germany. But the dauphin succeeded in embarrassing his father's policy at home and abroad, and had his own party in the court itself. Charles VII died at Mehun-sur-Yevre on the 22nd of July 1461. He believed that he was poisoned by his son, who cannot, however, be accused of anything more than an eager expectation of his death.





      Excerpted from:

      Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Ed. Vol V.
      Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910. 921.




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Index of Encyclopedia Entries:

Medieval Cosmology
Prices of Items in Medieval England

Edward II
Piers Gaveston
Thomas, Earl of Lancaster
Roger Mortimer, Earl of March

Hundred Years' War (1337-1453)

Edward III
The Battle of Crécy, 1346
Edward, Black Prince of Wales
Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
Edmund of Langley, Duke of York
Thomas of Woodstock, Gloucester
Richard of York, E. of Cambridge
Richard Fitzalan, 3. Earl of Arundel
Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March
The Good Parliament, 1376
Richard II
Lords Appellant, 1388
Richard Fitzalan, 4. Earl of Arundel
Archbishop Thomas Arundel
Thomas de Beauchamp, E. Warwick
Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford
Ralph Neville, E. of Westmorland
Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk
Edmund Mortimer, 3. Earl of March
Roger Mortimer, 4. Earl of March
John Holland, Duke of Exeter
Michael de la Pole, E. Suffolk
Hugh de Stafford, 2. E. Stafford
Henry IV
Edward, Duke of York
Edmund Mortimer, 5. Earl of March
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
Sir Henry Percy, "Harry Hotspur"
Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester
Owen Glendower
The Battle of Shrewsbury, 1403
Archbishop Richard Scrope
Thomas Mowbray, 3. E. Nottingham
John Mowbray, 2. Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Fitzalan, 5. Earl of Arundel
Henry V
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
John, Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury
Richard, Earl of Cambridge
Henry, Baron Scrope of Masham
William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk
Thomas Montacute, E. Salisbury
Richard Beauchamp, E. of Warwick
Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick
Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Cardinal Henry Beaufort
John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset
Sir John Fastolf
John Holland, 2. Duke of Exeter
Archbishop John Stafford
Archbishop John Kemp
Catherine of Valois
Owen Tudor
John Fitzalan, 7. Earl of Arundel
John, Lord Tiptoft

Charles VII, King of France
Joan of Arc
Louis XI, King of France
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy
The Battle of Castillon, 1453



The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485
Causes of the Wars of the Roses
The House of Lancaster
The House of York
The House of Beaufort
The House of Neville

The First Battle of St. Albans, 1455
The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459
The Rout of Ludford, 1459
The Battle of Northampton, 1460
The Battle of Wakefield, 1460
The Battle of Mortimer's Cross, 1461
The 2nd Battle of St. Albans, 1461
The Battle of Towton, 1461
The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 1464
The Battle of Hexham, 1464
The Battle of Edgecote, 1469
The Battle of Losecoat Field, 1470
The Battle of Barnet, 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury, 1471
The Treaty of Pecquigny, 1475
The Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485
The Battle of Stoke Field, 1487

Henry VI
Margaret of Anjou
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
Edward IV
Elizabeth Woodville
Richard Woodville, 1. Earl Rivers
Anthony Woodville, 2. Earl Rivers
Jane Shore
Edward V
Richard III
George, Duke of Clarence

Ralph Neville, 2. Earl of Westmorland
Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick
Edward Neville, Baron Bergavenny
William Neville, Lord Fauconberg
Robert Neville, Bishop of Salisbury
John Neville, Marquis of Montagu
George Neville, Archbishop of York
John Beaufort, 1. Duke Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, 2. Duke Somerset
Henry Beaufort, 3. Duke of Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, 4. Duke Somerset
Margaret Beaufort
Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond
Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke
Humphrey Stafford, D. Buckingham
Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Humphrey Stafford, E. of Devon
Thomas, Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby
Sir William Stanley
Archbishop Thomas Bourchier
Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex
John Mowbray, 3. Duke of Norfolk
John Mowbray, 4. Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Henry Percy, 2. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 3. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 4. E. Northumberland
William, Lord Hastings
Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter
William Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
Thomas de Clifford, 8. Baron Clifford
John de Clifford, 9. Baron Clifford
John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester
Thomas Grey, 1. Marquis Dorset
Sir Andrew Trollop
Archbishop John Morton
Edward Plantagenet, E. of Warwick
John Talbot, 2. E. Shrewsbury
John Talbot, 3. E. Shrewsbury
John de la Pole, 2. Duke of Suffolk
John de la Pole, E. of Lincoln
Edmund de la Pole, E. of Suffolk
Richard de la Pole
John Sutton, Baron Dudley
James Butler, 5. Earl of Ormonde
Sir James Tyrell
Edmund Grey, first Earl of Kent
George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent
John, 5th Baron Scrope of Bolton
James Touchet, 7th Baron Audley
Walter Blount, Lord Mountjoy
Robert Hungerford, Lord Moleyns
Thomas, Lord Scales
John, Lord Lovel and Holand
Francis Lovell, Viscount Lovell
Sir Richard Ratcliffe
William Catesby
Ralph, 4th Lord Cromwell
Jack Cade's Rebellion, 1450


Tudor Period

King Henry VII
Queen Elizabeth of York
Arthur, Prince of Wales
Lambert Simnel
Perkin Warbeck
The Battle of Blackheath, 1497

King Ferdinand II of Aragon
Queen Isabella of Castile
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

King Henry VIII
Queen Catherine of Aragon
Queen Anne Boleyn
Queen Jane Seymour
Queen Anne of Cleves
Queen Catherine Howard
Queen Katherine Parr

King Edward VI
Queen Mary I
Queen Elizabeth I
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland
James IV, King of Scotland
The Battle of Flodden Field, 1513
James V, King of Scotland
Mary of Guise, Queen of Scotland

Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Louis XII, King of France
Francis I, King of France
The Battle of the Spurs, 1513
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Eustace Chapuys, Imperial Ambassador
The Siege of Boulogne, 1544

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
Thomas, Lord Audley
Thomas Wriothesley, E. Southampton
Sir Richard Rich

Edward Stafford, D. of Buckingham
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford
John Russell, Earl of Bedford
Thomas Grey, 2. Marquis of Dorset
Henry Grey, D. of Suffolk
Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester
George Talbot, 4. E. Shrewsbury
Francis Talbot, 5. E. Shrewsbury
Henry Algernon Percy,
     5th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Algernon Percy,
     6th Earl of Northumberland
Ralph Neville, 4. E. Westmorland
Henry Neville, 5. E. Westmorland
William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester
Sir Francis Bryan
Sir Nicholas Carew
John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral
Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Henry Pole, Lord Montague
Sir Geoffrey Pole
Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Bourchier, 2. Earl of Essex
Robert Radcliffe, 1. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 2. Earl of Sussex
George Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon
Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter
George Neville, Baron Bergavenny
Sir Edward Neville
William, Lord Paget
William Sandys, Baron Sandys
William Fitzwilliam, E. Southampton
Sir Anthony Browne
Sir Thomas Wriothesley
Sir William Kingston
George Brooke, Lord Cobham
Sir Richard Southwell
Thomas Fiennes, 9th Lord Dacre
Sir Francis Weston
Henry Norris
Lady Jane Grey
Sir Thomas Arundel
Sir Richard Sackville
Sir William Petre
Sir John Cheke
Walter Haddon, L.L.D
Sir Peter Carew
Sir John Mason
Nicholas Wotton
John Taylor
Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Younger

Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London
John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester
John Aylmer, Bishop of London
Thomas Linacre
William Grocyn
Archbishop William Warham
Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester
Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford

Pope Julius II
Pope Leo X
Pope Clement VII
Pope Paul III
Pope Pius V

Pico della Mirandola
Desiderius Erasmus
Martin Bucer
Richard Pace
Christopher Saint-German
Thomas Tallis
Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent
Hans Holbein, the Younger
The Sweating Sickness

Dissolution of the Monasteries
Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
Robert Aske
Anne Askew
Lord Thomas Darcy
Sir Robert Constable

Oath of Supremacy
The Act of Supremacy, 1534
The First Act of Succession, 1534
The Third Act of Succession, 1544
The Ten Articles, 1536
The Six Articles, 1539
The Second Statute of Repeal, 1555
The Act of Supremacy, 1559
Articles Touching Preachers, 1583

Queen Elizabeth I
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Nicholas Bacon
Sir Thomas Bromley

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick
Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon
Sir Thomas Egerton, Viscount Brackley
Sir Francis Knollys
Katherine "Kat" Ashley
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester
George Talbot, 6. E. of Shrewsbury
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7. E. of Shrewsbury
Sir Henry Sidney
Sir Robert Sidney
Archbishop Matthew Parker
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
Sir Christopher Hatton
Edward Courtenay, E. Devonshire
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Thomas Radcliffe, 3. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 4. Earl of Sussex
Robert Radcliffe, 5. Earl of Sussex
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
Henry Wriothesley, 2. Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3. Southampton
Charles Neville, 6. E. Westmorland
Thomas Percy, 7. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 8. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 9. E. Nothumberland
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Henry Howard, 1. Earl of Northampton
Thomas Howard, 1. Earl of Suffolk
Henry Hastings, 3. E. of Huntingdon
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland
Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland
Henry FitzAlan, 12. Earl of Arundel
Thomas, Earl Arundell of Wardour
Edward Somerset, E. of Worcester
William Davison
Sir Walter Mildmay
Sir Ralph Sadler
Sir Amyas Paulet
Gilbert Gifford
Anthony Browne, Viscount Montague
François, Duke of Alençon & Anjou

Mary, Queen of Scots
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell
Anthony Babington and the Babington Plot
John Knox

Philip II of Spain
The Spanish Armada, 1588
Sir Francis Drake
Sir John Hawkins

William Camden
Archbishop Whitgift
Martin Marprelate Controversy
John Penry (Martin Marprelate)
Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury
John Dee, Alchemist

Philip Henslowe
Edward Alleyn
The Blackfriars Theatre
The Fortune Theatre
The Rose Theatre
The Swan Theatre
Children's Companies
The Admiral's Men
The Lord Chamberlain's Men
Citizen Comedy
The Isle of Dogs, 1597

Common Law
Court of Common Pleas
Court of King's Bench
Court of Star Chamber
Council of the North
Fleet Prison
Assize
Attainder
First Fruits & Tenths
Livery and Maintenance
Oyer and terminer
Praemunire


The Stuarts

King James I of England
Anne of Denmark
Henry, Prince of Wales
The Gunpowder Plot, 1605
George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham
Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset
Arabella Stuart, Lady Lennox

William Alabaster
Bishop Hall
Bishop Thomas Morton
Archbishop William Laud
John Selden
Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford
Henry Lawes

King Charles I
Queen Henrietta Maria

Long Parliament
Rump Parliament
Kentish Petition, 1642

Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford
John Digby, Earl of Bristol
George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol
Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax
Robert Devereux, 3rd E. of Essex
Robert Sidney, 2. E. of Leicester
Algernon Percy, E. of Northumberland
Henry Montagu, Earl of Manchester
Edward Montagu, 2. Earl of Manchester

The Restoration

King Charles II
King James II
Test Acts

Greenwich Palace
Hatfield House
Richmond Palace
Windsor Palace
Woodstock Manor

The Cinque Ports
Mermaid Tavern
Malmsey Wine
Great Fire of London, 1666
Merchant Taylors' School
Westminster School
The Sanctuary at Westminster
"Sanctuary"


Images:

Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher's Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR
c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London




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