Birthday: January 21, 1338
Died At Age: 42
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Charles V the Wise
Born Country: France
Born in: Vincennes, France
Famous as: King of France
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Joanna of Bourbon (m. 1350)
father: John II of France
mother: Bonne of Luxembourg
children: Catherine of France - Countess of Montpensier, Charles VI of France, Isabella, Jean de France, Louis I - Duke of Orléans, Marie of Valois, Oudard d'Attainville
Died on: September 16, 1380
place of death: Beauté-sur-Marne, France
Who was Charles V of France?
Charles V of France, also known as “Charles V, the Wise,” was the king of France who reigned from 1364 until his death in 1380. He is best remembered for rebuilding the nation following the losses incurred during the Hundred Years’ War and the catastrophic Anglo-French settlement of 1360. Having received the province of Dauphiné in 1349, Charles V of France held the title of Dauphin until his accession to the throne. He became the regent after his father, John II the Good, was held by the English forces at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Charles overcame all the rebellions from the opposition and concluded the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360 to liberate his father. He became the king in 1364 and quickly restored the royal treasury and esteem of the House of Valois. He continued the war with the English, fighting them at every point possible. By 1375, the king had regained most of the English territories in France. His last years were marked by the abolition of the hearth tax. Charles V of France died in 1380 and was succeeded by his son, then-11-year-old Charles VI.
Childhood & Early Life
Charles V of France was born on 21 January 1338, in Vincennes, France, to Prince John (John II) and his wife Bonne of France.
He grew up alongside other French royal members in his age group, including Louis de Bourbon, Louis I, Philip the Bold, John of Berry, and Edward II of Bar. His uncle Philip, Duke of Orleans, was just two years older than him.
He was educated in the royal court. Although highly intelligent, Charles was physically weak unlike his father, John II the Good.
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Charles V As First Dauphin of the French Royal House
Humbert II, Dauphin of Viennois of the Holy Roman Empire, decided to sell the province of Dauphiné after he failed to raise taxes. According to the Treaty of Romans, the tile of the Dauphin of Viennois went to Charles, making him the first Dauphin of the French Royal House.
In exchange, the young Charles assured to preserve esteem of the community charter and confirm the franchises of Humbert II.
Despite been so young, he interceded to end a war raging between the vassal families. He also managed to gain valuable experience that would help him become a wise and successful king in future.
Unlike his father, Charles V believed that a king should consider the approval of his subjects before taking any decision. This view led him to approach many Norman nobles, including Charles II of Navarre, aka Charles the Bad.
On 19 September 1356, his father was captured by the English at the Battle of Poitiers. Later, he refused the demand of Étienne Marcel, the Provost of Merchants, to release Charles the Bad who had murdered his father’s constable.
He eventually made royal progress by winning back most of his territories that had been captured by the English.
Following the Battle of Poitiers, France was given the choice to enter peace negotiations with the English. Charles rejected the treaty. However, he signed the Treaty of Brétigny in May 1360 that led to release of his father.
Accession & Reign
Charles V became the king of France in 1364. His reign was marked by numerous battles with the English and efforts to recover the territories of the Tard-Venus and Brétigny.
In order to regain his territories, he established an army under Bertrand du Guesclin that battled the English army during the Breton War of Succession. In 1364, he led the Battle of Cocherel where he defeated Charles II of Navarre.
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The king next sent du Guesclin and his men to battle a civil war in Castile. The war was between King Peter the Cruel and his half-brother Henry who were supported by England and France, respectively.
In 1365, du Guesclin and his army managed to drive Peter out of Castile. During the Castillan Campaign, the English army was defeated badly.
In 1369, du Guesclin once again fought King Peter the Cruel, defeating him at the Battle of Montiel. Peter was later stabbed by his brother Henry while in captivity. Following his death, the Franco-Castillan alliance was sealed and the situation turned favorable for Charles who could now resume the battle against England.
In May 1369, Charles V of France declared war on Edward of Woodstock, aka the Black Prince. He was Edward III of England’s elder son and heir to the English throne.
The king opted for a strategy of attrition and spread the fight at every point possible. In 1372, the French and Castillan armies demolished an English fleet at La Rochelle.
In the 1370s, Bertrand du Guesclin was employed the constable of France. The French army under him battled against the English army in northern France with a frightening number of sieges, raids, and pitched battles.
Most of the chief English leaders were executed in a few months. The Black Prince eventually fled to England and died in 1376.
By 1375, the king had recovered most of the English territories in France except Gascony and Calais, effectively nullifying the Treaty of Brétigny.
Family & Personal Life
Charles V of France married Joan of Bourbon on 8 April 1350, at the age of 12. The couple had several children, including Charles VI, Joanna, Bonne, Jean, Marie, John, Isabella, and Catherine, who married John of Berry, Count of Montpensier.
Death & Legacy
Charles V of France died on 16 September 1380, at the age of 42. He was buried in the Basilica of St Denis, Paris.
During his lifetime, he maintained a vast library that contained over 1,200 volumes. This library was a symbol of his authority and magnificence.
His kingship laid great emphasis on royal ceremony as well as scientific political theory.
A great builder king, Charles V established many significant buildings, including Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the Bastille, Château de Vincennes, and the Château du Louvre.
His successes, however, proved to be ephemeral as his successors and brothers fought amongst themselves, eventually leading to the division of the French government.