Birthday: February 22, 1403
Emperors & Kings
Died At Age: 58
Sun Sign: Pisces
Born in: Paris
Famous as: King of France
Spouse/Ex-: Marie of Anjou
father: Charles VI of France
mother: Isabeau of Bavaria
children: Catherine of France, Charles de Valois, Countess of Charolais, Duc de Berry, Duchess of Bourbon, Joan of France, Louis XI of France, Magdalena of France, Yolande of Valois
Died on: July 22, 1461
place of death: Mehun-sur-Yèvre
Charles VII was the King of France from 1422 to 1461. Also known as Charles The Well-served, or The Victorious, he ascended to the throne during a period of great political turmoil in France. He was born as the son of the French King Charles VI who was known to be of unstable mind. At that time the Hundred Years' War was going on between England and France and the mentally unstable King Charles VI was forced to disinherit his son in favor of the English King, Henry V. After his father’s death Charles VII laid his claim to the French throne but was unsuccessful in claiming his rightful inheritance. During this time, a young lady called the Joan of Arc claimed to have a spiritual revelation and stated that she would help in driving away the English from the French soil and aid Charles in becoming the King of France. Joan, aided by several prominent military commanders led French troops to several important victories and paved the way for Charles’ coronation. Even though his initial years as the King were marked by indecisiveness, his reign is considered to be an important one in French history as the Hundred Years’ War that had been raging on from the past several decades was finally brought to an end during his reign.
Childhood & Early Life
Charles was born as the fifth son of Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria on 22 February 1403 in Paris, France. His father was of an unsound mind and mentally unstable.
All of his four elder brothers died young and Charles was named the Dauphin (heir to the throne) at the age of 14 in 1417. He was also made lieutenant general of the kingdom.
He faced threats to his life from the time he was named the Dauphin. The soldiers of Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy attempted to capture the city in 1418, forcing Charles to flee to Bourges. By the next year, Charles had established his own court in Bourges and a Parliament in Poitiers.
As a teenager Charles was known for his bravery and fearlessness. He also displayed signs of developing into a capable military leader when he led an army against the English as a young man.
In 1420, his father disinherited Charles stating that he was his mother’s illegitimate son, and recognized Henry V of England and his heirs as the legitimate successors of the French crown instead. Humiliated, Charles fled to Southern France.
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Accession & Reign
King Charles VI died in 1422 in Paris and the succession was cast into doubt. According to the Treaty of Troyes, signed by Charles VI in 1420, the heir to the throne was the infant King Henry VI of England, the son of the recently deceased Henry V. However, many regarded the treaty as invalid on basis on Charles VI’s insanity and considered Dauphin Charles to be the legal heir.
Charles claimed the title of King of France for himself but made no attempts to expel the English from northern France. He remained in southern France where he maintained a court in the Loire Valley. The initial years of his reign were marked by indecisiveness and inaction, and several years passed without him being officially proclaimed the King.
In February 1429, he was approached by a young peasant girl named Joan of Arc who claimed that she had visions of angels and saints who gave her the divine mission of driving out the English forces and helping the Dauphin get crowned.
Skeptical of the girl’s claims at first, Charles eventually came to believe her when she revealed to him some secrets that he had voiced only in silent prayer to God. Filled with renewed confidence, he provided Joan with the resources and skilled army personnel for fighting the English.
Joan led the French army in several battles against the English and achieved decisive victories, first at Orléans and then at the Battle of Patay in which the English field army lost about half its troops.
Following the French victories, Charles was finally crowned King Charles VII of France in Reims Cathedral on 17 July 1429. Even though he could not achieve much in his initial years as the King, Charles was able to effectively assume personal control of the war with England by 1433.
He eventually gained financial independence with the guidance of the merchant Jacques Coeur who acted as the King’s financial advisor. During the 1430s and 1440s, French commerce saw resurgence and he implemented several governmental reforms to regulate the legislation.
He was also successful in creating a strong army which effectively won back numerous French territories that had fallen into English control. By the end of 1453, the Hundred Years’ War finally came to an end.
Charles VII is most famous for overseeing the ending of the Hundred Years’ War that had been raging on between England and France from 1337. He is credited with the creation of France’s first standing army since the Roman times and was successful in achieving what four generations of his predecessors failed to do by driving out the English and ending the Hundred Years’ War.
Personal Life & Legacy
Charles was betrothed to Marie of Anjou in 1413 and married her in 1422. Marie was the daughter of Louis II of Anjou and Yolande of Aragon, titular Queen of Aragon. This marriage produced 14 children. Charles VII received a great deal of support from his wife’s family during the Hundred Years’ War.
His favorite mistress was Agnès Sorel who exercised considerable influence over him. She bore him three daughters and is considered the first officially recognized royal mistress.
His later years were marked by strained relations with his son, the heir to the throne, Louis, who he sent into exile.
Charles VII became ill in 1458 when a sore on his leg became infected and caused a serious fever. His health deteriorated considerably over the next two and a half years and he summoned Louis several times to come and meet him. The rebellious son never came to meet his dying father and Charles VII breathed his last on 22 July 1461 after suffering greatly in the last week of his life.