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Charles VII the Victorious
Portrait of Charles VII, by Jean Fouquet, tempera on wood, Louvre Museum, Paris, c. 1445-1450
King of France
Reign 21 October 1422 – 22 July 1461
Coronation 17 July 1429
Predecessor Charles VI
Successor Louis XI
Spouse Marie of Anjou
Louis XI of France
Yolande, Duchess of Savoy
Magdalena, Princess of Viana
Charles, Duke of Berry
Joan, Duchess of Bourbon
House House of Valois
Father Charles VI of France
Mother Isabella of Bavaria-Ingolstadt
Born 22 February 1403(1403-02-22)
Paris, France
Died 22 July 1461 (aged 58)
Mehun-sur-Yèvre, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica

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,[2] though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France from Paris.

He was a member of the House of Valois, the son of Charles VI, but his 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 endeavors of Joan of Arc to free France from the English. His later reign was marked by struggles with his son, the eventual Louis XI.


Early life

Born in Paris, Charles was the fifth son of Charles VI of France and Isabella of Bavaria-Ingolstadt. 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; each had died childless, leaving Charles with a rich inheritance of titles.[3]

Isabeau of Bavaria with her ladies-in-waiting

Almost immediately after his accession to the title of Dauphin, Charles was forced to face the threat to his inheritance, being constrained 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 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 afterward: although he claimed to have been unaware of his men's intentions, it was considered unlikely by those who heard of the murder,[4] 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.[citation needed]

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 extramarital affairs (for which she was notorious). Humiliated, and in fear of his life, the Dauphin 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, and married her daughter, Marie.

Dauphin Charles with Yolande of Aragon, Duchess of Anjou

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. If not, the heir was the Duke of Orléans, in English captivity. In addition, the Treaty of Troyes, signed by Charles VI in 1420, mandated that the throne pass to Henry VI of England, the son of the recently deceased Henry V and 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 based in Normandy, for Henry VI. (See main article:The Dual-Monarchy of England and France)

Charles, unsurprisingly, 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 south of the Loire River, 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 town where he generally lived), periodically considering flight to the Iberian Peninsula, and allowing the English to advance in power.

The Maid of Orléans

French Monarchy
Capetian Dynasty
(House of Valois)
France Ancient.svg

Philip VI
   John II
John II
   Charles V
   Louis I of Anjou
   John, Duke of Berry
   Philip the Bold
Charles V
   Charles VI
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
Charles VI
   Isabella of Valois
   Michelle of Valois
   Catherine of Valois
   Charles VII
Charles VII
   Louis XI
   Charles, Duke of Berry
Louis XI
   Charles VIII
Charles VIII

In 1429, however, came a change. 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.

Meanwhile, in the little village of Domrémy, 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, 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 1429.

1429     Territories controlled by Henry V of England      Territories controlled by the Duke of Burgundy      Territories controlled by Charles      Main battles                      English raid of 1415                      Path of Jeanne d'Arc to Reims in 1429

What followed would later pass into legend. When Jeanne arrived at Chinon, Charles—testing Jeanne's claim to recognize him despite having never seen him—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 knew secrets about him 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 (1404–1463), 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.

Joan of Arc then set about leading the French forces at Orléans, forcing the English to lift the siege and thus turning the tide of the war. After the French won the Battle of Patay, Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France on 17 July 1429, in Reims Cathedral as the de jure king.

Joan was later captured by the Burgundians who handed her over to the English. Tried for heresy she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431. Charles VII did nothing to save the one to whom he owed his throne.

Charles and Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, then signed the Treaty of Arras, thus allowing the Burgundians to return to the side of the French just as things were going badly for their English allies. With this event, Charles attained the goal that was essential, that no prince of the blood recognized Henry VI as King of France.[5]

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 and the Channel Islands.

Close of reign

Charles VII Royal d'or.

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 destabilize his father. He 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 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 that he return to court, eventually fleeing to the protection of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in 1456.

Charles VII Ecu neuf, 1436.

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 Louis to him from his exile in Burgundy; but 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. During this time he also had to deal with the case of his rebellious vassal John V of Armagnac.

Charles VII on a Franc à cheval from 1422–23

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, the King went mad. By now another infection in his jaw had caused a tumor 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 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.


Charles VII depicted by Jean Fouquet as one of the three mages.

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,[citation needed] 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 elder son; nonetheless, it is to his credit that he left his kingdom in condition better than he had found it.



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:


Charles VII in the arts


  • Hanawalt, Barbara, The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History
  • Taylor, Aline, Isabel of Burgundy

References and notes

  1. ^ Wagner, John A., Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War, (Greenwood Press:Westport, 2006), 89.
  2. ^ Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, France, Capetian Kings
  3. ^ Wagner, 89.
  4. ^ Wagner, 90.
  5. ^ Brady, Thomas A., Handbook of European History 1400-1600, Vol.2, (E.J.Brill:Leiden, 1994), 373.
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
1422 - 1461
Disputed with Henry VI of England
1422 - 1453
Succeeded by
Louis XI
French royalty
Preceded by
John, 7th Dauphin
Dauphin of France
as 'Charles, 8th Dauphin'

5 April 1417 – 21 October 1422
Succeeded by
Louis, 9th Dauphin
Preceded by
John, Dauphin of France
Heir to the Throne
as Heir apparent
5 April 1417 — 21 October 1422
Succeeded by
Louis, Dauphin of France
French nobility
Preceded by
John III of Viennois
Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois
as 'Charles V'

5 April 1417 – 3 July 1423
Succeeded by
Louis II of Viennois
Duke of Touraine
as 'Charles II'

1417 – 21 October 1422
Succeeded by
Merged in the crown
(eventually Archibald Douglas)
Duke of Berry
as 'Charles I'

1417 – 21 October 1422
Succeeded by
Merged in the crown
(eventually Charles II)
Count of Poitou
as 'Charles I'

1417 – 21 October 1422
Succeeded by
Merged in the crown
Count of Ponthieu
1417 – 21 October 1422
Succeeded by
Merged in the crown
(eventually Charles de Valois)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHARLES VII. (1403-1461), 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 Alencon, 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 1 444 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 Cceur (q.v.). 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.


- The history of the reign of Charles VII. has been written by two modern historians, - Vallet de Viriville, Histoire de Charles VII. .. et de son epoque (Paris, 3 vols., 1862-1865), and G. du Fresne de Beaucourt, Hist. de Charles VII (Paris, 6 vols., 1881-1891). There is abundant contemporary material. The herald, Jacques le Bouvier or Berry (b. 1386), whose Chronicques du feu roi Charles VII was first printed in 1528 as the work of Alain Chartier, was an eye-witness of many of the events he described. His Recouvrement de Normandie, with other material on the same subject, was edited for the "Rolls" series (Chronicles and Memorials) by Joseph Stevenson in 1863. The Histoire de Charles VII by Jean Chartier, historiographer-royal from 1437, was included in the Grandes Chroniques de Saint-Denis, and was first printed under Chartier's name by Denis Godefroy, together with other contemporary narratives, in 1661. It was re-edited by Vallet de Viriville (Paris, 3 vols., 1858-1859). With these must be considered the Burgundian chroniclers Enguerrand de Monstrelet, whose chronicle (ed. L. Douet d'Arcq; Paris, 6 vols., 1857-1862) covers the years 1400-1444, and Georges Chastellain, the existing fragments of whose chronicle are published in his Ouvres (ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove; Brussels, 8 vols., 1863-1866). For a detailed bibliography and an account of printed and MS. documents see du Fresne de Beaucourt, already cited, also A. Molinier, Manuel de bibliographie historique, iv. 240-306.

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Charles VII of France

Charles VII of France (22 February 140322 July 1461), was King of France from 1422 to his death. He was not crowned as king until 1429 because England controlled large parts of France. Joan of Arc took back land for him, but she died very young. The Hundred Years' War ended with France winning while Charles VII was king.


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