Charles V of France: Wikis


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Charles V the Wise
One of the earliest francs, a franc à pied from 1365
King of France
Reign 8 April 1364 – 16 September 1380
Coronation 19 May 1364,
Predecessor John II
Successor Charles VI
Spouse Joan of Bourbon
Charles VI of France
Louis I, Duke of Orléans
Catherine of Valois
House House of Valois
Father John II of France
Mother Bonne of Bohemia
Born 21 January 1338(1338-01-21)
Vincennes, France
Died 16 September 1380 (aged 42)
Beauté-sur-Marne, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica

Charles V (21 January 1338 – 16 September 1380), called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death and a member of the House of Valois. His reign marked a high point for France during the Hundred Years' War, with his armies recovering much of the territory ceded to England at the Treaty of Brétigny.


Early life

Charles was born in Vincennes, Île-de-France, France, the son of John II of France and Bonne of Luxembourg. Upon his father's succession to the throne in 1350, Charles became Dauphin of France. He was the first French heir to use the title, which is named for the region of Dauphiné, acquired by Charles' grandfather.

The future king was highly intelligent but physically weak, with pale skin and a thin, ill-proportioned body. He made a sharp contrast to his father — who was tall, strong and sandy-haired — and gossip at the time suggested he was not John's son. Similar rumors would pursue Charles' grandson, Charles VII.

The Regency and the uprising of the Third Estate

King John was a brave warrior but a poor ruler who alienated his nobles through arbitrary justice and the elevation of associates considered unworthy. After a three-year break, the war resumed in 1355, with Edward, The Black Prince, leading an English-Gascon army in a violent raid across southwestern France. After checking an English incursion into Normandy, John led an army of about 16,000 south, crossing the Loire in September, 1356, attempting to outflank the Prince's 8,000 soldiers at Poitiers. Rejecting advice from one captain to surround and starve the Prince — a tactic Edward feared — John attacked the strong enemy position. In the subsequent Battle of Maupertuis (Poitiers), English archery all but annihilated the French cavalry, and John was captured. Charles led a battalion at Poitiers which withdrew early in the struggle; whether the order came from John (as he later claimed) or whether Charles himself ordered the withdrawal is unclear.

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

The outcome of the battle left many embittered at the nobility, whom popular opinion accused of betraying the King, but Charles and his brothers escaped blame, and he was received with honor upon his return to Paris. The Dauphin summoned the Estates-General in October to seek money for the defense of the country. Furious at what they saw as poor management, many of those assembled organized into a body led by Etienne Marcel, the Provost of Merchants (a title roughly equivalent to mayor of Paris today). Marcel demanded the dismissal of seven royal ministers, their replacement by a Council of 28, made of nobles, clergy and bourgeois, and the release of Charles II of Navarre, a leading Norman noble with a claim on the French throne who had been imprisoned by John for the murder of his constable. The Dauphin refused the demands, dismissed the Estates-General and left Paris.

A contest of wills followed. In an attempt to raise money, Charles tried to devalue the currency; Marcel ordered strikes, and the Dauphin was forced to cancel his plans and recall the Estates in February, 1357. The Third Estate presented the Dauphin with a Grand Ordinance, a list of 61 articles that would have given the Estates-General the right to approve all future taxes, assemble at their own volition and elect a Council of 36 — with 12 members from each Estate — to advise the king. Charles eventually signed the ordinance, but his dismissed councillors took news of the document to King John, imprisoned in Bordeaux. The King renounced the ordinance before being taken to England by Prince Edward.

Charles made a royal progress through the country that summer, winning support from the provinces. Marcel, meanwhile, enlisted Charles of Navarre, who asserted that his claim to the throne was at least as good as that of Edward III's. The Dauphin, re-entering Paris, won the city back.

Marcel, meanwhile, used the murder of a citizen seeking sanctuary to make an attack close to the Dauphin. Summoning a group of tradesmen, the Provost marched at the head of an army of 3,000, entered the royal palace and had the crowd murder two of the Dauphin's marshals before his eyes. Charles, horrified, momentarily pacified the crowd, but sent his family away and left the capital as quickly as he could. Marcel's action destroyed the Third Estate's support among the nobles, and the Provost's subsequent support for the Jacquerie undermined his support from the towns; he was murdered by a mob on 31 July 1358. Charles was able to recover Paris the following month; he later issued a general amnesty for all, except close associates of Marcel.

The Treaty of Bretigny

John's capture gave the English the edge in peace negotiations. The King signed a treaty in 1359 that would have ceded most of western France to England and imposed a ruinous ransom of 4 million ecus on the country. The Dauphin (backed by his councillors and the Estates General) rejected the treaty, and King Edward used this as an excuse to invade France later that year. Edward reached Reims in December and Paris in March, but Charles, trusting on improved municipal defenses, forbade his soldiers from direct confrontation with the English. Charles relied on improved fortifications made to Paris by Marcel, and would later rebuild the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) wall and built a new wall on the Right Bank that extended to a new fortification called the Bastille.

Edward pillaged and raided the countryside but could not bring the French to a decisive battle, and eventually agreed to reduce his terms. This non-confrontational strategy would prove extremely beneficial to France during Charles' reign.

The Treaty of Bretigny, signed on 8 May 1360, ceded a third of western France — mostly in Aquitaine and Gascony — to the English, and lowered the King's ransom to 3 million ecus. Jean was released the following October, his second son, Louis I of Anjou, taking his place as a hostage.

Though his father had regained his freedom, Charles suffered a personal tragedy. His three-year-old daughter, Joan, and his infant daughter Bonne died within two weeks of each other; the Dauphin was said at their double funeral to be "so sorrowful as never before he had been." Charles himself had been severely ill, with his hair and nails falling out; some suggest the symptoms are those of arsenic poisoning.

John proved as ineffective at ruling upon his return to France as he had before his capture. When Louis of Anjou escaped from English custody, John announced he had no choice but to return to captivity himself — an action that, despite the cult of chivalry, seemed extreme to 14th century minds. John arrived in London in January 1364, became ill, and died the following April.

Statue of Charles V of France

King of France

Charles was crowned King of France in 1364 at the cathedral at Reims, France. The new king was highly intelligent but close-mouthed and secretive, with sharp eyes, a long nose and a pale, grave manner. He suffered from gout in the right hand and an abscess in his left arm, possibly a side-effect of an attempted poisoning in 1359. Doctors were able to treat the wound but told him that if it ever dried up, he would die within 15 days. "Not surprisingly," said historian Barbara Tuchman, "the King lived under a sense of urgency." His manner may have concealed a more emotional side; his marriage to Joan of Bourbon was considered very strong, and he made no attempt to hide his grief at her funeral or those of his children, five of whom predeceased him.

His reign was dominated by the war with the English, and two major problems: recovering the territories ceded at Bretigny, and ridding the land of the Tard-Venus (French for "latecomers"), mercenary companies that turned to robbery and pillage after the treaty was signed. In achieving these aims, Charles turned to a minor noble from Brittany named Bertrand du Guesclin. Referred to as a "hog in armor," du Guesclin had fought in that province's bitter civil wars, and learned to fight guerrilla warfare. Du Guesclin defeated Charles II of Navarre in Normandy in 1364 and eliminated the noble's threat to Paris; he was captured in battle in Brittany the following year but quickly ransomed.

To attempt to rid the land of the Tard-Venus, Charles first hired them for an attempted crusade into Hungary, but their reputation for brigandage preceded them, and the citizens of Strasbourg refused to let them cross the Rhine on their journey. Charles next sent the mercenary companies (under the leadership of Du Guesclin) to fight in a civil war in Castile between King Peter the Cruel and his illegitimate half-brother Henry. Peter had English backing, while Henry was supported by the French.

Du Guesclin and his men were able to drive Peter out of Castile in 1365, but the Black Prince, now serving as his father's viceroy in southwestern France, took up Peter's cause. At the Battle of Nájera in April 1367, the English defeated Du Guesclin's army and took the Breton prisoner a second time. Despite the defeat, the campaign had destroyed several companies of Tard-Venus and given France a temporary respite from their depredations.

War resumes

The Black Prince's rule in Gascony became increasingly autocratic, and when Peter defaulted on his debts after Najera, the Prince taxed his subjects in Guyenne to make up the difference. Nobles from Gascony petitioned Charles for aid, and when the Black Prince refused to answer a summons to Paris to answer the charges, Charles judged him disloyal and declared war in May 1369. Legally, Charles had every right to do this — the renunciation of sovereignty by Charles was never made and therefore Gascony was still legally land held by the King.

Instead of seeking a major battle, as his predecessors had done, Charles chose a strategy of attrition, spreading the fighting at every point possible. The French were aided by the navy of Castile (Du Guesclin had captured Peter the Cruel by deceit in 1369 and turned him over to Henry, who promptly killed his brother with a dagger) and by the declining health of the Black Prince, who had developed dropsy and quickly become an invalid. Where Charles could, he negotiated with towns and cities to bring them back into the French fold. Bertrand du Guesclin, appointed Constable of France in 1370, beat back a major English offensive in northern France with a combination of hit-and-run raids and bribery.

The English were crippled by the loss of major leaders and their own tendency to raid the countryside instead of embarking on major offensives. By 1374, Charles had recovered all of France except Calais and Aquitaine, effectively nullifying the Treaty of Bretigny. Peace, however, remained elusive; treaty negotiations began in 1374 but were never able to come up with more than extended truces, owing to Charles' determination to have the English recognize his sovereignty over their lands.

Papal schism

In 1376, Pope Gregory XI, fearing a loss of the Papal States, decided to move his court back to Rome after nearly 70 years in Avignon. Charles, hoping to maintain French influence over the papacy, tried to persuade Pope Gregory to remain in France, arguing that "Rome is wherever the Pope happens to be." Gregory refused.

The Pope died in March, 1378. When cardinals gathered to elect a successor, a Roman mob, concerned that the predominantly French college would elect a French pope who would bring the papacy back to Avignon, surrounded the Vatican and demanded the election of a Roman. On 9 April, the cardinals elected Bartolomeo Prigamo, Archbishop of Bari and a commoner by birth, as Pope Urban VI. The new pope quickly alienated his cardinals by criticizing their vices, limiting the areas where they could receive income and even rising to strike one cardinal before a second restrained him. The French cardinals left Rome that summer and declared Urban's election invalid because of mob intimidation (a reason that had not been cited at the time of the election) and elected Cardinal Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII that September.

The French cardinals quickly moved to get Charles's support. The theology faculty of the University of Paris advised Charles not to make a hasty decision, but he recognized Clement as Pope in November and forbade any obedience to Urban. Charles's support allowed Clement to survive — he would not have been able to maintain his position without the aid of the King — and led to the Papal Schism, which would divide Europe for nearly 40 years. Historians have severely criticized Charles for allowing the division to take place[citation needed].


Charles's last years were spent in the consolidation of Normandy (and the neutralization of Charles of Navarre). Peace negotiations with the English continued unsuccessfully. The taxes he had levied to support his wars against the English had caused deep disaffection among the working classes.

The abscess on the King's left arm dried up in early September 1380, and Charles prepared to die. On his deathbed, perhaps fearful for his soul, Charles announced the abolition of the hearth tax, the foundation of the government's finances. The ordinance would have been impossible to carry out, but its terms were known, and the government's refusal to reduce any of the other taxes on the people sparked the Maillotin revolt in 1381.

The King died on 16 September 1380, and was succeeded by his 12-year-old son, Charles VI. He is buried in the Basilica of St Denis in St. Denis, France.


The Louvre, shown in this early fifteenth century illumination, was rebuilt during the reign of Charles V - inaugurating a new era of princely architecture

Charles' reputation was of great significance for posterity, especially as his conception of rulership was one which courtiers wished his successors could follow. Christine de Pisan's biography, commissioned by Philip the Bold in 1404, is a source of most of the intimate details of the king's life of which we are aware, but also provides a moral example for his successors. It draws heavily on the work of Nicole Oresme (who translated Aristotle's moral works into French) and Giles of Rome. Philipe de Mezieres in his allegorical Songe du Viel Pelerin attempts to persuade the dauphin to follow the example of his wise father, notably in piety, though also to pursue reforming zeal in all policy considerations.

Of great importance to Charles V's cultural program was his vast library, housed in his expanded Louvre, and described in great detail by the 19th century French historian Leopold Delisle. Containing over 1,200 volumes it was symbolic of the authority and magnificence of the royal person, but also of his concern with government for the common good. Charles was concerned to possess copies of works in French, in order that his councellors had access to them. Perhaps the most significant works commissioned for the library were those of Nicole Oresme, who translated Aristotle's Politics, Ethics and Economics into eloquent French for the first time (an earlier attempt had been made at the Politics, but the manuscript is now lost). If the Politics and Economics served as a manual for government, then the Ethics advised the king on how to be a good man.

Other important works commissioned for the royal library were the anonymous legal treatise the Songe du Vergier, greatly inspired by the debates of Philip IV's jurists with Boniface VIII, the translations of Raol de Presles, which included St. Augustine's City of God, and the production of the Grandes Chroniques de France edited in 1377 to emphasise the vassalage of Edward III.

Charles' kingship placed great emphasis on both royal ceremony and scientific political theory, and to contemporaries and posterity his lifestyle at once embodied the reflective life advised by Aristotle and the model of French kingship derived from St Louis, Charlemagne, and Clovis which he had illustrated in his Coronation Book of 1364, now in the British Library.

Charles V was also a builder king, and he created or rebuilt several significant buildings in the late 14th century style including the Bastille, the Louvre, Château de Vincennes, and Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which were widely copied by the nobility of the day.

While he was in many ways a typical medieval king, Charles V has been praised by historians for his willingness to ignore the chivalric conventions of the time to achieve his aims, which led to the recovery of the territories lost at Bretigny.

His successes, however, proved ephemeral. Charles's brothers, who dominated the regency council that ruled in the king's name until 1388, quarreled amongst themselves and divided the government. Charles VI, meanwhile, preferred tournaments to the duties of kingship, and his descent into madness in 1392 put his uncles back in power. By 1419, the country was divided between Armagnac and Burgundian factions and Henry V was conquering the northern part of France. The hard-won victories of Charles V had been lost through the venality of his successors.


Marriage and issue

  • 8 April 1350 to Joan of Bourbon (3 February 1338 – 4 February 1378); producing:
    1. Joanna (Jeanne) of France (September 1357 – 21 October 1360, at Abbaye St Antoine Des Champs, France)
    2. Bonne of France (1360 – 7 December 1360, Paris, France)
    3. John (Jean), Dauphin of France (Vincennes, 7 June 1366 – 21 December 1366)
    4. Charles VI of France (3 December 1368 – 22 October 1422)
    5. Mary (Marie), Princess of France (Paris, 27 February 1370 – June 1377, Paris)
    6. Louis of Valois, Duke of Orléans (13 March 1372 – 23 November 1407)
    7. Isabella (Isabelle), Princess of France (Paris, 24 July 1373 – 13 February 1377, Paris)
    8. Catherine, Princess of France (Paris, 4 February 1378 – November 1388, buried at Abbaye De Maubuisson, France), m. John of Berry, Count of Montpensier (son of John, Duke of Berry)

With Biette de Casinel he had a bastard son: Jean De Montaigu (or Montague) (1363-1409)


  • Christine de Pisan, Livre des Faits et Bons Meurs du Sage Roi Charles
  • Deslile (ed), Grandes Chroniques de France
  • Philippe de Meziers, Songe du Viel Pelerin
  • Autrand, Françoise, Charles V
  • Cazelles, Raymond, Société Politique, Noblesse et Couronne
  • Delachenal, Roland, Charles V
  • Henneman, John Bell, Olivier de Clisson
  • ——, Taxation in Fourteenth Century France
  • Quillet, Jeannine, Charles V, Le Rois Lettre
  • Tuchman, Barbara, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, New York; Ballantine Books, 1978.


Charles V of France
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 21 January 1338 Died: 16 September 1380
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John II
King of France
8 April 1364 – 16 September 1380
Succeeded by
Charles VI
French royalty
New Creation Dauphin of France
as 'Charles, 1st Dauphin'

22 August 1350 – 8 April 1364
Succeeded by
(eventually John, 2nd Dauphin)
Preceded by
John, Duke of Normandy
Heir to the Throne
as Heir apparent
22 August 1350 — 8 April 1364
Succeeded by
Louis, Duke of Anjou
French nobility
Preceded by
New creation
(John II of France)
Duke of Normandy
as 'Charles I'

1355 – 8 April 1364
Succeeded by
Merged into the crown
(eventually Charles II)
Preceded by
Duke of Touraine
1363 – 8 April 1364
Succeeded by
Louis I of Anjou
Preceded by
Humbert II
Dauphin of Viennois, Count of Valentinois and of Diois
as 'Charles I of Viennois'

22 August 1350 — 7 June 1366;
21 December 1366 – 3 December 1368
Succeeded by
John III of Viennois
Preceded by
John III of Viennois
Succeeded by
Charles II of Viennois


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHARLES V. (1337-1380), king of France, called THE Wise, was born at the château of Vincennes on the 21st of January 1337, the son of John II. and Bonne of Luxemburg. In 1349 he became dauphin of the Viennois by purchase from Humbert II., and in 1355 he was created duke of Normandy. At the battle of Poitiers (1356) his father ordered him to leave the field when the battle turned against the French, and he was thus saved from the imprisonment that overtook his father. After arranging for the government of Normandy he proceeded to Paris, where he took the title of lieutenant of the kingdom. During the years of John II.'s imprisonment in England Charles was virtually king of France. He summoned the states-general of northern France (Langue d'ozl) to Paris in October 1356 to obtain men and money to carry on the war. But under the leadership of Etienne Marcel, provost of the Parisian merchants and president of the third estate, and Robert le Coq, bishop of Laon, president of the clergy, a partisan of Charles of Navarre, the states refused any "aid" except on conditions which Charles declined to accept. They demanded the dismissal of a number of the royal ministers; the establishment of a commission elected from the three estates to regulate the dauphin's administration, and of another board to act as council of war; also the release of Charles the Bad, king of Navarre, who had been imprisoned by King John. The estates of Languedoc, summoned to Toulouse, also made protests against misgovernment, but they agreed to raise a war-levy on terms to which the dauphin acceded. Charles sought the alliance of his uncle, the emperor Charles IV., to whom he did homage at Metz as dauphin of the Viennois, and he was also made imperial vicar of Dauphine, thus acknowledging the imperial jurisdiction. But he gained small material advantage from these proceedings. The states-general were again convoked in February 1357. Their demands were more moderate than in the preceding year, but they nominated members to replace certain obnoxious persons on the royal council, demanded the right to assemble without the royal summons, and certain administrative reforms. In return they promised to raise and finance an army of 30,000 men, but the money - a tithe levied on the annual revenues of the clergy and nobility - voted for this object was not to pass through the dauphin's hands. Charles appeared to consent, but the agreement was annulled by letters from King John, announcing at the same time the conclusion of a two years' truce, and the reformers failed to secure their ends. Charles had escaped from their power by leaving Paris, but he returned for a new meeting of the estates in the autumn of 1357.

Meanwhile Charles of Navarre had been released by his partisans, and allying himself with Marcel had become a popular hero in Paris. The dauphin was obliged to receive him and to undergo an apparent reconciliation. In Paris Etienne Marcel was supreme. He forced his way into the dauphin's palace (February 1358), and Charles's servant, Jean de Conflans, marshal of Champagne, and Robert de Clermont, marshal of Normandy, were murdered before his eyes. Charles was powerless openly to resent these outrages, but he obtained from the provincial assemblies the money refused him by the statesgeneral, and deferred his vengeance until the dissensions of his enemies should offer him an opportunity. Charles of Navarre, now in league with the English and master of lower Normandy and of the approaches to Paris, returned to the immediate neighbourhood of the city, and Marcel found himself driven to avowed co-operation with the dauphin's enemies, the English and the Navarrese. Charles had been compelled in March to take the title of regent to prevent the possibility of further intervention from King John. In defiance of a recent ordinance prohibiting provincial assemblies, he presided over the estates of Picardy and Artois, and then over those of Champagne. The states-general of 1358 were summoned to Compiegne instead of Paris, and granted a large aid. The condition of northern France was rendered more desperate by the outbreak (MayJune 1358) of the peasant revolt known as the Jacquerie, which was repressed with a barbarity far exceeding the excesses of the rebels. Within the walls of Paris Jean Maillart had formed a royalist party; Marcel was assassinated (31st July 1358), and the dauphin entered Paris in the following month. A reaction in Charles's favour had set in, and from the estates of 1359 he regained the authority he had lost. It was with their full concurrence that he restored their honours to the officials who had been dismissed by the estates of 1356 and 1357. They supported him in repudiating the treaty of London (1359), which King John had signed in anxiety for his personal freedom, and voted money unconditionally for the continuation of the war. From this time the estates were only once convoked by Charles, who contented himself thenceforward by appeals to the assembly of notables or to the provincial bodies. Charles of Navarre was now at open war with the regent; Edward III. landed at Calais in October; and a great part of the country was exposed to double depredations from the English and the Navarrese troops. In the scarcity of money Charles had recourse to the debasement of the coinage, which suffered no less than twenty-two variations in the two years before the treaty of Bretigny. This disastrous financial expedient was made good later, the coinage being established on a firm basis during the last sixteen years of Charles's reign in accordance with the principles of Nicolas Oresme. On the conclusion of peace King John was restored to France, but, being unable to raise his ransom, he returned in 1364 to England, where he died in April, leaving the crown to Charles, who was crowned at Reims on the 19th of May.

The new king found an able servant in Bertrand du Guesclin, who won a victory over the Navarrese troops at Cocherel and took prisoner their best general, Jean de Grailli, captal of Buch. The establishment of Charles's brother, Philip the Bold, in the duchy of Burgundy, though it constituted in the event a serious menace to the monarchy, put an end to the king of Navarre's ambitions in that direction. A treaty of peace between the two kings was signed in 1365, by which Charles of Navarre gave up Mantes, Meulan and the county of Longueville in exchange for Montpellier. Negotiations were renewed in 1370 when Charles of Navarre did homage for his French possessions, though he was then considering an offensive and defensive alliance with Edward III. Du Guesclin undertook to free France from the depredations of the "free companies," mercenary soldiers put out of employment by the cessation of the war. An attempt to send them on a crusade against the Turks. failed, and Du Guesclin led them to Spain to put Henry of Trastamara on the throne of Castile. By the marriage of his brother Philip the Bold with Margaret of Flanders, Charles detached the Flemings from the English alliance, and as soon as he had restored something like order in the internal affairs of the kingdom he provoked a quarrel with the English. The text of the treaty of Bretigny presented technical difficulties of which Charles was not slow to avail himself. The English power in Guienne was weakened by the disastrous Spanish expedition of the Black Prince, whom Charles summoned before the parlement of Paris in January 1369 to answer the charges preferred against him by his subjects, thus expressly repudiating the English supremacy in Guienne. War was renewed in May after a meeting of the states-general. Between 1371 and 1373 Poitou and Saintonge were reconquered by Du Guesclin, and soon the English had to abandon all their territory north of the Garonne. John IV. of Brittany (Jean de Montfort) had won his duchy with English help by the defeat of Charles of Blois, the French nominee, at Auray in 1364. His sympathies remained English, but he was now (1373) obliged to take refuge in England, and later in Flanders, while the English only retained a footing in two or three coast towns. Charles's generals avoided pitched battles, and contented themselves with defensive and guerrilla tactics, with the result that in 1380 only Bayonne, Bordeaux, Brest and Calais were still in English hands.

Charles had in 1378 obtained proof of Charles of Navarre's treasonable designs. He seized the Norman towns held by the Navarrese, while Henry of Trastamara invaded Navarre, and imposed conditions of peace which rendered his lifelong enemy at last powerless. A premature attempt to amalgamate the duchy of Brittany with the French crown failed. Charles summoned the duke to Paris in 1378, and on his non-appearance committed one of his rare errors of policy by confiscating his duchy. But the Bretons rose to defend their independence, and recalled their duke. The matter was still unsettled when Charles died at Vincennes on the 16th of September 1380. His health, always delicate, had been further weakened, according to popular report, by a slow poison prepared for him by the king of Navarre. His wife, Jeanne of Bourbon, died in 1378, and the succession devolved on their elder son Charles, a boy of twelve. Their younger son was Louis, duke of Orleans.

Personally Charles was no soldier. He owed the signal successes of his reign partly to his skilful choice of advisers and administrators, to his chancellors Jean and Guillaume de Dormans and Pierre d'Orgemont, to Hugues Aubriot, provost of Paris, Bureau de la Riviere and others; partly to a singular coolness and subtlety in the exercise of a not over-scrupulous diplomacy, which made him a dangerous enemy. He had learnt prudence and self-restraint in the troubled times of the regency, and did not lose his moderation in success. He modelled his private life on that of his predecessor Saint Louis, but was no fanatic in religion, for he refused his support to the violent methods of the Inquisition in southern France, and allowed the Jews to return to the country, at the same time confirming their privileges. His support of the schismatic pope Clement VII. at Avignon was doubtless due to political considerations, as favouring the independence of the Gallican church. Charles V. was a student of astrology, medicine, law and philosophy, and collected a large and valuable library at the Louvre. He gathered round him a group of distinguished writers and thinkers, among whom were Raoul de Presles, Philippe de Mezieres, Nicolas Oresme and others. The ideas of these men were applied by him to the practical work of administration, though he confined himself chiefly to the consolidation and improvement of existing institutions. The power of the nobility was lessened by restrictions which, without prohibiting private wars, made them practically impossible. The feudal fortresses were regularly inspected by the central authority, and the nobles themselves became in many cases paid officers of the king. Charles established a merchant marine and a formidable navy, which under Jean de Vienne threatened the English coast between 1 377 and 1380. The states-general were silenced and the royal prerogative increased; the royal domains were extended, and the wealth of the crown was augmented; additions were made to the revenue by the sale of municipal charters and patents; and taxation became heavier, since Charles set no limits to the gratification of his tastes either in the collection of jewels and precious objects, of books, or of his love of building, examples of which are the renovation of the Louvre and the erection of the palace of Saint Paul in Paris.

See the chronicles of Froissart, and of Pierre d'Orgemont (Grandes Chroniques de Saint Denis, Paris, vol. vi., 1838); Christine de Pisan, Le Livre des fais et bonnes me urs du sage roy Charles V, written in 1404, ed. Michaud and Poujoulat, vol. ii. (1836); L. Delisle, Mandements et actes divers de Charles V (1886); letters of Charles V. from the English archives in Champollion-Figeac, Lettres de rois et de reines, ii. pp. 167 seq.; the anonymous Songe du vergier or Somnium viridarii, written in 1376 and giving the political ideas of Charles V. and his advisers; "Relation de la mort de Charles V" in Haureau, Notices et extraits, xxxi. pp. 278-284; Ch. Benoist, La Politique du roi Charles V (1874); S. Luce, La France pendant la guerre de cent ans; G. Clement Simon, La Rupture du traite de Bretigny (1898); A. Vuitry, Etudes sur le regime financier de la France, vols. i. and ii. (1883); and R. Delachenal, Histoire de Charles V (Paris. 1908).

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Charles V of France]] Charles V (21 January 133816 September 1380), called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death and a member of the House of Valois. His reign marked a high point for France during the Hundred Years' War. His armies recovered large parts of the territory that had been given to England at the Treaty of Brétigny.


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