Charles VI King Of FRANCE

Male 1368 - 1422  (53 years)

Personal Information    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Charles VI King Of FRANCE  [1, 2
    Born 03 Dec 1368  [2
    Gender Male 
    Died 21 Oct 1422  [2
    • He was born in Paris, the son of King Charles V and Jeanne de Bourbon. At the age of eleven, he was crowned King of France in 1380 in the cathedral at Reims. He married Isabeau of Bavaria in 1385. Until he took complete charge as king in 1388, France was ruled by his uncle, Philip the Bold.

      Charles VI was known both as Charles the Well Beloved and later as Charles the Mad, since, beginning in his mid-twenties, he experienced bouts of psychosis. These fits of madness would recur for the rest of his life. Based on his symptoms, doctors believe the king may have suffered from schizophrenia, porphyria or Bipolar disorder.

      [edit] The King goes mad
      His first known fit occurred in 1392 when his friend and advisor, Olivier de Clisson, was the victim of an attempted murder. Although Clisson survived, Charles was determined to punish the would-be assassin Pierre de Craon who had taken refuge in Brittany. Contemporaries said Charles appeared to be in a "fever" to begin the campaign and appeared disconnected in his speech. Charles set off with an army on July 1, 1392. The progress of the army was slow, nearly driving Charles into a frenzy of impatience.

      While travelling through a forest on a hot August morning, a barefoot man dressed in rags rushed up to the King's horse and grabbed his bridle. "Ride no further, noble King!" he yelled. "Turn back! You are betrayed!" The king's escorts beat the man back but did not arrest him, and he followed the procession for a half-hour, repeating his cries.

      The company emerged from the forest at noon. A page who was drowsy from the sun dropped the king's lance, which clanged loudly against a steel helmet carried by another page. Charles shuddered, drew his sword and yelled "Forward against the traitors! They wish to deliver me to the enemy!" The king spurred his horse and began swinging his sword at his companions, fighting until his chamberlain and a group of soldiers were able to grab him from his mount and lay him on the ground. He laid still and did not react, falling into a coma. The king killed at least one knight in his delirium, and possibly more (the exact numbers differ in the chronicles from the time).

      Charles' uncle Philip II, Duke of Burgundy (aka Philip the Bold) assumed the regency on the spot, dismissing Charles' advisers in the process. This was to be the start of a major feud which would divide the Kings of France and the Dukes of Burgundy for the next 85 years.

      The king would suffer from periods of mental illness throughout his life. During one attack in 1393, Charles could not remember his name, did not know he was king and fled in terror from his wife. He did not recognize his children, though he knew his brother and councillors and remembered the names of people who had died. In later attacks, he roamed his palaces howling like a wolf, refused to bathe for months on end and suffered from delusions that he was made of glass.

      [edit] The Bal des Ardents
      In January 1393, Queen Isabeau de Bavi╦re organised a party to celebrate the marriage of one of her ladies-in-waiting. The King and five other lords dressed up as wild men and danced about chained to one another. They were "in costumes of linen cloth sewn onto their bodies and soaked in resinous wax or pitch to hold a covering of frazzled hemp, "so that they appeared shaggy & hairy from head to foot"".[1] In view of the obvious danger of fire, there was a ban on torches in the room. Nonetheless, the King's brother, Louis of Valois, Duke of Orl╚ans, approached with a lighted torch, according to some accounts teasing the dancers with it. One of the dancers caught fire and there was panic. The Duchesse de Berry, who recognized Charles, hid him under her dress and saved his life. Four of the other men perished. This incident became known as the Bal des Ardents (the 'Ball of the Burning Men').

      Most accounts seem to agree that Louis' action was an accident; he was merely trying to find his brother. Be that as it may, Louis soon afterwards pursued an affair with the Queen and was murdered by his political rival John, Duke of Burgundy (aka John the Fearless) in 1407.

      Charles' royal secretary Pierre Salmon spent much time in discussions with the king while he was suffering from his intermittent but incapacitating psychosis. In an effort to find a cure for the king's illness, stabilize the turbulent political situation, and secure his own future, Salmon supervised the production of two distinct versions of the beautifully illuminated guidebooks to good kingship known as Pierre Salmon's Dialogues.

      [edit] Dealing with England
      Charles VI's reign was marked by the continuing war with the English (the Hundred Years' War). An early attempt at peace occurred in 1396 when Charles' daughter, the seven-year-old Isabella of Valois married the 29-year-old Richard II of England.

      The peace in France did not last. The feud between the Royal family and the house of Burgundy led to chaos and anarchy. Taking advantage, Henry V of England led an invasion which culminated in 1415 when the French army was defeated at the Battle of Agincourt. In 1420, Charles -- now utterly incapacitated by his disease -- signed the Treaty of Troyes which recognized Henry as his successor, declared his son a bastard and bethrothed his daughter, Catherine of Valois, to Henry (see English Kings of France).

      In fact there really were many doubts as to the Dauphin Charles' legitimacy, his mother being notorious for her affairs. He was also of a weak and feeble nature which caused conflict with both her and his own son, the future Louis XI.

      Many people, including Joan of Arc, believed that the king only agreed to such disastrous and unprecedented terms under the mental stress of his illness and that, as a result, France could not be held to them.

      Charles VI died in 1422 at Paris and is interred with his wife, Isabeau de Bavi╦re in Saint Denis Basilica.

      He was eventually succeeded by his son Charles VII. Apparently Catherine of Valois passed Charles' mental illness onto her son, Henry VI. His inability to govern helped spark the Wars of the Roses.
    Person ID I23081  Main Tree

    Father Charles V The Wise Of FRANCE,   b. 31 Jan 1338, Vincennes, Ile-de-France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Sep 1380  (Age 42 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Jeanne DE BOURBON,   b. 03 Feb 1338,   d. 04 Feb 1378  (Age 40 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Married 08 Apr 1350  [2
    Family ID F17525  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Isabeau Of BAVARIA,   b. 1371,   d. 24 Sep 1435  (Age 64 years) 
    Married 17 Jul 1385  [2
     1. Catherine Of FRANCE,   b. 27 Oct 1401,   d. 3 Jan 1437  (Age 35 years)  [Birth]
     2. Johanna Of FRANCE,   b. 24 Jan 1391,   d. 02 Dec 1432  (Age 41 years)  [Natural]
     3. Michelle Of FRANCE,   b. 11 Jan 1395,   d. 08 Jul 1422  (Age 27 years)  [Natural]
     4. Louis Duke Of GUYENNE,   b. 22 Jan 1397,   d. 18 Dec 1415  (Age 18 years)  [Natural]
     5. Mary Of FRANCE,   b. 24 Aug 1393,   d. 19 Aug 1438  (Age 44 years)  [Natural]
     6. Charles Of FRANCE,   b. 06 Feb 1392,   d. 13 Jan 1401  (Age 8 years)  [Natural]
     7. Philip Of FRANCE,   b. 10 Nov 1407,   d. 10 Nov 1407  (Age 0 years)  [Natural]
     8. Isabella Of VALOIS,   b. 09 Nov 1389, Paris Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Sep 1410  (Age 20 years)  [Birth]
     9. Joan Of FRANCE,   b. 14 Jun 1388,   d. 1390  (Age 1 years)  [Natural]
     10. Charles VII King Of FRANCE,   b. 22 Feb 1403,   d. 21 Jul 1461, Mehun-sur-Yevre Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years)  [Natural]
     11. John Duke Of TOURAINE,   b. 31 Aug 1398,   d. 04 Apr 1417  (Age 18 years)  [Natural]
     12. Charles Of FRANCE,   b. 26 Sep 1386,   d. 28 Dec 1386  (Age 0 years)  [Natural]
    Family ID F17464  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S01910] Blood Royal, Issue of the Kings and Queens of Medieval England 1066-1399 by. T. Anna Leese.

    2. [S03581] Wikipedia Encyclopedia.