, , , , , , , , ,

Charles VI (December 3, 1368 – October 21, 1422), called the Beloved and later the Mad, was King of France from 1380 until his death in 1422. He is known for his mental illness and psychotic episodes which plagued him throughout his life.

Charles was born in Paris, in the royal residence of the Hôtel Saint-Pol, on December 3, 1368, the son of King Charles V of the House of Valois and of Joanna of Bourbon. Joanna was a daughter of Pierre I, Duke of Bourbon, and Isabella of Valois, a half-sister of Philippe VI of France. The Dukes of Bourbon were direct male-line descendants of King Louis IX of France.

His elder brothers having died before he was born, Charles was heir to the French throne and held the title Dauphin of France.

King of France


At his father’s death on September 16, 1380, Charles inherited the throne of France. His coronation took place on November 4, 1380, at Reims Cathedral. Charles VI was only 11 years old when he was crowned King of France. During his minority, France was ruled by Charles’ uncles, as regents. Although the royal age of majority was 14 (the “age of accountability” under Roman Catholic canon law), Charles terminated the regency at the age of 21.

While his father left behind a favorable military situation, marked by the reconquest of most of the English possessions in France. First placed under the regency of his uncles, the Dukes of Burgundy, Anjou, Berry and Bourbon, he decided in 1388, aged 20, to emancipate himself. In 1392, while leading a military expedition against the Duchy of Brittany, the king suffered a first attack of delirium, during which he attacked his own men in the forest of Le Mans. A few months later, following the Bal des ardents where he narrowly escaped death from burning, Charles was again placed under the regency of his uncles, the dukes of Berry and Burgundy.

Charles VI married Isabeau of Bavaria (ca. 1371 – September 24, 1435) on July 17, 1385.

Isabeau’s parents were Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti, who he married for a 100,000 ducat dowry. She was most likely born in Munich, where she was baptized as Elisabeth at the Church of Our Lady. She was great-granddaughter to the Wittelsbach Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig IV. During this period, Bavaria was counted among the most powerful German states and was divided between members of the House of Wittelsbach.

For the majority of his life and until his death, the king alternated periods of madness and lucidity. Power was held by his influential uncles but also by his wife, Queen Isabeau of Bavaria. His younger brother, Louis d’Orléans, also aspired to the regency and saw his influence grow.

The enmity between the latter and Jean the Fearless, successor of Philippe II the Bold, plunged the kingdom into a civil war during which the king found himself successively controlled by one or the other of the two parties.

In 1415 his army was crushed by the English at the Battle of Agincourt, which led to Charles’ signing of the Treaty of Troyes, which entirely disinherited his son, the Dauphin and future Charles VII, in favour of his future son-in-law Henry V of England. Henry was thus made regent and heir to the throne of France, and Charles married him to his daughter Catherine de Valois. .

Charles VI died on October 21, 1422 in Paris, at the Hôtel Saint-Pol. He was interred in Saint Denis Basilica, where his wife Isabeau of Bavaria would join him after her death in September 1435.

Henry V of England died just a few weeks before him, in August 1422, leaving an infant son, who became King Henry VI of England. Therefore, according to the Treaty of Troyes, with the death of Charles VI, little Henry became King of France. His coronation as such was in Paris (held by the English since 1418) at the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris on 26 December 1431.

The son disinherited by Charles VI, the Dauphin Charles, continued to fight to regain his kingdom. In 1429, Joan of Arc arrived on the scene. She led his forces to victory against the English, and took him to be crowned in Reims Cathedral as King Charles VII of France on 17 July 1429. He became known as “Charles the Victorious” and was able to restore the French line to the throne of France by defeating the English in 1450.

Among Charles VI and Isabeau of Bavaria’s children were the future King Charles VII of France and two Queen’s of England.

Isabella, (1389 — 1409) married (1) Richard II, King of England, in 1396. No issue. Married (2) Charles, Duke of Orléans, in 1406. Had issue.

Catherine (1401 — 1437) married (1) Henry V, King of England, in 1420. Had issue. Married (?) (2) Owen Tudor. Had issue.

Through issue Catherine had with Owen Tudor she was the mother of Edmund Tudor who married Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of John of Gaunt (son of Edward III of England) who had consequently a distant but disputed claim to the throne; following the elimination by war of most other candidates, their son became King Henry VII of England and founder of the Tudor Dynasty.