Blanche of Burgundy, Charles IV of France, Charles of Valois, Edward II of England, Jeanne d'Évreux, King of France and Navarre, Marie of Luxembourg, Philippe VI of France, Pope John XXII, Tour de Nesle Affair
Charles IV (June 18/19, 1294 – February 1, 1328), called the Fair in France and the Bald in Navarre, was King of France and King of Navarre (as Charles I) from 1322 to 1328. Charles IV was the last king of the direct line of the House of Capét,
Charles was the third son of Philippe IV and Joan I, Queen of Navarre and Countess of Champagne from 1274 until 1305; the daughter of King Henri I of Navarre and Blanche of Artois.
By virtue of the birthright of his mother, Joan I of Navarre, Charles claimed the title Charles I, King of Navarre. From 1314 to his accession to the throne, he held the title of Count of La Marche and was crowned King of France in 1322 at the cathedral in Reims.
Unlike Philippe IV and Philippe V, Charles IV is reputed to have been a relatively conservative, “strait-laced” king – he was “inclined to forms and stiff-necked in defence of his prerogatives”, while disinclined either to manipulate them to his own ends or achieve wider reform.
Beginning in 1323 Charles was confronted with a peasant revolt in Flanders, and in 1324 he made an unsuccessful bid to be elected Holy Roman Emperor.
As Duke of Guyenne, King Edward II of England was a vassal of Charles, but he was reluctant to pay homage to another king. In retaliation, Charles conquered the Duchy of Guyenne in a conflict known as the War of Saint-Sardos (1324). In a peace agreement, Edward II accepted to swear allegiance to Charles and to pay a fine. In exchange, Guyenne was returned to Edward but with a much-reduced territory.
In 1308 Charles married his first wife, Blanche of Burgundy, the daughter of Count Otto IV of Burgundy and Countess Mahaut of Artois, she was led to a disastrous marriage by her mother’s ambition.
Eight years before her husband’s accession to the thrones, early in 1314, Blanche and her sisters-in-law Margaret of Burgundy, and her own sister, Joan of Burgundy were allegedly caught in an act of adultery in the Tour de Nesle Affair. Charles IV’s sister, and their sister-in-law, Isabella of France was a witness against them.
As were their cousin Blanche of Burgundy, Margaret and Joan of Burgundy were members of the ducal House of Burgundy, a branch of the Capetian dynasty. Margaret and Joan were the daughters of Robért II, Duke of Burgundy (1248–1306) and Agnes of France (1260–1327), the youngest daughter of Louis IX of France and Margaret of Provence.
Margaret of Burgundy had married her first cousin once removed, Louis X, King of France and Navarre. Joan of Burgundy had married Philippe of Valois, Louis X’s cousin, in July 1313. From 1314 to 1328, they were count and countess of Maine; Philippe of Valois became Philippe VI of France in 1328.
Blanche was arrested and found guilty of adultery with a Norman knight. Margaret was imprisoned at Château Gaillard along with her sister-in-law Blanche of Burgundy. Joan of Burgundy was acquitted of the charge of adultery.
Blanche was imprisoned and not released even after becoming queen, until her marriage was annulled when she was moved to the coast of Normandy. After Charles assumed the throne he refused to release Blanche, their marriage was annulled, and Blanche retreated to a nunnery.
The date and place of her death are unknown; the mere fact that she died was simply mentioned on the occasion of her husband’s third marriage in April 1326.
Blanche had given birth to two children, Philippe and Joan, but both of them died young and Charles IV needed a son and heir to carry on the House of Capet.
On September 21, 1322 in either Paris or Provins Charles IV married Marie of Luxembourg, the daughter Heinrich VII, Holy Roman Emperor and Margaret of Brabant.
On May 15, 1323 Marie was consecrated Queen of France at Sainte-Chapelle by Guillaume de Melum, Archbishop of Sens. In the same year she became pregnant but she later miscarried a girl.
Whilst pregnant again in March 1324, Marie and Charles IV were travelling to Avignon to visit the pope when Marie fell out of the bottom of the coach. As a result, she went into labour and her child, a boy (Louis), was born prematurely, and died several hours later; Queen Marie died on March 26, 1324 and was buried at Montargis in the Dominican church.
Charles IV married again in 1325, this time to Jeanne d’Évreux: she was his first cousin, the daughter of Louis, Count of Évreux and Margaret of Artois. Since Jeanne was Charles’s first cousin, the couple required papal permission to marry, which they obtained from Pope John XXII.
They had three daughters, Jeanne, Marie and Blanche, who were unable to inherit the throne under principles of the Salic Law. The royal couple’s lack of sons caused the end of the direct line of the Capetian dynasty.
During half of his reign Charles IV relied heavily on his uncle, Charles of Valois, for advice and to undertake key military tasks.
Charles of Valois was a powerful magnate in his own right, a key advisor to Louis X, and he had made a bid for the regency in 1316, initially championing Louis X’s daughter Joan, before finally switching sides and backing Philippe V. Charles of Valois would have been aware that if Charles died without male heirs, he and his male heirs would have a good claim to the crown.
After the death of Charles of Valois, Charles became increasingly interested in a French intervention in Byzantium, taking the cross in 1326. Andronicus II responded by sending an envoy to Paris in 1327, proposing peace and discussions on ecclesiastical union.
A French envoy sent in return with Pope John XXII’s blessing later in the year, however, found Byzantium beset with civil war, and negotiations floundered. The death of Charles the next year prevented any French intervention in Byzantium.
Charles IV died on February 1, 1328 at the Château de Vincennes, Val-de-Marne, and is interred with his third wife, Jeanne d’Évreux, in Saint Denis Basilica, with his heart buried at the now-demolished church of the Couvent des Jacobins in Paris.
When Charles IV died without a male heir, the senior line of the House of Capet, descended from Philippe IV, became extinct. He was succeeded in Navarre by his niece Joan II and in France by his paternal first cousin Philippe of Valois.
However, the dispute on the succession to the French throne between the Valois monarchs descended in male line from Charles’s grandfather Philippe III of France, and the English monarchs descended from Charles’s sister Isabella, was a factor of the Hundred Years’ War.