Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orléans

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Charles of Valois, Duke of Orléans (November 24, 1394January 5, 1465) became Duke of Orléans in 1407, following the murder of his father, Louis, Duke of Orléans on the orders of Duke John-the-Fearless of Burgundy. He was also Duke of Valois, Count of Beaumont and of Blois, lord of Coucy, and the inheritor of Asti in Italy via his mother Valentina Visconti, daughter of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan. He is now remembered as an accomplished poet owing to the more than five hundred extant poems he produced, most written during his twenty-five years spent as a prisoner of war.

Ascending to the title of Duke at the age of fourteen after the assassination of his father, Charles was expected to carry on his father's leadership against the Burgundians, a French faction which supported the Duke of Burgundy. The latter was never punished for his role in Louis' assassination, and Charles had to watch as his grief-stricken mother Valentina Visconti succumbed to illness not long afterwards. At her deathbed, Charles and the other boys of the family were made to swear the traditional oath of vengeance for their father's murder.

During the early years of his reign as Duke, the orphaned Charles was heavily influenced by the guidance of his father-in-law, Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac, for which reason Charles' faction came to be known as the "Armagnacs".

Image:Towrlndn.JPG
A depiction of Charles' imprisonment in the Tower of London from an illuminated manuscript of his poems

After war with the Kingdom of England was renewed in 1415, Charles was one of the many French noblemen wounded in the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415. Captured and taken to England as a hostage, he would remain in captivity for the next twenty-five years. The conditions of his confinement were not strict; he was allowed to live more or less in the manner to which he had become accustomed, like so many other captured nobles. However, he was not offered release in exchange for a ransom, since Henry V of England had left instructions forbidding any release: Charles was the natural head of the Armagnac faction and in the line of succession to the French throne, and was therefore deemed too important to be returned to circulation. It was during these twenty-five years that Charles would write most of his poetry, including melancholy works which seem to be commenting on the captivity itself, such as "Le Foret de Longue Attente".

Finally freed in 1440 by the efforts of his former enemies, Philip III, Duke of Burgundy and his consort Isabella of Portugal, he set foot on French soil again after 25 years, "speaking better English than French" according to one source. Meeting the Duchess of Burgundy after disembarking, the gallant Charles said: "M'Lady, I make myself your prisoner." At the celebration of his third marriage, with Marie of Cleves, he was created a Knight of the Golden Fleece. His subsequent return to Orléans was marked by a splendid celebration organized by the citizens.

He made a feeble attempt to press his claims to Asti in Italy, before settling down as a celebrated patron of the arts.

Charles appears in Shakespeare's play Henry V as the "Duke of Orleans".

[edit] Marriage and Children

Charles married three times. His first wife Isabella of Valois (daughter of Charles VI of France and widow of Richard II of England), whom he married in Compiegne in 1406, died in childbirth. Their daughter, Jeanne (1409, Blois1432, Angers), married John II of Alençon in 1424 in Blois.

Afterwards, he married Bonne of Armagnac, the daughter of Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac in 1410. Bonne died before he returned from captivity.

On his return to France in 1440, Charles married Marie of Cleves in St. Omer (daughter of Adolph I, Duke of Cleves) and had three children:

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Preceded by:
Louis I/IV
Duke of Valois
1406–1465
Succeeded by:
Louis II/V
Duke of Orléans
Count of Blois and Beaumont-sur-Oise

1407–1465
ca:Carles I d'Orleans

de:Charles de Valois, duc d'Orléans es:Carlos de Orleans (1394-1465) fr:Charles d'Orléans (1394-1465) it:Carlo, duca d'Orleans nl:Karel van Orléans pt:Carlos I de Valois ru:Карл, герцог Орлеанский zh:查理一世 (奥尔良公爵)

Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orléans

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