1368 - 1422 (54 years)
Has more than 100 ancestors and more than 100 descendants in this family tree.
||Charles Capet |
||VI, 'the Mad' |
||19 Mar 2010 |
||Roy Charles Capet, V, 'le Sage', b. 1338, Vincennes, Fr , d. 1380, Nogent-Sur-Marne, Val-de Marne, France (Age 42 years) |
||Jeanne de Bourbon, b. 3 Feb 1339, Vincennes, Fr , d. 6 Feb 1378, Parijs (Age 39 years) |
||7 siblings |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||Elizabeth von Bayern, b. 1369-1371, d. 30 Sep 1435, Paris, Île-de-France, Fr (Age 64 years) |
||17 Jul 1385
||Amiens, Somme, Picardie, France
| ||1. Charles Capet, b. 1386, d. Bef 1392 (Age 6 years)|
| ||2. Jeanne Capet, b. 1388, d. 1390 (Age 2 years)|
| ||3. Isabella Capet, b. 1389, d. 1409 (Age 20 years)|
|+||4. Jeanne de France, b. 24 Jan 1391, d. 27 Sep 1433 (Age 42 years)|
| ||5. Charles Capet, b. 1392, d. 1401 (Age 9 years)|
| ||6. Marie Capet, b. 1392, d. 1438 (Age 46 years)|
| ||7. Michelle Capet, b. 11 Jan 1395, Paris, Île-de-France, Fr , d. 8 Jul 1422, Gent, Oost-Vlaanderen, B (Age 27 years)|
| ||8. Louis Capet, b. 1397, d. 1415 (Age 18 years)|
| ||9. Jean Capet, b. 1398, d. 1417 (Age 19 years)|
| ||10. Catherine de France, b. 1401, d. 1437 (Age 36 years)|
|+||11. Roy Charles Capet, VII, 'the Victorious', b. 22 Feb 1403, Paris, Île-de-France, Fr , d. 21 Jul 1461, Mehun-sur-Yèvre, Cher (Age 58 years)|
| ||12. Philippe Capet, b. 1407, d. Yes, date unknown|
||19 Mar 2010 |
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
- King of France (1380-1422).
Charles VI was only 12 years old when he succeeded his father. A regency was therefore established under his uncles, the Dukes of Bourbon, Anjou, Berry and Burgundy, all of them engaged in a power struggle. The beginning of his reign was marked by numerous anti-tax revolts in various regions (the uprisings were known as `'Les Maillotins" in Paris, "La Herelle" in Rouen and "Les Tuchins" in Languedoc) and by uprisings in Flemish towns under the leadership of Philippe Van Artevelde who was killed at the Battle of Rosebeke in l 382. Charles VI signed several truces with England, maintaining peace until 1404. In 1388, the king decided to reign personally and dismissed his uncles, replacing them with his father's erstwhile advisers. This was the period of government by "old men". From 1392 onwards, however, Charles VI suffered fits of insanity, a source of major misfortune for France. He dismissed the old men and government was again placed in the hands of the Dukes, with Orleans and Burgundy struggling for power over a king who was lucid only intermittently. The assassination of Duke Louis of Orleans, the king's brother, in 1407, led to civil war between the Armagnacs who supported Duke Charles d' Orleans and the Burgundians who supported John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. Each of the factions took control of Paris in turn and wielded power. England then took advantage of the situation and recommenced the war. Henr,v IV signed an alliance with the Armagnacs in 1412 then landed in France. His successor, Henry V, laid claim to the crown of France, arrived on the continent in 1415 and inflicted the disastrous defeat of Azincourt on the French army. From 1417 to 1419, he took over Normandy. After the murder of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, who was succeeded by Philip the Good, the King of England allied himself with the Burgundian faction (1419). The treachery of Queen Isabella of Bavaria and the Duke of Burgundy led to the signature, with England, of the terrible Treaty of Troyes (1420). Under the terms of the treaty, the heir apparent, Charles, lost his right to the crown of France and Henry V of England was acknowledged as Charles VI's heir. He then married Charles' daughter, Catherine. The death of Henry V followed by that of Charles VI in 1422 left the crown prince, Charles, with a catastrophic situation to settle, especially as Henry VI of England was then proclaimed King of France.
Charles VI of France became king at the age of 12. He was a dreamy, sentimental, agreeable and pleasure-loving young man and soon his uncles, the dukes of Anjou, Berry, Burgundy and Bourbon, took over the government and plundered the treasury. The Hundred Years War with England had left France short of funds and in 1382 revolts broke out in many parts of France. In 1388 Charles, aided by his bother Louis of Orléans (1371-1407), removed his uncles from power and replaced them with a group of his father's councillors of humble origins.
At the age of 16 Charles VI had fallen in love with the beautiful Bavarian princess Isabeau (1371-1435), who had been send to France to become his bride. For Charles it was love at first sight and he arranged that the marriage was to take place immediately for he could hardly sleep till the marriage was consummated. Isabeau, however, was a selfish woman. All she wanted from life was to have enough means to have her desires fulfilled. She had no real interest in France and never bothered to speak French well. Nevertheless, the first years of their marriage were happy and the young couple held lavish festivities lasting for days.
In April 1392 Charles (to the left) suffered from a mysterious illness which caused his hair and nails to fall out. He was hardly recovered, still suffered from occasional bouts of fever and behaved incoherently, when he set out on a punitive expedition after an assassination attempt on one of his advisors. On a hot day in August Charles rode at the head of a group of knights, when a wild-looking man ran up to his horse and spoke some words of doom and betrayal. While they continued their journey, a page accidentally dropped a lance. Suddenly Charles rushed forward with a drawn sword and killed 4 of his own men before he could be overpowered.
Lifted from his horse, Charles lay flat and speechless on the ground, his eyes rolling wildly from side to side. His attendants found an ox-cart to carry him and thus they returned to Paris. For two days Charles was in a coma. With the help of a physician, Guillaume de Harcigny, he made a partial recovery. From then on his mental health was seriously undermined. On January 28, 1393 the queen gave a masque and Charles VI and a group of his courtiers dressed up like 'wild men' in linen costumes. They were accidentally set alight by a torch and four of them burned alive. Charles was saved by the duchess of Berry, who threw her voluminous skirts over him. Nevertheless, the accident made a deep impression on Charles and in June he was in the grip of another serious attack of insanity. A surgeon drilled some holes in Charles' skull, hoping to relieve pressure on his brain. Although Charles felt some momentary relief after the operation, he suffered a relapse in 1395. In 1397 Charles was aware that his brain became clouded again and requested to have his dagger removed. Some churchmen and doctors of the university came to believe that Charles was the victim of sorcery and around 1398 some attempts were made to exorcise him. Once Charles cried out: "If there is any one of you who is an accomplice in this evil I suffer, I beg him to torture me no longer but let me die!"
Charles' attacks of insanity became more frequent and of longer duration. Still, there were intervals of months during which Charles was sane except for the uncertainty of his temper, alternating between passive listlessness and excitable gaiety. During the attacks Charles had delusions, claiming that his name was Georges, denying that he was the king or had a wife or any children. He ran from room to room until he collapsed from exhaustion, wailing that his enemies were upon him. He smashed the furniture and urinated in his clothes. He also went through a stage of believing that he was made of glass 1 and that if people came too near him he would break. Thus he insisted that iron rods should be inserted into his clothing to prevent him from breaking. For some months in 1405 Charles refused to change his linen, to bathe or to be shaved, and as a consequence he was afflicted by skin trouble and lice. His physicians hoped to cure Charles with shock treatment. They therefore arranged for some men to blacken their faces and hide in his room. When the king entered they all jumped out, presumably shouting "boo". As a result Charles agreed to be washed, shaved and dressed and for a few weeks his behaviour was more reasonable.
For reasons of succession the beautiful Isabeau continued to submit to the embraces of her mad husband until 1407. Charles' attitude to Isabeau show the ambivalent characteristics of schizophrenia; in his derangement Charles felt a strong resentment to his once beloved wife. His wild lusts often kept Isabeau in fear for her life and thus she arranged for a pretty horse-dealer's daughter to take her place. Meanwhile, Isabeau found consolation in the arms of her brother-in-law, Louis of Orléans (1371-1407). From the moment Isabeau had set foot in France, this elegant, ambitious and dissolute youth had been pursuing her. Soon they went everywhere together, often for weeks at a time, flagrantly enjoying themselves together. The legitimacy ofIsabeau's younger children was doubted and her relationship with Louis was at its height when Young Charles (1403-1461) was born. Isabeau lavished more care upon this puny and sickly 11th child than upon the others.
While his body remained healthy, Charles VI was soon unable to concentrate, make decisions or govern at all. Even in his more lucid moments he did whatever those who were with him told him to do, so French politics became a rivalry for custody of the king. A fierce power struggle developed between Louis of Orléans and John the fearless of Burgundy (1371-1419)2 until John instigated the murder of Louis in November 1407. The queen, who had recently lost her 12th child shortly after its birth, openly joined the party of her lover's murderers and it was rumoured that she entered John the fearless' bed as well. The duke of Burgundy was now opposed by count Bernard VII of Armagnac (~1362-1418) and the power struggle intensified with both parties massacring their enemies. When king Henry V of England (1387-1422) invaded France in 1415, his exhausted force of 5000 men routed a French army of five times its size in the famous Battle of Agincourt. In the course of years queen Isabeau had become abnormally fat and as a result she was unable to get around without a wheel chair. She lived with her pets at Vincennes where she was free to do as she chose. Bernard of Armagnac guarded the interests of her children and when he found out that Isabeau was plotting with the duke of Burgundy, he took revenge by informing the king about the queen's dissolute behaviour. Spurred on by his heir, Young Charles, Charles VI actually decided to make a stand, rode with his son and the count of Armagnac to Vincennes, and arrested the queen's supposed latest lover. He was tortured, strangled and thrown into the Seine in a leather sack. Isabeau was officially banished for the "dissolute behaviour of her ladies-in-waiting", but it is likely that they mainly blamed the queen herself. She remained on good terms with John the fearless, while her new favourite, Jean de Villiers, murdered Bernard of Armagnac in 1418 and carved the cross of Burgundy on his chest. In 1419 the 16-year-old heir to the throne was discredited, when John the fearless was hacked to death at a meeting with him. In return for a pension queen Isabeau asserted that the crown prince, "Charles, who calls himself the Dauphin", was illegitimate. She gave her daughter Catherine (1401-1438) in marriage to Henry V of England and recognised them as heirs to the throne. Henry V brought Charles VI, who had been living in a state of neglect at Senlis, back to Paris. There he was taken ill with fever in 1421. He recovered after eating enormous quantities of oranges and pomegranates. In the autumn of 1422 he fell ill again and with only strangers at hand he died. Henry V had died the same year and Henry's baby son was crowned king Henry VI (1421-1471) of both England and France.
Charles' mysterious illness of 1392 could have been typhoid or encephalitis. If this disease was encephalitis, then it could very likely have been a contributory factor to the bizarre features of Charles' behaviour, for encephalitis can cause a marked character change and give rise to impulsive, aggressive and intemperate activity, similar in its symptoms to those of schizophrenia. Regarding Charles' family history, the disease porphyria is another possible diagnose. Porphyria is a rare hereditary disease with symptoms like an acute inflammation of the bowels, difficulty in articulation and swallowing, a painful weakness of the limbs, over-sensitivity and sometimes loss of the power of feeling. In more severe attacks porphyria can result in over-activity, agitation, visual and auditory disturbances, persistent sleeplessness, confusion, delirium and progressive senility.