1902 Encyclopedia > Charles VI of France

Charles VI
(1368-1422)
King of France




CHARLES VI. (1368-1422), king of France, was the son of Charles V., whom he succeeded in 1380, at the age of twelve. The treasure left him by his father was at once seized by his four uncles, the dukes of Berry, Bur-gundy, Anjou, and Bourbon, whose tyranny and rapa-city aroused a general rebellion throughout France. It gained the supremacy in Paris (where the insurgents, from the weapon with which they armed themselves, took the name of Maillotins), in Bouen, and in many other French towns, and also in the Flemish cities, of which the foremost was Ghent, now led by Philip van Artevelde. At first the union of the popular parties in the various towns was successful against the nobility, but in 1382 the latter won a great victory at Boosebeke, in which Artevelde was killed, and after which many of the rebels were punished by death or by heavy fines. In 1385 immense and costly preparations were made for an in-vasion of England, in which the king was to take part in person, but on account of various obstacles, over which he had not sufficient resolution to triumph, nothing was done. In 1388, with the advice and support of the cardinal of Laon, Charles, who had six years before reached the age fixed for his majority by his father, threw off the control of his uncles, the dukes of Berry and Burgundy. But in 1392, on his march against the duke of Brittany, who had seized and then attempted to assas-sinate the constable, De Clisson, the appearance of a rough-looking man, who declared that the king was betrayed, so affected him that, in a fit of madness, he killed four of his attendants, and was for some time after insane. During the next year another accident, by which he was nearly burnt to death, brought on a second fit, from which he never completely recovered. By these unfortunate events a field was opened for the ambition of the dukes of Burgundy and Orleans. The latter first obtained the government; but the former, John Sans Peur, as champion of the people of Paris, gradually became so powerful that, in 1407, he ventured to assassinate his rival and allow the mob to massacre his adherents. But a confederacy was formed against him, the duke of Orleans who succeeded his victim being joined by the dukes of Berry, Bourbon, and Brittany, and the powerful and able count of Armag-nac. The Parisians opened their gates to the Armagnacs (as the party was now called), but they in turn treated Paris as if it had been a hostile city conquered by force. In 1415 Henry V. of England, the fulfilment of the treaty of Bretigny being refused, landed in France, and gained the victory of Agincourt. In 1418 the gates of Paris were opened to the duke of Burgundy, and another massacre of the Armagnacs took place. Famine and plague carried off thousands of others. Charles died, deprived of almost every sign of royal dignity, in 1422.
See The Chronicle of St Denis, Monstrelet, Juvenal des Ursins, Le Laboureur, De Choisy, Saint-feemy.








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