m. 08 Apr 1350
m. 13 Jul 1385
Facts and Events
Charles VI was only 11 when he inherited the throne in the midst of the Hundred Years' War. The government was entrusted to his four uncles: Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy; John, Duke of Berry; Louis I, Duke of Anjou; and Louis II, Duke of Bourbon. Although the royal age of majority was fixed at 14 (the "age of accountability" under Roman Catholic canon law), the dukes maintained their grip on Charles until he took power at the age of 21.
During the rule of his uncles, the financial resources of the kingdom, painstakingly built up by his father Charles V, were squandered for the personal profit of the dukes, whose interests were frequently divergent or even opposing. As royal funds drained, new taxes had to be raised, which caused several revolts.
In 1388 Charles VI dismissed his uncles and brought back to power his father's former advisers, known as the Marmousets. Political and economic conditions in the kingdom improved significantly, and Charles earned the epithet "the Beloved". But in August 1392 en route to Brittany with his army in the forest of Le Mans, Charles suddenly went mad and slew four knights and almost killed his brother, Louis of Orléans.
From then on, Charles' bouts of insanity became more frequent and of longer duration. During these attacks, he had delusions, believing he was made of glass or denying he had a wife and children. He could also attack servants or ran until exhaustion, wailing that he was threatened by his enemies. Between crises, there were intervals of months during which Charles was relatively sane. However, unable to concentrate or make decisions, political power was taken away from him by the princes of the blood, which would cause much chaos and conflict in France.
A fierce struggle for power developed between Louis of Orléans, the king's brother, and John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, the son of Philip the Bold. When John instigated the murder of Louis in November 1407, the conflict degenerated into a civil war between the Armagnacs (supporters of the House of Valois) and the Burgundians. John offered large parts of France to king Henry V of England, who was still at war with the Valois monarchy, in exchange for his support. After the assassination of John the Fearless, his son Philip the Good led Charles the Mad to sign the infamous Treaty of Troyes (1420), which recognized Henry V as his legitimate successor on the throne of France and disinherited his own offspring.
When Charles VI died, he was succeeded by his son Charles VII, who found the Valois cause in a desperate situation.