Charles, Duke of Orléans

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Charles of Valois (24 November 1394, Paris – 5 January 1465, Amboise) was Duke of Orléans from 1407, following the murder of his father, Louis, Duke of Orléans on the orders of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. He was also Duke of Valois, Count of Beaumont-sur-Oise 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-four years spent as a prisoner of war.

Contents

Accession

Ascending to the duchy 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".

Imprisonment

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 by Sir Richard Waller (with whom a long-lasting friendship emerged and would later fund the refurbishment of his castle and add the Fleur-de-lis to the Waller Coat of Arms)[1] and taken to England as a hostage, he would remain in captivity for the next twenty-four years, at various places including Wallingford Castle. 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.

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