Charles VI of France

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Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422), called the Beloved (French: le Bien-Aimé) and the Mad (French: le Fol or le Fou), was the King of France from 1380 to 1422, as a member of the House of Valois.

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Early life

He was born in Paris, the son of King Charles V and Joan of Bourbon. At the age of eleven, in 1380, he was crowned King of France in the cathedral at Reims. He married Isabeau of Bavaria in 1385. Until he took complete charge as king in 1388, France was ruled primarily by his uncle, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. During that time, the power of the royal administration and the authority to tax was reestablished, following the tax revolt known as the Harelle, after his father had repealed the taxes on his deathbed.

Charles VI was known both as Charles the Beloved and later as Charles the Mad, since, beginning in his mid-twenties, he experienced bouts of psychosis. These fits of madness would recur for the rest of his life. Based on his symptoms, he probably suffered from schizophrenia.[citation needed]

Madness

Charles's first known fit occurred in 1392 when his friend and advisor, Olivier de Clisson, was the victim of an attempted murder. Although Clisson survived, Charles was determined to punish the would-be assassin Pierre de Craon who had taken refuge in Brittany. Contemporaries said Charles appeared to be in a "fever" to begin the campaign and appeared disconnected in his speech. Charles set off with an army on 1 July 1392. The progress of the army was slow, nearly driving Charles into a frenzy of impatience.

As the king and his escort were travelling through a forest on a hot August morning, a barefoot leper dressed in rags rushed up to the King's horse and grabbed his bridle. "Ride no further, noble King!" he yelled. "Turn back! You are betrayed!" The king's escorts beat the man back but did not arrest him, and he followed the procession for a half-hour, repeating his cries.

The company emerged from the forest at noon. A page who was drowsy from the sun dropped the king's lance, which clanged loudly against a steel helmet carried by another page. Charles shuddered, drew his sword and yelled "Forward against the traitors! They wish to deliver me to the enemy!" The king spurred his horse and began swinging his sword at his companions, fighting until one of his chamberlains and a group of soldiers were able to grab him from his mount and lay him on the ground. He lay still and did not react, but fell into a coma. The king had killed a knight called "The Bastard of Polignac," and several other men, the number of which varies among contemporary chronicles.

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