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Charles VII of France

Charles VII (detail), by Jean Fouquet, ca 1420, (Louvre)
Charles VII (detail), by Jean Fouquet, ca 1420, (Louvre)

Charles VII (February 22, 1403 - July 22, 1461) was king of France from 1422 to 1461, a member of the Valois Dynasty.

Born in Paris, Charles was the eldest surviving son of Charles VI of France and Isabeau de Bavière. On the death of his father in 1422, the French throne did not pass to Charles but to his infant nephew, King Henry VI of England in accordance with his father's Treaty of Troyes signed in 1420. The English right to the throne of France was part of the Treaty in an effort to put an end to the war that had been raging for decades. Under the Treaty, King Henry of England ruled Northern France through a regent in Normandy and southern France by the Dauphin Charles from his fortified castle at Chinon.

Without any organized French army, the English strengthened their grip over France until March 8, 1429 when Joan of Arc, claiming divine inspiration, urged Charles to declare himself king and raise an army to liberate France from the English.

One of the important factors that aided in the ultimate success of Charles VII was the support from the powerful and wealthy family of his wife Marie d'Anjou (1404-1463). Despite whatever affection he had for his wife, the great love of Charles VII's life, was his mistress, Agnès Sorel.

After the French won the Battle of Patay , Charles was crowned king Charles VII of France on July 17, 1429, in Reims Cathedral. Following this, king Charles VII recaptured Paris from the English and eventually all of France with the exception of the northern port of Calais.

While Charles VII's legacy is far overshadowed by the deeds and eventual martyrdom of Joan of Arc, he did something his predecessors had failed to do by creating a strong army and uniting most of the country under one French king. He established the University of Poitiers in 1432 and his policies brought some economic prosperity to the citizens. Although his leadership was sometimes marked by indecisiveness, hardly any other leader left a nation so much better improved than when he came on the scene.

King Charles VII died on July 22, 1461 at Mehun-sur-Yèvre, but his latter years were marked by an open revolt by his son who succeeded him as Louis XI.

Charles VII has been represented in the movies by Raymond Hatton (1917), Jean Debucourt (1929), Gustaf Gründgens (1935), Emlyn Williams (1935), Max Adrian (1944), José Ferrer (1948), Paul Colline (1955), Richard Widmark (1957), Daniel Gélin (1978), Keith Drinkel (1979), Michael Maloney (1989), Oleg Kulko (1993), John Malkovich (1999)

Preceded by:
Charles VI
King of France Succeeded by:
Louis XI

Last updated: 12-21-2004 10:27:34