French king Charles VII
The French king Charles VII ruled from 1422 to 1461. His reign witnessed the expulsion of the English from France and the reestablishment of a strong French monarchy after the disasters of the Hundred Years War, 1337-1453.
Charles VII was born on February 22, 1403. He was the son of Charles VI and Isabelle of Bavaria. His father suffered from recurrent madness and implied that Charles was illegitimate.
Charles VI died in 1422 and Charles VII became the “king of Bourges”. Charles was sickly, physically weak, and personally unattractive.
From 1422 to 1428 English armies moved toward Bourges through Maine and Anjou. Joan of Arc, who was thought by many to personify French resistance, succeeded in raising the siege of Orleans in 1429, and Charles was crowned at Reims in the same year. Joan was captured by the English in 1430 and in 1431 she was executed as a heretic in the Norman city of Rouen.
In 1434 the Church recognized Charles’ legitimacy, and in 1435 he was officially reconciled with Philip the Good. He began a period of vigorous personal rule characterized by intense legislative activity and close attention to the economy.
In 1438 he issued the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, which sharply limited papal control of the French Church.
By 1449 Charles had created a standing army, and in1449-1450 this force won back Normandy for the Crown.
The last years of Charles’s reign were spent in consolidating and strengthening royal authority.
Charles died on July 22, 1461.
Agnes Sorel and Charles VII
It is unknown when Agnes Sorel, an outstanding woman of her era, was born. Some historians say she was born in 1409, others argue that she was born much later, in 1422. The girl was a maid of honor of the Duchess Isabella of Lorraine, and then of the queen Maria of Anjou, the wife of the King of France, Charles VII. Her beauty was legendary. Even the pope admitted many years later: “She had the most beautiful face that can only be seen in this world.”
Many noble persons, high-ranking officials fell in love with her. Even the king himself was not an exception. Charles was struck by her charm and the girl became his lover. Maria, the king’s wife, and Agnes became friends. The queen became so close to her rival that she soon trusted her secrets, gave Agnes jewels and costumes. Women began to walk together, go hunting, discuss business in the country.
Madame Sorel gave birth to four king’s daughters and even after pregnancies continued to fascinate Charles with elegance and endless imagination.
She died on February 9, 1450 and before her death regretted only one thing that in the last minutes she could not see her beloved man. The king was not shown the deceased. Her face was disfigured by death throes.