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Charles of Valois, Duc d'Orléans (November 24, 1394January 5, 1465) became Duke of Orléans in 1407, following the murder of his father, Louis of Valois on the orders of Duke John-the-Fearless of Burgundy. He was also Duke of Valois, Count of Beaumont 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-five years spent as a prisoner of war.

Ascending to the title of Duke 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 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 d'Armagnac, for which reason Charles' faction came to be known as the "Armagnacs".

After war with England was renewed in 1415, Charles was one of the many French noblemen wounded in the Battle of Agincourt on [[October 25], 1415). Captured and taken to England as a hostage, he would remain in captivity for the next twenty-five years. 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 had left instructions forbidding any release: Charles was the natural head of the Armagnac faction and therefore deemed too important to be returned to circulation. It was during these twenty-five years that Charles would write most of his poetry, including melancholy works which seem to be commenting on the captivity itself, such as "Le Foret de Longue Attente".

Finally freed in 1440, he made a feeble attempt to press his claims to Asti in Italy, before settling down as a celebrated patron of the arts.

Charles married three times. His first wife Isabella of Valois (widow of Richard II of England), died in childbirth, after which he married Bonne of Armagnac, the daughter of Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac in 1410. Bonne died before he returned from captivity. On his return to France, Charles married Marie of Clèves and had two children:

fr:Charles d'Orléans (1394-1465)


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