Today I'm looking at Edward II's uncle by marriage, Charles, count of Valois, Alençon, Perche, Chartres, Anjou and Maine, ancestor of the royal house of Valois which ruled France from 1328 to 1589, and some of his numerous descendants.
Charles was born on 12 March 1270 as the fourth of five sons of King Philip III of France and his first wife Isabel of Aragon, daughter of King Jaime I 'el Conquistador'. He was five and a half months old when his grandfather Louis IX died on 25 August 1270, and his father, then twenty-five, succeeded to the throne of France. The eldest of Charles' brothers, Louis, was born around 1263 or 1265 and died in or before May 1276; according to Guillaume de Nangis's Gesta Philippi Tertia Francorum Regis (Deeds of Philip III, king of the French), he was poisoned by his stepmother Marie of Brabant, presumably so that her own son could inherit the throne, though I don't see what that would have achieved given that Louis's younger brothers Philip and Charles were still alive. Philip, the second son, was born probably in the second quarter of 1268 and succeeded their father as Philip IV of France on 4 October 1285, when Philip III died at the age of only forty. Robert was born in 1269 and died before May 1276, Charles in 1270 was the fourth son, and when Queen Isabel died after she fell from her horse on 28 January 1271, she was pregnant with a fifth son, who did not survive. Of the five sons of Philip III and Isabel of Aragon - the latter four conceived in a remarkably short space of time - only Philip IV and Charles de Valois survived childhood.
When Charles was four, on 21 August 1274, his father Philip III married his second queen Marie of Brabant, the mother of Charles' three half-siblings: Louis, count of Evreux (3 May 1276 - 19 May 1319), a good friend of Edward of Caernarfon before his accession to the throne; Queen Marguerite of England (1278/79 - 14 February 1318), Edward II's stepmother; and Blanche, duchess of Austria (early 1280s? - 19 March 1305), who was betrothed to Edward of Caernarfon between 1291 and 1294. Charles can never have known his mother or his grandfather Louis IX, but his grandmother Marguerite of Provence, Louis IX's widow, lived until 1295, and his maternal grandfather Jaime I of Aragon lived till 27 July 1276, when he was succeeded by Charles' uncle Pedro III. Charles' aunt Violante, the eldest child of Jaime I and Yolande of Hungary, was the queen of Edward II's uncle Alfonso X of Castile and Leon, and his uncle Jaime (died 1311) was king of Mallorca.
As well as all the connections between Charles and Edward II mentioned above, the two men were second cousins via their grandmothers Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, and Charles was the uncle of Edward's two younger half-brothers Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk and Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent. (Ah, these tangled royal families.) Charles put forward his son John and grandson Louis as future husbands of Edward II's daughters Eleanor and Joan in 1324, though nothing came of it. Charles' brother Philip IV died on 29 November 1314 and was succeeded by Charles' nephews Louis X and Philip V, both of whom Charles also outlived. He died on 16 December 1325 at the age of fifty-five, about halfway through the reign of his nephew Charles IV. On 30 December 1325, Edward II gave four pounds to the messenger, Percival Symeon, who brought him news of Charles' death. King Charles IV died on 1 February 1328. Exactly two months later his widow Jeanne d'Evreux (who was also his first cousin, daughter of Louis, count of Evreux) gave birth to a daughter, Blanche, and in the absence of any surviving sons of Charles IV and his brothers, Charles de Valois's eldest son thus succeeded to the throne as Philip VI, first of the Valois dynasty which was to rule France until the death of Henry III in 1589.
Charles de Valois was married three times:
- In 1290 to his second cousin Marguerite of Naples and Anjou (1273-1299), one of the many children of Charles 'the Lame' of Salerno, king of Naples and Marie of Hungary. Marguerite was countess of Anjou in her own right. Her siblings included the king of Hungary, the king of Sicily and Jerusalem, the king of Albania, the queen of Aragon and Saint Louis of Toulouse.
- In 1301 to another of his second cousins, Catherine de Courtenay (1274-1307), titular empress of Constantinople as the only surviving child and heiress of her father Philip de Courtenay, son of the emperor Baldwin II.
- In 1308 to Mahaut de Châtillon (c. 1293-1358), daughter of Guy, count of St Pol and sister of Marie, countess of Pembroke. Mahaut was a great-granddaughter of Henry III of England.
Charles had at least fourteen children with his three wives, and countless grandchildren. Here are some details about a few of them. It gets a tad confusing as some of his children and grandchildren were the same age.
- Philip VI, king of France (1293-1350), Charles' eldest son with his first wife Marguerite of Naples and Anjou, who succeeded his cousin Charles IV in 1328 as the first of the Valois kings of France. Philip was succeeded as king by his son Jean II le Bon (John the Good), then his grandson Charles V, great-grandson Charles VI and so on. Philip's wife was Joan or Jeanne 'the Lame' of Burgundy.
- Philippa of Hainault, queen of England (c. 1314-1369), daughter of Charles' and his first wife Marguerite of Anjou's second daughter Joan, countess of Hainault (c. 1294 - 7 March 1342), one of the full sisters of Philip VI. Philippa married Edward III of England in early 1328.
- Joan, queen of Naples, Jerusalem, Sicily and Mallorca, princess of Achaea, duchess of Calabria, countess of Provence (c. 1326-1382), daughter of Marie (1309-1332), eldest daughter of Charles de Valois and his third wife Mahaut and her husband Charles, duke of Calabria. Joan was the heir of her paternal grandfather King Robert the Wise, one of the brothers of Charles de Valois's first wife Marguerite of Anjou, and was married four times. Queen Joan was acquitted in any complicity in the murder of her first husband Andrew of Hungary in 1345, but was assassinated many years later in 1382 on the orders of Charles of Durazzo in revenge. Nancy Goldstone has written a biography of Joan.
- Catherine II de Courtenay (c. 1303-1346), eldest daughter and heiress of Charles' second wife Catherine de Courtenay, and also became titular empress of Constantinople in her own right. Her two younger full sisters were Isabella, who became abbess of Fontevrault, and Joan or Jeanne, who married Robert, count of Artois (one of the main characters in Maurice Druon's Les Rois Maudits series of novels). Catherine married the much older Philip of Taranto (1278-1331), one of the brothers of her father's first wife Marie of Anjou and Naples, whose first marriage to Thamar Angelina Komnena, great-niece of the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, was annulled in 1309 when Philip accused her of adultery with no fewer than forty noblemen.
- Blanche, queen of Germany and Holy Roman Empress (c. 1316/17-1348), third daughter of Charles de Valois and his third wife Mahaut. She is sometimes also called Marguerite. Her husband Charles or Karl, born Wenzel or Wenceslas (1316-1378), was elected king of Germany in 1346 and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1349. He was the son of John the Blind, king of Bohemia, who was killed fighting on the French side at the battle of Crécy in 1346, and Blanche was the first of his four wives. One of Blanche and Charles' daughters was queen of Hungary and Croatia. Richard II of England's queen Anne of Bohemia (1366-1394) was Charles IV's daughter with his fourth wife Elizabeth of Pomerania.
- Isabella, duchess of Bourbon (c. 1313-1388), second daughter of Charles and his third wife Mahaut. Isabella was the last survivor of all Charles' children, and his third daughter named Isabel or Isabella after his mother Isabel of Aragon, one with each wife (the other two were Marguerite of Anjou's daughter Isabella, duchess of Brittany, Charles de Valois' eldest child, c. 1292-1309, and Catherine de Courtenay's daughter Isabella, c. 1305-1349, abbess of Fontevrault). The youngest Isabella married Peter I, duke of Bourbon. Her daughter Jeanne (1338-1378) became queen consort of France via marriage to Charles V and was the mother of Charles VI (the Mad). Another of her daughters, Blanche, married King Pedro the Cruel of Castile in 1353 and was imprisoned by him within days of the wedding when he went off with his mistress Maria de Padilla, the mother of his daughters Constanza, duchess of Lancaster and Isabel, duchess of York.
A full list of Charles de Valois's children:
1) Isabella (1292-1309), married John III, duke of Brittany (no children)
2) Philip VI (1293-1350), king of France, married Joan of Burgundy
3) Joan (1294-1342), married William III, count of Hainault
4) Marguerite (1295-1342), married Guy I, count of Blois
5) Charles (1297-1346, killed at the battle of Crécy), count of Alençon, married Jeanne de Joigny and Marie de la Cerda
6) Catherine, born 1299, died young
7) John, count of Chartres (1302-1308)
8) Catherine (1303-1346), titular empress of Constantinople, married Philip of Taranto
9) Joan (1304-1363), married Robert III, count of Artois
10) Isabella (1305-1349), abbess of Fontevrault
11) Marie (1309-1332), married Charles, duke of Calabria
12) Isabella (1313-1388), married Peter I, duke of Bourbon
13) Blanche or Marguerite (1316/17-1348), married Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
14) Louis, count of Chartres (1318-1328).