18 June, 2016

18 June 1294: Birth of Charles IV of France, the Last Capetian King

Today is the 722nd anniversary of the birth of Edward II's brother-in-law Charles IV, king of France and Navarre (and also the 698th anniversary of Charles' niece, Edward and Isabella's elder daughter Eleanor of Woodstock, on 18 June 1318). Charles was the third son of Philip IV, king of France, and Joan I, queen of Navarre: the first son Louis X was born on 4 October 1289, and the second son Philip V in c. 1291. Charles was about eighteen months older than his sister Isabella, queen of England, who was probably born in late 1295. He was ten years younger than his brother-in-law Edward II, with whom he was not on good terms.

Charles married firstly, in January 1308 just before Isabella married Edward II, Blanche of Burgundy. She was the younger daughter of Othon IV, count palatine of Burgundy, and Mahaut, countess of Artois; her elder sister Jeanne or Joan was married to Charles' brother Philip. Charles and Blanche had two children who both died young, and Blanche was imprisoned in 1314 after the adultery scandal which her sister-in-law Queen Isabella may have exposed to her father. Charles remained shackled to Blanche until 1322, a few months after he succeeded his brother Philip V as king of France and Navarre, at which point it was suddenly and perhaps rather miraculously discovered that Blanche's mother Mahaut of Artois was in fact Charles' godmother, which made their marriage invalid as there had been a pre-existing impediment. Hmmm, you might think someone would have known that before, no? Anyway, within days of the annulment Charles married his second wife Marie of Luxembourg, daughter of Henry of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor, niece of Edward II's brother-in-law Duke John II of Brabant, sister of John 'the Blind', king of Bohemia, and sister-in-law of Karoly, king of Hungary. Queen Marie died in March 1324 after miscarrying a baby boy. Desperate for a son and heir, on 5 July 1324 Charles IV married his first cousin Jeanne of Evreux, whose father Louis, count of Evreux was his father Philip IV's half-brother. Charles and Jeanne had three daughters, of whom two died young; Charles' posthumous daughter Blanche, born on 1 April 1328 exactly two months after his death, married Philip, duke of Orleans. Charles' successor was his first cousin Philip de Valois, King Philip VI.

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