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Charles VII

Charles VII (Charles the Well Served), 1403–61, king of France (1422–61), son and successor of Charles VI. His reign saw the end of the Hundred Years War. Although excluded from the throne by the Treaty of Troyes, Charles took the royal title after his father's death (1422) and ruled S of the Loire, while John of Lancaster, duke of Bedford, who was regent for King Henry VI of England, controlled the north and Guienne (Aquitaine). Vacillating and easily influenced by corrupt favorites, particularly Georges de La Trémoille, Charles waged only perfunctory warfare against the English. He was prodded into action by the siege of Orléans (1429) in which Joan of Arc helped save the city from the English. After the capture of Orléans, Charles was crowned (1429) at Reims. He reverted to his earlier inactivity until 1433, when La Trémoille was replaced by more scrupulous and energetic advisers, such as the comte de Richemont (later Arthur III, duke of Brittany) and the comte de Dunois. In 1435, Charles agreed to the Treaty of Arras, which reconciled him with the powerful duke, Philip the Good of Burgundy, who had been an ally of the English. He recovered Paris the following year. In 1440, Charles suppressed the Praguerie, and in 1444 a truce was signed with England, which lasted until 1449. By the battle of Formigny and the capture of Cherbourg (1450) the English were expelled from Normandy, and the battle of Castillon (1453) resulted in their withdrawal from Guienne. Charles, although dominated by his mistress, Agnès Sorel, proved an able administrator. He reorganized the army and remodeled French finances, established heavy taxation, particularly through the taille, a direct land tax. In 1438, Charles issued the pragmatic sanction of Bourges, which established the liberty of the French Roman Catholic Church from Rome. In his reign commerce was expanded by the enterprise of Jacques Cœur. The end of Charles's rule was disturbed by the intrigues of the dauphin, who succeeded him as Louis XI.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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