History’s Worst Kings: Charles The Mad

Published June 7, 2015
Updated July 20, 2017
Published June 7, 2015
Updated July 20, 2017

And Worse

King Charles VI Medieval

Source: IMG Kid

During Charles’ reign, the affairs of France unsurprisingly went to hell. The treasury was empty, despite the crushing taxes, the war was going as badly as it possibly could, and forces were gathering to pull the plug on the king.

Medieval politics have a way of being absurdly complicated. To get a reasonably accurate picture of the maneuvering going on all around Charles, try binge-watching Game of Thrones dubbed in French. Basically, Charles’ weakness encouraged every ambitious murderer in what was left of the country to wring the other murderers’ necks, actually starting a full-scale civil war, while the English laughed and occupied whichever parts of France looked worth invading.

Charles VI, once known as Charles the Beloved, later known as Charles the Mad, died of what were probably natural causes in 1422, at the age of 61. Fittingly, given the general chaos, two of his descendants were crowned to replace him, as was – of all people – the infant King of England. At the time, Joan of Arc was 10 years old, so France got its hero after all.

Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.