Charles VI., the Mad, or the Beloved, the fourth king of the family of Valois, born in Paris, Dec. 3, 1368, died' Oct. 21, 1422. The son of Charles the Wise, he was but 11 years old when his father died; and his uncles, the dukes of Anjou, Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon, undertook to reign in his name. A general rebellion broke out against their oppressive administration, especially in Paris, where the insurgents were called Maillotim, from the mallets with which they were armed. Charles was taken by the duke of Burgundy to Flanders, and Avon, Nov. 27, 1382, the buttle of Roosebeke. This success resulted in the temporary submission of the great cities of France. The king's uncles availed themselves of this opportunity to levy new taxes upon the people, but Charles dismissed them in 1388, declaring that he intended to govern for himself; and for several years, at least, France enjoyed under his rule a wise and mild administration, which secured for the young king a popular affection which even subsequent misfortunes failed to obliterate.
In 1392 Charles, while marching against the duke of Brittany, was violently frightened by the sudden appearance of a ragged maniac, who stopped his horse and cried: "Do not proceed further, noble king; you are betrayed." This overpowered his already weak mind, and he fell into a state of derangement, which was the next year aggravated by his running the risk of being burned alive at a masquerade ball. Henceforth he was disabled from attending to the duties of his position; and his uncles again seized the reins of government, the duke of Burgundy managing to secure his own ascendancy. The king's brother, Duke Louis of Orleans, soon attempted to snatch the power from his hands, and two opposite parties, Orleanists and Bur-gundians, arose to divide the court and the nation. The contest grew fiercer when John the Fearless of Burgundy succeeded his father, Philip the Bold, and his hatred toward his cousin of Orleans could only be gratified by causing the latter to be murdered,'Nov. 23, 1407. The count of Armagnac, the leader of a formidable soldiery from the south of France, at once espoused the cause of Orleans, and henceforth this faction was called by the name of Armagnacs. Civil war commenced between these and the Burgundians, and the unfortunate king was entirely neglected and left to the care of menials; while his wife, Isabella of Bavaria, whom he had married in July, 1385, gave herself up to amours and political intrigues.
The daughter of a horse dealer, Odette de Champ-divers, sometimes styled the little queen from having been his mistress, was almost the only one who brought any consolation to the king's distracted mind. During his lucid intervals he had sense enough to sympathize with the misfortunes of France. The condition of the country was becoming worse every day, when a new enemy appeared in the person of Henry V. of England, who, landing on the coast of Normandy, gained a victory over the French at Agincourt, Oct. 25, 1415, as complete as those of Crecy and Poitiers. France was everywhere given up to pillage, murder, fighting, and bloodshed. At the end of four years there seemed to be a lull, and negotiations were entered into; but the treacherous murder of John the Fearless, perpetrated in the presence of the dauphin Charles, Sept. 10, 1419, gave anew impetus to the civil war. Philip the Good, son of John the Fearless, eager to avenge his father's death, concluded a treaty at Troyes Mav 21, 1420, with the treacherous wife of Charles and Henry V. of England, in virtue of which the latter received the hand of the king's daughter Catharine, with the regency of France for the present and the assurance of succeeding to the throne after the king's death.
In all these transactions the unfortunate prince had of course nothing to do, except to sanction them by his presence or signature. Henry V. did not long enjoy his prospect of grandeur, dying Aug. 31, 1422. Charles himself died shortly afterward, leaving most of France in English hands.