Charles De Valois, Duke Of Angoulême (1573-1650), the natural son of Charles IX. of France and Marie Touchet, was born on the 28th of April 1573, at the castle of Fayet in Dauphiné. His father dying in the following year, commended him to the care and favour of his brother and successor, Henry III., who faithfully fulfilled the charge. His mother married François de Balzac, marquis d'Entragues, and one of her daughters, Henriette, marchioness of Verneuil, afterwards became the mistress of Henry IV. Charles of Valois, was carefully educated, and was destined for the order of Malta. At the early age of sixteen he attained one of the highest dignities of the order, being made grand prior of France. Shortly after he came into possession of large estates left by Catherine de' Medici, from one of which he took his title of count of Auvergne. In 1591 he obtained a dispensation from the vows of the order of Malta, and married Charlotte, daughter of Henry, Marshal d'Amville, afterwards duke of Montmorency. In 1589 Henry III. was assassinated, but on his deathbed he commended Charles to the good-will of his successor Henry IV. By that monarch he was made colonel of horse, and in that capacity served in the campaigns during the early part of the reign.
But the connexion between the king and the marchioness of Verneuil appears to have been very displeasing to Auvergne, and in 1601 he engaged in the conspiracy formed by the dukes of Savoy, Biron and Bouillon, one of the objects of which was to force Henry to repudiate his wife and marry the marchioness. The conspiracy was discovered; Biron and Auvergne were arrested and Biron was executed. Auvergne after a few months' imprisonment was released, chiefly through the influence of his half-sister, his aunt, the duchess of Angouleme and his father-in-law. He then entered into fresh intrigues with the court of Spain, acting in concert with the marchioness of Verneuil and her father d'Entragues. In 1604 d'Entragues and he were arrested and condemned to death; at the same time the marchioness was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in a convent. She easily obtained pardon, and the sentence of death against the other two was commuted into perpetual imprisonment. Auvergne remained in the Bastille for eleven years, from 1605 to 1616. A decree of the parlement (1606), obtained by Marguerite de Valois, deprived him of nearly all his possessions, including Auvergne, though he still retained the title.
In 1616 he was released, was restored to his rank of colonel-general of horse, and despatched against one of the disaffected nobles, the duke of Longueville, who had taken Péronne. Next year he commanded the forces collected in the île de France, and obtained some successes. In 1619 he received by bequest, ratified in 1620 by royal grant, the duchy of Angoulême. Soon after he was engaged on an important embassy to Germany, the result of which was the treaty of Ulm, signed July 1620. In 1627 he commanded the large forces assembled at the siege of La Rochelle; and some years after in 1635, during the Thirty Years' War, he was general of the French army in Lorraine. In 1636 he was made lieutenant-general of the army. He appears to have retired from public life shortly after the death of Richelieu in 1643. His first wife died in 1636, and in 1644 he married Francoise de Narbonne, daughter of Charles, baron of Mareuil. She had no children and survived her husband until 1713. Angouleme himself died on the 24th of September 1650. By his first wife he had three children: Henri, who became insane; Louis Emmanuel, who succeeded his father as duke of Angoulême and was colonel-general of light cavalry and governor of Provence; and Françoise, who died in 1622.
The duke was the author of the following works: - (i)Mémoires, from the assassination of Henri III. to the battle of Arques (1589-1593) published at Paris by Boneau, and reprinted by Buchon in his Choix de chroniques (1836) and by Petitot in his Mémoires (1st series, vol. xliv.); (2) Les Harangues, prononcés en assemblée de MM. les princes protestants d'Allemagne, par Monseigneur le duc d' Angoulême (1620); (3) a translation of a Spanish work by Diego de Torres. To him has also been ascribed the work, La générale et fidèle Rélation de tout ce qui s'est passé en l'isle de Ré, envoyée par le roi à la royne sa mère (Paris, 1627).