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Future Charles VII of France Dead in 1422


Something I came across a while back but apparently during a visit to La Rochelle in October of 1422 the Dauphin was such a large draw that the floor of the room in the Bishop's palace where he was holding court collapsed due to the combined weight of all the people. Whilst he fell, unlike a large number of others who were seriously injured or killed, he was mostly unharmed. What happens if he's elsewhere in the room when the floor collapses or simply lands in an awkward manner and dies?

The accident occurred on the 11th of October, which is interesting as his father Charles VI died only ten days later on the 21st of October. In our timeline the Treaty of Troyes stated that the Crown of France was to pass to Henry V of England–disinheriting the Dauphin–or his son the future Henry VI if he pre-deceased Charles, who would be just over ten months old at the time. So that puts England under the regency government from 1422 to 1437. The Dauphin didn't marry Marie of Anjou until the 18th of December so that never happens and there's no future Louis XI. If the French denounce the treaty as illegitimate, as is likely, to get to the next in line to the throne you have to go back to Charles VI and via his younger brother Louis I of Orleans–who is dead–his sons Charles of Orleans and John of Angouleme. This presents a problem however as both were prisoners in England and neither had a male heir. If I'm reading things right–not impossible, no dead babyist I–then the next legitimate candidate after them is Louis III of Anjou via his grandfather Louis I as second son of John II of France.

It's all a glorious mess.
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At this point I think you can expect the Burgundians to make rumblings Reims-wise.
Oh very much so. I actually meant to mention them but forgot trying to keep everything straight. I mean if you're having to go back to John II then you've got his fourth son Philip the Bold, right behind Louis I thanks to John's third son John of Berry's son dying without heirs, lurking in the wings. Coincidentally Philip the Good's wife Michelle of Valois died three months earlier in July of 1422.


Champagne Socialist
Published by SLP
Never bloody trust a Burgundian. They’ll make alliances with foreign powers, they’ll claim ridiculous things about who Jean preferred on the throne when they made a complete hash of things, they’ll kill your Marmousets and your relatives and they’ll make up stupidly elaborate court rituals to compensate for their stupid parvenu inferiority complex.
They’re the worst and then they’ll go and ensure a century and a half of utter encirclement misery through the most bullshit inheritance jackpot of all times.
If Dauphin Charles (VII) dies just before his father King Charles VI in October 1422 and Henry V of England is already dead as in OTL, the English armies in France will be under the new regent for the part of the kingdom recognising England's Henry VI as heir, ie Duke John of Bedford. But he is in no position to fight a new French Valois challenger for control of the late Dauphin's lands yet, as his position in England is precarious thanks to the ambitions of the head of the regency council there, his and Henry's youngest brother Humphrey of Gloucester. Humphrey wants full royal powers as regent of England but the majority of the regency council there, led by the brothers' uncle Bishop Henry Beaufort, are resisting this - and H is less than reliable as an ally for Bedford and is unlikely to send him any English troops if he needs them to fight for the Dauphin's lands. So the power-play in the leaderless 'realm of Bourges', the Dauphin's lands, will be free from immediate English attack.

Technically, if the Orleans heir Duke Charles is ruled out as an English captive Duke Louis (III) or Anjou is heir to France as the Anjou line is next to the defunct line of Charles V and VI. The Berry line having died out, then comes Burgundy - so does Duke Philip make a play for the crown and go back on his oath to Henry V in 1420 as per the Treaty of Troyes? He managed to get the Church to annul his oaths to Henry V and VI in OTL 1435 so he could defect back to Charles VII once the latter appeared to be winning; he could do this in 1422 or 1423 too. Louis of Anjou, barely 20, is anyway in Naples seeking the crown of that kingdom from the ageing and childless Queen Joan II, and has got the worst of the struggle with her alternative heir King Alfonso of Aragon; he does not have the troops or money to come back quickly to France and launch a realistic bid for the throne. His teenage brother and heir Rene is even younger and currently away in Lorraine seeking a bride and lands there as its duke's ward.

Given Philip of Burgundy's ambitions and vast resources, he is the likeliest Valois prince to try to claim the vacant throne and send in his troops to seize the Dauphinist 'capital' and treasury, possibly as 'regent' for the absent Charles of Orleans if his initial soundings at the Dauphin's court indicate that his claiming the crown will meet overwhelming hostility. After all, the Dauphin's men stabbed Philip's father Duke John to death during a truce meeting on the bridge at Montereau in 1419, throwing Philip into an initially unwanted alliance with Henry V to get his revenge. If he takes over the Dauphinist court, he will be looking for the assassins and those behind them, and mass-executions are likely; the courtiers around the late 'Charles VII' will not want to throw themselves on Philip's mercy. Philip will probably also seek to hand over much of Charles' lands to his own allies to secure control of the region for a Burgundian loyalist courtier regime. Arguably,sooner than accept that the Bourges elite, with their Scots guards regiment and assorted routier commanders like La Hire and Orleans' half-brother the 'Bastard of Orleans'/ Dunois, would rather try to hold out on their own as a nominal regency regime for an alternative 'Charles VII' ie the captive Duke Charles of Orleans.

So we end up with an interesting multi-way battle of allegiances, that could easily turn into a messy civil war. It all depends on what Burgundy does - and if he gambles on defying the English and trying to take over the Dauphin's lands as 'King Philip VII' we could end up with the Bourges regime either breaking up or with part of its leadership having to grit their teeth and ask the English for help to save their own skins. Bedford would then be the kingmaker, with his smallish but lethal army backed up once the new regency in England is stable enough to hold a Parliament and raise money and troops - and he would be furious with Philip for violating his oaths. As he will only accept his nephew Henry VI as the legal King of France, he will try to force acceptance of this on the Bourges leadership - and logically his current hostage King James I of Scotland (only released to go home by Bedford in 1424 in OTL after being an English 'guest' since 1406) will be a crucial factor in establishing a link to the Scots commanders in the Bourges army, James' cousin John of Buchan and the earl of Douglas. So does Bedford agree to let James go home if he can win over Buchan and Douglas, and the latter's OTL employer the Dauphin is dead and has no son so they agree. There is an uneasy English-Bourges alliance against Burgundy, and a war follows - possibly with Bedford allowing the legal heir to France in French eyes, Charles of Orleans, to help out in France so that legalists will fight for him against 'usurper' Philip of Burgundy. The Anglo-Scots-Dauphinist army might then hold Burgundy back, but it will be too weak to defeat him decisively.
So we end up with another messy temporary truce around 1426, with two 'Kings of France' in one country and no permanent solution likely?Joan of Arc has no 'legitimate king' to crown unless she and her backers support Charles of Orleans in a revolt against the English regime; and once Rene of Anjou has got the heiress and resources of Lorraine (c.1430) he can add his ambitions to the mix. Given the extra strain of the war on the resources of 'English' France (Normandy, Paris, Guienne etc) plus a cost-conscious English regency, perhaps the English position would collapse if Charles of Orleans revolted with Angevin backing, particularly once Bedford is dead (1435 as in OTL).We end up with 'Charles VII' (Orleans) as king of France, reigning to 1465 when he died in OTL, but a deep division between Orleanist France and their Burgundian rivals - who in this scenario might try to 'go it alone' as an independent kingdom. And if England is fighting Burgundy not acting as its ally in the 1420s-30s, then Duke Humphrey could be allowed by Bedford and the Church to keep his legally questionable wife, duchess Jacqueline of Holland, not divorce her, to prise Holland away from Burgundian control. If he has Holland's resources, can her defeat his OTL rivals at Henry VI's court in the 1440s and avoid ruin and arrest in 1447?

(which won over the
It's possible that Bedford was infertile, as he had no children by either Anne of Burgundy (marriage lasted 10 years) or his second wife, Jacquetta of St Pol (marriage lasted one year, but she then had a dozen children by her second husband Sir Richard Woodville including Edward IV's queen). He might have had no children by any wife; but if he did marry differently and have children, a son born c.1425 would be Henry VI's heir from Bedford's death and in prime position to take over the role of leader of the anti-Suffolk/ Beaufort clique leader from Bedford's brother Humphrey in 1447. Arguably he would have attracted some of the elite power-seekers who in OTL gravitated to both York (as heir and the arch-critic of 'surrender' in France to 1453) and the Beauforts (as Lancastrian potential heirs to the King if their ban from the throne was legally annulled). Assuming him to have inherited Bedford's relative stability, honesty and capability as a general and administrator, he could have made a more appealing and less wayward candidate for the role of opposition leader than York, and attracted Lancastrian support too. If 'the second Duke of Bedford (Henry?)' had been forced eventually to challenge the King's men on the battlefield in 1453-5 - out of resistance by courtiers to his claim to be regent/ Protector for the 'insane' Henry and his baby son - he could still have made a major difference to the outcome of events compared to OTL, if he had not resorted to killings of the opposition leadership as York did at St Albans in 1455. Had he won but been more scrupulous than York, then the 'blood feud' element of the civil wars would have been less intense; and there is no guarantee that either the ambitious and hot-headed York or the coldly brutal Nevilles (Salisbury and his son Warwick) would have been prepared to fight for him.

The same sort of questions apply to the role of a son of Duke Humphrey, had the latter had a son by Jacqueline of Holland and their marriage had not been annulled, or a son of Humphrey by his second wife Eleanor Cobham (or an alternative and more socially acceptable noblewoman wife for him). Ditto a son of Bedford's late elder brother Duke Thomas of Clarence, had he not been killed by the French at Bauge in 1421 or had left a son.

An alternative Lancastrian marital plan for a Burgundian alliance had been set up by Henry V when he was prince of Wales and head of the ailing Henry IV's council in 1410-12 - for him to marry Anne of Burgundy. This was in OTL abandoned after his father's health improved and he and his courtier allies regained full power in 1412; Henry IV then planned to ally to the French 'Armagnac'/ Orleans faction against Burgundy instead. So if Henry V had held onto power in 1412 and married Anne, perhaps he would have had no children; and that way we have Bedford as an adult 'King John II' in 1422-35, then 'King Humphrey'. That completely removes the court struggles of Henry VI's reign, though not the problem of how to hold onto half of France and keep Burgundy loyal; and if Humphrey has no sons we would end up with York as King whenever Humphrey dies - which would probably be later than 1447 as in OTL Humphrey's demise was probably hastened by rage , depression, or less likely poison when he was arrested. Or do we get the Lancastrian 'hard-liners' who oppose York trying to put Edmund Beaufort , duke of Somerset, or his late elder brother 's daughter Lady Margaret B (born 1443) on the throne when Humphrey dies? In OTL, Henry VI's favourite the duke of Suffolk was accused of trying to marry off his small son to Lady Margaret and make them Henry's heirs in 1450; could the venal and greedy Suffolk try to do this when Humphrey dies to keep his enemy York off the throne?

Alternatively, if Henry IV's health does not collapse so spectacularly and he does not die in 1413, he could keep the English-Armagnac alliance going in 1413 - at least unless the French court leadership pushes King Charles VI into refusing H's demands for the return of all of Aquitaine to its full 1360 boundaries and talks collapse. If France is forced (by fear of a Burgundian coup or B-English linkup) to grant Henry's terms, then
Henry's son Henry (V) marries Catherine of Valois in an Anglo-French treaty c.1414 not 1420; so he would probably have an older son than in reality, or two sons, even if he dies in 1422. We might also avoid the OTl Agincourt war, but have Henry V as King extorting the rule of Normandy as a hereditary Duchy (to which he has more genealogical rights than any Valois prince) from Charles VI as his terms for an alliance against Burgundy. Another twist in the saga of mid-C15th English politics.
It would depend on how quickly the French elite could coalesce around one competent and acceptable candidate, I would guess. In OTL Charles of Orleans was an awkward and cautious character who never really made a major impact in France after his release by the English in 1440, but he was distrusted by the King (Charles VII) as a potential rebel against him, either on his own behalf (which would mean that Charles was seen as after the throne like his father duke Louis had been feared to be in the 1400s) or as leader of a coalition of rebel regional magnates to help C VII's son Louis (XI) depose his father. Charles had been out of politics as an English hostage for 15 years and was also seen as a potential English agent after his release, as the English regime wanted to use him to negotiate a long-term truce with Charles VII (ie one that let them keep Normandy and Maine and possibly a royal title for Henry VI) and act as their man at C's court. Had Orleans been released earlier and been co-opted by Bedford and/or Humphrey to help defeat a Burgundian takeover at Bourges, he could have had more experience, competence and support in the 1440s - as long as he had stronger and more ruthless generals to back him up, especially Dunois. As Orleans would be the legitimate heir and Philip of Burgundy would have had to protect his sprawling domains in the Low Countries and Alsace from English or Imperial German intervention with no natural borders (rivers or mountains) to help, I can't see him holding down the whole of the 'kingdom of Bourges' long-term - and if he had the luck to defeat Orleans, there is the threat of Rene of Anjou (now with Lorraine resources plus Provence and possibly some Naples mercenaries) intervening to attack him too. Probably Philip would have had to pull back his forces into 'core' Burgundy - and if he had managed to get himself crowned as 'Philip VII' this would entail complex talks about him recognising Charles of Orleans as king in return for keeping his 1420s gains (the upper Loire with the town of Orleans?).

If the English are hit by unwillingness in Parliament for the elite to keep on pumping men and money into France (and the Treaty of Troyes in 1420 had made it clear that the two countries were separate realms so England did not have to fund Henry V or Bedford to defend France), even capable and well-respected administrator Bedford or mercurial and war-ready but blundering Humphrey could not keep supplying an adequate army in France long-term. Unless they can win over the elite of the Bourges realm (eg with Charles of Orleans as a puppet governor promised the French crown once Henry VI dies,or out of fear by the elite there of a Burgundian takeover) a long war will exhaust the English part of France fairly quickly, and once Bedford or Humphrey dies a swift collapse is quite likely. A truce between England and Burgundy born out of exhaustion in the 1430s is possible, but not a long-term solution. Possibly the English regime in Paris will collapse once Bedford is dead provided that he has no competent son to take over from him and the English government falls into faction as in OTL - so we get Charles of Orleans as king of most of France by c.1442-5 but too weak to stop the English retaining Normandy and allied Brittany for another few decades. A capable King of England (a son of Bedford or Humphrey?) who has not wasted his money on patronage and favourites, or Henry VI's building-projects, could then wisely develop more artillery quicker and regularise his army into regiments like Charles VII did in OTL, and hold onto Normandy.

But if the English lose Normandy to a resurgent France and a son of Bedford or Humphrey, or York, is not backed up adequately and has to flee to England, would they be tempted to start a civil war in England if the OTL course of events sees Henry VI mentally catatonic in 1453 with only a baby as his heir? An inter-Lancastrian struggle follows between Bedford's son/ Humphrey's son and the Beauforts, with York taking on the winner?