Charles of Blois Biography

Duke, Emperor, Military Leader(c. 1319–1364)
Charles of Blois was a medieval Breton leader best known for his political and military participation in the Breton War of Succession.

Synopsis

Charles of Blois was born in Blois, France, c. 1319. Charles married Joan of Brittany in 1334, thereby becoming Duke of Brittany. He spent over two decades fighting to retain his title in the Breton War of Succession, which began in 1341. Charles died in a battle in Auray, France, on September 29, 1364. He was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1904.

Early Life and Piety

Charles was born in Blois, France, around 1319. His father was Guy I of Blois-Chatillon, the Count of Blois. His mother, Margaret of Valois, was the sister of King Philip VI. Charles was extremely devout, expressing his devotion in extreme ways. He placed pebbles in his shoes and wore knotted ropes under his clothes to keep himself in a state of constant discomfort. Charles also confessed every night so as to avoid sleeping in sin. The commitment he showed to God inspired loyalty and devotion in the soldiers at Charles' command.

Breton War of Succession

In 1337, Charles married Joan of Dreux—also known as Joan the Lame—who was the niece of Duke John III. The couple forged a political and military partnership. Together, they opposed the House of Montfort in the Breton War of Succession, fought between 1341 and 1364. The king of France supported their effort.

During the course of this extended conflict, Charles proved himself to be a ruthless military leader. He ordered the massacre of approximately 2,000 civilians after the siege of Quimper. In 1347, Charles was captured by English forces led by Thomas Dagworth. The English held him prisoner for nine years, ultimately releasing him in exchange for a large ransom.

Charles resumed his opposition to the Montforts following his release. He died in Auray, France, on September 29, 1364, during the Battle of Auray. His defeat in this battle decided the Breton War of Succession in favor of Montforts. The title of Duke of Brittany formally passed to the Montforts at that time.

Recognition Within the Church

Known for his piety, Charles was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church after his death. Duke John V of Brittany, Charles' opponent in the Breton War of Succession, contested the canonization. Pope Gregory XI nullified the process as a result of this objection. In 1904, Charles was beatified by the Church, earning the title "Blessed Charles of Blois." The Church established September 30 as his feast day.

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