Friday, June 5, 2009

The Insanity of Charles VI

The Constable, Clisson, was much hated by the Duke of Brittany, and an attack which was made on him in the streets of Paris was clearly traced to Montfort. The young king, who was much attached to Clisson, set forth to exact punishment. On his way, a madman rushed out of a forest and called out, "King, you are betrayed!" Charles was much frightened, and further seems to have had a sunstroke, for he at once became insane. He recovered for a time; but at Christmas, while he and five others were dancing, disguised as wild men, their garments of pitched flax caught fire. Four were burnt, and the shock brought back the king's madness.

He became subject to fits of insanity of longer or shorter duration, and in their intervals he seems to have been almost imbecile. No provision had then been made for the contingency of a mad king. The condition of the country became worse than ever, and power was grasped at by whoever could obtain it. Of the king's three uncles, the Duke of Anjou and his sons were generally engrossed by a vain struggle to obtain Naples; the Duke of Berry was dull and weak; and the chief struggle for influence was between Philip of Burgundy and his son, John the Fearless, on the one hand, and on the other the king's wife, Isabel of Bavaria, and his brother Louis, Duke of Orleans, who was suspected of being her lover; while the unhappy king and his little children were left in a wretched state, often scarcely provided with clothes or food.

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