Saturday, February 12, 2011

Charles d'Orleans, The Romantic Duke

By: Stephanie Burkhart

One of the earliest Valentine's ever wrote for which we still have a record of was by the Duke of Orléans, Charles Valois. His story is one that touches my heart and his poetry is very moving.

Charles was born in Paris in November 1394 and became the Duke when his father, Louis, was murdered on the orders of John, Duke of Burgundy, a rival nobleman.

Charles is best remembered as a poet, writing over 500 poems. Most of these were written when he was a prisoner of war.

Charles was 14 when his father passed and he became the Duke. He was young and impressionable, and fell under his father-in-law's influence, the Count of Armagnac.

Charles's first wife was Isabella of Valois (a daughter of French King Charles VI) He loved her dearly, but she died in childbirth. In 1410, he married Bonnie d'Armagnac, Count d'Armagnac's daughter.

In 1415, Charles was taken a prisoner of war in the Battle of Agincourt. He was 21. Henry V of England took him to the Tower of London were Charles composed most of his poetry. Charles was in captivity for over 24 years (he was in the line for the French throne and England didn't want to give him up.) With nothing better to do, Charles wrote.

Most of his poetry was for his wife, Bonnie, but she died before he was released. He was let out in 1440 at the age of 46 and married a third time. His son from his third marriage, became Louis XII. His poems are mostly French Rondeaus, a two line rhythm and are usually about love and the spring time.

Charles's Valentine in the original French:

Je suis desja d'amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée

Rondeau VI, lines 1-2.

Here's another of Charles' poem in English:

(To his Mistress, to succor his heart that is beleaguered by jealousy)

Strengthen, my Love, this castle of my heart,
And with some store of pleasure give me aid,
For Jealousy, with all them of his part,
Strong siege about the weary tower has laid.

Nay, if to break his bands thou art afraid,
Too weak to make his cruel force depart,
Strengthen at least this castle of my heart,
And with some store of pleasure give me aid.

Nay, let not Jealousy, for all his art
Be master, and the tower in ruin laid,
That still, ah Love! Thy gracious rule obeyed.

Advance, and give me succor of they part;
Strengthen, my Love, this castle of my heart.

Enjoy your Valentine's Day weekend!


Redameter said...

The man knew how to use jail time, didn't he. And he obviously never gave up as he married three times.

What an interesting character.

Love and blessings

StephB said...

He was definately a character! He embodied medievel romance, I think.


Maggie Toussaint said...

Gracious! I can't imagine being able to write lovely poems like this in captivity. He was a rock.

Enjoyed it, Steph!


Savanna Kougar said...

Steph, fascinating. I don't think I ever ran across Charles d'Orleans before... of course, if you're locked up, writing could help escape the reality. I hope it did for him.

alym said...

What a sad story! He sounds like a true romantic.

StephB said...

I writing did help him escape the boredon being locked up. His story is much like that of the guy named Valentine who fell in love with his jailor's daughter, pehaps that's what he was thinking when he wrote.

Thanks all for popping in.