This study explores the management and counsellorship of Charles VI of France from his first bout of insanity until the outbreak of the Armagnac-Burgundian civil war (c. 1392-1410). Despite Charles political ‘absences’, previous scholarship has maintained that the feuding dukes were the primary cause of the governmental instabilities. Geared more towards assessing the details relating to their endless struggle for power, the historiography has neglected to give an in-depth analysis of how these political manoeuvrings impacted the sovereignty of the king, or whether any attempts were made to protect it. Hoping to open up this field of investigation, this study sets forth how Charles’ closest courtiers failed to guide their king nor conserve his reputation, often due to their unabashed and corrupt desire to have supreme authority.
Integral to this discussion have been the chronicle accounts of the Monk of Saint-Denis and Froissart, as well as Pierre Salmon’s Dialogues, a manuscript that intended to advise Charles on good kingship. Through an close-analysis of these sources, this study examines how the perception of the king was heavily impacted by court events and rumours. In particular, the Ball of the Burning Men and the accusations against the Duke and Duchess of Orléans of conspiring to harm the king undermined Charles’ authority. Salmon’s advisory text reveals that whilst Burgundian rhetoric could be employed to aid the king, ultimately the factional divides could not be overcome, and Charles’ credibility was unsalvageable.
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