|King of France|
|Reign||19th June, 1210 - 4th October, 1225|
|Died||4th October, 1225 |
|Spouse||Amata of Bigorre|
|Mother||Eleanor of Marseilles|
Charles V, Charles the Unfortunate, was king of France during the early 13th century. His reign would prove utterly disastrous militarily and severely stunted France's expansion.
Barely 11 when his father died Charles not only inherited an ongoing war in Northern Francia but also the promise to crusade against the heretical Cathars in Southern Francia. Dealing with both conflicts would have taxed the most capable of military minds and France simply did not have the leadership to do both at once.
With Wessex pressing its claims to Normandy close to Paris the French nobles simply took the crusading cross and then continued the fight Saxon forces. The Papacy was impatient, and by 1211 completely outraged, but the pope directed his ire at Wessex. The king of Wessex, Theobald, refused to sign a peace treaty, or allow his nobles to join the crusade, but directed his armies to pull back from the French border, attacking other targets in Maine instead. With their lands safe for the moment the French crusaders marched south to join up with Aquitanian allies and Albigensian War began in earnest.
With five years of war France was tired and its armies were not in the best shape. Others however had had plenty of time to prepare. The Cathar lords, or at least the lords harbouring Cathars, were technically within Aragon's sphere of influence and, looking to cement their hold over the Languedoc, Peter II and James I were more than willing to face down a papal ban. They were supported in this potentially foolhardy position by Auvergne to the North, already in the papacy's bad books and utterly opposed to French authority in southern Francia. Auvergne duly mauled the pride of the French knights as they attempted to traverse the duchy, arguing that it did not recognise the Capet's dynasty's right to rule anyway, earning Duke William IX a place in Dante's Inferno in the process. Skirting around its edges, the French met up with Aquitanians then headed into the County of Toulouse where the entire host was defeated by an Aragonese-Tolosan army.
The weight of the French army was enough to shrug off the defeat to a degree and they captured a few castles wiping out the Cathar presence along with the entire population of cities in several areas of Toulouse however the force was blunted and even when Charles, now of age, joined a considerable reinforcement in 1217 they got nowhere. In 1218 the crusade came to a halt as James I made a deal with the papacy to root out heresy. The French slunk home with nothing to show for war the except the infamy of massacres at Agen and Casseneuil. There were more important events happening closer to home anyway.
The same age as Charles V, Henry of Normandy was far more militarily experienced and in 1214 he inherited Wessex, swiftly imprisoning his mother Matilda for 'treason' to get her out of the way. The same year he offered an olive branch to Conan V of Brittany and they jointly attacked Maine, pushing what French presence remained in the North out. Unable to effectively campaign against both enemies, Charles removed Brittany from the equation by agreeing to all Conan's land-seizures and dangling the promise of all of Maine. By 1218 Conan had reaffirmed his peace with France and was busy attacking Wessex once more. Wessex was on the backfoot once more with baronial revolts causing Henry II misery at home. However the 2nd Battle of Dreux in 1224 reversed whatever advantages France had secured since 1218.
Charles would die in 1225 only a week after his mariage to Amata of Bigorre (it is said he drank too much at the celebrations and died of a hemorrhage). The throne would pass to his brother Louis.