Charles, Duke of Brittany

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Blessed Charles of Blois-Châtillon
Duke of Brittany
Reign30 April 1341 – 29 September 1364
PredecessorJohn III
SuccessorJohn IV
Bornc. 1319
Blois (France)
Died29 September 1364 (aged 44–45)
SpouseJoanna, Duchess of Brittany
IssueJohn I, Count of Penthièvre
Marie, Lady of Guise
Margaret, Countess of Angoulême
HouseHouse of Blois
FatherGuy I of Blois-Châtillon
MotherMargaret of Valois
Charles de Châtillon
Duke of Britanny
Patron of Europe
Venerated inRoman Catholicism
Beatified1904 by Pope Pius X
Canonized1364 (annulled) by Pope Urban V
Feast29 September (General Roman Calendar)
Patronage-Army soldiers
-Agricultural workers

Charles of Blois-Châtillon (1319 – 29 September 1364) "the Saint", was the legalist Duke of Brittany from 1341 to his death via his marriage to Joan of Penthiève, holding the title against the claims of John of Montfort. He was later canonized as a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church for his devotion to religion. This canonization was later annulled, although he remains beatified.


Charles was born in Blois, son of Guy de Châtillon, count of Blois, by Margaret of Valois, a sister of king Philip VI of France. A devout ascetic from an early age, he showed interest in religious books but was forbidden from reading them by his father, as they did not seem appropriate to his position as a knight.[1] As he grew older, Charles took piety to the extreme of mortifying his own flesh.[2] It is said that he placed pebbles in his shoes, wore ropes tight with knots near his flesh,[citation needed] slept on straw instead of a bed, confessed every night in fear of sleeping in a state of sin, and wore a cilice under his armor in battle. He was nevertheless an accomplished military leader, who inspired loyalty by his religious fervour.[1]

On 4 June 1337 in Paris, he married Joanna of Penthièvre, heiress and niece of duke John III.[3][1] Together, Charles and Joanna de Châtillon fought the House of Montfort in the Breton War of Succession (1341–1364), with the support of the crown of France.[1] Despite his piety, Charles did not hesitate in ordering the massacre of 1400 civilians after the siege of Quimper.[4] After initial successes, Charles was taken prisoner by the English in 1347.[1] His official captor was Thomas Dagworth.[5]

He stayed nine years as prisoner in the Kingdom of England. During that time, he used to visit English graveyards, where he prayed and recited Psalm 130 much to the chagrin of his own squire. When Charles asked the squire to take part in the prayer, the younger man refused, saying that the men who were buried at the English graveyards had killed his parents and friends and burned their houses.[1]

Charles was released against a ransom of about half a million écus in 1356.[6] Upon returning to France, he decided to travel barefoot in winter from La Roche-Derrien to Tréguier Cathedral out of devotion to Saint Ivo of Kermartin. When the common people heard of his plan, they placed straw and blankets on the street, but Charles promptly took another way. His feet became so sore that he could not walk for 15 weeks.[1] He then resumed the war against the Montforts.[6] Charles was eventually killed in combat during the Battle of Auray in 1364, which with the second treaty of Guerande in 1381, determined the end of the Breton War of Succession as a victory for the Montforts.[6]


By his marriage to Joanna, he had five children:

According to Froissart's Chronicles, Charles also had an illegitimate child, John of Blois, who died in the Battle of Auray. Considering Charles' extreme piety, historian Johan Huizinga regarded it unlikely that Charles actually had a child born outside marriage and that Jean Froissart was probably mistaken in identifying John as Charles' son.[2]


After his death, his family successfully lobbied for his canonization as a Saint of the Roman Catholic church for his devotion to religion.[2] The canonization process was nullified by Pope Gregory XI at the request of Duke John IV of Brittany, Charles' final opponent in the Breton War of Succession and the recognized Duke of Brittany under the first Treaty of Guerande.

Subsequently, in 1904, Charles de Châtillon was beatified and therefore may be referred to as the Blessed Charles of Blois. His Roman Catholic Feast Day is 30 September.[a][permanent dead link]

See also


  1. ^ See the Franciscan Description of the Blessed Charles of Blois


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Huizinga (2016), p. 289.
  2. ^ a b c Huizinga (2016), p. 290.
  3. ^ Prestwich 1993, p. 174.
  4. ^ Sumption 1999, p. 434.
  5. ^ Jones 1988, p. 265.
  6. ^ a b c Autrand 2000, p. 441.
  7. ^ Bruel 1905, p. 198.


  • Autrand, Francoise (2000). "France under Charles V and Charles VI". In Jones, Michael (ed.). The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 6, C.1300-c.1415. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bruel, François-L. (1905). "Inventaire de meubles et de titres trouvés au château de Josselin à la mort du connétable de Clisson (1407)". Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes. Librairie Droz (66).
  • Huizinga, Johan (2016) [1st pub. 1919]. Herbst des Mittelalters [The Autumn of the Middle Ages] (in German). Translated by Kurt Köster (4th ed.). Stuttgart: Reclam. ISBN 978-3-15-020366-8.
  • Jones, Michael (1988). Creation of Brittany: A Late Medieval State. The Hambledon Press.
  • Prestwich, Michael (1993). The Three Edwards: War and State in England, 1272-1377. Routledge.
  • Sumption, Jonathan (1999). The Hundred Years War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle. Faber & Faber.

External links

Charles, Duke of Brittany
Born: 1319 Died: 1364
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John III
Duke of Brittany jure uxoris
With: Joan
disputed by John of Montfort and John IV
Succeeded by
John IV
Preceded by
as sole countess
Count of Penthièvre jure uxoris
With: Joan
Succeeded by
as sole countess
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