A Most Unusual Writer’s Life | Charles, Duke of Orléans (b. 1394–d. 1465)
In 1406, Charles and his first wife and cousin were married. He was twelve, and she was seventeen and already a widow. She died of childbirth three years later. He remarried in 1410. His marriage to Bonne d'Armagnac was short-circuited by his incarceration in 1415 after the Battle of Agincourt by the British and was still in custody when she died, sometime between 1430-35.
The poem he wrote to her during his captivity of twenty-five years is one of the first known poems to use the word “Valentine” for a beloved. During this incarceration, he wrote over five hundred poems in French and English. Charles, Duke of Orléans, was not the first political prisoner to become a famous writer while imprisoned. His life as a writer was certainly not typical, but unlike some, ended happily.
Here is an English translation of the original French Poem.
A Farewell to Love I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine, Since for me you were born too late, And I for you was born too soon. God forgives him who has estranged Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine. Well might I have suspected That such a destiny, Thus would have happened this day, How much that Love would have commanded.
I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine.
On his return to France in 1440, he remarried for a third time to Marie of Cleves, 24 and he was 32 years her senior. Although there were no children for seventeen years, the couple had a good life together, as Marie was a patron of letters and a poet in her own right. They entertained many of the famous writers of that time. Three children were born: Marie of Orleans in 1457, Louis XII of France in 1462, and Anne of Orleans in 1465.