Charles VII

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Charles VII (1974)

French Monarchs Series

By M.G.A. Vale (1942-  )

(Malcolm Vale)

Lecturer in History, University of York (1974)

Currently Emeritus Research Fellow in Modern History,

St. Johns College Oxford

Editor: Miriam Hodgson (?)

Charles VII was published by Eyre Methuen and University of California Press in hardback in 1974.

This book is a cousin of the English Monarchs series. Methuen tentatively commenced a series on French monarchs but sadly this seems to be both the first and the last of the line. As such it is a curio and worth bringing to the attention of English Monarchs readers and collectors. Although this is a volume of only 233 pages of text plus the requisite bibliography and index, is an account of this French king and the middle of the 15th Century, concentrating on the court and the personalities surrounding the king rather than the politics of the reign.

Henry VI of England and Charles VII of France reigned in opposition and in parallel. The length of their reigns were almost identical to the month, from 1422 to 1461 (although Henry returned for a brief encore). This book then would have been a perfect commencement to the French Monarchs series and compliments the English Monarchs titles covering the 15th Century. The different perspective it gives on this period of the Hundred Years war, where France rallies against the invader, provides the reader with a wonderfully full account of both countries during this difficult time.

It is, however, more of an account of the person and the court rather than the nation. The author sets out his purpose in the preface to “ a peculiarly enigmatic medieval king by using the evidence in a rather more selective fashion [compared with a conventional biography]”. He is unapologetic about his use of Charles, the one who held power, as the focus of the book and in that measure it is more in the nature of a popular history. It dwells on the politics and intrigue of the court with the English presence in France as a backdrop. It is in summary a clear and engaging account of the king’s long reign, focusing on significant events rather than one continuous narrative. Students of the period will be rewarded for the effort. It remains, after forty years since it was issued, the only biography in English of this monarch.

Malcolm Graham Allan Vale was Lecturer in History at the University of York at the time of the book’s release. Dr. Vale would subsequently be posted as Tutor in Medieval History at St. John's College Oxford, and would write ‘Henry V: The Conscience of a King’ for Yale (2016), again in his area of speciality.

Miriam Hodgson is credited here as the editor of this work. She is the Methuen representative thanked by the author in the Preface for seeing the book to publication. Who knows what she might have produced as a Series Editor for the Methuen French Monarchs series!

This might also be the place to refer those researching the so called “Hundred Years War” to the series of books by Jonathan Sumption (1990-  ). The fifth and final volume in this epic set should be out in a few years.

This was the only title attributed to the Methuen French Monarchs series. To continue seeing a sample of what the series might have looked like had it continued with books from the English Monarchs publishers use the link at the top for Louis XIII, or go back to Henry VI to resume the journey of contemporary English Monarchs titles.

To continue seeing a construction of what a French Monarchs series might have looked like had it continued with books from the English Monarchs publishers use the link at the top for Francis I, or go to Henry VI to resume the journey of contemporary English Monarchs titles.

Buy the California edition from Amazon USA or ABE

Buy the Methuen edition from Amazon UK or ABE

ISBN data:

Methuen Hardback - 9780413280800

UC Hardback - 9780520027879

Buy the book from ABE

Methuen Hardback 1974

Welcome to the detour looking at a "French Monarchs" series