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Bourbon Charles

Bourbon, Charles, Duke of, commonly called the Constable de Bourbon, Count of Montpensier and la Marche, warrior and adventurer (1490-1527). By birth the second son of the Count of Montpensier, he became possessed, first by the death of his eldest brother, and second by a marriage with his cousin, Suzanne de Bourbon, of the immense property of the Bourbons, including, among other parts, Bourbonnais, half of Auvergne, la Marche, and Beaujolais. Beginning his life of a soldier as the companion in arms of Bayard, he lived to receive Bayard's dying reproaches for having deserted his country. It was his courage and coolness that chiefly contributed the victory of Agnadel (1513) and saved Burgundy from the Swiss. For this victory Francis I. made him Constable. In 1515 his almost mad courage gained for him the governorship of Milan and Lombardy. Soon after, for some cause or other, whether, as some say, for being a rival in love of the king, or whether, as others say, for disdaining the love of Louise of Savoy (the queen-mother) he fell into disfavour, and the king heaped many slights upon him. Things went from bad to worse, till at last, when Louise of Savoy laid claim to the possession of the Bourbons, he began to intrigue with Charles V., asking in marriage the hand of Eleanor, the Emperor's sister, and offering his aid in the invasion of France. His treachery was discovered, and in 1523, instead of arriving in Germany as an important general, he reached it as a fugitive. The Emperor, however, gave him the post of lieutenant-general, and sent him to Italy, where he defeated and drove out the French under Bonnivet. It was at this point that he received the reproaches of the dying Bayard. He went on his course, and had a great share in the victory of Pavia - so disastrous to Francis I., and then, perhaps thinking himself neglected, started a war on his own account in Italy, in order to make himself King of Milan. Played with on all sides - by the Spanish, by the Emperor, by Francis I. - he became desperate, and getting together an army of free-lances - such as we read of in Bulwer Lytton's Rienzi - he attacked Rome and was mortally wounded, it is said by Benvenuto Cellini, in the assault. His comrades buried him at Gaeta. An edict of parliament at Paris branded his memory, ordered his possessions to be forfeited, and his house to be painted yellow - the traitor's colour. Charles V. had gratitude enough to insist, in the treaty of Cambrai, on a part of this sentence being remitted.