Charles Orlando, Dauphin of France
Charles Orlando, Dauphin of France (11 October 1492 – 16 December 1495) was the eldest son and heir of Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

 and Anne of Brittany
Anne of Brittany
Anne, Duchess of Brittany , also known as Anna of Brittany , was a Breton ruler, who was to become queen to two successive French kings. She was born in Nantes, Brittany, and was the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix. Her maternal grandparents were Queen Eleanor of...


The marriage of Charles and Anne had been celebrated in December 1491, less than a year before the Dauphin's birth. It had begun unhappily, with the new Queen resenting the marriage forced upon her and the political dominance of her sister-in-law, Anne, Duchess of Bourbon
Anne of France
Anne of France was the eldest daughter of Louis XI of France and his second wife, Charlotte of Savoy. Anne was the sister of King Charles VIII of France, for whom she acted as regent during his minority; and of Joan of France, who was briefly queen consort to Louis XII...

. Her pregnancy was thus greeted with special joy by her, as well as by the King and the people, for the depleted elder branch of the House of Valois depended on a male heir. Accordingly, Anne spent her pregnancy at ease, given the devoted attention of her husband who ensured that she would not be tired out or subject to unnecessary travel. In the autumn of 1492, the King and Queen went to the château of Plessis-lès-Tours where all was prepared for the birth of the hoped-for boy.

The Queen went into labour on the night of 10 October and was swiftly attended to by the royal doctors and midwives. With her was Charles who, much to the annoyance of those around, soon lost his calm due to anxiety. However, all went well, and at 4 o'clock in the morning, the Queen gave birth to a robust and well-formed boy who was automatically Dauphin of France.

The Dauphin was immediately the subject of controversy. His parents and his godmother, Jeanne de Laval, widow of King René I of Naples
René I of Naples
René of Anjou , also known as René I of Naples and Good King René , was Duke of Anjou, Count of Provence , Count of Piedmont, Duke of Bar , Duke of Lorraine , King of Naples , titular King of Jerusalem...

, wanted to name him Orlando , after Roland
Roland was a Frankish military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. Historically, Roland was military governor of the Breton March, with responsibility for defending the frontier of Francia against the Bretons...

 the Carolingian hero of The Song of Roland
The Song of Roland
The Song of Roland is the oldest surviving major work of French literature. It exists in various manuscript versions which testify to its enormous and enduring popularity in the 12th to 14th centuries...

whose name was rendered thus in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

. The name had been suggested to them by François of Paule
Francis of Paola
Saint Francis of Paola was an Italian mendicant friar and the founder of the Roman Catholic Order of the Minims.-Biography:...

, a hermit and preacher in whom they had confidence. However, the godfathers (Louis, Duke of Orléans
Louis XII of France
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

, the next in line for the throne, and Peter II, Duke of Bourbon
Peter II, Duke of Bourbon
Peter II, Duke of Bourbon was the son of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon and Agnes of Burgundy, and a member of the House of Bourbon...

) flatly refused to allow a future king of France to be given such a foreign name and begged for him to be named instead after his ancestors: Louis, or Philippe, or Charles.

Finally, after three days of dispute, a compromise was reached: the Dauphin would be named Charles Orland in the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, and Orlandus Carolus in Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. This settled, the baptism was held on 13 October. The Dauphin, clad in cloth of gold, was carried into the Church of Saint Jean of Plessisour by Jean IV of Châlon, Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange
Prince of Orange is a title of nobility, originally associated with the Principality of Orange, in what is now southern France. In French it is la Principauté d'Orange....

, and was baptised in the font there, surrounded by the greatest lords of the Court, each holding the candle, the basin or the towel. During the ceremony, Charles VIII held the hand of François of Paule, who led the ceremony and blessed Charles Orlando. Anne of Brittany, still recovering, was not in attendance.

Described by the chronicler Philippe de Commines
Philippe de Commines
Philippe de Commines was a writer and diplomat in the courts of Burgundy and France. He has been called "the first truly modern writer" and "the first critical and philosophical historian since classical times"...

 as a "beautiful child and daring in word, not fearing the things that the other children are accustomed to fear", Charles Orlando was a healthy and vigorous child, who grew well and strong, a fluent speaker by age 3. When he reached the age of 18 months, he was installed in Amboise, monitored by two governors, the lords de Boisy and That-Guénant, a governess, Madam de Bussière, and surrounded by a multitude of servants. He was the pride and joy of his parents. His mother doted on him, buying him presents; his father described him as the "most beautiful of [Charles'] invaluable stones". Both insisted on being kept informed of his health and his progress, by means of letters and messages.

The King also took a series of measures in order to protect his heir. Hunting in the forest of Amboise was prohibited; the gates of the city were reduced to four, making it easier to monitor traffic and to seal the city where necessary; archers were posted at the strategic points of the castle; and the child was constantly in the prayers of François of Paule. In the autumn of 1495, when an epidemic of measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

 struck Touraine
The Touraine is one of the traditional provinces of France. Its capital was Tours. During the political reorganization of French territory in 1790, the Touraine was divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, :Loir-et-Cher and Indre.-Geography:...

, Charles VIII (who after returning from Italy remained in Lyon, where he was joined by the Queen), ordered the child to be even more closely cloistered in Amboise. But to no avail: Charles Orlando contracted measles, and in spite of the efforts of the doctors and the prayers of the monks, he expired on 16 December 1495. Charles VIII, deeply affected, but advised by his physicians to remain staunch and cheerful, succeeded in hiding his sorrow; Anne gave herself up to her grief so violently that for a time her life, and her sanity, were feared for. The year following his death, a younger brother was born and he, too, was named Charles, but he only lived for less than a month.


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