Charles VIII, King of France

   In 1485, the regency government of Charles VIII of FRANCE supplied money and men for the invasion that placed HENRY VII and the house of TUDOR on the English throne. In 1492, after having assumed personal direction of the government, Charles VIII threatened the Tudor dynasty by supporting Perkin WARBECK, a Yorkist pretender to the English Crown.
   Because Charles was only thirteen when his father, LOUIS XI, died in 1483, control of the French government fell to the new king’s sister, Anne of Beaujeau. When a coalition of French nobles sought to overthrow the regent by forging alliances with foreign princes, including RICHARD III of England and FRANCIS II of BRITTANY, the government responded by encouraging internal opposition in those states.To distract the English king, the French offered financial assistance to Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, the remaining Lancastrian claimant to the English Crown. On 1 August 1485, Richmond sailed from France with a fleet of seven vessels paid for by the French Crown and led by a French vice admiral. Most of the 2,000-man force that embarked with the earl consisted of French and Scottish veterans provided by the regency government. Because these troops formed the core of the army that won Richmond the Crown at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD on 22 August, the French later claimed that Henry VII had become king of England “by the grace of Charles VIII” (Davies, p. 177). Anglo-French relations deteriorated in 1491, when Charles married Anne of Brittany, a match that threatened absorption of the Duchy of Brittany into France. To counter Henry’s opposition to his Breton designs, Charles invited Perkin Warbeck to travel from IRELAND to Paris, where the king promised to fund Warbeck’s attempt to overthrow Henry VII. Warbeck claimed to be EDWARD IV’s younger son, Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, who had disappeared in the TOWER OF LONDON in 1483 with his brother EDWARD V. Recognizing Warbeck as “Richard IV,” rightful king of England, Charles granted him a generous pension and allowed him to live in comfort at the French COURT. In October 1492, Henry led an army across the Channel to the defense of Brittany. However, by early November, he and Charles had concluded the Treaty of Etaples. In return for Henry’s acquiescence in the French takeover of Brittany, Charles, who was anxious to undertake a campaign in Italy, covered Henry’s campaign expenses and paid the arrears of the pension promised to Edward IV in 1475. Charles also agreed to give no shelter to Henry’s rebels, a clause that forced Warbeck to end his ten-month stay in France and remove to BURGUNDY. Having divorced himself from Warbeck’s enterprise, Charles was freed to launch his Italian adventure, which, after initial successes, ended in failure in 1495. Charles died childless in April 1498.
   Further Reading: Antonovics, A.V.,“Henry VII, King of England, By the Grace of Charles VIII of France,” in Ralph A. Griffiths and James Sherborne, eds., Kings and Nobles in the Later Middle Ages (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), pp. 169–184; Commines, Philippe de, The Memoirs of Philippe de Commynes, edited by Samuel Kinser, translated by Isabelle Cazeaux, 2 vols. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1969–1973); Davies,C. S. L.,“The Wars of the Roses in European Context,” in A. J. Pollard, ed., The Wars of the Roses (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), pp. 162–185; Potter,David, A History of France, 1460-1560: The Emergence of a Nation State (London: Macmillan, 1995).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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