Betrothal between Charles V and Claude of France

10 august 1501 the marriage contract between Claude of France and future Holy Roman emperor Charles V was signed by the French and 4 ambassadors sent by Philip the Handsome. Charles V was promised he would inherit Brittany. Anne of Brittany and Philip the Handsome were the ones that liked this betrothal the most. Anne of Brittany wanted to keep Brittany separated from the French throne and this way Brittany wouldn’t fall in the hands of a heir to the French throne. Philip the Handsome preferred to get land close to Flanders since it would be a lot more practical to keep contact and to defend it than land far away. Philip didn’t listen to his noblemen that suggested to just travel by sea and skip traveling through France altogether. Philip and Joanna started their journey to Spain on 4 November 1501. They left their three young children in the care of Margaret of York, Philip’s step-grandmother. A council would rule the Netherlands in the absence of Philip.

charles V 3

Joanna and Philip didn’t travel on their own. They were accompanied by noblemen, 3 bishops, 40 ladies-in-waiting, court painter Jacob van Lathem, clergy, equerries and squires. They bring wagons to carry all their gifts, tents, beds, carpets and cooking equipment. In France they are escorted by 400 mercenary soldiers sent by Louis XII. They go from city to city and everywhere they go they are welcomed very nicely until they finally arrive in castle Blois. They met the king and his wife and 3-year old Claude of France who was the fiancee of their son Charles V who was 1,5 years at the time.

Philip and Louis XII hit it off but Joanna doesn’t like the French and they don’t like her.


It is clear that Louis XII wanted to impress Philip but Louis XII was more divided on the question if it was best to marry off Claude to Charles V. This marriage could either solve many issues or bring new problems. It was a bit of a gamble really. If Louis would get a son with Anne of Brittany it would be an awesome situation. His son would heir the French throne and Claude would become an empress. But if on the other hand Claude would marry Charles V and Louis XII wouldn’t have a male heir this marriage could cause a lot of trouble, because than his nephew Francis I would become the new heir to the throne and he would almost certainly have to fight Charles V for the throne in that case. In 1501 it wasn’t that clear how likely it would be that Louis XII would get a son with Anne of Brittany. Their marriage had started off well with Anne of Brittany almost immediately giving him a daughter, Claude of France, but in 1500 Anne had had a miscarriage. This was an indication that giving Louis XII a healthy son wasn\t impossible but could become difficult.

Joanna’s parents were clearly against the betrothal, because they did not trust the French king and Maximilian I was also against, because he was fighting the French in the “Italian Wars”. Nevertheless the marriage contract got signed and Philip and Joanna arrived in Spain February 1502. It took them just over 3 months to get to Burgos, Spain.

Bonsoir mes amis, Hilde



6 thoughts on “Betrothal between Charles V and Claude of France

  1. Also, when Philip of Flanders and Joanna of Castile got stranded in England, Philip of Flanders wanted Henry the Eight to wed with the daughter of himself and Joanna of Castile, Eleanor of Austria. Juana of Castile was furious because Henry the Eight was reserved for her sister, Catherine of Aragon. How I hate that guy, Philip of Flanders.


    • I have read about that Philip and Joanna got stranded in England but as far as I know that was on their trip in 1506 when they went to actually claim the throne for Joanna after her mother’s dad rather than the trip they made in 1501-1502 to be proclaimed the heir after the dead of her siblings Juan and Isabella.

      Liked by 1 person

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