Charles IV (Lorraine)

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Charles IV in 1663

Charles IV ( April 5, 1604 in Nancy , † September 18, 1675 in Allenbach ) was the legitimate Duke of Lorraine and Bar from 1625 to 1675, but actually only from 1625 to 1634, 1641 and 1659 to 1670. He was the son of Duke Franz II and Christine von Salm .


Karl spent his childhood at the French court, where he was a playmate of Ludwig XIII , who was a good two years his senior . After his return to Lorraine, he announced that he considered himself the heir of Lorraine - in accordance with the will of Duke René II , according to which only male inheritance was possible. The hostility of his uncle Heinrich II , who wanted to leave the duchy of his daughter Nicole , made him leave the country again. He entered the military service of the emperor, for which he fought in the Battle of White Mountain (November 8, 1620).

After long negotiations he married his cousin Nicole in 1621 , but with the stipulation that his authority over Lorraine would only come from his wife. Heinrich II died on July 31, 1624. Karl, however, was not satisfied with his position as Prince Consort. In November 1625, Franz von Vaudémont, Charles's father, claimed the duchy for himself with reference to René's will. The Estates-General of Lorraine accepted his claim, so that Franz von Vaudémont became Francis II Duke of Lorraine on November 21, 1625 . Five days later he resigned in favor of his son, who ascended the throne as Charles IV and thus ousted his wife from the government.

The processes of the change of government worsened relations between France and Lorraine, since Louis XIII. was unwilling to accept Karl’s approach. In addition, Karl secretly supported Cardinal Richelieu's opponents and hid them from the access of the French judiciary. And finally, French policy was geared towards pushing the kingdom's eastern border to the Rhine, which required the acquisition of Lorraine alongside that of Franche-Comté and Alsace . Charles IV was now looking for allies, broke - after he was disappointed in the support of Bavaria and Austria - with the ultra-Catholic policies of his predecessors, and found his allies in the French Huguenots , England and Savoy . In September 1629 Jean-Baptiste Gaston de Bourbon, duc d'Orléans , the king's brother, fled to Lorraine, and married there - without the consent of Louis XIII. - Margarete, Karl's sister.

On July 6, 1630, the King of Sweden , Gustav Adolf , landed with his troops on the coast of the Baltic Sea in Pomerania. In the following months he achieved great victories against imperial troops, whereupon Charles IV sent an army to support the emperor. Thereupon the French King Louis XIII. In June 1632 his army occupied Lorraine, so that Charles was forced to sign a contract, which he then failed to keep. In September 1633, the French troops invaded Lorraine again, which led Charles IV to abdicate on January 19, 1634 in favor of his brother Nikolaus Franz . Karl joined the imperial troops and fought successfully against the Swedes (victory at the Battle of Nördlingen ) and later against the French.

In 1635 he tried in vain to recapture his duchy, but in the years 1638 to 1640, despite the lax attitude of his Bavarian and Austrian allies, he won several victories - which led him to re-enter into negotiations with France, which he won with the Treaty of Saint- Germain-en-Laye returned his duchy as a French protectorate on April 2, 1641, on condition that he refrain from alliances with Austria. But when he continued to work against Richelieu and covered the Louis' de Bourbon-Condé conspiracy, he should also be arrested after the cardinal had captured the conspirators. In July 1641 he managed to escape by fleeing. He entered the military again and took part, among other things, in the Battle of Tuttlingen in November 1643, in which he defeated the French together with Franz von Mercy and Johann von Werth .

The Peace of Westphalia made the three Lorraine bishoprics (Toul, Metz, Verdun → Trois-Évêchés ) officially subject to the French crown. Charles IV, who was not involved here, and whose negotiations with Cardinal Mazarin failed, resumed the acts of war and even threatened Paris in 1652. However, he gambled away the advantages gained and also his credibility when he then conducted talks with Mazarin and the Fronde des Princes at the same time . Spain accused him of being the cause of the failure of the uprising and had him arrested on January 25, 1654 in Brussels and taken to the Alcázar of Toledo . The intervention and successes of his brother Nikolaus Franz brought him freedom on October 15, 1659 and, in the Treaty of Vincennes of February 28, 1661, even his duchy back.

In 1669, when he refused to follow Louis XIV's request to disband his army, French troops invaded Lorraine again in the summer of 1670. Charles IV had to flee one more time, but again took up the fight against the French in the service of the emperor. On August 11, 1675 he fought together with Georg Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Lüneburg against Marshal François de Créquy in the battle of the Konzer Bridge . A little later he fell seriously ill and died on September 18 in Allenbach near Wirschweiler, between Birkenfeld and Bernkastel.

Marriages and offspring

On May 23, 1621, he married Nicole of Lorraine (* 1608; † 1657), daughter of his uncle Heinrich II and Margaret of Mantua. The marriage remained childless. In 1631 he had Melchior de la Vallée , the priest who baptized Nicole, accused of sorcery with the aim of invalidating the marriage . In 1635 he finally separated from her on the grounds that he had no free choice at the wedding. The church refuses to annul his marriage.

Nevertheless, he married on April 9, 1637 Béatrix de Cusance (* 1614, † 1663), from whom he separated again after he had been excommunicated . After Nicole's death, he married Beatrix per procura (he was imprisoned in Spain at the time) in order to legitimize his children with her, but the couple did not live together afterwards. The children from this second marriage are:

  • Joseph (* 1637; † 1638)
  • Anne (* 1639; † 1720), ⚭ 1660 with François Marie de Lorraine (* 1624; † 1694), prince de Lillebonne
  • Charles Henri (* 1649; † 1723), Count of Vaudémont and Prince of Commercy in 1708

After the death of his second wife, he entered into a third marriage in 1665 with Marie Louise d'Aspremont (* 1651; † 1692), which also had no descendants.


  • Rainer Babel: Between Habsburg and Bourbon. Foreign policy and European position, Duke Charles IV of Lorraine and Bar from taking office to exile (1624–1634) . (Supplement to Francia , 18). Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1989, ISBN 3-7995-7318-6 ( online ).
  • Henry Bogdan: La Lorraine des ducs, sept siècles d'histoire . 2005.
  • Carl Jakob Burckhardt: Richelieu . 3rd volume; 1966.
  • Georges Poull: La maison ducale de Lorraine . 1991.
  • Hans Schmidt:  Karl IV .. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-428-00192-3 , pp. 231-234 ( digitized version ).

Web links

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predecessor Office successor
Francis II Duke of Lorraine
Nicholas II
Nicholas II Duke of Lorraine
Charles V