BOURBON, CHARLES, Duke of (1490-1527), constable of France, second son of Gilbert, count of Montpensier and dauphin of Auvergne, was born on the 17th of February 1490, his mother being a Gonzaga. In 1505 he married Suzanne, heiress of Peter II., duke of Bourbon, by Anne of France, daughter of King Louis XI., and assumed the title of duke of Bourbon. The addition of this duchy to the numerous duchies, countships and other fiefs which he had inherited on the death of his elder brother Louis in 1501, made him at the age of fifteen the wealthiest noble in Europe. He gained his first military experience in the Italian campaigns of Louis XII., taking part in the suppression of the Genoese revolt (1507) and contributing to the victory over the Venetians at Agnadello (May 14, 1509). Shortly after the accession of Francis I. Bourbon received the office of constable of France, and for his brilliant services at the battle of Marignano (September 1515) he was made governor of the Milanese, which he succeeded in defending against an attack of the emperor Maximilian. But dissensions arose between Francis and the constable. Grave, haughty and taciturn, Bourbon was but ill suited to the levities of the court, and his vast wealth and influence kindled in the king a feeling of resentment, if not of fear. The duke was recalled from the government of the Milanese; his official salary and the sums he had borrowed for war expenses remained unpaid; and in the campaign in the Netherlands against the emperor Charles V. the command of the vanguard, one of the most cherished prerogatives of the constables, was taken from him. The death of his wife without surviving issue, on the 28th of April 1521, afforded the mother of the king, Louise of Savoy, a means to gratify her greed, and at the same time to revenge herself on Bourbon, who had slighted her love. A suit was instituted at her instance against the duke in the parlement of Paris, in which Louise, as grand-daughter of Charles, duke of Bourbon (d. 1456), claimed the female and some of the male fiefs of the duchy of Bourbon, while the king claimed those fiefs which were originally appanages, as escheating to the crown, and other claims were put forward. Before the parlement was able to arrive at a decision, Francis handed over to his mother a part of the Bourbon estates, and ordered the remainder to be sequestrated.
Smarting under these injuries, Bourbon, who for some time had been coquetting with the enemies of France, renewed his negotiations with the emperor and Henry VIII. of England. It was agreed that the constable should raise in his own dominions an armed force to assist the emperor in an invasion of France, and should receive in return the hand of Eleonora, queen dowager of Portugal, or of another of the emperor's sisters, and an independent kingdom comprising his own lands together with Dauphiné and Provence. He was required, too, to swear fidelity to Henry VIII. as king of France. But Bourbon's plans were hampered by the presence of the French troops assembling for the invasion of Italy, and for this reason he was unable to effect a junction with the emperor's German troops from the east. News of the conspiracy soon reached the ears of Francis, who was on his way to take command of the Italian expedition. In an interview with Bourbon at Moulins the king endeavoured to persuade him to accompany the French army into Italy, but without success. Bourbon remained at Moulins for a few days, and after many vicissitudes escaped into Italy. The joint invasion of France by the emperor and his ally of England had failed signally, mainly through lack of money and defects of combination. In the spring of 1524, however, Bourbon at the head of the imperialists in Lombardy forced the French across the Sesia (where the chevalier Bayard was mortally wounded) and drove them out of Italy. In August 1524 he invested Marseilles, but being unable to prevent the introduction of supplies by Andrea Doria, the Genoese admiral in the service of Francis, he was forced to raise the siege and retreat to the Milanese. He took part in the battle of Pavia (1525), where Francis was defeated and taken prisoner. But Bourbon's troops were clamouring for pay, and the duke was driven to extreme measures to satisfy their demands. Cheated of his kingdom and his bride after the treaty of Madrid (1526), Bourbon had been offered the duchy of Milan by way of compensation. He now levied contributions from the townsmen, and demanded 20,000 ducats for the liberation of the chancellor Girolamo Morone (d. 1529), who had been imprisoned for an attempt to realize his dream of an Italy purged of the foreigner. But the sums thus raised were wholly inadequate. In February 1527 Bourbon's army was joined by a body of German mercenaries, mostly Protestants, and the combined forces advanced towards the papal states. Refusing to recognize the truce which the viceroy of Naples had concluded with Pope Clement VII., Bourbon hastened to put into execution the emperor's plan of attaching Clement to his side by a display of force. But the troops, starving and without pay, were in open mutiny, and Spaniards and Lutherans alike were eager for plunder. On the 5th of May 1527 the imperial army appeared before the walls of Rome. On the following morning Bourbon attacked the Leonine City, and while mounting a scaling ladder fell mortally wounded by a shot, which Benvenuto Cellini in his Life claims to have fired. After Bourbon's death his troops took and sacked Rome.
See E. Armstrong, Charles V. (London, 1902); Cambridge Mod. Hist. vol. ii., bibliography to chaps. i. ii. and iii.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)