Charles the Good

Charles the Good (1084 – 2 March 1127) was Count of Flanders from 1119 to 1127. His murder and its aftermath were chronicled by Galbert of Bruges. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1882 through cultus confirmation.[2]


Charles the Good
Sint-Salvatorskathedraal - Bruges - IMG 4774.JPG
Image of Charles I on his reliquary in the Sint-Salvatorskathedraal, Bruges, Belgium
Duke and Martyr
Bornc. 1084
Odense, Denmark
Died(1127-03-02)2 March 1127
Bruges, County of Flanders (now Belgium and northern France)
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified9 February 1882 (confirmation of cultus) by Pope Leo XIII
Feast2 March

Early lifeEdit

Charles was born in Denmark, only son of the three children of King Canute IV (Saint Canute) and Adela of Flanders.[3] His father was assassinated in Odense Cathedral in 1086,[4] and Adela fled back to Flanders, taking the very young Charles with her but leaving her twin daughters Ingeborg and Cecilia in Denmark. Charles grew up at the comital court of his grandfather Robert I of Flanders and uncle Robert II of Flanders. In 1092 Adela went to southern Italy to marry Roger Borsa, duke of Apulia, leaving Charles in Flanders.

Charles travelled to the Holy Land in 1107 or 1108 with a fleet of English, Danes and Flemings.[5] This is possibly the fleet of Guynemer of Boulogne, described similarly. He was offered the crown of the Kingdom of Jerusalem but refused for reasons unknown.[6]

Countship of FlandersEdit

In 1111 Robert II died, and Charles's cousin Baldwin VII of Flanders became count. Charles was a close advisor to the new count (who was several years younger), who around 1118 arranged Charles's marriage to the heiress of the count of Amiens, Margaret of Clermont, daughter of Renaud II, Count of Clermont.[7] The childless count Baldwin VII was wounded fighting at the Battle of Bures-en-Brai in September 1118, and he designated Charles as his successor before he died on 17 July 1119.[8]

In 1125 Charles expelled Jews from Flanders, attributing their price gouging as a cause of additional suffering during the famine which afflicted his domains in that year.[9] During the famine, Charles distributed bread to the poor, and took action to prevent grain from being hoarded and sold at excessively high prices.[10] Prodded by his advisors, he also began proceedings to reduce the influential Erembald family, which was heavily engaged in this activity, to the status of serfs. As a result, Fr. Bertulf FitzErembald, provost of the Church of St. Donatian, masterminded a conspiracy to assassinate Charles and his advisors. He was also considered a candidate for the election of King of the Romans after the death of Henry V, but rejected the offer.


On the morning of 2 March 1127, as Charles knelt in prayer in the church of St. Donatian, a group of knights answering to the Erembald family entered the church and hacked him to death with broadswords.[11][12] The brutal and sacrilegious murder of the popular count provoked widespread public outrage, and he was almost immediately regarded popularly as a martyr and saint, although not formally beatified until 1882.[a] The Erembalds, who had planned and carried out the murder of Charles, were besieged inside the castle of Bruges by the enraged nobles and commoners of Bruges and Ghent. All the conspirators were defeated, captured, and tortured to death. King Louis VI of France, who had supported the uprising against the Erembalds, used his influence to select William Clito as the next count of Flanders.[13]


  1. ^ At the Petit Palais Museum in Paris there is a remarkable painting of his funeral by the Belgian artist Jan van Beers (1852–1927).


  1. ^ "Bl. Charles the Good".
  2. ^ "Confirmation of Cultus (4)". Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  3. ^ Nicholas 1992, p. 56.
  4. ^ Hundahl, Kjær & Lund 2016, p. 87.
  5. ^ Galbert of Bruges 2013, p. 25.
  6. ^ Riley-Smith 1997, p. 176.
  7. ^ Galbert of Bruges 2013, p. 42.
  8. ^ Paul 2012, p. 43-44.
  9. ^ Deutsch & Bloch 1906.
  10. ^ Nicholas 1992, p. 62.
  11. ^ Davies 1997, p. 10.
  12. ^ Nicholas 1992, p. 63.
  13. ^ Aird 2008, p. 272.


  • Aird, William M. (2008). Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy: C. 1050–1134. The Boydell Press.
  • Davies, Ralph Henry Carless (1997). King Stephen. Routledge.
  • Deutsch, Gotthard; Bloch, Armand (1906). "Ghent". Jewish Encyclopedia.
  • Galbert of Bruges (2013). The Murder, Betrayal, and Slaughter of the Glorious Charles, Count of Flanders. Translated by Rider, Jeff. Yale University Press.
  • Hundahl, Kerstin; Kjær, Lars; Lund, Niels, eds. (2016). Denmark and Europe in the Middle Ages, C.1000–1525: Essays in Honour of Professor Michael H. Gelting. Routledge.
  • Nicholas, David (1992). Medieval Flanders. Longman.
  • Paul, Nicholas L. (2012). To Follow in Their Footsteps: The Crusades and Family Memory in the High Middle Ages. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801450976.
  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan (1997). The First Crusaders, 1095–1131. Cambridge University Press.
  • van Ryckeghem, Willy (2019). The Many Enemies of Charles the Good, PDF on

External linksEdit

Preceded by   Count of Flanders
Succeeded by