Charles II of Navarre
Charles II (1332-87), also known as Charles the Bad, was king of the Spanish province of Navarre. He grew up in France, to whose royal family he was related. Thus when he became King of Navarre at the age of 17, he had no grasp of the local dialect. Charles viewed Navarre as a means to make himself king of France or a political powerhouse. He also felt that his mother, denied the crown after her father King Louis X’s death on the basis of her gender, had been ill-used by France, and intended to get his revenge.
Charles married the daughter of King John II of France, and then had John’s favourite, the constable Charles of Spain, brutally assassinated. Charles fled to beg the Pope for assistance, and whilst in Rome met Henry, Duke of Lancaster, and promised to help him in the Hundred Years’ War against France. Though he switched allegiance to France again in 1355, John had him arrested in 1356, but before Charles could be punished the English got the upper hand in the war, and released him from prison. Frequently switching sides, Charles earned his nickname ‘the Bad’ by ruthlessly slaughtering current enemies.
Charles eventually returned to Navarre in 1361, and orchestrated several plots against the French king from there. He fell ill in late December 1387, and his physician treated him by completely wrapping the king in brandy-soaked linen cloths. When the nurse had finished mummifying Charles, she decided to make a neat job of it by trimming excess cloth away. Fearing that using scissors would risk harming the king, she decided instead to use a candle to burn away the superfluous material. The whole swaddling burst into flame, and Charles was burned to death. Many contemporaries said he deserved it.