Blessed Charles the Good, Martyr
Denmark, 1081 – Flanders (Belgium), March 2, 1127
Charles the Good, the Danish prince, son of the holy king CanutoIV, gained the crown of the Count of Flanders from his maternal lineage. After an initial brief interval, his reign was marked by peace and justice. Dedicated to the defense and aid of the poor and weak, he was killed by soldiers that he had tried to pacify. Leo III officially beatified him in 1882 and the new Roman Martyrology still remembers the anniversary of his martyrdom.
Roman Martyrology: In Bruges in Flanders, (now Belgium in), Blessed Charles Bono, martyr, the Prince of Denmark, then Count of Flanders, was the guardian of justice and defender of the poor until he was killed by soldiers as he tried in vain to induce the peace.
Blessed Prince Charles the Martyr and Good fourth born was the son of Danish King Canute IV St., also a martyr, and Adele of Flanders or Alice, daughter of Robert the Frisian. Charles was only about five at the time of his father’s death and was then led to the court of Bruges, to his maternal grandfather, the Count of Flanders. Here he was reared and created a knight. He departed for the Holy Land with his uncle Roberto going to Jerusalem, where he took part in enterprises by crusaders. Somehow he survived the wounds, returning to Europe covered with scars .
His First cousin, Baldwin of Hache,succeeded Roberto as Count of Flanders, not having in 1111 succeeded Roberto as Count of Flanders in Jerusalem, butnot having left heirs inherit the county to Charles at the expense of William of Ypres, his relative of the same grade. His bride was Margherita, daughter of the Count of Clermont Renato, who brought in dowry the county of Amiens. Baldwin finally joined the government of his membership.
Sweetness and fairness that contraddistinsero caused at the time of his accession to the throne in 1119, Charles was already regarded as a father and a protector.
But the joy was disturbed by the public Clemenza Countess, mother of the late Count Baldwin. In favor of William of Ypres, the princess organized a league of principles that declared war to the young Charles. With God’s help they managed to triumph over his enemies. As the Count of Amiens and vassal of the King of France, Charles was able to come to the aid of the latter when the Emperor Charles V invaded Champagne in 1123. All this helped to ensure that the name of Charles the Good became paradoxically more and more frightening to foreigners.
Made by the many wars that had saddened the beginning of his reign, Charles worked to reign in peace and justice in their countries. Proclaiming the “Truce of God”, he sought to prohibit his from subjects use of weapons to put an end to frequent fights. Pointed along very simple and modest in his attitudes, it was usual practice of typical religious austerity. An enemy of pomp, he reduced his employees in order to reduce the taxes of the people and increased the salary to their factors. Full of solicitude for the poor, he even deprived himself clothes to donate them. He walked barefoot as a sign of devotion in making his daily acts of charity.
Charles always showed respect of both the priests and the religious, seeking and incorporating their opinions with a sincere humility, thanking them when they reported errors to be corrected, rewarding them with special protection. Every evening there were three doctors of theology to explain some passages from the Bible.
He established that all sentenced to death were to confess and receive communion on the day preceding the execution of the sentence.
In 1125 a terrible famine fell on Flanders and Picardy. For Charles, this was a chance to express his concern and his love. Provvedette every day to feed one hundred very poor in Bruges and also wanted each of his castles to do the same. He also provided clothing daily to dress five poor people. After these generous distributions, he attended Mass in the church, sang psalms and sometimes gave money to beggars. The rest of his days were spent preparing new regulations to solve the ills afflicting the area and prevent their return. When the Holy Roman Emperor died without heirs, there was a proposal to elect Charles, Count of Flanders to the position. Therefore, he sought advice from some of his barons, but only a small part encouaged him to accept the imperial scepter, as the majority feared losing him as an acknowledged father of Flanders. Charles followed the advice of the latter. He also declined the crown of Jerusalem that was offered when Baldwin was imprisoned by the Turks. Therefore he preferred to dedicate himself wholly to the good of Flanders.
But not everyone appreciated the work of Charles and when there was yet another dispute between soldiers, he tried with every effort to arrive as usual to a peaceful solution, excluding the use of arms. This led most of the plotters to agree on one point: they met one evening, joined their hands in token of alliance and spent the whole night organizing the execution of an attack in to Carlo.
The next morning, March 2, 1127, as always, the count went to mass in the church of Saint-Donatien, adjacent to his palace. Here criminals were thus able to carry out their evil plan, obtaining for Charles, the crown of martyrdom. His body was buried temporarily in the same place, but without any solemnity as the sacred place had been violated by a sacrilegious murder. The funeral ceremony was held, therefore, within the walls of the city, in the church of Saint-Pierre. The king of France, Louis the Great, called to Flanders by barons of the country, to avenge the death of his relative, the Count, punishing the murderers with justice according to law. After several weeks, his body was exhumed and found incorrupt. It was then traversed in the church of Saint-Christophe, and only after April 25, with the rededication of the church, he was able to return to Saint-Donatien. Later his relics came to be part of the treasure of the cathedral of Bruges.
Devotion to the Good Charles seemed to have slowed to oblivion over time, when finally, in 1882, came the official confirmation by the Pope Leo XIII, who awarded him the title of “blessed.” Following this act, the glorious martyr, count of Flanders, could be dismissed as a secondary patron of the newly born Kingdom of Belgium.
To promote his cult at the dawn of the third millennium, the new Roman Martyrology has helped, which reminds you of the anniversary this way: “In Bruges, in Flanders, memory of Blessed Charles the Good, Martyr, that the Prince of Denmark and later count of Flanders, Justice guarding and defending the poor, until he was killed by soldiers that he had tried to pacify. “
Author: Fabio Arduino
Source: Santi e Beati