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Charles the Bold was born in Dijon, the son of Philip the Good and Isabella of Portugal. Before the death of his father in 1467, he bore the title of Count of Charolais; afterwards, he assumed all of his father’s titles, including that of “Grand Duke of the West”. He was also made a Knight of the Golden Fleece just twenty days after his birth, invested by Charles I, Count of Nevers, and the seigneur de Croÿ.
Charles was brought up under the direction of Jean d’Auxy and early showed great application alike to academic studies and warlike exercises. His father’s court was the most extravagant in Europe at the time, and a centre for the arts and commerce. While he was growing up, Charles witnessed his father’s efforts to unite his far-flung and ethnically diverse dominions into a single state, and his own later efforts centered on continuing and securing his father’s successes in this endeavor.
In 1440, at the age of seven, Charles was married to Catherine, daughter of King Charles VII of France and sister of the Dauphin (later King Louis XI). She was five years older than her husband, and she died in 1446 at the age of 18. They had no children.
In 1454, at the age of 21, Charles married a second time. He wanted to marry a daughter of his distant cousin Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (a sister of Kings Edward IVand Richard III of England), but under terms of the Treaty of Arras of 1435, he was required to marry a French princess. His father chose Isabella of Bourbon, who was three years younger than he was. Isabella was the daughter of Philip the Good’s sister Agnesand a very distant cousin of Charles VII of France. Isabella died in 1465. Their daughter Mary of Burgundy was Charles’ only surviving child; she inherited all the Burgundian domains before her marriage to Maximilian of Habsburg, the son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III.