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|“||You're a fool, Lelouch. God cannot be defeated by a king.||„|
|~ Charles zi Britannia to Lelouch vi Britannia|
Charles zi Britannia is the main antagonist of the anime series Code Geass. He is the 98th emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire, the father of Lelouch vi Britannia (and many others) and V.V.'s twin brother. He had a Geass power that allows him to suppress and alter the memories of those he achieved eye contact with, but lost this power in exchange for V.V.'s code which granted him immortality.
Charles was a very big man, towering over nearly all other characters in the series, and appears to be muscular and well-built. He had long white hair (though it was originally a light brown) styled into Renaissance-style curls. He had violet eyes and angular features.
Charles has one-hundred-eight consorts. He installed most or all of his children into important positions throughout the empire to see what their true abilities were. Charles saw his children as extensions of the collective unconsciousness rather than human beings, and showed little concern for their well-being. He plotted to destroy the collective unconscious, thus uniting humanity as a single mind. In spite of this, Charles did show some care for a select few of his children, particularly Lelouch and Nunnally.
Publicly a strong proponent of Social Darwinism (publicly supporting inequality and calling for competition and inviting to promote progress), Charles actually planned to make all of mankind equal and truthful by destroying "God," the collective unconsciousness of humanity, and thus uniting every living being as one mind that was incapable of deceit. In the seventh episode of Code Geass R2, he reiterated that traditional morals of not murdering, deceiving, stealing, and remaining faithful to one's spouse are counter-progressive lies made by the weak to defend themselves, and that this is Britannia's duty to show the world. Despite openly supporting warfare, he viewed it as an ineffective tool compared to diplomacy and bargaining. Above all else, he hated deceit, seeing it as the root of all evil, which was apparently brought about by trauma during his childhood wherein members of the imperial family lied and murdered for the right to succeed the throne.
Charles appears only occasionally in the first season. In a flashback, a ten-year-old Lelouch questioned why he did not try to protect Marianne. Irritated by this, Charles disowned Lelouch there and then, sending Lelouch and Nunnally to Japan as political hostages. Most of his appearances in the first series are brief, though show that he apparently knew of Lelouch's action, particularly his use of Geass. In The Stolen Mask, he claimed to be speaking with Clovis even after his death at the Sword of Akasha.
In a flashback, which occurred in-between the seasons, Lelouch was brought before Charles by Suzaku Kururugi who requested to be made one of the Knights of the Round as a reward, which the Emperor granted because of Suzaku's willingness to sacrifice his friendship with Lelouch to begin his quest to change Britannia from within. He then used his previously unknown Geass power to rewrite Lelouch's memory and suppress his Geass, which he also did to the students of Ashford Academy.
Charles trusted Suzaku enough to lead him to the Sword of Akasha, which hardly anyone else had ever seen. C.C. suggested that V.V. was the one who gave Charles his Geass, though the specific nature of their Code was to destroy the gods. In actuality, Charles is V.V.'s twin brother, whose process of aging was halted at an early age because he became immortal.
Charles initially possessed a Geass power, but gave it up in exchange for immortality when Lelouch and the Black Knights attacked the Geass Directorate. Lelouch trapped the Emperor inside the Sword of Akasha, or so he thought, until Charles announced to the world that he was still alive during the formation ceremony of the UFN and declaring that all Zero had done was made it so that whoever won the ensuing war would control the entire world; at that time, the world was literally divided between Britannia and the UFN. During the Second Battle of Tokyo, Charles arrived in Area 11 himself, much to the shock of Lelouch, and entered the Sword of Akasha through the Thought Elevator at Kamine Island. Once inside, Charles was confronted by Lelouch once again and soon after, Marianne, C.C. and Suzaku all arrived. During the time, Charles finally told Lelouch the truth of the events regarding his mother's death and all that had occurred, including his real reason for sending him and Nunnally to Japan as hostages. He and Marianne then explained their one true goal and began to initiate the Ragnarok Connection.
However, despite finally being told everything, Lelouch rejected his parents and all they believe. Lelouch saw Charles' ultimate goal as nothing more than creating stagnation that would doom mankind, rather than save it, and turned the gods against Charles, destroying him and Marianne. Just before his death, Charles warned Lelouch that Schneizel's world would be the one that awaits him on the outside.
Suzaku of the Counterattack
In the alternate universe manga series Suzaku of the Counterattack, the emperor played only a minor role in the overall plot. His appearance, personality, viewpoints, and actions were initially identical to his mainstream universe counterpart, but the story diverged once Charles visited Area 11 to attend Prince Clovis's funeral and the opening of an art gallery in Clovis's honor. At the art gallery, any of Charles's plans regarding the Ragnarok Connection are put on permanent hold when he was brutally murdered by his own son Prince Schneizel, who sought to pin the blame on Lelouch and the Black Knights.