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The Dukes of Burgundy

The power, influence and wealth of the Dukes of Burgundy and their court marked the history and the heritage of Burgundy.

Philippe le Hardi (the Bold) or Philip IInd: 1363-1404

Youngest son of King John II of France, he received the ducky of Burgundy. Very good politician, he married Margaret of Flanders and increased his territory. He established a lasting peace in his entire ducky and concluded peace agreement with England. This European policy was always present in the policy of the Burgundy’s duke. In 1354, he established his Parliament in Beaune. Philip the Bold died at 62 years old leaving a rich and powerful ducky, even more powerful than the French Kingdom. His vast collection of territories made him the undisputed duke, and made his successors formidable rivals of the King of France.

Jean sans Peur (the Fearless) or John Ist: 1404-1419

Son of Philip the Bold, John the Fearless was in competition for the French crown with his cousin the duke of Orléans. After the mentality ill of Charles VI, his cousin and King of France, the regency was given to the duke of Orléans. John the Fearless upset by this decision assassinated his rival in 1407. Ready to conquer the French throne, John Ist had to face with a civilian war. In 1418, the Burgundian were in Paris. The Dauphin, future Charles VII of France, was obliged to run away to Bourges and concluded an agreement with John the Fearless. The Duke of Burgundy was killed when he went to sign this agreement.

Philippe le Bon (the Good) or Philip IIIrd: 1419-1467

Starting his reign with the murderer of his father, John the Fearless, Philip the Good sent his ducky in the English side. In the middle of the Hundred Years War, the fight between Burgundy, France and England was confused. It ended when Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundian and delivered to the English. Philip the Good arrived to sign a peace agreement with Charles VII of France. Burgundy became an independent ducky. Creator of the order of the Golden Fleece (based on the Knights of the Round Table and the myth of Jason), Philip IIIrd was a passionate of Flemish art and books. During his reign, Burgundy reached the height of prosperity and prestige and became an art centre. He is known for patronage artist such as Jan van Eyck.

Charles le Téméraire (the Bold) : 1467-1477

Charles the Bold received an European education. He spoke French, English and Flemish. Brilliant and hard-working, he had everything to success but by his suspicious, impulsive and ambitious tempered ruined everything. He married Margaret of York, sister of Edward IV of England. This alliance frightened Louis XI of France. The ducky of Burgundy was already very powerful and became a true threat for the Kingdom of France. Others powers were afraid by this ambitious duke. The ducky of Austria and the one of Lorraine, the German Empire and the French Kingdom created an alliance to overthrow the Duke of Burgundy. Charles the Bold was killed on a battlefield in 1477. He is considered as the last powerful Duke of Burgundy.

At the death of Charles the Bold, the ducky of Burgundy was separated in two parts. By his wedding with Charles ‘daughter, Mary of Burgundy, Maximilian Ist , Holy Roman Empire, received the entire east part of Burgundy. The rest was annexed to the French Kingdom with Louis XI. The disintegration of the Burgundian state was a factor in most major wars in Western Europe for the following two centuries and beyond. In 1480, Louis XI of France transferred the Parliament of Burgundy in Dijon. He maintained a certain freedom with a Kingdom’s control. The parliament was maintained until the French Revolution.

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