Pondering History

Surprising Facts, Insights and Interpretations

Rise and Fall of the Valois Duchy of Burgundy, First Part, 1363-1477, the Rise.

From the second Valois King of France, John II the Good (1319-1350-1364) to Philip III the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1419-1467).

De1. John II, King of France (1319-1350-1364), also called John the Good, Jean le Bon, Johann der Gute.

John the Good had 4 sons and seven daughters from his spouse Bonne de Luxembourg (1315-1332-1349). He lost the Battle of Poitiers (1356) against Edward Plantagenêt, the Black Prince (1330-1376), and was taken prisoner together with his youngest son Philip. Charles, Dauphin and eldest son (1338-1364-1380), and Louis the second son (1339-1360(Duke of Anjou)-1384) were also present at the battle of Poitiers. They hardly fought and escaped in the middle of the confrontation. Dauphin Charles, by the way the first Dauphin of the Kingdom of France (1349), was Duke of Normandy from 1354 to 1364. He followed his father to the throne as Charles V (1364-1380), also called Charles the Wise, Charles le Sage, Karl der Weise. To liberate his father, he concluded the treaty of Brétigny (1360), by which France had to transfer many territories, to handover hostages as well as to pay an enormous ransom. John the Good was released from captivity in exchange of hostages, including amongst others his second son Louis, in order to be able to raise funds for his ransom. When John was informed that Louis had escaped from captivity, he voluntarily returned to England, where he died in 1364. Louis (1339-1384) obtained in 1351 the Counties of Anjou and Maine in appanage. In 1360, Louis was raised to Duke of Anjou and later on to Duke of Touraine (1370). The third son John (1340-1416) received the newly raised Duchies of Berry and Auvergne in 1360, and the forth and youngest son Philip (1342-1404) was first created Duke of Touraine in 1360, but in 1363, as a reward for his courage at the Battle of Poitiers, he returned the Duchy of Touraine to the crown, receiving instead from his father the Duchy of Burgundy. Philip was the first Valois Duke of Burgundy, also called Philip the Bold, and the founder of the Burgundian branch of the house of Valois.

Portrait of John II the Good, King of France (1319-1350-1364), unknown artist, circa 1350.

Charles V, King of France (1338-1364-1380) and his Queen Jeanne de Bourbon (1338-1378), contemporaneous statues.

Portrait of Louis I, Duke of Anjou (1339-1360-1384), 15th century.

John, Duke of Berry (1340-1360-1416), from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, illustrated by the Limburg brothers, 1410-1416.

Portrait of Louis I, Duke of Anjou (1339-1360-1384), 15th century.

References: François Autrand: Charles V le Sage, Fayard, Paris, 1994. Jean Favier: La guerre de Cent Ans, Fayard, Paris, 1980. Georges Minois: La guerre de Cent Ans, Naissance de deux nations, Perrin, Paris, 2008. Jonathan Sumption: The Hundred Years War, Faber & Faber, London, 1990-2009. From the internet only data were taken into account present in the English a/o French a/o German version and well corroborated by primary literature. Cf. also this blog, earlier posts.


2. Philip II, Duke of Burgundy (1342-1363-1404), also called Philip the Bold, Philippe le Hardi, Philipp der Kühne, Filips de Stoute.

Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, gained his cognomen when, at the age of 14, he fought beside and was captured with his father at the Battle of Poitiers (1356). In 1369, he married Margaret of Dampierre (1350-1405), the daughter of Louis II, Count of Flanders (1330-1346-1384). She became the heiress of Flanders, Brabant, Artois, and the Free County of Burgundy after the death of her brother in 1376. From 1379 to 1382 Philip helped his father-in-law to put down revolts in Flanders, particularly in Ghent, organising an army against Philip van Artevelde, who died in the battle of Roosebeke (1382). The revolts were finally ended in 1385, following the death of Louis II, with the peace of Tournai. Iure uxoris Philip the Bold became Count of Flanders, Artois, the Free County of Burgundy, Nevers and Rethel. He would keep in mind the economic interests of the Flemish cities, which made their money from weaving and spinning. In 1390, Philip bought the County of Charolais and therefore also became Count of Charolais, a title used by the heirs of Burgundy.

Portrait of Margaret of Dampierre (1350-1405), Flemish school, 16th century.

Coat of arms of Philip II of Burgundy after 1363.

Battle of Roosebeke (1382), Big Chronicles of France, Jean Froissart, 1405.

Burgundian States at the time of Philip the Bold (1363-1404).

Philip was very active in the court of France, particularly after the death of his brother King Charles V (1338-1364-1380), whose successor, King Charles VI, was then 11 years old. During the minority of Charles VI (1368-1380-1422), his uncles, Louis, Duke of Anjou, John, Duke of Berry, Philip, Duke of Burgundy and Louis II, Duke of Bourbon (1337-1356-1410 (brother of Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of King Charles VI), were regents. The regency lasted until 1388, Philip taking the dominant role. Louis of Anjou was fighting for his claim to the Kingdom of Naples, dying in 1384 (Bisceglie, province of Bari, Italy), John of Berry was mainly interested in the Languedoc, and Louis of Bourbon was less important due to his signs of mental instability and the fact that he was not the son of a king. In 1388, Philip the Bold, John of Berry and Louis II of Bourbon lost their power, when Charles VI, taking up personal rule, chose to favour the personal advice of the Marmousets (Olivier de Clisson, Jean de Montaigu, Jean Le Mercier, Bureau de la Rivière amongst others) over that of his uncles. In 1392, Philip could seize power again remaining the principal ruler of France until 1402.

Philip the Bold and Margaret had 3 sons and 4 daughters reaching adulthood. His eldest son John the Fearless (1371-1419) succeeded him as Duke of Burgundy, Count of Flanders and Count of Artois. Anthony (1384-1415) was raised to Duke of Brabant and Philip (1389-1415) to Count of Nevers and Rethel. Antoine and Philip fell in the battle of Agincourt (1415).

References: Prosper Brugière Barante: Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne de la maison Valois, 1363-1477, édité par Lacour Rediviva, 2006. Ernest Petit: Ducs de Bourgogne de la maison de Valois, Philippe le Hardi, H. Champion éditeur, Paris, 1976. George William Kitchin: A History of France, Clarendon Press, UK, 1849. Richard Vaughan: Philip the Bold, the Formation of the Burgundian State, The Boydell Press, UK, 2002. From the internet only data were taken into account present in the English a/o French a/o German version and well corroborated by primary literature. Cf. also this blog, earlier posts.


3. John II, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1404-1419), also known as John the Fearless, Jean sans Peur, Johann Ohnefurcht, Jan zonder Vrees.

In 1385, at the double wedding of Cambrai, John the Fearless married Margaret of Bavaria (1363-1423), daughter of Albert I (1336-1404), Duke of Bavaria-Straubing, Count of Holland, Hainaut and Zeeland. At the same time Wilhelm, the eldest son of Albert I, married Margaret, the eldest daughter of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It was a major European event with 20’000 invited guests. The French King Charles VI also participated in the festivities lasting eight days.

Portrait of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1404-1419).

Portrait of Margaret of Bavaria (1363-1423), unknown artist.

Coat of arms of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1404-1419)

Coat of arms of the Count of Flanders

Before his accession to the Duchy of Burgundy, John was one of the principal leaders of the French forces sent to aid Sigismund of Luxemburg (1368-1437, from 1387 King of Hungary and Croatia, 1419 King of Bohemia, and 1433 Holy Roman Emperor), in his war against Sultan Bayezid I (1360-1389-1403). John fought in the battle of Nicopolis (1396) with such enthusiasm that he was given the nickname the Fearless. In spite of his personal bravery, his impetuous attack ended in disaster for the expedition against Sultan Bayezid I. He was taken prisoner and released the next year only, against an enormous ransom paid by his father.

Battle of Nicopolis (1396), Miniature conserved in the Topkapi Museum.

Portrait of Sigismund of Luxemburg (1368-1437, from 1387 King of Hungary and Croatia, 1419 King of Bohemia, 1433 Holy Roman Emperor), attributed to Antonio Pisanello (1395-1455).

Sultan Bayezid I Yildirim (1360-1389-1403), Ottoman miniature

In 1404, John was invested as Duke of Burgundy. Rapidly he entered into open conflict against Louis, Duke of Orléans (1372-1407), younger brother of the increasingly mad Charles VI, King of France (1368-1380-1422). Both men tried to fill the power vacuum left by the demented king. After some time, taking advantage of one of the King’s periods of manifesting mental illness the Duke of Burgundy succeeded in gaining appointment by royal decree as guardian of the Dauphin (1403-1461, the future Charles VII, King of France) and the king’s children. This did not improve the relations between John and Louis. The rivals descended into making open threats. In 1407, their uncle, John, Duke of Berry, tried to reconcile the two antagonists. But rapidly after that Louis was brutally assassinated (1407) in the streets of Paris. The order had come from the Duke of Burgundy who declared it to be a justifiable act of tyrannicide. Nevertheless, John the Fearless managed to recover the king’s favour. In the treaty of Chartres (1409), the king absolved the Duke of Burgundy of the crime, and he and Louis’s son Charles, Duke of Orléans (1394-1407-1465), vowed solemnly to be reconciled. Louis’s son and heir Charles was only 14 at the time of his father’s death and depended heavily on the support of his allies. Their task was to assist him in bringing back the properties that have been confiscated by the Duke of Burgundy. Chief of these allies was his father-in-law Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac (1360-1391-1418) and because of this their faction became known as the Armagnacs. With peace sworn in 1410, John returned to Burgundy and Bernard remained in Paris were he reportedly shared the queen’s bed (Isabeau of Bavaria (1370-1385-1435)). The Armagnac party was not satisfied with the political situation. A series of riots and attacks against the citizens followed. In 1415, King Henry V of England (1387-1413-1422) invaded France. He negotiated with the Armagnacs as well as with John the Fearless who continued to be hesitating of forming an alliance with the English for fear of destroying his immense popularity with the common people of France. When Henry demanded Burgundy’s support for his claim to be the rightful King of France, John backed away and allied himself with the Armagnacs. In spite of the fact that John the Fearless talked of helping his sovereign, his troops did not take part in the battle of Agincourt (1415), although two of his brothers, Anthony, Duke of Brabant, and Philipp, Count of Nevers, died fighting for France during the battle. For the French Agincourt was a shattering defeat.

Assassination of Louis d'Orléans, master of the Chronicles of England, circa 1470-1480.

Portrait of Charles d’Orléans, Duke of Orléans (1394-1407-1465), Statues, Ordonnances and Armorials of the Order of the Golden Fleece, unknown artist, 1473. His mother was Valentina Visconti (1368-1408).

Painting of Charles VI the Mad, King of France (1368-1380-1422), master of Boucicaut, circa 1412.

Christine de Pisan presents her book to Queen Isabeau of Bavaria (1370-1435), master of the Cité des Dames, miniature on parchment, between circa 1410 and 1414.

Portrait of Henry V, King of England (1387-1413-1422), unknown artist, National Portrait Gallery.

Battle of Agincourt (1415), Chronicles of Enguerrand of Monstrelet, early 15th century.

Agincourt Carol, Facsimile, Bodleian Library, Manuscript Archives, Oxford.

In 1418, John the Fearless captured the city of Paris. But, only after the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France (1403-1422-1461), had escaped. John installed himself in Paris and made himself protector of the King. Although not an open ally of the English, John did nothing to prevent the surrender of Rouen in 1419. With the whole of northern France as well as Guyenne in English hands and Paris occupied by Burgundy, the Dauphin tried to bring about a reconciliation with John the Fearless. In July 1419, they swore peace on the bridge of Pouilly, near Melun. Mistrusting this peace the Dauphin proposed additional discussions to take place on September 10, 1419, on the bridge at Montereau. John the Fearless was present with his escort awaiting a diplomatic meeting. However, he was assassinated by the Dauphin’s companions. He was later buried in Dijon. In 1420, Charles VI, King of France (1368-1380-1422), disinherited the Dauphin and recognized Henry V, King of England (1386-1413-1422), as his heir and as the legitimate successor of the French crown instead. The successor of John the Fearless, Philip the Good his son, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1419-1467), formed an alliance with the English.

Assassination of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1404-1419), on the bridge of Montereau in 1419, Miniature in the Chronicles of Enguerrand of Monstrelet, 15th century.

Burgundian States at the time of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy (1371-1404-1419), and Anthony, Duke of Brabant (1384-1415), and of Philip II, Count of Nevers and Rethel (1389-1415).

References: Prosper Brugière de Barante: Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne de la maison de Valois, 1364-1477, société typographique belge, Adolph Wahlen et Compagnie, 1838. Bertrand Schnerb: Jean sans Peur, le prince meurtrier, Payot, 2005, Paris. Richard Vaughan: John the Fearless, The Growth of Burgundian Power, Boydell press, 2002. From the internet only data were taken into account present in the English a/o French a/o German version and well corroborated by primary literature. Cf. also this blog, earlier posts.


4. Philip III, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1419-1467), also known as Philip the Good, Philippe le Bon, Philipp der Gute, Filips de Goede.

In 1405, Philip was named Count of Charolais and probably on the same day engaged with Michelle of Valois(1395-1422), daughter of King Charles VI of France (1368-1380-1422) and Isabeau of Bavaria, Queen consort of France (1370-1389-1435). They were married in 1409 and had one daughter, Agnes of Burgundy. In 1422, Michelle died with 26 years in Gent. In 1424, Philip the Good married Bonne of Artois, daughter of Philip, Count of Artois. But, Bonne of Artois also died just about one year after her wedding without posterity. In 1430, Philip finally married Isabella of Portugal (1397-1471), daughter of King John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster. Of their three sons only one attained adult age, Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Philips successor. Philip also had at least eighteen illegitimate children by various of his 24 documented mistresses. During his reign Burgundy reached the height of its prosperity and prestige and became a leading centre of the arts.

Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1419-1467), flanked by Jean Wauquelin and his son Charles the Bold as well as his chancellor Nicolas Rolin and Jean Chevrot, frontispiece of the Chroniques de Hainaut, by Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400-1464), 1447-1448.

Portrait of Isabella of Portugal, Duchess consort of Burgundy (1397-1430-1471), attributed to Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400-1464).

Coat of arms of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1419-1467)

Coat of arms of the Duke of Brabant

Coat of arms of the Duke of Limburg

Burgundian States at the time of Philip III the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1396-1419-1467).

Philip continued to prosecute the civil war between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs. In 1420, Philip allied himself with Henry V, King of England (1386-1413-1422) under the treaty of Troyes, and in 1423 the alliance was strengthened by the marriage of his sister Anne (1404-1423-1432) to John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, regent for Henry VI, King of England and France (1421-1471, reigned in England from 1422-1461 and 1470-1471 (War of Roses), and in France (disputed) from 1422-1453). In 1430, Philip’s troops captured Joan of Arc (1412-1431) at Compiègne and later handed her over to the English who orchestrated a heresy trial against her, conducted by pro-Burgundian clerics. Despite this action against Joan of Arc, Philip’s alliance with England was broken in 1435 when Philip signed the treaty of Arras which completely revoked the treaty of Troyes and recognised Charles VII as King of France. Philip achieved that for the Duchy of Burgundy the status was suspended of being a vassal to the king of France. But in 1439 the treaty of Arras was also broken, with Philip supporting the revolt of the French nobles, known as the Praguerie, which sought to neutralize Charles VII and install Louis the Dauphin, aged 17, as regent (future Louis XI, the Prudent or the Universal Spider, King of France, (1423-1461-1483).

Portrait of Henry V, King of England (1386-1413-1422), unknown artist, National Portrait Galery.

Miniature of Anne of Burgundy, duchess consort of Bedford (1404-1423-1432), British Library.

Portrait of Henry VI, King of England and France (1322-1471, reigned in England from 1422-1461 and 1470-1471 (War of Roses), and in France (disputed) from 1422-1453)

Miniature of Joan of Arc (1412-1431), an artist’s interpretation, since the only known direct portrait has not survived, second part of 15th century.

Portrait of Charles VII, King of France (1403-1422-1461), by Jean Fouquet (1420-1480), tempera on wood, circa 1445-1450.

Portrait of Louis XI, the Prudent or the Universal Spider (1423-1461-1483) wearing his order of Saint Michel, unknown painter, 15th century.

Philip generally was preoccupied with matters in his own territories and was rarely directly involved in the Hundred Years’ War. Nevertheless, he did play a role during a number of periods such as the campaign against Compiègne capturing Joan of Arc. By purchase he incorporated Namur into Burgundian territory. Defeating the Countess Jacqueline in the last episode of the Hook and Cod wars he added Hainault and Holland, Friesland and Zeeland to Burgundy (1432). He inherited the Duchies of Brabant and Limburg and the Margraviate of Antwerp in 1430, and in addition he purchased Luxembourg in 1443 from Elisabeth of Bohemia, Duchess of Luxembourg.

After the Praguerie, Dauphin Louis continued soldiering. In doing so he approached Basel due to the fact that his father Charles VII, King of France, was asked by King Frederick III of Habsburg (1415-1440-1493, from 1452 Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) to help Zürich. Zürich had formed an alliance with King Friedrich III of Habsburg against the Swiss Confederation. In1444, Confederate troops besieged the city of Zürich. The dauphin approached with his army of Armagnacs (strength: circa 20’000) the city of Basel. He wanted to help the besieged Zürich but did also make an attempt to conquer Basel trying to incorporate it into the French Kingdom. Close to Basel at St. Jakob an der Birs (1444) the Armagnacs clashed with troops of the Confederation (strength: 1500, i.e. 1300 from Swiss Confederates and 200 from Basel). He routed them completely. Almost all the Swiss as well as the troops from Basel were killed. But the Armagnacs also had to suffer from quite some losses. The Dauphin was impressed by the latter’s military discipline and efficiency. At the same time a general Council of the Roman Catholic Church (1431-1449) did take place in the city of Basel. The representatives of the church had the opportunity to watch the battle from the walls. In the besieged Zürich, the inhabitants shouted with joy after they heard about the outcome of the battle of St. Jakob an der Birs. Subsequently, the troops of the Swiss Confederation decided to raise the siege of Zürich. After his victory, the Dauphin on the other hand addressed the city of Basel declaring that the city had to render homage to him. Basel refused to do so. Subsequently the Dauphin requested 41’000 gulden from the city of Basel, due to the fact that he could recognize some soldiers shooting on him when he was approaching the walls of Basel close to the Spalentor. Basel did decline to pay. Finally the Dauphin wanting to make peace concluded a treaty with Basel, and seven of the eight old “Orte” of the Confederation, in other words without Zürich, but with Solothurn (“zugewandter Ort”) (Peace of Ensisheim (Alsace, F), 1444). The Dauphin, the future French King Louis XI (1423-1461-1483) continued to quarrel with his father, which included disrespectful behaviour directed against his father’s beloved mistress Agnès Sorel (1410 or 1422-1450). This caused him to be ordered out of court in 1446. He was sent to his own province of Dauphiné. Louis continued his intrigues against his father. Finally, in 1456, Charles VII, King of France sent an army to Dauphiné. Louis fled to Burgundy, where he was granted refuge by Duke Philip the Good and settled in the castle of Genappe (in today Belgium). The Dauphin of France stayed in Genappe until the death of his father in 1461.

The court of Philip the Good was regarded as the most splendid in Europe, and became the accepted leader of taste and fashion. Flemish luxury products became sought by the elites of Europe. In 1430, Philip the Good created the Order of the Golden Fleece, based on the Knights of the Round Table and the myth of Jason. He died, aged 70 (1467), in Bruges.

Fresco showing Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (1405-1464), from 1458-1464 Pope Pius II, leaving for the Council of Basel (1431-1449), by Pinturicchio (circa 1454-1513), in the Piccolomini library, Duomo, Siena. He was the founder of the University of Basel (1460).

Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs, 1444, from the Tschachtlanchronik, 1470.

Portrait of Agnès Sorel (1410 or 1422-1450), by Jean Fouquet (1420-1480).

References: Willem Pieter Blockmans and Walter Prevenier: The Promised Land, The Low Countries under Burgundian Rule, 1369-1530, University of Pennsilvania Press, 1999. Emil Frey: Die Kriegstaten der Schweizer, Verlag F. Zahn, Neuenburg, 1904. Alois Niederstätter: Der Alte Zürichkrieg, Studien zum österreichisch-eidgenössischen Konflikt sowie zur Politik König Friedrichs III. in den Jahren 1440-1446, Böhlau, Wien 1995. Richard Vaughan: Philip the Good, The Apogee of Burgundy, Boydell Press, 2002. From the internet only data were taken into account present in the English a/o French a/o German version and well corroborated by primary literature. Cf. also this blog, earlier posts.