Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War

Last updated
Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War
Part of the Hundred Years' War
Vigiles du roi Charles VII 56.jpg
The Cabochien revolt in 1413
Date23 November 1407 – 21 September 1435
Result Treaty of Arras
Armagnac and Burgundian reconciliation
Arms of Charles dOrleans.svg Arms of Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac.svg Arms of France (France Moderne).svg
Armagnac party
Arms of the Duke of Burgundy (1404-1430).svg Arms of France (France Moderne).svg Coa Illustration Cross Of Burgundy.svg
Burgundian party
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg
Commanders and leaders
Arms of Charles dOrleans.svg Louis of Orléans  
Arms of Charles dOrleans.svg Charles of Orléans
Arms of Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac.svg Bernard of Armagnac  
Arms of France (France Moderne).svg Charles VII of France
Arms of the Duke of Burgundy (1404-1430).svg John the Fearless  
Arms of the Duke of Burgundy since 1430.svg Philip the Good
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Henry IV
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Henry V
Arms of John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford.svg John, Duke of Bedford

The Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War was a conflict between two cadet branches of the French royal family — the House of Orléans (Armagnac faction) and the House of Burgundy (Burgundian faction) from 1407 to 1435. It began during a lull in the Hundred Years' War against the English and overlapped with the Western Schism of the papacy.



The leaders of both parties were closely related to the French king through the male line. For this reason, they were called "princes of the blood", and exerted much influence on the affairs of the kingdom of France. Their rivalries and disputes for control of the government would serve as much of the basis for the conflict. The Orléans branch of the family, also referred to as House of Valois-Orléans, stemmed from Louis I, Duke of Orléans, younger son of King Charles V of France (r. 1364-1380). The House of Valois-Burgundy originated from Charles V's youngest brother, Philip the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy. Both their respective namesake duchies of Orléans and Burgundy were held in the status of appanage, as none of its holders were first in the line of succession to the French throne.

The war's causes were rooted in the reign of Charles VI of France (Charles V's eldest son and successor) and a confrontation between two different economic, social and religious systems. On the one hand was France, very strong in agriculture, with a strong feudal and religious system, and on the other was England, a country whose rainy climate favoured pasture and sheep farming and where artisans, the middle classes and cities were important.[ citation needed ] The Burgundians were in favour of the English model (the more so since the County of Flanders, whose cloth merchants were the main market for English wool, belonged to the Duke of Burgundy), while the Armagnacs defended the French model. In the same way, the Western Schism induced the election of an Armagnac-backed antipope based at Avignon, Pope Clement VII, opposed by the English-backed pope of Rome, Pope Urban VI.

Louis of Orleans unveiling a mistress - Eugene Delacroix Delacroix Louis dOrleans devoilant une maitresse.jpg
Louis of Orléans unveiling a mistress - Eugène Delacroix

With Charles VI mentally ill, from 1393, his wife Isabeau of Bavaria presided over a regency counsel, on which sat the grandees of the kingdom. The uncle of Charles VI, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who acted as regent during the king's minority (from 1380 to 1388), was a great influence on the queen (he had organized the royal marriage during his regency). This influence progressively shifted to Louis I, Duke of Orléans, the king's brother, and it was suspected, the queen's lover. [1] On the death of Philip the Bold, his son John the Fearless (who was less linked to Isabeau) again lost influence at court. The other uncle of Charles VI, John, Duke of Berry, served as a mediator between the Orléans party (what would become the Armagnacs) and the Burgundy party, whose rivalry would increase bit by bit and in the end, result in a true civil war.

To oppose the territorial expansion of the Dukedom of Burgundy, the Duke of Orléans acquired Luxembourg in 1402. While Louis of Orléans, getting 90% of his income from the royal treasury, bought lands and strongholds in the eastern marches of the kingdom that the Burgundians considered their private hunting ground, John the Fearless (lacking the fiery prestige of his father) saw royal largess towards him drying up (Philip received 200,000 livres per year, but John had to satisfy himself with 37,000).

The Duke of Orléans, son-in-law of Gian Galeazzo Visconti and holding the title for more or less hypothetical fiefdoms in the peninsula, wanted to let Charles VI intervene militarily in his favor. What is more, it seems he wanted to let the Anglo-French truce break down, even so far as provoking Henry IV of England to a duel, which John the Fearless could not allow, since Flemish industry depended totally on imported English wool and would have been ruined by an embargo on English goods.

The quarrel at first respected all forms of courtesy: John the Fearless adopted the nettle as his emblem, whilst Louis of Orléans chose the gnarled stick and the duke of Burgundy the plane or rabot[ clarification needed ] (distributing "rabotures", or badges, to his supporters). [1]

Outbreak of the war

The assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orleans in Paris in November 1407 Assassinat louis orleans.jpg
The assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans in Paris in November 1407

The king's brother, Louis of Orléans, "who whinnied like a stallion after almost all the beautiful women",[ attribution needed ] was accused of having wanted to seduce or worse, "esforcier", Margaret of Bavaria, the duchess of Burgundy. Moreover, and even if it was only a rumor, this seducer was – as Burgundian propaganda ran – the queen's lover and the real father of Charles, the future Charles VII. Louis was certainly close to the queen and benefited from the benevolence of his brother the king, whenever he was out of crisis; he thus succeeded in ousting the Burgundians on the counsel.

Ousted from power and toyed with by Louis, this was too much for John the Fearless. Taking advantage of rising anger among the taxpayers, always under pressure in peacetime, and noting that their taxes serve to finance court festivities, [2] John began to campaign for support, financing demagoguery (promising, for example, tax cuts and state reforms, that is, a controlled monarchy). [2] He thus won over the merchants, the small people and the university. [2]

John threatened Paris in 1405 with a demonstration of his power, but even this did not prove sufficient to restore his influence. He thus decided to get rid of his exasperating rival, having him murdered on rue Vieille du Temple in Paris on 23 November 1407, whilst he was leaving the queen's residence at Hôtel Barbette, a few days after she had given birth to her twelfth child. [1] Thomas de Courteheuse then sent word to Louis that the king, Charles VI of France, urgently needed him at hôtel Saint-Paul. Leaving the Hôtel Barbette, Louis was stabbed by fifteen masked criminals [1] led by Raoulet d'Anquetonville, a servant of the Duke of Burgundy. [3] Louis's escort of valets and guards were powerless to protect him. John had the support of Paris's population and university, whom he had won over by promising the establishment of an ordinance like that of 1357. [4] Thus able to take power, he could thus also publicly acknowledge the assassination – far from hiding it, he publicized it in an elegy in praise of tyrannicide by the Sorbonne university theologian Jean Petit. [3] The assassination thus finally unleashed a civil war that would last almost 30 years.

Civil war

John the Fearless - head of the Burgundian party - sporting the "rabotures" Jean sans peur.jpg
John the Fearless - head of the Burgundian party - sporting the "rabotures"

Intending to avenge his father, Charles of Orléans (Louis's son) backed the enemies of the Dukes of Burgundy wherever he could but even so, in 1409, a peace concluded at Chartres seemed to bring an end to hostilities. However, on 15 April 1410, at the marriage of Charles and Bonne d'Armagnac at Gien, the Duke of Orléans, his new father-in-law and the grandees of France formed a league against John and his supporters. The marriage gave the Orléans faction a new head to replace Louis (Charles's new father-in-law, Bernard VII, Count of Armagnac, who became the natural protector of the Duke) and a new name (the Armagnac party). Other members of the league included the Dukes of Berry, Bourbon and Brittany, as well as the Counts of Clermont and Alençon.

Bernard VII recruited warbands in the Midi that fought with unheard-of ferocity: the Écorcheurs. At their head, he ravaged the vicinity of Paris and advanced into the Saint-Marcel suburb. A new treaty, signed at Bicêtre on 2 November 1410, suspended hostilities, but both sides had taken up arms again as early as spring 1411. In October 1411, with an army 60,000 strong, the Duke of Burgundy entered Paris and attacked the Bretons allied to the Armagnacs, who had retrenched at La Chapelle. He had to withdraw in the end but, in the night of 8 to 9 November, he left via the porte Saint-Jacques, marched across Saint-Cloud and decisively defeated the Écorcheurs. Then John the Fearless pursued the princes of Orléans and their allies to Bourges, which Orléans was besieging, but the royal army appeared in front of the city on 11 June 1412. Another peace was signed at Bourges on 15 July and confirmed at Auxerre on 22 August.

The English took advantage of the situation by punctually supporting the two parties or buying their neutrality. The Armagnacs concluded a treaty with Henry IV of England in 1412, to prevent an Anglo-Burgundian alliance, so they yielded Guyenne to him and recognized his suzerainty over Poitou, Angoulême and Périgord. All the same, John the Fearless managed the English well, since an English wool embargo could ruin the cloth merchants of Flanders.

In 1413, John the Fearless supported the Cabochien Revolt [1] that brought about a slaughter in Paris. The Parisian population, terrified, called on the Armagnacs for aid. Their troops retook the city in 1414. When Henry V of England renewed hostilities in 1415, the duke of Burgundy remained neutral, leaving Henry able to defeat the French army (essentially provided by the Armagnacs), at the battle of Agincourt in October 1415.

On May 29, 1418, thanks to the treason of a certain Perrinet Leclerc and the support of the craftsmen and university, Paris was delivered to Jean de Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, captain of a troop favouring the duke of Burgundy. On the following 12 June, Bernard VII and other Armagnacs were slaughtered by a mob. John thus became master of Paris once again, and so he entered into negotiations with the English in which he seemed willing to welcome the king of England's claim on the French throne. It thus became imperative for the Dauphin to negotiate a rapprochement with the Burgundians, again to avoid an Anglo-Burgundian alliance. John the Fearless, on his part, had become master of a large part of the kingdom after his capture of Paris, but his finances were at rock bottom. John was thus in favor of meeting the Dauphin, Charles VII of France, in order to sign up to an advantageous peace, so several meetings were thus organized.

Assassination of John the Fearless John the Fearless assassination.jpg
Assassination of John the Fearless

Assassination of John the Fearless

However, having set the precedent for assassinations, on 10 September 1419, John himself was murdered on the bridge at Montereau-Fault-Yonne, whilst in the town for an interview with Charles. Both sides agreed to meet on the bridge. Charles's men accused the Burgundians of not keeping their promise to break off their alliances with the English. They, on high alert because they had heard that Jean intended to kidnap or attack the dauphin, reacted swiftly when the Lord of Navailles raised his sword. In the ensuing scuffle, the duke was killed. [5] This act prevented all appeasement, and thereby enabled a continuation of English military successes with the collusion of Burgundy.


Philip the Good, the new Duke of Burgundy, then entered into an alliance with the English, which resulted in the Treaty of Troyes. This treaty disinherited the Dauphin Charles and handed the succession to Henry V through a marriage to Charles VI's daughter, Catherine of Valois. The treaty named Henry "regent and heir of France" (although the English only had effective control over northern France and Guyenne) until Charles's death. The treaty was denounced by the Armagnacs, who reasoned "that the king belongs to the crown and not vice versa". Despite his expectations, Henry V predeceased his sickly father-in-law by a few months, in 1422. In 1429, the intervention of Joan of Arc culminated in a successful coronation campaign that allowed Charles VII to be crowned at Reims Cathedral, the traditional coronation site of French kings, on 17 July 1429. The ten-year-old Henry VI of England was crowned as King of France on 16 December 1431 at Notre-Dame de Paris.

End of the war

Territory controlled in 1429 by England, her Burgundian allies, and France 100 Years War France 1435.svg
Territory controlled in 1429 by England, her Burgundian allies, and France

Engaged in a patient reconquest of French territory, Charles VII wished to isolate the English from the Burgundians. In 1435, he concluded the treaty of Arras with Philip the Good, ending the civil war. Philip the Good was personally exempted from rendering homage to Charles VII (for having been complicit in his father's murder). This agreement officially put an end to the war and allowed Charles VII to recapture practically all the English continental possessions, leaving them in 1453 with Calais alone. Philip the Good later secured the release of Charles, Duke of Orléans, ending the feud between the two houses.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Alban Dignat, 23 novembre 1407: Assassinat dans la rue Vieille du Temple, Archived 2006-12-11 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 3 Noël Coulet, Le temps des malheurs (1348-1440) tiré de Histoire de la France des origines à nos jours sous la direction de Georges Duby, Larousse, 2007, p 405
  3. 1 2 Laurent Theis, Histoire du Moyen Âge Français, Perrin 1992, p. 326-327
  4. Noël Coulet, Le temps des malheurs (1348-1440) tiré de Histoire de la France des origines à nos jours sous la direction de Georges Duby, Larousse, 2007, p 418–419
  5. Walravens, C.J.H. (1971). Alain Chartier. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff-Didier. p. 166.

Related Research Articles

House of Valois Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty

The House of Valois was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet to the French throne, and were the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589. Junior members of the family founded cadet branches in Orléans, Anjou, Burgundy, and Alençon.

Charles VII of France 15th-century King of France

Charles VII, called the Victorious or the Well-Served, was King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461.

Charles VI of France 14th/15th-century French king

Charles VI, called the Beloved and later the Mad, was King of France from 1380 until his death in 1422. He is known for his mental illness and psychotic episodes which plagued him throughout his life. Charles's reign would see his army crushed at the Battle of Agincourt, leading to the signing of the Treaty of Troyes, which made his future son-in-law Henry V of England his regent and heir to the throne of France. However, Henry would die shortly before Charles, which gave the House of Valois the chance to continue the fight against the English, leading to their eventual victory and the end of the Hundred Years' War in 1453.

The Treaty of Troyes was an agreement that King Henry V of England and his heirs would inherit the French throne upon the death of King Charles VI of France. It was formally signed in the French city of Troyes on 21 May 1420 in the aftermath of Henry's successful military campaign in France. It forms a part of the backdrop of the latter phase of the Hundred Years' War finally won by the French at the Battle of Castillon in 1453, and in which various English kings tried to establish their claims to the French throne.

John the Fearless 14th/15th-century Duke of Burgundy

John the Fearless was a scion of the French royal family who ruled the Burgundian State from 1404 until his death in 1419. He played a key role in French national affairs during the early 15th century, particularly in the struggles to rule the country for the mentally ill King Charles VI, his cousin, and the Hundred Years' War with England. A rash, ruthless and unscrupulous politician, John murdered the King's brother, the Duke of Orléans, in an attempt to gain control of the government, which led to the eruption of the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War in France and in turn culminated in his own assassination in 1419.

Isabeau of Bavaria Queen consort of France

Isabeau of Bavaria was queen of France between 1385 and 1422. She was born into the House of Wittelsbach as the only daughter of Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti of Milan. At age 15 or 16, Isabeau was sent to the young King Charles VI of France; the couple wed three days after their first meeting.

Yolande of Aragon Duchess of Anjou, Countess of Maine

Yolande of Aragon was Duchess of Anjou and Countess of Provence by marriage, who acted as regent of Provence during the minority of her son. She was a daughter of John I of Aragon and his wife Yolande of Bar. Yolande played a crucial role in the struggles between France and England, influencing events such as the financing of Joan of Arc's army in 1429 that helped tip the balance in favour of the French. She was also known as Yolanda de Aragón and Violant d'Aragó. Tradition holds that she commissioned the famous Rohan Hours.

The Armagnac faction was prominent in French politics and warfare during the Hundred Years' War. It was allied with the supporters of Charles, Duke of Orléans against John the Fearless after Charles' father Louis of Orléans was killed on a Paris street on the orders of the Duke of Burgundy on 23 November 1407.

Isabella of Bourbon French noblewoman

Isabella of Bourbon, Countess of Charolais was the second wife of Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais and future Duke of Burgundy. She was a daughter of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon and Agnes of Burgundy, and the mother of Mary of Burgundy, heiress of Burgundy.

Burgundian (party)

The Burgundian party was a political allegiance against France that formed during the latter half of the Hundred Years' War. The term "Burgundians" refers to the supporters of the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, that formed after the assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans. Their opposition to the Armagnac party, the supporters of Charles, Duke of Orléans, led to a civil war in the early 15th Century, itself part of the larger Hundred Years' War.

Congress of Arras 1435 diplomatic meeting during the Hundred Years War

The Congress of Arras was a diplomatic congregation established at Arras in the summer of 1435 during the Hundred Years' War, between representatives of England, France, and Burgundy. It was the first negotiation since the Treaty of Troyes and replaced the 15 year agreement between Burgundy and England that would have seen the dynasty of Henry V inherit the French crown.

Hundred Years War (1415–1453) Third phase of the Hundred Years War

The Lancastrian War was the third and final phase of the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War. It lasted from 1415, when King Henry V of England invaded Normandy, to 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. It followed a long period of peace from the end of the Caroline War in 1389. The phase was named after the House of Lancaster, the ruling house of the Kingdom of England, to which Henry V belonged.

Louis, Duke of Guyenne Dauphin of Viennois, Duke of Guyenne

Louis was the eighth of twelve children of King Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria. He was their third son and the second to hold the titles Dauphin of Viennois and Duke of Guyenne, inheriting them in 1401, at the death of his older brother, Charles (1392–1401).

Margaret of Nevers Dauphine of France

Margaret of Nevers, also known as Margaret of Burgundy, was Dauphine of France and Duchess of Guyenne as the daughter-in-law of King Charles VI of France. A pawn in the dynastic struggles between her family and in-laws during the Hundred Years' War, Margaret was regarded as the future Queen of France at two separate times, as a result of her two marriages: first to the Dauphin and second to the Duke of Brittany.

House of Valois-Burgundy

The House of Valois-Burgundy, or the Younger House of Burgundy, was a noble French family deriving from the royal House of Valois. It is distinct from the Capetian House of Burgundy, descendants of King Robert II of France, though both houses stem from the Capetian dynasty. They ruled the Duchy of Burgundy from 1363 to 1482 and later came to rule vast lands including Artois, Flanders, Luxembourg, Hainault, the county palatine of Burgundy (Franche-Comté), and other lands through marriage, forming what is now known as the Burgundian State.

Assassination of John the Fearless Medieval assassination of a French prince

John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, was assassinated on the bridge at Montereau on 10 September 1419 during a parley with the French dauphin, by Tanneguy du Chastel and Jean Louvet, the dauphin's close counsellors.

Assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans 1407 murder in Paris

The assassination of Louis I, Duke of Orléans took place on November 23, 1407 in Paris, France.

Dual monarchy of England and France

The dual monarchy of England and France existed during the latter phase of the Hundred Years' War when Charles VII of France and Henry VI of England disputed the succession to the throne of France. It commenced on 21 October 1422 upon the death of King Charles VI of France, who had signed the Treaty of Troyes which gave the French crown to his son-in-law Henry V of England and Henry's heirs. It excluded King Charles's son, the Dauphin Charles, who by right of primogeniture was the heir to the Kingdom of France. Although the Treaty was ratified by the Estates-General of France, the act was a contravention of the French law of succession which decreed that the French crown could not be alienated. Henry VI, son of Henry V, became king of both England and France and was recognized only by the English and Burgundians until 1435 as King Henry II of France. He was crowned King of France on 16 December 1431.

March to Reims

After the lifting of the Siege of Orléans and the decisive French victory at the Battle of Patay, the Anglo-Burgundian threat was ended. Joan of Arc convinced the Dauphin Charles to go to be crowned at Reims. The march though the heart of territory controlled by the hostile Burgundians was successful and would give the throne of the French monarchy to Charles VII, who had been ousted therefrom by the Treaty of Troyes.

Burgundian State Historical government in what is now France, Belgium and the Netherlands

The Burgundian State is a concept coined by historians to describe the vast complex of territories that is also referred to as Valois Burgundy.