|Charles the Bold|
|Duke of Burgundy|
|Reign||15 June 1467 – 5 January 1477|
|Predecessor||Philip the Good|
|Successor||Mary the Rich|
|Born||10 November 1433|
|Died||5 January 1477 43) (aged|
(m. 1440;d. 1446)
(m. 1454;d. 1465)
|Issue||Mary the Rich|
|Father||Philip the Good|
|Mother||Isabella of Portugal|
Charles (Charles Martin; German : Karl Martin; Dutch : Karel Maarten; 10 November 1433 – 5 January 1477), nicknamed the Bold (German : der Kühne; Dutch : de Stoute; French : le Téméraire), was the Duke of Burgundy from 1467 to 1477.
His main objective was to be crowned king by turning the growing Burgundian State into a territorially continuous kingdom. He declared himself and his lands independent, bought Upper Alsace and conquered Zutphen, Guelders and Lorraine, uniting at last Burgundian northern and southern possessions. This caused the enmity of several European powers and triggered the Burgundian Wars.
His early death at the Battle of Nancy at the hands of Swiss mercenaries fighting for René II, Duke of Lorraine was of great consequence in European history. The Burgundian domains, long wedged between France and the Habsburg Empire, were divided, but the precise disposition of the vast and disparate territorial possessions involved was disputed among the European powers for centuries.
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'Auxyand 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 IV and 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 several years younger than him and was the daughter of Philip the Good's sister Agnes and a very distant cousin of Charles VII of France. She died in 1465 and their daughter, Mary, was Charles' only surviving child.
Charles was on friendly terms with his brother-in-law Louis, the Dauphin of France, who had been a refugee at the court of Burgundy from 1456 until he succeeded his father as king of France in 1461. But Louis began to pursue some of the same policies as his father, for example Louis's later repurchase of the towns on the Somme River that Louis's father had ceded in 1435 to Charles's father in the Treaty of Arras, which Charles viewed with chagrin. When his father's failing health enabled him to assume the reins of government (which Philip relinquished to him by an act of 12 April 1465), he initiated a policy of hostility toward Louis XI that led to the Burgundian Wars, and he became one of the principal leaders of the League of the Public Weal, an alliance of west European nobles opposed to policies of Louis XI that sought to centralize the royal authority within France.
For his third wife, Charles was offered the hand of Louis XI's daughter Anne. The wife he ultimately chose, however, was his second cousin Margaret of York (who was also, like himself, a great-grandchild of John of Gaunt). Upon the death of his father in 1467, Charles was no longer bound by the terms of the Treaty of Arras, and he decided to ally himself with Burgundy's old ally England. Louis did his best to prevent or delay the marriage with Margaret (he even sent French ships to waylay her as she sailed to Sluys), but in the summer of 1468, it was celebrated sumptuously at Bruges, and Charles was made a Knight of the Garter. The couple had no children, but Margaret devoted herself to her stepdaughter Mary. After Mary's death many years later, she kept Mary's two infant children, Philip the Fair and Margaret of Austria, as long as she was allowed.
On 12 April 1465, Philip relinquished control of the government of his domains to Charles, who spent the next summer prosecuting the War of the Public Weal against Louis XI. Charles was left master of the field at the Battle of Montlhéry on 13 July 1465,but this neither prevented the king from re-entering Paris nor did it assure Charles of a decisive victory. He succeeded, however, in forcing upon Louis the Treaty of Conflans of 4 October 1465, by which the king restored to him certain towns on the Somme River, the counties of Boulogne and Guînes, and various other small territories. During the negotiations for the treaty, his wife Isabella died suddenly at Les Quesnoy on 25 September, making a political marriage suddenly possible. As part of the treaty, Louis promised him the hand of his infant daughter Anne, with the territories of Champagne and Ponthieu as a dowry, but no marriage ever took place. In the meanwhile, Charles obtained the surrender of Ponthieu.
Charles' concentration on the affairs of France was diverted by the Revolt of Liège against his father and the bishop of Liège (Louis of Bourbon) and a desire to punish the town of Dinant in the province of Namur. During the wars of the summer of 1465, Dinant celebrated a false rumour that Charles had been defeated at Montlhéry by burning him in effigy and chanting that he was the bastard child of his mother Isabella of Portugal and John of Heinsburg, the previous Bishop of Liège (d. 1455). On 25 August 1466, Charles marched into Dinant, determined to avenge this slur on the honour of his mother, and sacked the city, killing every man, woman and child within. After the death of Charles' father Philip the Good in 1467, the Bishopric of Liège renewed hostilities, but was defeated by Charles at the Battle of Brustem. Charles made a victorious entry into Liège, dismantled its walls and stripped the city of some of its privileges.
Alarmed by the early successes of the new Duke of Burgundy and anxious to settle various questions relating to the execution of the Treaty of Conflans, Louis XI requested a meeting with Charles and daringly placed himself in his hands in the town of Péronne in Picardy in October 1468. In the course of the negotiations, the duke was informed of a fresh revolt of the Bishopric of Liège secretly fomented by Louis as part of the Liège Wars. After deliberating for four days on the best way to deal with his adversary, who had foolishly placed himself at his mercy, Charles decided to respect the promise he had given to guarantee Louis's safety and to negotiate with him. At the same time, he forced Louis to assist him in quelling the revolt in Liège. The town was captured and many inhabitants were massacred. Louis chose not to intervene on behalf of his former allies.
At the expiry of the one year's truce that followed the Treaty of Péronne, the French king accused Charles of treason, cited him to appear before the parlement, and seized some of the towns on the Somme in 1471. The duke retaliated by invading France with a large army; he took possession of Nesle and massacred its inhabitants. He failed, however, in an attack on Beauvais and had to content himself with laying waste to the countryside as far as Rouen. He eventually withdrew without attaining any useful result.
Charles pursued domestic policies that assisted the growth of his military establishment. To this end, he relinquished at least some of the extravagance that had characterized the court of Burgundy under his father, if not the magnificence of ceremonial events. From the beginning of his reign, he employed himself in reorganizing his army and the administration of his territories. While retaining the principles of feudal recruiting, he endeavored to establish a system of rigid discipline among his troops that was strengthened by the employment of foreign mercenaries, particularly Englishmen and Italians, and the augmentation of his artillery.The economic power that Charles inherited from Philip led to an independent judicial system, a sophisticated administration, and the establishment of local estates.
Charles constantly sought to expand the territories under his control. In 1469, Archduke Sigismund of Austria sold him the county of Ferrette, the Landgraviate of Alsace, and some other towns, reserving to himself the right to repurchase.
In 1472–1473, Charles bought the reversion of the Duchy of Guelders (i.e. the right to succeed to it) from its duke Arnold, whom he had supported against the rebellion of his son. Not content with being "the Grand Duke of the West," he conceived the project of forming a kingdom of Burgundy or Arles with himself as independent sovereign and even persuaded the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III to assent to crown him a king at Trier. The ceremony, however, did not take place owing to the emperor's precipitate flight by night in September 1473, which was occasioned by his displeasure at the duke's ambitions and demeanor.
At the close of 1473, the Burgundian State went from Charolais in France to the edges of the Netherlands. This made Charles the Bold one of the wealthiest and most powerful nobles in Europe. Indeed, his landholdings and revenue base rivalled those of many of the royal families.
In the year 1474, Charles began to involve himself in the series of political struggles that ultimately brought about his downfall. He first came into conflict with the Archduke Sigismund of Austria, to whom he refused to restore his possessions in Alsace for the stipulated sum. Then, he quarreled with the Swiss, who supported the free towns in the Upper Rhine in their revolt against the tyranny of the ducal governor Peter von Hagenbach (who was condemned by a special international tribunal and executed on 9 May 1474). Finally, he antagonized René II, Duke of Lorraine, with whom he disputed the succession in the Duchy of Lorraine, which bordered many of his territories. All of these enemies readily joined forces against their common adversary Charles.
Charles suffered a first rebuff in endeavouring to protect his kinsman Ruprecht of the Palatinate, Archbishop of Cologne, against his rebel subjects. He spent ten months (July 1474 – June 1475) besieging the little town of Neuss on the Rhine (the Siege of Neuss), but was compelled by the approach of a powerful imperial army to raise the siege. Moreover, the expedition he had persuaded his brother-in-law Edward IV of England to undertake against Louis XI was stopped by the Treaty of Picquigny of 29 August 1475. He was more successful in Lorraine, where he seized Nancy on 30 November 1475.
From Nancy he marched against the Swiss. He saw fit to hang or drown the garrison of Grandson after its capitulation. Grandson was a possession of Jacques of Savoy, Count of Romont, a close ally of Charles, that had been captured recently by the forces of the Swiss Confederacy. Some days later, on 2 March 1476, Charles was attacked outside the village of Concise by the confederate army in the Battle of Grandson and suffered a defeat;he was compelled to flee with a handful of attendants and abandon his artillery along with an immense booty, including his silver bath and the crown jewel called The Three Brothers commissioned by his grandfather Duke John the Fearless.
Charles succeeded in raising a fresh army of 30,000 men that he used to fight the Battle of Morat on 22 June 1476. He was again defeated by the Swiss army, which was assisted by the cavalry of the Duke of Lorraine. On this occasion, unlike the debacle at Grandson, little booty was lost, but Charles did lose about one third of his entire army. The defeated soldiers were pushed into the nearby lake, where they were drowned or shot at while trying to swim to safety on the opposite shore. On 6 October, Charles lost Nancy, which the Duke of Lorraine was able to recover.
Making a last effort, Charles formed a new army and arrived in the dead of winter before the walls of Nancy. Having lost many of his troops through the severe cold, it was with only a few thousand men that he met the joint forces of the Lorrainers and the Swiss, who had come to the relief of the town.
After the battle, the Duke of Lorraine sent messengers to discover what happened to Charles. A day later, a page reported that he had seen Charles die.About a dozen bodies were found by the edge of a pool, many of them followers and close friends of Charles. Although all the bodies had been stripped naked, some were recognizable, among them Charles, whose body was in a worse condition a short distance away. One cheek had been chewed away by wolves and the other embedded in frozen slime. Removing the body from the frozen water required fetching instruments from Nancy.
Charles' body bore evidence of a blow above the ear from a halberd and spear wounds through the thighs and abdomen.Canvassing Charles' physician, chaplain, pages, and others, it was established that the corpse was Charles based on missing teeth, a scar matching a wound Charles had received in a battle at Montl'héry, a shoulder wound, his long finger nails, and a fistula on the groin.
Charles' battered body was initially buried in the ducal church in Nancy, by René II, Duke of Lorraine.Later in 1550, his great-grandson, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, ordered it to be moved to the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, next to that of his daughter Mary. In 1562, Emperor Charles V's son and heir, King Philip II of Spain, erected a mausoleum in early renaissance style over his tomb, which is still extant. Excavations in 1979 positively identified the remains of Mary, in a lead coffin, but those of Charles were never found.
Charles married three times:
The Burgundian possessions became part of the Habsburg empire on the marriage of daughter Mary to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.
Burgundian chroniclers described the personality of the duke as austere, virtuous but without pity, pious and chaste, and with a great sense of honour. His contemporaries named him le Hardi or der Kühne ("the Bold") or le Guerrier ("the Warrior") or le Terrible ("the Terrible"),among others, and the epithet that became his byname in history, le Téméraire ("the Reckless"), is already found in Thomas Basin, bishop of Lisieux, who wrote around 1484. In the 15th century these bynames were used simply as qualifications of his character, and the duke being simply known as Charles de Bourgogne.
The process of the epithet le Téméraire acquiring the nature of a byname was gradual. In the 17th century, the Grand Dictionnaire Historique of Louis Moreri mentions Charles de Bourgogne, surnommé le Guerrier, le Hardi ou le Téméraire. In the 18th century, Dom Plancher still mentions him as Charles le Hardi. In the 19th century, the byname of le Téméraire became standard in France and Belgium.
Charles left his unmarried 19-year-old daughter Mary as his heir; clearly her marriage would have enormous implications for the political balance of Europe. Both King Louis of France and Frederick III, the Holy Roman Emperor, had unmarried eldest sons; Charles had already made some movements towards arranging a marriage between Mary and the Emperor's son, Maximilian, before his death.
Louis unwisely concentrated on seizing border territories militarily, in particular the Duchy of Burgundy (a French fiefdom). This naturally made negotiations for a marriage difficult. He later admitted to his councillor Philippe de Commynes that this had been his greatest mistake. In the meantime, the Habsburg Emperor moved faster and more purposefully, and secured the match for his son Maximilian with the aid of Mary's stepmother, Margaret.
Due to this marriage, much of the Burgundian territories passed to the Holy Roman Empire. Throughout the early modern Wars of Religion and down to 1945, the border between the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of France, and later between France and Germany (specifically, concerning Alsace, Lorraine and Flanders), was disputed.
He is a main character in Sir Walter Scott's 1823 novel Quentin Durward .He is portrayed as intelligent, though brash. The timeline was manipulated by the author for dramatic purposes. He is a principal character in Scott's later novel Anne of Geierstein .
He is an important background character in The House of Niccolò series of historical novels by Dorothy Dunnett.
|Ancestors of Charles the Bold|
| Dukes of Burgundy-|
House of Valois, Burgundian Branch
|John the Good|
|Philip the Bold|
|John the Fearless|
|Philip the Good|
|Charles the Bold|
|Mary of Burgundy|
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.
Louis XI, called "Louis the Prudent", was King of France from 1461 to 1483. He succeeded his father, Charles VII.
Margaret of York —also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy—was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles the Bold and acted as a protector of the Burgundian State after his death. She was a daughter of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of two kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. She was born at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, in the Kingdom of England, and she died at Mechelen in the Low Countries.
Mary, nicknamed the Rich, titular Duchess of Burgundy, reigned over the Burgundian State, now mainly in France—with the exception of the Duchy of Burgundy returned to the Kingdom of France (1477)—and the Low Countries, from 1477 until her death in a riding accident at the age of 25.
The Duchy of Burgundy emerged in the 9th century as one of the successors of the ancient Kingdom of the Burgundians, which after its conquest in 532 had formed a constituent part of the Frankish Empire. Upon the 9th-century partitions, the French remnants of the Burgundian kingdom were reduced to a ducal rank by King Robert II of France in 1004. Robert II's son and heir, King Henry I of France, inherited the duchy but ceded it to his younger brother Robert in 1032. Other portions had passed to the Imperial Kingdom of Burgundy-Arles, including the County of Burgundy (Franche-Comté).
Philip the Good was Duke of Burgundy from 1419 until his death. He was a member of a cadet line of the Valois dynasty, to which all 15th-century kings of France belonged. During his reign, the Burgundian State reached the apex of its prosperity and prestige, and became a leading centre of the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Guillaume Du Fay, and the capture of Joan of Arc and turning her over to the English, who tried and executed her. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty's powerbase. Additionally, as ruler of Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, Artois, Hainaut, Holland, Luxembourg, Zeeland, Friesland and Namur, he played an important role in the history of the Low Countries.
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.
René II was Count of Vaudémont from 1470, Duke of Lorraine from 1473, and Duke of Bar from 1483 to 1508. He claimed the crown of the Kingdom of Naples and the County of Provence as the Duke of Calabria 1480–1493 and as King of Naples and Jerusalem 1493–1508. He succeeded his uncle John of Vaudémont as Count of Harcourt in 1473, exchanging it for the county of Aumale in 1495. He succeeded as Count of Guise in 1504.
The Burgundian Wars (1474–1477) were a conflict between the Burgundian State and the Old Swiss Confederacy and its allies. Open war broke out in 1474, and the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, was defeated three times on the battlefield in the following years and was killed at the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The Duchy of Burgundy and several other Burgundian lands then became part of France, and the Burgundian Netherlands and Franche-Comté were inherited by Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy and eventually passed to the House of Habsburg upon her death because of her marriage to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.
In the history of the Low Countries, the Burgundian Netherlands were a number of Imperial and French fiefs ruled in personal union by the House of Valois-Burgundy in the period from 1384 to 1482 and later their Habsburg heirs. They constituted the Northern part of the Burgundian State. The area comprised the major parts of present-day Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Hauts-de-France.
Frederick, sometimes called Frederick IV or Frederick of Aragon, was the last King of Naples from the Neapolitan branch of the House of Trastámara, ruling from 1496 to 1501. He was the second son of Ferdinand I, younger brother of Alfonso II, and uncle of Ferdinand II, his predecessor.
The Burgundian Circle was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire created in 1512 and significantly enlarged in 1548. In addition to the Free County of Burgundy, the Burgundian Circle roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e., the areas now known as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and adjacent parts in the French administrative region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. For most of its history, its lands were coterminous with the holdings of the Spanish Habsburgs in the Empire.
The League of the Public Weal was an alliance of feudal nobles organized in 1465 in defiance of the centralized authority of King Louis XI of France. It was masterminded by Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, son of the Duke of Burgundy, with the king's brother Charles, Duke of Berry, as a figurehead.
Antoine I de Croÿ, Seigneur de Croÿ, Renty and Le Roeulx, Count of Porcéan, was a member of the House of Croÿ.
Antoine de Bourgogne, known to his contemporaries as the Bastard of Burgundy or Le grand bâtard, was the natural son of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy, and one of his mistresses, Jeanne de Presle. He was comte de La Roche (Ardenne), de Grandpré, de Sainte-Menehould et de Guînes, seigneur de Crèvecoeur, Beveren et Tournehem, and chevalier of the Golden Fleece.
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.
Louis de Bourbon was Prince-Bishop of Liège from 1456 until his death.
The Burgundian inheritance in the Low Countries consisted of numerous fiefs held by the Dukes of Burgundy in modern-day Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Duke of Burgundy was a member of the House of Valois-Burgundy and, after 1482, of the House of Habsburg. Given that the Dukes of Burgundy lost Burgundy proper to the Kingdom of France in 1477, and were never able to recover it, they moved their court to the Low Countries. The Burgundian Low Countries were ultimately expanded to include Seventeen Provinces under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The Burgundian inheritance then passed to Philip II of Spain, whose rule was contested by the Dutch revolt, and fragmented into the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch republic.
The Wars of Liège were a series of three rebellions by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, in the town of Liège in modern-day Belgium, against the expanding Burgundian State between 1465 and 1468. On each occasion, the rebels were defeated by Burgundian forces commanded by Charles the Bold and the city was twice burned to the ground.
The Burgundian State is a concept coined by historians to describe the vast complex of territories that is also referred to as Valois Burgundy.