Count of Flanders

Last updated
Coat of arms of the counts of Flanders. Coat of Arms of the Count of Flanders (according to the Gelre Armorial).svg
Coat of arms of the counts of Flanders.

The count of Flanders was the ruler or sub-ruler of the county of Flanders, beginning in the 9th century. [1] Later, the title would be held for a time, by the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. During the French Revolution, in 1790, the county of Flanders was annexed to France and ceased to exist. In the 19th century, the title was appropriated by Belgium and granted twice to younger sons of Belgian kings. The most recent holder died in 1983. [2]


In 862 Baldwin I was appointed as the first Margrave of Flanders by King Charles II. It was a military appointment, responsible for repelling the Viking raids from the coast of Francia. The title of margrave (or marquis) evolved into that of count. Arnulf I was the first to name himself as count, by the Grace of God. The title of margrave largely fell out of use by the 12th century. Since then, the rulers of Flanders have only been referred to as counts.

The counts of Flanders enlarged their estate through a series of diplomatic marriages. The counties of Hainaut, Namur, Béthune, Nevers, Auxerre, Rethel, Burgundy, and Artois were all acquired in this manner. However, the County of Flanders suffered the same fate in turn. As a result of the marriage of Countess Margaret III with Philip II, Duke of Burgundy, the county and the subsidiary counties entered a personal union with the Duchy of Burgundy in 1405. [3]

The counts of Flanders were also associated with the Duchy of Brittany prior to its union with France. In c.1323, Joan, the daughter of Arthur II, Duke of Brittany, married the second son of Count Robert III. Joanna of Flanders, the granddaughter of Count Robert III and daughter of his son, Count Louis I, married John Montfort. [4] During Montfort's imprisonment, she fought on his behalf, alongside English allies, during the Breton War of Succession for the ducal crown, which was won definitively by her son John V, Duke of Brittany. It was through this alliance that the Duchy of Brittany was eventually joined to the throne of France. [5]

List of counts

House of Flanders

Baldwin I c. 830s – 879862 – 879 Judith of Flanders
c. 861
4 children
Married Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald
Baldwin II c. 865 – 10 September 918879 – 10 September 918 Ælfthryth
c. 893
4 children
Son of Baldwin I and Judith
Arnulf I c. 893/899 – 27 March 96410 September 918 – 27 March 964 Adele of Vermandois
5 children
Son of Baldwin II
Baldwin III c. 940 – c. 962958-962 Matilda of Saxony
c. 961
1 son
Ruled jointly with his father Arnulf I
Arnulf II c. 961 – 30 March 987965 – 30 March 987 Rozala of Italy
2 children
Son of Baldwin III
Baldwin IV 980 – 30 May 1035988 – 30 May 1035(1) Ogive of Luxembourg
1 son
(2) Eleanor of Normandy
1 daughter
Son of Arnulf II
Baldwin V 19 August 1012 – 1 September 106730 May 1035 – 1 September 1067 Adela of France
3 children
Son of Baldwin IV
Baldwin VI c. 1030 – 17 July 10701 September 1067 – 17 July 1070 Richilde, Countess of Hainaut
2 sons
Son of Baldwin V; also Count of Hainaut
Arnulf III c. 1055 – 22 February 107117 July 1070 – 22 February 1071Never marriedSon of Baldwin VI; also Count of Hainaut
Robert I c. 1035 – 13 October 109322 February 1071 – 13 October 1093 Gertrude of Saxony
5 children
Son of Baldwin V
Robert II c. 1065 – 5 October 111113 October 1093 – 5 October 1111 Clementia of Burgundy
1 son
Son of Robert I
Baldwin VII 1093 – 17 July 11195 October 1111 – 17 July 1119 Hawise of Brittany
no issue
Son of Robert II

House of Estridsen

Charles I 1084 – 2 March 11271119 – 2 March 1127 Margaret of Clermont
c. 1118
no issue
Son of Canute IV of Denmark and Adela of Flanders, cousin of Baldwin VII and designated by him. Also grandson of Robert I.

House of Normandy

William I 25 October 1102 – 28 July 11282 March 1127 – 28 July 1128(1) Sibylla of Anjou
c. 1123
no issue
(2) Joanna of Montferrat
c. 1127
no issue
Great-grandson of Baldwin V, designated by Louis VI of France

House of Alsace or House of Metz

Theoderic c. 1099 – 17 January 116828 July 1128 – 17 January 1168(1) Margaret of Clermont (or Swanhilde)
before 1132
1 daughter
(2) Sibylla of Anjou
c. 1134
6 children
Grandson of Robert I, recognised by Louis VI of France
Philip I 1143 – 1 August 119117 January 1168 – 1 August 1191(1) Elisabeth of Vermandois
no issue
(2) Theresa of Portugal
c. 1183
no issue
Son of Thierry; also Count of Vermandois
Margaret I c. 1145 - 15 November 11941 August 1191 - 15 November 1194(1) Ralph II of Vermandois
no issue
(2) Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut
c. 1169
8 children
Daughter of Thierry

House of Flanders

Baldwin8.jpg Baldwin VIII 1150 – 17 December 11951 August 1191 - 17 December 1194 Margaret I
c. 1169
8 children
Husband of Margaret I
Baldwin I of Constantinople.jpg Baldwin IX July 1172 – c. 12051194 - 1205 Marie of Champagne
6 January 1186
2 daughters
Son of Margaret I and Baldwin VIII, also Latin Emperor of Constantinople
Joan of Constantinople.jpg Joan c. 1199 – 5 December 12441205 – 5 December 1244(1) Ferdinand of Portugal
no issue
(2) Thomas of Savoy-Piedmont
2 April 1237
no issue
Daughter of Baldwin IX
Ferdinand 24 March 1188 – 27 July 12331212 – 27 July 1233 Joan, Countess of Flanders
no issue
Husband of Joan
Thomas c. 1199 – 7 February 12591212 – 5 December 1244 Joan, Countess of Flanders
2 April 1237
no issue
Husband of Joan
Marguerite 2.jpg Margaret II 1202 – 10 February 12805 December 1244 – 29 December 1278(1) Bouchard IV of Avesnes
c. 23 July 1212
3 sons
(2) William II of Dampierre
18 August/15 November 1223
5 children
Sister of Joan

In 1244, the Counties of Flanders and Hainaut were claimed by Margaret II's sons, the half-brothers John I of Avesnes and William III of Dampierre in the War of the Succession of Flanders and Hainault. In 1246, King Louis IX of France awarded Flanders to William.

House of Dampierre

Vilem 2 Flandry.jpg William II 1224 – 6 June 12511247 - 6 June 1251 Beatrice of Brabant
November 1247
no issue
Son of Margaret II and William II of Dampierre
Guidonis.jpg Guy c. 1226 – 7 March 13056 June 1251 - 7 March 1305(1) Matilda of Béthune
June 1246
8 children
(2) Isabelle of Luxembourg
March 1265
8 children
Brother of William II
Robertus1.jpg Robert III 1249 – 17 September 13227 March 1305 – 17 September 1322(1) Blanche of Sicily
1 son (died young)
(2) Yolande II, Countess of Nevers
c. 1271
5 children
Son of Guy: also Count of Nevers
Louis2Fl.jpg Louis I c. 1304 – 26 August 134617 September 1322 – 26 August 1346 Margaret I, Countess of Burgundy
1 son
Grandson of Robert III
Louis II of Flanders-Lodewijk van Male (1330-1384).jpg Louis II 25 October 1330 – 30 January 138426 August 1346 – 30 January 1384 Margaret of Brabant
1 daughter
Son of Louis I; also Count of Burgundy
Flemish School - Lille - Margaret of Dampierre.jpg Margaret III 13 April 1350 – 16 March 140530 January 1384 – 16 March 1405(1) Philip I, Duke of Burgundy
no issue
(2) Philip II, Duke of Burgundy
19 June 1369
9 children
Daughter of Louis II

House of Burgundy

16th-century unknown painters - Philip the Bold - WGA23677.jpg Philip II 17 January 1342 – 27 April 14041363 – 27 April 1404 Margaret III
19 June 1369
9 children
Husband of Margaret III; also Duke of Burgundy
Flemish School - Lille - John, Duke of Burgundy.jpg John 28 May 1371 – 10 September 141927 April 1404 – 10 September 1419 Margaret of Bavaria
12 April 1385
8 children
Son of Philip II and Margaret III
Philip the good.jpg Philip III 31 July 1396 – 15 June 146710 September 1419 – 15 June 1467(1) Michelle of Valois
June 1409
1 daughter (died young)
(2) Bonne of Artois
30 November 1424
no issue
(3) Isabella of Portugal
7 January 1430
3 sons
18 illegitimate children
Son of John
Charles the Bold 1460.jpg Charles II 10 November 1433 – 5 January 147715 June 1467 – 5 January 1477(1) Catherine of France
19 May 1440
no issue
(2) Isabella of Bourbon
30 October 1454
1 daughter
(3) Margaret of York
3 July 1468
no issue
Son of Philip III
Mary of Burgundy (1458-1482), by Netherlandish or South German School of the late 15th Century.jpg Mary 13 February 1457 – 27 March 14825 January 1477 – 27 March 1482 Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
19 August 1477
3 children
Daughter of Charles II

House of Habsburg

Bernhard Strigel 007.jpg Maximilian I 22 March 1459 – 12 January 151919 August 1477 – 27 March 1482(1) Mary of Burgundy
19 August 1477
3 children
(2) Anne, Duchess of Brittany
19 December 1490
Rennes Cathedral
no issue
(3) Bianca Maria Sforza
16 March 1494
Hall in Tirol
no issue
Husband of Mary
Juan de Flandes (^), , Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemaldegalerie - Philipp der Schone (1478-1506) - GG 3872 - Kunsthistorisches Museum.jpg Philip IV 22 July 1478 – 25 September 150627 March 1482 – 25 September 1506 Joanna of Castile
20 October 1496
6 children
Son of Mary and Maximilian I
Titian - Portrait of Charles V Seated - WGA22964.jpg Charles III 24 February 1500 – 21 September 155825 September 1506 – 25 October 1555 Isabella of Portugal
10 March 1526
Alcázar Palace
7 children
Son of Philip IV

Charles V proclaimed the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 eternally uniting Flanders with the other lordships of the Low Countries in a personal union. When the Habsburg empire was divided among the heirs of Charles V, the Low Countries, including Flanders, went to Philip II of Spain, of the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg.

Portrait of Philip II of Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola - 002b.jpg Philip V 21 May 1527 – 13 September 159816 January 1556 – 6 May 1598(1) Maria Manuela of Portugal
12 November 1543
1 son
(2) Mary I of England
25 July 1554
Winchester Cathedral
no issue
(3) Elisabeth of Valois
2 daughters
(4) Anna of Austria
May 1570
5 children
Son of Charles III
Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain - Frans Pourbus II.jpg Isabella Clara Eugenia 12 August 1566 – 1 December 16336 May 1598 – 13 July 1621 Albert VII, Archduke of Austria
18 April 1599
no issue
Daughter of Philip V; ruled jointly with her husband Albert VII, Archduke of Austria
Rubens - arquiduquealbertoVII01.jpg Albert 13 November 1559 – 13 July 16216 May 1598 – 13 July 1621 Isabella Clara Eugenia
18 April 1599
no issue
Husband of Isabella Clara Eugenia
Philip IV of Spain - Velazquez 1644.jpg Philip VI 8 April 1605 – 17 September 166513 July 1621 – 17 September 1665(1) Elisabeth of France
18 October 1615
8 children
(2) Mariana of Austria
7 October 1649
5 children
Grandson of Philip V
King Charles II of Spain by John Closterman.jpg Charles IV 6 November 1661 – 1 November 170017 September 1665 – 1 November 1700(1) Marie Louise d'Orléans
19 November 1679
no issue
(2) Maria Anna of Neuburg
14 May 1690
no issue
Son of Philip VI

House of Bourbon

Felipe V de Espana, Rey de.jpg Philip VII 19 December 1683 – 9 July 17461 November 1700 – 14 March 1713(1) Maria Luisa of Savoy
2 November 1701
4 sons
(2) Elisabeth Farnese
16 September 1714
6 children
Great-grandson of Philip VI

Between 1706 and 1714, Flanders was invaded by the English and the Dutch during the War of the Spanish Succession. The fief was claimed by the House of Habsburg and the House of Bourbon. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht settled the succession and the County of Flanders went to the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg.

House of Habsburg

Workshop of Jacob van Schuppen - Portrait of Emperor Karl VI.png Charles V 1 October 1685 – 20 October 17407 September 1714 – 20 October 1740 Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
1 August 1708
Santa Maria del Mar
4 children
Great-grandson of Philip III, also Holy Roman Emperor
Kaiserin Maria Theresia (HRR).jpg Maria Theresa 13 May 1717 – 29 November 178020 October 1740 – 29 November 1780 Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
12 February 1736
Augustinian Church, Vienna
16 children
Daughter of Charles V, jointly with Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Martin van Meytens 006.jpg Francis I 8 December 1708 – 18 August 176521 November 1740 – 18 August 1765 Maria Theresa
12 February 1736
Augustinian Church, Vienna
16 children
Husband of Maria Theresa
Anton von Maron 006.png Joseph 13 March 1741 – 20 February 179018 August 1765 – 20 February 1790(1) Isabella of Parma
October 1760
5 children (died young)
(2) Maria Josepha of Bavaria
25 January 1765
Schönbrunn Palace
no issue
Son of Maria Theresa and Francis I
Kaiser Leopold II in Feldmarschallsuniform c1790.jpg Leopold 5 May 1747 – 1 March 179220 February 1790 – 1 March 1792 Maria Luisa of Spain
16 February 1764
16 children
Brother of Joseph
Joseph Kreutzinger - Kaiser Franz I.jpg Francis II 12 February 1768 – 2 March 18351 March 1792 – 17 October 1797(1) Elisabeth of Württemberg
6 January 1788
1 daughter (died young)
(2) Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily
15 September 1790
12 children
(3) Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este
6 January 1808
no issue
(4) Caroline Augusta of Bavaria
29 October 1816
no issue
Son of Leopold

The title was abolished de facto after revolutionary France annexed Flanders in 1795. Emperor Francis II relinquished his claim to the Low Countries in the Treaty of Campo Formio of 1797, and the area remained part of France until the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Modern usage

House of Belgium (formerly House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha)

In modern times, the title was granted to two younger sons of the kings of the Belgians.

House of Bourbon

The title, Count of Flanders, is one of the titles of the Spanish Crown. It is a historical title which is only nominally and ceremonially used.


  1. Gilliat-Smith, Ernest (1909). The story of Bruges (4th ed.). London: J. M. Den & Co. p.  5. ISBN   978-1-4446-6629-8 . Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  2. "Prince Regent Charles". Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  3. Wim Blockmans; Walter Prevenier (3 August 2010). The Promised Lands: The Low Countries Under Burgundian Rule, 1369-1530. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN   978-0-8122-0070-6.
  4. Powell, Frederick York; Tout, Thomas Frederick (1885). History of England, by F.Y. Powell and (T.F. Tout). pp. 228–.
  5. John A. Wagner (2006). Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 182–. ISBN   978-0-313-32736-0.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duchy of Guelders</span> Historical county in the Low Countries

The Duchy of Guelders is a historical duchy, previously county, of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Valois</span> Cadet branch of the House of Capet

The Capetian 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seventeen Provinces</span> Union of states in the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries

The Seventeen Provinces were the Imperial states of the Habsburg Netherlands in the 16th century. They roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e., what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and most of the French departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais (Artois). Also within this area were semi-independent fiefdoms, mainly ecclesiastical ones, such as Liège, Cambrai and Stavelot-Malmedy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duchy of Brittany</span> Medieval feudal state in northwest France

The Duchy of Brittany was a medieval feudal state that existed between approximately 939 and 1547. Its territory covered the northwestern peninsula of Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the English Channel to the north. It was also less definitively bordered by the river Loire to the south, and Normandy, and other French provinces, to the east. The Duchy was established after the expulsion of Viking armies from the region around 939. The Duchy, in the 10th and 11th centuries, was politically unstable, with the dukes holding only limited power outside their own personal lands. The Duchy had mixed relationships with the neighbouring Duchy of Normandy, sometimes allying itself with Normandy, and at other times, such as the Breton-Norman War, entering into open conflict.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern Netherlands</span> Historical region in Belgium

The Southern Netherlands, also called the Catholic Netherlands, were the parts of the Low Countries belonging to the Holy Roman Empire which were at first largely controlled by Habsburg Spain and later by the Austrian Habsburgs until occupied and annexed by Revolutionary France (1794–1815).

Duke of Burgundy was a title used by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, from its establishment in 843 to its annexation by France in 1477, and later by Holy Roman Emperors and Kings of Spain from the House of Habsburg who claimed Burgundy proper and ruled the Burgundian inheritance in the Low Countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duchy of Burgundy</span> Vassal territory of France, 918–1482

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).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">County of Artois</span>

The County of Artois was a historic province of the Kingdom of France, held by the Dukes of Burgundy from 1384 until 1477/82, and a state of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 until 1659.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burgundian Netherlands</span> The Netherlands from 1384 to 1482

In the history of the Low Countries, the Burgundian Netherlands or the Burgundian Age is the period between 1384 and 1482, during which a growing part of the Low Countries was ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy. Within their Burgundian State, which itself belonged partly to the Holy Roman Empire and partly to the Kingdom of France, the dukes united these lowlands into a political union that went beyond a personal union as it gained central institutions for the first time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish Netherlands</span> Historical region of the Low Countries (1556–1714)

Spanish Netherlands was the Habsburg Netherlands ruled by the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs from 1556 to 1714. They were a collection of States of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries held in personal union by the Spanish Crown. This region comprised most of the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as parts of northern France, the southern Netherlands, and western Germany with the capital being Brussels. The Army of Flanders was given the task of defending the territory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burgundian Circle</span> Imperial circle of the Holy Roman Empire

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montfort of Brittany</span>

The House of Montfort was a Breton-French noble family, which reigned in the Duchy of Brittany from 1365 to 1514. It was a cadet branch of the House of Dreux; it was thus ultimately part of the Capetian dynasty. It should not be confused with the older House of Montfort which ruled as Counts of Montfort-l'Amaury.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duchy of Luxemburg</span> 1353–1797 state of the Holy Roman Empire

The Duchy of Luxemburg was a state of the Holy Roman Empire, the ancestral homeland of the noble House of Luxembourg. The House of Luxembourg, now Duke of Limburg, became one of the most important political forces in the 14th century, competing against the House of Habsburg for supremacy in Central Europe. They would be the heirs to the Přemyslid dynasty in the Kingdom of Bohemia, succeeding the Kingdom of Hungary and contributing four Holy Roman Emperors until their own line of male heirs came to an end and the House of Habsburg got the pieces that the two Houses had originally agreed upon in the Treaty of Brünn in 1364.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Count of Hainaut</span> Ruler of the county of Hainaut

The Count of Hainaut was the ruler of the county of Hainaut, a historical region in the Low Countries. In English-language historical sources, the title is often given the older spelling Hainault.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Valois-Burgundy</span> Cadet branch of the House of Valois

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Habsburg Netherlands</span> Entire period of Habsburg rule in the Low Countries (1482-1797)

Habsburg Netherlands was the Renaissance period fiefs in the Low Countries held by the Holy Roman Empire's House of Habsburg. The rule began in 1482, when the last Valois-Burgundy ruler of the Netherlands, Mary, wife of Maximilian I of Austria, died. Their grandson, Emperor Charles V, was born in the Habsburg Netherlands and made Brussels one of his capitals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burgundian inheritance in the Low Countries</span>

The Burgundian inheritance in the Low Countries consisted of numerous fiefs held by the Dukes of Burgundy in modern-day Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and in parts of France and Germany. The Duke of Burgundy was originally a member of the House of Valois-Burgundy and later 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, while retaining Charolais and the Free County of Burgundy, 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 the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs under Philip II of Spain, whose rule was contested by the Dutch revolt, and fragmented into the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch republic. Following the War of the Spanish succession, the Habsburg Netherlands passed to Austria and remained in Austrian hands until the French conquest of the late 18th century. The Bourbon Restoration did not re-establish the Burgundian states, with the former Burgundian territories remaining divided between France, the Netherlands and, following the Belgian Revolution, modern-day Belgium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burgundian State</span> 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.