Duchy of Burgundy - Valois Burgundy

Valois Burgundy

Under the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, the duchy flourished. A match between Philip the Bold and Margaret of Dampierre – the widow of Philip of Rouvres – not only reunited the Duchy with the County of Burgundy once more, as well as with the County of Artois, but also served to bring the wealthy Counties of Flanders, Nevers and Rethel under the control of the dukes. By 1405, following the deaths of Philip the Bold and Margaret of Dampierre, and the inheritance of the duchy and most of their other possessions by their son John the Fearless, Burgundy stood less as a French fief and more as an independent state. As such, it was a major political player in European politics. The state of Burgundy was reckoned to include not only the original territories of the duchy of Burgundy in what is now eastern France, but also the northern territories that came to the dukes through the marriage of Philip the Bold and Margaret of Dampierre.

Philip the Bold had been a cautious man in politics. His son, however, was not, and under John the Fearless (r. 1404-1419), Burgundy and Orléans clashed as the two sides squabbled for power. The result was an increase of Burgundy's power, but the duchy came to be regarded as an enemy of the French crown. From the death of John the Fearless, the dukes were treated with caution or outright hostility by Charles VII and his successor, Louis XI.

The last two dukes to directly rule the duchy, Philip the Good (r. 1419-1467) and Charles the Bold (r. 1467-1477), attempted to secure the independence of their duchy from the French crown. The endeavour failed; when Charles the Bold died in battle without sons, Louis XI of France declared the duchy to have become extinct and absorbed the territory into the French crown. The daughter of Charles the Bold, Mary of Burgundy, used the title of Duchess of Burgundy, and her heirs described themselves as Dukes of Burgundy, refusing to accept the loss of the duchy. In 1525, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor – Mary's grandson – was restored to the title and territory by the French King Francis I as part of the Treaty of Madrid. But Francis I repudiated the Treaty as soon as he was able to, and Charles V never managed to secure control of the duchy.

The territory of Burgundy remained part of France from then onwards. The title was occasionally resurrected for French princes, for example the grandson of Louis XIV (Louis, Duke of Burgundy) and the grandson of Louis XV, the short-lived Louis Joseph.

The present king of Spain, Juan Carlos, claims the title "Duke of Burgundy", and his coat of arms includes the cross of Burgundy as a supporter.

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