1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Burgundy

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BURGUNDY. The name of Burgundy (Fr. Bourgogne, Lat. Burgundia) has denoted very diverse political and geographical areas at different periods of history and as used by different writers. The name is derived from the Burgundians (Burgundi, Burgondiones), a people of Germanic origin, who at first settled between the Oder and the Vistula. In consequence of wars against the Alamanni, in which the latter had the advantage, the Burgundians, after having taken part in the great invasion of Radagaisus in 407, were obliged in 411 to take refuge in Gaul, under the leadership of their chief Gundicar. Under the title of allies of the Romans, they established themselves in certain cantons of the Sequani and of upper Germany, receiving a part of the lands, houses and serfs that belonged to the inhabitants. Thus was founded the first kingdom of Burgundy, the boundaries of which were widened at different times by Gundicar and his son Gunderic; its chief towns being Vienne, Lyons, Besançon, Geneva, Autun and Mâcon. Gundibald (d. 516), grandson of Gunderic, is famous for his codification of the Burgundian law, known consequently as Lex Gundobada, in French Loi Gombette. His son Sigismund, who was canonized by the church, founded the abbey of St Maurice at Agaunum. But, incited thereto by Clotilda, the daughter of Chilperic (a brother of Gundibald, and assassinated by him), the Merovingian kings attacked Burgundy. An attempt made in 524 by Clodomer was unsuccessful; but in 534 Clotaire (Chlothachar) and his brothers possessed themselves of the lands of Gundimar, brother and successor of Sigismund, and divided them between them. In 561 the kingdom of Burgundy was reconstructed by Guntram, son of Clotaire I., and until 613 it formed a separate state under the government of a prince of the Merovingian family.

After 613 Burgundy was one of the provinces of the Frankish kingdom, but in the redistributions that followed the reign of Charlemagne the various parts of the ancient kingdom had different fortunes. In 843, by the treaty of Verdun, Autun, Chalon, Mâcon, Langres, &c., were apportioned to Charles the Bald, and Lyons with the country beyond the Saône to Lothair I. On the death of the latter the duchy of Lyons (Lyonnais and Viennois) was given to Charles of Provence, and the diocese of Besançon with the country beyond the Jura to Lothair, king of Lorraine. In 879 Boso founded the kingdom of Provence, wrongly called the kingdom of Cisjuran Burgundy, which extended to Lyons, and for a short time as far as Mâcon (see PROVENCE).

In 888 the kingdom of Juran Burgundy was founded by Rudolph I., son of Conrad, count of Auxerre, and the German king Arnulf could not succeed in expelling the usurper, whose authority was recognized in the diocese of Besançon, Basel, Lausanne, Geneva and Sion. For a short time his son and successor Rudolph II. (912-937) disputed the crown of Italy with Hugh of Provence, but finally abandoned his claims in exchange for the ancient kingdom of Provence, i.e. the country bounded by the Rhône, the Alps and the Mediterranean. His successor, Conrad the Peaceful (93 7-993), whose sister Adelaide married Otto the Great, was hardly more than a vassal of the German kings. The last king of Burgundy, Rudolph III. (993-1032), being deprived of all but a shadow of power by the development of the secular and ecclesiastical aristocracy—especially by that of the powerful feudal houses of the counts of Burgundy (see FRANCHE-COMTÉ), Savoy and Provence—died without issue, bequeathing his lands to the emperor Conrad II. Such was the origin of the imperial rights over the kingdom designated after the 13th century as the kingdom of Arles, which extended over a part of what is now Switzerland (from the Jura to the Aar), and included Franche-Comté, Lyonnais, Dauphiné, Savoy and Provence.

The name of Burgundy now gradually became restricted to the countship of that name, which included the district between the Jura and the Saône, in later times called Franche-Comté, and to the duchy which had been created by the Carolingian kings in the portion of Burgundy that had remained French, with the object of resisting Boso. This duchy had been granted to Boso's brother, Richard the Justiciary, count of Autun. It comprised at first the countships of Autun, Mâcon, Chalon-sur-Saône, Langres, Nevers, Auxerre and Sens, but its boundaries and designations changed many times in the course of the 10th century. Duke Henry died in 1002; and in 1015, after a war which lasted thirteen years, the French king Robert II. reunited the duchy to his kingdom, despite the opposition of Otto William, count of Burgundy, and gave it to his son Henry, afterwards King Henry I. As king of France, the latter in 1032 bestowed the duchy upon his brother Robert, from whom sprang that first ducal house of Burgundy which flourished until 1361. A grandson of this Robert, who went to Spain to fight the Arabs, became the founder of the kingdom of Portugal; but in general the first Capet dukes of Burgundy were pacific princes who took little part in the political events of their time, or in that religious movement which was so marked in Burgundy, at Cluny to begin with, afterwards among the disciples of William of St Bénigne of Dijon, and later still among the monks of Cîteaux. In the 12th and 13th centuries we may mention Duke Hugh III. (1162-1193), who played an active part in the wars that marked the beginning of Philip Augustus's reign; Odo (Eudes) III. (1193-1218), one of Philip Augustus's principal supporters in his struggle with King John of England; Hugh IV. (1218-1272), who acquired the countships of Châlon and Auxonne, Robert II. (1272-1309), one of whose daughters, Margaret, married Louis X. of France, and another, Jeanne, Philip of Valois; Odo (Eudes) IV. (1315-1350), who gained the countship of Artois in right of his wife, Jeanne of France, daughter of Philip V. the Tall and of Jeanne, countess of Burgundy.

In 1361, on the death of Duke Philip de Rouvres, son of Jeanne of Auvergne and Boulogne, who had married the second time John II. of France, surnamed the Good, the duchy of Burgundy returned to the crown of France. In 1363 John gave it, with hereditary rights, to his son Philip, surnamed the Bold, thus founding that second Capet house of Burgundy which filled such an important place in the history of France during the 14th and 15th centuries, acquiring as it did a territorial power which proved redoubtable to the kingship itself. By his marriage with Margaret of Flanders Philip added to his duchy, on the death of his father-in-law, Louis of Male, in 1384, the countships of Burgundy and Flanders; and in the same year he purchased the countship of Charolais from John, count of Armagnac. On the death of Charles V. in 1380 Philip and his brothers, the dukes of Anjou and Berry, had possessed themselves of the regency, and it was he who led Charles VI. against the rebellious Flemings, over whom the young king gained the victory of Roosebeke in 1382. Momentarily deprived of power during the period of the "Marmousets'" government, he devoted himself to the administration of his own dominions, establishing in 1386 an audit-office (chambre des comptes) at Dijon and another at Lille. In 1396 he refused to take part personally in the expedition against the Turks which ended in the disaster of Nicopolis, and would only send his son John, then count of Nevers. In 1392 the king's madness caused Philip's recall to power along with the other princes of the blood, and from this time dates that hostility between the party of Burgundy and the party of Orleans which was to become so intense when in May 1404 Duke Philip had been succeeded by his son, John the Fearless.

In 1407 the latter caused the assassination of his political rival, Louis of Orleans, the king's brother. Forced to quit Paris for a time, he soon returned, supported in particular by the gild of the butchers and by the university. The monk Jean Petit pronounced an apology for the murder (1408).

The victory of Hasbain which John achieved on the 23rd of September 1408 over the Liégeois, who had attacked his brother-in-law, John of Bavaria, bishop of Liége, still further strengthened his power and reputation, and during the following years the struggle between the Burgundians and the partisans of the duke of Orleans—or Armagnacs, as they were called—went on with varying results. In 1413 a reaction took place in Paris; John the Fearless was once more expelled from the capital, and only returned there in 1418, thanks to the treason of Perrinet Leclerc, who yielded up the town to him. In 1419, just when he was thinking of making advances towards the party of the dauphin (Charles VII.), he was assassinated by members of that party, during an interview between himself and the dauphin at the bridge of Montereau.

This event inclined the new duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, towards an alliance with England. In 1420 he signed the treaty of Troyes, which recognized Henry V. as the legitimate successor of Charles VI.; in 1423 he gave his sister Anne in marriage to John, duke of Bedford; and during the following years the Burgundian troops supported the English pretender. But a dispute between him and the English concerning the succession in Hainaut, their refusal to permit the town of Orleans to place itself under his rule, and the defeats sustained by them, all combined to embroil him with his allies, and in 1435 he concluded the treaty of Arras with Charles VII. The king relieved the duke of all homage for his estates during his lifetime, and gave up to him the countships of Mâcon, Auxerre, Bar-sur-Seine and Ponthieu; and, reserving the right of redemption, the towns of the Somme (Roye, Montdidier, Péronne, &c.). Besides this Philip had acquired Brabant and Holland in 1433 as the inheritance of his mother. He gave an asylum to the dauphin Louis when exiled from Charles VII.'s court, but refused to assist him against his father, and henceforth rarely intervened in French affairs. He busied himself particularly with the administration of his state, founding the university of Dôle, having records made of Burgundian customs, and seeking to develop the commerce and industries of Flanders. A friend to letters and the arts, he was the protector of writers like Olivier de la Marche, and of sculptors of the school of Dijon. He also desired to revive ancient chivalry as he conceived it, and in 1429 founded the order of the Golden Fleece; while during the last years of his life he devoted himself to the preparation of a crusade against the Turks. Neither these plans, however, nor his liberality, prevented his leaving a well-filled treasury and enlarged dominions when he died in 1467.

Philip's successor was his son by his third wife, Isabel of Portugal, Charles, surnamed the Bold, count of Charolois, born in 1433. To him his father had practically abandoned his authority during his last years. Charles had taken an active part in the so-called wars "for the public weal," and in the coalitions of nobles against the king which were so frequent during the first years of Louis XI.'s reign. His struggle against the king is especially marked by the interview at Péronne in 1468, when the king had to confirm the duke in his possession of the towns of the Somme, and by a fruitless attempt which Charles the Bold made on Beauvais in 1472. Charles sought above all to realize a scheme already planned by his father. This was to annex territory which would reunite Burgundy with the northern group of her possessions (Flanders, Brabant, &c.), and to obtain the emperor's recognition of the kingdom of "Belgian Gaul." In 1469 he bought the landgraviate of Alsace and the countship of Ferrette from the archduke Sigismund of Austria, and in 1473 the aged duke Arnold ceded the duchy of Gelderland to him. In the same year he had an interview at Trier with the emperor Frederick III., when he offered to give his daughter and heiress, Mary of Burgundy, in marriage to the emperor's son Maximilian in exchange for the concession of the royal title. But the emperor, uneasy at the ambition of the "grand-duke of the West," did not pursue the negotiations.

Meanwhile the tyranny of the duke's lieutenant Peter von Hagenbach, who was established at Ferrette as governor (grand bailli or Landvogt) of Upper Alsace, had brought about an insurrection. The Swiss supported the cause of their allies, the inhabitants of the free towns of Alsace, and Duke René II. of Lorraine also declared war against Charles. In 1474 the Swiss invaded Franche-Comté and achieved the victory of Hericourt. In 1475 Charles succeeded in conquering Lorraine, but an expedition against the Swiss ended in the defeat of Grandson (February 1476). In the same year the duke was again beaten at Morat, and the Burgundian nobles had to abandon to the victors a considerable amount of booty. Finally the duke of Lorraine returned to his dominions; Charles advanced against him, but on the 6th of January 1477 he was defeated and killed before Nancy.

By his wife, Isabella of Bourbon, he only left a daughter, Mary, and Louis XI. claimed possession of her inheritance as guardian to the young princess. He succeeded in getting himself acknowledged in the duchy and countship of Burgundy, which were occupied by French garrisons. But Mary, alarmed by this annexation, and by the insurrection at Ghent (secretly fomented by Louis), decided to marry the archduke Maximilian of Austria, to whom she had already been promised (August 1477), and hostilities soon broke out between the two princes. Mary died through a fall from her horse in March 1482, and in the same year the treaty of Arras confirmed Louis XI. in possession of the duchy. Franche-Comté and Artois were to form the dowry of the little Margaret of Burgundy, daughter of Mary and Maximilian, who was promised in marriage to the dauphin. As to the lands proceeding from the succession of Charles the Bold, which had returned to the Empire (Brabant, Hainaut, Limburg, Namur, Gelderland, &c.), they constituted the "Circle of Burgundy" from 1512 onward.

We know that the title of duke of Burgundy was revived in 1682 for a short time by Louis XIV. in favour of his grandson Louis, the pupil of Fénelon. But from the 16th to the 18th century Burgundy constituted a military government bounded on the north by Champagne, on the south by Lyonnais, on the east by Franche-Comté, on the west by Bourbonnais and Nivernais. It comprised Dijonnais, Autunois, Auxois, and the pays de la montagne or Country of the Mountain (Châtillon-sur-Seine), with the "counties" of Chalonnais, Mâconnais, Auxerrois and Bar-sur-Seine, and, so far as administration went, the annexes of Bresse, Bugey, Valromey and the country of Gex. Burgundy was a pays d'états. The estates, whose privileges the dukes at first, and later Louis XI., had to swear to maintain, had their assembly at Dijon, usually under the presidency of the governor of the province, the bishop of Autun as representing the clergy, and the mayor of Dijon representing the third estate. In the judiciary point of view the greater part of Burgundy depended on the parlement of Dijon; but Auxerrois and Mâconnais were amenable to the parlement of Paris.

See also[edit]

  • U. Plancher, Histoire générale et particulière de Bourgogne (Dijon, 1739—1781, 4 vols. 8vo).
  • Courtépée, Description générale et particulière du duché de Bourgogne (Dijon, 1774-1785, 7 vols. 8vo).
  • O. Jahn. Geschichte der Burgundionen (Halle, 1874, 2 vols. 8vo).
  • E. Petit de Vausse, Histoire des dues de Bourgogne de la race capétienne (Paris, 1885-1905, 9 vols. 8vo).
  • B. de Barante, Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne de la maison de Valois (Paris, 1833—1836, 13 vols. 8vo).
  • The marquis Léon E.S.J. de Laborde, Les Ducs de Bourgogne: Études sur les lettres, les arts et l'industrie pendant le XV siècle (Paris, 1849-1851, 3 vols. 8vo).
(R. PO.)