1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Philip the Good

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PHILIP THE GOOD (1396–1467), duke of Burgundy, son of John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy, and Margaret of Bavaria, was born at Dijon on the 13th of June 1396, and succeeded his father on the 10th of September 1419. The natural outcome of the assassination of John the Fearless (q.v) was to drive his successor to the English side. In 1419 Philip signed with Henry V. of England the treaty of Arras, by which he recognized Henry as regent and future heir of the kingdom of France, and in 1420 gave his adherence to the treaty of Troyes. Early in December 1420 Philip entered Paris with the king of England, and subsequently took part in the defeat of the French at Mons-en-Vimeu. By a treaty concluded by Philip at Amiens in April 1423 with the dukes of Brittany and Bedford, John, duke of Bedford, married Philip’s sister Anne, and Arthur of Brittany, earl of Richmond, became the husband of Philip’s sister Margaret. A few years later discord arose among the allies. When the duke of Bedford besieged Orleans the inhabitants offered to surrender, but to the duke of Burgundy, whereupon Bedford retorted that “he did not beat the bushes for others to take the b1rds.” When this speech reached Philip’s ears he withdrew his troops in dudgeon, and concluded a truce with France (1429). Bedford, however, succeeded in conciliating him by promises and presents, and in 1430 Philip took part in the campaign against Compiègne.

But another conflict arose between the duke of Burgundy and the English. Jacqueline, countess of Hainaut, the divorced wife of the duke of Brabant and the heiress of Holland and Zeeland, had married the duke of Gloucester, who attempted to take forcible possession of his wife’s territories. Philip, however, himself claimed Brabant as having been bequeathed to him by his cousin Philip, the late duke, with the result that the Burgundians repulsed the troops of the duke of Gloucester, and Jacqueline was forced to recognize the duke of Burgundy as her lieutenant and heir. Moreover, the duchess of Bedford had died in 1433. Charles VII., who in spite of the efforts of the cardinal of Ste-Croix and the conferences held by him at Auxerre and Semur had hitherto refused to return to France, finally decided to take part in the conferences which were opened at St Vaast d’Arras on the 6th of August 1435, and to which the whole of Christendom attached very high importance, all the princes of Europe and the pope and the council of Basel being represented. Philip consented to a reconciliation with the king of France, and agreed to recognize him as his legitimate sovereign on condition that he should not be required to pay him homage during his lifetime. Charles, on his part, solemnly craved pardon for the murder of John the Fearless through the mouth of the dean of the church in Paris, and handed over to the duke the counties of Mâcon, Auxerre, Bar-sur-Seine and Ponthieu, and the towns on and near the Somme (Roye, Montdidier, Péronne), reserving the option of redeeming the Somme towns for 400,000 gold crowns. Philip proved a faithful ally of the king, aiding him in re-entering Paris and preparing an expedition against Calais, which, however, failed through the ill-will of his Flemish subjects (1436). In 1440 he paid the ransom of Charles of Orleans (the son of his father’s old enemy), who had been a prisoner in England since the battle of Agincourt; received him with great honour at Gravelines; and married him to Mary of Cleves, upon whom he bestowed a handsome dowry. In 1442 Philip entered into a conspiracy to give the duke of Orleans a larger share in the affairs of the kingdom. To René of Anjou, the duke of Lorraine, he showed himself less generous, setting up another claimant to the duchy of Lorraine in the person of Anthony of Vaudemont, and taking René prisoner in 1431; it was not until 1436 that he consented definitively to release René on condition that he should abandon several strong places and pay an enormous ransom. In 1445, at the conferences of Chalons-sur-Marne, the duchess of Burgundy renounced these claims in her husband’s name in order to assure the execution of the treaty of Arras.

Philip was frequently disturbed by the insubordination of the Flemish communes. He had to quell seditions at Liége (1430), Ghent (1432) and Antwerp (1435). In 1438 he was driven with the duchess out of Bruges by the revolted citizens, a revolt which he repressed with great severity. In 1448 the citizens of Ghent rose in rebellion, but, disappointed of French support, they were defeated at Ruppelmonde and in 1453 were overwhelmed at the battle of Gavre, where they left 20,000 dead on the field. At a banquet shortly afterwards Philip vowed that he would lead a crusade against the Turks, who had seized Constantinople, and the knights of his court swore to follow his example.[1] The expedition, however, did not take place, and was but a pretext for levying subsidies and for knightly entertainments. In 1459 Philip sent an embassy under the duke of Cleves into Italy to take part in the conferences preparatory to a fresh expedition against the Turks, but this enterprise likewise fell to the ground. In 1456 the duke of Burgundy had given an asylum to the Dauphin Louis (afterwards Louis XI.), who had quarrelled with his father and had been forced to leave France. The “fox who would rob his host’s hen-roost,” as the old king called Louis, repaid his protector by attempting to sow discord in the ducal family of Burgundy, and then retired to the castle of Genappe in Brabant. At Charles VII.’s death, however, Philip was one of the first to recognize the new king, and accompanied him to Paris. During the journey Louis won over the seigneurs of Croy, the principal counsellors of the duke of Burgundy, and persuaded Philip to allow him to redeem the Somme towns for the sum stipulated in the treaty of Arras. This proceeding infuriated Philip’s son Charles, count of Charolais, who prevailed upon his father to break his pledge and declare war on the king of France. On the 12th of April 1465 Philip handed over to his son the entire administration of his estates. The old duke died at Bruges on the 15th of June 1467, and was buried at Dijon.

Philip was a great lover of pomp and luxury and a friend of letters, being the patron of Georges Chastelain, Olivier de la Marche and Antoine de la Salle, and the founder of the collection of MSS. known as the “Bibliothèque de Bourgogne” (now at Brussels), and also of the university of Dôle (1421). He administered his estates wisely; promoted commerce and industry, particularly in Flanders; and left his son a well lined treasury. He was thrice married: in 1409 to Michelle (d. 1422), daughter of Charles VI. of France; in 1424 to Bonne of Artois (d. 1425); and in 1429 to Isabel (d. 1472), daughter of John I, king of Portugal. On the occasion of his third marriage Philip founded the order of the Golden Fleece. He was succeeded by Charles, afterwards known as Charles the Bold, his only surviving son by Isabel. He had several illegitimate children, among them being Corneille, called the Grand Bastard, who was killed in 1452 at the battle of Ruppelmonde. (R. Po.) 

  1. This was the singular vow known as “the vow of the pheasant,” from the fact that Philip placed his hand solemnly on a pheasant, which had been brought to him by his herald, and vowed that he would fight the Turks and challenge their sultan to single combat.