Monday, 21 August 2017

Philip the Good V

John of Luxembourg
Capturing the Maid

It was at Compiègne that, during the fighting, Joan was surrounded by Burgundian soldiers. The Burgundian chronicler Georges Chastellain recorded that;

‘An archer….dragged her [Joan] to one side by her cloth-of-gold cloak and pulled her from her horse, throwing her flat on the ground; never could she find succour or recourse in her men, try thought they might to remount her.’[i]

Joan surrendered to one of Philip’s nobles. The theologians of the University of Paris were eager to try her for her dubious claims of receiving instructions direct from God. They first wrote to Philip requesting that he hand over his prisoner and Philip and his subordinate John of Luxembourg, went to meet with Joan at Beauvoir, where she was imprisoned, on June 6th. Philip was;

‘More delighted than if a king had fallen into his hands.’[ii]

Joan of Arc at the stake
The results of the interview were not publicised, but, as Joan had not been handed over to them, the theologians sent Pierre Cauchon[iii], the Bishop of Beauvais, to press their case. Cauchon was able to extract Joan from the Burgundians and on 14th July he presented a summons for Joan to be handed over to the Inquisition. A ransom of 10,000 livres was offered[iv] to be paid by the English treasury.

Joan’s trial started on 9th January 1431; after Joan repented her sins Cauchon was forced into chicanery to please the English who had no intention of allowing Joan to evade being burnt at the stake as a heretic. She was found guilty of lying about her claims to be following the adjurations of St Catherine and St Margaret. She was burnt at the stake in Rouen on 30th May 1431.

Ending the Truce

Once Joan was dead, Charles VII, self-proclaimed king of France, followed the maid’s advice and cancelled the truces arranged with Philip. In response Philip gathered his troops for a winter campaign.

The timing was not good; Flanders was suffering from a dearth of trade as England refused to buy good Flemish wool for their weavers and were reluctant to ship their trade goods through Burgundian lands. The weavers objected strongly to Philip’s monetary policies which placed the tradesmen under the authority of their guilds and aggravated the trade situation. Seigneur Roubaix begged Philip to forgive the weavers;

‘Or we and the other poor ducal officers living in Ghent will be on the way to total perdition of lives and goods.’[v]

Philip listened to his adviser and pardoned the weavers, but the troubles were not just focussed in Ghent and were to cause problems for Philip for years to come.

Throughout 1430-1 Charles VII’s troops had been attacking Burgundian lands. One French captain invaded the north of the duchy in January, retreating in March. In August Charolais was attacked; in the autumn the French attacked Philip’s northern domains again in the region around Auxerre and Tonnere. In December the Burgundians lost a battle at Chappes in December, losing much of their artillery.

In the spring of 1431 Philip’s brother-in-law Charles of Bourbon led troops back into Charolais. In June Philips’ troops redeemed themselves with a victory at Bulgnéville[vi], following a Burgundian chevauchée into Lorraine on behalf of Philip’s ally Antoine de Vaudémont. By September, the truces protecting Burgundy were back in place, following the conference at Bourg-en-Bresse.

Stirring up Trouble

Frederick of Austria
Charles VII was unable to follow up on any of his minor victories as his court was weak and his favourite Georges de la Trémoille was too busy fighting potential rivals for the king’s favour. Instead Charles instigated a proxy war with the Duke of Austria Frederick IV attacking Philip’s lands on Charles’ behalf.

Frederick does not seem to have been fully committed to all-out warfare as he only instigated a few border raids. One of Philip’s captains managed to seize the border fortress of Belfort at Ferrette[vii]. Philip had taken the precaution of arming himself with truces with the Archbishop Elector of Cologne and the Bishop of Strasbourg. By October an Austro-Burgundian peace treaty had been agreed and was reinforced the following may by a six year treaty.

George de la Trémoille planned to kidnap the Burgundian chancellor Nicolas Rolin in an attempt to bring Philip to heel. Rolin twice missed being taken by Trémoille’s men. By now the French were working on influencing Philip’s counsellors and
Jehan de la Tremoille
one of them,
Jehan de la Trémoille, was George’s brother. Two of Philips’ lords renounced their allegiance; Louis de Chalon, Prince of Orange, and Guillaume de Châteauvillain who attacked Burgundy’s borders on behalf of Charles VII

The campaigns of 1433 and 1434 were successful in seeing off the enemy. Philip led his troops in the 1433 fighting season, which saw him regain many of his losses around Auxerre. The campaign cost Philip 150,000 francs[viii]. In 1434 the new Duke of Bourbon joined in the attacks on Burgundy. .

At the end of the summer of 1434 Châteauvillain’s principal stronghold at Grancey, near Langres, surrendered. In the autumn Philip cleared Charolais of his brother-in-law’s troops and then carried the war into Beaujolais. Bourbon was forced to sue for peace and in January 1435 Châteauvillain’s final refuge fell through treachery.

Enter, the Holy Roman Emperor, Stage Right

Emperor Sigismund
Towards the end of 1434, at the beginning of an exceptionally cold winter[ix] the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund declared Reichskrieg on Burgundy. Sigismund had watched indignantly while Philip brought some of the wealthiest lands in the Holy Roman Empire under his control. Caught up in fighting the Hussites in Bohemia meant that Sigismund had been unable to do anything about Philip’s appropriations until now, especially as he had needed Philip’s assistance to deal with the Hussites. Sigismund was particularly concerned about the return of Brabant.

On 8th May 1434 Sigismund and Charles VII signed a treaty against Philip; Sigismund promised to declare war on Philip within six months, while Charles was to continue harassing Philip’s lands. Sigismund also tried to involve the Council of Basle[x], the Duke of Savoy and the Prince-Bishop of Liège in his war against his erstwhile ally. The Council was unimpressed by Sigismund’s attempts at cajolery.

‘[We] offer ourselves as mediators, urging your imperial benignity and clemency, to give up and desist in this matter….We have written to this effect to aforesaid illustrious lord [Philip].’[xi]

Having declared war under the terms of his treaty with Charles VII, Sigismund found himself without an army. The imperial princes refused to provide the necessary fighters and Sigismund had to content himself with circulating anti-Burgundian manifestos to which Philip replied in kind. Philip had the declaration of war circulated to anyone in the Empire who mattered. He enclosed copies of his own letters asking for assurances for the safety of Burgundian merchants, appealing to the self-interest of the readers. 

Aachen city hall
Sigismund did not campaign against Burgundy in the spring of 1435; lacking support from his electors. The principal cities and towns of his realm, Frankfurt, Nüremberg, and others responded positively to Philip’s request that his merchants be kept safe. In May 1435 Sigismund gratefully accepted the Council of Basle’s offer to conciliate between the two parties.

Sigismund then tried to persuade his vassals individually to attack Philip and in July 1437 empowered Louis, the Landgrave of Hesse to recover those imperial lands lost to Philip. At a meeting in Aachen Louis tried to persuade the Brabantians and Hainaulters to accept him as their rightful ruler but they sent copies of Louis’ declarations to Philip. When Louis arrived in Limburg with an army he was driven back to Aachen. Louis returned to Hesse; further incursions died a death along with Sigismund who died in the December.


The Hundred Years War – Alfred Burne, Folio Society 2005

The Reign of Henry VI – RA Griffiths, Sutton Publishing Ltd 1998

The Holy Roman Empire – Friedrich Heer, Phoenix Giant 1995

Europe: Hierarchy and Revolt 1320-1450 – George Holmes, Fontana 1984

The Fifteenth Century – EF Jacob, Oxford University Press 1997

Isabel of Burgundy – Aline S Taylor, Madison Books 2001

Philip the Good – Richard Vaughan, Boydell Press 2014

The Hapsburgs – Andrew Wheatcroft, the Folio Society 2004


[i] The Maid and the Queen - Goldstone
[ii] Isabel of Burgundy - Taylor
[iii] Cauchon had been an apologist for the Burgundian alliance with England, throwing his support behind Philip. He had been instrumental in the drawing up of the Treaty of Troyes
[iv] In 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £6,250,000.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £59,970,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £191,200,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £3,395,000,000.00
[v] Isabel of Burgundy - Taylor
[vi] Fought over the partitioning of Lorraine; the loser was René of Anjou, who was taken prisoner by Philip’s men
[vii] Formerly part of Burgundian territory, Ferrette formed part of the dowry of Philip’s aunt Catherine of Burgundy who married Leopold IV of Austria
[viii] In 2015 the relative: labour cost of that project is £300,600,000.00 economic cost of that project is £18,630,000,000.00
[ix] The River Thames froze along with most of the Thames estuary and ships had to unload at Sandwich. In Arras the civic authorities recorded all the snow men set up in the streets; they included representations of the Danse Macabre, the Seven Sleepers and Joan of Arc.
[x] Also known as the Council of Florence; the council had come to an agreement with the Hussites
[xi] Philip the Good - Vaughan

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Philip the Good IV

Siege of Orleans
Fighting the French

It was in March 1429 that the woman who was to be the saviour of France, Joan of Arc, arrived at the French court at Chinon. She met both Charles and Yolande of Aragon, the mother of his wife Marie. Yolande had been planning to relieve the siege of Orléans which the English were currently prosecuting and she decided to send Joan with the troops to aid the Bastard of Orléans[i], in charge of the besieged.

‘Shortly afterwards orders were given to the marshal to take provisions and other necessaries to Orléans, with a strong escorting force. Jeanne the maid asked to go with him and to be given arms and armour, which was granted.’[ii]

The arrival of the French army turned the tide and in May the siege was lifted[iii]. Now Joan was determined to have Charles crowned at Rheims. She wrote to Philip in June requesting his attendance at the ceremony as one of the premier peers of France. He did not avail himself of the invitation. On 17th July 1429 Philip received a second letter from Joan;

‘Prince of Burgundy, I pray, beg, and request as humbly as I can that you wage war no longer in the holy kingdom of France, and order your people who are in any towns and fortresses of the holy kingdom to withdraw promptly and without delay. And as for the noble King of France, he is ready to make peace with you, saving his honor; if you're not opposed.’[iv]

Joan was trying, unavailingly, to persuade Philip to set aside his quarrel with Charles. She even held out the temptation of a crusade. Philip was unmoved; he was determined not to conciliate the man who had had his father murdered.

The Order of the Golden Fleece

Isabella and Philip
The thirty year old Portuguese Princess Isabella was the lady chosen by Philip as his third wife from a shortlist of five. As the cousin of Henry V[v], Philip believed that Isabella would strengthen his ties to the English. He sent an offer to her father John I of Portugal which was received on 14th December 1428[vi]. Philip’s chamberlain and chief counsellor, Seigneur de Roubaix headed the delegation and he also sent his court painter Jan Van Eyck to paint Isabella’s portrait. Philip would not confirm the offer until he’d inspected the resultant portrait.

The painting was acceptable and John and his sons agreed that Isabella could marry one of the foremost nobles of Europe. The couple married in Bruges on 7th January 1430 and on 10th January Philip instituted the Order of the Golden Fleece. The order was instituted;

‘For the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also do honor to old knights; that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order ... should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds...’[vii]

Jean le Fevre de St-Remy
There were originally twenty five members[viii], including Hue de Lannoy, Guibert and Baudoin de Lannoy, Jehan de la Trémoille and Jehan de Luxembourg. The orders first King of Arms was Jean le Fèvre de St-Remy. The knights all wore a heavy scarlet mantle lined with sable and embroidered with gold thread. Each knight had a gold collar of fire-steel links with a ram medallion signifying the wealth of Burgundy.

The order created an inner circle of courtiers, counsellors and captains. They met regularly to indulge in self-criticism and were also allowed to criticise Philip. The annual festivities of the order originally took place in November but in 1435 the date was moved back to spring or early summer. The location of the meetings varied; the first one took place in Lille, but the seat of the order was based in the chapel of the ducal palace in Brussels. The shields of the members were set up above their stalls in the chapel.

Philip had already refused an offer to join the English Order of the Garter and this new order may have been his response to that offer. The order may very well have been created to help unite his disparate lands and bind his nobles into close dependence upon the person of the duke. The order was later opened to Philip’s allies.

The Womaniser

After the wedding Philip took his bride on a tour of his domains. He abruptly ordered that Isabella leave Noyon, where she was currently staying, when in May 1430 Joan attacked Compiègne; one of Philip’s secretaries noted;

‘There are those in the court who would have wanted the duchess to win her argument and accompany her husband into battle as this would have delayed his actions and given the French forces more opportunity to defeat him.’[ix]

Clearly some of Philip’s courtiers were more than disaffected.

The couple’s first child Anthony was born on 30th September 1430 and died two years later. A second son died within two weeks of his birth in April 1432. Philip’s eventual heir, Charles, was born in 1433.

Throughout his adult life, taking after his father, Philip was known as a lover of women, in addition to his three wives he had an estimated twenty to thirty-three mistresses and fifteen to twenty-four bastards. Philip had mistresses spread throughout his domains, so that wherever he travelled within his own lands he had one available to him.

Anthony of Burgundy
Philip gave them gifts of jewellery and cloth, arranged marriages for some of them[x] and helped them purchase homes. He provided for his bastard children, paying for clothing and upkeep. At least one mistress, Isabel de la Vigne, received a pension. Philip did exclude his mistresses from state affairs although he used his sons in the military.

Catherine Schaers was the mother of Corneille of Burgundy[xi], born in 1420, one of Philip’s two favourite sons. He was named the Grand Bâtard de Bourgogne[xii] until his death in the Battle of Bazel when all his titles and possessions were handed over to Anthony of Burgundy, son of Jeanne de Presle, born in 1421 and Philip’s other favourite child.

In the Burgundian court bastards were treated almost the same as legitimate children, being dressed, fed and educated similarly to his heir. Philip married off his daughters well and found positions for his sons. David of Burgundy, born 1427, was made bishop of Thérouanne and then Utrecht. Anne of Burgundy (born 1435) was married twice, the second time to Adolph of Cleves. Raphael of Burgundy was made an abbot, Philip of Burgundy was made Admiral of Flanders and then bishop of Utrecht.

Expanding Burgundy

Philip's domains
On 1st March 1429 Philip added the county of Namur to the list of lands he owned. John III of Namur sold his county to Philip in order to help fund a luxurious lifestyle the county could not afford. To support himself John had raised taxes and the ensuing revolt led to mounting debts and the eventual sale of his inheritance to the richest noble in Europe

Following more turmoil in Brabant finally in 1429 Jacqueline agreed to the Reconciliation of Delft. Her marriage to Gloucester had been annulled the previous year. On 4th August 1430 Philip became the sovereign Duke of Brabant, Lothier and Limburg following the death of Philip of Brabant.

In April 1432 Philip became regent of the counties of Hainault, Holland, Zeeland. When Jacqueline died in October 1436 Philip then inherited the three counties. In 1441 Philip made a treaty with Elizabeth of Görlitz and he assumed the duties of the Duke of Luxembourg. When Elizabeth died in 1443 Philip inherited the title as well as the duties of ruler of Luxembourg.


The Fifteenth Century - Margaret Aston, WW Norton and Company Inc. 1979

The Hundred Years War – Alfred Burne, Folio Society 2005

Joan of Arc – Kelly Devries, The History Press 2011

The Maid and the Queen – Nancy Goldstone, Penguin Books 2012

The Reign of Henry VI – RA Griffiths, Sutton Publishing Ltd 1998

Europe: Hierarchy and Revolt 1320-1450 – George Holmes, Fontana 1984

The Fifteenth Century – EF Jacob, Oxford University Press 1997

Orléans 1429 – David Nicolle, Osprey Publishing 2001

Isabel of Burgundy – Aline S Taylor, Madison Books 2001

Philip the Good – Richard Vaughan, Boydell Press 2014

The Hapsburgs – Andrew Wheatcroft, the Folio Society 2004


[i] Acting for his half-brother Charles, now in the Tower of London; the brangling over his enormous ransom was to keep him in England for decades
[ii] Orléans 1429 - Nicolle
[v] Her mother was Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt
[ix] Isabel of Burgundy - Taylor
[x] Jeanne de la Presle was married to a minor court official in 1432
[xi] Lord of Beveren and Vlissingen, and was also Governor and Captain-General of the Duchy of Luxembourg
[xii] Burgundy was a court which gave illegitimate children almost equal standing with their legitimate siblings. Philip’s heir was brought up with his half-brothers and sisters