Monday, 28 August 2017

Philip the Good VI

Philip the Good

Led by the Nose in Arras

One of the major stumbling blocks to a treaty between the Burgundians and the French was Charles VII’s involvement in the murder of Philip’s father John the Fearless in Paris in 1419. Philip was assured that the pope’s[i] envoys, the Cardinal Cyprus Hugh de Lusignan[ii] and Cardinal Albergati, would ensure that Charles did penance for the deed.

The French and the Burgundians signed the Treaty of Arras on 21st September 1435[iii]. Philip was not a diplomat and was led by the nose by Charles VII who offered terms he never meant to keep in order to detach the Burgundians from their former allies. Charles bribed a number of important members of the Burgundian council to encourage them to support the treaty. The bribed included Philip’s most senior and trusted advisor Antoine, Lord of Croy [iv] along with Chancellor Rolin.

‘To the said Nicolas Rolin       10,000 saluts[v]

 To the said lord of Croy, likewise    10,000 s

 To the said lord of Charny          8,000 s

 To Philippe, lord of Ternant       8,000 s

 To the lord[vi] of Baucignies      8,000 s’[vii]

Antoine de Croy
The perfidy was not the councillors alone; Isabella too fell for French persuasiveness and accepted a pension of £4,000 per annum[viii] as thanks for her services as a negotiator of the Franco-Burgundian peace treaty. This was rent monies from lands Philip had given his wife, but without Charles to ensure that the money was paid to Isabella, she had little chance of receiving the monies.

Upon recognizing Charles VII as king of France and returning the county of Tonnere to the crown Philip was given; the County of Auxerre and the County of Boulogne, the cities on the Somme and Péronne, Ponthieu. The Vermandois, with its capital Saint-Quentin.
Philip was excused from giving homage to the man he believed complicit in his father’s murder[ix].

Problems at Home and Abroad

It did not take long before Charles showed his true colours, he refused to undertake the penance imposed upon him for the murder of John the Fearless[x]. Charles also ordered his troops to attack the lands he’d given Philip and encouraged raids on the borders with Burgundy. In addition Charles refused to recognise Philip’s privileges due to a Prince of the Blood[xi].

The English for their part, in retaliation at Philip’s perfidy, were negotiating trade deals direct with the merchants of the lowlands, without going through Philip. The Burgundians retaliated by attacking English trading vessels and piracy abounded, causing problems for all nations dependent on trade. Burgundy in particular was hit and Philip was chronically short of ready cash[xii].

Neptune Gate, Calais
In September 1435 John of Bedford died and his brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester emerged as the most powerful figure in the English government. Humphrey’s marriage to Jacqueline of Hainault meant he was antipathetic to Philip and now he tried to seize Flanders.

Rumours were rife that Philip intended to attack Calais in the summer of 1436. Philip’s army settled before the town on 9th July, but he was unable to stop access from the sea. Running short of money Philip wrote to Isabella pleading for funds to continue the siege. Isabella sent 1,000 saluts[xiii] of her own money, to no avail as Philip’s men abandoned him on 28th July. A few months later Hue de Lannoy[xiv] wrote to Philip about the problems Burgundy was facing;

‘You must have appreciated, during the siege of Calais, what harm is done by lack of finance, and it is to be feared that the war has just begun.’[xv]


Charles d'Orleans
Philip turned to his lands in Artois to mobilise another army. He informed Isabella to meet with the leaders of Ghent, Bruges and Ypres and to negotiate a solution to the uprisings by 13th August 1436. Philip needed to get an army in the field to fend off any revenge attacks by the English.

Things went from bad to worse and two of Philip’s men were assaulted, one of whom died of his wounds. In trying to save the wives of the two men, Isabella’s convoy was searched by angry militia. Philip himself was assaulted in Ghent on September 3rd; his bodyguard was disarmed and he was kept prisoner by the citizens until he agreed to their demands.

Hue de Lannoy agreed with Philip that Burgundy needed allies at the French court in order to persuade Charles VII to desist in his attacks on Burgundy’s frontiers, especially as they believed that the English would once again start raiding. Philip believed that there were two possibilities he could pursue to gain his ends;

·         the possibility negotiating the release of Charles of Orléans[xvi],

·         or forgiving the 400,000 gold crown[xvii] ransom agreed when Philip’s men captured René of Anjou[xviii]

Philip opted to play the first card and hold René’s ransom as a backup card. After Isabella negotiated with them, the English undertook to allow Charles of Orléans to tend the upcoming negotiations;

‘That same autumn the Duke of Orléans, who had been a prisoner in England ever since the battle of Agincourt, was released… was hoped that his presence and influence in France would further the English cause, and the duke undertook to do his best in the interests of peace.’[xix]

Hue de Lannoy
Isabella helped prod the French nobility into paying up towards Charles of Orléans ransom.

Rebellion continued to flare throughout Flanders during the remainder of the year and into 1437 as well. The Flemings blamed Philip’s policies for the loss of trade, they were not alone in this; Hue de Lannoy pointed out to Philip;

‘The English are planning to keep a large number of ships at sea to effect a commercial blockade of your land of Flanders. This is a grave danger, for much harm would result if that country were deprived for any length of time of its cloth industry and commerce.’[xx]

The people also blamed Philip for the growing struggles between merchants and artisans and rivalry among the major towns of the region. The people seemed to regard Isabella as separate and apart from her husband; recognising that she understood the problems facing a maritime economy.


The Hundred Years War – Alfred Burne, Folio Society 2005

Edward IV – Keith Dockray, Fonthill Media Limited 2015

Wars of the Roses – John Gillingham, Weidenfeld Paperbacks 1990

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

Margaret of Anjou – Helen E Maurer, Boydell Press 2003

Louis XI – Paul Murray Kendall, Sphere Books Ltd 1974

Prince Henry – Peter Russell, Yale University Press 2000

Isabel of Burgundy – Aline S Taylor, Madison Books 2001

John the Fearless – Richard Vaughan, Longmans, Green and Co Ltd, 1966

Philip the Good – Richard Vaughan, Boydell Press 2014

Charles the Bold – Richard Vaughan, Boydell Press 2002


[ii] Known as the Cardinal of Cyprus
[iii] Shortly after the death of John of Bedford
[iv] Leader of the pro-French party at the Burgundian court
[v] On the assumption that the salut was equal in worth to the French livre then in 2015 this payment would have been worth; historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £7,318,000.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £59,830,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £247,500,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £4,461,000,000.00
[vi] Jan van Hoorn, admiral of Flanders, killed the following year by Flemings after being accused of accepting English bribes
[vii] Philip the Good - Vaughan
[viii] In 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £2,927,000.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £23,930,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £98,990,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £1,784,000,000.00
[ix] Upon the death of either Philip or Charles the giving of homage for the Burgundian lands in France would resume
[x] To apologise for his involvement and to set up a number of religious foundations in memory of the duke
[xi] King John II was Philip’s great-grandfather
[xii] A frequent problem for any nobility whose worth was usually measured in lands
[xiii] On the assumption that the salut was equal in worth to the French livre then in 2015 this payment would have been worth in 2015 the relative: labour cost of that project is £6,171,000.00 economic cost of that project is £483,400,000.00
[xiv] One of Philip’s advisers and brother of another, Baldwin of Lannoy
[xv] Philip the Good - Vaughan
[xvi] Who had been held captive for 23 years, ever since the Battle of Agincourt; his family had been unable to raise the ransom demanded by the English for a Prince of the Blood. see
[xvii] Anjou had been released in 1437; in 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £224,500,000.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £2,241,000,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £8,615,000,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £156,700,000,000.00
[xix] The Hundred Years  War - Burne
[xx] Philip the Good - Vaughan

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