Sunday, 13 August 2017

Philip the Good III

Nicholas Rolin (L)
The New Duke

Upon the death of his father Philip inherited one of the richest patrimonies in Europe[i]. As Duke of Burgundy Philip was now the premier peer of France; on 20th September Philip was sworn in as Count of Flanders. He was also Count of Artois, Franche-Compté, and Charolais. In addition he was a Marquess of the Holy Roman Empire, Count Palatine of Burgundy[ii] and Lord of Friesland. He toured the Flemish towns and was installed as count in all of them. On 22nd September a memorial service was held for John the Fearless.

Philip’s anger at the death of his father led him to ally himself with the English, but not without thinking out all the implications. The Burgundian councillors agreed that an alliance with England would put a stop to the fighting in France. Allying with his enemies the Dauphin and Charles d’Orléans, was out of the question. Philip’s mother was demanding revenge and one of the ducal secretaries was set to laying out the ‘treasons, machinations and evil deeds’ committed against her husband[iii].

To cement Philip’s position relations with neighbouring nobles were confirmed; a truce was called with the Duke of Bar and a marriage alliance was planned with the heir of the Duke of Bourbon, who was to wed Philip’s sister Agnes.

Negotiations with Duke Amadeus of Savoy, Philip’s uncle, resulted in the Treaty of St Claude in October 1420. Amadeus was to prove a lynchpin in Philip’s system of connections with the great and the good of Europe, although he declined to become involved in any revenge for the murder of his brother-in-law. He did try to reconcile Philip and the Dauphin for the greater good of France, but was not successful. As his adviser Philip inherited Nicholas Rolin from his father[iv] and Philip made him his Chancellor; Rolin may have been one of the architects of the successful alliances made during these fraught early days.

An Agreement at Troyes

Treaty of Troyes
Over that winter Philip was among those involved in agreeing the terms of the Treaty of Troyes. Henry V entered Troyes on 20th May 1420 accompanied by Philip. The treaty was signed on the following day and was ratified by the Estates-General of France later in the year. The main provisions of the treaty included a marriage between Henry V and Katherine of Valois, Philip’s sister-in-law; the marriage took place on 2nd June.

Henry himself was to become Regent[v] and would inherit the throne upon the death of Charles VI. As an accomplice to the murder of John the Fearless, the Dauphin Charles was disinherited. The parties to the treaty undertook not to talk to the Dauphin on their own. A dauphinist chronicler reported that the treaty was signed, inter alia, by

‘Burgesses, merchants, butchers, brigands and murderers of Paris.’[vi]

Philip and Henry V then undertook a joint expedition to take Sens, Montereau and Melun[vii]. The operations allowed free communications between the English and their Burgundian allies. Once Montereau had fallen John the Fearless’ body was disinterred, spiced and salted and sent to Dijon in a lead coffin.

Michelle de Valois
Philip’s use of his military was mainly defensive, taking the field to defend his frontiers. In August 1421 he led his forces against the Dauphin’s army at the battle of Mons-en-Vimeu; the chronicler Monstrelet recorded;

‘According to the report of each party, the duke [Philip] behaved with the utmost coolness and courage; but he had some narrow escapes, for at the onset he was hit by two lances, one of which pierced through the front of his war saddle and grazed the armour of his right side.’[viii]

Philip’s wife Michelle became melancholic upon discovering the news of her brother’s involvement in John the Fearless’ murder. She died in Ghent in 1422 while Philip was away preparing to fight at the Battle of Cosne[ix]. There were rumours that she had been poisoned by one of her attendants from Germany, the Dame de Vieville, but there were no charges pressed[x].

Death of the King of France

John of Bedford
In the event Henry V was never to inherit his father-in-law’s throne; he died of dysentery[xi] on 31st August 1422. The death of Charles VI on 21st October 1422 further undermined the treaty of Troyes.

It was now a case of the infant Henry VI versus Charles VII. Henry V had left his brother John of Bedford as Regent of France for his son, while his other brother the Duke of Gloucester was Lord Protector in England[xii]. The two men vied with one another for complete control of the child. Philip either persuaded or allowed Bedford to marry his sister Anne whose dowry was 50,000 gold crowns[xiii] and the promise of the county of Artois if Philip died childless.

The Treaty of Amiens[xiv] was signed on 17th April 1423 between Philip, Bedford and the Duke of Brittany[xv]. In 1423 Philip married his sister Margaret to the duke’s brother Arthur de Richemont[xvi], a member of Charles

VII’s court. Richemont was;
Battle of Verneuil
‘A valiant knight, renowned for his loyalty, prudence and prowess, well-loved, and likely to enjoy much influence and authority in France.’[xvii]
Philip was to find a valuable supporter at the French court in his new brother-in-law.
A stalemate ensued with neither side able to make significant advances. Charles VII’s army had been destroyed at the Battle of Verneuil on 17th August 1424 and the English were stretched manning garrisons across their new territories.

Trouble in Hainault
Bonne of Artois
On 6th April 1424 the childless John of Bavaria made Philip his heir to his extensive Dutch estates. Jacqueline responded by invading Brabant along with her bigamous husband, the Duke of Gloucester[xviii]. Philip persuaded John’s brother Philip of Brabant, Count of St. Pol to lead a Burgundian army into Hainault. Before any final disposition could be made John of Bavaria was murdered[xix]

At the time of John’s murder Philip was in Burgundy marrying his uncle Philip’s widow Bonne of Artois; a marriage suggested by Amadeus of Savoy. The couple married on 30th November 1424 at Moulins les Engilbert after a papal dispensation had been granted[xx]. In return for the dispensation Philip sent Pope Martin V six tapestries[xxi] depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary;

‘So that his holiness would maintain the duke in his favour, as well as his friends and servants and all his lands.’[xxii]

Bonne died childless, less than a year later on 15th September 1425 at Dijon, leaving behind a reputation for beauty and gentility[xxiii].

Humphrey and Jacqueline took most of Hainault and made Mons their headquarters. In the spring of 1425 Humphrey wrote to complain to Philip of his warlike stance and Philip responded by challenging Humphrey to single combat, to be refereed by King Sigismund or John of Bedford.

The date for the challenge was fixed upon 25th April at which point Humphrey returned to England with one of his wife’s ladies-in-waiting[xxiv] abandoning his wife in Mons. Philip retired to Hesdin for training and he spent £14,000[xxv] on accoutrements including standards and tents.

The fight never happened; the pope banned it and Jacqueline was to be kept prisoner until the pope decided on the validity of her marriage to Humphrey. She made a dramatic escape from Ghent in September, fleeing to Gouda where she attempted to raise opposition to Philip’s seizure of Holland.


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

The Hundred Years War – Alfred Burne, Folio Society 2005

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

Philip the Good – Richard Vaughan, Boydell Press 2014


[i] He was richer than the king of France
[ii] Part of the Holy Roman Empire
[iii] The secretary took 194 days to gather all the evidence, finishing his task in April 1420
[iv] Who had been godfather to Rolin’s third son
[v] The government of the country was handed over to him at this point
[vi] Philip the Good - Vaughan
[vii] Which fell after a siege of 18 weeks
[viii] Philip the Good - Vaughan
[x] Rumours of poisoning abounded when any influential person died while still young
[xi] Contracted at the siege of Mieux
[xii] He was to bigamously marry Jacqueline of Hainault sometime late February and early March 1423
[xiii] In 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £35,470,000.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £313,800,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £1,184,000,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £20,850,000,000.00
[xiv] Or Triple Alliance
[xv] A ruler who would chop and change his alliances with great frequency, sending one brother to fight for the Dauphin and the other to fight for the English
[xvi] Later Duke of Brittany
[xvii] Philip the Good - Vaughan
[xviii] The marriage was made secretly in England; the divorce from John IV of Brabant was legally dubious and not accepted by Rome. Penniless, after fleeing England, Jacqueline sold her interest in the three counties to Philip in 1433
[xix] Allegedly by use of a poisoned prayer book
[xx] The church made no distinction between a marital aunt and a biological aunt
[xxi] Obtained for Philip by a merchant from Lucca called Giovanni Arnolfini (a client of Van Eyck’s). Arnolfini later moved his base of operations to Bruges where in 1442 he became a burgess of the city
[xxii] Philip the Good - Vaughan
[xxiii] A contemporary poet praised her for not wearing outlandish clothes (in particular eschewing long sleeves and tassels), not drinking spiced wine and for not being a gourmand
[xxiv] Eleanor of Cobham who he later married
[xxv] In 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £10,650,000.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £90,540,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £307,800,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £5,427,000,000.00

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to see a Bonne, Bonne, Bonna and Bona were common enough names on the continent but you just do not find the equivalent Bonnie in England.
    I'm still wondering what Philip did to earn the epithet 'the good'