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

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