The Burgundy region was awarded by King Jean II of France to his son Philip in 1363. This gift was recognition of his bravery defending his father at the Battle of Poitiers where father and son fought and lost the battle to England’s ‘Black Prince’ in 1356.
Philip, from his new capital in Dijon, began immediately growing and enlarging his Duchy until it became one of the wealthiest and most powerful regions in Europe. Burgundy under the rule of Philip and the succeeding Valois Dukes became a center for arts as well as producing one of Europe’s finest and best-equipped armies.
When John “the Fearless’ succeeded Philip as Duke in 1404, previously cordial relations with France declined. The murder of Duke John by the French led to outright hostility between Burgundy and France. Burgundy at this time supported English King Henry V’s claim to the throne of France, further incensing the French.
The apex in power, wealth and influence of the Burgundian State was under the rule of Duke Philip II, “Philip the Good” (1467). Among the many substantive contributions to the leadership role enjoyed by Burgundy during Duke Philip’s rule was the creation of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1430. When Philip died in 1467, the dukedom passed to his warrior son, Charles. Charles continued the expansion of the Burgundian State until his untimely demise while fighting the Swiss.
The death of Duke Charles the Bold in 1477 at the Battle of Nancy ended the Duchy of Burgundy and the rule of the Valois Dukes. Charles left no male heir, his only child being Mary of Burgundy. France declared that Burgundy was no longer an independent Duchy and absorbed it into the French state. Mary of Burgundy and husband Maximilian I of Austria, soon to be Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, tried vainly to retain all of the many regions of the Burgundian Duchy. Ultimately the Duchy of Burgundy ceased to exist; the territory was divided between the two great powers of Continental Europe: France and the Holy Roman Empire.
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