Tuesday, May 19, 2009

France History: House of Burgundy

Charles VI. was a boy of nine years old, motherless, and beset with ambitious uncles. These uncles were Louis, Duke of Anjou, to whom Queen Joanna, the last of the earlier Angevin line in Naples, bequeathed her rights; John, Duke of Berry, a weak time-server; and Philip, the ablest and most honest of the three. His grandmother Joan, the wife of Philip VI., had been heiress of the duchy and county of Burgundy, and these now became his inheritance, giving him the richest part of France.

By still better fortune he had married Margaret, the only child of Louis, Count of Flanders. Flanders contained the great cloth-manufacturing towns of Europe—Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, etc., all wealthy and independent, and much inclined to close alliance with England, whence they obtained their wool, while their counts were equally devoted to France. Just as Count Louis II. had, for his lawless rapacity, been driven out of Ghent by Jacob van Arteveldt, so his son, Louis III., was expelled by Philip van Arteveldt, son to Jacob. Charles had been disgusted by Louis's coarse violence, and would not help him; but after the old king's death, Philip of Burgundy used his influence in the council to conduct the whole power of France to Flanders, where Arteveldt was defeated and trodden to death in the battle of Rosbecque, in 1382.

On the count's death, Philip succeeded him as Count of Flanders in right of his wife; and thus was laid the foundation of the powerful and wealthy house of Burgundy, which for four generations almost overshadowed the crown of France.

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