History Files


European Kingdoms

Germanic Tribes




Duchy of Burgundy
AD 843 -1482

Subjugated by the Huns in 437, the Burgundians had accepted Roman federate status and essentially moved into the vacuum of dwindling Roman power, being ceded Roman lands in 443 and 458. They were conquered in stages by the growing power of the Merovingian Frankish kingdom, but upon the death of Chlothar I the kingdom was partitioned and his son, Guntrumn, became Burgundy's first independent ruler. Eventually that independence was whittled away by various dynastic alliances before the Carolingians usurped command and united the Frankish lands as a single empire.

MapThe partition of the Frankish empire which was agreed by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 also resulted in the division of the Burgundian territories. The larger part of the kingdom lay on the east bank of the River Saône (which flowed due south to feed into the Rhone). Essentially the northern half of Burgundy, this continued to be known as the kingdom of Burgundy. The lesser division - the southern half - lay on the west bank of the Saône and was also titled a kingdom, but its lord, Charles II the Bald, appointed a duke to administer it, and it became known as the duchy of Burgundy. However, it should be noted that this southern duchy was distinct from Lower Burgundy itself, on the eastern side of the Saône, which remained part of the kingdom of Burgundy.

The new duchy took a while to find its feet. Once it had, under Philip the Bold and his successors it began a golden age in which it challenged the power of a France that was no more powerful than it was itself. Each duke married well, so increasing the duchy's cross-border land and power. The Low Countries (modern Belgium and the Netherlands) were amongst the rich gains which made Burgundy a major political player.

(Additional information from External Link: The Dukes of Burgundy, the 'Great Dukes of the West' (Into History).)

843 - 877

Charles II the Bald

King of West Francia. Duke of Alemannia (829-833). FRE (875-877).

843 - 845

Lothar I of Middle Francia rules the kingdom directly. On his death, the kingdom of Burgundy to the north and east of the duchy of Burgundy is further divided between his sons. Lothar II receives Lotharingia and northern (Upper) Burgundy, while Charles receives southern (Lower) Burgundy, which includes Lyon, Provence, and Vienne (former city of the Allobroges tribe), and which comes to be known as the kingdom of Provence.


The Treaty of Meerssen (or Mersen) arises due to the death of Lothar II of Lotharingia. His territory is subsequently divided fairly by his uncles under the terms of the treaty, those uncles being Louis the German of the Eastern Franks and Charles the Bald.

875 - 877

Charles the Bald is crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope John VIII and thereafter nominally rules the Frankish empire and Italy. His son, Louis II, after revolting against his father, succeeds him with difficulty in West Francia and Aquitaine and proves a weak king. During his reign, the kingdom itself weakens, with local lords gaining much more power at the expense of the throne. Aquitaine remains part of West Francia but is reduced to the status of duchy.

879 - 880

Richard the Justicier is appointed the first margrave of Burgundy in 880, and later becomes its first duke (by 890). Charles the Bald's successor, Carloman II, still holds the duchy as his own possession but now desires to install a local 'manager'. Richard is a member of the House of Ardennes and count of Autin after having seized it from his brother in 879. His brother, Boso, has already become king of Lower Burgundy and Provence, although the self-declaration is the reason for Richard's seizure of Autin, while Richard's sister is Richildis, second wife of Charles the Bald.

880 - 921

Richard the Justicer of Autun

Count of Autin. Brother of Boso, king of (Lower) Burgundy.

921 - 936

Rudolf / Rudolph / Raoul

Son. Also king of West Francia (923-936) & Count of Troyes.


Rudolf, duke of Burgundy and the son-in-law of the late King Robert I of West Francia has ruled Robert's domains with the agreement of Robert's son, Hugh the White (sometimes referred to as Hugh the Great). Rudolf has been fighting the Hungarians, the Germans, and the Normans, but he dies without an heir.

Hugh the White, expecting to become king in his place, is forced to lead a coalition against the rightful heir, Louis IV d'Outremer. Louis allies himself to Otto I of Saxony and Conrad the Peaceful, king of Burgundy, and takes possession of Reims, whereas Hugh is excommunicated by the Pope. Hugh and Louis are reconciled, but Hugh the Black of the duchy of Burgundy has also been opposing Louis, so the latter sends Hugh the White against him. Auxerre and Sens are captured, and the duchy is divided between the two Hughs.

936 - 952

Hugh the Black

Brother. Effectively duke since 923.

952 - 954

Hugh dies without having produced an heir. The duchy passes to his sister, Ermengard, and therefore to her husband Gilbert of Chalon. When Louis IV dies just two years later, Gilbert acknowledges Hugh the White, holder of Auxerre and Sens and the more senior of the two rival dukes of Burgundy. Gilbert also betroths his daughter to Hugh's son, Otto Henry, thereby ensuring the reunification of the duchy's divided lands.

952 - 956

Gilbert of Chalon

956 - 965

Odo of Paris

965 - 1002

Otto-Henry the Great

Son of Hugh the White.

1002 - 1015

Otto William

1015 - 1032



Following the death of Robert the Pious of France, he is succeeded as king of France by his son, Henry. The duchy of Burgundy on the west bank of the Saône, however, is granted to another son, Robert I of Burgundy, founder of the House of Burgundy.

1032 - 1076

Robert I

Son of Robert II the Pious, king of France.


As agreed by Rudolf III in 1006, following his death and with no heir to succeed him, the kingdom of Burgundy (including its Swiss territories) is inherited by Franconian Emperor Conrad II the Salian. Although the kingdom continues to operate with a fair degree of autonomy, from this point onwards, the emperors also count themselves as kings of Arles. In 1038, Burgundy is handed by Conrad to his son, Henry the Black, along with the neighbouring duchy of Swabia.


Despite reigning for nearly thirty years, Henry I of France is unable to achieve anything more than the preservation of the Capetian dynasty after facing incessant conflict with rebel lords. Many of them have shown pretensions for independence, including Henry's brother, Robert I, duke of Burgundy.

1076 - 1079

Hugh I

1079 - 1102

Odo / Eudes I the Red

Brother of Henry, count of Portugal (1093-1112).

1102 - 1143

Hugh II

1143 - 1162

Eudes II

1162 - 1192

Hugh III

1192 - 1218

Eudes III

1218 - 1272

Hugh IV

1272 - 1306

Robert II

1306 - 1315

Hugh V

1315 - 1349

Eudes IV

1337 - 1453

King Philip VI of France confiscates Gascony from Edward III of England so the English invade France to press their own claim to the weakly-held French throne. The Hundred Years War begins, with the fiefdom of Aquitaine part of the spoils to be won or lost. In 1346, Edward crushes Philip's army at the Battle of Crécy, killing Duke Rudolf of Lorraine amongst many others. But Philip has other problems, too, when the Great Plague and a serious economic crisis strikes the country. In 1347 he institutes a tax on salt in an attempt to build up some revenue.

1349 - 1361

Philip of Rouvre

Betrothed to Margaret of Flanders, but died of the plague first.

1361 - 1364

With the untimely death of Philip of Rouvre the senior branch of the House of Burgundy is ended. The duchy reverts to the French throne under John II. Upon his death, Burgundy is held by his fourth son, Philip the Bold, while the eldest succeeds their father as King Charles V of France. Philip is the first of a series of so-called 'Great Dukes of the West'. Bit by bit, initially without much planning, but then according to a clearly-defined strategy, Philip and his successors reconstitute the Lotharingia of the Carolingian empire.

1364 - 1404

Philip the Bold

Son. French regent (1380). Free County of Burgundy 1384.

1368 - 1405

Philip marries Margaret of Mâle in 1368, and in 1384 she becomes countess of Flanders and one of the richest heiresses in Europe, thereby passing the county into the hands of the dukes of Burgundy, where it remains after Philip's death. The two domains have no links to each other, either geographically or culturally, but constant journeys lead to the creation of two cultural centres, the northern one accessing the North Sea and the Hanseatic League.

1380 - 1388

Charles VI of France is not able to govern until he reaches his majority in 1388 since his uncles, including Philip the Bold, hold power and take maximum advantage of their position. Upon his birthday he has them removed and recalls his late father's advisors into the government. His first episode of madness in 1392 allows Philip to seize power again, but it sparks a long-running dispute between various factions in France.

1404 - 1419

John the Fearless

Son. Assassinated.


The violent assassination of John the Fearless - four years after the Battle of Agincourt - signals a change in Burgundy's goals. As princes of France the dukes have vied with their Valois cousins for superiority. Now Philip the Good concentrates on making Flanders even more prosperous than it already is. His father's marriage to Margaret of Bavaria has already secured the family's control of the Netherlands, although the local counts handle the day-to-day business of governorship.

1419 - 1467

Philip the Good

Son. Also count of Holland. Duke of Luxembourg (1441-1467).


Charles VI cedes France to Henry V of England in the Treaty of Troyes. The dauphin, the future Charles VII, is apparently dispossessed but refuses to heed his father's commands. Instead he sets up a rival claim to the throne, accompanied by John of Foix. Following his father's policy of opposing the French crown, the English claim is recognised by Charles' cousin, Philip the Good.

Battle of Agincourt
The overwhelming victory for the forces of Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt destroyed the flower of French chivalry and gave all of France to a Plantagenet king

1429 - 1431

The Hundred Years War is over, with Charles VIII now king of France by right of conquest, if not by any other legal right. Aquitaine is returned to the king to rule directly as part of a newly united France. It also remains the direct possession of his successors.

However, in 1430, Charles' inspiration for the reconquest of France, Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d'Arc, the Maid of Orleans), is handed over to the English for the princely sum of ten thousand gold crowns by his rival, Philip the Good of Burgundy. She is tried for heresy and is found guilty, being burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. Then Philip, sensing the tide turning against the English, supports Charles so that he can be crowned king. In return, apart from receiving another handsome payment, Burgundy's full independence is confirmed, with Dijon its capital.

1441 - 1482

Philip gains the duchy of Luxembourg, a key link in the chain of possessions between Burgundy and Flanders and a vital component in raising Burgundy's wealth and power.

1467 - 1477

Charles the Bold

Son. Also count of Holland & duke of Luxembourg.

1474 - 1477

Duke René of Lorraine is facing increasing pressure both from Louis XI of France and Charles the Bold of Burgundy. He has already allied himself with Charles, but Burgundian garrisons have been established in Lorraine so René now switches allegiance to Louis. Charles invades Lorraine, forcing René to abandon Nancy on 30 November 1475. The city is recaptured on 5 October 1476 before René leads an army of Swiss mercenaries into the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. Charles is defeated and killed, ending the Burgundian Wars. His death also ends Burgundian greatness. The lion's share of his domains are immediately annexed by Louis XI, while the sole heiress of Burgundy, Mary, marries Maximilian of Austria, future Holy Roman emperor.

1477 - 1482

Mary / Marie of Burgundy

Dau. Held Luxembourg & Holland. m Maximilian of Austria 1477.


The duchy of Burgundy reverts to the French throne through the efforts of Louis XI of France. The Free County of Burgundy and Flanders passes to Austria, along with the county of Holland, creating a very different feel for the Low Countries. In 1493, with the accession of Maximilian, they become possessions of the Holy Roman empire.