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European Kingdoms

Western Europe


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.

The 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 Rhône). 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 which was virtually its equal in terms of strength. 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.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Sword, Miter, and Cloister: Nobility and the Church in Burgundy, 980-1198, Constance Brittain Bouchard (New York 1987), from Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II, Detlev Schwennicke (Marburg, 1984), from The Third Crusade: Richard the Lionhearted and Philip Augustus, Sidney Painter (in A History of the Crusades - The Later Crusades, 1189-1311, Kenneth M Setton, Robert Lee Wolff, & Harry W Hazard (Eds, University of Wisconsin Press, 1969)), and from External Link: The Dukes of Burgundy, the 'Great Dukes of the West' (Into History - dead link).)

843 - 877

Charles II 'the Bald'

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

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.

Map of the Frankish empire at the Treaty of Verdun AD 843
King Louis 'the Pious' of the Frankish empire attempted to leave the empire intact for his eldest son, Lothar, but the others rebelled at the idea. The treaty of Verdun in AD 843 confirmed the official division of the empire between Charlemagne's three surviving grandsons (click or tap on map to view full sized)


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 pronounced himself king of Lower Burgundy and Provence, although this 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' (referred to as Hugh 'the Great' by the time he becomes duke of Aquitaine in 955). Rudolf has been fighting the Hungarians, the Germans, and the Normans, but he dies without an heir.

Saint-Etienne Cathedral, Limoges
Limoges remained the capital of the duchy of Aquitaine, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint-Etienne remained the city's religious seat

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 upon his father's accession (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 (better known today as Chalon-sur-Saône), count of Chalon, Autun, Troyes, Avallon, and Dijon. When Louis IV of West Francia dies just two years later (in 954), 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 / Giselbert of Chalon

Hugh's bro-in-law. Count of Chalon, Autun, Troyes, etc.


Gilbert's death leaves one of his two daughters, Liutgarde of Chalon, as the heiress of Burgundy. She has already been married to Odo of Paris, son of Hugh 'the White' (now Duke Hugh 'the Great' of Aquitaine), meaning that he becomes duke of Burgundy. However, he and his wife are unable to produce an heir of their own, so upon his death the duchy passes to his brother, Otto-Henry.

956 - 965

Odo / Otto of Paris

Son of Hugh 'the White'. Duchy inherited by his daughter.


With the accession of the Saxon king, Otto I, the power of the Germanic Roman empire is confirmed. Otto is quite vigorous in establishing new counties and border areas within and without the empire's borders. The county of Ardennes under Sigfried gains the stronghold of Lucilinburhuc (the later Luxemburg), Arnulf I the Elder is restored in Flanders, and the March of Austria is formed from territory already captured from Hungary (around 960).

Map of Germany AD 962
Germany in AD 962 may have had its new emperor to govern the territories shown within the dark black line, but it was still a patchwork of competing interests and power bases, most notably in the five great stem duchies, many of which were attempting to expand their own territories outside the empire, creating the various march or border regions to the east and south (click or tap on map to view full sized)

965 - 1002

Otto-Henry 'the Great'


1002 - 1004

Yet again a ruling duke of Burgundy fails to produce an heir. However, Otto-Henry does have a stepson by his first wife, Gerberga of Mâcon, widow of Adalbert II of Italy. It is this man, Otto William, who succeeds him, but the supporters of Robert II ('the Pious') of Capetian France see an opportunity to oppose him. A two year war of succession results, with the duchy being permanently divided in 1004.

The free county of Burgundy largely incorporates territory from the kingdom of Burgundy on the east bank of the Saône, but a small portion of the duchy of Burgundy in the north - on the western bank of the Saône - is also incorporated into it, with ultimate control being vested in the kings of Germany and their successors (following the death of its current holder, Otto William, count of Mâcon and Nevers and the new duke of Burgundy). The remainder of the duchy is annexed to France by Robert 'the Pious'.

Map of Paris
A medieval map of the city of Paris in the tenth century AD, under the rule of Hugh Capet, father of Robert 'the Pious'. By this time Paris had declined from its two periods of greatness under the Romans and the Merovingians, but the map clearly shows the importance of the island at the city's heart

1002 - 1004

Otto William

Stepson. Count of Mâcon & Nevers. Held Free County (982).

1004 - 1015

Robert 'the Pious'

King Robert II of France.

1015 - 1032


Son. Succeeded as Henry I of France.

1031 - 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 is granted to another son, Robert I of Burgundy, founder of the House of Burgundy. It takes a rebellion by Robert against his brother to achieve that, however.

1032 - 1076

Robert I 'the Old'

Brother. Capetian cadet branch. Founded House of Burgundy.


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 (the kingdom's capital). In 1038, Burgundy is handed by Conrad to his son, Henry 'the Black', along with the neighbouring duchy of Swabia.

Roman amphitheatre at Arles
The neighbouring kingdom of (Upper) Burgundy had its capital at Arles, which still possessed its Roman amphitheatre largely intact, and even though the kingdom had lost its independence the title still survived within the Germanic empire


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, who had rebelled against him to gain Burgundy. However, Burgundy now enters a period of settled peace which lasts until the accession of the belligerent Hugh III.

1076 - 1079

Hugh I

Grandson. Abdicated in favour of Odo.

1079 - 1102

Odo / Eudes I 'the Red'

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

1102 - 1143

Hugh II


1143 - 1162

Odo / Eudes II


1162 - 1192

Hugh III

Son. Transferred capital to Dijon (1187). Died at Acre.


Having vied with Louis VII of France for some of the border territories, Hugh takes advantage of his death. He forces some of Louis' vassals to switch allegiance, but Louis' successor, Philip Augustus, is having none of it. He invades Burgundy, capturing not only the town and garrison of Châtillon but also Odo, Hugh's heir. Hugh is forced to pay a large ransom and give up his plans to increase his borders westwards.

1189 - 1192

Philip Augustus of France joins Richard of England and Hugh III of Burgundy on the Third Crusade in an attempt to recapture Jerusalem. The main army proceeds south along the coastline of Palestine, to Asuf and Jaffa, carefully avoiding outright battle with Saladin's massive field army. Eventually forced into such a battle, Richard's forces shatter the shocked Muslims, scattering them. Jerusalem, however, is not taken. Philip returns home in 1192, meaning that Richard is now the leader of the Third Crusade. Hugh III is left in command of the French troops and is killed in battle at the siege of Acre.

The coming of the Crusaders occurred at a time when the Islamic world was deeply involved in factional in-fighting, and at first they were dismissed as being a mere Byzantine raid

1192 - 1218

Odo / Eudes III


1202 - 1214

In a conflict which is vital to the French monarchy, the 'War' of Bouvines involves John of England, Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, and also Thiébaut of Lorraine on the one side, and Philip Augustus on the other supported by Otto III of Burgundy. The culmination is the Battle of Bouvines on 27 July 1214. The French are victorious, while John loses the duchy of Normandy and his other French possessions. Thiébaut is taken prisoner during the rout but is freed soon afterwards.

1218 - 1272

Hugh IV

Son. Regained Chalon and added Auxonne (1237).

1272 - 1306

Robert II



By the end of his reign, Robert has ended the practice, inherited from the Merovingian empire, of sub-dividing his territory between his sons, thereby continually fragmenting and weakening the state. Now the entire domain will pass intact to the designated heir, usually the eldest son.

1306 - 1315

Hugh V

Son. Died childless.

1315 - 1349

Odo / Eudes IV



A peasant revolt in Flanders forces Philip VI of France to fight the Battle of Cassel, thirty kilometres south of Dunkirk, bringing the revolt to an end and bringing Flanders fully under French control. Supporting the king, Duke Ferry IV of Lorraine is killed during the fighting, while Duke Odo IV of Burgundy is wounded.

Philip VI at the Battle of Cassel
Philip VI shown in oil on canvas at the Battle of Cassel in Flanders - the battle was a total victory for him, securing French control of Flanders after putting down a peasant revolt


Odo has already married Joan III, countess of Burgundy, daughter of Philip V of France and also king of Navarre (in 1318). Now his wife inherits from her mother full control of the free county of Burgundy, that pocket of Burgundian territory which largely lies on the east bank of the Saône. Formed in 982, it had gained a parcel of the duchy's own territory in 1004 and for three hundred years had largely been controlled by the Holy Roman empire.

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 I of Rouvre

Grandson. Betrothed to Margaret of Flanders. Died of plague.

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 II 'the Bold'

French regent (1380). Free county of Burgundy (1384).

1368 - 1405

Philip marries Margaret of Mâle in 1368. In 1384 Margaret 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.

Philip the Bold of the duchy of Burgundy and Margaret of Mâle
Philip 'the Bold' of the duchy of Burgundy and Margaret of Mâle, as pictured by Our Country's Past, published by History Ltd with illustrations by J-L Huens

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 III '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 in 1415 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 (formerly on the western edge of the kingdom of Burgundy, far to the duchy's north).

Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans
Joan of Arc began her fight against the English 'occupiers' of France as a freedom fighter who inspired others to follow her, but she ended as a pawn in political powerplays

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. In 1456 his nephew, Louis of Bourbon, gains the prince-bishopric of Liège, although he does not always support his uncle's aims and endeavours. Philip pillages and destroys the city of Liège in 1468 as part of a grim conflict against its people.

1467 - 1477

Charles 'the Bold'

Son. Count of Holland & duke of Luxembourg. Killed.

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.

Maximilian I of Austria and the Holy Roman empire
The sole heiress of Burgundy, Mary, married Maximilian of Austria, who became Holy Roman emperor in 1493 while also personally ruling Belgium, Burgundy, the Netherlands, and Austria

1477 - 1482

Mary / Marie of Burgundy

Dau. Held Luxembourg & Holland. m Max 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 also Flanders both pass 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.

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