DUKE JOHN ‘THE FEAR­LESS’

History of War - - FRONTLINE -

HIS BRIEF BUT EVENT­FUL CHAP­TER IN THE DUCHY’S HIS­TORY SAW THE OUT­BREAK OF OPEN WAR WITH BUR­GUNDY’S RI­VALS

No sooner had John be­come the Sec­ond Duke of Bur­gundy, he be­gan plans to fur­ther con­trol the French crown. Named ‘the Fear­less’ for his con­duct dur­ing the 1396 Cru­sade against the Ot­tomans, dur­ing which he was cap­tured, John was 33 when he in­her­ited the duchy from his fa­ther.

John’s im­me­di­ate ri­val at the French court was Louis, Duke of Or­leans, the younger brother of King Charles VI. With the king in­ter­mit­tently ill, and men­tally un­sta­ble, the two dukes vied for con­trol of the government, as well as the king’s heir, the dauphin. In Novem­ber 1407, Louis was stabbed to death in Paris on John’s or­ders, spark­ing open hos­til­i­ties be­tween the Bur­gun­di­ans and the new Duke of Or­leans, Charles, and his ally the Count of Ar­magnac. This con­flict caused a huge rift within the French no­bil­ity, caus­ing an­i­mos­ity in­ter­spersed with open vi­o­lence for decades. Dur­ing Henry V’s in­va­sion in

1415, John found him­self un­able to reach the bat­tle at Agin­court, dur­ing which many of his ri­vals were killed or cap­tured. How­ever this did not set­tle the dispute, and John found him­self ex­iled from Paris for sev­eral years, only re­turn­ing in 1418 dur­ing a bloody coup. While attending a meet­ing to dis­cuss peace terms with the dauphin (the fu­ture Charles

VII), John him­self was him­self as­sas­si­nated by Ar­magnac sup­port­ers.

A YOUNG WAR­RIOR WHO BE­CAME A SLY POLITI­CIAN, HE CON­SOL­I­DATED BUR­GUNDY INTO A FORCE TO BE RECK­ONED WITH IN EUROPE

The fourth son of King John II of France, Philip was just 14 years old when he fought at the Bat­tle of Poitiers (1356), for which ac­tions he earned the moniker ‘the Bold’. The bat­tle was a dis­as­ter for the French crown, re­sult­ing in Philip becoming a hostage in Eng­land along with his fa­ther, where they re­mained for four years. Be­fore his death in 1364, the king made Philip the Duke of Bur­gundy, and in 1369 he was mar­ried to the daugh­ter and heiress of the Count of Flan­ders, Mar­garet. In

1384 the cou­ple in­her­ited the coun­ties of Flan­ders and other ter­ri­to­ries, plac­ing them under Philip’s con­trol. At the time, Philip was act­ing as re­gent for his young nephew Charles VI, who had in­her­ited the throne aged just 11. Re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in Paris caused Philip to be largely ab­sent from his ter­ri­to­ries in Flan­ders and Bur­gundy, which he gov­erned from his res­i­dences in the cap­i­tal. Through his prom­i­nent po­si­tion at the French court, Philip was able to di­rect funds – ei­ther through ne­far­i­ous or le­gal means – to his ter­ri­to­ries, build­ing Bur­gundy up to be a pow­er­ful en­tity upon his death in 1404.

DUKE PHILIP ‘THE BOLD’

Charles the Bold, de­picted by the 17th cen­tury artist Peter Paul Rubens

LEFT: Philip wearing the col­lar of the Or­der of the Golden Fleece, the chival­ric or­der he founded in 1430 LEFT: Philip II was re­spon­si­ble for build­ing Bur­gundy as a pow­er­ful state, caus­ing con­fronta­tions for sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions

BE­LOW: King John II of France at the Bat­tle of Poitiers

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