Philippe le Hardi/Philip the Bold
Valois Duc de Bourgogne (1384-1404)

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Philip le Hardi (1384-1404)

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Double gross, 32mm, 3.81gr. Obv: +PHILIPP:DEI:G:DX:BVRG:...:COM:FLAND, central lion with quartered shield. Rev: +SIT:NOME:DOMIN:BENEDICTVM, central cross going to the edge of the coin, bisecting the shield. This coin is called a 'gros botrager.' R8301.

Philip arrived in Dijon in November 1364 to take up his position as new duke of Burgundy (see the ducal succession reference for how this came to pass). His first ambition was to reunite the duchy with the Franche-Comte, which had been separated on the death of Philip de Rouvre. Margaret of France now owned this. The king, Charles V, Philip’s brother, entered into negotiations for the marriage of Margaret’s grand daughter and heir (also a Margaret). The young Margaret’s father, Louis of Male, drove a hard bargain and after the concession of some lands in Flanders, the deal was made. The portrait is from Bourgogne 111 and marriage engraving of Philip and Margaret of Flanders from Journal de la Bourgogne 115.

Calmette (34) quotes Histoirie des ducs de Bourgogne de la Maison de Valois (1: 81) regarding the pressure Margaret of France brought on her son Louis de Male to conclude these negotiations. “Finally (after seven years) Madame Margaret, angered by the lack of control she had over her son, went to see him; as he still showed no sign of yielding, she suddenly pulled her dress to one side and, revealing her breast, said with passion: ‘Since you refuse to obey the wishes of your king and your mother, I intend, in order to shame you, to cut off this breast which fed you – you and no one else – and throw it to the dogs. I would have you know that I hereby disinherit you and that you will never have my county of Artois.’ The count, deeply moved and alarmed, threw himself at his mother’s feet and promised to give the heiress of Flanders to the Duke of Burgundy.”

This marriage not only brought the Franche-Comte to Philip, but also Rethel, Nevers, Artois and other lands to the growing Burgundian fief.

Philip gave the administration of Burgundy to Eudes of Grancey and spent most of his time outside Burgundy fighting for France. For example, in the campaign of 1373 he effectively thwarted John of Gaunt as he moved through France. This drove the English to a truce in 1375, lasting only two years, but a respite none the less. Charles V’s great general Duguesclin died shortly thereafter, and Philip picked up his responsibilities. In the campaign of 1380, when Buckingham led an English force from Calais, Philip continued Guguesclin’s policy of harassing, disrupting supply lines but not accepting direct engagement.

Philip found himself in a different role when Charles V died and he and his brothers contested for power during the minority of Charles VI (known as the Mad). Each sought to use the resources of the crown for their personal goals. Philip was interested in expanding into Flanders, since this is where he saw the greatest opportunities for Burgundian growth. Philip joined the rest of the French nobility when they went to the aid of Louis of Male to put down the Flemish revolt led by Philip van Artevelde. The rout of the populists expanded Burgundian influence in the Low Countries.

Conflict with the English remained an on and off proposition. When Isabelle, daughter of Charles VI, became engaged to Richard II of England, Philip was able to obtain a truce of 28 years, which didn’t outlast his life.

Philip became protector of Joan of Brabant and her estates in 1390. Philip, in turn, made his second son, Anthony, duke of Brabant. Burgundy grew and its stature was recognized in its day. Honore Benet, a contemporary writer, wrote of Philip “I observed when I was a young man that you were called Philip Lackland: now God has generously bestowed on you a great name, and placed you along side the mighty ones on the earth.” Calmette goes on to note “This is a highly significant piece of evident, because it shows the realization on the part of Philip’s contemporaries that a vast and imposing structure was taking shape under their very eyes.” (Calmette 56)

In addition to his military prowess, Philip had a great eye for pageantry and was a strong supporter of the arts. He was the founder of the Order of the Golden Fleece, a chivalric order modeled on similar orders being created in England. He had an extensive library and spent lavishly on tapestries reflecting religious and historical scenes. He had a series of homes throughout his lands and in Paris that were generously maintained, not only in terms of buildings but also in terms of the art and furnishing that went into them. The upshot of all this was a very expensive lifestyle. Between his military activities, elaborate personal grooming and costuming, maintaining a court and all his residences, he was chronically broke. In fact, at his death, his sons had to pawn his silver plate to cover funeral expenses. One of his lasting artistic contributions is his elaborate tomb, which survived the Revolution and is now in the museum housed in the former ducal palace in Dijon

Philip had an interest in his wine producing regions and recognized them as an important economic resource. In his Ordinance of 1395 he promulgated what is seen as a precursor to the modern Appellation Controlee system. He sought to protect vineyards and to protect the quality of the wines. The ordinance spoke about the roles of both gamay and pinot noir grapes.

During a celebration of a meeting between Joan of Brabant and Anthony, Philip’s son, the duke caught influenza and died on April 27, 1404. He was succeeded by his son John, known as the Fearless.


Calmette, The Golden Age of Burgundy

Marseille, Journal de la Bourgogne