Philippe le Bon/Philip the Good
Valois Duc de Bourgogne (1419-67)
The Anglo-Burgundian Alliance and the Hundred Year's War
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AR double gros vierlander, 28mm. Obv: PHS:DEI:GRA:DVX:BVRG:Z:COMES:FLAND, central shield, 1 and 3 full quarters, 2 and 4 split quarters. Rev: +MONETA:NOVA:COMITIS:FLAND, ornate cross with lis in center, lis and lions in opposite quadrants. Roberts 7981, Boudeau 2263.
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AR grand blanc, 26mm, 2.97gr. Obv: +DVX:ET: --------, central PHILIPVS over two shields. Rev: +SIT:NOMEN:DEI:GRA--BENEDICTVM, central +, lis and ? over PHILIPVS. Mint is Chaussia in the Franche-Comte. Seller ID Dumas 15-7-3 and R. Not in R, Boud, PdA.
The church of St. Maurice (pretty sure this is the name) is contemporary with the coin. It was closed when we visitied it on a rainy day. Chaussin itself is a small and newish looking town in the Franche-Comte/Jura. Population less than 2000.
At the outset of the Hundred Year's War France was not a unified country. The king controlled areas in the Ile d'France and central France but other territories were controlled by independent nobles. The costs of the war, in money and brigandage, placed stresses on French society such that conflicts were as often among the French as against the English. One of these was between the duke of Burgundy and the royal household and their allies, including the Armagnacs.
In revenge for John the Fearless' murder of Louis of Orleans, the Armagnacs, with the apparent complicity of the king (Charles VII) murdered the duc of Burgundy at Montrereau in 1419. The news was a shock to Philip, John's son. From Calmette (128), When he heard the news "Philip uttered a dreadful cry. A sudden tremor passed across his face, his eyes rolled back in their sockets. His teeth were clenched, his lips parched, like those of a dead man."
Philip formally allied himself with Henry V and the English in 1419. This was as much calculation on Philip's part that the English were likely to prevail as it was a desire for revenge. Seward says "A century later a Carthusian monk who was showing Francis I the mausoleum of the Dukes (of Burgundy) at Dijon, picked up John's (the murdered duke) broken skull and commended 'This is the hole through which the English entered France. (180)'" Their aim was to conquer France. It was at this time that the English came to occupy Paris. The Anglo-Burgundian alliance was initially successful and ruled northern France, often called Lancastrian France.
These were the glory days for the alliance. The Dauphin was disgraced and disinherited. France was so weakened that Charles VI agreed that he would be succeeded on the French throne by the son of Henry V and Charles' daughter Katherine. France was split between a nationalist party that came to surround the Dauphin and the Anglo-Burgundian alliance, with the English seen by many, even in Burgundy, as occupiers.
1422 was a pivotal year for Philip, the alliance and France. Both Charles VI and Henry V died. Charles was succeeded by his son Charles VII (to be known as the Victorious) and Henry by his infant son. The duke of Bedford became regent of France after Philip refused the job and Philip began a gradual process of moving away from the English connection. Philip had to defend himself against several incursions in Burgundy but by and large did not involve himself militarily on the side of the English.
He spent his energies in the Low Countries, consolidating the positions established by his predecessors. The dukes of Burgundy were following a policy of reuniting the Lotharingia with ducal Burgundy and essentially undoing the Treaty of Verdun and the Partition of 843. In the face of opposition, Philip campaigned extensively, with success, in Holland. In this he fought the English under Glouchester, who was seeking his own lands on the continent. The result is that he was allied with Bedford, representing Henry VI, in French lands while contesting with another English lord for control of the North.
As a result of Charles' growing maturity, his choice of a good general and reform of the military, combined with the re-infused vigor of the French defense, the tide turned against the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. It was also the time that Joan of Arc came to play a key role on the French side, mobilizing them in their fight against the English. She was finally captured by the Burgundians (May 24, 1430). Philip was interested in meeting her, which both he had his wife did. The English were keen to have her and in a transaction that did no one proud, she was turned over to them in exchange for a payment of 10,000 gold crowns. The English wasted no time in a trial and execution, creating a French martyr. This has to be seen as a Pyrrhic victory for them. Thereafter the English were weakened in their relative position. This minitature is Joan being delivered to the English by the Burgundians.
Charles VII was becoming more effective and Philip became concerned that the English and French might strike an agreement on the future of France without considering him. He was also concerned that the French were reaching out to the HRE, threatening an alliance that would bracket Burgundy. In response, he entered negotiations with Charles VII and suggested an end to hostilities. Philip's ally John, duke of Bedford, died in September 1435. Less than a week later, Philip and Charles VII of France concluded the Treaty of Arras, ending the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. Here Philip recognized Charles as king and in return was recognized as the legitimate holder of lands he generally already controlled.
The English were naturally angered by the Treaty of Arras and seized Burgundian fiefs in their sphere of control. Whereas Philip had hoped for a general peace, he now found himself in conflict with the English. He supported the liberation of Paris in 1446, and was given much credit for its success. The conflict with the English damaged the prosperity of his Flemish territories, which relied heavily on the English trade. Treaties in 1439 and 1440 bought about an Anglo-Burgundian peace in these lands which helped restore their prosperity.
For a fuller overview of the Hundred Year's War and the coins of the participants, please visit the Hundred Year's War pages.
Meanwhile, Philip was also seeking Burgundian expansion into lands of the HRE. He was offered, but refused, a royal crown in Friesland or Brabant by Frederick III. A crown would have been less territorially advantageous than his current policy, since he would have had to make territorial accommodations to Frederick in return for the crown.
Philip never had cordial relations with Charles VII and while the fighting between them was over, animosity lingered. Philip offered the Dauphin, who became Louis XI, refuge in his court as Louis was contesting with Charles VII. Louis and Philip's son and heir, Charles (the Bold) were able to take each other's measure over these years and emerged as bitter enemies during the Louis' reign.
One significant event during Philip's dukedom was the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In a famous banquet called the 'Pledge of the Pheasant' Philip pledged to lead a crusade to free Constantinople from the Turks. The crusade never came off, but the dinner was typical of the rich court life that the nobility of Burgundy enjoyed. One manifestation of this was La Toison d'Or, or the Order of the Golden Fleece, founded 'pour la recompense de la virtu des bonnes moeurs.' It was during his dukedom that Burgundy reached its highest achievements. Its lands were expanded, its court rich and the patronage of the arts extensive. Philip died at Bruges in 1467 and passed the dukedom on to his son Charles the Bold. The left image represents the Banquet de la Faison and the right image is equestrian armor for the Knights of the Golden Fleece, specifically made for Jean LeFerve de St. Remy.
The image to the left is the ducal palace today, significantly redone in the 18th century. The central tower was built by Philip the Good. The right image is a 15th century building in Dijon today.
Calmette, The Golden Age of Burgundy
Marseille, Journal de la Bourgogne
Seward, The Hundred Year's War