Philip the Bold

Philip the Bold (Philippe le Hardi), also Philip II, Duke of Burgundy (January 15, 1342, PontoiseApril 27, 1404, Halle), was the fourth son of King John II of France and his wife, Bonne of Luxembourg. By his marriage to Margaret III, Countess of Flanders, he also became Philip II, Count of Flanders, Philip IV, Count of Artois and Philip IV, Count Palatine of Burgundy. He was the founder of the Burgundian branch of the House of Valois.

Early life

Born in 1342, Philip gained his cognomen the Bold when, at the age of 14, he fought beside his father at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. He was created Duke of Touraine in 1360, but in 1363, as a reward for his behaviour at Poitiers, he returned this to the crown, receiving instead from his father the Duchy of Burgundy in apanage, which his father had been Duke of since the death of Philip of Rouvres in 1361. Philip would rule the Duchy until his death.

On 19 June 1369, Philip married the 19 year old Margaret of Dampierre, the daughter of Louis II, Count of Flanders, who would become the heiress of Flanders, Brabant, Artois, and the Free County of Burgundy after the death of her brother in 1376. Margaret was the widow of his stepbrother, Philip of Rouvres, Duke of Burgundy, Count Palatine of Burgundy, and Count of Artois, Boulogne and Auvergne, who had died childless in 1361. As her father's eventual heiress, Margaret would bring rich possessions to her husband and to their children.

From 1379 to 1382, he helped his father-in-law put down revolts in Flanders, particularly in Ghent, organising an army against Philip van Artevelde. The revolts were finally ended only in 1385, following the death of Louis II, with the Peace of Tournai. As jure uxoris Count of Flanders, he would keep in mind the economic interests of the Flemish cities, which made their money from weaving and spinning.

In 1390, Philip also became the Count of Charolais, a title used by Philip the Good and Charles the Bold as the heirs of Burgundy.

Involvement in France

Philip was very active in the court of France, particularly after the death of his brother, Charles V, who left the 12 year old Charles VI as King. Charles being a minor, a regency was undertaken by his uncles, Louis, Duke of Anjou, John, Duke of Berry, Philip himself, and Louis II, Duke of Bourbon, Charles VI's maternal uncle. The regency lasted until 1388, Philip taking the dominant rôle: Louis of Anjou was fighting for his claim to the Kingdom of Naples after 1382, dying in 1384, John of Berry was interested mainly in the Languedoc, and not particularly interested in politics; whilst Louis of Bourbon was a largely unimportant figure, due to his personality (he showed signs of mental instability) and his status (since he was not the son of a King). However, Burgundy, along with Berry and Bourbon, lost their power in 1388, when Charles VI, taking up personal rule, chose to favour the advice of the Marmousets, his personal advisors, over that of his uncles.

In 1392, events conspired to allow Burgundy to seize power once more in France. Charles VI's friend and advisor, Olivier de Clisson, had recently been the target of an assassination attempt by agents of John V, Duke of Brittany; the would-be assassin, Pierre de Craon, had taken refuge in Brittany. Charles, outraged at these events, determined to punish Craon, and on 1 July 1392 led an expedition against Brittany. Whilst progressing towards Brittany, the King, already overwrought by the slow progress, was shocked by a madman who spent half-an-hour following the procession, warning the King that he had been betrayed; when a page dropped a lance, the King reacted by killing several of his knights, and had to be wrestled to the ground. Burgundy, who was present, immediately assumed command, and appointed himself regent, dismissing Charles' advisors. He would be the principal ruler of France until 1402.

His seizure of power would, however, have disastrous consequences for the unity of the House of Valois, and of France itself. The King's brother, Louis, Duke of Orléans, resented his uncle rather than himself being regent; the result was a feud between the Philip and Louis, which would be continued after their deaths by their families. In particular, both quarrelled over the royal funds, each desiring to appropriate this for their own ends: Louis to fund his extravagant lifestyle, Philip to further his ambitions in Burgundy and the low countries. Nonetheless, this struggle only served to enhance the reputation of Philip, and give him real popularity in Paris, since, in comparison with the profligate and irresponsible Orléans, he appeared a sober and honest reformer. Thus, although Charles VI, in a rare moment of sanity, confirmed his brother as regent in 1402, Orléans' misrule allowed Burgundy to regain control of France as regent in 1404, shortly before his death.

Philip died in Halle, County of Hainaut (modern Belgium), on 27 April 1404. His territories were bequeathed to his eldest son, John the Fearless, who inherited also Philip's political position in France and leadership of the Burgundians against Orléans.

Tomb of Philip the Bold

In 1378, Philip the Bold acquired the domain of Champmol to allow him to build a Chartreuse (1383 - 1388, which then became a hospital in Dijon), which he intended to house his body after his death. His tomb and his gisant are one of the chief works of French sculpture. They were made by Jean de Marville (1381 - 1389), Claus Sluter (1389 - 1406) and Claus de Werve (1406 - 1410). Jean Malouel, official painter of the duke, was responsible for polychromy and gildings. After his death, the body of Philip the Bold was eviscerated and embalmed, then placed in a lead coffin. It was then deposited in the chorus of Chartreuse de Champmol on 16 June 1404. His internal organs were sent to the Saint Martin's church of Halle. In 1792, his body was transferred to the Saint-Benign cathedral of Dijon. His tomb was damaged a little later by the revolutionists in 1793. It was restored in first half of the 19th Century, and is today at museum of the Art schools of Dijon in the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.


Philip's ancestors in three generations
Philip the Bold Father:
John II of France
Paternal Grandfather:
Philip VI of France
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Charles of Valois
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Marguerite of Anjou and Maine
Paternal Grandmother:
Joan the Lame
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Robert II, Duke of Burgundy
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Agnes of France, Duchess of Burgundy
Bonne of Bohemia
Maternal Grandfather:
John I of Bohemia
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Margaret of Brabant
Maternal Grandmother:
Elisabeth I of Bohemia
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Wenceslaus II of Bohemia
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Judith of Habsburg

Marriage and Issue

Philip the Bold married Margaret III, Countess of Flanders (1350–1405) on 19 June, 1369, a marriage which would eventually not only reunite the Duchy of Burgundy with the Free County of Burgundy and the County of Artois, but also unite it to the rich county of Flanders. Philip and Margaret had the following children:

In arranging the marriages of his children, Philip followed an intelligent diplomatic and strategic design, which would be followed by his successors in Burgundy as far as Emperor Maximilian I. For example, the marriages in 1385 of his son, John the Fearless, and his daughter, Marguerite, to Margaret of Bavaria and William of Bavaria, son and daughter of Albert, Count of the neighbouring Hainault and Holland, prepared the later union of Hainault and Holland with Burgundy and Flanders, as carried out by Philip's grandson, Philip the Good; the marriages also inserted the new Valois Burgundy dynasty into the Wittelsbach network of alliances: the other daughters of Count Albert had married William I, Duke of Guelders and Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia; their cousin, Isabeau of Bavaria, had married Charles VI of France, and become Queen of France.

In addition to his alliance with the low county Bavarians, Philip also made links with the Dukes of Austria and of Savoy, by marrying his daughter Catherine to Leopold IV of Austria, and his daughter Mary to Amadeus VIII Savoy.

See also: Dukes of Burgundy family tree


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