Philip, Duke of Burgundy

   As ruler of one of the wealthiest states in fifteenthcentury Europe, and as the chief rival of the kings of FRANCE, Philip “the Good,” duke of BURGUNDY, was an important potential source of foreign support for both English factions during the WARS OF THE ROSES.
   Philip became duke in 1419 upon the assassination of his father, Duke John the Fearless, who was killed by followers of the Dauphin Charles, the son and heir of Charles VI of France. To avenge his father’s murder, Philip recognized Henry V of England as heir to the French Crown, thereby creating an Anglo-Burgundian alliance that allowed Henry to overrun much of northern France. Upon the deaths of both Henry V and Charles VI in 1422, Philip accepted HENRY VI as king of France, while the Dauphin, now CHARLES VII, strove to secure the French Crown for himself. In 1429, disputes with the English led Philip to negotiate with Charles, but the duke returned to his English alliance when Henry’s government ceded to him the French county of Champagne. However, in 1435, Philip abandoned Henry VI and concluded the Treaty of Arras with Charles VII, who purchased the duke’s alliance by ceding to him a series of strategic towns along the FrancoBurgundian border. Left to fight alone, the English were finally driven out of France in 1453 (see Hundred Years War).
   By the late 1450s, the expulsion of the English allowed the French Crown to focus on reducing the power of Burgundy; Charles VII sought to eventually reabsorb French Burgundy into the French state. This policy and Charles’s support for the house of LANCASTER— Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU was his niece and the Yorkists advocated reestablishing the French empire lost by Henry VI—led Philip to cautiously favor the house of YORK. Although angered by the piracy of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, who held CALAIS for the Yorkists, Philip in 1460 advised his kinswoman, MARY OF GUELDRES, queen-regent of SCOTLAND, to deny aid to Queen Margaret. In 1461, the duke supplied a troop of handgunners to fight for EDWARD IV at the Battle of TOWTON, and in 1462, Philip largely nullified the CHINON AGREEMENT between LOUIS XI and Queen Margaret by refusing to allow French troops to cross Burgundian soil to attack Calais. Philip also continued to provide the Yorkist government with diplomatic assistance in Scotland and elsewhere.
   Although Philip declined a marriage connection with the still insecure house of York in 1461, and Anglo-Burgundian relations were strained by a commercial dispute in 1464,mutual suspicion of France and the ties of a lucrative and long-standing trade relationship brought the two states closer together after 1465. By Philip’s death in 1467, Burgundy and Yorkist England were on the verge of a formal alliance, which was concluded in 1468 by Philip’s son and heir, Duke CHARLES.
   Further Reading: Vaughan, Richard, Philip the Good: The Apogee of Burgundy (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1970).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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