Charles, Duke of Burgundy

(1433–1477)
   By supplying a safe place of exile and vital material assistance, Charles “the Bold” (or “the Rash”), duke of BURGUNDY, enabled EDWARD IV to mount a successful campaign to retake the English throne in 1471. In 1467, Charles succeeded his father, Duke PHILIP the Good, who since the late 1450s had followed a generally pro-Yorkist policy toward England. Having inherited Lancastrian blood from his mother, a princess of Portugal, Charles personally favored the house of LANCASTER and befriended such staunch adherents of HENRY VI as Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset. After Somerset’s execution in 1464, Charles sheltered numerous Lancastrian exiles at the Burgundian COURT, including the late duke’s brother, Edmund BEAUFORT. However, Charles was also more hostile to LOUIS XI of FRANCE than Philip had been, a stance that forced Charles into a closer alignment with the anti-French house of YORK.
   In 1465, Charles, who had assumed direction of the Burgundian government from his increasingly ill father, took Burgundy into the League of the Public Weal, an alliance of French nobles, including FRANCIS II of BRITTANY, that defeated Louis in battle and forced him to make important concessions to his feudal vassals. When Charles also became a widower in 1465, he opened negotiations with Yorkist England that led by 1467 to a commercial treaty and by 1468 to a formal alliance sealed by Charles’s marriage to Edward IV’s sister, MARGARET OF YORK. Because the marriage was a political defeat for Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, who favored a proFrench foreign policy, the alliance with Charles aggravated the growing rift between Warwick and the king and forced Warwick to turn to Louis of France when he fled England after the failure of his rebellion in early 1470. When French assistance allowed Warwick to drive him from the kingdom in October 1470, Edward IV fled to Burgundy, where he was warmly received by the Burgundian nobleman Louis de GRUTHUYSE, Seigneur de la Gruthuyse, although denied an audience by his pro-Lancastrian brother-in-law. However, when Warwick, acting in accordance with the ANGERS AGREEMENT, which he had concluded in 1470 with MARGARET OF ANJOU and Louis XI, declared war on Burgundy in early 1471, Charles determined to support Edward and provided him with funds to hire ships and recruit men.
   After Edward’s restoration in April 1471, England’s newfound stability meant that both Charles and Louis were eager to win Edward’s friendship; like Louis, Charles paid handsome pensions to important English courtiers, who then exercised their influence with Edward on the duke’s behalf. By 1475, Charles’s attention had turned to accomplishing the eastward expansion of Burgundy as part of a plan to establish a Burgundian kingdom between France and Germany. As he pursued this plan, Charles suffered several severe defeats at the hands of the Swiss, who finally slew the duke in battle at Nancy in January 1477.
   Further Reading: Vaughan, Richard, Charles the Bold: The Last Valois Duke of Burgundy (London: Longman, 1973);Vaughan, Richard, Valois Burgundy (Hamden, CT:Archon Books, 1975).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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