1902 Encyclopedia > Burgundy


BURGUNDY (French, Bourgogne) has at various periods been the name of different political and geographical areas. The Burgundians (Burgundi or Burgundiones) seem to have been a people of German race, who are first found settled between the Oder and the Vistula. At an early period they came into conflict with the Alemanni, whom they defeated; and in the beginning of the 5 th century they crossed into Roman Gaul under their leader Gundicar. The Romans not only permitted them to settle within the limits of the empire, but caused the inhabitants of the district to yield up to them one-half of their houses, two-thirds of the cultivated land, and a third of their slaves. The new-comers thus founded, in the country between the Aar and the Rhone, what is usually known as the first kingdom of Burgundy, which lasted till 534, when it was incorporated in the Frankish empire. Gundicar was succeeded in 436 by Gunderic, who somewhat extended his kingdom. In 470 it was parcelled out among his four sons—Chilperic, Gundibald, Godegisil, and Gondemar, who had their head-quarters respectively at Geneva, Besancpn, Lyons, and Vienne; but it was ultimately reunited in the hands of Gundibald, who is famous for his patronage of the Catholic ecclesiastics and his codification of the Burgundian law, which is consequently known as Lex Gundibaldia, or Loi Gombette. Gundibald was succeeded in 516 by his son Sigismund, who in turn gave place to Gundimar, the last of the dynasty. On the disintegration of the Carlovingian empire, Boson, the husband of Ermengarde, the daughter of the Emperor Louis II., founded the kingdom of Cisjuran or Lower Burgundy, but in 882 he recognized the overlord-ship of Charles the Stout. His territory included what was afterwards known as Franche Comtek a part of the later province of Burgundy, Dauphine, Provence, and part of Languedoc and Savoy. In 888 Boson's example was followed by Rudolph, a Swiss count of Guelf race, who, supported by a large body of civil and ecclesiastical digni taries called together by him at St Moritz in Valais, estab-lished a kingdom known as Transjuran or Upper Burgundy.

His son, Rudolph., bartered his rights to the Italian crown for the Cisjuran kingdom, and thus united both Burgundies into what is frequently called the kingdom of Aries, which after various vicissitudes was finally united to the German empire by Conrad II. in 1033.
On the foundation of the Lower Burgundian kingdom by Boson, his brother Richard remained faithful to Charles the Bald of France, and was invested with the duchy of Burgundy, which had been held by various members of the Carlovingian family. King Robert II., however, took possession of it, and bestowed it in 1015 on his son, afterwards Henry I. On the accession of the latter to the throne of France, he gave the duchy to his brother Robert, with whose descendants it continued for a con-siderable period. In 1361 that elder line of dukes expired, and the duchy was seized by king John, and in 1363 presented by him to his son Philip the Bold as a reward for his bravery at the battle of Poitiers. Thus commenced that famous line of dukes which played so great a part in the history of France during the 14th and 15 th centuries, and by the splendour of its achievements and the magni-ficence of its patronage rivalled the greatest dynasties of the time. Philip's marriage with Margaret of Flanders brought him the countships of Burgundy (Franche Comté), Flanders, Artois, Bethel, and Nevers ; and at a later period he purchased the countship of Charoláis from the count of Armagnac. He was succeeded in 1404 by John the Fearless {Jean sans Peur), who was assassinated at the Bridge of Montereau in 1419, and left the duchy to his son Philip the Good. This duke survived till 1467, and during that time had greatly extended his territory. By very questionable proceedings he obtained possession of Hainault and Holland. Namur was purchased in 1429; and in the following year Brabant and Limburg also fell into his grasp. In 1435 there were further yielded to him, by treaty with France, Macon, Auxerre, Bar-sur-Seine, and various other towns in that district. His son, Charles the Bold, followed in the same course of territorial aggrandize-ment, and his ambitious projects gradually extended, till he began to aim at the founding of a great Gallo-Belgian kingdom ; but his splendid plans came to an untimely end with his own death at the battle of Nancy in 1477, when he was trying to wipe off the disgrace inflicted on his arms by the Swiss at Morat. His daughter and heiress.

Mary, married the Archduke Maximilian, son of Frederick III. ; and with the exception of the duchy of Burgundy proper, which remained a fief of the French crown, brought with her all the vast inheritance of her father. In 1512 Maximilian incorporated the territory with the German empire under the title of the circle of Burgundy. It was gradually diminished by the encroachments of France, and by the liberation of the Netherlands, so that at the Revolu-tion it only consisted of Brabant, Limburg, Luxembourg, and parts of Flanders, Hainault, Namur, and Guelders.

The duchy meanwhile had been raised with some addi-tions to the rank of a province, and formed a military governorship. It was bounded on the N. by Champagne, E. by Franche Comté and Bresse, S. by Lyonnais and Dauphiné, and W. by Bourbonnais and Nivernais. It was divided into eight districts—Auxerrais, the country of the Mountain, Auxais, Dijonnais, Autunais, Châlonnais, Charo-láis, and Maçonnais. It possessed a separate assembly of states general, which met every three years at Dijon, the capital, under the presidency most frequently of the governor of the province. The bishop of Autun was at the head of the clergy ; the nobility and gentry had a leader of their own election ; and the corresponding placo in the third estate belonged to the mayor of Dijon.

See Derichsweiler's Geschichte der Burgunden, 1863 ; Barante's Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne, 10 vols. 1824; and De Laborde's Les ducs de Bourgogne, 1871.

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