Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War (1411–1413)

Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War (1411–1413)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: The House of Burgundy vs. the
House of Orleans and the count of Armagnac



MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: At issue was the control of
France; Burgundy and Orléans, the latter led by the duke
of Armagnac, vied for the regency of Charles VI when he
intermittently fell mad.

OUTCOME: After years of feuding, Orléans gained the
regency for itself.




When Charles VI (1368–1422) ascended to the Capetian
throne of France in 1380, he had yet to reach his majority
and remained under the tutelage of his uncles, who created
an administrative Council of Twelve to rule France. From
1382 until 1388, when Charles declared he would rule
alone, the council was headed by the powerful duke of
Burgundy, Philip the Bold (1342–1404). After 1388 the
duke expected to continue as top adviser to the king, but
Charles, displeased with Philip’s conduct during his minority,
rebuffed the duke and instead named his brother,
Louis, duke of Orléans (1372–1407), to the post. The
appointment ignited the smoldering feud between the
Houses of Orléans and Burgundy. The feud suddenly
became significant when Charles began to suffer from
severe bouts of insanity.
After Charles became incapacitated for an extended
period in 1392, Philip the Bold, still the regent by law of
succession, replaced Louis of Orléans. Philip’s regency
would continue off and on for the next 12 years as Charles
intermittently waxed lucid or waned mad, and Philip
became virtual ruler of France. Philip died in 1404 and
was succeeded as duke of Burgundy by John the Fearless
(1371–1419). Feuding between the two families continued
as an acid personal rivalry between John and Louis
arose, each currying the favor of the queen, Isabella of
Bavaria (1371–1435). When it seemed that Louis had won
over the queen, John denounced both of them and
appealed to the citizens of Paris, calling for reform and
honest government. However, John secretly had other
plans. On the evening of November 23, 1407, Louis was
returning from a visit with the queen when he was set
upon by a band of men and beaten to death. Within a few
days John confessed to ordering Louis’s assassination.
Louis was succeeded as duke of Orléans by Charles
(1391–1465), the son-in-law of Bernard VII, count of
Armagnac (d. 1418). As patriarch, Bernard assumed the
leadership of the Orléans—now the Armagnac—faction.
Hostilities lay just below the surface for several years until
1411, when the Burgundians began courting English support,
which infuriated the Armagnacs. There followed in
the course of the next two years what amounted to a bitter,
unadjudicated fratricide. What had long been a series of
minor conflicts flared into open warfare and culminated in
a few pitched battles, in which each house vied for control
of France. The Burgundians aligned themselves with the
Cabochiens, members of a loose trade union seeking
industrial reform, and their support initially turned the
tide against the Armagnacs. However, when the CABOCHIEN
REVOLT turned brutal and a reign of terror stalked
the streets of Paris, public support turned sharply against
the Burgundians. John lost all favor at court and was
ousted in 1413, leaving Charles of Orléans and Bernard
Armagnac in possession of the regency as Charles VI again
became incapacitated.

Further reading: R. C. Famiglietti, Royal Intrigue: Crisis
at the Court of Charles VI, 1392–1420 (New York: AMS,

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