Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Funeral of Duke Philip the Good

The Funeral of Duke Philip the Good - How the Funeral of Philip the Good (died 1467) was used by the Burgundian aristocracy to demonstrate their ducal power and munificence.

From the site:

The whole history of the house of Burgundy is like an epic of over-weening and heroic pride, which takes the form of bravura and ambition with Philippe le Hardi, of hatred and envy with Jean sans Peur, of the lust of vengeance and fondness for display with Philip the Good, of foolhardy temerity and obstinacy with Charles the Bold.

So wrote Johan Huizinga in summarizing the legacy of Valois Burgundy. Indeed the Burgundian state does appear chimerical, fleeting across the complex tapestry of late medieval political and dynastic arrangements in Western Europe. In scarcely a century, Burgundys rulers had attained a respect and power that placed them on equal footing with the monarchs of England and France, so that diplomatic settlements between the two could not be made without considering the interests of "the Grand Duke of the West." Further, Burgundys Valois dukes are credited with having initiated and sponsored a chivalric revival, which though in a large sense anticlimactic, nevertheless produced a vast cultural flowering encompassing literature, etiquette, and ceremony.

Yet the Valois dukes fell far short of attaining many of their ambitions. Though fond of recalling as precedents both the ancient Burgundian kingdom and early medieval Lotharingia, they were unable to secure royal status for themselves, in spite of several attempts by both Philip the Good and Charles. In more practical terms, the Burgundian state failed to make significant progress toward effective administrative centralization. Until its end the polity was fundamentally held together through various dynastic loyalties and concessions of local privilege.

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