One of the most striking and colorful figures of the European Middle Ages, without a doubt, is Charles the Bold, who ruled Burgundy in the middle of the 15th century. In history, he is often called the "last knight" for the qualities that he possessed or that were customarily attributed to him. He lived in a cruel age, and one can hardly reproach him for those deeds, the descriptions of which make modern man shudder.
Son and heir of Philip the Good
Karl got a very good heredity. His father, Philip the Good, despite the fact that he spoiled his reputation by betraying Joan of Arc to the British, managed to give Burgundy power, thanks to which she gained high authority in Europe. At the ducal court, the development of art was encouraged, and the ruler himself was an ardent supporter of the knightly code and the founder of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which has come down to our days.
Philip's favorite entertainment was jousting and minnesinger competitions. It is quite understandable that the heir who was born on November 10, 1433, who was named Charles, he tried to instilltraits of a real knight. Philip's labors were not in vain, and his son fully inherited his love for fights, hunting and military campaigns.
Youth of the future Duke of Burgundy
Followed by political considerations, the father hurried to betroth his son to Katarina, daughter of the French king Charles VII, and so that someone would not intercept the vacant bride, he did it when the heir was barely five years old. By the way, the happy chosen one was only four years older than her fiancé. Subsequently, Karl was married twice more - to the Frenchwoman Isabella de Bourbon and the Englishwoman Margaret of York. Both of them were of royal blood.
In his early youth, Charles the Bold met and even became friends with his future sworn enemy, the heir to the French throne, Louis, when he was hiding from the wrath of his father in the Duchy of Burgundy. Almost the same age, they were strikingly different from each other. Charles the Bold - "the last knight" - was a tall and strong young man, ready to prove his case with a sword in his hands. Louis, short and thin, with a small stature, was distinguished by cunning and deceit.
Military campaign against a former friend
Their friendship came to an end when Louis succeeded his father on the throne on July 22, 1461, becoming King Louis XI of France. From the first days of his reign, he pursued a policy of annexing to the kingdom the lands belonging to the feudal lords subject to him. This caused their extreme discontent, as a result of which the sovereign barons and dukes united against their overlord,entering into an agreement called the "League for the Common Good". Charles the Bold also joined this alliance, forced to enter into conflict with the new king over the county of Charolais, which they both claimed.
Very soon, the political confrontation turned into a military clash. By this time, Philip the Good had died, and Charles inherited not only his father's vast possessions, but also the title of Duke of Burgundy. Now, at the head of the troops assembled by the League for the Common Good, he had the full opportunity to show off his courage and courage.
Start of bloodshed
The first brilliant victory Charles the Bold won in 1465, utterly defeating the army of his former friend at the Battle of Montleury. This forced the king to relinquish his claim to the disputed county of Charolais. Encouraged by success, the duke rushed to new exploits. He remembered that a couple of years ago in the city of Liege, subject to him, there were riots caused by exorbitantly high taxes. But the worst thing is that a rumor was spread among the rebels that he - Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy - was born not at all from Philip the Good, his official father, but from a local bishop, with whom his mother Duchess Isabella retired for confession.
A true knight, and this is how Karl considered himself, could not forgive the insult inflicted on a lady, especially a mother. He acted in the spirit of his time - the cruel and dark Middle Ages. Capturing Liege, whose inhabitants did not even try to resist, he destroyed them all, including women and children. Proudlyraising his head, Karl left the smoking ruins of the city that had been blooming yesterday. He visited several other areas of his duchy in a similar way.
On the eve of the Burgundian wars
Finally established in the consciousness of his own greatness, Charles desired to make Burgundy subject to him a kingdom, and in this case he himself would receive the crown from the hands of the Pope. But such ambitious plans of the duke were not destined to come true. This was opposed by both the emperor of the Great Roman Empire and the king of France. Neither one nor the other benefited from the strengthening of Burgundy.
The goals of Charles the Bold and Louis 11 were the same - the maximum concentration of power in their hands, but they sought to achieve it in different ways. If the Burgundian relied on brute force in everything, then the king acted with cunning and intrigue, in which he was an unsurpassed master. In order to destroy his opponent, he managed to draw him into a whole series of military adventures, later called the Burgundian Wars.
Impoverishment of the country
Under his influence, Charles the Bold attempted to annex Alsace and Lorraine to his possessions. The beginning was encouraging, but then Louis XI, through secret negotiations, managed to turn almost half of Europe against him. Hopelessly bogged down in campaigns, the duke completely transferred the life of Burgundy to military footing. Since the maintenance of the army completely devastated the treasury, all amusements were canceled. Gone are the competitions of poets and musicians, and crafts not related to military affairs were simply abolished. Former we althturned into hunger and poverty.
Defeat at Granson
The experience of history shows that no matter how great the ambitions, no ruler alone can resist the coalition of developed countries. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was no exception. If he somehow coped with the Germans and the French, then the best army of Switzerland at that time turned out to be too tough for him.
The first crushing defeat he suffered in 1476 at the Battle of Granson. Shortly before this, Duke Charles the Bold captured the city, taking advantage of the betrayal of one of its defenders. With the captured garrison, he did as he was used to doing - he hanged some of the soldiers, and drowned others in Lake Neuchâtel.
It became quite clear to the Swiss, who rushed to the rescue, what awaits them in case of defeat. None of them wanted to sink or hang, therefore, inspired, they defeated the Burgundians. Charles the Bold - the Burgundian ruler - barely escaped, leaving the enemy his front line for those times, artillery and a magnificent camp full of treasures stolen during the campaign.
However, this defeat did not diminish the agility and arrogance of the commander. The next rake, which he had to step on, was waiting for the duke near the city of Murten. Here Karl received an even more crushing defeat from the Swiss. It is known from the documents of that era that he had the opportunity, using the mediation of a third party, to make peace and, albeit fairly shabby, but alive, return tonative Burgundy. However, enraged by military failures, he missed this saving chance and thus signed his own death warrant. The fact is that the grandiose goals of Charles the Bold were incomparable with the potential that he possessed.
The tragic end of the Burgundian ruler
At the end of the same year, at the head of the newly formed army, he approached the city of Nancy. The defenders showed enviable tenacity, and the siege dragged on. Despite the fact that due to the low temperature, many of his soldiers received frostbite and could no longer fight, Charles refused to retreat, hoping that hunger would force the besieged to surrender. At this time, a large army, consisting of Alsatians, Austrians, Germans and French, came to the aid of the city.
The day of January 5, 1477 was fatal for the army of Charles the Bold. Unable to resist the enemy, which outnumbered it, it was completely destroyed. The commander himself died in battle. A few days later, his body, mutilated by wounds and stripped by marauders, was found in a nearby river. His hacked face was so unrecognizable that only a personal doctor could recognize the duke from old scars.
Disappointing result of Charles' reign
The death of Charles the Bold ended a whole era in the history of Burgundy. Deprived of a male heir, she was soon divided between the Habsburgs and the French crown. The significance of the duchy as an independent European state has irrevocably gone into the past. Became the property of history and its restless ruler CharlesBold, whose biography is a continuous series of wars and campaigns. This is not surprising, because all his life he was a hostage to his own ambitions.
Fearless warrior and bad politician
Characterization of Charles the Bold, given to him by researchers, is rather contradictory. It cannot be denied that he directed all his efforts to ensure that Burgundy, subject to him, by joining the conquered lands to it, would acquire even greater greatness. However, the result of such a militaristic policy was the ruin of the duchy and general impoverishment. Brought up at the court of his father Philip the Good, Charles professed the principles of knightly honor, but, in accordance with the traditions of his time, put to death the innocent inhabitants of captured cities.
The question arises: why was Charles the Bold called the "last knight"? Probably the answer lies in the fact that he was one of those who considered political games and intrigues shameful and unworthy, preferring to resolve all issues in open battle, as befits a true knight. Undoubtedly, such an approach will give nobility to any private person, but it is unacceptable for the head of state. The leadership of the country is inseparable from big politics, and in this its head must be a professional.