Chapter IX - Crusader Kings & Knights of Honour
Philippe IV, Duke of Burgundy
Whilst Philippe the Younger was on crusade and only his wife, stepmother and two young sons remained in Burgundy, 5000 troops under the minor nobleman Jean-Baptiste de Baffremont attempted a popular uprising in a foolish grab for the throne. His rebellion was swiftly put down by loyal forces commanded by Captain-General Henri-Jules de Chin, Commander of the Duke's household knights, and de Baffremont's sightless eyes watched Philippe III's funeral cortège as the latest adornment to Dijon's city walls.
Entrusting the command of the Tenth Crusade to his deputy commander, Count Godfrey of Bouillon, Philippe the Lesser hastened back to Burgundy with just 200 picked men, only to find the two houses of the Valois at war with each other again. Helped along by Swiss troops occupying whole chunks of southern France, Philippe arrived back in Dijon four months later to take up the Burgundian throne and its sixteen subsidiary duchies, counties and lesser titles, not including his new role as King of the Germans. He had hardly been crowned before news came of Henry VI of England's war with Muscowy, with the Swedish alliance pulling in Burgundy as well.
Through the first half of 1476, France's various antangonists began to make peace on their own terms and King Charles VIII was forced into three humiliating treaties, ending French rule in southern France and ceding more land to the Duchy of Brittany. This had the fortunate effect of ending the war with Burgundy as well, allowing Philippe IV to focus on the war with England just across the Channel.
In April of that year, documents were "located", citing a Burgundian claim on Dauphiné, but it was no doubt to King Charles' relief that Duke Philippe was far too busy with the Lancastrian war to act on this "discovery".
News arrived shortly thereafter that the obscure North African realm of Fez had abandoned their Mamluk allies and had sued for peace with the Crusaders, a peace which had been duly granted by Godfrey de Bouillon.
The fighting is fierce, on both land and sea, with the Burgundian admiral Louis de Brimeu taking the opportunity to engage only small portions of the English fleet.
That summer also sees a large build-up in the Burgundian navy, with seven of Burgundy's eight ports busy with ship production for the next year to come.
The last half of the Moscowite War took place in northern Germany, with Burgundy's armies led by some of her most talented warriors, leaving Philippe plenty of time to tour his duchy for the first time as its ruler, spend time with his family, receive regular updates from the Holy Land and to begin careful cultivation of his image as the new Duke of Burgundy, one of Christendom's most powerful realms. Having spent so long in the shadow of his justly acclaimed father, Philippe craved recognition of his own, acquiring the moniker "the Handsome" after a series of flattering court portraits were circulated in the great courts of Europe.
In April 1478, a talented engineer came to light in the province of Franche-Comté and he was paid handsomely to make extensive repairs and upgrades to the fortress of Besançon. As southern Burgundy was Philip the Bold's original patrimony before he inherited the County of Flanders and still housed the Ducal court at Dijon, any further protection from the marauding French or greedy Austrians was greatly appreciated!
Finally, in October 1478, the Tenth Crusade came to an end, with the Mamluks ceding both the Holy City and several other key cities in the Levant. As the highest-ranking nobleman remaining on Crusade, Godfrey de Bouillon assumed control of Jerusalem in the name of Duke Philippe, later marrying a high-ranking Saracen woman whose family claimed descent from Husain, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and becoming known (in the Holy Land at least) as Godfrey Alawiyya.
On hearing of Godfrey's success, Philippe sent Father Eudes de Chabot to Jerusalem to ply his trade there and serve as a religious adviser to the new Viceroy of Jerusalem. Father de Chabot was a noted inquisitor with great success at allowing whole communities of infidels to be able to enter Heaven and Philippe hoped that he would make his name with a successful conversion of the Holy Land to the True Faith.
After the success in Jerusalem, Philippe anounced a change of focus. Burgundy would no longer compete to dominate the seas, but rather seek to extend Burgundian control outside of France and the Low Countries. With French royal power radically reduced and the other powers distracted, perhaps Italy would make a tempting prize for a worthy duke? Recapturing the City of God had shown Europe that he could emerge from his father's shadow, but he had yet to make his own lasting mark on Europe.
A year later, Neapolitan activity in central Italy even provided Philippe with a worthwhile excuse to make trouble in Italy when he felt so inclined. Unfortunately, the wars with France and England running concurrently with the Tenth Crusade had continued to raise Burgundy's war exhaustion to the point where even continuing the Muscowite war was becoming increasingly untenable.
The reputation of the brilliant philosopher, Eugène Nagu, Comte de Varennes, had by this point become so great that other nations began to take note of Burgundy's rich cultural and scientific heritage, or, more specifically, that Philippe's court was a worthy successor to his father's. When asked by the Duke what he wanted as a reward for this, de Varennes simply asked for the eccentric scholar Gervaise le Doux to be released into his custody, the better to keep an eye on his contemporary and "mitigate" his more outlandish thought-concepts.
In May 1480, with war exhaustion rapidly mounting up on all sides, England finally asked for white peace with Burgundy. Philippe accepted, ending a four-and-a-half-year war with nothing positive to show for it on either side.
Six weeks later, bad news shook the court at Dijon. With the soldiers away in Germany and the people unhappy with the constant wars, the fortress at Nevers had fallen to armed heretics. This was doubly unpleasant as the city of Nevers was less than a hundred miles from Dijon itself!
Although the fortress at Nevers was reconquered a month later, the lasting effects of the previous six years of war, not including the many casualties of the Tenth Crusade, had pushed the duchy almost to breaking point. It would take over eight years to fully recover from the slaughter.
Upon the success of Eudes de Chabot's great work, bringing Christianity to God's holy city, Godfrey de Bouillon was crowned as Godfrey II Alawiyya, the first Christian King of Jerusalem in more than 200 years. The re-Christianisation of the Holy Land would follow in years to come. Although he was lauded by Pope Gregorius XII for his recapture and conversion of the Holy City, Philippe felt cheated that he did not share in the honours of the throne of Jerusalem. Surely a loyal general would have invited his rightful duke to take the throne instead? He was King of the Germans to be sure, but that was only by election. That disloyal fool Godfrey was King of Jerusalem by right!
Three months later, whilst Philippe was still brooding over the 'loss' of Jerusalem, Thibault de Dreux, son and heir to the elderly Etienne III, Count of Champagne, died suddenly after an outbreak of plague struck the city of Rheims. Being both sick and old, with only married daughters remaining, Count Etienne willed his land and titles to Duke Philippe and died not long afterwards. Court gossip claimed that the Burgundian lawyer sent to make the arrangements had to remove the freshly-signed will from Count Etienne's lifeless fingers and leave his bedchamber before the will could be disproved.
Whatever the circumstances of the end of the Champagne line of the de Dreuxes, Philippe added their family titles to his own and took the opportunity to update the ducal arms, as another clear sign that whilst he was of course his father's son, he would not be in his father's shadow. This would be only the first time that this happened.
Philippe the Handsome
Anno Domini 1480
IV Duke of Burgundy, III Duke of Brabant & Lothier
III Duke of Limburg, II Duke of Luxembourg
II Duke of Lorraine, VI Count Palatine of Burgundy and Artois
IV Count of Flanders and Charolais, III & I Count of Champagne & Nemours
II Count of Hainaut, II Count of Holland and Zeeland
V Margrave of Namur, Lord of Utrecht
: II Duke of Bar
: Philipp II, Holy Roman Emperor