Duke Of Burgundy Charles The Bold, son of Philip the (rood and Isabella of Portugal, born at Dijon, Nov. 10, 1433, killed in battle near Nancy, Jan. 5, 1477. On the day of his baptism he was created count of Charolais. In infancy he was taken by his mother to the Netherlands, and at an early age he was confided to the care of the lord of Auxy, who found him a difficult charge. He had a violent temper and obstinate will, but remarkable application, and he acquired more learning than was common among nobles of the time. At the age of 19, in the rebellion of Ghent (1452), he distinguished himself at the battle of Gavre. He was betrothed to a daughter of Charles VII. of France, but she died, and in 1454 he married Isabella of Bourbon, who died in 14G5. He was noted for marital fidelity, dislike of luxury, and love for labor and manly sports; but he shared in the pleasures of society, was a graceful dancer, good musician, and the best chess player of his time. In person he was of medium height, with a powerful frame insensible to fatigue, pleasant face, and fine voice, and he was naturally eloquent.
In consequence of a quarrel with his father he retired to the Netherlands. In the so-called "war of the public weal" in France (1465) he took an active part, commanding a Burgundian contingent of 10,000 men, and greatly distinguishing himself at Montlhery, where he was wounded. In the subsequent treaty of Conflans he compelled Louis XI. to yield to the demands of the confederates. In 146G he compelled Liege, which had made war upon Burgundy, to accept his terms of peace, and to pay a large fine, and a subsidy for the expenses of his expedition. In July of that year he marched against Dinant, and completely destroyed it. The death of his father, June 15, 1467, made Charles, at the age of 33, duke of Burgundy. He remodelled the court, and though he lived in great splendor, he required economy and exactness in accounts. Three times a week he held a public audience in which the meanest of his subjects might approach him and be heard. His administration of justice was strictly impartial, without regard to the rank of the offender, and he tolerated no parasites or sycophants. But he was full of extravagant fancies, and his egotism was unbounded.
In July, 1468, he married Margaret of York, sister of Edward IV. Immediately afterward the war with Liege was resumed, and in October he marched with 40,000 men against the place and sacked and burned it. This, in connection with his recent triumph over Louis XL by the conditions of the treaty of Peronne, raised Charles to the highest place among sovereigns. His alliance was sought by all. In the spring of 1469 Sigismund, duke of Austria, hoping to secure him as an ally against the Swiss, conveyed to him for a consideration his possessions in Alsace. Edward IV. conferred on him the order of the garter. Charles wrote and spoke English with facility. It was one of his boasts that he was "more English than the English themselves;" and, Lancastrian by descent, he looked for the possible chance of some time inheriting the English throne. In 1470, when Warwick drove Edward IV. out of England and forced him to take refuge in Flanders, Charles sent him funds, followers, and a fleet to enable him to return.
In February, 1471, with an army of 30,000 men, he began a war with Louis XL Amiens was besieged for weeks; then followed a truce for three months, with a renewal which was broken by Louis. Thereupon Charles put his army in motion, plundered and burned Nesle in Vermandois, and besieged Beauvais. Here he was unsuccessful, and in three weeks he broke camp for a raid through the plains of Normandy which gave him the title of " the terrible." Not a farm house was left standing; the growing crops were destroyed; a record by Charles's provost marshal states that 2,072 castles and villages were razed or burned. A year's truce followed. This closes the first period of Charles's career, in his failure to undermine the monarchy of France. The second period opens with his efforts to build up beside France a stronger power. The acquisition of Gelderland at the close of 1472 added the fifth duchy to Burgundy. The year following Charles appeared as a military reformer. He had discovered the defects of feudal forces, and began to organize a standing army. Louis had succeeded in forming a league against him, combining France, Austria, the Swiss cantons, and some of the Alsatian free towns.
The result was the loss of Alsace; but whether this was owing to a popular insurrection, or, as Charles claimed, to the "conspiracy," is doubtful. The Swiss, who promised to protect Alsace, declared war against Burgundy, and in 1475 the French army invaded the territory, and Charles found himself in the centre of gathering foes. Meanwhile, months before, he had drawn up his army before Neuss; but at the end of the eleventh month he raised the siege, broke camp, and retired without a single conquest. This was in June; in July Edward of England invaded France, and Charles hastened to Calais to join him. He proposed, however, to prosecute the war in concert, but not in company, with his ally; and while Edward should be engaged elsewhere, he would sweep the French out of Lorraine. But in a few days Edward concluded a peace with Louis, which excited the contempt and anger of Charles, and induced a final separation between him and Edward. Compensation came a few months later with the surrender, Nov. 29, 1475, of Nancy to Charles, completing the conquest of Lorraine. He now began an expedition which he expected would be a final blow to all his enemies.
Before entering upon his Swiss campaign, he ratified, Jan. 22, 1476, a treaty giving his only child Mary to Maximilian, son of the German emperor Frederick, thus uniting the houses of Burgundy and Haps-burg. In February Charles crossed the Jura and attacked Granson. The garrison soon surrendered, and every one of the 412 prisoners was immediately hanged. Meanwhile the Swiss cantons had been gathering. Charles, to his surprise, was attacked in his fortified camp; the Burgundian army was put to flight (March 3); as Charles said, "Twenty thousand men turned their backs on ten thousand without drawing a sword," and the slaughter of the fugitives was frightful. But the victorious Swiss soon returned from the pursuit to plunder the camp. The spoils were enormous. Charles, with the intention of holding his court in Savoy, and dazzling the Italian powers by its splendor, had brought with him the state jewels, paraphernalia, and regalia, all of which fell into the hands of the Swiss. These spoils included three great diamonds, one of which is now in the papal tiara, another in the treasury of Vienna, and the third is believed to be the celebrated Sanci diamond owned by Prince Demidoff. The Swiss churches and arsenals still exhibit Burgundian tapestries, banners, cannon, and suits of armor as trophies of the field of Granson. The remnants of the Burgundian army gathered in camp at Lausanne, where, after long prostration by illness, Charles organized another army, with which he invested Morat. The confederates gave him battle, June 22, and completely annihilated his army.
Charles's loss has been estimated at from 22,000 to 26,000 men, but by this battle he lost also Lorraine. He was now alone; his allies shrank from him, and he was looked upon as a doomed man. The pope, the emperor of Germany, and Matthias Corvinus of Hungary made a combined effort to save him by offers of mediation with the confederates; but the unconquerable pride of Charles made their efforts fruitless. He gathered an army of 20,000 men, and in September commenced a prolonged siege of Nancy, during which his army dwindled to 10,000. He was urged to withdraw from Lorraine, but stubbornly refused. He would not await an attack in his camp, but on the night of Saturday, Jan. 4, 1477, he silently marched his forces to a position half a league southeast of Nancy. On Sunday morning, after mass, the troops of Rene, duke of Lorraine, marched out against the Burgundians. The battle was brief. Charles fought with desperation, but was soon struck down by a Swiss halberd. In an hour the Burgundian army was destroyed. On Monday the stripped and mutilated body of the duke was found in a ditch, and was brought to Nancy, where it lay in state for live days in front of the high altar in the church of St. George, and on the following Sunday it was buried.
In Septembar, 1550, it was removed to Bruges and laid beside the remains of his daughter in the church of Notre Dame. A simple stone cross still marks the spot where the body of Charles the Bold, the last duke of Burgundy, was found in the field of Nancy. - See " History of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy," by John Foster Kirk (3 vols. 8vo, Philadelphia, 1864-'8).