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History


Prehistory

BC Bone fragments found at Solutré show there were humans there between 18 000 and 15 000 BC.


Antiquity

6C During the Gaulish period Burgundy is inhabited by the Aedui ; their capital is Bibracte.

4C The Sequani , from the Haute Seine, settle in Franche-Comté. They build fortified camps, including Vesontio (Besançon).

58 Under threat from the Helvetii , the Aedui ask for help from Caesar. The Sequani also request his help, this time against the Germanic threat. Caesar drives out the Helvetii and the Germanic tribes... but stays on in Gaul himself.

52 Gaul rises up against Caesar . The Sequani and the Aedui join forces, but are forced to concede victory to Caesar at the decisive battle of Alésia.

51 End of the Gaulish War.

AD Roman civilization spreads throughout Gaul.

1-3C Autun , city of Augustus, be-comes capital of north-east Gaul and supplants Bibracte.

313 Edict of Milan : the Emperor Constantine grants freedom of worship to Christians.

Late 4C Christianity gradually spreads into Burgundy.

The Roman Empire finally collapses.


Burgundy

5C Burgundians, natives of the Baltic coast , settle in the Saône plain. They give their name to their new homeland: Burgundia (which evolved in French into Bourgogne).

534 The Franks seize the Burgundian kingdom.

800 Charlemagne becomes Emperor of the West.

814 The death of Charlemagne plunges the Empire into a period of instability. The sons of Emperor Louis the Pious dispute his legacy.

841 Charles the Bald defeats his brother Lothar at Fontanet (Fontenoy-en-Puisaye).

843 Treaty of Verdun : Charlemagne’s empire is divided between the three sons of Louis the Pious.

Frankish Burgundy reverts to Charles the Bald. It is separated by the Saône from imperial Burgundy, Lothar’s territory, the north of which becomes the County of Burgundy (or Comté).

Late 9C Frankish Burgundy becomes a duchy and takes in Langres, Troyes, Sens, Nevers and Mâcon.


The Duchy of Burgundy

987-996 Reign of Hugues Capet .

996-1031 Reign of Robert II the Pious .

1002-1016 The King of France occupies the Duchy of Burgundy.

1032 The Germanic Emperor becomes suzerain of the Comté. But both his power and that of the count decline as the great feudal landowners gain influence, headed by the Chalons.

Henri I , son of Robert II the Pious, to whom Burgundy returns, hands it over as a fief to his brother Robert I the Old (a Burgundian branch of the Capet family which survived until 1361).

Under the Capetian dukes, Burgundy is one of the bastions of Christianity; Cluny , then Cîteaux and Clairvaux reach the height of their influence.

1095 First Crusade .

1270 Death of St Louis at the siege of Tunis.

1295 Philip the Fair buys the Comté as an apanage for his son Philip the Long and his descendants. This is the beginning of a period of peace and prosperity.

1337-1453 Hundred Years War .

1349 The Comté is devastated by the Black Plague ; this is l’année de la grande mort (the year of widespread death).

1353 Switzerland frees itself from imperial domination.

1361 Duke Philippe de Rouvres dies young without issue, bringing the line of the Capet dukes to an end. The Duchy of Burgundy passes to the King of France, John the Good, who was regent during the duke’s minority.

1366 The name Franche-Comté appears for the first time, on an official decree proclaiming the value the inhabitants attach to their rights, as had been done in the Franche-Montagnes of the Swiss Jura.


The Comté returns to Burgundian rule

1384-1477 Philip the Bold (son of the King of France, John the Good), who had already been given the duchy in apanage, marries the heiress to the Comté and takes possession of the whole of Burgundy. He is the first of the dynasty of the “great dukes of Burgundy”, whose power came to exceed that of the kings of France. He is succeeded by John the Fear­less, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. In the Comté, these rulers keep a tight rein on the feudal lords, enforce the authority of Parliament and the State bodies and become patrons of art and literature.

1429 Orléans is saved by

Joan of Arc .

1453 Constantinople falls to the Turks.

1461-1483 Reign of Louis XI .


The Great Dukes of Burgundy

Under this branch of the House of Valois, Burgundy reached the height of its power, where it remained for over a century (1364-1477).

Philip the Bold (1364-1404)

While scarcely more than a child, Philip fought bravely beside his father, King John II of France, at the battle of Poitiers (1356). He earned the nickname “the Bold” when, although wounded and a prisoner, he landed a well-aimed blow on an English lord who had insulted the French King.

By the time he became Duke of Burgundy (1364), Philip was a superb knight, who loved sport and women, and who devoted himself heart and soul to his duchy and the interests of his House. His marriage in 1369 to Margaret of Flanders, the richest heiress in Europe, made him the most powerful prince in Christendom. He lived in great splendour and kept a large and magnificent household in the palace he had built, where he employed painters and sculptors from Flanders.

Philip founded the Chartreuse de Champmol in Dijon as a mausoleum for himself and his descendants. The finest marble from Liège and alabaster from Genoa were provided for the tomb which was designed in 1384 by the sculptor Jean de Marville . On his death, the decoration was entrusted to Claus Sluter. Philip the Bold spent so much money that, when he died in 1404, his sons had to pledge the ducal silver to pay for his funeral.

John the Fearless (1404-19) – John succeeded his father, Philip the Bold. Although puny to look at, he was brave, intelligent and ambitious. No sooner had he become Duke of Burgundy than he started a quarrel with the royal council against his cousin, Louis d’Orléans, brother of the mad king, Charles VI, and in 1407 had his rival assassinated. John took control of Paris, where he was opposed by the Orleanist faction which controlled the king. When the Orleanist leader, the poet Charles d’Orléans, was captured at Agincourt (1415) and taken to England, where he was a prisoner for 25 years, his father-in-law, Count Bernard VII of Armagnac took over his leadership.

During the struggle between the Armagnacs and the Burgundians, in which the French were drawn into fighting each other, John the Fearless, realising the potential harm of the struggle for French interests, sought to negotiate an agreement with the dauphin, the future king, Charles VII. He agreed to meet him on 11 September 1419 on the bridge at Montereau, but was murdered there.

Philip the Good (1419-67)

Filled with desire for vengeance, Philip the Good, son of John the Fearless, allied himself with the English and in 1430 handed them Joan of Arc, whom he had captured at Compiègne, for the enormous sum of 10 000 livres. A few years later, however, Philip came to an understanding with Charles VII at the Treaty of Arras, which enabled him, once again, to enlarge his territory. Dijon became the capital of a powerful state which included a large part of Holland, most of Belgium, Luxembourg, Flanders, Artois, Hainaut, Picardy and all the land between the Loire and Jura.

Philip, who had an even greater taste for magnificence than his predecessors, lived like a king. Five great officers of state, the Marshal of Burgundy, the Admiral of Flanders, the Chamberlain, the Master of the Horse and the Chancellor, were part of the Duke’s immediate entourage, in a court that was among the most sumptuous in Europe.

On the day of his marriage with Isabella of Portugal, 14 January 1429, Philip founded the sovereign Order of the Golden Fleece (T see DIJON ) in honour of God, the Virgin Mary and St Andrew. The Order originally had 31 members, all of whom swore allegiance to the Grand Master, Philip the Good and his successors. They met at least once every three years and were lavishly dressed: a long scarlet cloak, trimmed with squirrel fur, hung from the shoulders over a robe of the same colour, also trimmed with squirrel fur. The ducal motto, Aultre n’auray (not for others), stood out against a background of firestones, quartz, sparkling stones and fleeces. The neck chain of the Order was made of sparkling firestones and quartz. The headquarters of the Order was the ducal Holy Chapel at Dijon, destroyed during the Revolution. The Order is now one of the most prestigious and exclusive.

Charles the Bold (1467-77)

He was the last, and possibly the most famous member of the House of Valois and the dukes of Burgundy. Tall, vigorous and strongly built, Charles loved violent exercise, and in particular hunting. He was also a cultured man, however, and spent much of his time in study. Above all he was passionately interested in history. As his father had the same name as Philip of Macedonia, Charles dreamed of becoming a second Alexander and was constantly waging war in an effort to undermine Louis XI, who in turn did everything possible to break up the Burgundian state. Charles was killed during the siege of Nancy.


Return to the French Crown

1477 On the death of Charles the Bold, Louis XI invades the Comté, annexing Burgundy and the Burgundian towns in Picardy to the royal territory. Mary of Burgundy, the daughter of the dead duke, deprived of a large part of her inheritance, marries Maximilian of Habsburg who thus acquires the rest of the old duchy. Their union produces Philip the Handsome whose son, the future emperor, Charles V , will continue the struggle against the Kingdom of France ruled by François I.

1519 The Comté enjoys a period of prosperity under Charles V. He includes people from the Comté, such as the Granvelles, in his immediate circle.

1556-98 Emperor Charles V bequeaths the Comté to his son, Philip II , King of Spain, who proves to be far less sympathetic a ruler to the people of the Comté.

1589-1610 Reign of Henri IV .

1598 On the death of Philip II, the Comté passes to his daughter Isabelle , who marries the Archduke of Austria. The province of the Comté belongs to the archdukes until it is seized by the French in 1678.


The French Conquest

In order to understand the resistance to French rule of a French-speaking country, one must remember that, finding itself on the borders of the Holy Empire, Austria and Spain, the Comté had become used to directing its own affairs. The independent people of the Comté regarded the rule of a Richelieu or a Louis XIV with trepidation.

1601 Henri IV acquires the territories of Bresse, Bugey, Valromey and the Gex region from the Duke of Savoy, in return for some Italian territory of his.

1609 After 50 years of struggle against the Spanish, the Netherlands wins its independence.

1610 Beginning of the reign of Louis XIII , who dies in 1643.

1618 Start of the Thirty Years War between Austria and France allied with Sweden. The war ends in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia .

1635 Richelieu gives the order to invade the Comté which gave refuge to his enemy, Gaston d’Orléans. The Ten Years War brings the country to ruin.

1643-1715 Reign of Louis XIV .

1648 Mazarin withdraws French forces from the Comté and re-stores it to its neutral status.

1668 Louis XIV reclaims the Comté as part of the dowry of his wife Marie-Thérèse , daughter of the late King of Spain. However, he is forced to abandon it and return it to Spain.

1674 Louis XIV, at war with Spain, makes a fresh attempt to take control of the province, and this time is successful. His con­quest is ratified by the Peace of Nimègue (1678). Besançon takes over from Dole as capital. From now on, the history of the Comté follows that of the rest of France.


From the Revolution to Modern Times

1715-74 Reign of Louis XV .

1789 Fall of the Bastille .

1793 The Montbéliard region is annexed to France.

1804 Consecration of Napoleon I as Emperor of France.

1815 The battle of Waterloo .

Heroic defence of Belfort by Lecourbe.

1822 Invention of photography by Nicéphore Niepce at St-Loup-de-Varenne.

1870 Colonel Denfert-Rochereau re-sists attack by 40 000 Germans during the siege of Belfort .

1871 General Bourbaki is defeated at Héricourt, having won victory at Villersexel, and has to fall back to Besançon.

1878 Vines devastated by the phylloxera aphid.

Late 19C- As industrialisation gains pace,

early 20C the Jura region is transformed. Great industrial dynasties such as Peugeot and Japy are born, compensating for the decline in the clockmaking industry.

1914 Joffre gives his famous order of 6 September at Châtillon-sur-Seine.

1940 Occupation of Jura by the Germans , who use the region to block the retreat of French forces trying to reach central France along the Swiss border.

1940-44 The Resistance movement is active in Burgundy: Châtillonnais forests are used as a hideout.

14 September 1944

Leclerc ’s division joins the army of De Lattre de Tassigny near Châtillon-sur-Seine.

November 1944

The Allied conquest of the northern part of the Doubs département completes the liberation of Jura.

1948 Génissiat reservoir is filled with water.

1970 A6-A7 motorway from Paris to Marseille opens up the west of Burgundy (Auxerre, Beaune and Mâcon).

1981 High-speed rail service ( TGV ) links Paris-Le Creusot-Mâcon-Lyon and Paris-Dijon-Besançon.

1986 Setting up of the Haut-Jura regional nature park.

1992 Fabrice Guy, native of Pontarlier, wins the Olympic gold medal for nordic combined.

2001 After an 85-year prohibition, production of absinthe is again allowed in Pontarlier.

2007 Tricentenary of the death of Burgundy-born Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban, Louis XIV’s influential military engineer.

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