Burgundian Wars of 1474-77

Burgundian Wars of 1474-77

 

caused basically by the clash of interests between France and the Burgundian state.

Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, strove to unite his scattered possessions by annexing Lorraine and a number of other lands, including those controlled by the French king. This was an obstacle on France’s road to the unification of its national territories. In the struggle with the Burgundians the principal military force was provided by the Swiss, who were the allies and, in fact, the mercenaries of the French king under terms of the “eternal alliance,” concluded in January 1474 with the Swiss cantons headed by Berne. In October 1474 the Swiss, with their enforced allies from several cities of Alsace, invaded the possessions of the duke of Burgundy. During the period April through October 1475 they captured Waadt (Vaud) and Lower Valais, which had belonged to the duke of Savoy, an ally of Charles the Bold. In September 1475 the troops of Charles the Bold occupied Lorraine. Then, turning against the Swiss, Charles captured Granson; however, on Mar. 2, 1476, his army was routed by the Swiss, who smashed it at Murten on June 22, 1476. The Swiss and Alsatian troops then occupied Lorraine; on Jan. 5, 1477, they inflicted a decisive defeat on the Burgundians in a battle near Nancy, during which Charles the Bold was killed.

The Burgundian state ceased to exist; its territory was divided between France and the Hapsburgs. France’s victory, gained by the Swiss forces, was the historically inevitable victory of the emerging French national state over the ethnically mixed Burgundian state, which lacked economic unity. The Burgundian Wars were of major military importance. They clearly demonstrated the superiority of densely packed, close ranks of infantry (the Swiss) over knightly cavalry (the Burgundians); the Swiss army became a major military force in Europe.

REFERENCE

Del’briuk, G. Istoriia voennogo iskusstva v ramkakh politicheskoiistorii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1938.
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