With the decisive French victory at Castillon in 1453, the Hundred Years’ War with England came to an end, with the English expelled from all their French possessions except Calais. France, however, comprised a multiplicity of rival fiefdoms, and the French King Charles VII, of the House of Orléans, controlled only Paris, its surrounding Île-de-France and a patchwork of other territories. In 1461 Charles died and was succeeded by his son Louis XI. The most powerful rival amongst the feuding French barons was the wealthy House of Valois-Burgundy, whose northern possessions, at their height included Luxembourg, Picardy, Artois, Flanders and Brabant (roughly modern Belgium and Holland). Burgundy, wedged between France and the Habsburg Empire, was itself split, with its eastern ‘county’ falling within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1418 the (western) duke of Burgundy, John ‘The Fearless’, briefly usurped the French king and took the throne in Paris, before being assassinated and succeeded by his son Philip ‘the Good’, who proceeded to consolidate the Burgundians’ burgeoning ‘empire’. Philip was succeeded in 1467 by his ambitious son Charles ‘The Bold’, who made further gains, but was bloodily routed at Nancy by an army led by René II of Lorraine, with Swiss allies. Charles was killed, leaving no male heir. His daughter Mary succeeded him, and in the year of his death, 1477, she married the Habsburg archduke Maximilian I of Austria. Five years later she too was killed, in a riding accident. With the once-mighty Burgundian House irrevocably weakened, Louis XI quickly annexed most of its northern territories and seized its duchy.
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