A Letter From Burgundy

May 19, 2017

Philippe Pot

Birth place of Philippe

Who was he? Chief Adviser to the Dukes of Burgundy, a Burgundian Nobleman, Military Leader, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Crusader, Diplomat……….
He was born in 1428 at Chateau de la Rochepot, educated at the Ducal Court in Dijon and knighted on 11th June 1452 before an important battle against the insurgents of Ghent. Prior to this he had already proved his negotiation skills in London where he successfully negotiated the release of Charles of Orleans who had been taken prisoner at Agincourt and had been a prisoner in England for 25 years.
In December 1456 he was given Chateauneuf -en-Auxois by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, as a gift after arranging his marriage with the French princess Isabelle of Bourbon. Philippe restored and fortified the Chateau and today it is one of the last remaining examples of 14th century Burgundian military architecture.
In 1468, after the death of Isabelle, Philippe negotiated another marriage for Charles the Bold with Margaret of York, the sister of Edward IV – sealing an alliance between England and Burgundy. About this time he was given the Lordship of Lilloise in Flanders.
When Charles the Bold died, Burgundy was divided between his daughter Mary and Louis XI of France. Mary did not like Philippe’s close connections with the French Court and confiscated Lille but Philippe was able to limit the control of Mary to the Burgundian Low Countries which at that time included the Netherlands. In return Louis XI named him First Counsellor, Knight of Saint Michael, Governor of the Dauphin Charles and Grand Seneschal of Burgundy.
He was involved in all major political matters and proved himself to be a skilled negotiator and diplomat on many occasions.

Philippe, Governor of Burgundy, died in 1493 and his tomb can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.

September 19, 2016

Chateau de Germolles – Journees Europeennes du Patrimoine

Each weekend in September France has a Heritage weekend. Many monuments and sites that are normally closed are open for the weekend and other places which are normally open to the public have reduced fees of entry or are free.

This year we went to Chateau de Germolles near Mellecey. It is the best preserved residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. It was built during the second part of the 14th century although there had been a fortress there since the 13th century. Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, bought the chateau from local feudal Lords and gave it to his wife, Margaret of Flanders. The only remains today of the original fortress are the lower chapel and the wine cellar.

Plaque at the Entrance Gate

Ten years of transformations took place – the Duchess wanted a country estate rather than a fortress and the best architects, sculptors and painters of the time were employed. Large rose gardens were planted and sheep and other animals were farmed.

Goats where sheep once roamed

Former stables?

Former stables?

After Philip and Margaret the Chateau belonged to a further three Dukes of Burgundy – John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. After the death of Charles the ownership passed to the King of France. After the French Revolution it became the property of the Nation.

Parts of the chateau have been lost over time, mainly due to lack of maintenance but at the end of the 19th century it was purchased by a family who still own it today and repair works have been carried out.

The chateau today still has a large collection of medieval floor tiles which are decorated with motifs that were the symbols of the Dukes – roses, thistles, sheep and fleur – de – lis.

Rare wall paintings can still be seen today which date from the Middle Ages – motifs of “P” and “M”, initials of the Duke and Duchess over the walls along with thistles, the personal emblem of Margaret Flanders.

If you are interested in the history of Burgundy this Chateau is well worth visiting. We were not allowed to take interior photos showing the famous wall paintings as great care is taken with light exposure etc to preserve the paintings for future generations.