Mary of Burgundy

Duchess of Burgundy

Emperor Maximilian I
Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I with His Family. Artist: Bernhard Strigel. Heritage Images/Getty Images / Getty Images

Known for: signing "the Great Privilege" and, by her marriage, bringing her dominions under Habsburg control

Dates: February 13, 1457 - March 27, 1482

About Mary of Burgundy

The only child of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and Isabella of Bourbon, Mary of Burgundy became ruler of his lands after her father's death in 1477. Louis XI of France attempted to force her to marry the Dauphin Charles, thus bringing under French control her lands, including the Netherlands, Franche-Comte, Artois, and Picardy (the Low Countries).

Mary, however, did not want to marry Charles, who was 13 years younger than she was. In order to win support for her refusal among her own people, she signed "the Great Privilege" which returned significant control and rights to localities in the Netherlands. This agreement required the approval of the States to raise taxes, declare war or make peace. She signed this agreement on February 10, 1477.

Mary of Burgundy had many other suitors, including Duke Clarence of England. Mary chose Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, of the Habsburg family, who later became emperor Maximilian I. They married on August 18, 1477. As a result, her lands became part of the Habsburg empire.

Mary and Maximilian had three children. Mary of Burgundy died in a fall from a horse on March 27, 1482.

Their son Philip, later called Philip the Handsome, was held as virtually a prisoner until Maximilian freed him in 1492. Artois and Franche-Comte became his to rule; Burgundy and Picardy returned to French control. Philip, called Philip the Handsome, married Joanna, sometimes called Juana the Mad, heiress to Castile and Aragon, and thus Spain also joined the Habsburg empire.

The daughter of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian was Margaret of Austria, who served as governor of the Netherlands after her mother's death and before her nephew (the future Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) was old enough to rule.

A painter is known as the Master of Mary of Burgundy for an illuminated Book of Hours he created for Mary of Burgundy.

Mary of Burgundy Facts

Title: Duchess of Burgundy

Father: Charles the Bold of Burgundy, son of Philip the Good of Burgundy and Isabella of Portugal.

Mother: Isabella of Bourbon (Isabelle de Bourbon), daughter of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, and Agnes of Burgundy.

Family Connections: Mary's father and mother were first cousins: Agnes of Burgundy, her maternal grandmother, and Philip the Good, her paternal grandfather, were both children of Margaret of Bavaria and her husband John the Fearless of Burgundy. Mary's great-grandfather John the Fearless of Bavaria was a grandson of John II of France and Bonne of Bohemia; so was another great-grandmother, her mother's paternal grandmother Marie of Auvergne.

Also known as: Mary, Duchess of Burgundy; Marie

Places: Netherlands, Habsburg Empire, Hapsburg Empire, Low Countries, Austria.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Mary of Burgundy." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 27). Mary of Burgundy. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Mary of Burgundy." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).