Mary of Burgundy

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Mary, called Mary the Rich (13 February 1457 – 27 March 1482), was suo jure Duchess of Burgundy from 1477 – 1482. As the only child of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife Isabella of Bourbon, she was the heiress to the vast Burgundian domains in France and the Low Countries upon her father's death in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477.[1] Her mother had died in 1465, but Mary was on very good terms with her stepmother Margaret of York, whom Charles married in 1468.



Heiress of Burgundy

Mary of Burgundy was born in Brussels, at the Ducal castle of Coudenberg. Her birth, according to the court chronicler, Georges Chastellain, was attended by a clap of thunder ringing from the otherwise clear twilight sky. Her godfather was Louis the Dauphin, in exile in Burgundy at that time; he named her for his mother, Marie of Anjou. Reactions to the child were mixed: the baby's grandfather, Philip the Good, was unimpressed, and "chose not to attend the [Baptism] as it was only for a girl"; his wife, Isabella, was simply delighted at the birth of a granddaughter.[2]

As the only child of Charles the Bold, Mary was heiress to a vast and wealthy domain, made up of the Duchy of Burgundy, the Free County of Burgundy, and the majority of the Low Countries, and her hand was eagerly sought by a number of princes. The first proposal was received by her father when she was only five years old, to marry the future Ferdinand II of Aragon. Later the younger brother of Louis XI, Charles de Valois, Duc de Berry made an approach, to the intense annoyance of his brother the King, who attempted to prevent the necessary Papal dispensation for consanguinity.

As soon as Louis produced a male heir who survived infancy, the future Charles VIII of France, Louis wanted his son to be the one to marry Mary, despite his son being thirteen years younger than Mary. Nicholas I, Duke of Lorraine was a few years older than Mary, and his Duchy lay alongside Burgundian territory, but his plan to combine his territory with hers was frustrated by his death in battle in 1473.

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