Peter Paul Rubens: Portrait of Charles the Bold (1618)

(Kunst Historisch Museum, Vienna, Austria)

A painting by the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). This is a portrait of Charles I 'The Bold', duke of Burgundy (reign 1467-1477). Charles was the eldest son of Philip the Good and upon the succession of his father he inherited a country which stretched from the Netherlands to Switzerland. An aggressive ruler he was almost constantly at war with his neighbors. In the end Charles met his end during the Burgundian Wars (1474-1477) in which he fought a coalition of Duchy of Lorraine, the Swiss Confederates and France. The goal of Charles was to annex Lorraine and at the start everything was going well for Burgundy. But when Charles wanted to 'teach those cattleman from the Alps a lesson' he made a fatal mistake. His army was crushed by the powerful Swiss army (starting the dominance of the Swiss mercenaries on the European battlefields) at the battles of Grandson (March 2, 1476), Morat (June 22, 1476) and finally at Nancy (January 5, 1477). At the final battle of Nancy almost the complete Burgundian army was broken and Charles was killed in action, his body was found 3 days later. The death of Charles the Bold also marked the end of the independent duchy of Burgundy as France and the Habsburgs quickly took advantage of the following confusion and invaded Burgundy with their armies. Mary the rich, the only child of Charles the Bold, eventually married with Maximilian of Austria (future Holy Roman Emperor). The conflict between France and the Habsburgs over the Burgundian lands would be a matter of dispute for the next 400 years. Painting from 1618.