Burgundian Regime

Burgundian Regime
   In 1390, Joan, duchess of Brabant, acknowledged the right of her sister's daughter, Margaret of Male, and the latter's sons to inherit her domains. She did so in gratitude for assistance given her by Marguerite's husband, Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, in a war between Brabant and Gelderland. Duchess Joan, who died in 1406, outlived Margaret (d. 1405), the duchy passed to Anthony of Burgundy, and dynastic discord ensued until, in 1430, Philip the Good received title to Brabant.
   Under the Burgundians, Brussels became part of a large territorial state. Despite fears by city officials that rule by the powerful House of Burgundy would lead to curtailment of privileges, civil liberties were maintained, although a diminution of urban prerogatives in favor of the sovereign was evident after 1445. Authorities fought vigorously attempts by Philip to limit urban rights—in 1456-1457 he appointed protégés to city offices—but they dutifully paid the requisite levies owed the prince. The duke spent all but several days in the city in 1460, 1462, and 1465, and in the court's wake came administrators and visitors, creating a clientele who lodged in the city and spent lavishly. Luxury industries— tapestries, gold- and silverworks—flourished.
   Still, Brussels experienced significant economic difficulties. City finances suffered ruinously from the wars of Charles the Bold, to which authorities were obliged to contribute, throwing the city in debt in paying subsidies to the ruling house. The currency fell in value and prices rose. Famine raged in 1478-1479. Quarrels among the patricians in the 1460s and 1470s led to the rising of 1477 and to the momentary abolition of the lignages.
   The marriage of Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy to Maximilian of Austria introduced Hapsburg rule. In 1488, Brussels, together with Flanders and with rebels elsewhere in Brabant, waged war against Maximilian, but the allies suffered defeat in August 1489. Plague ensued. By the turn of the 16th century, the city's financial straits were such as to compel the sovereign to intervene for the first time in 200 years in placing city finances under the guardianship of royal authority. The arrival of the Hapsburgs would make Brussels capital of a far-flung empire under Charles V.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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