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Burgundy (French: Bourgogne) is a historic region of east central France. The region's core is the fertile Rhone and Saone river valleys, where routes from Paris and the Rhineland to the Mediterranean converge. DIJON, a city famous as a gastronomic center, is the historic capital. Burgundy's WINEs, especially those of the celebrated Cote d'Or ("Golden Slope"), are among the world's most distinguished.

The region prospered under Roman rule, with Autun becoming a center of learning and the capital of northeastern GAUL. By the 5th century the Burgundii, a Germanic tribe, had settled in the area and established a kingdom. Burgundy logo In 534, Burgundy became part of the Frankish kingdom under the MEROVINGIANS and, after 751, the CAROLINGIANS. During the various partitions of the Carolingian empire in the 9th century, two Burgundian states emerged: Lower (sometimes called Cisjurane) Burgundy, or PROVENCE, in the south; and Upper Burgundy, which was further divided into Transjurane and Cisjurane sections, in the north. These were united (933) as another Kingdom of Burgundy, later called Arles, which was part of the Holy Roman Empire from the 11th century until 1378, when it was ceded to France.

Two other, relatively independent, divisions had been formed in the 9th century: the duchy of Burgundy (corresponding to the modern region), which remained part of France, and the Free County of Burgundy, or FRANCHE-COMTE. The duchy was ruled by a cadet branch of the CAPETIANS from 1031 until 1361 when the line died out. The golden age of Burgundy commenced in 1363 when JOHN II, king of France, granted the duchy to his second son, PHILIP THE BOLD. With the death of his father-in-law in 1384, Philip added Flanders, Artois, Franche-Comte, and other lands to his holdings. Under his successors, JOHN THE FEARLESS, PHILIP THE GOOD, and CHARLES THE BOLD, Burgundy increased its territorial extent to include most of present-day Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as to Luxembourg, Alsace, and Lorraine.

In the early 15th century the dukes of Burgundy sought to dominate French affairs (see ARMAGNACS AND BURGUNDIANS). When thwarted, they allied (1419) with England in the HUNDRED YEARS' WAR. Antagonism between the kings of France and the dukes of Burgundy climaxed with the defeat and death (1477) of Charles the Bold in battle near Nancy. Burgundy's northern territories passed to Habsburg rule while the duchy itself was annexed by the French king, Louis XI. Franche-Comte was acquired by France in 1678.

Timothy J. Rickard
Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #8, ©1996
Bibliography: Armstrong, C. A., England, France, and Burgundy in the 15th Century (1983); Vaughan, Richard, Philip the Bold: The Formation of the Burgundian State (1962), John the Fearless: The Growth of Burgundian Power (1966), and Philip the Good: The Apogee of Burgundy (1970).


Dijon is the capital of Côte d'Or department in east central France and is located at the junction of the Suzon and Ouche rivers about 270 km (168 mi) southeast of Paris. The population of the city is 151,636 (1990); that of the conurbation is 226,025. The Burgundy Canal connects the city with the Asone River and with the rivers of the Paris Basin. Dijon is located in a rich agricultural area in the northern end of the famous BURGUNDY wine district. Cassis, a black currant liqueur, originated there, as did Dijon mustard. The city has a large printing industry and manufactures electrical and optical equipment and pharmaceuticals. The city contains many art treasures and renowned buildings such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Wood-frame merchants' houses remain from the 15th and 16th centuries as well as two fine churches dating from the 13th century. Notre Dame, begun in 1229, is an excellent example of Burgundian Gothic architecture and has a well-preserved, elaborately carved exterior. The university was established in 1722. Saint-Michel church (15th-16th centuries) is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The site was first settled as a Roman camp, and Dijon became the capital for the dukes of Burgundy in 1016. It came under control of the French crown in the 15th century. Dijon was occupied by the Germans during World War II.

Lawrence M. Sommers
Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #8, ©1996

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