League of the Public Weal
The League of the Public Weal (French: La ligue du Bien public) was an alliance of feudal nobles organized in 1465 in defiance of the centralized authority of King Louis XI of France. It was masterminded by Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, son of the Duke of Burgundy, with the king's brother Charles, Duke of Berry, as a figurehead.
In keeping with the policies of previous Capetian and Valois monarchs, Louis asserted the supremacy of the king within the territory of France. Over the course of the preceding centuries, and during the Hundred Years' War, the French kings effected an administrative unification of the country. Unlike Germany, which languished as a miscellany of feudal factions, France emerged from the Middle Ages as a centralized state. But this centralization was opposed by the League of Public Weal, whose nobles sought to restore their feudal prerogatives.
Charles the Bold, as heir to the duke of Burgundy, whose fiefs in France included Flanders, and who held the Imperial lands of Holland and Brabant, sought to make the Duchy of Burgundy independent of the French throne and aspired to forge it into a kingdom of his own between France and Germany stretching between the North Sea on the north and the Jura Mountains on the south; and from the Somme River on the west to the Moselle River on the east. This kingdom would restore the ancient kingdom of Lotharingia--approximating the former domains of the Frankish Emperor Lothair I.
Louis's response to the League was characteristic of his underhanded diplomacy. He seemed to yield to its demands by granting Normandy to his brother, returning contested cities on the Somme to Burgundy, and even granting privileges to lesser nobles involved in the rebellion. But all these measures were merely calculated to break up the League. Within months of giving it up, he had reclaimed Normandy.
Both Charles and Louis were prone to overreaching themselves, and Louis's machinations nearly resulted in military defeat at Charles's hands. However, insurrections in his newly acquired territories of Lorraine and Switzerland weakened Charles's efforts. Charles himself was killed in the Battle of Nancy against the Swiss, and Louis was saved from his greatest adversary. He had already taken his revenge on Charles's allies within France. The great duchy of Burgundy was then absorbed into the kingdom of France. The League of the Public Weal was routed in its every objective.
The League's members included:
- Charles, Duke of Berry, the king's teenage brother
- Charles, Count of Charolais, son and heir of the elderly Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy
- Rene, Duke of Anjou
- Francis II, Duke of Brittany
- John II, Duke of Alençon
- John II, Duke of Bourbon
- John II, Duke of Lorraine
- Jacques d'Armagnac, Duke of Nemours
- John V, Count of Armagnac
- Louis de Luxembourg, Count of Saint Pol
- Charles II, Count of Albret
- John, Count of Dunois, the illegitimate brother of the Duke of Orléans
- Antoine de Chabannes
- Frederick I, Elector Palatine
- John I, Duke of Cleves
- Paul Murray Kendall, Louis XI: The Universal Spider (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1971), 143.
- Paul Murray Kendall, Louis XI: The Universal Spider, 265-266.
- Adams, George, The Growth of the French Nation, Chautauqua Century Press, 1896.
- Hoyt, Robert, Europe in the Middle Ages, Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 2nd ed., 1966