Congress of Arras

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The Congress of Arras was a diplomatic congregation established in Arras in the summer of 1435 between representatives of England, France, and Burgundy. Toward the close of the Hundred Years' War, both the Congress and Treaty of Arras represented diplomatic failures for England and major successes for France.

Congregation[edit]

English negotiators entered the congress believing it was a peace negotiation between England and France only. They proposed an extended truce and a marriage between adolescent King Henry VI of England and a daughter of French king Charles VII of France. The English were unwilling to renounce their claim to the crown of France. This position prevented meaningful negotiation. The English delegation broke off from the congress in mid-session to put down a raid by French captains Xaintrailles and La Hire.

Meanwhile, the French delegation and leading clergy urged Philip the Good of Burgundy to reconcile with Charles VII. Burgundy was an appanage at the time, virtually an independent state, and had been allied with England since the murder of Philip's father in 1419. Charles VII had been at least complicit in that crime. The English delegation returned to find that their ally had switched sides. English regent John, Duke of Bedford died on 14 September 1435, one week before the congress concluded.

Participants[edit]

For the English (these 12):

and their prisoners, Duke of Orleans, Count of Eu

For the French (these and many more):

Mediating: Niccolò Albergati, Cardinal of Cyprus[1]

Treaty of Arras[edit]

The congress gave rise to the Treaty of Arras, which was signed in 1435 and became an important diplomatic achievement for the French in the closing years of the Hundred Years' War. Overall, it reconciled a longstanding feud between King Charles VII of France and Duke Philip of Burgundy (Philip the Good). Philip recognized Charles VII as king of France and, in return, Philip was exempted from homage to the crown, and Charles agreed to punish the murderers of Philip's father Duke John of Burgundy (John the Fearless).[2]

By breaking the alliance between Burgundy and England, Charles VII consolidated his position as King of France against a rival claim by Henry VI of England. The political distinction between Armagnacs and Burgundians ceased to be significant from this time onward. France already had Scotland as an ally and England was left isolated. From 1435 onward, English occupation in France underwent steady decline.

The congress' limited success was facilitated by representatives of Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Basel. Members of each of these delegations wrote legal opinions absolving Duke Philip of Burgundy from his former obligations to England.

Treaty's details between France and the Duchy of Burgundy[edit]

Charles VII disavowed participation in the assassination of Duke John of Burgundy (John the Fearless) of the Duchy of Burgundy, father of Duke Philip of Burgundy (Philip the Good), and condemned the act and promised to punish the perpetrators.

Furthermore, the following domains became vassal states of the Duke of Burgundy:

In return, the Duchy of Burgundy recognized Charles VII as King of France and returned the County of Tonnerre. Also, Philip the Good was exempted from rendering homage, fealty, or service to Charles VII, as he still believed that the king may have been complicit in his father's murder. Upon the death of either the king or the duke the homage would be resumed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Russell, Joycelyne Gledhill (1955). The Congress of Arras, 1435: A Study in Medieval Diplomacy. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. p. 37-56. 
  2. ^ Charles, John Foster Kirk, History of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, (J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1863), 36.

Further reading[edit]

  • Joycelyne Gledhill Dickinson, The Congress of Arras, 1435: A Study in Medieval Diplomacy New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1972.

External links[edit]