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Mary of Burgundy

Mary of Burgundy, 1457–82, wife of Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The marriage of Mary was a major event in European history, for it established the Hapsburgs in the Low Countries and initiated the long rivalry between France and Austria. At her father's death (Jan., 1477) Louis XI of France seized Burgundy and Picardy and prepared to annex the Low Countries, Artois, Luxembourg, and Franche-Comté—Mary's entire inheritance. To gain the assistance of Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and Holland, whose representatives met at Ghent in Feb., 1477, Mary granted the Great Privilege, which restored the liberties of the provincial estates that her father and grandfather had abrogated. She then rejected Louis XI's proposal that she marry the dauphin Charles, and in May she married Maximilian, who had hastened to her assistance with an army. However, the Low Countries remained in turmoil; despite his victory at Guinegate (1479), Maximilian was forced (1483) to agree to the Treaty of Arras (see Arras, Treaty of), by which Franche-Comté and Artois passed to France. Mary's premature death, caused by a fall from horseback, left her young son Philip (later Philip I of Castile) her heir, but only in 1493 was Maximilian able to regain control over the Low Countries, where Philip had been a virtual prisoner until 1485. The Treaty of Senlis (1493) with France restored Artois and Franche-Comté to Philip, but Burgundy and Picardy remained French.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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