Episode 11: Foundations of a State

A gold coin cast by Philip the Bold. Philip had Receivers stationed throughout his territories tasked with collecting taxes and spending them on the local level. Above the Receivers were Receivers-General who did the same on the Duchy or County level. Photo by David Williams.

In 1386 Philip the Bold Duke of Burgundy, Count of Flanders, Count of Artois, Count of Burgundy, Count of Nevers, and Count of Rethel began the process of reorganizing the administration of his territories and building a Burgundian State. In this episode we will dive into the Burgundian State such that it existed under Philip. 

Key Terms

Parlement: A feudal court of law.

Chambre des Comptes: Chamber of Accounts, part of the Ducal Council tasked with keeping track of finances.

Bailiff: An officer of a lord tasked with administering justice and representing the lord on a more local level.

Receiver: An officer in charge of collecting taxes and revenues for a lord.

Bailiwick: The district of a Bailiff.

Estates General: A body made up of representatives from the Lords, the Clergy, and the Commoners.

Four Members of Flanders: A body made up of representatives from Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, and the Franc of Bruges.

Audience: Another feudal law court.

Avocat and Procureur: Legal counselors.

Composite Monarchy: A collection of territories ruled by a single lord.


Philip the Bold by Richard Vaughan

Magnanimous Dukes and Rising States by Robert Stein

Medieval Flanders by David Nicholas

The Golden Age of Burgundy by Joseph Calmette

The City, the Duke and their Banker by Bart Lambert

The Burgundians by Bart Van Loo

A History of the Low Countries by Paul Arblaster


4 thoughts on “Episode 11: Foundations of a State

  1. Merciful on the listeners to talk about bailiffs and not bailli ;), regardless impressive stuff!

    Observations on this episode

    1) You bring up the two Parlements one of which is subordinate to Paris the other of which is not, and you speak about how there was no higher appeal from the one that is not. This surprises me, surely its in the jurisdiction of one of the Holy Roman Empire’s imperial courts?

    2) You bring up the addition of a fourth wheel to the Ghent, Bruges and Ypres club, naturally of course you describe this as controversial. However it surprises me that this would not be civil war inducingly controversial? How did he present the pill in such a way that they would swallow it.


    1. Back in Episode 3 I tried and failed to pronounce ‘Bailliages’ and since then I’ve given up on using the word. Thanks!

      1) I’m not entirely sure why, but whenever I read about the Dole Parlement it is mentioned that it was sovereign. I’m guessing that this has much to do with the Emperors giving away rights to ensure loyalty for a while and the fact that the hundred or so years since the death of Frederick II had seen very little central authority in the Empire. I do know that later in our story the Emperors will occasionally assert the right to serve as a court of appeal for Burgundian Low Country territories in the Empire, but I haven’t seen a case for them doing so for the County of Burgundy.

      2) I might overstate Philip’s action in the episode. The Franc had sat with the other Three members occasionally at this point for decades, and so Philip just made sure that from now on they were always invited to the meetings. Philip the Good would be the one to officially add the Franc to the Members, but that was more ceremonial than anything else. I think the other Members grumbled, but all in all the Franc joining them wasn’t a radical departure from precedent and the Franc didn’t end up acting against the other Members often which was really the thing that might have sparked a revolt. Additionally, The Ghent War had only really come to an end the previous year and so exhaustion was probably as good a reason as any else not to revolt.


      1. Interesting replies thank you.

        Who was it then who introduced the idea of the Franc having a seat at the table? Our boy Male?


      2. Of course! I like being able to dive into fun tangents with these comments.

        As for the Franc being invited, that actually goes back to before the Three Members of Flanders was a thing. Before they were organized into the Three Members (Capital T, Capital M), the three members (lowercase t, lowercase m) still met on occasion to discuss various things. Van Artevelde made their meetings more organized and delegated more authority to them, but he didn’t introduce the cities to the concept of sending representatives to meet with each other. The Franc would occasionally send representatives to these meetings and sent a representative as far back as 1310 (According to David Nicholas in Medieval Flanders). Under Louis of Male the Franc would be invited to the (now official) meetings of the Three Members more often, and under Philip they were given a standing invitation.


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