The Burgundians (German: Burgunden or Burgunder) were a Germanic people who established a kingdom in the general region of what is today Burgundy. It was conquered by the Franks in 534.
- As Rome’s hold over the Western Empire declined in the second half of the 5th century, the Burgundians gradually spread their control over areas to the north and west of Savoy and then throughout the Rhône and Saône river valleys. This second Burgundian kingdom reached its zenith under the lawgiver and Christian king Gundobad (474–516), who promulgated a written code of laws, the Lex Gundobada, for the Burgundians and a separate code, the Lex Romana Burgundionum, for his Gallo-Roman subjects. This Burgundy remained independent until 534, when the Franks occupied the kingdom, extinguishing the royal dynasty. With the death of the Frankish king Clotar I in 561, however, the Frankish kingdom was partitioned among members of the Merovingian dynasty, and one of Clotar’s sons, Guntram, secured the regnum Burgundiae, or kingdom of Burgundy. This kingdom eventually included not only all the former Burgundian lands but also the diocese of Arles in Provence, the Val d’Aosta east of the Alps, and even extensive territory in north-central Francia. It remained a separate Merovingian kingdom until Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, subjugated it to Frankish Austrasia early in the 8th century. The Carolingians made several partitions of Burgundy before Boso, ruler of the Viennois, had himself proclaimed king of all Burgundy from Autun to the Mediterranean Sea in 879. The French Carolingians later recovered the country west of the Saône and north of Lyons from him, and the German Carolingians recovered Jurane, or Upper, Burgundy (i.e., Transjurane Burgundy, or the country between the Jura and the Alps, together with Cisjurane Burgundy, or Franche-Comté). Boso and his successors, however, were able to maintain themselves in the kingdom of Provence, or Lower Burgundy, until about 933. In 888 Rudolf I (died 912) of the German Welf family was recognized as king of Jurane Burgundy, including much of what is now Switzerland. His son and successor, Rudolf II, was able to conclude a treaty about 931 with Hugh of Provence, successor of Boso’s son Louis the Blind, whereby he extended his rule over the entire regnum Burgundiae except the areas west of the Saône. This union of Upper and Lower Burgundy was bequeathed in 1032 to the German king and emperor Conrad II and became known from the 13th century as the kingdom of Arles—the name Burgundy being increasingly reserved for the county of Burgundy (Cisjurane Burgundy) and for the duchy of Burgundy. The duchy of Burgundy was that part of the regnum Burgundiae west of the Saône River; it was recovered from Boso by the French Carolingians and remained a part of the kingdom of France. Boso’s brother Richard, count of Autun, organized the greater part of the territory under his own authority. His son Rudolph (Raoul), who succeeded him in 921, was elected king of Francia in 923. On Rudolph’s death in 936 the Carolingian king Louis IV and Hugh the Great, duke of the Franks, detached Sens, Troyes, and (temporarily) Langres from Burgundy. [...] After the death of Charles the Bold in 1477, his heiress, Mary of Burgundy, married the Austrian archduke Maximilian of Habsburg (later the Holy Roman emperor), thus disappointing French hopes that she would marry Louis XI’s son Charles, the future Charles VIII of France. The Treaty of Arras (1482), however, ceded Franche-Comté to Charles on his betrothal to Mary’s daughter Margaret of Austria. When he broke this engagement, he had to cede Franche-Comté to Austria by the Treaty of Senlis in 1493. For the next 185 years Franche-Comté was a possession of the Habsburgs. By the Treaty of Saint-Jean-de-Losne (1522) with France, the neutrality of the county was ensured during the wars between the Habsburgs and the last French kings of the Valois line. Its enduring prosperity, enhanced by industrial development, can be judged by the splendid Renaissance architecture of its towns. Civil disturbances, however, came with the Reformation, when bands of Protestants entered the mainly Roman Catholic county from Germany and Switzerland. Franche-Comté passed to the Spanish Habsburgs through the emperor Charles V’s partition of his dominions in 1556. Under Philip II of Spain a forceful repression of Protestants took place, and Henry IV of France, in his war with Philip, violated Franche-Comté’s neutrality. From 1598 to 1635 peace was maintained, but French fear of Habsburg encirclement led Louis XIII to attempt to annex the county. He invaded and ravaged the area annually from 1636 to 1639, but the Peace of Westphalia (1648) confirmed Habsburg control.