The Potentially most profitable marriage in European History

The potentially most profitable marriage in European history was concluded #onthisday, 19th of August 1477, between the 18-year old Maximilian, heir to the dukes of Austria and Maria, daughter and heir of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. The marriage made Maximilian’s heirs the dukes of Burgundy, the richest lands in Europe at the time. Burgundy comprised the wealthy cities of Flanders like Gent and Bruges as well as the fertile lands of Burgundy with its splendid court in Dijon.

The marriage catapulted the Habsburgs from important magnates in the Empire to the European stage. Maximilian’s son Phillip married Johanna of Spain, which brought this kingdom and the riches of the New World into the family possession.

Though the legend is that “tu felix Austria nube” , i.e., the Habsburg empire was solely acquired in the horizontal. In reality Maximilian did not gain Burgundy unopposed. He had to fight hard for it and in the lengthy war regularly came to the point of losing it all. In the end he received most of Maria’s inheritance (see dark yellow area on the map). He had to give up the actual duchy of Burgundy itself and the Artois, which went back to France.

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