The Stark-Lannister Conflict and the Armagnac-Burgundian War continued…


“BY WHAT RIGHT DOES THE WOLF JUDGE THE LION? BY WHAT RIGHT??” – Jaime bellows before he collapses in the bath, after recounting what really happened the day he saved the kingdom by killing the mad king. Jaime recalls how Ned walked into the Iron Throne room just after Jaime killed the king and instantly judged him. © HBO.

Admittedly, the Stark-Lannister conflict does not last nearly as long as the Armagnac-Burgundian War. However, the seeds of the Stark-Lannister conflict were planted years before the Wars of the Five Kings began. [This article is continued from here.]

First, Ned walks into the throne room immediately after Jaime kills the mad king (Aerys Targaryen) and Ned automatically assumes Jaime killed the king without honor. The knowledge of Ned’s judgment rankles Jaime for years, long before Ned arrives in King’s Landing. In addition, Cersei feels resentment towards Ned’s long-dead sister and, possibly at some level, towards the Starks themselves. She certainly resents Ned’s influence with King Robert.


Philip, Duke of Burgundy – also known as Philip the Bold.

Likewise, in the Armagnac-Burgundian conflict, scratches and wounds festered before becoming putrid years later.

Louis (the king’s brother and the Duke of Orleans) resented that his uncle Philip of Burgundy was regent instead of him; the two men clashed as they struggled to control the mad king, Charles VI, and his kingdom. This conflict simmered for fifteen years — and spread to their families – before it finally boiled over into disastrous events that led to civil war.


A recreation of Louis, Duke of Orleans.

At first, the conflict may have begun over money and the quest for power. Both men wanted to siphon funds off the royal treasury. Louis wanted the money to fund his extravagant lifestyle and to pursue his regal ambitions in Milan. Philip wanted the money to fund his territorial goals in the Low Countries. According to some estimates, when Philip of Burgundy was regent, he diverted one-eighth to one-sixth of the crown’s revenue into his own coffers1.

Although the conflict began over money, it didn’t help matters that the two men disagreed on policy. They had different attitudes towards everything from the papal schism to conquest to diplomacy with England.

In 1401, Orleans was the official tax collector and, collectively, with Isabeau, he increased taxation. Rather than using more neutral officials, Orleans used his own men to collect the taxes, which provided more opportunity for skimming off the top. This greatly angered Philip of Burgundy who struck back by raising an army and then threatening to march on Paris. If Queen Isabeau – Charles VI’s wife — had not played peacekeeper, civil war would have erupted.

Philip was the principal ruler of France until 1402 when, during a brief period of sanity, Charles pronounced his brother Louis regent. However, Louis’ ineptitude prevented him from ruling effectively. To fund his Milanese ambitions, Louis inflicted vicious taxes on the French people and soon many of them hated him even more than Philip of Burgundy. As a result, Philip regained control of the throne in 1404 but died shortly afterward.

Philip Dies and the Young Lion Inherits the Conflict

When Philip of Burgundy died in 1404, his son John the Fearless (hereafter John of Burgundy) inherited his dukedom.

John of Burgundy was a short, energetic, and crafty man, but he was also aloof, gloomy, charmless, imperious, and somewhat ugly; he had a huge nose and weak chin.2. In contrast, his cousin, Louis of Orleans, was elegant, charming, sophisticated, free-spending, and scandalous. Is it any surprise they didn’t get along?


John. Duke of Burgundy was not known as a handsome man.

Not only were the personal styles of Burgundy and Orleans like night and day, both men had irreconcilable attitudes towards government and policy. John of Burgundy ruled over the wealthy center of the wool trade and inherited his father’s region-specific policy interests, spun from his subjects’ concerns.

The men could not agree on the economic direction of France. John favored the English style of economy with its emphasis, especially in London, on an emerging merchant class. Orleans did not agree; his territory was primarily an agricultural economy.

Likewise, regional interests – specifically, the religious views of their subjects – polarized John and Louis’ positions on the papal schism. Louis supported the Pope at Avignon whereas John of Burgundy, conscious of his Flemish subjects, favored the Pope of Rome.

As of 1405, Louis of Orleans was in power, and he began to slowly turn off funding to the Burgundian duchy. During Philip’s day, Burgundy received roughly 50% of its revenue from the royal treasury3 . John began having trouble receiving his annual allotment for military ventures and the upkeep of garrisons, which benefited France4 .


Louis of Orleans had a scandalous reputation. In this painting by Delacroix, Louis unveils a mistress.

The atmosphere became very tense. Council meetings would end amidst the two men’s heated arguments and accusations. To make matters worse, Louis kicked the Burgundians off the council. Louis then used the royal treasury to buy the Duchy of Luxembourg, which blocked John’s ability to dominate the territory from Flanders to the Duchy of Burgundy.

To be continued…

  1. See D. Seward A Brief History of the Hundred Years War Kindle Loc 1894. []
  2. Perroy in Seward Kindle Loc 1935 []
  3. Tracy Adams The Life and Afterlife of Isabeau of Bavaria (Rethinking Theory) p. 168 []
  4. Tracy Adams The Life and Afterlife of Isabeau of Bavaria (Rethinking Theory) p. 168 []

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

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