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Congress of Arras

Congress of Arras

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The Congress of Arras was a diplomatic congregation established in Arras
Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

 in 1435 between representatives of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

. Toward the close of the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

, both the Congress and Treaty of Arras represented diplomatic failures for England and major successes for France.

Congregation


English negotiators entered the congress believing it was a peace negotiation between England and France only. They proposed an extended truce and a marriage between adolescent King Henry VI of England
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

 and a daughter of French king Charles VII of France
Charles VII of France
Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

. The English were unwilling to renounce their claim to the crown of France. This position prevented meaningful negotiation. The English delegation broke off from the congress in mid-session to put down a raid by French captains Xaintrailles
Jean Poton de Xaintrailles
Jean Poton de Xaintrailles , a minor noble of Gascon origin, was one of the chief lieutenants of Joan of Arc. He served as master of the royal stables, as royal bailiff in Berry and as seneschal of Limousin. In 1454 he was appointed a Marshal of France.He fought at the battle of Verneuil in 1424,...

 and La Hire
La Hire
Étienne de Vignolles, called La Hire, was a French military commander during the Hundred Years' War. His nickname of La Hire would be that the English had nicknamed "the Hire-God" . He fought alongside Joan of Arc in the campaigns of 1429...

.

Meanwhile the French delegation and leading clergy urged Philip the Good of Burgundy to reconcile with Charles VII. Burgundy was an appanage
Appanage
An apanage or appanage or is the grant of an estate, titles, offices, or other things of value to the younger male children of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture...

 at the time, virtually an independent state, and had been allied with England since the murder of Philip's father in 1419. Charles VII had been at least complicit in that crime. The English delegation returned to find that their ally had switched sides. English regent John, Duke of Bedford died on September 14, 1435, one week before the congress concluded.

Treaty of Arras


The congress gave rise to the Treaty of Arras, which was signed in 1435 and became an important diplomatic achievement for the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in the closing years of the Hundred Years' War. Overall, it reconciled a longstanding feud between King Charles VII of France and Duke Philip of Burgundy. Philip recognized Charles VII as king of France and, in return, Philip was exempted from homage to the crown and Charles agreed to punish the murderers of Philip's father John of Burgundy. By breaking the alliance between Burgundy and England, Charles VII consolidated his position as monarch of France against a rival claim by Henry VI of England
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

. The political distinction between Armagnacs and Burgundians
Burgundian (party)
The Burgundian party was a political allegiance in France that formed during the reign of Charles VI during the latter half of the Hundred Years' War...

 ceased to be significant from this time onward. France already had Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 as an ally and England was left isolated. From 1435 onward, English occupation in France underwent steady decline.

The congress' limited success was facilitated by representatives of Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Basel. Members of each of these delegations wrote legal opinions absolving Duke Philip from his obligations to England.

See also

  • Armagnacs
  • Burgundian (party)
    Burgundian (party)
    The Burgundian party was a political allegiance in France that formed during the reign of Charles VI during the latter half of the Hundred Years' War...

  • English history
  • French history
  • France in the Middle Ages
    France in the Middle Ages
    France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

  • Hundred Years' War
    Hundred Years' War
    The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

  • List of treaties

Further reading

  • Joycelyne Gledhill Dickinson, The Congress of Arras, 1435: A Study in Medieval Diplomacy New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1972.

External links