A paper by Jonathan Dumont

In this very first charter of our corpus, dated August 1477, the young Maximilian, who had just arrived in the Netherlands to marry Mary of Burgundy (19 August 1477), wrote to Adolph of La Marck, (“Nostre tres chier et feal cousin Andolff de La Marcke”) to give him the property of the deceased Jean de Lichervelle, former receiver of Bastogne (“par la mort et trespas de Jehan de Lichervelle, nagaires nostre recepveur du romant pays de nostre duchié de Limbourg, en quartier de Bastoingne”).

The document is a “mandement” (“Si mandons”), a type of Burgundian chancery document that allowed the prince to send quick orders to his lieutenants and officers. Bastogne was one of the main centres of the Over-Maas lands, some of the Burgundian territories that extended beyond the river Meuse.

The war with France that began after the death of Charles the Bold (5 January 1477) threatened Maximilian’s Burgundian heritage. The Duchy and County of Burgundy and the County of Artois were invaded by Louis XI. Other lands could suffer the same fate, especially as nobles and state officials changed sides and swore allegiance to the French king.

Master of the Portraits of Princes, Adolphe of La Marck (ca 1485), Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, III 425. © Wikicommons.

In this context, Maximilian needed to strengthen his ties with his supporters. Adolphe of La Marck was one of them, since he had played an important role in the preliminary negotiations that had led to the marriage between Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy. This document can therefore be seen as Maximilian’s way of rewarding his loyal ally.

Vienna, HHStA, M 1-1-1, verso © ÖAW

More generally, Maximilian needed to maintain good relations with the House of La Marck. Indeed, the La Marcks were a prominent noble house in the Low Countries. What would happen if Louis XI managed to disgrace them? This situation was to occur a few years later when the French king allied himself with William of La Marck, Lord of Lumain and Schleiden, the head of a smaller branch of the La Marck family. In 1482, Louis used William to launch an attack on the principality of Liège, which was ruled by Louis de Bourbon, a relative and ally of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian of Habsburg. On 30 August, William murdered the prince-bishop and became the de facto ruler of the principality.

From a discursive and symbolic point of view, this document is one of the first to be signed by Maximilian as “Duke of Austria, [and] of Burgundy” (“duc d’Ostrich, de Bourgoingne”). Here the Habsburg placed Austria and Burgundy on the same level, whereas the first title was an archduchy, superior to the duchy of Burgundy. In this way, he tempered the susceptibility of his subjects, who still had to accept him as a “foreign” ruler. In the following years, Maximilian of Habsburg would often use this strategy when writing to his Dutch subjects.


M. Depreter, J. Dumont, E. L’Estrange, S. Mareel (dir.), Marie de Bourgogne / Mary of Burgundy. Figure, principat et postérité d’une duchesse tardo-médiévale / « Persona », Reign, and Legacy of a Late Medieval Duchess,Turnhout, 2021.

J. Haemers, For the Common Good. State Power and Urban Revolts in the Reign of Mary of Burgundy (1477-1482),Turnhout, 2009.

P. Harsin, “Liège entre France et Bourgogne au xve siècle”, Liège et Bourgogne. Actes du Colloque tenu à Liège les 28, 29 et 30 octobre 1968,Paris, 1972, p. 193-256.

Header Image Credits: Vienna, Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchiv

Cite this blog post
Jonathan Dumont (2023, September 20). YOUNG MAXIMILIAN ARRIVES IN THE NETHERLANDS. Managing Maximilian (1493-1519). Retrieved May 24, 2024, from

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