League of the Public Weal

The League of the Public Weal (French: La ligue du Bien public) was an alliance of feudal nobles organized in 1465 in defiance of the centralized authority of King Louis XI of France. It was masterminded by Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, son of the Duke of Burgundy, with the king's brother Charles, Duke of Berry, as a figurehead.


In keeping with the policies of previous Capetian and Valois monarchs, Louis asserted the supremacy of the king within the territory of France. Over the course of the preceding centuries, and during the Hundred Years' War, the French kings effected an administrative unification of the country. Unlike Germany, which languished as a miscellany of feudal factions, France emerged from the Middle Ages as a centralized state. But this centralization was opposed by the League of Public Weal, whose nobles sought to restore their feudal prerogatives.[1]

Charles the Bold, as heir to the duke of Burgundy, whose fiefs in France included Flanders, and who held the Imperial lands of Holland and Brabant, sought to make the Duchy of Burgundy independent of the French throne and aspired to forge it into a kingdom of his own between France and Germany stretching between the North Sea on the north and the Jura Mountains on the south; and from the Somme River on the west to the Moselle River on the east. This kingdom would restore the ancient kingdom of Lotharingia—approximating the former domains of the Frankish Emperor Lothair I.[2]

Members of the League

The League's members included:

War of the Public Weal

To defend himself, Louis XI allied with Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and the people of Liège.

The king was also supported by the following princes of the blood:

Louis XI, who enjoyed the effective support of Gaston IV, Count of Foix, had an army of 30,000 men. At the beginning of hostilities in May and June 1465, he attacked the Bourbonnais center of the country. Then he began a race to the capital against the Breton and Burgundian armies. Before they joined forces, the king decided to confront the Burgundian army led by the Count of Charolais. The battle occurred at Montlhery, south of Paris, 16 July 1465. The events of the battle are confused. Both parties claimed the victory. The Count of Charolais remained master of the field. But Louis XI reduced the Burgundian army, then cautiously ordered a strategic retreat during the night, and returned to Paris with a "victorious" army (although his uncle the Count of Maine has fled the battlefield with a third of the royal troops). The king strengthened the capital's faltering authority.

However, the king's position weakened after the confrontation, especially as he was unable to prevent the junction, on 19 July, of the Burgundian and Breton armies, soon joined by the Counts of Armagnac and Albret and the Duke of Lorraine.

After entering Paris on 18 July, Louis XI organized the defense. The feudal princes besieged Paris. Louis XI left the city on 10 August. He went to Rouen and rallied the royal party, assembled provisions, and returned to Paris on 28 August, with powerful reinforcements. A truce was signed on September 3, which did not prevent the Leaguers from taking Pontoise and Rouen. Fighters on both sides did not quite know how to end the conflict. Louis XI pretended to yield.


Louis XI made three peace treaties:


Louis XI did not observe the conditions for long.


Louis XI forgave some of the rebels, but some were also punished:

In 1468, Charles the Bold formed a new league with Charles of France, Duke John of Alençon and Francis II, Duke of Brittany, with the support of Edward IV of England. But Louis XI was strongly supported by the States General at Tours in April, and succeeded in separating Francis II and Charles of France from the Leaguers (Treaty of Ancenis).


Both Charles and Louis were prone to overreaching themselves, and Louis's machinations nearly resulted in military defeat at Charles's hands. However, insurrections in his newly acquired territories of Lorraine and Switzerland weakened Charles's efforts. Charles himself was killed in the Battle of Nancy against the Swiss, and Louis was saved from his greatest adversary. He had already taken his revenge on Charles's allies within France. The great duchy of Burgundy was then absorbed into the kingdom of France. The League of the Public Weal was routed in its every objective.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Paul Murray Kendall, Louis XI: The Universal Spider (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1971), 143.
  2. Paul Murray Kendall, Louis XI: The Universal Spider, 265-266.


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