Kingdom of Burgundy

Kingdom of Burgundy was a name given to various states located in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. The historical Burgundy correlates with the border area of France, Italy and Switzerland and includes the major modern cities of Geneva and Lyon.

As a political entity, Burgundy existed in a number of forms with different boundaries, notably, when it was divided into Upper and Lower Burgundy and Provence. Two of the entities, the first around the 6th century and the second around the 11th century, were called the Kingdom of Burgundy. At other times were the Kingdom of Provence, the Duchy of Burgundy and the County of Burgundy.

Kingdom of the Burgundians after the settlement in Savoy from 443.
Burgundy as part of the Frankish Empire between 534 and 843.
The Kingdoms of Upper and Lower Burgundy between 879 and 933.
Kingdom of Arles (1033–1378).
The holdings of the House of Valois-Burgundy during the reign of Charles the Bold in the late 15th century.

Kingdom of the Burgundians (4th century – 534 AD)

Burgundy is named after a Germanic tribe of Burgundians who originated in mainland Scandinavia, then settled on the island of Bornholm, whose name in Old Norse was Burgundarholmr ("Island of the Burgundians"). From there they migrated south through Germanic lands into Roman Gaul and settled in the western part of the Alps and Rhône valley, establishing a barbarian kingdom of the Burgundians.

The first documented, though not historically verified King of the Burgundians was Gjúki (Gebicca), who lived in the late 4th century. In the course of the Crossing of the Rhine in 406 the Burgundians settled as foederati in the Roman province of Germania Secunda along the Middle Rhine. Their situation worsened when about 430 their king Gunther started several invasions into neighbouring Gallia Belgica, which led to a crushing defeat by joined Roman and Hunnic troops under Flavius Aetius in 436 near Worms (the focus of the mediæval Nibelungenlied poem).

The remaining Burgundians from 443 onwards settled in the Sapaudia (i.e. Savoy) region, again as foederati in the Roman Maxima Sequanorum province. Their efforts to enlarge their kingdom down the Rhône river brought them into conflict with the Visigothic Kingdom in the south. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, king Gundobad allied with the powerful Frank king Clovis I against the threat of Theoderic the Great. He was then able to organize the Burgundian acquisitions based on the Lex Burgundionum, an Early Germanic law code.

The decline of the Kingdom began when they came under attack from their former Frank allies. In 523 the sons of Clovis I campaigned in the Burgundian lands, instigated by their mother Clotilde, whose father king Chilperic II of Burgundy had been killed by Gundobad. In 532 the Burgundians were decisively defeated by the Franks at Autun, whereafter king Godomar was killed and Burgundian lands was annexed by the Frankish Empire in 534.