Jacquetta of Luxembourg and the Dukes of Burgundy?

Duke of Burgundy (1364-1404) as Philip II and King Philip II of France.

Duke of Burgundy (1364-1404) as Philip II and King Philip II of France.

Since the beginning of Philippa Gregory’s obsession with the Woodville family and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, she has claimed that Jacquetta was descended from the Dukes of Burgundy. For the past few weeks I have been trying to find a link to what she might be talking about. Jacquetta’s tree doesn’t show any connection or descent from the Dukes of Burgundy since before .. well .. I’m still looking back past the 1100s.

OK… I think I found what they are talking about; two explanations and a HUGE stretch.

Jacquetta sits with Charles "the Bold', Duke of Burgundy.

Jacquetta sits with Charles “the Bold’, Duke of Burgundy.

Theory One — Bedford’s Wives

Remember “The Tudors” brilliant idea of lumping King Henry VIII’s sisters in to one character? Perhaps Philippa Gregory and the writer Emma Frost are doing the same; two historical characters compiled in to one. Here’s how it works: Jacquetta was married to the Lancastrian Duke of Bedford. Bedford’s FIRST wife, Anne of Burgundy, was from Burgundy; the daughter of John II, Duke of Burgundy. Anne’s brother was Philip “the Good”, Duke of Burgundy and father of Charles, the Bold, who was featured in the second episode of “The White Queen” as “cousin” to Jacquetta. A year after the death of Anne of Burgundy, Bedford remarried to Jacquetta, but faced opposition for various political reasons in this decision from Anne’s brother the Duke of Burgundy.[1][2] From this time on, relations between the two became cool, culminating in the 1435 peace negotiations between Burgundy and Charles VII, the exiled king of France. Later that year, a letter was dispatched to Henry VI, formally breaking their alliance.[2] 

The series doesn’t mention the fact that Jacquetta was married to the Duke of Bedford – she is *just* a powerful noblewoman related to the Dukes of Burgundy which is not really the case as I will explain. The series chose to omit that the Duke of Bedford existed and married Jacquetta, and Jacquetta in my opinion is seen as a mix of two historical women – Anne of Burgundy, Bedford’s first wife, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg.

Theory Two — Taranto Relations

Second possible explanation Jacquetta’s grandfather, the Duke of Andria (Francesco del Balzo) married Marguerite of Taranto whose mother was Empress Catherine of Constantinople, daughter of Charles, Count of Valois (4th son of Philip III of France, brother to the 2nd queen consort of Edward I of England, Marguerite of France and uncle to queen consort Isabel of France of Edward II of England).

Francesco and Marguerite had two kids that produced NO surviving issue! Any who, Empress Catherine (of Valois) was a paternal sister to Philip VI of France (son of Charles of Valois and his first wife, Margaret, Countess of Anjou). Philip VI married Joan of Burgundy, daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy. In 1361, Joan’s grandnephew, Philip I of Burgundy, died without legitimate issue, ending the male line of the Dukes of Burgundy. The rightful heir to Burgundy was unclear: King Charles II of Navarre, grandson of Joan’s elder sister Margaret, was the heir according to primogeniture, but John II of France (Joan’s son) claimed to be the heir according the proximity of blood. In the end, John won.

So Jacquetta wasn’t related to them at all by my calculations; only by marriage. Her half-uncle (James of Baux) died in 1383 and her half-aunt (Antonia, Queen of Sicily) died in 1373. They were the only blood connection to the Dukes of Burgundy as cousins. Jacquetta wasn’t born until 1416 — so there would be no close connection.

Other Possible Theory — Henry V of Luxembourg

Henry V "the blond", Count of Luxembourg.

Henry V “the blond”, Count of Luxembourg.

However, there is a stretch here — Bonne of Bohemia [of Luxembourg] was the mother of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, himself the great-grandfather of Charles the Bold. Bonne of Bohemia was the great-great-granddaughter of Henry V, Count of Luxembourg. Jacquetta herself was a 5x great-granddaughter of Henry V. Funny thing being — anyone who descended from King Edward III of England [most to all of the nobility at court and royal houses of Europe by the reign of King Edward IV] descended from Henry V of Luxembourg via his great-granddaughter, Philippa of Hainault, queen consort to Edward III of England. Included in that long list are Queens Katherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Parr [wives 1,3,4, and 6 of King Henry VIII of England].

Cecily, Duchess of York as portrayed in 'The White Queen' by actress Caroline Godall.

Cecily, Duchess of York as portrayed in ‘The White Queen’ by actress Caroline Godall.

So using that connection, Jacquetta and Charles would have been at the closest 6th cousins, once removed. Where as the King’s mother, Cecily [Neville], was a 1st cousin, once removed of the Duke. Cecily’s mother, Lady Joan Beaufort [daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster], was a grandaunt of Charles of Burgundy. So who are we kidding when it comes to the show — we saw the King’s mother treated rather poorly [imo extremely] while Jacquetta was positioned as a high born noblewoman with close connections to Burgundy and what not. Wiki [not a good source] even tried to pull that Jacquetta was cousin to Sigismund of Luxembourg, the Holy Roman Emperor (1368–1437); that her first marriage to the Duke of Bedford [John of Lancaster, a younger son of the first Lancastrian King, Henry IV] was

“to strengthen ties between England and the Holy Roman Empire and to increase English influence in the affairs of Continental Europe.”

Portrait of Emperor Sigismund, painted by Albrecht Dürer after the emperor’s death [Source: Wiki]

In actuality, Jacquetta was a fourth cousin, twice removed of Sigismund. Not a bad match for a younger son of King Henry IV, but how is marrying a fourth cousin, twice removed going “to strengthen ties between England and the Holy Roman Empire“?

To add to the distance between Jacquetta and the Holy Roman Emperors — the second Luxembourg Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund, had only one child; a daughter. Elisabeth of Luxembourg was the only child of the Emperor and his second wife and consort, Barbara of Cilli. When Sigismund died in 1437, Elisabeth was expected to ascend to her father’s thrones, but her rights were ignored and the titles of King of Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia was passed to Elisabeth’s husband Albert V, Duke of Austria. The title of Holy Roman Emperor was passed to the House of Habsburg [Philip the Bold would marry Juana I of Castile, sister of Queen Katherine of Aragon] where it would stay for three centuries [1440-1740]. Frederick V, Duke of Austria would become Frederick III of the Holy Roman Empire. After only two Emperors from the House of Luxembourg, the title was passed to the Habsburg dynasty where it would remain until 1740 upon the death of Charles IV. Charles, like Sigismund, had only one surviving daughter. Maria Theresa, was obviously denied her rights to succeed as Holy Roman Empress because she was a woman. Her father, Charles IV, was succeeded by Charles VII of the House of Wittlesbach. Charles VII ruled until his death in 1745. It was then that Maria Theresa’s husband was elected as Holy Roman Emperor and she became his consort. The House was now called Habsburg-Lorraine.


George, Duke of Clarence; Richard, Duke of Gloucester; and Margaret of York, episode 1.

George, Duke of Clarence; Richard, Duke of Gloucester; and Margaret of York, episode 1.

In the show, the marriage of Edward’s sister, Margaret of York, is hinted to be due to Jacquetta’s relations. Margaret of York would marry Charles as his third wife on 27 June 1468. They had no issue, but Margaret was a wonderful stepmother to her husband’s children.


  1. Chipps Smith, Jeffrey (1984). “The Tomb of Anne of Burgundy, Duchess of Bedford, in the Musée du Louvre“. Gesta 23 (01): 39–50.
  2. Weir, Alison (1996). “The Wars of the Roses: Lancaster and York“. London: Ballantine Books.

14 responses to “Jacquetta of Luxembourg and the Dukes of Burgundy?

  1. I could be completely wrong about this connection, but Jaquetta’s grandfather was John of Luxembourg. His brother was Waleran III, Count of Ligny. Waleran III’s daugher Jeanne married Antoine, Duke of Brabant, son of Phillip II of Burgandy, founder of the Burgundian house of Valois. When their son, Phillip of St Pol died in 1430, his lands were inherited by his 1st cousin, Phillip III, Duke of Burgandy. It’s all very confusing. There are other connections as well but it’s all very confusing!

    • The problem with this is it’s made to be known that she is a “cousin” of Charles. Implying that they are very close. Philippa Gregory makes this very clear of her “noble” connections which is not so. She even has Jacquetta informing the Duchess of York that her cousin has informed her of the marriage of Lady Anne and the prince of Wales if I’m not mistaken. In actuality, Charles was Cecily’s cousin.

      The whole connection of the daughter of a great-uncle who marries the son of a Duke of Burgundy and had no Duke of Burgundy blood connection except by marriage is preposterous! The Duke of Burgundy was a cousin to the Duke of Brabant, Jacquetta’s distant cousin. The whole of the royal families and nobility descended from the Dukes of Brabant.

      You can also note that Wallerin III of Luxembourg married Lady Maud Holland; daughter of Thomas, Earl of Kent and the Princess of Wales (Lady Joan, Countess of Kent). Lord Warwick descended from the Kent line via their granddaughter, Lady Eleanor Holland, Countess of Salisbury.

      So bottom line, still no blood connection.

  2. Thanks for clearing this up. I also could not figure out how she thought they were related and was guessing she was confusing Bedford’s first and second wives. I wonder whether she just made a mistake or had some reason to connect Jacquetta to Burgundy, but I can’t seem to find any real reason to do so. Very strange indeed.

    • I think it was something Philippa made up in her head and decided to go with it. The connection to the Duke of Burgundy and the Duchess of York (mother of Edward IV) was cousin, once removed. She had the closest relation due to her maternal grandfather, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

  3. I never had the impression they were saying she was a descendant from the Dukes of Burgundy, but only a cousin. And she would be a distant cousin to them.
    John King of England and Isabella
    Henry III and Eleanor of Provence
    (A)Beatrice of Enlgand/John II, Duke of Brittany
    Marie Countess of Saint Pol
    John of Saint Pol
    Mathilde married Guy I of Luxembourg
    John of Luxembourg
    Peter of Luxembourg
    Jaquetta of Luxembourg
    (B)Edward I/Eleanor of Castile
    Edward II/Isabella of France
    John of Gaunt
    Philippa of Lancaster/John I of Portugal
    Isabella/Philip the Good
    Charles the Bold/ 3rd wife was Margaret of York

    • That’s the thing though … She is a remotely DISTANT cousin. They make it seem as if she is so close to the Burgundy family. Also I believe in the book she does and even Philippa Gregory says they were descended from them. The person closest in relation to the actual Duke was Lady Cecily, Duchess of York who was a cousin, once removed of the Duke.

      • I understand now what you are saying and I could not figure that our either. She always referred to them as “their cousins from Burgundy”, and I tried to find a closer link but could not. They do seem to make one think they are closely related and I could not find that.

      • Exactly. They even talk of wine from Burgundy. And when Charles comes to town they entertain him at their table. I’m not sure why. The duchess of York was his cousin via his mother, Isabel, Duchess of Burgundy who was the daughter of Philippa of Lancaster — sister of Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland (mother of the Duchess of York).

  4. According to the Ancestry of Elizabeth I, which gives a tree going back from Jacquetta of Luxembourg to Clodius – the long-haired. It mentions Ermentrude of Burgundy (9xGGM) daughter of William II – The Great – of Burgundy, who was married to Stephanie of Metz. I cannot remember just who, or when this Family History was compiled, but I have found inconsistancies – which has made me cautious about entering this line into my tree, until all sources have been verified.

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