‘Burgundianisation’, or the fantasy of a Burgundian nation
in The illusion of the Burgundian state
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For some historians, a ‘national spirit’ did emerge inside the Burgundian state and can be seen in the literature and art of the period and in noble brotherhoods such as the Order of the Golden Fleece. In this chapter, I propose a final reflection on the meaning of ‘nation’ in the Middle Ages. If a nation is an ‘imagined community’, as Benedict Anderson suggested, then it would seem that there was no Burgundian nation. This failure of Burgundy to emerge as a nation was not simply the product of its different languages, lack of a capital or diverse heritages in territories such as Flanders, Artois, Hainaut, Brabant and Burgundy. The core of the problem was rather the gap between the political ideology of the northern towns, whose power since the twelfth century had been based on a negotiated contract between princes and people, and the political ideology of the princes themselves, inspired as it was by their monarchical French legacy.

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