Coat of arms
of the second Duchy of Burgundy and later of the province
The first recorded inhabitants of the area that became Burgundy were Celts, who were eventually incorporated in the Roman Empire as Gallo-Romans.
During the 4th century, the Burgundians, a Germanic people, who may have originated in Bornholm (on the Baltic Sea), settled in the western Alps. They founded the Kingdom of the Burgundians, which was conquered in the 6th century by another Germanic tribe, the Franks.
Map of France showing Burgundy and provincial boundaries in 1789
Under Frankish dominion, the Kingdom of Burgundy continued for several centuries.
Later, the region was divided between the Duchy of Burgundy (to the west) and the Free County of Burgundy (to the east). The Duchy of Burgundy is the better-known of the two, later becoming the French province of Burgundy, while the County of Burgundy became the French province of Franche-Comté, literally meaning free county.
Burgundy's modern existence is rooted in the dissolution of the Frankish Empire. In the 880s, there were four Burgundies, which were the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Burgundy, the duchy and the county.
During the Middle Ages, Burgundy was home to some of the most important Western churches and monasteries, including those of Cluny, Cîteaux, and Vézelay. Cluny, founded in 910, exerted a strong influence in Europe for centuries. The first Cistercian abbey was founded in 1098 in Cîteaux. Over the next century, hundreds of Cistercian abbeys were founded throughout Europe, in a large part due to the charisma and influence of Bernard of Clairvaux. The Abbey of Fontenay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is today the best-preserved Cistercian abbey in Burgundy. The Abbey of Vezelay, also a UNESCO site, is still a starting point for pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. Cluny was almost totally destroyed during the French Revolution.
During the Hundred Years' War, King John II of France gave the duchy to his youngest son, Philip the Bold. The duchy soon became a major rival to the crown. The court in Dijon outshone the French court both economically and culturally. In 1477, at the battle of Nancy during the Burgundian Wars, the last duke Charles the Bold was killed in battle, and the Duchy itself was annexed by France and became a province. However the northern part of the empire was taken by the Austrian Habsburgs.
With the French Revolution in the end of the 18th century, the administrative units of the provinces disappeared, but were reconstituted as regions during the Fifth Republic in the 1970s. The modern-day administrative region comprises most of the former duchy.