List of kings of Burgundy

The following is a list of the kings of the two kingdoms of Burgundy, and a number of related political entities devolving from Carolingian machinations over family relations.

Kings of the Burgundians

The Burgundians left Bornholm c. 300 and settled near the Vistula. Jordanes relates that in this area they were thoroughly defeated by the Gepids in the 4th century and then moved into the Rhineland.

  • Gebicca (late 4th century c. 407)
  • Gundomar I (c. 407 411), son of Gebicca
  • Giselher (c. 407 411), son of Gebicca
  • Gunther (c. 407 436), son of Gebicca

Flavius Aëtius moves the Burgundians into Sapaudia (Upper Rhône Basin).

  • Gunderic/Gundioc (436473) opposed by
  • division of the kingdom among the four sons of Gundioc:
    • Gundobad (473516 in Lyon, king of all of Burgundy from 480),
    • Chilperic II (473493 in Valence)
    • Gundomar/Godomar (473486 in Vienna)
    • Godegisel (473500, in Vienne and Geneva)
  • Sigismund, son of Gundobad (516523)
  • Godomar or Gundimar, son of Gundobad (523534)

Burgundy under Frankish kings

Gradually conquered by the Frankish kings Childebert I and Clothar I from 532534

Merovingian kings

United with Neustria under one king, but a separate administration (613751)

Carolingian kings

The sons of Louis the Pious divided the Frankish kingdom in the treaty of Verdun in 843. Burgundy was divided between the brothers.

  • Charles the Bald received the smaller part, west of the river Saône. This entity was officially called regnum burgundiae (Kingdom of Burgundy), but since the King of France delegated administration to dukes, the territory became known as the Duchy of Burgundy.
  • Lothair I received the larger part, east of the river Saône, which retained the name of Kingdom of Burgundy

After Lothair's death in 855, his realm was divided between his sons. The Burgundian territories were divided between:

For the Kings of Provence before its (re)union with the rest of Burgundy, see the list of dukes, kings, counts, and margraves of Provence.

Kingdom of Upper Burgundy

Lothar subsumed his portion of Burgundy into the Kingdom of Lotharingia and at his brother Charles' death, gained some northern districts from his kingdom. When Lothar II died in 869, his realm was divided between his uncles Charles the Bald and Louis the German in the Treaty of Mersen.

On the death in 888 of Emperor Charles the Fat, who until 884 had united all Frankish kingdoms except for Kingdom of Provence, the nobles and leading clergy of Upper Burgundy assembled at St Maurice and elected Rudolph, count of Auxerre, from the Elder Welf family, as king. At first, he tried to reunite the realm of Lothar II, but opposition by Arnulf of Carinthia forced him to focus on his Burgundian territory.

In 1032 the Kingdom of Burgundy was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire as a third kingdom, the Kingdom of Arles, with the King of Germany or Emperor as King of Burgundy.

Kingdom of Burgundy (Arelat) as part of the Holy Roman Empire

Salian (Frankish) dynasty

  • Conrad II, king 1032–1039, emperor after 1027
  • Henry III, king 1039–1056, emperor 1046–1056
  • Henry IV, king 1056–1105, emperor 1084–1105
  • Henry V, king 1105–1125, emperor 1111–1125


Staufen (or Hohenstaufen dynasty)

Rectorate of Burgundy

Under the kings Conrad I and Rudolph III, royal power weakened while local nobles, such as the counts of Burgundy, gained prominence.

After the early death of Emperor Henry III, his widow Agnes of Poitou acted as regent for his young son Henry IV. She made Rudolf von Rheinfelden duke of Swabia and also conferred on him the regal powers over Burgundy. However, when Rudolf was elected anti-king, Henry IV in 1079 stripped him of his powers and delegated them to the Prince-bishops of Lausanne and Sitten.

When William III, Count of Burgundy was assassinated in February 1127, Lothar III supported the claims of William's uncle Duke Conrad of Zähringen, grandson of Rudolf von Rheinfeld, to the countship, and conferred on him the regal powers over Burgundy.

Lacking a proper title, the Zähringer called themselves dukes and rectors of Burgundy, to give themselves the status of the dukes of Burgundy. The royal chancellory however consistently avoided this term and the effective power of the rector (in Roman law, a generic term for provincial governor) was restricted to the possessions of the Zähringer east of the Jura.

Any attempts to enforce the Zähringer's claims and to extend royal authority into the western and southern parts of the kingdom failed, most notably a military campaign in 1153. After these failures, Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa gained a firm hold of the western districts in 1156 by marrying Beatrice, heiress to the countship of Burgundy. This confined the Zähringer between Jura and Alps, where they used their regal powers to expand their possessions. In 1218, Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen died without issue.

After this, King Frederick II conferred the title of the rector of Burgundy on his young son Henry, to keep the Zähringer heirs from the regal powers associated with that title. This appointment was of only momentary importance, and after Henry had been elected King of Germany in April 1220, the title disappeared for good.

Also, the decline of royal power inside the Kingdom of Burgundy remained irreversible.

See also


  1. Britannica (1922). The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature. Original from Harvard University: Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 821.
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