Count of Flanders

Count of Flanders
Coat of arms of the Counts of Flanders.

The Count of Flanders was the ruler or sub-ruler of the county of Flanders from the 9th century until the abolition of the position by the French revolutionaries in 1790.

Although the early rulers, from Arnulf I onwards, were sometime referred to as margraves or marquesses, this alternate title largely fell out of use by the 12th century. Since then the rulers of Flanders have only been referred to as counts.

The Counts of Flanders enlarged their estate through a series of diplomatic manoeuvres. The counties of Hainaut, Namur, Béthune, Nevers, Auxerre, Rethel, Burgundy, and Artois were acquired via marriage with the respective heiresses. The County of Flanders itself suffered the same fate. By the marriage of Countess Margaret III with Philip II, Duke of Burgundy, the county and the subsidiary counties entered a personal union with the Duchy of Burgundy in 1405. The county itself ceased to exist in 1795.


List of Counts of Flanders

House of Flanders

  • Baldwin I Iron Arm (r. 860s-879), married Judith and was granted lands and honours, which would evolve into the County of Flanders.
  • Baldwin II the Bald (r. 879-918), son of Baldwin I and Judith
  • Arnulf I the Great (r. 918-964), son of Baldwin II, joinly with:
    • Baldwin III (r. 958-962), son of Arnulf I
  • Arnulf II (r. 964-988), son of Baldwin III
  • Baldwin IV the Bearded (r. 988-1037), son of Arnulf II
  • Baldwin V of Lille (r. 1037-1067), son of Baldwin IV
  • Baldwin VI (r. 1067-1070), son of Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut
  • Arnulf III (r. 1070-1071), son of Baldwin VI, Count of Hainaut
  • Robert I the Frisian (r. 1071-1093), son of Baldwin V
  • Robert II (r. 1093-1111), son of Robert I
  • Baldwin VII Hapkin (r. 1111-1119), son of Robert II

House of Estridsen

  • Charles I the Good (r. 1119-1127), cousin of Baldwin VII, designated by him

House of Normandy

House of Alsace or House of Metz

  • Thierry (r. 1128-1168), grandson of Robert I, recognised by Louis VI of France
  • Philip I (r. 1168-1191), son of Thierry
  • Margaret I (r. 1191-1194), daughter of Thierry,
    • jointly with her husband Baldwin of Hainaut

House of Flanders

  • Baldwin VIII (r. 1191-1194), husband of Margaret I, patrilineal great-great-grandson of Baldwin VI, also Count of Hainaut
  • Baldwin IX (r. 1194-1205), son of Baldwin VIII, also Latin Emperor of Constantinople
  • Joan I (r. 1205-1244), daughter of Baldwin IX, jointly with
    • Ferdinand (r. 1212-1233)
    • Thomas (1237-1244)
  • Margaret II (r. 1244-1278), sister of Joan, married first to Bouchard IV of Avesnes and then William of Dampierre
In 1244, the Counties of Flanders and Hainaut were claimed by Margaret II's sons, the half-brothers John I of Avesnes and William III of Dampierre in the War of the Succession of Flanders and Hainault. In 1246, King Louis IX of France awarded Flanders to William.

House of Dampierre

  • William I (r. 1247-1251), son of Margaret II and William II of Dampierre
  • Guy I (r. 1251-1305), son of Margaret II and William II of Dampierre, imprisoned 1253-1256 by John I of Avesnes, also Count of Namur
  • Robert III ("the Lion of Flanders") (r. 1305-1322), son of Guy
  • Louis I (r. 1322-1346), son of Robert III
  • Louis II (r. 1346-1384), son of Louis I
  • Margaret III (r. 1384-1405), daughter of Louis II,
    • jointly with her husband, Philip II

House of Burgundy

House of Habsburg

Charles V proclaimed the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 eternally uniting Flanders with the other lordships of the Low Countries in a personal union. When the Habsburg empire was divided among the heirs of Charles V, the Low Countries, including Flanders, went to Philip II of Spain, of the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg.

  • Philip V (r. 1555-1598), son of Charles III, also King of Spain as Philip II
  • Isabella Clara Eugenia (r. 1598-1621), daughter of Philip II,
    • jointly with her husband Albert, Archduke of Austria)
  • Philip VI (r. 1621-1665), grandson of Philip III, also King of Spain as Philip IV
  • Charles IV (r. 1665-1700), son of Philip IV, also King of Spain as Charles II
  • Philip VII (House of Bourbon) (r. 1700-1706), great-grandson of Philip IV

Between 1706 and 1714 Flanders was invaded by the English and the Dutch during the War of the Spanish Succession. The fief was claimed by the House of Habsburg and the House of Bourbon. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht settled the succession and the County of Flanders went to the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg.

  • Charles V (r. 1714-1740), great grandson of Philip III, also Holy Roman Emperor (elect)
  • Maria Theresa (r. 1740-1780), daughter of Charles IV, jointly with
  • Joseph I (r. 1780-1790), son of Maria Theresa and Francis I
  • Leopold (r. 1790-1792), son of Maria Theresa and Francis I
  • Francis II (r. 1792-1835), son of Leopold, also Holy Roman Emperor

The title was factually abolished after revolutionary France annexed Flanders in 1795. Francis II relinquished his claim on the Low Countries in the Treaty of Campo Formio of 1797 and the area remained part of France until the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Modern Usage

House of Orange-Nassau

  • William II (William I of the Netherlands) (r. 1813-1840)
  • no claimants after 1840

In 1815, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established by the Congress of Vienna and William I of the Netherlands was made King of the Netherlands (Latin: rex Belgii). The Belgian Revolution of 1830 caused a split in the kingdom between the North and the South. Neither he nor his descendants made any claims to the title of count of Flanders after 1839, when a peace treaty between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium was signed.

House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Coat of the Belgian Count of Flanders
  • Prince Philippe of Belgium, son of King Leopold I of the Belgians (1840–1905)
  • Prince Charles of Belgium, son of King Albert I of the Belgians (1905–1983)

In modern times, from 1831 onwards the substantive title Count of Flanders has been given to younger sons of the Kings of the Belgians (Latin: rex Belgarum). Since 1983 the title will not be conferred anymore.

House of Bourbon

The title Count of Flanders is one of the titles of the Spanish Crown. It is only a historical title which is only nominally and ceremonially used.

See also

External links

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