Charles, Duke of Guelders

Charles, Duke of Guelders

Charles of Egmond (9 November 1467June 30 1538) was Duke of Guelders between 1492 and his death. He was the son of Adolf of Egmond and Catharina of Bourbon. He was a major protagonist in the Frisian peasant rebellion and the Guelderian Wars.


Charles was born at Grave and raised at the Burgundian court of Charles the Bold, who had bought the duchy of Guelders from Adolf of Egmond in 1473. He fought in several battles against the armies of Charles VIII of France, until he was captured in the Battle of Béthune in 1487.

In 1492, the cities of Guelders, who had become disenchanted with the rule of King Maximilian, who by marriage had acquired the Burgundian lands for the Habsburgs, ransomed Charles and recognized him as their Duke.

Charles was supported by the French King, but in 1505, Guelders was regained by King Maximilian's son
Philip the Handsome. Charles had to accompany Philip to Spain to attend Philip's coronation as King of Castile but at Antwerp, Charles managed to escape. Shortly afterwards, Philip died in Spain and by July 1513 Charles had regained control over the whole of Guelders.

In 1519, Charles married young Elisabeth of Brunswick. The marriage remained childless. Charles however fathered several illegitimate children.

In his conflict with the Habsburgs, Charles also became a major player behind the scenes of the Frisian peasant rebellion and at first financially supported the rebel leader Pier Gerlofs Donia and also bribed the Count of NychlenborchFact|date=September 2008, a Burgundian-vassal charged with breaking the rebellion. After the tides turned against the rebels, Charles stopped his support and switched sides together with his milistary commander Maarten van Rossum.In the Treaty of Gorinchem (1528), Emperor Charles, son of Philip the Handsome, proposed to recognized Charles of Egmond as Duke of Guelders under the condition that he would inherit the Duchy should the Duke die without issue. The Duke, who at the time did not have any children, delayed signing the treaty. Another battle ensued, after which the passage was removed from the treaty. In 1536 there was finally peace between Guelders and Burgundy.

Charles died at Arnhem, and is buried in the St. Eusebius Church there.


His only legitimate sister, his twin Philippa, Duchess of Lorraine (1467-1547) survived him and died during the reign of her great-grandson Charles III, Duke of Lorraine (1543-1608).

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