Louis de Bourbon, Bishop of Liège

Louis de Bourbon
Louis de Bourbon(Couleurs).jpg
Prince-Bishop of Liège (1456–1482)
Died30 August 1482(1482-08-30) (aged 44) (Assassination 22)
Cause of deathAssassinated by William de la Marck
OccupationPrince-Bishop of Liège
Years active1456–1482
PredecessorJohn of Heinsberg
Children• Pierre de Bourbon, Bâtard de Liège
• Louis de Bourbon, Bâtard de Liège
• Jacques de Bourbon, Bâtard de Liège
Parent(s)Charles I, Duke of Bourbon
Agnes of Burgundy
Assassination of the Bishop of Liège, by Eugène Delacroix

Louis de Bourbon (1438 – 30 August 1482 in Liège) was Prince-Bishop of Liège from 1456 until his death.


He was the son of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, and Agnes of Burgundy.[1] His own sister Isabella was the second wife of Charles the Bold.

He was brought up and educated by his uncle Philip, Duke of Burgundy, who let him study for ten years at the University of Leuven.[2]

It has been said that Louis married, in secret in 1464, Catherine, daughter of Arnold, Duke of Gelderland; these claims date only from the seventeenth century and are now believed to be false.

Louis' three children (all likely to have been born from a mistress) were:

  • Pierre de Bourbon, bâtard de Liège (1464–1529)[3]
  • Louis de Bourbon, bâtard de Liège (1465–1500)
  • Jacques de Bourbon, bâtard de Liège (1466–1537)

Louis' eldest son, Pierre, founded the Bourbon-Busset family.

Conflict over the bishopric

Philip secured for him in 1456 the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, by influencing Pope Callixtus III, and removing the 69-year-old John of Heinsberg.[4] Given the strategic position of Liège almost enclosed by Burgundian possessions, Louis was a poor choice because his behavior quickly led to troubles, permitting French meddling.[a]

The citizens rejected the new bishop and the Burgundian influence, which led to the Liège Wars. Louis was exiled to Maastricht.[6] Marc de Bade was put in place by the Liégeois, who fought under Raes van Heers, restored the bishop, but Liège lost its sovereignty. Another revolt in 1467 was crushed at the Battle of Brustem.

In the summer of 1468, Louis was back in his prince-bishopric, after a papal legate had intervened, but was captured at Tongeren by a raiding party from Liège, at that time again asserting independence of Charles the Bold of Burgundy.[7] An unlikely alliance of Charles with Louis XI, who in 1465 had helped the Liégeois against the bishop, saw Bishop Louis released. Liège was taken,[8] and sacked on 30 October 1468. In gratitude Louis gave Charles the Horn of St Hubert, now in the Wallace Collection[9]

Later life

Louis sold Condé and Leuze to Marie de Montmorency.

In 1477, Charles the Bold was killed, and his daughter and heiress Mary of Burgundy was forced to sign the Peace of Saint-Jacques, consolidating the bishop's position but returning sovereignty to Liège. He was at this time amongst the advisers of Mary who wanted her to marry the future Charles VIII of France, then Dauphin of France.[10]

Louis ruled until 30 August 1482, when he was assassinated by William de la Marck, an adventurer who from 1478 had been operating against the territory from the Castle of Logne.

In literature

The murder of Louis is depicted in the novel Quentin Durward by Sir Walter Scott, but its historical details are far from accurate. Scott's own introduction admits this: "In assigning the present date to the murder of the Bishop of Liege, Louis de Bourbon, history has been violated. It is true that the Bishop was made prisoner by the insurgents of that city. It is also true that the report of the insurrection came to Charles with a rumour that the Bishop was slain, which excited his indignation against Louis, who was then in his power. But these things happened in 1468, and the Bishop's murder did not take place till 1482."[11]


  1. ^ According to Paul Murray Kendall, Louis lacked both religious and administrative talents.[5]


  1. ^ Bauer-Smith 2004, p. 136.
  2. ^ Vaughan 1970, p. 123.
  3. ^ Poitrineau 1973, p. 128.
  4. ^ Vaughan 1970, p. 223.
  5. ^ Kendall 1971, p. 208.
  6. ^ Vaughan 1970, p. 274.
  7. ^ Kendall 1971, p. 214.
  8. ^ Kendall 1971, p. 220-221.
  9. ^ Mann 1950, p. 161.
  10. ^ Kendall 1971, p. 317.
  11. ^ Walter 1902, p. 387. sfn error: no target: CITEREFWalter1902 (help)


  • Bauer-Smith, Charlotte (2004). "Mapping Family Lines: A Late Fifteenth-Century Example of Genealogical Disply". In Biggs, Douglas L.; Michalove, Sharon D.; Reeves, Albert Compton (eds.). Reputation and Representation in Fifteenth Century Europe. Brill.
  • Kendall, Paul Murray (1971). Louis XI, The Universal Spider. W.W. Norton.
  • Mann, James (1950). "The Horn of Saint Hubert". The Burlington Magazine. Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd. 92 (567 (June)).
  • Poitrineau, Abel, ed. (1973). Le mémoire sur l'état de la Généralité de Riom en 1697 dresse pour l'instruction du duc de Bourgogne par l'intendant Lefevre d'Ormesson (in French). Institut D'Etudes du Massif Central.
  • Scott, Walter (1902). Quentin Durward. Vol. II. T. and A. Constable.
  • Vaughan, Richard (1970). Philip the Good. The Boydell Press.

External links

  • Burgundian War on the Princebishopric of Liege, 1465–1468
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Prince-Bishop of Liège
1456 – 1482
Succeeded by
John of Hornes
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