The Burgundians

A Vanished Empire. A History of 1111 years and one day

A publishing phenomenon in Europe, where it has sold almost 300,000 copies, Bart Van Loo’s epic history of the dukedom of Burgundy has the grip of a great historical novel and the fascination of a wonderful factual narrative. – Translated by Nancy Forest-Flier, published by Head of Zeus.

  • ‘’Told with bounce, sprinkling his narrative with many entertaining asides. It’s never less than fascinating.” – The Times, Best Books of 2021
  • ‘A superb look at a long-gone empire and the mad dukes who ruled it (…) thrillingly colourful and entertaining  (…) A sumptuous feast of a book (…) If there’s any justice, a blockbuster TV series awaits.’ – The Sunday Times, Best History Books of 2021
  • ‘Bart Van Loo is in top form. The Burgundians reads like a train and hits you like a sledgehammer. A masterpiece.’’ – De Morgen
  • ‘A history book that reads like a thriller’ – Le Soir
  • ‘A rollicking popular history that is not at all naive. Van Loo has an almost theatrical way of compelling attention to the complicated past: he knows when to spotlight, when to have the orchestra play, when to give the audience a break from events and how to keep moving things. (…) He does something truly difficult: he brings to life an illusion of a state in an unfamiliar world. And he does so with such verve and energy that you very nearly believe in it.“ – Michael Pye, The Literary Review
  • ‘A thrilling narrative of  the brutal dazzlingly rich wildly ambitious duchy that was the most advanced and sophisticated economy and the  most extravagant flashy court of its time. Filled with flamboyant murderous and debauched dukes, courtesans, courtiers and maniacs, it is a total pleasure to read.’ (Simon Sebag Montefiore)
  • ‘To narrate the legendary story of the dukes of Burgundy, you need a learned and visionary guide like Bart Van Loo. A masterful work’ – Le Figaro
  • ‘A pleasure to read from start to finish. How fortunate that Van Loo is not just a historian but also a writer. Truly spectacular!’ – Neue Züricher Zeitung
  • ‘Van Loo is the perfect guide through the past. It is as if we are there’ De Standaard
  • ‘You might suspect that the Burgundians might have appreciated the storyteller they have found in Bart Van Loo (…) history told with enjoyable narrative flair (…) It is, in academic terms at least, unconventional, but it works, and shines a very welcome spotlight on a dynasty that, in Britain at least, is sadly neglected outside of specialist circles.” – The Daily Telegraph
  • A Belgian writer and performer with a huge following around Europe, Bart Van Loo brings an energy and pace to a rollicking history of the state of Burgundy which incorporates an unforgettable cast of vibrant, eccentric and Machiavellian figures in a riveting dance for power and influence.’ (Waterstones, London)

At the end of the fifteenth century, Burgundy was extinguished as an independent state. It had been a fabulously wealthy, turbulent region situated between France and Germany, with close links to the English kingdom. Torn apart by the dynastic struggles of early modern Europe, this extraordinary realm vanished from the map. But it became the cradle of what we now know as the Low Countries, modern Belgium and the Netherlands.

This is the story of a thousand years, a compulsively readable narrative history of ambitious aristocrats, family dysfunction, treachery, savage battles, luxury and madness. It is about the decline of knightly ideals and the awakening of individualism and of cities, the struggle for dominance in the heart of northern Europe, bloody military campaigns and fatally bad marriages. It is also a remarkable cultural history, of great art and architecture and music emerging despite the violence and the chaos of the tension between rival dynasties.