In this series of posts I want to investigate the claim that the portrait of the Man with the Arrow attributed to Rogier van der Weyden, is not Antoine de Bourgogne but João de Coimbra. As always, the information on this website is under permanent construction. Corrections and additions will be made when necessary.

In this chapter I want to focus a little on Antoine of Burgundy (1420?-1504), also known as the Grand Bâtard or the Big Bastard. He did not receive that name because he was a bully but because he was the official main bastard son of Philip the Good. In my small unimportant opinion his role is direly neglected in history books. This becomes clear when reading the various contemporary chronicles where his name pops up constantly. However, a study of his career would lead us too far here. I do not want to reinvent the wheel so I’ll just borrow the main facts from the internet for a quick summary.

Antoine is the son of Philip the Good (1396-1467), Duke of Burgundy and his mistress Jeanne de Presle.

Portrait of Philip the Good, father of Antoine

The birth date of Antoine is uncertain, probably somewhere around 1420-1421. The original Grand Bâtard was his half-brother Corneille, with Antoine Philip’s most favourite natural sons. Corneille died in 1452 in a battle during the revolt of Ghent, after which Antoine inherited his title of Grand Bâtard. In 1459, he married Marie de la Viesville by whom he had five children.

Antoine was a military man and took part in a number of campaigns of his father. He became a knight of the Golden Fleece in 1456. After the death of Philip in 1467 he fought in the service of his half-brother Charles who was now Duke of Burgundy. He took part in most of his hot-headed brother’s campaigns and saved his life during the battle of Monthléry (and probably a few times more). After the battle of Nancy Antoine was captured and delivered to Louis XI by Rene of Lorraine and came into his service. He played an important role in the arrangement of the marriage of Charles’ daughter Mary and Maximilian..

He was legitimised by Charles the VIII in 1485 or 1486 (I found two dates). [As a side note, this was around the time Jean VI Rolin was legitimised (see earlier posts). I don’t know if the events are connected, but it is worth looking into.]

He was good at archery and a skilled tournament fighter. Unlike Charles, he was a bit of a player, like his father, and had at least two natural children. He was also an avid collector of illuminated manuscripts.

He is supposed to have died at Tournehem, near Calais, in 1504, at the age of about 83/84. He must have led a very fulfilling life.

Some smaller things of interest:

Antoine’s signature (source: Lauer)

His arms painted by Coustin (the bar signifies a bastard):

His motto/blason in Les croniques de Pise:

It is a barbican on fire with the words NUL NE SI FROTE (Nul ne s’y frotte), Nobody rubs on this, which is an odd motto, but it was used by others too.  Wonder if it can be paraphrased as Can’t touch this? There is a proverb saying: “A femme sotte nul ne s’y frotte”. If someone better at French than me, please correct this if I’m totally wrong.

Medal with the image of Antoine by Candida Giovanni, 1475:

Main sources of the documentation:

  • Déchiffrement de l’ex-libris du Grand Bâtard de Bourgogne. Philippe Lauer, 1923.
  • Wikipedia, for the info and some images
  • The contemporary chroniclers
  • Les croniques de Pise (Bibliotheque Nationale de France)

The next post will probably be a small piece about the Vincent panels.