Siege of Neuss 1474-1475
Burgundian attempt to turn the Princebishopric of Cologne into a Satellite State

A.) Prehistory of the War

Neuss, a city located on the left bank of the Rhine, was one of the most important strongholds within the Princebishopric of Cologne (the city of Cologne was an immediate city, thus not part of the Princebishopric; the princebishops resided in Bonn).

B.) The War

Princebishop of Cologne, Ruprecht von der Pfalz, elected in 1473, was at odds with the Cologne Cathedral Chapter and the Estates, and appealed to Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy for his assistance. The Cathedral chapter appointed Hermann von Hessen as their protector.
Between July 1474 and June 1475, the fortified city of Neuss was besieged by Burgundian troops, regarded the most modern and best equipped army of her time.
In 1474, Emperor Friedrich III. declared an Imperial ban against Count Friedrich I. of the Pfalz (Palatinate), brother of Princebishop Ruprecht. The Holy Roman Empire declared war on Burgundy (January 7th 1475) for imposing war upon the Princebishopric of Cologne; an Imperial army was assembled and appeared within the sight of besieged Neuss, without engaging the Burgundians. Negotiations were held between Emperor Friedrich III. and Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy; the latter agreed to terminate the siege and abandon Princebishop Ruprecht's claim on the Princebishopric of Cologne.

C.) The Legacy

During the negotiations between Emperor Friedrich III. and Duke Charles the Bold, the marriage between Maximilian of Habsburg, the Emperor's son and heir, and Mary of Burgundy, Charles' only child and heir, was planned. Their grandson would become Emperor Charles V.
For her valiance during the siege, the burghers of Neuss were rewarded by being granted an Imperial privilege for their city, which included the right to mint coins.
Prince-Archbishop Ruprecht von der Pfalz maintained his title, but lived in exile. He died in 1480; the Cathedral Chapter elected Hermann von Hessen as his successor (1480-1508).

Neuss 2000 Jahre Geschichte, from Neuss Intern, in German
Quirinus - Patron von Neuss, from Quirinus-Gymnasium, in German
Augsburger Aufgebot (Augsburg Troops Contingent for the Imperial War against Burgundy 1475), in German, illustrated
Friedrich I. von der Pfalz, from Genealogie Mittelalter
DOCUMENTS Die Geschichte der Belagerung von Neuss 1474 - 1475 nach dem Bericht des Christian Wierstraet (The Siege of Neuss, as reported by Christian Wierstraet), posted by Herbert Kolb, contemporary chronicle translated into modern German
The War of 1475, from Philippe de Commynes' Memoires, English translation by Michael Jones, posted by Richard III Society; on Neuss only side remarks
Imperial Archbishops, from Regnal Chronologies, scroll down for Cologne

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 22nd 2004, last revised on November 16th 2004

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