4. Phillip the Good dressed so well that Europe’s elites almost bankrupt themselves trying to look like him
Phillip the Good, who ruled as the Duke of Burgundy from 1419 until s death in 1467, was one of the most powerful men in all of Europe. He ruled over much of modern-day France, as well as large parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. He played England and France off against each other, and he even captured Joan of Arc. At the time, however, many of his fellow elite also knew him as a fine-living dandy, a man with exquisite taste in arts and fashion. Indeed, in this respect Phillip the Good was arguably the preeminent âinfluencer’ of his day.
Phillip disliked making a base in one place for too long. So, he would move his court from city to city, though he particularly liked spending time in Brussels, Bruges and Lille. The court was a lavish one to say the least, and the tailors of whichever city he arrived in would have been worked flat-out. Phillip often dressed in fine Italian silks and cloth of gold – in fact, one legend has it that he spent 2% of his estate’s income tax on such fine materials. He had several portraits made of him, and these helped showcase his fine sense of style across Europe. His fellow leaders spent vast sums of money trying to emulate Phillip’s taste in fashion, though few ever succeeded in looking even half as good.
Notably, though he loved fine materials, Phillip often dressed relatively plainly. However, his notable height, his lean, muscular physique and his handsome face made him stand out. Certainly, he was a huge hit with the ladies. Nobody knows for sure just how many children he fathered. Famously, however, the Bishop of Tournai once rebuked him for so regularly succumbing to the “weakness of the flesh”, though he largely ignored the warnings of the church and carried on enjoying the good life right up until his death.