During the Hundred Years' War, King Jean II of France gave the duchy to his younger son, rather than leaving it to his successor on the throne. The duchy soon became a major rival to the French throne, because the Dukes of Burgundy succeeded in assembling an empire stretching from Switzerland to the North Sea, mostly by marriage. The Burgundian Empire consisted of a number of fiefdoms on both sides of the (then largely symbolical) border between the French kingdom and the German Empire. Its economic heartland was in the Low Countries, particularly Flanders and Brabant. The court in Dijon outshone the French court by far both economically and culturally.
In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Burgundy provided a power base for the rise of the Habsburgs, after Maximilian of Austria had married into the ducal family. In 1477 the last duke Charles the Bold was killed in battle and Burgundy itself taken back by France. His daughter Mary and her husband Maximillian moved the court to Brussels and ruled the remnants of the empire (the Low Countries and Franche-Comté, then still a German fief) from there.
Burgundy produces famous wines of the same name. Red Burgundy is usually made with Pinot Noir and white Burgundy with Chardonnay. The main wine regions in Burgundy proper (those that are entitled to the AOC Bourgogne designation) are the Côte de Nuits[?], Côte de Beaune[?], and Côte Chalonnaise[?]. Administratively but not viticulturally part of Burgundy are Beaujolais, Chablis[?], and the Mâcon[?].