Author Topic: The Ill-made Knight  (Read 1819 times)

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
The Ill-made Knight
« Topic Start: June 26, 2013, 09:42:33 PM »
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Shizzle

  • Mighty Duke
  • ****
  • Posts: 1537
  • Skyndarbau, Yusklin, Yarvik, Werend and Kayne
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #1: June 27, 2013, 12:16:05 AM »
Wow, that name. I'm positive to have read a work of fiction about the man. Crazy, I just got slingshot a decade into the past :P

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #2: June 27, 2013, 06:54:14 PM »
pt 2

DU GUESCLJN GOES TO WAR

Little is known of du Guesclin's movements during the first years of the Breton civil war, except that he is mentioned as a man-at-arms in the Blois forces, and may have been present at the brief siege of Rennes by the Earl of Northampton in 1342. Such activities were the exception, because while English armies came and went du Guesclin began the form of warfare at which he was to make his name. For fifteen years he led a vigorous guerrilla campaign from the safety of the great, and to the Breton mind enchanted, forest of Paimpont, pouncing on isolated columns of English or de Montfort troops. He raided their castles and towns and harassed their communications.

One of the earliest recorded exploits of du Guesclin, and one of the most dramatic, was the taking of the castle of Grand Fougeray. This incident probably happened late in 1350, if his nineteenth- century biographer, Luce, is to be believed in his statement that the Captain of Grand Fougeray was Robert Bembro, who was to meet his death at the Battle of the Thirty in May 1351.

Whoever the commander was, he was absent from the fortress when a band of woodcutters arrived at the gate bearing firewood. We may presume that du Guesclin's guerrilla operations had made the neighbouring forests hazardous for the English garrison, so the woodcutters and their faggots were welcomed into the castle. When the gate was opened the woodcutters revealed their true colours, flinging down the bundles of wood to prevent the gate from. being closed, whereupon their companions joined them in the courtyard and attacked the garrison.

Glorious though such exploits were, du Guesclin was still little more than a self-employed brigand of lowly birth. His unconventional ways of fighting may have earned him the praise of the more far-sighted of his contemporaries, but guerrilla fighting was unglamorous work that found a place only in the practice of war and not in its code of conduct. Like chevauchees, partisan raiding was not a chivalric exercise. As a result du Guesclin did not receive the recognition he deserved, nor was he admitted to the honours of knighthood.

All this was to change within a few years by a simple but brilliant feat of arms rendered in person to a very senior French knight, the Marshal d'Audrehem. In March 1345 d'Audrehem had taken the castle of Landal in north-east Brittany, a useful strategic move as Landal was close to the major French coastal base of Pontorson. Encouraged by his success, d'Audrehem turned his attention towards one of the major English possessions in Brittany: the fortress of Becherel, which lay midway between Rennes and Dinan. Scarcely 6 miles from Becherel was Montmuran, a strong French-held castle, where lived the widow of Jean de Tinteniac, who had fallen at the Battle of Mauron. It being Holy Week she invited the Marshal and his reconnaissance party, which included du Guesclin, to join her in Montmuran on Maundy Thursday, 10 April 1354.

It is difficult to guess the social stance adopted by the guerrilla on this occasion, but his military mind was as active as usual, and whatever part he took in the festivities must have been a very brief one. The commander of Becherel was Sir Hugh Calveley, a Cheshire knight of renown, whose reputation for surprise and ambuscade must have been near to that of du Guesclin's, for the latter warned d'Audrehem that it would be perfectly within the pattern of Calveley's operations for him to try a raid on Montmuran to seize the Marshal. (The humble du Guesclin would probably not have commanded a price.) To guard against a surprise attack du Guesclin concealed thirty archers along the road from Becherel with orders to prevent any approach by Calveley and to warn the garrison of Montmuran.

His assumption proved correct, and on hearing the archers engaging with Calveley's troops both du Guesclin and d'Audrehem hurried to the scene of action and a fierce skirmish ensued. Sir Hugh Calveley, flung to the ground from his horse by a violent charge from a certain Enguerrand d'Hesdin, was captured as a prize. It was at this point, having fought fiercely and well, leaving few fugitive English to regain Becherel and tell the tale, that du Guesclin was taken to one side by a knight of Caux called Eslatre des Mares, the Captain of the castle of Caen, and knighted on the field of battle, des Mares girding him with his own sword. According to a strong local tradition, the ceremony of knighthood was completed in the small chapel of Montmuran. Here du Gueschn received the white robe of knighthood, and from this time adopted his famous war cry 'Notre-Dame Gueschn!' which was soon to be heard on a wider stage.

Du Guesclin's achievement of knighthood was a major turning point in his life. Handicapped by his origins, and his very uncharacteristic willingness to lead a band of simple peasants in war, a prejudice had built up against him that only the good sense of someone like d'Audrehem could overcome. How unfortunate for France that the impetus given by his elevation could not have been properly exploited, that his ideas and style of warfare, so suited to the circumstances of the day, could not have been immediately adopted to counter the dreaded chevauchee. Instead, within two years France was to suffer the disaster of Poitiers, and from 1356 onwards the country was to reel like a ship without a helmsman under the pressure of English attacks.

While negotiations for King John's ransom continued, the Breton civil war came more into prominence. One month after Poitiers England's other notable prisoner was released. Upon payment of the bulk of his ransom, and following entreaties by Pope Innocent VI, Charles de Blois was given his liberty after nine long years. With what cynicism, one wonders, did Edward III agree to the deal?

France lay prostrate at his feet, with only one outstanding matter to be settled- the question of Brittany. What better than to send back the cause of the trouble, who would inevitably cause more disasters for France? Charles de Blois agreed to undertake no military action until the balance of his ransom was paid, and as a further precaution Edward also sent to France Charles's rival, John de Montfort. He, incidentally, was the son of the former John de Montfort, who had escaped from French custody in 1345 and died shortly afterwards. The young John was brought up in England. His valiant and strong-minded mother, Joan, Countess of Flanders, whose exploits fill so many pages of the beginning of the war, was now a virtual prisoner in Tickhill Castle, a royal fortress near Doncaster, where she had been confined on the grounds of suspected madness since coming to England.


Coming next in pt3 "The SIEGE OF RENNES"
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #3: June 30, 2013, 02:23:31 PM »

THE SIEGE OF RENNES

In charge of the young de Montfort was Edward's trusted lieutenant, Henry of Lancaster, who was now given an official commission as Lieutenant of Brittany. Lancaster arrived in Brittany in August 1356, almost at the same time as Charles de Blois. He quickly assessed the military situation, and on 2 October began a siege of Rennes, which had remained stubbornly pro-Blois, in the name of John de Montfort, Duke of Brittany. It was likely to prove a difficult task for the small Anglo-Breton army. The line of the walls was long, and Lancaster had very little in the way of siege engines. On the other  hand, the layout of the city was familiar from the brief attempt at siege in 1342, and the success at Calais had shown that almost anything was possible given time.

The French attempts to assemble a relieving force from among the post-Poitiers debris of their army were sincere, but limited in scope. The lord of Rochefort was appointed Captain, and established his headquarters at Vitre, nearly 20 miles due east, with 1,000 men-at-arms and 500 archers. It looked like being a time-consuming but ultimately successful operation for Lancaster - until Bertrand du Guesclin came on the scene and transformed a routine operation into a romantic drama.

Du Guesclin was not within Rennes when the siege began. He was born locally, and utterly familiar with the countryside, so Lancaster's patient blockade was the perfect target for his guerrilla operations. Avoiding pitched battle at all costs, du Guesclin led the French troops in raids on Lancaster's supply columns. These continued into the depths of winter, which was a particularly harsh one, suffered all the more uncomfortably by Lancaster's troops who were out in the open. As the winter progressed du Guesclin's attacks became fiercer, and after each sortie he would retire to the comfort of Dinan, Fougeres or Pontorson, living the life of a knight and fighting like a bandit. Never had the combination been so happily realized. So firm was his grip on the English troops that in January 1357 the dauphin Charles, who reigned as Regent of France during his father's captivity, was able to bring a relieving army as close as Dinan, where he established his headquarters.

The presence of this more conventional army forced Lancaster to take upon himself the additional task of besieging Dinan, which would be difficult to accomplish if he were not to loosen his grip upon Rennes. Although it is du Guesclin's name that has passed most prominently into history concerning the defence of Rennes, we must record the ingenuity of his companions within the city, which was under the command of Bertrand de Saint-Pern, captain of the city, and the Lord of Penhoet, keeper of the castle.

Lancaster attempted to mine the walls, but by excellent organization of the populace, who were set to watch and listen for any signs of underground disturbance, the mine was discovered and skilfully countermined. Lancaster thereupon tried a little psychological warfare. Knowing that the inhabitants were running short of food, and perhaps hoping to demonstrate that du Guesclin's raids were not a total success, the English drove a herd of 4,000 pigs before the walls of hungry Rennes. Naturally enough there was considerable pressure on Penhoet to make a sally and capture the pigs, but he was too astute to fall for such a trick. Instead, he ordered that the gate nearest the herd be opened, and suspended a piglet by its hind legs above the drawbridge. Its squeals soon drew  the attention of the herd, which rapidly headed for the gate. The drawbridge was lowered, the piglet was released and as it scuttled back in, still squealing loudly, the herd obligingly followed, pursued by the angry English.

Despite the hardships suffered by both sides, time seems to have been found for the chivalric niceties of war. Lancaster's operations against Dinan appear to have been quite successful, for a forty-day truce was negotiated, the garrison promising to surrender if they had not been relieved at the end of that period. As one of the supposedly relieving armies was presently shut up in Rennes, Lancaster must have thought the risk to be a reasonable one.

Among the garrison in Dinan was one of du Guesclin's younger brothers. One morning the young man took it into his head to go riding outside the walls. Even this was a violation of the truce conditions, and it was with great embarrassment that Bertrand du Guesclin heard that his brother had been captured, and was being held by an English knight with an eye to business. Ransom was always worth a try, and it must have been with some glee that the Englishman discovered that his prisoner was the brother of one of the leading French commanders, which probably accounted for the price of 1,000 florins that he demanded. Du Guesclin, according to Cuvelier, turned red with rage and challenged the knight to single combat. The challenge was accepted, and the  resulting duel took place In the centre of Dinan.

The Englishman's name is something of a mystery. He is referred to as Thomas of Canterbury, and du Guesclin's biographer adds the tantalizing information that he was the brother of the then Archbishop of Canterbury. However, having briefly entered history this Thomas was soon abruptly to leave it. In the presence of the Duke of Lancaster, who had been permitted to enter the city as witness with twenty knights as escort, the two adversaries charged at each other with such force that both lances shattered on the other's shield. After a long spell of fighting with swords, Thomas struck downwards at du Guesclin's head. He missed and his sword skidded out of his hand. Du Guesclin got down from his horse, retrieved the sword and flung it across the square. Armed only with his dagger, the Englishman refused to continue on foot as du Guesclin invited him repeatedly to do. Instead he reared his horse at his dismounted rival, trying to trample du Guesclin beneath its feet. But du Guesclin had swiftly removed his leg armour and was able to dodge to one side. Forcing his sword upwards he struck deeply into the flanks of the horse. The animal reared out of control, depositing Thomas of Canterbury on the ground. Du Guesclin flung himself on his adversary, dragged off his helmet and punched him in the face. Blinded by his own blood, Thomas surrendered. The ransom was liquidated with no charge, the brother was set free, and the impetuous Thomas of Canterbury was dismissed from the English army.

Incidents such as this did far more than relieve the boredom of a siege operation. They provided the opportunity for 'sample warfare' to be carried out under carefully controlled conditions of truce and safe conduct, which were universally respected. To a successful side it meant an increase in morale with the death or disgrace of a vital member of the opposing side. To the loser it meant a loss in confidence without the total catastrophe of a failed assault.

Rennes was shortly to receive a further fillip to its morale. Tiring of his hit and run raids, du Guesclin was chafing to take a more active part in the defence of the city. His chance came when Penhoet decided to get a message out to Charles de Blois. One of the garrison passed through the lines and gave himself up as a deserter. On being admitted into Lancaster's presence, he stated that a relieving army was expected to arrive from the east the following night. His story was believed, and with the man acting as a guide a large detachment of English set out to intercept it. In the darkness the deserter slipped away to join du Guesclin for an ambush. The French immediately launched a raid on the lightly defended English camp, setting fire to the tents and looting their provisions. Laden with useful spoil, du Guesclin led a triumphant entry into the city.

The siege then continued lethargically, but on 23 March 1357 a treaty was signed at Bordeaux between England and France, and one of its clauses called for the immediate raising of the siege of Rennes. Despite orders from Edward III, Lancaster refused to comply until early July. His honour was at stake. He had with him in camp the young de Montfort, Duke of Brittany, in whose name the business had dragged on for nine long months, and Lancaster had sworn at the outset not to leave Rennes before he had placed his flag on the battlements. By late spring 1357 the city was suffering greatly from hunger, which not even the indomitable spirit of du Guesclin could do much about, and the garrison consented to surrender on payment of 100,000 crowns. At last Lancaster was satisfied. He entered Rennes ceremoniously and with much ostentation placed his banner on the wall. Du Guesclin came forward and offered him wine. The duke drank it and left the town. As soon as he had gone the banner was torn down and flung into the ditch.

Naturally enough, both sides claimed the siege of Rennes as a victory. To the French it was to become much more. As Orleans was to be fifty years later, the raising of the siege of Rennes, and its association with a charismatic hero figure, became a symbol of hope for France. Within a year of the shame of Poitiers, Rennes had provided an example of what could be achieved.

In part 4, "The Absence of Peace"
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Lanyon

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #4: July 01, 2013, 12:14:29 AM »
what does the term chevauchee mean?

Vita

  • Administrator
  • Mighty Duke
  • *
  • Posts: 1838
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #5: July 01, 2013, 07:57:21 AM »
The systemic looting that was inflicted by the english upon the french during the hundred years' war. Also, many mercenary bands that originated in the war.

Wolfang

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 269
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #6: July 01, 2013, 11:42:29 AM »
Chevauchee is what the Normans did to England when they conquered it. A troupe of guys on horses (chevaux) trampling around and doing bad stuff.

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #7: July 02, 2013, 08:00:26 PM »
THE ABSENCE OF PEACE

Du Guesclin's tactics had been shown to be effective in French eyes, and there may be some echo of this in the subsequent request by the Duke of Lancaster to be allowed to return to England. To this the king consented, but only after the duke had carried out a thorough review of the financial and administrative arrangements of the duchy of Brittany. Finance presented the greatest problem.

It was comparatively simple to raise money for short-term expeditionary forces and chevauchees, and once the troops had returned home victorious and laden with booty they were taken off the pay-roll. But garrison life was different. Local taxes were difficult to gather, and had the added disadvantage of alienating pro-de Montfort Bretons, many of whom changed sides during the 1350s. Large garrisons with time on their hands and suffering irregular payment of wages made matters much worse by what is politely known as 'irregular foraging', the situation that had led to the Battle of the Thirty.

Such points were recorded in a memorandum by Sir William Bentley, who served as Lieutenant of Brittany in 1350-53 and was given extensive powers of inspection and supervision. Discipline within the Anglo-Breton army was to be tightened. Wages were to be paid according to orders. Soldiers were to be ready for action when required, and would not be allowed to leave Brittany without Sir William Bentley's permission.

Against this background of rebellious subjects, weak loyalties towards the English nominee, and the presence of large numbers of under-employed English soldiers irregularly paid, du Guesclin continued his tireless work of wearing down English resistance. Between the years 1358 and 1363 he was twice captured and subsequently ransomed. Officially, of course, the country was at peace. The Truce of Bordeaux lasted for two years, and was then extended in the confusion of negotiation over the payment of the French king's ransom. But somehow the talks never reached a satisfactory conclusion, and the English demands continued to rise. Their garrisons were now well established in Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Burgundy. Foreign armies crossed France with impunity, and lawless bands of unemployed, former mercenaries carried out their own private raids and feuds.

On the grand scale of things, Edward III was preparing the coup de grace of a triumphal march across France with a huge army, the culmination being a coronation ceremony for himself at Reims. The result was not quite so spectacular, but ended in the Treaty of B'retigny, sealed by both monarchs in 1360, which guaranteed the English possession of Gascony. It also bought France a breathing space, although King John had not long to live. He died on 8 April 1364, and his body was conveyed from its exile in England with great pomp and solemnity, to be received with sadness by the new monarch, Charles V

So far as the reconstruction of France's military power was concerned, the truce was real enough, and in three particular instances the new king, and his trusted champion, Bertrand du Guesclin, began to rebuild a force and a reputation. The first challenge concerned the inheritance of Charles V's younger brother, Philip.

The dukedom of Burgundy became vacant in 1361, and the late king had promised it to his young son, who, at the age of fourteen, had fought valiantly beside his father at Poitiers. But there was one other claimant, by an argument every bit as complicated as the Breton succession, on behalf of Charles the Bad, King of Navarre. The military threat from Charles the Bad was a very real one, because such was the state of France that a few determined mercenaries could easily besiege Paris. Furthermore, Charles the Bad had extensive possessions in Normandy, including the castles of Meulan and Mantes. The new king, whose coronation had not yet taken place, entrusted the handling of events to du Guesclin, who took the role of regular soldier to present the king, by way of a gift on his accession, with a brilliant victory in the pitched battle of Cocherel, on 16 May 1364.

At Cocherel, which is in Normandy, the forces of the King of Navarre were augmented by a large Anglo-Gascon contingent, the whole being under the command of Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch, the same renowned Knight of the Garter who had fought at Poitiers. His army took up a defensive position on the small hill of Cocherel, planting their banner in the centre as a rallying-point. The Captal, in the English tradition, gave orders that the army was to maintain height and let the French come to them. At the request of the Count of Auxerre, the senior French knight present, du Guesclin took command of the French forces and detached thirty brave knights for an assault on the Captal's command post.

This provoked little response so, holding most of his troops in reserve, du Guesclin launched a larger frontal attack followed by a feigned retreat. Such manoeuvres are always difficult to execute effectively, but du Guesclin seems to have got it right, and some at least of the Captal's army followed in pursuit. The Captal had little alternative but to follow, at which point du Guesclin delivered a flank attack from his reserves which assured a French victory. Cocherel brought du Guesclin great renown. He had shown his new monarch that he was able to win conventional battles as well as raids and skirmishes. Admittedly Cocherel was not fought against a full English army, but it augured well for the new partnership that was being formed between the king and his lieutenant.

Coming in part 5, "THE BATTLE OF AURAY"
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #8: July 05, 2013, 04:58:55 PM »
pt 5


THE BATTLE OF AURAY

The second great problem of Charles V's reign was also solved with the assistance of du Guesclin, but with less happy results. In 1362 Edward III had again played the Breton card, once more returning John de Montfort, now grown to manhood, to his troubled duchy. For the English garrisons in Brittany the proposed renewal of the conflict was welcome relief from the boredom of occupation, and the French resources to oppose them were stretched to the limit. Bertrand du Guesclin could not be in two places at once, and the campaign against Charles the Bad kept him from taking a full part in Brittany until 1363, when he conducted a siege against the English hornet's nest of Becherel. The castle held out (it was to provide a challenge for many years to come), so du Guesclin rejoined the army of Charles de Blois for a march to relieve the castle of Auray.

Auray is a picturesque town situated on the southern coast of Brittany, some 10 miles from Vannes. It is built on the bank of the River Loch, crossed at the town by a beautifully preserved medieval bridge. In 1364 its castle, of which nothing now remains, was under siege from the de Montfort party and their English allies. The defenders of Auray had made an agreement with the besiegers that they would surrender if they were not relieved by a certain day.

By the evening of the day before the expiry date, a relieving army was encamped across the river, waiting the chance to settle the issue. John de Montfort wished to attack the French, but was dissuaded by two of his captains, Sir Robert Knowles and Olivier de Clisson, du Guesclin's great Breton rival, who pointed out that the river was deep and the ground marshy, as it is to this day, and that the French camp was well defended by a palisade. An attempt at settlement was summarily rejected by Charles de Blois, so John de Montfort passed the complete control of his army into the capable hands of Sir John Chandos, who posted scouts along the river to watch for French movement, and forbade any nocturnal raiding.

On St Michael's Day, 29 September 1364, the Franco-Breton army, led by du Guesclin, began to cross the River Loch to line up north of the Anglo-Breton positions. Today there is a small bridge where the river narrows at the north of the Kerzo marsh, which may well mark the actual crossing point. The movement went without incident, for an afternoon's truce had been arranged by Jean de Beaumanoir on the Blois side. It seems incredible that such gentlemanly negotiations could take place and allow the French to form order of battle unmolested, but from Chandos's point of view it was a sensible decision.

It fulfilled the requirements of the deal made about the siege. It drew the French out of their fortified camp and the protection of the marsh, and above all it made a decisive battle that much more likely. The Breton civil war had ~ragged on for twenty-five years, and now the two claimants were present with every hope of a conclusive result. Let them cross in peace, reasoned Chandos, and settle the matter by battle. Chilling confirmation of this is indicated by the similar orders from the commanders of both sides before the battle began: no ransom for either de Montfort or de Blois. Auray was to be to the death.

The Franco-Breton army crossed the river in the four 'battles' it would deploy for the ensuing struggle. The first, under du Guesclin, consisted of knights and squires of Brittany. The Earl of Auxerre, who had fought beside him at Cocherel, took the second, which was composed mainly of French troops, while Charles de Blois had personal command of the third. The rearguard was under various French knights, including de Raix, de Rieux and du Pont. Each division consisted of about 1,000 men.

The Anglo-Breton army opposed them with a similar disposition. Olivier de Clisson and his pro-de Montfort Bretons faced the Count of Auxerre. Sir Robert Knowles, Sir Walter Huet and Sir Richard Burley opposed du Guesclin's division, while John de Montfort faced his rival Charles de Blois. Sir Hugh Calveley, after some protest, took charge of the rearguard. In Froissart's picturesque description of the scene 'the troops of the Lord Charles were in their best and most handsomest order, and drawn up in the most brilliant manner ... they marched in such close order that one could not throw a tennis ball among them' .

The battle began with skirmishing between the forward spearmen and an exchange of archery fire, which did little harm because both sides were dismounted. As the archers shouldered their bows and fought hand to hand, Charles de Blois launched a vigorous charge against de Montfort which entered deep into his ranks, forcing Sir Hugh Calveley to bring up the rearguard in support. Sir John Chandos fought a commander's battle, moving from one part of the field to another advising and calling up fresh troops. Olivier de Clisson wielded his battleaxe to great effect against Auxerre, until a French battleaxe struck off the visor from his helmet and the point destroyed his eye. The Count of Auxerre was captured, and, seizing the advantage, Chandos launched a major advance supported by Calveley, and headed straight for du Guesclin's division.

Some of the French had already begun to retreat. Du Guesclin fought like a desperate man. Having broken all his weapons he was striking out with his iron gauntlets when Chandos pushed through the melee and persuaded him to surrender. The words the chronicler puts into Chandos's mouth are so natural they must be near the actual words spoken: 'The day is not yours, Messire Bertrand: you will be luckier another time.' He was luckier indeed than Charles de Blois.

There are two versions of Charles de Blois's death: the inevitable propaganda one of later times, that he was captured and then foully murdered, and the more likely version that he died in the thick of the battle, fighting bravely. Elsewhere in the field another debt of vengeance was paid. Olivier de Clisson had been only a boy in 1343 when his father, suspected of treason, had been executed by order of the King of France. No prisoners were taken by his division, leading to the nickname of 'the Butcher', which he was to bear for the rest of his life.

The most reliable figures indicate that French casualties at Auray numbered about 1,000 dead and 1,500 prisoners. Charles de Blois was dead, so John de Montfort became indisputably Duke John IV of Brittany. The strange sequel to the story is that for some reason best known to himself he then paid homage to the French king! As du Guesclin was speedily ransomed the Battle of Auray began to look like a French victory.

In part 6, "THE BATTLE OF NAJERA"
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #9: July 08, 2013, 03:40:06 PM »
Pt 6

THE BATTLE OF NAJERA

The next we hear of du Guesclin is of him fighting in Spain as a mercenary against Pedro the Cruel, King of Aragon. Among his motley band were Sir Hugh Calveley and Matthew Gournay. Calveley's presence is particularly ironic. He and du Guesclin had fought each other for the past twelve years since the affair at Montmuran, and in that time each had separately captured the other and held him to ransom! But the whole situation was bizarre. The presence of the mercenary companies disguised the fact that it was an official French campaign, and anyone who asked awkward questions was told they were going on a crusade against the Moors of Granada.

The initial campaign proved an easy one. Pedro the Cruel fled and Henry of Trastamare was crowned King of Castile in Burgos Cathedral, but when Pedro returned to the fray he was accompanied not only by mercenaries, but by the mighty Black Prince. Approximately half his expeditionary force were English troops and soldiers from the Gascony garrisons. The rest were made up from English 'Free Companies' (the mercenaries who are described in detail in Chapter 6), Pedro the Cruel's own soldiers, and an international band recruited by Sir Robert Knowles. In all, the force totalled about 10,000 men.

They began to cross the Pyrenees in mid-February 1367, ascending the Pass of Roncesvalles through deep snow. The Marshal d'Audrehem supported du Guesclin's suggestion that their best tactics would be to avoid a pitched battle at all costs and bottle up the English in the northern mountains, but Henry ofTrastamare wanted to fight for his throne. When the Black Prince eventually came down from the mountains to the easier terrain, Henry followed a parallel course, and established himself between the Black Prince and Burgos at a little hamlet called Najera, the River Najarilla separating him from the prince's force.

On Friday, 2 April 1367, the English scouts reported to the Black Prince the astonishing news that Henry had abandoned his position behind the Najarilla and had advanced down the road towards them. His former position would have caused delay to the English advance but, as subsequent events were to show, time was no friend of Henry's either. Morale among his troops was low, and defections had already occurred. In spite of the warnings of du Guesclin and d'Audrehem, he had made a fighting decision.

The English army was largely as it had been since leaving Gascony. Sir John Chandos and John of Gaunt led the reconstituted vanguard, with the main body under the command of the Black Prince. The right wing was largely Gascon, the left a mixture of other Gascons and Free Companies, under the Captal de Buch. The vanguard of the opposing army was largely composed of French troops under du Guesclin and d'Audrehem, and elite Castilian knights. They were supported by archers, and some of the dart-throwers, slingers and lancers who made up the Castilian levies. Mindful of the terrible lesson of Crecy and Poitiers, du Guesclin had insisted that the armour worn by the light jinetes be augmented. The proud Spanish knights of the elite companies, however, would not hear of dismounting from their splendid chargers. Chivalry demanded a mounted presence.

Henry's army had taken up position behind a small river called the Yalde, now swollen by the spring rains and capable of providing as effective a barrier as the Najarilla to their rear. To the north of their position was a high flat ridge. Abandoning the main road, the prince led his army over this ridge in the dark to appear due north of the enemy on their left flank. Du Guesclin calmly redressed his troops to meet the unexpected strategy from a direction where the River Yalde was less of a defence. Unfortunately, many of his companions did not share his calm manner. A detachment of jinetes deserted immediately, to be followed by some of the Castilian levies.

Needing a swift move, du Guesclin led the van in a charge against their English counterparts. The jinetes were moved up in support from the left, but the English arrows bit deeply and they fell back in confusion. Within a short while du Guesclin's men-at-arms were surrounded. Henry of Trastamare tried several times to get his main body up in support, but the withering fire of the archers kept him back. With the rout of du Guesclin's division almost complete, the English army turned its attention to the now unsupported main body of Castilian knights. The chroniclers of Najera are unanimous on two points - its utter confusion, and the totality of the Black Prince's third spectacular victory.

Du Guesclin, captured for the fourth time in his career, was finally ransomed the following January. He is said to have taunted the Black Prince that he would never dare set him free, and fixed his own price for ransom so as to increase his own importance. In shameless good humour he added that every peasant woman in France would contribute towards the sum. The King of France paid the price. Du Guesclin was literally worth a fortune.

In part 7, "THE REVIVAL OF FRANCE"
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #10: July 11, 2013, 10:31:44 PM »
Pt 7

THE REVIVAL OF FRANCE  (pt 1)

Najera had been a Spanish disaster, not a French one, and with du Guesclin safely home Charles V had the opportunity to take the offensive against England for the first time since Poitiers. Everything was pointing in the right direction. The English knights had always seen their king as a military leader, and throughout his long and brilliant career Edward III had exploited this feeling. But the king was now a sick man, more inclined to take pleasure in his mistress than to lead an army to battle, or even grapple with the minutiae of preparation. His noble heir, who had served him so well, never quite recovered from a severe bout of dysentery contracted in Spain, and languished in Bordeaux.

By contrast Charles V was the epitome of energy. In 1367 he ordered an enquiry into the number of archers that every town could provide. Regular training was ordered, and in 1368 public sports were forbidden so as to encourage the artisans to practice archery. For France it was a revolution in military thinking. The previous depredations of the Companies also made him look at the state of the nation's castles. Financial help was made available to provide them with troops and artillery, and undertake repairs.

His first moves were political, with a little dabbling in the affairs of the duchy of Aquitaine, which was in complete contravention of the Treaty of Bretigny. When the English response came it served only to demonstrate what Charles had suspected and hoped for - that the ailing Edward III was no longer capable of original military thought. Once again it was the same pattern of chevauchee raiding. In 1368 John of Gaunt marched from Calais to Harfleur and back without achieving anything. The following year Sir Robert Knowles landed at Calais and marched straight on the lIe de France, burning the Parisian countryside and defying the king in his own capital. It was a daring raid, made more remarkable in that it was led by a knight who was a mere commoner instead of a noble, an almost unique event.

The French king's riposte to a commoner's incursion was to set his own great commoner against him, and du Guesclin was raised to the highest military office that France could bestow - that of Constable, giving him full command of the entire French military effort. It was the summit of du Guesclin's achievements. Perhaps moved by the promotion of his fellow Breton, Olivier de Clisson, who had fought du Guesclin at Auray and Najera, and then sworn loyalty to the French king, joined du Guesclin in a military alliance of tremendous potential.

Charles V knew what his father and grandfather had suffered at the hands of the English chevauchees, but he also knew how du Guesclin had countered them. Twenty years of experience were now brought to bear against the latest chevauchee and the English garrisons. To complement these operations Charles V entrusted the more aristocratic and conventional Duke of Anjou with the task of taking the war to the English in Gascony, which he proceeded to do with a subtle combination of siege-work and political persuasion.

Meanwhile du Guesclin and de Clisson harried Knowles's columns remorselessly, picking off stragglers, launching night attacks, and reducing the hard commander to a state of indecision. Knowles began to retreat towards Brittany, where he hoped to find some refuge among the remaining garrisons with local, pro-English, support. But 'the Butcher' had sealed his fate. On 4 December 1370, de Clisson and du Guesclin fell upon Knowles's rearguard at Pontvallain, near Le Mans, and annihilated it.

The victory, the nearest thing to a pitched battle the French had dared attempt, became the first French success against an entirely English army since Poitiers. Knowles's remnant struggled home to tell the tale. That is what comes, said his aristocratic superiors, of entrusting the command of an English expeditionary force to a mere commoner. But their criticism was misdirected. Knowles's failure came about because of lack of discipline in an army accustomed to brave adventuring. Frustrated by delay and French attack, his army had fragmented, the rearguard choosing to go its own way, and paying the price. Nonetheless, Knowles had to suffer considerable mortification before he was readmitted to the king's pleasure.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"

Longmane

  • Noble Lord
  • ***
  • Posts: 237
  • Longmane Family.
    • View Profile
Re: The Ill-made Knight
« Reply #11: July 13, 2013, 07:32:04 PM »
Pt 8 (The last part)

THE REVIVAL OF FRANCE (pt 2)

One by one the great English knights were coming to the end of their careers. Late in 1368 Sir John Chandos, gallantly defending Aquitaine, attempted an ambush of a party of French soldiers. The morning was cold, and the ground was frozen solid. Since losing an eye in a hunting accident five years previously Chandos had never worn a visor. Descending from his horse to assist a fallen esquire who was being attacked by a group of Frenchmen, his foot caught in the long white armour robe that he was wearing against the cold. When he slipped on the icy ground he was recognized and swiftly seized. The point of a spear was thrust into the open helmet, ending the life of the architect of Poitiers and Auray.

The Prince of Wales, whose life was also rapidly slipping to an end, completed a ruthless career by an act of strange brutality. In Gascony defections were occurring right, left and centre, but when the supposedly loyal Limoges rebelled it was too much to bear. That the gates of the city had been opened to the French forces by the Bishop of Limoges, the godfather of the prince's son Richard, added insult to injury. The Black Prince, a sick man, overreacted totally. He supervised a fierce siege from the litter in which he was forced to be carried, and when the town fell allowed a brutal sack and massacre.

Historians have argued long about the rights and wrongs of the prince's action. It has even been pointed out that the sack of Limoges was fully within the rules of war as they were accepted at the time. So it may have been. The important point about Limoges is that the prince's action was totally unnecessary. It could never have achieved anything. If it were meant to terrorize other towns into confirming English rule, the Black Prince showed a deplorable lack of appreciation of the psychology of a populace who know they are winning. The following year he returned to England for the last time. In a brutal age he had controlled his savagery with wisdom and good sense, until this final, pointless massacre.

In 1372 the Earl of Pembroke, newly named Lieutenant of Aquitaine, sailed for the troubled province with an urgently needed relieving army. As his ships approached La Rochelle they were attacked by a dozen Castilian galleys. The battle lasted two days, and resulted in the total destruction of the English ships and the capture of the earl. With the lines of communication cut on the direct sea route, the Gascon strongholds began to topple before the combined efforts of the Duke of Anjou, du Guesclin, and de Clisson. Poitiers (August 1372) and La Rochelle (September 1372) opened their gates to the French without resistance.

In a battle at Soubise in that same August, the English suffered a further blow in the capture of Jean de Grailly, the Captal de Buch. For the first time in the Hundred Years' War, military sense took precedence over the profit motive, and ransom was refused. This new policy of Charles V was highly unpopular among the French knights, and particularly so with the esquire who had actually captured him, but the decision was a sign of the times, and the unfortunate Captal remained in captivity in Paris until his death in 1376.

Ironically, du Guesclin's native Brittany remained the one place in the west where an English army could land relatively safely and where a raiding party could seek sanctuary. The continued existence of English garrisons in the duchy resulted almost entirely from the duke's less than total loyalty to the pledge he had made to Charles V.  In 1372 he finally threw off his mask, repudiated his homage to the French king, and fled to England from where, in 1373, a 4,OOO-strong English army came to Saint-Malo, though the duke was not with them. A rapid advance by du Guesclin from Rennes forced them to re-embark and sail round the peninsula to Brest, where they provided a welcome supplement to the garrison.

Du Guesclin, however, had demonstrated to Edward III that the north coast of Brittany could not be relied upon as a staging post for Aquitaine. He reinforced the point by taking Becherel, which still dominated the peninsula, and in spite of attacks had resisted him since 1363. As a further gesture he used Saint-Malo as a base for a raid on Jersey. While Olivier de Clisson laid siege to Brest, du Guesclin hurried back to Paris in August 1373. John of Gaunt had landed at Calais, and was leading the largest and most destructive chevauchee that France had seen for many years. Gaunt appears initially to have had no great aim apart from the usual one of causing havoc, but it soon became evident that he planned to march right across France to relieve Gascony. He actually reached his target, and the arrival of his bedraggled army, depleted and harassed by du Guesclin, must have put heart into the defenders of Bordeaux.

But the state of Gaunt's troops, weakened and weary of the war, only showed in microcosm the general feeling on both sides. Charles V had restarted the war and was winning, but he feared that he had not the resources to finish it. In January 1374 du Guesclin concluded a local peace with John of Gaunt, which eventually spread to a general truce. In 1376 the Black Prince died, followed within a year by his father, the mighty King Edward III. On every hand men were tired of war. For Charles V there remained a little local difficulty concerning the Duke of Brittany. In December 1378 the duke was accused of treachery and Brittany was annexed to the French Crown. Even though du Guesclin and de Clisson supported the king, the act proved to be an immense miscalculation. The population rose as one in support of the de Montfort duke, giving du Guesclin the unsavoury task of going to war against his own countrymen.

The Constable demonstrated an acute political skill which he had never before had the opportunity to employ. In a rare example of a negotiated settlement, du Guesclin managed to persuade an English army to return home without a fight. The commander, incidentally, was none other than Sir Hugh Calveley. What conversation, what reminiscences, must have been exchanged by these two men - now the elder statesmen of their respective armies?

Following this temporary solution du Guesclin settled in Brittany, perhaps hoping for a well-earned retirement. He was, after all, nearly sixty years old, and had been fighting throughout his entire life, but a final call came from his king. The people of Languedoc had rebelled against the Duke of Anjou and threatened the newly found stability of the area. It was to be du Guesclin's last campaign.

Bidding farewell to Brittany at the cathedral of Dol de Bretagne, where he reviewed his troops, he drove the brigands from Auvergne, and laid siege to a fortress called Chateauneuf de Randon. Here he was taken suddenly ill, and rapidly slowed down from the furious pace at which he had habitually lived his life. Forced to command the siege from his bed, he died there on 13 July 1380. The captain of the besieged castle, moved by the unexpectedness with which he had become part of a moment of history, brought the keys of the castle and laid them on du Guesclin's body. So died the great, tough little Breton. His life was unique in its military style, breaking all the social conventions of the day.

Unlike Jeanne d'Arc, Bertrand du Guesclin gave out no prophecies and suffered no martyr's death. But as she was to do half a century later, he seized the moment when France could reassert herself after black despair. He rejoiced, quite naturally, in the honours and titles heaped upon him: Count of Longueville, Duke of Molina, Earl of Trastamare, Constable of France, but always retained that common touch which enabled him to understand the mind of the ordinary soldier he had once been, whether to lead him or to oppose him. Had his patient strategy been heeded by those who came after him, Henry V's army would never have reached Agincourt in one piece, and the Hundred Years' War would have been known by another name.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 07:36:14 PM by Longmane »
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  "Albert Einstein"