24 min

1337 to 1360

Hundred Years' War: Edwardian Phase

by Something Something

The first phase of the Hundred Years' War between France and England lasted from 1337 to 1360. It is sometimes referred to as the Edwardian War because it was initiated by King Edward III of England, who claimed the French throne in defiance of King Philip VI of France. The dynastic conflict was caused by disputes over the French feudal sovereignty over Aquitaine and the English claims over the French royal title. The Kingdom of England and its allies dominated this phase of the war.

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1337 Jan 1 -

Aquitaine, France

Edward had inherited the duchy of Aquitaine, and as Duke of Aquitaine he was a vassal to Philip VI of France. Edward initially accepted the succession of Philip, but the relationship between the two kings soured when Philip allied with Edward's enemy, King David II of Scotland. Edward in turn provided refuge to Robert III of Artois, a French fugitive. When Edward refused to obey Philip's demands for the expulsion of Robert from England, Philip confiscated the duchy of Aquitaine. This precipitated war, and soon, in 1340, Edward declared himself king of France. Edward III and his son Edward the Black Prince, led their armies on a largely successful campaign across France with notable victories at Auberoche (1345), Crécy (1346), Calais (1347) and La Roche-Derrien (1347). Hostilities were paused in the mid-1350s for the deprivations of the Black Death. Then war continued, and the English were victorious at the Battle of Poitiers (1356) where the French king, John II, was captured and held for ransom. The Truce of Bordeaux was signed in 1357 and was followed by two treaties in London in 1358 and 1359.

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Battle of Cadzand

1337 Nov 9 -

Cadzand, Netherlands

Edward's fleet was unprepared for the crossing with the main body of his army and his finances were in a parlous state owing to his having been forced to pay large stipends to European forces. Thus he required some symbol of his intentions against the French and a demonstration of what his forces could achieve. To this end he ordered Sir Walter Manny, leader of his vanguard which was already stationed in Hainaut to take a small fleet and raid the island of Cadzand. The Battle of Cadzand was an early skirmish of the Hundred Years' War fought in 1337. It consisted of a raid on the Flemish island of Cadzand, designed to provoke a reaction and battle from the local garrison and so improve morale in England and amongst King Edward III's continental allies by providing his army with an easy victory. On 9 November Sir Walter Manny, with the advance troops for Edward III's continental invasion, made an attempt to take the city of Sluys, but was driven off.

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The Battle of Arnemuiden


Battle of Arnemuiden

1338 Sep 23 -

Arnemuiden, Netherlands

The battle featured a vast French fleet under admirals Hugues Quiéret and Nicolas Béhuchet against a small squadron of five great English cogs transporting an enormous cargo of wool to Antwerp, where Edward III of England was hoping to sell it, in order to be able to pay subsidies to his allies. Overwhelmed by the superior numbers and with some of their crew still on shore, the English ships fought bravely, especially the Christopher under the command of John Kingston, who was also commander of the squadron. Kingston surrendered after a day's fighting and exhausting every means of defence. The French captured the rich cargo, took the five cogs into their fleet and massacred the English prisoners. It was the first naval battle of the Hundred Years' War and the first recorded European naval battle using artillery, as the English ship Christopher had three cannons and one hand gun.

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Siege of Cambrai

1339 Sep 26 -

Cambrai, France

The siege of Cambrai was undertaken by an English army led by King Edward III of England. In 1339, Cambrai became the centre of a struggle between supporters of the Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and William II, Count of Hainaut, on the one hand, and those of king Philip VI of France on the other. The defence of Cambrai was provided by the governor Étienne de la Baume, grand master of the crossbowmen of France. The French garrison had artillery comprising 10 guns, five of iron and five of other metals. This is one of the earliest instances to the use of cannon in siege warfare. Edward launched several attacks from 26 September, with Cambrai resisting every assault for five weeks.

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A miniature of the battle from Jean Froissart's Chronicles, 15th century


Battle of Sluys

1340 Jun 24 -

Sluis, Netherlands

The English fleet of 120–150 ships was led by Edward III of England and the 230-strong French fleet by the Breton knight Hugues Quiéret, Admiral of France, and Nicolas Béhuchet, Constable of France. The battle was one of the opening engagements of the Hundred Years' War. The English were able to manoeuvre against the French and defeat them in detail, capturing most of their ships. The French lost 16,000–20,000 men. The battle gave the English fleet naval supremacy in the English Channel. However, they were unable to take strategic advantage of this, and their success barely interrupted French raids on English territories and shipping.

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Siege of Tournai

1340 Jul 23 -

Tournai, Belgium

Edward and his forces reached Tournai on 23 July. Apart from the inhabitants, there was also a French garrison inside. The siege dragged on and Philip was drawing closer with an army, while Edward was running out of money. At the same time, Tournai was running out of food. Edward's mother-in-law, Jeanne of Valois, then visited him in his tent on 22 September and begged for peace. She had already made the same plea in front of Philip, who was her brother. A truce (known as the Truce of Espléchin) could then be made without anyone losing face and Tournai was relieved. The Siege of Tournai is notable for being an early example of the use of the cannon in European siege warfare.

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Battle of Saint-Omer

1340 Jul 26 -

Saint-Omer, France

King Edward III's summer campaign(initiated in the aftermath of the Battle of Sluys) against France launched from Flanders had begun badly. At Saint-Omer, in an unexpected turn of events, the heavily outnumbered French men-at-arms, tasked with defending the city and awaiting for reinforcements, defeated the Anglo-Flemish forces on their own. The Allies suffered heavy losses and the French captured their camp intact, taking many warhorses and carts, all the tents, huge quantities of stores and most of the Flemish standards.

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War of the Breton Succession

1341 Jan 1 -

Brittany, France

The War of the Breton Succession was a conflict between the Counts of Blois and the Montforts of Brittany for control of the Sovereign Duchy of Brittany, then a fief of the Kingdom of France. It was fought between 1341 and 12 April 1365. The war formed an integral part of the early Hundred Years' War due to the proxy involvement of the French and English governments in the conflict; the French supported the Blois (female heir) whilst the English backed the Montforts (male heir). The rival kings supported the Sovereign Duke of the principle opposite to their own claims to the French throne—the Plantagenet having claimed it by female succession, and the Valois by male succession. Montfort was ultimately successful following the Battle of Auray in 1364.

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Battle of Champtoceaux & Siege of Nantes

1341 Oct 14 -

Champtoceaux, France

The Battle of Champtoceaux, often called the Battle of l'Humeau, was the opening action of the 23-eventYear-long War of the Breton Succession. By the end of September 1341, Charles of Blois had 5,000 French soldiers, 2,000 Genoese mercenaries, and an unknown but large number of Breton soldiers in his army. Charles laid siege to the fortified castle which guarded the Loire Valley at Champtoceaux. John of Montfort could only scrape together a handful of men from Nantes to join his forces to relief the siege. Eventually John conceded defeat at Champtoceaux and rode as fast as he could for Nantes. A series of sallies by the Montfortists followed in the coming days; the French army responded and began its assaults on outlying forts held by John's forces. John was forced to surrender by the irate city council on 2 November, and he was imprisoned in the Louvre in Paris.

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Siege of Vannes in 1342 by Guillaume Fillastre


Sieges of Vannes

1342 Jan 1 -

Vannes, France

The sieges of Vannes of 1342 were a series of four sieges of the town of Vannes that occurred throughout 1342. Two rival claimants to the Duchy of Brittany, John of Montfort and Charles of Blois, competed for Vannes throughout this civil war from 1341 to 1365. The successive sieges ruined Vannes and its surrounding countryside. Vannes was eventually sold off in a truce between England and France, signed in January 1343 in Malestroit. Saved by an appeal of Pope Clement VI, Vannes remained in the hands of its own rulers, but ultimately resided under English control from September 1343 till the end of the war in 1365.

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Battle of Brest

1342 Aug 18 -

Brest, France

The ships to transport the English army had finally gathered in Portsmouth in early August and the Earl of Northampton left port with just 1,350 men in 260 small coastal transports, some conscripted from as far away as Yarmouth for this duty. Just three days after leaving Portsmouth, Northampton's force arrived off Brest. The English fleet closed on the Genoese in the entrance to the Penfeld River where they were anchored in a vertical line. The Genoese panicked, three of the fourteen galleys fled from the crowd of diminutive opponents which were struggling to board the larger Genoese ships and reached the safety of the Elorn River estuary from where they could escape into the open sea. The remaining eleven were surrounded and drove ashore battling their opponents, where the crews abandoned them to the boarders and fired them as they left, at a stroke destroying French naval supremacy in Breton waters. Believing that the ships carried a prodigious English force of trained warriors, Charles broke the siege and made for Northern Brittany with the remaining Genoese whilst a substantial part of his army made up of Castilian and Genoese mercenary infantry retreated to Bourgneuf and took their ships back to Spain.

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Battle of Morlaix

1342 Sep 30 -

Morlaix, France

From Brest, Northampton moved inland and he eventually he reached Morlaix, one of Charles de Blois’ strongholds. His initial attack on the town was unsuccessful and having been repulsed with slight losses he settled into a siege. Since Charles de Blois' forces had run from the siege in Brest they had been growing in numbers possibly reaching as many as 15,000. Informed that Northampton’s force was considerably smaller than his own Charles began to advance on Morlaix intending to lift Northampton’s siege. The battle was indecisive. De Blois’ force evidently relieved Morlaix and the besieging English, now trapped in the wood, themselves became the object of a siege for several days.

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Gascon campaign of 1345

1345 Jan 1 -

Gascony, France

The Gascon campaign of 1345 was conducted by Henry, Earl of Derby, as part of the Hundred Years' War. The whirlwind campaign took place between August and November 1345 in Gascony, an English-controlled territory in south-west France. Derby, commanding an Anglo-Gascon force, oversaw the first successful English land campaign of the war. He twice defeated large French armies in battle, taking many noble and knightly prisoners. Following this campaign, morale and prestige swung England's way in the border region between English-occupied Gascony and French-ruled territory, providing an influx of taxes and recruits for the English armies. As a result, France's ability to raise tax money and troops from the region was much reduced.

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Battle of Bergerac

1345 Aug 20 -

Bergerac, France

Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derby arrived in Gascony in August, and breaking with the previous policy of cautious advance, struck directly at the largest French concentration, at Bergerac. He surprised and defeated the French forces, under Bertrand I of L'Isle-Jourdain and Henri de Montigny. The French suffered heavy casualties and the loss of the town, a significant strategic setback. The battle and subsequent capture of Bergerac were major victories; the plunder from the defeated French army and from sacking the town was immense. Strategically, the Anglo-Gascon army had secured an important base for further operations. Politically, local lords who had been undecided in their allegiance had been shown that the English were again a force to be reckoned with in Gascony.

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Battle of Auberoche

1345 Oct 21 -


Derby planned a three-pronged assault. The attack was launched as the French were having their evening meal, and complete surprise was achieved. While the French were confused and distracted by this attack from the west, Derby made a cavalry charge with his 400 men-at-arms from the south. The French defence collapsed and they routed. The battle resulted in a heavy defeat for the French, who suffered very high casualties, with their leaders killed or captured. The Duke of Normandy lost heart on hearing of the defeat. Despite outnumbering the Anglo-Gascon force eight to one he retreated to Angoulême and disbanded his army. The French also abandoned all of their ongoing sieges of other Anglo-Gascon garrisons. Derby was left almost completely unopposed for six months, during which he seized more towns. Local morale, and more importantly prestige in the border region, had decidedly swung England's way following this conflict, providing an influx of taxes and recruits for the English armies. Local lords of note declared for the English, bringing significant retinues with them. With this success, the English had established a regional dominance which would last over thirty years.

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Battle of St Pol de Léon

1346 Jun 9 -

Saint-Pol-de-Léon, France

The commander of the Anglo-Breton faction was Sir Thomas Dagworth, a veteran professional soldier who had served with his overlord King Edward III for many years and was trusted to conduct the Breton war in an effective manner whilst Edward was raising funds in England and planning the invasion of Normandy for the following Year. Charles of Blois ambushed Dagworth and his 180-man bodyguard at the isolated village of Saint-Pol-de-Léon. Dagworth formed up his men and led them in a rapid withdrawal towards a nearby hill, where they dug trenches and prepared positions. Blois dismounted all of his soldiers and abandoned his horse himself and ordered his superior numbers to make a three-pronged assault on the Anglo-Breton lines. The assault and the others that followed it during the afternoon were all repulsed by accurate archery fire, which decimated the attackers' ranks, and some desperate last-ditch hand-to-hand fighting. The final assault came at last light with Charles himself in the vanguard, but even this failed to achieve victory, and the Franco-Breton forces were forced to abandon their attack and return to Eastern Brittany, leaving behind dozens of dead, wounded and captured soldiers on the hillside of the battlefield. Charles of Blois, who had a reputation as a fierce and intelligent commander, had again been defeated by an English commander, and one of common stock at that. Indeed, Charles failed to win a single one of the five significant battles he fought against the English between 1342 and 1364, although he proved more efficient at siegework and lengthy campaigns. The Breton nobility had now been given pause for thought in choosing their side in the ongoing war.

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Edward III invades Normandy.

1346 Jul 1 -

Cotentin Peninsula, France

The Crécy campaign was a series of large-scale raids (chevauchées) conducted by the Kingdom of England throughout northern France in 1346 that devastated the French countryside on a wide front, culminating in the eponymous Battle of Crécy. The campaign began on 12 July 1346, with the landing of English troops in Normandy. Edward was under pressure from the English Parliament to end the war either by negotiation or with a victory. As his forces gathered, Edward vacillated as to where in France he would land. Eventually he decided to sail for Gascony, to succour the Duke of Lancaster, who was facing the much larger main French army. Hampered by contrary winds, Edward instead made a surprise landing on the nearest part of France, the northern Cotentin Peninsula.

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Battle of Caen

1346 Jul 26 -

Caen, France

The assault was part of the Chevauchée of Edward III, which had started a month earlier when the English landed in Normandy. The French failed to intercept the English transports at sea and were taken by surprise, with their main army of more than 15,000 men in Gascony. The English were virtually unopposed and devastated much of Normandy before assaulting Caen. Part of the English army, which consisted of 12,000–15,000, commanded by the Earls of Warwick and Northampton, prematurely attacked Caen. It was garrisoned by 1,000–1,500 soldiers, who were supplemented by an unknown, large number of armed townsmen, and commanded by Raoul, the Count of Eu, the Grand Constable of France. The town was captured in the first assault. More than 5,000 of the ordinary soldiers and townspeople were killed, and a few nobles were taken prisoner. The town was sacked for five days.

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Edward III Crossing the Somme by Benjamin West,


Battle of Blanchetaque

1346 Aug 24 -


The Battle of Blanchetaque was fought between an English army under King Edward III and a French force commanded by Godemar du Fay. The battle was part of the Crécy campaign. After landing in the Cotentin Peninsula on 12 July, the English army had burnt a path of destruction through some of the richest lands in France to within 20 miles (32 km) of Paris, sacking a number of towns on the way. The English then marched north, hoping to link up with an allied Flemish army which had invaded from Flanders. They were outmanoeuvred by the French king, Philip VI, who garrisoned all of the bridges and fords over the River Somme and followed the English with his own field army. The area had previously been stripped of food stocks by the French, and the English were essentially trapped.

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Battle of Crécy

1346 Aug 26 -

Crécy-en-Ponthieu, France

The English army had landed in the Cotentin Peninsula on 12 July. It had burnt a path of destruction through some of the richest lands in France to within 2 miles (3 km) of Paris, sacking many towns on the way. The English then marched north, hoping to link up with an allied Flemish army which had invaded from Flanders. Hearing that the Flemish had turned back, and having temporarily outdistanced the pursuing French, Edward had his army prepare a defensive position on a hillside near Crécy-en-Ponthieu. During a brief archery duel a large force of French mercenary crossbowmen was routed by Welsh and English longbowmen. The French then launched a series of cavalry charges by their mounted knights. By the time the French charges reached the English men-at-arms, who had dismounted for the battle, they had lost much of their impetus. The ensuing hand-to-hand combat was described as "murderous, without pity, cruel, and very horrible." The French charges continued late into the night, all with the same result: fierce fighting followed by a French repulse.

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Capture of Calais

1346 Sep 4 -

Calais, France

A week after the Battle of Crécy, Edward invested the well-fortified port of Calais, which had a strong garrison under the command of Jean de Vienne. Edward made several unsuccessful attempts to breach the walls or to take the town by assault, either from the land or seaward sides. During the winter and spring the French were able to run in supplies and reinforcements by sea, but in late April the English established a fortification which enabled them to command the entrance to the harbour and cut off the further flow of supplies. On 3 August Calais capitulated. It provided the English with an important strategic lodgement for the remainder of the Hundred Years' War and beyond. The port was not recaptured by the French until 1558.

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Battle of Neville's Cross from a 15th-century manuscript


Scotland invades northern England

1346 Oct 17 -

Neville's Cross, Durham UK

The battle was the result of the invasion of France by England. King Philip VI of France called on the Scots to fulfil their obligation under the terms of the Auld Alliance and invade England. David II obliged, and after ravaging much of northern England was taken by surprise by the English defenders. The ensuing battle ended with the rout of the Scots, the capture of their king and the death or capture of most of their leadership. Strategically, this freed significant English resources for the war against France, and the English border counties were able to guard against the remaining Scottish threat from their own resources. The eventual ransoming of the Scottish King resulted in a truce that brought peace to the border for forty years.

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Another version of Charles de Blois being taken prisoner


Battle of La Roche-Derrien

1347 Jun 20 -

La Roche-Derrien, France

Approximately 4,000–5,000 French, Breton and Genoese mercenaries (the largest field army ever assembled by Charles of Blois) laid siege to the town of La Roche-Derrien in the hope of luring Sir Thomas Dagworth, the commander of the only standing English field army in Brittany at the time, into an open pitched battle. When Dagworth's relief army, less than one-fourth the size of the French force, arrived at La Roche-Derrien they attacked the eastern (main) encampment and fell into the trap laid by Charles. Dagworth's main force was assailed with crossbow bolts from front and rear and after a short time Dagworth himself was forced to surrender. Charles, thinking he had won the battle and that Brittany was effectively his, lowered his guard. However a sortie from the town, composed mainly of townsfolk armed with axes and farming implements, came from behind Charles's lines. The archers and men-at-arms who remained from the initial assault now rallied with the town's garrison to cut down Charles' forces. Charles was forced to surrender and was taken for ransom.

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The Black Death

1348 Jan 1 -


The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Afro-Eurasia from 1346 to 1353. It is the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, causing the death of 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. Plague was reportedly first introduced to Europe via Genoese traders from their port city of Kaffa in the Crimea in 1347. As the disease took hold, Genoese traders fled across the Black Sea to Constantinople, where the disease first arrived in Europe in summer 1347. Carried by twelve Genoese galleys, plague arrived by ship in Sicily in October 1347. From Italy, the disease spread northwest across Europe, striking France, Spain (the epidemic began to wreak havoc first on the Crown of Aragon in the spring of 1348), Portugal and England by June 1348, then spread east and north through Germany, Scotland and Scandinavia from 1348 to 1350. In the next few years one-third of the French population would die, including Queen Joan.

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Battle of Winchelsea

1350 Aug 29 -

Winchelsea. UK

England's trade, its war finance and its ability to bring force to bear against France were heavily reliant on seaborne transportation, especially to its territory in Gascony. With its own ability to raise and support a fleet much reduced by English activities, the French hired Castilian ships to blockade English ports. Frustrated by their effectiveness, Edward III himself led the fleet that intercepted them and inflicted heavy losses. In spite of that success, English trade and ports saw little relief from naval harassment by the French and their allies. An English fleet of 50 ships, commanded by King Edward III, defeated a Castilian fleet of 47 larger vessels, commanded by Charles de La Cerda. Between 14 and 26 Castilian ships were captured, and several were sunk. Only two English vessels were sunk, but there was a significant loss of life.

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Penguilly l'Haridon: Le Combat des Trente


Combat of the Thirty

1351 Mar 26 -

Guillac, France

The Combat of the Thirty was an episode in the Breton War of Succession fought to determine who would rule the Duchy of Brittany. It was an arranged fight between selected combatants from both sides of the conflict, fought at a site midway between the Breton castles of Josselin and Ploërmel among 30 champions, knights, and squires on each side. The challenge was issued by Jean de Beaumanoir, a captain of Charles of Blois supported by King Philip VI of France, to Robert Bemborough, a captain of Jean de Montfort supported by Edward III of England. After a hard-fought battle, the Franco-Breton Blois faction emerged victorious. The combat was later celebrated by medieval chroniclers and balladeers as a noble display of the ideals of chivalry. In the words of Jean Froissart, the warriors "held themselves as valiantly on both sides as if they had been all Rolands and Olivers".

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Battle of Ardres

1351 Jun 6 -

Ardres, France

The new English commander of Calais John de Beauchamp had been leading a raid around the region surrounding Saint-Omer with a force of some 300 men-at-arms and 300 mounted archers, when he was discovered by a French force led by Édouard I de Beaujeu, Lord of Beaujeu, the French commander on the march of Calais, near Ardres. The French moved to surround the English, trapping them upon a bend on the river. Beaujeu made all of his men dismount before they attacked, after lessons were learned from the 1349 Battle of Lunalonge under similar conditions when they kept too many of their men mounted, dividing their forces too quickly, which caused the French to lose the battle. In the fighting Édouard I de Beaujeu was killed but with the help of reinforcements from the garrison of Saint-Omer the French defeated the English. John Beauchamp was one of many English captured.

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Siege of Guines

1352 Jan 1 -

Guînes, France

The siege of Guînes took place in 1352 when a French army under Geoffrey de Charny unsuccessfully attempted to recapture the French castle at Guînes which had been seized by the English. The strongly fortified castle had been taken by the English during a period of nominal truce and the English king, Edward III, decided to keep it. Charny, leading 4,500 men, retook the town but was unable to retake or blockade the castle. After two months of fierce fighting a large English night attack on the French camp inflicted a heavy defeat and the French withdrew.

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Battle of Mauron

1352 Aug 14 -

Mauron, France

In 1352 a French army, commanded by Marshal Guy II de Nesle, invaded Brittany, and after recapturing Rennes and territories to the south was advancing northwest, towards the town of Brest. Under orders from the French King Jean II of France to retake the castle of Ploërmel from the Anglo-Breton garrison who occupied it, de Nesle made his way towards Ploërmel. Faced with this threat, the English captain Walter Bentley and the Breton captain Tanguy du Chastel assembled troops to ride out and meet the Franco-Breton forces on 14 August 1352. The Anglo-Bretons were victorious. The battle was very violent and severe losses occurred on both sides: 800 of the Franco-Breton side and 600 on the Anglo-Breton. It was especially serious for the Breton aristocracy supporting the party of Charles de Blois. Guy II de Nesle and the hero of the Battle of the Thirty, Alain de Tinténiac, were slain. More than eighty knights of the recently formed chivalric Order of the Star also lost their lives, possibly partly because of the oath of the order never to retreat in battle.

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Battle of Montmuran

1354 Apr 10 -

Les Iffs, France

Following the defeat of Mauron during the Hundred Years' War, the Bretons, led by Bertrand Du Guesclin, took their revenge. In 1354, Calveley was captain of the English-held fortress of Bécherel. He planned a raid on the castle of Montmuran on 10 April, to capture Arnoul d'Audrehem, Marshal of France, who was a guest of the lady of Tinteniac. Bertrand du Guesclin, in one of the early highlights of his career, anticipated the attack, posting archers as sentries. When the sentries raised the alarm at Calveley's approach, du Guesclin and d'Audrehem hurried to intercept. In the ensuing fight, Calveley was unhorsed by a knight named Enguerrand d'Hesdin, captured, and later ransomed.

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Battle of Poitiers

1356 Sep 19 -

Poitiers, France

In early 1356, the Duke of Lancaster led an army through Normandy, while Edward led his army on a great chevauchée from Bordeaux on 8 August 1356. Edward's forces met little resistance, sacking numerous settlements, until they reached the Loire river at Tours. They were unable to take the castle or burn the town due to a heavy rainstorm. This delay allowed King John to attempt to pin down and destroy Edward's army. The two armies faced off, both ready for battle, near Poitiers. The French were heavily defeated; an English counter-attack captured King John, along with his youngest son, and much of the French nobility who were present. The demise of the French nobility at the battle, only ten years from the catastrophe at Crécy, threw the kingdom into chaos. The realm was left in the hands of the Dauphin Charles, who faced popular rebellion across the kingdom in the wake of the defeat.

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Jacquerie Peasant Revolt

1358 Jun 10 -

Mello, Oise, France

The rebellion in the Beauvais was a major part of the Peasant Jacquerie which exploded into life in the spring and summer of 1358. Although the head of the rebellion was centred on Paris, the body was focused in the region to the north-east, and there peasants, frustrated by the failures of the nobility to protect them from English raiders and heavy taxation had risen up, forming village councils to rule regions and small armed forces of young men to maintain order. These peasant bands also attacked surrounding noble houses, many of which were only occupied by women and children, the men being with the armies fighting the English. The occupants were frequently massacred, the houses looted and burnt in an orgy of violence which shocked France and ravaged this once prosperous region. The nobles’ response was furious. Aristocracy from across France united together and formed an army in Normandy which was joined by English and foreign mercenaries, sensing payment and a chance to loot the defeated peasants. The Parisian forces fought hardest before breaking, but within minutes the entire army was nothing but a panicked rabble blocking every street away from the castle. Refugees from the Jacquerie army and Meaux spread out across the countryside where they were exterminated along with thousands of other peasants, many innocent of any involvement in the rebellion, by the vengeful nobles and their mercenary allies.

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Siege of Rheims

1359 Jul 1 -

Rheims, France

Capitalising on the discontent in France, Edward assembled his army at Calais in the late summer of 1359. His first objective was to take the city of Rheims. However, the citizens of Reims built and reinforced the city's defences before Edward and his army arrived. Edward besieged Rheims for five weeks but the new fortifications held out. He lifted the siege and moved his army on to Paris in the Spring of 1360.

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Edward III vows to end the wars.


Black Monday

1360 Apr 13 -

Chartres, France

On Easter Monday 13 April Edward's army arrived at the gates of Chartres. The French defenders again refused battle, instead sheltering behind their fortifications, and a siege ensued. That night, the English army made camp outside Chartres in an open plain. A sudden storm materialized and lightning struck, killing several people. The temperature fell dramatically and huge hailstones along with freezing rain, began pelting the soldiers, scattering the horses. In a half-hour, the incitement and intense cold killed nearly 1,000 Englishmen and up to 6,000 horses. Among the injured English leaders was Sir Guy de Beauchamp II, the eldest son of Thomas de Beauchamp, the 11th Earl of Warwick; he would die of his injuries two weeks after. Edward was convinced the phenomenon was a sign from God against his endeavors. During the climax of the storm he is said to have dismounted from his horse and kneeled in the direction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. He recited a vow of peace and was convinced to negotiate with the French.

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| ©Angus McBride


Epilogue: Treaty of Brétigny

1360 May 8 -

Brétigny, France

Key Findings:

  • Edward III obtained, besides Guyenne and Gascony, Poitou, Saintonge and Aunis, Agenais, Périgord, Limousin, Quercy, Bigorre, the countship of Gauré, Angoumois, Rouergue, Montreuil-sur-Mer, Ponthieu, Calais, Sangatte, Ham and the countship of Guînes. The king of England was to hold these free and clear, without doing homage for them.
  • Furthermore, the treaty established that title to 'all the islands that the King of England now holds' would no longer be under the suzerainty of the King of France.
  • King Edward gave up the duchy of Touraine, the countships of Anjou and Maine, the suzerainty of Brittany and of Flanders.
  • The treaty did not lead to lasting peace, but procured nine years' respite from the Hundred Years' War.
  • He also renounced all claims to the French throne.
  • John II had to pay three million écus for his ransom, and would be released after he paid one million.

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  • Allmand, Christopher (1988). The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300-c.1450. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31923-2.
  • Curry, Anne; Hughes, Michael, eds. (1999). Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0-85115-755-9.
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The End

...or is it?

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