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Statue of Bertrand du Guesclin in Dinan

Bertrand du Guesclin, or Du Gueselin (c. 1320 – 13 July 1380), known as the Eagle of Brittany, was a Breton knight and French military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was Constable of France from 1370 to his death.

His Fabian strategy of wearing down the English while avoiding major battles allowed the French to recapture most of what they had lost earlier in the war.[1]

Contents

Biography

Bertrand du Guesclin was born at the Chateau de la Motte de Broen in Broons, near Dinan, in Brittany. His family was of minor Breton nobility, the seigneurs of Broons.

He initially served Charles of Blois in the Breton War of Succession (1341-1364). Charles was supported by the French crown, while his rival, Jean de Montfort, was allied with England. Du Guesclin was knighted in 1354 while serving Arnoul d'Audrehem, after countering a raid by Hugh Calveley on the Castle of Montmuran. In 1356-1357, Du Guesclin defended Rennes against an English siege by Henry of Grosmont, using the guerrilla tactics that were to become his trademark. Though the siege was ended by payment of 100,000 crowns, the brave resistance helped restore French pride after Poitiers, and du Guesclin came to the attention of the Dauphin Charles.

Bertrand du Guesclin's skeleton at the Saint-Denis Basilica, near Paris

When he became King in 1364, Charles sent Du Guesclin to deal with Charles II of Navarre, who hoped to claim the Duchy of Burgundy, which Charles hoped to give to his brother, Philip. On 16 May, he met Navarrese forces under the command of Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch at Cocherel and proved his ability in pitched battle by routing the enemy. The victory forced Charles II into a new peace with the French king, and secured Burgundy for Philip.

On September 29, 1364, at the Battle of Auray, du Guesclin and Charles of Blois were heavily defeated by John V, Duke of Brittany and the English forces under Sir John Chandos. Charles was killed in action, ending the Blois pretensions in Brittany. Du Guesclin was captured and ransomed by Charles V for 100,000 francs.[2]

In 1366, the King placed him at the head of the 'free companies,' the marauding soldiers who pillaged France after the Treaty of Brétigny, and sent him to Spain to aid Henry of Trastamara against Pedro the Cruel. Though successful in the campaign of 1366, Henry's army was defeated 1367 by Pedro's forces, now commanded by Edward, the Black Prince, at Nájera. Du Guesclin was again captured, and again ransomed by Charles V, who considered him invaluable. In 1369, Henry of Trastamara won the battle of Montiel, gaining him the throne of Castile.

Death of Bertrand du Guesclin, by Jean Fouquet

War with England was renewed in 1369, and Du Guesclin was recalled from Castile in 1370 by Charles V, who had decided to make him Constable of France, the country's chief military leader. By tradition this post was always given to a great nobleman, not to someone like the comparatively low-born Du Guesclin, but Charles needed someone who was an outstanding professional soldier. In practice Du Guesclin had continual difficulties in getting aristocratic leaders to serve under him, and the core of his armies were always his personal retinue.[3] He was formally invested with the rank of Constable by the King on 2 October 1370. He reconquered Poitou and Saintonge and pursued the English into Brittany from 1370 to 1374. He disapproved of the confiscation of Brittany by Charles V in 1378, and his campaign to make the duchy submit to the king was halfhearted.

An able tactician and a loyal and disciplined warrior, Du Guesclin had reconquered much of France from the English when he died of dysentery at Chateauneuf-de-Randon while on a military expedition in Languedoc. He was buried at Saint-Denis in the tomb of the Kings of France. His heart is kept at the basilica of Saint-Sauveur at Dinan.

The family of du Guesclin remained in France until the French Revolution of 1789 where a number of them were guillotined and the remainder fled for their lives to England and possibly the Netherlands. Here they remain to this day.

Because of du Guesclin's allegiance to France, 20th century Breton nationalists considered him to be a 'traitor' to Brittany. During World War II , the pro-Nazi Breton Social-National Workers' Movement destroyed a statue of him in Rennes.

In media

Bertrand du Guesclin appears as a secondary character in Arthur Conan Doyle's historical novel The White Company (1892).

Du Guesclin was one of the main characters in a trilogy of children's books by the Dutch author Thea Beckman: (Geef me de ruimte ('Give me space'), 1976; Triomf van de verschroeide aarde ('Triumph of scorched earth'), 1977; and Het rad van fortuin ('Wheel of fortune'), 1978).

Bertrand du Guesclin is a supporting character in the Koei video game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, first appearing in a mission loosely based on his historical defense of Rennes.

Bertrand du Guesclin is also a playable character in the first scenario of the Joan of arc campaign in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and is portrayed as a knight on horseback, named Sieur Bertrand along with another knight, Sieur Demetz.

In Valerio Evangelisti's science-fiction novel Il castello di Eymerich Bertrand du Guesclin is portrayed as an intelligent and capable leader, cooperating with Inquisitor Nicholas Eymerich in order to end the reign of King Peter of Castile. In the fictive reconstruction of the end of the siege of the castle of Montiel, it was Nicholas Eymerich who brought Peter the Cruel in du Guesclin's tent, where Enrique de Trastamara killed him.

Notes

  1. ^ David Nicolle, Medieval Warfare Source Book. p. 215
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Jonathan Sumption, Divided Houses: The Hundred Years War III (Faber, 2009), p. 75.

References

  • Curry, Anne. The Hundred Years' War. London: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-269-5
  • Nicolle, David. Medieval Warfare Source Book: Warfare in Western Christendom. London: Brockhampton Press, 1999. ISBN 1-86019-889-9
  • Tuchman, Barbara W. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. ISBN 0-345-34957-1
  • Turnbull, Stephen. The Book of the Medieval Knight. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1985. ISBN 0-85368-715-3
  • Jones, Michael, Letters, Orders and Musters of Bertrand du Guesclin, 1357-1380. Woodbridge and Rochester NY: The Boydell Press, 2004. ISBN 1-84383-088-4

]] Bertrand du Guesclin (or Du Gueselin) (c. 1320 – 13 July 1380), known as the Eagle of Brittany, was a Breton knight and French military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was Constable of France from 1370 to his death.

His Fabian strategy of wearing down the English while avoiding major battles allowed the French to recapture most of what they had lost earlier in the war.[1]

Contents

Biography

Bertrand du Guesclin was born at the Chateau de la Motte de Broen in Broons, near Dinan, in Brittany. His family was of minor Breton nobility, the seigneurs of Broons.

He initially served Charles of Blois in the Breton War of Succession (1341-1364). Charles was supported by the French crown, while his rival, Jean de Montfort, was allied with England. Du Guesclin was knighted in 1354 while serving Arnoul d'Audrehem, after countering a raid by Hugh Calveley on the Castle of Montmuran. In 1356-1357, Du Guesclin defended Rennes against an English siege by Henry of Grosmont, using the guerrilla tactics that were to become his trademark. Though the siege was ended by payment of 100,000 crowns, the brave resistance helped restore French pride after Poitiers, and du Guesclin came to the attention of the Dauphin Charles. , near Paris]]

When he became King in 1364, Charles sent Du Guesclin to deal with Charles II of Navarre, who hoped to claim the Duchy of Burgundy, which Charles hoped to give to his brother, Philip. On 16 May, he met Navarrese forces under the command of Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch at Cocherel and proved his ability in pitched battle by routing the enemy. The victory forced Charles II into a new peace with the French king, and secured Burgundy for Philip.

On September 29, 1364, at the Battle of Auray, du Guesclin and Charles of Blois were heavily defeated by John V, Duke of Brittany and the English forces under Sir John Chandos. Charles was killed in action, ending the Blois pretensions in Brittany. Du Guesclin was captured and ransomed by Charles V for 100,000 francs.[2]

In 1366, the King placed him at the head of the 'free companies,' the marauding soldiers who pillaged France after the Treaty of Brétigny, and sent him to Spain to aid Henry of Trastamara against Pedro the Cruel. Though successful in the campaign of 1366, Henry's army was defeated 1367 by Pedro's forces, now commanded by Edward, the Black Prince, at Nájera. Du Guesclin was again captured, and again ransomed by Charles V, who considered him invaluable. However, The Black Prince soon withdrew his support from Pedro. Du Guesclin and Henry of Trastamara renewed the attack, easily defeating him at the battle of Montiel (1369). Henry stabbed the captive Pedro to death in du Guesclin's tent, gaining the throne of Castile.

]] War with England was renewed in 1369, and Du Guesclin was recalled from Castile in 1370 by Charles V, who had decided to make him Constable of France, the country's chief military leader. By tradition this post was always given to a great nobleman, not to someone like the comparatively low-born Du Guesclin, but Charles needed someone who was an outstanding professional soldier. In practice Du Guesclin had continual difficulties in getting aristocratic leaders to serve under him, and the core of his armies were always his personal retinue.[3] He was formally invested with the rank of Constable by the King on 2 October 1370. He immediately defeated an English army at the Battle of Pontvallain and then reconquered Poitou and Saintonge and pursued the English into Brittany from 1370 to 1374. He disapproved of the confiscation of Brittany by Charles V in 1378, and his campaign to make the duchy submit to the king was halfhearted.

An able tactician and a loyal and disciplined warrior, Du Guesclin had reconquered much of France from the English when he died of dysentery at Chateauneuf-de-Randon while on a military expedition in Languedoc. He was buried at Saint-Denis in the tomb of the Kings of France. His heart is kept at the basilica of Saint-Sauveur at Dinan.

The family of du Guesclin remained in France until the French Revolution of 1789 where a number of them were guillotined and the remainder fled for their lives to England and possibly the Netherlands. Here they remain to this day.[citation needed]

Because of du Guesclin's allegiance to France, 20th century Breton nationalists considered him to be a 'traitor' to Brittany. During World War II, the pro-Nazi Breton Social-National Workers' Movement destroyed a statue of him in Rennes.

In media

Bertrand du Guesclin appears as a secondary character in Arthur Conan Doyle's historical novel The White Company (1892).

Du Guesclin was one of the main characters in a trilogy of children's books by the Dutch author Thea Beckman: (Geef me de ruimte ('Give me space'), 1976; Triomf van de verschroeide aarde ('Triumph of scorched earth'), 1977; and Het rad van fortuin ('Wheel of fortune'), 1978).

Bertrand du Guesclin is a supporting character in the Koei video game Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War, first appearing in a mission loosely based on his historical defense of Rennes.

In Valerio Evangelisti's science-fiction novel Il castello di Eymerich Bertrand du Guesclin is portrayed as an intelligent and capable leader, cooperating with Inquisitor Nicholas Eymerich in order to end the reign of King Peter of Castile. In the fictive reconstruction of the end of the siege of the castle of Montiel, it was Nicholas Eymerich who brought Peter the Cruel in du Guesclin's tent, where Enrique de Trastamara killed him.

Du Guesclin is also featured as the "narrator" in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings for the French (Joan d'Arc) campaign.

Notes

  1. ^ David Nicolle, Medieval Warfare Source Book. p. 215
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Jonathan Sumption, Divided Houses: The Hundred Years War III (Faber, 2009), p. 75.

References


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Bertrand du Guesclin

Bertrand du Guesclin (c. 1320 – 13 July 1380), was a French knight from Brittany who fought in the Hundred Years' War. He was Constable of France from 1370 to his death. He was important to the French successes in the war under Charles V of France.

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