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Penguilly l'Haridon: Le Combat des Trente

The Combat of the Thirty (26 March 1351[1]) [known as Combat des Trente in French] was an episode in the struggle for the succession to the Duchy of Brittany. It was fought at a site midway between the Breton castles of Josselin and Ploërmel between thirty champions, knights and squires on each side, in a challenge issued by Jean de Beaumanoir, a captain of Charles of Blois supported by the King of France, to Robert Bramborough, a captain of Jean de Montfort supported by the King of England.

Robert Bramborough, the English captain of Ploërmel, had been ignoring a truce in the district commanded by Jean de Beaumanoir, the captain of Josselin. Beaumanoir sent him a challenge, which resulted in an emprise —an arranged Pas d'armes— which took place at an area known as the chêne de Mi-Voie (the Halfway Oak) between Ploërmel and Josselin, between picked combatants.

Beaumanoir commanded thirty Bretons, Bramborough a mixed force of twenty Englishmen (including Robert Knolles and Hugh Calveley), six German mercenaries and four Breton partisans of Montfort. The battle, fought with swords, daggers, spears, and axes, mounted or on foot, was of the most desperate character, in its details very reminiscent of the last fight of the Burgundians in the Nibelungenlied, especially in the celebrated advice of Geoffroy du Bois to his wounded leader, who was asking for water: "Drink your blood, Beaumanoir; thy thirst will pass" (Bois ton sang, Beaumanoir, la soif te passera).

In the end, the victory was decided by Guillaume de Montauban, who mounted his horse and overthrew seven of the English champions, the rest being forced to surrender. All the combatants on either side were either dead or seriously wounded, Bramborough being among the nine on the English side to be slain. The prisoners were well treated and released on payment of a small ransom.

While the combat did not have any significant effect on the outcome of the Breton succession, it was considered by contemporaries to be an example of the finest chivalry. It was sung by trouvères, retold in the chronicles of Froissart and largely admired, and honoured in verse and the visual arts. A commemorative stone was placed at the site of the combat situated between Josselin and Ploermel. The renown attached to those who participated was such that twenty years later, Jean Froissart noticed a scarred survivor at the table of Charles V, where he was honoured above all others due to having been one of the Thirty.

The Combatants

Franco-Breton Force

  • Sir Jean de Beaumanoir, Constable of Brittany, Governor of Josselin
  • Sir Olivier Arrel
  • Sir Caron de Bosdegas
  • Sir Geoffroy du Bois
  • Sir Yves Charruel
  • Sir Guy de Rochefort
  • Sir Jean Rouxelot
  • Sir Robin Raguenel
  • Sir Huon de Saint-Hugeon
  • Sir Jean de Tinténiac


  • Geoffroy de Beaucorps
  • Hughes Capus-le-Sage
  • Olivier de Fontenay
  • Louis de Goyon
  • Alain de Keranrais
  • Guillaume de la Lande
  • Guillaume de la Marche
  • Geoffroy de Mellon 
  • Guillaume de Montauban
  • Olivier de Monteville
  • Maurice du Parc
  • Tristan de Pestivien
  • Guyon de Pontblanc
  • Geoffroy Poulard 
  • Simonet Pachard
  • Geoffroy de la Roche
  • Jean de Serent
  • Alain de Tinténiac
  • Maurice de Tréziguify
  • Geslin de Trésiguidy

Anglo-Breton Force [2]

  • Sir Robert Bramborough, Captain of Ploërmel 
  • Sir Robert Knolles
  • Sir Thomas Billefort
  • Sir Thomas Walton
  • Sir Hugh Calveley
  • Sir Hervé Laxaualan
  • Sir Richard Lalande

Squires & Men-at-Arms

  • John Plesington
  • Richard Gaillard
  • Hughes Gaillard
  • Huceton Clemenbean
  • Hennequin de Guenchamp
  • Renequin Hérouart
  • Hennequin Le Mareschal
  • Raoulet d'Aspremont
  • Gaultier l'Alemant
  • Bobinet Melipart
  • Jean Troussel
  • Robin Adès
  • Perrot Gannelon
  • Guillemin-le-Gaillard
  • Jennequin Taillard
  • Rango-le-Couart
  • Raoul Prévot
  • Dardaine 
  • Repefort
  • Croquart the German
  • Isannay
  • Dagworth (nephew of Sir Thomas Dagworth)
  • Helichon
  • Helecoq

† indicates that the combatant was killed. The English side lost nine killed in total and the remainder captured. The Franco-Breton side lost at least three and probably more. A number of them were captured during the fighting, but were released at the final outcome of the conflict.


  • A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman (1978)
  • Le Poème du combat des Trente, in the Panthéon litteraire; Froissart, Chroniques, ed. S. Luce, c. iv. pp. 45 and 110ff., and pp. 338–340.
  • H.R. Brush, ed., "La Bataille de trente Anglois et de trente Bretons," Modern Philology, 9 (1911-2): 511-44; 10 (1912-3): 82-136.
  • Steven Muhlberger, Deeds of Arms: Formal combats in the late fourteenth century, (Highland Village, TX, The Chivalry Bookshelf, 2005), 76-120.
  1. ^ Combat of the Thirty (1351) in: John A. Wagner. Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War. — Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006, p. 103.
  2. ^ Oddly, the poem which makes this combat legendary and names these knights lists 31 names for the English side.

External links

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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