The Battle of Poitiers was a major English victory in the Edwardian phase of the Hundred Years' War. It was fought on 19 September 1356 in Nouaillé, near the city of Poitiers in Aquitaine, western France. Edward, the Black Prince, led an army of English, Welsh, Breton and Gascon troops, many of them veterans of the Battle of Crécy. They were attacked by a larger French force led by King John II of France, which included allied Scottish forces. The French were heavily defeated; an English counter-attack captured King John II along with his youngest son and much of the French nobility.
The effect of the defeat on France was catastrophic, leaving Dauphin Charles to rule the country. Charles faced populist revolts across the kingdom in the wake of the battle, which had destroyed the prestige of the French upper-class. The Edwardian phase of the war ended four years later in 1360, on favourable terms for England.
Poitiers was the second major English victory of the Hundred Years' War. Poitiers was fought ten years after the Battle of Crécy (the first major victory), and about half a century before the third, the Battle of Agincourt (1415). The town and battle were often referred to as Poictiers in contemporaneous recordings, a name commemorated in several warships of the Royal Navy.
|Battle of Poitiers|
|Part of the Hundred Years' War|
The Battle of Poitiers (1356) Eugène Delacroix
|Duchy of Brittany||Kingdom of Scotland|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Sir John Chandos||Earl of Douglas|
|Casualties and losses|
Following the death of Charles IV of France in 1328, Philip, Count of Valois, had been crowned as his successor, over his closest male relative and legal successor, Edward III of England. Edward had been reluctant to pay homage to Philip in his role as Duke of Aquitaine, resulting in Philip confiscating these lands in 1337, precipitating war between the two nations. Three years later, Edward declared himself King of France. The war had begun well for the English. They had achieved naval domination early in the war at the Battle of Sluys in 1340,devastated the French in south west France with the Gascon campaigns of 1345 and 1346, inflicted a severe defeat on the French army at Crécy in 1346, and captured Calais in 1347.
In the late 1340s and early 1350s, the Black Death decimated the population of Western Europe, bringing all significant efforts in campaigning to a halt, one such victim being Philip VI of France himself. In 1355, Edward III laid out plans for a second major campaign. His eldest son, Edward, the Black Prince, now an experienced soldier following the Crécy campaign, landed at Bordeaux in Aquitaine, leading his army on a march through southern France to Carcassonne. Unable to take the heavily fortified settlement, Edward withdrew to Bordeaux. 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 II to attempt to pin down and destroy Edward's army. John, who had been besieging Breteuil in Normandy, organised the bulk of his army at Chartres to the north of Tours. In order to increase the speed of his army's march, he dismissed between 15,000 and 20,000 of his lower quality infantry, just as Edward turned back to Bordeaux. The French rode hard and cut in front of the English army, crossing the bridge over the Vienne at Chauvigny. Learning of this, the Black Prince quickly moved his army south. Historians disagree over whether the outnumbered English commander was seeking battle or trying to avoid it. In any case, after preliminary maneuvers and failed negotiations for a truce, the two armies faced off, both ready for battle, near Poitiers on Monday, 19 September 1356.
Edward arrayed his army in a defensive posture among the hedges and orchards of the area, in front of the forest of Nouaillé. He deployed his front line of longbowmen behind a particularly prominent thick hedge, through which the road ran at right angles. The Earl of Douglas, commanding the Scottish division in the French army, advised King John that the attack should be delivered on foot, with horses being particularly vulnerable to English arrows. John heeded this advice, his army leaving its baggage behind and forming up on foot in front of the English. The English gained vantage points on the natural high ground in order for their longbowmen to have an advantage on the heavily armored French troops.
The English army was led by Edward, the Black Prince and composed primarily of English and Welsh troops, though there was a large contingent of Gascon and Breton soldiers with the army. Edward's army consisted of approximately 2,000 longbowmen, 3,000 men-at-arms and a force of 1,000 Gascon infantry.
Like the earlier engagement at Crécy, the power of the English army lay in the longbow, a tall, thick self-bow made of yew. Longbows had demonstrated their effectiveness against massed infantry and cavalry in several battles, such as Falkirk in 1298, Halidon Hill in 1333 and Crécy ten years prior, in 1346. Poitiers was the second of three major English victories of the Hundred Years' War attributed to the longbow, though its effectiveness against armoured French knights and men-at-arms has been disputed.
Geoffrey the Baker wrote that the English archers under the earl of Salisbury "made their arrows prevail over the [French] knights' armor," but the bowmen on the other flank, under Warwick, were initially ineffective against the mounted French men-at-arms who enjoyed the double protection of steel plate armor and large leather shields. Once Warwick's archers redeployed to a position where they could hit the unarmored sides and backs of the horses, however, they quickly routed the cavalry force opposing them. The archers were also unquestionably effective against common infantry, who did not have the wealth to afford plate armour.
The English army was an experienced force; many archers were veterans of the earlier Battle of Crécy, and two of the key commanders, Sir John Chandos, and Captal de Buch were both experienced soldiers. The English army's divisions were led by Edward, the Black Prince, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Salisbury, Sir John Chandos and Captal de Buch.
The French army was led by John II of France, and was composed largely of native French soldiers, though there was a contingent of German knights, and a large force of Scottish soldiers. The latter force was led by the Earl of Douglas and fought in the King's own division. The French army at the battle comprised approximately 8,000 men-at-arms and 3,000 common infantry, though John had made the decision to leave behind the vast majority of his infantry, numbering up to 20,000, in order to overtake and force the English to battle.
Prior to the battle, the local prelate, Cardinal Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord attempted to broker a truce between the two sides, as recorded in the writings of the English commander, Sir John Chandos. Attending the conference on the French side was John II of France, the Count of Tankerville, the Archbishop of Sens and Jean de Talaru. Representing the English was the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Suffolk, Bartholomew de Burghersh, James Audley and Sir John Chandos. The English offered to hand over all of the war booty they had taken on their raids throughout France, as well as a seven-year truce. John, who believed his force could easily overwhelm the English, declined their proposal. John's counter suggestion that the Black Prince and his army should surrender was flatly rejected.
At the start of the battle, the English removed their baggage train from the field, prompting a hasty French assault, believing that what they saw was the English retreating. The fighting began with a charge by a forlorn hope of 300 German knights, led by Jean de Clermont. The attack was a disaster, with many of the knights shot down or killed by English soldiery. According to Froissart, the English archers then shot their bows at the massed French infantry. The Dauphin's division reached the English line. Exhausted by a long march in heavy equipment and harassed by the hail of arrows, the division was repulsed after approximately two hours of combat.
The retreating vanguard collided with the advancing division of the Duke of Orléans, throwing the French army into chaos. Seeing the Dauphin's troops falling back, Orléans' division fell back in confusion. The third, and strongest, division led by the King advanced forth, and the two withdrawing divisions coalesced and resumed their advance against the English. Believing that the retreat of the first two French divisions marked the withdrawal of the French, Edward had ordered a force under Captal de Buch to pursue. Sir John Chandos urged the Prince to launch this force upon the main body of the French army under the King. Seizing upon this idea, Edward ordered all his men-at-arms and knights to mount for the charge, while de Buch's men, already mounted, were instructed to advance around the French left flank and rear.
As the French advanced, the English launched their charge. Stunned by the attack, the impetus carried the English and Gascon forces right into the French line. Simultaneously, de Buch's mobile reserve of mounted troops fell upon the French left flank and rear. Fearful of encirclement, the cohesion of the French army disintegrated as many soldiers attempted to flee the field. Low on arrows, the English and Welsh archers abandoned their bows and ran forward to join the melée. Around this time, King John and his son, Philip the Bold, found themselves surrounded. As written by Froissart, an exiled French knight fighting with the English, Sir Denis Morbeke of Artois approached the king, requesting the King's surrender. The King is said to have replied, "To whom shall I yield me? Where is my cousin the Prince of Wales? If I might see him, I would speak with him". Denis replied; "Sir, he is not here; but yield you to me and I shall bring you to him". The king handed him his right gauntlet, saying; "I yield me to you".
Following the surrender of the King and his son Philip, the French army had broken up and left the field, ending the battle.
Following the battle, Edward resumed his march back to the English stronghold at Bordeaux. Jean de Venette, a Carmelite friar, vividly describes the chaos that ensued following the battle. 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. Jean writes that the French nobles brutally repressed the rebellions, robbing, despoiling and pillaging the peasants' goods. Mercenary companies hired by both sides added to the destruction, who plundered the peasants and churches.
Charles, to the misery of the French peasantry, began to raise additional funds to pay for the ransom of his father, and to continue the war effort. Capitalising on the discontent in France, King Edward assembled his army at Calais in 1359 and led his army on a campaign against Rheims. Unable to take Rheims or the French capital, Paris, Edward moved his army to Chartres. Later, the Dauphin Charles offered to open negotiations, and Edward agreed.
The Treaty of Brétigny was ratified on 24 October 1360, ending the Edwardian phase of the Hundred Years' War. In it, Edward agreed to renounce his claims to the French throne, in exchange for full sovereign rights over an expanded Aquitaine and Calais, essentially restoring the former Angevin Empire.
Froissart states these men fought with the Black Prince:
Another account states that John of Ghistelles perished at the Battle of Crécy so there is some ambiguity as to this individual.
Froissart states these men fought with King John II:
1356 is the fourth novel in The Grail Quest series by Bernard Cornwell. It is set in 1356, nearly a decade after the original trilogy, and culminates with the Battle of Poitiers. Intertwined in the plot is the quest to find La Malice, a fabled sword of Saint Peter and Christian relic which may turn the tide of the long war for France.
It was first published in 2012. It is the fiftieth novel by Bernard Cornwell.Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas
Archibald Douglas, Earl of Douglas and Wigtown, Lord of Galloway, Douglas and Bothwell, called Archibald the Grim or Black Archibald, was a late medieval Scottish nobleman. Archibald was the bastard son of Sir James "the Black" Douglas, Robert I's trusted lieutenant, and an unknown mother. A first cousin of William 1st Earl of Douglas, he inherited the earldom of Douglas and its entailed estates as the third earl following the death without legitimate issue of James 2nd Earl of Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn.Battle of Tours
The Battle of Tours (10 October 732) – also called the Battle of Poitiers and, by Arab sources, the Battle of the Highway of the Martyrs (Arabic: معركة بلاط الشهداء, translit. Ma'arakat Balāṭ ash-Shuhadā') – marked the victory of the Frankish and Burgundian forces under Charles Martel over the invasion forces of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus. It was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, in the Aquitaine of west-central France, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of Poitiers. The location of the battle was close to the border between the Frankish realm and the then-independent Duchy of Aquitaine under Odo the Great.
The Franks were victorious. Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed, and Charles subsequently extended his authority in the south. Details of the battle, including its exact location and the number of combatants, cannot be determined from accounts that have survived. Notably, the Frankish troops won the battle without cavalry.There is little dispute that the battle helped lay the foundations of the Carolingian Empire and Frankish domination of Europe for the next century. Most historians agree that "the establishment of Frankish power in western Europe shaped that continent's destiny and the Battle of Tours confirmed that power."Chevauchée of the Black Prince (1356)
The Chevauchée of the Black Prince in 1356, which began on 4 August 1356 at Bordeaux and ended with the Battle of Poitiers on 19 September 1356, was a devastating raid of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales (known as the Black Prince), the eldest son of King Edward III of England. This expedition of the Black Prince devastated large parts of Bergerac, Périgord, Nontronnais, Confolentais, Nord-Ouest, Limousin, La Marche, Boischaut, Champagne Berrichonne, Berry, Sologne, south of Touraine and Poitou.Edward le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer
Edward le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer, KG (also called Despenser; c. 24 March 1335 or 1336 – 11 November 1375) was the son of another Edward le Despenser and Anne Ferrers, sister of Henry, Lord Ferrers of Groby. He succeeded as Lord of Glamorgan in 1349.
Le Despencer went with Edward the Black Prince to France, and was present at the Battle of Poitiers. In recognition of his conduct in the French wars, he was summoned to Parliament as a baron in 1357. At the same time, he also became a Knight of the Garter.
He was a friend and patron of Jean Froissart and the eldest brother of Henry le Despenser, Bishop of Norwich.
There is a statue of him on the top of the Holy Trinity Chantry Chapel in Tewkesbury Abbey, renowned as the "KNEELING KNIGHT".Geoffroi de Charny
This article is about the French knight who died in 1356 at the Battle of Poitiers. For the Knight Templar of similar name who may or may not have been his uncle, and who was burned at the stake in 1314, see Geoffroi de Charney.
Geoffroi de Charny (c. 1300 – 19 September 1356) was a French knight and author of at least three works on chivalry. He was born around 1300. His father, Jean de Charny was the Lord of Lirey in Burgundy and his mother was Margaret de Joinville. His grandfather on his mother's side, Jean de Joinville, was a close friend of King Louis IX and author of his biography. Geoffroi was a knight in the service of King Jean II of France and a founding member of the Order of the Star, an order of chivalry founded on 6 November 1351 by Jean II of France similar to the Order of the Garter (1347) by Edward III of England. He was also the carrier of the Oriflamme, the standard of the crown of France, an immensely privileged, not to mention dangerous, honour, as it made the holder a key target of enemy forces on the battlefield. Geoffroi de Charny was one of Europe's most admired knights during his lifetime, with a widespread reputation for his skill at arms and his honour. It was said that in his time he was known as a "true and perfect Knight".Gilles Aycelin de Montaigu
This article is not about Gilles I Aycelin de Montaigu (d.1318)
Gilles II Aycelin de Montaigu or Montaigut, Montagu, was a French religious and diplomat who became Lord Chancellor of France, Cardinal from 1361 and bishop of Frascati from 1368. He was the chief negotiator for Jean II of France with the English, in the aftermath of the battle of Poitiers. Towards the end of his life he lived in Avignon on a livery from Cambrai. He died in there on 5 December 1378.James I, Count of La Marche
James I of Bourbon (1319 – 6 April 1362; also translated as Jacob (I) of Bourbon) was the son of Louis I, Duke of Bourbon and Mary of Avesnes. He was Count of Ponthieu from 1351 to 1360, and Count of La Marche from 1341 to his death.John Chandos
Sir John Chandos, Viscount of Saint-Sauveur in the Cotentin, Constable of Aquitaine, Seneschal of Poitou, (c. 1320 – 31 December 1369) was a medieval English knight who hailed from Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire. Chandos was a close friend of Edward the Black Prince and a founding member and 19th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348. Chandos was a gentleman by birth, but unlike most commanders of the day he held no inherited title of nobility.
Described by the medieval historian Froissart as "wise and full of devices", as a military strategist Chandos is believed to have been the mastermind behind three of the most important English victories of the Hundred Years War: the Battle of Crécy, the Battle of Poitiers and the Battle of Auray. His death in a minor skirmish was regretted by both sides.John II of France
John II (French: Jean II; 26 April 1319 – 8 April 1364), called John the Good (French: Jean le Bon), was King of France from 1350 until his death, the second monarch from the House of Valois.
When John II came to power, France was facing several disasters: the Black Death, which caused the death of nearly half of its population; popular revolts known as Jacqueries; free companies (Grandes Compagnies) of routiers who plundered the country; and English aggression that resulted in disastrous military losses, including the Battle of Poitiers of 1356, in which John was captured.
While John was a prisoner in London, his son Charles became regent and faced several rebellions, which he overcame. To liberate his father, he concluded the Treaty of Brétigny (1360), by which France lost many territories and paid an enormous ransom.
In an exchange of hostages, which included his second son Louis, Duke of Anjou, John was released from captivity to raise funds for his ransom. Upon his return to France, he created the franc to stabilize the currency and tried to get rid of the free companies by sending them to a crusade, but Pope Innocent VI died shortly before their meeting in Avignon. When John was informed that Louis had escaped from captivity, he voluntarily returned to England, where he died in 1364. He was succeeded by his son Charles V.John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford (c. 12 March 1312 – 24 January 1360) was the nephew and heir of Robert de Vere, 6th Earl of Oxford who succeeded as Earl of Oxford in 1331, after his uncle died without issue.
John de Vere was a trusted captain of Edward III in the king's wars in Scotland and France, and took part in both the Battle of Crécy and the Battle of Poitiers. He died campaigning in France in 1360. Throughout his career he was closely associated with William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton, who was his brother-in-law.Louis II, Duke of Bourbon
Louis de Bourbon, called the Good (4 February 1337 – 10 August 1410), son of Peter de Bourbon and Isabella de Valois (the sister of French King Philip VI), was the third Duke of Bourbon.Duke Louis is reported to have been somewhat mentally unstable, specifically having a trait of nervous breakdowns which is presumably hereditary; this trait was also evidenced in his sister Joanna of Bourbon (the wife of French King Charles V), his nephew Charles VI of France (called "The Mad"), his father Duke Peter, and his grandfather Louis I, Duke of Bourbon.
The teenage Louis inherited the duchy from his father Duke Peter I after his death in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.On August 19, 1371, he married Anne of Auvergne (1358–1417), Countess of Forez and a daughter of Beraud II, Dauphin of Auvergne, and his wife the Countess of Forez, and they had four children:
Catherine of Bourbon (b. 1378), d. young
John of Bourbon (1381–1434), Duke of Bourbon
Louis of Bourbon (1388 – 1404), Sieur de Beaujeu
Isabelle of Bourbon (1384 – aft. 1451)In 1390, Duke Louis launched the Barbary Crusade against the Hafsids of Tunis, in conjunction with the Genoese. Its objective was to suppress piracy based in the city of Mahdia, but the siege was unsuccessful. Duke Louis died at Montlucon in 1410, at the age of 72 or 73.Louis III, Count of Blois
Louis III of Châtillon (died 1372), son of Louis II, Count of Blois and Jeanne of Hainault, was count of Blois and lord of Avesnes 1346–1372, and count of Soissons 1346–1367.
After the Battle of Poitiers, he had to send his brother Guy as a hostage to London, and ultimately sold Soissons to Enguerrand VII de Coucy to ransom him.Poitiers
Poitiers ([pwatje] (listen)) is a city on the Clain river in west-central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and also of the Poitou. Poitiers is a major university centre. The centre of town is picturesque and its streets include predominantly historical architecture, especially religious architecture and especially from the Romanesque period. Two major battles took place near the city: in 732, the Battle of Poitiers (also known as the Battle of Tours), in which the Franks commanded by Charles Martel halted the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate, and in 1356, the Battle of Poitiers, a key victory for the English forces during the Hundred Years' War. This battle's consequences partly provoked the Jacquerie.Prospekt's March
Prospekt's March is the sixth EP by British rock band Coldplay, initially released on 21 November 2008 in Europe and Japan, and worldwide the following week. It features several tracks left over from the studio sessions for Coldplay's fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. It is also available in the deluxe edition of Viva la Vida. This is their first EP since Remixes (2003).
The cover features Eugène Delacroix's original painting Battle of Poitiers, similar to the cover art featured on Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (which included another Delacroix-created painting, Liberty Leading the People). On 5 November, Coldplay offered an exclusive preview of the EP via their Facebook application and through their website.There were two singles that anchored the EP. The song "Glass of Water" entered the iTunes Top 100 songs and went on to be performed live by the band on 4Music. "Life in Technicolor II" began its existence in the charts at No. 90 in the UK Singles Chart despite not being released as an official single. It was later confirmed to be the EP's first single. It later peaked at No. 28 upon its physical release on 8 February 2009. The song was nominated at the 52nd Grammy Awards for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Short Form Music Video.Rainier II, Lord of Monaco
Rainier II, Lord of Monaco (1350–1407), was the monarch of Monaco from June 29, 1352 to August 15, 1357. He was the son of Charles I, Lord of Monaco, and Lucchina Spinola. He ruled jointly with his father Charles I, Lord of Monaco, his father's uncle Antonio, Lord of Monaco and his brother Gabriele, Lord of Monaco. He yielded Monaco to the besieging Genoese for 20,000 fl. but retained Menton and Roquebrune.
He was Admiral of Languedoc and Seneschal of Piedmont. He fought with the French army in the Battle of Poitiers. France's terrible losses in that epic battle led to sweeping military reforms by King Charles V of France. Monaco's port benefited directly from these. While escorting convoys of French merchant ships in the English Channel, he was captured by John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford. John of Lancaster sold his noble prisoner to his King, Edward III of England.Umayyad invasion of Gaul
The Umayyad invasion of Gaul in 720 followed immediately on the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. During the 8th century, Umayyad armies conquered the region of Septimania, the last remnant of the Visigothic Kingdom.The Umayyad advance was stopped at the Battle of Toulouse in 721, but they sporadically raided Southern Gaul as far as Avignon, Lyon, and Autun. After the 732 Battle of Tours-Poitiers, the Franks checked Aquitanian sovereignty, and reasserted their authority over Burgundy, but only later in 759 did they manage to take the Mediterranean region of Septimania, due to Andalusi neglect and local Gothic disaffection.William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas
William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas (c.1323 – 1 May 1384) was a Scottish nobleman, peer, and magnate.Worshipful Company of Bowyers
The Worshipful Company of Bowyers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London.
Originally, bowyers (longbow-makers) and fletchers (arrow-makers) comprised one organisation. However, in 1371, the fletchers petitioned the Lord Mayor to divide into their own company, the Worshipful Company of Fletchers. Demarcation disputes arose between the two over supervision until 1429, when a City ordinance defined their respective spheres. It was not until the late 1480s that the bowyers acquired a coat of arms and a set of coherent written ordinances.
The actual trade of the bowyers still survives. Although originally made for use in war and hunting, there is now some demand for longbows used in target archery. There are several practising bowyers in the membership of the Company and it maintains a great interest in the craft. The bowyers are also involved in the sport of archery and give awards and medals each year at the Royal Toxophilite Society and school competitions.
The Bowyers' Company mostly exists as a charitable institution, as do a majority of the 110 Livery Companies, with a focus on the disabled. HMS Northumberland is affiliated to it. The bowyers rank 38th in the order of precedence of the Companies, immediately above the fletchers. Uniquely, among all the City's Livery Companies, Companies without Livery and Guilds, it is the only one that does not admit women.The Company motto is Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt, a reference to the Battle of Crécy, the Battle of Poitiers, and the Battle of Agincourt, all battles between medieval England and France in the Hundred Years' War in which longbows and English longbows were used to great effect by English and Welsh archers, before artillery took over towards the end of the war.