Mary of Guise

Mary of Guise

Mary of Guise ( Queen Regent of Scotland)

Mary of Lorraine, better known as Mary of Guise, Queen to James V, and regent of Scotland was born at Bar on the 22nd November 1515, to parents Claude of Guise and Antoinette of Bourbon.

Mary of Guise married Louis II of Orleans, Duke of Longueville in 1534, and bore him a son Francis in 1535.  In the June of 1537, her husband, the Duke of Longueville died.

Mary was in her early twenties, and sought in marriage by James V, whose wife had died in the July and Henry VIII after the death of his beloved wife; Jane Seymour.

Mary accepted the offer of marriage from James V.  Mary an adopted daughter of France received papal dispensation for her upcoming marriage.  Her marriage to James V was celebrated first by Proxy in the May of 1538 in Paris, then at St.Andrews upon her arrival in Scotland.

She bore James two sons; James in the May of 1540 and Robert in the April of 1541, both sons died in the April of 1541.  In December of 1542; Mary, Queen of Scots was born and within a week James had died.

Cardinal David Breton, head of the French and Catholic party, and friend and ally to Mary, produced a will of the late king, which stated primacy in regency was assigned to Breton, himself.  John Knox made accusations of unfounded intimacy between Mary and Breton.  A similar report was revived in 1543, by Sir Ralph Sadler, English envoy.

Cardinal David Breton was arrested, and the regency fell to heir presumptive James, Earl of Arran, who hoped to secure the hand of the infant princess for his own son.

Mary of Guise was asked by the English commissioner, Sir Ralph Sadler to push her daughter, to further her contract of marriage with Edward VI.

A marriage treaty was signed on the 1st July at Greenwich, and Mary, Queen of Scots was barely a year old, was betrothed to Edward VI.  The terms stated that Mary would be placed in Henry’s custody when she was ten years old.  The Queen dowager and her daughter were under constant scrutiny at Linlithgow, and on the 23rd July 1543, escaped to the safety of Stirling Castle, aided by Cardinal Breton.

Following the Queen’s coronation in the September, Mary of Guise, played a prominent part in the affairs of the kingdom… Queen Regent of Scotland.

Mary of Guise kept in contact with her French kinsmen, for she sought a French alliance for her daughter.  This meant going out on a limb, against her advisers, who opposed such an idea.

The English invasion of 1547 was to enforce the English marriage, which gave Mary the reason for a French alliance.  In the June of 1548 a French fleet and 5,000 soldiers landed at Leith under the command of Andre de Montalembert, seigneur d’Esse, to booster Scottish forces, laying siege to English held Haddington.

NPG 1766,Mary, Queen of Scots,by Unknown artist

Mary Queen of Scots

The Scottish Parliament approved the marriage of Mary, the young Queen of Scotland with the Dauphin of France.  In the August of 1548, she set sail from Dumbarton to complete her education in the French court.

In the September of 1550, Mary of Guise visited France, seeking assurances from Henry II, over the confirmation of the dukedom and revenues of Chatelherault for the Earl of Arran, inducing him to resign the regency.

On route from France to Scotland, landed at Portsmouth due to heavy storms, and she visited Edward VI.  Arran refused to relinquish regency until the April of 1554, with assurances to his right of succession.

The new Regent faced an empty exchequer and opposition to Mary’s marriage to the dauphin.

The granting of high positions of state to Frenchmen caused outcry, fearing foreign domination.

Hostility from Arran and Archbishop Hamilton, forced her to undertake talks with the Lords of the Congregation, who favoured a protestant party.

Miners arrived from Lorraine, to dig for gold at Crawford Moor, to meet the high expenses of her government.

Mary of Guise appointed William Maitland of Lethington in 1554 as Secretary of State, and made a dangerous enemy of John Knox in the process.

On matters of religion, she tried to hold a balance between Catholic and Protestant factions, by allowing Presbyterian preachers to practice their religion, but no preaching in Edinburgh and Leith.

With the marriage of Francis II and her daughter Mary in 1558, she strengthened her position.  In 1559, she submitted to the religious policy of her relatives; the Guises.

She was forced to take up arms against the Protestants of Perth, who had been incited by John Knox to destroy the Charterhouse, the place where Scottish kings were buried.  The reformers were forced into submission on condition no foreign garrison was positioned in Perth.

Mary broke the agreement, by garrisoning Scottish troops, paid for by the French.

On the 21st October 1559, reformers who had been welcomed into Edinburgh, forcing Mary to flee to Dunbar, called for her to be deposed.

Mary, assisted by French forces, fortified Leith.  She had been betrayed, Chatelherault and his son defected, and William Maitland, her secretary of state, betrayed her plans to the Lords of the Congregation.

In October of 1559, Mary’s forces took on Leith, and attempted to seize an English convoy, was a failure leading to increased difficulties.  Mary entered Edinburgh, and conducted a bloody campaign in Fife.

In January of 1560, William Winter commanded an English fleet, which was sent to force Elbeuf’s French fleet, back to France.  Elbeuf had been commissioned by Francis II and Mary to seize Mary’s regency, on account of her failing health.

An English army led by Lord Grey, crossed the border into Scotland on the 29th March 1560, and granted Mary of Guise, the Regent asylum in Edinburgh Castle.

As Mary lay there, she felt her life slowly draining from her, she knew her end was close at hand.  She sent for the Lords of the Congregation, and pleaded they maintain a French Alliance.

On the 11th June 1560 Mary of Guise, also known as Mary of Lorraine, the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots died.  She was buried in St.Peter’s Church within the nunnery at Reims, France, where her sister was the Abbess.

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One Hundred Years War: Battles

Battle of Calais

The Hundred Years War:  England and France fought each other for the French throne, and English territories from 1337-1453.  The war was not fought continuously but in phases.  It started out well for the English, but by 1453, the tide had turned in favour of France, all English lands except Calais were lost.

The “Battle of Cadsand – (1337),” the first battle of the Hundred Years War, where Edward III raided the island of Cadsand… leading to an English victory.

The “Naval Battle of Sluys – (1340)” saw some two hundred French, Castilian and Genoese sail across the English Channel… for a prolonged invasion of England.

The English had a small fleet, but they had long bowmen situated on platforms at the rear of their ships, and were able to fire off arrows, much quicker than Frances crossbowmen.

The French were driven from their decks by a barrage of arrows, as ships closed in.  Grappling irons secured boats for boarding, as English forces scrambled onto French ships followed by hand-to-hand fighting.

The achieved victory, gave England control of the English Channel.

The “Battle of Auberoche – (1345),” was a battle fought between English and French troops over disputed boundaries… English forces won through.

The “Siege of Calais – (1346)“, tells of English forces capture of Calais, turning the area into their operations base.

The “Battle of Crecy – (1346)” was fought in northern France; an overwhelming defeat for the French, with a far larger army than the English forces.  Genoese mercenary crossbow men and French knights, proved no match for the English longbow men.

The “Battle of Saint – Pol – de – Leon (1346),” an English commander named Dagworth, withdrew his men, taking cover at a nearby hill, where they dug trenches and waited for the French.  He was not disappointed as General Blois and his infantry assaulted their position, and they were cut down by English forces, leading to an English victory.

The “Battle of La Roche – Derrien (1347),” England’s forces fell into a trap set by Duke Charles, luring Dagworth into a night battle.  The French overwhelmed them, Dagworth was forced to surrender.  Charles let his guard down, and English backup forces led to his defeat.

The “Battle of Saintes (1351),” where French forces attempted to capture the town, but English forces arrived, and were victorious.

The “Battle of Ardres (1351).”  French forces led by Lord Beaujieu, surrounded English forces under the command of John of Beauchamp as they withdrew from Saint-Omer, leading to a French victory.

The “Battle of Mauron (1352),” tells of an English captain, Breton captain and Franco Breton forces, meeting at Brambily, where the French were defeated… leading to an Anglo-Breton victory.

The “Battle of Poitiers (1356)” saw Edward the Black Prince, son of Edward III of England, defeat the French army near Poitiers.  Yet again, the English longbowmen played a decisive part in the battle.  King John II (Jean II) of France was captured and taken to England, where he remained until 1360, promising to pay a ransom for his release.

During the French King’s captivity in England, Charles attempted to be crowned King of France, but the attempt failed.

A peace treaty was drafted in 1360, which coincided with John’s release, by 1369 the treaty broke down wand was resumed.

At the “Battle of Auray (1364),” English troops commanded by John Chandos lay siege to the town of Auray.  French forces lose and the town surrenders.  The French military leader; Bertrand du Guesclin is captured and held for ransom.

At the “Battle of Navarrette (1367),” fought between Anglo-Gascon and Franco-Castilian forces.  English forces were led by Edward, against Henry of Trastamara.  Henry’s half-brother assisted Edward in his defeat.

At the “Battle of Montiel (1369)” Peter had the support of Edward and England, Henry and France.  Peter lost the battle, as Edward withdrew his support, and Henry was victorious for France.

At the “Battle of Chiset (1373),” French forces attacked the town of Chiset.  The English called for help, but the battle was over before they arrived, and the French were the victors.

At the “Siege of Harfleur (1415)” King Henry V of England landed on French soil with 10,000 men.  The siege lasted about a month, and Henry’s forces were victorious, but at a price, his number had been severely reduced.  Next stop for Henry was Calais, but French forces intercepted him at Agincourt.

The “Battle of Agincourt (1415)”.  English forces under the command of King Henry V, defeated a superior French army, and his skilled longbowmen, won the battle for their King and England.

The “Siege of Rouen (1418-1419)” English forces reached Rouen in the July of 1418, and came face to face with the French commanded by Blanchard and LeBouteillen.  English forces found it impossible to breach city walls, and opted to starve out their enemy.  On the 20th January 1419, the French surrendered.

The “Battle of Bauge (1421)” French and Scottish forces joined up, attacking the English in Normandy.  Thomas, the Duke of Clarence’s force of cavalry and infantry, were not working with each other, as they attacked allied forces, which brought down their army and victory went to the Franco-Scots force.

On the 31st August 1422, King Henry V of England died at Vincennes in France, and two months later King Charles VI of France also died.

The “Battle of Cravant (1423).”  Following a standoff, Scottish archers began firing at the enemy.  Then under the protection of the longbows chose to cross the river.  The French withdrew their forces, as the Scottish forces fought on, only to be cut down.  This would lead to a victory for the English and Burgundian army.

The “Battle of Verneuil (1423).”  Some 15,000 French and Scottish troops attacked a 9,000 strong English force in Normandy.  As the French and Scottish forces charged, English longbowmen cut them down in their tracks.

The “Battle of St.James (1426).”  The battle took place at Avranches, between French and English troops on the border of Normandy and Brittany.  English forces overwhelmed the French, leading to an English victory.

The “Battle of Jargeau (1429).”  Joan of Arc and Duke John controlled French forces against the English.  The French assault started on the 11th June and on the 12th June, Joan called upon the English to surrender.  Even though the English suffered heavy losses, they battled on, refusing to give in, and were victorious over the French.

The “Battle of Beaugency (1429).”  French forces were losing control of the river crossings, one by one.  French determination won through, as English commanders were captured and longbowmen killed.

The “Siege of Orleans (1429),” will be most remembered when Joan of Arc, a 17 year old peasant girl, stepped forward claiming divine guidance.  Her actions marked a turning point for French forces, she would lead the troops to victory over the English.

In the year 1429, French became more victorious in battle against the English.  Joan of Arc put fire in the bellies of French troops, and she would lead them into battle.

The “Battle of Patay (1429).”  This victory is credited to Joan of Arc, even though the battle was won, before France’s main force arrived on the scene.

The “Siege of Compiegne (1430).”  Captain Louis led an artillery bombardment at Choisy.  As the French forces were victorious, Joan of Arc was captured, put on trial by the English and burnt at the stake as a witch in 1431, in Rouen.

At the “Battle of Gerbevoy (1435).”  French forces were commanded by La Hire and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, who were victorious over English forces.  La Hire was promoted to Captain General of Normandy in 1438, and died in 1443 at Montauban.

The “Battle of Formingny (1450).”  King Charles VII of France, goes on the attack, pushing back a force of 5,000 English troops, into the town of Formingny.  French artillery open fire on the town, and only 1,000 English survived the bombardment.  Formingny marked an end to fighting in the northern territories of France.

The “Battle of Castillon (1453),” saw a victorious French army defeat English forces and marked an end to the Hundred Years War.  This battle was more about the use of cannons to achieve victory.

King Edward III of England had plunged the country into war against the French: “The Hundred Years War.”  Edward died in 1377 and so the reign of King Richard II began.  In 1396 Richard married Isabella of France, daughter of King Charles VI.

Richard and Isabella’s marriage, led to a twenty-eight truce in hostilities between the two countries.  It didn’t take long for the truce to be broken, and war to break out again.

The English failed to achieve victory in the Hundred Years War, even though they had achieved many victories.  After the Battle of Agincourt, the war changed direction, away from the English to the French.

England lost the war, all their territories except Calais, which was later captured in 1558.

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Hundred Years War (3/3)

Hundred Years War

Hundred Years War

Rivalry was escalating between the dukes of Burgundy and Orleans for governmental control, and it was heading for an internal battle within France, by two of its powerful houses.

In 1407, Louis duc d’Orleans, brother to King Charles VI of France was assassinated by the Duke of Burgundy, which led to civil war between Burgundian partisans of the Duke of Burgundy and Armagnac partisans of the Duke of Orleans.

In 1413, the Armagnacs gained control of Paris, and expelled from the city, those loyal to the Burgundians.

Feuding factions were tearing apart the French realm, to the backdrop of the Hundred Years War.  Sooner or later, England would seize the opportunity and attack France.

King Henry IV died in 1413, to be succeeded by his son Henry of Monmouth, King Henry V of England.  From the start of his reign, he was determined to attack France.

He demanded of France, that Aquitaine should be returned to English control, and the long forgotten arrears of King John’s ransom be paid.  He kept up his demands, until negotiations reached a stale mate, as France was unwilling to comply with his demands.  As the negotiations had been taking place, he had been equipping an army to do battle.

On the 11th August 1415, Henry’s fleet slipped slowly into the English Channel, heading southwards from the Hampshire coast.  On the 14th August, the fleet dropped anchor at Chef de Caux, on the north shore of the Seine estuary, a few miles from Honfleur.  He laid siege to the Norman port of Harfleur, who surrendered on the 22nd September.

Henry’s forces left Harfleur on the 8th October and marched to Calais.  Henry sent word, ordering the Governor of the town; Sir William Bardolph to take his forces to the crossing across the Somme and hold it.  At the crossing, Bardolph and his army was nowhere to be seen, instead French troops were waiting.

Henry marched south-east along the river’s left bank, and the French blocked any attempt to cross.

On the 24th October, as the English army passed through Frevent, some 30 miles from Calais and safety, his scouts reported, the French had amassed a large army and blocked the road ahead.

Henry knew there was only one action that could be taken, in reply to this information.

Battle of Agincourt

Battle of Agincourt

On the 25th October 1415, the “Battle of Agincourt” took place, as English forces took up position in three divisions; commanded by Lord Camoys on the right, the Duke of York in the centre and Sir Thomas Erpingham on the left.

The Constable of France, led the French line, with the second line led by the Dukes of Bar and d’Alencon with the Counts of Merle and Falconberg bringing up the rear.

Henry’s forces made the first move as banners advanced to the sound of trumpets.  As arrow range was reached, archers prepared, and on the King’s order a barrage of arrows, flew across the skyline, killing hundreds of French troops.

The battle raged, along the English line, archers abandoned their bows and joined knights and men-at-arms in hand to hand combat against the French.  In less than two hours, the battle was an English victory… and remnants of the French army vacated the battlefield.

The English army consisted of 5,000 knights, men-at-arms and archers.  The French army consisted of some 30,000 knights, men-at-arms and crossbowmen, of which 8,000 are believed to have died.

The Battle of Agincourt wiped out three French dukes, the Constable of France, nine Counts, and ninety Lords and close to 5,000 knights.  In response England’s losses were few; Edward, the Duke of York and 500 knights, men-at-arms and archers.

In 1417, Henry started a new campaign against France, the conquest of previously controlled English lands in France.  In January 1419, Rouen the Norman capital fell, which opened the way to Paris.

On the 10th September 1419, Duke John of Burgundy was assassinated in revenge for the murder of Louis duc d’Orleans, as the Burgundian faction joined forces with the English.

King Henry V of England, contracted fever at Meaux and died on the 31st August 1422, and was succeeded by his son; Henry VI.  Henry V’s brother, Duke John of Bedford, became Regent to the ten month old King.

King Charles VI of France died on the 21st October 1422, and the dauphin Charles, claimed the throne of France as King Charles VII.  Yet he didn’t have the backing of the people of France, and was only acknowledged as King by the people of Southern France.

The Duke of Bedford acting as King’s Regent, expanded English lands in France, as Maine came under English control.

The final phase of the Hundred Years War began with the birth of a French peasant girl, back in 1412: Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc).  In 1425 she claimed she heard voices from God; her mission in life was to save France by expelling their enemies… the English!

King Henry V of England claimed his right to the French throne and following their rejection, invaded France in August 1415 and went on to defeat Armagnac’s army at the “Battle of Agincourt” on the 25th October 1415.

Henry V conquered much of northern France in 1417, gaining support from Duke Philip III of Burgundy, for he agreed Henry V had a legal claim to the French throne.

In 1428 Joan of Arc met with Duke Charles after many rejections at his palace in Chinon.  She promised him, if he gave her an army she would turn round the war in his favour, and she would see him take his rightful place and crowned King of France at Reims.  There was much opposition to such an idea from loyal supporters of Charles, but he gave her a chance … one wonders what he saw in her.

In March of 1429, Joan of Arc led her army against the English as they were attacking Orlean’s.  She was dressed in white armour upon a white horse carrying a banner with the picture of “Our Saviour” holding the world with two angels at the sides on a white background covered with gold fleurs-de-lis.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

Joan was to lead several assaults against the Anglo-Burgundian forces expelling them from their fortress, and forcing their retreat across the Loire River.  As her victories mounted, so did her fame, spread across France.

Joan kept her promise as Duke Charles was crowned King Charles VII of France in July 1429 at Reims.

After Joan’s capture in 1430 at the Battle of Compiegne, and burnt at the stake on charges of heresy.  Philip, the Duke of Burgundy renounced his English alliance at the Congress at Arras.  He accepted Charles VII as the true King of France, dealing a mortal blow to the English.

In 1444, King Henry VI of England married the French princess Margaret of Anjou, in an arranged marriage, part of an agreement towards peace.

In 1449, English warriors laid siege and looted Fougeres in Brittany.  In reply Charles VII, felt he was no longer bound by the terms of the peace treaty.

French forces captured Normandy and Gascony from the English during 1449-1451.  In 1452, a pro-English faction in Bordeaux called upon the English for assistance.  John Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury re-took Bordeaux.  On the 17th July 1453, John Talbot’s English force, proved no match against the French troops at Castillon, where they were defeated and Talbot died on the battlefield.

The final straw came on the 19th October 1453, when Bordeaux fell to the French.  England still had control of Calais, and it remained so up until 1558.  Up until the 1st January 1801, the title King of France was claimed by the English.

Effectively the “Hundred Years War” came to an end in 1453, and England was shocked by the loss of its overseas empire…

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Hundred Years War (1/3)

Henry II - Eleanor of Aquitaine

INTRO:

Matilda, born of Norman blood, the daughter of King Henry I and Edith of Scotland, married Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, and gave birth to a son; Henry.

King Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine, and jointly they owned the French territories of Anjou and Aquitaine.  Henry ruled more land in France, than the French King himself, and he wanted it back.

A weak King, had been England’s downfall, when King John (1199-1216), lost most of England’s French territories.  Future King’s desired to take back what was theirs, culminating in the declaration of war in 1337, “The Hundred Years War.”

1348 was a bad year for Europe, as Black Death struck, and millions of lives were lost.

By 1431, England had conquered most of France, in the Hundred Years War, using the “Long Bow.”

England was dealt a deadly blow, when Joan of Arc, led French troops into battle, putting into them, the belief that France could push these invader’s from their lands…

Henry Burghersh, the then Bishop of Lincoln and Councillor to the King of England, was commissioned by King Edward III of England to deliver a document into the hands of; Philip of Valois, the King of France.

Edward claimed that he was the rightful King of France, by way of his mother, Isabella a French Princess and grandson of a French Monarch.

King Charles IV of France

King Charles IV of France

Charles IV of France died leaving no male heirs, and France did not want an English King as their ruler, as such Philip of Valois, distant nephew to the French monarch was appointed.

Edward further announced, it was his intention not to pay homage to the King of France for England’s territories in France.  Edward’s challenge – refusing to pay homage, was by far, more audacious, threatening the feudal system, a centuries old system.

14th century Plantagenet King of England, descendants of French princes, held territories in France, descended from William the Duke of Normandy, of Viking decent had won the English crown, by right of conquest at the “Battle of Hastings” in 1066.

King Edward III

Edward became King of England in 1327. And Philip became King of France in 1328.  In accordance with France’s feudal customs, Edward III of England paid homage to King Philip of France, at Amiens Cathedral in 1329, for his fiefs, the French territories, under English control.

The English King faced a dilemma, for he held the title’s; Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Ponthieu, and as such was a member of the French aristocracy.  As such it was his duty, to defend the interests of France.  However, the issue at hand, Edward as King of England, could not be seen to allow France, to dictate his foreign policies.

France wanted to control sea traffic along its coastline, which led Philip of France to create links with Scotland, England’s hostile neighbour.

England and Scotland had been at war since the 1290’s, and in 1314 Robert the Bruce King of the Scots, had won a humiliating defeat against Edward II at the “Battle of Bannockburn.”

In 1328, Edward III sealed a treaty with the Scots, but he couldn’t resist any chance he had to poke his nose into Scotland’s affairs, after the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329.  He removed David II, son of Robert the Bruce, and placed his own puppet King on the Scottish throne, one who was loyal to Edward.

Philip stepped forward offering a safe haven to the exiled King of Scotland.

Edward would have felt uneasy by an alliance of France and Scotland, but that was nothing compared to the large fleet of French ships gathering in the harbours of Normandy.  There was only one explanation, King Philip of France was preparing for an attack on England, with the support from the Scots in the north.

King Philip VI of France

King Philip VI of France

In 1337, King Philip VI declares to Edward, that he is confiscating English territories in South-West France, citing England’s failure in its feudal obligations.

An enraged Edward reponded, claiming that Philip VI had no right to confiscate his legitimate inheritance in France… those lands belonged to England.  The French throne should have been mine by right of inheritance, but I accepted the French Assembly ruling to appoint you… but no longer.  “I hereby declare war on France!”  I want what is mine…

In the year 1337, the first battle of the “Hundred Years War” took place at Cadsand, where English forces raided the island, leading to an English victory.

On the 26th January 1340, Edward III entered the Flemish City of Ghent, and called upon the townspeople, to recognize him, not only as King of England, but also as King of France.

Illustration of Napoleon's Planned Invasion of England

Battle of Sluys

Edward took the battle to the French: The Naval Battle of Sluys in 1340, saw some two-hundred French, Castilian and Genoese ships, sail across the English Channel… the start of an invasion of England.

On the 23rd June, Edward anchored at Blankenberghe, north of Bruges, where veteran soldiers; Robert Crawley and John Crabbe were put ashore to reconnoitre the French Fleet.  The two knights rode to Sluys with a French escort.  Upon their return they advised Edward, it be risky, as the French Fleet was located within the harbour.

Edward chose to ignore the advice from his knights…

On the 24th June 1340, King Edward attacked the French Fleet; made up of French, Castilian and Genoese ships inn Sluys harbour.  Their ships had been bunched together, in three squadrons, and each squadron was chained together.

The English Fleet bore down on the French early in the day, with the advantages of having the wind, tide and sun behind them.  English archers sent hails of arrows from their advantage points; end castles or raised platforms located at the rear of ships, or on the masts.

English ships rammed French vessels, attaching hooks and grappling irons, as men clambered across, to deliver death and destruction at close quarters.

The French were trapped, their ships chained together proved to be their undoing.  Some 18,000 French and Genoese were killed, either by arrows, or cut down in hand to hand combat or drowned.

Both French commanders lost their lives.  Hugues Quieret was killed as his ship was boarded and Nicolas Behuchet was hanged from the mast of his ship.

Most of the French Fleet had been destroyed or captured, removing danger to English merchant ships in the English Channel.

On the 11th July 1346, King Edward III of England landed at St.Vaast on the northern coast of France.  His army consisted of 16,000 knights, men-at-arms, archers and infantry.  Their target was Normandy.

Edward the Black Prince

Edward the Black Prince

On the beaches of France, he knighted his 16 year-old son, Edward the Prince of Wales, who became known as the Black Prince.

At the same time a second English force landed at Bordeaux, on the coast of south-west France.  Their target was to invade Aquitaine.

Edward’s forces marched south to Caen, capital of Normandy, taking Raoul, Count of Eu, prisoner, he being the Constable of France and a prized prisoner at that.

They marched forth to the Seine, finding bridges destroyed, slowing up their advancement into France.  They marched up the Seine, until they found a bridge which was crossable.  The bridge at Poissy, was easily repaired, and English forces crossed.

At the same time, news reached Edward, that King Philip VI of France, was amassing an enormous army, to stop English invaders.

Edward’s forces crossed the Seine, and marched north to the sea, approaching perilously close to Paris and Philips forces.  As they marched north King Philip followed closely in their tracks.  At low tide, they crossed the mouth of the river, evading pursuing forces.  Edward’s escaping forces encamped in the Foret de Crecy on the north bank of the Somme.

On the 26th August 1346, the English forces took position between the villages of Crecy and Wadicourt.

Edward III took the central position, with his son Edward, the Prince of Wales commanding the right flank of forces, along with the Earl of Oxford, Earl of Warwick and Sir John Chandos.  The left flank of forces was commanded by the Earl of Northampton.

Each division of forces, had its spearmen to the rear, knights and men-at-arms in the centre and archers to the front.

Philip’s army came north from Abbeyville arriving mid-day on the 26th at Crecy – Wadicourt.  French knights advised their King to encamp for the night, and attack on the 27th… Philip agreed.

Many of his army leaders were not waiting, and Philip conceded and so the attack was made that very day, on the afternoon of the 26th.

The role of the Constable of France was to command the Kingdom’s feudal army in battle.  They had been thwarted, for the English had taken him prisoner.  Crecy lost its authority and experience in battle, the King’s army lacked direction.

The French army was divided into four divisions:

Division One was commanded by Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi.

Division Two was commanded by Duke D’Alencon with blind King John of Bohemia.

Division Three was commanded by D’Alencon’s, King of the Romans and former King of Majorca.

Division Four was commanded by the Duke of Lorraine and the Count of Blois.  With King Philip and his forces bringing up the rear guard.

The battle began, late in the afternoon.  Suddenly without warning, the heavens opened, and it poured with rain.  English archers removed their bow strings, putting them in their jackets to keep them dry.  The French crossbowmen did not have that option.

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Battle of Crecy

With rain stopped, French crossbowmen fired their arrows, only to discover they fell short of their mark; the rain had loosened their strings, and they were no longer taut.  English forces stepped forth, drawing their bowstrings to their ears, as they released their arrows they crossed the skyline and reached their desired target.

The barrage of arrows, inflicted many casualties, forcing retreat by crossbowmen who were trampled down by French knights.  French knights and men-at-arms were subjected to a relentless storm of arrows, wave after wave.

The battle continued late into the night, and King Philip abandoned the carnage, riding to the Castle of La Boyes, to seek safety from the English onslaught.

The King of France had left his post, his forces fled the battlefield.  Come the next day, Welsh and Irish spearmen walked among the dead and dying, murdering and pillaging the wounded…

The French army was 80,000 in size and lost some 30,000 men to an English army of 16,000 men, who reported minimal losses.

After the battle, Edward the Prince of Wales the Black Prince, adopted the emblem of the King of Bohemia, three white feathers and his motto “Ich Dien” (I serve). Still the emblem of the Prince of Wales.

Battle of Calais

Siege of Calais

In 1347 Calais surrendered to Edward’s forces.  It was the first battle of the Hundred Years War, which saw the use of artillery.

In the early part of the 14th century, Earth underwent a period of extreme cold weather, as temperature plummeted.  What was to come, led to millions of death’s across Europe; “The Black Death Plague.”

black-death

Black Death

There was no control against this disease as it spread from village to village, town to town, and country to country, as thousands died, day by day.  The disease was known to travel by sea and land, with no available solution to stop it, in its tracks.

  • By the winter of 1347 it had reached Italy, and reports were coming in, it was running rampant through the streets of Rome and Florence.
  • January 1348 the plague had reached Marseilles, for the dead were lying where they died; in houses and on the streets.
  • It travelled along the Rhine, and reached Germany in 1348 and the Low Countries.
  • By the middle of 1348, this disease had struck Paris, Bordeax, Lyon and London.

The Hundred Years War was suspended in 1348, due to high mortality rates amongst the military, caused by the plague, yet it was reconvened once the plague had passed.

The Black Death plague became one of the worst pandemics in human history, killing an estimated two hundred million people between 1347-1350.

Wikipedia: Images

Plantagenet Tombs: Fontevrault Abbey

Robert-Arbrissel

Robert d’Arbrissel

Robert d’Arbrissel, Archpriest of the Rennes Diocese, carried out reforms on behalf of his bishop, until his death in 1095.  Hostility erupted following the bishop’s death, amongst the local clergy, forcing the Diocese to step in and remove Arbrissel from his position.

Arbrissel became a hermit, practicing a life of penance in Craon forest.

In 1096 he founded a monastery of Canons at LaRoe, with himself as the first Abbot.

Pope Urban II summoned Arbrissel to Angers, appointing him as apostolic missionary, and granted him the right to preach anywhere.  His preaching drew crowds of devoted followers.

In 1099, Robert d’Arbrissel, settled in the Fons Ebraldi Valley, where he established his monastic community.

The foundation flourished, attracting more followers to his dream , a new monastic order; the Order of Fontevrault, consisting of a monastery and nunnery, within a single complex, governed by an Abbess.  As such nuns and monks lived by the Rule of St.Benedict.

Aristocratic ladies often retreated or retired to the Abbey of Fontevrault, banished from court, discarded mistresses of Kings.  Robert d’Arbrissel ruled that the Abbess would never be one from within, but drawn in from outside, one with worldly experience.  In 1201, Pope Innocent III removed this rule.

Fontevrault Abbey Image

Fontevrault Abbey

The Abbey of Fontevrault is located in the Pays de la Loire region, a monastic city of Europe, and royal necropolis cemetery of the Plantagenet dynasty.

In 1804, it was saved from destruction when Napoleon transformed it, into a prison, and it remained so until 1985.

Fontevrault Abbey Plantagenets Tombs

The Plantagenet Dynasty and Fontevrault Abbey

Founded in 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel, known as the Royal Abbey of Fontevrault, characterised by its two orders, and governed by women.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was Queen to Louis VII, King of France and King Henry II of England.

In 1137, her father died and she became heiress of the duchy of Aquitaine, the richest province of Southern France.

In 1173, Eleanor backed her sons, when they revolted against their father; King Henry II.

Her actions came at a price, Henry defeated his sons and imprisoned Eleanor until his death in 1189.

Richard I (The Lionheart) became King, and appointed his mother, Eleanor as his regent when he was in the Holy Land.

Richard died in 1199, in her arms, and was succeeded by his brother Prince John (John Lackland).

Eleanor retired to the Abbey of Fontevrault where she died in 1204.

In the early years the Plantagenets became major benefactors of the Abbey, and during Isabella d’Anjou time as Abbess, Eleanor of Aquitaine, made the Abbey her home.

With the passing of the Plantagenet dynasty, Fontevrault fell on hard times, and Abbess Matilda of Flanders (1189-1194) complained of extreme poverty.

In 1247, during the time of Abbess Mabile of La Ferte, nuns were permitted to receive inheritances to provide income for their daily needs, which was contrary to monastic custom.

Abbess Louise de Bourbon left her crest on many of the alterations she made, during her term of office (1534-1575).

The Holy Order at Fontevrault Abbey was dispersed during the French Revolution, and in November 1789, all Catholic Church property, became the property of the nation.

On the 17th August 1792, by revolutionary decree, the evacuation of all monasteries was so ordered, and completed by the 1st October 1792.

The Holy Order’s last Abbess, Julie Sophie Charlotte de Pardaillan d’Antin (1765-1792) died of poverty in Paris of 1797.

List of Abbesses:

Petronille de Chemille (1115-1149)

Matilda of Anjou (1149-1155)

Audeburge of Hautes-Bruyeres (1155-1180)

Gilles (1180-1189)

Adelaide (1189-1189)

Matilda of Flanders (1189-1194)

Matilda of Bohemia (1194-1207)

Marie of Burgundy (1207-1208)

Alice of Bourbon (1208-1209)

Alice of Champagne (1209-1218)

Bertha (1218-1228)

Adele of Brittany (1228-1244)

Mabile of La Ferte (1244-1265)

Jeanne de Dreux (1265-1276)

Isabeau Davoir (1276-1284)

Marguerite de Pocey (1284-1304)

Eleanor of Brittany (1304-1342)

Isabel of Valois (1342-?)

Marie of Brittany (1457-1477)

Anne of Orleans (1477-1491)

Renee de Bourbon (1491-1534)

Louise de Bourbon (1534-1575)

Eleonore de Bourbon (1575-1611)

Louise de Bourbon de Lavedan (1611-1637)

Jeanne-Baptiste de Bourbon (1637-1670)

Gabrielle de Rochechouart de Mortemart (1670-1704)

Louise-Francoise de Rochechouart de Mortemart (1704-1742)

Marie-Louise de Timbrone (1753-1765)

Julie-Gillette de Pardaillan d’Antin (1765-1792)

Fontevrault Abbey during the Plantagenet dynasty became a mausoleum for King Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Richard I of England, Joan their daughter, grandson Raymond VII of Toulouse and Isabella of Angouleme.  Their remains possibly destroyed during the French Revolution, or during change of use to a prison.  Today, the Abbey house figures represent Plantagenet sovereigns… Counts of Anjou and benefactors of the Abbey.

During the early years of the 1980’s Fontevrault Abbey, a former Plantagenet Mausoleum underwent restoration, turning it from a prison back to that of an abbey.  Much was based on the Abbey’s writings and how a Cistercian Abbey should look.

The Chapter House, would be located around the cloists, and used for ceremonies.  Fontevrault was built in the 16th century and its walls painted, covering up monastic images and texts, when it became a prison.

The Warming Room, as it became known, was the only area to have heating.

Three Dormitories are located on the first floor, access by way of a Renaissance staircase, and date back to the 16th century.

The Infirmaries were built in the 12th century, then rebuilt in the early part of the 17th century and originally formed the main courtyard of the Abbey.  This is where Nuns would end their days.

fontevrault-abbey

Romanesque Kitchens

The Romanesque Kitchens were built in the 12th century.

Fontevrault, is no different to other Abbey’s, surrounded by gardens; Utilitarian kitchen garden, Cemetery orchard and a medicinal herb garden.

Wikipedia Images

England and France in Medieval Times

england-and-france-map

Map of Medieval England and France

In December 1154, Henry of Anjou, grandson of Henry I was crowned King Henry II of England.  This young prince had been born and raised in France, and one would have to say he was more a part of French aristocracy than English.

Henry of Anjou, held the lands of Anjou and Maine, granted to him by way of his father, and Normandy by his grandfather.

Eleanor the Duchess of Aquitaine, wife of Louis VII of France was infatuated with Henry.  Eleanor had her marriage to Louis annulled, and she married Henry at Poiters.  Eleanor’s lands consisted of Aquitaine, Touraine, Gascony, Poitou and Brittany, which were joined up with Henry’s lands of Anjou, Maine and Normandy.  The pair created an empire covering the lands from Scotland to Spain and the Arctic to the Pyrenees.

Henry of Anjou became King Henry II of England in December 1154, upon the death of Stephen, England’s last Norman ruler.

Upon the death of Henry II, Richard the Lionheart was crowned King Richard I of England at Westminster Abbey in September 1189.

Richard had little interest in England, other than its fund-raising potential, as he taxed his subjects to finance his obsession with the crusade in the Holy Land.  In 1190, Richard left for Palestine, leaving England in the care of his mother; Eleanor of Aquitaine and his brother Prince John.

News reached Richard of trouble at home in England, involving his brother, and sent Hubert Walter to replace William Longchamp as the King’s new deputy in his absence.

Prince John fled to France, and formed an alliance with King Philip of France.  Before Richard could respond to such a threat, he was captured and handed over to the Holy Roman Emperor for ransom.

Hubert Walter had to ask the people to dig deep and raise the money which would set their King free.  Brother John was less willing to pay the ransom, which left England in the hands of Prince John, until he was finally ransomed in 1194.

This King, this warrior, spent his latter years fighting the French who had appropriated his father’s, now his lands in his absence.

King Richard I of England (The Lionheart) was struck by a crossbow arrow at the “Siege of Chalus” in France on the 6th April 1199, which turned septic killing the King.

Prince John was named as his successor to the English throne, and like his brother, King John was determined to regain his inheritance, from the French.

In March of 1204, the French had taken “Chateau Gaillard” built by Richard to offer protection to Normandy.  By the year’s end, Normandy, Anjou and other territories which were once in his family’s name, were back in French hands.  Most of the remaining territories were lost in the “Battle of Bouvines” in 1214.

The war in France, and King John’s failures led to a rebellion by English Nobles in 1215.  He had to accept limits to his power… in a sense they were reigning in their King.

John had made himself an unpopular King, always demanding more and more money, which led to the charter; “The Magna Carta” applying his seal to the document at Runnymede under duress.

Two important parts, are still accepted to-day as they were then:

  • No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions … except by lawful judgement of his peers.
  • To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right of justice.

The Angevin Empire; the lands of Eleanor the Duchess of Aquitaine and Henry of Anjou (King Henry II of England) had been reduced to that of Gascony and parts of Aquitaine, following the “Treaty of Paris” in 1259.

The One Hundred Years War:

The root cause which had led to the “Hundred Years War” dates back to tensions between English and French Kings in 1066.

As history moves forward, English King’s believed they should sit upon the French throne, believing the French had stolen their birthright… their lands.

  • William the Conqueror was Duke of Normandy, when he became King of England.
  • Henry II was already Count of Anjou and Maine, an inheritance from his father and Normandy from his grandfather. His wife; Eleanor the Duchess of Aquitaine, her lands consisted of Aquitaine, Touraine, Gascony, Poitou and Brittany.

King Edward III had no hesitation in declaring war on France in 1337, in response to the confiscation of his duchy of Aquitaine.  He challenged King Philip VI of France, his right to sit upon the French throne.

King John lost the lands of Normandy and Anjou to France in 1204, his son Henry III, renounced his claim upon these lands in the “Treaty of Paris” in 1259 leaving him with Gascony as a duchy, held by the French crown.

Edward I clashed with the Scots in 1294, which led to French and Scots becoming allies against the English in battle.  The French supported David Bruce of Scotland, when Edward III moved upon the Scots, which led to France’s confiscation of Aquitaine, the events that precipitated the Hundred Years War.

Charles IV of France died in 1328, without leaving a male heir.  Edward made a claim for the throne by right of succession; his mother Isabella, daughter of Philip IV and Charles IV’s sister.  He was passed over in favour of Philip, son of Charles Valois.

Edward revived his claim for the French throne in 1340, by assuming the title; “King of France.”

The French invasion fleet was destroyed off Sluis in Northern Flanders in 1340.  French cavalry suffered at the hands of Welsh bowmen at Crecy in 1346 and Poiters some ten years later.

Edward’s forces undertook military raids; plundering and burning crops and buildings, leaving thousands destitute.

By 1360, Edward had recovered much of the jewels which made up the Angevin Crown.

Edward promised to renounce his claim upon the French throne, and would be confirmed, by having a Lordship upon Aquitaine and Calais.

Before the signing, war flared up again, it was France who was on the winning side.  Edward was driven back to the three ports of Bordeaux, Calais and Bayonne.  He was put in the position of agreeing terms of peace between England and France.  From then on Edward ceased to use the title: “King of France.”

Agincourt:

The events that led to Agincourt, started back in 1369, when French and English forces fought on opposite sides in a Spanish dispute for Castile’s throne.

The French under the leadership of King Charles V and his constable, Bertrand du Guesclin who succeeded in taking from the English much of the principality of Aquitaine.  Which reduced England’s lands in France to a coastal strip between Bordeaux and Bayonne.

Charles V launched naval raids upon England’s south coast ports with the assistance of his Castilian allies, up until his death in 1380. Truces were attempted but they never lasted, until Richard II stepped in and negotiated peace in 1399 with France.

Rivalry was evident between the Dukes of Burgundy and Orleans, as to who would step in and take control of the government on behalf of Charles VI.

Louis of Orleans was assassinated in 1407, which led to Civil war between Burgundy and the Orlean’s known as the Armagnacs.

King Henry V crossed to Normandy in 1415 with his forces, and defeated the French army at Agincourt on the 25th October.  French casualties were high, and the royal dukes of Orlean’s and Bourbon were captured.

Henry crossed to France in 1417, and a campaign of sieges ensued.  The Rouen Norman capital fell in January 1419, putting the duchy under their direct control.

French parties met at Montereau, to co-ordinate resistance to the English on the 19th September 1419.  John, the Duke of Burgundy was struck down by Armagnac followers of the dauphin Charles, avenging Louis of Orleans.

Philip allied himself with the English and brokered an agreement with Charles VI whereby Henry would marry Charles’s daughter Catherine and be recognised as his heir to the French throne.  Henry would act as Regent for the ailing Charles whilst he lived, as agreed in the “Treaty of Troyes” in 1420.

Henry V died in August 1422 from dysentery and Charles VI in October 1422.

Henry VI son of Henry and Catherine, just nine months old was recognised as King of France.  The lands, the wealth attained by his father King Henry V had been frittered away by his long period as an infant son.  By the year 1453 most of France had been lost with the exception of Calais and the Channel Isles.

England was shocked to the core, over the loss of its lands in Europe; their empire was no more…

Wikipedia Image

Medieval Queen: Emma of Normandy

emma-of-normandy

Emma of Normandy was an intriguing medieval woman born around 990 AD to parents; Richard I of Normandy and Gunnor a Dane.  Emma was both Viking and Norman, and her great grandfather, a Viking named Rollo, was founder of the lands known as Normandy.

In 1002, aged just twelve she left France for England, she was destined to marry Aethelred II (Ethelred) of England.  This marriage would create an alliance between France and England.  Emma being a descendant of both Viking and Norman would marry an English King and bear a Norman child.

king-aethelred-ii

King Aethelred II

King Aethelred’s intentions of this marriage, was to prevent the Normans from joining forces with Vikings and take on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Aethelred escorted his young bride to Canterbury, where they were married and she was crowned Queen in 1002, and duly given an English name; Aelfgifu, after the Kings grandmother.

For hundreds of years, Vikings had raided Britain’s coastlines, and many had chosen to settle here, taking an Anglo-Saxon wife.  So it was fair to say, a large proportion of the population were Danes or descendants thereof.

On the 13th November 1002, St.Brices Day, marked Aethelred’s response to these Viking raids upon his lands, with large scale massacre’s of the Danes living in Britain.

The Viking response to such actions, led by Swein Forkbeard, inflicted a brutal attack upon Britain.  Exeter, the Queens property was destroyed, showing she was not exempt from these attacks.  However, she being of Viking and Norman blood, her reputation amongst her subjects lay in tatters, their trust in her, all but gone.

The Vikings made concerted attacks upon Britain, and by 1009 all able bodied men were called upon to defend these shores against the Viking onslaught.  Their efforts, against savage warriors failed, as by 1011, large parts of southern Britain were now under Viking control.

Swein Forkbeard and his son Cnut landed in the northern parts of the country, and were met with little opposition, as they submitted to these Vikings.

Emma, the wife of a failed King, demanded protection of her brother, Richard in Normandy, whilst Aethelred fled to the Isle of Wight.

Swein and his sons, Harold and Cnut, pushed away the Anglo-Saxon dynasty and became the first Viking rulers of Britain.  Swein became King on the 25th December 1013, and made Gainsborough in Lincolnshire his capital.

Just five weeks later, Swein died and Aethelred returned to his kingdom to salvage what he could from a ravaged country.  In 1016 King Aethelred died.

Emma may have had no love for her husband Aethelred, but his death left her not knowing what future lay ahead for her.

The people of London, chose Edmund as their new King.  Edmund sensed Cnut the Dane poised to fight for the crown, but offered a compromise, they split the land in two… Edmund died before the deal had been completed.

king-canute-cnut

King Canute (Cnut)

Cnut became King in 1016, and took Emma as his wife, his trophy between old and new.

Cnut showed his commitment, by bringing Anglo-Saxon and Danes together.  Emma provided good judgement, as they formed a close working relationship.  One of her most trusted advisors in matters concerning the church was Stigand, who would become Archbishop of Canterbury.

Saying that, she had to be careful and watchful of Earl Godwine a close and trusted advisor to Cnut.

Emma bore Cnut a son; Harthacanute and a daughter, Gunnhild, future contenders to the English crown.

Cnut ruled Britain as well as Denmark, which meant Emma watched over his kingdom during his long absences.

Many precious gifts were bestowed upon the church, but most remembered has to be the “Golden Cross” at Winchester.

In 1035, Cnut died without naming his successor, and Emma found herself in a precarious situation once again.

Emma moved into the royal quarters at Winchester, surrounding herself with Cnut’s belongings…  Who would be the next King, would determine her safety.

Cnut’s first wife; also named Aelfgifu proposed her son Harold Harefoot, whilst Harthacanute remained in Denmark, fighting to protect his Danish kingdom.  The decision was made by Noble Lords who allocated the north to Harold and the south to Harthacanute.

Emma’s sons by Aethelred; Edward and Alfred sailed to England with their armies.  The Earl of Godwine intercepted Alfred who had landed in Kent, to accompany him to Winchester, to meet with his mother and brother.

It was a ploy orchestrated by Earl of Godwine, who had Alfred taken prisoner and accused of acts against Anglo-Saxons at London, then taken to Ely where his eyes were gouged out… he died later of his wounds.

Edward headed back to the safety of Normandy, upon hearing of Alfred’s death.

In 1040 Harold died and Harthacanute dug up his body, beheaded it, and tossed it into the River Thames.

Upon the death of Harthacanute in 1042, the Earl of Godwine fought off claims by descendants of Swein Forkbeard.  Edward “Edward the Confessor” was crowned King with Earl Godwine running much of the country on his behalf.

On the 3rd April 1043, Emma takes up her position, by taking command of Edward’s treasury at Winchester.  Edward did not take kindly to his mother assuming this position, and took the treasury keys from her, and suggests she moves out, for she is not welcome at Winchester Castle.

In 1052 Emma died, and was buried alongside her second husband; Cnut in Winchester.

In 1066 Emma’s son, Edward the Confessor died childless leaving no successor, and Harold Godwine, son of Earl Godwine elected by Nobles and Church leaders became King.

On the 14th October 1066, one of the most significant dates in English history, witnessed Emma’s great nephew William, the Duke of Normandy “William the Conqueror” successfully take on Harold II at the “Battle of Hastings” and claim the English crown.

(Image) Emma of Normandy: Polyvore
(Image) King Aethelred II: Wikipedia
(Image) King Canute (Cnut)