Battle of Mauron

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The Battle of Mauron was fought in 1352 between an Anglo-Breton force and France. The Anglo-Bretons were victorious. The battle took place in the context of the Hundred Years War. With the Franco-Breton claimant, Charles de Blois, a prisoner, and the Anglo-Breton claimant (Jean de Montfort) a minor, the English were attempting to rule Brittany in the name of their protégé.

Contents

Prelude

In 1352 a French army, commanded by Marshal Guy II de Nesle, invaded Brittany, and after recapturing Rennes and territories to the south was advancing northwest, towards the town of Brest. Under orders from the French King Jean II of France to retake the castle of Ploërmel from the Anglo-Breton garrison who occupied it, de Nesle made his way towards Ploërmel. Faced with this threat, the English captain Sir Walter Bentley and the Breton captain Tanguy du Chastel assembled troops to ride out and meet the Franco-Breton forces on 14 August 1352. The two armies met at a place called Brambily (currently the town of Saint-Léry) near Mauron castle.

Guy II de Nesle Marshal of France

Guy II de Nesle, Lord of Mello, was a Marshal of France (1348) who was killed in the Battle of Mauron.

Brittany Historical province in France

Brittany is a cultural region in the northwest of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occupation. It became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown.

Ploërmel Commune in Brittany, France

Ploërmel is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France.

Forces

Anglo-Breton army

2,000 men commanded by the Englishman Sir Walter Bentley and the Breton captain Tanguy du Chastel. (Sir Walter had succeeded Sir Thomas Dagworth, the former keeper of Brittany who had been killed in a French ambush).

Thomas Dagworth English knight and soldier

Sir Thomas Dagworth was an English knight and soldier, who led English armies in Brittany during the Hundred Years' War.

Franco-Breton army

The other army comprised 5,000 men under the command of the French marshal Guy II de Nesle and the Breton captain Jehan de Beaumanoir.

The battle

With only a minute force, Sir Walter took up one of those strong defensive positions favoured by the English of the time, with men-at-arms, on foot, in a line with archers in the customary "wedge" (one interpretation of Froissart's enigmatic word 'herce' which more probably means in a 'zig-zag' rather than wedge-shaped deployment) formation on the wings.

The Franco-Breton forces attacked late in the afternoon and the English longbowmen inflicted mass carnage on the French horses, their dismounted riders being dispatched by the men-at-arms as they struggled to get to their feet under the weight of their armour. Although pushed back on their right, the Anglo-Bretons, under the command of Sir Robert Knollys, later a notorious commander of routiers, stood with their back to a belt of trees and put up such a fight that the French were routed.

Robert Knolles English knight

Sir Robert Knolles was an important English knight of the Hundred Years' War, who, operating with the tacit support of the Crown, succeeded in taking the only two major French cities, other than Calais and Poitiers, to fall to Edward III. His methods, however, earned him infamy as a freebooter and a ravager: the ruined gables of burned buildings came to be known as "Knolly's mitres".

The French leader, Guy II de Nesle, was amongst the slain, [1] and at least six hundred French knights and nobles were taken prisoner, vastly enriching the victors. The battle gave the English further control of Brittany.

Aftermath

The battle was very violent and severe losses occurred on both sides: 800 of the Franco-Breton side and 600 on the Anglo-Breton. It was especially serious for the Breton aristocracy supporting the party of Charles de Blois Guy II de Nesle and the hero of the Battle of the Thirty Alain de Tinténiac, were slain. More than eighty knights of the recently formed chivalric Order of the Star, possibly partly because of the oath of the order never to retreat in battle. [2]

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