|Lancaster's chevauchée of 1346|
|Part of the Edwardian Phase of the Hundred Years' War|
|Kingdom of England||Kingdom of France|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Henry, Earl of Lancaster |
Ralph, Baron Stafford
|John, Count of Armagnac|
Lancaster's chevauchée of 1346 was a series of offensives directed by Henry, Earl of Lancaster, in southwestern France during autumn 1346, as a part of the Hundred Years' War.
The year had started with a "huge"French army under John, Duke of Normandy, son and heir of King Philip VI, besieging the strategically important town of Aiguillon in Gascony. Lancaster refused battle and harassed the French supply lines while preventing Aiguillon from being blockaded. After a five-month siege the French were ordered north to confront the main English army, which on 12 July had landed in Normandy under Edward III of England and commenced the Crécy campaign.
This left the French defences in the southwest both weak and disorganised. Lancaster took advantage by launching offensives into Quercy and the Bazadais and himself leading a third force on a large-scale mounted raid (a chevauchée ) between 12 September and 31 October 1346. All three offensives were successful, with Lancaster's chevauchée, of approximately 2,000 English and Gascon soldiers, meeting no effective resistance from the French, penetrating 160 miles (260 kilometres) north and storming the rich city of Poitiers. His force then burnt and looted large areas of Saintonge, Aunis and Poitou, capturing numerous towns, castles and smaller fortified places as they went. The offensives completely disrupted the French defences and shifted the focus of the fighting from the heart of Gascony to 50 miles (80 kilometres) or more beyond its borders.
Since the Norman Conquest of 1066, English monarchs had held titles and lands within France, the possession of which made them vassals of the kings of France. By 1337 only Gascony in southwestern France and Ponthieu in northern France were left. r. 1328–1350) and Edward III of England (r. 1327–1377), on 24 May 1337 Philip's Great Council agreed Gascony should be taken back into Philip's hands, on the grounds that Edward was in breach of his obligations as a vassal. This marked the start of the Hundred Years' War, which was to last 116 years.The independent-minded Gascons preferred their relationship with a distant English king who left them alone to one with a French king who would interfere in their affairs. Following a series of disagreements between Philip VI of France (
Before the war commenced, well over 1000 ships a year departed from Gascony. Among their cargoes were over 200,000,000 imperial pints (1,100,000 hectolitres; 240,000,000 US pints) of locally produced wine. The duty levied by the English Crown on wine from Bordeaux was more than all other customs duties combined and by far the largest source of state income. Bordeaux, the capital of Gascony, had a population of over 50,000, greater than London's, and was possibly richer. However, by this time English Gascony had become so truncated by French encroachments that it relied on imports of food, largely from England. Any interruptions to regular shipping were liable to starve Gascony and financially cripple England; the French were well aware of this.
The border between English and French territory in Gascony was extremely unclear. Many landholders owned a patchwork of widely separated estates, perhaps owing fealty to a different overlord for each. Each small estate was likely to have a fortified tower or keep, with larger estates having castles. Fortifications were also constructed at transport choke points, to collect tolls and to restrict military passage; fortified towns grew up alongside all bridges and most fords over the many rivers in the region. Military forces could support themselves by foraging so long as they moved on frequently. If they wished to remain in one place for any length of time, as was necessary to besiege a castle, then access to water transport was essential for supplies of food and fodder and desirable for such items as siege equipment.
Although Gascony was the cause of the war, in most campaigning seasons the Gascons had had to rely on their own resources and had been hard pressed by the French.In 1339 the French besieged Bordeaux, the capital of Gascony, even breaking into the city with a large force before they were repulsed. Typically the Gascons could field 3,000–6,000 men, the large majority infantry, although up to two-thirds of them would be tied down in garrisons. Warfare was usually a struggle for possession of castles and other fortified points, and for the mutable loyalty of the local nobility.
By 1345, after eight years of war, English-controlled territory mostly consisted of a coastal strip from Bordeaux to Bayonne, with isolated strongholds further inland. In 1345 Edward III had sent Henry, Earl of Lancaster to Gascony, and had assembled his main army for action in northern France or Flanders.It had sailed but never landed, after the fleet was scattered in a storm. Knowledge of Edward III's intent had kept French focus on the north until late in the campaigning season. Meanwhile, Lancaster had led a whirlwind campaign at the head of an Anglo-Gascon army. He had smashed two large French armies at the battles of Bergerac and Auberoche, captured French towns and fortifications in much of Périgord and most of Agenais and given the English possessions in Gascony strategic depth. During the winter following this successful campaign, Lancaster's second in command, Ralph, Earl of Stafford, had marched on the vitally important town of Aiguillon, which commanded the junction of the Rivers Garonne and Lot, making it important both for trade and for military communications. The inhabitants had attacked the garrison and opened the gates to the English.
John, Duke of Normandy, the son and heir of Philip VI, was placed in charge of all French forces in southwest France, as he had been the previous autumn. In March 1346 a French army under Duke John, numbering between 15,000 and 20,000, April. On 2 April an arrière-ban , a formal call to arms for all able-bodied males, was announced for southern France. French national financial, logistical and manpower efforts were focused on this offensive.enormously superior to any force the Anglo-Gascons could field, marched on Aiguillon and besieged it on 1
Edward III again gathered a large army in England. The French were aware of this, but given the extreme difficulty of disembarking an army other than at a port, the English no longer having access to a port in Flanders, and the existence of friendly ports in Brittany and Gascony, they assumed that Edward would sail for one of the latter; probably Gascony, in order to relieve Aiguillon.To guard against any possibility of an English landing in northern France, Philip VI relied on his powerful navy. This reliance was misplaced given the naval technology of the time and the French were unable to prevent Edward III successfully crossing the Channel and landing in the Cotentin Peninsula, in northern Normandy, on 12 July with an army between 12,000 and 15,000 strong. The English achieved complete strategic surprise and marched south, cutting a wide swath of destruction through some of the richest lands in France and burning every town they passed.
Philip VI immediately recalled his main army, under Duke John, from Gascony. After a furious argument with his advisers, and according to some accounts his father's messenger, Duke John refused to move until his honour was satisfied. On 29 July Philip VI called an arrière-ban for northern France at Rouen. On 7 August the English reached the Seine. Philip VI again sent orders to John of Normandy insisting that he abandon the siege of Aiguillon and march his army north. Edward III marched south east and on 12 August his army was 20 miles (32 kilometres) from Paris. On 14 August Duke John attempted to arrange a local truce. Lancaster, well aware of the situation in the north and in the French camps around Aiguillon, refused. On 20 August, after over five months, the French abandoned the siege and marched away in considerable haste and disorder. Duke John did not rejoin the French army in the north until after it had been heavily defeated at the Battle of Crécy six days later.
The withdrawal of Duke John's army led to the collapse of the French positions in southern Périgord and most of Agenais. The French only held on to their strongholds in the Garonne valley, Port-Sainte-Marie, Agen and Marmande downstream of Aiguillon. The English extended their control to include the whole of the Lot valley below Villeneuve and most of the remaining French outposts between the Lot and the Dordogne, during late August. Lancaster was able to capture most towns without a fight.John, Count of Armagnac, was appointed French royal lieutenant in the region after Duke John's withdrawal. He struggled to provide effective resistance because of lack of troops; insufficient funds; and repeatedly having his orders countermanded by Philip VI. He formally offered his resignation within three months of his appointment.
Lancaster now held the operational initiative. In early September he launched three separate offensives. Local English sympathisers in the Agenais under Gaillard I de Durfort blockaded Agen and Porte Sainte Marie and raided into Quercy to the west. A large detachment of Gascons was split up to reoccupy the French-held territory to the south and west of the Garonne under the overall command of Alixandre de Caumont, in a mopping up operation. Lancaster took command of 1,000 men-at-arms and approximately the same number of mounted infantry and led them north on 12 September; most of this force was Gascon.
The force in the Agenais raided deep into Quercy, penetrating over 50 miles (80 kilometres). Gaillard, leading 400 cavalry, captured the small town of Tulle. This sparked widespread panic in the province of Auvergne. The army of John of Armagnac was diverted to Tulle, which it besieged from mid-November until late December, when the Gascon occupiers surrendered on terms and were taken prisoner; all were ransomed. The whole French field army of the southwest was tied down by Gaillard's small force. The modern historian Jonathan Sumption describes this as "dislocating the royal administration in central and southern France for three months".
The troops under Caumont swept through the Bazadais, capturing numerous French-held towns and fortifications for little or no loss. Many of these were handed over after negotiations; Bazas itself for example surrendered after negotiating access for its products through English-occupied territory on favourable terms. The French presence in the area was all but extinguished.
Lancaster targeted the rich provincial capital of Poitiers, deep in French-held territory –160 miles (260 kilometres) north of his starting point. He marched from the Garonne to the Charente, 80 miles (130 kilometres), in eight days, arriving at Châteauneuf-sur-Charente which he captured. He then diverted 40 miles (64 kilometres) to Saint-Jean-d'Angély to rescue some English prisoners. Saint-Jean-d'Angély was stormed, captured, and sacked. Leaving a garrison, Lancaster turned back towards Poitiers, covering 20 miles a day and taking the towns of Melle and Lusignan on the way. Lancaster reached Poitiers late on 3 October.
Poitiers occupied a naturally strong position, but its defences had seen little maintenance for centuries. The city had no royal garrison and the townspeople and local notables had fallen out of the habit of maintaining a guard. Defensive responsibilities were split between the town and three different church bodies, which had the effect of preventing any effective action. The English launched an immediate assault, but they were repulsed by an improvised force organised by some local noblemen. During the night the English found a breach in the wall, which had been deliberately created years before to allow easy access from the city to a nearby watermill. In the morning they seized it and forced their way into eastern Poitiers, killing everyone they came across. As was usual,only those who appeared wealthy enough to afford a ransom were spared. Most of the population fled the city, but over 600 were killed. The town was thoroughly sacked for eight days.
Lancaster was unable to take the royal mint at Montreuil-Bonnin, 5 miles (8 kilometres) west of Poitiers, and marched rapidly back to Saint-Jean-d'Angély. He made no attempt to hold Poitiers; in the province of Poitou he only left troops at Lusignan, a small town with good walls and a strong, modern castle. Once back in Saintonge he took control of the Boutonne valley all the way to the sea, including the major port of Rochefort and the well-fortified island of Oléron. Lancaster then marched south, taking a large number of small towns and fortifications. The French were left in control of much of Saintonge: the eastern parts; the larger fortifications such as the province's capital, Saintes, and its strongest castle, Taillebourg; and several strategically important strongholds on the east bank of the Gironde. Lancaster arrived in Bordeaux, the capital of English Gascony, on 31 October seven weeks after he set out on his chevauchée. He returned to England in early 1347.
Lancaster left garrisons in the captured towns and castles throughout Saintonge and Aunis, with an especially large garrison at Saint-Jean-d'Angély. The Anglo-Gascons supported themselves by raiding French-held and French-leaning territory; as Sumption puts it, they "were not so much expected to control territory as to create chaos and insecurity".Whole provinces, securely held by the French only months before, were overrun by bandits, freebooters, deserters and retained troops of both sides. The population moved away from the villages to the relative safety of the towns, townsfolk who could, moved away from the area, and much of the agricultural land went uncultivated. The French ability to counter-attack was lost as they concentrated on attempting to defend the host of newly vulnerable locations or on recovering towns captured deep in what had been considered safe territory, as at Tulle. French trade declined and their taxation income from the area was severely curtailed. Lancaster had moved the focus of the fighting from the heart of Gascony to 50 miles or more beyond its borders.
The English army in the north, after its victory at Crécy, went on to besiege Calais. Lancaster joined it there in the summer of 1347 and was present when Calais fell after an eleven-month siege, securing an English entrepôt into northern France which was held for two hundred years. 3 miles (4.8 kilometres) from Poitiers; the French were decisively defeated and John was captured.The war in southwest France stayed far from Gascony. In 1355 Edward III's eldest son, Edward, the Black Prince, led a large-scale chevauchée north from Bordeaux that devastated France. After another devastating chevauchée in 1356, the French army, commanded by Duke John, now King John II of France, intercepted it and forced the outnumbered English to battle
The Battle of Poitiers was a major English victory in 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, along with his youngest son, and much of the French nobility who were present.
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 in northern France between a French army commanded by King Philip VI and an English army led by King Edward III. The French attacked the English while they were traversing northern France during the Hundred Years' War resulting in an English victory and heavy loss of life among the French.
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 4th Earl of Leicester and Lancaster, Earl of Derby, also styled as Henry of Lancaster and Lord Lancaster, of Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, was a member of the English royal family and a prominent English diplomat, politician, and soldier. He was the wealthiest and most powerful peer of the realm. The son and heir of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, and Maud Chaworth, he became one of King Edward III's most trusted captains in the early phases of the Hundred Years' War and distinguished himself with victory in the Battle of Auberoche. He was a founding member and the second Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1348, and in 1351 was created Duke of Lancaster. An intelligent and reflective man, Grosmont taught himself to write and was the author of the book Livre de seyntz medicines, a highly personal devotional treatise. He is remembered as one of the founders and early patrons of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, which was established by two guilds of the town in 1352.
The Siege of Calais occurred at the conclusion of the Crécy campaign, when an English army under the command of King Edward III of England successfully besieged the French town of Calais during the Edwardian phase of the Hundred Years' War.
A chevauchée was a raiding method of medieval warfare for weakening the enemy, primarily by burning and pillaging enemy territory in order to reduce the productivity of a region, as opposed to siege warfare or wars of conquest. The use of the chevauchée declined at the end of the 14th century as the focus of warfare turned to sieges. Its legacy eventually lead to the scorched earth strategies used in modern warfare.
The Battle of Blanchetaque was fought on 24 August 1346 between an English army under King Edward III and a French force commanded by Godemar du Fay. The battle was part of the Crécy campaign, which took place during the early stages of the Hundred Years' War. After landing in the Cotentin Peninsula on 12 July, the English army had burnt a path of destruction through some of the richest lands in France to within 20 miles (32 km) of Paris, sacking a number of towns on the way. The English then marched north, hoping to link up with an allied Flemish army which had invaded from Flanders. They were outmanoeuvred by the French king, Philip VI, who garrisoned all of the bridges and fords over the River Somme and followed the English with his own field army. The area had previously been stripped of food stocks by the French, and the English were essentially trapped.
The Battle of Lunalonge was fought in the summer of 1349 between a French force numbering approximately 1,500 men and an Anglo-Gascon force of some 500 men, during the first phase of the Hundred Years' War. The location of the battle is thought to have been modern Limalonges in Deux-Sèvres. The outnumbered Anglo-Gascons, commanded by Thomas Coke, gained the upper hand during the day, but had to withdraw on foot during the night because the French, under Jean de Lille, had captured their horses. The French lost approximately 300 killed and an unknown but large number captured, including their leader.
The Battle of Auberoche was fought on 21 October 1345 during the Gascon campaign of 1345 between an Anglo-Gascon force of 1,200 men under Henry, Earl of Derby, and a French army of 7,000 commanded by Louis of Poitiers. It was fought at the village of Auberoche near Périgueux in northern Aquitaine. At the time, Gascony was a territory of the English Crown and the "English" army included a large proportion of native Gascons. The battle resulted in a heavy defeat for the French, who suffered very high casualties, with their leaders killed or captured.
The Battle of Caen on 26 July 1346 was the assault on the French-held town by elements of an invading English army under King Edward III as a part of the Hundred Years' War. The English army numbered 12,000–15,000, and part of it, nominally commanded by the Earls of Warwick and Northampton, prematurely attacked the town. Caen was garrisoned by 1,000–1,500 soldiers and an unknown, but large, number of armed townsmen, commanded by Raoul, the Count of Eu, the Grand Constable of France. The town was captured in the first assault; more than 5,000 of the ordinary soldiers and townspeople were killed and a few nobles were taken prisoner. The town was then sacked for five days.
John I of Armagnac, son of Bernard VI and Cecilia Rodez, was Count of Armagnac from 1319 to 1373. In addition to Armagnac he controlled territory in Quercy, Rouergue and Gévaudan. He was the count who initiated the 14th century expansion of the county.
The Battle of Bergerac was fought between Anglo-Gascon and French forces at the town of Bergerac in Gascony, in August 1345 during the Hundred Years' War. In early 1345 Edward III of England decided to launch a major attack on the French from the north, while sending smaller forces to Brittany and Gascony, the latter being both economically important to the English war effort and the proximate cause of the war. The French focused on the threat to northern France, leaving comparatively small forces in the south west.
The Gascon campaign of 1345 was conducted by Henry, Earl of Derby, as part of the Hundred Years' War. The whirlwind campaign took place between August and November 1345 in Gascony, an English-controlled territory in south-west France. Derby, commanding an Anglo-Gascon force, oversaw the first successful English land campaign of the war. He twice defeated large French armies in battle, taking many noble and knightly prisoners. They were ransomed by their captors, greatly enriching Derby and his soldiers in the process. Following this campaign, morale and prestige swung England's way in the border region between English-occupied Gascony and French-ruled territory, providing an influx of taxes and recruits for the English armies. As a result, France's ability to raise tax money and troops from the region was much reduced.
Louis I de Poitiers, Count of Valentinois, was a 14th-century French noble. Louis was killed during the Battle of Auberoche in 1345.
The Siege of Aiguillon, an episode in the Hundred Years' War, began on 1 April 1346 when a French army commanded by John, Duke of Normandy, laid siege to the Gascon town of Aiguillon. The town was defended by an Anglo-Gascon army under Ralph, Earl of Stafford.
The Crécy campaign was a large-scale raid (chevauchée) conducted by an English army throughout northern France in 1346, which devastated the French countryside on a wide front and culminated in the eponymous Battle of Crécy. It was part of the Hundred Years' War. The campaign began on 12 July 1346, with the landing of English troops in Normandy, and ended with the capitulation of Calais on 3 August 1347. The English army was led by King Edward III, and the French by King Philip VI.
Gaillard I de Durfort, known as the Archdeacon (l'Archidiacre), was a French priest and nobleman of the Durfort family. He inherited the Lacour–Durfort lands in 1345 and abandoned his clerical career to marry Marguerite de Caumont.
The Black Prince's chevauchée of 1356, which began on 4 August at Bordeaux and ended with the Battle of Poitiers on 19 September, was a devastating raid of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, 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.
The Black Prince's chevauchée, also known as the grande chevauchée, was a large-scale mounted raid carried out by an Anglo-Gascon force under the command of Edward, the Black Prince, between 5 October and 2 December 1355 as a part of the Hundred Years' War. John, Count of Armagnac, who commanded the local French forces, avoided battle, and there was little fighting during the campaign.
Lancaster's chevauchée of 1356 in Normandy was an English offensive directed by Henry, Earl of Lancaster, in northern France during 1356, as a part of the Hundred Years' War. The offensive took the form of a chevauchée, a large-scale mounted raid, and lasted from 22 June to 13 July. During its final week the English were pursued by a much larger French army under King John II which failed to force them to battle.
Lancaster's Loire campaign was the march south from Brittany in August 1356 by an English army led by Henry, Duke of Lancaster. He was attempting to join the army of Edward, the Black Prince, near Tours. The French had broken the bridges over the River Loire and Lancaster was forced to turn back, returning to Brittany in September.