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|Part of the Capetian-Plantagenet rivalry|
St. Louis IX at the Battle of Taillebourg, by Eugène Delacroix
|Commanders and leaders|
Contemporary sources: 50,000Modern estimates: ~25,000
|Casualties and losses|
The Saintonge War was a feudal dynastic encounter that occurred in 1242 and 1243 between forces of Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, supported by Louis IX of France, and those of Hugh X of Lusignan and Raymond VII of Toulouse, backed by Henry III of England, who hoped to regain the Angevin possessions lost three decades prior. Saintonge is the region around Saintes in the centre-west of France in which most of the war occurred.
The conflict arose because vassals of Louis in Poitou were displeased with the accession of his brother, Alphonse, as Count of Poitou. The French decisively defeated the English and rebel forces at the Battle of Taillebourg and concluded the struggle at the Siege of Saintes. Louis further repressed the Toulousians into surrendering. He restored Guyenne to Henry as a noble gesture and to seek for further peace so that he could go on a crusade. The battle was the last major conflict between the English and French until the Anglo-French war of 1294-1303. The war announced the end of Henry's hopes of restoring the Angevin Empire lost under King John I of England and further planted the seeds for the Second Barons' war in England, due to the waste of funds and to the growing resentment among the barons towards the king, for his tyrannical ways (by ignoring the Magna Carta) and for his incompetence in war.
The origin of this episode of the predecessor to the Hundred Years War , fought between France and England, was in the revolt of a Poitevin baron, Hugh X, lord of Lusignan. The source of this conflict originated from the confiscation by king Philip Augustus of lands held by king John in France, specifically in Poitiers. Although Richard Earl of Cornwall, John's second oldest son and brother to Henry III, was count of Poitiers after John's death, this was only nominal. King Louis VIII, of France, son of Philip Augustus, had instead transferred the title to his second oldest son, Alphonse de Poitiers. Alphonse was not allowed to take possession of his fiefdom until the age of 18 years, which he did in 1240. In June 1241, king Louis IX of France, son of Louis VIII, held a plenary court at Saumur in Anjou and announced that his brother, Alphonse, having come of age, was ready to come into possession of the title. On that occasion, Alphonse received the homage of the lords of the province, given even by the most powerful of them, Hugh X of Lusignan.
Hugh possessed several lands in Poitou, including his family stronghold in Lusignan, the castle of Montreuil-Bonnin and, above all, the County of Marche. Lusignan had a long tradition of autonomy in the heart of Aquitaine, far from the successive capitals of the kingdoms of France and England. Therefore, the Lusignans were not receptive to Capetian authority in the region. Isabelle of Angoulême, mother to Henry and Richard, and now spouse of Hugh, was particularly frustrated that her son had not officially received the title that he had nominally held.Along with a number of other Poitevin lords, Hugh could not accept the loss of autonomy to the increasingly growing demesne of the Capetian royal family, and thus the Poitevin nobility formed a confederacy against the House of Capet. The starting point for the conflict was at Christmas time in 1241, when Hugh X of Lusignan, no doubt at the instigation of Isabelle, insulted the new Count of Poitiers in his own palace, by refusing allegiance. Raymond VII of Toulouse, Count of Toulouse, sought redress for the Treaty of Paris of 1229 (which ended the Albigensian Crusade), under the terms of which he had lost most of his lands, and thus joined the revolting barons as well, but would not participate in the fighting for a while.
Immediately, the Capetian family reacted. On 5 January 1242, Count Alphonse of Poitiers called together the Poitevin nobles at Chinon for Easter. The faithful lords, and others less loyal but nonetheless enemies of Lusignan, responded to the appeal. Although his mother Blanche of Castile had coped with baronial uprisings before and carried on the royal affairs since 1226, with the title "baillistre" (protector of the heir in feudal law), Louis IX decided to go to the assistance of his brother and forcibly take control of the County of La Marche. In April 1242, Louis assembled a force at Chinon that some contemporaries estimated at around 50,000.On 9 May, he marched against the castle of Montreuil-Bonnin, the fortress of Lusignan. After having seizing a multitude of rebel castles, he steered towards Saintes. On 20 May 1242, Henry and Richard departed from Portsmouth for Royan and joined the rebelling French nobles, forming an army that may have numbered about 30,000. The two kings exchanged letters, but these resolved nothing. Henry had intentions to regain the past Angevin Empire of his predecessors on the basis that the title of Count of Poitou still belonged to his brother, Richard. This was not the first war that Henry had waged in France either as he had earlier lead an expedition to France in 1230, however, Henry was convinced that Hugh would provide the necessary support to reverse the lacklustre results of the last war. While completing his conquest of lower Poitou, he declared war on Saint Louis on 16 July. On 20 July, the French army arrived at Taillebourg where the inevitable clash took place.
Henry advanced to Tonnay-Charente by mid-July and Louis moved to Saint-Jean-d'Angély, just north of Taillebourg, the armies intending to reach the bridge across the Charente River, located in the commune of Taillebourg. Henry and Hugh positioned their army near the village of Saint-James on the west bank of the river and camped in the neighbouring field, while Louis was welcomed to the fortified chateau of Geoffroy de Rancon, the Lord of Taillebourg. Henry decided to send an advance guard to protect the left bank of the Taillebourg bridge, a move that led to a sharp encounter with some French troops on either 21 or 22 July. Louis decided to follow up this engagement and launched a full offensive with the entire French army.The aggressive French assaults carried the day and the English king fled south to the town of Saintes, along with the revolting barons. A prolonged melee fight ensued north of Saintes, however the English were defeated in a definitive fashion. Louis lost comparatively fewer men than the English army but had to face with an epidemic of dysentery that ravaged his army. This forced Louis and his men to return to Paris by August.
On 22 or 23 July the French army laid siege to the city of Saintes. Henry realized that Hugh did not have as much support as he may have earlier claimed and withdrew to Bordeaux.Shortly afterwards, the citizens handed over the keys to the city to Louis.
Recognizing that he was in a hopeless position after the siege of Saintes, Hugh surrendered to Louis on 24 July. The settlement of the feudal revolt was devastating for Hugh. His Poitevin castles were confiscated, rearmed, and sold by Alphonse of Poitiers. He further humiliated himself by coming to Louis crying and kneeling before him with his wife and three sons and asked for forgiveness.His daughter Isabel of Lusignan was married to his enemy Geoffrey of Rancon in 1250, who rebuilt his castle with the dowry.
It is only during the retreat of the English and rebel forces that Raymond of Toulouse began his campaign against the king. He was able to capture the cities of Narbonne and Albi within August.Unfortunately for Raymond, Roger IV, Count of Foix and vassal to Raymond, stubbornly resisted his war efforts by making his own war with Raymond and submitting only to the king. This gave Louis time to organize an army and split it into two to retake the captured cities. By 30 November, the war with the king came to an end. The war with Roger would persist until January 1243 and would end in yet another defeat for Raymond. Under subjugation, Raymond was forced to give up the two cities that he took and made a promise to fight the Cathar heresy in return for a pardon from the king in Montargis.
In a final desperate attempt to prevent a complete takeover of his lands in Aquitaine and Gascony, Henry organized a blockade on the port city of La Rochelle by sea to distract French forces from marching further south. The blockade was largely unsuccessful as the outcome of the war had already been mostly determined. Henry looked further for new allies. In January 1243, Henry sent a letter to Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, to whom he had made a request for an alliance earlier, announcing the end of his hopes for retaking his possessions in France. On 12 March, Henry was forced to ask Louis for a five-year truce.
A truce was signed at Pons on 1 August. A more lasting peace was concluded at Paris on 4 December 1259 amidst the threat of a second Baron's war in England. Initially, Henry refused to give up the rights the territory of his ancestors in France, however, Louis restored Guyenne to Henry, thinking that this noble gesture would assure him an extended time of peace with England because he was mostly concerned with going on the Seventh Crusade in 1248 and wanted to rally support for the cause within his own realm.By signing the treaty, Louis and Henry put an end to the century-old conflict between Capetians and Plantagenets concerning the lands inherited by Henry II of England conquered by Philip Augustus of France. By this text, Henry III renounced his claims concerning Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, and Poitou; in return Louis IX gave him the necessary sum to maintain 500 knights for two years, plus the revenues of the Agenais, and his domains in the dioceses of Limoges, Cahors and Périgueux. On February 10, 1259, the treaty was first ratified by Richard of Cornwall. On February 17, it was ratified in Westminster by prosecutors in the name of the king, and, by December 4, Simon V de Montfort and Eleanor of England also ratified the treaty. Finally, Henry arrived in France on December 4, 1259 to pay homage to Louis, thus symbolically ending the rivalry. Afterwards, an unexpected and lively friendship arose between the two kings to the point that, sometime later, Louis offered Henry an elephant which had been given to him by the Sultan of Egypt: He also, as Henry's feudal overlord, ratified a papal bull that annulled the Provisions of Oxford, and declared himself as a firm supporter of the Royal prerogative in England.
In English history, the ‘Hundred Years’ War’ refers to the 116-year period between 1337 – 1453. In some French accounts,[ which? ] that period of conflict is referred to as the ‘Second Hundred Years’ War’, the first embracing the period of upheaval following the change in the balance of power between the French and English thrones from 1159 to 1259 after Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine gaining many French territories in the process and achieving territorial superiority over the French Kingdom, until the Treaty of Paris (1259), in which the opposite became true. This period saw many conflicts and battles between the two kingdoms such as the Anglo-French War (1202–1214) or the Battle of Bouvines.
Alphonse or Alfonso was the Count of Poitou from 1225 and Count of Toulouse from 1249. As count of Toulouse, he also governed the Marquisate of Provence.
Isabella of Angoulême was queen consort of England as the second wife of King John from 1200 until John's death in 1216. She was also suo jure Countess of Angoulême from 1202 until 1246.
Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.
Louis VI, called the Fat or the Fighter, was King of France from 1108 to 1137.
Louis VIII, called the Lion, was King of France from 1223 to 1226. From 1216 to 1217, he also claimed to be King of England. Louis was the only surviving son of King Philip II of France by his first wife, Isabelle of Hainaut, from whom he inherited the County of Artois.
Peter I, also known as Peter Mauclerc, was Duke of Brittany jure uxoris from 1213 to 1221, and regent of the duchy for his minor son John I from 1221 to 1237. As duke he was also 1st Earl of Richmond from 1218 to 1235.
The Angevin Empire describes the possessions of the Angevin kings of England who held lands in England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its rulers were Henry II, Richard I, and John. The Angevin Empire is an early example of a composite state.
The House of Lusignan was a royal house of French origin, which at various times ruled several principalities in Europe and the Levant, including the kingdoms of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Armenia, from the 12th through the 15th centuries during the Middle Ages. It also had great influence in England and France.
Hugh X de Lusignan, Hugh V of La Marche or Hugh I of Angoulême succeeded his father Hugh IX as Seigneur de Lusignan and Count of La Marche in November 1219 and was Count of Angoulême by marriage.
Andre de Chauvigny (1150–1202) was a Poitevin knight in the service of Richard I of England. He was the second son of Pierre-Hélie of Chauvigny and Haois of Châtellerault. Haois was the great-aunt of King Richard making Andrew and Richard second cousins.
The Battle of Taillebourg was a 1242 battle between the Capetian troops of Louis IX and his brother Alphonse of Poitiers, against the rebel followers of Hugh X of Lusignan and king Henry III of England.
The Ramnulfids, or the House of Poitiers, were a French dynasty ruling the County of Poitou and Duchy of Aquitaine in the 9th through 12th centuries. Their power base shifted from Toulouse to Poitou. In the early 10th century, they contested the dominance of northern Aquitaine and the ducal title to the whole with the House of Auvergne. In 1032, they inherited the Duchy of Gascony, thus uniting it with Aquitaine. By the end of the 11th century they were the dominant power in the southwestern third of France. The founder of the family was Ramnulf I, who became count in 835.
William des Roches was a French knight and crusader who acted as Seneschal of Anjou, of Maine and of Touraine. After serving the Angevin kings of England, in 1202 he changed his loyalty to King Philip II of France and became a leading member of his government.
Hugh XI de Lusignan, Hugh VI of La Marche or Hugh II of Angoulême. He succeeded his mother Isabelle of Angoulême, former queen of England, as Count of Angoulême in 1246. He likewise succeeded his father Hugh X as Count of La Marche in 1249. Hugh XI de Lusignan was the half-brother of King Henry III of England.
The crown lands, crown estate, royal domain or domaine royal of France refers to the lands, fiefs and rights directly possessed by the kings of France. While the term eventually came to refer to a territorial unit, the royal domain originally referred to the network of "castles, villages and estates, forests, towns, religious houses and bishoprics, and the rights of justice, tolls and taxes" effectively held by the king or under his domination. In terms of territory, before the reign of Henry IV, the domaine royal did not encompass the entirety of the territory of the kingdom of France and for much of the Middle Ages significant portions of the kingdom were the direct possessions of other feudal lords.
The Capetian–Plantagenet rivalry was a series of conflicts and disputes that covered a period of 100 years (1159-1259), during which the House of Capet, rulers of the Kingdom of France, fought against the House of Plantagenet in order to suppress the growing power of the Plantagenet-controlled Angevin Empire. Some historians refer to that series of events as the "First Hundred Years War".
Renaud II, also known as Reginald de Pontibus or Renaud de Ponz, was a French nobleman and the lord of Pons in the Saintonge region of the County of Poitou from 1191 until his death. In the Anglo-French dynastic conflict, he was a strong supporter of John, King of England. He left Poitou three times to fight infidels: the Third Crusade, the Reconquista in Spain and the Seventh Crusade. He is distinguished from his uncle, Renaud de Pons, Seneschal of Gascony, in contemporary documents by the epithets senior and junior. He is possibly the same person as the troubadour Rainaut de Pons.
Hugh de Vivonne was a French knight from Vivonne in the County of Poitou. He was loyal to the Plantagenet family and supported their right to vast lands in France. From 1215 onward he made his home in England, where he was constable of Bristol Castle and later High Sheriff of Somerset and Dorset (1241–49). He married an English lady and became lord of Chewton and Curry Mallet. He received further English estates in compensation for the loss of his lands in France. Yet, as a foreign soldier in the king's pay, he has been described as merely a "Poitevin mercenary captain".