|Siege of Compiègne|
|Part of the Hundred Years' War (1415–53 phase)|
Siege of Compiègne by Martial d'Auvergne
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|Heavy||Joan of Arc captured|
The Siege of Compiègne (1430) was Joan of Arc's final military action. Her career as a leader ended with her capture by the Burgundians during a skirmish outside the town on 23 May 1430. Although this was otherwise a minor siege, both politically and militarily, the loss of France's most charismatic and successful commander was an important event of the Hundred Years' War.
During this era, late in the Hundred Years' War, the politically independent Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, was allied with England under the regency of John, Duke of Bedford (who was the uncle of the child King, Henry VI). These two allies had conquered most of northern France during the preceding ten years. They suffered stunning losses in 1429 to a reinvigorated French army under joint command of Joan of Arc and Duke John II of Alençon.
The French had defeated the English at Patay on 18 June 1429 and had proceeded northeastward to crown King Charles VII of France at Rheims without further resistance, accepting the peaceful surrender of every town along their path. Compiègne was not along that road — its location is north of Paris — but along with several other cities it declared allegiance to Charles VII shortly after his coronation. It had previously been under Burgundian control.
In March 1430 the French court learned that Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, planned to lay siege to the city. The count of Clermont delivered a message to the city that Compiègne was his according to legal treatyand demanded a surrender. Residents of the city expressed strong opposition to the demand and the French garrison commander Guillaume de Flavy readied the city for action.
Count John of Luxembourg departed for the expedition in command of the vanguard on 4 April. Philip the Good departed from Péronne on 22 April. Meanwhile, the Duke of Bedford was waiting at Calais for the arrival of King Henry VI of England, a nine-year-old boy who had recently been crowned king of England.
According to Régine Pernoud and Marie-Veronique Clin, Philip the Good planned to retake command of the cities that controlled the Oise river. Bedford supported the strategy in order to protect Île-de-France and Paris, which was then under Anglo-Burgundian control. King Charles VII of France realized on 6 May that military defense was necessary to protect the town.
Joan of Arc had sensed the danger and began making private preparations for war in March, but she had not been granted command of a substantial force since the failed attack on Paris the previous September. By April she had assembled a company of a 300–400 volunteers. She departed for Compiègne, possibly without the king's knowledge, and arrived at the city on 14 May.
Several minor actions took place in the days that followed. Two days later Captain Louis de Flavy fled artillery bombardment at Choisy-au-Bac and took refuge at Compiègne. On May 18 Joan of Arc attempted to surprise the Burgundians at Soissons, bringing Regnault of Chartres and the Count of Vendôme on the expedition. Residents of Soissons refused them entry and declared allegiance to Burgundy the following day.
Joan of Arc then planned a surprise assault against the Burgundians at Margny with the assistance of Guillaume de Flavy, attacking an outpost while it was separated from the main force. Count John of Luxembourg noticed the action by chance while taking a survey of the territory and called in reinforcements. These reinforcements outnumbered the attackers and Joan of Arc ordered a retreat, taking the position of honor at the extreme rear of her forces.
The next moments remain a source of scholarly debate. The city gate closed before all the French defenders could return to the town. This was either a reasonable action to prevent the Burgundians from entering the city after they had seized the end of the bridge; or an act of betrayal by Guillaume de Flavy. In the words of Kelly DeVries, "both the accusers and defenders must in turn either indict or vindicate the character of Compiègne's governor, Guillaume de Flavy, and the role he played in shutting off any escape possibility for Joan of Arc on that day." The French rear guard that remained outside had no alternative to capture.
In the description of Burgundian Georges Chastellain:
She surrendered to Lionel, Bastard of Vendôme, who was in the service of the Count of Ligny.Although the defense of Compiègne was successful, accusations of misconduct regarding Joan of Arc's capture caused the decline of de Flavy's career.
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in northeast France. Joan claimed to have received visions of the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The unanointed King Charles VII sent Joan to the Siege of Orléans as part of a relief army. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's consecration at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.
The Siege of Orléans was the watershed of the Hundred Years' War between France and England. It was the French royal army's first major military victory to follow the crushing defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and also the first while Joan of Arc was with the army. The siege took place at the pinnacle of English power during the later stages of the war. The city held strategic and symbolic significance to both sides of the conflict. The consensus among contemporaries was that the English regent, John of Lancaster, would have succeeded in realizing his brother the English king Henry V's dream of conquering all of France if Orléans fell. For half a year the English and their French allies appeared to be winning but the siege collapsed nine days after Joan's arrival.
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Isabella of Portugal was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Duke Philip the Good. Born a Portuguese infanta of the House of Aviz, Isabella was the only surviving daughter of King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster. Her son by Philip was Charles the Bold, the last Valois Duke of Burgundy. Isabella was the regent of the Burgundian Low Countries during the absence of her spouse in 1432 and in 1441–1443. She served as her husband's representative in negotiations with England regarding trade relations in 1439 and those with the rebellious cities of Holland in 1444.
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John II of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny was a French nobleman and soldier, a younger son of John of Luxembourg, Lord of Beauvoir, and Marguerite of Enghien. His older brother Peter received his mother's fiefs, including the County of Brienne, while John received Beaurevoir. He married Jeanne de Béthune, Viscountess of Meaux, widow of Robert of Bar, on 23 November 1418, and became step-father to Jeanne de Bar, Countess of Marle and Soissons. He and Jeanne de Béthune had no children.
The Lancastrian War was the third and final phase of the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War. It lasted from 1415, when King Henry V of England invaded Normandy, to 1453, when the English lost Bordeaux. It followed a long period of peace from the end of the Caroline War in 1389. The phase was named after the House of Lancaster, the ruling house of the Kingdom of England, to which Henry V belonged.
Joan of Arc was a young French woman who said she had been sent to help Charles VII during the Hundred Years' War, which led to her capture by the English-allied Burgundians during the siege of Compiègne in 1430, followed by a trial and execution conducted by a pro-English church court overseen by English commanders at Rouen, Normandy in 1431. The court found her guilty of heresy and she was burned at the stake. The trial verdict was later reversed on appeal by Jean Bréhal, the Inquisitor-General in 1456, thereby completely exonerating her. Considered a French national heroine, she was declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 1920. The trial is one of the most famous in history, becoming the subject of many books and films.
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Events from the year 1430 in France
The Burgundian State, is a concept coined by historians to describe the vast complex of territories also referred to as Valois Burgundy that developed in the Late Middle Ages under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy from the French House of Valois, composed of French and imperial fiefs. This territorial construction outlasted the properly 'Burgundian' dynasty and the loss of the Duchy of Burgundy itself. As such, it must not be confused with this sole fief.