Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition)

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View Preview. Learn more Check out. Volume 48 , Issue 1 January Pages Companies still followed the heraldic banner of their captain and embossed his arms on their carts and tents as they had always done. Philip of Burgundy had 2, miniature pennons of his arms made in to be distributed among the men of his battalion in the campaign in Flanders.

Another 4, were made in for the battalion which he intended to lead to England. His fellow commanders probably did the same for their battalions. But national emblems increasingly superseded the disparate war-cries and confused mass of heraldic emblems and livery colours which had enabled an earlier generation to distinguish friend from foe.

In French royal armies the use of the upright white cross against a black or red background, which had begun tentatively in the s, had become compulsory for urban contingents by It was the general practice in all French royal armies by the end of the century. George over his armour, back and front, and prescribed the death penalty for any enemy who was caught wearing one. Gascons wore the St. In Scotland somewhat similar ordinances had been issued by the commanders of the Franco-Scottish host a few weeks earlier calling for the St.

For most men-at-arms in both countries the story of a campaign opened with an indenture. This was a written agreement with a captain by which the man-at-arms agreed to serve in his company. In England the system of indentures had by now attained a high degree of elaboration and was all but universal. If he contracted to bring other soldiers with him the exact number and type were stated. If the company was to serve overseas, provision was made for shipping. The period of service was specified. Rates were agreed for war wages and regards together with the intervals at which they were to be paid.

Some of these documents bear the marks of hard bargaining with several hands and untidy erasures and insertions on stained paper. The fourteenth century was a law-minded age and the indenture was only the first of a number legal instruments to be executed before a soldier set out to war. In an age in which perjury was common and the proceedings of the courts were frequently turned by favour, bribery or violence, the judicial records are filled with stories of property seized from men who were away at the wars. It was the responsibility of the captain to obtain letters of protection for anyone of his company who was leaving landed wealth behind him.

The richer soldiers with more complicated affairs would also petition for letters of attorney, which allowed them to appoint representatives to conduct their affairs while they were away. Finally there was a will to be made, often hurriedly on the night before leaving home or at the port while the ships were being brought to the beaches and quaysides for loading.

Its purpose was to record the strength and status of the men presented by company captains and to inspect their horses, armour and weapons. The result was recorded by a clerk in a muster roll which served as the basis on which the captain would be paid for his company. Immediately after the muster the captain was entitled to receive an advance for his men. But in England the perpetual penury of the government meant that the advance was sometimes all that a man saw of his wages for many months or years.

The procedure for taking the muster was much the same in both countries. In England it was generally taken at the port of embarkation by chamber knights who were not part of the army and were thought for that reason to be more independent. In France the muster was generally held in an open space beneath the walls of a town such as Arras, Angers or Tours, located some way back from the theatre of war at the hub of a regional road network.

The work was done by officers appointed by the Constable, the Marshals and the Master of the Archers, men who were sworn to do their duty and like their English counterparts were chosen from those who would not themselves be serving in the army. Froissart has a graphic description of a muster of the English garrison of La Rochelle in which must have been very familiar to the soldiers who read him. Some sixty men paraded before the mustering officer on horseback in full armour, which they had spent hours polishing the night before. The mustering officer passed down the line finding fault here and there.

Musters were required to be held in the open air in daylight. The roll was drawn up in several counterparts. Men-at-arms were listed by name and status. Horses were branded on the thigh to ensure that the same beasts were not re-presented by another company. Yet, in spite of the growing administrative elaboration, mustering officers and pay clerks were frequently incompetent or corrupt and fraud was endemic. Timeless tricks feature regularly in the literature and ordinances of the period.

The same equipment was passed from company to company as each presented itself in turn to the mustering officers. Captains borrowed men from each other to make up the contract strength and lied about their status. The mustering officer could not be everywhere at once. Substantial companies were sometimes mustered before clerks whose knowledge of equipment and horseflesh must have been very limited and who seem to have been easily gulled.

John Lord Neville of Raby presented his company at Southampton in to a clerk who failed to notice serious deficiencies of both numbers and quality. The possibilities of fraud did not end there. Captains were supposed to have their pay reduced pro rata for men who deserted or died after the muster and were expected to repay their advances.

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But the ample records of the English financial administration reveal few cases in which this actually happened. French practice appears to have been more rigorous. Their musters were more strictly supervised. But even in France there were constant complaints about the negligence and corruption of mustering officers. The war treasurers were widely believed to take bribes for overlooking irregularities. These were great beasts with the strength, agility and speed to carry a heavily armoured man-at-arms into battle. In addition to his war-horse a man-at-arms needed a palfrey to ride on the march and, if he could get shipping space for them, a sumpter for his baggage and a rouncy for his servant.

This represented a considerable investment in horseflesh. But it might also make the difference between life and death. When Sir John Falconer was killed in a skirmish outside Benavente in the Castilian campaign of his companions knew that it was his low-grade horse which had done for him. Armour was becoming increasingly elaborate, especially in France where much attention was devoted to protecting soldiers from the destructive power of the English longbow.

Most armour was still made of chain mail which was cheaper and lighter than plate and allowed freer movement and better ventilation. The excavations carried out in the grave-pits at Wisby in Sweden, where a Danish army wiped out a ramshackle force of Swedish peasants and townsmen in July , have provided powerful evidence of the lethal effect of archery on old-style armour.

A large number of the victims had been killed by missiles shot into the air which fell vertically from above, splitting the links of their mail hoods and penetrating the skulls beneath. Mail hoods had already disappeared in France and England largely for this reason. As time went on the coat of mail was in turn superseded by plate body armour. Carefully contoured to present oblique surfaces to an enemy, well-made plate was practically impervious to arrows and bolts and gave a high degree of protection against lances, swords and axes.

In the following century it would develop into elaborate articulated suits of armour, made of light, carburised steel hardened in the blast-furnaces of Italy and Germany. But in the late fourteenth century complete suits of plate armour were still too heavy and rigid for comfort. They appeared on funerary monuments and in tournaments but rarely in battle.

Charles VI wore mail on campaign. John of Gaunt and his companions appeared in mail for their conference with the King of Portugal at Ponte de Mouro. Like most of their men-at-arms they wore it in combination with plate pieces: breast-plates, thigh and arm pieces and gauntlets covering the forearm and wrists. There is some evidence that the sums expended on horseflesh declined in the later fourteenth century, at least in England, possibly as a belated response to changes of battle tactics.

A complete mail coat cost more than 14 livres. All this was on top of the cost of buying at least one long sword, a long dagger in effect a short sword and several ten-foot wooden lances with metal-tipped points.

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He associated their swagger with a generation of English victories over France. But there is some anecdotal evidence that English men-at-arms of the late fourteenth century were no longer willing or able to lay out the great sums required. Half a century later other foreign observers, this time Portuguese, remarked on the shoddy equipment with which the army of John of Gaunt set out on their disastrous invasion of northern Castile. The growing demand for armour generated by half a century of war was met by an increasingly elaborate network of dealers supported by substantial industries.

In both England and France armourers had traditionally worked from small workshops in a few centres, predominantly Paris and London. Their resources were quickly overwhelmed and their prices rose steeply, especially after the announcement of major campaigns. Supply expanded rapidly to fill the gap. In France the royal arsenal at Rouen turned out mass-produced armour and weapons in great quantity. Major industrial armouries grew up in Italy, Germany and the Low Countries, which acquired a virtual monopoly over certain lines such as plate pieces.

The Datini firm sold large quantities of Italian plate armour into France. Bohemian dealers set up depots in London, one of which was found in to be holding a stock of nearly pieces. The Duke of Burgundy acquired his best swords from the famous cutlers of Bordeaux, just like his English and Gascon adversaries. For most English armies the campaign opened with the departure of the mounted columns from Calais, their banners unfurled as they passed Ardres or Marquise into French territory.

For the French, whose strategy was inevitably reactive, it opened less flamboyantly with the march to the front from a more or less distant mustering point. Their commanders must have started out with a rough mental image of the geography of the region in which they were operating and a broad strategic plan.

Yet the lack of even rudimentary maps must have made detailed campaign planning exceptionally difficult. When the Earl of Buckingham entered France in July he had barely set foot in the country before and most of his companions were as ignorant of it as he was. It is clear that the Earl was heavily dependent on the recollections of his more experienced military advisers and on information obtained from scouts, prisoners and local guides.

In this he was not at all unusual. The valiant captain, advised the ancient knight in Les Cent Ballades, rides often over the country where he is to fight and imprints the roads and fords on his memory. These, together with bridges and major cities, were the main points of reference. But there was much ignorance about them. Even Olivier de Clisson, marching north in the first days of the campaign of , had to ask his companions about the course of the River Lys which marked the frontier of Flanders.

These difficulties were aggravated by the roughness of the roads and the changeable character of landscapes in an age when rivers could flood a valley overnight or change their course in a season and abandoned land was quickly covered by impenetrable forest and scrub. Bridges were routinely broken by the enemy and had to be repaired by throwing improvised timber carriage-ways across the stumps. In front of every army went a great corps of pioneers armed with picks, spades, axes and scythes to smooth the way for the wagons and hack away at the dense vegetation. The French army had 1, pioneers in Flanders in and no fewer than 3, when crossing the Ardennes in The problems of supply tended to dominate the strategy of English commanders, determining the route of the army and often the fate of a whole campaign.

The English had an elaborate victualling system for supplying their permanent garrisons in France by sea. Calais was supplied from a permanent depot on the Isle of Thanet. Brest and Cherbourg were dependent on supplies shipped out from southern England and the Channel Islands. Even inland fortresses such as Derval, Saint-Sauveur and Fronsac were occasionally victualled from England.

Supplying field armies on the move in hostile territory was a more difficult problem which the English never mastered. In his prime Edward III had tried several times to organise a supply train for his armies operating inland in France. Great wagon trains, loaded with biscuit, dried vegetables and salted meat and fish, accompanied the expeditions of , and The Reims campaign of —60 was the most ambitious exercise of its kind involving, according to the chronicler Jean le Bel, more than 10, horse-drawn carts.

In and plans were laid to seize harbours to serve as coastal depots from which the carts could be refilled. These ambitious plans invariably failed. Experience showed that the food was either consumed or wasted within a very short time. The coastal depots proved difficult for the English to capture, or else the supplies reached them too late. With the arrival of all-mounted armies in the s the wagon trains found it hard to keep up.

John of Gaunt tried again when he invaded France in , but his wagons were unable to cross the flooded rivers of northern France and the army ran out of food within a month of leaving Calais. During the difficult winter of —7, when Gaunt was in northern Castile, an attempt was made to bring in cargoes of grain from England to supply his starving army. English armies in France encountered growing difficulties in living off the land. A large army on the move ate as much as the population of a substantial town. It was likely to exhaust the available supplies in any locality in a very short time.

Whenever they could, English armies in France marched in columns following separate routes several miles apart in order to ease the burden on foragers. Even so they had to move on quickly to fresh territory or starve. Fodder for horses was even harder to find than food for men. Sieges posed special difficulties of supply. A siege army was rooted to the spot, its foragers forced to look for supplies over ever greater distances the longer the siege lasted.

This was one reason why the English rarely attempted them. The French knew how to exploit these weaknesses. They became adept at emptying the countryside around the armies of the English. Their persistent cavalry attacks on foraging parties were highly effective. The army with which he invaded Castile in suffered the same fate.

French armies operating on their own territory were in a different position. In theory they were forbidden to live off the land and in practice unable to do so for very long, for the same iron laws of supply applied to them. Few regions of France were capable of sustaining dense concentrations of soldiers from local resources whether they were friends or foes. Unlike the English, however, the French could bring supplies overland through friendly country from considerable distances, especially where there were navigable rivers. He even gave some thought to the appropriate military diet.

But in practice this was only ever done for the armies recruited for the abortive invasions of England in and Both of these enterprises involved immense supply operations supervised by royal officials across much of northern and western France. They marked a departure from the general rule, which was that French troops did not receive rations but were expected to buy their own supplies out of their advances. It was left to private enterprise to ensure that there were goods for the soldiers to buy.

Every French army was followed by a great tail of commercial victuallers who themselves depended on an extensive network of suppliers and carriers. They set up markets every evening at the edge of the encampments. The formula proved capable of almost infinite expansion. Huge bulk purchases were made in Germany, Burgundy and Champagne and carried on barges down the Rhine and the Meuse.

Wholesalers from Utrecht and the towns of Brabant brought in more from across the Low Countries. The campaign was a logistical disaster but not for want of organisation. The fact that every company, indeed every individual, had to fend for himself meant that the hardships of the march were very unevenly distributed. The richest soldiers and those who were associated with the household of a great nobleman were often able to maintain a level of personal comfort which defied the elements and the problems of transport.

The list of stores laid in for them included casks of wine, beef and mutton carcasses, salted geese and fresh ones, 4, fish, hams, 22, eggs, whole French cheeses and English ones. The Duke was one of the more munificent commanders but his practices probably differed only in degree from those of other princely captains. For the mass of the army, however, marching through hostile territory in the latter part of the fourteenth century was a physically draining experience involving serious hardship even if there were no engagements.

Those old soldiers who recorded their experiences remembered the aching ribs and backs, the discomforts of sleeping on the ground and rising in the clothes that they had worn for weeks, the intense cold in winter, the bright summer days in which the hot sun beat down on men encased in thick leather and metal, the long periods of famine, the foul billets and crowded camps.

Many of them must also have remembered the boredom of long days in the saddle or uneventful watches from the walls of garrisoned towns and castles. The dullness of much military life was at the root of most disciplinary problems. Soldiers occupied themselves with chatter and reminiscences. They sang songs, a handful of which are recorded out of many more that were once known by heart. Kings and princes and their intimates had their own amusements. Edward III hunted for boar with his leading captains during the Breton campaign of —3.

For the campaign of —60 he brought a pack of hounds and a team of falconers with him from England. Others brought dogs for company, like the French knight killed in the Poitou campaign of whose aged hound refused to abandon his grave. The Duke of Berry paid ten francs to a nearby householder to feed the animal for the rest of its days. Very occasionally one hears of wives accompanying their husbands on campaign. But they also took part, presumably by choice, in the exceptionally arduous campaign across the plain of northern Castile when they might have stayed in comfort in Portugal.

It was commoner for women to accompany their husbands in garrisons or on the marches. Sir Richard Totesham had his wife with him in the citadel of La Roche-Derrien during the siege of She was nearly killed as the French artillery demolished the chamber in which she was feeding their baby. Some of these women were plainly formidable personalities in their own right. Renaud lord of Pons left his wife in command of the town. She held it against him when he defected to the French in This lady certainly earned the golden goblet with the Lancastrian symbol of the white hart, which John of Gaunt presented to her in gratitude.

Most soldiers no doubt found relief as soldiers always have, in rape or prostitution, but some formed powerful and long-lasting attachments to their concubines. The archives of the Gonzaga lords of Mantua contain a cache of letters in which he tried to enlist their help to find her. It casts down the tallest towers. It drives men to violence. There was probably only one pastime apart from sex which almost all soldiers had in common regardless of rank, and that was gambling, which reached epidemic proportions in the field armies and garrisons of both sides.

The Black Prince had a special purse for gambling money on his campaign in Languedoc in The Count of Savoy gambled away at least 2, francs in while waiting to embark with the French army of England. These were gorgeous personages and their losses probably did no harm except to themselves, but among ordinary soldiers gambling became a serious disciplinary problem. Soldiers gambled at everything: generally at dice but also at archery, paume and any other sports and games where they could find someone to wager money against them. As Geoffrey de Charny observed, games were no longer games when played for money.

Quarrels over stakes and winnings were the source of countless fights and acts of treachery or negligence. A remarkable number of fortresses were reported to have been lost and encampments attacked while the sentries were busy gaming. The rare eye-witness accounts, if they descend to detail at all, rarely rise above a jumble of discrete incidents. Froissart, the great descriptive artist of these years, was good at absorbing the experience of others and injecting his own imaginative insights. But so far as can be discovered from his work he never saw a town assaulted or witnessed a pitched battle.

The only army which he may have followed on the march was the French army which fought in Flanders and Artois in It is not easy for one who has never taken part to imagine the collective courage and indifference to death which enabled the French garrison of Limoges to fight on in the open spaces of the city against overwhelming odds or the English to fight their way up the scaling ladders placed against the walls of Ypres as artillery fire raked them from the sides and the men ahead of them were hurled to their deaths in the ditch below.

It is above all the physical intimacy of these encounters which differentiates them from most modern warfare. The French, who were much stronger than we were, forced us back with the impact of their first assault. Our archers protected us, covering the French with a dense cloud of arrows which wounded many of them and killed more. But they never flagged. They kept on coming at us, fighting with courage and spirit and forcing their way forward with their weapons, determined that if death was their fate they would die gloriously.

There was a tremendous noise as the two armies met and swords crashed down on helmets and trumpets blared, while confusion reigned everywhere. Sir John Harleston, the English commander, was the first to fall. He threw himself into the French line and was cut down as the enemy swarmed about him like bees.

Overwhelmed, he was left half-dead on the ground, trampled underfoot by men and horses … As the battle raged and the French began to get the better of it Sir Geoffrey Worsley, an experienced and determined knight, appeared at our sides with the reserve. He charged the French positions with his men, breaking up their line. Brave men every one of them, they laid about the French with their axes, slaughtering them like cattle.

Not a blow was wasted. Not a man brought his weapon down in vain. Not once was it necessary to finish off an enemy with a second blow. The strongest helmets were smashed open. Meanwhile another company of men who had been detailed to guard our horses and baggage in the rear … grabbed their weapons and seized more from the bodies of French soldiers lying on the field in order to fall upon the enemy from behind.

About French troops were killed in this engagement and about the same number captured, nearly half of their whole force. In spite of the closeness and violence of fourteenth-century fights the numbers killed were surprisingly low. Most of the deaths occurred after the battle in the pursuit, when the vanquished were finished off as they lay helpless on the ground or tried to flee from the field. At the battle of Roosebeke the French army suffered modest losses but is said to have killed 3, Flemings as they lay wounded on the ground and many more as they fled for their lives along the roads.

But if death was disproportionately the fate of the vanquished, injury was indiscriminate. The weapons used in medieval fights inflicted appalling injuries which left those who survived permanently disfigured or disabled. Sir Hugh Hastings, who died aged less than forty of disease contracted at the siege of Calais in , appears on his famous brass in Elsing parish church in the prime of health and strength. But the recent exhumation of his remains showed that he was a human wreck. He suffered from advanced inflammation of the joints and most of his front teeth had been knocked out by blows to his mouth.

Sir William Scrope the elder was completely disabled at the age of about twenty-two by wounds received at the battle of Morlaix and died two years later without recovering. Olivier de Clisson famously lost an eye at the battle of Auray Recovery from a serious wound was rarely complete and professional soldiers were easily recognised by scars. A muster roll drawn up in Provence in which, unusually, records the appearance as well as the names of the men, suggests that at least a quarter of them were scarred by the wounds of past campaigns, generally on their hands or faces.

Breton soldiers returning from the wars were described by a contemporary as disfigured, mutilated, often part-blind and lame, with faces like the bark of a tree and stuffing still coming out of their jackets where swords had entered. Few aspects of fourteenth-century military life are as obscure as the treatment of disease and wounds.

Medieval physicians worked in the tradition established by the second century Greek theorist Galen as their successors continued to do until the eighteenth century. Although they must often have supplemented their science with folk remedies of one kind or another we know very little about them except that they seem to have been largely ineffective. Dysentery and other infectious diseases endemic in crowded, ill-drained encampments were among the main sources of loss in medieval armies.

The recovery rate was low. The prognosis was better for wounds. They were the province of the surgeons, men who lacked the formal learning and professional prestige of the physicians but were probably more useful. Their training had a significant empirical element which included some dissection and a good deal of observation, much of it derived from treating war wounds.

Henri de Mondeville, the famous French surgeon of the early fourteenth century, had derived at least part of his knowledge from serving with the armies of Philip the Fair. His treatise on surgery, written in about , was among the first to put forward a recognisably modern approach to the treatment of wounds based on the control of haemorrhage, the cleaning of the wound and closure with sutures, combined with nourishing diet and rest. As with so much medieval science, theory is better recorded than practice, which may have been more impressive.

The evidence, fragmentary as it is, suggests that contemporaries were capable of distinguishing between some wounds and others and of applying the treatments appropriate to the conditions. It was well understood that the main priority was to wash out the wound with pure water or a natural disinfectant and to keep it clean. The contemporary French surgeon-physician Guy de Chauliac, whose famous and influential Grande Chirurgie is said to have set back the academic study of wound treatment by two centuries, observed with a sneer that this kind of unlearned stuff was common wisdom among professional men-at-arms.

According to Guy their practice was to clean out wounds with wine or spirits or oils from crushed herbs applied with wads of woollen cloth or cabbage leaves. This is borne out by other evidence. Ointments, mainly herbal, were a staple of the medicine chests taken on campaign and were kept in readiness in garrisoned towns and castles.

Other disinfectants employed included exotic resins, natural turpentine, honey and even, for inaccessible wounds beyond the reach of the scalpel, diluted compounds of arsenic. They were also surprisingly alert to the advantages of a good diet and plenty of rest. These must have been hard to provide in the field.

During his march around Paris in Edward III even arranged for sick English and allied soldiers to be allowed to withdraw to Burgundy to recuperate away from the war zone, a rare example of solicitude for wounded men who were more commonly abandoned to weaken and die by the roadside. In most cases they probably did. The Breton knight Geoffrey Budes was severely wounded in the unsuccessful assault on the walls of Ussel in February As he climbed the scaling ladder he was struck by heavy boulders thrown down from above and fell into the castle ditch with a broken arm, a fractured and dislocated hip and lacerations all over his body.

He was rescued and taken to Clermont where his bones were reset with bitumen without medical intervention, apparently by his companions. The surgeons who later examined him in Paris found that some of the lacerations were still unhealed but that the fractures had mended perfectly. There were clearly occasions when professional attention was essential. Princes took their personal surgeons with them. But these men were there to treat their master and his household and personal retainers. Only occasionally do we hear of surgeons being provided for humbler men. Some garrisons took local practitioners permanently into their service.


But there is no evidence of organised medical services before , when a corps of nearly two dozen surgeons served with the English army at Agincourt. Most soldiers who suffered battlefield fractures from swords or axes probably died of gangrene or other rapidly spreading infections long before help could reach them. Among those who survived their injuries arrow and bolt wounds were probably the commonest traumas calling for surgical attention.

Crossbow bolts were made of iron. Arrows were tipped with metal which was frequently barbed. Extracting them was a delicate operation with a high risk of failure. Guy de Chauliac had an array of instruments for extracting arrow-heads but warned that deep wounds to the head were usually incurable. This was probably too pessimistic, but the record of surgery was certainly uneven. The barbs remained there for twenty years, when they are said to have been removed by the miraculous intervention of St. On the other hand when an arrow penetrated six inches into the head of Prince Henry the future Henry V at the battle of Shrewsbury in it was successfully removed with a specially made instrument in a complicated and time-consuming operation of which a remarkable account survives written by the surgeon himself.

But this was hardly a typical case. Prince Henry was an important patient and the surgeon was one of the most celebrated practitioners in England. Victims of arrow wounds were more commonly advised that it was safer to leave the metal in the wound and put up with the discomfort. Horses were if anything even more vulnerable than men, but we hear even less about their treatment.

Horses suffered lance and arrow wounds and frequent fractures. They succumbed to camp diseases. They could not bear prolonged periods without food and water as men often had to. They sickened when floods brought down thick, muddy water from the hills. Major expeditions such as those of John of Gaunt in —4 and the Earl of Buckingham in —1 often resulted in catastrophic horse losses.

Some may have been little better than the author of the short manual on the care of horses preserved at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who advised prayer for all the more serious maladies. But a certain amount of practical veterinary lore must have been common among men-at-arms and their grooms who lived and worked all the time with horses. The Menagier de Paris, whose didactic instructions to his wife tell us so much about the life of prosperous urban households, also had advice to give to his grooms about the illnesses and treatment of horses, which he had presumably derived from observation over the years.

It is an academic compilation, largely derived from old Byzantine sources, which cannot have been of much practical use, but it at least suggests that there was serious interest in the subject. The sole surviving manuscript contains some striking illustrations of procedures for treating fractures, wounds and other ailments of horses which are more instructive than anything in the text.

Of all the hazards encountered by medieval soldiers none was as fundamental to the balance of risk and reward as the danger of capture. In the course of a long professional career a prominent soldier was quite likely to be captured at least once and quite possibly more than once. Bertrand du Guesclin was captured four times in the space of eight years.

He took considerable risks with his safety, especially in his early career, but his experience was by no means unusual. The Gascon knight Bernard de Montet, who petitioned Richard II for help in , claimed to have been captured six times in twelve years. The treatment of prisoners of war was governed by an elaborate mixture of legal rules and customary practice, which was progressively refined as the war continued.

Human prisoners were legitimate spoil of war in the same way as armour, baggage or horses. They were at the mercy of their captors. This was more than an abstract idea derived from law-books. In the concluding stages of any decisive battle the survivors of the defeated army, exhausted, wounded or fleeing from the scene, were routinely massacred in cold blood unless their equipment showed them to be rich enough to be worth taking.

If a man surrendered, it was an act of grace to spare him. So he said nothing, whereupon his enemy drove the point of his dagger into his skull and killed him. Not all prisoners were ransomed. Some were appropriated by the King, generally on paying compensation to the captor, and detained indefinitely for political reasons. The sons of Charles of Blois were incarcerated in England for more than thirty years for very similar reasons. By custom the King of France was entitled to take over any prisoner worth more than 10, francs.

He exercised this right more sparingly than his rival, but he was perfectly capable of it when it suited him.

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When the Captal de Buch was captured for the first time, in , Charles V discharged him without payment in the hope of making an ally. On the second occasion, in , the King refused to release him at all, even against a proper ransom, until he agreed to abandon his English allegiance. The Captal protested that his treatment was contrary to the law of arms. So did several of his courtiers, among them the French knight who had taken him. But in point of law the King was right. So the Captal remained in the grim keep of Corbeil until his death in The moral of this story was that the practice of ransoming prisoners raised many issues other than money.

Outside the ranks of the chivalrous class it was never free of controversy. A minority of churchmen felt that it put a price on mercy and treated human beings as chattels. A more significant criticism, because it was more widespread, was that the ransoming of captured soldiers served to strengthen the enemy and prolong the war. The prospect of ransoms also encouraged indiscipline in the army, as soldiers broke ranks and disregarded orders in the pursuit of prisoners.

When French opinion turned against the whole knightly class after the disastrous defeat at Poitiers in , one of the main accusations against them was that the ransom system was a conspiracy between men-at-arms on either side. It was said that they had more in common with each other than with the populations which supported them and preferred to make money out of the enemy than to destroy them.

Similar complaints were heard in England when people began to turn against the war later in the century. By and large, however, the conventions of chivalry prevailed. Even such significant figures as Charles of Blois and Bertrand du Guesclin were ransomed if a suitable price could be fixed. Just as a prisoner had no right to be released against a ransom, so the mere fact of surrender implied no promise to pay one.

That required a further agreement. Because the maintenance and custody of his prisoner could be expensive the lesser prisoners were in practice released quite quickly, often within a day or two of their capture, after a rough and ready estimate of their worth and a truncated discussion over a camp fire. These occasions were games of bluff on both sides. Captors threatened to keep the prisoner in captivity when they were in no position to do it.

This man was exposed by a fellow prisoner, a turncoat who told his captors who the man was and what to charge. But, in general, captors had perforce to take their prisoners at their own estimation, a process which commonly resulted in quite modest ransoms. The chronicler Jean le Bel reports that most of the great horde of French prisoners taken at the battle of Poitiers got away lightly for this reason.

The more notable captives fared worse. Their horses and equipment were too grand. Their arms were emblazoned on their tunics and readily identifiable by the heralds. They were almost invariably detained while enquiries were made, a full ransom negotiated and security obtained for its payment. This could be a difficult and long-drawn-out process, as prisoners kept in isolation in a foreign country, without friends or advisers to support them, struggled to weigh up the prospect of indefinite detention against the dangers of a ruinous freedom.

Conventionally there were limits to what a captor could demand. This formula begged many questions and, as Bonet himself observed, the ideal was widely ignored in practice. Most captors made a rough assessment of what the prisoner could raise by selling assets and added something for the contribution which might be expected from his relatives and friends and, in the case of politically important prisoners, from his sovereign.

At a time when cash was scarce and revenues from land were declining, even modest ransoms could be hard to raise. Many prisoners were ruined by the excessive demands made on them and the stiff terms on which credit was available from the few people who were in a position to provide it. Cash-rich entrepreneurs, often successful soldiers of fortune, provided loans and guarantees. A syndicate of English noblemen led by John of Gaunt undertook to advance the ransom of the Earl of Pembroke in Edward III himself was a persistent but not particularly successful speculator in this market.

In France rich Parisian merchants and officials bought up land and chattels from distressed prisoners at bargain prices, like the syndicate that bailed out Tristan de Maignelay. Bertrand du Guesclin, Olivier de Clisson and Gaston Phoebus of Foix all carried on a regular brokerage business, advancing cash for ransom payments and buying up prisoners at a discount to release or sell them at a profit. Without financial accommodation of this kind the ransoming of prisoners would hardly have been possible, but it came at a heavy price. There was interest to pay. Hostages were required as security.

Pledges were taken and charges executed. Foreclosures were frequent. The Norman knight Robert de Brucourt, who was captured at the battle of Auray in , was held at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte for eleven years until he agreed to pay a ransom which was ten times the annual revenues of his domains in Lower Normandy.

Debrief Bourse du 3 juin : le CAC parvient à inverser la tendance en dépit de l'aversion au risque

The money was raised by selling the property to Bertrand du Guesclin on terms which left him and his wife with two-thirds of the income for life to live on. Their heirs were left with nothing. Sir John Bourchier, who was captured on the Breton march in , passed more than two years immured in the fortress of his captor before agreeing to a ransom of 12, francs, about three times the revenues of his English estates. Writing to his wife from his prison, he excused himself for having brought ruin on both of them by promising a sum so far beyond their means.

He was afraid for his health, he said, if he remained incarcerated for much longer. The conditions in which prisoners of war were kept varied widely according to the means and generosity of the captor. The duty to protect his prisoner, which the captor assumed on the battlefield, entailed allowing him a minimum of comfort according to his status. But what counted as ill-treatment? He was entitled to confine his prisoner in a locked cell if he chose and was under no obligation to let him out for exercise or recreation. Strictly speaking a prisoner of war could be kept in leg-irons.

This practice was regularly employed by routier garrisons to put pressure on prisoners and their relatives and is said to have been normal in Castile and Germany. But it was regarded with abhorrence by most noblemen in France and England and appears to have been used only against prisoners who had defaulted or against their hapless hostages. As a result his relatives found the money. His fate could easily have been worse. Outside the notorious prisons of the free companies, however, the treatment of prisoners was generally well above the minimum standard which the law of arms required.

Gaston Phoebus did not treat other prisoners like Alfonso de Denia. They were allowed out on parole to hunt in his forests and go where they wished in his domains provided that they were back by sunset. The Count of Saint-Pol met his future wife while living comfortably on parole at the English court at Windsor. In , when rumours began to circulate that the Captal de Buch was being maltreated at Corbeil, it was said that the English had retaliated by inflicting the same treatment on Roger Beaufort. Both governments reacted with indignation to these reports.

These were of course famous prisoners in the custody of the King whose maltreatment would have had serious repercussions. But lesser men appear to have received broadly comparable treatment in the castles of their captors. He certainly had several servants with him, including his English squire, who were free to come and go with messages and errands. Even in these relatively benign conditions illness, boredom and depression were formidable enemies.

Medieval castles were cold in winter and insanitary in summer. Confined within the walls of the castle of Machecoul, Bourchier complained that he was losing the use of his limbs, which was probably due to a combination of unfitness and premature arthritis. Fourteenth-century men-at-arms were usually educated men but their habits did not fit them for a life without activity or companionship. Given the disastrous consequences of capture for so many prisoners it is surprising that there were not more defaults.

Escape from captivity was rare, especially in England. In about Hugh escaped from Nottingham castle, one of the strongest fortresses in the kingdom, with the assistance of a Flemish sea captain hired by his wife, and managed to get back to France via Scotland. Most prisoners who escaped took the easier course of absconding while on parole. A captor was practically bound to release his prisoner on parole once he had entered into a ransom agreement because there was usually no other way in which he could raise the money.

Captors took hostages or guarantees where they could or insisted on part-payment first, but these precautions were not always possible. Every effort was made to pile on the moral pressure to comply with these promises. The promises of prisoners were recorded in writing, drawn up under their seal and witnessed by notaries. Their oaths were sworn in the presence of the most impressive witnesses that could be found. When Sir Thomas Percy was paroled in July to find his ransom in England he was brought to the Louvre to swear his oath before Charles V, Bertrand du Guesclin and a great congress of princes and noblemen.

Percy failed to raise the money and was back in captivity by December. He defended himself on the ground that in Castile he should be regarded as fighting against King Pedro of Castile, not the Prince. The outstanding balance of his ransom had to be hurriedly paid to Marshal Sancerre before the expedition sailed.

A complex arrangement was devised with the assent of both governments, which illustrates how far contemporaries would go to adapt the conduct of war to the private interests of prominent captains. To enable Felton to invade France part of his debt was discharged in exchange for the release of Guillaume des Bordes, the former French captain in the Cotentin, who was bought by Richard II from his captor and transferred to Felton for the purpose.

Among men of the standing of Percy and Felton default was unthinkable. The evidence suggests that after his escape from Nottingham castle he actually paid his ransom in order to be able to accept appointment as Captain-General of the French forces on the march of Calais. Defaults were more common among younger men and occasional soldiers as well as at the rougher end of the profession. They returned home and went to ground or devised colourable grounds for defying convention. Bertrand du Guesclin himself was more than once accused of breaking his parole before he became Constable.

Always conscious of his controversial past, Bertrand was inordinately sensitive to the charge and once famously had a man hanged in his armour from his own battlements for repeating it. He was not alone. Sir James Pipe, the English captain of the s who occupied the margins of military respectability, had twice defaulted on his parole. There was no doubt much to be said on both sides of these particular disputes but manifest defaulters were unwelcome even to their own side. They dishonoured their kinsmen and companions, provoked reprisals from the enemy and exposed hostages and guarantors to imprisonment and even death.

For this reason defaulters received no protection from their own government. In both England and France the Constable and the Marshals maintained courts, with juries of knights and specialised advocates, to hear cases under the law of arms, many of which were about prisoners and ransoms. When the much-captured Tristan de Maignelay absconded while on parole in France, leaving two hostages behind in England, he was arrested on the orders of Marshal Audrehem and kept in prison until he had paid his ransom.

In Anjou in the mids defaulting French prisoners of war were being pursued by hue and cry and smoked out of caves on the orders of the French royal Seneschal. The courts and jails of England were equally available to French captors and evidently much used. Even so, outraged captors increasingly resorted to self-help. Many of them fought duels to vindicate claims against prisoners of war. The evidence is entirely anecdotal, but recorded defaults become rarer in the later years of the century and it seems likely that peer pressure and the threat of enforcement at home had much to do with this.

Contemporary attitudes to the conduct of war were informed by an approach to the boundaries of the public and the private sphere which is alien to modern thinking. War was an occasion for private profit and private loss. Military service, the treatment of prisoners and hostages and the surrender of fortresses all depended on contract. In this respect they resembled other aspects of this brutal conflict, which were based on complicated relationships of personal dependence at a relatively low level.

Lawyers had long ago declared that only a sovereign could lawfully authorise war and by the end of the fourteenth century the principle was increasingly acknowledged in practice. Yet the role of the state in the conduct of its own wars was constricted by the essentially private interests of those who actually fought in them. The power of sovereigns was limited by the narrow financial margins on which they operated even in rich and intensively governed countries like France and England, constraints which left a large role for private enterprise.

It was a world of hierarchy tempered by opinion, of violence fettered by bureaucracy, of law which reflected force without limiting it, of officers and tribunals existing side by side with authorised anarchy. Yet it is perhaps right to remember that although these are major themes of fourteenth-century warfare they are by no means peculiar to the fourteenth century. In Europe they persisted until nation-states acquired the financial resources to assert a monopoly of organised violence. Public war and private business remained inextricably mixed in most European countries until the seventeenth century.

Some aspects of the same mentality, such as naval privateering and the purchase of military commissions, survived until well into the nineteenth. In England private companies were still being recruited for the army in the Napoleonic Wars. The modern treatment of prisoners of war as the exclusive responsibility of the state dates from the same period.

The first, very limited, Geneva Convention was not drawn up until On arms of peace and war: Keen , —6. Smithfield: Lettres de rois , ii, —2; Westminster Chron. KL , xiv, —69; Chron. SHF , xii, 3; Gr. Quicherat, v , Guiffrey, i , no. Ker, i , 1, 6. Upton, De Studio Militari, ed. Bisshe , —8. Genoese: Ord. Tournai , Proportions: Cat. Navarra Comptos , xii, nos. Serving both sides: e. Crimes: Wright, 72—3; Gauvard, i, , ii, —40; Reg. Stratton: M. Labarge, Gascony. Mainwaring: Morgan , —6, , Norbury: ibid. SHF , xii, —9. KL , xiv, , , xv, Others: Contamine , —1; Lalande; Dumay; Troubat, ii, Livre Chev.

Du Guesclin: Letters B. I; Gauvard, ii, —9. Garrison commanders: Gall. Subcontracts: Sherborne , —3; Goodman , —20; Walker , —5; Walker [1], 70—1. Neville: Parl. Rolls, v, —12 Buckingham: Walsingham, Chron. SHF , xiv, Craddock: Morgan , —6. Rolls , v, ; Anglo-Norman Letters , no. Froissart, Chron. KL , xv, SHF , vi, —7; vii, Knolles: Foed. Bourbon, 91 Du Guesclin.

SHF , viii, —8. French cross: Cron. Tournai, ; Contamine , — England: Prince , —3; Ayton , 55—6; Froissart, Chron. SHF , viii, 78—9. Rolls , v, —12 34 ; vi, —7 France: Ord.

Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition) Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition)
Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition) Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition)
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Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition) Mérigot Marchès (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition)
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