Monday, 9 October 2017

The Bastard of Orléans II

Xaintrailles and La Hire
Fighting the English

In 1421 Jean was made a knight and took as his arms the arms of the house of Orléans with the bend sinister. On 24th November Jean was given the Lordship of Vaubonais-Dauphine by Charles de Ponthieu. The following year Jean married his first wife, Marie Louvet. Marie was the daughter of Jean Louvet[i], Lord of Eygallières, chairman of the parlement of Provence and one of the king’s ministers.

In 1421 Jean was created Viscount of Saint-Sauveur[ii], baron of Parthenay and Lord of Valbonnais. The following year Fallavier[iii] was added to his domains and then Longueville[iv]. Jean was forced into exile for a year when his father-in-law and his family were banished by the king.

Chateau de Beaugency
Jean took up with La Hire and Poton de Xaintrailles in confronting the English when the opportunities arose. La Hire was known for both his swearing and praying and his relationship with his god was very personal;

‘Lord God, I pray you to do for La Hire what La Hire would do for you if God was a captain and La Hire was God.’[v]

This small force managed to make the English occupation uncomfortable, even re-capturing Le Mans for a short time. Jean fought for his master when the Dauphin won the battle at Baugé on 22nd March 1421 and when he was defeated at Cravant in 1423. Jean was also involved in the defence of Blois. In 1422 Jean purchased (or was given) the château de Beaugency.

The Fight Goes On

Battle of Meaux
On 31st August 1422 Henry V died from dysentery contracted at the siege of Meaux. His brother Bedford was to be regent for Henry’s baby son Henry VI[vi]. Less than two months later, on 21st October 1422, Charles VI died and the English immediately proclaimed Henry VI king of France as agreed at Troyes. The Dauphin seemed unable to act on his own initiative and his favourite Georges de la Trêmoille and the Archbishop of Rheims, Renauld de Chartres, were unable to press him into action.

The next few years saw Jean on the road, fighting against the English. As a reward for his efforts in March 1424 Charles VII made Jean Count of Mortain[vii]; five months later Jean was present at the French defeat at Verneuil[viii] on 17th August 1424. In December 1424 the County of Gien was also made over to him. In 1425 Jean was one of those who helped defend Mont St. Michel[ix]. The following year Jean was appointed Captain of Mont-St-Michel. Jean’s wife Marie died in 1426.

On 5th September 1427, in tandem with La Hire and a force of sixteen hundred men, Jean was to successfully come to the aid of Montargis under siege from the English led by the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Suffolk. La Hire and Jean fell on the English forces and captured Suffolk’s brother[x] and most of the English cannon; a success Charles VII called;

‘Le commencement et cause de nostre Bonheur[xi].’[xii]

Jean’s fame for his prowess and his inspiring and unconventional attack on the besieging forces started at Montargis after which he was made a Lieutenant General. In 1428 the county of Porcien was Jean’s domains.

Battle of Rouvray
In the summer of 1428 Jean was placed in charge of the defence of his half-brother’s capital of Orléans, now under siege from the English[xiii]. The units commanded by Jean and his fellow captains were often very small. In October 1428 treasury documents show Jean being paid;

‘To Monseigneur the Bastard of Orléans, 12 men-at-arms and 2 archers etc, one hundred and four livres tournois[xiv].’[xv]

Jean seemed rather lacklustre in defence, but led an attack on the English in December 1428 and another sortie in January. Jean was wounded, barely escaping with his life according to the siege journal, at the French defeat at the Battle of Rouvray[xvi] in February 1429.

The siege was well under way when the appearance of the woman who was to become known as Joan of Arc made her appearance at court, being held at Chinon. With her claims of heavenly intercession Joan was to inspire Charles VII to defend his inheritance. Jean declared that he heard;
Joan of Arc

‘Rumours from the town of Gien….that a certain young woman, commonly called the Maid, asserted that she was going to the noble dauphin to raise the siege of Orléans and to lead the dauphin to Rheims.’[xvii]

Joan was able to persuade Charles to allow her to accompany the army that was to lift the siege. Once there Joan was able to inspire the defence, although she was displeased that upon her arrival she was taken into the town rather than directed towards the fighting. Joan took issue with Jean because he was not prepared to take up arms.

On 1st May Jean departed Orléans for Blois to confer with Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, and to collect troops to add to the town’s defences, intending to return by 4th May. Joan spent the time reconnoitring and endearing herself to the townspeople. Seven days later the fighting[xviii] was over and the English were retreating; Joan’s determination had won the day.

Carry On Winning

Battle of Jargeau
Joan, Jean and the other French leaders joined the dauphin at the chateau[xix] of Loches. They hoped to persuade Charles to allow them more troops to harry the English along the Loire valley. Charles agreed to send Jean, the duke of Alençon and other of his captains with Joan to recover Meung, Beaugency and Jargeau.

On 11th June Joan attacked the English at Jargeau; five days later at the battle of Meung Joan, along with Jean, Poton de Xaintrailles, Alençon and Gilles de Rais, fought the English over control of the strategically placed bridge over the Loire at Meung. They took the bridge;

‘By frontal assault, hardly causing a moment’s pause.’[xx]

Battle of Patay
Their victory was to impede English supply and communication lines throughout the region. On the 16-7th the French once again fought the English at the battle of Beaugency. Burgundian chronicler Jean de Waurin wrote;

‘The French were alerted of their [the English] approach, with around 6,000 soldiers, of which the leaders were Joan the Maid, the duke of Alençon, the Bastard of Orléans, the Marshall of La Fayette, La Hire, Ponton and other captains. They ordered their soldiers into battle formation on top of a small hill.’[xxi]

On the following day Joan’s army fought again at the battle of Patay, another victory for the French when the English fled the field for the safety of Paris. The army returned to Orléans the following day and finally met with the court at Gien on 24th June where Joan was able to persuade the dauphin to go to Rheims.


The Real Bluebeard – Jean Benedetti, Sutton Publishing 2003

The Hundred Years War – Alfred Burne, Folio Society 2005

The Real Falstaff – Stephen Cooper, Pen and Sword Military 2010

Joan of Arc – Kelly DeVries, the History Press 2011

The Reign of Henry VI – RA Griffiths, Sutton Publishing Ltd 1998

The Fifteenth Century – EF Jacob, Oxford University Press 1997

Louis XII – Paul Murray Kendall, Sphere Books Ltd 1974

Joan of Arc – Edward Lucie-Smith, Classic Penguin 2000

John Talbot and the War in France – AJ Pollard, Pen and Sword Military 2005

Philip the Good – Richard Vaughan, Boydell Press 2014


[i] One of Charles VII’s favourites and an instigator of the murder of John the Fearless in 1419
[ii] There are a number of villages named Saint-Sauveur in France and it is not possible to identify which one is referred to, although it may be the village in Isère, not far from Valbonnais
[iii] Possibly St-Quentin Fallavier in Isère
[iv] Again it is not possible to identify which particular Longueville is referred to
[v] Orléans 1429 - Nicolle
[vi] Who inherited his grandfather’s insanity
[vii] Held for one year only after which it transferred back to the royal domain
[viii] Where the French army was bolstered by the addition of 4,000 Scottish soldiers
[ix] Which was never taken by the English during the war
[x] Probably John de la Pole who died in 1429 while still a prisoner of the French
[xi] ‘The beginning and the cause of our happiness’
[xii] The Hundred Years War - Burne
[xiii] The enemy commanders were Suffolk, Salisbury and Talbot
[xiv] In 2015 the relative:  historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £64,310.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £637,100.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £1,987,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £35,250,000.00
[xv] Orléans 1429 - Nicolle
[xvii] Joan of Arc - DeVries
[xix] One of the dauphin’s favourite residences
[xx] The Real Bluebeard - Benedetti
[xxi] Joan of Arc - DeVries

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