Bertrand du Guesclin Details

Bertrand Du Guesclin Bertrand is evil, but courageous when there is no alternative. He is the one who said " I have a secret weapon,its name is Terror.

Bertrand is evil. There is no other word for it.

Rather than wite a complete profile I enclose an extract from the Isle of Jersey information brochure.

In the main square of the Breton town of Dinan there is a fine equestrian statue of Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, guerrilla fighter, knight, master of siege warfare and all-round gallic hero.

There is no similar statue in Jersey – and for a very good reason. In 1373, while Sir William Asthorpe was Warden of the Channel Islands and Jean de St Martin was chief justice or Bailiff, du Guesclin, accompanied by the Duke of Bourbon, led a large invasion force of his French compatriots to the Island’s shores.

The Black Dog of Brittany – or, more accurately, La Dogue Noir de Brocéliande, the great Breton forest – as du Guesclin was known, soon overran the Island, capturing Grosnez Castle in the process. His forces also burned property and killed Islanders indiscriminately.

Some idea of his brutality can be gathered from accounts of du Guesclin’s campaigns in northern Spain, where Jews and Moors were systematically put to the sword or even burned alive.”

Attack on Jersey

With no water supply and limited defences, Grosnez was no real obstacle to a soldier well versed in the siege tactics, but Mont Orgueil – then known simply as Le Château de Gorey – was another matter.

In the 14th century this stronghold was well fortified, having not only stout outer ramparts and towers but also a strong keep built on the bedrock of the familiar promontory overlooking the sea.

The French forces managed to tunnel under the outer walls, undermining their structure and making a breach, but the defenders fell back to the keep.

Because this was on solid rock further attempts to dig tunnels were futile, so a stalemate ensued. Sir William, who commanded the castle garrison with Jean de St Martin, recognised that the reserves of food were limited.

Accordingly, he negotiated with du Guesclin, saying that the castle would be surrendered at Michaelmas if help did not arrive.

That gave both sides two months to sit and wait for developments.

Fortunately for everyone who is content that the Channel Islands have remained English Crown possessions, an English fleet arrived in time to lift the siege.

But that was not the end of the matter.

The armies of du Guesclin were still in a position to raid Jersey at will, so they had to be bought off with a substantial ransom.

Interestingly, Sir William’s wife, Margaret Dynham, came originally from the Dinan area – as did du Guesclin. It has been suggested that she interceded on behalf of the Island.

As significant as the Black Dog’s 1373 raid on the Island was for the Islanders of the era, it was a mere sideshow in a military career of one of France’s great warriors.

Resurrected Neanderthal

Born in 1320 at La Motte-Broons, which lies south-west of Dinan, du Guesclin initially served Charles of Blois in the War of the Breton Succession.

Great soldier though he was, he was not an attractive figure. Contemporary descriptions say that he was short and had disproportionately long arms, a snub nose and protruding eyes.

More recently, a French student of his career suggested that he might have been a resurrected Neanderthal. As well as remaining illiterate throughout his life, du Guesclin was said to be aggressive and bad-tempered.

In 1356 du Guesclin successfully held the city of Rennes against an English attack, winning a duel with Sir Thomas Canterbury during the course of the siege. In 1364 he entered the service of Charles V of France and won a brilliant victory at Cocherel over the forces of Charles II of Navarre.

However, in the same year he was captured by the English under Sir John Chandos at Auray in southern Brittany, but he was ransomed by Charles V for the huge sum of 40,000 gold francs, who put him in charge of the ‘free companies’, soldiers who marauded throughout France after the Treaty of Brétigny between England and France put a temporary halt to the Hundred Years War.

Du Guesclin in Castile

Soon afterwards de Guesclin was sent to Spain to help Henry of Trastamara, who later became Henry II of Castille, against Peter the Cruel. He met with mixed fortunes, fighting successfully at first but then being captured in 1367 by Peter and England’s Black Prince at Najera.

Two years later, however, he won the Battle of Montiel, gaining the throne of Castille for Henry. In the same year war with England resumed and du Guesclin first captured Poitou and then chased the English army into his native Brittany.

Further victories followed, but he died in 1380 – not in his bed but at Châteauneuf-de-Randon during the course of a military expedition to the Languedoc in southern France.”

This article originally appeared as part of the Jersey Evening Post Crowns in Conflict series, compiled for the 1204-2004 celebrations.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.