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> Famous Bretons, Bertrand du Guesclin
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Posted: 26-Dec-2004, 09:00 PM
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Hello everyone!

Here is the second in a series of articles I plan to post dealing with famous Bretons. The subject this time: Bertrand du Guesclin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

This information was found at:


Bertrand du Guesclin

Bertrand Du Guesclin the eldest of 10 children, was born in the (now disappeared) castle of la Motte-Broons, near Dinan, at the beginning of the 14th century. He was one of the greatest Breton and French men of war.

At a time when physical beauty was very important for a knight, he was extremely ugly. Very young, he was admired by his compagnons for his courage and good sense. During his youth, Bertrand practised combat with the young peasants. He won by his strength, his dexterity and his wiliness, as well as his uncouth manners. His family, ashamed of him, kept him apart from the others. In 1337, a tournament in Rennes gathered together all the nobless of the country. Du Guescllin, who was 17 years old, went there on a plough horse, in peasant costume. He was not equipped well enough to take part in the jousting. He was so upset that one of his cousins from Rennes offered him his armour and his steed. The stranger beat several opponents. Finaly, a thrust of a lance lifted his visor. His father recognised him. Radiant and proud, he cried out : "Handsome son, I will never treat you badly again."

In 1345, he was armed as knight of Montmuran, after a combat in the area with the English. En 1356, he went into the service of the King, the day after the capture of Rennes. In 1357, Du Guesclin and his brother Olivier defended Dinan which was under seige by the Duke of Lancaster. After various combats, Bertrand faced with the superiority of the English forces, asked for a 40 day truce at the end of which the town would give in if noone came to its rescue. Olivier, unarmed, goes out into the countryside in violation of the truce. The knight of Cantorbery takes him prisoner and demands a ransom of 1000 florins. Du Guesclin challenges the English traitor to a fight in an enclosed field. The meeting takes place at Dinan, in the place known today as place du Champ. A stone monument reminds us of this combat. Lancaster presides. Cantorbery is defeated. He is obliged to give his arms to Bertrand and the 1000 florins that he had demanded to Olivier. In addition to that, he is banned from the English army. This triumph won him the admiration of a pretty young girl from Dinan called Tiphaine Raguenel. The union of this cultivated and learned young girl with this uncouth warrior was a very happy one. His victories owned him titles and honors : Governor of Pontorson (1360), Count of Longueville (1364), Duke of Molina, Duke of Transtammare (1366), King of Grenada (1369) and, finally Supreme Commander of the French armies (1370).

Having fought for the King of France for more than twenty years, during which the Crown's possessions were greatly increased at the expense of the English and their allies, Du Guesclin died in Auvergne on the 13th of July in front of Châteauneuf-de-Randon which he had put under seige. He wanted to be inhumed in Dinan, therefore the funeral cortege ended up in this town. At Puy, his body was embalmed and his entrails were buried. The embalment was insufficient, in Montferrand his flesh was boiled in order to detach his skeleton, and it was then buried in the church of the Cordeliers (destroyed in 1793). In Le Mans, his skeleton was handed over to an officer of the King, who had been ordered to take the body to St-Denis. Only his heart arrived at Dinan. It was placed in the Jacobine Church. Today, it can be found at the church of St-Sauveur. His remains were thus placed in four graves, at a time when the Kings of France had only three tombs (heart, entrails, body).

The principal dates of his campaigns

1356 : The capture of Rennes
1359 : The delivery of Dinan
1363 : The capture of several breton towns. From St-Pol-de-Léon, Du Guesclin arms his boats against the English.
1364 : The capture of Mantes and of Meulan
------- : (16th of May) Victory of Cocherel
------- : (29th of September) Defeat of Auray. Du Guesclin is made prisoner.
1366 : "The Great Compagnies" commanded by Du Guesclin penetrate Spain by the pass of Perche of Perthus. A succession of victories over Peter the Cruel and the English lead them to Seville.
1367 : (3rd of April) Defeat Najera : Du Guesclin, made prisoner, is brought in captivité by the English to Bordeaux.
1369 : (17th of January) Du Guesclin, liberated under ransom, returns to Spain.
------- : (March) Siege of the Château of Montiel. Peter the Cruel is killed. Du Guesclin goes back to France.
1370 : The capture of Moissac. Liberation of Périgord.
------- : Liberation of Le Mans. Victory of Pontvallain. The Maine and the Anjou are freed.
------- : Capture of Bresuire.
------- : Defeat of Pont de Juigné. Du Guesclin is made prisoner.
1371 : The capture of Briouze.
1372 : The victory of Mortain. The Normandy hedged farmland is freed.
1372-1373 : Capture of several towns in Poitu-Saintonge-Angoumois.
1373 : Brittany is conquered, with the exception of Brest and Derval.
1374 : The capture of St-Sauveur-le-Vicomte.
1378 : Normandy is brought to heel, with the exception of Cherbourg.
1380 : (27th of June) The capture of Chaliers.
------- : (13th-14th of July) The capture of Châteauneuf-de-Randon. The death of Du Guesclin.

This post has been edited by WizardofOwls on 26-Dec-2004, 09:02 PM

Slàn agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba tìr mo chridhe. 'S i Gàidhlig cànan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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