Du Guesclin, Bertrand

Du Guesclin, Bertrand

(bĕrträN` dü gĕklăN`), c.1320–80, constable of France (1370–80), greatest French soldier of his time. A Breton, he initially served Charles of BloisCharles of Blois
(Charles of Châtillon) , c.1319–1364, duke of Brittany; nephew of Philip VI of France. He was one of the chief participants in the War of the Breton Succession and was killed at the battle of Auray. An extremely pious man, he has been beatified.
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 in the War of the Breton SuccessionBreton Succession, War of the,
1341–65, an important episode of the Hundred Years War. Duke John III of Brittany died in 1341 without heirs. The succession was contested by his half-brother, John de Montfort, who was backed by Edward III of England, and by Charles of
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. Charles was supported by the French crown, while his rival was allied with England. In 1356–57, Du Guesclin held Rennes against English attack. Entering the service of King Charles VCharles V
(Charles the Wise), 1338–80, king of France (1364–80). Son of King John II, Charles became the first French heir apparent to bear the title of dauphin after the addition of the region of Dauphiné to the royal domain in 1349.
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 of France on Charles's accession (1364), he won the brilliant victory of Cocherel over the forces of King Charles IICharles II
(Charles the Bad), 1332–87, king of Navarre (1349–87), count of Évreux; grandson of King Louis X of France. He carried on a long feud with his father-in-law, John II, king of France, procuring the assassination (1354) of John's favorite, Charles de
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 of Navarre. The victory forced Charles II into a new peace with the French king. Du Guesclin was captured in the same year at Auray by English forces under Sir John ChandosChandos, Sir John
, d. 1370, English soldier and administrator of English territories in France. A friend of Edward the Black Prince, he won distinction in the Hundred Years War by his bravery at Poitiers (1356) and by his capture (1364) of Bertrand Du Guesclin at Auray.
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. Ransomed by Charles V, who placed him at the head of the "free companies," the marauding soldiers who pillaged France after the Treaty of BrétignyBrétigny, Treaty of
, 1360, concluded by England and France at Brétigny, a village near Chartres, France. It marked a low point in French fortunes in the Hundred Years War.
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 between France and England, Du Guesclin was sent to Spain to aid Henry of Trastamara (later Henry IIHenry II
or Henry of Trastámara
, 1333?–1379, Spanish king of Castile and León (1369–79), illegitimate son of Alfonso XI. After taking part in several unsuccessful revolts against his half-brother, Peter the Cruel, he secured the aid of Du
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 of Castile) against Peter the CruelPeter the Cruel,
1334–69, Spanish king of Castile and León (1350–69), son and successor of Alfonso XI. His desertion of his wife, Blanche of Bourbon, for María Padilla and his favors to the Padilla family aroused the opposition of the nobles and led to
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. Du Guesclin, though successful in the campaign of 1366, was defeated and captured (1367) by Peter and Edward the Black PrinceEdward the Black Prince,
1330–76, eldest son of Edward III of England. He was created duke of Cornwall in 1337, the first duke to be created in England, and prince of Wales in 1343.
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 at Nájera. In 1369, however, he and Henry won the battle of Montiel, gaining for Henry the throne of Castile. Warfare with England was renewed in 1369, and Du Guesclin reconquered Poitou and Saintonge and pursued (1370–74) the English into Brittany. He disapproved of the confiscation (1378) of Brittany by Charles V, and his campaign to make the duchy submit to the king was halfhearted. An able tactician and a loyal and disciplined warrior, Du Guesclin had reconquered much of France from the English when he died while on a military expedition in Languedoc.

Bibliography

See biographies by D. F. Jamison (1864), E. V. Stoddard (1897), and R. Vercel (tr. 1934).

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