Bertrand du Guesclin
Bertrand du Guesclin known as the Eagle of Brittany or the Black Dog of Brocéliande
Brocéliande is the name of a legendary forest that first appears in literature in 1160, in the Roman de Rou, a verse chronicle written by Wace....

, was a Breton
Breton people
The Bretons are an ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Brythonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain in waves from the 3rd to 6th century into the Armorican peninsula, subsequently named Brittany after them.The...

A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 and French military commander during the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

. He was Constable of France
Constable of France
The Constable of France , as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King...

 from 1370 to his death. Well known for his Fabian strategy
Fabian strategy
The Fabian strategy is a military strategy where pitched battles and frontal assaults are avoided in favor of wearing down an opponent through a war of attrition and indirection. While avoiding decisive battles, the side employing this strategy harasses its enemy through skirmishes to cause...

, he took part in six pitched battles and won the four in which he held command.

Bertrand du Guesclin was born at the Chateau de la Motte de Broen in Broons
Broons is a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France.-International relations:Broons is twinned with the town Neufahrn i.NB in Bavaria since 1971.-Population:Inhabitants of Broons are called Broonais....

, near Dinan
Dinan is a walled Breton town and a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in northwestern France.-Geography:Its geographical setting is exceptional. Instead of nestling on the valley floor like Morlaix, most urban development has been on the hillside, overlooking the river Rance...

, in Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

. His family was of minor Breton nobility, the seigneurs
A fee was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable lands granted under one of several varieties of feudal tenure by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the...

 of Broons
Broons is a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France.-International relations:Broons is twinned with the town Neufahrn i.NB in Bavaria since 1971.-Population:Inhabitants of Broons are called Broonais....


He initially served Charles of Blois in the Breton War of Succession
Breton War of Succession
The Breton War of Succession was a conflict between the Houses of Blois and Montfort for control of the Duchy of Brittany. It was fought between 1341 and 1364. It formed an integral part of the early Hundred Years War due to the involvement of the French and English governments in the conflict; the...

 (1341-1364). Charles was supported by the French crown, while his rival, Jean de Montfort
John IV, Duke of Brittany
John IV of Montfort , was duke of Brittany, from 1341 to his death. He was son of Duke Arthur II and Yolande de Dreux, countess of Montfort, his second wife.In 1322 he succeeded his mother as count of Montfort, and in 1329, he married Joanna of Flanders at Chartres...

, was allied with England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. Du Guesclin was knighted in 1354 while serving Arnoul d'Audrehem
Arnoul d'Audrehem
Arnoul d'Audrehem was a French soldier.He was born at Audrehem, in the present arrondissement of Saint-Omer, in the département of Pas de Calais. Nothing is known of his career before 1332, when he is heard of at the court of Philip VI of France.Between 1332 and 1342 he went three times to...

, after countering a raid by Hugh Calveley
Hugh Calveley
Sir Hugh Calveley was an English soldier and commander, who took part in the Hundred Years' War, gaining fame during the War of the Breton Succession and the Castilian Civil War...

 on the Castle of Montmuran. In 1356-1357, Du Guesclin successfully defended Rennes
Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.-History:...

 against an English siege by Henry of Grosmont, using the guerrilla tactics. During the siege, he killed the English knight William Bamborough who had challenged him to a duel
Single combat
Single combat is a fight between two single warriors which takes place in the context of a battle between two armies, with the two often considered the champions of their respective sides...

The brave resistance of du Guesclin helped restore French assurance after Poitiers
Battle of Poitiers (1356)
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt....

, and du Guesclin came to the attention of the Dauphin Charles
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

When he became King in 1364, Charles sent Du Guesclin to deal with Charles II of Navarre
Charles II of Navarre
Charles II , called "Charles the Bad", was King of Navarre 1349-1387 and Count of Évreux 1343-1387....

, who hoped to claim the Duchy of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

, which Charles hoped to give to his brother, Philip
Philip II, Duke of Burgundy
Philip the Bold , also Philip II, Duke of Burgundy , was the fourth and youngest son of King John II of France and his wife, Bonne of Luxembourg. By his marriage to Margaret III, Countess of Flanders, he also became Count Philip II of Flanders, Count Philip IV of Artois and Count-Palatine Philip IV...

. On 16 May, he met an Anglo-Navarrese army under the command of Jean de Grailly, Captal de Buch
Jean III de Grailly, captal de Buch
Sir Jean III de Grailly, Captal de Buch KG , son of Jean II de Grailly, Captal de Buch, Vicomte de Benauges, and Blanch de Foix...

 at Cocherel
Battle of Cocherel
The Battle of Cocherel it fought on May 16, 1364 between the king of France and the forces of Charles II of Navarre, over the succession to the dukedom of Burgundy....

 and proved his ability in pitched battle by routing the enemy. The victory forced Charles II into a new peace with the French king, and secured Burgundy for Philip.

On September 29, 1364, at the Battle of Auray
Battle of Auray
The Battle of Auray took place on 29 September 1364 at the French town of Auray. This battle was the decisive confrontation of the Breton War of Succession, a part of the Hundred Years' War....

, Charles of Blois were heavily defeated by John V, Duke of Brittany
John V, Duke of Brittany
John V the Conqueror KG was Duke of Brittany and Count of Montfort, from 1345 until his death.-Numbering:...

 and the English forces under Sir John Chandos
John Chandos
Sir John Chandos, Viscount of Saint-Sauveur in the Cotentin, Constable of Aquitaine, Seneschal of Poitou, KG was a medieval English knight who hailed from Radbourne Hall, Derbyshire. Chandos was a close friend of Edward, the Black Prince and a founding member and 19th Knight of the Order of the...

. Charles was killed in action, ending the Blois
Blois is the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.-History:...

 pretensions in Brittany. Despite an heroic resistance, Du Guesclin was captured and ransom
Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.In an early German law, a similar concept was called bad influence...

ed by Charles V for 100,000 franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...


In 1366, Bertrand convinced the leaders of the "free companies", who had been pillaging France after the Treaty of Brétigny
Treaty of Brétigny
The Treaty of Brétigny was a treaty signed on May 9, 1360, between King Edward III of England and King John II of France. In retrospect it is seen as having marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years' War —as well as the height of English hegemony on the Continent.It was signed...

, to join him in an expedition to Spain to aid Henry of Trastámara against Pedro the Cruel. In 1366, du Guesclin captured many fortresses (Magallon, Briviesca and finally the capital Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

). But Henry's army was defeated in 1367 by Pedro's forces, now commanded by Edward, the Black Prince
Edward, the Black Prince
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England....

, at Nájera. Du Guesclin was again captured, and again ransomed by Charles V, who considered him invaluable. However, the English army suffered badly in the battle as four English soldiers out of five died during the Castilian Campaign. The Black Prince, affected by dysentery, soon withdrew his support from Pedro. Du Guesclin and Henry of Trastámara renewed the attack, defeating him at the decisive Battle of Montiel
Battle of Montiel
The battle of Najera was of dubious long-term significance as Pedro of Castile and the Black Prince fell out over money. The Black Prince, affected by a dysentery, soon withdrew his support from Pedro and returned to Aquitaine...

 (1369). Henry stabbed the captive Pedro to death in du Guesclin's tent, gaining the throne of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

Bertrand was made Duke of Molina, and the Franco-Castllian alliance was sealed.

War with England was renewed in 1369, and Du Guesclin was recalled from Castile in 1370 by Charles V, who had decided to make him Constable of France
Constable of France
The Constable of France , as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France and Commander in Chief of the army. He, theoretically, as Lieutenant-general of the King, outranked all the nobles and was second-in-command only to the King...

, the country's chief military leader. By tradition this post was always given to a great nobleman, not to someone like the comparatively low-born Du Guesclin, but Charles needed someone who was an outstanding professional soldier. In practice du Guesclin had continual difficulties in getting aristocratic leaders to serve under him, and the core of his armies were always his personal retinue. He was formally invested with the rank of Constable by the King on 2 October 1370. He immediately defeated an English army led by Robert Knolles
Robert Knolles
Sir Robert Knolles was an important English soldier of the Hundred Years' War, who, operating with the tacit support of the Crown, succeeded in taking the only two major French cities, other than Calais and Poitiers, to fall to Edward III...

 at the Battle of Pontvallain
Battle of Pontvallain
The Battle of Pontvallain was an important battle in France’s Hundred Years War with England. It was fought in early December 1370 in the Sarthe region between English forces that had broken away from the army commanded by the English knight Sir Robert Knolles and a French army under the...

 and then reconquered Poitou
Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.The region of Poitou was called Thifalia in the sixth century....

 and Saintonge
Saintonge is a small region on the Atlantic coast of France within the département Charente-Maritime, west and south of Charente in the administrative region of Poitou-Charentes....

 forcing the Black Prince to leave France.

In 1372, the Franco-Castillan fleet destroyed the English fleet at the Battle of La Rochelle
Battle of La Rochelle
The naval Battle of La Rochelle took place on 22 and 23 June 1372 between a Castilian and French fleet commanded by the Genoese born Ambrosio Boccanegra and an English convoy commanded by John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. The Franco-Castilian fleet had been sent to attack the English at La...

 where more than 400 English knights and 8000 soldiers were captured.
Master of the Channel, du Guesclin organized destructive raids on the English coasts in retaliation for the English chevauchée
A chevauchée was a raiding method of medieval warfare for weakening the enemy, focusing mainly on wreaking havoc, burning and pillaging enemy territory, in order to reduce the productivity of a region; as opposed to siege warfare or wars of conquest...


Du Guesclin pursued the English into Brittany from 1370 to 1374, and defeated again the English army at the Battle of Chizé in 1373.

He disapproved of the confiscation of Brittany by Charles V in 1378, and his campaign to make the duchy
Duke of Brittany
The Duchy of Brittany was a medieval tribal and feudal state covering the northwestern peninsula of Europe,bordered by the Alantic Ocean on the west and the English Channel to the north with less definitive borders of the Loire River to the south and Normandy to the east...

 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 of illness at Chateauneuf-de-Randon
Châteauneuf-de-Randon is a village and commune in the Lozère department in southern France.-History:The battle of Châteauneuf-de-Randon was fought in 1380 between the English and the French. In 1380 the fortress of Châteauneuf-de-Randon was besieged by the French, under the command of Bertrand du...

 while on a military expedition in Languedoc
Languedoc is a former province of France, now continued in the modern-day régions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées in the south of France, and whose capital city was Toulouse, now in Midi-Pyrénées. It had an area of approximately 42,700 km² .-Geographical Extent:The traditional...

 in 1380. He was buried at Saint-Denis in the tomb of the Kings of France
Saint Denis Basilica
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the commune of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The abbey church was created a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy...

. His heart is kept at the basilica of Saint-Sauveur at Dinan.

Because of du Guesclin's allegiance to France, 20th century Breton nationalists considered him to be a 'traitor' to Brittany. During World War II, the pro-Nazi Breton Social-National Workers' Movement
Breton Social-National Workers' Movement
The Breton Social-National Workers' Movement was a nationalist, separatist, and Fascist movement founded in 1941 by Théophile Jeusset. It emerged in Brittany from a deviationist faction of the Breton National Party; it disappeared the same year....

 destroyed a statue of him in Rennes
Rennes is a city in the east of Brittany in northwestern France. Rennes is the capital of the region of Brittany, as well as the Ille-et-Vilaine department.-History:...

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