POITIERS

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POITIERS
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08 décembre 2010

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Poitiers, by Hilaire BellocThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: PoitiersAuthor: Hilaire BellocRelease Date: May 1, 2010 [EBook #32197]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK POITIERS ***Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team athttp://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from imagesgenerously made available by The Internet Archive/CanadianLibraries.)  POITIERS
      Larger ImagePOITIERSBYHILAIRE BELLOCLONDONHUGH REES, LTD.5 REGENT STREET, PALL MALL, S.W.3911
     CONTENTSPART  PAGE INTRODUCTION 9I.THE CAMPAIGN 18II.THE PRELIMINARIES OF THE ACTION 33III.THE TERRAIN 47IV.THE ACTION 68V.THE ASPECT OF THESE BATTLES 102VI.THE RESULTS OF THE BATTLE 115LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS  PAGEColoured Plan of the Battle frontispiecePlan No. 1 12Plan No. 2 32Plan No. 3 49Plan No. 4 61POITIERSINTRODUCTIONThe Battle of Poitiers was fought ten years and four weeks after that ofCrécy.The singular similarity between the two actions will be pointed out upon alater page. For the moment it must suffice to point out that Poitiers and[Pg 9]
Crécy form unique historical parallels, distinguishing like double summitsthe English successes of Edward III.’s army upon the Continent and of thefirst part of the Hundred Years’ War.For the political situation which had produced that conflict, and for theobjects which Edward III. had in provoking it, I must refer my reader to thefirst section of my little book upon Crécy in this series; as also for thearmament and organisation of the forces that served the English crown.There remain to be added, however, for the understanding of Poitiers andits campaign, two features which differentiate the fighting of 1356 from thatof ten years before. These two features are: first, the character of thecommander; and secondly, the nature of the regions from which he startedand through which he proceeded, coupled with the political character of theEnglish rule in the South of France. I will take these points in inverse order.When Calais had fallen and had become an English possession in thesummer of 1347 no peace followed. A truce was patched up for somemonths, followed by further truces. Through the mediation of the Pope afinal and definite treaty was sketched, which should terminate the war uponthe cession of Aquitaine to Edward III. in full sovereignty. The FrenchValois king would perhaps have agreed to a settlement which would havepreserved his feudal headship, though it would have put the Plantagenetsin virtual possession of half France (as France was then defined). ButEdward III. would not accept the terms. He had claimed the crown ofFrance. He had won his great victory at Crécy still claiming that crown. Hewould not be content with adding to his feudal tenures under the Frenchcrown. He would add to his sovereignty at least, to his absolutesovereignty, or continue the war. In 1354 (the Black Death intervening) thewar was renewed. Edward would have been content, not with the whole ofAquitaine, but with complete sovereignty over the triangle between theGaronne and the Pyrenees in the south, coupled with complete sovereigntyover the north-eastern seaboard of France from the Somme to Calais, andinland as far as Arras, and its territory, the Artois. But the French monarchy,though ready to admit feudal encroachments, would not dismember thenominal unity of the kingdom: just as a stickler in our north will grant a 999-year lease, but will not sell.The result of this breach in the negotiations was that Edward, and his sonthe Black Prince, entered upon the renewal of the war with a vague claim toAquitaine as a whole, with an active claim upon Guienne—that is, theterritory just north of the Garonne—and a real hold upon Gascony; and stillpreserving at the back of the whole scheme of operations that half-earnest,half-theatrical plan for an Anglo-French monarchy under the house ofPlantagenet which had been formulated twenty-five years before.  [Pg 10][Pg 11]
  It must be clearly grasped by the general reader how natural was both thereal and the fantastic side of that pursuit. It involved no question ofnationality as we should now understand it. It was based upon still livingtraditions of feudal connections which were personal and not racial; thechivalry of France and England was a French-speaking society basedupon common ideals and fed with common memories. Gascony was infavour of the Plantagenets. Further, Guienne—the district north of Gasconybeyond the Garonne—was Edward’s feudal own. He was not king of it, buthe was feudal lord of it, and had done homage for it in 1331 to the Valois. Itwas not a new or distant tie. For the rest of the quarrel my first section in theessay on Crécy already alluded to must suffice, but for the link withGascony a more particular emphasis is needed. The trade of Bordeaux, itsgreat town, was principally with British ports. Its export of wine was a tradewith Britain. It lay far from the centre of the French monarchy. It had countedin its Basque population an element indifferent for hundreds of years to thenational unity of Gaul. The moneyed interests of its great commercialcentres, of the western ones, at least (which were by far the richest), wereclosely bound up with England, with English trade. Add to this his actualfeudal tenure of Guienne, and we can see how the feeling that all the south-west corner of France was his grew to be a very real feeling in Edward’smind, and was shared by his son.When, therefore, upon the 20th September 1355, Edward, the Black Prince,landed at Bordeaux, it was to find a province the nobles of which werehonestly attached to his cause and the greater townsmen as well; while inthe mass of the people there was no disaffection to the idea of this one out[Pg 12][Pg 13][Pg 14]
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