The Constable

Arthur de Richemont 1393-1459


‘Ugly, grim and snooty’


Family Background

Arthur (1,4) OR Artus (8) OR Arzur (14) III, Duke of Brittany (1,2) and Count of Montfort (4,7) is variously referred to as Arthur de Richemont, (1,4) OR The Constable of Richemont’ or ‘The Justiciar’, (2) OR ‘duc de Richemont’ (3) OR Count of Richemont. (7,9) He is noted primarily for his role as a leading military commander during the Hundred Years’ War. (1) His grandparents were Charles II of Navarre, John of Montfort, Joanna of Flanders and Joan of Valois, Queen of Navarre. (1) His parents were John IV, (1,2) de Montfort (12) ‘The Valiant’ (11) Duke of Brittany and (1,2) his third wife, (2,8) Joan1 (1,2) OR Joanna (10) I (5) of Navarre, (1,2) Queen of England (1,5) as the wife of King Henry IV of England2. (5)

Arthur early life

Arthur was therefore a member of the Ducal House of Montfort. (10) He was born on 24th August 1393 (1,2) at the castle of Sucinion, (2) OR Suscinio (10,11) OR Sarzeau (12) currently in the Morbihan (14)not far from Vannes. (2,14) OR ‘on the Bay of’ (11) Vannes (2) in Brittany, France. (1) He was John (8,9) IV’s (8,9) second (8,11) OR younger (9,10) and last (11) son. (8,9) The marriage of their mother, Joanna, to Henry IV of England after her first husband’s death had re-established Brittany’s connection with the English crown. (9) John died in 1399, (8) and Arthur was given (4,9 OR inherited (4) the English title of Earl of Richmond (4,9) by his older brother, Duke John V, (9) in 1399. (8,9) The name Richemont is a French variant of ‘Richmond’. (4,9) The origin of the name Richemont or Richemond dates from the time when William the Conqueror was the master of England. (12) He gave fertile land to his faithful fighters including Alain Le Roux in 1071 (from a junior branch of the Dukes of Brittany). (12) These lands were in North West Yorkshire (more than 200 lordships). (12) Alain Le Roux built the castle at Richmond, after the French “rich Mont”. (12) The castle gave its name to the town (12) and to the earldom. (10,12) From this background the title of Earl of Richmond had often been granted to the Dukes of Brittany, (4,10) but after the death of John the Valiant (10) the English refused to recognize his heirs as earls (4,10) but Arthur was given the title by his father and continued to use it, (10) although his primary interests remained in French affairs. (9) He was a Breton lord, (2,7) and Count of Dreux (7,12) and Montfort-l’Amaury, and lord of Neaufle-le-Châtel. (7) He was Constable of France, but also Duke of Touraine, Dreux, Etampes, Montfort, Ivry and (12) Baron Parthenay. (12,13) in 1415, although the award was not effective until 1427. (13) He was dubbed knight by his brother Duke John VI on 24th March, 1401, when he was eight. (7)

Breton Background

In 1378 the French crown had made an unsuccessful attempt to annex the duchy, and mistrust continued. (12,13) During the Breton war of succession, John the Valiant had allied himself with the English and fought Charles V and his compatriot Du Guesclin before securing his position as Duke. (11) At the beginning of the 15th century, Duke Jean IV’s Brittany had hovered between allegiance to France and England. (12,13) OR He was openly pro-English. (14) The attraction to England was due to important economic links between Brittany and England. (13) OR designed to preserve Breton independence (14)

Burgundians v Armagnacs, 1410-14

This was the period of the bitter and divisive civil war between Burgundians and Armagnacs (9,10) (supporters of the Duke of Orleans). (9) These were both branches of the Valois dynasty. (9) He sided with the Armagnac faction against the Burgundians (9,10) during their civil conflict in France which lasted from 1410 to 1414. (10) In spite of the suspicions the Bretons had regarding the French, John V the Wise, Duke of Brittany, authorised his brother Arthur de Richemont to recruit troops in Brittany to serve the cause of the Armagnacs against the Burgundians. (13) In 1411 he took Sillé-le-Guillaume, Beaumont and l’Aigle which had rebelled against his brother-in-law the Count of Alençon. (7) He participated in the siege of Soissons against the Duke of Burgundy in 1414, and distinguished himself at the siege of Arras. (7) During this period, he became the intimate friend and partisan of the dauphin Louis, son of the French king Charles VI. (9) In 1414 his English title ‘Count of Richmond’ was given to John Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford (1389–1435). (10) In April, Arthur entered the service of Charles VI, King of France. (12,13) OR of the Dauphin Louis, Duke of Guyenne whose intimate friend he became and whose widow he later married. (10) He profited by his position at court to obtain the lieutenancy of the Bastille, the governorship of the duchy of Nemours. (10) In May, 1414 the King gave Arthur command of a large force, (12,13) initially entrusted to the good care of Dauphin Louis, Duke of Guyenne. (13) Many Breton captains followed him, confirming that there remained an important Francophile party in the province. (13) Lesser and middle ranking Breton nobles made a significant contribution to the French cause. (13) Retaining his position after the siege of Arras, Arthur returned to Paris in October 1414. (12,13) In 1415 he was rewarded by the Dauphin, with (12,13) the confiscated (10) lands of Jean II Larchevêque (10,12) seigneur of (10) Parthenay. (7,10) Larchevêque had been guilty in the king’s eyes of having taken the side of the Burgundians at the siege of Arras. (12,13) Before being able to take possession of the lands of this rebel lord, Richemont was again obliged to go to war in June, 1415. (13)

Agincourt 1415

After Henry V’s English troops landed in August, Richemont (aged 22) joined the Dauphin Louis at Agincourt at the head of a large contingent of Bretons. (12) The battle took place on October 25th, 1415. (12) The battle began in the morning and was over by late afternoon. (13) Arthur showed himself as valiant as his father (11) in the service of King Charles VI, (11,12) but the battle was a disaster for the French. (12) On the evening of the battle of Agincourt Arthur was found alive (11) but wounded (2,3) under a heap of corpses. (11) He was recognized thanks to the boar painted on his shield. (12) He taken prisoner (2,7) at Agincourt (2,3) in 1415. (2) From his wound he was nicknamed ‘Scarface’. (3,8)

English imprisonment

With the poet-Duke Charles of Orleans, (11) he was held captive in England for 5 (2,3) OR six (12) years (2,3) first in Fotheringay (12) OR Fotheringhay (14) castle, and later in The Tower, (12) under the supervision of Roger Ashton. (13) OR Richemont lived with his mother3 (8) as a prisoner in England until 1420. (8,9) Even though a prisoner, Richemont granted power of attorney to his brother, Jean V, to defend his interests and negotiate a truce in affairs of the Larcheveque property. (13) During his imprisonment the English, allied with the Burgundians, sought to unite France and England under the English crown. (9) Put under diplomatic pressure4 (13) Henry V offered to release him on parole, provided he acted according to English interests (12) and he accepted this. (9,12) He left England in September 1420, accompanied by some Breton squires (13) well before the Duke of Orleans. (11),

Pro-English phase after imprisonment 1420-3

Back in France, he supported the new English regime. (4,7) He was influential in persuading his brother John (9,10) V (9) Duke of Brittany to support the Treaty of Troyes (9,10) of 1420 under which of England became “Heir of France”. (9) In May 1422, he was present at the taking of Meaux. (13,14) A few days later, he witnessed the triumphal entry of Henry V, King of England, into Paris. (13,14) 12, 13 and 14 suggest that his attachment to the English cause was not voluntary, as 4 and 7 suggest. 9 says that his abandonment of the English is ‘unexplained’. 14 says that he ‘hurried to support the Dauphin as soon as he could’ after the death of Henry, and that he was ‘revolted’ by the idea of fighting with the English.


The French historiographers of the time would not forgive him this period spent alongside the English, suspecting him of having been tempted to embrace the cause of the enemy. (13) The premature death of Henry V August 31st, 1422, released Arthur from all commitments to England. (12,13) OR When he was 30 years old in 1423 (11) Richemont’s transfer of allegiance to the Anglo-Burgundian faction was further sealed (9) by his marriage to (1,9) OR Freed from the obligation to support the English by the death of Henry V, he married (13) Margaret (1,9) of Burgundy (9,10) OR Nevers (1,5) OR Marguerite of Burgundy (8,11), Duchess of Guyenne and daughter of John the Fearless (8,10) and widow of the dauphin Louis,(9,10) Duke of Guyenne, (10) who had died young. (9) Richemont went to Dijon in April 1423, to get married there. (13) He married her (1,8) in Dijon on 10th October (10) 1423. (1,8) She was also the widow of Henry IV of England (8) and an elder (5) sister of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. (5,11) This match made Richemont the brother-in-law of Philip, Duke of Burgundy, and also of John, Duke of Bedford, the English regent of France, (8,9) who had married Anne of Burgundy. (8) Arthur received the earldom of Richmond in Yorkshire which had been traditionally associated with the duchy of Brittany since 1066. (8) This was the first of his three marriages, none of which produced any legitimate heirs. (11)

Regency of Bedford

The Duke of Bedford became Regent of France on behalf of Henry VI. (7,8) The English (10) OR Bedford (7,8) OR Henry V (9) in 1422 (10) gave Richemont the titles of Duke of Touraine, Count of Montfort and Ivry. (7,8) Arthur de Richemont thus became a vassal of the King of England. (8) Arthur married three times. (5) Richemont was well on his way toward a high position in the ruling circles around Bedford and Burgundy when an unexplained quarrel broke out between him and the English regent. (9) OR because the English refused to give him a high command, in 1424 (10) Richemont deserted the English cause and returned to his initial French allegiance. (9,10) Thereafter he remained firmly committed to the House of Valois. (4,7)

Constable of France, 1425

On 7th August 1422, by Letters Patent of (7) the ‘little King of Bourges’ (11) King Charles VII, Richemont gained de Goëlo and became the lord of the island of Bréhat. (7) He allied himself with the Duke of Burgundy helped him to free himself from English control, in 1422. (7) The French disaster of Verneuil on 17th August 1424 (113) OR 1423 (14) left vacant the position of constable of France. (13)) Yolande had noticed his energy. (11) Pushed by Yolande of Aragon, (8,11) Charles – then depressed and easily influenced – chose Richemont to take Connétable’s sword. (14) A preliminary interview between Charles VII and Arthur of Brittany took place in October 1424, in Angers, (13) and on 7th March (2,7) 1425, (2,3) at Chinon, (7) again on the urging of the Queen Mother Yolande of Aragon, (3,8) he received the ceremonial sword of (11,12) Constable of France (2,3) from Charles VII. (2,9) The promotion had a dual significance: it recognised his service at Agincourt, but it also recognised the Duke of Burgundy’s brother in law. (12) The rapprochement was short-lived, as the courtiers whispered criticism of Richemont into Charles VII’s ear. (12,13) He attempted to assume control of France’s battered and unreliable military forces. (9)

Treaty of Saumur 1425

Arthur now persuaded his brother, (9,10) John V, (10,11) ‘The Wise’ (11) Duke of Brittany, (10,11) to conclude the treaty of Saumur (9,10) with Charles VII of (10,11) France on October (9,10) 7th (10) 1425. (9,10) In early 1426, Richemont went recruiting in Brittany again, with little success. (13) He laid siege to the English at Saint James de Beuvron, near Avranches (6.3.1426), (but was defeated)5 (13) He besieged and took Pontorson in 1426 (7) A second defeat of the troops commanded by Richemont at Bas-Courtils, before Mont-Saint-Michel, made Jean V more cautious. (13) He forbade his brother to recruit again among the Breton nobility for such small military affairs. (13) This and the Anglo-Burgundy diplomatic machinations undermined Richemont’s position with Charles VII. (13) It became difficult to recruit troops in Brittany and he could no longer mediate between Charles VII and Burgundy. (13) He became commander of the town and castle of Chinon until 1428. (7) Deprived of his Constable’s pension, Richemont had to content himself with fighting minor engagements near Parthenay and Fontenay-le-Comte. (12)


The new constable quickly made himself unpopular (8,9) by his rough manners and his grim insistence (9,10) upon a vigorous prosecution of the war. (9) Although he saw clearly enough the measures necessary for success, (10) including the need to reconcile the Duke of Burgundy with the King of France to finally drive the English out of the kingdom, (11) he lacked the temperament and means to carry them out. (10) He was his own man, and did not hesitate to criticise the King’s favourites, (3,8) He had to deal with incompetents (9) like Tanguy du Chatel and Jean Louvet who had been complicit in the assassination of John the Fearless. (11) Tanguy du Chatel accepted exile, out of loyalty to the sovereign. (11) Louvet and some of the others had to be hunted down by soldiers. (11)


Richemont had more difficulty with the Chamberlain (11) the royal favourite (13) Pierre de Giac, (6,11) in charge of the finances of the kingdom (6,11) and head of the Royal council. (6) An unpleasant man, married to a very rich woman, he set himself against the conciliatory policy of Yolande of Aragon and the constable, (11) and was eliminated because of his disastrous policy and his growing influence on the young sovereign. (6) He was pillaging the Royal Treasury and encouraging a disastrous and costly war policy. (13) In February, 1427, (13) he (6,11) and Yolande of Aragon (6,13) arrested Giac (11,13) one night in his bed, (11) at Issoudun, with the help of George de la Trémoïlle (6,11) a parvenu who hoped to get hold of Giac’s wife’s fortune. (11) Guillaume Gruel, Richemont’s biographer, said: “His wife had got up to go to the toilet and was standing there naked when Giac was seized”. (11) After a summary trial (6,11) he was sentenced to be executed by drowning. (6) In the presence of La Trémoïlle, (11) he was put in a sack and thrown into (11,14) a river, (17) the Loire (11) OR into a lake (14) at Dun-le-Roi (Cher). (6) La Trémoïlle proceeded to marry his widow. (11)


Georges de La Trémoïlle (9,10) also conspired with Richemont to eliminate Jean Vernet, a soldier from the Auvergne. (6) Known as the “Camus de Beaulieu” (6,11) and the new favourite of the Charles VII, (6) had been rapidly promoted to grandmaster of the stables, then commander of Poitiers (6) and finally on to the royal council. (11) His influence on the young sovereign ended up annoying his mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon, and the head of the government, the constable of Richemont, who decided to get rid of him. (6) Vernet was murdered (6,11) with a sword, under the king’s window (11) by Jean de Brosse in Poitiers. (6) The constable then made the mistake of recommending La Trémoïlle to the king (10,11) as his new chamberlain to replace Giac. (11) “Good cousin, you offer him to me but you will regret it, because I know him better than you,” said the king, for once wise. (11)

La Trémoïlle

Vernet was thus replaced by Georges de la Trémoïlle (6,11) (1384-1446) who was now Grand Chamberlain of France. (6)

Expulsion from Court

A humiliating defeat of the royal troops (11) under Richemont (wik) at Saint-James du Beuvron, (11) (March 1426) (wik)6 and the peace concluded between John V of Brittany (9,10) and the English (9,10) regent Bedford (9) in September 1427, (9,10) whereby Brittany returned to the English cause, (9) enabled the ambitious La Trémoïlle (6,11) to weaken Richemont’s influence. (9,10) He persuaded Charles VII, to withdraw his favour from Richemont, (6) and got him expelled from court (10) in disgrace. (49D) Retaining his title of constable, (8,10) but not the Constable’s pension, (12) he went into exile on his estate at Parthenay. (8) In spite of this he continued to work in the royal interest. (8) La Trémoïlle remained supreme at court for six years, (10,11) during which Arthur tried in vain to overthrow him. (10) It became difficult to recruit troops in Brittany and he could no longer play a mediating role between Charles VII and Burgundy. (12) Richemont was reduced to fighting minor battles near Parthenay and Fontenay-le-Comte. (12)


The English were making disturbing progress. (12,49D) At the end of 1428, the English and their Burgundian allies occupied almost all of northern France down to the Loire. (49D) The duchy of Charles I of Orleans was left defenceless. (49D) Thomas Montague, (49D) Earl of Salisbury (49D,12) Lieutenant General of the English Army, took Rambouillet, Meung-sur-Loire, Beaugency and Jargeau, strategic places along the Loire. (49D) After seizing Laval and Le Mans, the Earl of Salisbury’s troops advanced towards Orleans. (12) In October 1428, they undertook to besiege the city. (12) Only two bridges remained in French hands: Angers, defended by Yolande d’Anjou, and Orleans. (49D) To get at the Dauphin, English needed to take one of them. (49D) They would then control the whole valley of the Loire, and the south of France, the last refuge of the “king of Bourges”, would be ripe for invasion. (49D) Dunois’ victory at Montargis (9,10) and the disgrace of the constable, Richemont, (49D,12) meant that the defence of Orleans was entrusted to him (7,8) when the city was besieged by the English (1,10) between October 12th (49D) 1427 (9,12) and May 8th, (49D) 1428 (9,12) OR in 1428. (49D) The English commander, Thomas Montague, Earl of Salisbury, (49D) laid siege to Orleans (1,10) on October 12th 1428 (12,13) without even bothering to ask their prisoner Charles I of Orleans to open the doors. (49D) At the beginning of the siege, Antoine de Chabannes was again captured by the English, but they were not numerous enough to invest and encircle the city effectively. (49D) They built forts from which to conduct the siege, but their guns were not powerful enough to break the ramparts. (49D) By October 24th, 1428, they had managed to take the gatehouse defending the bridge over the Loire on the south bank of the river. (49D) Jean I de Brosse, James I of Chabannes, Jean V of Bueil and Louis of Culan arrived in Orleans on the following day, with the 800 men-at-arms led by John of Dunois. (49D) On 27th October Thomas Montague was killed at Meung-sur-Loire (49D) The Earl of Suffolk took over the command, and was in turn replaced by John Talbot. (49D) On December 30th, Jacques I de Chabannes was hit in the foot by a crossbow bolt, and his horse was killed under him. (49D) The English garrison of the gatehouse was itself besieged by the French. (49D) The bridge was partially destroyed to prevent the English from assaulting the city from that direction. (49D) The Burgundians then withdrew from the siege following a disagreement on tactics. (49D) Louis de Culan brought 200 reinforcements to Orleans on January 30th 1429. (49D) Charles VII still refused to recall Richemont. (12)

The Day of the Herrings

The French posted spies to gain intelligence about English movements. . (49D) One informed the French that a convoy of 300 wagons had left Chartres, escorted by 1 500 English under the command of John Fastolf and Simon Morhier, provost of Paris. (49D) The convoy was bringing fish and other food for consumption during Lent. (49D) On hearing the news, several thousand French left Orléans (49D) on February 12th, 1429 (12,13) under the command of John of Dunois. (49D) They arrived at Rouvray-Saint-Denis in Eure-et-Loir near Pithiviers. (49D) Charles I of Bourbon, was late joining Dunois, which lost him the advantage of surprise. (49D) The English put their wagons in a circle and awaited the French attack. (49D) A dispute broke out between John Stuart commanding the Scottish troops and John of Dunois about the tactics to be adopted. (49D) Stuart wanted to fight on horseback, Dunois on foot. (49D) Charles I of Bourbon arrived this point, and the outcome was that each commander applied his own preferred approach. (49D) The English left their defences and routed the French in spite of a rearguard action by Étienne de Vignolles and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles. (49D) John of Dunois was severely wounded, (12,13) and the French snatched a serious defeat out of the jaws of an easy victory. (49D) French morale was at rock bottom. (49D) Many fled Orleans by the Porte de Bourgogne, the only gate not in the hands of the English. (49D) The bridge crossing the Loire and connecting the city to the left bank to the kingdom of Charles VII of France was cut. (49D) Louis de Culan retreated from Orleans on February 18, 1429. (49D) Jean I de Brosse, Jacques I OR Antoine of Chabannes and John of Dunois offered their help to the governor of the city, Raoul de Goncourt. (49D) They defended Orleans as best they could. (49D) They were joined by Jean’s cousin, Louis de Culan. (49D) The city had already been under blockade by the British for 7 months. (49D) John of Dunois took command, with Louis de Culan his deputy. (49D) Dunois was one of the most active leaders in (49D) the siege of Orléans. (7,9) Charles VII of France refused, despite the urgency of the situation, to recall the constable Arthur III of Brittany from his disgrace. (49D)

Joan arrives

Enter (5) a young (8,12) teenage (12) visionary (10) peasant girl (8,10) from the little village of Domrémy, on the border of Champagne and (12) Lorraine. (10,12) She demanded that the garrison commander at Vaucouleurs, Robert de Baudricourt, collect the soldiers and resources necessary to bring her to the Dauphin at Chinon, stating that visions of angels and saints had given her a divine mission. (12) Granted an escort of five veteran soldiers and a letter of referral to Charles by Lord Baudricourt, (12) Joan travelled across the country (10,12) on horseback to see Charles at Chinon, (12) hoping to fortify the King’s intentions to fight for France. (10) This was Joan of Arc, (5,8)Joan la Pucelle’ (11) who was thought by many to personify French resistance (5) and was supposedly being guided by God himself. (11) Charles received her at Chinon (10,12) in February 1429, (8,10) OR on March 8th, 1429. (4) Skeptical of the girl’s claims at first, (8) Charles wanted to test her claim to be able to recognise him despite never having seen him, and so he disguised himself as one of his courtiers. (12) He stood in their midst when Joan entered the chamber in which the court was assembled. (12) Joan identified Charles immediately. (12) She bowed low to him and embraced his knees, declaring “God give you a happy life, sweet King!” (12) Despite attempts to claim that another man was in fact the king, Charles was eventually forced to admit that he was indeed such. (12) Joan, claimed that she had divine inspiration, (4,8) through visions of angels and saints who gave her the mission of driving out the English forces and helping the Dauphin get crowned. (8) After a private conversation between the two (Charles later stated that Joan knew secrets about him that he had voiced only in silent prayer to God), (8,12) She urged Charles to declare himself king and raise an army to liberate France from the English. (4) Charles became inspired (12) and filled with confidence. (8,12) He provided Joan with the resources (8) and entrusted the direction of his last army to her. (6,8) Thereafter Joan referred to him as “Dauphin” or “Noble Dauphin” until he was crowned in Reims four months later. (12) Richemont was not present when Joan arrived in Chinon. (11) The surrender of the city seemed to be only a matter of days away. (49D) Charles VII of France agreed to entrust Jeanne d’Arc with a force of 4,000 men. (49D) Jean d’Aulon gave Joan instruction in war. (49D) On his way to ask Charles VII for reinforcements, Jean I de Brosse met Joan. (49D) Jean I de Brosse and Louis de Culan, his cousin, were appointed to escort Joan of Arc and her men to join the rest of the royal forces. (49D) Joan was given a sword found in church of Sainte-Catherine de Fierbois. (49D) From Blois, moved to Orleans. (49D) Guy III of Chauvigny, Pierre de Rieux, Pierre d’Amboise and Louis d’Amboise fought with her there. (49D) When Joan of Arc met the leaders of the Royal Army in her captain’s armour, claiming to be about to liberate Orleans, they made fun of her. (49D) But her energy and faith quickly made one of the captains, along with Étienne de Vignolle, La Hire, Gilles de Rais, Jean II of Alençon and Jean Poton de Xaintrailles. (49D) The soldiers even agreed to put moderate their language and to dismiss the prostitutes who usually followed them. (49D) John of Dunois was one of the first military commanders to value her participation. (49D) She gained his confidence by saying that she wanted to deliver the Duke of Orleans. (49D) John advised King Charles VII to accept her help, which he had been reluctant to do. (49D) Dunois welcomed her (49D) and was her (2,3) faithful (3,9) ally. (2,3) He was still only the ‘Bastard of Orleans’ when he became (49D) companion in arms of Joan of Arc. (3,8)

The siege continues

On April 29, 1429, Joan skilfully managed to get her army and supplies into Orleans avoiding the English, and joined forces with John of Dunois, who defended the city for several months. (49D) Food was still short, so an expedition under Ambroise II de Loré was sent to Blois. (49D) It returned to Orleans on May 4, 1429, and succeeded in getting supplies and reinforcements into the city without being attacked by the enemy. (49D) Jacques I of Chabannes brought reinforcements. (49D) On the north bank of the Loire Orleans was surrounded to the north and west by a network of fortifications, and access from the east is blocked by the Fort Saint Lou. (49D) The bridge over the Loire south of the city was held by the English; and its southern access was fortified. (49D) The river upstream was controlled by the fort of Saint Jean le Blanc which is the counterpart of Saint Lou on the south bank. (49D) May 4th, 1429, there was a skirmish between the French and the defenders of Saint Lou. (49D) Joan of Arc, awakened in the middle of a nap, charged the fort with a strong party of Orleans militiamen. (49D) To counter this, John Talbot sent troops from his fortifications to the north to push Joan back and support Saint Lou. (49D) John of Dunois seeing the manoeuvre came out and attacked the Bastille Saint Pouair which marked the northern end of its network of fortifications. (49D) John Talbot was forced to pull his men back not to be outflanked and lost Saint Pouair. (49D) John of Dunois pulled his men back and Saint Lou was taken by Joan. (49D) On May 6th 1429, Ambroise II of Loré took part in the attack on the fort of Augustins. (49D) As the river access from the east was no longer blocked, the English transferred troops from Saint Jean le Blanc to the fort of La Tourelle, which gave them control of the bridge. (49D) In spite of the difficulties due to sandbanks in the river, Joan managed to cross the Loire by boat to the east of the city with a strong contingent, and reached one of the islands. (49D) The English garrison of Saint John the White abandoned the fort and retreated towards the Turret. (49D) The French sappers build a bridge over the lesser channel of the Loire separating the island from south bank, and Joan of Arc easily took possession of the fort of Saint John the White. (49D) The last fort, des Tourelles, was attacked on Saturday, May 7, 1429, in the early morning, after mass. (49D) The Maid was wounded by an arrow on her shoulder as she attacked the wall. (49D) As evening fell, the French attackers were exhausted and John of Dunois was preparing to give the signal for the retreat. (49D) Joan, who had retired to rest and pray, saw this. (49D) She waved her banner, signalling a final assault. (49D) The English commander Glasdale, fell from the walls of the fort and drowned in the river, and the fort was taken, restoring communication between Orleans and the south of the Loire. (49D) The following day, May 8th, 1429, the English army drew itself up in order of battle in the plain, but Joan of Arc refused battle because it was a Sunday. (49D) John Talbot, in command of the English army, understood that he has nothing further to gain by staying, raised the siege and withdrew. (49D) John of Dunois’ tactful dealing with Joan had contributed significantly to the success as (49D) she (49D) OR he (49D) OR both together (3,8) in an epic three months (49D) succeeded in raising the siege in 1429. (3,8)

After Orleans


In Orleans, the French proved that they could now outperform their opponents in the siege warfare. (49D) Joan needed a free and safe road by which to go to Reims for the coronation of Charles VII. (49D) She hunted the English troops still in the Loire Valley. (49D) Joan needed to know in which direction the various corps of the English army had retreated: she sent Ambroise II de Loré and Étienne de Vignolles, with a hundred horsemen, to follow and observe the enemy 25 miles away. (49D) About ten miles from Orleans, in the small town of (49D) Jargeau (12,13) English troops under William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, were waiting for reinforcements led by John of Lancaster. (49D) The French army of 2,000 men, commanded by John II of Alençon (49D) OR John of Dunois (49D) was soon joined by the companies of (49D) John of Dunois (12,13) and Florent d’Illiers, then captain of Chateaudun, doubling his force. (49D) Antoine de Chabannes, Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, Gilles de Rais, Guy III of Chauvigny, Jean I of Brosse, and Louis I of Bourbon-Vendome fought at Jargeau. (49D) It was June (12,13) 12th 1429. (49D) When she saw that they were concerned at the probable size of the English force at Jargeau, (49D) Joan (12,13) encouraged them to attack it. (49D) The royal army set out, thinking to camp outside the city, but the English army came out and a battle was inevitable. (49D) With her banner Joan went into the attack, and the French took the suburbs of the town. (49D) On the following day the French took the town: ‘Act and God will act’, Joan had cried. (49D) During the attack she was hit on the head by a stone and knocked into a ditch but got up again. (49D) In the middle of the battle, The Earl of Suffolk asked for a truce, but this was no longer the time for such a request. (49D) In an irresistible momentum, the French seized Jargeau and then carried on in pursuit of the English. (49D) The Earl of Suffolk was taken prisoner and remained in prison for 3 years. (49D) The English troops fell back in disorder on Meung-sur-Loire and Beaugency. (49D) Jean de Dunois ransomed the Earl of Suffolk for £20,000, (49D) a huge ransom that involved selling several estates in 1431. (49D) It was rumoured that Suffolk never paid it, (49D)

Richemont comes to the aid of Joan

Richemont was impressed by Joan’s exploits at the siege of Orleans. (11) Yolande d’Aragon asked him to go to Orleans. (14) He came out of his self-appointed7 seclusion (3,8) in spite of the king’s order to withdraw (8) which exposed him to the risk of being arrested. (11) Defying the king’s orders, Richemont (12) marched to help Joan with an army of Bretons. (3) His army had 400 ‘lances’, a little over 2,400 men-at-arms and 800 archers. (8,11) He joined the royal army at (8,11) or near (13) Beaugency, (8,11) Richemont’s approach caused concern in the French army. (13) The Duke of Alençon and to a lesser extent Joan herself had doubts about the wisdom of involving Richemont. (8) After consulting the captains, Joan of Arc resolved to accept his coming. (13) The meeting of the young warrior and the constable as told by Guillaume Gruel, Richemont’s biographer is worthy of passing on to posterity. (12) Richemont said to her, “Joan, I have been told that you wish me to fight. I don’t know if you are of God or not: if you are from God, I do not fear you because God knows my good intentions. (8,11) If you are from the Devil, I fear you even less.” (8,11) Joan replied, “Good constable, you have not come by my wish, but because you have come you will be welcome.” (8)

Patay, 1429

The unexpected and (to the king) unwelcome reinforcement represented by Richemont’s arrival was crucial in bringing about the victory in (8) the Battle of Patay (3,7) en-Beauce (7) on June 18th 1429. (8,10) The constable (8) took an active part (3,7) and distinguished himself. (11) Many of the English commanders were killed, and Talbot was taken prisoner. (13) Together, Arthur and Joan won the battle (12) in spite of the opposition of la Trémoïlle and Charles VII of France, (5) He fought in several other victorious engagements against the English, (9) in the front line with his valiant Bretons, (8) fighting under Joan’s banner as one of Saint (7,9) Joan of Arc’s companions in arms, (2,3) but then the influence of La Trémoïlle forced him out of the army once again. (9) To the despair of Joan, he did not obtain royal permission to go with them to Reims and beyond. (11,12) He was ordered to return to his estates and the fortified towns past which he went closed their doors to him. (13)

Disgrace 1429-33

In spite of Joan’s pleas the king’s ill-will barred him from the coronation (3,8) The role which Richemont should have played was given to Charles d’Albret. (8) His disgrace continued and he remained exiled on his own estates. (3) In 1431 La Trémoïlle betrayed Joan of Arc, abandoning her at Compiegne and dissuading the king from ransoming her from the English. (11) Arthur was a member of a cadet branch of the House of Capet, but self-identified as Breton and raised Breton armies when the French proved unreliable. (5) He joined his brother John in the siege of Pouancé in 1432, where he notably but reluctantly fought alongside English captains, as the Duke of Brittany was allied with the English at the time. (10) OR ‘revolted by the idea of fighting with the English. Richemont negotiated a truce. (14) Attached to the French cause, although still in disgrace, Richemont went to fight in Normandy, OR The king sent him off to fight in Normandy, (8) forcing the English to divide their forces. (12) On the 5th of March 1432, (10) despite the favourite’s power, Richemont was able to bring Brittany and Charles VII together once again in the Treaty of Rennes. (9,10) La Trémoïlle tried to assassinate him in 1433, (12) at the same time, the Englishman Bedford tries to get him into the English camp. (10,12) Hoping to exploit the conflict between Richemont and la Trémoïlle, Bedford offered Richemont Trémoïlle’s lands in Poitou in return for him switching sides. (10) Arthur refused the advances. (12) La Trémoïlle’s final overthrow came (6,10) in 1432 (9) OR in June (6) 1433. (6,11) After a pretended reconciliation with his rival, in Chinon, Richemont had him arrested in bed. (11) One of Richemont’s men, Jehan of Rosnivynen tried to stab the obese Chambellan in the heart with his dagger but La Trémoille’s layer of fat saved him! (14) He was imprisoned (6) without trial in Montrésor, (14) and Richemont regained his position with the king (3,6) who, however, never completely trusted him. (14) This opened new political and military perspectives in Richemont. (12) The kingdom’s situation was hardly better than at the time of his fall, but on the military front, ‘hope had changed sides’. (11) Arthur now resumed the war against the English. (10,11) In 1434, Charles VII came to understand the value of restoring Richemont to power so that he could finish what Joan had begun, (12) and he made Richemont Constable again. (14) By the beginning of 1434, his formidable force faced the English not far from Sillé-le-Guillaume. (13) In July 1434, he raised the sieges of Laon and Beauvais, regaining Champagne and Lorraine. (13)

Treaty of Arras 1435

Using his Burgundian connections, (9) and his renewed influence at the French court, (10) Richemont was able to (7,9) OR helped to (10) arrange the Treaty of Arras (7,9) on September 21st, (9) 1435, (7,9) which ended the long quarrel (9) between the enemy cousins (11) Duke Philip (7,9) III (10) of Burgundy and the French king. (7,9) This treaty cemented the peace between France and Burgundy, leading to the eventual defeat of the English. (10) It was thus the political and diplomatic turning point of the Hundred Years’ War, (9,10) as well as an important milestone in Richemont’s own career. (9) The reconquest was accelerating. (11)

From Paris to Meaux 1436-9

The military task of winning the war, however, remained. (9) On March 8th, 1436, Charles VII appointed him lieutenant general in Ile-de-France, Normandy, Champagne and Brie, with the charge of taking back Paris. (12) Richemont did this by reorganizing the army and creating the Compagnies d’Ordonnance, (12) financed by the “Spear Tax” a permanent tax. (11) Now with the Burgundians at his disposal, Arthur was able to push the English back to the gates of the capital. (12) He negotiated the surrender of Paris (7) and retook it from the English (2,3) on 13th (2) OR 1st, April (2,9) 1436 (2,3) as the city rose against the English garrison. (9,14) His Breton troops were so irresistible that they made their French allies nervous. (12) OR The poorly organized French armies were unable to make much headway. (9) At the siege of Montereau, in 1437, a chronicler reports the fear of the French lest the Bretons seize the city before them. (12) Between 1437 and 1439, he took back from the English a number of strongholds in the Ile-de-France such as Malesherbes, Château-Landon, Montereau, Nemours (8) and Meaux, (7,8) which he took in 1439. (7)

Praguerie, 1440

From that time he became one of the King’s strongest supporters. (8) He firmly opposed the Praguerie, (3,8) a revolt against the royal tax changes which involved some senior nobles including his own brother, Jean V Duke of Brittany, and his former rival, the unspeakable La Trémoïlle. (11) One of its objects was to get rid of him. (13) In 1442, the expedition of Tartas provided him with the opportunity for a show of strength in Guyenne and Gascony. (13) see Appendix 1

Later marriages

His wife Margaret died in 1442. (8) OR 1441. (10) On 29th August, 1442, in Nérac (10) He married Jeanne d’Albret, (8,13) daughter of Charles II, Count of Dreux (10) and so countess of Dreux (8,10), and on the occasion of this his third (7) OR second (8) marriage, he received the County of Dreux from his father in law, and held it until his death. (7) Late in the year he went to Brittany, in December, to see Francis I, the new duke, his nephew, making his entry into Rennes. (13) Jeanne died in 1444, (8,10) and on 2nd July (10) in 1445 (8,10) he married Catherine of Luxembourg (5,8) OR Luxembourg-Saint-Pol, (5,10) daughter of Peter of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol (10) and sister of Jacquetta of Luxembourg. (5) She outlived Arthur by 34 years, dying in 1492. (10). In addition, mercenaries and flayers are sent to fight outside the Kingdom. (14)

Military Reforms

The exhausted English sued for peace, which led to the (14) the Treaty (10) OR brief truce (9) OR truces (13) of Tours (9,10) of May, 1444, (13) OR 1443 (13) gave him leisure to carry out the reorganization of the army (10,14) which he had long projected. (9,10) The King put Richemont in charge of the military reforms, instructing him to create a standing army. (14) Richemont now determined upon a total reform of the French army. (9) As head of the army he showed himself a formidable administrator. (8) The standard of recruit was raised. (14) He reformed the cavalry, (14) while enforcing discipline. (8,14) he took vigorous measures against the plundering bands of soldiers and peasants known as routiers or écorcheurs. (10,11) Strongly supported by Charles VII, (9) he reformed the financial basis of the army (5,9) giving it a steady source of revenue by the taxes upon hearths and salt. (9) He altered the military training practices of the French State, which turned it from a declining remnant of its former self into the leading power of continental Europe. (5) He reorganized the French cavalry into the regular and highly professional gens d’armes d’ordonnance. (9) In 1445 (14) he created the compagnies d’ordonnance. (10,14) so-called because they were created in response to the Royal Ordonnance. (14) They were paid directly from the royal treasury. (14) In 1445, there were 15-16 Ordnance Companies, consisting of 100 Lances each (one spear being equivalent to six men). (14) Thus, Charles VII can rely on 9,000 – 10,000 men permanently. (14) A Franco-Scottish Guard Company was also formed. (14) These forces enabled Richemont to renew the war with overwhelming success. (9,10) His military and administrative reforms in the French state were an important factor in assuring the final defeat of the English in the Hundred Years’ War. (4,9) They also underlay Napoleon’s successes 350 years later. (5) The Ordinance Companies mark an important stage in the expansion of the State in the political field, to the detriment of the old feudal customs. (14)


In 1449 François de Surienne, a French captain in the pay of the English suddenly seized Fougères, breaking the truce established at Tours. (13) Francis I, Duke of Brittany, immediately undertook to retake it. (13) A Breton force assembled at Rennes. (13) With the help of good commanders like (8) Dunois (8,13) Chabannes and (8) Clermont (6,8) Richemont embarked on the reconquest of Normandy. (8) OR 13 says that Dunois was the commander of the French army, based at Rouen. (13)


In alliance with his nephew, the duke of Brittany, (10,13) at the beginning of September, the Bretons left Dol and advanced towards Mont-Saint-Michel. (13) Coutances and Saint-Lô were taken. (13) In October, the constable besieged Gavray, one of the best defended places of Cotentin. (13) He thus reconquered, during September and October 1449, nearly all the Cotentin. (9,10)


He was commander of the French army8 (10) OR joint commander with Charles de Bourbon (6) at the battle of Formigny (3,6) on April 15th (6,8) 1450. (3,6) at which the French-Breton troops managed to beat the British. (6,13) The Bretons of the Constable intervened decisively alongside French troops and saved the battle. (13) On the same day he took possession of Vire, and was then made Lord of Vire. (7) Now the reconquest of Normandy was inevitable. (10, 13) The Duke of Brittany, Francis I, was forced to abandon to Richemont alone the remainder of the campaign in Normandy. (13) Joined by the king, the Bretons besieged Caen, which fell In July 1450. (13) Cherbourg, was a tougher nut, and several Breton captains, for example Tugdual de Kermoysan fell there. (13) At the end of the campaign, Charles VII entrusted Richemont with the government of the province. (13) Normandy was fully recovered by France, partially ending the War. (6,9) Formigny was the next-to-the-last battle of the Hundred Years’ War, (10) which was quickly ended by the reconquest of Guyenne in the succeeding two years, (9) Charles VII emphasized the roles of Dunois and the Count of Clermont in the reconquest of Normandy minimising that of Richemont. (14) He kept Richemont out of the expedition to Guyenne (13,14) although the Bretons played an important part in the battle of Castillon, under the command of the young François, Count of Étampes. (13) OR for the next six or seven years Richemont had to defend Normandy from English attacks9. (10)


His constable’s duties did not prevent him from taking an interest in the affairs of Brittany and the members of his family. (12) He did his best to save his unfortunate nephew, Gilles de Bretagne, but on April 24th, 1450, just nine days after Formigny, Gilles was murdered by Olivier de Méel, Arthur’s former squire. (12) Gilles was the brother of the Duke of Brittany François I, and represented the pro-English party in the duchy. (12) After the murder, de Méel fled to France and found asylum in the castle of Marcoussis. (12) He was apprehended there by two of Arthur’s squires, and brought to execution at Vannes on June 8th 1451. (12) This upset Charles VII. (15)

Duke of Brittany

France had finally won the Hundred Years’ War, and Richemont’s active career now drew to a close. (9) Those who stood between him and the succession to the Duchy of Brittany all died, His brother John V in 1442 (8) and his two sons, (11) François in 1452 (8) and Pierre (8,10) II (10) in 1457. (8,10) On 22nd (7,12) September (7,9) 1457 he succeeded his nephew Peter II as (4,7) Duke (1,2) Arthur (12) OR Artus (11) III (11,12) of Brittany (1,2) and Count of Montfort. (4,7) He thus became a peer of France, (7) but though retaining his office of constable of France, he refused, as his predecessors had done, to do liege homage to the French king for his duchy. (10,12) His act of simple homage, marked the independence of the Duchy, (12) but upset the King. (14) He said “I am not a peer of France, since my duchy has never been part of the kingdom; in order not to compromise the independence of my subjects, I will not appear in Montargis10 or elsewhere”. (15) He held those titles until his death. (1,2) He became governor of the Ile-de-France and Normandy. (7) He made his ceremonial entry to Rennes as Duke on October (7,9) 30th OR 29th (8) 1457. (7) On 14th October, 1458, he did homage to the king at Vendôme for his dukedom and his county of Montfort l’Amoury and the lordship of Neaufle-le-Châtel. (7) But unfortunately, aged and worn out he would reign only thirteen months. (12) He died on 26th (1,2) OR 28th (11) OR 8th (12) December 1458, in Nantes, (1,2) and was buried in the church of the Carthusians; his remains were transferred to the cathedral (8) at Nantes (1) in 1817. (8) Richemont had no legitimate issue, (4,9) though he had a natural daughter named Jacqueline who was legitimated in 1443. (10) He was succeeded in the duchy by his other nephew, Francis II, (4,10) Count of Étampes (10) who was the last Duke of Brittany (11) and father of the future Duchess Anne. (12)


For fifteen years, Arthur controlled the government of France. (12) Richemont was not only a talented fighter; he was also a remarkable organizer, considered the father of the first model of permanent army in France with the Ordnance Companies. (14) As general, soldier, organizer, diplomat or judge, he acted with such a regard for justice that all, friends or enemies, (12) gave him the name of “justiciar”. (12,14) He is probably the least known of the personalities who surrounded King Charles VII and contributed to the recovery of France after the disaster of Agincourt. (11) As commander in chief, he forged the first standing army in Europe. (11) A wise politician, he understood very early that the Duke of Burgundy must be reconciled with the King of France if the English were to be driven out of the kingdom. (11) Both Richemont and Olivier V de Clisson were Constables of France. (14) However, posterity did not grant (11,14) either of them (14) the place of honour which it had granted Du Guesclin, (11,14) another Breton constable, under King Charles V the Wise, grandfather of Charles VII. (11) No doubt the main reason lies in his surly, miserable and unattractive personality. (11) Charles VII, twenty years his junior, did not get on with him. (11) The other reason is that the blaze of glory surrounding Joan of Arc has obscured Richemont from view. (11) There is a danger that we may be prejudiced in his favour by the hagiographical tine of the biography his squire Guillaume Gruel wrote in the years 1460. (14) “No man”, says Guillaume Gruel “loved Justice more”, (8) Gruel concludes “in his day there was no better catholic than him who loved God and the church more. (12) He was filled with all good virtues. (12) He was prudish, chaste and valiant as much as a prince perhaps, and it seems to me that no one needed to fear anything in his company. (12) He loved valiant and well-known people, loved and supported the people more than any other, and gave generously to the poor of God “. (12)


Appendix I


It was so named because a similar rising had recently taken place in Prague, Bohemia, at that time closely associated with France through the House of Luxembourg, kings of Bohemia. Its causes lay in the reforms of Charles VII at the close of the Hundred Years’ War, by which he sought to diminish the anarchy in France and its brigand-soldiery. The Ordinances passed by the estates of langue d’oïl at Orléans in 1439, not only gave the king an aid of 100,000 francs (an act which was later used by the king as though it were a perpetual grant and so freed him from that parliamentary control of the purse so important in England), but demanded as well royal nominations to officerships in the army, marked a gain in the royal prerogative which the nobility resolved to challenge. The main instigator was Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, who three years before had attempted a similar rising, and had been forced to ask pardon of the king. He and his bastard brother, John, were joined by the former favourite, Georges de la Trémoïlle, John VI, duke of Brittany, who allied himself with the English, the duke of Alençon, the count of Vendôme, and mercenaries captains like Rodrigo de Villandrando, Antoine de Chabannes, or Jean de la Roche. The duke of Bourbon won over the dauphin Louis, —afterwards Louis XI, then only sixteen years old, and proposed to set aside the king in his favour, making him regent. Louis was readily induced to rebel; but the country was saved from a serious civil war by the energy of the king’s officers and the solid loyalty of his “good cities”. The Constable de Richemont marched with the king’s troops into Poitou, his old battleground with de la Trémoïlle, and in two months he had subdued the country. The royal artillery battered down the feudal strongholds. The dauphin and the duke of Alençon failed to bring about any sympathetic rising in Auvergne, and the Praguerie was over, except for some final pillaging and plundering in Saintonge and Poitou, which the royal army failed to prevent. Charles then attempted to ensure the loyalty of the duke of Bourbon by the gift of a large pension, forgave all the rebellious gentry, and installed his son in Dauphiné. The ordinance of Orleans was enforced. The dauphin was forced to beg his father’s forgiveness.


1 ‘beautiful, gracious and majestic, but also greedy & stingy, and was accused of accepting bribes’ (Wikipedia)

2 My sources on Richemont entirely ignored this amazing woman, who was Queen of England and accused of witchcraft!

3 His mother was Henry V’s wife!!!

4 And domestic pressure. Richemont was Henry V’s stepson, the son of his wife Joan!

5 The source conceals this.

6 It was a catastrophic and embarrassing defeat.

7 Eh? He’d been banished!

8 After he’d arrived several hours after the Battle started!

9 I don’t believe there were any English expeditions to Normandy 1450-57. Perhaps this is a reference to the excuse that Charles gave for not sending him to Guyenne! Echoes of the suspicion and fear felt by the Soviet leadership about Trotsky? (15) agrees with me : « Pour cette raison, la reconquête de la Guyenne, qui marque la fin des opérations militaires de la guerre de Cent Ans se fait sans lui »

10 For the trial of the Duc d’Alencon


[bibliography of sources available upon request]

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