Battle of Taillebourg
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The Battle of Taillebourg was a 1242 battle between the Capetian troops of Louis IX and his brother Alphonse of Poitiers, against the rebel followers of Hugh X of Lusignan and king Henry III of England.
|Battle of Taillebourg|
|Part of the Saintonge War|
Battle between the French (Louis IX) and the English (Henry III). (British Library, Royal 16 G VI f. 399)
Kingdom of France |
County of Poitou
Kingdom of England |
County of La Marche
|Commanders and leaders|
Louis IX of France |
Alphonse of Poitiers
Henry III of England |
Hugh X of Lusignan
4,000 knights20,000 infantry
1,600 knights700 crossbowmen and 20,000 infantry
The battle was fought on the bridge built over the Charente River, a point of strategic importance on the route between northern and southern France, and later fought near the city of Saintes. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for the French, and the end to the Poitevin revolt, but in territorial status quo between England and France.
By the terms of his will, Louis VIII had given the title of Count of Poitou to his younger son Alphonse. In June 1241, Louis IX held a plenary court at Saumur in Anjou and announced that Alphonse, having come of age, was ready to come into possession. Many nobles from Aquitaine attended the court, among them Isabella of Angoulême and her husband, the Count of La Marche, Hugh de Lusignan. After the meeting at Saumur, Louis went to Poitiers and installed his brother as the Count of Poitiers. The Lusignans were not receptive to Capetian authority in the region. Isabella was particularly frustrated that her son, the Earl of Cornwall and brother to King Henry III, had not received the title. Shortly after his arrival at Poitiers, Louis learned that Hugh had assembled an army at the nearby town of Lusignan. Talks between Louis and Alphonse and Hugh and Isabella did not resolve the dispute.
In April 1242, Louis assembled a force at Chinon that some contemporaries estimated at around 50,000 men consisting of knights, men-at-arms, and foot soldiers and captured a multitude of rebel castles. On 20 May 1242, King Henry III of England arrived at Royan and joined the rebelling French nobles, forming an army that may have numbered about 30,000 which varied in unit types. The two kings exchanged letters, but these resolved nothing. The battle would inevitably take place at Taillebourg.
Unfolding of the battle (The first phase)
On 21 July, the two armies faced each other across the bridge. The king of France and the count of Poitiers were installed in the Château de Taillebourg, which overlooked the bridge over the Charente, a strategic passage between Saint-Jean-d'Angély and Poitou in the north and between Saintes and Aquitaine in the South. The king of England and the count of La Marche set up their joint army on the opposing side of the river.
Determined to take the bridge, the English and the rebels made the first move by attempting to charge the French on the other side. The battle ended in a massive counter-charge of the French knights, who sallied forth from the castle and harried their adversaries, who were compelled to flee to Saintes.
The second phase
After the setback in the Taillebourg engagement, which permitted the French to control the strategic bridge, Henry and Hugh both individually fled to Saintes, and then to Gascony, and the Franco-Poitevins exploited their advantage upon the now leaderless English and rebel army. On 22 July, a field battle took place north of Saintes. A prolonged melee fight ensued, however, the English were later beaten once more in definitive fashion. These two actions constituted the Battle of Taillebourg.
Louis continued to pursue the English troops, capturing many prisoners, until arriving upon the city of Saintes. After a short siege, the keys of the city were handed to Louis by the citizens of Saintes. Henry tried one last time to prevent a complete takeover of his lands in Aquitaine and Gasgony by organizing the blockade of La Rochelle by sea. However, the blockade failed along with the attempt to rebuild an army and build an alliance with other European monarchs. On January 1243, Henry sent a letter to Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, to whom he had made a request for an alliance earlier, announcing the end of his hopes for retaking his possessions in France. On 12 March, Henry was forced to ask Louis for a five-year truce.
The truce was signed at Pons, on 1 August. A more lasting peace was concluded at Paris, on 4 December 1259, amidst the threat of a second Baron's war in England. The king of France restored Guyenne to Henry as a noble gesture and to seek for further peace so that he could focus on going to the Seventh Crusade.
The settlement of the feudal revolt was less advantageous for Hugh of Lusignan. His Poitevin castles were confiscated, rearmed, and sold by Alphonse of Poitiers. His daughter Isabel of Lusignan was married to his enemy Geoffrey of Rancon, lord of Gençay, in 1250, who rebuilt his castle with the dowry.
Works of art
Eugène Delacroix has represented the battle in his tableau The Battle of Taillebourg won by Saint Louis, which was presented to the ‘Salon’ in 1837. In it he has depicted all the spirit and ardour of the charge of the French knights.
- "King's College London - Louis IX and the Battle of Taillebourg (1242)". www.kcl.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
This article is based on a translation of articles from the French Wikipedia.
- Le Goff, Jacques; Evan Gollrad, Gareth (Translator) (Translated from French edition (January 15, 2009)). Saint Louis. Paris: University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 180-185, 301. ISBN 978-0268033811.
- History of the Saintonge region (in French)
- Other battles in Taillebourg: