Battle of Castillon (1453)

Battle of Castillon (1453)


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Multiple defeats, humiliations and clashes find their conclusion at the battle of Castillon, ultimate commitment of the Hundred Years War where the fate of the two great kingdoms of Christendom is played out. In 1453, all that remained of the prestigious continental empire formed by the Plantagenets were illusions and the wealthy Guyenne. Henry VI of England did not give up his claims to the throne of France and Charles VII now wishes to kick them out of the south of the Loire. The small town of Castillon will wash away more than a hundred years of French humiliations in one day.

End point of the Hundred Years War

This 100-year-old war begins with a family quarrel which will turn into a dynastic, political quarrel and a challenge to the legitimacy of the kings of France. Indeed, Edward III of England, grandson of Philip the Fair was removed from the succession in favor of Philip VI, nephew of Philip the Fair. In 1334 the King of England declared Philippe illegitimate and broke his bond of vassalage with the King of France who had invaded his duchy. The 100 years war therefore begins in Guyenne and will end in Guyenne in the small town of Castillon.

Calais, Crécy, Poitiers, Azincourt, so many masterful defeats suffered by the French armies. A King of France taken prisoner on the battlefield (John II) and it is the King of England who increases his pressure on his legitimacy as the crown of France. The quest for recognition of the Kings of England will reach its supreme recognition by the infamous Treaty of Troyes negotiated by the Queen of France Isabeau of Bavaria who offers France on a silver platter to Henry VI to the detriment of his own son… Charles VII. On July 17, 1453, the infamous Treaty of Troyes and Azincourt will be avenged.

The reconquest of the Duchy of Aquitaine and Guyenne

This July 17, 1453, the battle that begins will also permanently seal the fate of Guyenne and the Kingdom of France. These 2 entities have maintained stormy and conflicting relations for 300 years. The disputes have their origins in the remarriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, heir to the grand duchy, with Henri Plantagênet, future King of England Henry II. By separating from Eleanor, the King of France Louis VII had deposited in the divorce basket the seeds of war and 300 years of instability.

Indeed, Castillon cannot be reduced to being the last battle of the 100 Years War. For 300 years, Guyenne has been the target of French greed, jealous of the continental empire of the King of England. Vassal of the King of France to whom he is entitled to swear allegiance, he is found to be the largest landowner by his "Angevin" empire. However, France does not have a good press in the Duchy because in 1147 and 1148 the Duchy rose up against the French authorities ... Aliénor's divorce was therefore greeted with relief.

This duchy and principality enjoy enormous privileges and exemptions, and even freedoms. For nothing in the world do the populations agree to ally themselves with France, which would put an end to this very special status. Charles V of France maintains the pressure at the gates of the Duchy and subjects it to looting. Although Bordeaux was the capital in 1451, that did not prevent the population from rekindling the fires of war by opening its doors to the armies of Henry VI of England. The latter charges Talbot, his general, to lead the operations and to inflict a crushing defeat on France, opening the doors to the throne. This pious wish and this dream will end in bloodshed and disaster in Castillon.

The Battle of Castillon and its consequences

Charles VII, alarmed by the arrival of Talbot and his expeditionary force in Bordeaux, decides to put an end to the occupier and the English claims ... and to submit once and for all the turbulent Duchy of Aquitaine. Talbot enjoys an excellent reputation, although it is a tad exaggerated ... a large military leader who is incompetent, hesitant in decision-making, energy to deploy and especially the opportunities to be seized. To counter the English advance, the King of France dispatched the Bureau brothers with orders to crush Talbot.

The French have 2 advantages… numerical strength and perfect knowledge of the field. Talbot engages in this battle to respond to the incessant calls for help from the inhabitants of Castillon who take a dim view of the proximity of the army but also of the French mercenaries and fear their abuses. Talbot and his 4000 men headed for the plain of Castillon, arriving from the north, ie from Libourne. On July 17, after a first French rout, Talbot was mistaken and believed firmly that the French were leaving the battlefield but also their garrisons ... he launched his few men into what he considered a French retreat. He unconsciously forgets the French artillery which makes its cannonade heard, alerting the troops withdrawing from the front. This lightness causes the fall of the English and the death of Talbot. Without a leader and his troops decimated, the English survivors decided to surrender. It is the end of the 100 Years War and the end of the British Guyenne Union.

The immediate consequences will be the finally achieved unity of the Kingdom of France. This battle and this victory are also the beginnings of the end of the Middle Ages. England will not have a continental empire for a long time, but will still be the mistress of the seas. The Kings of England did not however renounce their claims because they did not cease to approach the title of "King of France" until the beginning of the 19th century. Guyenne incorporated into the kingdom of France will be guaranteed its privileges ... because to keep it and win it over, the French power will have no other choice than to agree to its enormous concessions. Pearl of the crown of England, Guyenne will always retain its distrust of French authority and will open its port and its doors to the English in 1814, announcing the fall of Napoleon.

Bibliography

- Great battles in the history of France, by Bernard Vincent. Southwest, 2014.

- The Hundred Years' War, by Georges Minois. Tempus, 2016.

- Charles VII, the reconquest of France, Ivan Gobry, Tallandier editions, 2001.

- Fields of honor - Castillon - July 1453. Bd by Gabriele Parma and Thierry Gloris. Delcourt, 2016.

For further

- The official site of the Battle of Castillon

- The site of the city of Castillon-la-Bataille


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