The Battle of Auray!!

Ok so indulge a bit into history, one of my favorite subjects. I came into a unique region of France, very independent traditional and lots of things to tell. I have over the years told you a lot on Brec’h and Auray my initial towns in the beautiful Morbihan of my lovely Bretagne for me. However, just touch briefly on this Battle of Auray, and would like to expand on it. Visiting and /or living a place I feel important to know its history too for the overall feeling of been here! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The battle of Auray took place on September 29, 1364, it is the last battle of the War of the Succession of Brittany, a regional war which is part of the Franco-English rivalry of the Hundred Years War. It opposes an Anglo-Breton army under the orders of Jean III de Montfort to a Franco-Breton force supporting the party of Charles de Blois.  It all began on April 30, 1341 when Duke Jean III (John) died without a direct heir. His niece, Jeanne de Penthièvre, and his half-brother, Jean, comte de Montfort, both claim the ducal crown. The stake also concerns the maintenance of the French influence in Bretagne since Jeanne de Penthiévre is married to Charles de Blois, nephew of Margaret of Valois sister of King Philip VI of France, For his part, Jean de Montfort was helped militarily by the King of England. He died in 1345 but his son, also called Jean de Montfort, took up the torch after spending his youth in England.

At the beginning of 1364, after the failure of the negotiations of Évran, the young Jean IV of Brittany, son of Jean de Montfort, came to attack Auray with the help of the Englishman John Chandos, in the hands of the Franco-Bretons since 1342 because this coastal town is a strategic stake (fortified castle built on an escarpment, dominating a sheltered port and which has a bridge on the road to Vannes (today ruins only)). He entered Auray and besieged the castle blocked by sea by Nicolas Bouchart’s ships from Le Croisic.  The two armies stand face to face along the Loc’h river, north of Auray. The chroniclers estimate the Franco-Bretons between 3,500 and 4,000 and the Anglo-Bretons between 1,800 and 2,900 men, According to the English chronicles, out of 3,500 Franco-Bretons, 900 are killed and 1,500 are taken prisoner. Montfort would only have to deplore 7 deaths out of 2,000 men.

Auray st goustan old castle ruins mai12

On September 27,1364 while Charles de Blois was at the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Lanvaux,(now private property but the abbey is gone), Du Guesclin, who commanded the avant-garde, was in Brandivy. On the 28th, du Guesclin settled on the left bank of the Loc’h river , within sight of the castle. To avoid being between the castle and the French army, Jean IV evacuates Auray and places himself in front of the enemy, on the slope of the right bank. On the 29th, attempts to reach an agreement took place, without success, and Charles de Blois ordered the attack. His army crosses the river and lines up facing south. Jean IV follows suit and lines up facing north.

Brech loch river to auray river jan12

The forces involved were : The Franco-Breton army of Charles de Blois,had on the left the count of Auxerre, on the right du Guesclin, in the center Charles de Blois. A small reserve that will not be used. The Anglo-Breton army of Jean IV of Brittany had on the right Clisson, on the left the Englishman Robert Knolles, in the center Jean IV and the Englishman Chandos. An important reserve ready to intervene.  A first short skirmish opposes the French crossbowmen and the English archers In addition the instructions were given on both sides not to make a quarter to that of the two suitors who would fall into the hands of their enemies , Each Anglo-Breton corps is pushed in, one after the other, but the reserves restore the situation. On the other hand, the Franco-Breton right wing bends and, not being supported by the reserves, falls back towards the center. The left wing in turn bends and Charles de Blois’s troops give way. Charles de Blois is knocked down with a lance, and is finished off by an English soldier obeying the order given. Du Guesclin, having broken all his armies, is obliged to surrender to John Chandos

After his victory, Jean de Montfort becomes master of the duchy. He is recognized by the Treaty of Guérande as the only Duke of Brittany under the name of Jean IV. This victory puts an end to the War of the Succession of Brittany and by the Treaty of Guérande, in 1365, the King of France recognizes Jean IV of Brittany as Duke of Brittany. However, Jean IV then paid homage to Charles V of France, rather than to his patron, Edward III of England. The Anglo-Breton military victory appeared to result in a diplomatic coup for the King of France. The Monfort dynasty will last just until Anne De Bretagne! 

Tradition reports that the Duke of Brittany Jean IV attributed the victory of the Montfort party over the Blois, during the war of succession of the duchy, during the battle of Auray, to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. In 1368 he founded the Dominican convent of Rennes which quickly took the name of Bonne-Nouvelle convent, (see post now basilica), a painting painted on wood of the Virgin and Child becoming during the 15C the object of veneration of the faithful of Rennes. As a sign of reconciliation, Jean IV founded the order of Hermine and the Chapel of Saint-Michel-des-Champs (see post), The Chapel of Saint-Michel was converted in 1480 into the Chartreuse,(see post) was located on the site of the former battlefield, in the town of Brec’h, north of Auray.

To commemorate this battle, a high cross was erected on a rounded pedestal bearing the inscription “in memory of the battle of Auray with Jean de Montfort and Charles de Blois in 1364. This was done in 1842. Carrefour des 5 chemins, lieu-dit Toulbahadeu, Brech.

Brech cross in memory of the battle of jean de montfort et charles de blois in 1364 done in 1842

The city of Auray on its heritage

The city of Brec’h on its heritage

There you go folks, a bit of history will help the traveler realise where he/she is at and enjoy the trip even more, me think. I look for these bits of history everywhere I go and why not in my neck of the woods! ,the Morbihan! Again, hope you enjoy the post as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “The Battle of Auray!!”

  1. A fascinating piece of history.

    Liked by 1 person

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