Author Topic: Bauge 1421 AD  (Read 6364 times)

Erpingham

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Bauge 1421 AD
« on: September 05, 2017, 12:57:39 PM »
Name of the Battle and Date: Baugé, 22nd March 1421
Protagonists : English: Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence. French: John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Gilbert de Lafayette
Numbers: English : 4,000, of whom about 1500 actually engaged.  French 5,000-7,000, of whom perhaps 1,000 French, the rest Scots.  Perhaps half the French army was engaged in the fighting, others perhaps involved in the pursuit.
Sources:
Bauge is interesting in that there are sources for it from four perpectives; English, Scottish, French and Burgundian.  Unfortunately, many are not easily accessible.  So here we concentrate on the Scots versions, which have the advantage of interesting detail.  These come from two sources, the Scotichronicon of Walter Bower and the Liber Pluscardensis, both from the mid-15th century.  The Liber Pluscardensis version actually contains two accounts.

The battle of Baugé: Bower, Scotichronicon trans Walter Goodall, 1759

In the year 1421 Henry V, after the conquest of Normandy, withdrew to England to collect a new army, intending to reduce the whole of France under his sway. He left in Normandy his brother Sir Thomas duke of Clarence, regent of that country, who, desiring to gain a great name in his brother the king’s absence, collected his forces, amounting to ten thousand men, and betaking himself to the castle of Baugé in Anjou prepared to lay siege thereto. Upon this intelligence the earl of Buchan, accompanied by the earl of Wigton and the Herr Brissak with six thousand men, came to the town of Lude, four miles from Baugé, upon Good Friday, intending to be occupied there in God’s service until the day after Easter, in reverence of the divine passion and of the Christian communion of the Eucharist. But on the news that the duke of Clarence had withdrawn from Baugé to Beaufort the earl of Buchan took up his quarters there that day about even. But on the morrow, being Easter eve, the duke of Clarence moved his army, attempting to take the Scots unawares and destroy them. The earl however, fearing the wiles of the enemy, sent his cousin Sir John Stewart, knight, lord of Dernlie, with the lord de le Fontanes, a Frenchman, and four hundred picked troops, to observe the English. These, lighting suddenly upon the English army, were routed and put to flight; and thus, the Scots were advertised of the coming of the English; and rousing themselves from their slumbers flew to arms. The earl straightway sent forward his cousin Robert Stewart of Railston, a brave warrior, with thirty of the light-armed troops, to find out the ford or passage of a deep torrent at Baugé. These, when they had reached an arched and narrow bridge, where there was no passage, were met by the duke of Clarence with banners displayed, seeking the passage of the bridge. Robert bravely defended the passage, until a hundred Scots, or thereabouts, of the retinue of Master Hugh Kennedy, who were lodged in a neighbouring church, came up and greatly impeded the crossing of the English. At length, with great difficulty and after a powerful resistance, the duke with his men on foot, having left their horses on the other side of the bridge, gained the passage, and reached the field of Baugé. The earl of Buchan immediately afterwards came up with scarce two hundred men in his first division.  The trumpets gave the signal for attack, and at the first onset the duke of Clarence was wounded in the face by the lance of Sir William de Swinton, and the earl of Buchan then struck him to the ground with his mace. Meantime, the remainder of the army on either side coming up, the fight became general, and many were killed and taken prisoners. In the result the English were defeated, and the rout was continued until dark. On the Scots’ side, no more than twelve were slain, and those of the commonalty; of the French two persons of note, Charles lord of Buteclarea and the brother of the lord de Fontanes. There fell on the English side the duke of Clarence, the earl of Riddesdale, the lord Rosse, the lord Gray of Codnore, with one thousand six hundred and seventeen others. The earl of Somerset was taken prisoner by Lawrence Vernor, a Scot, afterwards a knight; the earl of Huntingdon by Sir John Sybald, knight, a Scot; the lord Thomas, brother of the earl of Somerset and also of Joan Queen of Scots, by John Kirkmichael, who broke his spear against the duke of Clarence; and the lord Fitzwalter by Henry Cuninghame a Scot, with many others.  When the news of the battle of Baugé was brought to Rome Pope Martin is said to have made answer, that of a truth the Scots were an antidote to the English; whence the lines:
Pontifex supremus Martinus fert vice Quintus
Antidotum Scoti Anglorum sunt bene noti.


Liber Pluscardensis Chapters xxv – xxvi Ed Felix Skene 1880
Now these [Scots], until the battle of Bauge, were not thought much of, but were called by the French only mutton-eaters and wine-bibbers and consumers, and of no use to the king and kingdom of France, until and up to the time that the battle of Bauge was fought chiefly by the Scots, where the whole nobility and the flower of the English chivalry fell in battle, on Easter Eve, during an eight days' truce and armistice agreed upon by the chiefs, namely the said lords of Scotland and the duke of Clarence of England, out of reverence for Christ’s passion and the taking of the sacrament. Yet on the eve of the said Easter Festival, while the Scots thought no evil, nay, were utterly free from falseness and deceit, and were playing at ball and amusing them-selves with other pleasant or devout occupations, all of a sudden the English chiefs treacherously rushed upon them from an ambush while they were almost unarmed. But by God's mercy some men of note were playing at a passage over a certain river, and they caught sight of their banners coming stealthily in ambush through the groves and woods. So they hastily gave the alarm at the top of their voices, and defended the passage for a while with bow and spear; else all the chiefs of Scotland, thinking no evil, would have been taken unawares and destroyed with the edge of the sword. But the English chiefs, fully armed cap-a-pie, presumptuously thinking they would utterly bear down and defeat the Scots in the twinkling of an eye, left their archers behind in their too great haste; and thus they were routed by the Scots, who were lightly armed and almost without armour. For the latter are most mighty men at a sudden charge and very good with the spear; and they came pouring in at the word with great shouting, roused and emboldened by the bad faith of the English and strong in their own good faith, and thereby rendered braver; and with so impetuous an onset did they assail and bear down the English chiefs with spears and maces of iron and lead and keen-edged swords, that they bore down and felled to the earth both the chiefs and their comrades, as well as their standard- bearers, banners, attendants, pennons, flags and standards, and at the first shock slew the flower of the chivalry of the English army, the duke of Clarence, brother of the king of England, and other generals and earls and magnates, knights and barons, with many other lords; and, when they had despatched their followers who were present, the others behind them, who were coming to the fight, were quickly put to flight. This was at the hour of Vespers. Furthermore the chiefs of Scotland and their army pursued the fugitives as far as the bridge of a certain town which is called Le Mans, eight leagues off, killing some, capturing some and smiting down others, until interrupted by the night, when they escaped in the woods and groves.   

Events leading up to the above-mentioned battle of Bauge.   

In the year 1421 Henry v. king of England, the invader of France, after conquering Normandy, returned to England to raise a fresh army for the purpose of subduing the whole of France to his sway, and left Thomas duke of Clarence to govern and defend the said county of Normandy; and the latter was minded to lay siege to the castle of Bauge in the duchy of Anjou during Passion Week. But the earl of Buchan and some of the French commanders, who longed to encounter the said duke of Clarence, marched to the town of le Lude, four leagues off, on Good Friday, to the number of 7000 men while the duke of Clarence had 10,000 in his army. Then the earl of Buchan sent a reconnoitring party to spy out and reconnoitre the army of the said duke. And they sent bearers of flags from one to the other; for, though both sides were longing to have a brush, yet, out of reverence for Passion Week, they wished to put off the encounter until after Easter, by sending messengers from one to the other, as stated above; and accordingly, on the faith of that, the said duke treacherously and secretly formed the plan of throwing the said earl’s army into confusion, surprising them unarmed and utterly destroying them. So, these English, coming thus stealthily as already described, were attacked first at the passage by Hugh Kennedy, Robert Stewart of Railston and John Smale of Aberdeen, with their followers. But seeing that, as already said in the chapter before, the duke of Clarence, coming secretly, had left the archers behind, all the nobles who were with him were attacked as they came to the passage, as has been stated; so that the horses, wounded by the archers, refused to cross, and chiefs and magnates were forced to dismount, and thus won their way across by force of arms. Meanwhile the chiefs and nobles of Scotland collected together and took the field in such strength as they could, small though it was as compared with the enemy’s; and they bravely charged the leading ranks and began to bear them down. As the battle went on, the force of the Scots waxed stronger, and they pre- vailed over the fierceness of their enemies, so that they gained an undisputed and decisive victory with glory and honour, bearing down, taking and slaying those present in the field, and obliging those who followed them to take to flight; and they chased and pursued them through the groves and woods until the shades of night. There was the king's brother the duke of Clarence slain, as stated, and the earl of Kyme, the earl of Riddesdale and the lord de Roos, together with the lord Grey of Codnor and many other barons, to the number of twenty-six territorial lords; and there were taken the earl of Somerset, brother of the queen of Scotland, the wife of King James l., and the earl of Huntingdon. Somerset was taken by Lawrence Vernon, a Scot, and by Sir John Sibbald knight of Scotland; and also the brother of the said earl of Somerset. The lord of Fewant [Fitzwalter] was also taken there, as well as many other lordlings of whom there is no mention. Nor do I find any positive account of who killed whom in such a general melee; but the common report was that a highland Scot named Alexander Macausland, a native of Lennox, of the household of the lord of Buchan, killed the said duke of Clarence; for, in token thereof, the aforesaid Macausland brought with him to camp a golden coronet of the finest gold and adorned with precious stones, which was found on his helmet upon his head in the field; and he sold it for a thousand nobles to the lord Darnley, who afterwards left that coronet to Robert Houston in pledge for five thousand nobles he owed him. Note that few Scotsmen and Frenchmen died, not more than eighteen, of whom two were Frenchmen, men of quality, namely Charles Boutillier and the brother of the lord des Fontaines, On the day following Easter Sunday news reached the king of the French that all the Scots ran away, and that the French gained the field and the victory and the honour; whereat the king of France, who was at Tours, marvelled greatly. But on the fourth day after the battle, the Scottish chiefs presented themselves with their prisoners, two earls of England and five or six great barons, before the king of the French at the said city, while the French had no prisoners. Then the king publicly broke forth in these words, saying, " Ye who were wont to say that my Scots were of no use to me and the kingdom, and were worth nothing save as mutton-eaters and wine-bibbers, see now who has deserved to have the honour and the victory and the glory of the battle."


Commentary
The three accounts match around the basic events of the battle.  The Duke of Clarence, receiving intelligence about the Scots (other sources say from prisoners) decides to make a rapid strike that very evening.  The Scots feel that an Easter truce was in force at the time, which is why the Scots relaxed their guard.  Clarence’s archers are busy foraging and he has in hand mainly his men-at-arms.  Instead of waiting until the army has reassembled, by which time it would be dark, and wanting to avoid fighting on Easter Sunday, he sets off ordering his men join him as he goes.  The English army will be inevitably deploy piecemeal.  Unfortunately, Clarence runs into a French reconnaissance en route.  The French are driven in but give the alarm.  Clarence then encounters the first French picket, who had been set to cover crossing of the River Couasnon.  Bower’s version gives a good insight into the developing action, with first 30 light troops holding the bridge, then reinforced by 100 from the church.  Clarence meanwhile dismounts and carries the bridge but the delay is enough to allow Buchan to bring up more men.  Bower’s version implies this is a continuous drip feed into the fighting but other sources state the English and Scots reform battle lines before recommencing the fight.  What is unclear in these accounts is whether the two sides fight on foot or horseback.  The initial fight at the bridge is on foot but the use of phrases like “broke a lance/spear” are indicative of cavalry fighting.  The English forces are quickly routed (the battle can’t be longer than an hour overall, from the attack on the bridge to the final defeat).  Few men already committed to the fight escape, as they will have been trapped against the river.  Others, still coming up, are routed by the French pursuit.
One interesting feature is the question of numbers.  Both sources use a common formula in medieval battle reports, where the winning side suffers a miraculously small number of casualties.  English accounts of Agincourt use a similar formulation.  Burgundian sources give French casualties much higher, but also exaggerate English losses.  It remains highly probable that there was a huge imbalance between the losses of the two sides, as there was at Agincourt.  The English may have lost somewhere around 1200 to 1500 men all told, with 1,000 of those killed.
Another aspect is “history is written by the victors”.  Clarence is a hot-head, frustrated by missing the glory of Agincourt and wanting some glory of his own.  But, if he had won and swept down on the unprepared French and scattered them, he’d be praised for his initiative and verve.  In reality, though, he couldn’t succeed.  If Clarence knew about the choke point at the bridge over the Couasnon, he had gambled on getting across it before the enemy knew he was there.  But the French army had a strong reconnaissance out and had placed a picket on the key approach to their camp.  In other words, his brilliant stroke was thwarted by his enemies’ orthodoxy.


  • Anthony Clipsom

Duncan Head

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2017, 01:18:05 PM »
Nice account, Anthony.
  • Duncan Head

Erpingham

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2017, 03:48:58 PM »
Nice account, Anthony.

Thanks Duncan.  It's hard to do justice to the battle with limited sources.  However, it anyone wants get a feel for how they all intermesh/contradict, I can recommend The Reign of Henry the Fifth James Hamilton Wylie and William Templeton Waugh Volume III 1929 P.301-310


Very footnote heavy but solid.  Look out for our learned authors' (Waugh wrote it but he was using Wylie's notes) attempt to settle the mounted/foot question using local folklore.
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2017, 11:18:09 AM »
Very informative for me on a period I'm interested in but know little about. 

I was struck by this passage "and thus they were routed by the Scots, who were lightly armed and almost without armour."

Presumably the Scots soldiers are being compared with English and French ones in terms of armour and aren't anywhere near as well equipped.

I'm guessing that means the Scots forces contained more than just the immediate retinues of their nobles?

With "For the latter are most mighty men at a sudden charge and very good with the spear" should we be thinking of a rapid advance of a schiltron?
  • Stephen Brennan

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2017, 11:55:37 AM »
I was struck by this passage "and thus they were routed by the Scots, who were lightly armed and almost without armour."

Presumably the Scots soldiers are being compared with English and French ones in terms of armour and aren't anywhere near as well equipped.

I'm guessing that means the Scots forces contained more than just the immediate retinues of their nobles?
I wondered about that as well, but is it just a result of the Scots being surprised and unprepared, hence not fully equipped?
  • Duncan Head

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 12:28:31 PM »
I think the Scots here are lightly equipped partly because they haven't had time to fully arm.  The English it notes are fully armed. 

The spears thing is interesting.  We should note that by the time this was written, the word spear was the common term for what we'd call a lance, so it is unclear how the term is being used.

To what degree the Scots in France were armed with spears for foot fighting is generally moot.  The army consisted of men-at-arms and archers in a ratio about 2:1.  The men-at-arms would not all be fully armed and its not clear what weapons they had - maces, swords and spears/lances are mentioned here but these may be their mounted weapons. Our closest legal description of what the type of men who made up the minor men-at-arms had is this from 1426

Our lord, the king, through the whole ordinance of his parliament statutes that each gentleman having £10 worth of land or more be sufficiently harnest and armed with basinet, whole leg harness, sword, spear and dagger.

Sufficiently harnessed probably refers back to the previous arming statute of 1319, which said a man needed a gambeson or haubergeon and mailed gloves.

We know from elsewhere the Scots used axes and long swords on foot (not Claymores but probably the contemporary European style - narrow thrusting types). 

Note the Scots in these accounts make good use of their archery in the opening stages.  There may have been 2,000 Scots archers in the army, but how many of them arrived in time to take part in the fight we don't know.
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2017, 03:16:43 PM »
I appreciate the spear/lance ambiguity but like you am interested in where the spear remark might take us. 

When we consider "For the latter are most mighty men at a sudden charge and very good with the spear" do we know of any contemporary view of Scots mounted knights favouring the sudden charge or being very good with the lance? 

If we don't, could this be the foot we are talking about?
  • Stephen Brennan

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2017, 03:59:34 PM »
When we consider "For the latter are most mighty men at a sudden charge and very good with the spear" do we know of any contemporary view of Scots mounted knights favouring the sudden charge or being very good with the lance? 
On the sudden charge, I'm not aware of any.  On being good with spears, Froissart does say this :

Englishmen on the one
party and Scots on the other party are
good men of war, for when they meet there
is a hard fight without sparing, there is no
ho between them as long as spears, swords,
axes or daggers will endure, but lay on each upon other


Which would imply they were good with spears/lances and there is a suggestion of full-bloodedness to the fighting. But again, spears in this translation of Froissart often means the cavalry weapon.

Quote
If we don't, could this be the foot we are talking about?

Possibly, though I'm no more aware of an infantry parallel than a cavalry one.   
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2017, 04:40:48 PM »
Thanks Anthony, it all makes me want to read Froissart again.
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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2017, 10:38:18 AM »
At least one Scots Knight had a very high reputation with the lance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lindsay,_1st_Earl_of_Crawford although slightly before this period (1390).

I'm with Duncan,I suspect a conventionally armed force but caught with little time to properly arm themselves.
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Erpingham

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2017, 11:44:06 AM »
Useful reminder that the Scots were a part of mainstream chivalric culture and their nobility liked a good joust as much as anyone.  Looking into this for further examples I found this paraphrase of something from Chastellaines life of Jaques de Lalaing

In 1449, Jacques de Lalaing traveled to Stirling, Scotland, to fight with members of the Douglas clan before the King of Scotland. This was to be a combat of six.

Under the agreed-upon terms, the combat was to take place on foot, armed with spear, polaxe, sword, and dagger. At the request of the Scots, the throwing of spears was forbidden. The combat was fought with sharp weapons, and was to continue until stopped by the king. Each combatant was allowed to help his companions.

Jacques and his companions agreed in advance that as soon as the combat began, they would discard their spears and switch to their polaxes. When the combat began, they followed their plan; the Scots retained their spears.


OK, twenty years later and a formal setting, but Scots men-at-arms in foot combat with spears.

However, I just think it just compounds the ambiguity of the original.  The Scots would have been just as likely to be described as good with spears on horseback or on foot.
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2017, 06:15:48 PM »
I do wonder if the Scots do not consist of knights and immediate retainers who are well armed, but with many men armoured by courage alone. Who is likely to sign up for an adventure in France and the lottery of battle? the dirt poor that's who.
If Froissart felt that the French side was caught before they could arm then he would have said so.
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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2017, 06:54:50 PM »
I do wonder if the Scots do not consist of knights and immediate retainers who are well armed, but with many men armoured by courage alone. Who is likely to sign up for an adventure in France and the lottery of battle? the dirt poor that's who.

Except that the sources say this was an army not of peasants but men-at-arms.  Masses of peasant spearmen might have done for home defense but the real fighting men, like the English, were drawn from the middling classes.

Here is the 1426 ordnance again, but a bit more of it

Our lord, the king, through the whole ordinance of his parliament statutes that each gentleman having £10 worth of land or more be sufficiently harnest and armed with basinet, whole leg harness, sword, spear and dagger. And gentlemen having less extensive lands or no lands shall be armed according to their goodly power at the sight and discretion of the sheriffs. And honest yeomen having sufficient power that wish to be men of arms shall be harnest sufficiently after the discretion of the sheriffs, but all other yeomen of the realm, between sixteen and sixty years of age shall be sufficiently bowed and shoed with sword, buckler and knife.

What might honest yeomen who wish to be men-at-arms look like?  If we go on to the ordnance of 1430

 Item, each yeoman that is of £20 in goods shall have a good doublat of fence or a habergeon, an iron hat with a bow, sheaf, sword, buckler and knife. And all others of £10 in goods [shall] have a bow, sheaf, sword and buckler. And the yeoman that is no archer, and cannot draw a bow, shall have a good sure hat for his head and a doublat of fence with sword and buckler, and a good axe, or else a pointed staff [or then a short spear].

I also don't think this war was just for the dirt-poor.  The gentry would have expected their retainers and tenants to turn out and would have turned away the ill-equipped.  The Scots leaders were looking to make a good show, pick up titles and lands.  The rank-and-file would understand France to be a fabulously rich place, where a man might earn good money for a season. Plenty of incentive for a good show.

So I suspect that this Scots force wouldn't compare badly to an English, French or Burgundian one in the way of kit.  Probably fewer men-at-arms with cap-a-pie harness but pretty well kitted out overall.

Quote
If Froissart felt that the French side was caught before they could arm then he would have said so.
Roy

Allowing for the slip of the keyboard, the Liber Pluscardensis says

Yet on the eve of the said Easter Festival, while the Scots thought no evil, nay, were utterly free from falseness and deceit, and were playing at ball and amusing them-selves with other pleasant or devout occupations, all of a sudden the English chiefs treacherously rushed upon them from an ambush while they were almost unarmed.

I.e. the troops by the bridge were not fully armed but had grabbed what they could .  Seems pretty explicit to me.
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2017, 12:05:18 AM »
I do wonder if the Scots do not consist of knights and immediate retainers who are well armed, but with many men armoured by courage alone. Who is likely to sign up for an adventure in France and the lottery of battle? the dirt poor that's who.
If Froissart felt that the French side was caught before they could arm then he would have said so.
Roy

I haven't seen any evidence to suggest yeoman spearmen went to France. All the evidence is for small retinues of Men at Arms and archers, in many ways identical to the English pattern. The key difference is that 'most' of the Scottish knights in France were fairly junior by comparison with the French and English armies.  Typically this meant smaller retinues. You could then argue, increased command difficulty but a higher proportion of Knights/MAA to the retinue as a whole.
  • Doug Melville
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Re: Bauge 1421 AD
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2017, 12:41:14 PM »
I am quite happy that if Froissart says that the reason  for the Scots being unarmed is that they were surprised then that indicates that they were normally normally armoured , with the attendant  consequences for their  social and military composition.
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