Author Topic: Bulgnéville 1431 AD  (Read 1482 times)

Erpingham

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Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« on: June 04, 2020, 03:58:12 PM »
Name of the Battle and Date: Bulgnéville 2 July 1431

Protagonists (opposing nations and generals) : Duchy of Bar - Rene D’Anjou (the Duke of Bar), Arnaud Guillaume de Barbazan
Count of Vaudemont - Antoine de Vaudemont , Antoine de Toulongeon

Numbers if known or a reasonable estimate: 6,000-12,500 Barrois, including 1500 militia infantry
Vaudemont 4,000-6,000, including 1500 Burgundians and Picards, 120 or 600 English and some artillery.

This is a rare battle in which modern versions suggest larger forces than the main source.  The lower figures, closer to Monstrelet’s, are preferable.  The figure for the English is either six score or six hundred – the way these were written was much easier to confuse than with modern numerals.  120 seems more likely given the size of the garrison according to muster records.  Bertrand Schnerb reckons half the Vaudemont force as “gens de trait” i.e. shooters, mostly Picard longbows, though this seems an overestimate, especially if the 120 figure for the English is preferred.

The title of and chapter and verse of original source with edition and citation

The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet Vol I Translated by Thomas Johnes, 1849
CHAPTER CVIII.--THE DUKE OF BAR IS COMBATED BY THE COUNT DE VAUDEMONT AND DEFEATED.

The Quotation about the battle in full

When the marshal of Burgundy had assembled all his men, he marched them toward Langres; and thence the Burgundians and Picards advanced toward the Barrois, where they were joined by the Count de Vaudemont with all the forces he could collect. When united, they might amount to about four thousand combatants, and their chief captains were the said Anthony de Toulongeon, marshal of Burgundy, the Count de Vaudemont, the lord d'Antoing, Gerard de Marigny, the Count de Fribourg, the lord de Mirabeaut, the lord de Sez, the lord de Roland, Sir Imbert Marechal, a Savoyard, the bastard du Vergy, Matthieu de Humieres, nephew to the above-mentioned lord d'Antoing, Sir John de Cardonne lord de Bichancourt, Boort de Bazentin, a gallant English knight called Sir John Ladan [Dedham], and Sir Thomas Gergeras [Gargrave]. Sir John Ladan was governor of Montigny-le-Roi and had with him six score combatants at the least, with many notable gentlemen renowned and expert in war.

They advanced in handsome array into the Barrois, followed by sixteen or twenty carts laden with stores and provision. They announced their entrance into the Barrois by setting fire to different parts of that Country; and thus they advanced to a large village called Sandacourt, within seven leagues of their adversaries, where they arrived on a Saturday night. On the morrow, Sunday, they expected an attack from the enemy, and, consequently, they formed their men in order of battle, and remained in this state the most part of that day, having their archers posted behind sharp stakes to prevent the charge of the cavalry. As the enemy did not appear, they retired, about vespers, to the village to refresh themselves, and called a council to consider how they should act. It was resolved that since, from the badness of the roads, and from the Country being so intersected with hedges, they could not, without danger, march to meet the enemy, who were superior to them in numbers, they should return through the Barrois to Burgundy, destroy the Country they marched through, and reinforce themselves with men and everything necessary to enable them to combat the enemy.

This resolution was very displeasing to the Count de Vaudemont, but he was, through necessity, forced to abide by it. The captains then ordered all things to be packed and ready for the march on the ensuing day, Monday, the feast of St. Martin in the summer; but the duke of Bar, having heard of their arrival, quitted the siege of Vaudemont, leaving a sufficient body to blockade it until his return, and marched his army to offer them battle before they were reinforced. His strength consisted of about six thousand combatants, under some of the highest rank in Bar, Lorraine, and Germany, and advanced in handsome array. The scouts of the marshal of Burgundy fell in with those of the duke of Bar, attacked and conquered them; and this was the first intelligence the marshal had of their intentions.

He gave instant notice of the coming of the enemy to his captains, who drew up their men in good order, chiefly under the directions of the English knight. The archers were posted in front, and on the wings, with their stakes before them. The Burgundian men-at- arms wanted to remain on horseback, but the Picards and English would not suffer them; and at last it was ordered, that every man, whatever might be his rank, should dismount,- and all who should disobey should be put to death. The horses and carriages were placed in the rear, in such wise as to prevent the enemy from making any attack on that quarter.

While this was passing, the duke of Bar had advanced his army to within half a quarter of a league of them, and thence sent his heralds and trumpets to announce to them his approach, and to say, that if they would wait for him, he would offer them battle. The Burgundian captains sent for answer, that they were ready to receive him, and wished for nothing better than what he had proposed.
The heralds returned with this answer to the duke, who then advanced to within cross- bow shot of his enemies, although the lord de Barbazan had frequently advised him to avoid an open combat, but to force them to retreat from his Country by famine and other means. He added many arguments in support of his advice; but the duke would not listen to them, trusting to superiority of numbers, notwithstanding the greater part of his men had not been accustomed nor experienced in war like to his adversaries, the Burgundians, Picards, and English.

The duke, partly by the advice of the lord de Barbazan, drew up his army handsomely; for he had a great desire for the combat, though he had with him but very few archers. When this was done, many new knights were created on his side. Preparatory to the battle, the marshal of Burgundy and the Count de Vaudemont had two tuns of wine brought to the front of their line, which, with bread and other victual, were delivered out to their men in what quantity they pleased; and all who had any hatreds made peace with each other. They had also some cannon and culverines on the two wings and in the centre of their army, and they remained for two hours fronting each other.

While they were thus situated, a stag, as I was informed, came between their battalions, and, stamping thrice with his feet on the ground, paced along the Burgundian line,—and then, returning, dashed through that of the Barrois, when great shoutings were made after it.
Some new knights were now created by the Burgundians and Picards, such as Matthieu de Humieres, Gerard de Marigny, his son, and others.

The Count de Vaudemont, during this ceremony, rode on a small hackney along the line, entreating the men “to combat bravely, assuring them, on the damnation of his soul, that his cause was good and just,- that the duke of Bar wanted to disinherit him, and that he had ever been strongly attached to the party of duke John and duke Philip of Burgundy.” The Burgundians and Picards were well pleased with this address, and determined to remain as they were, and not advance on the enemy. On the other hand, the duke of Bar, having finished his preparations, and drawn up his army mostly on foot, observing that the enemy did not move, resolved to begin the combat, and marched toward them, who still remained in their position.

When the Barrois were advanced to within twelve or sixteen diestres* of their line, they discharged the cannons and culverines before-mentioned, and set up a loud shout. This caused such an alarm among the Barrois that they flung themselves on the ground and were greatly frightened. Shortly after, the battle raged on all sides, and it might then be about eleven o'clock. The Picard-archers made excellent use of their bows and killed and wounded numbers with their arrows.

The violence of the combat lasted about a quarter of an hour, and the two parties were engaged in different quarters; but at length that of the duke began to give way, and to fly in various directions,—which being observed by the enemy, it renewed their courage, and they made fiercer attacks than before. The Picard archers especially killed and wounded an incredible number, so that the disorder and defeat very soon became general on the side of the Barrois.

The duke of Bar was made prisoner by one named Martin Fouars, belonging to the Count de Conversan, lord d'Enghien, who had all the honour and profit of such a prize, although some said he was not taken with his own hand. Together with the duke were made prisoners, the bishop of Metz, John de Rodemaque, Sir Everard de Salebery, the Viscount d'Arcy, the lord of Rodemaque, Sir Colard de Sausy, Sir Wilin de la Tour, and others, to the amount of more than two hundred. There remained dead on the field of battle, and including those slain in the pursuit, which lasted for two good leagues, from five-and-twenty hundred to three thousand men. The principal among them were the Counts de Salmes and de Salme-Salmes, de Linanges, Germans,—the lord de Barbazan, Sir Thibault de Barbey, two brothers to the bishop of Metz, George de Banastre and his two brothers, and others, to the amount aforesaid, the greater part of whom were gentlemen.

This defeat and pursuit lasted two or three hours; and when all were re-assembled, the Burgundian lords, with the Count de Vaudemont, returned their most humble thanksgiving to their Creator for the great victory they had obtained through his means. They did not lose more in killed than forty men, the chief of whom was Sir Gerard de Marigny. They remained that night on the field of battle. The marshal of Burgundy was slightly wounded in the face, and the duke of Bar above the nose. On the morrow they marched away for Burgundy, carrying with them their prisoners.


Commentary

Bulgneville is an interesting battle, as it comes about through an inheritance dispute.  It isn’t a battle of princely powers but private war.  However, behind the scenes, it is very much a proxy fight between the Burgundian and Armagnac factions in France.  Much of the Barrois forces were sent by the French king and led by the experienced soldier de Barbazan, much of the Vaudemont forces sanctioned by the Duke of Burgundy and led by the Marshal of Burgundy.  The Burgundians' allies, the English, also get in on the action.

The context is fairly simple.  The Barrois army is besieging Vaudemont.  The Count of Vaudemont, rival claimant of the Duchy of Bar, raises an army and marches to relieve it.  They head northeast from Langres and reach Sandacourt, just north of Bulgneville.  There, their intelligence (the garrison at Vaudemont and the Count seem to be in communication throughout the siege) is that there are too many Barrois to attempt a relief.  Toulongeon wants to fall back and try to assemble a bigger army.  Vaudemont reluctantly agrees.  Then the Burgundian scouts, probing toward Vaudemont make the alarming discovery that the Barrois army is marching toward them.  The Vaudemont forces, already in marching order, pull out south from Sandacourt, through Vaudoncourt and chose a defensive position to the west of Bulgneville (the battlefield is known because it once had a memorial chapel).  The battlefield is on a slight ridge, dropping down to a stream to the south and a gentle slope to the north, the direction of enemy approach (from exploring the field with Google mapping tools).  The author of the deployment is said to be “the English knight”, which is confusing, as there were two.  In fact, it was probably Gargrave, who was a veteran of Agincourt and Verneuil.  Despite being recorded by Hall as killed by the same cannon shot as struck down Salisbury at Orleans (earning him a walk on part in Henry VI, Part I), he continued in English service until 1442.

The battle itself has some mysteries, if just working from Monstrelet’s account.  The primary modern reconstruction is by Bernard Schnerb.  Essentially, he sees the Barrois in three bodies, attacking in echelon, led by the vanguard on the right under Barbazan.  The small rearguard on the left is the only mounted body and these are charged with making a flank attack.  Schnerb must here be using others sources, as Monstrelet implies a straightforward assault.  While Monstrelet does mention a small part of the Barrois army were mounted, he doesn’t say which part or what they did. 

What is obvious is that the Barrois attack was poorly delivered.  The artillery fire and archery seems to have severely shaken them and the implication is their engagement was fragmented and not pressed hard.  The quarter hour duration of the battle must represent this phase with the later comment that the “defeat” lasted two to three hours covering the action from onset to pursuit.  Another source gives the battle’s length as one hour.

Casualty rates were heavy on the Barrois side, almost certainly largely sustained in the pursuit.  This was another battle in which a huge difference of casualties between victors and losers was recorded, though the exact balance perhaps being less important than demonstrating the completeness of victory. 
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2020, 08:30:31 PM »
Nice account, thank you.
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Erpingham

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Re: Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2020, 03:08:07 PM »
I've been looking for more accounts of the battle.  The two significant French ones appear to be from Gilles Le Bouvier (Berry Herald) in the Chroniques de Roi Charles VII and Jean Le Fevre de St Remy.  le Fevre often parallels Monstrelet, so I've concentrated on Berry Herald.

Berry Herald doesn't tell us a lot we don't know from Monstrelet.  He notes Barbasan with his men-at-arms and apparently the Germans did engage and the fall of Barbasan's standard had an impact on morale.  He confirms that 200 cavalry were held back, though under French not German captains.  Schnerb places these on the left but they could have started behind the main attack.

Berry Herald tells us a lot more about numbers and casualties.  On the Barrois side, Barbasan is said to command 200 lances and their gens de trait.  He provides the figure of 1500 militia.  Casualties were distributed 300 knights and esquires under Barbasan, 400 under Duke Rene out of a total of 1000 "or more".

Berry reckons the number of Burgundian men-at-arms differently in two places ; 1800 and 800.  The Picard archers are numbered at 600.


Add : And finally, Le Fevres account.  It is different to Monstrelet but only in detail.  He gives no figures for the size of the armies or casualties but does add the following details
1. There were bushes and hedges on the approach to the Burgundian position
2.  The Barrois initially believed they could win with a cavalry charge but this was forced back by lances and arrows.  The Barrois then dismounted and were shot at, then charged, by the Burgundians.  It isn't clear (at least with my French) whether Le Fevre intends that everybody charged, then fell back and dismounted, or whether some charged and fell back and the others decided dismounting was a better idea.



« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 03:43:20 PM by Erpingham »
  • Anthony Clipsom

Erpingham

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Re: Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 04:13:08 PM »
Ok, one more thing



No messing around with ill defined lumps of rust - this is what I call a battlefield find :)



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Re: Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2020, 05:09:25 PM »
Are they three rivet holes along the the top of the blade?
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Re: Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2020, 05:43:35 PM »
Are they three rivet holes along the the top of the blade?

Maybe.  But they could be punched holes for decoration or perhaps a set of armourers marks.  Both the latter are common enough on surviving polearms but I don't think I've seen one with an extra piece of blade riveted on.
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Re: Bulgnéville 1431 AD
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2020, 07:13:45 PM »
Allowing for the difference in scale of the photos, the rivet holes appear to be the same size as the holes in the butt spike to fasten that to the shaft
I wonder if somebody has made themselves a guisarme by riveting a spear head to a hedging tool

The term guisarme does seem to cover a multitude of sins  :-[
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