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Enguerrand VII de Couci, 7th Earl of Bedford, Count of Soissons, seigneur of Coucy, Oisy and Montmirial 1339-1397

Also known as Ingelram de Couci, sire de Couci, Enguerrand de Coucy, Enguerrand de Courcy, Enguerrand d'Coucy, Engeran

Born: about 1339/1342 Coucy-Le-Chateau, Aisne, France

Christened:

Died: 18 February 1397, Bursa, Natolia, Turkey

Buried: Villeneuve abbey, Soissons, France

Parents: Ingram de Couci Lord Gynes 3rd baron de jure (born about 1317, died 1344) married Catherine von Hapsburg (born about 1320, died summer 1349, daughter of Leopold, duke of Austria, Catherine married 2: Conrad de Magdebourg/Conrade de Médebourg (died summer 1349)

Siblings:

Married 1: 27 July 1365, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Spouse 1: Isabel Plantagenet, Countess of Bedford, (born 16 June 1332 Palace,Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, died before 4 May 1379 Grey Friars, Newgate, Middlesex, England. buried Grey Friars, Newgate, Middlesex, England) daughter of Edward III (born 13 November 1312, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, christened 16 November 1312, Royal Chapel Windsor, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, died 21 June 1377, Sheen Palace, Richmond, Surrey, buried Westminster Abbey, Middlesex) married (24 January 1328 at York Minster, Yorkshire) Phillipa of Hainault (born 24 June 1311, Valenciennes, died 14 August 1369, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England. Died of the Plague, buried Westminster Abbey, London)

Offspring 1:

Mary/Marie de Couci (born April 1366 Coucy-Le-Chateau, Aisne, France, died 1404) married Robert (Henry) De Barr, Marquess Pont-â-Mousson, Duke of Bar

Phillippa de Couci (born before 18 April 1367 Eltham, Kent, England, died October 1411) married Robert de Vere Earl of Oxford, Duke of Ireland, Marquess of Dublin (born 16 January 1362, died 1392), Robert divorced Phillippa and later married his mistress Agnes de Lancerone

Married 2: February 1386 Nancy Mthe-Et-Melle, France

Spouse 2: Isabel/Isabeau daughter of Jean I, duke of Lorraine and Sophie de Wirtemberg

Offspring 2:

Isabelle de Coucy-Guines (born after 1386, chateau de coucy, Laon, Aisne, France, died 1411) married (1409 Soissons) Philippe, count de Nevers and of Retel

Partnership 3:

Partnership 3: Unknown

Offspring 3:

Perceval de Coucy-Guines, seigneur of Aubermont 'Bastard of Coucy' (born about 1386, chateau de coucy, Laon, Aisne, France) married 1419

Heraldic Coat of Arms: quarterly barry vair and gules, a fess argent. Described by George Beltz as Barry of six, Vair and Gules.

Knight of the Garter 1365, Stall 24, became a member of the order of the garter after the death of Thomas Ughtred

The ancestral family home of the Coucy family was Chateau du Coucy, Picardy, France. Enguerrand's father died whilst he was in his minority and the King of France appointed two people to look after his lands, Jean de Nesles, Sire d'Offémont and Matthieu de Roye, Sire d'Aunoy, master of the cross bowmen of France. In 1348 Enguerrand's mother re married Conrad de Magdebourg/Conrade de Médebourg, but both died in 1349 from the plague. Jean de Coucy, lord of Havraincourt, uncle of Enguerrand was put in charge of him. In 1350 King Jean of France executed Enguerrand's second cousin Comte d'Eu, 16th Comte de Guînes, Constable of France. In November 1355 Enguerrand aged 15 was part of the army that marched north against the English in the battalion of Moreau de fiennes with his guardian Matthieu de Roye Master of Cross bowmen, Geoffrey de Charny, 'the perfect knight', and Marshal Arnoul d'Audrehem. In 1358 Enguerrand took part with Charles of Navarre in crushing the French rebellion called the Jacquerie, and it is said that he took part in the massacre of every rebel Jacque or peasant that they could find. They may have killed by June 1358, 20,000 without pity or mercy. By July 1358 Enguerrand was against Charles of Navarre who was trying to take the French throne. In 1358 Enguerrand destroyed the castle of Bishop Robert le Coq, a supporter of Charles of Navarre. In March 1359 King Jean yielded nearly all Western France and a huge promised ransom to England, 40 royal and noble hostages were to be sent to England, including Enguerrand. In 1360 Jean Froissart and Geoffrey Chaucer together with Enguerrand de Coucy, sailed to England as one of the hostages for the ransom of king John of France. Enguerrand came to the attention of Jean Froissart who said of him "the young de Coucy shined in dancing and caroling whenever it was his turn. He was great in favour with both the French and English, for whatever he chose to do he did well and with grace and all praised him for an agreeable manner in which he addressed everyone". Enguerrand also impressed Edward III and eventually married the king's daughter Isabella. Enguerrand already had held land in England which had belonged formerly to Chrestienne de Bailleul/Catherine de Baliol, wife of Enguerrand V, her great-grandfather, but had been confiscated by Edward III when war with France started. By 1363 Enguerrand had regained his possessions in Yorkshire, Westmoreland and Cumberland.

In 1365 Enguerrand was married to Isabella, the eldest daughter of King Edward III, and released as a hostage for the ransom of King Jean. In November 1365 they traveled to France, and Isabella was pregnant with their first child, who was born in Coucy in April 1365. Isabella traveled back to England in May 1365. On 11 May 1366 Edward III announced through the Chancellor in Parliament that he granted Enguerrand the title Earl of Bedford with an annual income of 300 marks. In 1367 Guy de Blois Comte de Soissons sold the title of Comte de Soissons Edward III for his freedom to be released as hostage, and Edward III gave it to Enguerrand. Enguerrand returned to France with his wife and 2 daughters in July 1367. In April 1368 Enguerrand and Isabella traveled to Paris for the occasion of Lionel Duke of Clarence marriage to Violante Visconti who were on their way to Milan. In June 1368 the king of France gave Enguerrand 1000 Frances to cover his expenses as a hostage and to repair for damage to his domain caused during the war, this was an attempt to persuade Enguerrand to return to France. Enguerrand attended on 19 June 1369 in Ghent the marriage of Marguerite of Flanders, daughter of Louis de Male Count of Flanders to Philip, the son of Charles V, king of France. Enguerrand's seal in 1369 bore a quartered arms of Austria, representing his Hapsburg claim.

Enguerrand entered Alsace in September 1369 with a small body of knights and around this time Isabella returned to England. On 14 January 1370 Enguerrand was in Prague and in November 1371 he was in Savoy in the employ of his cousin as a mercenary. In 1372 and 1373 he fought with his cousin for the Pope against the Visconti. In the winter of November 1371 - March 1372 Enguerrand crossed over the Alps with 100 lances. Enguerrand entered Piedmont as the leader of the campaign of the Count of Savoy against the Marquis of Saluzzo. In August 1372 Enguerrand fought against Sir John Hawkwood, who was besieging Asti, but unable to make the assault he wanted, Sir John broke camp and departed in October, allowing the Savoyard's to relieve the city. Coucy was given command of the Papal troops and received a down payment of 5893 florins and in December 1372 the Pope formally made Enguerrand Captain General of the Papal Company in Lombardy. Sir John Hawkwood went to work for the Papal states in December 1372. In January 1373 Enguerrand's mercenaries joined forces with those of Sir John Hawkwood and in April 1373 John and Enguerrand crossed the Po, and although outnumbered, they led the Papal forces to victory at Montichiari, 40 miles North East of Milan. In June 1373 Enguerrand was again confirmed as the Captain General and in August 1373 he besieged but failed to take Piacenza. On 23 January 1374 Pope Gregory granted Enguerrand permission to return home.

Enguerrand returned to Coucy in 1374 where he found his lands in good order. Robert Knollys who had traveled through Picardy, had been ordered by Edward III to leave the lands of Enguerrand intact. On 4th August 1374 Charles paid Enguerrand 6,000 Francs and in November 1374 asked him to become the Marshal of France, but Enguerrand declined.

At the end of September 1375 Enguerrand wrote to the Duke of Brabant informing him of his intention to take Brisgau, Sundgau and the small county of Ferrette. In October to November 1375 Enguerrand assembled his armies to take back some of the territories of his mother. His army was army said to be of 22,000 mercenaries and adventurers by the name 'Gugler' (named after their helmets in the shape of cap, all. Gugel, lat. cuculla / cucullus), made up of English and Bretons. The English mercenaries gave the army such a reputation that they also became known to Enguerrand's opponents as Engländer. Owen Lawgoch (Yvain of Wales), who signed a contract with Enguerrand on 14 October 1375. On 11 November 1375 Leopold offered the county of Ferrette worth 20,000 Francs per year, but Enguerrand rejected it as being too small.

The assembled armies pillaged Alsace and the Bishop and magistrates of Strasbourg paid 3,000 florins for them to leave the city alone. Raoul de Coucy, his uncle, joined with Enguerrand, with the Viscount of Meaux, the baron de Roye, Pierre de Bar and nobility of Artois, Hainault and Picardy. England and France had a peace treaty and the king allowed English forces to go so that they would not cause trouble on his lands. They invaded Switzerland and ravaged Swiss Cantons against the Duke of Austria. In December 1375 they passed through the Jura to the plain of Aar. Leopold the Duke of Austria retreated to his mountain strongholds, Leopold himself in the fortress of Breisach. Leopold ordered burnt the lands and anything of use to the invading armies along the Danube, so that Enguerrand's troops horses suffered from a lack of forage. On 19 December 1375 the Swiss at Buttisholz defeat a large part of Enguerrand's army. A few days later Owain of Wales was attacked by surprise at night in the Abbey of Fraubrunnen killing many of his men and forcing Owain of Wales to flee. Enguerrand abandoned the expedition and while retreating in January 1376 through Alsace a Gügler company was defeated at Altkirch. On13 January 1376 a treaty was made between Enguerrand and the Dukes of Austria where Enguerrand was ceded the fief of the dead Count of Nidau, including the town of Büren. On returning they split their mercenary army up for hiring. Isabella returned to France in January 1376 when Enguerrand returned from Aargau.
In February 1376 Charles V commissioned Enguerrand and Olivier de Clisson and Marshal Sancere against the mercenary companies that were now pillaging Champagne, having left the command of Enguerrand.

In April 1376 Enguerrand sought permission rom the king of France to return to England with Isabella. Charles asked Enguerrand to find from the English what terms Edward III wanted for peace. Having gained permission they returned to England. Enguerrand returned to France in the Summer or Autumn of 1376 and undertook a diplomatic mission for Charles V to the Count of Flanders. Enguerrand became a member of the French Royal Council and received an annual wage of 1000 Francs. Around this time Enguerrand's daughter Marie joined the dauphin at the French court and had her education under the French Queen.

In April 1377 a payment is recorded for Enguerrand for providing crossbows for his castle, in case of war. From January to June 1377 at Boulogne and Calais, Enguerrand negotiated on behalf of Charles V for a renewal of peace with England. In April 1377 Isabella was summoned by cousins on business of extreme urgency to return to England and was said to be at her fathers side when he died. Enguerrand had kept out of many of the French wars and maintained his neutrality and on August 26 Enguerrand wrote to Richard II stating that he would be serving under the king of France and that he was stepping down from The order of the Garter. As a result he lost his English estates, a trustee being appointed to look after them. It also meant a split with his wife Isabella who returned to England to live with her daughter Philippa who was already in England, the eldest, Marie remained in France.

On 22 December 1377 the Holy Roman Emperor visited by Paris and Enguerrand was one of the party which met him. In 1378 Enguerrand with the Sire de Riviére were placed under the leadership of the Duke of Burgundy to take the Normandy properties of Charles of Navarre. They sieged and took the town of Bayeux, and then then Carentan, Moulineaux, Conches and Passy. They finally took Evreux at the heart of Charles of Navarre's lands and at the end of 1378 only Cherbourg was left which was supplied by the sea from England.

Enguerrand was said to have founded in 1378 the 'Ordre de la Couronne', which had as its badge an upside down crown as a result of his failure to take his mothers inheritance. The 12 points of its circle were said to be those of Faith, Virtue, Moderation, Love of God, Prudence, Truth, Honour, Strength, Mercy, Charity, Loyalty and largesse. In December 1378 Enguerrand was one of the peers of the realm to try Jean de Montfort in his absence. Jean's title was declared null and Charles V announced that Brittany was now part of France.

In March 1379 king Charles V visited Coucy-le-Châteaux, and the court poet Eustache Deschamps composed a small ballade on the barony:

Who would know a land of great delight
Where lies the heart of the realm of France,
With Fortress strong of marvelous might,
Tall forests and lakes of sweet plaisance
Songs of birds, parks orderly as a dance,
Must to Coucy turn his steps.
There he will find the nonpareille
Whence comes the cry, "Coucy à la merveille!"

 

In 1379 Enguerrand was with Charles V at Château de Vincennes to give support for Pope Clement VII during the schism. During April 1379 Enguerrand with Rivière conducted negotiations for the French with the English at Boulogne, and Enguerrand again parleyed with the English at Boulogne in March 1380.

In 1380 Enguerrand was offered command of the French armies after Du Guesclin had died on the 13 July 1380, but turned it down stating that it needed someone who knew Gascony, and so Olivier de Clisson took up the position. Enguerrand was given the position of Captain General of Picardy and was given the Seigneury, town and cattle of Mortaigne, located between Tournai and Valenciennes. Enguerrand was also named to the regency council of the Dauphin.

On July 19 1380 Thomas of Woodstock Earl of Buckingham landed at Calais for an expedition in which Richard II had funded by pawning the crown Jewels for £10,000 and consisted of 5,060 men, about half being archers. Buckingham advanced to Burgundy and at the gate of Troyes a skirmish was fought lasting about 1 hour where Enguerrand fought against the English. The expedition took a wide detour through northern France, swinging as far west as the County of Champagne, pillaging and burning. The French refused to be drawn into a general engagement, and Enguerrand followed the English forces. When Buckingham's army finally arrived in Brittany, the political situation had changed, with the succession of a new French king and peace between Brittany and France seemed likely.In March 1381 the expedition returned to England.

On September 16 1380 the king of France Charles V died and was succeeded by Charles VI and Enguerrand was present at his coronation. Later in 1380 Enguerrand supported a landing in Scotland to help the Scottish fight against the English, continuing the policy of French support for Scotland. In January 1381 Enguerrand arranged a peace treaty with the Duke of Brittany. During March 1381 Enguerrand concluded a peace treaty with Jean de Montfort. Later during 1381 Enguerrand was at Montreuil to negotiate peace with the English. Records show spies paid by Enguerrand for information on Calais, Guînes and other English castles. In 1382 the rebellion of the Maillotins took place in Paris, France, against taxes and Enguerrand took part in negotiating and putting down the rebellion. The term Maillotins comes from the lead weighted mallet they had stolen from the Hôtel de Ville.

In November 1382 Enguerrand marched to Flanders with an army. Enguerrand's retinue consisted of 3 knights banneret, 10 knights bachelor, 63 squires and 30 archers. The Oriflame was carried for the first time since Poitiers. Enguerrand was the French commander at the battle of Roosebeke which defeated the Flemmish on 29 November 1382 Enguerrand commanded a wing on the French side and when the French centre collapsed he took the defensive hill which had been the Flemmish position at the start of the battle. From the hill they were able to attack the rear of the Flemmish. Philip Van Artevelde was trampled to death by his own fleeing troops. The Flemmish regrouped with 3,000 men which Enguerrand successfully routed. Enguerrand took the French army to Paris for putting down the rebellion there in January 1383 and the rebels gave up. Charles VI executed the leaders. Enguerrand received 13,200 Francs and 1/3 of the aids levied on his domain which was to be used to fortify his towns and castles.

On May 17 1383 Henry DeSpencer Bishop of Norwich landed in Calais with 5,000 men for a Crusade against French Clementists It quickly degenerated into a plundering expedition through Flanders, which was loyal to Pope Urban, they took several towns and laid siege to Ypres. Hugh Calvley refused to follow the Bishop any further and retreated to calais. The remaining English retreated before a French army led by Enguerrand and were besieged in Gravelines, and then rescued by a Breton force.

In 1384 Enguerrand fought in a private war for the Duc de Bar, and in November 1384 his daughter Marie married Henri de Bar. In May 1384 Enguerrand founded at the Abbey of St Médard near Soissons, a perpetual daily mass for himself and successors. In July 1384 Enguerrand crossed the Alps through Mont Cenis on his way to Italy, despite assurances Enguerrand's men plundered the lands around Florence.On September 29 Enguerrand assaulted Arezzo and John Hawkwood was sent to lift the siege. Enguerrand struck a deal with Florence and sold Arezzo and the Lordship of the Tarlati to them for 40,000 gold Florins, an in addition safe passage home with all they could carry from the city.

In 1385 Enguerrand whilst in Avignon fell from his horse, receiving a compound fracture in his leg, confining him to bed for 4 months. In the Summer of 1385 a French army led by Olivier de Clisson, Sancere and Enguerrand arrived in Scotland with 1500 men and 80 knights. Disputes with the Scots and the harsher life and an approaching English army caused the French to return home. Enguerrand married again Isabel/Isabeau, who was 30 years younger than him and the daughter of Jean I, duke of Lorraine and Sophie de Wirtemberg in 1386 and gained as a dowry the seigniory of Fleurines in the country of Liege.

Duke Albert III of Habsbourg made an agreement with Enguerrand in 1387 where Enguerrand accepted in pledge the title to Büren and half of the town of Nidau. In March 1387 Charles VI visited Coucy-le-Chateau to discuss the new invasion plans of England, and in May 1387 Enguerrand attended a Royal Council which discussed the invasion plans. In June 1387 Jean de Montfort seized Olivier de Clisson and throughout 1387 Coucy had talks with Jean for the return of Olivier's land and money.

Robert de Vere married Philippa de Coucy. but Robert fell in love with a Bohemian lady who was a lady in waiting to Richard II's queen and wanted to divorce his wife Philippa to marry her. This dishonored the royal family, and her uncles, the Dukes of York, Gloucester and Lancaster. In November 1387 an appeal was made against Robert and an army raised to enforce it. On 19 December 1387 Henry Bolingbroke defeated Robert who was forced to flee by riding into the river and discarding his armour and then to Flanders where he had deposited money with Lombard bankers at Bruges. the 'Merciless parliament of February 1388 charged Robert with Treason. Robert was invited to France but Enguerrand persuaded Charles that he had dishonored his daughter. Robert lived in Brabant and died in a Boar hunt in 1392. The divorce of Robert to Philippa was annulled and she remained the countess of Oxford.

In November 1388 Enguerrand was made Grand Bouteiller (Grand Butler) of France. In November 1389 Coucy was challenged to a duel by Thomas Mowbray, later to become the Duke of Norfolk, to combat of 3 points from the lance, 3 from the sword, 3 from the dagger and 3 from the axe on foot, but the duel did not take place. On 26 April 1390 Enguerrand founded the monastery and church of Célestin's on the banks of the Aisne at Villeneuve, near Soissons. On 1 July 1390 a crusade sailed against the Berber Sultan Abou-'l-Abbas and Enguerrand was the second in command. The Sultan retreated to his fortress at Mahdia and after a 9 week siege the Crusaders return home.

In February 1391 Enguerrand met with the English negotiators to discuss a peace settlement, but a postponement was made for 9 months. Through October to December 1391 Enguerrand negotiated with Jean de Montfort at Tours. In 1392 the dukes of Lancaster and York traveled to Amiens for a peace treaty with France and brought with them Enguerrand's daughter Phillipa, whom he had not seen for many years, an agreement could not be reached after 2 weeks of negotiations. In mid August 1392, King Charles VI of France suffered from a fit of madness and Enguerrand sent his personal physician Guillaume de Harsigny to nurse the king back to health.

From 1394 to August 1395 Enguerrand fought for Louis Duc d'Orleans for the sovereignty of Genoa. In October 1395 Enguerrand took up the cross for a crusade. Oliver de Clisson gave up the position of Constable of France and again Enguerrand was offered it, but once again turned it down so it was passed to a prince of France, Philippe d' Artois, count of Have.

On 30 April 1396 the crusade against the Ottoman Turks left Dijon, but Enguerrand went by Milan to warn Gian Galeazzo to not interfere with the transfer of Genoa to France. The crusade was made up of around 7,500-9,000 men and they captured the Western Bulgarian capital of Vidin. After another 75 miles Rachowa (Oryekova) surrendered on the terms that its people and goods would be spared, but the crusaders sacked the town. On September 12 1396 the Crusaders arrived at Nicopolis. The Turks were advancing an army towards Nicopolis and Enguerrand feigning a retreat drew a large number of Turks into an ambush south of Nicopolis, killing many of them. On September 25 1396 the Turks defeated the Crusaders capturing Enguerrand, Bar, D'Eu, Guy de Tremaille, Jacques de la Marche and the count of Nevers. All those under 20 went into forced service for the Turk army, and up to 3,000 were decapitated. The defeat led to the Turkish rule of Bulgaria for 500 years.

The prisoners including Enguerrand were marched to Gallipoli and suffered greatly. Enguerrand was said to have prayed to Notre Dame of Chatres and by a miracle a Bulgarian appeared and gave him a heavy cloak, gown and hat. After 2 months the prisoners were moved to Brusa, the Ottoman capital in Asia. Enguerrand's health deteriorated and on 16 February 1397 he drew up his last will. Enguerrand ordered, that his body should be carried in France to be buried in the monastery of Célestins which he had founded in 1390, close to Soissons. For the Monastery of Ste Trinité he left a silver cross of 40 Paris marks weight (about 23lb) and other silver gifts. He left bequests to 21 separate churches and chapels and 100 florins each to 5 separate chantries for prayers to be said, and 6,000 florins for his executors to allot for prayers at their discretion. To the poor of Paris he left 1000 florins a further 1000 florins to the poor of his lands. He also left 800 to the Hôtel Dieu in Paris. On 18 February 1397 Enguerrand died in Brusa. Only his heart and bones were transported back to France and buried at Ste Trinité, a plaque with the Coucy arms, superimposed by a heart was placed over the tomb, and is now in the museum of Soissons. His bones were buried in Nogent and the remainder of his body was buried in Turkey.

Deschamps wrote a dirge for Enguerrand, some of which is included below:

St. Lambert, Coucy, La Fère,
Marle, Oisy, and St. Gobain,
Weep for your lord, the good seigneur
Who served so well his sovereign
With prowess great in many lands...
Who for the faith in Turkey died,
Let us pray God to pardon him.

In his day bright and beautiful,
Wise, strong, and of great largesse,
A true knight of labor hard
And no repose; in his great house,
He welcomed knights from morn to eve
Who came to join his company.
Preux and bold in Lombardy was he,
He took Arezzo, city of renown,
Made tremble Pavia and Milan
Let us pray God to pardon him.

Many a heart is sad for him
That none is left to bear his arms...

Enguerrand is in a book by Isabelle de Montolieu called 'Les grottes de Lindenthal ou le château de Thorberg'. Ingelram de Couci is in a book by Sir Walter Scott called Anne Of Geierstein or The Maiden Of The Mist. A book called 'A Distant Mirror' which gives the life of Enguerand, has been written by Barbara W. Tuchman.

Memorials Of The Most Noble Order Of The Garter From Its Foundation To The Present Time, George Beltz, 1841

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