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The Bottle of Poitiers! Biere Jean le BonBiere Le Prince Noir

Reenactment of the Battle of Poitiers

(or the Battle of Maupertius)

650th Anniversary

19th September 1356 | 19th September 2006


Two members of the Medieval Combat Society visited France in September 2006 to follow some of the route taken by Edward Plantagenet, The Prince of Wales on his Campaign of 1356, culminating in the Battle of Poitiers on 19th September 1356 where the outnumbered English defeated a larger French force resulting in the capture of King John II (Jean Le Bon) of France.

Prelude to the battle of Poitiers

The English Chevauchée

The English army left Bergerac on the 4th August 1356 marching to Périgueux and continued in a North Easterly direction reaching Vierzon on 28th August 1356 covering 150 miles in 14 days, and on route plundering the land. The tactic used was to plunder the land to deny the French of its resources and to display to the local lords that the French king could offer them no protection. The English learned from captured prisoners that King Jean was at Chartres with an army and headed south. The English plan was to cross the Loire and meet up with an English army to the north led by the the Duke of Lancaster.

River Cher The River Cher runs east to west and joins the Loire west of Tours


The English army tries to cross the Loire

Haut Poitou RougeHaut Poitiou BlancCrossing the river Cher the English then marched 70 miles westwards on the 1st September 1356 and arrived at Montlouis on the 6th September 1356 but are unable to capture Tours and the river is too swollen by heavy rain to cross elsewhere. The two armies are unable to join up and the English decide to head southwards loaded with plunder. although food supplies were running low.

The French pursue the English army

The English headed south on 11th September 1356 crossing the Cher passing Poitiers and reaching Nouaillé on the 17th September. The French army had marched quickly and on the 17th September marched past the English army and were between the English and Poitiers. On the 18th September 1356 the English army deployed on a north-south road running along a ridge, with the dismounted army facing west and having the Nouaillé forest behind them to the East. the land to the South and South West was marshy along the river Miosson which ran east west on the southern end of the ridge. The whole day was spent strengthening the position with holes dug, stakes driven in and barricades reinforced as the Cardinal of Périgord unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a peace settlement. The English army was low on supplies and had to either move or fight.


The Battle of Poitiers

English formation at the Battle of Poitiers
Anglo Gascon Reserve
Earl of Salisbury
Edward Prince of wales
Earl of Warwick
English Right Wing
English Left Wing


The First French Assault

A movement by the Earl of Warwick with the English baggage south across the Miosson may have prompted the French into action with two French cavalry charges being made against the wings of the English army. The French had to charge uphill against the English and cross a hedge that had been barricaded. The English arrows could not penetrate the French armour until the English archers were moved south into the marsh to shoot into the flanks of the French cavalry attacking the English left wing. Marshal Audrehem pushed himself forward through the barricade but no one else could follow so he was captured. Both the cavalry attacks were repulsed, the French right having made little impact with the effect of the English archers.

French first formation at the Battle of Poitiers
Marshal Clermont
Marshal Audrehem
French Left Wing
French Right Wing


Poitiers English Knight and Archer English Knight and Archer from the time of the Battle of Poitiers

The Second French Assault

The Dauphins (The eldest son of the king of France) army marched to the English on foot taking losses from the archers until the nand to hand fighting began. The fight was hard lasting possibly up to two hours, but eventually the French made an orderly retreat.

French second formation at the Battle of Poitiers
Dauphins Army
French Left Wing
French Right Wing


Poitiers Abbey of Nouaille


Poitiers Abbey of Nouaille

Poitiers Abbey of Nouaille


The Third French Assault

The Duc d'Orleans led the next french battle were again on foot but instead of entering the battle he left the field with two of the sons of king Jean, the Count of Anjou and Count of Poitiers. The reasons for doing this are unclear, it may be that having seen two assaults repulsed many of his untrained levies joined those leaving. Some of the Duc d'Orleans army was in support of the Dauphins army and some of the lords returned to the fight.

French third formation at the Battle of Poitiers
Duc d'Orleans
French Left Wing
French Right Wing


Miosson River Near Crossing Point

Poitiers River Miosson

Baggage Camp near river Miosson

River Miosson Ford


The Fourth French Assault

King Jean II of France led on foot the Final French assault, with the elite of his army, they were fresh against a battle weary English. The English were running out of arrows and heavy armour with the Pavaises (large shields) of the French Crossbowmen were proving effective. The English were dismayed having fought two battles and it was at this point that Edward, the Prince of Wales broke with the English tactics and ordered a cavalry charge led by Sir James Audley after the advice of John Chandos "Sir, ride forward, the day is yours! Let us assail the King of France, for with him lies all the strength of the enterprise. Well I know his valour will not permit him to flee, therefore, please God and Saint George, he shall remain with us!" . The English men at arms followed the assault together with the archers who running out of arrows had thrown down their bows to take part hand to hand. The battle was hard fought and at a critical moment a unit sent by Edward the Prince of Wales led by the Captal de Buch struck the rear of the French army. Although only about 60 mounted men at arms and 100 mounted Gascon crossbowmen they delivered a blow far in excess of their size.

French fourth formation at the Battle of Poitiers
German Knights
King Jean
Duke of Athens
French Left Wing
French Right Wing


The Battle Aftermath

Eventually the French were defeated, being pushed back south to the Champ d'Alexandre. Geoffroi de Charny the carrier of the Oriflame was killed. Froissart gives Denis de Morbeke a knight of Artois from St Omer as having taken the surrender of King Jean II. Trouble broke out amongst those who had captured the king expecting a huge ransom and had to be rescued by the Earl of Warwick and Lord Cobham who were sent by Edward III.


Poitiers Battle Memorial

Poitiers Champ de Bataille

Poitiers Battle Tourist Information Site

Poitiers Champ de Bataille


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