What happened at the Battle of Castillon
The Battle of La Brossinière (also as Battle of la Gravelle designated) took place on September 26, 1423 as part of the Hundred Years War. It happened at La Brossinière (today: Bourgon), between English and French troops, shortly after the hostilities between the two sides, which had been dormant since 1415, broke out again. The battle was fought on the Chemin gravelais, an ancient trade route that linked Anjou and Normandy.
In the summer of 1423 an English force of about 2,000 armed men and 800 archers under the command of William de la Pole made a raid from Normandy to Anjou and Maine. On their way they plundered the areas they crossed, took prisoners and finally conquered Segré. There they rounded up a herd of 1,200 bulls and cows from the city and the surrounding area before heading back towards Normandy.
In order to avenge this attack, the mother-in-law of the French King Charles VII, Queen Jolanthe of Aragón, ordered a force to be hurriedly raised. This should catch and beat the looters on the way back. The command for this company was given to Ambroise de Loré, who had commanded Sainte-Suzanne since 1422. He immediately wrote a letter to Jean VIII. D'Harcourt, Count of Aumale and Governor of Touraine, who was preparing a raid into Normandy at that time. They wanted to meet at Laval and bring Jean with them all the troops he had already signed on. At Le Bourgneuf-la-Forêt, Jean wrote a letter to Anna de Laval and asked her to send her twelve-year-old son André de Lohéac and Guy XIV. De Laval together with all available men under arms to the agreed meeting point.
He reached Laval on September 24th and the very next morning the combined forces of Harcourt, Laval and Loré set out to pursue the English on the long-distance trade route. When they had finally approached them within three hours of marching and it was clear that they would pass La Brossinière, Harcourt conferred with the other generals. It was decided that Harcourt and Guy de Laval would go with their troops on foot as far as La Brossinière and take up a position there in order of battle. The remaining 200 men, led by Loré, would attack the English on horseback from behind.
Course of the battle
English scouts discovered the French outposts two hours after the French were in order. They forced them to retreat and pursued them until they retreated behind the French lines. The English then broke off the pursuit and withdrew.
Due to the looting, the English train carried a very long train with it, but marched in a disciplined marching order. Before the main English force could react to the discovery of the French troops in front of them, Loré led a cavalry attack against the English. These sought cover behind the wagons of the train. At the same time the French infantry advanced, and soon the English were included. Although these fought valiantly, they could not last long. Soon the English soldiers turned to flee, but only a few succeeded. A total of between 1200 and 1400 of the English soldiers were killed on site or slain by the French while they were fleeing. William de la Pole and some other nobles escaped along with about 120 men. On the French side only one knight, John Le Roux, and a few armed men had died.
The victory of La Brossinière was enthusiastically received across France and should remain in the collective memory for a long time to come. For Charles VII, this battle was an important success at the beginning of his rule. The twelve-year-old André de Lohéac, later Marshal of France, was knighted along with some companions for participating in the battle.
- Alphonse Angot: Bataille de la Brossinière. In: Alphonse Angot: Dictionnaire historique, topographique et biographique de la Mayenne. Part 1: A - C. Goupil, Laval 1900 (reprint. Floch, Mayenne 1975).
- Jaques Salbert (Ed.): La Mayenne des origines à nos jours (= L’Histoire par les DocumentsISSN 0756-2799). Nouvelle édition. Éditions Bordessoules, Saint-Jean-d’Angély 1991, ISBN 2-903504-17-2.
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