The Hundred Years War in Haut Quercy

With acknowledgements to Jonathan Sumption.

Froissart (18) describes the condition of the country: "Matters were so woven together there and the lords and knights were so divided, that the strong trampled down the weak, and neither law nor reason was measured out to any man. Towns and castles were intermixed inextricably; some were English, others French, and they attacked one another and ransomed and pillaged one another incessantly."

The Hundred Years War arose from the dispute between the Plantagenet kings of England and the French royal house of Valois. The dispute provided a fine excuse for a long period of warfare to be played out between the two parties without consideration of the probability of strategic success and without concern for the general populations. Neither side was strong enough to comprehensively defeat the the other. The deployment of large field armies was only possible for a few months each year and the Channel provided a substantial impediment to the projection of force. The political consequences of defeat in battle and the uncertainty of success led each side to avoid head on clashes whenever possible.

Eleanor, duchess of Aquitaine and countess of Poitiers

The duchy of Aquitaine was brought to the English crown through the marriage on 18th May 1152 of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II Plantagenet, then Duke of Anjou, soon to be king of England. Eleanor's mariage to the French king, Louis VII, had been annulled only a few weeks earlier on 11th March 1152.

The English kings, as Dukes of Normandy, were henceforth required to pay homage to the French king.

But in 1337 Edward III declared that he, and not Philippe VI, was the rightful king of France. He refused to pay homage to Philippe who in consequence confiscated Aquitaine.

And thus the turbulence began...


Carte France 1154
France 1154

Quercy, part of the duchy, was left unscathed by the broad sweep of the royal campaigns of both houses since no major campaigns or battles took place in the region. However the chevauchée of John of Gaunt, son of king Edward III of England, which passed through Brive in 1373, led directly to the ravaging and impoverishment of Quercy.

Early incursions by the Gascons

In 1346 Gaillard de Durfort, commander of the lords of the Agenais, marched up the valley of the Lot with a force of 400 horsemen almost to Cahors before turning north, to reappear in the last days of September in Correze where he captured Tulle. Armies destined to support the French crown at the siege of Calais were diverted to lay siege to Tulle in the middle of November and the Gascon intruders surrendered on terms.

In 1347 Gascon troops occupied Belcastel, on the river Lot, in their first really serious incursion into Quercy and, at the end of 1348, a large Gascon force captured Montcuq. On 11th September 1351 a truce for one year between France (John II) and England (Edward III) was signed outside the town of Guines near Calais and the troops of all sides were paid off and dispersed. Although the new truce was well observed in the north, there was not even a pretence of enforcing it in the south, and on the borders of Gascony the French continued their efforts to expand their territory as if nothing had happened at Guines. The English, for their part, returned to the irregular war as soon as the regular war had been suspended and began to organise companies of Gascon mercenaries for a sustained assault on the province of Quercy. The decisive moment came in December 1351 when a large contingent of Gascons, led by the captal de Buch, captured Saint-Antonin, pillaged the town and garrisoned it as a base for fresh raids into Quercy.

In the spring of 1352 the companies came in waves up the valleys of the Lot and the Dordogne, spreading out over the causses of Martel and Gramat. They arrived in the vicinity of Martel in spring 1352, occupying Souillac in October.

"In most places only the boldest outline of the facts is known, pieced together from the pay records of garrisons and the evidence given to the papal commission of enquiry many years later. But the story can be followed in the accounts and minute books of the town clerk of Martel, a moving survival stained by water and partly eaten by rats which conveys something of what it meant to live in a small town in Quercy under constant seige by distant, unseen enemies: letters filled with fear arriving from other towns; bands of armed men seen passing by the walls and the barred gates of the town and through the forest roads of the nearby cause; panic-stricken warnings sent out to other places in their path; delegates sent to plead for help from the viscount of Turenne, from the Seneschal of Quercy, from the pope, from whoever else would listen; hurriedly improvised meetings of towns and barons of the region; weapons distributed amongst the inhabitants; men sent to buy artillery in Toulouse; suburbs abandoned by their populations, now quartered in cramped, rent-controlled lodgings within the walls; money raised to ransom prominent citizens seized by armed men; tradesmen setting up their benches on the walls so that they could keep watch as they worked; desperate labour on the walls and ditches; and always the ever-present fear of surprise and the suspicion of treachery within."(5)

In January 1353 the towns of Quercy accepted the brigands' demand to leave the province in return for 5000 ecus. It was one of the earliest examples of a system of ransom called rachat or videment which was to become one of the simplest and most productive methods employed by the companies to loot the country.

Officers of the English crown attempt to expel the Gascons

In early 1355 a force commanded by the Earls of Suffolk, Oxford and Salisbury, together with the lords of Pommiers and Mussidan, marched from Bordeaux up the valley of the Dordogne and invaded the comté of Turenne in the name of the English crown. With 1000 men and the advantage of surprise they caused mayhem. They occupied Souillac and captured Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne after a short siege and fortified the abbey.

Within a year of the battle of Poitiers in 1356, Élie de Pommiers, the king's representative in the valley of the Dordogne around Souillac, succeeded in easing out many of the larger companies led by young men from prominent Gascon families.

The eldest son of the lord of Albret was bought out of Fons by the local population and Pierre de Montferrand was bought out of Betaille by the viscount of Turenne for 2,500 florins after only five months of occupation. The captain of Nadaillac refused to go until January 1358 when the Seneschal of Gascony, Sir John Cheverston, came up the Dordogne valley with 2000 men of arms and a train of cannon to encourage his departure.

The gascons, hounded from Quercy and defeated in Langedoc, gathered in Auvergne. Arnaud d'Albret belonged to the family which had been intimately concerned in the looting of Perigord and Quercy, and the rape of Auvergne over the next decade was to be a cooperative venture of this famous and prolific clan. Arnaud, bought out of Felletin for a large ransom, joined forces with his cousin Arnaud-Amanieu d'Albret and together they occupied the castle of la Chapelle Taillefer north east of Limoges and set up an outpost at Beaumont near Tulle.

As disorder spread so tax collection became increasingly difficult. As the companies extended their operations the tax base was gradually destroyed and, with it, the last prospect of expelling them without resort to outside assistance - a vicious circle which much of France would soon experience.

The Truce of Bordeaux made no difference at all to the fate of Auvergne. Enforcement of the truce was entrusted to the bandits themselves. The d'Albret clan had infiltrated the seat of English power to such an extent that the four conservators nominated by the Prince of Wales included Arnaud d'Albret himself, his brother, and his bastard cousin Bertucat, the ablest most brutal of the tribe who had begun his career at Fons.


The treaty of Bretigny

The French king, John the Good, had been taken by the English at the battle of Poitiers in 1356 and died in the Savoy hotel in London in 1364.

The disaster of Poitiers led to the treaty of Bretigny and the loss of large extents of land owned by the Valois. The treaty, signed between England and France in 1360, marked the end of the first phase of the Hundred Years War as well as the culmination of Englih hegemony on the continent.

In accordance with the treaty the viscountcy of Turenne became English, but it was only on 8th March 1361 that the viscount Guillaume paid homage to the king of England, all the time remaining loyal to the house of Valois.

Carte France 1360
France 1360

On 8th May 1360 the treaty of Bretigny was signed between the English and the French. According to the clauses of the treaty, the Viscountcy of Turenne became English, but it was only on 8 March 1361 that Guillaume paid homage to the king of England while remaining faithful to the house of Valois.

The end of the treaty of Brétigny

By the time that Charles of France repudiated the treaty of Brétigny in May 1369 the officers of the Duke of Anjou had already been waging war in Quercy and Rouergue for months.

Quercy was the one province whose cession to England in 1362 had met with significant local resistance, therefore the Duke's officers were able to take over much of the region without invading in force. They operated by blandishments and threats, occupying each town or fortress as they submitted. Most of Quercy had been lost by the English; only the valley of the Dordogne and Montauban were still held by the English Seneschal Sir Thomas Walkefare.

Recognizing the success of the strategy of the duke, Sir John Chandos, English Constable of Aquitaine, resolved to counter attack Quercy but, with only 500 men available, he was obliged to forge an alliance with Bertucat d'Albret, leader of the surviving bands of routiers which had made up the Great Company. In January 1369 Bertucat brought his companies down from Auvergne into Quercy and by March 1369 he had established himself at Montauban with Chandos. A few days later Bertucat had crossed the Dordogne at Bergerac in order to invade Quercy from the north.

Finding that French forces under the Duke of Berry had assembled in Auvergne ready to descend upon Quercy via the valley of the Dordogne, and that a second army under Louis of Anjou had assembled at Albi ready to attack Montauban, Chandos decided to break out and march towards Toulouse, wasting the countryside as he went.

A day or two after the departure of Chandos, the French army at Albi marched on Montauban but became badly delayed at the siege of Réalville, which resisted until mid-April. By this time Chandos had returned to install a garrison at Montauban whilst keeping the bulk of his force in the field in order to harrass the French, who then withdrew northwards towards the river Lot.

Coat of arms : Sir Jean Chandos
Coats of arms of Sir John Chandos and Robert Knolles*

Coat of arms : Robert Knolles

At the same time the Cheshire knight Robert Knolles, operating with the tacit support of the English crown, was making his way up the valley of the Lot but found his way blocked by a French force comprising five bands of routiers which occupied Duravel. Knolles laid siege and was joined by Chandos, but failed to break the French hold on the valley. By the beginning of May they abandoned the Lot and marched north, scattering over the causses of Quercy. Coming to Domme which had recently accepted a French garrison, they failed in an assault. They sought easier targets but found them impossible to hold as the inhabitants changed sides to suit circumstances. Garrisoned as a French town since March, Rocamadour was a typical case. On the arrival of Chandos, resistance was sufficient to be respectable but the next morning the doors were opened and the town swore loyalty to the Prince of Wales, just as two months before they had sworn loyalty to the King of France and so it was that Rocamadour remained at peace.

On 14 March 1367, after having received oaths of obedience from Gaubert, Tondu and Chirougue, three of the four consuls of Martel, Chandos swore to maintain the freedoms, customs and privileges enjoyed by the citizens of Martel. (25)

On 8 May 1369 Chandos mounted a powerful raid on Cahors with the Gascon Jean de Grailly, captal de Buch, but the attack failed and Chandos withdrew north and east, attacking but failing to take Figeac on 19 May. These failures typified this stage of the war in Quercy, which saw bold movements by the English but without the means to take and hold strategic targets. The French, by comparison, operated with steadily overwhelming force resulting in the progressive push back of the English frontiers.

Following the battle of Pontvallain in the Sarthe region in 1371, where the English armies were soundly defeated by the newly appointed Constable of France, Bertrand du Guesclin, it became clear that the English could no longer hold Limousin and Quercy-Rouergue which they abandoned to the companies. Bertucat d'Albret and Bernard de la Salle began to infiltrate Limousin from Quercy and Cantal, seizing Ussel at the beginning of the year. Many of the small towns and garrisons of the southern march of Limousin were occupied by the companies.

From a stronghold in Autoire, Bertucat's forces, in combination with de la Salle who was installed at Assier, took Figeac by scaling the walls on 14 October 1371. De la Salle was knighted by the English crown on the same day and designated Lord of Figeac. He plundered 50,000 gold francs and sold the town to the king for 120,000 more francs, still holding the town until the money was paid in August 1373.

Autoire : château des Anglais

The ruin of the Château des Anglais at Autoire, a stronghold of the routiers of Bertucat d'Albret

Reawakening of the routiers by the English crown

In December 1373, during his chevauchée from Calais to Bordeaux, John of Gaunt paused his army for three weeks in the valley of the Correze. Tulle put up no more than perfunctory resistance and Brive willingly opened its gates and accepted the English garrison. The Gascon captains Bernard de la Salle and Bertucat d'Albret joined their forces with those of the English crown at Brive. Bernard was appointed as Captain for the king of England in the Limousin and it is from there that he took his companies and occupied strongholds in Auvergne and Quercy which became the centers for routier activities for the next twenty years.

It was at Brive in December 1373 that John of Gaunt made contact with the court of Guillaume Roger, Viscount of Turenne, brother of the Pope and his chief political advisor, in order to pave the way for the Congress of Bruges.

Brive was the only prize to fall to John of Gaunt in 1373 but French forces led by the Duke of Bourbon set out from Toulouse and on 22 July 1374 arrived outside Brive which was defended only by its citizens and an English garrison of 50 men. The French assaulted from two sides, surmounted the walls and spread into the streets. The garrison took to the tower of St Martin's but they were taken by storm and all put to death. The consuls who had admitted the English were all beheaded beside the gate through which they had admitted the English only eight months before.

In 1374 Du Guesclin, constable of France freed Martel from the English but the town continued to suffer from the presence of the enemy all around. A plausible contemporary estimate had it that the total strength of the free companies operating in southern France at the end of the decade was between ten and twelve thousand men, of whom perhaps three thousand were trained men at arms.

Coat of arms : La Salle
Coats of arms of the Gascon captain, Bernard de la Salle and of Guillaume Roger de Beaufort, Viscount of Turenne until 1395*
Coat of arms : Guillaume III Roger  de Beaufort

When in March 1375 the English and French sides agreed to open negotiations at Bruges, pope Gregoire XI designated his brother Guillaume Roger, Viscount of Turenne and their cousin Guillaume de Lestranges, bishop of Carpentras, as his agents. Charles V despatched his brother, Philippe Le Hardi, duke of Burgundy, and Edward III of England designated his son John of Gaunt. A truce to run until April 1377 was one of the results of the conference.

Bernard Douat, captain of Montvalent

In 1376 Bertucat sent raiding parties into Quercy, led by his lieutenants Bernard Douat and Noli Barbe. Douat then, at the start of his career, captured the fortress of the Marquis of Cardaillac at Balaguier d'Olt on the left bank of the Lot near Figeac and went on to capture Belcastel (between Rodez and Villefranche) and to establish garrisons in Quercy-Rouergue.

In 1377, Douat, with his garrison of 600 men at Montvalent, controlled at least 700 other routiers garrisoned in the outlying strongholds of Sarrazac, Carennac, Cazillac, Vayrac, Creysse, Belcastel, Pinsac, Bourzolles and La Mothe-Fenelon, from which he blackmailed and threatened Souillac and Martel.

Douat demanded the keys to the town from the consuls of Martel. The town magistrates hosted a grand dinner to further negotiations on the terms of the patis to be imposed upon Martel. Douat and ten of his men were lodged in the Palais de la Raymondie. At the dinner a large salmon costing two sous was served and was washed down with a barrel of wine costing 40 sous. It was agreed that Douat should receive his patis in return for leaving the town alone. This entailed, every six months, 30 charges (just under four tons) of wheat, 30 barrels of old wine, 60 francs in silver, 30 pounds of wax and ten quire of paper, as well as 20 sous for each of the four consuls of Montvalent. He was paid from 1375 until the routiers were cleared out by the lord of Cavagnac in 1399. (25)

Re-establishment of routier strongholds

By 1378, as Quercy was almost denuded of its population and nothing remained to be reaped, the Companies abandoned it for Rouergue, Gevaudan, Limousin and Upper Auvergne. Auvergne declared that in 1379 it... "has been reduced to such a state of poverty and destitution that its walled towns and castles can longer be defended. These places are ill-manned and so feeble that any substantial force could conquer them. Two thirds of the open country is abandoned and uninhibited and the rest will soon be in the same state." The wretched peasants fled from Auvergne to the deserted limestone causse of Quercy and occupied the abandoned villages and farms.

The settlement of the Comminges war and the treaty between Castile and Navarre, which occurred almost simultaneously in March 1379, released large numbers of footloose bands of soldiers. They shortly acquired an impressive leader in the person of Bertucat d'Albret who quickly regained his old ascendancy over the Gascon companies of the march. These included most of the routier garrisons in Quercy, commanded by his long standing lieutenants, as well as Carlat and its satellites, founded by his old brother in arms Bernard de la Salle.

At this time Carlat became a major hub of routier operation in central France, reoccupied by the companies on 6th October 1380 by Garcie Arnaud, the bouc Caupenne, probably under the direction of Bertucat.

The fortress of Carlat

At the end of 1379 Bertucat took matters into his own hands and led the combined companies on a pillaging campaign across southern France which lasted six months. They occupied six walled towns around Beziers and Narbonne before retreating north back to Auvergne and seizing Montferrand en route.

In april 1380 Chalusset, in Limousin, was occupied by Perrot de Fontans, known as le Bearnais, and it became the largest routier garrison in France with 500 men at arms and capable of deploying up to 300 cavalry on a single raid. Perrot's companion in arms Mérigot Marchès established himself in 1380 at Le Roc de la Borde in Auvergne to extend operations into bas Limousin and the great corridor of the Dordogne.

In autumn 1380 the Massif Central was overrun by a fresh tide of mounted companies coming up the river valleys from the west. Strategically placed hill towns and castles were taken over as bases for pillaging and further conquests. On 6 October 1380 Carlat was reoccupied by its old routier commander, Garcie-Arnaud, bastard of Caupenne.

The diminishing resources of the English State forced the English to make increasing use of the companies. In the spring of 1381 Bertucat d'Albret visited England to negotiate with John of Gaunt and the ministers of the crown and, in return for accepting Bertucat's claims upon French occupied territories in the Bordelais, Bertucat was granted a string of strategic towns and castles along the lower Dordogne, on condition that he captured them. Borrowing heavily to finance this commercial venture, Bertucat returned to Gascony early in 1382 initiated a fresh surge of routier activities across southern France, closely supported by two of his lieutenants, Noli Barbe, captain of Pinsac, and Bernard Douat, captain of Montvalent.

Bertucat in London

London in 1300

Bertucat was no stranger to the English court. During the Peasant revolt of 1381 Sir Robert Knollys was in his house on Seething Lane near the Tower of London, with Bertucat d'Albret, guarding his treasure with over 120 armed men. When a rumour spread through London that king Richard II was being attacked by 20,000 peasants assembled at Smithfield, the two men went there, armed and equipped for battle. They were among the first to arrive, accompanied by a strong force of men who dismounted and drew up in battle formation. Knollys argued that they should go and fight the peasants and kill them all, but the king refused. The leader of the revolt, Wat Tyler, was struck down and killed by the Lord Mayor of London, William Walworth. The remaining peasants prepared to fight, but Richard II calmed them and led them out of the city, however many were attacked and killed by Knollys and his men. In return for his readiness the king gave Bertucat the barony of Caumont on the Garonne (16).

Bertucat's return to France marked a fresh wave of routier activity across the whole of southern France. The largest concentration of routier companies remained the ten to fifteen garrisons associated with Carlat. Very closely associated with them were the garrisons of at least eight castles in the neighbouring province of Quercy which had been occupied by Bertucat's own companies and were commanded by two of his own lieutenants : Noli Barbe, captain of Pinsac, and Bernard Douat whose main base was at Montvalent. The captains to the north, Perrot de Béarn, Mérigot Marchès and Geoffrey Tête Noir controlled some forty major garrisons. On a smaller scale there were probably fifty or sixty garrisons active in the provinces bordering on the Gascon march, in the Agenais, Perigord, Agenmois and Saintonge.

Bertucat d'Albret never completed his plan of conquest. He died in September 1383 and his successor was a routier captain from Landes called Ramonet de Sort.

Bringing routier activity to an end

In 1387 the Count of Armagnac, the royal Lieutenant in the south, convened an assembly of the States of Auvergne, Velay, Gevaudan, Rouergue and Quercy, to debate what was to be done to get rid of the routiers. Instead of resolving on an united effort to put them down by force of arms, they agreed to pay them 250,000 francs to quit. The routiers took the money, but remained. Every town and every village was forced to come to terms with the brigands, by means of a patis or convention to pay a certain sum annually, to save it from pillage. Should the covenanted money not be forthcoming on the day, the place was sacked and burnt.

In October 1389 two knights of the household of the king of England, Sir William Elmham and Sir Richard Craddock, came to Bordeaux to consider how best to eliminate the routiers. They returned to London at the end of February 1390 accompanied by the captain of Montvalent, Bernard Douat. Parliament was in session at Westminster. In its closing days Gascony was the the main item of business. Craddock returned to Gascony on 3rd March 1390 carrying letters under the King's privy seal addressed to each of the principal routier captains, ordering them to surrender their fortresses or be disowned as traitors and rebels. The language of these documents was deliberately designed to prevent their recipients from claiming to be fighting a lawful war if they ever fell into French hands. The dispute with Ramonet de Sort in Quercy was resolved, a number of garrisons in Rouergue surrendered in June 1390 and some of the major companies of Quercy followed suit six weeks later. The last of the great Gascon captains to hold out was Perot de Béarn who remained in possession of Chalusset until January 1393 when he finally sold the castle to the Estates of Limousin.

In 1407 Charles VI imposed a heavy tax on the whole kingdom to enable him to carry on the war against the English. But Quercy was wholly unable to meet the demands, and the king, in a letter dated the last day of February 1415, gives a graphic account of the condition to which the land had been reduced:

"Whereas, this land, at the time when it passed under the obedience of the King of England, was the richest and most populous in all the Duchy of Guyenne, and contained the finest cities, towns, and castles and fortresses in the said duchy, which were free and quit of all taxes and imposts, and with privileges conferred on them and confirmed by the King of France when they shook off the English yoke; and the said land of Quercy, after having returned to its legitimate sovereigns, has testified to them the greatest loyalty; yet have its inhabitants been grievously injured, assailed, beaten, robbed, pillaged, imprisoned, killed, maltreated by the English in divers ways, which enemies have since taken and occupied the greater part of the finest towns and fortresses of the land; on which account the land of Quercy has since continued in a condition of mortal warfare with the said enemies for the space of fifty-five years; and this carried on without aid from us, or from any one:—This unfortunate land has resisted to the utmost of its powers and is doing so still; and it has been surrounded for long by our said enemies, and is as it were destroyed and uninhabitable, and the greater number of its towns, castles, and strongholds have become desert and wild, covered with forest and scrub, inhabited by wild beasts, with the exception of some few small places that are very poor and miserable, and though at one time they were great and rich, they have been to such an extent depopulated—partly through the war and partly through pestilences that have ensued—there are now hardly one hundredth part of the people remaining, and those who do remain are but poor labourers and men of servile class; and these are kept night and day harassed by watching against enemies, and yet are compelled to buy them off with patis [ransom] and pensions, so that the greater portion of their substance is consumed in this way;—therefore, &c." (16)

By 1450 the English influence was greatly diminished in Quercy and Guyenne. Bordeaux was lost to the French crown in 1451 and the final defeat in the south was at Castillon in 1453.

The Gascon nobles

The barons and seigneurs in the south were no better than the routiers. They transferred their allegiance from the Leopards (Plantagenets) to the Lilies (Valois), or vice versa, as suited their caprices. For example, the Sieur de Pons went over to the side of France because he quarrelled with his wife, who was ardent on the English side. The local nobility helped the routiers, and the routiers assisted them in their private feuds.

"Such are the Gascons: they are very unsteady, but they love the English in preference to the French, for the war against France is the most profitable; and this is the cause of their preference." (24)

The Livre de Vie of Bergerac (21) under the date 5th April 1381, speaks of Bertucat d'Albret as "loyally French". But his loyalty lasted only a moment. Froissart has a characteristic passage on the Gascons that deserves quotation. After giving a list of towns and castles on the Garonne and the Dordogne, he says:

"Some of these being English, and others French, carried on a war against each other; they would have it so, for the Gascons were never, for thirty years running, steadily attached to any one lord. I once heard the Lord d'Albret use an expression that I noted down. A knight from Brittany inquired after his health, and how he managed to remain steady to the French. He answered, 'Thank God my health is good, but I had more money at command, as well as my people, when I made war for the King of England, than I have now; for, whenever we took any excursions in search of adventures, we never failed meeting some rich merchants from Toulouse, Condom, La Réole, or Bergerac, whom we squeezed, which made us gay and debonair, but now all that is at an end."

Postscript : The age of chivalry

According to S. Baring-Gould (16):

"Froissart paints the chivalry of his time in the brightest colours, and only here and there by a few touches lets us see what dark shadows set them off. Who paid for the gay accoutrements of the knights? Who were the real victims of the incessant wars? From whom came the ransom of King John and of the nobles taken at Creçy and Poitiers? From the peasant. The prisoners allowed to return on parole came to their territories to collect the sums demanded for their release, and the peasant had to find them. He had his cattle, his plough and tumbril. They were taken from him; no more corn was left him than enough to sow his field. He knew how he would be exploited, and he hid his precious grain that was to make bread for his wife and children. The seigneur endeavoured to extort from him the secret as to where it was concealed. He exposed the man's bare feet before the fire; he loaded him with chains. But the peasant bore fire and iron rather than reveal the hiding-place."




This is Jules Michelet's account of the seigneur in the first half of the fifteenth century:

"The seigneur only revisited his lands at the head of his soldiery to extort money by violence. He came down on them as a storm of hail. All hid at his approach. Throughout his lands alarm resounded — it was a sauve-qui-peut. The seigneur is no longer a true seigneur; he is a rude captain, a barbarian, hardly even a Christian. Écorcheur is the true name for such, ruining what was already ruined, snatching the shirt off the back of him who had one; if he had but his skin, of that he was flayed. It would be a mistake to suppose that it was only the captains of the écorcheurs—the bastards, the seigneurs without a seigneurie, who showed themselves so ferocious. The grandees, the princes in these hideous wars, had acquired a strange taste for blood. What can one say when one sees Jean de Ligny, of the house of Luxembourg, exercise his nephew, the Count of Saint-Pol, a child of fifteen, in massacring those who fled? They treated their kinsfolk in the same manner as their enemies. For safety — better be a foe than a relation. The Count d'Harcourt kept his father prisoner all his life. The Countess of Foix poisoned her sister; the Sire de Gial his wife. The Duke of Brittany made his brother die of starvation, and that publicly; passers-by heard with a shudder the lamentable voice pleading piteously for a little bread. One evening, the 10th of January, the Count Adolphus of Gueldres dragged his old father out of bed, drew him on foot, unshod, through the snow for five leagues to cast him finally into a moat. It was the same in all the great families of the period—in those of the Low Countries, in those of Bar, Verdun, Armagnac, etc. The English had gone, but France was exterminating herself."


* Coats of arms from Wikipedia (that of Robert Knolles designed by Manassas)


Glossary of terms

Bouc : Bastard son of a noble.

Capitulaire : Legislative, administrative or religious texts.

Cartulaire : A document containing the acts defining the history and title to a religious or secular seigneurie, emanating from the sovereign, and divided into individual paragraphs.

Châtellenie : Territory of a jurisdiction subordinate to a castle.

Chevauchée : Military expedition, offensive ou repressive, having a specific or localised aim; the service of chevauchée due by the vassals or communities to their seigneur was often limited by custom to just one single day.

Comté : The province of a count [or earl].

Courtil : A garden normally within walls. Literally, garden in a courtyard.

Féodalité : Political and social regime based on the fief.

Fief : Property given to a vassal by the Lord in exchange for fidelity and service.

Francien : Dialect of the language of "oui" spoken in the Middle Ages in Île-de-France and around Orléans. Thi language of the court of France became modern day French.

Hommage : A ceremony by which a free man pledged reverence and submission as vassal to his future lord. It consisted of putting his folded hands into those of the man who, in doing so, became his lord. This act would also perhaps be accompanied by a kiss of respect.

Jacquerie : A rural insurrection in Beauvaisis (May-June 1358), caused by the misery which ravaged the countryside at that time. The revolt extended to lower Normandy, Ponthieu and Picardy.

Lige : A preferential form of homage where the vassal has allegiance to a single lord.

Oïl : In the Middle Ages the term signified "oui" in the regions north of the Loire. The "langue d'oïl" was the language in that region and coprosed many dialects including anglo-norman, francien, the dialects of Picardy and of Burgundy.

Paréage (ou pariage) : The division of a jurisdiction and manorial rights between two authorities.

Repaire : The property of a noble person or a fortified house, without manorial rights or rights of justice.

Seigneur : Lord or noble

Seigneurie : The series of rights of the lord.

Sénéchaussée : The jurisdiction of a seneschal (royal officer).

Services : Payment in labour or payment in kind of all sorts, due from the peasants to their lord.

Vassalité : A contract binding a vassal to his lord.

Vicairie, Viguerie : In the Carolingian empire, the administrative seat of an imperial officer. Later came to mean the seat of a manor under the control of a representative of the lord, charged with administering justice in his name.



1. CLARY Abbé Dictionnaire des paroisses du diocèse de Cahors, Cahors, Imp. Tardy, 1986, 301 p., p. 203-204.
2. LACABANE Léon, Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes. 1861, tome 22. pp. 97-122.
3. Baluze, Histor. Tulel., p. 168, 183, 204, 559, 601, 605 et 719. 2.
4. LACROIX, Series et acta episc. Cadurc, p. 71, n° 73. 109
5. SUMPTION Jonathan, Trial by Fire : The Hundred Years War II, Faber and Faber, ISBN 9780571138975
6. JUILLET Jacques, Templiers et Hospitaliers en Quercy : Les Commanderies, Editions du Laquet
7. Notes bibliographiques. In: Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France. Tome 9. N°45, 1923. pp. 551-568
8. Web site : Patrimoine en Midi-Pyrénées
9. DELPON J.-A., Statistique du département du Lot, Paris-Cahors, 1831, t. 1, p. 529-530.
10. FOWLER Kenneth, The Age of Plantagenet and Valois, Exeter Books NY, ISBN 0-89673-046-8
11. FOWLER Kenneth, Medieval Mercenaries : Volume 1 The great Companies, Blackwell Publishers, ISBN 0631158863
12. BOURDIER Robert, Creysse : Notre rivière au fil de l'eau : La Dordogne, mars 2005
13. GUELY Marguerite, Sarrazac, L’Hôpital-Saint-Jean
14. GUELY Marguerite, L'Origine de Martel
15. LACOSTE Guillaume, Histoire générale de la province de Quercy. Tome 2. publ. par les soins de MM. L. Combarieu et F. Cangardel
16. BARING-GOULD Sabine, Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe 1911 - Broché - Illustré (11 janvier 2004)
17. and Lacoste, Histoire de Quercy, Cahors, 1883
18. FROISSART Jean, Chronicles, traduction BRERETON Geoffrey, Penguin, ISBN 9780140442007.
19. FLANDIN-BLETY P., Trahison ou pacification ? À propos d’une rémission de 1389, La «France anglaise » au Moyen-Âge, Actes du 111e congrès national des Sociétés Savantes de France à Poitiers, Paris, 1988.
20. LUCE Siméon, Chroniques de Jean Froissart, La Société de l'histoire de France, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 9781160341066.
21. THOYR Johan, Le livre de vie ; 1379-1382 ; Bergerac, au coeur de la guerre de Cent Ans 1379-1382, Federop, EAN13 : 9782857921417
22. SUMPTION Jonathan, Divided Houses : The Hundred Years War III, Faber and Faber 2009, ISBN 9780571138975
23. SUMPTION Jonathan, Trial by Battle : The Hundred Years War I, Faber and Faber 1990, ISBN 9780571200955
24. Tales of Froissart, edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University, The character of the English and the Gascons :
25. Album Historique de Département du Lot, J.B. Gluck, Paris 1852, reprinted Laffitte Reprints Marseille 1977.
26. BARLOW Frank, Thomas Becket, University of California Press, ISBN-13 : 978-0-520-07175-9
27. Séance du 27 février 1908. In: Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française. 1908, tome 5, N. 2. pp. 65-87.
28. CLOTTES Jean, Le Lot Préhistorique, Bulletin de la Société des Etudes du Lot, 1969





Map of Lot








The causse





















Origins of the Hundred Years War

The hundred Years War in Quercy

Evidence of the past