Battle of Montlhéry
King for four years, Louis XI has reversed his alliance with the duke of Burgundy which had supported it against his/her father. However the large feudal ones did not give up increasing their independence, and form the Ligue of the Public property. These large feudal is the duke of Burgundy Philippe the Good, of which the army is ordered by his/her son the count de Charolais, future Charles Bold the, the duke Jean II of Bourbon, the duke François II of Brittany. Their goal is not to gain a war, but to gather a sufficiently powerful army to impress the king, and to obtain concessions. As for the king, he does not seek either, at the beginning, a battle, which he considers too risky: he wants to move with an imposing army so him also to separately impress his adversaries, and which they give up their projects.
Countryside preceding the battle
Louis XI profits from the support of Gaston de Foix, from the big cities and whole provinces like the Languedoc, the Normandy, the Champagne and the Dauphiné. He gathers his army very quickly, reinforces the border with Picardy (close to the Burgundian possessions) under the command of Joachim Rouault, and sends to his uncle the count of Maine with twelve thousand men against the duke of Brittany. He takes the remainder of the army and walk as of April against the Bourbonnais. He takes Moulins and signs peace with the duke of Bourbon, the count of Armagnac and the lord of Albret.
The Burgundian ones enter to shift only on May 29th, Champagne, then cross in June the Vermandois and arrive at Saint-Denis on July 5th, where the appointment had been fixed with the others entreated. But, remainder only with go, the Burgundian ones pass to the offensive on July 8th and attack Paris which resists courageously.
The Breton army going up the Loire only starting from June 20th, without the 12 000 men of the count of Maine do not oppose its walk. July 13rd it is to 50 km of Beaugency where it is able to attack the king by the side and to join the Burgundian troops, to form a whole of almost 35 000 men.
Learning the attack on Paris and the entry in shift from the duke from Brittany simultaneously, Louis XI understands that it is likely to lose Paris or to be taken out of vice, and accelerates his walk towards North, leaving his infantry and his artillery on the way. July 12th, the count de Charolais sails round Paris by taking the bridge of Saint-Cloud.
July 13rd, two royal armies (one with Chartres ordered by the count of Maine, the other in Orleans directed by Louis XI) convergent towards Châteaudun, Louis XI having decided to attack the duke of Brittany, whose army is weaker.
To avoid the destruction of Breton, the count de Charolais advances on Arpajon, while the dukes of Brittany and Berry go up towards North. Understanding that the Breton army is likely to join the Burgundian ones, Louis XI fact half-turn and follows a road parallel with that of Breton, but faster (along the Loire and road from Orleans to Paris), while asking the count of Maine to join it in Étampes.
July 15th, Charles de Charolais continues to advance prudently towards the south, while ordering with his lieutenants to avoid the combat. In the night of the 14 to the 15, the count of Maine joined Louis XI with Étampes (25 km of Montlhéry), and the day of the 15 is devoted to the preparations of the battle. Louis XI follows 9 masses out of shirt, knees out of ground; he also asks the Rouault marshal, in Paris (with less than 24 km of Montlhéry), to make an exit the following day, on the backs of Burgundian, preparing a true battle of destruction.
At the dawn of July 14th after a forced march which leaves its infantry behind and the essence of its artillery, Louis XI and its men reach Étampes. The king deposits there in the strong castle his jewels and treasures, it has then by joining together its cavalry with the army of the count of Maine approximately 15 000 professional and tested soldiers ( lances of ordinance ), primarily of the cavalry.
The army of the count de Charolais account 20 000 men, of which 14 000 combatants approximately. It has moreover many solid carriages, which can prove to be useful at the time of the battle like many artillery and fulcrum.
Course of the battle
Observation during the morning
The French are determined with the battle, contrary to the Burgundian ones. The count of Saint-pol., ordering the Burgundian avant-garde, has order to move back if the royal army is presented. But, when that occurs, he refuses to obey the mails of the count de Charolais, estimating that would go against its honor. The count de Charolais finds himself in the obligation to advance the remainder of the army to support it.
The artillery of Saint-pol. (35 parts) is placed in first line, with immediately behind it the archers (including 500 English archers), each one having a sharp-edged pile planted in front of him, protecting it from a load of cavalry. Men-at-arms, which decide to fight with foot and leave their horses with the carriages, laid out in circle with the back of the army, are placed five meters behind them; between the cartage and the men-at-arms, Cranequinier S (principal rafters with horse) and Coutilier S (with foot). The carriages are kept by the non-combatant personnel, and the pages.
The Burgundian left wing is under the command of the count of Saint-pol., and counts approximately 8000 men; the rear-guard of Bastard of Burgundy places Saint-pol. on the left; the battle ( body ) principal, under the personal command of the count de Charolais, reinforces Saint-pol.
As regards royal army, the avant-garde ordered by Brézé, forms the right wing during the battle. It is especially made up of cavalry, lances of ordinance (thus soldiers professional and tested) and the round of applause of Normandy. It is placed vis-a-vis the avant-garde of Saint-pol., and is sheltered behind a deep ditch and a thick hedge. In the center, that Louis XI orders itself, is the Scottish Garde and the knighthood of the Dauphine one. Archers are detached to occupy the village, behind. On the left and very behind, the rear-guard of the count of Maine is.
The morning occurs in the movements leading to this provision of the troops Burgundian side, and in waiting French side, under heat. The Burgundian, many and effective artillery, makes some damage in the French lines. The weak part of the royal Artillerie which could follow the race of the cavalry, placed in height, does not manage to adjust its shooting, and its balls pass above the Burgundian ones. Some knights leave the rows and clash in duel between the two armies, thus seeking a manner of being distinguished.
At the end of the morning, part of the Burgundian rear-guard attacks and dislodges, after a hard combat, the French archers of the village of Montlhéry. After this success, it takes again its initial place.
The load of Pierre de Brézé
At 2 p.m. Louis XI decides to attack, and moves to give its last orders to its captains. Brézé, whose right wing is reinforced with some squadrons, must give the first attack; Louis XI will charge then the center with the Burgundian army, the count of Maine having to attack only in the last.
At the same time, the count of Saint-pol. goes down from his positions, vis-a-vis Brézé. This one waits until Saint-pol. advances to 700 m, then gives the sign of the attack; but its cavalry circumvents the long hedge on the two sides, which lets accept an escape. The count of Saint-pol. sends messengers to the count de Charolais, announcing his victory; as for its riders, dismounted, not wanting to lose an occasion of spoils or to make prisoners whom they could then subject to ransom, they turn over to the carriages to take their horses, sowing the disorder in the third Burgundian line.
The load of Brézé is launched at this time. Confronted with a crowd in disorder, it opens a broad breach in the army of the count of Saint-pol., which splits up in various groups, the ones moving back, the others reducing. With the first shock, the Burgundian rows are broken and the royal ones can penetrate in the middle of the opposing army. The seneshal of Normandy, Pierre de Brézé finds death with the combat. It is the stampede, the count of Saint-pol. giving the example of the escape. French cavalry, without chief, massacre all that it finds, knights, archers, soldiers, and even the pages which kept the carriages. It is then put to plunder the Burgundian convoy.
The advantage with the French and the treason of the count of Maine
When Louis XI sees the load of his cavalry succeeding, it is the middle of the afternoon. He hopes that the reinforcements from Paris any more will not delay, and gives the order to attack. Success is less Net, nevertheless its infantrymen have the advantage on the Burgundian ones. The exact circumstances of the following episode vary according to the authors. According to Payen and Kendall, Louis XI then asks his uncle to attack on the left. The count of Maine makes sound the load, the knights lowers their lances and ruent himself on the body of the count de Charolais, but suddenly makes half-turn with his troop, before even the first contact, and flees. According to Rimboud, it is Charles the Bold one who, on the message of the count of Saint-pol., street with the load in order to be completed its victory, at the moment when Maine launches its load. The result is the same one: in one moment a third of the royal forces leaves the battle field, without to have fought. An important part of the Burgundian forces leaves the battle field with the count de Charolais with the continuation of Maine.
The king of France sees in one moment his bright victory being transformed into a wild and dubious combat. No district is made, even the promises of ransom are refused. The artilleries of the two camps are brought in the middle of the battle field, to make there more damage. The Bastard one of Burgundy falls with its body on the center from the battle, where the king of France east already in difficulty. Louis XI falls even of horse to most extremely of the battle, a beginning of panic occurs in the French rows. The Scottish guard protects and raises the king, to whom one provides a new mounting and which can circulate in its rows to rejoin its troops which started to float. On the Burgundian left wing, the servants return on the battle field and fall on the French charged with spoils, which they attack with blow of mass S.
Louis XI leaves the fray, rameute then on his backs the runaways, and turns over in the middle of the combat. Finally, the Burgundian ones yield. The king is obliged to retain his troops: the continuation is impossible, its forces are reduced too much, moreover it does not know how much its adversaries are still on the battle field, nor if the runaways are likely to return. It gathers its forces and is withdrawn on the heights of Montlhéry, and sends a party of cavalry towards the south, in the direction taken by the count of Maine.
The count de Charolais had, on the many times repeated councils of his captains, ends up giving up the useless continuation of the count of Maine, with a few tens of riders around him only. Depity to see that it did not gain the victory, it moreover is obliged to fight the riders than Louis XI sent to his meeting. A blow of sword wounds it with the throat, the French do not succeed in capturing it. It joined the remains of its army, and traverses until fallen the night the battle field to rejoin its troops.
At the night Louis orders that one lights fires in the village, along the peak, those letting accept Burgundian which will still have to be fought the following day. But the king of France and his men take the road of Corbeil, walking towards the capital: the Breton army could be presented the following day, which it did not do.
Assessment and continuations
The two camps can be said victorious:
- the king of France inflicted strong losses with its adversary, the more so as the army which it has in Paris ends up leaving the following day and continues the Burgundian runaways and of keep silent or made captive a great number;
- the count de Charolais remains Master of the battle field, but cannot prevent the king of France from joining Paris.
However, the positions for the continuation of the war completely changed:
- Louis XI, even having the best is armed, very weakened: it is not obeyed that if it is directly present (a third of its army leaves the battle field without fighting, another located at less than twenty-five km does not obey to him);
- moreover, the Burgundian ones, even weakened, can meet in Breton, and is later joined by the duke of Lorraine, Jean of Calabria, Armagnac, Albret, and puts the seat in front of Paris, that Louis XI can nevertheless make raise without too many difficulties.
With the autumn, it negotiates, and manages to make dissolve the league. The following years, it takes again what it gave, and cuts down several of its adversaries.
Stake in the evolution in the way of carrying out battles
For Payen, the battle marks a stage in the art of the war. The armies from now on are placed on line, with a center of infantry reinforced with artillery, which attacks or defends, and especially which holds, and two operating wings.
However, it is only one first stage: if an overall plan is traced, the various army corps ( battles ) are delivered to themselves, and even if an exchange of artillery precedes the battle, the tactics consists primarily of a rush, overcome on both sides being, in theory, that which moves back the first. Even if the plan of Louis XI is well conceived, it depends primarily in his execution on obedience on large on the kingdom, and officers who, at the crucial moment, either flee, or decide not to obey. The primitive system distributing the army into three battles or body avant-garde, battles and rear-guard remains, but it does not allow single command: each body remains independent (see the escape of Maine, the not-obedience of Saint-pol.). The principal factors of the battle are mentalities of the time, still influenced chivalrous ideal (one dreams of prowesses, thus Saint-pol. who refuses to move back the morning for reason for honor, but flees with the first shock the afternoon), of the indiscipline and the individualism of the combatants: one thinks initially of the spoils, therefore one gives up the combat to make spoils, one flees the combat to preserve it. The battle is not led at all, the count de Charolais having had the possibility of folding back itself on the French backs, which it does not do.
The battle is quickly asserted like a symbol:
- by the Burgundian ones as a bright victory (whereas the Bold one does not remain Master of the battle field without in being responsible);
- by Louis XI, who although having thoroughly prepared the battle in the last days of the countryside, rejects then the responsibility for the battle on the Burgundian one, and always affirms to have wanted to avoid the confrontation (what is true at the beginning of July, and for the continuation of his reign).
Other combatants of the battle of Montlhéry
the lord de Coligny at the sides of the king de France
- Jacques de Sassenage, baron of the Dauphine , was chamberlain and first rider of Louis XI. It orders the back Ban the Dauphine one in the avant-garde (350 lances and 600 archers with horse)
- bastard of Armagnac, Marshal of France on the French side (in the center of the battle)
- Robin Malortie, with the head of from the Dauphine
- Girault de Samien, chief of royal artillery
- Olivier of Walk (1425-1502), author of Mémoires . He is adoubé knight the morning of the battle.
League of the Public property
Bibliography on the subject
Strong Philippe, Christian Delabos and Patrice Courcelle. the battle of Montlhéry - July 16th, 1465 . Paris: Historic' one, 2003. 95 pages. ISBN: 2912994128
Sources of the article
Paul Murray Kendall. Louis XI, the battle of Monthléry , extracted from Louis XI . Paris: Beech. Available on line. Consulted version: 3/27/2002, on December 17th, 2006
- Payen. the battle of Monthléry - July 16th, 1465 . Town of Montlhéry: March 27th, 2002. Available on line. Consulted on December 17th, 2006.
- Michel Rimboud. the battle of Montlhéry - 1465 . Books of CEHD. On line, consulted on December 17th, 2006. 17 p
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