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Pedro Paulo Gai„o

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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr, 2016 12:43 pm    Post subject: Battle of NŠjera's thread         Reply with quote

Today is NŠjera's anniversary, one of the rare occasions were we can see the clash of different military cultures. I decided to bring some questions and encourage further discussion:

-> How significant was France's support to King Henry II of Castile? I know that Du Guesclin was one of the commanders, but how many French troops supported Henry?

-> How reliable are the illuminations of Froissart about the battle? I mean, slingers are wearing plate armor for their arms and legs. You also notice extensive use of steel plate cuirasses, globose breastplates and a combination of brigandine+plackarts.

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Dan Howard

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PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr, 2016 2:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Du Guesclin's advice was completely ignored. He knew how to fight the English and that meant dismounting and advancing on foot, but the Spanish knights couldn't "demean" themselves in this manner. Chivalry demanded that they remain on horseback.
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Pieter B.

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PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr, 2016 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis and me briefly discussed the battle in this thread:

We didn't discuss numbers but according to Froissart the French could have well numbered 4000

After midnight the trumpets sounded in
king Henry's host. Then every man made
him ready. At the second blast they drew
out of their lodgings and ordered three
battles. The first had sir Bertram of
Guesclin, lord Robert of Roquebertin and
the earl Dune of Aragon ; and there were
all the strangers, as well of France as of
other countries, and there were two barons
of Hainault, the lord d'Antoing and sir
Alard lord of Briffeuil : there was also the
Begue of Villaines, the Begue of Villiers,
sir John of Berguettes, sir Gawain of Bail-
leul, the Alemant of Saint-Venant, who
was there made knight, and divers other of
France, Aragon and Provence and of the
marches thereabout. There was well in
that battle four thousand knights and
squires well armed and dressed after the
usage of France. The second battle had
the earl dontello and his brother the earl
Sancho, and in that battle with the gene-
tours there were fifteen thousand afoot and
a-horseback, and they drew them a little
aback on the left hand of the first, battle.
The third battle and the greatest of all
governed king Henry himself; and in his
company there were a seven thousand
horsemen and threescore thousand afoot,
with the cross-bows : so in all three battles
he was a fourscore and six thousand a-horse-
back and afoot. Then king Henry leapt
on a strong mule after the usage of the
country and rode from battle to battle,
right sweetly praying every man that day
to employ himself to defend and keep their
honour, and so he shewed himself so cheer-
fully that every man was joyful to behold
him. Then he went again to his own
battle, and by that time it was daylight,
and then about the sun -rising he ad-
vanced forth toward Navaret to find his
enemies, in good order of battle ready to

The prince of Wales at the breaking of
the day was ready in the field arranged in
battle, and advanced forward in good order,
for he knew well he should encounter his
enemies. So there were none that went
before the marshals' battles but such
currours as were appointed : so thus the
lords of both hosts knew by the report of
their currours that they should shortly meet.
So they went forward an hosting pace each
toward other, and when the sun was rising
up, it was a great beauty to behold the
battles and the armours shining against the
sun. So thus they went forward till they
approached near together : then the prince
and his company went over a little hill, and
in the descending thereof they perceived
clearly their enemies coming toward them.
And when they were all descended down
this mountain, then every man drew to
their battles and kept them still and so
rested them, and every man dressed and
apparelled himself ready to fight.

Then anon after, the English-
men and Gascons alighted off their horses
and every man drew under their own
banner and standard in array of battle
ready to fight. It was great joy to see and
consider the banners and pennons and the
noble armoury ^ that was there.

Then the battles began a little to
advance, and then the prince of Wales
opened his eyen and regarded toward
heaven, and joined his hands together and
said : ' Very God, Jesu Christ,^ who hath
formed and created me, consent by your
benign grace that I may have this day
victory of mine enemies, as that I do is in
a rightful quarrel, to sustain and to aid this
king chased out of his own heritage, the
which giveth me courage to advance my-
self to re-establish him again into his realm.'

And first the duke of Lancaster and sir
John Chandos' battle assembled with the
battle of sir Bertram of Guesclin and of the
marshal sir Arnold d'Audrehem, who were
a four thousand men of arms. So at the
first brunt there was a sore encounter with
spears and shields, and they were a certain
space or any of them could get within
other. There was many a deed of arms
done and many a man reversed and cast to
the earth, that never after was relieved.
And when these two first battles were thus
assembled, the other battles would not
long tarry behind, but approached and
assembled together quickly. And so the
prince and his battle came on the earl
Sancho's battle, and with the prince was
king don Peter of Castile and sir Martin
de la Carra, who represented the king of
Navarre. And at the first meeting that
the prince met with the earl Sancho's
battle, the earl and his brother fled away
without order or good array, and wist not
why, and a two thousand spears with him.
So this second battle was opened and anon
discomfited, for the captal of Buch and the
lord Clisson and their company came on
them afoot and slew and hurt many of
them. Then the prince's battle with king
don Peter came and joined with the battle
of king Henry, whereas there were three-
score thousand men afoot and a-horseback.

There the battle began to be fierce and
cruel on all parts, for the Spaniards and
Castilians had slings, wherewith they cast
stones in such wise, that therewith they
clave and brake many a bassenet and helm
and hurt many a man and overthrew them
to the earth ; and the archers of England
shot fiercely and hurt [the] Spaniards
grievously and brought them to great mis-
chief. The one part cried, ' Castile for
king Henry ! ' and the other part, ' Saint
George, Guyenne ! ' And the first battle,
as the duke of Lancaster and sir John
Chandos and the two marshals sir Guichard
d'Angle and sir Stephen Cosington, fought
with sir Bertram of Guesclin and with the
other knights of France and of Aragon.
There was done many a deed of arms, so
it was hard for any of them to open other's
battle. Divers of them held their spears
in both their hands, foining and pressing
each at other, and some fought with short
swords and daggers. Thus at the begin-
ning the Frenchmen and they of Aragon
fought valiantly, so that the good knights
of England endured much pain. That day
sir John Chandos was a good knight and
did under his banner many a noble feat of
arms. He adventured himself so far, that
he was closed in among his enemies and so
sore overpressed that he was felled down
to the earth ; and on him there fell a great
and big man of Castile called Martin Fer-
rant, who was greatly renowned of hardi-
ness among the Spaniards, and he did his
intent to have slain sir John Chandos, who
lay under him in great danger. Then sir
John Chandos remembered of a knife that
he had in his bosom and drew it out and
strake this Martin so in the back and in
the sides that he wounded him to death,
as he lay on him. Then sir John Chandos
turned him over and rose quickly on his
feet, and his men were there about him,
who had with much pain broken the press
to come to him, whereas they saw him

(Here Froissart praises most English and French knights to high heaven while saying the Spanish were slightly less good, decided not to include it)

This was a marvellous dangerous battle,
and many a man slain and sore hurt. The
commons of Spain according to the usage
of their country with their slings they did
cast stones with great violence and did
much hurt, the which at the beginning
troubled greatly the Englishmen : but
when their cast was past and that they felt
the sharp arrows hght among them, they
could no longer keep their array. With
king Henry in his battle were many noble
men of arms, as well of Spain as of Lisbon,
of Aragon and of Portugal, who acquitted
them right nobly and gave it not up so
lightly, for valiantly they fought with
spears, javelins, archegayes and swords ;
and on the wing of king Henry's battle
there were certain well mounted, who
always kept the battle in good order, for if
the battle opened or brake array in any
side, then they were ever ready to help to
bring them again into good order. So
these Englishmen and Gascons, or they
had the advantage, they bought it dearly,
and won it by noble chivalry and great
prowess of arms : and for to say truth,
the prince himself was the chief flower of
chivalry of all the world, and had with him
as then right noble and valiant knights
and squires : and a little beside the
prince's battle was the king of Mallorca
and his company, fighting and acquitting
themselves right valiantly, and also there
was the lord Martin de la Carra represent-
ing the king of Navarre, who did right
well his devoir.

The battle that was best fought and
longest held together was the company of
sir Bertram of Guesclin, for there were
many noble men of arms who fought and
held together to their powers, and there
was done many a noble feat of arms.
And on the English part specially there
was sir John Chandos, who that day did
like a noble knight and governed and
counselled that day the duke of Lancaster
in like manner as he did before the prince
at the battle of Poitiers, wherein he was
greatly renowned and praised, the which
was good reason ; for a valiant man and a
good knight, acquitting himself nobly among
lords and princes, ought greatly to be re-
commended : for that day he took no heed
for taking of any prisoner with his own
hands, but always fought and went forward ;
but there was taken by his company under
his banner divers good knights and squires
of Aragon and of France, and specially sir
Bertram of Guesclin, sir Arnold d'Audre-
hem, sir Begue of Villaines and more
than threescore prisoners. So thus finally
the battle of sir Bertram of Guesclin was
discomfited, and all that were therein taken
and slain, as well they of France as of
Aragon. There was slain the Begue of
Villiers, and taken the lord Antoing of
Hainault, the lord Briff'euil, sir Gawain of
Bailleul, sir John of Berguettes, sir Ale-
mant of Saint -Venant and divers other.
Then drew together these banners, the
banner of the duke of Lancaster, of sir
John Chandos and of the two marshals,
and the pennon of Saint George, and went
all together on the battle of king Henry
and cried with a high voice, * St. George,
Guyenne ! ' Then the Spaniards and their
company were sore put aback. The captal
of Buch and the lord Clisson fought vali-
antly, and also sir Eustace d'Aubrecicourt,
sir Hugh Calverley, sir soudic, sir John
Devereux and other acquitted themselves
that day right nobly. The prince shewed
himself like a noble knight and fought
valiantly with his enemies. On the other
side king Henry acquitted himself right
valiantly, and recovered and turned again
his people that day three times. For after
that the earl don Tello and a three thou-
sand horsemen with him were departed
from the field, the other began then greatly
to be discomfited and were ever ready to
fly after their company ; but then ever
king Henry was before them and said,
'Fair lords, what do you? Wherefore will

ye thus forsake and betray me? Sith ye
have made me king and set the crown on
my head and put the heritage of Castile
into my hands, return and help to keep
and defend me, and abide with me ; for by
the grace of God, or it be night, all shall
be ours ' : so that these words or such-like
encouraged his people in such wise, that it
made them to abide longer in the field, for
they durst not fly for shame when they saw
their king and their lord so valiantly fight
and speak so amiably : so that there died
more than a thousand and five hundred
persons, that might well have saved them-
selves and have taken the time to their
advantage, an the love that they had to
their lord and king had not been.

When the battle of the marshals were
passed through their enemies and had dis-
comfited the greatest number of them,^ so
that the Spaniards could not sustain nor
defend them any longer, but began to fly
away in great fear without any good array
or order toward the city of Nazres, and so
passed by the great river,^ so that for any
words that king Henry could say they
would not return, and when the king saw
the mischief and discomfiture of his people
and that he saw no recovery, then he
called for his horse and mounted thereon
and put himself among them that fled ; bm
he took not the way to Nazres, for fe
of enclosing, but then took another
eschewing all perils, for he knew well tba'
if he were taken, he should die without
mercy. Then the Englishmen and GaS'
cons leapt a-horseback and began to ch
the Spaniards, who fled away sore discom
fited to the great river. And at the entr
of the bridge of Nazres there was a hideous
shedding of blood, and many a man slain
and drowned ; for divers leapt into the
water, the which was deep and hideous ;
they thought they had as lief to be drowned
as slain. And in this chase among other
there were two valiant knights of Spain
bearing on them the habit of religion, the

one called the great prior of Saint James
and the other the great master of Cala-
trava ; they and their company to save
themselves entered into Nazres, and they
were so near chased at their back by Eng-
lishmen and Gascons, that they ^ won the
bridge, so that there was a great slaughter ;
and the Englishmen entered into the city
after their enemies, who were entered into
a strong house of stone. Howbeit, incon-
tinent it was won by force, and the knights
taken and many of their men slain and all
the city overrun and pilled, the which was
greatly to the Englishmen's profit.
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Luka Borscak

Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr, 2016 5:54 am    Post subject: Re: Battle of NŠjera's thread         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gai„o wrote:
Today is NŠjera's anniversary, one of the rare occasions were we can see the clash of different military cultures. I decided to bring some questions and encourage further discussion:

-> How significant was France's support to King Henry II of Castile? I know that Du Guesclin was one of the commanders, but how many French troops supported Henry?

-> How reliable are the illuminations of Froissart about the battle? I mean, slingers are wearing plate armor for their arms and legs. You also notice extensive use of steel plate cuirasses, globose breastplates and a combination of brigandine+plackarts.

This illustration is not at all appropriate for the period of Najera. The style of it is later half of the 15th century.
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Iagoba Ferreira

Joined: 15 Sep 2008

Posts: 147

PostPosted: Wed 13 Apr, 2016 1:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Myself I'm more interested in a previous skirmish on a hill west of Vitoria, where the Spanish, French and English would fight again in 1813...walking there, knowing what happened centuries ago is quite special Wink

Trace their deeds in France, which they twice subdued; and even follow them to Spain, where they twanged the yew and raised the battle-axe, and left behind them a name of glory at Inglis Mendi [Englishmen Hill], a name that shall last till fire consumes the Cantabrian hills.

The Bible in Spain, by George Borrow

Chandos Herald has a nice account of that fight...

2681 Now may God aid the right! The Prince was encamped in front of Vittoria; and round about there was no hovel nor house not wholly full of his men. But the Prince the next day was not aware of the expedition that Don Tello was preparing; for know that without sleeping he rose at midnight, rode the broadest road straight up the mountain, until he brought his company right down a valley. First he met Hugh of Calverley, who was breaking up, and coming towards the Prince. The currours wrought great damage to his sumpter beasts and waggons, whereat noise and shouting arose, and the currours ran up and down through the camp: many were killed in their beds. There the vanguard would have been sorely surprised had it not been for the noble Duke of Lancaster, full of valour; for as soon as he heard the shouting he sallied forth from his lodging and took his station on the mountain. There his company rallied, and all the others as best they could, and it is said that the Spaniards thought to take this mountain; but round the Duke and his banner all the banners of the army gladly gathered. Thither the Prince and Chandos came, and there the army was drawn up; there you might see the currours repulsed with force. Each one strove to acquit himself well.

2725 Then the main body of the Spaniards rode up and met Felton and Sir Richard Taunton, Degori Says (?), Ralph de Hastings, who cared not two cherries for death, and Sir Gaillard Beguer, and many a good and valiant knight: they were a good one hundred fighting-men together, great and small. Their company rallied on a little mountain, but Sir William, the valiant, very boldly and bravely charged the enemy like a man devoid of sense and discretion, on horseback, lance couched. Striking a Spaniard upon his flower-emblazoned shield, he made him feel through the heart his sharp blade of steel. Down to the ground he hurled him in the sight of all the people. Like a man full of great hardihood he rushed upon them, with drawn sword, and the Castilians by their might followed him on all sides, and threw spears and darts at him. They slew his horse under him, but Sir William Felton defended himself stoutly on foot, like a lion-hearted man; albeit his defence availed him little, for he was slain. God have mercy on him.

2769 And the others joined together on a mountain which they took; there the Spaniards made many an onslaught on them, fiercely attacking them without cessation, and hurling at them spears and darts and strong, sharp archegays. And they, who were very courageous, gave proof of their prowess like men of valour, for more than a hundred times that day they descended without ceasing, their sharp lances in their hands, and by force made them give way. Nor would the Castilians have been able to harm them, by casting lance or dart, had it not been for the French and Bretons, the Normans, Picards, and Burgundians, who came up a valley with Marshal díAudrehem and Sir Jehan de Neufville. Those were together a thousand. As soon as they saw them, they all immediately dismounted. 159 The English and Gascons saw well that they cold not long withstand there, for they had no support, and the French on foot ran at full speed to attack them; and the others without slackening defended themselves fiercely, but they were not one hundred against more than six thousand. And these knights approved themselves well, and there did such feats of arms that never were Oliver nor Roland able to do more, as I have heard related. But their defence availed but little, for by force they had to yield themselves prisoners. There were taken: Hastings and Degori Says (?), Gaillard Beguer, a perfect knight, the three brothers Felton, and with them Richard Taunton, Mitton, and many others, whose names I have not mentioned: whereat the Prince was sore grieved, but he thought certainly that the whole army had come down through the pass and on that account he would not break up his army; for he would have gone to succour his men, had it not been for this, for that he was bound to do: but it was not so done. And they who had carried out their emprise, as soon as it was told them that the Prince was near there, departed at their speediest and turned back. They take the prisoners with them, treating them very harshly.

Of course, you can find there a good account about NŠjera.
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