Tag Archives: Personalities

8th May 1429 – The end of the Siege of Orleans

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15th-century depiction of Joan of Arc leading an assault on an English fort at the siege of Orléans

7th May is the 585th anniversary of an important but bad day for England.    This was the day that the French recaptured the Tourelles fortification which controlled the South bank of the river Liore  and riverine access to the town.

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Joan had been wounded in the foot in the assault on the Augustins, and taken back to Orléans overnight to recover, and as a result did not participate in the evening war council. The next morning, May 7, she was asked to sit out the final assault on the Boulevart-Tourelles, but she refused and roused to join the French camp on the south bank, much to the joy of the people of Orléans.[29] The citizens raised more levies on her behalf and set about repairing the bridge with beams to enable a two-sided attack on the complex. Artillery was positioned on the island of Saint-Antoine.

The day was spent in a largely fruitless bombardment and attempts to undermine the foundations of the complex, by mining and burning barges. As evening was approaching, John of Dunois had decided to leave the final assault for the next day. Informed of the decision, Joan called for her horse and rode off for a period of quiet prayer, then returned to the camp, grabbed a ladder and launched the frontal assault on the Boulevart herself, reportedly calling out to her troops “Tout est vostre – et y entrez!” (“All is yours, – go in!”).[30] The French soldiery rushed in after her, swarming up the ladders into the Boulevart. Joan was struck down early in the assault by a crossbow quarrel (others report a bodkin arrow) in the shoulder and was hurriedly taken away. Rumors of her death bolstered the English defenders and faltered French morale. But, according to reports, she pulled the bolt out herself and, despite her injury, soon re-appeared in the French lines, giving the assaulters renewed inspiration. (In his rehabilitation trial testimony, Jean Pasquerel, Joan’s confessor, stated that Joan herself had some type of premonition or foreknowledge of this event, stating the day before the attack that “tomorrow blood will flow from my body above my breast.”

View_of_Orléans_1428_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19488 Jeanne_d'Arc_-_Panthéon_IIThe French carried the day and forced the English out of the Boulevart and back into the last redoubt of the Tourelles. But the drawbridge connecting them gave way, and Glasdale himself fell into the river and perished.[32] The French pressed on to storm the Tourelles itself, from both sides (the bridge now repaired). The Tourelles, half-burning, was finally taken in the evening.
English losses were heavy. Counting other actions on the day (notably the interception of reinforcements rushed to the defense), the English had suffered nearly a thousand killed, and 600 prisoners. 200 French prisoners were found in the complex and released.

With Boulevart-Tourelles taken, the English had lost the south bank of the Loire. There was little point of continuing the siege, as Orléans could now be easily re-supplied indefinitely.
On the morning of May 8, the English troops on the north bank, under the command of William de la Pole (Earl of Suffolk) and Lord John Talbot, demolished their outworks and assembled in battle array in the field near St. Laurent. The French army under Dunois lined up before them. They stood facing each other immobile for about an hour, before the English withdrew from the field and marched off to join other English units in Meung, Beaugency and Jargeau. Some of the French commanders urged an attack to destroy the English army then and there. Joan of Arc reportedly forbade it, on account of it being Sunday.

1 May 1464 – the Royal wedding which re-ignited the wars of the Roses

1st May 1464 is regarded as the date of the wedding of Edward IVth the Yorkist claimant and defacto King  to Elizabeth Woodville,  the widow of   Sir John Grey of Groby; who  died at the Second Battle of St Albans, leaving Elizabeth a widowed mother of two sons.

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Elizabeth Woodville: “the most beautiful woman in the Island of Britain” with “heavy-lidded eyes like those of a dragon”

Edward’s marriage to this impoverished commoner was one of the reasons for the rift between Edward and his cousin  Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick, “The King maker.”  By marrying Elizabeth, Edward  had derailed Warwick’s plans to marry Edward  to a French princess and undermined Warwick’s position as Edward’s principle adviser.   The consequences of the rift would be the resumption of the Wars from the rebellions fermented by Warwick in the late 1460s and Warwick’s eventual ill fated alliance with Margaret of Anjou and adoption of the Lancastian cause.

It has been suggested that the reason that the young Edward agreed to marry Elizabeth was because he had been influenced by Elizabeth’s beauty and her insistence on marriage as a price for her remaining virtue. Or maybe, as suggested by popular fiction she had used some occult charms  on Edward.

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King Edward IV

However, the idea that Edward was head over heels in love with Elizabeth deems at odds with his  subsequent  behaviour throughout their marriage,  Edward was also an astute politician.  His marriage to Elizabeth, from a large, fecund and impoverished  family  was not without its advantages,  It gave Edward a clan of followers entirely reliant on him.  It may have been a  mere co-incidence that Elizabeth’s dowry included the services of talended in laws such as Earl Rivers was a very fine soldier, or perhaps an eye for an opportunity.   Marrying the widow of a Lanacastrian was a gesture of reconciliation to others who took up arms for Henry VI.  It is around this time that Edward had tried to effect a reconciliation with Somerset.

The winner of this war was Elizabeth Woodville, whose descendants still occupy the British throne.

Possible site of the hermitage at Grafton
Possible site of the hermitage at Grafton

Although there was a state wedding in 1465 the secret wedding is alledged toi have taken place at the Hermitage in the village of Grafton.   There has  some archaeological work to find the site of the hermitage, reported here

There is also a traditional site of where Edward met Elizabeth under an oak street and offered to marry her,  a historic site of a clash in the battle of the sexes.

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The Woodville Oak” was where, according to local tradition Edward first met Elizabeth. The original oak died in the 1990s . This is a replacement planted by Prince Charles.