lundi 28 octobre 2013

The war of Bien public : one of the latest war ruled by the feudal rights

14th of May, 1465. The population of Nesle agreed to submit to the Burgundian forces and to open the doors of the city. Thanks to this submission, the population was spared from violence : not a plunder, not a robbery, not a fire and not a rape was commited by the Burgundian. But seven years later, when the same city was taken by the Burgundian during a different conflict, there was not any remain of Nesle after the resolve of Charles the Bold to burn out the city and to kill every body. How can we explain such a difference ?

In 1465, the war that was taking place was a feudal conflict, ruled by a series of complicated laws and precepts aimed for protecting unarmed population. In that kind of war, involving an alliance of lords against the king of France, soldiers were not allowed to act with the populations as they wished. Nevertheless, there were still some cases of murdering, plunders and rapes but very fewer than during an "open war".
Indeed, during the spring of 1465, Charles the Bold, count of Charolais, took part in an alliance directed against Louis XI, king of France. This alliance was made in order to protect the common right, that's why it took the name of Ligue de Bien public. Several vassals had indeed thought that the common right of French people was threatened by the oppressive policy of Louis XI. But in fact, Charles the Bold, for example, was more interested in getting back the cities of the river Somme that Louis XI had bought to his father Philip the Good some years before.

The league won quickly a series of victories which led the lords in front of Paris, soon besieged. But Charles the Bold, threatened by the rebellion of Liège, was forced to walk away from Paris and to move to the little village of Longjumeau, near the castle of Montlhery where Louis XI had decided to face him in an final fight.
The 16th of July 1465, the battle of Montlhery concluded with a non score draw in which confusion was very important. Indeed, the battle of Montlhery consisted in a huge messy scrimmage that didn't give any winner although Louis XI was the first to withdraw from the battlefield.
During that battle, violence was promnent. Charles the Bold himself was not far from being killed by the French soldiers and kept from this battle a big scar on his neck. Pierre of Brézé, sénéchal of Normandy wasn't that lucky and was killed during a charge of cavalry. An archer named Savarot was even in a so badly shape that burgundian thought he was dead and began to bury him when he claimed for water for the bigest surprise of the soldiers. Nevertheless, Charles the Bold considered himself as the only winner of Montlhery because he stayed on the battlefield and walked again on Paris.

Though he never succeedeed in taking the capital, the siege of Paris was the opportunity for many burgundians to plunder a lots of cities nearby. Jean Maupoint, a cleric from the priory of Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Couture, felt sorry about the plunders, the robberies and all the abuses committed by the burgundian in the towns and even in the churchs of Ivry, Vitry, Créteil etc... despite the orders of the count of Charolais not to take any thing belonging to the clergy. It reminds us that military authorities weren't always able to control every soldier and that these soldiers were often forced to "live on the country" they were by plundering, and robbering population, as soon as the payment of their wage was delayed.

The 5th of october 1465, the peace of Conflans was concluded between Louis XI and Charles the Bold who didn't manage to take Paris but won eventually the war of Bien public. To show everybody that the war was over, the count of Charolais even decided to hang a Burgundian who had killed a French soldier in Paris after the conclusion of the peace. Nobody was allowed to derogate from the count authority.

The battle of Montlhery (Mémoires de Philippe de Commynes) 

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