Bertrand du Guesclin was one of the most famous knights in medieval history
Bertrand du Guesclin is not commonly known in England but was one of the most famous medieval knights that France has ever produced. Bertrand du Guesclin is also known as “The Eagle of Brittany” or “The Black Dog of Brocéliande”
Bertrand du Guesclin was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth and historians describe that he was ridiculed because of the way he looked, described as being a short, ugly man born into a poor family. However, this start to his life did not stop Bertrand du Guesclin from becoming a brilliant knight in the future.
Bertrand was born around 1320 in a small town in France called Dinan which is near Brittany. When he heard that there was a medieval tournament taking place in the nearby town of Rennes when he was just 17 years of age he set off on a carthorse to see the event.
Tales that Bertrand was mocked by other young Knights at the event because of his appearance and not being part of the nobility social class and that he was not allowed to take part in the tournament are thought to be true.
Despite his appearance Bertrand du Guesclin was a spirited and determined young man and nothing was going to stop him from entering the jousting competition that day, he managed to find a horse that he could use and a helmet to cover his face and disguise his identity.
Legend has it that he won every jousting competition that he was challenged to that day defeating no less than 15 well-trained and armed knights, everybody wanted to know who this brilliant knight was, finally someone lifted the visor of his helmet to reveal his identity. The shocked crowd cheered as Bertrand du Guesclin’s face was revealed as his amazed family looked on.
Bertrand du Guesclin soon became a famous knight and was known as a fearless fighter and a legend in France, he used what was described as hit-and-run tactics during the hundred years war with England, this was a very effective tactic that he used and was successful at weakening the English armies position. He became a great leader of men over a period of 23 years and was one of the best military men and generals of his era, in 1354 Bertrand du Guesclin was knighted.
In 1357 Bertrand du Guesclin was involved in a famous duel with the English lieutenant Henry of Lancaster who had attacked his hometown, Dinan, in France, in this attack Thomas of Canterbury took Bertrand du Guesclin’s brother Olivier captive.
Bertrand was filled with rage and challenged Thomas of Canterbury to a dual. Both Knights were mounted on horses and charged each other with lances raised, they then fought a long battle with swords until Thomas finally lost his sword in the heat of the battle.
Bertrand du Guesclin dismounted from his horse and kicked the weapon away from his reach, then Thomson of Canterbury tried to crush Bertrand under his horse but Bertrand du Guesclin used his sword to kill the horse and Thomas was thrown to the ground.
Bertrand then pulled off his helmet and punched him in the face with an iron fist which ended the dual and he was victorious.
Bertrand du Guesclin was given the highest office in France and was made a Constable of France in 1370. He died in 1380 and was buried amongst the kings of France at the abbey of St Denis in Paris which shows how highly he was regarded.