Bertrand du Guesclin *1320 – 1380

Bertrand du Guesclin was one of the most famous knights in medieval history

Bertrand du Guesclin Statue in Dinan France

Bertrand du Guesclin

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 du Guesclin being knighted

Bertrand du Guesclin being knighted by French King

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.

Royal Box Tournament

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.

Bertrand du Guesclin *Mystery Medieval Knight

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.

Jousting Knights

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.

Fearless Medieval Knight

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.

 Dinan France

 Dinan France

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 – Medieval Knight Honoured by the French

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.

Bertrand Du Guesclin Medieval Knight

People line up to pay their last respects to Bertrand Du Guesclin

Bertrand du Guesclin Fast Facts

  • Bertrand du Guesclin was one of the most famous Knights in Europe and France
  • He was a tactical genius who seriously weakened the English army during the hundred years war
  • Bertrand du Guesclin  was born in Dinan a small town in Brittany France in around 1320
  • He was small in stature and was considered ugly and did not come from a wealthy family
  • Bertrand du Guesclin was made Constable France in 1370 the highest honour that can be given in France

Bertrand du Guesclin Statue in Dinan France

  • Bertrand secretly entered a jousting tournament at the age of 17 and defeated 15 Knights
  • He defeated Thomas of Canterbury in a fierce dual
  • Bertrand was knighted in 1354
  • Bertrand was one of the most successful French generals over a 23 year period

Bertrand du Guesclin being knighted

  • Bertrand  died on a military expedition of an unknown illness
  • Bertrand du Guesclin was buried amongst French Kings in Saint-Denis Paris
  • Bertrand du Guesclin was an outstanding soldier and leader of men