Jean Boucicaut also known as ‘Jean II Le Maingre’ was one of the most skilled and renowned French knights in the late medieval period.
Throughout a greater part of his life, he was actively involved in undertaking extensive journeys spanning over years and taking a direct part in battlefield combat. For this reason, he lived to participate in many immensely important and historically significant battles of his day.
Due to his chivalry, military skill, and loyalty, he was granted the title and position of Marshal of France by Charles VI in 1391. He became one of the most renowned knights of the late medieval period and was noted for his characteristic chivalry at a time when the knightly mores were eroding in Europe.
Boucicaut became attached to the knightly culture at a very young age. He participated in the Normandy campaign of Louis II as a young page. Louis later knighted him at the Battle of Roosebeke when was only 16. Having knighthood and first-hand combat experience at such a young age, Jean Boucicaut then went on to forge a long knightly career.
Boucicaut undertook several long journeys early in his life. Aged 17 in 1383, he began a journey that took him to Lithuania where the Teutonic Order was waging a crusade against the pagans.
He then reached Spain where he participated in the Reconquista battles against the Moors. Boucicaut then turned homeward and reached France only to return to Spain again in order to fight alongside the duke of Bourbon in the Hundred Years’ War between English and French.
For the next two years, Boucicaut once again set out on a journey, travelling through Balkans, the Near East, and the Holy Land this time. A low point in his career came in 1396 when he was captured by the Ottomans following the Battle of Nicopolis. However, unlike most other prisoners of the battle, he was ransomed and wasn’t executed by the Sultan.
Boucicaut embodied most of the traits of chivalry that were typically associated with medieval knights. He composed a set of poems defending the chivalrous ideal of the knight. In 1390, he participated in a tournament where he bested some of the best English knights of the time. In 1399, he founded a knightly order which was meant to be based on the ideal of knightly love.
Due to his knightly chivalry, his military experience, and his loyalty to the crown, Charles VI honored Boucicaut at the French court. He named Boucicaut the Marshal of France in 1391. Later, Boucicaut was granted the governorship of Genoa in 1401. He remained at Genoa until 1409, striving against a Genoese population increasingly hostile to the French, finally losing the French control over the region in 1409.
Upon returning to France he was active on the battlefield and was a part of the Battle of Agincourt where the French lost. Boucicaut was captured and taken as a prisoner to England where he died in 1421.