The last French campaign of the 100 Years War of Edward III was between 1359-60. Once more the Loire Valley and the Touraine were pivotal regarding victory or defeat.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog Gascony is the area of South West France along the Atlantic coast, from Bordeaux southwards, and the English army relied heavily upon Gascon nobles and warriors who wrecked havoc where ever they fought.
In 1358 the Touraine Region was overrun by marauding Gascon armies who entered the region from the south by Poitou. The most important figure in the Gascon-Basque army was Pierre Descalat known as “Basquin de Poncet” and it was his troops that took the town of Cormery (20k south-east of Tours and to the north of Loches) dismantled the outbuildings of its Benedictine Abbey in
order to create a defensive fort. After this a further garrison was installed at Vértez, to the north and closer yet to their prize; the important city of Tours.
Soon a Gascon captain, Jean Gros, lead his troops to take Langeais, with its keep of the Count of Anjou and to the west of Tours. Yet another garrison took Montbazon and, from there threatened the city walls of Tours.
The defense of the city of Loches during this period was in the hands of one Enguerrand d’Eudin. As a minor Captain supporting the Crown he surrounded himself with friends and acquaintances from the Picardy Region and they formed the local garrison which was under his command. This garrison was supplied and financed by fleecing the surrounding population of Loches. D’Eudin was later accused of ransoming local villages; indulging in large-scale theft including the rounding up farm animals and selling them off to the highest bidder; collecting local taxes including those that had been abolished by the King. While doing all of this he failed to prevent the advance of the Gascon army and only made minor improvements to the town’s fortifications. fortunately for him and his pals Loches did not come under attach during this campaign so its defences and garrison were never tested.
D’Eudin provides a good snapshot of how Royalist France was run/organised during the 100 Years War and how the Chivalric Code was being undermined by individual greed and poor central economic and social control. D’Eudin was probably like many other garrison commanders who, because of an unworkable national tax system at the time had to raise money as and where they could. This situation would worsen over the next 70 years with the country repeatedly laid to waste until it was time for an untainted and unifying hero in the form of Joan of Arc to arrive upon the scene.Main source of information for this blog is from the excellent book: Trial by Fire – the 100 years war Part II, Jonathon Sumption, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999