Battle of Bergerac
The Battle of Bergerac was fought in August 1345 during the Hundred Years’ War. It was the first of a series of victories which would lead to Henry of Derby being called ‘one of the best warriors in the world’ The French suffered heavy casualties and the loss of the town, a significant strategic setback.
About Battle of Bergerac in brief
The Battle of Bergerac was fought in August 1345 during the Hundred Years’ War. It was the first of a series of victories which would lead to Henry of Derby being called ‘one of the best warriors in the world’ The French suffered heavy casualties and the loss of the town, a significant strategic setback. Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derby arrived in Gascony in August, and struck directly at the largest French concentration, at Bergerac. He surprised and defeated the French forces, under Bertrand I of L’Isle-Jourdain and Henri de Montigny. The French focused on the threat to northern France, leaving comparatively small forces in the south west. Edward III of England decided to launch a major attack on the French from the north, while sending smaller forces to Brittany and Gas Cony, the latter being both economically important to the English war effort and the proximate cause of the war. Before the war commenced at least 1,000 ships a year departed GasconY. Among their cargoes were over 80,000 tuns of wine. The duty levied by the English Crown on wine from Bordeaux, the capital of GasCony, was more than all other customs duties combined and by far the largest source of state income. The border between English and French territory in Gas cony was extremely unclear. Many landholders owning a patchwork of widely separated estates, perhaps owing fealty to a different overlord for each. Each small estate was likely to have a fortified tower or keep, with larger estates having castles. Fortifications were also constructed at transport choke points, to collect tolls and to restrict military passage.
By 1345, after eight years of war, English-controlled territory mostly consisted of a coastal strip of land. Several directly threatened French fortifications throughout what had once been once been English- controlled Gasconys. Several French had directly threatened the east-controlled Gas Conys for years, including Libourne, 20 miles to the east, and Bordeau, 20 miles to the west. In 1337 Philip VI of France and Edward III agreed that the Duchy of Aquitaine should be taken back into Philip’s hands on the grounds that Edward was in breach of his obligations as a vassal. This marked the start of the Hundred years’ War, which was to last 116 years. The English were able to spare few resources for the war, and previously when an English army had campaigned on the continent it had operated in northern France. In most campaigning seasons the Gascons had had to rely on their own resources and had been hard pressed by the French. By this time English Gasconay had become so truncated by French encroachments that it relied on imports of food, largely from England. Any interruptions to regular shipping were liable to starve Gasconeny and financially cripple England; the French were well aware of this. In 1339 the French besieged Bordeux, the city with a large force before they were repulsed. The French had isolated further inland strongholds, with further strongholds with further inland fortifications.