French issue Ban and Arrière-Ban. May 1355

17th May 1355, King John II proclaimed the ban and arrière-ban.

Spring of 1355 was a tense period in France. There was a threat of invasion from England. Charles II of Navarre was making demands. For the French king, there was the possibility of facing two separate attacks, or a combined English-Navarrese invasion.

Charles II of Navarre

The situation with Charles II of Navarre was a politically complex one. Charles was the brother-in-law of the King. He had designs on expanding his territories, titles, and influence. Though a member of the French Royal family, it was unclear to both the French and English exactly what his intentions were in early 1355.

Charles had communicated with the Duke of Lancaster about joint operations against the French. This would consist of Charles landing a force at Cherbourg and demanding that territory was ceded to him. This would be coordinated with English moves against France, to exact the maximum gains for both parties.

Parlement summons the King of Navarre

As Charles had friends and family within the French Court, there was a great deal of communication between the various parties. Parlement summoned the King of Navarre, who was a subject through his French lands. He failed to attend. This increased the tension, as Charles’ intentions were not known. So, Parlement summoned him a second time. Once more, he failed to attend.

Negotiations between John II of France and Charles II of Navarre

At this point King John II went to the Abbey of Saint-Denis, home of the Oriflamme, and declared a ban and arrière-ban. An army was to be raised to meet at Amiens to face any threat. Charles’ supporters in the French Court now began to try and persuade the King not to proceed with military action against the Navarrese. Two Dowager Queens pleaded with King John II to find a compromise. The king agreed to their wishes. On the 31st of May he decided that Charles should surrender lands in Normandy for a sixth month period, after which he would receive a full pardon.

Charles, however, had left his capital of Pamplona before this message arrived. He travelled to Gascony, where he hired Castilian vessels and sailed north. His arrival in Normandy led to renewed diplomacy. It was also a period when England threatened to invade, a campaign plan that was not abandoned until late August. Charles II of Navarre and King John II eventually settled their differences at Valognes on 10th September.

Image Credit

Battle of Poitiers 1356, Bataille de Poitier à Nouaillé-Maupertuis en 1356, Chroniques de Froissart, manuscrits de Gruuthuse. Public Domain via Wikipedia.


Dan Moorhouse

Dan Moorhouse graduated in History and Politics and has since undertaken postgraduate studies in Medieval History and Education. Dan is a member of the Royal Historical Society and has previously been a member of the Historical Association’s Secondary Education Committee. Dan’s early publishing was in the Secondary School History Education field. This included co-authoring the Becta Award shortlisted Dynamic Learning: Medicine Through Time series for Hodder Murray and contributing to the Bafta Award winning Smallpox Through Time documentary series by A former teacher, Dan now concentrates on research and writing, predominantly in Medieval English history. Books by Dan Moorhouse On this day in the Wars of the Roses On this day in the Hundred Years War

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