Great Chevauchee of 1373

Appointment of an administrator to record ransoms, loot and other gains won by the campaign of John of Gaunt: 30 March 1373

In 1373 a campaign was planned that would see a large force led by John of Gaunt travelling by land from Calais to Bordeaux. It becamr known as the Great Chevauchee. It was an ambitious plan designed to relieve the Duchy, which was suffering financial and military problems at this time.

Fiscal problems in Aquitaine

With Aquitaine struggling to raise enough funds to pay its own keep, the Senschenal Sir Thomas Felton had to loan the administration £8000 over a 3 year period: assistance was needed. The normal seaborne route was an option, but one of very high risk following the defeat suffered by the Earl of Pembroke in the naval Battle of La Rochelle in June of 1372.

With French forces ready to press home their advantage and many of the Gascon and Guyenne captains held as prisoners, on parole, or having switched allegiance, the relief would need to be overland.

The Great Chevauchee: the plan

The plan was for a large army under John of Gaunt to march rapidly from Calais to the Duchy. Along the way, it would seize moveable goods, take prisoners, and draw French forces away from the Gascon marches. Roughly ten thousand men were arrayed for the campaign. 30,000 horses were acquired. It was to be a fast, chevauchee style, campaign through France.

Militarily the planning was undertaken by John of Gaunt and John of Montfort. Behind the scenes though, was the requirement for logistics to be planned and maintained throughout the campaign. With a route that eventually took in almost a thousand miles of marching, this was an enormously difficult task.

Loot accounted for

So too was the task of recording the precise nature of all valuables obtained on the campaign. To ensure that the right people benefitted from these gains at the end of the campaign, a receiver was appointed for the campaign. He was essentially an accountant for these goods, which the appointment stated, had to be held according to the laws of France.


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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