The Sack of Narbonne the Black Prince, 10th November 1355

The chevauchee of the Black Prince in 1355 was a far reaching assault through southern France. From its starting point in Bordeaux, the Anglo-Gascon army swept through ill prepared regions, travelling across the width of France to Narbonne within sight of the Mediterranean.

As with most towns, there was an attempt to negotiate made by the populace. At the same time, a messenger arrived on 8th November 1355, suing for peace. The prince kept the messenger waiting for two days before dismissing him on the grounds that he ought to speak to King Edward as he too was in France.

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Once the messenger was on his way, the town of Narbonne was reduced because of it having resisted the advance by refusing entry. It was part of a series of attacks that is recorded by Sir John Wingfield in his correspondence to the Bishop of Winchester:

“For Carcassonne and Limoux, which is as large as Carcassonne, and two other towns near there, produce for the King of France each year the wages of a thousand men-at-arms and 100000 old écus towards the costs of the war. According to the records which we found, the towns of Toulouse, Carcassonne and Narbonne which we destroyed, together with Narbonne itself, produced each year, over and above this, 400000 old écus as war subsidies; and the citizens of larger towns and other inhabitants, who should know about such matters, have told us this. And, by God’s help, if my lord had money to continue this war and to profit the King and his honour, he could indeed enlarge the boundaries of his territory and take a number of places, because the enemy are in great disarray. In order to do this my lord has ordered all the earls and bannerets to stay in different places along the border in order to raid and damage the enemies lands.”

The objectives of the chevauchees deep into enemy territory are made clear by Sir John. Destruction, weakening the enemy. Profit, through the seizure of goods and wealth, and should funds allow it, conquest. The financial reward of such campaigns is made very clear from this source; it is potentially very lucrative.

Edward, The Black Prince
Edward, The Black Prince

Narbonne was as far as the chevauchee of Edward of Woodstock travelled. Far from home and with the likelihood of French armies uniting against him, he turned back towards Aquitaine following the sack of Narbonne.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Narbonne. Unknown photographer.

Edward, The Black Prince. wikimedia Commons.