Beaumanoir - Encyclopedia


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BEAUMANOIR, a seigniory in what is now the department of Cotes-du-Nord, France, which gave its name to an illustrious family. Jean de Beaumanoir, marshal of Brittany for Charles of Blois, and captain of Josselin, is remembered for his share in the famous battle of the Thirty. This battle, sung by an unknown trouvere and retold with variations by Froissart, was an episode in the struggle for the succession to the duchy of Brittany between Charles of Blois, supported by the king of France, and John of Montfort, supported by the king of England. John Bramborough, the English captain of Ploermel, having continued his ravages, in spite of a truce, in the district commanded by the captain of Josselin, Jean de Beaumanoir sent him a challenge, which resulted in a fight between thirty picked champions, knights and squires, on either side, which took place on the 25th of March 1351, near Ploermel. Beaumanoir commanded thirty Bretons, Bramborough a mixed force of twenty Englishmen, six German mercenaries and four Breton partisans of Montfort. The battle, fought with swords, daggers and axes, was of the most desperate character, in its details very reminiscent of the last fight of the Burgundians in the Nibelungenlied, especially in the celebrated advice of Geoffroy du Bois to his wounded leader, who was asking for water: "Drink your blood, Beaumanoir; that will quench your thirst!" In the end the victory was decided by Guillaume de Montauban, who mounted his horse and overthrew seven of the English champions, the rest being forced to surrender. All the combatants on either side were either dead or seriously wounded, Bramborough being among the slain. The prisoners were well treated and released on payment of a small ransom. (See Le Poeme du combat des Trente, in the Pantheon litteraire; Froissart, Chroniques, ed. S. Luce, c. iv. pp. 45 and if o ff., and pp. 338-340).

Jean De Beaumanoir (1551-1614), seigneur and afterwards marquis de Lavardin, count of Negrepelisse by marriage, served first in the Protestant army, but turned Catholic after the massacre of St Bartholomew, in which his father had been killed, and then fought against Henry of Navarre. When that prince became king of France, Lavardin changed over to his side, and was made a marshal of France. He was governor of Maine, commanded an army in Burgundy in 1602, was ambassador extraordinary to England in 1612, and died in 1614. One of his descendants, Henry Charles, marquis de Lavardin (1643-1701), was sent as ambassador to Rome in 1689, on the occasion of a difference between Louis XIV. and Innocent XI.

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