The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin

May 2019
433 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781783272273
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press

The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin


Translated by Nigel Bryant

Bertrand du Guesclin was one of the main architects of the recovery of France. From humble beginnings he rose to become one of the great heroic figures of French history. This is the first English translation of Cuvelier's epic poem about him.
Bertrand du Guesclin, born into a modest Breton knightly family, was one of the main architects of the recovery of France after the disaster at Poitiers in 1356. He made his name initially on the battlefield, fighting the English in Brittany, and winning his one great victory in battle at Cocherel in 1364. Two years later, he invaded Spain at the head of the mercenary companies who had been ravaging France and placed Henry of Trastamara on the throne. Defeated at the battle of Najera by Edward the Black Prince, he was ransomed by Charles V because he was so valuable to the kingdom of France. He was appointed Constable of France and continued the work of expelling the English from French territory until his death in 1380. He was buried alongside the French kings at Saint-Denis, the rarest of honours. This meteoric career was celebrated immediately after his death in The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin. Written by the trouvère Cuvelier in the verse-form and manner of a chanson de geste, it is the very last of the Old French epics and an outstanding example of the roman chevaleresque. This is its first translation into English. Nigel Bryant is well known for his lively and accurate versions of medieval French authors. His translations of Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval and all its continuations and of the extraordinary late Arthurian romance Perceforest have been major achievements; he has also translated Jean le Bel's history of the early stages of the Hundred Years' War, and the biography of William Marshal.

Table of Contents

The Text Translated
Editions and Further Reading
The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin
Bertrand's Youth
War in Brittany
War in Normandy
The Battle of Auray
The Spanish Adventure
Bertrand's Ransom
Revenge in Spain
Constable of France
The Death of Chandos
The Cleansing of Poitou
Bertrand's Death

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