The Battle of Baugé

Throughout Scottish history there have been many battles fought on Scots soil, many have been fought on English soil, however a few battles between Scotland and England have taken place on French soil. Few have been as important as this one though; the Battle of Baugé

Battle of Baugé

Battle of Baugé


The Battle was part of the ‘Hundred Years War’ between England and France. In 1419 King Henry V of England had turned the course of the war at Agincourt, a battle that has become synonymous with Anglo French ‘sparring’ ever since. There had been a formal alliance between France and Scotland since 1295, known as the ‘Auld Alliance’ though the ties between the two nations goes back much further, indeed the tradition of a ‘Guarde Eccosais’ goes back to the time of Charlemagne.

After Agincourt the French were in disarray. Charles VI of France was mad, and his heir, the future Charles VII, was only sixteen. Normandy was lost to the English and the Dukes of Burgundy were taking Paris. With the situation getting desperate the Dauphin appealed to Scotland for help.

King James I of Scotland was imprisoned by the English and the country was being ruled in his place by Robert Stewart, first duke of Albany. Albany decided to send a force of 6,000 volunteers to France under the command of Archibald Douglas, earl of Wigtown and Albany’s second son John Steward, third earl of Buchan. A fleet of ships from Castile reached Scotland in September 1419, and on 29 October 1419 the Scottish army reached the Dauphin’s court at Bourges.

The Scots made up by far the largest component of the Dauphin’s defensive forces in the Loire Valley. The English army still recording successes in France was commanded by Henry V’s oldest brother Thomas of Lancaster, duke of Clarence. Estimates of the strength of this force vary from between 7,000 to 12,000 men, a considerable number of which were drawn from the English nobility.

In March 1421 Clarence led a series of raids through the Anjou and Maine and by Good Friday they were camped near the little town of Vieil-Baugé where their progress was halted by the Franco-Scots army who had also arrived in the area. Clarence was keen to engage them but some of his forces were dispersed and also Easter Sunday was unthinkable as a date to start a battle. The following day a party of English who had been on a foraging mission returned to their camp with some captured Scots soldiers, The party had stumbled upon the Scot’s forces and Clarence keen to press his advantage of surprise and also to avoid a conflict on a holy day decided to engage despite his weakened force.

The Battle

Carmichael Clan Crest

Carmichael Clan Crest

Clarence made the fateful decision to attack immediately with a small force of mounted men-at-arms, leaving The earl of Salisbury to gather the other troops who were still out foraging on their return. Clarence headed for the bridge at Baugé, the only crossing available to reach the Scots. It would appear he was desperate to match the exploits of his brother at Agincourt. The Franco-Scots army were largely unprepared for the attack, many were at morning prayers or playing sports. As they attempted to cross the Bridge a small Scottish force nearby raised the alarm and the English were immediately held by a rain of arrows. It took them some time to force a crossing of the river. In his haste he had not brought his own archers and the remainder of this initial force were stretched back along the road.

Despite this Clarence still pressed forward towards the village, only to be met by the main bulk of the Scots and French who were concealed behind a ridge on the approach. The Scots came over the crest and charged headlong at the English army. Clarence was an early casualty. John Carmichael of Douglasdale unhorsed him, breaking his lance in the process – an event which is immortalised in the crest of clan Carmichael. The battle was reduced to a vicious hand to hand melee and its unclear who stuck the final blow that finished off Clarence. Alexander Makcaustelayn (a Lennox highlander), the lord of Fontaines, Charles le Bouteiller and William de Swinton have all been credited with finishing off the King’s brother.


The result was a crushing defeat for the English which set them back on the course of the war, Henry was forced to return to France but he contracted an illness and died during the campaign. Many of the English who had never even made it to the battle were able to escape and the war raged on for many years to come with victories and defeats on both sides.

The Scots Army in France who had been largely criticised by many French before the battle were now seen in an altogether different light and this French guard in later years formed the core of the Royal Scots – the oldest regiment in the British army, honoured for their antiquity by their nickname ‘Pontius Pilate’s Bodyguard’


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One thought on “The Battle of Baugé

  1. Redien

    robert was here at this batlle. He will captain of bodyguard of Louis XI and built Cherveux

    Robert de Cunningham (chapitre 1) ….found at the National Library in Paris (translate with Jim Hutchison)
    Calm had taken over from the tumult of armies in conflict and night was drawing in. Already the hour had come when a white tailed eagle, in silent flight, would utter it’s dismal cry terrorising superstitious mortals. Black clouds, gathering in the East, were casting a veil over the coppery disk of the moon which was revealing itself little by little. Here and there the dull rays of the night stars were projected onto the battlefield, similar to those torches whose pallid and smoky flames are used as lanterns at funerals. Their faint light lit up many groups covered in rags and searching this vast tomb, attracted by the lure of plunder. Like a pack of ravenous jackals finding a rotting corpse in the desert they searched the bloody piles of flesh, of scattered limbs and broken bones to gather up dirty and soiled items of clothing.
    These men, eager for plunder, with the savage air of their wild looks and haggard appearance, the frenzied cries they shouted, the savage blows they exchanged, screaming with fury revealed the most hideous base acts of human nature worsened by poverty, greed and hunger.
    In the midst of this scrawny horde was a Hermit, dressed in a long white robe. A tall man, he stood above the crowd, his appearance calm and serene, his exhortations to help those who still had a breath of life made him appear like the Spirit of Christian Charity, doing his best to calm the chaotic turmoil that was raging all around him. But his powerful voice was speaking in vain and the looters remained oblivious to compassion and were only existing to satisfy their thirst for plunder. They did ever more. While some were stealing everything they could get their hands on, others, with spades were opening up large pits to bury the bodies. No thought was given as to whether any trace of live remained in any of those poor wretches scattered here and there on the field of battle. They threw them in piles into the hollows, battering those whose seemed still to be breathing, or covered them with earth until the heavy mass suffocated them, a deathly silence shut up their moaning or put an end to their imploring prayers.
    Alain is looking at the Hermit but the miserable expression on his face makes it easy to appreciate how much the order he had just been given had displeased him. But the latter, seeing his reluctance, cast him a fearsome look followed by such a very significant gesture that he understood right away that he had to obey,
    under pain of being of himself being launched into the abyss. He had to battle against an overwhelmingly superior person and felt the force of the attacks when a violent blow drove him far back from the individual whose goods he had appropriated. So the Hermit bending over the body stretched out to his feet positioned him on the slope from where he could slide into the water.
    There was faint respiration, he judged that he was still living, and placing a device to stem the flow of the blood which was seeping from his wounds he ordered a peasant to transport this individual to a place where he could give him help.
    Silent and fearful , the peasant set about cutting willow branches, which he intertwined to form a kind of stretcher. This work done, he covered him with his rags which he took off with deep sorrowful sighs.
    The Hermit and he gently laid there the wounded man, and lifting the stretcher, they proceeded away from the battlefield.

    They climbed down the other side of the hill and crossed deserted countryside whose heather and heathland extended right to the limits of a vast forest. The Hermit made his way in there by way of faint path. The winding trail through the woods led to a hermitage built next to an old and huge ruin which seemed to be in bits. An overhanging rock, with water trickling from the top, hid it from one side, whilst on the other dense trees intertwined with climbing ivy screened the approaches surrounding them with impenetrable foliage.
    The Hermit went into the hermitage; he put his burden down in his cell and hurried to administer to him the treatment he required.

    François Redien


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