Battles and Sieges

Burgundian Siege of Calais

The Burgundian siege of Calais began on 9 July 1436. It was the result of the rapidly changing diplomatic situation in France at the time. The English had been allied with Burgundy from the time of the Lancastrian conquest of Normandy and northern France, until shortly after the death of the Duke of Bedford in 1435. Burgundy then allied with the French and aided in their attempt to oust the English from northern France. Situated adjacent to Burgundian lands in Flanders, Calais was an obvious and significant target. 

Burgundian siege of Calais.

In the Hundred Years War, the fortunes of England were intertwined with the success or failure of diplomatic policies’. When England had strong allies in Brittany and Burgundy, things were often in England’s favour as the French were fighting or wary on three fronts. When any of these alliances weakened, disintegrated, or one of the continental powers switched allegiance to side with the King of France, it was the English in France and Normandy who were on the defensive.

Burgundy was the most significant of the powers who allied with the English. The Duchy dominated the Low Countries and had been eager to restrict French influence in the region. This resulted in the Franco-Burgundian wars, which resulted in Burgundian forces capturing Joan of Arc.

In 1436, Philip the Good changed his policy. He quickly targeted English held Calais. Had Burgundy succeeded in taking Calais, English hopes of keeping possessions in France would have been shattered.

England reinforced the area via the sea, and after a short siege, the Burgundians withdrew. It reaffirmed the need to ensure diplomacy worked.

In the coming years, it served as a reminder to Council that continental powers could significantly impact English possessions on the continent. This also affected English domestic policy and tax revenues.

Anglo-Burgundian relations from this point onwards were fundamental to how the French Wars were conducted. The links with Burgundy went on to influence the Wars of the Roses, as did English retention of Calais.

Siege of Calais Links

Worcester Cathedral Archives – King Henry VI and Communicating News :The siege of Calais in 1436

1436 Siege of Calais Image Credit

Burgundian Siege of Calais, 1436. Vigiles de Charles VII. This file comes from Gallica Digital Library and is available under the digital ID btv1b105380390/f192. It is Public Domain in most territories.

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