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1429: England Triumphs

It is May 8, 1429. The Siege of Orléans has dragged on for 6 months, 3 weeks and 5 days. Orléans remains as the last major stronghold of the Dauphin Charles, whose predecessors have for close to a century been battling it out on and off with the Kingdom of England for supremacy over their own territories.

The people of Orléans are being starved to submission by the English armies that have encircled them. For half a year they have resisted the troops of John of Lancaster, the English regent on behalf of Henry VI. But the day of May 8 seals France's fate, as the siege proves too much. The people of Orléans, hungry and increasingly rebellious, give in and open the gates to the English.

Sack of Orleans JoW

The Sack of Orléans, anonymous painting from the 19th century.

In Medieval thought, a city that gives in without a fight is to be spared; one that resists is to be destroyed. Thus, the English troops rush into Orléans, pillaging, burning and killing. the Sack of Orléans proves to be a tragic and humiliating defeat for the French – the final defeat for many years to come. Hundreds are murdered by the rampaging English soldiers; the Dauphin and his family are arrested and taken to Bordeaux, the capital of Gascony, where he is forced to renounce his claim to the throne of France, and acknowledge Henry VI as the sole monarch of France. The Dauphin Charles and his family spend the remainder of their days prisoners of the English in Bordeaux. Charles dies of illness while in captivity in 1431; his wife, Mary of Anjou, and his young son, seven-year-old Louis, follow soon after.

John of Lancaster has achieved the unthinkable – the great kingdoms of England and France are now one, undoubtedly becoming the most powerful country in the known world. The lands under the occupation of the Duke of Burgundy is formally ceded to Burgundy in the Treaty of Picquigny, ending the Ninety Years' War.

More to come...