, duke of Clarence was leading an
English force in France. He was an accomplished fighter but had not
been at Agincourt so did not share in the glory of that English
victory. He was also brother of Henry V and heir to the English throne,
since Henry's child, Henry VI, was not yet born (or conceived?). He was
known as an impetuous leader and this quality led to his death and the
defeat of the English army at Bauge.
was leading an army into the Loire of about 10,000 troops,
mounted and archers, but a much smaller number were actually engaged in
the fight. His objective was to lay siege to Angers but he found the town
too well defended. He started to withdraw back to Normandy. Before
Easter 1421 his army was in the vicinity of Beaufort and was scattered
throughout the country foraging for food. He was not aware of the
close presence of a Franco-Scottish force in the vicinity.
At this time
there was an alliance between France and Scotland and
Charles VII (Dauphin at the time) had asked for help from
Scotland. The Scots sent 6000 troop to France in 1419, but they
were spread out on a variety of duties. The army facing Clarence was
about 5- 7,000 troops, and largely Scottish. It was led by John
Stewart, earl of Buchan.
The two armies
were fairly close to each other when an English foraging
party come upon and captured a small Scottish patrol. These prisoners
were brought before Clarence and he interviewed them while he was having his
dinner. This is when he realized the Franco-Scottish force was so close.
The two armies
met at Vieil-Bauge. Here is an IGN map of the region. Vieil-Bauge is to the WNW of Angers.
believed that he could
catch the Franco-Scottish force by surprise if he made a rapid attack.
He gathered his mounted forces that were at hand and set out to attack.
He directed that Salisbury gather the scattering foraging bands and
join him on the battlefield. He ignored the advice that it would be
wiser to gather his full army before attacking. Clarence set off with
about 1500 mounted troops. Map 1 shows the general position of forces
and the approaches to the battlefield. Buchan and his Scots were camped
near la Roche Pairon. This was over a ridge from le Vieil-Bauge.
Clarence approached from the west.
La Fayette was
approaching Vieil Bauge on an approximately parallel road and the two
groups saw each other. He raced into town to alert the small garrison
of an impending attack and that group marshaled to defend the bridge
over the small river Couasnon. Their defense allowed Buchan to organize
his own army to face the English. Map 2 shows the general movements
of the two forces. Clarence approached the bridges circled in blue.
up at the bridge and impatiently led some of his men on foot across the
river, through a boggy terrain near Moulin de Ribard to the north. The
first picture is Clarence's long view of his approach and the second is
the small bridge that blocked his movement.
placard at le Pont Godeau today commemorating the battle. The placard
says the English referred to the bridge as 'le Pont Godeau de Dieu
Damme,' or the god-damned bridge at Godeau because of what happened
here. The second photo is the bridge where the French initially stopped
Clarence. The stream that caused Clarence so much trouble is an
attractive small river today. Its view is from the bridge.
Clarence crossed the Couasnon,
the French, realizing they were
flanked, withdrew from the bridge but their delaying action allowed
Buchan to adequately prepare for the fight. At the time the Scots were
just over a rise
and out of sight from the English. Map 3 shows the ground over which
the battle was fought. The two dark lines are branches of the Couasnon
and the cross hatch lines are the champ de bataille.
also penetrated le Vieil-Bauge by a flanking movement to the south (red
arrow below the blue circle on Map 2). When this happened the French
defenders withdrew from the bridge and took refuge in St. Symphorien in
Vieil-Bauge. Parts of the church date from the 11th and 12th century.
There are also newer additions. The church had been built as a
fortified church and the French defended themselves by shooting arrows
from the slits of the old church. These architectural elements are
still evident today. They are at the interface of the 11th and 12th
Clarence crossed the Couasnon to the right of
le Pont Godeau. This is his view of the terrain. It corresponds to the
red 1 on Map 3. When Buchan came over the ridge from la Roche Pairon he
had a long view down to the river. Today part of the field he traversed
is called la Bataille. The second picture is from this perspective and
gives an idea of the elevation advantage he had. It corresponds to the
blue 2 on Map 3. The third picture is Buchan's view from closer to the
river, on the grounds of Moulin de Ribard. It corresponds to the blue 3
on Map 3.
, he found that his
troops were getting strung out and were not in a good battle order. He
paused for the moment and gathered several hundred of his followers.
Buchan appeared over the ridge and held the high ground. He also had
remarkable superiority in numbers - perhaps close to 5000 troops.
Clarence rashly decided to attack, uphill, without archer support,
against a superior force. The result was foregone conclusion. He was
killed at the outset, as were a number of the nobles who rode with him.
As additional English troops arrived, they entered the fight but were
poorly organized and faced an uphill battle. They were pressed down to
the river and killed or captured. The earls of Somerset, Huntington and
Beaufort were captured.
light - about 200 or less, while the English lost close to 1500 troops.
The fight started late in the day and was over within an hour. Some
writers call this a skirmish while others give it more importance. One
of the most significant factors was that while overall the battle did not change the military picture
the heir to the English throne
arrived late at Vieil-Bauge, when the fighting was over. He was able to recover Clarence's
body, and those of several others. More importantly, he was was able to
avoid the successful Franco-Scottish force that was looking for him and
withdraw with his surviving troop intact into Normandy.
is a monument commemorating the battle. It is just outside the church in Vieil-Bauge .
Burne, A.H., The Agincourt War
Girault, A-J., Les Cahiers du Baugeois: Vieil-Bauge - la Bataille
, Richebourg-Beauvau, reprint 2011.
Rickard, J. (25 February 2008), Bauge,
battle of, 21 March 1421,
Wikipedia - bataille de Bauge, http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataille_de_Baug%C3%A9 (images and shields)