The Great Chevauchée was an unsuccessful raid across France carried out by John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. His army crossed France, starting at Calais and eventually reaching Bordeaux. Despite the length of his journey, John of Gaunt achieved little on this raid and by the end of the English were probably lucky to reach safety with their army comparatively intact (although it did lose about one third of its strength).
The Great Chevauchée is rarely covered in any detail. John of Gaunt failed to achieve any of his aims, and in the years after the raid the French reconquered most of the areas that had been under English control. The Great Chevauchée is thus often tucked in between the end of Edward III's triumphs and the French revival.
This book thus fills a useful gap. Nicolle traces the route taken by John of Gaunt in some detail, including some areas where the route is uncertain and others where the army split into two. The army's route is illustrated by a series of excellent annotated maps, which help make sense of John of Gaunt's progress and demonstrate where there is uncertainty. Nicolle also examines the French reaction to the raid, the actions of the senior French commanders and the main conflicts that occurred along the route (mainly skirmishes, with some larger scale fighting and plenty of sieges, mostly unsuccessful, but without a full scale battle).
This is a high quality look at an important point in the Hundred Year's War, the failure of one of the largest efforts the English made in the mid period of the war, a failure that demonstrated that the French recovery was well under way.
Author: David Nicolle
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