Battle of Beaugency (1429)

One of Jeanne’s battles following relief of the siege at Orléans.

Date: 16–17 June 1429
Location: Beaugency, France
Outcome: French victory
Principal Combatants.
English Leadership: John Talbot
English Strength: ?
English Casualties: ?
French Leadership: Jeanne d’Arc, John II of Alençon
French Strength: ?
French Casualties: ?

The Battle of Meung-sur-Loire took place on 15 June 1429. It was one of Jeanne’s battles following relief of the siege at Orléans. This campaign was the first sustained French offensive in a generation in the Hundred Years’ War.

Meung-sur-Loire was a small town on the northern bank of the Loire river in central France, slightly west of Orléans. It controlled a bridge of strategic significance during the latter part of the war. Conquered by the English a few years earlier as a staging point for a planned invasion of southern France, the French offensive reconquered the bridge and hampered English movement south of the river during the campaign.

The French Loire campaign of 1429 consisted of five actions:
1. The Siege of Orléans.
2. The Battle of Jargeau.
3. The Battle of Meung-sur-Loire.
4. The Battle of Beaugency.
5. The Battle of Patay.

Virtually all of France north of the Loire had fallen to foreign occupation by the end of 1428. The bridge at Orléans had been destroyed shortly before the siege lifted. The French had lost control of all other river crossings. Three swift and numerically small battles at Jargeau, Meung-sur-Loire, and Beaugency demonstrated renewed French confidence and laid the groundwork for subsequent French offenses on Rheims and Paris. The Loire campaign killed, captured, or disgraced a majority of the top tier of English commanders and decimated the numbers of the highly skilled English longbowmen.

French recruitment swelled following the victory at Orléans. During the assault on Beaugency one volunteer caused a particular stir among the French command. Constable Arthur de Richemont, who had been in disgrace at court for two years, appeared with a force of 1000 men and offered his services. At the risk of royal disfavor Jeanne d’Arc accepted this aid.

Tactics

Jeanne d’Arc and Duke John II of Alençon controlled a force that included the captains Jean d’Orléans, Gilles de Rais, Jean Poton de Xaintrailles, and La Hire. John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury led the English defence. Breaking with the then-prevalent form of siege warfare, the French army followed the capture of the bridge at Meung-sur-Loire on the 15 June, not with an attack on that town or its castle but with an assault on neighbouring Beaugency the next day.

Unlike Meung-sur-Loire, the main stronghold at Beaugency was inside the city walls. It survives to the modern age and forms an imposing rectangular citadel. During the first day of fighting the English abandoned the town and retreated into the castle. The French bombarded the castle with artillery fire. That evening de Richemont and his force arrived.

Hearing news of an English relief force approaching from Paris under Sir John Fastolf, d’Alençon negotiated the English surrender and granted them safe conduct out of Beaugency. The Battle of Patay followed on open territory on 18 June.