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The écorcheurs (dt. Cutthroats ) were one of the Grandes Compagnies , a group demoblisierter mercenaries that France the time of King Charles VII. ( 1403 - 1461 ) devastated.

After the civil war of the Armagnacs and Bourguignons and the Treaty of Arras (1435) , which restored peace between the King and Duke of Burgundy , the mercenaries who had fought on both sides were sacked. They now formed gangs that could well comprise several thousand men, plundered on their own account, did not shy away from larger cities, and were often led by officers who had previously served Charles VII. The most famous of these officers are La Hire , Jacques d'Espailly , Alain de Tailleco , Antoine de Chabannes , Jean Poton de Xaintrailles and Rodrigue de Villandrando .

Their activities mainly devastated the Berry , Languedoc , Burgundy , Albigeois and Auvergne , but worst of all in 1437 Hainaut during the uprising of the Dutch against the Duke of Burgundy.

In October 1439, the Estates General assembled in Orléans demanded that the bustle of the Écorcheurs, former mercenaries who plundered and devastated the country, be put to an end. On November 2, 1439, Charles VII tried to solve the problem by integrating the Écorcheurs into a standing army . The " Ordonnanz von Orléans", with which it was tried to subordinate them to the crown alone, provoked an uprising of the nobility, which the mercenaries had previously also used and thus saw their rights threatened, the Praguerie (1440).

After the Anglo-French Treaty of Tours (1444) , Charles VII set the Écorcheurs against Lorraine and Alsace . Others entered the service of Emperor Friedrich III. against the Swiss , several thousand of whom were killed in the battle of St. Jakob an der Birs in August 1444. May 26, 1445 brought the first troops with the orderly companies, which offered the mercenaries a permanent commitment of long duration.


  • Jean Favier : Dictionnaire de la France médiévale , keyword Écorcheurs