Guerre folle

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Guerre folle ("mad war") is the name of an uprising given by French historians to a military conflict at the end of the Middle Ages in which a coalition of apanaged and feudal princes opposed Anne de Beaujeu , the kingdom's regent after the king's death Louis XI. and during the minority of her brother, King Charles VIII. The Guerrefolle lasted from 1485 to 1488.

On the side of the princes one finds Ludwig von Orléans - the later King Louis XII. - the dukes René II of Lorraine , Francis II of Brittany , John IV of Chalon-Arlay - Prince of Orange -, the Counts Alain d'Albret , Charles of Angoulême , Odet d'Aydie - Count of Comminges and governor from Guyenne - as well as Philippe de Commynes . In addition, the revolt was supported from abroad, in particular from England , Spain and Habsburg .

The Guerre folle is the beginning of the incorporation of Brittany into the Domaine royal .

Name and duration

The term Guerre folle for this undertaking of the great feudal lords against the power of the king comes from Paul Émile, who first used it in his book Histoire des faicts, gestes et conquestes des roys de France, published in 1581 .

The dispute is rooted in a long series of conflicts between the French princes and their king in the second half of the 15th century, including the Ligue du Bien public and the Praguerie . 1484–1485, Ludwig von Orléans, with the support of Francis II of Brittany and other princes, tried to overthrow the regent Anne de Beaujeu, who however managed to win the revolt without a fight: on November 2, 1485 the peace of Bourges closed, which ended hostilities. Some historians see the end of a first phase of the Guerre folle , which was followed by a second phase from June 1486 to November 1488, which is sometimes called Guerre de Bretagne . Breton historians in particular separate the two phases in order to stylize the second into a Franco-Breton war or even a Breton war of independence - following the Breton War of Succession (1341-1364).

Conspiracies and first revolt

Since the beginning of the reign of Charles VIII. Louis of Orléans tried to depose the regent, but failed before the General Estates in Tours (January 15 to March 11, 1484). In April Ludwig traveled to Brittany to ally with Duke Franz. He also applied to the Pope in Rome to have his marriage annulled so that he could marry Anne de Bretagne . The Beaujeu let him come to Reims for the coronation of Charles (May 30, 1484) , where he had to perform an important task, which is why he did not sign the contract with Duke Franz (which also regulated his marriage to Anne de Bretagne) until May 23. November could sign. Back at court, he tried to win the king over, but Anne de Beaujeu was warned and forced her way into the royal apartments, where the conversation between the king and duke took place. The Duke of Orléans was placed under house arrest in Gien .

On January 17, 1485, Ludwig tried to incite Paris , but failed here too. On February 3, he managed to escape to Alençon , where he made a declaration of honor on March 12 . In the area around Évreux stationed royal troops prevented that he escaped to Brittany. Ludwig then retired to Orléans . The simultaneous rise of the Breton nobility was suppressed by the royal army. On August 30, Ludwig published a manifesto against the regency. The royal army marched on Orléans, Ludwig escaped to Beaugency , from where the young Louis II. De La Trémoille drove him in September. On August 9, Francis of Bretagne signed an armistice that was agreed on November 2 by the Treaty of Bourges for one year.

Resumption of fighting

With the end of the armistice, the revolt began again. As early as June 1486, the new Rex Romanorum Maximilian I von Habsburg had invaded northern France; in November, François I. d'Orléans-Longueville seized the castle of Parthenay . On January 11, 1487, Louis of Orléans fled from Blois Castle again to Brittany, pursued by the royal archers. The royal army moved out of Tours at the beginning of February and began an offensive in south-west France; she was in Bordeaux on March 7 , where she replaced Odet d'Aydie, the governor of Guyenne, with Peter von Beaujeu . On March 15th the army withdrew from Bordeaux and captured Parthenay on the 30th of the month. Dunois fled to Louis of Orléans in Nantes . The army moved to Brittany, where in the Treaty of Châteaubriant, the Breton nobility agreed with the king: the duke would not be attacked by the army if he left Brittany after the two rebels were captured. In the north, Marshal d'Esquerdes , Lord of the Querdes, succeeded in stopping Maximilian von Habsburg and finally fighting back. In the south, the Lord of Candale defeated Alain d'Albret at the Battle of Nontron when the latter tried to join the rebels in the north and forced him to take hostage. In Brittany, the royal troops under Vice Count Jean II de Rohan held the north of the peninsula and the city of Ploërmel .

On April 1, the mobilization of Duke Francis II failed . The royal army invaded Brittany and found the gates open in Châteaubriant , Vitré , Ancenis and Clisson . Nantes was besieged, but the Bretons from Cornouaille broke the ring with the help of mercenaries . Corsairs from Normandy blocked the coast of Brittany.

On January 20, 1488, the Parlement in Paris declared the Dukes of Brittany and Orléans to be rebels and thus found them guilty of lese majesty ( Lèse-majesté ). Ludwig von Orleáns conquered Vannes , Auray and Ploërmel for his allies in the spring , where the Viscount de Rohan had to surrender.

On April 24th, Ludwig's property was confiscated. Alain d'Albret received financial support from Spain and was able to join the Bretons with 5000 men. Maximilian von Habsburg sent 1,500 men. La Trémoille assembled his troops on the borders of Brittany, Lord Scales went ashore with English troops. Marshal d'Esquerdes supported an uprising in Flanders to bind Maximilian's forces there. Meanwhile, Duke Franz's allies fought over the hand of his daughter: Ludwig von Orléans, Alain d'Albret and Maximilian von Habsburg were the suitors. The royal troops captured Fougères on July 12, then Dinan . With the victory of Marshal de Rieux over the rebels on July 28, 1488 in the Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier , the war came to a standstill.

Francis II died on September 9, 1488, Anne de Bretagne became Duchess in January of the following year. Odet d'Aydie, Dunois and many other conspirators were given amnesties . Louis d'Orléans was in imprisonment arrested and three years later of Charles VIII. To the majority pardoned .


Anne de Bretagne married Maximilian in December 1490, which led to the encirclement of France by the Habsburgs (until then Austria , the Burgundian Netherlands , the Free County of Burgundy ). Charles VIII reacted militarily and in December 1491 managed to have Anne become his wife. In 1496 Maximilian married his son Philip the Beautiful to Joan of Castile - the encirclement of France thus became real. When Karl died in 1498 with no surviving descendants, Anne de Bretagne was taken over by Louis of Orléans, the former rebel and new King Louis XII. accepted. Her daughter Claude de France later married Franz von Valois-Angoulême , the next in line to the throne, which ultimately tied Brittany to the crown.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Christian Bourret: Un royaume "transpyrénéen"? La tentative de la maison de Foix-Béarn-Albret à la fin du moyen age. PyréGraph, Aspet 1998, ISBN 2-908723-26-3 , p. 124.
  2. Didier Le Fur: Anne de Bretagne. Miroir d'une pure, historiographie d'un mythe. Édition Guénégaud, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-85023-093-6 .