Final chevauchées, 1369 – 1380
In 1369 the Treaty of Brétigny was breached, by France and England joining opposing sides in the disputed Castilian succession. Charles V refused to be drawn in to a set-piece battle led to the launch of a new series of chevauchées. These proved to be over ambitious and ultimately fruitless, worse the English lost much that they had gained from the Treaty.
John of Gaunt, Edward’s youngest son and the Duke of Lancaster, launched one that year from Calais to Harfleur. In 1370 another was launched by all three of Edward’s sons. After the successful siege of Limoges, the Black Prince was said by the French to have led the massacre of 3,000, a severe breach of the rules of chivalry, several other accounts dispute this claim. A letter from the Prince to an English noble only talks of two hundred prisoners taken and no civilian deaths. The Prince of Wales was already unwell at the time of the siege.
The English chevauchée of 1373 was the biggest yet, led by John of Gaunt at the head of 10,000 to 15,000 men, half of them archers.
Setting out from Calais he wreaked havoc through Picardy, Champagne and Burgundy. Charles V forbade any engagement ordering his people to retreat inside the fortified towns. But this did not stop Philip the Bold in Burgundy and the French Constable in Aquitaine to set ambushes and harrying attacks.
The tired and harassed English force eventually reached Bordeaux in January 1374. They had covered a thousand miles, lost half of their number and achieved little. He had done sever damage to the regions through which they had passed and relieved the pressure on both Aquitaine and Brittany by having French troops redeployed eastward and southward. But failing to capture any towns they had no plunder to pay for the expedition.
Two more chevauchées were to follow in 1375 in Brittany and 1380 in northern France but as these too proved fruitless the taste for further such expeditions was over.
King Charles V of France died in 1380, he was succeeded by his son Charles VI le Bienaimé, le Fol (Charles VI the Beloved, the Mad).