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The Captured King

Today’s history is the Battle of Poitiers. This battle is a part of that grand and glorious endeavor, the 100 Years War. If you have never studied the event, it is a war that spanned from one century to the next. It lasted 116 years in actuality. But who wants to nitpick? Not me!

This 116 year conflict began in the notorious 14th century. If you’re doing the time machine bit, avoid the 14th at all costs. Aside from the 116 war thing, there’s a mini ice age plus the plague to deal with. Add into the mix the arrest, torture and burning at the stake of many Templars, and the confused papacy issues. Well, that last event is rather interesting. And at times, amusing. Personally, I wouldn’t mind living in Avignon. But I digress.

As for that battle at Poitiers, this is an engagement the English won, which they shouldn’t have. They were greatly out numbered, whilst just plain tuckered out. Edward wanted to pack it in, but the French decided to attack. It was not a good decision, then the English counter attack, well, what choice did they have? The battle ended when they captured the king of France.

Le Roi Jean, pauvre chose! Quel embarrassant et maladroit!

The good king, as Jean was referred to, was in the middle of his centre when the English flanked around, the French army scattered, and presto, the king was captured.

Yes, boys and girls, back in the day, kings led their armies. That way the troops fight directly for the king, not for their country or constitution or some other non tangible reason. Nope. You fight for the king because he’s right there with you. And yes, if you’ve asked the question, do queens fight? Some have, yes. Guys in an army like to fight for the safety of their women, in general, and when they fight for that woman, their queen, well, that motivates plenty.

And, if you’re asking, there is a modern monarch who does fight for his kingdom: King Abdullah of Jordan.

How many presidents do you know who fight their own wars? I’ll wait whilst you do your research.

Le pauvre Jean was held captive in London. Not in a prison, but in a really nice house in a good suburb. It is said that when Jean gave his word, he kept it. That is why, when the Estates General in France refused to ratify the treaty that would send him home-it had onerous provisions, including a 3,000,000 gold écus ransom demand-Edward let Jean go home to try and raise the money.

How much is 3 million gold écus worth today? Lots. That is why we say, “A king’s ransom,” because the amount is outrageous. If you think it’s in the billion dollar range, that would be a good guess.

Jean, of course, left hostages when he returned to France. One of the hostages was his son, Louis. Louis decided to escape. Jean was so shaken by this breach of honor and protocol, that he voluntarily returned to London. He died there, on the 8th of April, 1364. He was 8 days shy of his 45th birthday.

That’s the other reason not to time travel to the 14th century. Even a king doesn’t live that long.

You’re lucky to live in today’s world. Covid and all.

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