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1342. Hennebont. The legend of Jeanne la Flamme

The ramparts | / CC-BY-NC-SA
Fortification Medieval city War of the Breton Succession Siege Joanna of Flanders Hennebont medieval city

Hennebont’s most famous siege happened in June 1342, during the Breton Succession War. Duke of Brittany Jean III died childless. This death launched a war between Jean of Montfort and Charles of Blois, husband of the duchy’s heiress, Jeanne of Penthièvre.

Montfort’s wife, Jeanne of Flanders, took refuge behind Hennebont fortress, while Blois’ troops were besieging it. She counter-attacked and became Jeanne la Flamme, Joan the Flame! Jean of Montfort was locked in Nantes by the English troops of Charles of Blois.

His wife Jeanne waited for him in Hennebont. Even when Blois’ troops started to besiege the city... But Jeanne slipped on an armour and encouraged inhabitants to join her and fight. They get up at the top of the ramparts and she started to coordinate operations.

They armed the bombardes and drew weapons. Then she jumped on her «white palfrey» and she turned up at a gallop by one rampart’s door. With 300 soldiers, she drove back Blois’ troops then she burnt the enemies’ tent. Do you picture the scene?

But this was not the end of Hennebont siege! Jeanne and her army were taken from the rear. She had to face overexcited men, who blocked the way. She needed more men... So, she rushed in Auray, a place which supported her husband.

There, she enlisted all the men she met... 600 after 5 days! This time, they won. 6 months later, Jean de Montfort was set free...

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