This website requires JavaScript.

Barfleur and the Blanche-Nef shipwreck

Wreck of the White Ship (14th c, Peter Langtoft) | The British Library / Public domain
Harbour Wreck William the Conqueror Richard Lionheart Barfleur harbour

A quiet little harbour?

This old harbour seems so quiet! But it saw sieges and destructions! The most famous siege was launched by Edward III of England, in 1346, during Hundred Years War. English steamroller rushed into Normandy! Saint-Lo, Valognes, Carentan surrendered and were plundered.

Same thing for Barfleur... What about Edward? Well, he occupied the area, but finally came up against king of France Philip de Valois: battle of Crécy began, and the French won.

In short! Richard Lionheart embarked from Barfleur in 1194, in order to be crowned king of England. Henri Beauclerc, William the Conqueror’s third son, often came here to embark for England. Aaah, maritime stories and tragedies often went together!


In 1130, Henri’s sons, William and Richard, embarked in a boat called the Blanche Nef with 300 knights, noblemen and sailors. Sailors drank too much...

The boat left Barfleur, and soon it crashed into a big rock and sank! Beauclerc’s son died. Everybody died except... a butcher from Rouen called Bérold!

What about William the Conqueror himself? The legend says his boat (a kind of drakkar, called mora) was made in Barfleur, and that a sailor from that harbour sailed it! A plaque reminds us this at the harbour's entrance...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!