The terrible history behind the Bourgeois de Calais

Andrieu d'AndresAndrieu d'Andres | ©tom jervis / CC-BY

The history behind the statue!

City of Calais ordered a huge bronze statue in 1895 to Auguste Rodin, in order to decorate the square next the city hall. It was called Les Bourgeois de Calais.

12 other copies exist: one of them is in Paris, in Rodin museum. Calais statue was the first made by Rodin.

So, what about this life-size group of 6 men? During the Hundred Years War, Edward III of England conquered Normandy and defeated the French in battle of Crécy.

He besieged Calais in September 1346. The French resisted! After 10 months, the city surrendered.

A tragedy

6 noblemen of the city had to give themselves up to Edward, in order to save inhabitants: led by Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Jacques and Pierre de Wissant, Jean de Fiennes, Andrieu d’Andres and Jean d’Aire turned up, humiliated, bare feet, a rope around their neck.

They were going to die... but queen of England, Philippine of Hainaut, implored the king to spare those men. Finally Edward let them go: he sent the bourgeois in jail, in England.