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Thouars fortified gates: smuggling and English troops

Tour du Prévost and rampart | Alertomalibu / CC-BY-SA
Fortification Hundred Years War Siege Bertrand du Guesclin Thouars fortifications

The wall which used to surround Thouars, raised in the 13th century, was colossal: 10 m high, 4 km long, 40 towers! And we still can see it today. Come! The most beautiful vestige is the Prince tower (12th c), a former cereal warehouse. It was used as a jail to lock salt smugglers, in the 17th century.

We also have the Provost gate: the gate that viscount Amaury of Thouars was forced to open to Du Guesclin’s army, on November 30th 1372, after a 5 months siege. The battle took place between the Provost gate and the Prince tower...

At that time, Thouars area, Poitou, belonged to the English. And Du Guesclin was sent by the king of France to reconquer the city, with 30 000 men... We were in the middle of the Hundred Years War. Aaah, a bloody mess! In middle of the 14th century, England controlled a big part of France, Thouars included with all Poitou.

Why? Because of the treaty of Brétigny, in 1362. A 10 years truce during the war, but France had to give those lands to England: Guyenne, Gascogne, Calais area, Poitou, Périgord, Limousin, Angoumois (Angoulême area) and Saintonge (current Charente-Maritime). In short, a big part of South-West France!

But king of France didn’t give up: he wanted to get his lands back! He could count on his army and his loyal Du Guesclin: he sent him in June 1375 in Thouars, with 30 000 men. Including famous guys, real warriors, like Olivier de Clisson, Philip the Bold duke of Burgundy, duke Jean of Berry...

But Thouars city was pretty well protected. French needed weeks to fill in the deep and broad ditches, in order to put the machines of war. But those machines were pretty weak, compared to the strong ramparts of Thouars! They brought other machines and finally succeeded in opening a breach on a wall...

The battle could really begin. But thousands of deaths later, the struggle came to nothing. So a treaty was signed: they decided that whatever happens, the city will surrender on the next November 30th. Meanwhile, king of England, Edward III, decided to save Thouars from the French army.

But successive storms stopped him and he could not cross the Channel... he stayed 9 weeks at sea, with his 14 000 men. And of course, it was too late to save Thouars, so he had to turn back! And November 30th came. After 5 months of siege, Thouars surrendered and was definitively annexed to French kingdom.

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