The Army
of
Charles VII

 

Great standard of Charles VII
(J.C. Colrat)


Until the end of 15th century, the basic unit of the French Royal Army is a "lance", commanded by a knight (Chevalier bachelier), with a squire, a page, and several men-at-arms and bowmen; his ensign is a pennon. Several lances create a "bannière" commanded by a upper knight (Chevalier banneret); his ensign is a banner. Several bannières formed a "bataille" commanded by a military leader came from the upper aristocracy; his ensign is a standard. All the batailles formed the Royal Army called the "Ost".

Then, the lances, banners and batailles were replaced by mixed companies of cavalry and infantry, commanded by captains who have two ensigns, a great standard and a pennon or "guidon".

The King of France have supply forces with mercenaries from several countries, as Scotland (in the name of the "Auld Alliance"), Italia (the Duke of Orleans was also Duke of Milan) or Spain (the King's mother-in-law was Yolanda of Aragon). Urban militias also played a role during the defence of the cities.

The King was the overall political leader of his army but usually delegated his general military command to the Constable of France. The King could also delegate military command to a Lieutenant General whose authority was usually restricted to a campaign or to a region (such as was the case of Jean d'Alençon for the relief of Jargeau and the battle of Patay). For the military leaders, command status was predicated largely on the basis of their power and their wealth as feudal lords. For these lords, command authority was largely established by considering the nobiliary hierarchy, the chivalrous hierarchy and the status of offices identified with the Grand Officers of the Crown. The relative ranking of these positions are shown below.



The chivalry:

(It should be noted that "chivalry" was an institution largely organized by the Church and by the fifteenth century, it no longer held the strong, symbolic role it had in earlier times).

- The knights;
- The squires (aspirants knights);
- And pages (aspirants squires).

Guillaume de Gamaches



French nobiliary hierarchy in the Middle Age:

in decreasing order:

- The Dukes;
- The Counts;
- The Viscounts;
- The Barons;
- The Lords (but someone were not noblemen).

(Originally, the "Marquis" were the defenders of borders and frontier zone; and the "Vidames" were the representatives in the temporal positions of the high clerics. These titles gradually became hereditary . The title of marquis was accepted as real title within the nobiliary hierarchy at the beginning of the sixteen century. The title of vidame, granted by a clerics and by the King were never a real nobiliary title, designed only a function).

Le comte de Vendôme



Grand Officers of the Crown in 1429:

- The Grand Chamberlain (grand chambellan) (G. de La Trémoïlle 1427-1433);
- The Grand Chancellor (grand chancelier) (R. de Chartres 1424-1444);
- The Constable of France (connétable) (A. de Richemont 1425-1458);
- Three Marshals (maréchaux) (Rieux 1417-1439, La Fayette 1421-1464, Boussac 1427-1433);
- a fourth marshal was created during the Coronation of Charles VII at Reims (Rais 1429-1440);
- The Admiral of France (L. de Culant 1421-1439);
- The High Master of Crossbowmen (Jean Malet de Graville 1425-1449);
- The High Master of Artillery (Pierre Bessonneau 1420-1446);
- The High Stewart (grand maître de l'Hôtel) (L. de Bourbon 1413-1446).

Le grand chambellan



Officers of the Household in 1429:

- The Great Wine Waiter (grand bouteillier) (J. de Dinan 1427-1444);
- The Master of The Bakery (
grand panetier) (J. de Naillac 1428-1429);
- The Master of the Kitchen (
grand queux) (J. de Lignières 1412-1432);
- The Master of the Horse (
grand écuyer) (Xaintrailles "écuyer d'écurie" 1429);
- The Master of the Hounds (
grand veneur) (G. Bellier 1424-1449);
- The Grand Falconer (
grand fauconnier) (Ph. de La Châtre 1429-?);
- The Master of Rivers and Forests (
grand maître des eaux et forêts) (Ch. de La Rivière 1428-1429).

Added to the above are many lesser positions such as: chamberlains, cupbearers, squires, huntsmen, etc.

Le grand bouteiller