Chateau Gailliard

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Château Gaillard is a medieval castle ruin overlooking the River Seine above the commune of Les Andelys, in the French department of Eure, in Normandy.

Following the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 during the Second War of Scottish Independence, the child-king David II and certain of his court were forced to flee to France for safety. At the time, southern Scotland was occupied by the forces of King Edward III of England. David, then nine years old, and his bride Joan of the Tower, the twelve-year-old daughter of Edward II, were granted the use of Château Gaillard by Philip VI. It remained their residence until David's return to Scotland in 1341. David did not stay out of English hands for long after his return; he was captured after the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346 and endured an eleven-year captivity in the Tower of London.

John Douglas, son of Archibald Douglas (died 1333), died before 1342 in the retinue of David II of Scotland in France, possibly at Château Gaillard.

Hugh the Dull had probably escaped to France to the court of David II at Château Gaillard in 1337. Here it was that his young nephews William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas and Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas had sought refuge. Certainly by that date, Edward III had appointed Andrew de Ormiston as prebend of Hugh's parish of Roxburgh.

William Douglas of Liddesdale visited the King, now 14 years old, at Chateau Gaillard following his success in Fife when, in 1337, he captured St Andrews, then held by the English. He was presumably seeking money.  He recruited some crossbowmen and on his way back to Scotland he hired some French privateers, led by Hugh Hautpool, who helped him blockade the Tay so that the Scots were able to capture English-held Perth, where William was wounded in the thigh by a crossbow, and Cupar.

During the Hundred Years' War between the English and French crowns, possession of the castle switched several times. Château Gaillard—along with Château de Gisors, Ivry-la-Bataille, and Mont Saint-Michel—was one of four castles in the Normandy which offered resistance to Henry V of England in 1419, after the capitulation of Rouen and much of the rest of the Duchy. Château Gaillard was besieged for a year before it was surrendered to the English in December 1419; all the resisting castles except Mont Saint-Michel eventually fell, and Normandy was temporarily returned to English control.  Étienne de Vignolles, a mercenary (routier) known as La Hire, then re-captured Château Gaillard for the French in 1430. However, the English were revived by the capture and execution of Joan of Arc, and although by then the war was turning against them, a month later they captured Château Gaillard again. When the French gained ascendency again between 1449 and 1453 the English were forced out of the region, and in 1449 the castle was taken by the French for the last time.

Archibald Douglas, Earl of Douglas and Wigton, Lord of Galloway, Douglas and Bothwell, called Archibald the Grim or Black Archibald, made his first major appearance in history in 1356 at the Battle of Poitiers where he was captured by the English. Archibald had accompanied his cousin, William Lord of Douglas, to serve King John II of France in his wars against the Black Prince. Edward III of England had concluded truce negotiations with the Scots lasting from 25 March until Michaelmas, following the Burnt Candlemas of 2 February. During the truce, Earl William had secured safe passage to travel to Château Gaillard to visit David II; amongst his entourage was the 28-year-old Archibald. Once in France, in the chivalric spirit of the age the Douglases joined the French army, to prevent their harnesses rusting through inactivity.

I wonder if there is some conflation of stories regarding the several Douglases who used Galliard as a refuge?


See also

• The Douglas family in France portal



Sources for this article include:

• Sir Herbert Maxwell, A History of the House of Douglas  1902
• The Froissart Chronicles

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024