Robert Knolles

Sir Robert Knolles ("c." 1325 - 1407) was an important English soldier of the Hundred Years' War, [Anon.] (1911)] who, operating with the tacit support of the Crown, succeeded in taking the only two major French cities, other than Calais and Poitiers, to fall to Edward III.Fact|date=August 2007 His methods, however, earned him infamy as a freebooter and a ravager: the ruined gables of burned buildings came to be known as "Knolly's Miters".Fact|date=August 2007

Born in Cheshire, Knolles first appears as the captain of several castles throughout Brittany in the mid-fourteenth century, including Fougeray, Gravelle and Chateaublanc. He was one of the English champions at the Combat of the Thirty in 1351, where he was captured. He then contributed himself and 800 men to the 1356 chevauchée of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster through Normandy, a diversionary campaign to draw King John II of France north and thus leave the Black Prince free to embark on the famous Poitiers campaign.Jones (2006)] With France in disarray after the Battle of Poitiers, King Charles II of Navarre assumed command of the rebellion in Paris, and Knolles joined up with the army of Philip of Navarre (Charles' younger brother) as they temporarily held the capital against the Dauphin in 1358. [Barbara W. Tuchman, "A Distant Mirror," chapter "Decapitated Fraqnce: The Bourgeois Rising and the Jacquerie"]

Knolles' finest hours were to come that Autumn when he led a Great Company of 2,000-3,000 Anglo-Gascons into the Loire Valley, establishing several forward garrisons at important towns like Chateauneuf. He then advanced into the Nivernais, which was unsuccessfully defended for Margaret III of Flanders by the Archpriest Arnaud de Cervole, the adventurer who had raised the first Great Company the previous year. [Barbara W. Tuchman, "A Distant Mirror," chapter "The Battle of Poitiers"]

In 1359 Knolles reached Auxerre, which fell after a two month siege on March 10. After the city had surrendered, Knolles was knighted by two subordinates, previously he had formally only been ranked as a squire. The sack of Auxerre proceeded with little violence and destruction, Knolles and his soldiers were professionals who intended to maximize their profit. The city was carefully ransacked for valuables and the citizens assessed for ransom. At the end a huge ransom was extorted for not destroying the city, although this was only partly paid. The following month he returned to Chateauneuf to plot the invasion of the Rhône Valley with Hugh Calveley. Marching south, a forward base was established on the Allier River at Pont-du-Chateau, from where they launched the invasion of the Velay. Knolles then reunited with Calveley to besiege the important city of Le Puy, which fell in July 1359. As they continued to the Papal city of Avignon, their path was barred by the army of Thomas de la Marche, Deputy for Louis II, Duke of Bourbon, at which point both English commanders retreated and dissolved their companies.

Knolles returned to Brittany an even richer man than he had set out and remained active, invading Maine in 1360,Fact|date=August 2007 participating in John de Montfort's noteworthy siege of Auray in July 1364, and joining the Black Prince at the Battle of Nájera (Navarette) of 1367.

He also founded Trinity Hospital, Pontefract and helped to suppress the Peasants' Revolt.

References

Bibliography

* [Anon.] (1911) " [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Knolles Knolles] ", "Encyclopaedia Britannica"
* cite journal | author=Bridges, J. S. C. | year=1908 | title=Two Cheshire soldiers of fortune of the XIV century: Sir Hugh Calveley and Sir Robert Knolles | journal=Journal of the Architectural, Archaeological, and Historic Society for the County and City of Chester and North Wales | pages=new ser., 14
*Jones, M. (2006) " [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15758 Knolles , Sir Robert (d. 1407)] ", "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, online edn, accessed 5 Aug 2007 (subscription required)


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