The Magna Carta Project

John hears of Bouvines and reconsiders his position

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

3 August 1214 - 9 August 1214


2-3 Aug 1214

Limoges (Haute-Vienne)

RLP, 119b; RLC, i, 169b; Vincent, 'England and the Albigensian Crusade'

3 Aug 1214

St-Amand-Magnazeix (Haute-Vienne) (Maignac')

RLP, 119b

4 Aug 1214

Saint-Benoit-du-Sault (Indre) (Sanctum Benedictum)

RLC, i, 169b

S. Gendron, Les noms de lieux de l'Indre (Joué-lès-Tours 2004), 114, 398.

6-7, 9, 11 Aug 1214

Le Blanc (Indre) (Ubblanc’)

RLP, 120; RLC, i, 169b

At Limoges on 2-3 August, the King issued protections for the men of the castle, continued to arbitrate in the affairs of the late Aimery lord of Montbron, and once again issued letters supporting the prior of Grandmont (a foundation closely linked to his dynasty) in disputes with the Grandmontine lay brothers.1  He also received homage for the castle of Aixe-sur-Vienne, which he had besieged and taken earlier in March 1214.2  From Limoges, he then set out on what in hindsight must appear a remarkable detour, 100 kilometres northwards, through the heart of the county of La Marche, to Saint-Benoît-du-Sault and Le Blanc on the river Creuse, only 50 kilometres due east of Poitiers.  Only here did he turn southwards again, to Montmorillon on the Gartempe, in the heart of what had previously been Plantagenet Poitou.  Either Poitiers or Tours might have been the ultimate target of this northwards probing, perhaps intended to outflank Louis and his army on the western Loire at Angers.  Meanwhile, he passed deliberately and apparently safely through the lands of Hugh de Lusignan, count of La Marche.  Although there is no certain proof here, the sudden halt to the King's journey at Le Blanc, where he rested for almost a week from Wednesday 6 to at least Monday 11 August, could well have been in response to the arrival of the fatal news of the defeat at Bouvines.  What until this stage had remained an offensive expedition would now have to be entirely reconsidered.  From Le Blanc, a series of routine letters were issued governing affairs in England, including letters to Stephen Langton requesting that he confirm the contested election of the royal clerk, William of Cornhill, as bishop of Coventry.3  The presentation on 9 August of Philip dean of the great collegiate church of Saint-Hilaire at Poitiers to the vacant church of Wearmouth in the north of England suggests a continuing effort to recruit the support of the Church in Poitou.4


RLP, 119b-120.


RLC, i, 169b, and for the siege of Aixe in March, see H. Duplés-Agier, Chroniques de Saint-Martial de Limoges (Paris, 1874),, 92, also noting the building of siege engines by the men of Limoges for the defence of their walls 'from fear of King Philip', also in Bernard Itier, Chronique, ed. J.-L. Lemaitre (Paris 1998), 47.


RLP, 120; RLC, i, 169b.


RLP, 120.

King John's Diary & Itinerary