The standard-bearer who was honored with a reprimand

September 29, 2011

François de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, painting by François Clouet

One incident in the battle [of Renty] is worth recalling. The Duke’s standard-bearer M. de Saint-Phal, had started before the signal, and ridden ahead farther than he should have. The Duke [Francis, Duke of Guise], greatly vexed, galloped after him and struck him a sharp blow on the helmet to stop him. M. de Saint-Phal flashed out in anger, “How, Sir! You strike me!” The Duke, having no time to spare, rode on.

The Standard Bearer painted by Victor Boucquet

After the battle he was told that M. de Saint-Phal was much offended. The Duke remarked, “I will appease him”; and, meeting him at the King’s tent, he said out loud before everybody: “M. de Saint-Phal! You feel yourself aggrieved by the stroke I gave you yesterday, because you had gone too far ahead. It was much better to make you stop when you were running into great danger, than if I had struck to make you go ahead when you were hanging back. So, my stroke, if you will accept it in the right way, was an honor rather than an insult. And all these gentlemen here will bear witness of this (they were listening with admiration to his handsome apology). So let us be on the same terms as before.”

Henri II giving the Chain of the Order of Saint-Michel to Gaspard de Saulx, Count of Tavannes, after the Battle of Renty. Painting by Nicolas Guy Brenet

Henry Dwight Sedgwick, The House of Guise (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Co. Publishers, 1938), p. 75.


Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 113


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