The Duke of Guise throws himself into Poitiers to defend the city

February 20, 2012

Portrait of Henry I of Lorraine, 3rd Duke of Guise

Young Guise, who had been chafing at inaction, as soon as he heard that Coligny meant to attack [Poitiers] hurried there, accompanied by his brother, Mayenne, a tall lad of fifteen, and by a band of young nobles, with mouth-filling names…. The citizens were greatly cheered by their arrival, for Henri de Guise, in spite of his youth, owing to his father’s reputation and his own deserts, was already highly thought of. At once all possible preparations of defense were made…

The investment of the city took place on July 25 (1569). The Admiral made his headquarters at Saint-Benoît a few miles to the south, and had his cannon in place by August 1…. Finally a breach was made on the east side…. There was great alarm in the town. At a council of war, many officers were of opinion that the two Princes, Guise and Mayenne, young men of such great importance, should not be exposed to capture by their mortal enemies, and ought to be smuggled out of the town…. The Duke, hearing of the debate, speedily decided it; he was going to stay; not to save his life would he falsify the good opinion that nobles and commons had of him, or let any man say that he cared more for his life than for the honor of his father, of his house and himself.… He took command of the soldiers who had been stationed at the trenches to repeal the enemy after they had entered by the breach. They awaited the attack, arms in hand.


Henry Dwight Sedgwick, The House of Guise (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Co. Publishers, 1938), pp. 197-198.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 153



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