Gaucher de Châtillon Dies Defending St. Louis IX of France

March 21, 2019

Battle of Al Mansurah

I ought not to forget certain things that happened in Egypt while we were there. First I will tell you of my Lord Gaucher de Châtillon. Now a knight, whose name was my Lord John of Monson, told me that he saw my Lord of Châtillon in a street of the village where the king [St. Louis IX of France] was taken; and this street ran straight through the village, so that you could see the open fields at the one end and the other; and in this street was my Lord Gaucher of Châtillon, with his naked sword in his fist. When he saw that the Turks came into the street he ran upon them, sword in hand, and sent them flying out of the village; and the Turks as they fled before him—for they could shoot behind as well as before—covered him all with darts. When he had driven them out of the village, he pulled out the darts that he had upon him, and then replaced his coat of armor, and rose in his stirrups, and lifted up his sword-arm, and cried: “Châtillon, knight, Châtillon, where are my good men?” When he turned and saw that the Turks had entered the street at the other end, he ran upon them again, sword in hand, and sent them flying; and this he did three times in the manner aforesaid.

King St. Louis IX, prisoner in Egypt, painted by Georges Rouget.

When the emir of the galleys took me to join those who had been captured on land, I inquired for the Count of Châtillon among those who had been about him; but could find no one to tell me how he was taken; save that my Lord John Fouinon, the good knight, told me that when he was himself taken prisoner to Mansourah, he found a Turk mounted on the horse of my Lord Gaucher of Châtillon, and the horse’s crupper was all covered with blood. And my Lord John inquired of the Turk what he had done to the man to what that horse belonged? And the Turk replied that he had cut his throat, riding upon that horse, as might well be seen from the crupper that was covered with blood.

Geoffroy de Villehardouin and Jean de Joinville, Memoirs of the Crusades, trans. Sir Frank Marzials (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., n.d.), 232-3.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 669


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