Mercadier

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Mercadier (died 1200) was a "French" Occitan warrior of the 12th century, and chief of mercenaries in the service of Richard I of England.

In 1183 he appears as a leader of Brabant mercenaries in Southern France. He entered Richard's service in 1184, attacking and laying waste to lands of Aimar V of Limoges. In 1188 he managed seventeen castles captured from the Count of Toulouse. He accompanied Richard on the Third Crusade but was sent back when Philip Augustus left for France. On arrival he and his mercenaries defended Richard's estates in the latter's absence.

After Richard's return from the Holy Land, Mercadier accompanied him everywhere as his right hand, travelling and fighting by his side. Richard eulogized Mercadier's exploits in his letters, and gave him the estates left by Ademar de Bainac in Limousin, who died without heirs around 1190. During the various wars between Richard and Philip Augustus of France, Mercadier fought successively in Berry, Normandy, Flanders and Brittany. When Richard was mortally wounded at the siege of Châlus in March 1199, it was Mercadier's physician who cared for him. Mercadier avenged his death by storming the castle, hanging the defenders and flaying Pierre Basile, the crossbowman who had shot the king, despite Richard's last act pardoning the boy.

Mercadier then entered the service of John, and ravaged Gascony and the city of Angers. On Easter Monday, the 10th April, 1200, he was assassinated while on a visit to Bordeaux to pay his respects to Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was bringing from Spain Blanche of Castile. His murderer was a man-at-arms employed by Brandin, a rival mercenary captain in the service of John.

One of the bridges of the Chateau-Gaillard is named for him.

In historical fiction[edit]

Books and dramas[edit]

Five novels "Les aventures de Guilhem d’Ussel" of Jean d'Aillon During the reign of Philip August, Guilhem d’Ussel encounters several chiefs of mercenaries : Mercadier, Lambert Cadoc (Lord of Gaillon) and Brandin.

  • De Taille et d'Estoc (The youth of Guilhem d'Ussel)
  • Marseille, 1198
  • Paris, 1199
  • Londres, 1200
  • Montségur, 1201

References[edit]

  • Mercadier, in Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Chartes, 1st series, t. iii., pp. 417-443.
  • The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages from the Eighth Century (Warfare in History) by J. F. Verbruggen, pp. 116-117*